Monday, November 30, 2009

Best Gifts of Childhood #1

We watched old family slides this weekend from the 1950's - 1970's. Brought back some wonderful memories, and the Christmas shots reminded me of some of my favorite childhood toys.

My parents never had a lot of money. They rented until their 40's! But they gave us a pretty wonderful childhood full of music, laughing, picnics, outdoors, fishing, cousins, and good food. God Rest Their Souls I hope there is a heaven because they deserved a break!!!

And they always gave us a good Christmas. We always got great stuff - not big piles like our wealthier friends but just enough to make merry. They kept it all hidden and devised crafty ways to get it under the tree. One year they hid my brother's sled under his bed because they knew he NEVER looked under there.

Pictured above is my first installment, in no particular order. It's a beauty salon set for a Penny Bright doll. I never cared so much about the doll, but those pieces were just fascinating to me and gave me YEARS of play. Usually they made it into various homemade Barbie houses.

Copies of the family slides are coming, and I have actual shots of me playing with this. I hope to add them soon.

What are some of YOUR favorite Christmas gift memories?? Let me know in the comments or blog.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tis the Season

Ok, NOW you can light the Holiday lights!

How was your turkey? Ours was fried and crispy, and I ate enough spinach balls to rival Popeye. Seriously, could I possibly eat any more and get any fatter? I wore Spanx on T-day and was so ungodly uncomfortable. First chance I got I whipped that thing off and IT swore.

I've taken to wearing far too many elastic waistbands and pretending I just don't WANT to wear my jeans, when in reality I don't want to get out the pliers, the Crisco, and the vacuum to get into them. I believe a bit more walking is in order. And all that holiday food on the way!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eat Your Turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Early tomorrow we're leaving for Iowa for a family gathering and won't be back for a few days. My extended family is loud, funny, and boisterous and the food NEVER disappoints!
My brother is deep frying the turkey after first coating it with an amazing spice rub that caramelizes and becomes more like a crust.
Sister #2 has made the fresh cranberry sauce with fresh AND crystallized ginger and curry.
SIL is bringing her wonderful pies.
Today I'm cooking up a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, honey roasted sweet potatoes with whiskey butter sauce, dips, and pan of bars.
Multiple other relatives will be bringing their specialties - hoping cousin Sarah brings the scalloped oysters!!
The coffee pot won't stop for hours into the afternoon. And the cards for poker and 500 will be flying. I'm sure there will be a nice long walk in the brisk Iowa country air at some point. Makes us ready for more coffee and pie when we return.

Sending my best wishes to all of you for a wonderful holiday
and a great meal with loved ones.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Observations

1. The louder some guy yells that homosexuality is a sin, the more likely he is to order-up gay prostitutes by the boat load.

2. SE Minnesota and NE Iowa have some of the most amazing midwestern vistas.

3. I saw 6 bald eagles sitting in a plowed cornfield today.

4. I don't feel horridly overweight, but photographs tell another story. I'm having a very difficult time accepting that I'm not a cute little 20-year-old anymore.

5. Michelle Bachman is in serious need of medication and therapy.

6. Read a great article on CNN today about Sarah Palin touring only smaller, predominately white cities. Draw your own conclusion.

7. I'm all for a single payer universal healthcare system in America, and I don't care if it's considered by some cretins to be Socialist. And by the way, my previous home - Iowa City - had a card-carrying Socialist on the City Council and she was a pillar of fiscal responsibility. Even the conservatives in town acknowledged that.

8. My extended family can COOK, I'm telling you!!

9. This is what I hope for Oprah's retirement - that she instead spends her time driving around the US and giving out wads of cash, and that she starts this tour at my house.

10. OK, I'll get on the bandwagon - Americans don't need toilet paper made from old growth forests. Now if only the eco-friendly stuff weren't $5 a roll.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sure I'm an athlete

My friend Vicki and I were discussing our lack of athletic ability the other day. We agreed it wasn't actually our LACK of ability as it was the lack of proper venues for athletes like ourselves. Here are sports where I could really make a name for myself:

Unextreme Hiking - I'm a great hiker. But only if I don't have to carry a pack, and there are plenty of benches along the route. And bathrooms. And not too many hills.

Badminton - but don't expect me to make any heroic dives

Softball - but only if I can bat. I'm a slammin' hitter. But please no base running or fielding.

Parading - I'd be wonderful in a parade, walking along waving and soaking in all the attention.

Ping-Pong - see Badminton

Power Napping - seriously don't even THINK about competing with me on this one.

Beach Biking - I like to bike on a nice flat beach. Gearing up or down is just exhausting.

Winter Walking - this covers two areas. Actually walking in the winter time, in proper attire, especially when it ends at a warm coffee shop. And walking around downtown at Northfield's Winter Walk - see last year's post.

Fishing - hey, I live in Minnesota!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Did I ever mention that my husband looks a lot like Tony Soprano? He doesn't look so much like actor James Gandolfini, but just like his character T.
Good thing he doesn't act like him. I have enough trouble without the Feds hanging around and putting bugs in my lamps or annoying guys in track suits lounging on my furniture.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A feel-good chore

Cupcake and I, and her elementary school student council buddies, spend most of Friday afternoon packaging meals for Feed My Starving Children. It's a Christian organization but they explicitly state they are only about feeding the hungry - not mission work. Although feeding hungry kids is modeling your values and spirituality.

These images are from the website.

Cupcake and I decided we'd do this every year. FMSC is frequently brought to town through 5th Bridge, a local organization that's all about volunteering.

It's an amazing experience. Together with your team, you are placed at a well organized packing station. There you pack meals made with soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, a vegetarian chicken-flavor broth powder, and rice. Through a highly organized and streamlined system, you stand for a few hours and pack literally thousands of these meal pouches. FMSC brings in all the equipment and food. The host organization must provide 500+ volunteers and pay for all the food.

The best part is kids can be a huge help - they just loved dumping the ingredients down the funnel, weighing the packages, and sealing them up. We were all cheering every time we filled a box - as were all the other groups there: local college students, church groups, folks from local businesses, you name it.

A great afternoon, and time well spent.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remembering Ted's Tobacco

While in my hometown last weekend, I remembered one of the best places of my childhood:

Ted's Tobacco Store.

It was on a corner of our downtown, housed in an architecturally significant building, complete with a rounded, pointed tower prominently filling the corner. The front entrance was a lopsided green screened door in the summer, and a heavy wooden thing in the winter that sounded the bell inside. Evidently Ted's had once been a bank, and the venerable dark wood trimmings and vault were still visible.

Ted's was another block down on the right,
but it was similar to the turreted building on the right you see here.

Ted's had an amazing aroma: a mixture of chocolate, peppermint, and cigars. The most important feature was the soda fountain, where we'd sit on old fashioned bar stools and order cherry cokes, vanilla cokes, or chocolate ice cream sodas. Ever had one? I haven't had a great chocolate ice cream soda in years, and they are hard to describe to my kids.

Ted's also had the most amazing glass-cased array of penny candy. We kids would stand there for hours making the exact right choice for our dime. I'm sure the staff hated to see us coming. This Norman Rockwell print captures the memory almost exactly.

Ted's also carried all the comic books - Archie was my favorite - and I think they carried the girlie mags but I never noticed. And of course they sold tobacco - pipes, cigars, papers, bags, etc. I'm a rabid non-smoker but I do love the smell of bagged tobacco. And pipe smoke.

Above Ted's was an apartment occupied by my friend Kristy's Grandmother. I thought it was utterly exotic to live above a downtown store, and my book-fevered childhood brain felt that must be what it was like to live in New York City. When visiting, she'd make us finger sandwiches with the CRUSTS CUT OFF!! I thought I had died and gone to heaven, or Manhattan. My mother would never consider cutting the crusts off my sandwiches.

Sadly, no photos exist that I could find of Ted's Tobacco Store. It's now a gift shop and has none of the old feel. Sigh. . . . . I must be getting old.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Comments now moderated

Anonymous drove me to it.
I now have comment moderation turned on.
Go back and read what "anonymous" added on the "strongly worded email" post and you'll see why.
I'm open to constructive comments on this issue, but I'm not open to vicious ignorant ranting. Especially from someone who won't use their name. Anonymous thinks they know the whole story, when in fact they know so little it's painful. And to quote our friend Dr. Monkey, your free speech rights apply to YOUR blog, not to your comments on mine.

Do you folks think I should change the status and allow only registered users to comment?

Update: I've changed to registered users only. I don't even want that uninformed ignorant venom showing up in my email box.


The locks are changed and Edina now has the listing - BASTARDS!!
Homeq and Edina have picked the wrong woman to mess with.

So far I have called a reporter at the Mpls Star Tribune. I also have calls in to Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar. After the Veteran's Day holiday I plan to call the State Commerce Department and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's office. I'm also going to call our local paper too. I have nothing to hide and am quite proud of the way my husband and I have handled this nightmare.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lest you think ALL my life is Hell

This whole job loss-mortgage-short sale thing has been a truly big bummer, that's for sure. But before you begin to think I've lost all perspective, let me tell you about some good things:

1. Twin #1 is doing an exceptional job as Chava in the High School's production of Fiddler on the Roof, AND got a 4.0 this quarter.
2. Twin #2 lettered in varsity soccer, as a 10th grader, while maintaining a 3.8.
3. This little rental we live in is mighty convenient.
4. My husband Johnny C. is flat-out the hardest working man I've ever met, and he's mighty handy too. Add handsome to that list as well.
5. I like my job
6. I have the best real-life and internet friends and I'm mighty grateful for each and every one of them.
7. Cupcake made the 5th grade student council.
8. Thanksgiving with my extended family is coming up which means plenty of fabulous food, laughter, hugs, and love.
9. I finally made a decent pot roast with gravy.
10. We're safe and warm

Just the facts ma'am.

Here are the facts on this Edina Realty mess.
And by the way, Homeq - the mortgage holder - is equally nasty. But they are a giant corporation who couldn't care less about some family in Northfield, MN.
Edina Realty is a local office.
1281 Bollenbacher Drive
Northfield, MN 55057
Main: (507) 645-4491
Toll Free: (800) 646-4491
Fax: (507) 645-5109

1. If the house goes into foreclosure, Edina Realty gets the listing (although I'm going to strongly encourage Homeq to reconsider that).

2. Following a devastating job loss, we tried to sell our house for a great deal more during the summer of 2008. We had two showings in 4 months.

3. During that same time, we begged our mortgage co. to lower our principal and accept $1000 per month. They laughed at us. After lies, unanswered calls, and other insults.

4. This summer, we listed again hoping for a short sale. The listed price was right in line with area comps and about $40G's LESS than we offered the mortgage co.

4. A flurry of offers were made. We saw the highest 4 of them and sent the absolute highest on to our mortgage co.

5. Short sales need the independent appraisal, the area comps and the Broker Price Opinion (BPO) to be relatively similar.

6. Homeq made the slimy decision to use Edina Realty for the BPO. Can you say "conflict of interest"? Also, Edina sees no conflict either, and agrees to do the BPO. And by the way, no real estate office does a BPO for free.

7. Edina's BPO says the house is worth $30 - $40G's more. Big surprise. Short sale ended.

8. Homeq agrees to another independent appraisal. This appraiser agrees with the first appraiser, the comps, and the offer. But it's a moot point now. Buyer has backed off.

9. Now Edina tells us they had customers who wanted to offer more but "couldn't". WTF? And as of this date, these "offers" still have not been presented.

10. Everything in limbo although Edina has changed the locks already.

You draw your own conclusions.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My strongly worded email

Hello Homeq,

I understand a local real estate agency was able to squash our short sale.

Another appraisal opinion was offered, and Homeq saw reason and agreed the short sale price offered was a good deal, But because of the wrench thrown in by Edina Realty and their asinine BPO, the buyer has backed out. Our agents are scramblinig to find another buyer, but your agency (Edina) has informed us that it's all over tomorrow.

We have experienced a horrendous job and income loss after many years of faithful mortgage payments. Immediately we contacted Homeq, but have gotten nothing but vague and ridiculous answers, indifference, lies, and the age-old run-around.

I am asking that Homeq do at least one decent thing in this nightmare: just sell as quickly as possible and call it a short sale - thereby keeping a full foreclosure away from our credit rating.

It's the absolute very least you can do, which would be the most you've done so far.

You can be fully assured I will be contacting newspapers, congress reps, senators, and anyone else who will listen to this tale of cruel corporate policy.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's done

Anne Laue at Edina Realty of Northfield, MN has had her way.
That's Edina Realty
1281 Bollenbacher Drive
Northfield, MN 55057
Main: (507) 645-4491
Toll Free: (800) 646-4491
Fax: (507) 645-5109

She effectively stopped the short sale of our home, and it will go into foreclosure. Their office will then sell it for far less than the short sale offer, and even FURTHER away from the offer we made the mortgage company last year.

But hey, they'll keep the whole commission, which is what it's all about right? Who I am, a poor working stiff trying to salvage a tiny slice of a credit rating when a few thousand dollars of commission for a large real estate company is at stake?? How are our million-dollar companies supposed to survive when greedy little families like mine irresponsibly find themselves laid-off?? Since we made the bone-headed decision to be good homeowners and taxpayers, why should we expect any mercy when someone needs a commission?? Or needs a giant loss that their tax guys can use as a write-0ff? I don't have any lobbyists working for me, so what did I expect anyway? Reason? Fairness?

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

UPDATE: I wrote a "strongly worded" email to our mortgage company late today - they emailed our real estate agent and told them to "keep finding buyers and don't listen to Edina Realty". I have officially fallen down the rabbit hole.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Random thoughts for a rainy November day

1. I hear there's another Sarah Palin book coming out. Fits the American pattern. Take something that's mediocore at best and just keep producing it. Like Kraft dinners.

2. I'm homesick. I miss my house and I want to go home. Grief is a process - a process that really sucks.

3. How do vegetarians resist the juicy salty rich smell of cooking meat?

4. The amount of people who love me confounds me greatly - I'm not that neat.

5. It's our 19th anniversary today! We celebrated by having the cable guy show up and fix the TV.

6. Twin #1 is in a musical this weekend and I haven't purchase tickets yet. BAD MOM!

7. I need my physical surroundings in order - the chaos here is not good for me.

8. I wonder if the Universe wanted me in a tiny kitchen so I'd learn to slow down and not make such a freaking mess.

9. Cupcake is on the mend! So far H1N1 has been doable.

10. I really like my job - I'm very lucky!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

We're In!

Our move went quite well.

First we were totally blown away and humbled by the help and support on Saturday.

Here's a run down.

1. The following people showed up to lift, tote, and schlep almost all day and deserve a huge shout-out: Ken #1, Ken #2, Kathy, Kody, Dale, Tom and his truck, Amy #1 and her truck who amazed me with her physical strength, teen friends Mark, Easton, and Joseph.

2. The following brought things: Amy #2 brought pop, cookies and a housewarming gift. Phil and LuAnn brought hot cookies, Jane also brought hot cookies, Lucy helped unpack and brought a giant carafe of coffee from the local coffeehouse. Jeanne brought a bag of crackers, cheese, and sausage then ran home because her youngest has H1N1.

3. And even THIS:
Kathy not only schleped all day, but made a warm lunch for all involved. It was a sunny but chilly day.
Cousin-but-more-like-a-sister Sarah brought her trailer and pick up, and hauled box after box and plenty of heavy furniture. Then helped us settle in that night.
Vicki brought a pot of chili, cornbread, salad, and ice cream bars on Sunday.
Laura spent most of Friday afternoon helping me pack, and cleaning out the frig.
Deana came over despite a nasty case of Lymes Disease to offer moral support. For Deana this is huge - just driving across town wipes her out.
Sister Shirley and her daughter came up Sunday to help unpack. They brought a great lunch with them and bought us some curtains to cover the laundry closet.

Our cupcake stayed at a friend's house Saturday after trick-or-treating but came home sick the next morning. I'm pretty sure it's H1N1 - her school is full of it. Poor thing has a huge headache and a fever, but Ibuprofen keeps it in check.

But otherwise, a very successful move. Now bring on the good luck!!!