Saturday, December 31, 2011

"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

No loud parties. No noise makers. No crazy party hats! I am going to stay home out of the way of the "buzzed" drivers. I will have a roaring fire in the fireplace, maybe mix up a pitcher of something containing a little NYE cheer, and will be comfortably ensconced in my recliner by said fire. I will watch a little TV, read a good book on my Kindle, and maybe crochet a few rows.
What a "party animal" I am! Well, I have done the party routine many times. I have "tied one on" many times, too. I can remember New Year's Eves spent in the Big City going from bar to bar, getting smashed, and then feeling like a polar bear is lying on my tongue the next day. I can also remember standing in LONG lines to get into movie theaters on NYE. One year we went to see "Where Eagles Dare" and another year "Swiss Family Robinson." Both times were with my wife, and my favorite uncle T and aunt K, along with various other members of the family. Those were the fun times and fond memories abound.
I guess I am getting old! But I refuse to consider myself lame or any other adjective used to describe the fact that I would rather be at home on NYE. Prof said she doesn't have concrete plans for the evening, and may be at home, too. We'll see.
This is the first year that I haven't been invited to go somewhere. And the thought of having a bunch of people in for a party is not a pleasant one. Call me an old fogie, but I really would rather do my own thing tonight. In out of the cold, and safe at home.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011


Many years ago, an uncle of my late wife did some research on their family tartan. He tracked it down, found it was no longer being woven, but he could order up a bolt or two for over $100.00 per yard. He sent out correspondence to the family members wanting us each to buy a yard or two. We didn't! I was snooping on the internet the other day and found a place that you could order family tartans. Lo and behold, there was my wife's family tartan listed. Here's what it looks like. The price is now $280 a yard. No, I don't think I will!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What I Read #87

The Guilty Plea by Robert Rotenberg: An okay read. Nothing exceptional, but worth the time.

Happy Reading,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Paper or Plastic?

Due to the kid's work schedules, we had our family Christmas celebration yesterday. It was so much fun watching the "baby grands" unwrap their stuff. Little R.J. finally got the tissue out of his one gift bag and discovered that there was a "sock" monkey in there. He pulled it out then put it back in the bag...several times. The "Divine Miss K" helped us all unwrap our gifts, plus spent many minutes hugging her new 40" teddy bear. I unwrapped my new Kindle.
After dinner and peace and quiet finally descended once more, I began the journey into e-books. There was a lot to do before I can begin downloading books, but I persevered, and got my Amazon account set up, and logged on to the Kindle, and then started perusing the many thousands of books available.
While I was sitting there in my chair learning away, Prof was sitting on the couch studying the new Nook she got last week. She had to set up an account with Barnes and Noble for hers. And so on.
I sampled a couple of books just to see what my Kindle would do. She did the same on the Nook. After a while she said that she wasn't sure she was going to keep the Nook. She is a complete bibliophile and loves books. She said that she felt like some sort of traitor to her many books, and that plastic could not take the place of paper in this instance. I laughed, but understood. She, who when she moved back from Montana, had a U-Haul trailer containing, along with her other stuff, 48 boxes of books! She loves books! So, the jury is still out on whether or not she is returning the Nook. I, on the other hand, love the small hand-held Kindle. I can store books on it so I don't have to have loaded book shelves in my house that collect a lot of dust. A Kindle is lighter to hold in my arthritic hands, and I don't have to keep track of a bookmark. Today, I am going to our local library and signing up for "Overdrive." That is an online service provided by libraries now that lets you borrow books for up to two weeks on your "e-reader" free of charge as long as you have a valid library card from your local library. There are lots and lots of free titles available and the list is growing daily.
So, as for me, I will choose plastic (or whatever the Kindle is made from) while Prof could very well choose paper!


What I Read #86

The Drop by Michael Connelly: Excellent read! I highly recommend you suspense/mystery readers don't miss this latest Harry Bosch novel. It's a good one.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Early Christmas Present

I received an early Christmas present today. I was leaving Walmart and as I walked past the checkout stands, there stood Tyler. Now, let me explain. My first year at the school that I retired from, Ty was in the sixth grade. He was a special little guy. He had a hard time sitting still, and didn't learn too well, but he put forth so much effort. He and I connected that year. I helped him with his math and English. He rewarded me with effort.
When Tyler moved up stairs to the 7th grade hall, he and I became closer because he spent time in my study hall. He continued to struggle with English, but math finally started making sense to him. He also got interested in origami. He devoured book after book about the subject and became proficient at many of the harder folds. He was always stopping in my room to show me his latest creation. (His biggest feat was making a crane with a 36 inch wing span. It hung in my room for two years, until the fire Marshall deemed it unsafe to have it hanging so close to the ceiling. Prof took it to Montana when she moved there and it hung in her room until it was so faded that it just needed to be pitched.)
As Tyler matured, he became tall and thin and turned into a natural runner. During his career in HS, he set records in cross country and track. He also told me that he finally discovered that the words on the pages in the textbooks finally meant something.
Ty's mom and dad were divorced many years ago, and he lived with his mom and two sisters. His family was one of the first families to have a home built by Habitat for Humanity. I got well acquainted with Ty's mom during his high school years. They had no car, and she was a regular rider on our transit bus when I drove for them.
Tyler graduated on time from HS, and even tried community college. He finally joined the Army. I have kept track of Tyler through his mom and sisters. He is doing well in the Armed Services. Which brings me back to the present situation.
Tyler saw me and came at me with arms extended. I stuck out a hand to shake his, but he said,"I want more than a hand shake. I want a hug!" There in Walmart, in front of many passersby, Tyler gave me the most heartfelt hug. He towered over me by about 6 inches, but the smile was still the same.
As we walked out of the store together, I turned to Tyler and said to him, "Thank you for serving our country and keeping us safe."
Tyler, said to me, "Mr. F, I am the one who should be thanking you. Without your friendship and guidance, I wouldn't have been able to do what I am doing. So, thank you."
Like I said, Christmas came early for me today.


There's a Blog in here Somewhere!

I taught English for several years, both on the college level and in public schools. (In the public schools, I team-taught with a seasoned English teacher.) After retirement, and much time to think about the reasons that students of every age and learning ability have such a hard time with our "written" language, I have concluded that it is because English requires too much memorization.

Think about it, we have, "there, their, and they're," and "bear and bare" (I have friends that spell their last name "Bair" and another friend who's maiden name was "Baer.") We have to deal with "to,too, and two," "sit, set, sat," and the whole (hole) "whom, who, who's, whose" thing is really confusing.

Years ago, we had an exchange student from Japan. She spoke English, but when she had to write it, she was a mess. In Japanese, there is a special or separate word for everything. Spanish, which is what I took in HS, is much the same way. Why didn't the creators of the written English do the the same thing? It would have made teaching it so much easier.

We confuse the issue even more by using same spelling but different pronunciation of many of our words. Such a, "I read the paper this morning," and "What do you like to read?" Oh my. The list could go on for a long while.

As a student and teacher of the English language, I have come to the conclusion that it's much easier to speak it than it is to write it. But, we must continue to teach our students to be good writers as well as readers. (And I am saving the new "text-speak" for another blasting blog!)

I think I will go read from my red reader which I have already read.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reading goes on but reviews stopping!

This year I have been reviewing what I read. And keeping track of how many books I have read. Well, I am behind with the reviews, having read more books since the last review. I am not going to review them. I returned them to the library and I can't remember all the character's names and so on. But I can tell you titles and authors.
#84. Faith by Jennifer Haigh
#85. Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg

Both were excellent reads as I recall.

I have other things going on in my life right now that are taking up my blogging and reading time. Getting ready for the Christmas holidays, and preparing for my vacation, and getting my craft projects done are all on my agenda right now. The only time I have to read is after I retire for the evening. That about says it all for now.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas on Elm St.

Many years ago, when my late wife was still with me, she painted this Christmas village. It consists of about 60 different buildings, plus trees, a gazebo, a skating pond, and people, animals and sleighs, etc. We had an old cabinet that every year we would empty out all the dishes and " stuff " that was in it, take off the doors, and set up shelf after shelf of village.
This year I decided to take six of my favorite pieces that she had painted and display them on a shelf in my living room. It is lighted, which you probably can't tell from the picture. There are two trees that she painted, too. Somewhere in the boxes are some people and accessories, but I didn't dig deep enough to find them. Included in this display are two houses, a fire station, a book store, a church with Nativity, and a school. The red and white house with the black roof is similar to the style of house we owned while raising our children.
This brought back lots of memories of "Tilly" sitting at the card table hour after hour on weekends and evenings after work painting away, and of the pride we felt displaying her work of art.
Note: She also painted a complete village set for Prof, and had started one for Lil Bro, which she never completed. Some day he will get this one.


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Saturday, December 10, 2011


This morning I got up with the sunrise (which here is about 7:00AM.) I made a pot of coffee and ate a bowl of cereal. Kiddo had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room last night. (The poor guy has a bad cold and is taking Nightquil.) So, in order not to disturb him, I took my coffee and went into my room and huddled under my covers and read on my novel. Sometime later, I fell asleep and woke up around 10:20AM. Now I feel like something the cats dragged in!
I hate feeling like this. Sluggish and like every move is an effort. And how does getting a few more winks of sleep make you feel this way. Is it a natural phenomenon or is it something that is only designed for me personally? Anyway, it's gross!
In the meantime, Prof got up and sent Kiddo up to his bed to sleep off his cold-meds induced "coma" condition.
I just hope I am not catching his cold.
Maybe the phrase, "getting old is not for sissies," is true. Some days it is just hard to get out of bed!



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In My Room

"There's a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

Now it's dark and I'm alone
But I won't be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room."

These lyrics to the famous Beach Boy's classic have always been a favorite of mine. They have always spoken to me in a special way. We all need a place to go where we can be alone sometimes. I think that's what this song says to me.

For the first 10 years of my life, my brother and I shared a room. It was small. Just wide enough to house two twin beds with Mom's cedar chest inbetween. There was a super small closet at the end of the room and just enough room for a tiny chest of drawers to the left of the door. It was the classic "attic" room with the steeply pitched ceiling. One window faced the north. It was papered in "fake" wood look wallpaper.

When the parents built the new house, they said two bedrooms was enough, so brother and I still shared the same room. It was larger, but still had the same twin beds, cedar chest and chest of drawers. It didn't take too long for Mom and Dad to realize that their bedroom wasn't big enough to house them, their furniture and their clothes. So, they built on another room for themselves, with two large closets, lots of floor space and a wonderful picture window facing the lake. All of a sudden, I had a room of my own. It became my private sanctuary. I could sit in there and read, draw, or just daydream. It was always a mess, but I liked it that way.

In college, I lived in a variety of apartments, coops, and rooming houses. Usually I had a roommate. That worked pretty well most of the time.

When I married, of course I shared. Some of our houses had large bedrooms, some very tiny. When we bought this house, it wasn't finished inside, so we could decorate our room from top to bottom. Tilly chose "mauve" (a dusty pink) carpet, white walls and curtains, and then accented it with blues and white and pink. Very feminine, but she had a right to do her thing. I didn't really care. Until she passed away, it was "her room" so to speak. Since her passing, I have made that the one room that is totally mine. I ripped up the carpet and put down a neutral tone, yet on the gold side carpet. I painted three walls of the room what I call "milk chocolate," with the fourth wall a deep red. White woodwork and ceiling. I moved the queen sized bed upstairs and put a twin bed in my room. I have a TV, a CD player and a good reading lamp in there along with an antique sea trunk and an amoire. I made my own window treatments, and have accented the walls with some "music" art. This is where I go when the world seems to be closing in around me. This is where I do my sighing and my crying, my dreaming and scheming. It's also where I go to watch TV when Prof and Kiddo what to watch something I don't want to watch. It is also where I go to read and think.

I am not antisocial at all, and I love having my daughter and grandson here! But there comes a time when all of us need a place and time to be quiet and peaceful. I have it "in my room." Cool huh?

Peace, (when I want it)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

"Roll Out The Holly!"

Yes, we need a little Christmas now! I have had the blues this year more than most, about the holiday season. I just can't get in the spirit of the Season of Light. I am not sure why, but I know a lot of it has to being older, and alone. No, I don't live alone. Prof and Kiddo are here, but I am still alone.
There are a lot of festivities going on that I used to attend, but it's just not fun to go alone. And, there is another side to that coin, I haven't found anyone that I really want to ask to go along.
There's the bi-annual Madrigal Dinner. I used to perform with the Madrigal Singers. Now, I don't, and I don't attend the dinner anymore either. I don't attend the Christmas party at our church, and I probably won't go to the Choir Christmas party either. This is no one's fault but mine, and I know I'm whining, buy I just don't do alone very well.
I am not in the mood to shop this year. I don't know what to get anyone, and it seems like all my family has everything they want or need, so what fun is "more of the same." I asked for lists, and most of what the family wants is gift cards. What fun is watching them opening a gift card. And, I never see what they bought with the gift card. I hate to give money,too, for the same reason.
So, call me Scrooge! I have a few more days to get with the program. Today, I got outside in the 50 degree weather and put up some outside lights and wreaths. That was fun, and believe it or not, it helped. I have my tree up inside, and partially decorated. Lil Bro said not to overdo the tree in case the two baby grands decided to touch and feel on Christmas. He just did not want any of the old family heirlooms to get broken. So I bought some less expensive (can we say cheap) ornaments this year. It looks fine. There will plenty of years to have up the big tree and the old ornaments.
So, I am trying to think more positive and get more into the spirit. Maybe more snow will help. That is what the weatherman is predicting for next week. We'll see what happens.

Peace, not Bah Humbug,

Thursday, December 01, 2011

What I Read #83

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline: I have been a reader of Scottoline's novels for several years. I was not sure about this one. I thought it might be more geared to the ladies, but was I wrong. Yes, the story line is about a mom who goes to school as a volunteer lunch room mom, but it turns into a suspense-packed story when the lunch room kitchen explodes.
Rose McKenna is forced to make decisions that affect she and her daughter, Melly. In the aftermath of the explosion and devastating school fire, Rose begins to investigate just what happened. What she finds could get her killed.
Scottoline takes a normal school day and turns it into a nightmare. Beware! This could really happen. That's what makes it so scary.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Winter came early to our neck of the woods.

Yesterday, what started out as rain, and I mean "ark building weather" ended with winter arriving in my neck of the woods. About 2:30 pm, I looked out the window and it was snowing great, big wet flakes. This kept up the rest of the day and was still snowing and blowing at 11:00 pm when I turned off my light to go to bed.
I awoke to about 5 inches of snow this morning and a two-hour school delay.The plows had gone and the streets were clear. The wind had laid and the sun was shining.
It seems like winter came early this year. But it is beautiful out there. Especially since I really don't have to go out in it unless I really want to. And I don't want to.
It does put me in the holiday spirit, though. That's a good thing!



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Item on my Bucket List

For years I have loved opera. We don't have opera around here. I would have to travel at least 4 hours to Chicago to see an opera. But I have had the privilege to see "Madam Butterfly". I was fascinated and loved every minute.
When I was in college, I took some voice training, and have been singing ever since. It has been my desire to learn a tenor aria (solo) and perform it at least once. Recently, I heard David Phelps perform "Nessun Dorma" from the opera, "Turandot." It was wonderful. I, again, was fascinated. I found his performance on Rhapsody and downloaded it to my MP3 player. The more I listened to it, the more I liked it. It is short (2:38) and it is in my range.
So I started searching for the music. I found it online and downloaded it. For you sheet music lovers out there, musicnotes. com is a wonderful source. You have to join and pay for what you download, but it's cheap by today's prices for sheet music. And they have all kinds of music. BUT, I digress.
I talked to my friend at church who directs our choir, and who is also the person who accompanies my two quartets, and she agreed to work with me to learn the music. I am challenging myself to learn it in Italian, which, of course, was the original language in which it was composed.
I am not in a hurry to do this. I don't care if it takes several months to learn it, but I am enthused. It gives me a goal.
My voice coach in college always told me that I could sing anything I wanted to sing, so I am going to give this a shot.


Monday, November 28, 2011

What I Read #82

Damage Control by Robert Dugoni: I cannot say enough good stuff about Robert Dugoni. His novels are superb. And Damage Control is no exception.
Former lawyer now law-school teacher James Hill is murdered. His twin sister, Dana Hill, also an attorney, is determined to find out not only why her brother was murdered, but who was the murderer. Accompanied by Detective Mike Logan, Dana finds clues that lead to an surprise that no one would believe, yet it was true.
You don't want to miss this novel. I give it a big "thumbs up."

Happy Reading,

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ah, Bliss!

Yesterday was, of course, Thanksgiving Day. For the first time, Prof, Kiddo and I trekked to the southern part of the state to my cousin 007's house for the special day. According to MapQuest, it was supposed to take 2 hours and 27 minutes to get there. We stopped for coffee once, and missed a turn once, and still made it in 2 hours and 31 minutes. Go us!
When we got there, we were greeted at the door by my Cousin 007 and her partner Miss Marple. They welcomed us all with a hug and let us know how glad they were that we made the trip. Miss Marple's family was there, so we got to meet them. Later on, Cousin 007's brother, my cousin Big D and his lovely wife GG (stands for Good Gramma) arrived. I hadn't seen them in a while, so it was nice to spend time with them.
We had a glorious day. 007 and MM had cooked all day Wednesday and it showed. I don't think there was anything that wasn't on the buffet. Turkey, ham, chicken and noodles, mashed and sweet potatoes, corn casserole, and the list goes on and on. We ate, we laughed, we reminisced, we looked at old pictures, we caught up on happenings within the family and generally had a wonderful time.
It was great to be together, counting and recounting our blessings together. Meeting new friends and relatives, and just relaxing with all made for a perfect day. It was a foggy dreary trip down, and even had a mist in the air that resembled snow flakes, but on the way home, it cleared and the sun peaked out for a bit as darkness settled in. It was a safe trip. Prof drove my car, and I went along for the ride, so to speak. Kiddo caught up on napping in the back seat and I even got in some crochet time. Though she drives too fast to suit me, Prof is a good driver and I wasn't worried at all. (I warned her ahead of time, that if she got a ticket for speeding, it would be hers to pay even if she was driving my vehicle. LOL)
We arrived back home full and happy. It was a day to be remembered. Even Kiddo, who usually isn't "into" that kind of stuff remarked on how good a time he had and that my side of the family "rocks." I guess that's a good thing!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I Read #81

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly: Banking tycoon and master of foreclosure, Mitchell Bondurant is found face down, dead, in a parking garage. Foreclosure fighter Lisa Trammel is accused of his murder.
Enter attorney Mickey Haller. He has been taking cases of foreclosure in his practice for a while, but now Lisa Trammel wants him to defend her against the charge of murder.
Faced with a hard-nosed prosecutor, Mickey has his work cut out for him. The Fifth Witness takes us both inside the court room and the judge's chambers as the two adversaries battle the case.
I would estimate that 85 to 90 percent of this gripping novel takes place inside the court room. Both fast moving and interesting, this novel will hold you in its grip until the last page. If you like legal suspense and court room drama, this is the novel for you.

Happy Reading,


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What I Read #80

Imposter by Davis Bunn: In this "absorbing suspense thriller," Senatorial candidate Paul Kelly's wife is brutally murdered. Kelly's son, Matt, just back from a federal training academy, is "possessed" with finding his mother's killer. This was no ordinary attack. This was "war."
Another good read from Bunn.

Happy Reading,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All I can say is "WOW"!

This might be a long post, but I have something to share with you. Many years ago, in 1952, I had either the chickenpox or measles. I don't recall which, but I was in school and missed a lot of school that winter. It was then that I began losing my hearing. I guess that was not uncommon then. Then, at age 9 or 10, I had a tumor on my left eardrum. I didn't understand why Mom and Dad were so upset about that, because at the time the word "malignant" meant nothing to me. I just remember Mom shedding tears, Dad being worried, and them taking me to a ENT who treated my ear with some stuff called "radium" on a thin stick. I had to go twice a week. I remember Mom talking to me about a "growth" about the size of a pencil eraser, and that Doc. Seward was treating it to make it go away.
After that, I could not hear well in the left ear, but the right one compensated for the loss, and life went on. At age 20, I was having drainage from the left ear, so I went to another ENT Dr. He said that infection was eroding my mastoid cavity on the left side, so I had what was called a "modified-radical mastoidectomy" which robbed me of even more hearing. But it also made my left ear "safe." I always wore earplugs in swimming and whenever water might come in contact with that ear. Many years later, I had to have another mastoid surgery and the Dr. that did that one said that I had scar tissue built up that caused my ear to be infection prone. Then he tried a cochlea implant. he hoped that would improve my hearing. Alas, my body rejected it and it had to removed. I have worn a high powered hearing aid in that ear since 2001. It helped, but since so much of the inner ear was damaged through the years, there isn't a whole lot to work with.
Now, I am losing the hearing in my right ear just due to old age, I guess. I have had some problems with that ear, too. But nothing super major. I have allergies and stuff and my internal drainage tubes (I can't spell them) don't work any more. That all works to make the hearing loss. BUT, I have new hearing aids. They were a gift from my dear brother. I went to the Beltone office and had them programmed just Tuesday and all I can say about this experience is "WOW!" I am hearing things that I don't think I ever have heard, or at least not for a very long time. I can hear the fridge running, clocks ticking, and the furnace. Birds were chirping this morning and I was marveling at how much noise traffic makes. Even the mouse on my computer makes a clicking sound that I have never heard.
Last night at choir practice I was astounded by how good we sound. I knew we were good, but I never realized that we were wonderful!
And you know that little dial on the TV that has numbers from 0 to infinity for volume? Well, usually I watch TV on about 28 to 32. Last night we watch a show and the volume was set on 17. And the commercials were too loud. How great is that!! It's like getting a new lease on life. I am gonna like this a whole lot!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stuff and Such

What a weekend this was. Our county hospital put on their annual fund-raising Gala on Saturday night. They had a talent competition for entertainment. There were four different acts scattered throughout the evening. Votes were $1.00 each. There were other ways of voting, too. There were pre-voting jars scattered around the community for each act, and also there were $5.00 and $10.00 voting "chips" at the gala. I was in one of the acts. My men's quartet, The GBQ, was joined by two Dr.s and an LPN from the hospital. We performed a comedy parody of Neil Sedaka's song, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, called "Waking Up Is Hard To Do." We dressed in scrubs, and used gurneys from the surgical dept, and went all out. We really sounded good and guess what...we WON! I don't know the total dollar amount, but it was the winner. It was fun, too. We spent many hours practicing and working out the choreography and etc. It was worth every minute for the fun we all had, and getting to know the two docs and the nurse was a hoot. They ARE human, just like the rest of us!!! One of the docs can't carry a tune in a bushel basket, so we assigned him a "dead" microphone. He thought that was a hoot. But he sure could act and dance. He really made the act, in my opinion! The gala itself was quite an affair with a live auction of several nice things, and then a silent auction that went on all evening in another room. The goal this year was to raise enough money to buy a super type of scope for the early detection of colon cancer. I certainly hope they got the funds they need. That type of cancer is on the rise in America.
The affair was "black tie optional." I wore my tux with a black shirt, black tie and a black vest with some silver stripes. I will post a picture when it comes available. Right!! The food was wonderful and I sat at a table with several good friends. A nice evening all in all...and WE WON!!
Yesterday, GBQ sang at a memorial service. It was sponsored by one of our local funeral homes and they honored all the families that have used their services for the loss of a loved one the past year. They do this every year. It is a nice gesture by them and much appreciated by the honorees. After the service, they serve light refreshments and they also give each family a beautiful Christmas ornament inscribed with the name of their loved one. GBQ sang an arrangement of "It is Well With my Soul." and closed the service with Mallott's "The Lord's Prayer."
Then, my good friend Curley and I went to WalMart shopping and had a few laughs. (No, not at other people, but that's hard sometimes!)
Today, I am taking it easy. With the rehearsals, and performances, plus church choir, I am tired. These old bones and body don't take that much exercise as easy as they used to. I decided to do my laundry and can relax between loads. It's raining outside, so the leaves and stuff will have to wait a few more days.
Let's see...what's on my schedule for this week...


*Note: The purple ribbon on my lapel is in honor of two very sweet little old ladies that made a definite impression on my life, and now suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. It seemed like a good night to remember them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What I Read #79

The Great Divide by T. Davis Bunn: Gloria Hall, a young activist, is missing in China. Her family wants her back. They hire attorney Marcus Glenwood to file suit against the American company, New Horizons, who are doing business with China. It seems there was a collusion and a kidnapping involved.

Like I have done many times, I started reading Bunn's works with his latest novel, and decided to go back and start with his first one. Today I am starting the second one.

Happy reading,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What I Read #78

The Jury Master by Robert Dugoni: Some of the novels that I read are "smart" and some of them are just entertaining. This one was both. Dugoni's first, but certainly not his last, The Jury Master introduces the reader to David Sloane, attorney extraordinaire. David can feel a jury's emotions, their shortcomings, and knows how they will decide before the verdict is in.
Joe Branick, a special assistant and personal friend to the president is found dead of an apparent suicide. Joe's family says "no way." David is asked to look into the matter. What he finds is scary and even dangerous to him and those around him.
For his first novel, Dugoni really has it together. I highly recommend getting hooked on his works, and the ongoing life of David Sloane.

Happy Reading,

Thought-Filled Thursday

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day. ~Irv Kupcinet

Monday, November 07, 2011

Christmas Shopping in 2011

My wife had this very special cousin with whom I still keep in contact. She sent me a LONG forward about shopping this year for Christmas, and as I read it, I had to agree.

It's about time we buy American. I know, I know, another blog harping about cheap stuff made in China, Taiwan, or Mexico! Well, here's a bit of news. Look around your area at the locally owned businesses that need your support.
Give your loved ones who still have hair a certificate at a locally owned Hair Salon or Barber Shop. If you have hair, you need a haircut and/or style once in a while. Everyone would enjoy having their car washed and detailed, and there are lots of enterprising local businesses that do that very thing. Look for products that are made in the good ol' US of A when buying gifts. There are American artisans that actually raise, dye, spin the wool, and weave, knit or crochet beautiful garments right here in my area of the Midwest. I know there are woodcrafters around who make beautiful bowls, boxes and even furniture. Yes, they cost more than the products you will find on sale at WalMart, but they are more unique, and will last longer.
There are many young entrepreneurs who are struggling to get their own businesses off the ground. I have a dear, quirky friend who makes the most gorgeous jewelry and craft items. She is a divorcee trying to make it on her own. Another is a young man who can repair your computer, and will even clean it for you. If you have anyone in need of this kind of service, look around your area for some local person who does it, and get a certificate for your loved one.
Take your family out for a meal at a locally owned eatery and leave the waitperson a nice Christmas tip. You will not only be helping the restaurant owner, but the service person, too. Their Christmas might just be a little merrier because of you.
How about giving some homemade things this year. What person wouldn't enjoy a nice batch of cookies or fudge. Or a cake or a pie, maybe. Or if you are a crafter, make your loved ones something.
I know I have enough sweaters, socks and underwear to last me the rest of my natural life. What I would like is a gift card for a service on my car from the dealer where I trade. I would like a gift of a neck and shoulder massage at a local salon. I would like to have a cleaning lady come into my home and clean it well. Then maybe I could keep it that way.
I am making my Christmas cards again this year. Maybe I won't send as many, either. I plan to deliver them personally to the local friends and family. I will mail them to folks far away. I like to send cards because I enjoy getting them, and it's a way to keep in touch with those friends in far-away places, but, I won't be spending a lot of my hard earned cash on them. I enjoy making them, and I consider them a small gift of myself for the person I am sending them to.
If I do buy things that are non-American this year, I think I will go to the stores that sell hand-made items. These stores are designed for and usually are church-based, to help people rise above poverty by giving them an outlet for their wares. Look around you for these stores. They are in most towns, and they have some amazing, beautifully unique things.
So, fellow Americans, this year, keep it simple, keep it useful and keep it local. Our local businesses and our nation's economy will thank you!


T V Time

I liked this list so I thought I would share my views:

1. Name a TV show series in which you've seen every episode at least twice: Designing Women

2. Name a show you can’t miss: Big Bang Theory

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to watch a show: Chris Meloni

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to watch a show: David Spade or Charlie Sheen

5. Name a show you can, and do, quote from: Designing Women

6. Name a show you like that no one else that you know enjoys: Wings (in reruns)

7. Name a TV show which you’ve been known to sing the theme song: Designing Women

8. Name a show you would recommend everyone to watch: Mike and Molly

9. Name a TV series you own: None

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium, but has surprised you with his/her acting choices in television: Dixie Carter

11. What is your favorite episode of your favorite series? Designing Women: EP Phone Home

12. Name a show you keep meaning to watch, but you just haven’t gotten around to yet: None

13. Ever quit watching a show because it was so bad? LOST; it ran too long and got more stupid the longer it was on.

14. Name a show that’s made you cry multiple times: Hallmark Commercials

15. What do you eat when you watch TV? Vanilla Bean ice cream with Chocolate syrup.

16. How often do you watch TV? Not a lot, but I try not to miss Jeopardy

17. What’s the last TV show you watched? Biography: Johnny Cash

18. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of TV? Drama: Crime/cop shows

19. What was the first TV show you were obsessed with? The Loretta Young Show: circa late “50’s

20. What TV show do you wish you never watched? Days of our Lives

21. What’s the weirdest show you enjoyed? American Pickers

22. What TV show scared you the most? A show on which Charles Manson was being interviewed

23. What is the funniest TV show you have ever watched? Will and Grace

24. What show was canceled too early into its run? Saving Grace

Thursday, November 03, 2011

What I Read #77

Shelter by Harlan Coben: This Young Adult novel is fantastic. Young Mickey Bolitar comes to live with his Uncle Myron Bolitar (who is an ongoing character of Coben's novels). He befriends Ema, a typical "goth" teenager and nerdy "Spoon," who wants so badly to be "one of the in crowd." Together, they go hunting for Ashley, Mickey's new girlfriend, who has mysteriously vanished.

Coben does a fine job making this novel both exciting and age appropriate, without being "corny." The dialog is up to date, as are the actions of the young people.

Though you adult readers probably wouldn't find this an interesting read, as a former educator and an avid proponent of reading for all ages, I would recommend this as a good read for any teenager, both male and female, though I think it would appeal especially to the guys.

Happy Reading,

What I Read #76

Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn: As far as I am concerned, this novel should be on everyone's reading list. Especially if you like political thrillers.

Marc Royce, a former State Department employee, is reinstated and sent to Baghdad on a special assignment. What he finds there is a miracle. The Shias and the Sunnis all coming together for the betterment of Iraq. But there is a mission to be accomplished. The Iranians continue to kidnap children of influential Iraqis to keep them suppressed. Also, a good friend of Marc's and three others have been kidnapped and it is up to Marc to bring them back alive.

He enlists the help of Sameh, a Baghdad lawyer, and Hamid, chief of Baghdad police. Working together, they set of into Iran to recover those who have been taken from their families.

What I found most interesting was the way Bunn wove the differences and similarities of Christianity and Muslim into this story. The coming together of the different religions for a common good was fascinating.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Check it out!

Check out my new pics on my other blog, "Back Home Again in Indiana." Finally, something new!


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Back From Oz

The Witch, not Glenda, the other one, and the tin man arrived at my house last night. They seem to be on a "sugar high." Gee, I wonder why.
The Divine Miss K looked adorable in her gleaming witch's costume, and RJ was hilarious as the tin man. They had been trick or treating around their neighborhood before they came to Papaw's house, so they were primed for treats. Also lots of pictures and laughs. Miss K serenaded us on the keyboard, and RJ entertained us by dancing and eating cookies. A good time was had by all. Aren't grand children "grand!"


Friday, October 28, 2011

"As the Stomach Churns"

A new soap opera has been acted out in "reality" around here. Prof broke up with said BF. Or visa-versa, and he was very unhappy. Yelling, screaming, threatening, etc ensued. Enough so that Prof had to get a protective order against him. He harassed her enough , plus some other previous infractions, at their workplace that he finally was terminated (they worked at the same place). More threats. Now that the protective order has been served. All is calm.
What a nerve-wracking week!
I never have watch a soap since the old days of "Search for Tomorrow," but if I could script this past week, I am sure it would be a best seller for afternoon TV.

Peace, (at last)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What I Read #75

Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah: This author was suggested to me by a life-long friend as a "pleasant change from murder and mayhem." Well, that friend was right about "change" but I'm so not sure about "pleasant".

I hate anything that plays mind games with me, be it TV, movies, or novels. And this one did.

Joy Faith Candellaro is recently divorced after walking in on her husband and her sister doing the "mattress mambo." She is a loose ends about what to do with the rest of her life. On impulse, she books a flight to Hope, Washington on a charter plane. As luck would have it, the plane crashes in the boondocks. Joy survives, along with the rest of the passengers, and wanders away from the crash. What happens after that? Was it real or was it a dream?

I have another novel by Hannah lying here beside me, but I don't think I will read it. This one was just too sappy and unbelievable for me. Back to "murder and mayhem" for me!

Happy Reading, (I think),

Note: Isn't the front cover of this book beautiful?

What I Read #74

The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner: Author Stephen King says,"The next suspense superstar" describing author Gardiner. I believe it. This novel was a real page turner.

Several prominent San Franciscans are dead. Seem like they all committed suicide. But did they?
It's up to forensic psychiatrist, Jo Beckett to get to the truth. What she finds can only be called "dirty secrets."

Read this one for a great foray into forensic psychiatry and suspense.

Happy Reading,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What I Read #73

Murder at the Painted Lady by Barbara Warren: Allie McGregor inherits a big, old Victorian Era house in Stony Point. When she decides to move there and open a Bed and Breakfast, she encounters a group of people who don't want her there. Why? What is so special about the Ramsdale House that so many people want it?
What I thought was going to be a run-of-the-mill mystery turned out to be a delightful read. Ms.
Warren did herself proud with her first novel. I hope she writes more. Read and enjoy!

Happy Reading,

What I Read #72

Murder One by Robert Dugoni: How have I missed this author??? After the death of his wife, attorney David Sloane has returned to Seattle. There he is asked to defend a prominent attorney who is being accused of murder. Twists and turns in the defense of Ms Barclay Reid keeps the reader hanging in suspense until the surprising end! All I can say is that if you legal thriller readers haven't found Dugoni yet, get cracking. You're missing out!

Happy Reading,

Thought-Filled Thursday

"For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness. "
Reba McEntire

Note: If you have read my blog for a while, you know how I feel about Reba. What she says here reflects my inner feeling exactly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Quiet Man

This is my friend Alan. Here is a friend that I admire a great deal. What makes him so special, you may ask. Let me tell you.
First of all, Alan has a personality that is just quirky enough to be funny, yet he has a seriousness about him that makes admiration easy.
Alan is a graduate engineer, and served as an engineer for a local manufacturer here in town until they closed their doors. He was offered other engineering jobs away from here, but he chose to remain in town, going into business for himself as a "Handy Man." He has become very successful at his work, and has recently bought out the local retiring locksmith and has taken over that business, too.
I marvel every time I am around Alan as to how intelligent he is. I haven't found anything he can't do, and he will tackle almost anything.
But, what makes him special to me is his quietness. I have never seen him mad, nor even close to being angry. He seems to take things in stride, with an attitude of anticipation. He is soft spoken witty and funny. He is a Christian who works hard in and for his church. He has led many youth to Christ and has sponsored them on their Chrystalis walk. He and his wife have raised two sons, and have 3 grandchildren.
Whenever we need something made for the choir, scenery,etc. Alan is our go-to person. He always has a good idea and is creative enough to make it happen. He is a marvel at figuring out our complicated sound system and even when it isn't working properly, can make it function.
I sing with Alan in my men's quartet and in the church choir. He has a soft baritone voice that blends well, and he reads music and can play the piano.
Alan has been married to the same gal for a long time. She suffers from MS, and Alan is extremely loving and caring with her. Her disease hasn't progressed too rapidly, but I know that as it does, he will be there for her every step of the way.
A few years ago at our Maundy Thursday service, Alan played the part of Christ during a reinactment of the Last Supper. He was dressed all in white, with long hair and his beard. It was actually like having Jesus right there in the room with us. He spoke so softly and tenderly, my adult daughter was moved to tears, as were many in the congregation.
As years pass, I count myself lucky to have such a friend. I have lots of friends and they are all special. But Alan, well he is just one of a kind, and I consider it a privilege to know him and call him my friend.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Cell Phones: The Bane of Mankind

Yes! I have a cell phone. It is a "throw away" with a pay-as-you-go system where I buy a phone card to add minutes and user time every 90 days. I have just recently learned to text and I know how to answer an incoming call and make calls. Other than that, if my phone has other features, I don't know how they work or even what they are.
My son has a cell. My daughter has a cell. My grandson has one and so does my daughter-in-law. They all have these fancy-schmancy phones that are mini computers.
I have no objections to cell phones. My objection is how they are used.

I hate it when someone is on the phone in a restaurant. I get peeved when I hear a phone go off in church. I don't like it when I am having a face to face conversation with someone and they get a call or a text which interrupts us.

But what really burns my wick is drivers who insist on using their phones while on the road. I passed a car the other day where the lady driving had a cup of coffee from McDonalds in her left hand, a cigarette in her right hand, along with the steering wheel, and a cell phone propped on her right shoulder. She also had a child in the back seat in a car seat. She was doing 60+ mph down the 4 lane highway. How safe was this? I am surprised that she wasn't trying to apply lipstick too!

Behind me in line at the drive thru yesterday was a gal in a little red car. She keep creeping closer and closer to me. I thought she was going to smack into me. She was texting as she waited in line. If she wants to text, at least look where she is going and keep her foot on the brake.
At our Mexican restaurant the other night, I had to wait on the guy at the register to get off his phone to take my money. I bet if I started to walk out without paying my bill, he would have gotten off the phone muy pronto without saying "adios."
I had problems with cell phones in the middle school classroom. Students were to leave them in their lockers, but invariably they got brought into the classroom. I caught students texting each other, taking pictures, and playing video games. The usual routine was to confiscate the phone, take it to the office, and the student had to go to pick it up from the Asst. Principal after school and endure his wrath, which could be considerable. Since I was the only adult in the room, I usually just took the darn thing away from the student, and gave it back when class was over. I really didn't have the time to run to the office, nor the energy after dealing with adolescent attitudes.

It is interesting to sit in the mall of our large shopping center and watch just how many people have cell phones. Some carry them all the time. Some have that stupid-looking "blue tooth" thingy sticking out of their ear, and some carry them discreetly in their pocket or purse.

How did we ever manage without them? We left notes on the fridge as to where we were and when we would be home. We asked our friend's mom if we could please use their house phone to call home to tell Mom where we were and when we would be home. We even offered to pay for the long distance call if necessary. Or we used a pay phone, which used to be available on several street corners.

Yes, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, but along with those advancements, I can see a decline in manners, and independence.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wanted: Comments

Ya know, blogging is hard work. We bloggers sometimes have to rack our brains to come up with something timely, or not, to write about. We are challenged to use proper grammar and spelling, even though some of us have been out of school for a very long time. We have to be entertaining and still not boring or mundane.
A comment once in a while from my readers would be nice. Curley is my biggest fan/commenter with Mellodee right up there, too. What is up with the lurkers? Can they not write, or are they just laying in wait until I write the "great American novel." Not gonna happen.
So stop by once in a while and leave your "calling card" while you're here. That way I will feel like I'm doing something worth while and not out here all by myself.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thought-Filled Thursday

"Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, 'I'm not going to make it,' but you laugh inside--remembering all the times you've felt that way."
(Charles Bukowski)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Note: This is sort of a guy type post. I seriously hope none of you gals who read my blog are offended. If talking about men’s underwear offends you, close out now!

Beneath all that we men wear, unless you are a guy who favors going “commando” (no underwear), there is the ongoing dilemma of “briefs or boxers.” Shopping for said undergarments are an ordeal.

When I was growing up, there were only two choices. Either we wore “tightie whities” from J. C. Penney’s; you know the ones that had blue and gold dashes around the waistband. Or you could choose to wear broadcloth boxers. These were brightly colored plaids, solids, or the ever popular paisley prints. They had an extra panel sewn into the seat to accommodate those whose butts were larger. Mine wasn’t! So, those panels just got wadded up, and you can just guess where that wad of fabric ended up! I would always opt for the “tightie whities.”

As an adult, I always wore the “t-w’s”; until I got married, that is. Then my wife decided I needed to try different, sexier underwear. She bought me some new-fangled briefs called boxer briefs. They were knit fabric like the old briefs, but they had legs. Weird! I didn’t like them, but because I was a nice guy and also a newlywed, I wore them and kept my mouth shut. (These were not sexy in the least.) This went on for several years. During that time, I also received briefs in many colors. There was black, red, purple, green, blue and gray. I never knew what new color would show up in my undies drawer.

There also were the low rise briefs, the bikini briefs, even string bikini briefs, which incidentally, didn’t fit well with my physique. Those darn straps cut into my sides. Fortunately, I never received any thong briefs. Those would have gone either into the Goodwill bag, or the trash, never touching my skin.

Recently, I needed new underwear, so off I went to the local underwear store. I was astounded with the choices available. There are the traditional tightie whities, and boxers. There are low rise, with and without a fly, there are knit boxers with looser legs and the infamous boxer briefs, now available in a plethora of colors besides white.. There is also the lightweight microfiber brief which has no fly, yet has a built-in pouch to cradle my “junk” and keep it well supported. The fabric choice is still mostly cotton, but I noticed that some of them contained spandex. I am not a spandex sort of guy. Cotton is my fabric of choice. There are so many choices. Thus, being the type of daring-do person that I am, I came home with 3 pair of the loose leg knit boxers. These are ideal for sleeping and wearing under my jeans. I also bought 6 pair (all in one package) of tightie whities. Why change now. It’s sort of like my son always said about ice cream after trying many flavors. “You just can’t go wrong with vanilla.”