Tuesday, November 29, 2005


It snowed a little bit
Traffic is horendous

Triple commute times
And, according to the news, the average speed in the metro right now is seven miles per hour

All for less than 2 inches of snow
Which *WE KNEW* was coming

I'm so moving back to Chicago where the politicians Plow The Streets (or else!)

Michael Bilandic was the mayor of Chicago in 1978-79 who famously failed to clear the snow from the Windy City's streets in the bitter winter of 1978-79. He lost his job the next November to Jane Byrne, who ran on a snow-plow ticket promising to clear the streets the next time it snowed.

Monday, November 28, 2005

God warns U.S.: Do not confirm Alito, or I will smite you
Via bitchphd

Pieces of the Supreme Court building facade crumbled today, nearly killing a group of students from Ohio.
Obviously God is sending us a message about the Bush administration.

login = blah586
pass = blah596


I'm back from the 2006 Girl Scout Cookie Coordinator meeting
(Please note Cookie COORDINATOR not Cookie "mom" - thank you very much!)

Anyway, the powers that be have decided to eliminate Double Dutch Chocolate Chip in favor of a stupid "Cafe" cookie (which is essentially an oversized, extra-crispy teddy graham)

Why would anyone want to pay $3.50 a box for crunchy teddy grahams?
Why did they have to get rid of my favorite cookie?

Don't misunderstand, I like teddy grahams as much as any one else, but what makes teddy grahams cool is that they're shaped like teddy bears.
These stupid "cafe" cookies are just shaped like circles
How dumb is that?

It's Sad, Sad, Sad day in the Saint Croix Valley.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


1. I got the 2006 calendar refill for my planner - that's kind of exciting. (ok ok, so it's not at all exciting - what can I say, I'm pathetic!)

2. My brother-in-law has a new blog (which is kinda exciting! Maybe he'll say something incriminating about his wife's family.

3. My mom knit me a sweater! It's warm and fuzzy and beatiful. Horray!

4. tk has been going crazy over at 43 things. At first I didn't see the point, but then I signed up and spent the afternoon becoming adicted. Here's the current list

5. I've had songs from Aladin running through my head all weekend. (Mostly Aladin's first song, "One jump ahead of the breadline, One swing ahead of the sword, I steal only what I can't afford, and that's everything!"

6. Macaroni-n-cheese from a box, with a spoonful of refried beans, plus salsa and sour cream is surprisingly tastey.

Friday, November 25, 2005


Board Game Geek has two lists of games that have/might work well for those that don't see well (like my grandmother).

Some of the suggestions will not work - Skipbo is too small, Dungeons and Dragons is not grandma-appropriate, and brail-ize-ing cards would be insulting.

But there are other game suggestions that might work
I list them here as a resource for anyone else looking for games to play with one or more low vision players.

Othello (maybe too small?)
Hera and Zeus (2 players)
Cloud 9
Diamant (up to 8 players 1-20 min. to play a game).
Coloretto (looks a little small??)
Euphrat and Tigris

I'll be adding annotations as I can.
Personal stories, comments, and suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The great gift of family life is to be
intimately acquainted with people you might
never even introduce yourself to,
had life not done it for you.

~Kendall Hailey


Parents (named "Mom" and "Dad")
Sister Kristie plus husband Jim and kitty (named "Dog")
Brother Andy plus wife Jaime and 3 year old son Miller
Brother Jon
Brother Phil
Dog Jacky
And Me plus my kitty (named "Cat")

Potatoes pealed = 12
Laptops in the living room = 4
Rounds of Mexican Train Dominios played = 13
Number of times someone cheated at dominios = lots!
Pound of Turkey cooked = 24.5
Number of cat fights = 0 (so far!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Turn up your speakers, and click here to listen

Thanks be to God! He laveth the thirsty land.
The waters gather, they rush along!
They are lifing their voices
The stormy billow are high, thei fury is mighty!
But the Lord is above them, and Almighty
Thanks be to God! He Laeth the thirsty land.

From Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn
As sung by the VE chorus.

Shameless Plug Last year's Thanksgiving concerts (featuring performances of the above piece, as well as A Psalm, Another Psalm, and Irish Heartbeat) will be broadcast nationally on NPR this weekend.

Check with your local station for broadcast times in your area! In the Twin Cities you can listen on Thurs, Nov 24 at 11 am and 6 pm at 99.5 FM. Or 7 pm, at 91.1 FM.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I woke up this morning and decided to hold another meeting of the Sunday Morning Muffin Club
Only we had scones instead of muffins

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Scones
Adapted from the Jordan Creek Elementary School 2000 Cookbook

2 C. flour
pinch of salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 1/2 Tablespoons cold butter
1/3 C. dried cranberries
1/3 C. choc. chips
2/3 C. milk

Preheat over to 375.
Combine flour, salt, baking soda, tartar, and sugar. Use pastry blender until butter is evenly distribued and the size of peas. Add choc. chips and cranberries. Make a well the the center, pourin milk, and quickly mix it all up forming a very softdough.

Knead once oftwice on flouredsurface, shape into a 3/4 inch deep round. Make 6 piza shaped slices and put on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Irish Heartbeat
as sung by the Hopeful Gospel Quartet

Oh won't you stay
Stay a while with your own ones
Don't ever stray
Stray so far from your own ones
'Cause the world is so cold
Dont care nothing for your soul
That you share with your own ones
Don't rush away
Rush away from your own ones

Just one more day
One more day with your own ones
'Cause the world is so cold
Don't care nothing bout your soul
That you share with your own ones

There's a stranger
And he's standing at your door
Might be your best friend, might be your brother
You may never know

I'm going back
Going back to my own ones
Come back to talk
Talk a while with my own ones
'Cause the world is so cold
Don't care nothing 'bout your soul
You share with your own ones

Oh won't you stay
One more day with your own ones
Don't rush away
Rush away from your own ones
This old world is so cold,
Don't care nothing for your soul
You share with your own ones

- Van Morrison

Friday, November 18, 2005


I really hate it when someone says they are going to [do something]
And then they don't.

It seems that an awful lotta people are thinking about [doing something]
But instead of saying "I'm thinking about [doing something]"
They say "I'm GOING to [do something]"

But then they think some more
And realize that they can't/won't/don't want to [do something]
And they don't do it
(Even thought they said they were going to [do something])

"[Do something]" could be anything
Read a book, become a famous sumo wrestler, cc: me on an email, make dinner, move to Africa, learn to samba, dye my hair blue, whatever . . .

I wish people would say "I'm thinking about [doing something]" when they are still in the thinking phase,instead of saying "I'm going to [do something]"
Because I'm always the fool that believes them
And keeps cheering for them long after they've quit

I know that I frustrate folks by doing the opposite
I don't say anything about [something] until I'm gosh darn sure that [something] is going to happen. (Just ask my colleagues in WDM how long it took for me to tell them about my plans to leave WDM!)

BUT . . . personality preference aside,
I hate not being able to trust people
I hate people talking about ideas as if they were fact
I hate looking stupid for believing them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Our Girl Scout group (we're no longer a "troop" because the girls decided to be a "group" - they came up with this completely on their own, and I really like it!)

Anyway, out Girl Scout Group meets in the community center, which also houses the local food bank.
And farmer donated a lotta squash to this food bank
The people served by the food bank, however, are not interested in squash
I don't understand how people can not like squash
"Squash" is a funny name
And it looks like a plastic Thanksgiving decoration
(But whose fault is that??) Besides, when you cut it open, squash is so orange
and pretty
and it smells nice!

So the other day, I was arriving to the community center/food bank just as the director was leaving. We exchanged hellos and, out of the blue, she asked, "Do you like squash?"

Confused, but loyal to my favorite foods, I said, "I love squash." And she told me that the community center was swimming in squash, and gave me 6 squashes!!

Slightly sureal, but now I have squash
How can you not be happy when you have a thermos full of sweet, orange yumminess for lunch!

Also, it snowed last night
Today is just as cloudy and grey as yesterday but things seem brighter with a layer of snow on the ground!

And I finally used my cast iron snowman muffin pan
So I have snowman corn muffins to accompany my squash on this less-grey day

What can I say??? Life is good!

Monday, November 14, 2005


My boy Josh is in town this weekend.
He's playing the Beethoven concerto, and then conducting Beethoven's 7th

FRIDAY - UPDATE I'd hoped to go
But . . . The fun money for this month has already been spent - even if it hadn't the cost of a ticket (plus the stupid ticket fees and parking) exceeds the fun budget.
Physical therepy is costing me a small fortune (worth every penny!)
And my car is acting up again

SATURDAY - UPDATE The review from yesterday's performance is excellent. ::sniff::sniff::
- My personal Geek (everyone needs their own geek) says that we should all be boycotting Sony, and that if I *had* gone, he would have disowned me (because Joshua Bell is signed to . . . Sony Classical)

Sunday, November 13, 2005


That's *my* blog listed on the MSNBC website
(Never mind that it's just a Technorati list of people that mention their article; this could be my big break into the world of political blogging, and fame, and fortune!!)

Or maybe not


My dad is a great whistler.
He will tell you he's not musical
But he can whistle any tune - - and then improvise on it for hours
If he'd learned to "speak" music, he'd be a composer.
I'm sure of it.

* * *

When my siblings and I were growing up,
Dear 'Ole Dad had a special 13 note melody that he whistled when he wanted the dog to come. (Think opening of a horse race)
There was also a 3 note motive he used to call his kids

People were either impressed that kids came running when he whistled, or absolutely appalled. Dear 'Ole dad got a lotta grief (esp. from his mother) for "whistling to your children just like the dog."

(Dear 'Ole Dad would point out that the "Kid Calling" tune was very different from the "Dog Calling" tune - but appalled people don't appreciate subltely!)

* * *

The other night I had dinner with Dear 'Ole Dad.
The ketchup bottle had a fine-tiped nozzle which he used to make intricate ketchup designs ontop of his meatloaf

I said, "Fancy Stuff"

He said, "This is nothing, you should have seen me as a kid, I made plow lines in my mashed potatoes, with the beans sticking up in rows like a farm."

I said, "My father never let me play with my food."

He replied, "The father of your childhood is gone."
He talked about Papa VW mellowing out once his kids left the nest, and how he's starting to mellow out now that his kids are grown. He said that if he were to raise his family all over again, he would do some things differently, and maybe even play with mashed potatoes!

* * *

So I asked Dear 'Ole Dad if, in doing things differently the second time, would he still call his children by whistling.
He laughed ("You better believe I would whistle again!")
But went serious again and said the main thing he would have done differently is church.
He didn't know how. Maybe a different church, maybe different choices, but he would do something differently. He said, "They were always fighting . . . "

* * *

They were always fighting.
I didn't notice it until 7th grade.
That was odd.
7th grade is too young to be told what's happening, but old enough hear gossip.
(A bad combination)

After a few years, I began to see fighting without the help of gossips.
Constant tension, stubborn traditions, hidden subtext.
I learned to be angry,
But I also learned to argue and think.

Thinking turns people into heretics
It's a heretical thing to say. . . but I'm proud to be a heretic
Heretics have more fun!

* * *

The cover story in this week's City pages is on religion, What's a lapsed Catholic former sex worker to do when she find out she still belives? It's a good essay (except the skate punks at Orland Square were completely plastic, wannabee, losers. The real skaters hung out at Chicago Ridge).

My two favorite quotes:
He didn't employ the phrase "buttfuck" but not everyone is as eloquent as Renee

There is nothing implicity sheep-like about collective worship. In fact, studies show that sheep have not been know to commune for religious purposes"

I'll have to take her word for it.
Thee wan't a lot of sheep herds roaming around Mt. Greenwood, Chicago Ridge, or even Orland Park. In fact, all my sheep-knowledge comes entirely from a few hours spent at the Petting Zoo.

* * *

The Brookfield Petting Zoo had goats and sheep in a pen
With a playground made of tires
Kids were allowed/encouraged into the exhibit to play on the tires with the goats
Once upon a time the VW family went to the Brookfield Zoo, and all the VW kids were playing in the sheep/goat exhibit (with at least a dozen other kids).
After playing for a while, Dear 'Ole Dad whistled his three note whistle, and of course, all the VW children ran out of the exhibit. (Afterall, when Dear 'Ole Dad whistles, you come!)

The other kids playing with us noticed the sudden hurried rush children, and decided something fun (or dangerous) must be happening, and they ran for the exit too. The sheep/goats apparently didn't want to be left out, and next thing you know every critter in that petting zoo exhibit was stampeding to the exit.

* * *

Like I said at the very beginning,
My dad is a great whistler.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Some of the smarest people in the world read this blog (And I'm not just saying that so you'll help me!)

What are some good games to play with my Grandmother?

She can't see well, so I need games that don't involve a lot small-ness or reading. (Trivial pursuit, Jenga, Gin, Risk, and Pictionary are too difficult to play low vision)

I'm looking for games that can be played with a group of at least 4 (5-6 players is preferable).

We've been playing UNO; which is perfect!
We can have lots of players, and the numbers/colors are big enough for her to see her own cards. The center pile is difficult to see, but we all announce what card we put down, and she does just fine!

We've adapted Outburst and Catch Phrase, but she doesn't like having a reader/helper. It's much better if she can play as a full participant

And we're tired of UNO
If, dearly beloved brilliant reader, you know of a good game or two, drop me a comment. (And if you are an entrepreneur, please invent/invest in more family games that are low-vision-friendly).


More along,
Nothing to see.
Just a crazy old woman publicly day-dreaming about her imaginary farm

There's a lot to be said for having a large, common, house, but these Tiny Houses are spiffy! (And I like the idea of having my own space, and allowing everyone else to have their own space! And they're simple). I love it!
via The Sympathetic Vibration.

Currently reading My Ishmael. The Leavers and Takers lifestyle - and inventing something is exactly why I want to have a farm. Read more Daniel Quinn

Information on milking goats, (fresh milk in the winter is not natural - this suburban girl has a lot to learn!)
And Remember A half-dozen miniature poodles can kill an adult goat if they gang up on her
(what a funny picture!)

Someone else's farm
Too Amish-y for me (and a crapy website) but interesting - itfound be fun to visit (a "fact-finding-mission"

RESOURCES on Minnesota Co-Housing

Zephyr Valley (Forget starting my own farm, I could happily live in Zephyr Valley!)
Zepher Valley is a consensus-based community. Decisions concerning the land, buildings and community interactions are made at our group meetings twice a month. We value respect: for each other, the land and the world at large. This is manifested in non-violence, sustainable agriculture, open, honest communication, active connection with the larger community and personal responsibility. Members are individually responsible for their choices concerning personal finances, child rearing, spiritual practices, diet and the like.

Omega House
(Omenga house *is* my farm-dream, transplanted to the city, with a seperate farm!!)
We consider ourselves progressive, diverse, a bit artsy, ecologically-minded and open to people of all genders, sexual orientations, races and shoe sizes. We're on the liberal-minded end of the scale, non-smokers and we think living with people in intentional community is smart and fun

Monterey Co-Housing Page

Friday, November 11, 2005


We must learn to live with the possibility
that there are no answers any more,
at least no Answers with capital letters

- Chaim Potok

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm 29 and 1/2
The fact that I still count birthdays in halves prooves that I'm not old enough to be almost 30
BUT I'm feeling very (very) old!

Exhibit A - Creeky Pain
My elbow hurts,
My knees hurt,
I'm popping pills/whining like an ar·thritic little old lady
(key word "old")

Exhibit B - Flirty Old Guy
So I'm sitting a waiting room, waiting
This older guy (like "grown-up old") comes in
Catches my eye, and starts talking
(Not a problem - talkative people amuse me!)
He is a grown-up.
He owns a house (he told me all about his beautiful house).
He is old.
He talks about his surgeries (past and future)
He is old.
But in his excessive small talk and flirting, he mentions the year he graduaed high school - and this "Flirty Old Guy" is only three years older than me!!!

Exhibit C - Old Old Old
My Brownie Girl Scouts want to do an overnight a Camp Snoopy
(Camp Snoopy is the indoor amusement park at the Mall of America)
Can words express how much I don't want to sleep over at Camp Snoopy?
They Can't
Because anyone who isn't OLD would love the idea of being at Camp Snoopy all night
But I'm Old
Old. Old. Old

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


At the risk of being immodest, let me say that I am a damn good secret keeper.
I love having and keeping secrets (and no one ever knows what I know, because I'm that good!

And yesterday, I was let in on a good secret
This is so much bigger than marriage proposals, baby announcements, or silly work gossip.
This is a secret of international significance.

I don't know when the official announcement will be made
(And when it is, it's likely that you won't care)
But it is exciting
(I like having an international secret in my secret-keeping-portfolio!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I learned to write from history teachers
And the best math teachers taught science

Sunday, November 06, 2005


The good news is that I have found the presidential candidate I’ve waited for all my life.
On the down side, he is Rep. Matt Santos, a Texas Democrat who exists only on TV’s “The West Wing.”

Full Article

Also see Does Matt Santos really have to be fictional?

Those of us on our sofas, wishing real life was more like "The West Wing," ought to look around and grab onto these stories [of Howard Dean, John McCain, and Barak Obama]. They ought to bring true hope, because they are believable. They tell us that just speaking up isn't enough; we'll need to do the hard work of persevering, too. Improvements won't come about in the space of 60 minutes minus commercials, nor even in the space of one television season. But they will come.

Friday, November 04, 2005


The garlic in my cabinet has little green sprouts growing out of it!
Julie wonders, "Can I grow galic?"

Answer Yes!
(I hope this works out better than the pineapple experiment!)

Thursday, November 03, 2005


My great grandfather was never ever sick a day in his life
Until he went to the hospital for something – and then it was all downhill
(At least that’s his version of the story. Everyone else sees things differently).
I disagreed with Grandpa Boomsa on a lotta things
(Like girls having to wear skirts on Sunday)
But we have the same independent streak when it comes to all things medical.

Remember when I fell off my bicycle?
I banged myself up pretty good.
But my amazing body did want it was supposed to do,
The bruises, scrapes, and such all healed beautifully.

Except my elbow still hurts – in fact I think it hurts worse now than it did before.
The responsible, grown up thing to do is get it checked out.
But that feels so much like giving up
I don’t want a sling, a cast, or physical therapy).
I just want whatever is wrong to fix itself.
Just like it is supposed to!

(Grandpa Boomsa would suggest onions from his garden to cure it. His onions were the best onions in the world. Alas, after he died, they sold his property as three lots, and a developer put new houses ontop of the soil that produced those onions - a diaster for onion connesuirs everywhere!)

Anway, I made a dr. appt. for tomorrow
Have I mentioned that I don’t like dr. appts?
The person I see is quite wonderful
But she's probably going to fuss over me – with x-rays and stuff.
And I’d be much happier without all of that.

And I still blame the dumb helmet!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Maybe you've already heard .
Congress is looking to make some cuts to the federal food stamp program

I've read the editorials
And heard the (loud) complaints.
And I don't like the idea of anyone going hungry

But . . .

When I go to the grocery store, I buy stuff like apples, potatoes, oatmeal, flour, milk, and cheese
Quite often, I stand in the checkout line and look at what other people buy
And try to think of ways to trick these strangers into inviting me over for dinner
(because the food they're buying looks so good!
like Golden Grahams (or Fruity Pebbles) orange creamscicles, and fancy Italian Sodas!)
And I dream about the day when I'm rich and can buy the things these rich people buy.
But then, (more times than I can count) this "rich person" pulls out a wad of food stamps.

It bothers me that I buy oatmeal
But my tax dollars buy Golden Grahams

No one should go hungry
But how come the people on food stamps can afford to buy brand name, individually wrapped string cheese while I settle for bulk mozerella?

Granted I'm a cheap-dutchman (believe the stereotype!)
Can't we require that food stamps can only be used to buy economical food. They don't have to be as cheap as me (Plain Oatmeal is an aquired taste for diehard tightwads!) but Corn Flakes, or at least the generic version Golden Grahams, is not an unreasonable requirement.

Call me a Republican, but I'm feeling OK about reducing spending on food stamps.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I'm not inclined to look it up right now, but there's a great Madeline L'Engle quote about reading the right books at the right time.

Oddly enough, Madeline L'Engle's non-fiction is one of those books that came into my life at the right time!

The "right time" book-of-the-moment is Christy by Catherine Marshall. I've read it twice in the last week and will probably read it again before it goes back to the library. (If any of the VW family happens to be reading, Christy is on my Christmas list!)

I know I "ought" to write more about WHY it is a great book, but that would require a lotta explination about things I don't want to explain (because they're personal, or because they're just to cumbersome to go through). So I'll spare you, and just post a quote or two which you are free to ignore!

Also, I saw for the first time that we have to accept people the way they are and not be shocked about anything.In my idealism, that had been hard for me. I had not understood Miss Alice's acceptance of the mountain people, nor Dr. MacNeil's, and had often been frustrated, sometimes even infuriated by their unwilling to push harder for changes. P. 378


is there really a correlation between having a self-centered personality and having a successful composing career? Could there be a causal link? Are nice guys doomed? Anyone out there want to share some anecdotal evidence?
Full Post at The Fredösphere