Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Heavenly wedding

Kathy told me that Max was going to be in a wedding next weekend. Max went on to explain that you need wings to get married. Puzzled, I asked him, "You need wings to get married?" He said, "Yes, and I'm the wing-bearer."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Here is the list of books I read this past summer. It's a little short, but it's the best I could manage with time out for dog maintenance and Max-imum fun. Now, no one asked for this list, but this post will save the nice people in Homeland Security a lot of legwork. For all you readers out there, Mirty has started a blooklub--a blog book club. (I know, it's a terrible neologism, but it's mine.) Look for it here.

1. The Arts, by Hendrick van Loon (history of the arts written in 1937--very fun)
2. I am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe
3. Seizure, by Robin Cook
4. Skinny Dip, by Carl Hiaasen
5. Bleachers, by John Grisham
6. Beach House, by James Patterson
7. The Murder Book, by Jonathan Kellerman
8. Whiteout, by Ken Follett
9. Melancholy Baby, by Robert B. Parker
10. A Hole in Texas, by Herman Wouk
11. Street Dreams, by Faye Kellerman
12. The Last Juror, by John Grisham
13. Lost in Tibet, by Starks and Murcutt
14. Therapy, by Jonathan Kellerman
15. London Bridges, by james Patterson
16. Trace, by Patricia Cornwell
17. Unspeakable, by Sandra Brown (unspeakably awful)
18. "A" is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton (thought I'd start at the beginning)
19. The Janson Directive, by Robert Ludlum
20. Inside the Wire, by Eric Saar
21. Cat's Eyewitness, by Rita Mae Brown (I'm a sucker for those animals)
22. Honeymoon, by James Patterson
23. Three Nights in August, by Buzz Bissinger (for real baseball fans)
24. Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell
25. Best Revenge, by Stephen White
26. Friday Night Lights, by Buzz Bissinger (high school football in excruciating detail)
27. Appaloosa, by Robert B. Parker ( a treat for Parker fans)
28. Little Children, by Tom Perrotta
29. State of Fear, by Michael Crichton (so is global warming real or not?)
30. Prep, by Curtis Sittenfield
31. Travels, by Michael Crichton (Bio-probably more than you want to know about him)
32. Cold Service, by Robert B. Parker (Hawk says more in this story than in all others combined)
33. Bad Dirt, by Annie Proulx (her dialogue is just perfect)

Mirty's meme

It looks like a Wal-Mart background, but it's honestly the way the sky looked that day down by Dublin Bay.

from Ann and Peter Married


1. Go into your archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Roses should be red

Today is the first anniversary of Kathy’s mom’s passing. She is taking it pretty hard. It’s kind of been building up for the past week, so I thought I’d do something nice for her and send flowers to her work. I looked on the net and found a site that looked OK. I chose something with daisies and roses in it—her favorites. The photo on the web looked like it had 16 roses in it and daisies tastefully arranged around them. I clicked “Order” and that was it.

Because she leaves work around 4:30, I was concerned that it get there in time, so I called their 800 number, they in turn called the local florist and said everything was fine.

Kathy called me, as I knew she would, to thank me when the flowers arrived. There was something odd in her voice, though, so I asked her to describe what she had received. It sounded nothing like I ordered. There were three crappy orangeroses and a few yellow daisies in a pitiful little vase. The roses were already fully open and the petals were torn. The web photo promised red roses 15 inches tall. She felt funny telling me, but in her head she had been thinking that it doesn’t look like something I’d send her. I do have some taste, you know.

I considered waiting to see it for myself, but I knew if I didn’t call the vendor right away, I’d be burning all weekend, so I got back on the phone. The woman on the other end listened politely as I carefully described my disappointment. When I finished, all she said was, “Would you like me to get you a refund?” Whew! Thank goodness.

Wouldn’t you know it? One of the roses even fell off on the way home.

It’s rare that I stick up for myself, and so satisfying when I do. How come I don’t do it more often?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

5 Things

OK Jeff, here it is. You were right--I hadn't done one of these yet.

5 Things I Plan to Do Before I Die:

1. Go on more than one cruise every five years.
2 Get really good at sign language.
3. Celebrate 60 years with Kathy.
4. See grandson Max graduate from college (18 years to go!)
5. Sell this house and get a ranch (house, not cattle).

5 Things I Can Do:

1. Write fairly well sometimes.
2. Make Max smile.
3. Be creative in helping people with their job searches.
4. Whistle in but not out.
5. Put up with Jeff’s “not really funny and acclaimed satires of liberal lunacy”)

5 Things I Cannot Do:

1. Rest as long as there is someone out there upset with me.
2. Put up with Jeff’s “not really funny and acclaimed satires of liberal lunacy” (Uh oh, there goes number 1)
3. Dance.
4. See into the future.
5. Solve my children’s problems for them, as much as I’d like to.

5 Things that Attract Me to the Opposite Sex:

1. Boobs (sorry Ann)
2. Pretty eyes that know more than they tell
3. Their unconditional aptitude for kindness
4. Their limitless capacity for suffering (whether I caused it or not)
5. The way they light up an otherwise drab world

5 Things I Say Most Often:

1. Nothing—really—I don’t say a word.
2. Who’s goin’ walkies? (to Kodiak)
3. Just hit ‘refresh’.
4. OK
5. Let’s look at it this way…

5 Celebrity Crushes:

1. Colleen Dewhurst
2. Bonnie Raitt
3. Janis Joplin
4. Catherine Zeta-Jones
5. Mariska Hargitay

5 People I Want to Do This Next:

Can’t do it. I’ve done my part of the chain letter, but I can’t inflict this on anyone else.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Three cheers for English!

Wait a minute--the Official Scrabble Dictionary is on line? After I bought two copies already? Oh wait--you have to look up single words. Kathy's mom (who died a year ago) was a ninety year old Scrabble fan. I used to play her sometimes and get a kick out of her "words" like "VA" for Veterans Administration. Of course it's an abbreviation, but in her generation it was a very important "word." So I let her get away with it.

We used to independently search our Official Scrabble Dictionaries (her with a big print version, mine in a paperback) looking for lists of two and three letter words we could spring on each other. My favorite? “Qat”—no ‘u’ needed—woo hoo!

A certain sibling used to play with her brother, but didn’t tell him what the colored squared meant. She denies this, of course, but he wondered why she consistently outscored him.

Growing up, our family played and I think it all contributed to our love of language. My one sister writes amazing letters about her experiences in a Boston medical clinic—I think she ought to put them in a book. My brother is president of a publishing company (Thieme.com). My mom was a newspaper reporter, and a book editor. She finally got her name on a book, “The Family Bible Study Book”(I and II) and a book about Vance Havner published by Revell. I am very proud of my own book, “Careers in Action”.

So yes, language is very important to me. Sadly, I can completely relate to the rantings of Lynne Truss in her book “Eats Shoots and Leaves.” Anyone who cares about English and its (possessive!) wonderful idiosyncratic rules and yes, Mirty, spellings, ought to have ESL on his or her shelf (darn that number agreement requirement!).

Saturday, September 17, 2005

That sucks

Babies do it. The pumps draining New Orleans do it, but somehow “sucking” has become an ubiquitous term of disparagement. I’ve always considered “That sucks” as an awful phrase and decided not to use it in my conversation. To me it is a sign of the coarsening of our society. Why use such a harsh, vulgar saying when there are so many alternatives available?

“How awful for you.”
“That’s terrible.”
“I’m so sorry!”
“How could she!”
“That’s going to leave a mark.”

Somehow this whole business about ‘sucking’ conjures up images of, well...how to put this delicately…blow jobs. (That’s another name I’ve never understood, but that’s a topic for another time.) Any reasonable person could understand my confusion about the name for something that is supposed to be pleasurable being applied to an adverse or hurtful condition.

We should resolve to ban that phrase from our vocabulary. Isn’t life rough enough without such rude language assaulting us at every turn? It’s time to reclaim respectful language and not let ourselves sink to expressing our sentiments in such a way. Let’s face it, this whole business of saying “That sucks” all the time really blows.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Marie Antoinette?


Wednesday, September 07, 2005


As an ISFJ, I must occasionally satisfy my “Sensing” side, that is, the bit of me that wants to work with tools, to be practical, to be outside. How can one do all that at once? Three little words: home improvement project!

When grandson Max was first born, he and his parents lived with us for while. To make some space for them, I cleared out a closet of my dress shirts and pants and then hung them on a length of copper pipe in Kathy’s and my bedroom. I just set one end of the pipe on a bookcase and the other on my dresser. It worked fine. Everything I needed was right there. The arrangement wouldn’t win any design awards, but who sees it anyway?

Later, when we absorbed furniture from Kathy’s mom’s house, I replaced my dresser with a beautiful highboy—the match to the dresser that Kathy has been using for years. There was no room for my clothes rack, so everything went back into a closet in another bedroom. After a while I realized I was using three different rooms to get dressed, with my stuff spread all over the upstairs. I looked for, not exactly an armoire, but something that I could hang my shirts on once again, but there didn’t seem to be anything that would really work for me. So I decided to build one myself.

Overnight I thought about what I wanted, then measured everything and drew a diagram with several views (my father was a civil engineer so I must have picked up something from him). I figured out how much wood I would need and what sort of hardware and then went to Lowe’s at 6am on Labor Day to buy the supplies.

(The intention for the Mass that day was for a good friend of ours who died from Lou Gehrigs’ disease a year ago, and his wife was doing the readings, so I went to church before starting the project. It gave me a chance to pray for help, and of course everything went great.)

I spent the rest of the day in the garage happily sawing, screwing fastening and gluing to my heart’s content, all according to the plan I had drawn. When I was done woodworking, I stained my creation a couple of times and let it sit overnight.

Kathy was very impressed. I, however, wondered why it looked like one of her father’s basement projects and then it came to me—I had used a can of stain that I rescued from his basement after the house had been sold. No wonder it resembled his work—he had used the same stain on a bookcase he built some years ago.

It now sits next to our bed, loaded up with dress shirts—just the way I hoped it would work out. Kodiak just harrumphed when he saw it, since it means he can no longer sprawl out in the little nook by my side of the bed. That’s fine with me, since now I won’t be stepping on his furry self whenever I get up in the night.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I got the message

Change of plans. Shane's father in law had a heart attack yesterday--Saturday. He was out fishing all morning on Lake Erie and kept vomiting. He attributed it to seasickness, but once he was home, he had chest pain that radiated to his jaw, and then he knew he was in trouble. He drove himself to the hospital, walked in to the ER and announced he thought he was having a heart attack. They agreed and swarmed over him, eventually doing a cath and putting in some stents. He is doing much better now and will probably come home in day or so.

Kathy and I will be watching Max this week, since the other grampa is out of commission. So that's why I never could arrange a romantic getaway for this week. Perhaps God had a better use for our time.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Porchville, USA

Kathy and I start our nine day weekend now. We are both off next week. We have no kids in school to be here for, but no place in particular to go, so it’s Porchville USA for us. Well, it would be except that the porch was wrecked by the storm a couple of weeks ago. Now gas is $3.09 a gallon thank you very much, so how far are we going to go anyway?

At first we thought we’d go to Chatauqua, New York because we thought it might be fun and a nice place to see. I called and spoke to the husband of the owner of the place we wanted to stay. He didn’t know anything about room rates and said his wife would be right back. She never called. I tried later in the week and spoke to a young woman who also didn’t know what to tell me, but that the owner would call me back. Nope. When I finally reached her, I learned it would never work for us. No Smoking. The whole place is made of wood, so smokers are potential arsonists and are not welcome. Kathy smokes, ergo, no Chatauqua.

There was a neat cottage we looked at on line out in Conneaut, Ohio. It looked perfect, just like a place we had stayed in once over in Saugatuck, Michigan. Not a B and B, not a hotel, just a comfy cottage all by itself, complete with a little kitchen—a kitchenette, one might say. When I finally got ahold of the owner, she said it was closed for the season after Labor Day.

There was a B and B in southern Ohio (well, OK, everywhere is southern Ohio to us in Cleveland). They just never called me back, so I figured they weren’t interested in making any money, so here we sit.

We’ll go to an outlet mall, go to the movies, go to an Indians game, and go to a big deal expensive restaurant for Kathy’s birthday on Friday. We’ll make our own fun.