Friday, July 31, 2009

Hey Jane Jetson, where is Aunt Bea?

Is it asking too much to have modern technology with old fashion ease of service?

I am having a frustrating morning here in Knittyville. My eyelid is twitching, my bug bites are itching and some would say that I am about to start bitching. That isn't true though, I am merely expressing my concerns in a ladylike manner.

Our phone stopped working yesterday which led to a very nice repairman being at the house this morning. Sparing you the details, the phone is working this morning and he couldn't trace the problem, but it might be related to U-Verse. We didn't bundle our phone through U-Verse specifically because we wanted the phone separate. I am waiting for a U-Verse repair person now. And twitching.

I am not bashing U-Verse and AT&T, especially if they can isolate the problem and correct it. I just wish that I was sitting here waiting for another repair person because AT&T phone is different from AT&T U-Verse and person A isn't trained to handle B's service.

If you are old enough, you might remember calling "Ma Bell" and actually knowing the operator who took your repair call. "Hiya Jane, how are the kids? I'm at my neighbors calling to report my phone is out. Can you schedule Sam to come out and check my line?"

Calling for service on anything today, Jane is likely to be either a computer interpreting your spoken selection from their menu or someone far, far away where clipped English is her second language. I imagine it is as frustrating for Judy in Bangladesh to understand our accents and idioms as it is for us to figure out what she just said. If we're calling for service, we're already agitated that our gizmo isn't working and that Gizmo, Inc. no longer has branch offices in our state.

I want the conveniences that Jane Jetson showed us on those cartoons I grew up watching with the friendliness and service we saw in Mayberry (the Andy Griffith Show).

Now really, that isn't so much, is it? I am not an unreasonable person. When everything is working properly. And my eyelid isn't twitching. And it isn't too humid. Or too cold. And there are no black flies hovering around me.

While I twitch, itch and bitch express my concerns, perhaps you would like to ponder another question from Chat Pack:

Through the use of a time machine, you are traveling back to the year 1850. You may take with you one, and only one, product or invention from the modern era. What would you take with you to impress and awe our forebears?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chat Pack

I recently bought something called Chat Pack, a collection of 156 cards with one question on each card that is intended to be a conversation starter. I took this to the girlfriend getaway in Ohio and have been having fun with the questions ever since.
Sample questions:
  • What is the best piece of advice you have ever received in your life?
  • If any one of the national holidays had to be celebrated twice a year, six months apart, which one would you want it to be?
  • If you won a contest in which your prize was to select any three guests to appear on a popular late-night talk show, which three people would you choose?
I paid more for this in a gift shop than I would have paid if I had ordered it from Amazon or Barnes & Nobles online. You might enjoy having this in your own home or to give as a gift. The age range on the back reads 6 to 106. While some questions might not mean much to a young child, there is nothing suggestive or inappropriate for anyone.

Bill and I have occasionally gone through a few of these after dinner, and some of our answers have surprised each other, even after knowing one another for 37 years!

I am going to pose one of these questions (and sometimes one of my own) on each of my posts for a while and see if they generate any interest. For today, let's go with

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received in your life?

I'll be back later with my answer which will appear in the comments section.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Black fly VS Knitty. First round goes to fly

Hubby and I were at the cottage on Saturday and attended a neighbor's graduation party. The weather was cool for July and rained so hard at one point in the afternoon, you couldn't see out the windows. We walked over to the party when the storm stopped. The hosts had tent tops over the food and tables. I wore jeans, shoes and ankle high socks.

Oh, I had a top on too.

The rain came and went twice while we were at the party. Apparently the weather upset the flies who began biting. Unfortunately, the big black flies were in attendance too, not just the common house fly. I was bitten once on my right ankle and twice on my left leg. I spent the rest of the time with my feet up on the bench of the picnic table to avoid more bites.

From past experience, I know the bites will leave a mark much, much longer than a mosquito bite. I vowed not to scratch them and was fine until we came home on Sunday. The bites were sore and itchy so I applied some Sting Eze to them. They felt better and I went to bed. The bites looked the same Monday morning and I applied Sting Eze again. This is how my leg looked around 8:00 AM.

By 10:30, that round welt had grown in size and was protruding at least 1/4", looking like a blister. I was concerned because I had never had that reaction before, and because only one of the three looked like that. I called the doctor's office, got in right away and it was lanced and I am now on an antibiotic and a steroid for three days.

It could be that the fly had been on some plant or substance that caused an allergic reaction when he gnawed the hell out of me bit me, or it could be that he frolicked in something really funky and passed on an infection.

I'm sure in the grand scheme of things, flies must serve a purpose. I fail to see that purpose though, and I am quite certain I am not here on earth to provide sustenance to them! I am soliciting donations for a personal fly swatter. He is a low maintenance, but threatening looking robot. Wouldn't you love to be a co-owner? Wouldn't you love to make my world fly free?

If you don't feel right about sending cash for this worthy purchase, dinners for tonight through the rest of the week would be appreciated. And whoever lives closest might want to stop by to dust and vacuum. Or scrub my floors and bath tubs. I'm sure the doctor meant to order complete bedrest with only a book, a phone and a TV remote to keep me company, but you know the time restraints the doctors are under because of the insurance companies. The doctor left the room before giving me those orders.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Blue Monday, a new shirt

I admit to falling behind this weekend and not preparing for Blue Monday. Good thing we returned from a weekend away to find a package stuck between the doors. This t-shirt has a little bit of almost blue in the needles. I zeroed in on the graphic and added a blue border for today's post. I'll be wearing it to the knitting group Wednesday night and be the envy of the other knitters!

Please visit Smiling Sally by clicking on the blue jay logo for more Blue Monday posts.

Have a marvelous week everyone, and don't let anyone needle you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Simple Thanks

Sometimes an inspirational message comes from an unlikely source. I have bought a few items from Femail Creations over the years and get their print catalog and occasional emails. The items I have purchased have been funny rather than serious or spiritual. Here is an example of what I bought a few years ago followed by the publisher's description.

Product Description
For the middle-aged woman who is tired of the realities of growing older, Victoria's Rejects presents a refreshing new outlook. This hilarious catalogue offers a wealth of outrageous products which promise to reverse the hands of time and return aging baby boomers to their former youthful glory. Victoria's Rejects is guaranteed to restore any woman's sense of humor despite the multiple indignities of aging.
(This book is no longer available through Femail Creations, but is available through Amazon. )

Usually humor, the wackier the better, is what appeals to me but yesterday's email really touched me. This came from the CEO of Femail Creations. As far as I can tell, they don't even sell this book, she just wanted to get the word out. I couldn't embed the video, so after reading Lisa's introduction, click on the link below. The video only runs 2.5 minutes, but I think you will enjoy it.
Dear Femails,
I have something simple, yet life
changing to share with you. So many
of us are going through what feels
like a very steep climb right now.
Yet, Vivan Greene’s quote reminds us,
“Life is not about waiting for the storm
to pass… it’s about learning how to dance
in the rain!”

And now my dear friend BJ Gallagher
has written an uplifting book about the
power of gratitude inspired by this very
quote, called Learning to Dance in the Rain.

I am honored to share this incredible video
with you and hope you will share it with
others. We are a community of women
and together we can uplift each other!
Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO & Founder of Femail Creations
Video is here

May we all have a blessed day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vineyard and Basketry

Most of my trip to Vermilion Ohio was dedicated to chatting and giggling with my girlfriends. Besides a bit of shopping, we did go on two excursions that were a bit different for us. We visited a vineyard and a company that has been making baskets for 101 years.
The vineyard was Paper Moon Vineyards in Vermilion. They had 9 wines that we could sample at 50 cents per sample. We each chose one we thought we might enjoy and shared the tastings. We all bought bottles of wine to take home. I am not a connoisseur so it was very helpful to have a vintner recommend a red and white that I might enjoy. He was spot on with wines that weren't too dry for me. I came home with Niagara (white) and Harvest Blend (red).

The basket company is the Berlin Fruit Box Company, maker of fruit boxes and Samuel Patterson Baskets. The company has remained in one family on the same land in Berlin Heights, Ohio for 101 years. They began making farm baskets for the nearby orchards and later added baskets for home use made from hard maple and black cherry. There are a few pieces made from Ohio Buckeye wood too.

Even though we arrived at the end of the work day, the owner, a great- great- great-grandson of the founder gave us a tour. He ran a lathe that is over 100 years old to show us how veneer is cut. He demonstrated use of a jig to assemble (weave) a farm basket. I bought a basket called a candy basket in cherry. I would have loved a larger basket, but I know that I can always find a spot to have a small basket on display and in use. A larger one may get housed in a closet from time. That might do for inexpensive baskets from a craft store, but not an artisan one!
Candy basket, open, showing liner

Do you ever wonder what businesses and attractions might be in your area that you've ignored or been completely unaware of? Both of these businesses were on Vermilion Ohio's Chamber of Commerce website. I should check out my own city's webpage, and those of neighboring communities. I could be missing something interesting in my own backyard!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blue Monday: Laughs and Lust

Time for Blue Monday again, hosted by Smiling Sally. Click on the image to the right for more information on how to join and to see who else is playing along and posting bluesy greetings.

Yesterday I wrote about my recent girlfriends getaway in Vermilion Ohio. I saved a few pictures for today and am calling them laughs and lust.

One evening we ate at Quaker Steak and Lube. How's that for an unusual restaurant name? This is a chain of restaurants that we don't have in Michigan. One of their locations was very near to where my friends and I were staying. The homeowner had recommended the restaurant, and she was right. All four of us enjoyed our meal there. Outside of the restaurant was this photo opportunity board:

The four of us have been together at other locations that offered similar photo ops. There is a chicken in Frankenmuth MI, for example, where we stuck our heads through the sign and smiled for pictures.

One of my friends and I walked behind the sign to pose, but she got a crazy idea. She was laughing so hard, she had trouble explaining to me what she thought we should do.

She finally got the words out which caused me to collapse into giggles too. Soon we were able to take a deep breath and pose for our other friends who were waiting with their cameras.

I guess we were just a couple of boobs from Michigan. Here we are wearing blue. And laughing. A lot.

Now despite the anatomical parts displayed in that photo, the lust I mentioned had nothing to do with s-e-x. When I mention lust, it is probably fabric or yarn or ice cream in my thoughts, or in this case, Polish Stoneware. One of the shops we visited had more Polish Stoneware on display than I've ever seen at one time.

Hard to believe, but I didn't buy anything. I have a few pieces at home that I really enjoy, but I am running out of storage and display space. It sure was fun to look at all though. These are the pieces I own:
Happy Blue Monday everyone. May all your blues be beautiful and may you always have friends and family that you can be silly with. Laughter is wonderful.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A good time was had by all....

It must have been a good vacation because I came home tired. Tired, but happy. Giggling doesn't stop with menopause and I say thank goodness for that!

Four of us stayed in the summer home belonging to one friend's sister in Vermilion Ohio. The house is not the corner house on the lagoon, but the one to the right side of the picket fence where the boat and two jetskis are docked.

It is interesting to me that in Michigan, this water would be called a canal. Here it is a lagoon. It wasn't black though, so no creatures arose to scare us in the middle of the night. For those who didn't grow up watching cheesy horror movies, that was a reference to Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The four of us are friends from the internet. We've met a number of times over the last 5 years. A dear friend in Massachusetts is not able to travel but we took her along via her image on a popsicle stick. Here she is safely buckled into the back seat of my car.

She was a good passenger. She never once asked if we were there yet, and didn't need any potty breaks.

Vermilion is a small town on Lake Erie, not far from Sandusky, home of Cedar Point, a huge amusement park known for its roller coasters. Vermilion is quiet and scenic with old town charm in its small shops. We visited the light house and found a replica that was more proportionate to our Massachusetts friend's size, so we took her photo on the replica.

Here she is wading (if one can wade on a popsicle stick!) in Lake Erie.

You know the warnings about not talking to strangers? I don't know any strangers. Or at least no one stranger than I am. We asked three city workers if they would mind posing with our stick friend. They complied. I bet they talked about the weird Michigan women for most of the day afterward!

The four of us plus stick lady wandered in and out of shops. Exiting one shop, we saw a cute cop talking to a disgustingly pert and petite shop owner. We set out to distract him. It was a tough job, but we were up to it. After explaining to the officer what we wanted, he joined in the fun. He asked us to spell his name correctly, then spelled the name of his captain!

He really got into the idea and took out his cuffs next. He was such a good sport!

We visited the shoreline again that evening before returning to the house for cheese, wine and chocolate chip cookies. Ahhhh, does life get any better than that?

Tomorrow I will have a Vermilion related post for Blue Monday, and later in the week I will talk about the vineyard and basket company we visited.

Whatever you may be drinking as you read this, please raise your glass, cup, can or bottle and toast to girlfriends. Long may we giggle. Photobucket

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Electronic Madness

A friend shared this email with me. I think we all know someone, maybe even ourselves, who identify with the man who wrote this:

Things are spiraling out of control. I think I have become lost in a world of electronic madness.

One of my sons informed me this week that my cell phone has become obsolete and I must head down to the Cell Phone store and get a phone that is contemporary with the time.

I pointed out that the fancy Razor/Slim line phone with camera built in that he made me trade my perfectly good flip-top Motorola cell phone for two years ago still works perfectly fine. Well, except for the camera thing. Never could figure that out.. Even the few times I actually did take pictures I couldn't figure what to do with them and gave up.

That is except when I would push the wrong button and take a video of the ceiling or my feet.

Seems the issue is that I am unable to text with the tiny little 3 character buttons. "Hi, son," would come out looking like, "Gh Qmo." My grandkids have even spoken to my wife about Poppa's crazy text messages. Give me a break. Whatever happened to actually talking on a phone? Isn't that what they were invented for?

They want me to get one of those phones that you can turn upside down and sideways and has a typewriter keyboard with keys about one-eighth the size of my pinky finger.

One of my four sons is a realtor whose real occupation is fly fishing. "Way to go, son."
Or in my text language, "Xbz um Io, rmo."

We were floating the Yakima River in his guide quality drift boat south of Ellensburg, Washington. We were miles from anything remotely resembling civilization. Rock canyon walls were on either side of us. Bear with me as I try to explain this strange thing.

His "Blackberry" rang. It was blue and I asked him why it wasn't called a Blueberry. He shook his head with that "dealing with an elder" despair look I get a lot these days. It was another realtor who called to say that the sellers he represented had agreed to my son's client's changes and he had the signed documents in hand.

My son told him to FAX the papers to his office and he would get them signed and Faxed back, to close the deal that morning. A minute later the phone rang and he hit a few buttons and looked over the FAX, now on the Yakima River with us.

He then called his clients and told them he was Faxing the papers to them to sign and asked them to FAX them back to his office. While he was waiting, he hooked into a fat rainbow and was just releasing this 22 inch beauty as his phone rang again with the signed FAX from his clients.

He called the other realtor and told him he was sending the signed papers back by FAX. The deal was closed. He smiled and just said, "You are a little behind the times, Dad." I guess I am.

I thought about the sixty million dollar a year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouse, 13 grandkids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue tooth [it's red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Nobles talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it and got a little loud.

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, "Re-calc-ul-ating" You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GSP lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven't figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.
The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden "Paper or Plastic?" every time I check out just knocks me for a loop.

I bought some of those cloth re-usable bags to avoid looking confused but never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, "Paper or Plastic?" I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual." Then it's their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am going out of town for most of this week to meet girlfriends in Ohio. We haven't seen each other for a few years so I know it will be a fun trip. I doubt I will have an internet connection so I will be AWOL until next weekend or first of the following week. I look forward to having stories to share and will enjoy catching up with everyone's blogs when I return.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I have a pseudonym

We have a terrific neighbor next door to our cottage who lives there full time and watches out for all the cottages when the owners aren't there. Rita is an avid gardener and a member of the island's garden club. When she asked me to repaint their sign, I couldn't say no. The board was in such sad shape, Bill cut a new one and primed both sides with two coats before handing it off to me. Rita told me to paint anything I wanted on it. Hmmmmmm....

The garden club is responsible for the triangular flower bed near the entrance to the island from the ferry. This is where the sign will be posted. It won't be scrutinized up close and personal as a painting hanging on a wall might, it will be seen by people passing by in their cars. Distance and motion (moving vehicles) forgive much so I eased up on the self criticism and almost enjoyed the process.

Rita wanted me to sign my work, but I think I will decline lest anyone think I am available for their requested favors. I might just date and sign the back of the sign with my pseudonym:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Whatever happened to real News?

Michael Jackson died on June 25th. Today is July 7th. Why is he still the lead story on the morning news broadcast? Is nothing happening nationally or locally that might merit a mention?

Remember when there were magazines devoted to the goings-on of Hollywood starlets? When teens read Tiger Beat (and whatever publication followed for the next generation of tweens and teens) to find out which singer/heart-throb loved another singer/heart-throb?

Was People magazine the beginning of the change in what we are fed as news or did it start on TV and People caught the wave? I'm not slamming People, Us or other magazines like them. None of us have to read them if we don't like them. Turning on local news stations for weather, traffic and perhaps to hear a bit of something newsworthy in your own backyard is a different story. Don't we all have certain expectations or am I the only one?

What I would really like is happy news story once in a while, wouldn't you?

With that in mind, I have some great news for you! Today is Chocolate Day! Thursday the 9th is National Sugar Cookie Day!! Sunday the 19th is National Ice Cream Day!!! and Tuesday the 28th is National Milk Chocolate Day!!!!

I don't know who to credit with originating these days of recognition, but I am here to bring you the tasty news.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Honest Scrap

Karen at Nittany Inspirations has a tag called Honest Scrap. She is asking those of us who haven't been tagged to play along. The rules call for us to list 10 honest and interesting facts about ourselves. This is the Honest Scrap in our lives.

Since my brain needs some exercise this morning (not to mention the rest of me!), I thought I would play along. Thinking and writing appears to be difficult this morning, as seen by this smiley.
Shakespeare Smiley Here is my list of ten:

  1. Both my father and father-in-law were named Charles. Our oldest son is Charles William, after both granddads and my husband. Our second son is William Jr. This confuses many people.
  2. I remember obscure facts yet can never remember what the balance is in the checking account without looking.
  3. Despite never remembering a balance, saving and checking accounts have to reconcile to the penny or I won't rest until they do. Rarely is that a problem. (whew!)
  4. I designed a logo for a youth baseball league that is still being used 20 years later.
  5. I've ridden in the Goodyear blimp.
  6. Over a few years time, I've met 16 internet friends face to face. My farthest travels for these meets have been to Washington State and Florida while my husband was working in those states. I've driven to Niagara, Ontario on my own to meet two posters, and with another woman from Michigan, we picked up internet buddies in Ohio and NY and went to visit a fifth friend in Newport, RI.
  7. As a member of the audience on a local TV talk show, I asked a question to get on camera so my kids could see me. I did that on two separate occasions. What a ham!
  8. My uncle is in the Guiness Book of Records twice. Once for being the oldest American to have a hole-in-one, and two years later for being the oldest person anywhere with that distinction. Harold Stilson was 99 for the first record, 101 for the second.
  9. I don't have any athletic aptitude (those of you who know me personally, stop laughing!). I signed up for 6 golf lessons once and tried to quit after the second lesson. The instructor wouldn't hear of it. Until the third lesson. He told me I could stay home after that.
  10. I was painfully shy as a child. I have no idea where that person went!
If you decide to play along, please leave a comment here. I would love to read your list and will pass it on to Karen to read too.

If I were to add an 11th item to the list, it would be that I love graphics. Since there are only 10 though, I will just say goodbye for now. Hello Smiley Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Excuse me miss, you have toilet paper stuck to your body...

You aren't going to believe these gowns....they are made from toilet paper!

Cheap Chic Weddings hosts an annual contest where entrants make bridal gowns out of nothing but toilet paper, glue and tape.

Guadalupe Andrade of Reseda, California takes Third Place and $250.00

Second place winner this year is Terri Glover of Marlin, Texas. Terri takes home $500.

The Wedding Contest Winner Is Ann Kagawa Lee of Honolulu, Hawaii. Ann takes home $1000.

Ann's theme was Gone With The Wind and Japanese Origami. As if the dress wasn't stunning enough, check out the hat, also made of toilet paper!

Will everyone who feels uncreative yet in awe please form a line to the left. Let's go out to lunch and see if we can fold paper napkins into dunce caps.