Friday, May 30, 2008

Walk with God, Harvey Korman

I loved the Carol Burnett Show as a kid - the whole family did. I just loved curling up on the sofa with Mom and Dad and laughing right along with them - especially when Tim Conway would get Harvey Korman laughing. The end of yet another era. RIP Harvey.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sure could have used THIS!

I found this ad in the Sunday paper - probably a KMart circular.
At first glance you might think it's actually a First AirZone trampoline as stated but no . . .

See how happy that Mommy is? It's because the new HAPPY MOMMY SUMMER KIDDIE KORRAL has solved all her "school's out" problems. Junior will wile away a fun-filled summer inside his protective enclosure. The SafT brand Mesh keeps him well ventilated and allows his skin to soak up all that Vitamin-D rich summer sunshine while Mom relaxes by the pool. On those beastly hot days, the HAPPY SUMMER MOMMY KIDDIE KORRAL can be moved into the shade, or placed conveniently near the lawn sprinkler, keeping your lawn and little one hydrated!

Just toss in the pb&j to keep those kiddos fed while they get their exercise on the trampoline mat. The exclusive soft covering also promotes long hours of napping. And the best part? The entire enclosure can be hosed down in under two minutes! It's so easy, you can get your teenagers to do it!

Comes with accessories such as THE HAPPY SUMMER KIDDIE KORRAL Hook-on water bottle, the KIDDIE KORRAL Toilet Tissue multi-roll dispenser, and the HAPPY SUMMER KIDDIE KORRAL mesh extension kit.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Ray of Hope in this Recession

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Jorge Fernandez strolls across the used-car parking lot littered with dozens upon dozens of sport utility vehicles the size of small tugboats.
SUVs like these are having a tough time selling with gas prices at all-time highs. With gas at $4 a gallon, many have sat there since last summer.
"The cars are literally just sitting, and it doesn't matter how much you sell them for," Fernandez says of the SUVs and trucks nobody wants anymore.Fernandez, a wholesale auto dealer who has been in the business for more than 20 years, says SUV owners are hit especially hard. The really large ones with V-8 engines that can get as little as 12 miles per gallon in the city -- like the Cadillac Escalade, Ford Expedition and Chevy Suburban -- are dropping in value by the thousands.

I say it's an ill wind that blows no good. This is one happy piece of news coming out of this recession. SUV's are the highest level of conspicuous consumption. To have them disappear would be cause for celebration. Hope they take the Hummer with them.

Enough Already!

I'm casting my vote right now for a nation-wide primary in July, followed by 3 months of campaigning before the November election. I'm just sick to death of this drawn out presidential race. I remain a John Edwards supporter, but we can't always get what we want. Barack Obama is now my choice, but frankly I'd be glad to get ANY Democrat into the Oval Office after The Idiot and his minions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Strange Magic at Work Here

1. I FINALLY have a job interview! Blowing and Drifting - it's at you-know-where, wish me luck!
2. The FOR SALE sign is now in our front yard. Can't believe this economy is forcing me to sell the best house I've ever owned. We built it, we designed it, it's perfect.
3. I had my five-year cancer anniversary.
4. A woman I met at church, who was diagnosed with breast cancer the SAME WEEK I was died Saturday.
5. Anonymous friends gave us a big stack of $20 bills and tons of gift cards.

I'm overwhelmed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Celebrate With Me!!!!

October may be the official month for Breast Cancer Awareness, but here on my blog that month would be May. Today, May 19th, 2008 I celebrate my five-year breast cancer survival anniversary!! A five year mark is a major point for a cancer survivor - it means that I am now statistically back in the general population.

I am a prime example why folks should be checking for common signs of cancer. There is NO breast cancer in my family so I never considered myself at risk. However, one day in April 2003 I was thinking about my aunt-by-marriage who had just gone through cancer treatment. As I showered I thought that day was as good as any to do a self-exam. And there it was - a little "blip", a little bump, like a small pea buried deep in my breast tissue. I went straight to the Dr. and they assured me it had none of the earmarks of cancer.

So on to a mammogram - my very first - I had just turned 41! The mammogram showed "extensive calcifications". Not usually cancer, but not usually seen in someone so young.

So on to a needle biopsy. I'll never forget just breaking down in tears after the surgeon left the room. I was scared to death, needing my parents, and needing some assurance. The ultrasound technician just held my hand and whispered words of comfort.

Three days later as my young daughters were playing happily with neighbor kids in the backyard, the call came. "It's Cancer". Nothing prepares you for that moment. You've heard folks talk about their blood turning to ice water? That's exactly how it felt. The floor dropped out from under my feet. "You'll need a mastectomy - there is no alternative". Another line I thought I'd never hear.

Luckily I was near some of the best health care in the country; The Piper Breast Institute at Abbott Hospital in Minneapolis. A dear woman at church heard about my diagnosis and called her sister who happens to be one of the best breast cancer surgeons in the state. Within hours I was under her care as well. The flurry of appointments with surgeons was overwhelming. At one point their lips were moving but I couldn't hear a word - I had just shut down. That kind ultrasound technician tracked me down, and said she'd been feeling so bad because the image on the screen didn't look promising.

My friends and family gathered around me and literally held me up during those days. I was flooded with calls, cards, flowers, and food - although I was so upset I couldn't eat. My youngest had her 4th birthday scheduled and my dear friend Lucy and her daughter made all the goody bags for the guests.

So on May 19th I had a mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy. Another stroke of luck - the cancer had not spread to the lymph system. Within weeks I had my first oncology appointment where I heard the marvelous words "No Chemo and No Radiation!".

So don't be afraid of a cancer diagnosis! Statistically, more people survive cancer than don't. Surgical cures happen every day, and I'm living proof.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So, Why Happy to Be From Iowa??

You're probably wondering about the origins of my blog title since I live in Minnesota, in fact I'll bet it occupies your mind a fair amount of the day. Well your worries are over, I'm about to tell you.

As a kid, I was a bookworm. I loved the smell of the library, and the crackle of that weird not-quite-plastic stuff they put on the hardcovers. In almost every novel I read, the protagonist or narrator was bemoaning their small town life, their small town family, and their small town friends. But I just couldn't identify - I was happy to be from Iowa!

Perhaps it was because I grew up in an area that is physically gorgeous. Northeast Iowa was not glaciated as was the rest of the state. There you'll find the most dramatic hills, deep valleys, and rivers brought on by nearby glacial melt. The above photo is the Upper Iowa River that runs right through my hometown of Decorah, Iowa. I've spent many happy hours floating there on an innertube just lazing away a summer afternoon beneath the looming limestone bluffs.
Iowans are always coming up with fun ways to pass the time. Take RAGBRAI - that's an acronym for the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. Thousands of cyclists of every age and fitness level dip their rear bike tires in the Missouri River, then ride a brutal 7-day path across the state to dip their front tire in the Mississippi. This event takes place at the end of July - during some of the most extreme heat and humidity known to man. But the roads are lined with Iowans cooking up sweet corn, ice cream, pie, cake, and lots of dancing in the streets.
Iowa is full of some of the most beautiful natural resources. Yes, it's also full of pigs and corn but you gotta look further. The photo above is from Dunning Springs - right smack in Decorah. This stunningly cold spring water comes pouring out of a limestone cave to gush over the cliffside.

And this is Herky the Hawk - the mascot for my alma mater the University of Iowa. See how that Michigan State Spartan can't catch up? The attention surrounding Hawkeye sports is incredible. Basically because there are no professional teams to speak of in Iowa, all that fan energy is funneled into the Hawkeyes. Some will claim there is another large university in Iowa but let's just not go there. Hawkeye tailgating is like nothing you've ever seen - most of those attending the games didn't even attend the college! Iowans just like to be outside in the Fall, cooking up some brats, and hanging out with other football fans.

I have many other reasons, which I'll post at later intervals. Iowa was a place to grow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More bullsh$t about gas prices

Our good friend MG turned me on to this video from the Colbert Report. Damn funny, and really, really sad.


I just read about this MommyFest Blog Party and it sounds like fun! I have been instructed to provide a short introduction so here goes:
I'm a 46 year old mom of 3 daughters, including 14 year old twins and one 9 year old. I am an Iowan by birth and education but now live in a cool college town in Minnesota. I was a stay-home Mom for about 10 years. Right now, I'm a substitute teacher in our public schools and am working on obtaining a license of my very own. I'm a voracious reader and am keen on liberal politics. I'm a card-carrying feminist who loves her husband, kids, cooking, football, baseball, friends, coffee, blogging, and lounging on my screened porch.
Come on over for a visit!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An Interesting Day

An interesting day. My hubby and I traveled to St. Paul, MN to the Minnesota Department of Education building. Their directions were full of errors, and the workshop registration had typos on it, which I find amusing. I attended a meeting to explain the Licensure Via Portfolio path to gaining my Minnesota Public Schools teaching license. John came along because he's thinking that a career change to Math Instructor might be a good thing. Let me tell you, this portfolio program is no cake walk!! It's a highly detailed process wherein you argue that your life experience and education are equal to the standards for a public classroom teacher. It's only slighty less involved than earning a Master's, but a lot less expensive.

After the two-hour workshop, we headed to downtown St. Paul for a burger at Mickey's diner. This place is an icon. It's not a yuppified "redo" with cutesy kitsch and fake history. This place is the REAL DEAL. Rust is holding up most of the exterior. The interior has not changed since about 1942, nor has it been dusted much. The wait staff are funny and will makes jokes at your expense. Within 10 minutes, we became known as the "ding-a-lings at the end of the counter". We also learned by watching that the garbage can right outside our window was a favorite with local trash divers.
My burger and hash browns were perfect diner food. If I'd had access to this stuff in college could have cured many hangovers. Or maybe I'm the only person who craved greasy diner food when hungover. Luckily it wasn't too often. And perhaps lucky this place is a good distance from the University of Minnesota campus or they'd be packed even fuller on weekend mornings.

From wikipedia - Mickey's Diner is a classic Art Deco diner car restaurant in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was prefabricated in New Jersey, shipped to Saint Paul by rail, and installed downtown just before World War II. It looks much like it did then and is still open 24 hours a day (and according to its employees, non-stop since it started). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 as the only building of its kind in Minnesota.

On the way home, my husband repeatedly drove IN THE PASSING LANE while everyone backed up angrily behind him. He obtusely insists that he is allowed to drive in the left lane although the facts are staring him, or flipping him off, right in the face. Would someone else please phone him up and tell him to just quit it already? I'm getting nowhere.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mom, I Miss You!

This is my Mom Jean Jennison Jenkins. She's been gone since 1999 and not a day goes by that I don't think about her. She was a great mother, and the world's best grandmother. Asthma robbed her of a long life. She was raised in a desperately poor but amazingly happy Iowa farm family during the Great Depression. In their tiny farmhouse she shared a small bed with two sisters. The house had no indoor plumbing, electricity, or heat but kept 7 children sheltered. She was educated for many years in a one-room rural school and graduated high school as valedictorian. Her siblings are all generous, educated, and cheerful and just the best bunch of aunts and uncles I could have asked for.

My Mom was a genius - really! She had an IQ of about 140 and read like a demon. After two years at Iowa Teacher's College (now known as the University of Northern Iowa), she taught 5th grade in Jefferson, Iowa. After meeting Dad in Ames, they launched fast forward into parenting. Dad said they planned on six boys, but instead got one boy and three loud, mouthy girls.

While actively raising us, she also volunteered for nearly EVERYTHING including tracking down and remodeling a house in Burr Oak, Iowa that had been a hotel owned by the Ingalls family - yes the Ingalls of Little House in the Big Woods fame. The short chapter of their lives in Burr Oak was dropped from the book series. The Laura Ingalls museum remains open for business for interested tourists.

Mom loved to be outdoors and housework just bored her stiff. She lived for fishing, hiking, mushroom hunting, gardening, golfing, picnicing, you name it. Our parents were always packing up the '67 Dodge station wagon and taking us to area parks for all-day picnics. They also hauled all four of us, and the dog, up to Lake Kabetogama near International Falls, MN every June for the annual fishing marathon. They drove us to California and a few trips to the Rocky Mtns in that old car without air conditioning and only an AM radio.

Although she hated housework, she and Dad literally put together our house in 1970. They ripped down a barn, and built a four bedroom house in it's place. Together they did a great deal of the physical labor. After moving in, she spent the next nearly 30 years shaping up a yard that started as a stock pen.

My Mom was the perfect optimist. She was always looking on the bright side, and never meant to cause anyone even on ounce of trouble. She delivered Meals on Wheels, ran Girl Scout troops, made krumkake by the thousands for the local Nordic Fest, drove old folks up to Rochester for appointments at the Mayo Clinic.

I miss her spirit, and I miss her influence on my kids. She deserved to watch me suffering the verbal blows of teenage girls!! She was gone too soon.

I love you Mom.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

How do we show our outrage?

I'm just mad as hell and don't know what to do about it. Is anyone else over the top angry that the big oil companies are raking in record profits on our backs? Guess it's not enough that we're in a recession, but now we have to shell out more bucks for gas, and consequently food, so that Exxon, BP, and others can pack their wallets. Where is our government protection? Where is the justice? Where is the corporate control? WHERE IS THE AMERICAN OUTRAGE?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Me in Fifteen Years . . .

"Who's idea was it to have all these stinkin noisy kids? And how come my wine glass is empty?"

Many thanks to my friend Dr. Monkey for turning me on to other people's family photos on Flicker.

Here, you try, make a caption for the photo below. I'm thinking "Husbands?! We Don't Need No Stinkin Husbands!"

Happy Birthday Dear Youngest!

Our youngest turned 9 yesterday! This photo was taken at about 2-years after her older sisters had worked their magic with face paint.

Our tradition on birthdays is to eat out, and for the past 3 years that's always been at Buca de Beppo. We love Buca - the crazy pope statues, the Italian family photos, etc. But what really brings us back is their fried calamari. I'm sure it comes in giant freezer packs and all their kitchen staff do is toss it in the hot oil but we just don't care. We could eat barrels of it.

All week she'd been asking for burgers on the campfire for her birthday. I was all good to go with that plan, even after a very long day at work. Let me tell you, my dogs were barkin! At the last minute she changed her mind and wanted Buca. I almost snapped her in two with my hug. I would have let Dick Cheney cook our food, I was so tired.

So we ate our fill of calamari, and linguine with seafood, and Penne Arabiatta. And finished with another family favorite - the Buca Birthday Cake. It's a giant slice of red velvet cake as big as our toaster oven. It would be hard to choose between the calamari and the cake if forced to pick a winner. All around another great family birthday. The best part? Buca leftovers for supper tonight!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not much to say today

so just enjoy one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite singers Dean Martin. Did you know he was a great family man, and that the drunk creep you saw in movies and on TV was all an act? That voice, ooohhhh that voice.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Someone's life just changed . . . .

Someone within a 20 mile radius of me just won $180.1 million in the Powerball lottery. Sadly, it wasn't me. I'm really hoping it's one of my friends who takes great pity on us and throws 75 or 80 G's our way. Hell, I'd even take 10.

I hope they live in Northfield, and give the city enough money to put up an awesome rec center. Or that they'll build a large indoor park facility for these frigid winter months. How about covering all free/reduced school lunches in perpetuity? A new High School is sorely needed. So are about 20 more ESL teachers. And the Park Board would love to give our citizens all the rec programs they need. Oh, and how about free pool passes for everyone under 18?

My local blogging pals - if you are the winner, well, I'm just sayin.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Time to Make the Donuts

Lately I feel like the donut guy.
I'm still subbing, running my daughter's soccer team, and just started a physically demanding part-time job. This job has me feeling pretty down - can't believe I'll take anything just to earn some cash. No subbing in the summer after all! I had a great meeting this week with the UofM Masters in Ed program. However it's a 15-month, full time program and I can't bow out of the working world that long. I'll just keep searching for a lic/MA course that works with my schedule.

I hate money