Saturday, October 18, 2008

I like Bacon!

Today has been quite the shopping day for us.

I just ordered some stuff from Amazon. Shane told me last night that he heard the Dandy Warhols had a 2008 release, which I had not heard! *gasp* I checked it out, and sure enough, it's called "Earth to the Dandy Warhols." I also ordered the new AC/DC, "Black Ice," which I'm hearing is supposed to be a Walmart exclusive, but I found it through an independent dealer. I have a long standing policy of not buying CDs at Walmart, ever since I bought a Local H CD (the one with "High-Fiving MF" on it) there and it had been censored by Walmart. I was appalled. Don't you censor my music, Walmart! You aren't the boss of me! I also ordered the latest Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson. Repairman Jack is probably my favorite character in fiction right now--I'll write more about him when I finish the book.

Speaking of Walmart, that was our first stop today. Got a couple of things for dinner, and we always make a stop by their $5 movie bin. We found some great ones today! "Thinner" (from the Stephen King book), "Desperation" (ditto), "Bull Durham" (one of my favorite sports movies of all time), "Airplane!" ("Don't call me Shirley."), and another one (I'll tell you in a moment).

On the subject of sports movies, apparently when Sarah Palin was in Noblesville, Indiana (down by Indianapolis) yesterday, she told the crowd that her favorite movie is "Hoosiers." Not her favorite sports movie, not her favorite sports movie about basketball, not even her favorite movie set in Indiana (I'm not sure all that many are). Nope, she said that "Hoosiers" is her favorite movie.

My ass.

But I digress. (She's supposed to be on SNL tonight, by the way. I'm looking forward to it.)

After Walmart, we went to Lowe's and enjoyed a little home improvement shopping. It had been a while, and it was kind of fun! We got more insulation for the garage, which Ken is installing now, and a few odds and ends like new doorknobs for the bedroom doors (one broke).

So the fifth movie we got...we were digging through the bin, finding the aforementioned good ones, and Ken held one out to me and said, "Do you have this?" My reply was a gasp followed by, "Footloose!! NO!" "Footloose" is right up there with those other guilty pleasure movies of the 80's, "Dirty Dancing" and "Road House" ("Road House" is still tops for me, though.) Who can forget a young Kevin Bacon as the big city kid in a small town. A town that has banned dancing! O, the humanity! The warehouse scene where he is filled with teen angst and dances to shake off the oppression he feels from the people in the town is a classic. This is modern day cheese at its best!

I'm putting up the high school dance scene rather than the warehouse scene, because I think the high school dance is just like Kraft--it's the cheesiest! I won't put up the lyrics, because pretty much all you need to know is "Now I gotta cut loose, footloose, kick off your Sunday shoes." There's other nonsense like "Please, Louise, pull me offa my knees." You get the idea.

Oh my God, I can remember being at a wedding party when everyone formed two lines, and we went down the middle of the two lines, doing our little dance to this song. My ex-brother-in-law and I went down the middle doing that little kick-step dance, and we thought we were so cool and so good. Hahaha! It's on the verge of embarrassing to remember some of that, and some of the clothes we all wore, but it was all in fun and it was a good time back then. It sure makes me laugh to think back on it!

Urban decay

On the way up to Merrillville last night, since I-65 was closed, we drove through downtown Gary, Indiana.

Shane and I just shook our heads in disbelief. While Shane says there are other areas of the city that are becoming revitalized, the part we drove through was a landscape of boarded-up buildings and urban decay. We could see that at one time, it had been a thriving downtown area, but there were more closed businesses than there were open ones. The marquee of the Palace Theater proclaimed"Jackson Five Tonight" in tumbling letters. (I suppose someone put that up as a joke, although they probably really did play there back in the day.)

The only other place I've driven through that seemed as bad or worse than Gary was East St. Louis, Missouri. Similarly, many large buildings were boarded up and sitting vacant. Driving through Gary made me want to find out a little bit more about the city.

Anyone who has driven by Gary, seen the smokestacks belching, and smelled the "unique" aroma, knows that Gary is a manufacturing town. Its biggest industry was once steel-making, and the city itself was founded by U.S. Steel in 1906 to provide a place for its workers to live. With the demise of the steel industry in the 70's and 80's, the city went into a rapid decline. Crime soared, and for several years, Gary was known as the murder capital of the country. In the 2000 census, the family median income was $32,205. 22% of the families lived below the poverty level, including 38% of those under 18. From the 1990 to the 2000 census, the population dropped 11.9%.

But the city seems to be making some progress, with some revitalization going on, especially considering the tourism possible with the Lake Michigan shore and casino boats. There are many vacant buildings slated for demolition, and they've worked hard to reduce the crime rate. In 2006, the homicide rate was down 13.5%, and Gary happily lost its title as murder capital. I hope they can continue the progress and bring the city back from its slow decay. There are some fine examples of architecture there, including buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

As we were driving along, and as I looked around me with somewhat of a sense of shock, I wondered if urban centers like these are the future ghost towns. When you travel the back roads, especially decommissioned highways like Route 66, you see many abandoned and crumbling buildings. Shane's friend Adam in San Diego is getting into "ghost towning," and there are plenty of them in the west, towns that sprang up around silver, gold, or copper mines and then faded away when the mine was tapped out. Gary still has a population of around 100,000, so it's probably not going to fade away like those small towns, but the area we drove through certainly seemed to be gasping its last breath. I found it very sad and eerie.

I hope Gary can keep going with a refocus on industries other than manufacturing, and that they can keep working on structural improvement. As we looked down side streets, there were some pretty homes. It seems that it's a city that has potential, its demise isn't inevitable, and that it doesn't have to become a ghost town.

The World's Greatest Party Band


Oh man, what a great show!

Ken took
some pictures before we left, and you can see them over at his blog. Shane and I hopped into in his fancy German sports sedan, Joan Jetta, and hit the road. Despite some crazy construction (I-65 was completely closed--how do you just completely close a major highway?), we made great time, and had fun chatting along the way, getting caught up on everything. When we got to Merrillville, we stopped at Pizzeria Uno for dinner. I'd never had their pizza before--yum! Love the sauce. The fishnets got a few looks, and Shane and I cracked up!

We headed over to the venue, and were thrilled to see what a small place it was. We had some time before the show started, so I had a cool beverage. We headed in about 10 minutes before the show. We had great seats, and were right by the soundboard. Shane said, "Cool! We'll have the best sound!" I must have looked puzzled, because he said, "Yeah, really. The sound guys will adjust the sound for where they're sitting." You know, I never thought about that, but it makes complete sense!

They started right at 8, with no opening act. They opened with "Pump" off of the new CD ("Funplex"), followed by one of my favorites, "Mesopotamia." I can't remember the order of the set list, but I'll try to find it online. They also did "Hot Corner," "Ultraviolet," "Juliet of the Spirits," "Funplex," "Love in the Year 3000," and "Keep This Party Going," all from "Funplex." As for their older stuff, they did "Roam" and "Love Shack," "Party out of Bounds," "Give Me Back My Man," "Strobelight," and "Private Idaho." The encore was "Planet Claire," "Keep This Party Going," and their last song wasn't a rock, it was a "Rock Lobster!" Shane and I had fun singing along especially to lines like "I'm at the mall on a diet pill!" and "BUT SHE ISN'T!"

AGGHHH! They were so awesome. They sounded every bit as great as they always did, and they ARE the World's Greatest Party Band! Keith looked great and was really rocking out on guitar, Fred was his usual goofy self, Kate's voice is still angelic--and she looked so cool in silver lamé!--and Cindy was bopping around, doing the Pony, just singing her little heart out. Shane and I were talking on the way home, and I said that one of the coolest things is that they all seemed to really be having a great time up there. Cindy was smiling, they were all goofing was just neat to see them still having so much fun after all these years! Shane agreed, and said that they were the same way when he saw them in Asheville, North Carolina last year.

The highlights for me were probably "Planet Claire" (I thought of you, Mark!), and "Rock Lobster" was just incredible. Everybody's dancin'...everybody's fruggin'...(that's from the song). But the one that really blew me away was Cindy singing "Give Me Back My Man." Her voice was soft and sultry in the right parts, but then she let it rip and just belted out the chorus. Good stuff!

Give Me Back My Man

She cuts her hair

and calls his name.
Wishin' everything could be the same,
like when she had him.

I'll give you fish,
I'll give you candy,
I'll give you everything I have in my hand.

Walking out of Korvettes,
Package in her hand.
Motions to all the seabirds,
throws divinity on the sand.

I'll give you fish,
I'll give you candy,
I'll give you everything I have in my hand.

Give me, give back my man.
Give me, give back my man.

Her head's in a whirlpool,
spinnin' round and round.
If she don't get her man back
she's gonna drown.

I'll give you fish,
I'll give you candy,
I'll give you everything I have in my hand.

Give her, give back her man,
Give her, give back her man. (repeat)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Attack of the Killer B's

Off to the shower soon, but I'm getting so stoked for this show! Mark said we should ask them to play "Planet Claire," but I'm pretty sure they have been playing that one at their shows. I found a video from 2007, so I think we'll probably be hearing it tonight. I hope so, because like I to sing along with this one, especially the "No one has a head" line! Lyrics first, then video.

Planet Claire


She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
Faster than the speed of light

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head


Some say she's from Mars
Or one of the seven stars
That shine after 3:30 in the morning

She came from Planet Claire
She came from Planet Claire
She came from Planet Claire


Is there a problem, ossifer?

From our local paper:

Driver taken to jail after 10 mph chase

Tribune Staff Report

MISHAWAKA – Police arrested a 67-year-old woman Tuesday night, alleging she led officers on a chase that never exceeded 10 mph.

According to police reports, an officer patrolling the area near the intersection of McKinley and Grape roads noticed a slow-moving Toyota being driven north erratically just before 11 p.m. The officer activated his patrol car’s lights and attempted to stop the vehicle near the K-mart plaza parking lot, but the car continued north on Grape Road, slowing to between 5 and 10 mph.

Police said the driver turned right onto Imus Court and continued to slow down, but the vehicle didn’t stop. The officer reported turning on his siren, which caused the Toyota to stop. As the officer got out his car, the car began moving slowly again.

The driver finally stopped in the 300 block of Imus Court, where police approached the vehicle and noticed a smell of alcohol. Officers found a cooler with two bottles smelling of alcohol and a glass containing an alcoholic beverage in her cup holder. Police gave the woman a portable breath test, which indicated she had a .114 blood-alcohol level. A test conducted later at the Mishawaka Police Department showed a .14 blood-alcohol level.

Police arrested the woman and took her to the St. Joseph County jail.


I have to say that I am completely stunned that there was alcohol involved in this incident! Who would ever have guessed that?

"Okay, I've had one too many, but if I drive reeeeally slooooow, no one will know. I'll be extra careful not to run into any trashcans or curbs or people, and I'll make it home just fine!" It cracks me up that she slowed down to FIVE miles per hour, and that after she finally stopped and the officer got out of his car, she started rolling again. Hahahaha!

This made me think of the "Seinfeld" episode in which George gets busted for using a handicap scooter and there's a slow speed chase on the sidewalks of New York. It remains my second-favorite episode, after the Master of Your Domain episode.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

These boots aren't made for walking!

It seems the people have spoken.

Fishnets it is!

The boots are a no-go, though. I dug them out earlier today and tried them on. I'm glad I did, because wow, are they ever uncomfortable! I could handle them for a couple of hours at a party, but for several hours, no way. It's not the platform part--platform shoes are a 5-foot-tall gal's best friend! It's just how enclosed they are. I'd prefer to go barefoot! So instead of the boots, I have a pair of silver wedge sandals that, as Dr. Evil would say, are quasi-futuristic. They'll do quite nicely, and it's not too cold to wear them. It seems that I've reached the point where comfort trumps glamour. I'm cool with that--I can still get duded up when I need to, but I refuse to squish my toes into a pointy shoe!

I also couldn't find the skirt I was thinking of, but found one that I forgot I had! Pink and black, baby. So I'm all set. Someone suggested finding a bouffant wig, and it's not a bad idea, but it would probably drive me crazy. I'll stick with a ponytail or something. And yes, I'll make sure Ken takes a picture!

I hope everyone had a good day! I went to Circuit City to buy more memory today, because heaven knows I'm losing mine! SD cards for my camera were on sale, and so were flash drives, so I picked up a few more of those. While I was at it, I saw that the new Indiana Jones movie was out and on sale, so I got that since we never made it to the theater to see it. "The Untouchables" was also on sale, so I thought I'd continue to build our Mob movie library.

I've got a thing or two to do--and I still haven't read many blogs yet today!--so probably more later. Where the heck did the day go?

What to wear, what to wear...!

YES, I'm still up, doggone it. I'm trying to do better, but I'm not doing so well tonight!

Right after the debate, Cousin Shane and I IM'd about it. We had fun writing about it, and it was the first chance he'd had to watch one of the debates, so he was excited. After we stopped IM'ing, I got to thinking about how our B-52's concert is just a couple of days away! Woohooo! I told Mom today that Shane and I were going to a concert on Friday, and she asked who we were going to see. When I said "It's a band called The B-52's," she got such a kick out of their name!

So I got to thinking tonight about what I'm going to wear. Yeah, I know--bear with me, guys. The girls understand.

At first I was thinking, just go casual, wear jeans and a T-shirt. But then I thought, hey Beth, you don't go to that many concerts these days (just not that many going on here in South Bend, doncha know), and this IS the B-52' I'm thinking...I might have to do it up right.

I've got some platform boots. I've got fishnet stockings. I've got a short black skirt, and I've got lots of fun tops to wear with it. Not sure what I'll do with my hair, but I think it would be fun to go all B-52's with my outfit. What do you think? I'm going with my cousin, not out with the girls, so I'm obviously not on the prowl. I'm just thinking it might be fun to do it up right, and fully enjoy the experience that IS the B-52's! I'm starting to get psyched for this concert! Yippee!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Talking with Mom

I hope everyone had a good day!

Are you all fired up for the debate tonight? Woohooo! Me, too! Let's get to debatin'! Gimme a D! Gimme an E...okay...shutting up now.

Whoops! I just almost did a spit take when Chris Matthews said just now that Sarah Palin has lost her "new car smell." That was a close one, but I managed to keep it inside. The computer is spit-free.

I had a good talk with Mom this morning when I called to wish her a happy birthday. (Thanks everyone, for the birthday wishes for her! She thought that was pretty cool!) I told her that my gift to her today was that I would NOT be singing to her. She laughed and said that she wouldn't mind, and I said, "Don't be so sure!"

We talked about several things, and when I asked if they were going to watch the debate, Mom said, "Ohhhh, yeah!" Even though they've already voted! We didn't dwell on actual politics too much, and talked more about the economy and dealing with hard times than anything. (As Depression kids, her and Dad know all about hard times, believe me.) This entry isn't about any of that...but we did talk about racism, and that's what I want to write about tonight.

We got on the subject because Mom said that it's sad that there are a lot of people who won't vote for Obama because he's black. She mentioned the South, and I said, "Mom, it's just as bad up here." LJ has mentioned that she's heard people in Ohio say that they won't vote for him for that reason, and I've heard it here in Indiana. I'm not singling out any state or region, because I've heard it plenty here in my own state, much to my chagrin. But...that's reality. I don't like it, I think it's shameful, but it's still present. The stupid Klan was very active here in the 20's, and there's still a group in the area. (By the way, I find them completely irrelevant and ludicrous. Maybe one day they'll figure it out, too.)

Mom told me about visiting a relative who had a house in southern Georgia (an aunt by marriage). This aunt, who was a very sweet lady in many ways, took Mom and Dad to a place on the property where there was a big old tree. She told Mom and Dad it was the "killing tree."

Mom said that it was a huge tree, and there was a big limb that stuck straight out sideways, and when she realized what the woman was talking about, and what that tree was used for, she had a chill come over her, thinking about all the horrible things that had happened there. She told me about the son of this woman, who said he saw "a nigger walking in town" (and you're right, Marc, it's very hard to even type that word) and he "wanted to just run him over." I told Mom that if I heard someone say that in my presence, I would probably just go off, because that is beyond belief, and I cannot stomach such idiocy.

I'll say again that this isn't about politics. This is about simple human decency, and getting past such sheer stupidity. Our friend Mark tells us that we don't fully comprehend the impact such racism has had on blacks. I don't take offense at that, because I believe he's right. I CAN'T completely understand it, but I CAN condemn it for what it is: ignorance. A complete and utter lack of understanding for other people, other cultures, and fellow human beings. I can also stand up to people who make racist remarks and hold them up to the ridicule that they so deserve.

I thanked Mom today for the fact that her and Dad never gave me any sense of that kind of prejudice and racism. It's interesting that they didn't because there are many in their family and of their generation who DID feel that way. For some reason, Mom and Dad never did, and they gave that attitude to me and my sisters. Mom said something that made me happy. She said, "Dad and I were always glad that you girls never felt that way." I never realized that it was something that was an issue for Mom and Dad, but apparently it's something that they discussed and actively promoted with us. It must have been from an early age, and fairly pervasive, because I never remember feeling that anyone was inferior to us because of their race.

So here's to my Mom and Dad, octogenarians who were way ahead of their time, and who taught me that the measure of a man or woman is not their skin color (or their orientation) but their ethics, compassion, and humanity. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

A bad start to a good day

Here's wishing a very happy birthday to my Mom, and to friend Marc! Huzzah!

After Ken got up this morning and was taking a shower, I was laying there in bed and realized, "Uh oh. I think I have to work today!"

I got up and looked at the lab work schedule stuck up on the fridge, and although I agreed to only fill in when needed, they had me down for 5 days last week, 4 days this week, a couple of weekends in a row, and a holiday. And yes, I WAS scheduled to work today. It's so disorienting when you can't remember if you were supposed to be at work or not, and you forget to set your alarm!

Since Ken was in the shower, I figured I'd lie down a couple more minutes until he was done. As I lay there, I suddenly realized I was hearing breathing that wasn't my own. I even held my breath, but I was still hearing it. I looked over, and Ken was still in bed, snoozing soundly. I looked down at the foot of the bed, and Sheeba was curled up by my feet, snoozing even more soundly than Ken. I looked at my clock, and it was several minutes before Ken's alarm clock was going to go off.

It was all a dream!


Unbelievable that I had a dream like that, even after all these months. It was so real, too! It's also one reason that when I said I was done, I meant it. No filling in when needed, because I've seen how that works. Next thing you know, you're back to working every other weekend, and three holidays a year (although when I left, they were planning on trying two holidays per year again). I know that Pam (Hi Pam!! [waving]) always did her best to not schedule people too much, but what can she do when there aren't enough people to do the work? I hope it's easing up a bit for everyone, although I'd be surprised.

Whew. That was just a little TOO real.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We are nonsmokers (and so can you!)

I was playing some more today. Check out my Meez. I saw Marty's over at his blog (his Meez is holding an Obama sign--cool!), and I thought I'd try it. What fun! I spent too much time getting myself all geared out, but it was fun. I'm pleased with my camo skirt, my gladiator sandals, and my Rock the Vote T-shirt--and the fishnet stockings! Those are a bunch of Elvises (Elvi?) in the background. I couldn't resist the pet penguin, either. (I collect penguin figurines.)

I promised to tell you about how we quit smoking. First, a little background: I'd smoked since college, Ken even longer, and we both LOVED to smoke. I found it relaxing and a great stress reliever, and it kept me quite thin. We had always agreed that when I quit working, we'd both stop smoking.

In March 2006, I caught a cold. As always, it moved down into my chest and I got bronchitis. This time, though, the cough never went away. In fact, it got worse and worse, so that I was getting up in the middle of the night and trying to hack up a lung for a half an hour. I was taking Sudafed and Mucinex to try and control the wheeziness and coughing. At work, if I started laughing about something, it would send me into a coughing fit--and you all know me...I love to laugh! It finally got so bad that Ken said, "You have GOT to go to the doctor." I knew he was right, and I made the appointment.

My doctor didn't think it sounded like I had pneumonia, and sent me for a chest X-ray and a bone density scan. (As a thin, white, female smoker, I was in the highest risk group for osteoporosis.) She also prescribed an Albuterol inhaler (used for asthma) to help with my wheeziness and breathing problems. They called me at work with the results of the X-ray and bone density scan. I had osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, and I also had the beginning of emphysema. I was 44 years old at the time, and let me tell about a wake-up call!

Ken and I had a talk that night, and agreed that quitting wasn't going to wait until I stopped working. We weren't quite ready then, though--have I mentioned how much we enjoyed smoking? We had our yearly vegecation coming up that summer, and agreed we'd start our "program" after that. We smoked like chimneys when we were in Florida! Ha! When we got back, it was time to start. We both smoked a pack a day (20 cigs) and Kengineer came up with his 6-week plan.

First two weeks: cut down to 15 a day and begin modifying behaviors, i.e., stop smoking in the car

Second two weeks: down to 10 a day, stop smoking on breaks at work

Final two weeks: 5 a day, no smoking in the house

We were a little flexible with some of this, especially the last two weeks. I think we both smoked more than 5 a day, with the understanding that when the two weeks were up, we were stopping completely. We also had a cool, rainy snap that final week, so we smoked inside the house. I got an "assist" when my lab stopped allowing smoking indoors, so I had to go outside all the time. I still remember the day when it rained the whole work day, and I went the entire day at work without smoking! I was quite proud of myself, and that was the point when I really started to believe I could do it.

I only told a couple of people when we started, but when we stopped for good, I told everybody! I don't like to fail, and I figured that the more people I told, the more embarrassed I'd be if I started smoking again. I figure whatever motivates you and whatever works--do it! Everyone at work said that I didn't seem overly cranky or weird when I quit, so I was happy about that.

We were able to do it without drugs, hypnosis, or anything like that, but what worked for us might not work for everyone. Whatever it takes, I urge you to give it a try, before you get to the emphysema point. My doctor in Indianapolis was always urging me to quit, and said he'd do whatever he could to help me. He said that an important step is to understand what motivates you to smoke--is it the physical addiction of the nicotine, or the psychological addiction of the action? Mine was psychological, no doubt about it, and he said that for one of his patients, he prescribed Valium, because the risk of dependency on Valium was less than the risk of smoking. Wow. Of course, it didn't sink in for me until I got my diagnosis years later.

I can honestly say that there are moments that I miss them, and think, "I'd like to sit down with a smoke right now," but it's a matter of a split second, and then I move on. I've had an occasional puff of the rare cigar that Ken smokes (a couple a year, tops), but I haven't picked up a cigarette since Aug. 5, 2006. I'd probably get such a head rush that I'd just keel over! I put on about 10 pounds, but maybe a year later, lost 5 of them. I'll take a 5 pound weight gain! I haven't had to use my inhaler for months now, and the last time I got a stayed in my head and was gone after a couple of days. It had been years since that had happened! I think that one of the reasons we were successful was because we did it together--when I first met Ken, he had just quit smoking...but I was smoking, and he picked up the habit again. I think it would be really hard to try to quit if your spouse didn't do it with you. Deb, on whose site I mentioned I saw the Quitmeter, wrote that she got a lot of support from I know, without a doubt, that there are lots of people out there trying to quit, too, but there are just as many "cheerleaders" that will help anyone who wants to try. Like I said, if any of you guys want to try, don't hesitate to email me for support.

I can't begin to tell you how much better I feel, and I want everyone to experience that. I also think of the times we sat here with the kids, just puffing away, and how awful that must have been for them. Sheeba was around it even more, and that couldn't have been healthy for his little kitty lungs. Everything about quitting is good, except for that one little thing: that psychological imprint that makes you remember how enjoyable it was. My Mom had always told me that she knows how strong-willed I am, and she knows that I would never let something like a stupid little cigarette get the best of me! I always said that I'd quit when I was ready, and when I was finally ready, it was a great feeling to know that I had the willpower and strength to beat it. It CAN be done--you just have to want it enough.

And if that isn't convincing enough, take another look at that Quitmeter up at the top...the part about how much money we've saved.

Take that, silly ol' slideshow! HA!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't throw this Christian to the lions

Did anyone else watch the debut of "My Own Worst Enemy" on NBC tonight?


We both like Christian Slater anyway, and the premise of the show sounded pretty cool. A guy has an induced split personality: Henry is the loving family man with a wife and kids, and Edward is the government operative...and a killer. Edward knows all about Henry, but Henry doesn't have a clue until the barriers begin breaking down, and Henry finds himself in some very strange places and circumstances. Nothing is normal now for Henry--even a good friend at his company turns out to be a "handler."

I loved the debut of this show, and we'll see if they can keep up the suspense and continue the premise. By the end of the episode, Henry and Edward have figured out a way to communicate. Will they continue to help each other? Will Henry become inured to the violence of Edward's world? Will Edward continue to sleep with Henry's wife (who seemed to be quite happy with the encounter)?

Neat show. We'll be tuning in next week!

I've gotten some really good feedback on the "we've stopped smoking" widget and entry. Tomorrow I'll write about the circumstances of how we decided to quit, and the plan that Ken came up with. I've written about it before, but it bears repeating if it can help just one person quit!

I hope everyone sleeps tight tonight.

Whipping you-know-what

Please note the new widget at the top of this blog. Ken and I saw it on our friend Deb's blog, and thought it was such a great idea. Since we stopped smoking over two years ago, look at how much money we've saved! But what's even better is how much better we feel, how we aren't coughing and hacking like we used to, how our house doesn't smell like cigarette smoke anymore, and how much better our health is. I bet Sheeba is also happy to not have to be breathing in our smoke. If any of you are still struggling with trying to quit smoking, PLEASE don't hesitate to contact me for support, or to hear about the plan that Ken devised for us to stop smoking. It's the best thing I've ever done for my health (I suspect Ken probably feels the same way), and I will happily be your cheerleader, your confidante, and your supporter in your efforts to STOP THIS NASTY HABIT.

How about that wacky stock market?! Woohoo, way to rebound, you nut! Our pal Dan made the call, and what a relief to see some good news. Obviously, we're not out of the woods yet, but I think we all needed to see a little confidence in the market, and a nice big turnaround when it comes to buying should help a lot.

As far as the presidential campaigns (feel free to skip ahead a few paragraphs if you'd rather not read this), I think everyone gave Sen. McCain a lot of credit for stepping up on Friday and trying to calm his supporters down at his attempt to take the anger down a notch. He was booed by his own supporters for his efforts, so now he is saying that he stands behind his supporters and understands their anger, and at his Virginia headquarters on Sunday, he pledged to kick some ass in the last debate this Wednesday.

“After I whip his you-know-what in this debate, we’re going to be going out 24/7,” he says of his and Palin’s campaigning.

Considering that the topic of the last debate is the economy, I'd say that Sen. McCain's ass-kickin' will be more "get" than "give." I'm really starting to wonder about McCain's volatility, and I don't just mean his temper. It's like he changes his tune from day-to-day--first he's conciliatory and trying to regain his honor, then he's right back to the mud-slinging and negative campaigning. I'm sorry to see that he has reverted to the nastiness and attacks rather than focus on the issues. I really don't think it's playing well, at least not with moderates, independents, and undecideds. Kind of sad to see, actually, and I hope that the rhetoric won't result in violence.

I spent some time in the garden today, trying to get more of the weeds cleared off. I got the rest of the tall stuff, but the wild strawberry vines are just too much to tackle. I think that if we cover them up this winter, they won't be able to get a hold of the garden beds in the spring. The mosquitoes are still terrible, and really, isn't it about time that they started dying off? Jeez! Of course, it's been 80° the past couple of days, so they're still thriving.

After I stopped working in the garden, since I already had bug spray on, I took a stroll down the path that Ken maintains through the marsh and wetlands. It was so nice and warm and sunny, and I got quite warm walking along! I went back into the woods a little bit, too, and it was so peaceful. As I continued on through the marsh, I could see little trails through the marsh grass where deer had made their way off of the main path, and I could see the spots where they bed down for the night, usually by a tree, either still living or downed. Some extra protection, I suppose. It made me want to start hiking back into the woods this fall, as the vegetation starts dying back. We are so lucky to have found this place, and I feel like we have our own little nature preserve.

I took a walk out front to check on some of the trees and bushes we've planted, and as I walked back down the driveway, the basketball hoop drew me.

I can't explain it, but I had a mad desire to shoot some hoops. I opened up the garage and pumped up my Pacers basketball, and started shooting some baskets. I had a blast, and even made a bunch of my shots! It seems that my best shot is the short jumper. HA! Get it? Short jumper? That's ME! I even did a couple of awkward layups, and made them! My long jumpshot sucks, though. I sure had fun doing that, and I foresee myself working on my mad skillz. Think I can learn to dunk it? Maybe if I can manage a 6-foot vertical leap. Looks like I've got some work to do.

A fountain and a tax plan

A couple of quick things before I head out to the garden.

Joann wanted to see inside the book of the Columbian Exposition. Ask and ye shall receive, my dear!

This is a picture of the MacMonnies Fountain. From the Paul V. Galvin Library at Illinois Institute of Technology:

THE COLUMBIAN FOUNTAIN - Frederick MacMonnies [a sculptor from Brooklyn] was entrusted with the design and construction of the central fountain at the Fair, and $50,000 were placed at his disposal for the purpose. Of this amount, it is said that the ardent lover of sculpture actually expended fully $48,000 in bringing his great conception to successful completion. The fountain shows Columbia sitting aloft of the Barge of State, heralded by Fame at the prow, oared by the Arts and Industries, guided by Time at the helm, and drawn by the sea-horses of Commerce. The prow of the barge is ornamented with an eagle's beak; its sides are bordered with dolphins in relief; and horns of plenty pour their abundance over the gunwales. The pedestal on which Columbia sits, bears a national shield in front, and the throne is supported by four kneeling children, who also bear heavy garlands. A torch at rest is in Columbia's hand. The rowers on the right are Music, Architecture, Sculpture and Painting; on the left, Agriculture, Science, Industry and Commerce. Time has improvised a helm by using his scythe. This barge stands in the center of a circular basin, one hundred and fifty feet in diameter, which at its eastern periphery flows in circular cascade in many falls to the surface of the Grand Basin of the Exposition, twelve feet below. In the basin of the fountain, four pair of sea-horses, mounted by riders who represent modern intelligence, draw the barge. Near the semi-circular balustrade which guards the rear of the fountain, dolphins send streams upward, and mermaids and tritons at various places add to the fleecy display of high-thrown water. The general effect of the MacMonnies fountain was marvelously beautiful, and thousands of visitors gained their chief enjoyment in sitting near by and enjoying the principal scene. It was said to be the largest fountain in the world.

Myra commented that I've written before that my sister Diana is kind of strange. Ha ha! I'm pretty sure Di would take that as a compliment, as would I! I can assure you that Di is one of the kindest people you could ever meet, and one of the funnest as well. Di has a good time pretty much wherever she is or whatever she is doing, and has a joy for life that you rarely see in people. Yeah, she's a bit of a nut...but I think she might have figured out that the key to happiness is a slight dose of nuttiness!

Finally (for now), I found this chart in Parade magazine, the one that comes with the Sunday newspaper. I thought it was fairly interesting. I don't know about you guys, but we're not close to those upper levels. It makes sense to me that millionaires should pay a little more in taxes, rather than less. Sorry it's kind of tiny--get out your magnifying glass, Sherlock!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How YOU doin'?!

We had a fun day yesterday! My intention was to put a slideshow up, but due to some unforeseen difficulties, I was unable to do so. I'll work on it tomorrow and try and get it up here.

(Frankly, I'm being very polite and calm. I am so incredibly irritated right now that it is taking everything I've got to keep from letting loose with a stream of profanity that would make a sailor blush. I am stepping away from the slideshow project and I am calmly writing about our day. I will include a few pictures, and I will regain my equilibrium.)

The dedication of the Habitat house was incredible. Ken wrote about it over at his place, and you can read the details there. The woman who got the house said that no one in her family owns a home--she's the first person to become a homeowner. How cool is that? It sure made me realized how fortunate we are. I thought it was neat that this wasn't just a lone Habitat house--they're building a small community, and the lady who got the house has been helping her neighbors with their houses as well as working on her own. It was a great thing to see, and I'm glad we went!

Later, it was on to my sister's house. Right after we got to Diana's, we made a trip to her museum. (Well, it's not HER museum, but she's the assistant director of the Elkhart County Historical Museum). She opened it up for us and we got to see their quilt exhibit, as well as several other cool things. This is Amish country, so quilting is big around here. I think the oldest one they have is from 1859, and there were some beautiful quilts on display. I asked Diana if they still had the Ambrose Bierce stuff, so she opened up that room for me. She got out the map that was on display at the Field Museum in Chicago during their map display exhibit. This small map is worth about $35,000! They also have his field desk from the Civil War, and a few of his map-making tools, and she said she has no idea of what those things are worth.

While walking around and looking at things, I came across a picture book that was out. It was an original from the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893, the World's Fair! A few years ago, Ken got me the book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I loved the book, and it made me fascinated by that World's Fair, so I got several books about it. Only two large buildings survive: the one that the Museum of Science and Industry now occupies, and the one that is the home of the Art Institute. I was thrilled to find a book that was of that time period! I'm thinking I might be spending some time over there, just looking through things like that.

Back at Diana's house, she asked me, "So you're going to Vegas and you're going to see 'Love'! Ohhh, it was GREAT!" What did I tell you? Then she brought out her program (Again, what did I tell you?), and as we looked through it, she told me how great it was. When I told her we had front row seats, she said, "Ohhhhh!" Ha ha! She talked about it more a little later, and said that while she was there, she even wondered if maybe this isn't what Heaven is like. One more time...what did I tell you?! She also recommended the Liberace Museum, but I said we were hoping that the Neon Museum, AKA The Boneyard, will be open and we can tour that. She said she'd never heard of that one, but I'm not sure how much she's into signage.

I had taken my reading glasses with me, and as I put them on and held my pony tail up on my head, I told Diana that I brought them along so I could "do my new impression, doncha know!" She cracked up, and asked if I could do the wink. I obliged. I'll have to continue working on it, but I made her laugh with just that, so I'll consider that a success. The only real political discussion that came up was about the economy, which shows where everyone's main concern is at.

Diana made Pasta Fagioli, and we were all stuffed by the time we were done. She made a pineapple cake using a recipe from our Aunt June, and after that, we were even more stuffed! Mom liked all of her cards and presents, and I think she had a really nice time. Thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes for Mom--she really got a kick out of it!

Also, it turns out that Diana has some really weird friends. This guy just sat around and never said a word. How rude!

Di is planning on putting him in the passenger seat of her Camaro and putting some sunglasses on him when she drives to work. I'd love to see some of the reactions to that!

Today has turned out to be a good one, too. Beautiful weather--very warm for mid-October--and we agreed that we should grill. I was looking for a sirloin steak in the freezer, and when I moved a roast, I uncovered TWO packages of Porterhouse steaks! Oh yeah, babe! We're talking Porterhouse steaks, a baked potato, and a lettuce wedge with blue cheese dressing. Works for me! Hope you all had a superb weekend!