Monday, March 19, 2007

2 Snows Down; 1 to Go

Local legend states that we will have 3 measurable snows after the seagulls return for the summer. The seagulls are ALWAYS here by March 17th. This year they arrived on the 14th. We've had 2 snows, totaling 4 inches, since their return.

Unfortunately, we often have more than 3 snows, after the gulls' return. Personally, I'm voting for some April showers, instead of snow, to alleviate our drought conditions. I'll let you know how that works out for me.

I haven't been online much this week. We've had major problems with spyware and had to rebuild the computer TWICE! BASTARDS!! After the 2nd rebuild, Z suggested installing Firefox as our web browser. He insists that there are very few spyware programs written for Firefox. So far we're spyware free. Time will tell.

Situations at my workplace keep going from bad to worse. We just hired our 3rd morning dishwasher in 4 months. The first dishwasher is now on Social Security Disability(she knows how to play the system). The second one left town(and her husband and 18 month old son), and hasn't been seen since. Our current dishwasher seems like a great worker. Unfortunately, she's also 3 months pregnant. We realize that not everyone works until the day before their baby is born, like I did. So we'll wait and see if this dishwasher makes it through the summer.

We haven't had any better luck with waitresses. We lost our Mon-Wed, afternoon waitress, to hypochondria, last fall. We hired a replacement that quit showing up after 3 days. Our Thurs-Fri & every other Saturday waitress decided to take a 6-week vacation in Mexico this winter. Two weeks after her return, she wound up in the hospital for a week. Fortunately, "Brat"(from my 8/16/06 post) quit her job at Menards and saved the day for us. Brat is a senior in high school, so she can't get to work before 4 p.m. The rest of us have been filling in from 1-4p.m. as needed. Brat is also working every other Saturday, which is a huge relief for me. I've had to work 6 days straight most of the winter!

On the homefront; we're once again shoveling out the waist deep mess in Z's room! This time, L and I will organize his room. Once the room is clean, we've told Z that we will be total Nazis about ANY clutter! I realize that Z's room is his space, but with his ADD related lack of organizational skills, we must stay on top of the situation. The current state of his room is sinking Z into depression.

We're hoping that our lives will settle into a semi-normal routine before summer arrives. I can HOPE, can't I?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Here It Is!

My 15 Minutes of Fame post from 8/28/06 stated that: "Today, I found out that I'm a minor character in a children's book, written by an award winning author."

In December, I bought the first 4 books in the Dog Watch series. I recently discovered myself on page 19 of the 2nd book in the series: Dog-Napped.

Just then, tshsmom stormed out of xxx restaurant with a broom in both hands. She knew everyone's name in the village--dogs included. "Lucky! Gunnar! Schmitty! Tundra! Kito! Chester! That's enough of your racket. Break it up. We don't need dogfights in Pembrook. Move on--you'll scare away customers." Then she turned on her heel and headed back inside. The smells of French toast, sausage, bacon, and cinnamon rolls wafted out.

For some odd reason, Mary changed the name of almost all of the dogs in town, but she used my real name. Alrighty then...
I also need to clarify a few things. I have been known to break up dog fights, but I've NEVER used a broom! I always reach in, bare-handed, to pull the dogs apart. So far I haven't been bitten. I DO appear outside, with my broom, to sweep off the handicapped ramp that encircles the restaurant. "Pembrook's" dogs frequently keep me company while I sweep.

ALL of the Dog Watch books are prefaced with the page above. Our village has actually made national headlines with our no-leash-law/dog-mugshot policy. (Mary has renamed our village Pembrook, so that's how I'll refer to it. ) Many of us have chosen not to take advantage of Pembrook's no-leash-law policy. We keep our pets tied or fenced in our own yards, where they're safe and aren't creating a nuisance for the neighborhood.
Free roaming dogs do make a cute premise for children's books though. The books are cute, but I wouldn't recommend them for anyone over the age of 8. Mary has written much better books for the 12-14 age group. The Dog Watch series is far from her best efforts.
I found the books interesting due to the real-life dogs and people. Several of the book's characters are long deceased, but I enjoy re-living their quirky personalities. Mary portrays herself and her husband as Mr. and Mrs. Hollinghorst, who live in Mary's real-life house. My greatest disappointment in Dog-Napped was that the evil Dr. Elizabeth(a renamed, real-life character) wasn't the culprit. The culprit turned out to be Howie, a cross between our former dishwasher and an eccentric bait seller.
The following dogs are real.
Gunnar: Mary's former basset hound. Gunnar died after being hit by the school bus while playing with the kids at the bus stop.
Kito and Chester: The heroes of the Dog Watch series, and Mary's current pets. After what happened to Gunnar, this chow-chow and beagle are ALWAYS on a leash or tied in their yard.
Tundra: The "alpha dog" of the Dog Watch series. Tundra is actually a male dog named Bucky. Bucky is no longer allowed to run free after he ate too many Slim-Jims at the tavern and developed peritonitis.
Willow: Willow is the sweetest golden retriever cross you'll ever meet. Unfortunately, someone has mistreated her. This is another hazard of allowing your dog to run loose. The last time I saw Willow, she cowered on her belly and crawled to me in total submission. It broke my heart to see this fun-loving dog's spirit broken down like this!
So far, I've only read the first 2 books in the series. I'll let you know if I make another appearance in the series.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Celebration of Life

Auntie & SME
Thanks everyone, for your kind comments and condolences!
I know it sounds weird, but SME was right....we had a great time at Auntie's funeral. So far our family has been blessed with longevity and no fatal tragedies. When a member of our family dies, we send them off with abundant love and countless memories. SME has attended several of these funerals, and knows how much love and laughter is shared. SME was also right about Auntie's age. If I would have stopped to think how old Z was at her 80th birthday party, I would have realized that she was only 91. Duh!
Auntie was the 2nd of 6 children; the oldest daughter. She was born almost totally deaf. Auntie lived a fairly sheltered life, working on the family farm. When my grandparents retired and bought a Victorian house in town, Auntie moved with them and started working in town.
Children were the greatest joy of Auntie's life, and she loved spending time with her nieces and nephew. As we grew up and had children of our own, Auntie became an important part of our kid's lives too. Auntie didn't marry until she was 51, so she had no children of her own. In fact Auntie never actually lived with her husband. He took care of his mother and worked the family farm, and Auntie worked in town and took care of my Grandma. It was a weird relationship, but it worked for them. Auntie lost her husband in the early 80's.
After my Grandma died in 1986, Auntie moved into a sr. citizen's retirement apartment. She thrived in this environment. Auntie went on several tours with her group of friends from her building, and saw more of the world than she had ever seen before. She even learned how to shoot pool.
The last 10 years of Auntie's life were spent in the nursing home. The last 5 years she slipped into the world in her own mind and no longer recognized any of us. None of us wanted her to have to live like this. It was time for her to go. We have no doubt that she is now happily reunited with our other loved ones who preceded her to heaven. We're happy for her.

Friday, March 09, 2007

See You Tuesday

The 3 of us will be heading for southern MN, tomorrow morning. My aunt died yesterday. Auntie's funeral will be a celebration. She was 94, and had been totally unresponsive to anyone around her for the last 5 years. Death has released Auntie from her earthly bonds. We're all happy for her.

My parents won't be going to the funeral of my Dad's sister. Dad is now the only one left of his family's 6 kids. My parents seem to be removing themselves from this branch of the family too.

I'm looking forward to spending time with my cousins. Several of us are very much alike. Scary thought, isn't it? Auntie was childless, and her husband died over 20 yrs ago. It's up to 2 of my cousins and I to handle the arrangements. It's been a busy couple of days here between work, phone calls, packing, and catching up on the laundry and misc. chores before we leave.

I'll catch up with you all on Monday night or Tuesday. Maybe this weekend, if I can handle my cousin's dial-up connection. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I LOVE Books!

European (, sort of tagged me with this. I've seen this a lot of other places. Since a lot of my all time favorite books are on this list, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

*Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read.
*Italicize the ones you want to read.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)I've always meant to read some Austen...
3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)I never understood why this wasn't required reading in my school.
4. Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the Kind(Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) I've read the whole far. I ADORE Gabaldon!!!
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)NEVER!! Irving sucks!
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)LOVED the movie!
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald) I'm so ashamed to admit that I read this! Easily the biggest work of CRAP I've EVER read!!
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban(Rowling)My favorite in the series. I loved that Harry found someone to love him!
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Jane was SME's first stage role.
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)Candace and I totally agree on this one. BLECH! WHY this was required reading in my high school, is beyond me!
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) I read ALL of Alcott's works in grade school. Priceless!
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)Yes, I was the ONLY person in my high school to not read this book. I was stubborn.
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck) BLECH! I'm not a Steinbeck fan.
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) So did I.
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)The Authurian legend from a woman's perspective. I LOVE this topic, but I've read better versions.
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) FANTASTIC!
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) I hadn't heard of this until I read about it on Toby's blog. Now I'm fascinated.
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible(Various authors)Yes, I've read the WHOLE thing at least once.
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) I've meant to read some Tolstoy since high school. Maybe I'll get "round tuit" someday.
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)Still don't like Steinbeck!
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) Not in THIS lifetime!! SME and L enjoyed it though.
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)My least favorite Dickens novel. Would somebody PLEASE bitch-slap Pip?!
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) Fitgerald ranks right up there with Steinbeck.
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) Life's too short!
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) One Rand was enough for me.
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) The movie was disturbing to me, so I think I'll skip this one.
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) Do I get extra points for having read this in French too?
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell) One of my all time FAVORITES!! A must read for students of Japanese history!
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) Isn't this EVERY little girl's favorite?
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) I liked the movie better.
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving) How many times do I have to say NO?
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White) How many times did we read this to you SME? I still insist that this book turned her vegan.
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck) I can't help it; Steinbeck was required reading in high school.
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) I LOVE Du Maurier, but this isn't one of her best. It beats the hell out of My Cousin Rachel though.
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams) SME and L loved this one. I wasn't impressed.
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
0. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) A MASTERPIECE!! This SHOULD have been required reading in my high school!
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck) Another of my favorites! A must read for anyone who wants to understand the Chinese psyche! I also loved The Dragon Seed
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)SME was in a stage version of this too.
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)


Monday, March 05, 2007


Several months ago, I was looking through's selection of TV series on DVD, when I came across the following selection. I couldn't believe my eyes! This was TOO GOOD to be true! It was. The DVD hadn't been released yet, and didn't have a release date listed. Good old Amazon did promise to email me when this DVD was available. Yeah right; good luck with that Amazon. They haven't released this show in 36 years, why would they do it now?

Imagine my surprise when I checked my email Saturday morning and found a link to this series!! YES!!

"The first season set includes the pilot movie plus the first 14 episodes of the show (the show was a mid-season replacement which is why it doesn't have a full season of 22-24 episodes). While clearly inspired by "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" the series achieves its own quirky tone by the first regular season episode. Duel and Murphy's charm and chemistry on camera is immediately evident. 30 plus years later the show still retains its charm."
Alias Smith & Jones is my favorite TV show EVER! I LOVE westerns and Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid is my favorite movie. If you liked Butch Cassidy, you'll like Smith & Jones. There's eye-candy, in the form of the late Pete Duel and Ben Murphy. There's witty dialogue, good plots, and a stellar supporting cast, including Burl Ives, Walter Brennan, Caeser Romero, Sally Field, Michelle Lee, Rudy Vallee, Earl Holliman, and many others.
In 3-5 days I will be spending my afternoons watching my blast from the past, while I'm doing my daily chores. There may be a lapse in blogging at this time.....but you'll understand.....right?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Technical Difficulties

I've been without a computer since Wednesday. The video card in L's new computer died a quiet death and quit delivering pictures to the monitor. The computer is still under warranty and Alienware is sending us a new video card via FedEx. In the meantime, Z has generously allowed us to move his computer into our world. This means that for the next 5-7 working days, we will be dividing computer time between the 3 of us.

I'm not overly confident that FedEx will be able to negotiate the snow-clogged roads, that are separating us from the rest of the world, in a timely manner. All the major highways, south of us, have been shut down for the past 2 days.
The photo above (courtesy of the Duluth News Tribune), is of the Park Point area of Duluth. Duluth got socked with an additional 19 inches of snow, in addition to the 18 inches they received last weekend! This time, the snow was accompanied by 60+ mph winds AND thunder and lightning! What a mess!
Our area was on the edge of this massive storm system. We only received about 6 inches of snow over the last 2 weeks. We actually could have used SOME of the snow our southern neighbors received. We've only used our snowblower twice this season. Our area is STILL in the throes of a severe draught.