Friday, October 26, 2007


I love the title of this one: "Its all cool until you get to the sauerkraut track."

natalie dee

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dream Spam

According to the hubbie, I was talking in my sleep and giving out my email address Sunday morning. I wonder what kind of spam I'll get from the dream world? Maybe something like...

"Please your mate by taking herbal pillow enhancements! Make her snore with pleasure."

"Win money in your sleep at REM Casino!"

"Your SleepPal account has changed! Update now!"

"I am a solicitor from Pillowshameria and am officially contacting you regarding inherited funds."

"The perfect sleeping aid - Sleepytime Audio Books presents 'Bedtime Stories read by Ben Stein.' Pop in the earbuds and with Bens' perfect monotone drone, you'll be snoozing in microseconds. Sleep away as Ben reads the snoozin' classics such as 'Knitting for Dummies', '1980 North Dakota Census Results' and our favorite, 'The Grandfather Clock Maintenance Manual.' See? It even works on Ben himself!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Brandi Carlile - The Story

I'm going to take a page out of the book of Logo and post the lyrics to this song...

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you

I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
Yeah you do and I was made for you

You see the smile that's on my mouth
Is hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed
They don't know my head is a mess
No, they don't know who I really am
And they don't know what I've been through but you do
And I was made for you...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Small Pleasures

I brought the truck into town the other day for a new set of tires. The mechanic said it would take an hour so I decided to while away the time at the library across the street. I often visit our little library to check out audio books but have never taken the time to sit and read in its quietness.

I wandered around the aisles of books and stopped at the poetry section. As I rifled through a few books, I saw some still have the small manilla pockets with signature check-out cards tucked inside. I imagined parents having to explain these to their post bar code era children and maybe even recognizing names of their friends and neighbors on the cards.

I found myself reading one, then two, then three of the poems in one particular book. I checked it out with my bar coded library card on my key chain and went to the periodicals room finding a comfy chair to read away my hour. What a pleasant luxury this was. I decided that wherever I retire, it must have a nice library nearby.

I keep thinking when I retire I will have all this empty time to fill up so I've started constructing a mental list. It includes things like frequent visits to a coffee shop where I actually sit inside and drink the coffee or tea while reading a newspaper, morning swims in the lake during the summer, tending a vegetable garden, and volunteering for some non-profit arts organization. Now I'm adding un-hurried visits to the library.

The book I had found to read was "Nine Horses" by
Billy Collins. It is unusual that I enjoy and understand, without great analyzing, every poem in a book. Many of the poems were about those three second thoughts that pop into our heads attempting to distract our focus. He paints his words without rhyme or meter but rather with wit, humor and unique observation. I decided Mr. Collins is now on my list of favorite poets.

The hour in the library went by too quickly and I packed up my book and walked across the street to gather the newly tired pickup. Only twenty more years until retirement. That's a long time to wait. Maybe I need to make time for these small pleasures now.

How short my memory is because I realized that I had already discovered Billy Collins via animated poems discovered in YouTube. In July I posted one called "Budapest" and in May I had posted one titled "Forgetfulness." The later is befitting don't you think?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Saturday Afternoon Road Trip

It was unusually warm on Saturday so a friend and I decided to go for a cruise along the Mississippi in the afternoon. We drove along the river for a ways and then wandered the hills and valleys of western Wisconsin.

The mode of transportation...
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The Mississippi River. The "scooped" bluffs are the opening of Lake Pepin - a large lake-like part of the Mississippi. I never quite understood how there can be a lake in a river but with a bit of Googling, it is explained here.
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We left the river at the town of Pepin. We followed a garage sale sign and stopped to find some home canned goodies. I bought a pint of corn relish and a quart of raspberry sauce which I think is too pretty to eat. We decided to not go back to the highway. The road kept getting narrower and narrower. It stopped when there was a blue gate at the end of the road. No dead end signs or anything. Discovered later it was a state wildlife area. Here's the road.
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When we got back on to the main road, we spotted a unique barn off in the distance. Hard to see from this photo - it's in the hills above my hand.
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We were in awe of this place. Talked to a woman mowing the grass. It was originally an Amish homestead. The barn has been in many calendars and magazines. It's a beautiful, secluded location with 400 acres. If I win the lottery...
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Hillside south of barn...
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The house...
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One of the many tarpapered outbuildings...
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On the road again...
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End of the day...
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Backyard Rest

Blackbirds or grackles, I'm not sure which, but they stopped in for a brief rest in our grove of trees this morning. You'll need sound to appreciate them. They took my breath away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast ye mateys!

It be Talk Like A Pirate Day today ye scallywags! Did ye forget? Aye, I be guessin' ye did. Yarr! Weigh anchor! Hoist the mizzen! Savvy, ye scallywag?! Or ye will be in Davey Jones' locker soon, ye Landlubber!

I dare ye t' answer that thar phone at least once today with a hearty "Yarrrrr" or "Shiver me timbers." Or maybe rather than waving t' yer scallywag neighbor or if yer walkin' the planks of the cubicle farm, throw a hand over ye bad eye and let out a hearty "Avast ye mateys!"

If yer pirate speak needs a little hoistin' of thar sails, take a look at this
pirate speak translator. Argh, where's me bottle o' rum?

And to get ye Talk Like A Pirate Day started, here's a bit o' humor to shiver ye timbers...

A pirate walks into a bar wearing
a paper towel as a hat. He sits
down at the bar and orders some
dirty rum.
The bartender asks, "Why
are you wearing a paper towel?"

"Arrr..." says the pirate. "I've got
a Bounty on me head!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Craigslist Junkie

I've become a bit of a Craigslist junkie. It's a great resource for finding practically anything you could desire or for selling anything you own. I've been looking for a dining room table as of late and have been spending some time in the furniture section of Craigslist. Admittedly there is a lot of crap to sort through on my quest. But I am confident the right fit will come along.

It is quite scary what some people will try to sell: mangled and sheet covered couches; tables missing more than one leg and office chairs that look like they've been dropped off a bridge onto I-494 during rush hour just to name a few.

It is equally scary to see the interior of some of these peoples homes. I am buying stock in the plastic storage container industry tomorrow as it's apparent by the photos I've seen that most homes have stacks and stacks of them in the corners of every room.

Then the other day this hilarious post appeared in the furniture section...

How to Sell Your Furniture - A Primer for the Confused
Date: 2007-09-16, 3:02PM CDT

Hey you folks with furniture to sell! I have a message for you. I'm here to help.

Gosh - how *generous* of you to offer your sodden, lumpen, cat-scratched, filth-laden, five-hundred-pound couch! And it's just *fascinating* that was custom upholstered in stylish puke green and burgundy nubby polyester plaid SO RECENTLY back in 1978! So what if it's a little faded on one side - it's alright.

Except that it just can't come with you when you move, is all. Right. I understand!

...But how do I sell it, you ask? I put up an ad for it every 15 minutes and yet no one is calling me! So here are a few pointers that will help your

- "Like New" does not mean "New - to you". It means, you could bring it back to the store and they would give you a return. It does not mean used, people! It does NOT mean "like new except for when I reupholstered it myself with burlap and a staple gun" or "like new except needs to be propped up on one side and has a slight odor" or "like new except for the ten-inch gash that Cujo ripped in it before he barfed on the cushions." That's not what "excellent," "fabulous," "great", "perfect," or "pristine" condition means either.

Tell me something. If it is truly like new, then why do you have an old sheet thrown over it for the picture? If it's "like new", then how come it looks like you bought it at a yard sale from Howard Cosell? And tell me this: why - WHY - does your picture clearly show an enormous crater-like ass dent in the middle of that couch? The last I looked, Crate and Barrel did not sell couches with convex cushions whose seams looked about to burst. They wouldn't, because no one would buy them. Except you. Because from the looks of that dent, you are apparently the world's largest Weeble.

I am truly frightened by that dent. Even if I could force myself not to imagine your sweaty butt cheeks every time I sat down on it, I couldn't buy your couch because I would be too afraid to go to your place and meet you. If that ass of yours has the heft to drastically alter a piece of furniture, could you sit on me and kill me? What if you're a crazed, ass-wielding maniac of sufficient magnitude to crush me like a bug? What if you're a serial killer? What if your calling card to the cops is Death by Ass?

...I don't want to die. Not for a couch. And I'll tell you, not for filthy goddam "Like New" couch that you slipcovered ten years ago to cover the dog hair - THAT'S for damn sure.

- Here's another little tip! Actually I really just want to thank you. When you put "WOW!!!!!! L@@K!!!!!!!" etc. into the title, you do me a HUGE FAVOR! That lets me know you're a subliterate nincompoop with the intellect and sincerity of a crack addicted squirrel - so I can save the time and skip your ad! If you had anything but a pile of steamy shit to sell, you'd use that space to DESCRIBE it. What a timesaver! Thanks! ...Don't you *want* me to look at your ad? I thought you wanted to get rid of your stuff.

- You might also find it helpful if you stopped saying "amazing," "unbelievable," "rare," etc. You do not have an Frank Lloyd Wright chair, right? You don't have a Caravaggio you're tired of in your college apartment, do you? Oh - wait - no - you have a TOASTER OVEN. That you haven't cleaned since you bought it three years ago.

- And quit saying "Sacrifice!" What are you sacrificing? You're SELLING it for the price it can command on the open market. You receive MONEY for something you clearly do not want any more. That does not make you Mother Theresa. The pope does not give a crap about your "sacrifice." You are not "sacrificing" your ugly Ikea breakfast bar for $20 less than you paid for it two years ago. It's USED. Meaning NO LONGER NEW. You are not Elvis or Paul McCartney. The fact that you owned it does not increase its value. Can you say "depreciation?" ...I knew you could. On top of the fact that it's used - and that perhaps I will be unable to eat my Cheerios day after day, because I can't stop thinking about big pink slabs of ass spilling over the sides of my breakfast bar - I have to buy it with no warranty, deal with you, and schlep it down your 80 flights of stairs in Libertyville. So stuff it with the "incredible bargain" nonsense. It just makes you sound like you're INTENTIONALLY insincere instead of just clueless. Having trouble pricing? Here's a tip! Just because you dropped a $600 when you bought that orange and brown La-Z-Boy back in 1986 doesn't mean that it's worth $200 today! Remember: depreciation. Depreciation and a hefty, hefty ass tax. Your ass took *years* off that chair's life. That chair should sue you. You and your fearsome ass of destruction. It should sue you for reckless endangerment. You should PAY ME to put it up in some kind of protective custody from you.

Here's an easy way to boost sales in a jiffy - MAYBE your furniture would sell if your photos didn't show it nestled in squalor! Maybe I'd buy that entertainment center if the photo didn't show it stuffed with grimy fast-food wrappers and sticky porno tapes! Maybe cleaning up a little would help me believe that your version of "Very Good Condition" means that you've removed MOST of your grimy skidmarks from the cushions!

- And just a reminder - when you take the picture, turn on the lights ON and not OFF. And remember, you want to take a picture of the front of the thing you're selling - not it nestled amongst the discarded whitey tighties in your little hovel! While your taste in decor makes for a fascinating anthropological study, most folks would rather just see the thing you want them to buy.

And here's another helpful tip: you might want your ad to say more than FOR SALE: CHAIR. Or FOR SALE: CHAIR - BLUE. Or even the mysterious but omnipresent FOR SALE: DINNING ROOM SET NEEDS WRK MUST GO CALL 312-555-5555! Gosh, that sure is tempting to have to call you and deal with you, but it might be easier to look at the 999 other dining sets that have pictures or at least descriptions. So please don't leave that out, m'kay?

And there's just one last thing, kids - if it's too nasty for you to sit on any more, then throw it out. Burn it. Shoot it and put it out of its mercy if you have to. But unless you're unusually rich and/or persnickety - and I mean Howard Hughes persnickety - chances are the Craigslist public won't want to set down on your grotty couch from hell either. Even if you're giving it away for free! The "free" category is a place to give away stuff that people would actually want. It isn't there to make sad attempts at unloading filthy, squalid castaways that Salvation Army wouldn't take! That matter is strictly between you and your garbage man. I'm embarrassed for you when I look at them. Really I am.

(...By the way, in case you were wondering, we ALSO don't want your 50,000 bricks "take all or none", your broken cassette deck, your four used coffee mugs with cracks, or your box of 75 slightly used sex toys. And as far as I can tell there is no market for 400-lb broken metal desks. So good luck with that one!)

...So in other words, thanks - but no thanks. And please, people, let's keep the Craigslist airwaves free from mind-numbing crud! Only you can stop and think for a second before you hit the "post" button!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Creatures from

Found this on a new favorite website,

Dutch artist Theo Jansen demonstrates his amazingly lifelike kinetic sculptures, built from plastic tubes and lemonade bottles. His "Strandbeests" (Beach Creatures) are built to move and even survive on their own.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Design Gangsta

Has been a good week in the design world. I picked up another client and nailed a package design for her on the first try. Finished up a cookie box and sent files for print and got a nice check in the mail. I'm feelin' all design gangsta...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Feeling Lucky

Last night we had two storms tear through this neck of the woods. First one came through about 10:00 with big winds, lightening and much needed rain. The second one came through about midnight with bigger winds, lightening and more much needed rain and took down a pine tree and a large chunk of another tree. Hubby & I were up at 2:30 a.m. trimming grape vine from the electrical lines so we could get power to the house again.

Of all the places that pine tree could've fallen, it picked the perfect spot. Any other direction it could've broken the electric wires going to the house, or landed on my office, or taken the windmill or another tree with it. So we are feeling a bit lucky. It actually did us a favor to fall - we've been wanting to get rid of that one. It's right next to the concord grape vine covered windmill and the overhead electric lines going into the house. The grape vine had grown into this tree as well.

The other tree, a Chinese Elm, is one of our favorites. It is very old and hangs over the driveway so nice. It took a big chunk out of the tree so not sure if it will be safe to leave the rest up.

Good news is the grapes are ripe so I've got easy access to a bunch of them laying on the ground. Grape jelly anyone? We decided last night the concord grape vine is coming off the windmill. Will try transplanting some canes and start it elsewhere. It was planted there during WWII so would like to save it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Every Sunday I like to go check the new secrets for the week at Here's a video posted on there this week. Check out his site next week. It's a great study of human nature.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Plush by Stone Temple Pilots

If I could exist in a parallel universe, I would like to be his microphone in said universe. :P

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New Wheels

In eleven days I'll take ownership of my "new to me" wheels. A '98 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. It looks like the car in the photo above. I'm so excited! Hubby and I will need to take a road trip soon. One of our wandering trips where we don't have a clue where we'll end up. I'll be squeezing in as much as I can before we pack it away for the winter. Then old trusty rusty mini van will carry me over the salty winter roads.

I was going to wait until I met my weight goal to get a convertible but when one of our friends decided to sell their car and for one heck of a deal, we couldn't pass it up. So NOW what will be my carrot dangling at the end of the stick? Or maybe I should say karat? I bet when hubby reads that he chokes on his coffee. Don't worry hon, I'm not turning all high maintenance on you. I hope this isn't a mid-life crisis I'm going through. Pedicures, convertible, gym membership, diamond dreams...uh, oh.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The D Word

At last years' doctor appointment, after discussing some of my symptoms and problems, one of the tests she ordered was a fasting blood glucose test. I found out from that I was borderline Type 2 diabetic. Earlier this year I met with a nutritionist and finally, about 5 weeks ago started changing the way I eat. At last week's appointment, Doc ordered an A1C blood test which checks how your blood sugar has been over the past few months. Normal is less than 6.0, I'm a 6.6. So I now have diabetic written on my chart.

When I think back, I've most likely been borderline diabetic since the mid 90's. It was then I started having problems with nausea, dizzy spells and breaking out into cold sweats if it was too long between meals. My former doctor just gave me that "another complaining woman" look with a slight eye roll when I talked to him about it. I should've been more persistant at that time. I should've called him on the carpet with those looks he'd give me and found another doctor. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

I'm low enough on the scale that I don't need to do insulin or pills yet. Going to work on food choices, test my blood sugar regularly and exercise every day and will have another A1C test in six months. I've got a lot of reading to do to educate myself on how food effects the body and how to make better choices. I'm down 16 pounds and have been to the gym every weekday since I signed up last week so I'm off to a good start.

Dammit. That free-eating-frenzy I had been on for the last 20 years caught up with me. Why did I think it wouldn't? Moreso, why did I think it was worth the risk?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Say Ahhhh

I don't know where my head was at a few months ago when I made appointments. Really, who in their right mind would schedule, all in the same week, an annual doctors exam on Wednesday, a dentist appointment on Thursday and a mammogram on Friday? Had I been truly on the ball, I would have squeezed in the eye doctor appointment on Tuesday. It's a good thing I'm self employed, the boss didn't give me much hassle about the appointments. She is making me work late though.

I've been seeing this doctor for the past two years. She is a good match for me. I walk in with my check list of concerns and questions and she follows through with all of them. She's personable yet professional and takes care of business. Unlike one of my former doctors that thought it was great to chit chat while he was probing my nether regions, she's in and out of there in no time.

She was especially pleased with me when I told her about my appointment this morning. I joined a new fitness center that opened up a mile down the road. A young Mom/Personal Trainer/Iron Man Competitor built a fitness center in their back yard.
Entrepreneurs - gotta love 'em! Twice a week I'll be working on the weight machines to build muscle and the stepper for a cardio workout. Then on Wednesdays I'll be at the Yoga/Pilates class. On the days it's not so blasted hot and I have time, I'll walk to the fitness center. It's 1.6 miles from my door to hers. I am excited to get started!

Maybe if I call right now I can get in at the eye doctor on Friday after the mammogram.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Hubby Gets Kudos

Since quitting smoking almost two years ago, I've been patiently hoping hubby would find the courage and determination to do the same. Today is day 7 without a cigarette for him. I'm so proud of him. It's a hard task to undergo but he's doing great.

Maybe y'all could send him some kudos & attaboys in the comments?


Actor Michael J. Fox discusses his foundation
for Parkinson's disease research and allegations
made by radio host Rush Limbaugh last year.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and one of America's best-selling poets, reads his poem "Budapest" with animation by Julian Grey of Headgear.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Little Dog Syndrome

Poor Rico. He get's taunted and taunted by the neighbors little terrier that runs loose all the time across the road. Tucker the terrior feels free to wander around our yard and bark at Rico while he's in his kennel. Whenever we walk around our yard, Tucker is in their yard barking up at us - daring Rico to come over. Rico is in our yard off leash only when we are around and keeping an eye on him. Every once in a while Rico can't resist the calls and the 70 lb. German Shepherd decides to take Tucker the 10 lb. terrier up on his requests. It only takes a few seconds of turning our heads and Rico shoots across the road to the neighbors. Rico has done this 4 times in the last year. We usually know when it happens by the screams of terror Tucker lets out when he sees Rico running up their driveway. Rico has never hurt Tucker - he goes over and says hello while I'm sure Tucker is pissing in the spot he stands. Meanwhile Rico gets punished and Tucker barks at us the rest of the night. Little jerk of a dog.

My Three for today:
1. It finally cooled down a bit here. Windows are open and fresh air is blowing in.
2. Looks good for hot air ballooning tomorrow evening.
3. My toenails are still perfectly painted a week after the pedicure.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Going Home Again

In 1982 thirty-eight kids donned graduation gowns and caps and set off to find their way in this big world. Some of them found their spot in far away places, some not so far from their childhood back yards. Some have had smooth sailing, some a rougher road to travel.

Seventeen of those kids got together this weekend and realized twenty-five years later, we all still feel a bit like 18 year olds now and then. We had a great time reminiscing, catching up on each others lives. With such a small group you also knew your classmates parents and siblings. Updates on families, careers and hobbies filled conversations. We had a lot of laughs about the past sprinkled with a few "did we really do that?"

We walked through the old high school which sits ready for kids, but other than a few rooms is no longer used by the school district. Enrollment has shrunk to the point that all twelve grades can fit in what was once the elementary and middle school. I expected things to look smaller but all was as I remembered. We walked up the stairs towards the science room and you could still smell the formaldehyde from dissections of years ago. We remembered teachers and who used to smoke in the bathrooms. I heard stories of underground tunnels that I never knew existed. Walls were lined with framed photos of each graduating class and we stopped to point and look for siblings and friends.

We walked a few blocks up to the street dance and searched the crowd for familiar faces. Ran into quite a few old neighbors and friends. The DJ called for the "Class of 82" to get up on stage a couple of times and we sang and danced along to "We Got The Beat" and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light." Our 18 year old inner selves were strong in us by that time - at least until it came time to jump OFF the stage.

It was a great time and some of us have decided five years is too long to wait to see each other again so we'll make informal plans to gather once a year.

My Three for today:
1. The AC in my office works great. (It's hot out there today.)
2. All three kitties were soaking up the morning sun on the step this morning when I walked outside.
3. Hubby is home today and I'm going to take him out for lunch.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm Off

Just clearing up the "to do" list before I take off for the weekend.

Clients happy and satisfied until Monday? Check.

Hubby has food and clean clothes? Check.

Entire wardrobe packed so my sister can help me figure out what to wear to the reunion tomorrow? Check.

Called and talked to my sisters before heading to Alex? Check. (Hubby gives me a hard time on this one - I always do this and he is always amazed that we still have things to talk about once I get there.)

Arrangements made for Saturday's visits in Chokio, Alberta & Morris? Check.

Presents and Great Aunt B hugs & kisses for my nieces kidlets in from Colorado packed? Check.

Butterflies in stomach about class reunion? Check.

Vodka, tonic water and lime wedges to kill butterflies on Saturday? Check.

Think I'm ready. Have a great weekend all! I will.

My Three for today:
1. Hubby said "your toes are pretty" for the first time ever.
2. Last night's sunset.
3. As of this morning, 13 lbs. down.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lieutenant Dan, you got new feet!

No, I didn't cancel the pedicure appointment. This was the first pedicure I have had and what a treat it was. I thought for sure I would have a hard time having someone handle my feet as I'm extremely ticklish. There was only a couple of times that I had to pull my foot away with a giggle. She scrubbed, soaked, buffed, massaged and cleaned up these old toeses and the nails are now a sparkly sunset orange. I found myself walking along and admiring my new feet. It reminded me of the line from the movie Forest Gump; "Lieutenant Dan, you got new legs!" Maybe that's what all those people are doing when they're walking along with their heads down - not looking at the ground to avoid eye contact but perhaps admiring their freshly pedicured toes?

And of course, because it's me and I'm a klutz, I smudged one of the nails before I got home. I walked in the house and fixed it with a drop of polish I had that is close in color, walk outside and immediately one of the cats steps right on that toe and smudges it again! I'll wait until later to fix it. My feet are now ready for the reunion! Now for the rest of me...argh!

My Three for today:
1. The humidity went away and it's a beautiful day!
2. Laughing with my sister.
3. Hearing an old friends voice again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I know I kind of suddenly disappeared. All is fine. I just took a hiatus from the blog world for a bit. Have been getting the urge to start writing again so here we go.

This weekend is my 25th high school class reunion. I haven't been to one since the 5th. And up until last fall, I hadn't come across any of my classmates for about 15 years. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. Not sure why. Is it an unavoidable feeling to want to prove yourself "worthy" to former classmates? Why am I so nervous? I'm going to have fun regardless of my worries.

Maybe my old extreme "worry about what others think" characteristic is coming out again. I was really bad about that for a long time. The hubby has been a good influence on me in that department. Eventually I decided I was tired of him having all the fun and me getting embarrased all the time. It still comes out now and then but hubby and turning 40 has helped me get past it. So why is it rearing it's ugly head again? Maybe I'll cancel my pedicure on Thursday just to be defiant.
No I won't!

Three Things I'm Happy About:
1. I'm glad my nieces are now aunts and can feel how much I love them.
2. I'm thankful my brothers illness didn't turn serious.
3. I'm happy our kitty Burn came home last night after being gone for 2 days.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Our driveway is lined with lilac bushes and they went into full bloom this week. The smell is absolutely marvelous. This is the second spring since quitting smoking and this spring have realized what I've been missing all these years. As a smoker, my olfactory sensors were so numbed I'd have to stick my nose in the flowers to smell them or occasionally I'd catch a whiff of them in the air. This year, I step outside and their perfume permeates everything. It's wonderful! Last night was pure heaven falling asleep to a cool breeze fluttering the window curtains, the sounds of a distant chorus of frogs and the smell of lilacs filling my dreams.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I Will Never Be Unemployable

I know this because if the guy I spoke with on the phone can work at Target, I am sure I will be able to don the red shirt of Target.

My usual source of ink cartridges went out of business. I had called the closest Target store and asked if they carried Epson ink cartridges and sure enough, they do. I went to the store only to find they were out of two of the five colors I need to complete a set. I asked where the next nearest Target was and was told Oakdale; another 20 minutes down the road. I called the Oakdale store to make sure they had my missing colors before I ventured further down the road with $3.10/gallon gasoline in the tank. I was transferred to the computer department. The conversation went as follows:

(TTG=Teenage Target Guy)

TTG: (with slight surfer dude accent) Hello, how can I help you?

Balou: I was just at the Hudson Target store and they are missing two colors of the Epson ink cartridges I need. I am calling to make sure you have what I need before I drive there.

TTG: We have Epson ink cartridges.

Balou: Could you check and make sure you have all 5 colors for the R300 printer?

TTG: Ummm, R300?

Balou: Yes. R300 is the type of Epson Stylus printer. It is printed on the box.

TTG: Ummm.

Balou: There is a picture of a guitar on the front.

TTG: (excitedly) Oh! Yaww! We have the guitar one.

Balou: Do you have the Light Cyan and Magenta available?

TTG: Yaww, we have those.

Balou: OK, thanks. I'm coming from Hudson. I know I need to go north on I-694 but what exit do I take?

TTG: Take Hwy 5.

Balou: Are you on the east or west side of the freeway?

(After a long pause...)

TTG: Umm. Which side does the sun come up again?

Balou: bwaaa haaa haaa haa ha hahaha ho ho ho hummm um. Are you serious?

(I can hear him asking a co-worker "Dude, are we east or west of the freeway?")

TTG: Yaww, it's the east side.

Balou: Thank you.

So, what side of the freeway does the sun come up in your neck of the woods?

Forgetfullness - Billy Collins

US Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads his poem "Forgetfulness"
with animation by Julian Grey of Headgear.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Foreign Particle Etiquette

I was reliving an embarrassing moment I had a while back. I used to sell handmade greeting cards at a very chic/whimsical art gallery. The woman that owns the gallery is personable but intimidating at the same time and always made me nervous when speaking with her.

I was on my way to drop off some cards and was running late so stopped at the fast food drive through and picked up a sandwich for lunch. It was some chicken concoction with mayo and shredded lettuce. I walked into the gallery and talked with the owner for a spell after handing her my cards. Me, nervous as ever and she was looking at me a bit funny. I get out to the car, look in the mirror and there's a blob of lettuce and mayo on the side of my face. It had taken on a mucous-like quality from the heat of my blushing cheek.

I was embarrassed beyond belief which turned to frustration at her lack of common courtesy. Why didn't she say something? All it would've taken is handing me a Kleenex and a hushed "Here, there's a little something on your right cheek."

If someone I know has some mustard or other foreign object on their face, I discreetly let them know. I think it's common courtesy. For myself, I usually look at myself in the rear-view mirror before I get out of the car and perform routine foreign particle checks.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Hasselhoff*

Have you been missing the Hasselhoff? It's OK. You can admit it here. We're all friends. Well, here's your cure. Enjoy. And if you're anything like me, you'll spend the next hour scraping your jaw off the floor and trying to get the "what the hell" look off of your face.

Did you hear the dog bark track plugged in every once in a while? Go back and listen again. I dare you.

LOL @ a Hot Cup of Hoffee! And is it just me or does he have a little man boobie action going on? Sorry, I digress.

No need to thank me. I can feel the love. Warm, fuzzy puppy love.

*Please direct all Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or burned retina lawsuit claims to the Hasselhoff. Born-a-girl is exempt from all legal action heretoforeafterhithertotoo.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


He has been called an art terrorist, a guerrilla artist, and sometimes a criminal. Banksy, from Bristol in the UK, is a secretive grafitti artist made popular by his provocative creations. Banksy images sometimes contain poignant messages with a twist of humor and sometimes they are just a bit of good old British wit. His artwork is varied and includes more than the stenciled and painted installations found around London...

• In September of 2006 he secretly placed a black hooded, orange jumpsuit clad figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee on the grounds of Disneyworld in Los Angeles. Placed within the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, it stayed for 90 minutes before the ride was stopped and it was removed. more

• Also in September of 2006, Banksy replaced 500 of Paris Hilton's debut CD's with his own remixes with titles such as "Why am I Famous?", "What Am I For?" and "What Have I Done?". The CD's were switched out in several record shops across the UK with their original barcode in place so they could be purchased without realizing the change had been made. He also replaced the CD cover artwork with that of a woman with a dog's head. more

• In the July of 2005 Banksy created nine paintings on the Palestinian side of Israel's West Bank 425 mile long concrete barrier wall. The images speak for themselves. more

• In March, 2005 he smuggled his creations into four highly guarded New York museums and hung his own paintings in each. Some artwork went undetected for days. Banksy was quoted as saying "Obviously, they've got their eye a lot more on things leaving than things going in, which works in my favour." more

• And just this week an original piece of Banksy artwork fetched a record breaking £288,000 ($500,000+ US). This final price was 20 times the estimated auction value and was paid by a telephone bidder from the U.S. The piece, titled "Space Girl and Bird" is painted on a piece of steel and was commissioned by the band "Blur" for their "Think Tank" album cover. more

Here are a few of my favorites from
Banksy's website...

Image Hosted by

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ask The Shuffle

I found this meme on Snav's World. What a fun one!

Turn on iTunes, your Ipod or Mp3 Player, set it to shuffle, ask the question and hit next song...

How does the world see me?
Milk & Honey - Beck

Will I have a happy life?
Picture This - Jim Brickman

What’s going to happen next?
Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

What do my friends really think of me?
I'm Satisfied - Mississippi John Hurt

Do people secretly lust after me?
Tutti Frutti - Little Richard

How can I make myself happy?
Welcome To Paradise - The Yard Dogs

What should I do with my life?
The Roller Skate Song - Janis Joplin

Will I have more children?
Dum Diddly - The Black Eyed Peas

What is some good advice for me?
Groovin' Hard - The Buddy Rich Big Band

How will I be remembered?
Working Class Hero - John Lennon

What is my signature song?
Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding

What do I think my signature song is?
This Flight Tonight - Joni Mitchell

What does everyone else think my signature song is?
Metaphor - Delerium

What song will play at my funeral?
Super Trouper - ABBA

What type of boys do I like?
Bedbugs - Squirrel Nut Zippers

What is my day going to be like?
Push - Smashmouth

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Give Me A Sign

Hubby has been missing balou. Even though he knew I was not posting for a few days, he said he still checked in twice a day...just in case. Awww. He wuvs me.

The snow is gone, the temperature is rising and beginning to warm the cold ground. Last weekend I washed all the throw rugs in the house and hung them on the clothes line. Thus begins the spring cleaning. This year I feel like purging. I need to reduce the clutter and so decided to have a garage sale. Our dining room has become the collection point and is brimming with unnecessary things.

It is amazing the little things that get moved around and stored "just in case." I might need six calculators some day. I might need four ziploc bags of sea shells. I really might need twin sized bedding - especially since we no longer have a twin bed. I do need some garage sale signs. I think the chain wielding Fabio version would attract some attention, don't you? Is it just me or does anyone else think Fabio looks like a woman from the waist down?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Taking a Break

To save you some unnecessary clicks, I'm going to take a break this week from blogging. Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel. ;)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What to do with left over egg dye...

Saturday evening, nephew Bob and I colored Easter eggs. Bob is 15.90136986 years old and I am 42.9616438 years old. We are both probably a bit old for this activity but the inner child is strong in us. After the eggs were colored, there were four cups of colored water destined for the drain. We decided to put it to work using a bit of strange imagination and paper towels.

The first was a Tibetan Prayer Flag. Can you guess what we prayed for?

The next was tic tac toe using drops of dye instead of X's and O's. It's hard to see but the 15.90136986 year old beat me every time. I think the dye absorbed through my hands and obstructed my cognitive skills. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

For Your LIstening Displeasure

Quote of the Day:

Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways.

- Samuel McChord Crothers

And to prove that I surprised myself at this's my first itty bitty excerpt of "Squeeze Box" (Mama has a squeeze box..) for your listening, well, displeasure. I claim no responsibility for pierced ear drums if your volume is too loud. The sound file doesn't like to be squished into Quicktime. And I am calling this my first as I plan to get better at this concertina thing and this song in particular.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Easter Bells Are On Their Way

On the Tuesday before Easter, it is tradition in France that the Easter bells fly from their steeples and go to Rome. The Easter Bells return on Easter Sunday bringing Easter eggs to everyone's gardens.

This seems so hard to believe. I mean, at least with the Easter bunny, you can pretend it comes in the night and leaves you treats from it's basket. It's not to be viewed by the kiddos as they should be fast asleep. But how do you pretend the Easter bells are flying to Rome and back for five days when they are most likely still hanging in their steeples? How do French parents explain this to their children? Is it like the mall Santas being declared "Santas helpers?" Do the bells have helpers to take their place in the steeple while en route to Rome for the goodies? And why go to Rome? Wouldn't you think Switzerland would be a more likely candidate with the famous Swiss chocolatiers? And just how do those bells carry eggs back from Rome? I have questions. An Easter bunny is much more believable and cute and makes for great clipart in newspaper ads, right? I'm kidding of course. I suppose some think it's strange to think a bunny would bring eggs to the kiddos too.

I first heard about the Easter bells of France while enjoying David Sedaris book of essays, "Me Talk Pretty One Day." This excerpt is from the essay "Jesus Shaves."

[instructor] "And what does one do on Easter? Would anyone like to tell us?"

The Italian nanny was attempting to answer the question when the Moroccan student interrupted, shouting, "Excuse me, but what's an Easter?"

Despite her having grown up in a Muslim country, it seemed she might have heard it mentioned once or twice, but no. "I mean it," she said. "I have no idea what you people are talking about."

The teacher then called upon the rest of us to explain.

The Poles led the charge to the best of their ability. "It is," said one, "a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus and . . . oh, sh*t."

She faltered, and her fellow countryman came to her aid.

"He call his self Jesus, and then he be die one day on two . . . morsels of . . . lumber."

The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.

"He die one day, and then he go above of my head to live with your father."

"He weared the long hair, and after he died, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."

"He nice, the Jesus."

"He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."

Part of the problem had to do with grammar. Simple nouns such as cross and resurrection were beyond our grasp, let alone such complicated reflexive phrases as "To give of yourself your only begotten son." Faced with the challenge of explaining the cornerstone of Christianity, we did what any self-respecting group of people might do. We talked about food instead.

"Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb," the Italian nanny explained. "One, too, may eat of the chocolate."

"And who brings the chocolate?" the teacher asked.

I knew the word, and so I raised my hand, saying, "The Rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate."

My classmates reacted as though I'd attributed the delivery to the Antichrist. They were mortified.

"A rabbit?" The teacher, assuming I'd used the wrong word, positioned her index fingers on top of her head, wiggling them as though they were ears. "You mean one of these? A rabbit rabbit?"

"Well, sure," I said. "He come in the night when one sleep on a bed. With a hand he have the basket and foods."

The teacher sadly shook her head, as if this explained everything that was wrong with my country. "No, no," she said. "Here in France the chocolate is brought by the big bell that flies in from Rome."

I called for a time-out. "But how do the bell know where you live?"

"Well," she said, "how does a rabbit?"

It was a decent point, but at least a rabbit has eyes. That's a start. Rabbits move from place to place, while most bells can only go back and forth--and they can't even do that on their own power. On top of that, the Easter Bunny has character; he's someone you'd like to meet and shake hands with. A bell has all the personality of a cast-iron skillet. It's like saying that come Christmas, a magic dustpan flies in from the North Pole, led by eight flying cinder blocks. Who wants to stay up all night so they can see a bell? And why fly one in from Rome when they've got more bells than they know what to do with right here in Paris? That's the most implausible aspect of the whole story, as there's no way the bells of France would allow a foreign worker to fly in and take their jobs. That Roman bell would be lucky to get work cleaning up after a French bell's dog -and even then he'd need papers. It just didn't add up.

Nothing we said was of any help to the Moroccan student. A dead man with long hair supposedly living with her father, a leg of lamb served with palm fronds and chocolate. Confused and disgusted, she shrugged her massive shoulders and turned her attention back to the comic book she kept hidden beneath her binder. I wondered then if, without the language barrier, my classmates and I could have done a better job making sense of Christianity, an idea that sounds pretty far-fetched to begin with.

In communicating any religious belief, the operative word is faith, a concept illustrated by our very presence in that classroom. Why bother struggling with the grammar lessons of a six-year-old if each of us didn't believe that, against all reason, we might eventually improve? If I could hope to one day carry on a fluent conversation, it was a relatively short leap to believing that a rabbit might visit my home in the middle of the night, leaving behind a handful of chocolate kisses and a carton of menthol cigarettes. So why stop there? If I could believe in myself, why not give other improbabilities the benefit of the doubt? I accepted the idea that an omniscient God had cast me in his own image and that he watched over me and guided me from one place to the next. The virgin birth, the resurrection, and the countless miracles -my heart expanded to encompass all the wonders and possibilities of the universe.

A bell, though, that's f*ed up.

Ode to Okapi

Ode to Okapi
by balou

Okapi, okapi, what a strange beast you are.
Part zebra, part giraffe, part chocolate bar.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fashion Restraint

It's a comforting thought that if I have to attend a special function requiring one of these, I will have a choice of colors.

"I'm feeling basic black tonight Nurse Ratchett."

* * * * *
Wouldn't it be fun to be a Straight-Jacket designer? It may not be very glamorous as an actual job but just to be able to answer the question "So, what do you do for a living balou?" with "I'm a Straight-Jacket Designer" would be worth any down side to the job.

* * * * *
I think Lime should buy the white one and tie dye it. ;)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring Sonnet

Every year Garrison Keillor's radio show, "Prairie Home Companion", has a spring poetry contest. There are several of the finalists on the website this week and is worth checking out. The poem below is one I heard on the radio while driving home Saturday night and it made me cry I thought it was so beautiful.

by Marcy Telles of San Rafael, CA

There are fifty Aprils in your eyes
A portrait of a full and well-spent life
Your face is kindly, loving, warm, and wise
And I am proud to call myself your wife
And sometimes, in the deepest part of night
I lie awake and think about the past
The folks who were important in our lives
And taught us how to build a love to last
Those welcome phantoms populate my dreams
Still dancing at some wedding long ago
As insubstantial as my self-esteem
As palpable as gravity or snow
Will we live on in someone's reverie?
I sigh and turn, and pull you close to me.

Dammit. It just made me cry again.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Cute Cubs

Saw this photo and it was just so cute though I had to share. Any ideas for captions?

Here's what I see: "Shoulda seen it Brownie! First he gave him a left right across da choppers then he gave him a right and he was dancin' around da ring da whole time."

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hometown Baghdad

This is a side of Iraq we don't see on the news. It's a blog and series of videos about a group of 20-somethings surviving in Baghdad. Check it out at Here's one of the videos...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm It!

I didn't make it to the safe zone in time. Dorky Dad has tagged me. His reason was "because he's curious." Well, he'll probably think I'm curious by the end. If I had to be tagged though, I like this one. I need to list seven songs I've been enjoying. But wait, just seven? I am a Mac person and have a hefty iTunes folder. In fact I recently bought an external hard drive to store said music among other things. How will I narrow it down? I'll try.

1. "Flathead" by The Fratellis. I have to admit I was sucked in by the iPod TV ad. Love the video too. It's fun to see something different. Have been playing this album quite a bit over the past week.

2. "I Cried Like A Silly Boy" by Devotchka. Heard this group described as "Eastern Block Indie Rock" which I think fits. I think it sounds like Roy Orbison feeling Bulgarian in Mexico. Most of the other tracks on this album have a strong mariachi sound to them. It's fun.

3. "In A Sentimental Mood" by John Coltrane. Out of the Jazz category I'd have to pick this one. Makes me want to pour a glass of wine and melt.

4. "Oelle como espĂ­ritu adolescente" by the Mandragora Tango Orchestra. I am so excited! I had no clue this was a local group! Hubby, I have a suggestion for a date night. And if you don't recognize the song title, it's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and it makes a beautiful tango arrangement.

5. "Black Coffee In Bed" by Squeeze. I used to have this album back in the day and this was one of my favorites. I was surprised to find the video on You Tube. I think the song has a much longer shelf life than that video. Ah, 1982, the year I graduated from High School.

6. "Cucurrucucu Paloma" by Caetano Veloso. He's a superstar in Brazil. I have no clue what he's singing but his voice carries me away. It has something to do with a bird.

7. "Diamond Day" by Vashti Bunyan. She's been a folk music icon in the UK since the late 60's but I just recently discovered her music. It's sweet and simple.

I'm going to slip in this last one too because I've listened to this more than the others in the past few days. It's the first little song I've learned on the new concertina. It's really bad but thought I'd share with you anyways. "Oro" by balou.

I'm going to break the rules a bit and say if you're reading this and want to be tagged, you're it!
Let us know in the comments if you choose to be tagged. If you don't want to be tagged, welcome to the safe zone.