Thursday, February 17, 2011

Don't pay the ransom.....I escaped

Has it really been five months since I last posted here? Guess other priorities and life got in the way. I've neglected my blog and also haven't created any new Squidoo lenses. Nor have I any desire to begin the "great American novel."

We enjoyed a beautiful Fall and early Winter here, but January and the first part of February brought several snows and below zero temps with harsh wind chills. Hubby is weary of shoveling snow and keeping all our various critters fed and watered. I love winter, and dread the coming of spring and summer storms since the house we live in doesn't have a basement.

The price of everything has gone up and up these past few months. Every time we grocery shop, the prices have crept up by a little or a lot. The store that will not be undersold has priced itself out of our budget, food-wise, so we shop the sales in small grocery stores. I find amusing the government's push to get U.S. citizens to eat more fruits and veggies. In this part of the country, at least, fresh fruits and veggies are never on sale, only snack foods and soft drinks.
Hubby and I have simplified our diet to compensate.

Our satellite TV service cost has increased....again.....so I'm still dreaming of a TV service that will let us cherry pick our channels and provide a lower price accordingly. I know, I know. Keep dreaming, right?

On a brighter note, our phone and internet cost has not increased in four years. So hooray to AT&T for that blessing!!

Another bright note: Two of my favorite writers have new books out so I curled up in my recliner while the snow flew and read several good books. Michael Corrigan's latest book of short stories is These Precious Hours, featuring characters of Irish heritage struggling with loss and grief. As always, Corrigan's exceptional prose style kept me engrossed from first page to last. Nancy Mehl is a prolific writer of Christian mysteries. This winter I read two books in her Harmony Series and two in her Hometown Mystery Series. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite among Ms. Mehl's four books because the plots and characters are so distinct and intriguing. Both are writers who deliver fascinating characters and stories.

I'll try not to wait five months until my next post, but no promises. Until next time.....

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Bucket List, sort of

Why is it that I didn't start working on my Bucket List in my younger, more athletic years? Who knows? Guess life got in the way and work took most of my energy. And like most people, I didn't expect the economy to price me out of the adventures I had planned in my retirement years. Along with money and energy, my imagination has dwindled, so this Bucket List isn't very long.

1. Write the Great American Novel. Several of my books have been published, but none could be classified as the Great American Novel. Still, this is one goal that is at least semi-completed.

2. Visit the northern Atlantic coast of America to see the ocean.

3. Spend Christmas at Pine Mountain Lodge in Kentucky. This one was well within my reach when I lived in Kentucky. Why didn't I follow through when I had the chance?

4. Visit the British Isles, especially the seacoast of Ireland.

5. Take a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi from Cincinnati to New Orleans.

6. Visit all the Native American archeological sites in the U.S.

7. Visit Washington DC. Grandpa always said every American should visit our nation's capitol at least once.

8. Visit Egypt to see the Sphinx and the pyramids up close.

9. Visit Israel, with enough time and money to do more than hit the tourist routes.

10. Visit China, especially Mongolia.

Looking back over my list, it's easy to see why I haven't accomplished most of these goals. Most are expensive, time consuming adventures.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sanows & Schulzes & Windows....OH MY!!

I haven't been here since April. My attention has been focused on the sturm und drang of the world and its myriad technological glitches. More about glitches later.

In June my siblings and I attended the SANOW -- SCHULZ reunion in Iowa. We met relatives from around the country and enjoyed the visit despite 100-plus degree temps and tornadoes around the area at night. Our grandma, the heroine of My Name is Esther Clara, was a Sanow. Some people find no importance in knowing their ancestors. I discover truths about myself by exploring my ancestry. I'd like to explore the SCHULZ side of the family now, especially the family of my great grandmother's brother who lived in Cincinnati OH. If anyone out there is a relative of EMELIE ANNA SCHULZ SANOW, leave me a message here.

Windows of the Microsoft variety has almost driven me bonkers since April. My Windows updates stopped working in April for some unknown reason. Yeah, I troubleshoot within my limited capabilities but every hint at a fix leads to an ever more complicated Microsoft maze of possible non-answers. Yes, I have plenty of disc space. Yes, I've tried to download the updates manually, to no avail. My mother told me I was born a hundred years too late and computer technology has proven her right on many occasions.

I have no patience with computer programs that don't work, with viruses and worms and spyware, and email that takes so long to load I've forgotten what I was planning to say by the time I'm able to read the messages. Computers are wonderful tools......when they work properly. Imagine our outrage if we didn't have access to electricity half the time when we turn on the switch. But computer owners just have to accept the failures and glitches and keep on paying for services that don't work. At least snail mail works, most of the time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

thoughts about TV

I read an article on the internet news today about 800,000 US subscribers who dumped cable or satellite. Some of them watch their favorite TV shows for free online. Others subscribe to Netflix or Hulu. Still others returned to capturing TV signals by antenna like we did in the good old days when I was a kid.

Out here in the boonies where I live, we wouldn't gain much by using an antenna. And I can't see subscribing to a bunch of other programs to get the shows we watch. Having said that, if I were tech savvy enough, I'd replace my current TV situation with something cheaper. I'm frustrated by how my provider raises prices arbitrarily without warning, and how we have to pay for the 100 junk channels we don't watch in order to get the few we do.

A few years ago when we exchanged cable for satellite TV, the cable company offered me a monthly fee that was 40 dollars cheaper than what we had been paying as an enticement not to cancel. I refused. My thinking was that if they could give me a more reasonable fee to stay with cable, they should be offering that fee to everyone all the time. Now I'm in the same boat with satellite, seeing fees rise and having few options to lower our monthly bill. We have the basic service. No DVR, no HD, no premium channels, no sports packages.

I admire the 800,000 people who refuse to pay big prices for channels they don't want and services that are unreliable in any kind of bad weather. If that number increases, maybe I'll get my wish and be allowed to cherry pick what channels I want for half the cost of what I'm paying now for a hundred channels I don't watch.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thoughts on a snowy day in March

The world is white outside my windows today. Last year at this time, the temps were more like summer here. To compound this wintry surprise, the sidewalks and porch are slick so we had fun ice skating our way out to the garage this morning to feed outdoor cats.

I read an interesting book recently. Angels are Watching Over Us by Niki Behrikis Shanahan is a comforting Bible-based book about the many types of angels we humans encounter in our everyday lives. She also writes books about our pets and what the Bible says about animals in heaven. Anyone who ever wondered about angels, or grieved the loss of a beloved pet, might find comfort in Ms. Shanahan's books.

My last post sparked interest in a way I didn't expect. I expected comments about the banking and Wall Street bailouts but got feedback about school cuts and closings instead. I admit my comments here are "knee jerk" reactions based on personal emotional responses and not always hard facts. I even admit to knowing that everything I see on the news may not be hard, proven facts. (Imagine that!!) I'd like to address both sides of this little tempest in a teapot:
  • Yes, I'm firmly convinced that in some cases schools fail because of mismanagement or even fraud. And I know that educating students is a far more complex job than it used to be back in the dark ages when I was a student. In most cases, it isn't teachers who cause schools to fail. That fault lies with management, or state and federal influences that hamstring classroom educators. I've seen first hand stupid practices that drove a school system into the red despite taxpayer opinion.
  • On the other hand, the school system where I live is a shining example of how education can thrive in a hostile economic environment. When it became apparent that teachers were spending their own money to purchase school supplies, shoes, socks, gloves, coats, food for students, local church groups and private citizens stepped in to lend ongoing assistance. Locals volunteer their time to ensure that track meets or the arts continue to be part of school curriculum. Such support is common practice in rural school systems.
  • I know several excellent long-time teachers who left the profession because they felt that their hands were tied and they could no longer make a difference in the lives of students. Yes, there are more than enough heart breaking stories to go around on both sides of this topic.

One thing is obvious to me: when it comes to government and politics, my opinion is worth less than nothing. So I'll go have a cuppa coffee and watch cardinals eating at the bird feeder.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I recently read an interesting book, The Law of Distraction and Interruption by Joe Carroccio. Life's distractions can keep us from achieving our goals and dreams. Interruptions can slow us down or stop us from accomplishing what we set out do do. Carroccio's book came along at the ideal time because I've been distracted and interrupted for years!!!

Some of my distractions are beneficial, like watching colorful birds eating together at our feeder against a snowy backdrop, or glimpsing a bald eagle perched in a tree behind our house. Most of my distractions, however, are not so soothing or kindly.

Some days, I make the big mistake of watching the news on TV. Watching news begins the distraction, but then I compound the problem by thinking about what I see. Two recent stories started the distraction process. One story involved Wall Street and how -- despite being "bailed out" by taxpayers -- they continue to do their business in the same old greedy, wasteful, destructive ways. Since I thought at the time that bailing out banks was saving the wrong bacon, I tend to go bananas with every new story about continuing fraud and waste. Yes, it drives me to distraction, which leads me to my next story.

Closing down schools to save money for bankrupted city and states and cutting education related services, laying off educators? Are they serious? This is especially distracting since I suspect some of our cities and states are going bankrupt for the same reasons the federal government is in the deep red: fraud, waste, greed, mismanagement, and refusing to acknowledge the voices of the taxpayers who fund all follies. I fear the foxes have been in charge of the hen house for too long.

None of us want necessary services cut. We want our infrastructure maintained, for example, by repairing roads and upgrading utility systems so our electric, gas, and water service works without glitches. But closing schools and cutting education services seems particularly short-sighted to me. I have no kids in school and may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I can see the awful long term effect of putting education on the back burner.

Hubby says I shouldn't think so much about problems I didn't cause and can't change. But I can't help thinking that maybe in some small way I DID contribute to this problem. During all those years when I worked and focused on earning a living and ignored everything going on in the world around me, I was a part of the problem. Every time I voted in a less-than-stellar incumbent at the polls, I was a part of the problem. Every time I allowed political smoke screens or flowery rhetoric to lull me to complacency without question, I was a part of the problem. Now I'm reaping that bitter harvest of my past neglects.

Yep. Now I'm distracted and interrupted by the news and thoroughly disgusted by what I see.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thoughts on a Winter Day......

The sun is shining brightly today with nary a cloud in sight. Most people love the sun and suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder in long spells of cloudy weather, but I'm just the opposite. I love clouds, rain, and snow and thrive when sun is hidden by a thick gray cover. Yeah, guess that makes me weird.

I dread my old nemesis, summer. Such dread is not a new development in my dotage. No, I dreaded summer's arrival in childhood too. A flaming red face and sweat-plastered hair was never my preferred condition. So yes, I played outside with the siblings and neighbor kids but only because Mom hooked the screen doors and refused to let me sneak back in the house. The oscillating fan called my name back then. Now it's the central air.

For awhile in nursing school I tried to fit in with my tan-loving classmates. But that brief chapter ended with a trip to the emergency room sporting humongous blisters that waved as I walked. Any dream of being a blonde, tanned goddess ended as I stripped down to my underpants in front of a grinning E.R. doctor armed with sunburn spray. The sunburn spray didn't help, by the way, and I stayed sick for days with what he called "sun poisoning."

Hubby loves the sun and summer so our vacationing activities were geared to his preference. Wherever we are, he basks from sun up to sun down, energized by solar rays. Meanwhile, I'm gasping like a sick chicken, light headed and hotter than usual because I keep every square inch of my body covered with long sleeves, long pants, and a big hat. Me, I'd prefer vacationing in the winter, snowed in somewhere in the Rockies or maybe Iceland. But hubby shivers in the house in winter with the thermostat set at 74 degrees, so guess he'd never survive Iceland.

This has been a hard winter with big snows and harsh winds blowing out of the north driving wind chills way below zero. I've treasured every frigid moment because I know hot weather will be here soon, along with ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and endless days of blazing sunshine.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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