Monday, August 31, 2009

My Puppy's Picture

This is the first picture we have of our dog. She weighs about two pounds in this picture.

I challenge you to find a picture of a shiba inu puppy that is not cute!

And the best part is that she has grown up, all sixteen pounds of her, to be a fun and feisty member of our family.


My daughter decided to torment me since I assigned her some particularly tedious accounting tasks. She sent me these pictures of shiba inu puppies from Craig's List. And they're only thirty minutes from here.

Our shiba is a "red sesame." These black, tan and white puppies are also standard breed colored.

Look at that white-tipped tail. Don't you want one? (The puppy, that is, not just a tail.)

It's a good thing for my checkbook that work is a little too busy and the house is a little too full right now. Otherwise, I'd be on the road checking one of these puppies out!

And this is from a person who said she would never, ever get a dog, much less a second dog.

Does senility usually hit this soon?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Charmed Life

My younger son is an average size boy in the world of competitive sports. You might have even said he was below average, before he grew over three inches in the last two months. He's now just under 5' 6" and slim.

I have tremendous fun watching him play soccer. He is an aggressive defender and marking back, often finding himself matched against boys much bigger and taller. That's one of the reasons the recent growth spurt is so welcome.

But no matter what size he is, he is always sturdy. He has an uncanny ability to stay on his feet, leaving his larger opponent on the ground after a contest for the ball.

Soccer rules allow players to have shoulder-to-shoulder contact if it is part of a genuine attempt to play the ball. As far as my son is concerned, he is always making a genuine attempt to play the ball (except maybe when he's dogging an opposing forward's heels.) Yesterday was no exception, and fighting for possession of the ball, the other kid ended up on the ground with a separated shoulder and broken collar bone.

I don't know how he does it, this one boy wrecking crew. He seems to be consistently lucky while those near him are not.

When Wiley was a toddler he cracked his daddy's rib in a moment of exuberance. When he was about four years old he came diving over the back of the couch I was laying (lying?) on. He broke my shoulder, which had to be repaired with surgery a few painful months later.

I and the rest of our family have learned to approach him with caution. He's the sweetest boy I know, but sometimes not safe to be around.

How he uses his "luck" over the next few years of high school should be interesting. Think it will change when he discovers girls?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I'm in a book club which meets once a month. This month's book, which I selected, is "Dawn's Light" by Terri Blackstock. It's the fourth and last book in a series. I read the first book earlier in the summer.

But I haven't read books number two and three, yet.

And you know what? That's okay.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


My daughter Lindsay, working for me while waiting for her real job to start, brought leftovers for her lunch. I tried a bite and asked for the recipe. It was a chicken casserole recipe one of her young married friends had passed along. My daughter is going to give me an abbreviated version. It seems her friend, who had never cooked before marriage, put COMPLETE instructions on the recipe. For example, instead of saying "add 1 cup diced green pepper," the friend's recipe included the directions for how to dice - "cut the pepper open, remove the stems and seeds, cut away the white edges, slice the remaining pepper into small pieces." Similar descriptions were written for other ingredients of the recipe.

That is exactly what I need for working with the computer. This chart shows what I do when the gremlins living in my computer(s) act up.
The mysterious box on the chart is the one in the bottom right corner that includes the words "FOLLOW ANY INSTRUCTIONS." Instructions, whether from Help menus or support sites or sympathetic message boards, always seem to assume that I know how to dice the pepper.

In my twenty-five year history of PC use, I've "cooked" a lot. Unfortunately, most of the "recipes" don't include COMPLETE instructions.

In the early 1980's, just after I was promoted to senior staff, my company decided to give individual personal computers and related training to new staff. A couple of years later, after my next promotion, the firm decided to provide personal computers and training to senior staff, too.

Left out again, I purchased my own IBM PC. It had a 20MB hard drive. Yes, I said megs. I probably still have the receipt somewhere, it cost around $2,000. I knew the only way I would ever learn how to use a computer was to just do it! I kept it at work so that I could do my own computer generated notes and schedules and feel less like an idiot when supervising staff.

A few years after that I left the big firm to have my own business, partnering with another woman. She was a few years behind me in age and experience, but she was ahead of the curve with technology, having been there at the right time for the best training. She was my computer crutch for several years.

To my chagrin, I'm now one person using three different computers. I have a fairly new PC with Windows Vista. I should have returned it and paid the 25% re-stocking fee. I have my six year old PC with Windows XP, which runs the software that won't work on Vista. And now, after the Vista disaster, I bought a Mac. I can use both the Apple and the Windows operating systems on the Mac.

My goal is to have the three computers consolidated on my Mac by the end of the year.

With my switch to a Mac, I'm having to start over with new terminology, different task bars and new keyboard shortcuts, just to name a few things. I'm making it up as I go, since I really have never known what I'm doing.

At least I'm generally fearless trying to figure things out. I will push buttons until I've either fixed my problem or created a bigger problem truly worthy of calling in support troops. My computer consultant (husband) and kids sigh and shake their heads.

What I need is for some publisher to come out with a whole series of books that provide basic instruction. Right now you can buy books "... FOR DUMMIES," but what is there for people like me who are dumber than the dummies those books are written for?

If only I knew what all the words meant and could have COMPLETE instructions!

That's what I'm hoping for, a publisher who will insist that its authors "Keep It Simple, Stupid" when writing basic technology cookbooks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Heartland XXXpress

On Friday I went to pick up my mom and two of her friends at the train station on the west side of town. The three of them had taken the Heartland Flyer train from Oklahoma to Texas to visit their respective children in various parts of the metro area. I was picking them all up and taking the two extra ladies to a rendezvous point to meet their rides.

My daughter, eager to see her granny, came with me. She had wanted to bring her Cosmo magazine to look through on the way. I said "no, I don't think little old ladies will want to see you with that magazine and its various sketchy (sex) items listed on the cover." My daughter didn't really see the point, but agreed to leave the magazine behind.

The three friends, with an average age over seventy-five, arrived on time and we got them and their bags stowed away in my SUV. (I have to work in the usefulness of my car.) When asked if they had a good trip, they all said yes and giggled.

It seems the man and woman sitting in the row in front of them were having a good time on the train. In fact, the couple had an extremely good time for at least an hour. You'll need to fill in the blanks because I can't do it without blushing. I asked my mom and her friends why they didn't call on a conductor or employee to intervene. They said it was too much fun to watch and it made for an entertaining trip. It's a miracle I didn't have a wreck before I got out of downtown.

Looks like we could have brought the magazine after all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I gotta know

This afternoon my son Brian gave a friend a ride to the restaurant at which they both work. A short time later he was back at home and changed into jeans and a discardable t-shirt. He came in our room excited, hunting a flashlight. Hmmmm. It's broad daylight and a hundred degrees outside.

I've learned not to ask, but he told. There was a stench coming from underneath the patio of the restaurant. Even the waiters were refusing to work the area. The restaurant manager was going to pay Brian fifty dollars to crawl under the patio and remove whatever was causing the odor. I suggested he also take gloves and maybe a rake. He assured me he was "on it, Mom."

At 9:30 this evening I couldn't stand it any longer and called him to find out what happened. He was at a friend's house watching a ball game. (Insert exasperated sighs here.) He did indeed crawl under the patio, find the dead opossum, and prudently insist his boss call animal control to get rid of it.

I guess I should be glad he showed some common sense.

But I still don't know if he got any of the fifty dollars.

I Am So Lucky

Music brings peace and comfort and joy. It inspires both wonderful and terrible things.

Best of all, music is timeless. Or at least the music of the sixties and seventies seems to be. That's the music I grew up with and love.

There has been a lot of news this week about the fortieth anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. There were clips of many of the singers, including Joe Cocker. Yesterday, on "America's Got Talent," a contestant sang "You Are So Beautiful." It was fabulous and the audience loved it, definite goose bump time. That song performed by Joe Cocker was on the radio all the time in 1975.

What keeps the "pop" music from that twenty year period so fresh and interesting? Perhaps it is because our society had such a transition during those decades and the music reflected it, in both the tunes and the lyrics. Even when the lyrics were ambiguous, the words were at least understandable and you could wrap them around your own experiences. And you still can.

Except for a few Christian pop and country songs, I haven't a clue about more current music. I hear it every now and then blaring out car windows, sometimes blaring out my own window if my son is driving. I wonder if, thirty years from now, any of those songs or raps will still be on the radio.

I bet my seventies music will still be there, though, playing through the speakers of my comfortable SUV as I drive off into the sunset.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Hate Relationship

A dog and a harness.

Our nine month old puppy loves to run and can now outrun us all. We always have her on a leash outside the house or back yard. She is also (head)strong and often pulls on her leash in her need for speed. We have been using a flexible collar, but she would rather lose her breath than slow down sometimes. In my compassion for her condition, I bought her a classy new collar and a new harness so that she could run and frolic without strain on her throat. We used a harness with her when she was a small puppy and it worked well.

We put the harness on yesterday morning. You would have thought we crippled her. The tail drooped and with head hung low she slowly limped back to the kitchen. This from a dog that has only ever strutted.

She didn't bark about it, or even whine. She went to bed. And stayed there.

Her toys were worthless. She did seem to keep her favorite toy near, but feigned disinterest whenever she thought we were noticing. The cats were irrelevant and didn't deserve a chase. We tried to take her for a walk. Forget about it. All four legs and her bottom braced against any forward motion. She reluctantly did her "business" if we carried her out to the grass and insisted.

Occasionally, she strayed from her bed all the way to the kitchen floor a foot away.

We teased, we laughed, we hand fed her hot dogs. The longer she pouted, the more ridiculous it was. We left the harness on, waiting for her to adjust. After all, she adjusted to the "cone of shame" that she had to wear for a week after her surgery. It just took a day, and then she was fine.

I've had similar experiences with our kids, particularly with seat belts, and I never lost those fights, always able to outlast the most stubborn rebel.

This afternoon, after thirty-six hours, we surrendered. I guess the harness worked. As long as she was wearing it she certainly didn't strain her throat. But the means couldn't justify the end, so we took the harness off and put the old collar back on.

Immediately she was upright and ready to go.

See the tail, up and curly? It's rather humbling to be bossed around by a small dog, but it was sure fun to watch her strut, leap onto the bed, wrestle with the cats and enthusiastically request a walk.

This is our shiba inu - three pounds of dog and thirteen pounds of attitude.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Get to Work

That's what I must do. Absolutely. Totally.

I'm in a profession that lives and dies by deadlines and one is looming. As a self employed person I must be my own self motivator.

If I say I'm going to get things done, write it down, post it for the world, that's what I'll do.

Right? Right.

Wish me luck. I'll let you know in a few days if this motivational technique worked.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

Yesterday we headed up to central Oklahoma in our trusty Tahoe, five of us full size people and a dog. We celebrated my dad's birthday and then headed home today, timing our three and a half hour drive so that we would be back in time for my son's soccer scrimmage scheduled for late afternoon.

As we were virtually stopped on the highway in a construction zone single lane, we were hit by a car from behind. That's okay. We have one of those "national cars of Texas." The person who hit us left a string of car parts a block long. Our car lost a trailer hitch cover and will have to have the bumper replaced. But other than that we were fine. The dog, in her crate in the back, didn't even bark. After a ten minute delay to get the other driver's insurance information, we were on the road again and made it to the soccer game with time to spare.

We bought our first Suburban in 1997. Since then we've had a second Suburban and now have "traded down" to a Tahoe, which is a Suburban without the third row of seats. As far as I'm concerned, it's the safest, most comfortable car on the highway, and you'll have to pry my cold, dead hands from the steering wheel before I'll give it up.

But continuing our family string of bad luck, for the third time in three weeks my husband gets to call our insurance agent to get a claim number for a wrecked car.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Telling It Like It Is

Some friends have asked what made me decide to start a blog. There are some family reasons, but what drives me is a desire to share stories and anecdotes after which I can say, "Me, too! I'm not the only one that's happened to."

Also, I want to explore ideas I just haven't had time to think about. My daily schedule is as full as ever, but my daily responsibilities have lessened. After a twenty-five year hiatus, I now have some capacity for thoughts of my own. Sure, my children have struggles and growing pains, but now the struggles are mostly theirs, not mine. I agree with Erma Bombeck when she said, "I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: 'Checkout Time is 18 years.'"

Erma Bombeck was my favorite columnist. She wrote things you could relate to, saying out loud what you were unwilling to say and embarrassed even to think. She wrote about such topics as irritating relatives, messy houses, being on time, leftovers, clothing malfunctions and body breakdowns. She dispelled the notion that grownups were supposed to take life seriously all the time. Reading her column gave you comfort that your own life was normal, you weren't crazy. Or at least there were other people out there crazy like you. She died in 1996, just when my own kids were becoming teenagers and I could have related even more. Today's columnists are too often writing for constituents who just want validation for their wacked out lives and poor choices. I moved on............

To the funny pages. (Remember that expression?) I love the comics, especially the comics that tell stories. After Erma Bombeck, my favorite source of comaraderie was Lynn Johnston's "For Better or For Worse." I devotedly followed the lives of Elly and John, she a homemaker with secret dreams and he a dentist running his own practice. The characters dealt with the unpredictable world of parents, kids, friends and neighbors. I could relate to their left turns of life - especially the blessed but very unexpected bonus child.

Like Erma, Lynn Johnston was both funny and relevant. I giggled at Elly's nightgown-flapping hot flashes and John's thought balloons about his wife's wildly unpredictable temperatures. I snorted at John's denial of his growing midriff and his fling with a sports car. I identified with Elly's decision to buy and later sell a book store and John's indecision about cutting back at work. I appreciated the story line on how to work with the family your child marries into. I also enjoyed the push-back to their grown children's presumptions that Mom and Dad would always be available at a moment's notice for a room to crash in or store stuff, a loan or a place to park the grandkids.

But then Lynn Johnston changed her comic strip, ending the ongoing story and reverting to the story of twenty-five years prior, life with young children. She said it was too wearing to keep all the story lines going with the adult kids and grandkids. Rats! I still read that comic, but it's a shadow of what it used to be. I wish, instead, she had downplayed the other characters and just continued Elly and John's story. There's plenty of humor and new situations to depict using characters that have become, to put it politely, middle aged.

There are a few other comic strips that give me little doses of real life adventures - comics that mix hilarity with truth. I enjoy "Crankshaft" and "Funky Winkerbean" which have common authors and often interrelate. "Luann" is surprising in that I can take empathetic turns between the mom, with her job and goofy family, and the high school age daughter who actually has a mature way of dealing with the peer pressure and awkward moments of growing up. I don't think we're ever done with peer pressure and awkward moments.

Probably my favorite strip right now is "Zits." The main character is Jeremy, a sixteen year old boy. Each day's panel reveals the constant fallout from his interactions with parents. My boys are twenty and fourteen. The character of the relationships between Jeremy and his mom and dad are so spot-on I can't believe a guy writes the strip. Today's presentation is a perfect example:

The coffee, the ipod, the questions, the shout, the response - they are all EXACTLY like it is in my house.

But the comics only take a few minutes a day, so I looked for something else to wrap my brain around. There are thousands of choices in the blogosphere, but they seem to congregate in just a few categories - parents of young children, religious moms, home-schooling moms, current events or politics. While I've found a few blogs to read and enjoy, they are not fulfilling.

I'm ready to move past reciting the cute, sweet things my kids did yesterday. I've had four little kids and been there, done that. My boys can still be outrageously funny, but now it's usually the type of humor best shared only with the very closest family and friends, if you know what I mean. And if a son is particularly sweet, I don't want to jinx it by calling him out publicly.

I don't want to have arguments or be pushy, either. That goal pretty much eliminates current events and politics as frequent themes, although I'll bring them up occasionally. While these topics can be intensely interesting, they are thin layers on top of who we are as individuals and families and citizens.

Instead, I want to talk about our whole lives, what I've learned and what you've learned and what is left to learn. I want a place to remember or confess both the serious and silly happenings of our days, just like it's done in the funny pages. That's Life in the Fifties.

(Comments on any topic or suggestions for future topics are always welcome, and you don't even have to leave your name.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Light Bulb Turned On

I use slightly more than half of a master bedroom closet that is more than enough to hold my clothes and shoes IF I organize it well. The biggest nuisance has been finding what I have. My side of the closet, especially toward the back, is too dark to see items clearly. The closet light is more on my husband's side of the closet because the attic stairs are on my side of the ceiling. It's particularly annoying when I need to find dark items or matched sets - jackets or blouses that go with particular pants or skirts.

I have tried various combinations of hanging the matched sets together, hanging all the short pieces that go with something together on the double rod side while hanging all the long pieces that go with something on the single rod side, etc. I've removed the dome of the light fixture to get more light, tried keeping a flashlight in the closet, and even mounted an extra battery operated flourescent light on the back wall. The results have been unsatisfactory.

Today, once again cruising the lighting department of a store to find an economical solution to my dilemma, my light bulb came on, literally. I replaced tbe three 60 watt bulbs in my closet with 100 watt bulbs and bought a dozen 67 cent regular shaped hangers that also have clips so I can hang my sets together.

Duh. I'm fifty something years old, with two master's degrees, and it took me ten years of living in this house to figure out how to adjust a closet!

Have you had a "light bulb" moment? I hope I'm not the only one.