Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nothing much new today

3-31-11 good- morning brain
It's the last day of March.... isn't? March has seemed like a very long month to me, which I guess is OK, except that it seems I haven't see the sun much at all this month. All week now, since I've been in KC, it has been cloudy.

I suppose in some ways this dark, cool week has been good for me. It's allowed me to focus on work and also sleep a lot. I think I had a touch of some bug. Not really sick, but not feeling totally well either. My acupuncturist says it is the start of the "spring cleaning" our bodies go through.

So Greg and I haven't been doing anything too exciting this week to write about. We did manage to take a walk early evening last night, which felt good to get the body moving again. He also took me to one of his favorite BBQ restaurants in KC- my first time visit there. Just a small town type of restaurant over on Wornel Street, on the Missouri side..... and I admit that I really did love the food at this place: Smokestack BBQ

After work today, Molly might come over to the house and we will attempt to do some Yoga together. And then of course it is elimination night for American Idol. I did watch the performances last night and liked most of them. I'm not sure who will get kicked off this week.

A shout out to my friend Ann, who is having a stressful week. Her father has been in the hospital and she is doing her best to monitor his care with several visits per day. Being a nurse herself, she is on top of things, so her week has been very hectic  I'm sure. In contrast, I guess I shouldn't complain that my week has been uneventful.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Guest Blog

3-30-11 point- counter point brain

Laws Are For The Few, But Affect The Many
How true this statement is. For the most part, laws are necessary, logical, specific, well intended and the cornerstone of human society. However, some laws are ridiculous, not founded on sound principles, illogical and just not right. Judy and I agree on many laws but disagree on the merits of a few, one being the recent Supreme Court ruling that allowed same sex marriage in Iowa. Truthfully, I was not clear if the ruling was to enforce a law, if it made a new law or was one of those cases that set a prescience of new law. More about the law at the end of the article.

A few weeks ago Judy was going to a rally at the Capitol and when I looked it up, all I could find was a rally to support the vote on the definition of marriage. I knew she was not at that rally but it got me thinking of the ongoing debate and of a show I just watched, Sister Wives, and I said “see this is why the definition of marriage is an important issue”.

Sister Wives is a reality show about a polygamy family (a man with four wives) on The Learning Channel. I’ve heard about polygamy, know that it is illegal in all states, even in Utah, but understand that it does exist. However, I’m sure these people keep to themselves versus putting in out there for everyone to see.

My curiosity got the best of me and I watched two hours of the show. Amazing, the degrading of a wife and the narcissistic life of a man, and a show made to look like the “Brady Bunch”. Short story long, the guy married his first wife 20 years ago = 1 child, then 17 years ago wife #2 = 6 more children, then 15 years ago wife #3 = 6 more children. The first series of the show, he’s courting wife #4 who has 3 children. I am sure this is how he sold the show (he’s an Ad salesman), openly courting wife #4. The odd part of this, the wives appear to be supportive of the man. They all live in the same house with separate sleeping areas (wife #4 lives down the block as there was no more room in the main house). They think this is normal, they know it’s against the law, but live openly and now in the public eye. I say karma will get them sooner or later for profiting off their lifestyle.

Back to laws, for most part, laws that affect the day to day lives of most citizens are created by the states, like the marriage law. Most states define marriage as “between one man and one woman”. Most have specific language that voids a marriage like - same sex, first cousins, niece to an aunt, nephew to an uncle, age of marriage and so on. I looked up the definition of Iowa’s Law, which was last passed in 1998. (I did not know that)

The state’s Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1998 by a 40-9 margin in the Senate and an 89-10 margin in the House, defines marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.

Iowa Code: 595.2 GENDER -- AGE.

1. Only a marriage between a male and a female is valid.

So we have a law that defines what a marriage is, then a series of lawsuits that claim the law denies a person of the same sex to marry is unconstitutional, which the plaintiffs won and then affirmed by the Iowa Supreme Court. I’m not going to pretend I know what all went on, or what is next, all I know is that the judiciary branch of the government interprets the law in question, not make new law. With that said, the debate goes on and the Iowa Code still reads the same, defines marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.

Should there be a citizen vote or a vote by the State Legislature on marriage? I say yes, to either one. Otherwise, the slippery slope begins. What will be next, one man and three women or three women and one man or perhaps we get into the dog, cow, horse scenario?

While this may appear ridiculous, you can count on someone pushing the envelope and I wanted to make Judy chuckle :).

Chat Later

That Girl, Ann Marie

Counter Point: Judy talking now

Yes, I tease Ann about worrying about things that won’t happen; One being the "Slippery Slope” theory (if you allow Gay marriage, soon someone will want to marry their dog, horse or cow)…. and an oldie but goodie …. “ Trickle Down Economics”.

For me, marriage is a religious term and the churches can and should decide who they want to allow to marry. However, for the State or Federal Constitution, a law should not create inequality. That is when you get judges involve to test if a law in constitutional.

I feel the solution is that the state law needs to remove the word marriage altogether and refer only to civil unions. Gay marriage is not about the right to love whomever you choose, that will happen anyway law or no law…. But Gay “marriage” is about the access to equal rights under the civil laws of our Land, not the Law of God. Two separate issues as far as I’m concern…. Like the separation of church and state.

Thanks Ann for getting the discussion going.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekend report

3-28-11 dancing brain
Currently I am watching Dancing with the Stars as I quickly post this evening.
Greg kept me so busy over the weekend, I didn’t have time to think about blogging. I was hoping to find spring in KC, since the trees here are starting to bud out and the yellow forsythia began to bloom last week. However, this weekend winter came back with snow showers. I guess this was good in some respect, since I have been running on low energy for the last few weeks, the colder weather made for a prefect weekend of sleeping and movie viewing.

We saw two movies: the comedy called “Cedar Rapids” and a thriller call “The Adjustment Bureau. I enjoyed both of these. Other activities included Saturday dinner out with neighbors Kim and Terry to the Thai restaurant Molly turned us onto several weeks ago,called "Hot Basil". We also met Molly Saturday for lunch and we three explored a vintage market, not far from our house.

Molly spotted a funky brownish-green jacket in my size. I liked it a lot, but I did remember my blog statement about not needing anymore clothes for a while…. So this lead me to get Greg’s opinion. He said the jacket was not flattering on me, which was enough for me to set it back on the rack.

So rather than spend money on clothes, I was next drawn to a funky piece of furniture, which I felt would look really cool in our KC house. Greg liked it too, but we didn’t buy it Saturday. Instead I thought more about it overnight, and we decided to take a second look on Sunday afternoon. We then brought it home.

I really like the addition in our living room.

Since I am hanging with Greg this week, don’t expect my usual routine of posting on my blog. It will be sporadic. You can look forward to Ann having another guest blog this week though.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Working for the weekend

3-25-11 grateful brain
Whenever I start to think that the life I lead is too much of a whirlwind, I just have to spend some time with my best high school friend Jean Ann. On Thursday, Jean Ann was in town for a day, since her husband was attending a conference, and Jean Ann and I took the time to see each other over lunch.

Boy, lunch was nice…. I was showered and made myself presentable at least for one day this week. I should do lunch out at least one day per week I think, when I’m in Des Moines working alone. It’s good for my soul and I came back and worked harder and longer after having a nice mid-day break.

I can’t begin to tell you all of the activities Jean Ann has been up to, but Jean Ann is one of those who work hard, and play hard. Over the years I have noticed that I seem to have surrounded myself with people like Jean Ann. They are motivated and energetic…. And it rubs off on me a little bit.

If left to myself, I can tend to be a home-body, happy to just space out with my thoughts, my paints or a good book.

Jean Ann’s college age son Kalin also ate lunch with us. We dined at Djando in the Hotel Fort Des Moines.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Changing seasons

3-24-11 unstable brain

It’s March, which means change is in the air..... with unstable conditions affecting my mood. Monday morning I started out feeling crappy...... like I was getting a cold, or having an allergy attack. By Monday night I was better and Ann came over and we watched the new season of Dancing with the Starts. Ann devised score cards for us to use to rate the dancers. Our categories were Attitude, Dance-ability and Showmanship. The biggest surprised came toward the end of the show, when the Ralph- Karate Kid and Kristie Alley both did great. This season could turn out to be more interesting than I expected.

Tuesday night, during a planned birthday dinner for neighbor Sue, held at Carolyn’s house, the tornado sirens went off. Tornado's hit south west of Des Moines. I believe 10 tornados were spotted in Iowa that evening.

Our party moved to the basement. This was very strange to have this type of weather so early in the spring. Now on Friday, the forecast is possible snow in Des Moines. March in Iowa is so unpredictable!

After it was safe to come out of the basement, Steve headed to his keyboard and we serenaded Sue with a hardy song of "happy birthday". Sue recently joined Match dot com after much encouragement from her girlfriends. She has been divorced for over three years now, and is ready to put her self out on the dating scene again after 30 years or so. GOOD LUCK Sue! I thought dating was hard in my 20's, I'd hate to try it now in my 50's.... but if anyone can have fun with this, Sue CAN!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Guest Blog

3-23-11 gratitude brain
My friend Ann came through for me again this week! Here is her next GUEST BLOG, where I believe Ann answers the question of why I spend so much time "at home".

Two-Lips Are Better Than One

Master gardener I am not, but I do like to speculate in the garden (haha to Greg). In the middle of a long winter, I rarely engage in projects. My life is work, work, work in preparation for my annual trip to Europe. However, this year I am staying home (more about Europe travel in a later write-up).

I love flowers, love to see them in the market, in the garden and in the greenhouse. In the winter months, I’ve been known to buy cut flowers from the flower shop to brighten up my week. In January, tulip plants were on sale for $5 (3 blooms per pot) at the local grocery store. And right next to the plants I saw a cart full of bulbs for sale, $1 for 6 bulbs. My fuzzy math led me to add up … 1 box could make 2 pots, 2 boxes would make 4 and before you know it, I bought 6 boxes and 6 pots ( I had the soil at home). My motto: go big or go home.

Growing tulips would get me through the winter and over my sadness of not going to Europe. I started the project on January 29th. and used every pot I had, planting 3 bulbs per pot and had 3 other containers that I planted 4-5 per container. After all the planting, I found one more box. I was so tempted to throw it out, then I heard Judy say (in my head) just plant it there or there. That’s what I did, I planted the bulbs in the same pot as my Christmas evergreen plant.

Over the next few weeks, I watered and watched the bulbs sprout. After two weeks, the bulbs were coming along nicely. Two more weeks, some were taller than others and some had not sprouted. By week six, two of the bulbs were flowering and they looked great. Now at week 7, I may be at a point that all I’ll see is green. There must be a trick in growing tulips. I gave them sun, water, fertilizer and a lot of love. My friend Joan tells me that tulips can be finicky.

I’ll watch the rest of the tulips grow and hope I’ll see a nice bloom or two before they fizzle. In the meantime, I’ve found myself a distraction for April, making a terrarium (thanks Jean) and checking for my crocus and daffodils out back. Can a girl have too many daffodils? For me the answer is YES. I will share more about my obsession with daffodils in a later post. I really live the statement, go big or go home.

Chat Later,

That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Weekend Report

3-22-11 worn out brain

Greg and I spent the weekend up in northern Iowa visiting my parents. It was my Mom’s 83rd birthday and I believe Mom has more energy than I, even with taking care of my Dad. My sister also arrived on Saturday to spend her spring break week with them.

Greg and I did a few chores around the house for my parents and otherwise I did a little shopping with Mom…. but the weekend focus revolved around a lot of the March Madness Basket Ball… tradition in my house is that Dad and Jan were the big sports fans, Mother has developed a passion over the years, and I still do not give much of a HOOT, unless an Iowa team is playing, then I’ll take notice. It’s funny at my lack of attention, considering I was a cheerleader in high school.

To entertain ourselves, Greg and I bought a laser pointer to play with the cat. Greg had him running in all directions on Saturday night…… the cat was too tired to play with his stuffed cat friend…. Here the cat was attacking his friend Friday night when we arrived.

Saturday evening was the usual dinner out with Bunny joining us. No one wanted their picture taken…. But I did it anyway.

Monday, March 21, 2011

GREEN Monday

3-21-11 spring equinox brain
Last week, I received an e-mail from a friend, I suppose in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, and I think this is worth reading as things begin to turn GREEN this spring.

It’s All About the Green Thing:
In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

That’s right, they didn’t have the green thing in her day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.
But she’s right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really
did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a pizza dish not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended
and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded up newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or
plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to
 run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 20,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza shop.
But that lady is right. They didn’t have the green thing back in her day

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday video

I bet this guy listens to NPR! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday already? !

3-18-11 worn-out brain
Busy week, now sitting down to write about it all, but it’s all a blur in my mind now.. Tuesday afternoon, after work at 5:30, I felt moved to join a Rally at the State Capitol.

It was a nice, warm and sunny day, so no excuse not to "stand up for working Americans”. About 100 people were there.

I myself made sign stating the message I was there to represent: “WHEN will Wall Street make a sacrifice?”

If you don’t understand my point, I’ll tell you an example I heard on Fresh Air NPR today. The expert stated, “It is estimated that 90 billion dollars of profits by US companies are moved off shore without paying taxes”.

Next after the rally, Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM, I had been invited to attend the Des Moines Audubon Society meeting. There was a presentation on birds (focusing of hummingbirds) of Costa Rica, given by an Iowa couple, Linda and Robert Scarth, who traveled there and learned about photographing wild life, especially birds. Their photos were amazing! The birds were amazing! I enjoyed this very much and was seated with about 45 people, whose average age was probably 75. I felt like I was practicing for retirement. I really could get into bird watching I believe. This group of people really knew their birds, and probably were NPR listeners.

The person inviting me to the Audubon meeting was my former boss, Mary Ellen (only age 67), an a Republican who is pro-choice. She was in town for a few days and was my house guest. We stayed up way too late talking, but it was worth it to learn from this power-house women. Mary Ellen’s energetic spirit runs along the lines of my friend Ann. I want to introduce them to each other someday.

As you know- Wednesday into Thursday morning, the sump pump work was done in the basement and it all seems to have turned out very well.

Of course all week long the top news was the crisis in Japan and the risk of a nuclear disaster, causing much stress and fear. To counter act this, I enlisted help from Peace sister- Carolyn, to assist me in preparing a few meals for a church friend who has been sick. This idea came to me as I was listening to an NPR show on spiritual quests to Tibet Mountains…. One guest was asking himself “Does your life add or subtract to the evil in the world?”

I decided I needed to subtract some evil this week.

My front yard crocus decided to do the same, I had three bloom Thursday, spreading their beauty and positive energy out into the world.

Lastly, this week I also emailed my Senator to ask him to keep funding for NPR. The best program I listened to this week on NPR was about the "sounds of summer" which had this guy talking about crickets and night insects and the sounds they make. I can't wait to have my windows open as spring arrives, since the sounds of nature are near and dear to my heart.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sump Pump

3-17-11 Irish for a day brain

So much going on this week and so much to write about, but no time yet.... stay tuned.
In the mean time, some pictures of basement sump pump project that is under way this week in Des Moines house.

Today filling with pea rock and cementing the floor back together....
Then for me, the project to clean and paint the floor, which might not start until June.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday's Guest Blog

3-16-11 vacation brain My friend Ann knows I'm struggling a bit, trying to keep my daily blog posts coming for my family and friends. Since she is full of information, ideas and opinions.... she volunteered to be a guest blogger one day a week, and I happily accepted.... And I won't put too many strings attached, or edit her opinions. You'll just get "all Ann".... So below I give you Ann's first guest blog! 
PS: I also loved  the TV show "THAT GIRL"  ..... Judy

Family Traditions, Longing for the Good Old Days

Truth be known, I was not raised in the “good old days” thus only have a handful of family traditions. Frankly, the first 16 years of my life, my goal was to be like “That Girl” aka Ann Marie (and that is my name), and make it to the big city on my own. I gave up family traditions for what is now termed “ridin’ solo”.

While I gained a lot, I long for the traditions and memories so many of you have. Like Judy, she has a trunk full of those along with a great family (hello to marine dude John, Jean, Jan and kids). From time to time, I wish for a fraction of what’s in her trunk (like flag day cake, gingerbread house, mint pie to name a few). So not waiting for traditions to drop in my lap, I’ve set out to find some and/or make my own.

Last fall, I stumbled upon a woman on NPR talking about canning, Mrs. Wheelbarrow (aka Cathy Barrow) from the Washington DC area (where I grew up). She was talking about the lost art of canning and among her blog, cooking classes, she teaches canning. She was canning tomatoes and after listening to her program, I was inspired to can something (I did can back in the 80’s but found that I could buy tomatoes cheaper than canning them).

In the next two weeks, I located the equipment (via a facebook message) from a travel buddy of mine, a recipe for Crockpot Apple Butter, and after seeing the weekly Fareway Ad for Jonathan Apples, $1 for three pounds, I bought 25 bags = 75 pounds for $25. Yikes, what did I get myself in to? I say, go big or go home :p

Happy to report that I got the process done on two weekends in five steps:
* Cutting the apples was cinch with the use of a Pampered Chef apple cutter.
* Cooking the apples took only 10minutes (cooked them in apple juice).
* Mashing the apples through a sieve, messy, very messy.
* Crockpot cooking was easy and made the house smelly de-lish!
* Water bath cooking was a bit difficult on my glass stove, moved to the grill.

After making several pints of apple butter, I canned several quarts of apple slices to make apple pie this winter (okay, it’s spring and I have not made a winter pie yet). Let me say, while this was fun, it was a lot of work and I have no one to blame but myself.

The following month, I saw a recipe for “pumpkin butter” and before you know it, there I was, making pumpkin butter from scratch.

The process was a little easier but nevertheless, messy. Pumpkin Butter is equally tasty as Apple Butter. And as Rachel Ray would say, Yum-O! I have added to my trunk of family traditions, fall canning.

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Weekend shopping

3-15-11 consumer brain
I know I have thought this before, but not sure if I have spoken it out loud before…. So here goes:

I don’t need to buy any more clothes or shoes for the rest of the year!”

Please remind me of this, if and when I have the urge to buy something new.

I was out shopping with Molly on Saturday, and I picked up three new pieces for cheap at a nice consignment shop. With the few other pieces I have added to my wardrobe over the last month, I now have enough outfits to wear to my Conference in May.

I also picked up three new shoes over the weekend at DSW, so good sales with coupons.  (Note: we saw a lot of Patton-leather shoes out this year). …. BUT it’s not the money I spent, but rather the room in my closet for these.

The gluttony in my closet saddens me, when so many others have to go without. But yes, I have been working on purging and donating, and I will continue with that. I will follow my Mom’s rule; "bring three news ones in, then I must take three old ones out". This is good news for my friend Kelley, since she likes getting my shoe hand-me-downs.

So heads up Kelley! …. I’ve set aside four for you: brown sandals, black flat mules, black flat penny loafers (inspired by Michael Jackson), and some black boots.

Friends: Please stop me before I shop again!

On a more positive note; I will redirect my urges, thanks to my co-worker friend Lori, who did mission work in Ghana a few months ago. She has asked me to sew some simple dresses for the young girls she has met over there.

So Molly and I did go fabric shopping and started daydreaming about a simple and easy pattern to sew. I believe I will turn this project into a sewing day for the women at my church. We can get together, and have fun together while helping a good cause. More on this project as it develops. Here is some of the fabrics I bought so far (all on sale)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hope and Love

3-14-11 sad brain

This weekend I was thinking about something I had heard in a sermon about 10 years ago…. Something about the Chinese symbol for Crisis was composed of the symbol meaning danger and opportunity…. I liked the thought of that, as I was thinking about Japan’s heartbreaking earthquake and tsunami.

As I was preparing to blog about this topic, I decide to Google this Chinese symbol, which lead me to an essay by a professor of Chinese language which tells that this interpretation of the word crisis is wishful thinking, and a misunderstanding about how terms are formed in Mandarin and other Sinitic languages.

See here to read more: 

I think I was under this misunderstanding in 2004, when I wrote a poem about the Tsunami in Indonesia. I was focused on the destruction some how evolving into an opportunity. However, I’m not feeling this way so much this weekend in regards to Japan.

I think the pictures from Japan are too much like the possible destruction would be in the US. Japan is a modern country, with modern living conditions such as we do, and they have a strong organized government who worries about its economy and jobs, just like us.

So when I see the pictures of destruction there, I can see the possibility of this also happening one day to a city on our west coast, or even St. Louis they say, due to the New Madrid fault line, in the middle of the country.

Nature is a powerful force, and I guess that just needs to be an accepted fact. Is the best we humans can put up against that powerful force is love and hope?

Here is my poem and above was the artwork that went with it.

(Tsunami Poem 1-10-05)
By Judy Sebern Beachy
Buildings shattered into piles of splinters,
Homes no longer safe havens,
Are now tombs of despair.
Bodies swept up in the water,
A wave of destruction washes away their future.
This is reality TV,
Raw anguish, uncensored.

Instead, can we imagine a new possibility?
Perhaps a fantasy or a possible truth,
Spoken as a prayer-
Please let this wave be an opportunity,
An opportunity for love.

An odd sort of dream,
When creation destroys itself, to renew itself,
A scenario mankind can not easily comprehend.
Yet, each minute we are dying,
Heads us closer towards our own rebirth.
Hope is buoyant, ever floating,
As long as there is an opportunity,
An opportunity to love.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Silliness

3-12-11 silly brain
Since I was speaking about NPR a few days ago, I had to laugh at this segment from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show speaking about the “scandal” at NPR this week. For those of you who love NPR, you should really be LOL and rolling on the ground at the 3:47 minute mark. I believe the impersonation was spot on!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
MoveOn.Aww - NPR Executive Resigns
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook
Also I was amazed at this clip of Reagan…. It actually made me miss him a bit. I heard about a new book about Reagan’s near assassination attempt on NPR Friday, book called “Rawhide Down”. This sounds interesting for you Ragan lovers. Now where else would I have heard about this book, except either on Ophra or NPR?

Quoting Reagan:
Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Yes Dear, I'd love to"

3-11-11 agreeable brain

My attitude is to say "YES" to Greg as much as possible. Over the years, this has proven to be the wise, interesting and fun thing to do. Thus yesterday morning, I said "yes" to attend a concert with him Thursday night downtown at the KC Music Hall.

Greg had read about it in the paper yesterday morning and for some reason thought it sounded interesting to him. He got some decent seats at the last minute (although I thought pricey) and we headed downtown last evening.

7:30 PM concert was Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson playing together. (oh no, more old musicians in need of money?)…. I’m not really a country fan, but I did know all of Kristofferson’s songs, and I knew of at least 3 songs sung by Haggard. So this 90 minute concert actually turned out to be interesting and entertaining, and I was hoping it would have lasted a bit longer.

I made a new conservative friend in the seat next to me….(Probably a whole room full of conservative friends)… But the gal next to me was a big Haggard fan and came with binoculars, since we were seated in the balcony. She also came wearing too much sweet perfume, but after awhile I guess I was able to ignore that and focus on the music, and she was kind enough to offer me a look through her binoculars.

Kristofferson, sadly turned out to have a cold, so his rough voice was even rougher sounding… and I speculated he must have throat cancer…. But the facts, which Greg found on the Internet from the review of the concert in St. Louis the night before, indicated he was only suffering from a bad cold.

Greg and I appreciate old buildings, so being in this Art-Deco music hall was also quite the treat. These few pictures don’t really do it justice, but it was very cool.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gourd update

3-10-11 creative brain

Time in KC this week allowed me to check up on my gourd drying project, the kind of gourds you use to make bird houses. I had raised dozens last summer and set out to dry them over the winter. I put some gourds in the basement, put some in the garage, and put some in the back shed as an experiment.

Results show that the basement was the best place to dry the gourds.

 I've had to wipe them off a few times with paper towel and rubbing alcohol to remove some growing mold. The others did fair so well. Looks like it wasn't good for the gourds to freeze... the mold really took over and I had to throw these away.

I can't wait to do a fun painting project on these gourds, and probably will save for the next girls weekend, since I have about 11 good gourds to play with.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two opinions on NPR

3-9-11 news brain
Do I give credit, or blame to Ashton Kutcher for introducing the “punked” mentality into our culture?

Punked (in the past probably referred to as “a sting”) is all about fooling someone to either embarrass them for the sake of getting a laugh, or scamming someone in order to gain some power over them, often political gain.

This happens from both sides, right and left; For example the ACRON scandal, the Koch impersonator punking the Governor of Wisconsin; and now this week, the NPR executive was punked and recorded saying some anti-tea party/GOP statements.

References to view:

Of course, the timing of this NPR punk is all about the call from the GOP congress to, once again, try to stop the public funding of NPR. To me this sounds like yet another attempt at the GOP to cripple the educated middle class. I listen to NPR and many of my middle class friends enjoy the wide variety of stories, entertainment, music and news. I don’t feel NPR is liberal, elitist, or one sided…. But I wanted to seek an opinion from my conservative friend Ann, who I know also listens to NPR.
Here is what Ann has to say:

Hello everyone, Judy asked for my opinion regarding the government funding of NPR and yep, I have an opinion that may surprise you.

Judy and I are great friends but our political views are very different. With that said, we accept that of each other and while I have to bite my tongue every now and then, she has not heard me say anything disrespectful or negative about President Obama.

I am a die hard Republican and very proud of it. Two years ago, you would have not heard me say "I listen to NPR". I reluctantly was forced to listen to NPR for background noise at work (can't get RUSH on WHO radio at the office). I needed the news, so I found the local IPR/NPR station. Like watching or listening to any programming, it takes a good 30 days to make an informed opinion. Two years later, I am hooked on IPR/NPR. Yes, you heard me ... hooked. And what is surprising, it is not one-sided if you listen with an open mind.

Here's what I get out of NPR/IPR- local, national and global news that you will not find on any other type of media (and I am a news junkie). I listen from 7 am to 5:30 pm. I am amazed to hear the reporters from all over the globe, on topic and off topic stories, I like hearing a Congressperson being interviewed at 7 am, I like the human interest stories and the quirky stories of the weekend. Are some of the reporters slanted more to the left than I would like them to be, I really have not heard that. Do they have some bad seeds at the national office, I am sure. Should the government stop the funding, no but I would doubt that they are reaching the audience they should be. If they only reach the left of center, they are missing about 50% of the population.

NPR did a disservice with firing Juan Williams, who I disagree with 75% of the time. But he was speaking like an American and for once, the public saw something that most ignored and rallied around him. I'll give them the advanced credit that they realize their brand is in jeopardy, and if they expect to continue with federal funding, they need to figure out that we the American tax payers want to hear: the good, the bad.. and everything in between. It's all about "branding". 
Yes, keep the funding to NPR!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Counting birds

3-8-11 bird brain
Saturday, I saw a flock of Robins in my back yard in Des Moines... I call them a "herd" of Robins since they were all hanging out by the watering hole. I grabbed my camera and tried to count how many I could see at one time. How many do you see?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Report

3-7-11 busy brain

Friday night, I attended a Mystery Dinner Theater at Westminster which was a fund raiser. The two actors were friends of mine, Carol and her husband Dan; two very talented people. This Mystery was set in the 1920’s; I was given a character Candi, who owned a successful candy store. Luckily this time my character was not the one killed, or not the killer. Here are a few pictures. This was my 2nd Mystery Theater experience, so I was more prepared to get into character, AND my performance even had Carol laughing and breaking out of character. (not easy to do to her)...... we all have fun and raised about $2,000.
Note: Dan and Carol are for hire, and will travel in Iowa to perform.

Saturday morning, I was scheduled to drive to KC, but instead, Greg had to make an emergency trip to DM to help replace our furnace's electronic thermostat. He did this successfully and we were on the road to KC after lunch.

Now in KC by mid afternoon, we decided to go see a movie. We saw one of the Oscar nominated movies which we had passed up before, “Winters Bone”…. This was filmed in Missouri hills, not so far from Branson where we go to our retreat cabin. This movie showed me a side of “hill family life” that I know nothing about.

Sunday, we met up with Molly to go for an exercise walk late morning, then had lunch at our usual breakfast restaurant. Greg and I then decide we needed to see the Oscar winning documentary “Inside Job”, since it was on its last day in town. This movie was about the financial collapse of 2008. This was interesting, and I suppose it didn’t really surprise me, except for the fact it pointed fingers at both parties being tied tightly to Wall Street.

 Funny how people are so up in arms about unions and the public workers being paid too much …. When the BIG scam is on WALL STREET. The blatant corruption, abuse of power, stupidity, injustice, and use of sex-prostitutes, drugs by these elitists who then funnel their money into our elections and our elected officials…… was sickening. We are being scammed big time, and the consequences affected the whole world this time! The really SAD part is, that nothing has changed.

Lastly, the biggest thing that happened to me this weekend was that I began to visualize myself retired and living in KC. This visualization turned out to be a good feeling for the most part.

However today, I did have a productive work day, even with a cat insisting on being by my side the whole day. I've got a busy week ahead of me, so don't be surprised if I don't blog every day this week. sorry...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Funny

THIS is funny, because like the Movie" The King's Speech".... it is based on a true story.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stepping into spring

3-4-11 unbalanced brain
I’ve been in weird state of mind the last 10 days or so. This probably started when I heard the news that a church friend died unexpectedly at age 62. This event brought many of us church women together and we did a lot of reminiscing about our fun women retreats which connected us all together over 10 years ago. This also had me looking through my picture files and walking down memory lane. So my brain took a visit to the past, and this got me a bit off balance.

Then earlier this week, Greg and I attended a pre-retirement seminar for me in Iowa City. We learned about the University’s retirement benefits and guidelines. Turns out I could retire right now, or if I wait until age 62, there are a few more benefits dealing with health care costs. Greg was working on a spreadsheet and showed us that we would be fine financially if I did retire now. We’d have to sell the DM house, and we could live OK on just his income and not have to touch my retirement savings until much later. This had my brain visiting the future and got me a bit off balance.

Also this week, we met with a lawyer to draw up a Will. Yes, we have been neglectful not to have done this prior. This Will is fairly easy for us, since we have small families, but this could be a bit more complicated due to the fact we live in two states…. But it will be fine…. I also have been writing down plans for my own funeral to include in the Will documents. I decided I will donate my body "to science".

I just found it weird thinking about death…. And retirement….this week… And I started feeling really old and confused about IF this is the time to quit my job and to relocate to KC.

However yesterday, I took time to have lunch with two co-workers, which was fun, and with the sun shinning with warm temperatures, I started feeling good about everything again. The spring is now back in my step.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Back to the basement

3-3-11 hopeful brain
I went down to throw in some laundry today, and actually started to feel better about the basement in the DM house. With all the stuff/crap moved to one side of each room, I could see some open space, and possibilities for achieving a less cluttered and organized basement.... weel, some day after the sump pump work.

I'm recording "before" pictures here.

The basement is nothing too special since our house was build in 1939, but there is a fireplace down here.... .... at the end of this room.

Below is a picture a few years ago when Jean Ann helped me clean and organize. We worked on the basement starting on a Thursday night, and all day Friday. Saturday our treat was a  spa massage. One day in the future, I now HOPE it can look this good again, or even better.