Saturday, April 28, 2012

I’m just waiting on a friend

Margaret and BethOn Wednesday evening, I had a very pleasant surprise. I was sitting here watching “American Idol” and facebooking (I’m a multi-tasker, y0!). For the first hour of the show, they were doing the music of Queen, with Brian May and Roger Taylor playing with the band...and yes, they are both still amazing musicians! I can’t say that the Idol contestants did very well with Queen music...Freddie’s are some big shoes to fill, and I just wasn’t all that impressed.

Anyway, I loved Queen when I was in high school, had all the albums and everything. A poster of Freddie Mercury. I was much older before I realized that Freddie wouldn’t have been into me! I enjoyed seeing Brian and Roger perform, if not much else, and these will always be great songs. I still love ‘em! As I was making comments about this on Facebook, I got a friend request from Nina. I recognized her name immediately, because she is the daughter of my best friend from high school, Margaret. Margaret and I have been friends on Facebook for a while, but she doesn’t spend a lot of time on there because she’s so busy. Gee, you’d think that getting her PhD in social work, teaching full time at a university, and being involved in her daughter’s activities would give her plenty of time for social networking. But noooo! Ha! 

Nina messages me and tells me that they were watching “American Idol,” and when they did Queen music, her Mom started talking about me and about how much I liked them years ago. Then Margaret got on there, said that she gets down our way fairly often now to check on her Mom, and before we knew it, we’d arranged for her and Nina to stop by this afternoon! I was just so excited and so happy. They left a little while ago, after about an hour and a half of visiting and talking.

I was thinking that it’s probably been at least 25 years since we last saw each other. I lived out of the area for a good 15 years after high school, and we all know how life gets in the way. But I’m telling you...we just started talking like it had been nothing more than a week since we’d last talked! Margaret looks fantastic, and Nina is just a doll and very sweet. (I hope we didn’t bore her too much with our gabbing! And yes, Nina is taller than me. Argh!) I had a pretty good idea that Margaret shared my liberal leanings, and sure enough, she noticed a card I have sitting here from the White House, and it’s pretty hard to miss the Obama stickers on the fridge! So we were off and running talking about politics, our families, and what we’ve both been up to over the years.

Margaret and NinaShe is teaching now and has done work with the courts trying to get help for abused children and damaged adults. We are simpatico on that as well, and talked about changing the system, changing how the system deals with such things, giving people help instead of punishing them. Abused children eventually become abusive parents, and she said it’s a matter of trying to treat the damage to break the cycle. I recall Margaret and I being two of the more liberal kids in the class of ‘80 (maybe the only?), and nothing has changed! We also talked about whether or not we keep in touch with anyone else from high school...I said that I have a couple of friends from our class on Facebook, including Luana, but I systematically lost the others, either because they defriended me or because they never interacted with me and I cleaned house. And that despite being friends with several of them at the time, I never heard one word about our 30th reunion. She found that as amusing as I do. That’s me: Little Miss Dangerous!

We talked about a few things from the past, but only scratched the surface. One thing I remember from our English class...once a week, Mr. Flatt challenged the class to just WRITE. He would choose a topic, and we’d have maybe five minutes to just write like crazy. The goal wasn’t to make a cogent argument for anything--but to at least make decent sense--but to just let the thoughts flow. Whoever had the most words won for that week, but no one could win two weeks in a row. The first week, Margaret won. The second week, I won. The third week, Margaret won again. The fourth week, I won again. Then Mr. Flatt made the rule that no one could win more than twice. I’m laughing just thinking about that! We were both always good at English and with writing.

All this, and we never made it downstairs to the Retro Lounge! Next time...and we agreed that we look forward to a next time and will definitely make it happen.

After all these years, I can’t begin to tell you what a delight it was to see her again, and to meet her daughter. Almost three decades have passed, and it was like we picked up right where we left off, with the same attitudes and feelings about things, and in agreement about so much. I had a brief moment of nervousness today, wondering if we’d still get along, still like each other...but then I thought, “Hey. It’s Margaret. You were best friends for a reason.” And it was just an immediate hug and laughter and happiness to see each other again.

And to think that it was Queen that brought us together again! That makes it even better! I recall buying her the 45 of Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” way back when, so it’s only fitting that I post it now. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

A good Friday

Dem vs GOPI got up at a decent time this morning, got my workout done, and had a nice lunch with my mother-in-law! We had a nice chat and many laughs (including about certain mutual acquaintances), and it was a pleasant, sunny day, although it was a little on the cool side. I’m battling a little bit of a headache due to the food coma thing, although I didn’t overeat. Just a half a sandwich (fried green tomato turkey club...YUM!) and some steamed vegetables, but I don’t usually eat that much for lunch. Usually I eat...nothing. But it was good, and it was a fun visit! I’ll have the other half of the sandwich for dinner tonight. I’m not doing very well with cleaning out the freezer, darn it! But I have something yummy in mind for Ken’s return on Sunday that involves a sirloin steak that’s in the freezer...a lot of work, but I’ve got a hankering for it, and it was really good when I made it before. Details to come, but it’s an Emeril Lagasse recipe, so you know it’s good! And I get to use my meat mallet, so that’s always a plus.

I also have something neat happening tomorrow (Saturday), and I’ll write about it afterwards. TEASE!

I haven’t gone back to see how many times I’ve written about politics in the past month, but I don’t think it’s been very often. I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m feeling about things, and I actually feel kind of sad and disgusted. Don’t get me wrong...I plan on doing work for Obama’s campaign this summer, and I still support him completely. Most of my disgust comes with the outrageous things being said by the Republicans and the failure of the rank and file Repubs to rebuke extremists like Limbaugh for their horrid comments. There have been plenty of targets, but I’m going to focus on their attitude towards women again. Not just the Sandra Fluke “slut” remarks from Limbo. He recently said this about Hillary Clinton:

And now Hillary has reached the pinnacle, and all she is is a secretary. She’s the Secretary of Defense – State, whatever. But still a secretary. I don’t know. The left has the strangest definitions of success.

That’s right. One of the most powerful women in the world, with an approval rating through the roof, one who has proven herself to be an incredible and capable diplomat, and he calls her just “a secretary.” That’s Secretary of Em-Effin STATE, you limp-dick tub o’ lard. UGH. (Hillary 2016! C’mon, Hill, do it just so Limbaugh’s head will go all splodey!)

I’m also appalled by the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which has essentially put our elections up for sale to the highest bidder. This is a bipartisan abomination, and I hope that the Supreme Court will choose to address it again and reverse their decision. Oh, and Mittens tells college students this week to ask their parents for a loan for college, or to start a business. Seriously? Does he have any idea that millions of people in this country do NOT have the money to loan to their kids? Wake up, people! This guy is clueless to what average Americans are dealing with right now!

Evil grinErrr, I’m still reading about all of this stuff, still taking it all in, still learning and being informed...but my respect for our election process has taken a major hit. Partisanship has become insane, and although it happens on both sides, I think one side saying that their main goal is to make Obama a one term President should be a clear indication that SOME parties are more partisan than others...not to mention any names. *cough* republicans *cough*

I am still engaged, still fired up and ready to go, and still ready to do what I can to give my President another term. I’m trying to balance it with other reading (Summer for the Gods is fantastic...I’m about halfway through and will be doing an entry about it when I’m done), music, exercise, and family and friends. I can get very frustrated and angry with some of the things I read, and I simply cannot allow that to rule my life. As we get closer to the election, I’m sure I’ll get more deeply involved and vocal (that last week is going to be every bit of a bitch as the last week before the 2008 election, I just know it!), but for now I’m trying to stay mellow. 

However, as I typed that last sentence just now, I realized that an evil grin appeared on my face, and my eyebrow arched automatically. This doesn’t bode well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A glutton for punishment

Huge burgerDid you see the story that another person collapsed while having one of the huge calorie- and fat-laden burgers at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas?

I’m not blaming the Heart Attack Grill for this; I place the responsibility solely on anyone who is already not very healthy, and then supersizes their risk by scarfing down a giant burger. Am I the only one who thinks this is insane, and to be honest, kind of gross?

I love food, and I love a good burger. I just had one on Tuesday—it wasn’t a huge one, and I ate three-quarters of it. But what is this bizarre compulsion to eat so much of something that you feel miserable, and sometimes even collapse? How is this healthy? Why is it desirable? What is WRONG with people?

I know that as I’ve gotten older, my metabolism has changed. I used to be able to pack away a lot of food and gain almost no weight. I definitely put on weight easier now (especially since I quit smoking), but I don’t want to eat as much, and honestly feel very uncomfortable—to the point of feeling ill—if I eat too much. It’s not unusual for me to be able to eat only a half of an entree. I take plenty of boxes of food home!

Huge burger2I really don’t get it. It’s no wonder that we have an obesity problem in this country, and diabetes is running rampant. You don’t get to stuff a two-pound burger down your gullet and then wonder why you get a shitty checkup from your doctor, or wonder why your cholesterol is sky high, and you definitely don’t get to bitch to me about it. But can people eat that much? How is that enjoyable for them? The uncomfortable feeling of a too-full belly is bad enough, but it makes me feel headachey, sluggish, and generally unpleasant. Seeing someone shove their pie hole full of food is not a turn-on, believe me. You will never hear me say, “Wow, look at that guy eating a three-pound steak! Gimme some o’ that...and I’m not talkin’ about the steak!” Ugh.

I eat steaks, burgers, ribs, plenty of stuff like that. Heck, we’ve got a side of beef on the way. But I know when to stop, and I know my limits. I try to focus on a little protein, lots of veggies and salads, and an occasional bowl of pasta (I would have a really hard time giving up pasta). I don’t eat a perfect diet, but I also don’t gorge myself to the point of being vomitous. I may dabble in the some of the Seven Deadly Sins once in a while, but Gluttony is no longer one of them for me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beth’s Music Moment: The Joy of Discovery

Beth's music moment6I’ve been going a little crazy with finding new music (well, new to ME, anyway) lately. I remember how much fun Shane and I always had when we’d “discover” a new group. The mid to late ‘70s and early ‘80s was prime time when it came to new acts, with the explosion of New Wave and punk rock. Shane mentioned just this week that I introduced him to early Journey and the Ramones. I didn’t remember that (I would have thought it was the other way around), but hey, that’s pretty cool! We still talk about the B-52’s appearance on SNL, as well as Devo’ started our lifelong love of those bands.

I kind of got out of that mode for a while. I went through a jazz phase, then got back into rock but tended to stick with the known, and just didn’t explore new sounds like I used to. I’m not sure what changed for me several months ago, but my search for the new is back with a vengeance, and I’m having a blast! It might stem back to last year when my CD club (yes, they used to have those) closed down and was clearing out their stock. I got thirty-some CDs for really low prices and had a lot of fun listening to snippets to see if I liked them or not before I ordered them.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been using the “artists similar to” feature on my phone, and on LastFM. This isn’t the kind of music that’s played on the radio around here, so I’ve had to seek it out. I’ve found some of the coolest music lately! Sometimes it will be so-so, but other times something will hit me over the head like a two-by-four. Here are a few of my recent favorites. Some of these aren’t all that new, but great music doesn’t mind if you’re a little late to the scene!

With my daily workouts, I’ve really been enjoying the energy of beat-heavy electronic music, and Fenech-Soler fits the bill. I like to listen to this when I’m on the elliptical, because it makes me go faster and work harder!

In the same vein, but a bit heavier on the synthesizers, is Grafton Primary. The music reminds me a little of Devo, and Shane and I were racking our brains to try and figure out whose voice the lead singer reminded us of. Shane finally came up with it: Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs!

I saved the best for last. I listened to this for the first time a couple of days ago, and I was just about blown away. Babyshambles reminds me a little of the Kinks, and when I posted the video on Facebook, Shane was blown away, too. He said he sensed a little Chocolate Watchband in there. I knew he’d love it as much as I did, and I was right!


Other recent favorites have been Jamaica, Pony Pony Run Run, Bag Raiders, Cut Copy, Friendly Fires, Holy Ghost!, and Kids of 88. I’ve still got lots more new stuff to enjoy, too. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I’ve been having with all of this, and sharing some of them with my music buddy, Shane. It’s a great feeling to find something that you know others will love (if they don’t already), and to share it with them. It’s one of my little pleasures in life to break out of the confines of the ordinary, whether it’s music, books, food, or movies, and encounter something I haven’t encountered before. Like the motto of this blog says, “Boredom is not an option!”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bonus entry due to Pen Hysteria

Frixion penI got an Amazon shipment today, and along with a new CD holder, I’d ordered some new pens that I thought sounded pretty cool. The Pilot FriXion Erasable Gel Pen. [cue the angelic choir]

I got three blue pens, and a pack of multi-colored pens, including the purple one in the picture (although it looks blue). This more than makes up for the great Sharpie Liquid Pencil Debacle of 2010. This might be the coolest pen ever. I love this pen. I wish I could tell my Dad about this pen, because he’d love it, too! It writes smoothly, like every other gel pen, but it’s erasable. I still love my Jimnie Gels, and I don’t want to be disloyal to my favorite pen, but check this out about the FriXion:

  • Rewritable—write and rewrite repeatedly without damaging documents. No wear or tear!
  • Thermo-Sensitive Gel Ink formula disappears with erasing friction
  • Smooth writing Gel Ink
  • Available with Fine Point in Assorted Ink Colors

[from back of package]

This pen is insane. The eraser is not traditional rubber. It’s a hard plastic nub that doesn’t leave any sort of rubber shavings or just...rubs the
Thermo-Sensitive Gel Ink away. O_O What strange sort of sorcery is this?!

This might be my pen for our Route 66 trip. I plan on keeping a written journal along with daily blogging, and I think the Pilot FriXion just might be the one for the trip. I am just beside myself. Ken got a demonstration, although he didn’t seem quite as excited as I am. Maybe someday he’ll be more supportive of me and build me a special room for my writing supplies. It’s not a Hobby of the Month for me…I’ve been obsessed with office supplies since I was a kid doodling on the Studebaker stationery that we got when the plant closed down. (What I wouldn’t give for a few sheets of that letterhead today…!)


This used to be my playground

Pat's BarThis afternoon just flew by! Cousin Shane picked me up around 1:30, and we headed out for lunch.

Our initial plan was to check out a little place in my hometown of Lakeville, Buffalo Rose. We were walking towards the door when we heard a woman behind us say, “Um...we’re not open.” Bummer! We talked to her for a bit—turned out she is the manager—and I said that their website said they were open. She said they’d have to fix that. They only do Thursday through Sunday now, with limited hours. It was a bust for me and Shane, but that means that Ken and I will get to check it out first. Every time we drive by it, we say, “We need to go there!” (I might be repeating myself here. My apologies, if that’s the case.)

Instead of heading back up to South Bend to hit a chain restaurant, I suggested we head a little farther south to the bustlin’ town of LaPaz, to visit a place that has been there since we were in high school (and probably several years before that), Pat’s Bar. (And no, Pat’s Bar wasn’t my playground…but Lakeville, LaPaz, and the surrounding countryside were.) We recall going there with Shane’s Mom and stepdad for broasted chicken and broasted potatoes, sitting on the family side. Now that we’re big people, we were seated on the bar side. At first, it was just the two of us in a booth and one guy at the bar, but then a couple of tables-worth of older guys came in. (And *gasp*...they were SMOKING! It really kind of grosses me out now.)

We both got burgers, along with one of Shane’s favorites, fried mushrooms. Everything was really tasty! We’ll definitely go back...I know Ken will like it, and I think his Mom would, too. Hard to believe it’s still open after all these years!

Shane and I were talking about how the new US 31 project will affect Lakeville and LaPaz. We wondered if they will turn into ghost towns, or if there will be enough locals and enough people like us who support businesses in those towns. (To be honest, I don’t know if it bodes well for them.) After our lunch, we tooled around our old stomping grounds and checked out the new highway and new overpasses. I was pretty shocked. I’ve only seen the construction that is going on near us, and hadn’t been out to the areas further south to see what all they were doing. It’s so bizarre to see these big overpasses going through farm country! We drove by one of the houses where Shane lived, and by one where our Aunt June and Cousin Greg lived, and we remembered several homes where some of our classmates lived. (It looks like the “haunted house” on Kenilworth Road is long gone, though. I went in it when I was in high school!)

It was kind of an odd feeling to be driving down these roads. We remembered riding our bikes along many of them (sans helmets!). I can’t say that it made me feel was just different. Things change, and you can either be swept away by the changes or accept them. I suppose that’s easy for ME to say, because the new highway isn’t all that close to our house, as it is for one of Shane’s coworkers...or coming right through our place, as one possible route had it! (Thank you, wetlands in our back yard!) We both agreed that although this area has its problems, it’s a pretty nice place to live. I love going into town for events or dinner, and I love visiting big cities to see all that they have to offer...but at the end of the day, I’m happy to be driving down a country road framed by tall trees and have a guy mowing his lawn wave to me as I drive past. And yes, that really happened today. I asked Shane, “Did he just wave to us?” Shane said yeah, and I said, “Aww!”

By the time we got back to Nutwood, it was going on five o’clock! Hard to believe time went by so quickly, but it was a great time with my super cool cousin. Thanks for a fun afternoon, Shane!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Trump hairIt’s a good thing ol’ Trumpy wasn’t hanging out at Nutwood today, because lo, a mighty wind arose! That thing on his head would not have liked it. Well, it’s a good thing he wasn’t hanging out here for many other reasons than that...the latest being the firing of my Magician Crush, Penn Jillette, from Trump’s stoopid show. Which I continue to watch, but that’s beside the point. Don’t you judge me!

Anyway, it is very blustery today. Two casualties so far: a good-sized limb from one of the big maples, and some bamboo wind chimes. (I think I can easily fix the wind chimes, though.) It could definitely be might be cool and windy here, but at least we’re not getting a nasty snowstorm like the East coast! Yikes! I think that would make me cry at this point. Well, East coast, that’s what you get for being all elitist and junk. Oh, and gay marriage! See?! That’s what tolerance and reason will get you, every damn time.

Another quiet day here, with nowhere to be and no real obligations. Just some general puttering, working out, and reading. My social life picks back up tomorrow, as Cousin Shane and I head out for lunch on his day off. (I’m not sure yet if Matt has to work, or if he can come, too.) We decided to try a new place, a little pizza and sammich shop, Buffalo Rose, in my hometown of Lakeville. Every time Ken and I drive by there, we say, “We need to stop there!” Well, looks like Shane and I are going to beat me and Ken to it. I told Ken to consider it a test run to see if it’s any know, like I’m testing the food to see if it’s poisoned. You’re welcome, Hubby.

Speaking of my hubby, he heads out on Wednesday for a few days at a conference in Minneapolis. Normally, I’d be making out a grocery list for one of the dishes that I make when Ken is gone—something with eggplant or cabbage or green peppers—but this time, I’m going to work on cleaning stuff out of the freezers in order to make room for the side of beef we’ll be getting soon. I’ve made pretty good headway on it, but man, it’s hard for me not to buy chicken or ribs when they’re on sale! There will also be several things that we toss out when it comes time to defrost the freezer. Things get buried and they’re starting to come to light as I clear things out. (I initially typed “come to life.” That would be really, really bad!) 

I have no big plans for when he’s gone...mostly hanging out here, reading, maybe getting a little spring cleaning done, and maybe watching a movie or two that he’s probably not all that interested in. (I’ve had “The Runaways” on deck for a while now.) In short (har dee har har), I plan on staying out of trouble! I’ll let you know how that goes. Heh.

One more whoosh:

Palin empty head small

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Showin’ some love

Earth DayHappy Earth Day to my favorite planet! (It used to be Pluto, but we know how THAT turned out, don’t we?)

After several days of activities with family, we’re having a quiet day here at our own tiny little chunk o’ earth. That included a good workout for each of us, because all of those days with family included plenty of food! In fact, we’re going easy on the food tonight and just having some BLTs. (Mmmm.)

There was a good article in Parade magazine included with today’s paper, about Earth Day and recycling and all that good stuff. It included a How Green Are You? quiz, and I took a couple of minutes to do that and see how I was doing. Pretty good, but I still need to work on some things. I’m “fluorescent green,” but just barely made it into that category. Our location hinders us in some ways, because our growing season is short, and we can only get locally grown stuff in the summer. And sorry, but if the speed limit is 65 mph, I go 65 mph (Okay, maybe a little more...I have a Mustang, after all!). But overall, we do pretty well.

Our big recycling bin is consistently full, because we recycle all cans, bottles, newspapers, magazines, and cardboard. Ken takes junk mail and work-related papers into the office to be shredded and recycled. Our garbage amounts to very little now. I just took it out, and it was maybe one-fourth of a tall kitchen garbage bag.

Better World logoWe’re far from perfect, and far from 100% sustainable, but we try to do our part. I also love supporting businesses that try to make a difference, and my favorite is Better World Books. I’ve written about them more than once, but they can never get enough attention as far as I’m concerned! They save used books, like ones that are being permanently removed from library shelves, from the landfill, and a significant portion of the profits they receive from the sales of these books goes towards literacy programs. They ship books for free in the continental U.S., and they tack on a few extra cents for carbon-offsetting. I think they’re a fine example of a company doing everything “right.” Also, if you’re like me and love vintage books, you can find some really good ones through them. I love a decades-old book. I’ve even gotten a few copies that were signed by the author! So the next time you want to order a book, please consider Better World. They are truly trying to make one!