Friday, February 27, 2009

Legally Blind (Blonde?) Driver

Yesterday, I discovered that my driver's license had expired on my birthday. So, today, I found the new location of the DMV and got the license renewed. Wow! $26. I suppose that includes a late fee for dummies.

They have this vision testing thing that you have to place your forehead against. I could see other people's makeup, and I'm sure I saw ginormous flakes of skin hanging there, too. So, I was supposed to look in there and read three sets of letters on line five. Well, I kept reading what I (barely) saw (with my glasses ON!) and she kept telling me to do it again. I was reading only what I could see in the middle. So, on the last try I finally saw three sets of numbers lit up. I read all three sets, guessing at some numbers by what I thought the shape of the numbers looked like.

What I learned is that you can't be squeamish about pushing your forehead on that filthy little bar. Your head controls the bar, and if you don't push it just right, all three columns will not light up.

The DMV also has new photography equipment. Boy, I've had some bad license pictures in the past (some good ones, too), but this one out-bads them, hands down! OMGoodness! It is enough to make you drive with extreme caution because the thought of whipping that thing out to show a police officer is enough to make you become the best driver in the world. No way do I want someone gawking at that picture.

The DMV has a perfect money-making scheme for the state government. Don't send license renewal notices in the mail. Dummies like me won't remember to renew them. They can make money off people like me by charging late fees AND by nice little fines if you happen to get stopped or have an accident without a license. I wonder how much longer I would have gone without noticing that it had expired if I had not had to write it down on the form at the dentists' office yesterday.

I can say one nice thing about the DMV, they have a pretty good system of herding people through. When I arrived (after waiting a day and forever for a train), I was discouraged to see that there was a long line, but I soon could see that the line moved reasonably quickly. People were sent directly to seats at the counter to be helped. When my turn came, I was promptly sent to a seat in the waiting area. Of course. My wait was probably five or ten minutes when my name was called. The rest of the process was pretty quick. The picture? I'm stuck with it until 2015. The lady told me the year so that I will know next time. I think it was 2015. Was it 2015? Now, when is it next time?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wrong again!

Well, so much for the idea that the antibiotics for my tooth extraction will help my throat. My physician only prescribed two pills to be taken one hour before the procedure. I had hoped I would have some for a few days, but nope. I get to tough it out on my own, I guess. The pharmacist said it had been two years since I had antibiotics. That's pretty good. I usually try to tough out the minor stuff on my own.

I met one of my new neighbors today. His name is Boss. He is long, lanky, tall and awkward. He is a nine-month-old Great Dane. I would say his coat is what you would call brindle. It is brown and black. His owner brought him over to meet MK. She wanted to make sure MK met him that way instead of him surprising her in the back yard (next door). Boss is a beauty. They said he is afraid of Happy. Well, Happy is just noisy. I hope Boss will get used to that. Happy is afraid of the little dogs at the house on the other side of the yard -- they are noisy. I haven't heard a peep out of Boss, so far.

The neighbors across the street had their car stereo so loud last night that it interfered with my American Idol. You don't mess with my American Idol. Speaking of . . . it is time for American Idol right now. Don't mess with me right now.

Busy times!

The endless working goes on and on.

I had a great weekend with the girls. It was fun to spend time with them. They are all silly in their own ways. K was not feeling well, and I think she shared with me. I am getting sick with a sore throat, headache, and general yuk.

I was to have a tooth extracted today, but that is postponed until Tuesday evening. Antibiotics first (because of heart murmur). Bonus -- the antibiotics might help get rid of the sore throat. So, I'm eating Ramen chicken soup which is supposed to be helpful; and honey in and on everything.

At dentists' offices these days, you have to pay up front for the work. I paid today for what they will remove from me next Tuesday. I also have a fractured filling in another tooth for which I will have to save up to fix. I'll have to save for a partial to fill in my lovely gaping hole. Maybe I'll just wait until next years' tax refund. It's only a year.

Writers' group meets in the morning. I don't know if I'll feel well enough by then to go. I also don't want to expose those older folks with something that will make them sick. Leon is 90 or so, and he has been in the hospital for so long after having his foot amputated; I would hate to cause him to be ill.

I have not written anything that I can share with the group; I haven't had time to make any changes to the fictional story I am writing for fiction class. Where does the time go? I have a nice schedule typed out and posted on the cabinet, but it never fits into my daily life. Being sick doesn't fit in either. I get up a bit, do a little, then go rest a lot.

Time to rest. I've done a wee bit.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Mmmmmm . . . . Thin Mints!

They will make me thin, right?


I grabbed this from Meg who grabbed it from Jane. It seemed interesting and fun. Feel free to grab from me!

grabbed this from my friend, Jane.

The introduction states, “apparently the BBC reckons most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here.” Some of the list seems to come from the BBC’s Big Read list of 100 favorite books in Britain, although not completely and not in entirely the same order.

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X +
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible – Front to back? No. Bible study classes and theology classes count?
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily BronteX+
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens X
Running total: 5

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X+
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – parts
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
Running total: 7

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens X
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ++++++++ many times
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll +
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame +
Running total: 12

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens X
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (some)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres – saw the movie!
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden X
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X +
Running total: 15

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
Running total: 16

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens -- Tried, failed.
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Running total: 16

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold X
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding X
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Running total: 18

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett +
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
Running total: 20

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
Running total: 23

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X (MK read this also, at age 7)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

For a grand total of 24! Not as many as Jane (53), but a fair amount over the BBC’s opinion.

Not as many as Meg (29), but honestly, some titles seemed familiar, and with my memory anymore, I'm not sure if I read them or not! So, I didn't mark them if I wasn't sure. Some were probably movies I've seen.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Activities and more

I finished reading Frankenstein yesterday evening. I have to say that I would never have read this book in my life if I hadn't needed to for class. I have to do a critical essay now which requires me to think. That could be dangerous. Well, for no-one but myself. Anyway, I have to look for setting, plot, character and style development. I need to evaluate the written work: discuss my opinions, and look at various aspects: its ability to reflect the time period (historical critic); its reflections of female or male gender roles (sexual critic); its political/economical comments (political/social critic); and, its general comments on other ideas (new critic). What fun! This is my first essay for this instructor. New instructors make me nervous because I never really know what they expect and one poor grade could hurt my honors status.

I am now convinced that Bigfoot is real. He is actually Frankenstein's monster. He was indestructible and when he tried to take his own life (after all, the book only reveals his plans to kill himself -- it never actually goes on to detail his suicide ------oopsie! Spoiler Alert! Spoiled the ending, sort of.), he failed and he is to walk around terrorizing people for infinity. Now that I have solved the mystery of Bigfoot, on I go to solving the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster.

Speaking of honors status, I received my pin and certificate in the mail yesterday for Sigma Tau Delta National English Honor Society. I am qualified to compete for scholarships and awards from this organization. They have scholarships for Juniors/Seniors/Graduate Students. I wonder what my chances are. None, if I don't look into it and find out what there is available. I did look into it earlier, and it appears to be too late for this year, but next year looks good.

I did my first draft of the story I am writing for fiction class (same class of Frankenstein reading). I took it to writers' group Friday morning and read it to them. Since there were several other people with readings, I read the story quickly. Even reading it quickly, some of the others said that they were reading ahead of me to see what was happening next. So, that seems to be a good thing. They were very helpful in suggestions, and some suggestions fell right in line with what I thought I would need to work on as I progress with the story.

My intent was to get the main story and action down as far as I could take it, then go back and fill in some details and correct some things later. Some were (and they agreed): I need to go back and give descriptions of the characters; I need to tighten up the time frame of some of the happenings to fit better into the speed of the imminent danger; even though it is a science-fiction/horror, I need to check facts and make sure it is believable so that the reader is not turned off by something that couldn't possibly happen. I'm not far off, but want to be sure. Even science fiction needs to have some probability; and, I was undecided about the ending. I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue with some more adventures, or just leave it hanging so the reader can imagine what is to come next. This is how it is for now and they all seemed to like it ending that way.

This story is to be between 1,000 and 5,000 words and I am right around 2,000ish. It is due at the end of the semester, so I have time to work on it more. The other writers said they are quite willing to be my guinea pigs, so-to-speak, and let me read it to them another time or two. Their feedback is helpful, and reading it out loud to an audience helps you to hear how it reads. Having the chance to put it down a few days and going back to read it helps, too. You read it fresh that way and things come across differently.

The sunshine is deceivingly beautiful today. I sit here at my window and look out and am so tempted to sit on the swing, but it just isn't warm enough to really enjoy that. So, I'll remain content to look at it through the window.

Oh, be still, my heart! Yesterday (Valentine's Day), MK called R and asked him to get some "fake" flowers from Mr. T's shop, find a pretty basket and put them in it, then come to our house and pick me and her up for a lunch "date" at a nearby greasy-spoon-type diner. He did. He had hidden the flowers behind the seat and as soon as she got in, she got them and gave them to me saying they were from her and him. He did a nice job. Silly him. He has not been a romantic part of my life for many, many years, but he couldn't hide the look of pride in himself for having done such a thing that made me smile. Sap.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Harrumphhhh! I got my newest gas bill. It made it to over $200 this time. $209.19. It really ticks me off to think I have to pay over $200 for a month of being cold all the time. I kept that thermostat under 60 and only cranked up the heat when students came. What's in store for next year? Under 50? Like David Letterman said, that dressing in layers business is hogwash. It did not help. I remember when I could heat or air condition the house (in Robinson) for $33/ month. Those days are long gone!

Thankfully, we have had a few warm days and will have a few more before the cold returns this weekend. Maybe it will help get the bill back under $200.

MK finally has play practice tonight. Two practices had been canceled so it has been nearly a month since she has been to practice. During the month of March, she will have many practices and will keep us busy running back and forth and figuring out how to fit everything in around them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In the business of writing, disappointments can be big, successes small, or vice versa. I received notice that an article I had written (and competed against some other writers) had been chosen and purchased for publication for a prestigious education magazine (to be un-named according to contract as ghost writer). The pay was $32.00. Not bad for one page, single-spaced. The very next day, in the mail I received back my contract for the marketing of a poem I had written that was chosen for test marketing for a greeting card company. They decided not to use it. That would have paid $300. This is a time when vice versa would have come in handy!

I am a little over half-way through reading "Frankenstein." I need to get it finished and then read the inclusive textbook material and get my essay written. The language of the time (1818) when Frankenstein was written is different than today. It is quite descriptive -- flowery.

Not having read the book before, and having seen the movie ages ago as a very young child, I was confused and thought Frankenstein was the monster that was created by a mad scientist. Frankenstein was not the monster . . . or, was he? Was he a monster for creating a life and then abandoning it the moment it came to life? The thing was vulgar to him, so he cast it out without teaching it anything, or even clothing it or feeding it. I don't remember what happened in the movie I saw when I was a child, so I look forward to finding out what happens.

The warm weather these last few days has been quite welcome. I am actually able to sit here and type without shivering. My hands don't feel like ice. My fingers are not numb. It is wonderful! I considered hanging my laundry out to dry today, but I decided it wasn't breezy enough to dry them, especially towels and jeans.

Writers' group meets this Friday. I haven't written anything to share with the group. Maybe I can share one of my blog journal pages. I'll have to look and see if there is anything they would be interested in. It is sad that I am majoring in creative writing, but there is no time for creative writing. Someday . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One Spark Short of a Flame

Today, as MK and I were out and about, she saw a school bus parked in front of a house in a nice residential neighborhood. She asked why it would be parked there and I told her that the bus driver probably lived there, and instead of driving it all the way back to the bus garage, it was probably closer to park at the home until time to pick up children from school. MK then asked, "But what if the bus garage is in Connecticut?"

Less Flatulence for a Healthier Planet?

I was rating articles in and came across an article that was written under the category "Daily Choices for a Healthier Planet." I do not know the name of this article's author because rating is done anonymously. Here is part of the article:

You are probably taking steps towards conserving energy to protect the environment. More people are carpooling, turning down the thermostat and recycling than ever before; but have you considered how your diet affects global warming? Here is what you need to know about eating for a greener planet.

The Basics

A green diet is about reducing consumption of processed foods and meat-based products. This method of eating reduces methane emissions, saves energy and lessens waste.

The Problem with Methane

Focusing on reducing carbon monoxide emissions is important, but methane is much more harmful to the environment. Methane gas is 23 times more damaging to the environment then Carbon Dioxide.

The primary producer of methane gas on this planet is cattle farming. The flatulants and manure from raising cows, pigs and poultry increases methane in the atmosphere and can create a snowball effect, hastening global warming. The release of methane "can cause greater microbial activity causing further increases in methane emissions. Thus, climate change induced by humans could actually trigger the release of more greenhouse gases from natural systems."

Ok, so, as I read this, I wasn't too clear on what the point is. If we eat less meat and processed foods, then there will be less gas emission . . . from . . . . people? . . . from cows because we would raise fewer cows ?

If we quit raising cows, pigs, and chickens, there will be fewer animals to fart? Less farting means less methane gas? Well, then what about dogs, eight-year-olds, and men? Are they saying the animals are farting too much; or are they saying people are farting too much because of eating the animals? I don't know, but isn't it true that when we eat fresh vegetables and beans for our health, we eat more roughage which produces more flatulence?

What if we feed Beano to all the cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, eight-year-olds,or men (and some women)? Then there would BE NO gas!

Monday, February 2, 2009

No More Babies

My littlest grand-baby is going to be six years old this Friday. At age five and kindergarten, I still think of her as a baby. At age six, I don't think I get to do that anymore. She is the last of the babies in my family. Though I love seeing my grand-babies grow up, I will miss all their little baby ways.

I had hoped to knock out a big chunk of the book "Frankenstein" on Sunday afternoon/evening. I curled up on the couch under my blanket and afghan. I started out sitting upright, but somehow slid way down. I ended up with two naps! I made it all the way to Chapter IV, page 34! Impressive, NOT! How will I ever finish six novels (and write essays) for this semester for this class? I have to read for another class, too! And the third class I don't have to read novels, but I do have a huge textbook to get through. I think I will have to sit up in an uncomfortable chair without a soft cover; otherwise, I'll never finish even the first book.

I sometimes question my motives for working on finishing my baccalaureate degree at this time in my life. I had taken several turns in my life which led me far from achieving such a goal. I finally reached a point where I thought there is always going to be something leading me in new directions; I was getting old enough that it became a point of "now or never." I decided NOW.

If I inherit the longevity of Grandpa, I could live to be 94! Well, if so, then I have another half of a lifetime for learning and working. So, why not do something I love and that I can do from home or anywhere? Why not reach for new heights? A good friend often said that if you stop learning, then you are dead. So, I think I'll keep learning.

I also had a drive to prove to myself and a specific someone who made me believe that I am the "dumbest person he knows on earth" that I am intelligent. I do have value. I have merit. My life is meaningful. I had to prove I can do it. Sure, I've had some snags along the way. There have been some trials, stress, worry over many other things . . . but, I haven't given up yet. I feel like it sometimes; but, wonderful encouraging remarks and comments from instructors bolster me. I am shocked when they say that they love the way I think, or that I am astute. Me? Have they confused me with some other student? I love those A's, too! Such a small reward that has such power. (I have a higher power in my life; please don't think that I am disregarding that.)

The hardest part of this journey is believing in myself. I grow weary of significant people in my life who feel they are "helping" me by shooting me down in my tracks. You know what I mean, "constructive criticism." Cutting people down is not building people up.

Off I go, I have the other half of my life to construct.

Squash Bloom

Squash Bloom
I found a new setting on my camera for shooting flowers!

Bean #1

Bean #1
So far, we have three bean pods. Bugs are eating the leaves.

Bean #2

Bean #2

Bean #3

Bean #3

Second Strawberry

Second Strawberry
The birds found the first strawberry (pictured yesterday) and ate right out of the center of it! This is a new one that showed up today. I'm sure it will be gone soon. We have buds for more.


Actually, squash, lettuce, flowers, and grass where we planted what were supposed to be flowers! This is what happens when children help you garden. But, the squash looks excellent!

Our Recession Garden & First Harvest

Our Recession Garden & First Harvest
These are the beautiful squash plants growing where we planted what the package said was FLOWERS! Actually, I think MK may have mis-labled them in the spring planter box we started everything in.


The peonies were beautiful only a few days before being ruined by rain.

Leaf Lettuce

Leaf Lettuce
Recovering from being beat down by rain

First Harvest from Recession Garden

First Harvest from Recession Garden
This is actually from a "thinning" of the garden.



One and Only Strawberry

One and Only Strawberry
The birds had not found this strawberry, and so far, it is the largest one we've ever had left on the vine.


We planted MANY onions, but this is the only patch growing well. We thin it to get our green onions and they are tasty!

Potato Plants

Potato Plants
They are growing like crazy!


Aren't the leaves pretty?

Potato Plant Blooms

Potato Plant Blooms
Pretty light purple with bright yellow centers. I've never seen any before.

Our First Recession Garden Salad

Our First Recession Garden Salad

First White Rose of Summer

First White Rose of Summer
This is the first bloom on the white rosebush this spring.

Max the Mouse

Max the Mouse
Max the Mouse in Cinderella, Cinderella

Sledding Fun

Sledding Fun


Another one bites the dust

More Sledding

More Sledding

Oh, that's gotta hurt!

Oh, that's gotta hurt!
And yet, another one bites the dust . . . er, snow.