Monday, December 31, 2007

Hopes for Y2K+8

2007 was a mixed bag for me; filled with absolute joy and intense sorrow. The lessons learned this year were hard-won and life-altering. Attending my 40th high school reunion demonstrated that I need to stop burning my bridges. It has been my habit to live in the present and to jettison the past. By doing that, I now realize that I also abandoned pleasant memories and great friends. In Y2K+8 I'd like to change that. Family has always been a mainstay that, admittedly, I took for granted. We're shocked to hear about siblings who hate each other or off-spring who haven't talked with one or both parents in years. Estrangement is not entirely foreign in my family, but each of us knows the others would be there in an emergency. When we learned in October that our Dad had cancer, all five of his children and their families went into research mode to learn about the latest treatments. Hope was an important element for all of us. Our family had dealt with cancer before and we all decided survival was our goal. Prayer chains among friends and family around the country provided powerful motivation and comfort. Practicality came in the form of chemo-therapy. Two weeks of grueling, expensive treatment brought no improvement, so hospice services were enlisted. Within a week, Dad was gone. The suddenness of his passing stunned all of us, but we agreed that it was better that way because he didn't have to suffer any more. No words were needed to know that our family unit would remain strong and offer whatever support Mom needed or wanted. Love and appreciation take priority now. Family is often a fragile conglomeration of members who are related by genetics, adoption or marriage. Confronting such a huge loss either splits members apart or strengthens family bonds. I plan to do a better job of showing appreciation for my strong, connected family. I also hope to continue Dad's efforts to strengthen the ties between more distant family members. Early on he knew the value of strong family roots, most of which are Norwegian. He wanted very much to learn and share more of his mother's ancestry with living and future generations, a task made more difficult by natural Norwegian reticence. [Note to Nancy: Are you up for it? Maybe we can succeed together.]
Y2K+8 may become one of the most trying and enlightening years of my life and I look forward to the challenge.
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Slow-Dancing With Boys

Fragrances may be strong memory triggers, but music I listened to in my pre-and-teen-years conjure such vivid memories that I can't help but grin!

Tunes like Acker Bilk's mellow Stranger on the Shore and Henry Mancini's moving Moon River remind me of my first slow dances with boys. At the age of 13, we were all terribly naive about anything romantic, but hormones were starting to shape our imaginations.

During after-school dance classes we learned the box step, cha-cha, waltz, jitter bug and other, choreographed dances popular during the early 60s. There were no gyrations or grinding and only kids that were actually going steady got close for slow dances. The rest of us kept a tense distance to ensure propriety.

I remember the dreamy thoughts I had after dancing with equally shy boys. They concentrated so hard on getting the steps right and not brushing too close to the girls' slightly-developing bodies that their right hands left sweat marks on the backs of our dresses. Of course nerves made the girls' hands equally moist.

THEN. . . in came the twist, monkey, mashed potatoes, froog, the jerk and other dance styles that involved flailing arms and booty shaking, but no hand-holding. I'll admit that they were fun, but they removed romance from dancing. Yeah, there were a few slow dances thrown in to let us catch our breath between fast dances, but it wasn't the same.

Now that I'm a middle-aged type, I think I understand why adults wanted us to stay pure as long as possible -- innocence never can be reclaimed once it is lost or stolen. How sad that today's children seem compelled to give it away so early.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Please forgive me!!

For any of you who wanted to string me up after you tried my recipe for Jack Daniels Balls, I offer profuse apologies. The correct amount of Bourbon for a single recipe is 1/3 cup. Being that I usually make a triple recipe, I had a cup of Bourbon stuck in my head. This was not a joke recipe as was a previous one for rum cake. I hope you found some tasty use for the glop you ended up with -- topping for ice cream or pound cake . . . ? Hope you can forgive me.

Conrad the Cobbler

Before the Cathedral in grandeur rose At Ingleburg where the Danube flows; Before the forest of silver spires Went airily up to the clouds and fires; Before the oak had ready a beam, While yet the arch was stone and dream; There, where the alter was later laid Conrad, the cobbler, plied his trade. It happened one day at the year's white end; Two neighbors called on their old time friend. And they found the shop, so meager and mean Made gay with a hundred boughs of green. Conrad was stitching with face ashine But suddenly stopped as he twitched a twine and said, "Old friends, good news at dawn today. As the cocks were scaring the night away The Lord appeared in a dream to me and said, "I am coming your guest to be!" So I have been busy with feet astir Strewing the floor with branches of fir. The wall was washed, the shelf was shined And over the rafters the holly twined. He comes today and the table is spread With milk and honey and wheaten bread." His friends went home and his face grew still As he watched for the shadow over the sill, The knock, the call, the latch pulled up. The lighted face, the offered cup. He would wash the feet where the spikes had been And kiss the hands were the nails went in. And then at last would sit with Him and break the bread as the day grew dim. As Conrad mused there passed his pane A beggar drenched by the blinding rain. He called him in from the stony street And gave him shoes for his bruised feet. The beggar went and there came a crone Her face with wrinkles of sorrow sown. A bundle of faggots bowed her back And she was spent with wrench and wrack. He gave her his loaf and steadied her load And sent her off on her weary road. Next to his door came a little child Alone and afraid in the world so wide In the big wide world. Catching it up He gave it the milk from the waiting cup And carried it home to its mother's arms Safe and secure from the world's alarms. The sun went down in the crimson West And with it the hope of the Blessed Guest. And Conrad sighed as the world turned gray, "Why is it, Lord, that your feet delay? Did you forget that this was the day?" Then, off in the silence a voice was heard. "Lift up your head for I kept my word. Three times I knocked on your lowly door. Three times my shadow was on your floor. I was the man with the bruised feet. I was the woman you gave to eat. I was the child on the homeless street."
written by Violet Cobb

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eschew Obfuscation

See how many of these old adages you can translate into everyday English without consulting a dictionary. Enjoy! 1. Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity. 2. Freedom from incrustation of grime is contiguous to divinity. 3. Surveillance should precede saltation. 4. Male cadavers are incapable of yielding any testimony. 5. Neophyte's serendipity. 6. Where there are visible vapors having their provenance in ignited carbonaceous material there is conflagration. 7. All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not truly auriferous. 8. It is fruitless to become lachrymose over precipitately departed lacteal fluid. 9. Eschew the implement of corruption and vitiate the scion. 10. Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate,

Friday, December 21, 2007

Congress Uses DC Public Schools AGAIN

I cannot imagine another school system anywhere in the country that has been more abused and exploited by the Congress of the United States of America than DCPS. The latest (at least to be publicized) is a $2 million reading curriculum forced on us by Mary Landrieu, Democratic senator from Louisiana. The program has virtually no track record, so our children are once again being used as guinea pigs. The primary losers in this scenario are innocent children who must constantly adapt to new programs that don't always help and sometimes, set them back. Secondarily, educators and parents must somehow cope with these forced-feedings. [Odd how water-boarding comes to mind. . .] The biggest beneficiaries are the lobbyists who are winning lucrative contracts for their clients through their friends in Congress who, of course, also benefit. With this constant interference, it's no wonder our children's educational system is a mess. Professional educators and parents should make curriculum decisions, not the U. S. Congress.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

National Fight Song vs. National Anthem

I've been sick with way too much time to ruminate about nothing in particular. Then it hit me this morning --out of the blue and without codeine cough syrup: Americans need two special songs, like some universities have. The Star Spangled Banner -- which already is in an appropriate march cadence -- could be our national fight song. America the Beautiful could be our national anthem -- a love song about all that is beautiful and special about the United States.
. . . by the rockets red glare; the bombs bursting in air. . . vs. . . . and crown thy good with brotherhood. . .
Yeah, I know this is not a new debate, but think about it. Do we need to be reminded of our current hawkishnesss or more about the brotherhood and unity that have made us strong and unique in the world?
Look up the lyrics for both songs and see if you don't agree with me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gratuitous Cuteness V

Oh, how I'd like to be about two years old right now. No worries, just delight and excitement about the coming holidays.

Come rain, sleet or snow (all promised by the weather forecasters) I'll pick you up at the train tomorrow, Carolyn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dylan Thomas wrote . . .

And death shall have no dominion. Dead men naked they shall be one With the man in the wind and the west moon; When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone. They shall have stars at elbow and foot; Though they go mad they shall be sane, Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.

I am so Spoiled

Every morning I enjoy a cold glass of orange juice and a hot cup of coffee.

I can choose a cool shower or a hot bath.

Clean clothes are the norm.

Several pairs of shoes meet my every need.

I learned to read and write years ago.

I cook for pleasure.

My door has three locks.

Health insurance is a given.

A machine washes my dishes.

A soft bed awaits me every night.

Transportation is a short walk to the garage.

I survived cancer.

Distant friends and family are a phone call or email away.

On a cloudy day I can turn on more lights.

When it rains or snows I can watch it from a comfortable chair.

My good fortune is magnified by a husband who loves me regardless of morning dragon breath and bed-head-hair. Wealth is not solely measured in dollars. I wish I could share my wealth with the man who lives next to the overpass.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Frags #1

Million Dollar Idea

Ankar Shanker, a 25 year old Indian student recently was accepted into the prestigious London School of Economics. With such happy news he also realized that he didn't have the $110,000 it would cost to attend. He deferred acceptance until he could raise money. Wake Up and Smell the Million Dollar Story is the blog he started to fund his graduate studies. He plans to write a new short story every day for six months to attract readers. He also proved his worthiness to attend this school by taking advantage of a free Google program called AdSense which, for a fee, displays advertising on his blog. Since December 1st he's made about $130. I, for one will be checking out his blog, an easy, free way to help a young man realize his dreams.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Life is Good

We are entitled to it. . .

H--eal your heart. A--llow yourself to be happy. P--urge negative thoughts. P--retend to be happy until it becomes real. I--nvite only good thoughts into your mind. N--otice and appreciate the beauty around you. E--mbrace your inner child. S--poil yourself in guilt-free ways. S--ilence your suspicious mind. -Angst is wasted energy and is mentally and physically harmful. +Joy opens the heart and mind to positive energy.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A "Dad Moment"

This morning I hauled out my sewing machine to do some quick repairs -- yeah, right! The first piece I sewed ended up with a dirty, linty blob on the back of it -- sewing machine was a bit dusty. Suddenly, I found myself taking it apart, bringing out the vacuum cleaner, WD30 and a brush to search and seize every speck of lint and thinking "Do a Job!" Will I never be free from Dad's influence?! :- / Once I got into it, I found myself enjoying the task and went on to thoroughly clean and oil the whole thing. It now sparkles like when it was new in 1972! At this rate, it may last another 35 years. . . thanks, Dad.

Jack Daniels Balls

Christmas just wouldn't be the same without bourbon balls and now's the time to make them so they have time to mellow. Men always snicker when I bring these out -- wonder why ;-) 1 6oz. pkg. chocolate chips ½ cup sugar 3 Tbs. light corn syrup 1/3* cup Bourbon (doesn't have to be Jack Daniels if you'd rather drink it) 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped 2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, syrup and Bourbon. Combine crumbs and walnuts and stir into chocolate mixture and blend well. Shape into one inch balls and roll in confectioners sugar. Store whatever isn't immediately gobbled-up in an air tight container. *corrected 12/23 -- sorry

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


There's a noticeable change in how I look at life since my Dad died. At the moment, I feel lonely and unable to stir-up enthusiasm for much of anything. When spouse comes home in the evening, it's a huge relief and all I want to do is stay in his arms. When the entire family was together for the memorial service last Friday and a few days before and after that, it felt good being around them again. Now that they've dispersed, I worry more about Mom. Her house was filled with conversations and laughter among three generations of people who love her and each other. Now, she's there alone. Mom is a strong woman, but having lost the man with whom she shared 62 years, her life can never be the same. We kids try to bolster her and she takes great joy in spending time with her grandchildren. Carolyn will spend a weekend with her grandmother in mid-December. Her joie de vivre can't help but bring cheer wherever she goes. Still, we will all be facing our first Christmas and New Year without Dad. [Every time I say or write his name, I tear-up. Hope that ends sooner than later!] I have so many good memories yet feel so empty. I guess this, too shall pass. . .