Friday, May 29, 2009

Automobile Memories

Best Car Ever in my life: a 1967 Dodge Polara station wagon.

My parents bought this car brand new in 1967. We were living in a pink stucco rental house in "the Flats" of Decorah, Iowa when they upgraded from a Pontiac. That car took our family on several adventures.

Every summer since about 1968, it drove us to International Falls, Minnesota to fish in Lake Kabetogama. Dad had bought a handmade car top carrier consisting of a dark green painted wooden box with suction cups on the bottom and a tarp on the top. Dad would load up the Evinrude outboard motor, the fishing poles, the tackle box, Winnie the dog, and all the groceries and we'd hit the road for a week in the northwoods. Don't worry, the dog went inside the car.

On the way we'd watch for familiar landmarks like the oil refinery in St. Paul, Little Oscar's diner in Cannon Falls, and the Frank Lloyd Wright gas station in Cloquet. That car had no air conditioning so we'd drive the whole way with the windows wide open, a Twins game on the AM radio, and Dad's cigarette dangling out the wing vent. One kid would flip the ashtray lids on the back doors open-shut-open-shut until Dad lost it. Another would fall asleep in the "way-back" but only for 15 minute intervals - Mom was convinced the rusting rear end would let in CO2 and suffocate us. And any combination of two sisters would have a hair-pulling fight over who crossed THE LINE they'd drawn to mark their space. Dad had an uncanny ability to keep that thing screaming along at 75mph while simultaneously smacking kids in the back seat.

With a trailer hitch on the back, it hauled our small boat and motor on summer Sundays to Lansing, Iowa were we'd put in at the landing and motor up the Mississippi until we found a suitable sandbar. There we'd pitch a smelly canvas canopy, unpack the cooler, and play for hours in the current. Mom made us each wear those bulky orange life vests - she couldn't swim and her greatest fear was watching one of us drown. Dad would swim underwater and pitch us straight up in the air. When we hit the water, our bodies would keep going with the momentum of Dad's strong shove, but the life vest would stop our head and neck cold. Riding home on the vinyl seats in the summer heat with sand in the crotch of my swimsuit is a sensation I'm not likely to forget.

The Dodge drove us out to the Rocky Mountains to visit family. It also drove us along Route 66 through Barstow and on to San Diego. It drove to Metropolitan Stadium for Twin's games. It drove to the Apache Mall for school shopping. It hauled dogs, kids, innertubes, bikes, tools, and anything else we could load.

One of our favorites "rides" in the Dodge was THE TICKLE HILLS! There was a series of about 3 large hills on a gravel road just north of town. Us kids would stand up behind the front seat - the kind of front seat that was a substantial Wall of China - and put our hands in the air. Dad would floor it, and fly as fast as he could up those hills. I believe we were actually air born at the top on several occasions. We could chant "No Hands! No Hands! No LEEEAAANNING!" and at the crest of the hill we'd fly backwards on our butts, laughing hysterically. You'd get a visit from the Dept of Child Welfare for that kind of entertainment these days.

Everyone in our small town knew it was THE JENKINS' car. You could see that thing coming for miles. It seemed to be about 15 feet long. The steering wheel was about 2 feet in diameter and it accelerated like crazy. I learned to drive AND parallel park in that beast, and subsequently I can parallel park ANY vehicle. My Dad forced me out on to the gravel roads and made me drive 50mph so I wouldn't be afraid of them.

Towards the end of it's life, it was showing the wear and tear. There was a giant rust hole in the tailgate. My brother probably helped that along when he and his friends backed it up to the gravel pit, opened the tailgate, and used it for a diving board. It DID have a lot of spring! I finally killed it in 1980 when I wanted to learn to do doughnuts. So a friend and I drove to another quarry and spun for all it was worth, until a loud sickening CLUNK from underneath ended our fun. I had broken the drive shaft.

Dad was mad enough to spit nails. He had planned to drive it to the junkyard that summer and get $50 for it. But now we had to pay $100 to have it towed.

When I get to heaven, one thing I'll ask to do is ride in the Dodge's backseat with my Dad at the wheel, my Mom in the passenger seat, my dog Winnie and my siblings by my side, and a Whippy Dip ice cream cone in my hand. But please, no sand in my crotch.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Northwoods Lake

Had a fab-u-lous weekend with The Wonderful MG at his new cabin in the northwoods of Wisconsin. He and his Lovely Partner purchased a serious slice of heaven on the edge of the clearest lake around. Like MG says, it's basically a bowl of sand filled with perfect water. We spent the weekend doing exactly as we had been instructed to do by our hosts: we played in water, ate, played some more, ate, lay around, ate, and slept in. I STILL can't find my USB cable to upload my photos, so I was forced to steal MG's from his facebook page!

Here is my youngest and Lovely Partner on the pontoon. Youngest was never far from the fishing pole - she's a native Minnesotan after all. Only a few nibbles but folks around us were catching nice large mouth bass.

Here is yours truly and hubby. I look more and more like my father with each passing year. Pretty soon I'll be sucking on my front teeth and eating 2 packages of graham crackers dunked in milk at bedtime. But I doubt I'll start smoking Swisher Sweets.

The twins, doing what they do best.

I started a google image search for "old pontoon" and this came up. Funny.
But MG's is much nicer.

The next "old pontoon" image to come up was from his blog!!!!

A HUGE thank you to MG and Lovely Partner for sharing paradise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ear Worm attacks

I have THIS in my head today. Now you will too - and you're very welcome.
Had a fabulous weekend at MG's cabin. When I find my USB cable I'll upload photos and give a full report.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who Knew?

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- The California Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a ban on same-sex marriage that state voters passed in November, but it allowed about 18,000 marriages performed before the ban to remain valid.

Who knew IOWA would be more progressive than California? Shame on you, CA Supreme Court. Shame on you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Hope you all have a relaxing Memorial Day!

I would like to say a word about our men and women serving, past and present, in the Armed Forces. Each and every day, I am grateful that many Americans are willing to give up their civilian life and enter a world of extreme service. A world where they might be asked to die for my protection. To those folks, I say a heartfelt and enduring thank you! Memorial Day belongs to you, and this grateful nation will not forget your sacrifice.

To those who would take those brave Americans and throw their lives & limbs down a sewer for monetary gains, for unlimited corporate contracts, for control of natural resources, well, Memorial Day is NOT for you. For you I have nothing but contempt and anger. On Memorial Day you should visit the maimed and damaged in a Vet's home, visit the widowed and orphaned, visit the bombed-out families of Iraq and Afghanistan, then go take a long hard look in the mirror and into your soul. You should be ashamed.

Our family will be relaxing on a Wisconsin lake with the wonderful MG. See you next week.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How much dirt can you men stand anyway?

It's all my fault really.

When I went back to work, I informed the family that I can't possibly do all the housework AND have an outside job. The kids are supposed to empty the dishwasher and do one load of laundry each day. What that translates to is Mom gets to nag, nag, nag, and nag some more about the full dishwasher and the piles of dirty laundry. Then the kids get to accuse Mom of being a psycho. Then Mom gets to say "if it's not done in one hour you are GROUNDED!". Then the kids call Dad on the phone to complain that Mom is in a grumpy MOOD again, and when is he coming home? And in the meantime, Mom gets to fume in the kitchen preparing supper while working around the dirty dishes.

But this one I stepped into with both feet. We agreed that hubby would be in charge of our bathroom. Big mistake.

Like Dave Barry says, "women can see individual molecules of dirt but men can't see it until there is enough to sustain commercial agriculture". So sadly true. Why can't you men see the piles of your back hair on the floor? It actually drifts in the wind when I open the door. And why is YOUR side of the mirror coated with hard water droplet stains? Do you rinse your face with a garden hose?

And that orange stuff in the tile grout? Yeah, that would be MILDEW! You are supposed to spray it with the toxic chemicals I have left on the side of the tub for that very purpose. And the toilet bowl should be cleaned BEFORE the dirt line becomes a permanent stain. Especially when the hard water in our area is so full of iron and calcium it could eat through porcelain.

Now, my husband is a great guy. He can build a house from the ground up with his bare hands. He can rock babies to sleep. He can manage all the bills. He can lift heavy objects. But this one chore is just out of his league. I'm afraid I'll have to take it back and give him another.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another crack at the radio

I had another chance on the radio today!!! I'm hooked - why didn't I find this in college instead of going into Social Work of all things. My blogging pal Sheletta Brundidge, above, got me another spot on The Kevyn Burger Show on 107.1 FM here in the Twin Cities. You can listen to the show at the site. Sheletta is about 115% cuter in person if you can imagine that, and she's so funny she makes my eyes water sometimes.

Above is Kevyn - a totally interesting woman who has been in the broadcast industry for many years, and also a fellow breast cancer survivor. She just had me pop up in the chair, put on the headphones, and away we went! Today we were laughing about 1. people assuming you are your kids' grandmother and 2. people asking when you're due when you aren't pregnant.

I'm such a small town Iowa girl. I'm the the lobby of KSTP studios - a local ABC affiliate - and you'd think I was in Oprah's green room. I'm trying to play it cool but I'm just waiting for some celebrity to walk by so I can tell my friends all about it. "Vineeta Sawkar walked by me and said HI! and I said HI!". Such a dork. I probably would have spit while I said something and they'd have to call security to get the drooling idiot out of the lobby.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Anniversary

Today is my 6 year breast cancer anniversary. I told you my story last year in this post. Six years ago I had that nasty stuff cut out, and I've been cancer free ever since. It's a good day.

It's also a HOT day - temps are hotter than the hammered down hinges of Hell. Well over 95! I covered my garden against FROST Saturday night, and today it's 95. The weather here just plays with our minds.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A little something fun for a Monday


It started here. And now it's here! Like the swine flu it spread through the interwebs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Protecting them or Stunting them?

What do you think about the Mom who let her 9-year-old son ride the NYC subway alone? At first glance, it sounds unthinkable. But I've read three different articles about it, including one by the mom, and I must say I'm torn. Are we overly concerned with safety? Are we robbing our kids of what should be normal experiences due to trumped up fear created by our media?

Perhaps we Americans are so freaking scared of the random that we surround our kids with bizarre safety devices thinking that will keep the evil at bay. And we all know those crazy parents who won't let their kids touch dirt without a complete hose-down with bleach, and we shake our heads.

We shouldn't be idiots - I'm not advocating sending Junior over to Hannibel Lector's daycare center or letting Suzie snack from the change jar. But have we truly gone too far?

During my days in Social Work, I had many clients with horrendous brain injury - from motorcycles and one from a tragic game of teenage touch football that left him a quadriplegic. And don't all us parents go weak in the knees when we hear of another child abduction? Don't we all project the faces of our beloveds on the news of the child killed in a farming accident, a tornado, a drowning.

One of our local grocery stores has boxes of hand sanitizer right up at the check-out. Our schools have asked that ANY child with "flu-like symptoms" stay home for a full seven days, even if they are better. Our kids aren't allowed to play on snow hills surrounding the playground because 20 years ago a child died of a head injury there. Our school nurse must crush up cough drops so kids won't choke. People will have a loaded gun in the house, which is HIGHLY LIKELY to hurt someone in the family, in defense against the spectre of an intruder that is statistically never going to show up.

Yet . . . we still haul them around in buses with no seat belts. We still feed them toxic lunch food.

But where does common sense stop and hysteria begin? I have no answers. I'm just as hysterical as the next parent, really.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Interesting, that's a certainty

(CNN) -- The nation's financial and economic crisis provided a stress test for the nation's public and private retirement system.

The 2009 Social Security Trustees report released Tuesday provides a basis for assessing how each held up. On the one hand, assets in 401(k) accounts -- which are predominantly in stocks -- have declined in value by about a third, employers are suspending matching contributions, and millions of unemployed workers have seen their retirement savings efforts disrupted.

On the other hand, the Social Security Administration continues to send out monthly checks to 35 million retirees and their spouses, 9 million disabled workers and their families, and 6 million families whose breadwinner has died. In other words, the government system has proved to be much less fragile than the private system of retirement savings.

Social Security did not escape totally unscathed, however. As firms laid off workers, payrolls and payroll tax revenues declined below levels that had been assumed in the previous report. This decline in revenues, together with some changes in assumptions about how long people will live, has accelerated the date when the trust fund is projected to be exhausted and has increased the deficit the system faces over the next 75 years.

We should all cut this out, put it in our pockets, and pull it out the next time anyone talks about privatizing Social Security!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

People Stump Me

I've been walking this Earth for 47 years now, and people & the things they do continue to baffle me.

I like to think I operate from a position of honesty and ethics. I also like to think I have garnered at least some wisdom and insight during this life. But I still get gut-punched and sideswiped by others. There are folks and institutions that throw all common sense out the window and function from a short-sighted position.

I still get cracked in the head and suffer the injury, when I never saw the bus coming. Rules are followed and good choices can be made, and I still suffer the kick in the kiester anyway. You can do your flat-out best, and still get yourself a new one torn. I can be as flexible and giving as possible, and there will always be that one person who can't stand my presence and the fact that I stand there breathing is enough to set them off. I can be gracious, honest, and forthright and still get screwed over by a human-owned company.

You humans, you're a piece of work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gas Prices Up?

So gas prices are going up again? Just in time for Memorial Day and the summer vacation season. Who is surprised?


Really, anyone?

What are they going to blame it on this time? John and Kate Plus 8 and their extramarital affairs? Maybe it's the AIG bailout. No, no, it's the price of corn. No, wait, it's Miss California's hatred of gay marriage. No, it's the gays themselves! Maybe it's Elizabeth Edwards' new book. Probably it's Bill Clinton. At the very least they can blame the Socialist/Democrat Black Dude in the White House.

Because, after all, we all know it's not plain old GREED.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Post Mother's Day Post

I've read a couple of posts lately about mothers feeling a sense of failure. I don't see failing mothers in them: I see very real human beings trying to deal with one of life's toughest jobs. Anyone who has been a parent, are even spent any significant time around babies, toddlers, kids, or teens will know what I'm talking about.

Here are the ways I "fail"

1. Holing up in the bathroom a little longer than necessary, just for the personal space and quiet.

2. Often giving them frozen pizza or milk toast instead of a "real" supper.

3. Throwing away some of those activity opportunities the school sends home before they even see them because I just don't want to pay for, volunteer for, nor arrange another activity.

4. Napping right on the couch, in full view of my offspring, and snoring to boot.

5. Spring of 1998 my twins were feverish but otherwise OK. After 4 days of this, plus a strange rash, I finally took them to the Dr. only to find they had Scarlet Fever.

6. About 6 years ago Twin #1 stepped on a small rock in the driveway. She complained for a week and I told her to suck it up. I finally took her in to find she had broken her foot. A small break, but spent the next 2 weeks in an immoblizer.

7. Actually talking to their teenage friends, and asking how they are doing. The NERVE!

8. When they were little, I often considered a good swim in the chlorinated city pool just as good as a bath. Or at the end of a long summer night, I would just wash their dirty face and feet and send them to bed.

9. Telling them I'm working on the computer when I'm really blogging or reading facebook.

10. Letting my youngest watch some slightly unsavory shows because I'm too tired and lazy to fight her.

11. Using the TV as a baby sitter.

12. Once on a long car ride, I gave the twins Benadryl for the sole purpose of making them drowsy.

13. When they are complaining about why I let their sister get away with (fill-in-the-blank) I often retort with "well, that's because I love her more."

14. I don't do crafts. I don't scrapbook. I don't allow glitter in my house. Art yes. Lots of art. And homemade play doh by the bucket. But no crafts.

15. As little ones, I let them wear the most god-awful outfits you could imagine. I prefer to choose my battles.

16. When they were little I would sometimes tell them the park, the library, etc was "closed" so we wouldn't have to go.

17. My own mother "failed" too - she used to tell us tornadoes never come after 9 p.m. so we would shut up and go to bed.

18. I make them do chores.

19. I make them do things they are perfectly capable of doing themselves.

20. If they don't listen to me and forget to bring some essential piece of equipment to the ball game, school, or what-have-you I make them suffer without it.

21. I refuse to play pack mule. If they insisted on bringing it, they can carry it.

22. I love them enough to say NO, often, and mean it.

Yep, I'm a failure as a mother.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day and No One Won my Contest

Happy Mother's Day to all! My husband and kids made scrambled eggs with the works, and it was delicious.

No one won the contest below!! Believe it or not, I am the guilty party in #2 and #7. The rest break down like this.

#1. My sister
#3. My husband, while dining in Coralville, IA
#4. My good friend's son
#5. My father. His Dad was a professional plumber and my Dad learned quite a bit on the job from him. While watching my Dad attempt to clear the blocked sewer line, I said "Dad, why don't you just call a professional?". His angry reply was "I AM A PROFESSIONAL!!" just before all Hell, and sewage, broke loose coating his workshop with slimy black gunk. It's become a well-worn phrase in our family.
#6. My Dad's good friend Bob, much to the delight of his onlooking kids.
#7. Yes, it was MY HUSBAND who did this!!!!
#9. My Mom, with me in the back seat with my feet up in the hatch, bandaged, after bunion surgery in 1986. She just wouldn't listen to her smart mouth kid in the back seat.
#10. My brother. I'm sure he's never forgotten it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sometimes we all go soft in the head

We've all been there. That moment when you realize you need competent adult supervision. I have personally witnessed or known the folks involved in the following. And TWO of them I have done personally. I will send a small prize to whoever guesses the correct two. My sisters are disqualified, as is MG if he calls my sisters and gets the answer.

Lemme hear yours!!!!!

1. Found a dead bird in their screened porch and stated that they needed to fix the hole so more dead birds wouldn't get in.

2. Stated at a tailgater that the tent should be moved into the sun to provide more warmth under the tent.

3. While leaving a restaurant, had a good laugh with their spouse about idiots that drive off with stuff on their car roof, then immediately left the parking lot with all the leftovers on the roof.

4. Received a traffic ticket for driving their motor scooter erratically and without a helmet. They were driving erratically because they were trying to balance their helmet on their lap.

5. Put a garden hose down the sewer line because it was clogged, and caused the clogged sewer line to back up and coat the room with, well, sewage.

6. Had an extremely clogged goose neck under the kitchen sink. So laid out plenty of newspaper, told the kids to stand back, carefully removed the goose neck, slowly stood up, and dumped the goose neck down the kitchen sink drain.

7. Was fascinated by the car's shattered windshield following an accident, so ran their fingers down the shattered glass.

8. Told his kids his wife has crabs because he thought it was the same thing as chiggers.

9. Drove straight into a setting sun insisting they were driving East.

10. Spit chewing tobacco juice continually into a beer can, then mistakenly took a big swig thinking it was their actual beer.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Little One is Ten

My youngest turned 10 today. No longer, and never again, will I have kids in the single digits. All I can think of today is this song. Truly, your kids just turn from babies to kids to grownups in the wink of an eye. It flies too fast. I want one more day where they wear onesies and I rock them to sleep. One more day of picture books. One more day of baby wash scented toddlers in footie pj's. One more day of tiny little swimsuits and a wading pool.

This rendition ends as a cheesy Kodak commercial, sorry about that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fun Discovery

Twin #2 and I were driving home from the Twin Cities when we decided to finally stop and check out Hot Sam's Antiques in Lakeville, MN. We've been passing this place for 12 years and have been fascinated by the items he parks along the ridge above the interstate. Over the years he's displayed a submarine, an old gasoline truck, a steel 12' shark, and steel cow and calf, etc.

It was worth the time to stop! This place is about 4 acres filled with the most breathtaking assortment of junk, displayed in fascinating arrangements. We'll be back another day to wonder the property which includes:
A log cabin filled, and I mean FILLED with everything you could possibly imagine.
A giant fire pit surrounded by office chairs.
A VW camper bus graffitied with 70's weed jargon and art.
A man made pond with antique decoys permanently afloat

More photos here
An even better description here

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's hard to wait

I've been wringing every last shred of patience and wisdom from my body. I'm down to a cellular level now, and supplies are running thin. I was such a trooper when my folks died, then when I had breast cancer, but I'm really running low on trooper juice. Maybe if I search the net I can find a supplier.

My intuition and experience tell me to wait, be patient, "change the things I can; accept the things I cannot change: and hope I have the wisdom to know the difference". One of my favorite books The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran speaks of watching the seasons of our life and being content with grief and sadness, much like we would accept the snow on our fields.

Well, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah today I just plain feel angry, tired, and discouraged. Life right now is NOT how we planned it. I would just go to bed, but I know that I'll wake up at some ungodly hour in a state of panic, drenched in sweat, and fighting those horrid demons that interrupt rest with needless worry and overactive brain stimuli. But that's why the sun rises each morning, isn't it? To bring yet another day filled with chance, risk, opportunity, and miracles. Ok, I'll take the risk.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sweet Weekend

Another sweet weekend in the Land of Sky Blue Waters. Had Pink Cupcake's 10-year birthday party and for a party-on-the-cheap we had a blast. Took 6 squirrel-y 10 year olds to Hyland Lake Park in Bloomington, MN. This place is ENORMOUS and has the world's biggest play structure I swear. Big enough to keep all six of them climbing and running for four straight hours.

Then off to the picnic area where we found a deck of tables overlooking Hyland Lake. After grilling hot dogs and singing Happy Birthday, they played in and around the lake for another two hours. Not quite warm enough here to actually get IN but that didn't stop them from poking everything with sticks and wading around in the sandy waters.

Yesterday we worked a bit more on the garden, laying down mulched paths between the raised beds and marking out the rabbit fence. Took two girls to Target and Twin #1 got some much-needed spring clothes while Pink Cupcake spent two of her birthday Target gift cards. Here's a hint - kids LOVE gift cards! Then she and I went to DQ where she bought us both a treat with her DQ gift card from the amazing MG.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bragging Rights Strike Again!

My twin #1, the one who just wowed us in the Rock-n-Roll Revival, has gotten the lead in the Northfield Arts Guild production of Bye-Bye Birdie!! Her star is rising!
She's only 15, and she beat out much older girls for the role. I'm so proud I could burst.

Venue: Northfield Arts Guild Theater
Prices: Adults $14, Students $11; Family Discount Available, call 507-645-8877
Dates: July 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18 – 7:30 pm
July 12, 19 - 2:00 pm