"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Monday, December 31, 2007

FAST AWAY THE OLD YEAR PASSES

FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA....

Etc., Etc.

Yes, it's another exciting New Year's Eve at our house...in a few minutes we are going downstairs to that hellhole we call a basement and start going through the gazillion totes that contain the remnants of our lives.

In other words, we are spending New Year's Eve cleaning the basement.

Can you think of anything more fun than that to ring out the old year?

Now, I am not the first to consider cleaning out the old to welcome in the new...I have a friend who every New Year's Eve cleans out his closets. That's his tradition. And that may very well explain why said friend's wife left him a few years back...

But I digress.

To be fair, there is something to be said for starting the New Year off clean and organized...why, just last night we cleaned the oven, the refrigerator and the kitchen floor -- and I even made sure to change the kitty litter...we all got new undies and socks for Christmas, and the dog is sporting her new "diamond" studded collar and matching leash...and there are crisp, white flour sack dish towels in the kitchen drawer...

Dear God, could my life be any more boring?

Anyway...

I suppose we could have gone to the fire department's dinner and dance at the community building tonight...but since I've eaten my way to outer Slabovia and back since starting my new, somewhat stressful job, my jeans are a tad tight and I really don't feel like dancing.

Which leads me to the next New Year's tradition -- resolutions.

Yes, of course I will be dieting in 2008 -- has there ever been a year I haven't had to lose weight?

Oy.

And I always vow to be more organized.

I'll never forget the Christmas John gave the book Becoming Organized Based on the Proverbs 31 Woman or something equally as ridiculous.

Hand me another glass of wine, would you dear?

Thanks.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, yes, New Year's Eve. The night I imagine everyone in the world but me having a splendiferous time, dressed to the nines, kicking up their heels...and I'm at home, too tired to even stay up along enough to watch the ball drop.

Of course, even staying up to watch the ball drop is a bit of a yawner because when the ball drops on Times Square, it's only 11 o'clock in Iowa.

That always reminds me of the New Year's Eve back in the day when my Sis and I were single and dateless and living in Davenport and had nothing to do but don party hats and clang pots and pans together at midnight -- Iowa time -- from her apartment balcony.

Another glass of wine, dear. Please. Hurry.

Thanks.

Let's see, where was I?

That's ranks right up there with the New Year's Eve my senior year in high school when I dropped my zit concealer in the toilet while freshening up in the host's bathroom just moments before midnight. I was so busy trying to fish the little metal cosmetic container out of the toilet, I missed midnight completely.

Good times, good times.

Well, those totes are a callin'....

Cheers!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

SHOULD OLD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT...

And never brought to mind?

Well, should they?

I suppose it depends on just who the old acquaintance happens to be, and other circumstances surrounding the acquaintanceship.

I mean, it goes without saying that one should never forget their old pals, their old cronies, their old partners in crime...but if ye old acquaintance you're toying with bringing to mind this New Year's Eve happens to be ye old love interest, that may well be a horse's auld lang arse of a different color.

In that case, err on the side of caution...it's probably best if you don't bring him or her to mind. And for God's sake, don't Google said old love interest. Or, maybe, bring him or her to mind, Google away, even...hell, track down his or her phone number if you must (just for shucks and grins)... but puh-leeeese don't make the call.

However, if you bring the old love interest to mind, Google away, track down his or her phone number, and feel absolutely compelled to call said old love interest, for God's sake, make the call when you are sober as a judge.

In other words, NO DRUNK DIALING!

Especially on New Year's Eve.

You heard me. Step away from the cell phone, particularly if you've had a a few too many...

I know, I know....it seems so harmless, just calling that old love interest at the stroke of midnight...that ball is falling on Times Square and you're awash in nostalgia and thinking " I jusht wanna shay Happy New Year...ish that sho bad?"

Yup. It really ish sho bad.

Let's face it, there's a reason you never hear about people "sober dialing". No one dares to ring in the New Year by ringing up an old love interest unless they're dialing from somewhere deep in the heart of Margaritaville.

And there is nothing worse than waking up New Year's Day with a hang over AND a bad case of Drunk Dialer's Remorse.

Or so I've heard.

Bottom line is, friends don't let friends drunk dial. Especially on New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries.
We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we're celebrating. Don't let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make
peace on earth.

~ The Ending Sermon From One of My All-Time Favorite Christmas Movies, "The Bishop's Wife"

Monday, December 24, 2007

FROM MY HEART TO YOURS

With love and fondest memories this holiday season to my faithful friends who remain dear to me now and forever...thanks for reading The Homestretch!




Monday, December 17, 2007

A Dark Day For Die-Hard Romantics

Still reeling from the news...

Singer Dan Fogelberg dead at 56. Prostate cancer. He'd been battling it for three years.

"He didn't rely on the volume of his voice to convey his emotions; instead, they came through in the soft, tender delivery and his poignant lyrics," reported Yahoo news. "Songs like "Same Old Lang Syne" — in which a man reminisces after meeting an old girlfriend by chance during the holidays — became classics not only because of his performance, but for the engaging story line, as well."

Engaging story line, indeed. "Same Old Lang Syne" is the quintessential anthem, really, for die-hard romantics...

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve.

I know. I know. Just a few posts ago I complained that the local soft rock radio station had played just about enough Same Old Lang Syne. That I'd had my fill of that Christmas song, thank you very much.

I was lying.

She didn't recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried.

Truth is, of all Dan Fogelberg's greatest hits, Same Old Syne is my absolute favorite. I crank it up when it comes on the radio and I am tooling along in the car...the best part of the local rock station playing 24/7 Christmas music is that Same Old Lang Syne gets played a lot...even tho' the song is guaranteed to make me weep -- and occasionally wince.

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged.

I would even go so far as to say that Same Old Lang Syne is right up there with The Way We Were in my book of all-time favorite songs from back in the day...

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how.

I don't know how often, in real life, former lovers just happen to run into each other at the grocery store. I do know of some instances, however, where people have gone to great lengths to find and reunite with their lost loves. There are books written about the subject...web sites dedicated to reuniting lost loves that chronicle the good, the bad and the ugly that can and does ensue when former lovers revisit the past.

It is a storyline that is not only engaging, but is as old as romance itself. Same Old Lang Syne is just one of those songs that tears at one's heart strings.

She said she'd married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie.

Have you ever wondered what ever happened to that special someone you knew once upon a time, long, long ago? Or, have you ever wondered if that special someone from back in the day ever wonders what happened to you?

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I
Saw
doubt or gratitude.

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the traveling was hell.

I recently read in AARP Magazine (yes, AARP Magazine) that the new mid-life crisis for us Baby Boomers is coming to terms with the road not taken, as it were...wrestling with that "R" word. You know...regret.

According to the AARP article, the "Hit Parade" or five most common life regrets involve education (one's misgivings about not attending college or grad school); career (misgivings regarding one's chosen field), romance (long-lost loves, unrequited affections, ill-advised affairs and marriages gone sour); family (not spending enough time with one's children or making poor child care choices); and the self (disappointment in one's own abilities, attitudes and behaviors.)

Have you ever wondered, regarding any particular life passage, what if...?"

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another auld lang syne...

"Make the most of your regrets," Henry David Thoreau once advised. "To regret deeply is to live afresh."

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away

The AARP article also notes that a life without regrets is not a realistic answer for most of us, that, after all, the hard-earned lessons of our sins and slip-ups make us who we are. " 'Maybe all one can do,' as playwright Arthur Miller once wrote, 'is hope to end up with the right regrets.' "

Some interesting food for thought for those of us entering the Regretting Years, as we now and again feel what the article describes as "the sharp sting of regret" that teaches us where we went wrong.

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain...

Thank you, Dan Fogelberg, for Same Old Lang Syne.

Of course, from this day forward, Same Old Syne will never be the same for us die-hard romantics. Knowing Dan is gone, the song will seem even more poignant.

Inevitably, hearing that song, that soft, tender voice, will invoke even more weeping, more wincing, more tearing at the heart strings, than usual.

Oy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yet Another Man From My Misspent Youth...

So what did you and yours do to celebrate Ice Cream & Violins Day this year?

What's that? What am I blathering on about NOW, you ask? You mean you MISSED Ice Cream & Violins Day? ( Which, as most savvy bizarre holiday-observing bloggers realize, is every Dec. 13).

OK. I'll be honest with you. I had no idea this past Thursday was Ice Cream & Violins Day either, though that may explain my mysterious hankerin' for a dollop of Cookies & Cream while chillin' to a stack of Stravinsky platters on the ol' hi-fi. (translated, that means I felt like relaxing with a bowl of ice cream while listening to some old Stravinsky records on my stereo.)

Anyway, as I contemplate how one might actually go about celebrating Ice Cream and Violins Day (an odd pairing, in my opinion...are revelers expected to eat ice cream and play a violin at the same time?), I can't help but think about a very special man from back in the day -- a man who embodied the best there ever was about soft-serve ice cream.

That's right.

Mister Softee.

I can still hear the Mister Softee jingle blaring from his truck as he rounded the bend at the end of our block throughout the hazy, lazy, mid-to-late summer afternoonof my misspent youth...how, like kiddies lured away by the sweet music of the Pied Pieper, we'd drop whatever we were doing, beg our moms for a nickel (or was it a dime? Or was it 75 cents but my memory is dimming?), and run like bloody hell to the curb to buy a Mister Softee ice cream cone (vanilla with chocolate jimmies, AKA "sprinkles", was my fave). Our greatest fear was that Mister Softee would speed off in his trusty truck before we made it to the curb.

Did you know there's actually sheet music with all the words to the Mister Softee jingle? Oh, yeah, baby. To take a gander at the sheet music, find out more about the cone man with the ice cream coif and how he came to be, or if you're looking for a new summer career, click here.

I still remember the hot, summer day my best friend, Valli, and I were sitting behind some pine trees in her backyard when we heard Mister Softee comin' down our street...and we plotted how we would put tacks under the unsuspecting Mister Softee's tires, and then, when he was out of the truck changing the flats, we'd jump in and steal all the ice cream. But that would be a horrible story to tell at this time of year when we're all trying to stay off Santa's Naughty List.

Sadly, in recent years, some folks who found Mister Softee's jingle to be repetitively and screechingly annoying, were trying to get someone -- anyone -- to come up with a new Mister Softee jingle. I find that idea abhorrent at best. I mean, it ain't violin music, that's true...But if, like me, you can still hum the jingle, and hearing it immediately takes you back to a simpler, more innocent and carefree time of your life, well...There could never be another, or better, Mister Softee jingle. Never.

Yes, remembrance, like a candle, burns brightest at Christmastime.

So now, for your nostalgic viewing pleasure...a real live Mister Softee singing the Mister Softee jingle...

(Disclaimer! I have not viewed the other Mister Softee videos that accompany this one...watch the others at your own risk...)

Merry Christmas and Happy Memories to all...and to all, a goodnight.


MY KIND OF GROCERY SHOPPING

If you MUST go grocery shopping on a busy Saturday morning, what better way to careen down the bread aisle then with a couple of Dixie cups of wine under your belt...

Our local grocery store -- Frohlich's (tho' those in-the-know refer to it lovingly as "The Fro") -- cranked their annual Christmas open house up a notch this a.m. by offering a little wine with their cheese cubes, cookies, crackers and delectable spinach dip...

It was a wine tasting party, actually, sponsored by the Santa Maria Winery located in beautiful Willey, IA, just up the road from here.

I just happened to drop by The Fro to pick up a few things when someone nudged me and said "Wine and cheese in the back room!"

And it was just after 11 a.m.

"Hey, Helen, it's 5 o'clock somewhere!" I joked, winking at one of the elegant elderly church ladies peeking into the back room as I tossed back my second little cup of a delightful sweet red wine called Autumn Hush.

Normally, I prefer Sweet Willey (a delectably sweet white wine...hence, the name), but it's been a long week, an even longer life, and I felt like being daring...goin' for broke...so I tried the red stuff...not bad....not bad at all...

Note to self: Drink more wine in the new year...

Now there's a resolution I think I might be able to keep.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My Grown Up Christmas List...

...is my favorite Christmas song this year:

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies

Well, I'm all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I'm not a child
But my heart still can dream

So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal the heart
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath the tree

But heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
Oh, This is my grown up christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh
This is my grown up christmas list
This is my only life long wish
This is my grown up christmas list

Just Not Feelin' It This Year

Toyed with the idea of going Christmas shopping today but then I remembered:

A) No Money
B) No Kevlar Vest

What IS this sick world coming to when folks are getting gunned down while Christmas shopping? And in Omaha no less.

Geezle Peets...

Yeah, the ol' Bah! Humbug! really has me in its grip this year...

Usually, no matter how disappointing or frustrating or emotionally draining a year I may have had, decorating the Christmas tree brings a smile to my face, and I feel contented and hopeful and one with the universe...

I mean, since I can remember, we have always gone out and chopped down our own tree and dragged it home, munched on Christmas cookies and sipped hot apple cider while my dear hubby struggles to get the tree to stand straight, and then we recite a litany of warm and fuzzy memories per each dated Hallmark ornament...then Daniel and I camp out under the beautifully bedecked tannenbaum -- ok, near the beautifully bedecked tannenbaum -- and for the next few weeks I am filled with heartwarming Christmas spirit...life is good!

This year, however, due to inclement weather and withered income, we opted to skip the tree hunt and borrow my mother-in-law's artificial tree...these days, hot apple cider gives me the trots, and the Christmas cookies we made earlier this week are long gone...so we munched on cold pizza and potato chips instead...


Sadly, we no longer can recall the stories behind each dated Hallmark ornament...1987...let's see...was that the year I had back surgery...or was that 1988? No, 1988 was the last year I won the Cedar Falls Police Media Award... or was that the year I learned silk flower arranging during the annual Wal-Mart Management Convention Spouse Activities?

And even if we did remember, who really cares at this point?
Daniel obviously doesn't because once he got the lights on the tree tonight, he was off texting and IMing and doing whatever else teenage boys do...I think he hung one ornament on the tree. Hubby was busy making hamburger patties to put in the freezer. And frankly, the artificial tree, while it looks nice, just doesn't do it for me...I gaze at the tree and I am filled with...nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Nor do I have any desire to sleep near the damn thing. And I dare say that camping near the Christmas tree with Mom is the last thing on Daniel's mind.

Heavy, weary sigh.

Oh, I did feel a slight tug at my heart strings when I pulled out the ol' pic of Daniel dressed as a candycane for his very first Christmas concert when he was in kindergarten...but it only hammered home the fact that Christmas just isn't the same when they're 14 1/2 as when they were 4.

And I swear I am going to take a hammer to the TV the next time I see that nauseating ad where the wife walks out the door to find her husband standing next to the shiny new Lexus he just bought her for Christmas.

Puh-leese. How realistic is that? Now, if she walked out the door and he handed her an Ove Glove (only $14.95 As Seen On TV!)...THAT I could relate to...or a Chia Pet, perhaps...

I know. I know.

It's a wonderful life...

But I'm just not feelin' it this year.

Not yet, anyway...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

WHO'S THAT GIRL?

As I watch the "invinvicble summer" slide show (at right) over and over again, and as I marvel at how tan and vivacious and gosh-darn happy I look hangin' with my peeps just 4 1/2 short months ago, I can't help but wonder...

Who IS that girl?

Certainly, she can't be the same pale, tired, emotionally-drained bag-lady-like hag who just this a.m. was donned in an oversized winter coat, a bright orange winter hat and snowman jammies with a green clay facial mask smeared over her line-etched face who was swearing (and holding on to her dog's leash for dear life) as that damnable rat terrier dragged the ol' life-worn gal slip slidin' away around the frozen Iowa tundra, also known as "the front yard."

Alas, sadly, she is one in the same.

Slip slidin' away,
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
You're only slip slidin' away...

Friday, November 30, 2007

BOB...THEN, NOW, FOREVAH


Saw my old boyfriend, Bob, in my dreams the other night...

No, Irma, not Bob Grace.

Bob Redford.

OK, so Bob R. was never my boyfriend...not really....but every now and then, back in the day, I would dream that Robert Redford and I were such good pals, were so close, that he asked me to call him Bob.


Or, maybe he didn't ask me....maybe, due to my delusions of grandeur, I just started calling him Bob to infer our special, best-buds relationship...whatever...

My point -- and I do have one -- is that ever since I fell in love with Bob in "The Way We Were" (ironically, the first movie I saw with my real old high school beau Bob Grace), he's always been my favorite hunky movie star...

And my favorite movie star he remains, even now, even when Bob -- dare I say it -- is growing a bit long in the tooth.

I actually caught myself about to swoon during the previews of Bob's latest movie, "Lions For Lambs" when I went to see that tear-jerker "August Rush".

And apparently, it was seeing my old, albiet, imaginary, flame in that preview that caused my psyche to conjure up his blondie-boy image in my dreams just the other night...it was if we'd never been apart. It was "Bob, this" and "Bob, that" and we were just chatting away and solving the problems of the world, and he was giving me that adorable Bob Redford grin..

Heavy sigh...

Mark my words, the day Bob dies I will be donned in sack cloth and ashes, and there will be great wailing and sobbing and gnashing of teeth...I will declare a week of mourning...I will glue myself to the DVD player and watch nothing but Bob's greatest movies -- and of course, they are all great...

(I still remember when John Denver died in that horrible plane crash several years back...I dragged out all my old JD albums and cranked up the ol' stereo and sobbed my way through "Sunshine On My Shoulders" and (of course) "Annie's Song" for days...)

Anyway...in this oft' off-balance, topsy-turvy, pell-mell world, it's comforting to know that no matter what else changes, no matter what rug is pulled out from under me, Bob Redford and I still and always will have that special connection...

LOL.

I think I may have been a stalker in another life...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Helena Shernana, This Blog's For YOU!

Hey, Nel....Is this THE perfect Christmas gift idea, or what? LOL...

From Amazon.com:

"18 Original Ruth Lyons Christmas Recordings .... This CD Will Take You Right Back To The 1950s & 1960s, December 2, 2006
By David Von Pein (Mooresville, Indiana; USA) -

If anyone reading this review happened to live in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area during the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s, this Audio-CD ("The Christmas Music Of Ruth Lyons") is sure to have you basking in the memories of hearing these 18 Christmas tunes, all written by Lyons, when they were sung every December on Cincinnati's live local TV variety/talk show, "The 50-50 Club".

I can remember regularly tuning in to Cincinnati's WLWT-TV to watch the "50-50 Club" during the Bob Braun years. The program was re-titled "The Bob Braun Show" in 1967 when Braun took over as host of the show after Ruth Lyons retired due to poor health. Ruth passed away, at the age of 81, on November 7, 1988. Bob Braun died on January 15, 2001. Lyons' and Braun's daily syndicated 90-minute program was one of the top-rated shows of its kind in the United States. In fact, the "50-50 Club" was the highest-rated daytime show in all of America in the year 1960, garnering ratings that were five times higher than all other competing daytime programs COMBINED!* * = This information comes from the excellent liner notes that are included in this Audio-CD package.

Many big-name guest stars would often appear on the Cincinnati-based "50-50 Club", including Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Dick Clark, and even Ronald Reagan. Bob Hope would also pop up on the show frequently when he visited Cincy. Members of the Cincinnati Reds' baseball club were also frequent visitors to the show's informal set. (I always liked it when Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, or Pete Rose would show up.) Christmastime was a favorite time of the year for regular members of the show (and for the program's loyal audience), because that meant the beginning of the "Christmas Countdown" at the beginning of each "Bob Braun Show". ("Five more days till Christmas, five more days till Christmas, five more days till Christmas, and Santa will be here!" -- remember that jingle at the start of each December show?)

The month of December in Cincinnati also meant that the "Ruth Lyons Children's Christmas Fund" was in full swing, with Bob (or Ruth) unveiling the current Fund total at the start of each show during December. The "Christmas Fund" was a charity which raised a great deal of money every year to help support area children's hospitals.

I'm sure that local Cincinnati residents also have fond memories of the several other local programs that were staples for many TV viewers in the '50s and '60s, including "The Paul Dixon Show" and "Midwestern Hayride". This CD of "The Christmas Music Of Ruth Lyons" contains -- to quote directly from the back of the CD jewel case -- "The original 1957-1963 recordings of her best-known holiday songs, featuring Ruby Wright, Marian Spelman, Bonnie Lou, Peter Grant and Bob Braun, with Cliff Lash and the 50-50 Club Band".

My favorite song out of this wonderfully-nostalgic batch of eighteen Ruth Lyons-composed Yuletide originals, and certainly the best-known of the lot, is "Let's Light The Christmas Tree", which is sung by Ruby Wright (a regular performer on "The 50-50 Club" for 20 years). That song is one that I believe can hold its own with many other classic and more well-known Christmas tunes.

"Let's Light The Christmas Tree" wasn't just a locally-known song in the Cincinnati area either -- it was recorded by Wright in a Chicago studio in the late 1950s and, somewhat amazingly, made it all the way into the "Top 100 Records" survey on the famed charts of Billboard magazine in December 1957 (ranking #41). In June 1958, Ruby Wright re-recorded "Let's Light The Christmas Tree" as part of Ruth Lyons' first LP record album, "Ten Tunes Of Christmas". The album, which was distributed only regionally in the Cincinnati area, sold more than 250,000 copies, a staggering figure considering the limited market in which it was made available.

As a side piece of trivia concerning that beautiful holiday tune ("Let's Light The Christmas Tree") -- The song was written by Ruth Lyons in the year 1943; and was composed by Ruth while she was driving on Cincinnati's Central Parkway on her way to work one day. The 18 songs that make up this CD collection were originally released on two different holiday albums in the '50s and '60s -- "Ten Tunes Of Christmas" (which came out in 1958) and "It's Christmastime Again" (1963). The original LP cover photos from both of those albums are shown on the paper insert (liner notes) that comes with this product.

Those Christmas LPs were first issued by Ruth Lyons' own "Candee Records", named after Ruth's daughter (Candy Newman). This CD re-issue was distributed by "X-Star Radio Network" in 1995. The liner notes that come with this Compact Disc are a real treat too, due to the inclusion of some very informative and interesting tidbits of info about Ruth Lyons' career and the history of these Christmas songs, plus the inclusion of five rarely-published "behind-the-scenes" photographs of Ruth Lyons (and company) during studio recording and rehearsal sessions.

CD Track List (audio quality is very good too): 1.) "Hey Nonny Nonny" 2.) "Soon 'Twill Be Christmas Eve" 3.) "Christmas Is Getting Mighty Close" 4.) "Christmas Is A Birthday Time" 5.) "Have A Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas" 6.) "The Happy Time" 7.) "There's No Time Like Christmas Time" 8.) "It's Christmas Time Again" 9.) "Sing A Song Of Christmas" 10.) "Christmas Marching Song" 11.) "This Is Christmas" 12.) "Always At Christmas Time" 13.) "Once Upon A Christmas Time" 14.) "All Because It's Christmas" 15.) "Christmas Lullaby" 16.) "Everywhere The Bells Are Ringing" 17.) "It's That Very, Very Special Time Of Year" 18.) "Let's Light The Christmas Tree" "

:)

Meowy Christmas

Cats' Top Ten Favorite Christmas Songs

10. Up on the Mousetop
9. Have Yourself a Furry Little Christmas
8. Joy to the Curled
7. I Saw Mommy Hiss at Santa Claus
6. The First Meow
5. Oh, Come All Ye Fishful
4. Silent Mice
3. Fluffy, the Snowman
2. Jingle Balls

And Cats' No. 1 Favorite Christmas Song:
1. Wreck The Halls
Ba-Da-Bump...

Here We Go A'Squandering...

"Employees hired here for ho-hum per hour
evade frazzled shoppers who from all different wealths,
squander the numbered heartbeats of their lives
to search for bargains planted cleverly
near high-margin impulse racks."

Yes, I went to Wal-Mart today.

I NEVER go Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

But I did today.

Not at the crack of dawn like all the nut-so malls were inviting people to do. I went about 10 a.m. Drove 30 flippin' miles...what a spectacle...

Talked to one of the sales associates...he said people were running and yelling through the doors at 5 a.m. One customer even pulled a sales associate's hair to get her attention...

What a world, what a world...what a sick, materialistic world...

Why do we even bother with Thanksgiving?

Soon, we will just skip the day of giving thanks and rush right into the Christmas h0liday the day after Labor Day...

All I really wanted to do was scout out a few ideas for DJ...Santa has to really watch his pennies this year...like every year...geeze, all the folks hauling out big ol' flat screen tvs and other junk...cha-ching, cha-ching goes the credit cards

Not us. It's cash or nuthin' this year.

All I want for Christmas is an hour-long therapeutic massage...maybe the whole hour just spent on my aching feet...or my neck...yeah, my neck

Or maybe a bottle of that $10 mascara remover from Target...Sonja whatsername...splurge a little...Or maybe a bottle of body mist, with the matching shower gel and lotion, let's see, what is the scent? Sensual Amber? Yeah...from Bath and Body Works...

Santa, are you reading my blog? LOL

A girl can dream, can't she?

Anyway, after I got home from the Wal-Mart Black Friday Shopping Debacle, I soothed by soul by playing my late mother's Christmas albums...I remember listening to those 33 RPMS while decorating the livingroom in our house on Buckeye Crescent in good ol' Madeira, OH.

But back to Thanksgiving

John really knocked himself out with the meal this year...yes, that's right. John makes the meal. I set the table and do the dishes...I am the envy of many a woman who has to slave away the entire Turkey Day while hubby and the other men in the fam sit around watching football...

Speaking of football...What a laughable Happy Thanksgiving "greeting" from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders...anybody else catch that? LOL

And must the "easy listening" radio stations start playing the 24/7 Christmas carols a week before Thanksgiving?

I mean, how much "Feliz Navidad" can one person really enjoy?

And must they play Dan Fogelberg's "Another Old Lang Syne" five times a day? arghghghghghghgh...

"Met my old lover at the grocery store....the snow was falling Christmas Eve.... blah, blah, blah..."

LOL

Yup. It's the holiday season...

Pass me the Prozac and the sugar cookies, please.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

EMBRACING THE CHANGE

At first blush, the title of the book "The Wisdom of Menopause", seems a bit of an oxymoron...

I mean, traditionally, one associates "menopause" with only icky things like searing, sweaty hot flashes, rollercoaster mood swings, and aging, adle-brained crones with black, coarse chin whiskers that would make a broom envious...i.e, anything BUT wisdom.

Au contraire!

Thanks to my friend Nancy and her wise choice to read "The Wisdom of Menopause", and her generous offer to loan me the groundbreaking classic, I am learning that, according to author Christiane Northrup, M.D., the infamous "change" that we women often dread and fear is not merely a plethora of perplexing physical symptoms to be "fixed" but (and I quote from the back cover), "a mind-body revolution that brings the greatest opportunity for growth since adolescence."

(Ah, yes, adolescence...a positively riveting -- not to mention hormonally and emotionally devastating -- time in a young girl's life... but I digress...)

According to the good doc, the choices a woman makes NOW -- from the quality of her relationships to the quality of her diet -- have the power to secure vibrant health and well-being for the rest of her life.

(Yikes! Relationships and diet...not exactly my strong suits thus far...)

Yes, Dr. Northrup maintains that women can "make menopause a time of personal empowerment and positive energy, and emerge wiser, healthier and stronger in both mind and body than ever before."

What the heck...I'm totally in.

I swear I am going to read this book cover to cover, and soak up every bit of menopausal insight I can...

For starters, I'm absolutely inspired and energized just by the book's dedication: "This book is dedicated to the pioneering spirit embodied in the women of the baby boom generation."

Amen to that, sisters! Right on!

And the first chapter, "Menopause Puts Your Life Under A Microscope" is a real eye-opener. From there, the book covers everything from "Embracing the Message of our Menopausal Anger" (Angry? Who? Me? Surely, you jest...) and "The Menopause Food Plan: A Program to Balance Your Hormones and Prevent Middle-Age Spread" to "Testosterone: The Hormone of Desire?" and "Nurturing Your Brain: Sleep, Depression and Memory"

I really think this book will be life-changing...if only I could stay awake long enough after supper to read more than a dozen pages at a time...and if I could just remember where I put my glasses...

I wonder if there's a chapter addressing women who wake up every morning about 2 a.m., wide awake and rarin' to go, and blog till 3 a.m. -- and then can't wake up to save their souls when it's time to get ready for work...

The good news is, it's SATURDAY! Yay! I don't have to go to work! Instead, I'll be having coffee and a homemade sweet roll at In The Dough with my friend Nancy...

What's that, Dr. Northrup? Read page 220, "How To Quell Your Sugar Cravings"? Oh. And Page 316? Avoid caffeine?

Heavy sigh.

And so the journey to physical and emotional health during "The Change" begins.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

WHAT A GIRL WANTS, WHAT A GIRL NEEDS...

...is rarely what a girl gets...

Unless of course, you happen to love coon huntin' and are married to/involved with/in a committed relationship with an avid coon hunter(which, fortunately, I do not and am not, respectively)...

But if you and/or your significant other DO happen to love huntin' them cute and furry little four-footed apple polishers, well, then have I got a great little catalogue for you...I mean it is chock full of perfect Christmas gift ideas for the hard-to-shop for coon huntin' enthusiast and/or his woman.

It's the Holiday 2007 NiteLite Master Catalogue. And I am not sure how one arrived at our house addressed to my husband, but it's excellent fodder for a Saturday a.m. blog...

I mean, forget Victoria's Secret, ladies and gents...

(From here on in, it's best if you read the following lingerie descriptions, etc., outloud with your best Jeff Foxworthy/redneck Batavia, OH (or better yet, Mt. Orab) twang, to get the full, comedic effect...my editorial comments, of course, will be in italics and parenthesis.)

Ready...get your twang set...go...

This holiday season, why not surprise the little woman with a hot number from the NiteLite Cabin Fever Collection...

(And I quote) "Our Cabin Fever Collection items are made of comfortable 5 oz. microdenier polyester. The tops feature exceptional comfort and durability, while the pants feature front pockets (pockets? in lingerie? for what? her extra ammo?), elastic waist and matching drawstring...Drinking a cup of coffee or reading the newspaper takes on new meaning when Cabin Fever's collection is your attire (I'll bet...). Available in Break-Up, Max-4 and Blaze Camo. (Decisions, decisions...)

(Speaking of camo...)

Camo Panties
Ideal for any lady who needs to get her man's attention during hunting season (but won't she just blend in with the scenery?? ) 100% cotton bikini-cut panties come in Realtree Advantage (whatever that means...) $9.99

(And now, my personal favorite...)

Coon Panties
A very unique gift idea for the coonhunter's special lady. (I should say!) These bikini-cut panties are available in white. (with a big ol' bushy racoon tail stamped on the rear, dont'cha know...) All sales final. $9.99 (LOL...I can hear it now...Sorry, Becky Jo, but I just can't take 'em back, girl...)

(And, here's a smokin' hot -- and affordably priced -- gift idea for the guys...)

Men's Glow-In-The-Dark Coon Boxers
These boxers were designed exclusively for NiteLite's coonhunters (well, who the hell else would wear them?)...Imagine the look you will receive when you flash the coon's glow-in-the-dark eyes...(yes...just imagine...) $9.99

LOLOLOLOLOL....

Oh, dear...

I could go on...I mean there's the Mossy Oak Break-Up Camo Swimwear, "both sexy and classy; stylish, yet functional"...Or, for your coon huntin' kids...the Kitten KoonerII -- a rechargable hunting light that weighs under 3 pounds...or if you've got some cold hard cash burnin' a hole in your holiday pocket, there's the "Tree My Dog" clock sporting -- as one might suppose -- a walker hound with a treed raccoon. The alarm sounds off with coon hounds barking, hot on the trail, followed by coon squalls. Push the snooze button, and end the hunt with a gunshot...(what will they think of next?) Only $39.99.

But I've got a house to clean this afternoon, and my son is playing a Munchkin farmer in our high school's musical production of "The Wizard of Oz" this evening...

Gotta go.

Only 46 days till Christmas...twang, twang.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA

So I just got off the phone after a surprise call from an old college friend...

There's no friend like an old college friend when it comes to the uncanny ability to instantly whisk you down memory lane to a younger, less-encumbered, more carefree time of life...like, say, when you were in your early 20s...

(Oh, by the way, that's a pic of my freshman dorm, Boyd Hall, at Ohio University in Athens...some very fond memories...)

Anyway...my friend and I were catching up with each other's lives and I was sharing some tidbits about my recent fun trip to Minneapolis to visit my 23-year-old niece. I noted how confident, energetic, and rarin' to take on the world my niece is...and how, at the ripe ol' and somewhat tired and disillusioned age of 51, I am downright envious of her. How I wish I had her verve.

"You had that when you were her age," my friend said.

"I did?" I asked. "Really? I don't remember..."

"Yeah, you did," my friend said.

I just don't remember feeling vervy.

I mean, I remember wanting to become the next Erma Bombeck, and being jazzed about graduating from journalism school...but I was never one of those gutsty j-school students who lived and breathed journalism and bravely embarked on exciting summer internships to Tel Aviv or even Cleveland.

I wrote a few horribly boring pieces for the Athens Messenger...and I was a copy editor for The Post, the Ohio University newspaper.

Yippy Skippy.

And then I moved to Carroll, Iowa, for cryin' out loud, after graduation.

How safe and very non-vervy.

"But you wanted to be near your family, your sister," my friend gently reminded me.

Oh, yeah. I'd forgotten my reasoning...it's all coming back to me now...

Actually, I had intended to live and work in Davenport (where my sister resided) that summer after graduation , send out resumes and eventually land a writing job back in Ohio. Back to my beloved Cincinnati...maybe write a humor column for The Cincinnati Enquirier...write the Great American Novel...

I never made it back to the Queen City.

I snagged a daily newspaper job in Carroll (my only job offer), ended up getting married, pursued my writing career here and there about The Tall Corn State... and the rest, as they say is history...

Bottom line is -- to quote from one of my favorite movies, The Way We Were -- "We make our choices, and then our choices make us." (Thank you, Babs Streisand.)

The thing is, for all sorts of reasons, life often just happens, just sort of unfolds serendipitously before us, in spite of our plans, intentions or true desires.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Nearly 30 years later, tho, as one stands a bit past the mid-mile marker on life's rocky road, staring down what's left of the not-so-long homestretch, one can't help but ponder now and then -- particularly after a surprise phone call from an old college friend -- what if I woulda? I coulda...maybe I shoulda...

If I'd only had the verve...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

LEAF RAKING AND WHY I DO IT

Well, if I don't rake the leaves, all MY leaves are blown helter-skelter into my neighbors' leaf-free yards...and then I feel guilty.

And who needs more guilt?

Besides, I love the crisp fall air, the feel of gardening gloves and a rake in my hand...tho I don't care much for the ever-predictable blister that shows up between my thumb and index finger even if I wear said gardening gloves...

Actually, truth be told, I think I'm ditching the rake this year and using my neighbor Jeff's bagger/mower. It will still take me all day to sweep the lawn free of those pesky-once-colorful-and-charming-now-brown-and-dead leaves. But at least I won't have a blister at the end of the day. Plus my lawn -- or haven of Creeping Charlie, if you will -- will be trimmed one last time before the cold Iowa wind blows in its first snowstorm. That is, of course, if global warming hasn't done away with the snow entirely...

If I were truly energetic -- and I am a tad more energetic than usual due to that LOVELY extra hour of sleep gained by turning our clocks back last night...I would drag out the ladder and hang the Christmas lights after I've "raked" the leaves...you know, take advantage of the nice fall weather...

Granted, it is more fun to wait till just before Thanksgiving and watch John battle the take-your-breath-away Iowa chill and tornado-like high winter winds while balancing precariously atop a ladder as he attempts to position the tiny little brackets that clasp the twinkling white icicle lights to the gutter...

But, let's face it...John is getting a little long in the tooth (as we all are) and perhaps its time for young Mr. Daniel to inherit the yearly Christmas lights debacle, er, duty . And it really does make more sense to put up the damn, I mean, beautiful, lights on a beautiful day.

Hey, and maybe, while I am hauling the leaves to the lagoon (or the dump, or wherever I'm supposed to take them), and Daniel is hanging Christmas lights, John could grab the ol' hairdryer and the recently purchased window insulation kits and install those oh-so-attractive and allegedly see-through shrink film insulates over our oh-so-old-and-rather-non-energy-efficient windows.

(BTW, despite my promise that we were not turning on the furnace this winter in an effort to thwart the "blood-sucking municipal utility people" (as I so kindly refer to them the day I get my monthly bill), and regardless of my vow that we'd be wearing coats, hats, gloves, and towels wrapped around our faces to stave off nose hair freezing at bedtime, we have, alas, turned on the furnace. But it's set only at 60. And from there it will not budge. Not one degree. Or else, the wrath of Mommy Dearest will be unleashed.)

Now where was I?

Oh, yes. I feel a family work day coming on...

Wait...oh, drat.

What was I thinking? John and Daniel are going over to Grandma's to watch football this afternoon and evening...silly me...

Looks like it's just me and the leaves and the lagoon...the Christmas lights and shrink wrap will have to wait.

Oh, well...I hear the lagoon is lovely this time of year...

Hark! What's that noise?

Omigod! It's the leaf blower! I take back what I said...John and Daniel, it seems, are doing their part to rid the lawn of leaves before they go to Grandmama's for an afternoon of football...

Hmm...guilt must've gotten the better of them...more than likely it was John's picturing me attempting to drive the neighbor's pick-up truck, packed full with leaves, to the dump.

Tee-hee.

Guess guilt is a good thing sometimes...

Friday, November 02, 2007

I (Still) Got The Music In Me

I was thinking today (which is no small feat...ba-da-bump) how depressing that song is that Daniel and his friends listen to...it is often playing on the radio in the background during the day at my new job...

And it goes something like this....

"I...believe...the world...is coming to an end", la, la, la, so forth and so on.

But is it really any more depressing than that classic from back in the day that goes something like this...

"Dust in the wind...all we are is dust in the wind" la, la, la, so forth and so on...

I mean, for cryin' out loud, I bought the damn album my sophomore year in college (or was it my junior year?) and listened to Dust in The Wind over and over again...they should have handed out Prozac with each album sold....

Not that the sound track from The Way We Were was any cheerier...I used to cry myself to sleep to that ol' 33 RPM...LOL...

Or how about the movie Beaches? How 'bout ol Wind Beneath My Wings? How many times in a row did I watch that tear jerker?How many times did I play that rip-your-heart-out song on my cassette recorder, huh?

Holy Cow...

And as long as I'm blogging about sad, silly sentimental songs and such...

Seems there's a lot of Bob Seger playing during the day on the classic rock station that's on now and then at work...Someday lady you'll accompany me, blah, blah, blah...Down on Main Street...Turn The Page, yada, yada, yada...

Enough, already.

Yeah, that's Bob way down and over on the right in my blog sidebar (down past my boyfriend Johnny Depp)...I captioned Bob's pic "Ear Candy" last summer when I resdesigned my blog after my cinci vacation. I used to LOVE Bob Seeger. I used to LOVE the sound of his scraggly, shall-we-say somewhat hillbilly-ish voice.

Well, make sure and take another gander down there at ol' Bob.

LOL.

I dunno. Guess my taste in music has just simply changed. Bob just doesn't speak to me anymore (snooty sniff, hands on hips, nose up in the air).

In fact, if I never hear another Bob Seger song again the rest of my life, it will be too soon. I'm even considering regifting my Bob Seger's Greatest Hits CD this Christmas...(along with the Songs and Songwriters of the 70s CD set that someone once gave me...retro-schmetro.)

LOL.

Give me kickin-a Gwen Stefani any day of the week...

A few times I've been around that track
So it's not just gonna happen like that
Because I ain't no hollaback girl
I ain't no hollaback girl...

I'll give that song a 10, Dick. It's got a beat, and you can dance to it.

And, like my heroes the Dixie Chicks once sang...

Sometimes ya gotta dance.

IT"S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

And I don't mean the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays...

This Saturday night is THE most wonderful time of the year because -- ta-da! Daylight Savings Time comes to an end, we get to set our clocks back, and we all get one whole extra hour of SLEEP!

YAY!

I will savor all 60 beautiful extra minutes in ZZZZ-Town...

Sleep and chocolate -- two things -- the only things -- I crave these days...

Perhaps I'll celebrate Daylight Savings Time's end by nibbling on some Peanut M&Ms...

Speaking of Peanut M&Ms...

It was "Ghouls Gone Wild" on our street this Halloween...

OK, maybe more like "Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun"...

At any rate, there were lots and lots of ADORABLE little ghosts, goblins, bees, fairies, dinosaurs, super heroes and the like combing the neighborhood for treats...

Noticed, however, that kids rarely actually say "Trick or Treat" any more...they just hold out their bags and expect you to toss the sugary loot in without a word...

"What do you say?" I asked those who attempted to forgo the traditional Halloween greeting...

"Please?" they'd respond, staring at me, as though totally confused, as they held open their bags.
"How 'bout 'Trick or Treat?" I'd offer back.

"Oh, yeah, Trick or Treat!" they'd giggle.

Ya know, back in the day, when candy was a true treat instead of a main staple in kids' diets, I think Halloween was more fun, or meant more....

I, as family tradition holds, handed out treats by myself..Daniel fashioned himself too old to help...and John did his usual disappearing act -- this year he conveniently had to fix a leak in his mom's kitchen faucet.

I think he was traumatized somehow by trick-o-treaters back in the day...

Whatever.

And I, as tradition also holds, ate more peanut M&Ms than I handed out..

Two mini bags for me, one for the kiddies...

Hey, don't forget to set those clocks back!

More rambling to come...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In Youth We Learn...

In Age We Understand...


(Yikes...51...Whodathunk?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thoughts Before My 51st Birthday...

I mean...life is just so daily...
I was sooo hoping my 50s would be simple, uncomplicated...

More Pre-Birthday Thoughts...


I get by with a little help from my friends...
(Get by? At almost 51, that's how I survive!)

Looking To The Future...


Helpful advice for my hubby as The Golden Years beckon...

Life's Lessons Learned

So it's the night before my 51st birthday...
I tend to wax analytical as the clock ticks ever onward and upward...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

UPTOWN GIRLS

Oh! My! Gosh!

When my Sis said it was going to be a Thelma and Louise weekend, she wasn't kidding...

We hit the road at 6:30 a.m., bookin' it to Uptown Minneapolis from Des Moines in my sister's (surprise!) new sporty convertible...we crank the tunes way up, starting with the soundtrack from Thelma & Louise, of course...

I felt it when the sun came up this morning
I knew I could not wait another day
Darling, there is something I must tell you
A distant voice is calling me away...

Until we find a bridge across forever
Until this grand illusion brings us home
You and I will always be together
From this day on you`ll never walk alone...

You`re a part of me, I`m a part of you
Wherever we may travel
Whatever we go through

Whatever time may take away
It cannot change the way we feel today
So hold me close and say you feel it, too...
You`re a part of me, and I`m a part of you...

Highlights: A cuppa joe from Caribou Coffee in Des Moines...a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (my fave) from Mickey D's in Story City... a strawberry slushy from Kwik Trip (can't remember where we were), lots of gabbing and laughing and singin' along to some great old tunes...I mean, we are beltin' 'em out...

Whenever I'm with him
Something inside
Starts to burning
And I'm filled with desire...

Could it be the devil in me
Or is this the way love's supposed to be?
It's like a heat wave
Burning in my heart
Can't keep from crying
It's tearing me apart...


It feels so good to get the heck out of Iowa... it feels even better to be hangin' with my Sis, actually doing something OTHER than going to a family funeral (our usual reason for a road trip). Not that we don't have fun together, whatever the reason...

Like the time we were driving to Michigan to visit our ailing dad (who, we had just found out, was dying from cancer) and we passed a road sign for The Sapp Brothers Truck Stop.

"Hey, the Sapp Brothers...I think I dated one of them in college," I quipped.

Ba-da-bump.

My niece's older, third-floor one-bedroom apartment is too cool for words...big windows looking out onto the bustling, eclectic Uptown Minneapolis neighborhood...grocery store, coffee shops, bars, restaurants a hop, skip and a jump from her front door...

Lunch at Stella's, outside, on the rooftop...breathtaking view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline and the best tuna melt sandwich and garlic mashed potatoes I have EVER tasted...not to mention the thirst-quenching ever-popular Stella's Purple Mojito...

Nibblin on sponge cake
Watchin the sun bake
All of those tourists covered with oil
Strummin my six-string
On my front porch swing
Smell those shrimp they're beginnin' to boil...

Wastin away again in Margaritaville
Searching for my lost shaker of salt...


Words of wit from the wall at Stella's: "Don't pity the lobster...it lives to kill."

LOL.

A two-block stroll after lunch takes us to Lake Calhoun...folks roller blading, riding bikes, sail boating, jogging and walking around the lake...oh, golly, the leaves are so beautiful here...reminds me why I love autumn...

We meander back toward Liz's apartment...she treats us to (surprise!) birthday manicures at reVamp, a trendy salon, followed by an exciting and educational ride in the Flour Tower at the historical Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis...

And suddenly it hits me...I have not had this much fun since Cincinnati...

I come home in the morning light
My mother says when you gonna live your life right
Oh, mother dear we're not the fortunate ones
And girls they want to have fun
Oh, girls just want to have fun...

The phone rings in the middle of the night
My father yells what you gonna do with your life
Oh, daddy dear you know you're still number one
But girls they want to have fun
Oh, girls just want to have -

That's all they really want
Some fun...
When the working day is done
Oh, girls they want to have fun
Oh, girls just want to have fun...


Later, back at the apartment, we relax for a while...I gaze out the windows, soaking up the late-afternoon ambience of Uptown Minneapolis...it's just so absolutely teeming with activity, with life...possibilities...I love it here. I could live here...

Correction.

I could've lived here. Once upon a time...

Suddenly, sirens scream.

A bedraggled bearded man stands, sorta stooped, on the street corner, a small, scribbled cardboard sign hangs from his scrawny neck..."Anything will help..."

I think, "There but for the grace of God go I..."

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky

Goin' up to the spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
.

We freshen our faces, fluff our hair, and off we go to Bar Abilene, just down the street, for an evening of dining and more girl talk...

As you brush your shoes
And stand before the mirror
And you comb your hair
And grab your coat and hat
And you walk, wet streets,
Tryin to remember
All the wild night breezes
In your memory ever.

And evrything looks so complete
When you're walkin out on the street
And the wind catches your feet
And sends you flyin, cryin

Ooh-wee! The wild night is calling...


We could talk-- and laugh -- all night. I love my sis and my niece so much...I want to freeze this moment, this perfect moment...

I don't wanna be the one who's old before their time
And lose the wonder that I felt as a child
I can't run this race believing I might lose
There's still so much to see, so much left to do

Yes, I'll fall before I fly
But no one can say I never tried
Oh, we just get one ride around the sun
In this dream of time
It goes so fast
And one day we look back
And we ask, Was that my life?

I close my eyes and think how lucky I have been
To hold the ones I love, and share my dreams with them
All those sunny days and all those starry skys
Good Morning kisses and sweet Good Nights

I can't tell them enough
Just how much they are loved...

Well, I gotta get some sleep...if I can get to sleep...

What a great day...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oh, Joy Is Me!

Mimi is a woman now!

Yes, lo and behold, my darling 8-month-old Rat Terrier is having her first menstrual period.

I suppose I need to have "the talk" with her, and reassure her she can still run and fetch a bone and go swimming while menstruating, and I could possibly instruct her on how to use a heating pad to relieve cramps...

But right now I am frantically trying to figure out how to get to Des Moines to buy doggy diapers, or pooch pants, or bitches britches-- or whatever the hell one calls the things dogs use during that time of the month -- or year, or whatever -- before I leave for Minneapolis this weekend...

We just can't buy those delicate pieces of canine lingerie here in Podunk.

Oh, I suppose I could use baby diapers, as some of my in-the-know dog-loving friends have advised. Just cut a little hole for Mimi's tail here, use a little surgical tape to strap it around Mimi there...

Yeah, right.

Like I say, she's a RAT TERRIER! A high-intensity, jump-a-second RAT TERRIER.

Does anyone reeeaallyy think the little darling will sit still long enough for me to strap a diaper or pants of any kind on her?

Hah!

And just how long does anyone think said diaper will last? Mimi will have that thing chewed to smithereenies in seconds flat...

Oh, well...this, too shall pass...

Brings back such fond memories of my first period....my mother calling all over the neighborhood... Mrs. B., Mrs. Morgan, probably Mrs. Maier, too...and and in an excited, albeit hushed, voice, announcing,"Ann's a woman!"

Thank God she didn't have a blog.

WOW!

Thanks to all who took the time to read and comment back to me, either here or via email, regarding my post on Blog Action Day...

It was great feeling like this blog was part of something BIG...and meaningful...something that maybe, just maybe, made people take a minute or two and think about the the environment environment and what steps we can take to save the earth.

In case you are curious just how many blogs participated in Blog Action Day, click here.

You may just be amazed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Leaving home for the first time is hard...But paying the phone bills when you're away from your sister is harder!

So goes the quote in one of my "Sisters" keepsake books that my very own sister -- OK, I still call her Sissy at times -- gave me for my 50th birthday last year.

I was thumbing through that book recently because A) I was actually dusting the bookshelf it sits on and B) my Sis and I turn a year older this month (she, of course, being the older sister by, ahem, eight years), and I began reflecting on growing older.

In fact, my sis's birthday is today!

I had to chuckle about the sisters and phonebills saying because no one knows how to run up a phone bill like me, and nobody knows that better than my dear Sis.

"If you ever feel homesick, just call me collect," she said to me after dropping me off at my freshman college dorm at Ohio University back in '75.

And so I did.

That poor gal was swimming in long distance phone bills before my first three weeks of my first year of college had passed.

Hey, what can I say? I missed my Sissy.

She has always been there for me...

Through thick and thin (and every fad diet we have ever tried)...

In good times and bad (like cleaning out our dad's house after he died...it was the worst of times, and yet, it turned out to be one of the most hilarious sisterly bonding experiences we've ever had...hard to explain unless you knew our dad...ah, hell, unless you knew our whole family...let's just say me and my Sis know how to put the "fun" back in dysfunctional)...

In sickness and in health ( I always waited to get sick until I was home from college for the holidays, and my Sis was right there with the chicken soup, the crackers, the 7-Up)...

Indeed, a sister -- my sister -- has been a constant source of strength, wisdom, comfort and pride.

A sister always knows when to bring tissues and when to bring champaigne...or tissues and a pitcher of margaritas at the same time...whatever it takes...

Sisters allow you the joy of becoming an aunt...although, when my niece and nephew were little, and after spending a weekend with them, I'd always feel like doubling up on my birth control pills (an old, standing joke between me and my Sis).

In fact, this weekend, my Sis and I are taking off for Minneapolis to visit my niece...

A Thelma and Louise weekend to celebrate our birthdays (mine is next week), although my Sis promises we're not going to rob or shoot anyone, and we definitely are coming back...we're just getting out of town, playin' our favorite tunes, and doing what we do best -- gabbing and laughing.

Ah, yes...the older you get, the more fun it is to have a sister...

It's true, you know.

A sister is a forever friend.

And I thank God for her.

Happy Birthday, Sis! I love you!

Monday, October 15, 2007

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE ME...

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

If everyone lived like me, we would need 3.9 planets.

Yikes.

That's according to the "How Big Is Your Footprint?" quiz I answered recently on earthday.net in preparation for today, Blog Action Day, when thousands of bloggers across the world are posting about one very important issue: the environment.

The political activist in me, of course, jumped at the chance to participate in Blog Action Day. And I immediately considered regaling Home Stretch readers with some of my fondest memories from my one and only semi-recent environmental "crusade"...

Some Stuart bloggers may still remember my non-stop newspaper coverage of the Adair County Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement's (ICCI) successful -- and history-making -- campaign a few years back to keep a large, smelly, non-environmentally friendly hog confinement from being built in Stuart. Who knew that there was so much to know about the wrong way and the right way to complete and submit manure management plans?

It occurred to me, however, that it is always easy to point fingers at the large Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) folks, and other big corporate industries that are regularly contributing to the destruction of our environment yet ignore what we, as indiviuals, are doing in our daily lives to make environmental matters worse.

I mean, is it enough to recycle empty Gatorade bottles and turn off the water while I brush my teeth? Or is there more I can do to live a "green" life? Just how much "nature" does my lifestyle require?

So I took the "How Big Is Your Footprint" Quiz, which estimates how much productive land and water you and I need to support what we use and what we discard.

After answering 15 easy questions, here is what I learned:
*My ecological footprint, based on my quiz results, is 17 acres.
*The average ecological footprint in the United States is 24 acres per person.
*Worldwide, there exists 4.5 biologically productive acres per person.

Thus, like I said at the beginning of this post, if everyone lived like me, we would need 3.9 planets.

Yikes.

That's not good. Especially for a woman who once insisted on using cloth bags for hauling home groceries when I went Krogering (back in my Cinci days) and who encouraged Daniel to hug trees when he was little (thank you, Sesame Street).

So what in the world can we do do to live a greener, more environmentally-sound life?

According to the William J. Clinton Foundation:

Tip # 1 Get on Your Bike!
For every mile you ride your bike instead of driving a car, you avoid the production of about one pound of carbon dioxide. ( I have been riding my bike now and then since I am sans my own car.)

Tip # 2 Save Water with Powder Detergents
Switch from liquid detergents to powders. Laundry liquids are mostly water (approx. 80%). It costs energy and packaging to bring this water to the consumer. (That's not a hard switch to make...but what about Downey? I LOVE Downey...)

Tip # 3 Save a Tree, or Two or Three
Get tough on tissues. If every household in the U.S. replaced one box of 85 sheet virgin fiber facial tissues with 100% recycled ones, we could save: 87,700 trees, 226,500 cubic feet of landfill space ( equal to 330 full garbage trucks), 31 million gallons of water (Annual supply for 240 families of four), and avoid 5,300 pounds of pollution! Buy only recycled paper products for your office, bathroom and kitchen. (Again, not too tough to do.)

Tip # 4 Check Your Water Heater
Keep your water heater thermostat no higher than 120°F. Save 550 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $30 per year. Talk to your building or condo manager to upgrade the efficiency of the boiler in your building to magnify the savings. (Sounds like a job for John.)

Tip # 5 Change Your Light Bulbs
Replace 3 frequently used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. This will save approximately 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $60 per year. (Another "honey do" job for John.)

Tip #6 Muscle Mow Your Lawn
Mowing for an hour with a gasoline- powered lawn mower can produce as much air pollution as a 350-mile drive in a car. Consider this alternative which emits nothing other than clippings and burns calories too: push a lightweight reel mower. (Oh, c'mon Bill...you've got to be kidding...)

Tip #7 Change Your Thermostat
Conserve fuel by turning down the heat at night and while you are away from your home — or install a programmable thermostat. Setting the airconditioning thermostat in your building to 76 degrees in the summer will dramatically reduce your electricity bill and you'll do your bit to save energy and the environment. (I've already vowed that we will be wearing hats, coats, gloves to bed and wrapping our faces in towels so nose hairs don't freeze in order to avoid having to pay those blood-sucking municipal utility people any more money than I already have to this winter...)

Tip # 8 Reduce Garbage
Buy products with less packaging and recycle paper, plastic and glass. You can save around 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year by reducing, reusing and recycling. (Can-do. Tho' I must confess that lately I have been lazy and tossing the aforementioned empty Gatorade bottles in the trash...my bad.)

Tip # 9 Use Recycled Paper
According to the EPA, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent due to holiday gift-giving. When wrapping gifts, remember to recycle and reuse. Also whenever possible use 100% post-consumer recycled paper when printing and save approximately 5 lbs. of carbon dioxide per ream of paper. (Oh, puh-leez...don't even talk about the holidays...)

Tip # 10 Fill Your Dishwasher
Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Save approximately 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. Why not set it to eco-mode to save even more energy and water? (Dishwasher? What dishwasher? That old brown piece of decaying metal that sits in my kitchen? Hah. We don't use no stinkin' dishwasher... we do it the old fashioned way...Lemon Joy and a little elbow grease...)

Well, starting today I'll work harder to do what I can to put my best, greenest foot forward.

I'll do it for Daniel and the rest of the world's kids. For, as they say, the meek shall inherit the earth.

Or what's left of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

NOT A SQUARE TO SPARE

Good Morning, Blogosphere!

To my regular Home Stretch readers -- and you know who you are -- I apologize for not posting more this past week...

Busy reinventing myself for the purpose of improving my financial status.

Although my husband and I have picked out the bridge we think we might enjoy living under in retirement, I'm figurin' that a better paying job might be the more sensible solution.

Will fill you in later.

Right now, must run to the store -- we are out of toity paper and dog food.

Then it's off to In The Dough (my favorite local coffee spot since Starbucks is loathe to locate here in Podunk) for a bit of caffeine and a delicious sweet roll -- or two -- with my friend Nancy -- and maybe Angie, if she can get her rear end out of the sack this a.m. :)

Then it's off to Great Clips so Sonny Boy can get that mop of his cut...

Just another Pleasant Valley Saturday.

Back soon.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Celebrating My Truly Beautiful, Perfectly Imperfect Life


No one is perfect.

No one.

We all -- each and every one of us -- are perfectly imperfect.

And that, my friends, is a truth to celebrate; a comforting, freeing reminder to let go of perfectionism wherever and whenever it rears its brutal, unattainable head.

Indeed, like it or not, perfection-- no matter how hard we try -- is unattainable. Imperfection, on the other hand, is naturally occuring. Unavoidable. And, if you adhere to the wabi-sabi philosophy oflooking at life, imperfection is beautiful.

Wabi-sabi also recognizes the bittersweet impermanence of the moments of our lives.
Bottom line? It's a wabi-sabi life, brothers and sisters, and by golly, it's high time I start living it -- and enjoying it -- as such.

I know, I know...

Yesterday I was blogging about feng shui...today it's wabi-sabi...

Frankly, I fear that once my feng shui is evaluated, I will realize that I have to repaint every room, and paint is not in my budget right now. Wabi-sabi, from what I can deduce, is a more affordable life philosophy...

It's a universal ideal of beauty celebrating the basic, the unique, and the imperfect parts of our lives.

Remember the comfortable joy you felt as a child, happily singing off key? Creatively coloring outside the lines? Mispronouncing words with gusto? That, my friends, is a simple explanation of wabi-sabi.

Or, on a deeper level, wabi-sabi is "the profound awareness of our oneness with all life and the environment. It includes a deep awareness of the choices we make each day, the power we have to accept or reject each moment of our lives, and to find value in every experience."

In other words, adopting a wabi-sabi approach to life means "appreciate this and every moment, no matter how imperfect, for this moment is your life. When you reject this moment, you reject your life."

(Eeeek! How much time have I wasted rejecting my life over the years?)
That's not to say that you must settle for this moment, of course. You are, according to Gold, "free to steer a different course, but for now, this moment is yours, so be mindful to make the most of it."
Amen.

Slow down, you're movin' too fast
Ya gotta make the moment last
Just kickin' down the cobblestones
Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy...

So just how does one live a wabi-sabi life? How does one who is caught up in the mad-dash race we call life, get to the "Imperfect Life, I love you, all is groovy" point?
More to come on wabi-sabi.