Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How The West Was Changed

As reported in a previous post, husband and I went to the movies last Saturday because of sheer boredom. It was my turn to pick the movie since husband had picked probably the last five that we've seen. After reading up on what was playing at the cineplex (and after perusing all the current reviews), I decided that we would see director Ang Lee's version of the ultimate cowboy movie of our time, Brokeback Mountain.

For all you movie lovers out there, especially those who love cowboy movies, a disclaimer should be handed to each movie-goer who enters the theater. This was a pretty graphic film. The cinematography was exquisite, the direction was flawless, and the acting was Oscar material. The content, however, was R-rated and was punctuated with a lot of roughhousing, kissing, fondling, and other stuff that you would find in your typical girly-boy cowboy movie.

The story-line goes something like this:

Two young cowboys are hired to be shepherds up on Brokeback Mountain.

Their first task is to drive all the animals up to Brokeback Mountain without losing a lot of them (sheep).

The sheep will live the life of Riley on Brokeback Mountain so they can fatten up all Summer on all that green grass.

Both cowboys take turns fixing the grub, but they soon get tired of all the beans and stuff. They crave spuds and fresh meat.

With all the isolation up on Brokeback Mountain, and plenty of time on their hands, the two cowboys find that they like to roughhouse, do a little fightin', brawlin', drinkin', sleepin' in the same tent 'cause it's dang cold up in them thar hills, and eventually fall madly in love (for about 20 years).

You know this ain't gonna have a good ending.

So, if you'd like to spend a couple of hours at the movies enjoying a good, old-fashioned cowboy movie, Brokeback Mountain's a sure thing, pardner. It's a shoo-in to be an Oscar winner come March.

Man, the West sure has changed since John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Palance, and all the other rough-and-tumbles rode, shot Indians and each other, pillaged, settled down on their rancheros, drove cattle, and married the school marm back in the old days. That's How The West Was Won.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday Boredom

We gotta get out of this place if it's the last thing we ever do . . .

-- The Animals

Here it is Saturday morning and we're still sitting around doing nothing. It's one of those days when we look at each other and ask each other those same silly questions we heard in the film "Marty."

"What do you want to do, husband?"

"I don't know. What do you want to do? Go exercise?"

"I don't know. That would mean I have to get out of my nightgown and go take a shower."

"Yeah, I know. So, what do you feel like doing?"

"I don't know, but we better make up our minds really quick before it gets dark."

I think I've spent enough time online and looked at and responded to enough blogfriends' blogs, had a few laughs, drank my morning tea, and had two pieces of toast.

So, the moment of truth has arrived. I guess I will get off the computer, go into the living room and ask the inevitable question again.

"So, what do you feel like doing, husband?"

I really, really have to get out of the house more often. But, for those blogfriends who actually get out of the house on Saturdays and have planned activities, have fun.

Addendum, 9:26 P.M. CST: Well, I got him out of the house. We went to the movies and saw "Brokeback Mountain." I loved it, he didn't (I won't say why). I thought it was a beautiful story of unrequited love, he thought cowboys should be cowboys! We came out of the theater to a real downpour then proceded to Chongs for some great Chinese. End of story, Saturday no longer boring.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What I'm REALLY, REALLY like

You Have a Choleric Temperament
You are a person of great enthusiasm - easily excited by many things. Unsatisfied by the ordinary, you are reaching for an epic, extraordinary life. You want the best. The best life. The best love. The best reputation.

You possess a sharp and keen intellect. Your mind is your primary weapon. Strong willed, nothing can keep you down. Your energy can break down any wall. You're an instantly passionate person - and this passion gives you an intoxicating power over others.

At your worst, you are a narcissist. Full of yourself and even proud of your faults. Stubborn and opinionated, you know what you think is right. End of discussion. A bit of a misanthrope, you often see others as weak, ignorant, and inferior.

Have you ever taken one of these tests that are found online? They are supposed to be fun and revealing. Sort of like a parlor trick. The above is a personality test I found on fellow blogger Heather's blog (blog, blah, blah). She took it, posted the results, and said it was really accurate for her personality. Yes, the profile did sound like Heather.

So, I also took the test. A lot of the information sounds like me, but a lot IS NOT like my personality. In fact, there were some words in my profile that I actually had to look up in a dictionary, i.e., choleric, meaning
1 : easily moved to often unreasonable or excessive anger : hot-tempered 2 : ANGRY, IRATE (not me!), and misanthrope a person who hates or distrusts mankind (also not me). The results also said I was a narcissist. Do you know what that means? 1 : EGOISM, EGOCENTRISM 2 : love of or sexual desire for one's own body. Huh??? Where did all this come from? They got all this from five questions?

First of all, I have learned a long time ago that I don't like getting angry, especially excessively angry. It makes me mad to get so angry. On top of that, I usually end up apologizing to a lot of people when I do get angry. So, let's not go there.

Second, I don't hate ANYONE. Got it? I hate a lot of things that people do, but I certainly don't hate people. In fact, I love EVERYONE, except those who make me excessively angry.

Third, I am not an egoist. I may be better at a lot of things, especially answering Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit questions, but I NEVER let my ego get in the way of friendship. Above all, I like myself a lot but not to the point of sexually desiring my own body. (That's a bit twisted.)

Finally, I don't think I have EVER had a feeling of intoxicating power over anyone. In fact, I'm a pussycat and I wouldn't hurt a fly (ask my husband -- he'll tell you).

So much for online personality quizzes. Take my word for it. I may be silly at times, but you have probably guessed that I'm basically a nice person who cries at sentimental movies, likes everyone, loves good jokes, gets enthusiastic about a lot of things that make me happy, enjoys each day I'm still breathing, and loves my fellow blogpals.

The one thing that they are really correct about is that I want the best of everything, especially for those family and friends that I adore.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy thought of the day

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming WOO HOO, what a Ride!"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

1906: A great year for what?

The year is 1906. One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes!

Here are some U.S. statistics for the year 1906:

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.00.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home. Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound, eggs were 14 cents a dozen, and coffee was 15 cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease, and stroke.

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska had not been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea had not been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 U.S. adults could not read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstore. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

We've come a long way, America. Try to imagine what our country will be like in another 100 years.

Places in the heart

Beatles, Rubber Soul

There Are Places I Remember
Lyrics by John Lennon

There are places I remember all my life,
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I loved them all.

And with all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these mem'ries lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
And I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them.
In my life I loved you more.

And I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them.
In my life I loved you more
In my life I loved you more

Dedicated to the ones I love.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

-- Robert Frost

I have always loved this poem by Robert Frost. It is sometimes fun to think about how my life would be different if only . . .

I had gotten an advanced degree in college and gone on to have a career where I saved lives.

I had another baby or two but it was not meant to be.

I had been born rich so I could use that money to help those more needy than I.

I had been born beautiful and without blemish but then I wouldn't be able to see and understand my sisters who aren't.

I had been born a genius so I could solve all the problems under the sun.

I had been born a politician so I could change the world.

I had been born with some special gift so I could invent something useful to help mankind.

I had been born a writer so I could write a book that would be read and cherished by generations to come.

If I had taken that other path many years ago I would not have the husband and children I have now. I might not know and love the people currently in my life. I would not have learned the things I learned over the years and I would not be able to sit here writing all these "what ifs." (I also might not know all the trivia I know to answer all the questions on Jeopardy.)

What if I purchased a lottery ticket today and actually won the $101 million jackpot? What would I do with all that money? What if we sold our house and just went traveling until we got bored? Where would we go then?

It's nice to dream and it's nice to speculate. But, the truth of the matter is that we are destined to live out our lives just as they are no matter which path we decide to take.

We all have regrets about things we have done in our past and the paths we decided to take -- decisions we have made that affect us today. It would be futile to dwell upon these "what ifs." We must accept the here-and-now of our lives because that's all there is, folks.

And yet, it's still fun, as I'm driving down the road, to think about what I would do with all that money if I actually won the lottery. Oh, well. Destiny takes a hand.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A present for the Moms

My daughter posted a "funny" on her blog this morning. It was very cute so I was compelled to visit the site where she got hers. I found the following and thought of all the mothers on my favorites list. So, here's my Thursday morning present to all my blogfriends who are mothers (and anyone else who can appreciate cute sayings made by little kids). As Art Linkletter used to say, "kids say the darnest things."

Following are answers given by elementary school-age children to the given questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the Scotch Tape is.
2. Think about it. It was the best way to get more people.
3. Mostly to clean the house.
4. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic, plus super powers, and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We are related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string. I think.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

How did your mom meet your dad?
1. Mom was working in a store and dad was shoplifting.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer? Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

What makes a real woman?
1. It means you have to be really bossy without looking bossy.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because Dad is such a goofball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than Dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home, and dads just work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power because that's who you have to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't have spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What's the difference between moms and grandmas?
1. About 30 years.
2. You can always count on grandmothers for candy. Sometimes moms don't even have bread on them.

Describe the world's greatest mom?
1. She would be able to make broccoli taste like ice cream.
2. The greatest mom in the world wouldn't make me kiss my fat aunts.
3. She'd always be smiling and keep her opinions to herself.

Is anything about your mom perfect?
1. Her teeth are perfect, but she bought them from the dentist.
2. Her casserole recipes. But we hate them.
3. Just her children.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd dye it, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my mom smarter -- then she would know my sister did it and not me.

from the

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Our Chinese Calendar

Every year, while dining at Chong's (our favorite Chinese restaurant) around Christmastime, we are given a calendar because we are regular customers. The calendar is one of those long bamboo (fake) hangings with pretty pictures that illustrate the Chinese symbols for the different years. According to the calendar, if you were born in 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, or 2006, you were born in the Year of the Dog.

We hung our fancy Chinese calendar on the wall in back of my computer so I could see it easily. I also like looking at the pretty pictures as I contemplate what I will write about on my blog.

I was born in 1942, which means that I was born in the Year of the Horse.

1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002: People born in the Year of the Horse are popular. They are cheerful, skillful with money, and perceptive, although they sometimes talk too much. They are wise, talented, good with their hands, and sometimes have a weakness for members of the opposite sex. They are impatient and hot-blooded about everything except their daily work. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are very independent and rarely listen to advice. They are most compatible with Tigers, Dogs, and Sheep.

I don't know where the Chinese get their information. You tell me if this describes my personality.

1. Popular: Little kids, cats, and dogs love me.
2. Cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, and sometimes talk too much: I am cheerful (most of the time), I'm good at borrowing money from banks, I'm really perceptive, and I ALWAYS talk too much on my blog (in person I tend to be shy and laid back).
3. Wise, talented, good with my hands, and a weakness for the guys: Yes, I'm a wiseacre, I'm talented on any number of levels, I make great bread and pizza dough, and give good massages, and I like men a lot.
4. Impatient and hot-blooded, except for my daily work: Yeah, typical Type A personality, hot to trot and hot to shoot off my mouth; my daily work never suffers because, as a Type A personality, everything must be perfect.
5. Likes entertainment and large crowds: I love movies, Broadway shows, talented people who amuse me, thrill me, and entertain me; large crowds make me nervous so I try to avoid them except when I'm at the theater.
6. Very independent and rarely listens to advice: My main ambition as a senior in high school was to leave for New York as soon as the graduation ceremonies were over and live as a beatnik in the Village (which I did in the early 1960s); since I didn't listen to anyone's advice, I always did as I pleased, but I eventually conformed (except when I married a hippy) and here I am, living in middle America, totally conforming to the middle class and loving it.
7. Most compatible with Tigers, Dogs, and Sheep: Now I know I'm in trouble since husband was born under the sign of the Snake, which means that we aren't compatible. Oh, well. Now I know why we tend to bicker over the smallest and largest of issues.

So, there you have a synopsis of what makes me tick. The Chinese are very talented on many different levels, especially their food, but in identifying personality traits and concocting fortune cookie sayings, they need to get a new hobby.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Being ourselves

It's not that easy bein' green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves,
When I think it might be nicer being red, or yellow, or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It's not easy bein' green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over,
'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles on the water, or stars in the sky

But green is the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly like
And green can be big like an ocean
Or important like a mountain
Or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be,
It could make you wonder why.
But why wonder, why wonder?
I am green, and it'll do fine
And I think it's what I want to be

-- Kermit the Frog

Husband was given a very nice, small book for Christmas (a bathroom-reading book daughter said) entitled "It's Not Easy Being Green And Other Things to Consider" by Jim Henson, The Muppets, and Friends. Well, I read it in one sitting and was again struck by the above song that is synonymous with Kermit the Frog.

The first time I heard it, when my children were mere babes, it brought tears to my eyes (I told you I was a crier). It was so simple and plaintive, and spoke the truth about all of us. There have been times, when I was younger, that I have felt invisible to the world and it made me unhappy. Now, I rejoice at being as different as I can be and the fact that I'm alive each and every day. I truly enjoy the beauty all around me and those wonderful people in my life who I can call beloved, both living and dead.

I have a lot of great memories growing up and of the people I grew up with. I will tell you more stories another day.

I have a lot of great memories from the swamp. I remember when I was little, we'd all just sit out on our lily pads for hours and hours, rocking gently on the water and listening to the soft, sweet sound of chirping crickets . . . Then, of course, we'd eat the crickets . . . but that's another story.

-- Kermit the Frog

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Posting intimate thoughts

I have come to appreciate that blogging allows people to post their most intimate and personal thoughts for all the world to see. Within the past two days three blogfriends have posted their anguish about friends or family who have died, were dying, or left.

These posts affected me in a meaningful way because even though I have never met these three blogfriends face-to-face, I still felt their agony. And, I understood it.

In looking at the comments left by these blogfriends' correspondents, I found nothing trite or mocking in their heartfelt posts. At first I felt shy about leaving any sort of comment, but also felt saying nothing would have meant I didn't care enough to give that part of me that I could -- my sympathy for their pain.

Each of us has regrets and sorrows about things that have happened to us. We also handle grief differently. Some of us cry while watching emotional or touching scenes in movies and some of us have hardened our hearts over the grieving process. We grieve for a lost family member or loved one, even a pet, or we grieve over incidents that we had no control over. Grieving is about loss and we all handle this emotion in our own unique way.

I'm a big crier, always have been and always will be. The first time I was faced with the death of a family member was when I was about 24. One morning my mother woke me up and said that my grandfather -- my beloved grandfather who I absolutely adored -- had died. I started crying right there in front of my mother and the suddenness of my emotions took me completely by surprise. I don't think that my mother held me, patted me on the arm, or even said she understood. Later, at the funeral, when I saw my grandfather in his casket I broke down crying and could not stop. The pain I felt was like a knife piercing my heart. This emotion was so intense, I tear up just thinking about it.

To this day I don't think I have ever been affected so profoundly by death. My grandfather's passing caused me to re-examine my beliefs about death and dying, heaven and hell, and what life is all about.

We live on this earth but a heartbeat in the whole vast scheme of life. We cannot go back and change anything, we cannot live other people's lives for them, and we cannot prevent bad things from happening to others. It's all about destiny. Que sera, sera.

What we can do is appreciate every single day we have been alloted in this Heaven on Earth and love our family and friends with all our hearts. Love, beauty, kindness, and compassion are the only things that matter.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Romancing the romance novel

I have been quite the reader during my lifetime. I am also a collector of any number of hard-bound books. I have so many books, in fact, that I have actually run out of space in my two huge bookcases. (If you came to my house, you would probably think I am one of those poor obsessive-compulsive souls who hoard weird things; in my case, it's books. The girl can't help it. No wonder Books-a-Million gave me a discount card of my very own.)

The types of books I love to own and read run the gamut from Stephen King novels to historical tomes. The one genre that I have never really gotten into, however, is Women's Romance Novels where the women are all young and beautiful with no blemishes or cellulite and the men are tall, tan, muscular, with bulges in just the right places, with beautiful hair, and no blemishes or cellulite. The only thing on their minds is obviously, by the look of the book covers, kissing and hugging. You can use your imagination on what comes next.

Now, we have a friend who has been trying to get published in the women's romance novel arena. She is quite a talented writer and has worked at writing for most of her adult life. Within the last year or so, she quit her paying job as a writer on a magazine to stay at home and write full time with the hopes of getting published very soon.

I thought of our friend this morning when my husband pointed me to a blog that is on his favorites list. He insisted that it was very funny. I finally relented and tripped over to Franny's Fables. One of Franny's posts pointed me to the World of Longmire

This site's author has found his niche in taking women's romance novel book covers and remaking them into parodies of their former selves. Not to denigrate the efforts of the publishing companies that work so hard to publish and market these books, I couldn't help but laugh until I almost peed my pants and the tears were streaming down my face. The following will give you a taste of what you can expect if you enter this site.

I trust our friend who's a hopeful women's romance novel writer (and any others who enjoy this type of reading) doesn't take offense at this site if she visits it. I'm not making fun of the genre, just enjoying the parodies.

So, if you need a good pick-me-up today, or if you really, really like women's romance novels, do yourself a favor and jump over to Longmire's site. I guarantee that you will like what you see. They say that good laughter is the best medicine next to good sex. I've had my dose (laughter) this morning and it did wonders for me.

NOTE: For those unfamiliar with links, place your mouse pointer over the underlined words "World of Longmire" and click. This will take you directly to the linked site.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I had a dream

This is for real. I had a dream just now, and it woke me up out of a sound sleep, that someone out in the blogosphere had written a post entitled Auf Weidersein Motherkitty on their blog.

(Auf weidersein is German for goodbye. Disclaimer: I do not speak German, I have never studied German in school, nor have I ever corresponded with anyone from Germany. Being Jewish, this dream really gave me the willies, so I guess that's why it woke me up.)

It wasn't just a dream, but rather it was a nightmare from which I awoke all nauseous and sweaty. All these people with German-sounding names who I didn't know were posting rude comments in German and saying goodbye to me and leaving nasty remarks, such as good riddance and they didn't understand why I thought I could write anything interesting on a blog in the first place and who did I think I was to think that anyone out there would really care what I had to say. In my dream I only got to a few comments when I suddenly woke up. I had to run to the bathroom because I thought I was going to be sick.

Now, how's that for reality dreaming? Do you think this is a subliminal message meant to undermine my good intentions of taking a break and then returning to blogging or is it my own fears surfacing while I was asleep?

Fears aside, I can't seem to get blogging out of my blood, even for a few days. I am still checking on my favorite blogs and leaving comments every day. How nutty and compulsive is that? Does it just mean that blogging gives me a connection with others out in the world, a connection that I desperately need at this time in my life?

I would like to thank my lovely blogfriends who have extended their good thoughts to me, either on my blog or in e-mails. You are so appreciated. And, thanks Susan, for the puzzle. I still hope it wasn't a meatball.

As Arnold would say, I'll be back.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

On Vacation

My mind is on vacation but will return shortly. Just taking a little rest from the cares of the world. Please think good thoughts.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

If I won a million dollars

Every time I think about the lottery, I dream about what I would do if I actually won. A slogan for the Kentucky Powerball lottery is somebody's gonna win, so it might as well be you, or something like that. Yeah, somebody's gonna win, but you have to buy a ticket first.

That's my problem. I used to buy tickets when the jackpot got really high up there, but I never came close to winning. Then we figured out that I was just throwing my money down the drain. As a result, I stopped buying Powerball tickets.

It's like playing the slots at Las Vegas. I like playing the slots, but I'm so chicken that I never play anything larger than the quarter slots. Then I set a limit on what I'm willing to lose, and when I have reached that amount, I quit. To satisfy my gambling urges, I have a computer program for playing the slots. I can play to my heart's content and not have to breathe in all the smoke in the casinos. And, I don't have to worry about losing over my limit.

But, I still have dreams of what I would do if I won a million dollars. Husband and I talked about it this afternoon and we decided that we would first buy a house on the lake and then we would buy a nice travel trailer. That way, both our dreams would be fulfilled. I would always have a nice house on the lake to come home to and husband would have his travel trailer to vagabond all over the country. When we got tired of traveling, we could come on home and fish awhile.

We have also decided that after investing the balance of the money after buying our house on the lake and our travel trailer, we would live on the interest and never touch the principal. With our current pensions, we would never have a worry in the world.

The problem with this dream is that the chances of our ever winning or accumulating that much money at one time are a million to one (that's better odds than winning the Powerball). We tried to save that much before we stopped working at our paying jobs, but we never got that close.

Since we don't have any rich relatives who would be willing to leave us a lot of money, I guess we are just going to have to be satisfied with what we have now.

Oh, well. I guess we are just destined to continue dreaming about winning a million dollars in the Kentucky Powerball lottery. I may even break down one of these days and actually buy some tickets. And, if we ever do win, I'll be sure to tell you all about it. And, I'll invite you to my house so I could feed you.

Looking for Winter, Finding Spring

It seems strange to be saying this, but I am finding Spring already.

It's only January 4th and the weather in Kentucky so far this Winter has been strange and wondrous. We have been enjoying temperatures in the 50s and 60s F. with bright, shining, sunny days. We've had a bit of rain accompanied by slate-grey skies, and on the 2nd we had a storm with tiny bits of hail landing on the back deck. We saw on TV later that there was tornadic activity east of us that flattened several homes.

In years past, when we have had winters like this, trees started budding early, Spring flowers started blooming, and our lilac bush started flowering. They were soon killed, however, when a later Winter storm settled in.

But, other than several days of heavy frost and a tiny bit of snow, we have had no winter weather to speak of. In a way that's good. In a way, however, that's bad because it bodes a sudden kick in the pants by the weather fairy. Come the end of this month or early February, we will most likely experience a heck of a storm with lots of snow.

There was a picture in our local weekly rag last week of our City Lake, the main source of our water supply. The water level in the lake was the lowest I had ever seen it in 30 years. The accompanying story said it was at a 50-percent level. And, that's after receiving over 40 inches of rain in 2005. That's bad. If we don't get some rain soon, the water district will have to start buying water from another source and they will, no doubt, charge us for the extra expense. And, that's very bad.

So, as much as I hate to say it, we are looking for Winter and finding Spring. We need the Winter precipitation badly, and all the nastiness that accompanies this wish, or we are going to be in big trouble come the actual Spring. Our local farmers are going to be hurting, crops will suffer, and who pays for it in the end? The consumer, and that's us.

So, I say, let it snow a big one. We are prepared. After all, we still have our virgin snowblower sitting in the garage just itching to be used.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Remembering my working life

I have not worked at a paying job since October 3, 2003, but don't feel sorry for me.

I was the victim of a Friday afternoon kamikazi attack by the CEO of the health system for which I worked long and hard for 17 years. I had attained a pretty high status within the organization, I was independent, and reported directly to the CEO. I loved my job and felt that I would outlast any administrator at the facility.

Twenty of us were called to the board room for a meeting on that fateful Friday afternoon, and within an hour of finding out my job had been eliminated, I was allowed to pack up my personal effects and I was escorted out the door by the CFO, thank you very much. I had been locked out of my computer before I returned to my office so there was no retrieving any personal files. All twenty jobs had been eliminated. Don't let the door hit you in the you-know-what.

Most of us had worked there in various jobs for a long time and had made good money. I suppose this was administration's attempt at regaining some fiscal viability after failing miserably with many ventures. I don't know if eliminating our jobs worked or not. (I really don't think so because within two months both the CFO and the CEO were terminated.)

I remember all the many years I had loyally worked for this organization and now I felt betrayed. I didn't even get a going-away party and that hurt.

I look back at my working years and can now honestly say that I do not miss having a paying job. (Why I'm not working is another story.) Yes, I miss the many friends I had made over the years, and I miss having some place to get dressed for every day. But, I do not miss the messy-mind administrative games those above me played.

Being retired has given me the personal freedom I have yearned for a long time. No more living my life dominated by external demands. As some of you may know, there is always a crisis when working in healthcare, whether it's from the patients, the physicians, the equipment, the government, JCAHO, or the insurance companies.

As long as husband and I can pay our bills and put food on the table, we are going to be okay. In fact, if it was up to husband, we would be on the road 365 days a year, living out of the back of our van, and traveling the countryside like hippy vagabonds. My idea of travel, however, revolves around buildings named "Marriott" and "Hilton" and doesn't involve cooking outside on an open fire or using a hole in the ground for a personal convenience.

Maybe one of these days we will come to a meeting of the minds and finally agree to be retired amicably. In the meantime, as in any marriage, we are going through a long period of adjustment. We each have our own special interests but we find ourselves doing EVERYTHING together. And, that's fine but it leaves little room for personal freedom and a private time for reflection.

It's a good thing I taught husband to wash his own clothes and load the dishwasher a long time ago so he can take care of these chores while I blog.