"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

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In Youth We Learn...

In Age We Understand...


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


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.


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."


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...


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?


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.


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


Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

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


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.


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


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."

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.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Have You Checked Your Feng Shui Lately?

So I was chillin' with my friend Gloria the other afternoon (I call her Glo for short), and she generously offered to swing by my house some Saturday and check out my feng shui...

I figured,"why not?"

I mean, hell's bells, Mabel, a little feng shui overhaul just might be the key to improving daily life at The Homestretch household.

Admittedly, I know very little-- nothing, really -- about feng shui-- but considering how my life generally goes, I am sure its off kilter and needs adjusting.

Glo said something about my relationship corner, and my financial corner...something about taking two pics --one of me and one of John -- facing them toward each other and binding them together by wrapping a red ribbon around them 99 times (exactly why 99 times as opposed to say, 98 or 100, she didn't say), and placing them in the relationship corner of my house.

I'm game. What could it hurt?

Of course, if I understood Glo correctly (and chances are, I did not) my relationship corner is, like, in Daniel's room...and he might not quite "get" the whole feng shui mom-and-dad-pic-wrapped-in-a-red-ribbon dangling from a corner of his ceiling or whatever.

Of course, I could stash the pic under his bed (which is in a corner) and, based on the number of empty Gatorade bottles, dirty undrwear and stinky football socks that are usually taking up residency there, the pic would most likely go unnoticed for years...

I would even go so far as to say that the pic would probably sit there, quietly, unobtrusively doing its feng shui thing under DJ's bed for DECADES unless, for some strange reason, Daniel got an extremely wild hair and decided to thoroughly clean his room...

But I digress.


As for my financial feng shui, there is, as Glo explained it, something about taping a $100 bill under your desk...the desk, of course, must be in the financial corner of your house.


Firstly, I'm a'thinkin' there ain't no financial corner in our house.

Secondly, if there is a $100 bill to be found anywhere near our house, I won't be affixing it to the bottom of my desk. The blood-sucking Municipal Utilities will be getting it. Or the blood-sucking mortgage people. Or the blood-sucking home owners insurance people.

Yet again, I digress.

At any rate, I can't wait to hear what Glo has to say after evaluating my feng shui...if nothing else, it will most likely mean an afternoon of rearranging my living room, which is always a good time...and GREAT therapy.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Well, Yippy Skippy...It's Sarcastics Awareness Month

All these years spent dripping in sarcasm, and I never even had an inkling that October was THE month for those of us who dabble in the "S" word.

I glean from my research that Sarcastics Awareness Month is

(1) For those who realize they are sarcastic and want to get it under control;

(2) For those who are sarcastic and want to get better at it; and

(3) For those who are forced to live or work with people who are sarcastic.

This "special" month is sponsored by -- big surprise -- Sarcastics Anonymous.

This is also Clergy Appreciation Month.

Hmm...clergy appreciation...

Now there's an oxymoron...

Charisma. I Has It.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Still Time To Celebrate...

All my griping about my dog today (see earlier post) and I almost forgot what today is!

C'mon now...everybody yell: "Happy Name Your Car Day!"


You say your car doesn't have a name? My gosh, do you have ice water running through your veins? Think of all the time you spend in your car...the damn machine needs a name.

Back in the day, when I drove my dad's falling-apart old greenish-blue '75 Ford Galaxy 500 convertible, my friend Linda andI named my jalopy "The Green Gobbler" for (what else?) the strange, gobbling-like noise it made when we repeatedly circled Linda's cul-de-sac.

Made perfectly good sense, don'tcha think?

My current car -- a 2001 yellow Ford Escape -- I have dubbed "You Stupid, Good-For-Nothing Piece of Crap".

Need I expound?

So, before the clock strikes midnight and "Name Your Car Day is but a bittersweet memory, kick up your heels--or kick the tires, if you are so moved -- and give your car its day in the sun...or, in this case (considering it is 8:10 p.m. (9:10 Cinci time), its night under the moon.

Now, if you've been wanting to name your car, but haven't a clue how to go about doing that, here are some helpful car-naming tips that I just pirated off my one of my favorite "bizarre October holiday" websites:

*Don't select wimpy names. That might give your car a personality complex and it will perform accordingly.

*Do give a strong, aggressive name to sports cars and cars with powerful engines.

*Sleek, sexy feline-like cars savor names that begin with "lady".

*Old junkers are proud just to be around. You can call them just about anything. Try "Tramp", or "Old Yeller", "Old Blue".

*Pick names to reflect your personality.

*"Pickemup" trucks must have country names.

*Don't give common names (like Joe, Mike or Becky) to luxury cars. They beam over names like Reginald, Archibald, and Crystal.



Today, she chewed the stuffing out of my antique kitchen chairs.

A few weeks ago, she destroyed two pairs of John's shoes.

When she was three months old, she chewed my new eyeglasses all to hell (before they were paid for, I might add), and let's see, what else...

I could go on, but why?

Whose ingenious suggestion was it to get a Jack Rat anyway?

Didn't we learn after Rosie, the insane and totally w/o bladder control Cocker Spaniel?

Note to self: I am NOT a dog person.