We have to get some computer troubles resolved. Until they are, I am taking a break from Areavoices.com…..not too long I hope.
Today I tried to think of two book titles written by Shirley Jackson, a well- known mystery writer from the 1950s and I finally googled "raising demons" in an attempt to remember the books she wrote about raising her 4 children in a small college town in Vermont. Sure enough…. my googling pulled up "Raising Demons" which can still be purchased as a used book on Amazon.com. The other title was "Life Among The Savages". Shirley Jackson was a typical 1950′s mom….stayed home to raise her kids, married to a college professor….a pretty ideal life for the 1950s mode many of us remember so well. But Ms. Jackson had a writer’s talent and put it to use, in spite of her being the ideal stay- at- home mother to her 4 kids…the "Demons" of her one title and I, assume, the "Savages" of the other title.
These thoughts and questions arose from my reading a verse sent me by a friend from a Leanin’ Tree greeting card. "May the light always find you on a dreary day; When you need to be home, may you find your way. May you always have courage to take a chance, and may you never find frogs in your underpants." It starts out so nobly, and then descends into odd humor in the final line but that last line reminded me of the day I found frogs in my socks. (thank goodness they were not in my underpants…I would not have survived that at all). I played every day with neighborhood boys who were my best friends for years and years as we grew up together. They were good playmates, but occasionally, they were just plain ornery boys….boys who liked to make girls scream. We were playing in the Methodist churchyard (our favorite ball diamond and playground) . The grass had just been mowed and we were running in our bare feet through the windrows of mown lawn grass (the Methodists waited til the grass was almost a haymeadow before they got it mowed) When we finished our romp in the freshly cut grass we all sat down to put our shoes and socks back on. Unfortunately for me, the boys had caught a frog in the grass and put it in one of my socks. I shrieked just like they knew I would and did a "get the frog out" dance for several minutes before settling down and emptying out my sock. I never forgave them for that trick. They never stopped laughing about it either.
Remembering this, made me think of the time I was "Raising Demons"….my three sons who were good boys, thankfully, but they were like my neighborhood playmate boys….they liked to do things to cause terror in women and girls and at times, turned into true Savages when they were with their friends doing things they should not have been doing. They knew if they picked up a garter snake and headed in my direction they would see a sprint record set by their own unathletic mother.
For instance, 20 years after the fact, the two oldest sons related some activities I was kept in the dark about at the time they happened. It involved frogs and fireworks. They confessed, with considerable glee, how they had blown up frogs with firecrackers. I was going into a fainting fit at the thought of such barbarism when they told me the frogs were dead before they blew them up. (I didn’t ask(wisely) how the frogs died). I have recovered from that confession and a similar one about blowing up (dead) fish at Turtle Lake with Richie, their good buddy whose family had a summer cottage on that lake.
And then there was the tale of the pocket gopher in the trap… still alive and snarling as they drew it out of the hole in the ground. It was about the time of the popular movie, "Jaws" and to hear them tell it, the oldest son was pulling on the trap chain and pulling a gopher out of the hole when it suddenly started moving and snarling and chomping its yellowed teeth at son # 1. Son # 2 gets hysterical and laughs til he cries even today in describing the wild dance his brother did around the gopher hole, apparently still hanging onto the chain, and the trapped gopher who was considerably riled at having its foot in the trap. As he danced around in sheer terror, he was making little "yip-yip-yip" cries. They finally got things under control, mercifully bonked the gopher on its head and had another set of gopher paws to put into their peanut butter jar which they kept in the freezer til they got enough to go cash in with the Township for 50 cents per pair of gopher feet. I had a few incidents of terror when I opened the freezer and SAW the peanut butter jar of frozen gopher feet among my frozen juice cans. The second son who witnessed his brothers Dance Macabre, later drew a cartoon of the incident with the gopher coming up out of the hole with a shark-like set of teeth and horrible shark-face. The cartoon was titled "PAWS" and it was pretty sophistcated cartoon humor for a then- 10 year old lad.
I also remembered the time the Demons (the older two) planned and executed a Body Snatch out of one of the beds upstairs. The body belonged to the youngest (and most tortured son) Still asleep, they carried him in his underpants and undershirt to the car in the driveway and drove to town threatening to bring him to the church office where they were going to dump him on the floor in front of the church secretary, an older very prim lady who would have called the police probably. They did not carry out the threat but they did park in the church parking lot and milked it for all it was worth. They also did the Body Snatch on their cousin from Alaska who was the same age as our youngest son and was also subjected to lots of mischief including "gornies" (rubbing the hair on the front of the head til it hurt) and giving "snuggies" (no explanation needed here). They brought Alaska cousin into the main street of town and parked in front of the drugstore and left the underwear-clad cousin in the car while they walked into the drugstore and had a snack.
Another incident at the time that the same cousin from Alaska was staying with them, was the day they decided to be a Rock And Roll Band in our living room with home made instruments including a drum set (my portable sewing machine and some ball point pens for drumsticks). We had just moved into our home and the carpeting was pristine and brand new. Of course in the process of drumming to some rock tape, one pen exploded sending a shower of viscous blue ball point ink onto the carpet in many spots….the drumming was quite vigorous as I remember it. I heard the gasp in the living room and sprang into action. When I saw the ball point ink spattered over a lot of carpeting, I lost my mind! I went ballistic! Banshees could not have out-shrieked me. Maybe I was in the throes of PMS on that day, but I went off like Krakatoa blowing its top all over Micronesia in the 1800s. The 4 boys…3 of mine and 1 cousin…fled the scene while I was still in full cry spewing lava-like screams and hysterics at nobody in particular. They made it down to the woods in a New York Second and did not return to the house for several hours. In my extremis, I did the only sensible thing I could think of…I called my husband at work and wailed out my carpet woes to him. Like getting a swift slap in the face, he told me to "call Clayton A. and ask for something to take ink out of the carpet". SLAP! Oh yeah, Clayton the Carpet Cleaning Man. A phone call to Clayton soon had me back on Planet Earth again. Clayton told me to hop in the car and he would have an ink stain remover all mixed up and ready for me. I arrived at Clayton’s still not breathing normally but took the ink stain remover into my trembling hands and tried to resist the urge to throw myself into Clayton’s arms or at his feet… or something. But his wife was there so I did neither. I got back in the car, drove home, applied the stain remover and Voila! the ink was gone, gone , gone. I tried to find the boys to tell them that the Vesuvial Eruption was over and peace had been restored to the household. I could not find them and they came creeping back in due time to find their real Mother and not some Wildly Shrieking Harpy in their home. All’s well that ends well.
I could go on and on about the water balloon launcher that almost took 10 years off their father’s life when they hit the steel building with a well launched balloon that exploded with a cannon-like boom just above their father’s head….or the times they accidentally chained up the dog to an electric fence and nearly scrambled her brains for life and many other Demon stories. But these will suffice.
And all this, from reading the verse about a frog in your underpants.
I have recently read some things that have triggered reactions in my thinking. For a long time now, since the publication and the film of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH I have wondered at the hypocrisy of certain Liberals regarding the use of energy and their advice to the "Little People" they would dearly love to control via taxation and other means on their use of energy. It apparently does not apply to them however.
In today’s FORUM (Saturday 7-26) there is a most cogent and articulate letter by Steve Strege taking to task those in the U.S. Congress who are trying to get a bill passed that would severely restrict energy use in ordinary American households. Referencing Barack Obama’s dictum that we Americans "…can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes at 72 degrees at all times…" Mr. Strege makes the following observations about U.S. Congress-persons: "Let’s assume for a moment that what government should dictate what we drive, how much we eat and the thermostat settings in our homes. Congress could show us the way and provide leadership by forfeiting its normal August recess. It could stay in session during that hot sticky month in Washington. But its members must turn off their air conditioning in the Capitol, in their office buildings and their homes. They must also park their own limos, SUVs and cars. Walk or bicycle around town for that month instead. And all go on a 1200 calorie per day diet."
I heartily agree with Mr. Strege’s suggestions for the members of Congress. It might change a lot of their benighted minds on the subject of becoming energy independent by approving a bill for drilling for more oil and building more nuclear energy plants and building more oil refineries in the United States. If they suffered without their high energy usages, perhaps they would be singing a different tune instead of making nutty suggestions that only the Little People should follow.
I also checked out the energy usage in Al Gore’s Tennessee mansion again since Gore has made himself the "Green Guru" over the past few years, even copping a Hollywood Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize for his "work". According to the Tennesse Center For Policy Research, in a June 17, 2008 release, Gore’s home, in the year since he took steps to make his home more energy efficient, has instead had the costs of his energy use surge by more than 10 %. "A man’s commitment to his beliefs is best measured by what he does behind the closed doors of his home," said Drew Johnson, President of the Tennessee Center For Policy Research. "Al Gore is a hypocrite and a fraud when it comes to his commitment to the environment, judging by his home energy consumption."
After the Tennessee Center For Policy Researchn exposed Gore’s high energy use, just a few days after he won the Hollywood Oscar for the film based on AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, Mr. Gore had to face the public notification of his own "Inconvenient Truth" and began to scramble to make changes in his mansion sized home. In spite of installing solar panels, a geothermal heating system, changing incandescent lightbulbs for more efficient new ones and overhauling the ductwork and windows in his home, Gore still consumes more electricity than before his "green overhaul". In June 2007 after the environmental overhaul, Gore’s energy use still stood at 17,768 kilolowatt hours per month which is still 1,638 kwHours than the monthly usage in the average American home. (occupied by Little People)
Since Al Gore won his Oscar and other prizes for being such a supreme environmentalist, he has increased his personal wealth by over $100 million dollars thanks to his speaking fees and investments supposedly related to Global Warming.
Drew Johnson again on Gore’s energy/environmental hypocrisy: "Actions speak louder than words and Gore’s actions prove that he views climate change not as a serious problem but as a money-making opportunity. Gore is exploiting the public’s concern about the environment to line his pockets and enhance his profile."
Assuming, by the sum of his increased personal wealth, there are still environmental loonies who have not lost faith in their fraudulent Green Guru who seems to be leading them down a Primrose Path into a fantasy land all their own.
I only get one magazine subscription…."Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion"..but one page in each issue is worth the entire subscription. It is the page called "Heartbeats" and this current issue is about friendship. It includes quotes from people both well known and not so well known.
The first quotation is from non other than Muhammad Ali, the aging former boxer now suffering from the devastations of Parkinson’s Disease. Ali’s quote says "Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school but if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you haven’t learned anything at all."
Little children have a gift for friendship from the earliest times in their lives. You see babies in shopping carts in stores reacting when they see another baby. They smile and make sounds and reach out for each other. They feel an instant bond with other babies. Then later friendships form between young children…in their neighborhoods and in school
when they began to attend to their educational careers as 5 or 6 year olds. Sometimes the bonds formed in grade 1 are firm all through their adult lives; sometimes friends move in and out of your life but you do not forget their friendships if it has been a good one. I still think of Sonja, who moved into my life when I was about 8 years old and left my life when I was about 15 years old. We lived in the same block for those years and were instant playmates and friends til her family moved away when we were young teenagers. I still keep in touch with many of the friends I made in first grade who were with me all the way through our El-Hi years in a small town. That is one of the good traits of small towns….you know all the kids and they know you and you are often a big cheerful family that sticks together through ups and downs we encounter in our lives.
Making friends continues throughout your entire life. You have friends from college or workplaces or the Military….friends from the different places you have lived; friends who come back every now and then and visit you and surprise you when they ring your doorbell…you are so delighted to see them again and get renewed and updated on their lives and families.
Emily Dickinson said this about friendship: "My friends are my estate." True friendships are more precious than any material things you might accumulate. Another quote from the "Heartbeat " page is this one: "The real test of friendship is, can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy those moments of life that are utterly simple?" (Eugene Kennedy)
I am reminded of the many times in childhood when my good neighborhood friends and I spent whole days sitting in a sandbox, building things but mostly conversing. I remember all of us sitting on swings or standing on the swing set supports…talking and talking about the things that mattered at that time to 9 and 10 year olds. We told each other stories, we discussed important matters, we plotted how to build a "spookhouse" and charge admission so we could earn some money. We made decisons about what we would play that day…would it be "Tarzan and Jane?" Would it be "Ranchhouse and cowboys"??? Would we play World War 2 and crouch in our foxhole, a heap of clay in my backyard dug out of a basement- making project that my Dad was working on at nights??? Those friends and I learned the fine art of conversation, decision making and compromise from our talks in the sandbox and on the swings. Those friends could sit down together today and reminisce and update each other with complete ease. Class reunions are built on friendships and the renewing of them. Same thing with family reunions.
I spent the day with friends. One of them is a long term friend, with the components of camraderie forged in the frontlines of an elementary school with all its varied students and situations that were so common to us. I still have many friendships with other teachers who were my colleagues years ago. The other friends today were two I met recently but we discovered that our interest in the Arts was such a binding thing….today I met another new friend, who is a "mentor" to my artist friend whose painting I bought at an art show in the spring. All 5 of us sat down together for lunch in a most pleasant setting. Three of us had our first taste of Indian cuisine at "Passage To India". Our converstaion and our friendship and common bonds flowed so easily. It was a satsifying time.
Plutarch, who lived in ancient times, had this to say about friendship: "A constant friend is a thing rare and hard to find." The sort of friendships that really matter in our lives are like that….rare and hard to find.
But when you do find it, what a gift it is.
Quite a few years ago, when I was an elementary school librarian, one of my favorite books for read-alouds was a wonderful picture book done by a husband and wife writer/artist team, Don and Audrey Wood. It was called THE NAPPING HOUSE and had a neat story about a rainy afternoon when a "Granny" and her little grandson took a nap during the rainshower. Granny was clad in a long nightgown and nightcap, the little boy was asleep in his play clothes and a huge hairy dog and a pet cat were part of the Napping House also. The kids absolutely loved the book and once when we were "dressing up" for some special days that featured books and reading, I wore a pink flannel nightgown my mother had made and even found a nightcap (saved one of my old lacy curler caps from the 1970′s. ) As each primary class came in to storytime, I was on top of one of the tables in my Granny Garb, and went out of my way to make loud snores for the entertainment of the little students who were almost totally baffled at finding the "Library Lady" seemingly asleep on a table. I had my good right hand, library assistant, Sue, in on it and she hushed them and said we had to wake up the Librarian very carefully or she might be really crabby. We had a lot of fun that day and I remember it well.
At the present time, because I no longer "pretend" I am snoring, I have put myself under a self- imposed banishment to a special "Snoring Room". I always used to tell my family members that I DID NOT snore when they told me they had heard me in the night… (Grandkids are especially honest about matters like that) and then one of them…. I won’t name HIM but HE recorded my snores on a small cassette tape recorder one night when I had my head thrown back in the recliner….I was sleeping in the recliner for some health reason at the time…probably had a bad bronchial or sinus cold or some such thing. When I heard the tape played back, I was horrified at the noise that was my snoring. It truly sounded like someone pulling a wet rope through a small hole in a wooden barrel!
I remembered then, hearing my mother snore….she was a prodigous snor-er and her fame was well known among HER family…. both immediate and extended. Once when she was still quite a young girl, her widowed mother, who was in charge of the farm animals, woke on a summer night, and leaped out of bed because she could heard the bull making noises outside in the yard. She ran out to discover that the terrible noises were coming from an open upstairs bedroom in which my young-girl mother was sleeping. I guess I come by my bad snoring honestly.
I have read that really bad snoring can be debilitating to one’s health but I have taken no measures yet to find out if I am debilitating , other than to those who hear me. My good friend, with whom I share a love of books, reading, and other similar pursuits, has suggested I write another childrens’ book titled THE SNORING ROOM. I am thinking I might… just to amuse myself. It must also contain the tales of the Cat Alarm Clock, or Purr-RING to awaken me. I do not know if the Princess Kitty is allergic to my snoring, but she does wake me up early in the morning…I think it has more to do with being bored and wanting attention. She is very effective as a Purr-RING Alarm Clock. however.
Since she gets her attention and runs me around like her personal servant, I have taken to calling her yet another of my names for her…."Lady Catter-ly" (She was spayed as a young cat so she has not had near as many "adventures "as the real "Lady Chatterly")
I think if I do write that childrens’ book, I will have to also consider another title suggested by Friend, Fran….LADY CATTER-LY AND HER MOTHER. If someone had told me when I was about 21 years old that I would wind up being a cat’s mother in my Dotage, I would have laughed them out of the room. But I fear it is the truth. A close relation of mine refers to the cat as "Your Slave-Driver".
Now, what AM I going to call that book I write????
Nothing stays the same no matter if we wish it would. Nationally and in our states, we regularly change our politicians, if we want to do that through voting. What a priviledge it is to be part of a free nation and be able to make those kinds of changes. Our option for changes is coming again in November.
We all face personal changes almost on a daily basis, although some of the big changes creep up on one, gradually. I have had a few of those in the past couple of years. I have entered a new decade, one that scripture describes as a normal lifespan—-3 score and twenty. That is a sobering thought. I have begun to think of my end– even though I do not have any immediate plans for that end….do any of us? One thing that has irked me for years is the fact that when death invades a family, those remaining are vulnerable to having to spend a huge amount of money just to bury their loved one. Many years ago I belonged to a study group and one book we read was "THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH" by Jessica Mitford, a British woman. I have been simmering ever since I read that book and occasionally, it boils up in me. "The Funeral Industry" has gotten laws passed in most states that you cannot be buried unless your casket is inside a very expensive vault made of concrete. You also cannot be buried unless your body ahs been embalmed. That is only the beginning. It is expected that the family will have a "viewing" which I consider kind of barbaric but some say they need that part. The last time I priced caskets, I was blown away (when my father died in 1991) I can only imagine the effect of inflation on that particular expense. I know that cremation has become a mort viable option, but you get charged plenty for that process also and many people do not consider cremation an option on moral or religious grounds.
One of my big changes is that I am considering buying a plain pine coffin which is available from several sources that build them. I found something called "The Pine Box" site and the coffins are beautiful, looking plain and dignified and very much American pioneer -traditional. The cost of the Pine Box option is amazingly low compared to what you pay when you purchase one through a Mortuary. I realize many families WANT to buy the most expensive casket, for whatever reason, but for me, I would advise my family not to do so. That is why I may order myself the plain Pine Box and have it ready for whenever it is needed!!!! I am also going to choose the hymns and scriptures for my final departure…..plus a few other instructions to my loved ones about what I want and do NOT want to happen. If I could truly have my way (and defy all the laws that have been passed about funerals and burials) I would ask my family to bury me on a certain river bluff that overlooks a valley just east of my home. Years ago, families had that option but not any more.
Changes, Changes: I did not go to the Street Fair this past week. Walking in the heat and on the concrete surfaces has become a real bummer for me and that is a huge change. I used to enjoy the Street Fair and walk up and down Broadway for more hours than I could keep track of. I went last year with my husband and we were accompanied by a family of our cousins from Norway. They enjoyed it immensely, apparently because there is not a counterpart to the Street Fair in their city. The teenage son of the cousins went wild over the freshly squeezed lemonade and drank so many glasses that on the way home, he pleaded for a "potty stop" !! There is no freshly squeezed lemonade in Norway either, apparently. I remember drinking "Solo" in Norway, a carbonated lemon-orange drink that was delicious and I know of no counterpart to "Solo" in the U.S. for that matter also.
Changes, Changes: This will be my last year of traditional gardening in which I plant seeds in neat rows in the soil in April and May. Due to the recurring left knee tendinitis when I irritate it in any way, I have decided to switch to Container Gardening and have already laid plans for growing salad lettuce and spinach in my northside flower planter which now holds the annual display of impatiens. The impatiens will still be there but they will be in 3 huge pots in front of my salad garden planter. I am also considering raised planters for things like carrots and snap peas and will be investing in patio tomatoes and patio cucumbers as well. My brother in law, a master gardener for many years, saved and used the huge containers that trees come in to grow green peppers. He has a burgeoning crop ready to harvest already from his "pot gardening". This decision represents a HUGE change…..I have had a traditonal vegetable garden for so many years I cannot count them.
Changes, Changes: I am switching from walking to bike riding. I used to walk 3-5 miles at 5:00 a.m. in the mornings but I have not done that for a long time…partly because I have discovered the joys of "sleeping in" since I retired 4 years ago. I also like riding my bike more than I like walking for excercise. I am just grateful I can still do that……I have contemporaries who are in nursing facilties after having suffered serious illnesses. I am blessed with extremely good health and do not even have problems sleeping as some my age do…..I sleep like the Proverbial Baby at night (no, I do not cry all night!!) Never having smoked or never having drunk much alcohol other than the holiday glass of wine, I find that what my sons say is true, (all in healthcare professions) Alcohol and smoking take a huge toll on one’s body usually showing up big time in one’s 5th and 6th decade. Another thing for which I am grateful—- I have gotten along just fine without those two habits so common to Americans of most ages.
Because most Changes do come gradually we do not notice them til they are already there. I know it is possible to have a very sudden change brought on by sudden illness but most people can gradually adjust to the changes that are so inevitable in our lives.
Anyone remember the BBC hit show, "Monty Python’s Flying Circus"?? My sons used to beg to stay up past 10:30 on Sunday nights so they would not miss the weekly episode on PBS. Monty Python’s flying circus troop has gone their separate ways long ago….Graham Chapman died of AIDS, Michael Palan hosted a travel show on a cable network, John Cleese starred in "Fawlty Towers" and has done other comedic works, Eric Idle and Terry What’s His name—–I do not know what they have done—–but the Pythons of the BBC show are done and gone for some years now. Not to worry. Senator Barack Obama is taking his Flying Circus on the road, or should I say, to the airways????
After being taunted by Senator McCain for not visiting Iraq, Obama has scheduled a trip to Iraq and some other Mideastern stops as well as making plans to do a "Rock Star tour" in a few European capitals where he will be adored and fawned over by the people and perhaps the governments, alike.
I really think Obama sees himself as a true Rock Star, only in a political sense. He has promised to deliver a Rock Star acceptance speech in Denver when the Democrats hold their convention in August. He gets more Rock and Roll-ey each time you hear one of his major speeches to the crowds that gather to adore him and act like it is the reincarnation of the 1964 Beatles Invasion of the United States.
The crowning touch is that ALL the major news anchors on the non-cable station (CBS, NBC and ABS) are accompanying him on his plane (note: NOT on the Press Plane that inevitably follows presidential candidates). No, Brian Williams (he of the low ratings), Katie (Toothy) Couric, she of the Lowest Ratings Of All, and Charlie Gibson, probably the most sensible anchor on the non-cable news stations—–all of the Head Honchos so to speak are going with Obama on his plane, to cheer him on and report, no doubt, the most favorable possible coverage of his trip to the Mideast and Europe.
For the first time in our history…..3 major news anchors are openly admitting that they are"in the tank" for Obama and are blatantly going along on this Campaign trip overseas. Do not mistake it for an information-gathering trip…Obama will be traveling in a royal-like entourage of Admirers and Supporters as if he were already the President of the United States. His adoring Minions (Katie, Brian, and Charlie) will be doing all they can to resist the urge to kow-tow and salaam Obama at every stop he makes on this most bizarre Campaign Trip, ever.
It remains to be seen how the voting public in the United States reacts to this Grande Tour of Europe and the Middle East. Sensible voters may possibly and most probably, be put off by this blatant campaigning in the European capitals and also in the Mid East where Obama better watch his step and his mouth since he is obviously uninformed about a number of political delicacies, especially in Israel.
We maybe should be watching for a Major- Foot- In- Mouth- Incident on this trip. When Obama gets carried away by his perceived Rock Star status, he often inserts his considerably large foot into his mouth and makes a glaring error that is recorded for all to see in the Media that covers the Globe, 24-7. Of course his Entourage will do all they can to delete it from their reports but other Media people will surely report the truth, even if NBC, ABC, and CBS cannot see it even it hits them in the face.
The most amusing thing about this CAMPAIGN trip of Obama’s is that it comes to him, courtesty of the success of The Surge…..the Surge that Obama has denied is working. If it were not working, it would be a very different Iraq to which he would go…probably wouldn’t be able to go at all. I wonder if he might admit he was wrong about the Surge?
It is going to be one interesting CAMPAIGN TRIP!!!! Stay tuned.
I got a better than usual e mail from one of my cousins concerning Bill Gates, General Motors and our love/hate relationships with our computers. It is too good not to share!!!
The story goes this way: Bill Gates was speaking at a recent computer expo and made some remarks about General Motors. "If GM had kept up with technoogy like the computer industry has, we would be driving $25.00 cars and getting 1,000 miles to the gallon." General Motors then issued a press release that took issue with Gates’s comments about their supposed technological slowness. The press release said the following:
If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would be driving cars with these characteristics. 1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash—-at least twice a day. 2. Every time they repaint the lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car. 3. Occasionally on the freeway, your car would die for no reason. You would have to pull off to the side of the road, close or shut all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and re-open the windows before you could continue. For some reason, you would just accept this. 4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, your car would shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to install a new engine. 5. Mackintosh could make a car powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive but would run on only 5 percent of the roads. 6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This car has performed an illegal operation" warning light. 7. The airbag system would ask "are you sure?" before deploying. 8. Occasionally your car would lock you out, and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed the radio antenna. 9. Every time a new car was introduced to buyers, you would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as your old car. 10. You’d have to press the "start" button to turn the engine off.
Take that, Bill Gates…..even though you are now retired!!!!!
Today I took two 13 year old granddaughters shopping. It is an annual event when grandkids visit for a few days or longer that we have to go shopping. The boys do not give a hoot about shopping but the girls do! Today was the day for the two —one from Bismarck and one from St Cloud.
These girls are VERY interested in finding end of season bargains and I must say I admire their abilities to find them. They ended up with a total of 4 nice shirts each that they can wear for school and the 4 shirts cost less than 30 dollars….impressive. I, on the other hand, do not care for shopping for anything unless I need it desperately. Walking the halls of West Acres is a literal pain….those concrete floors with hard tiles create agony for my feet and legs so I told my girls today that I would be seated on the comfortable chairs and couches outside the stores they wanted to go in and that is what I did. It really was a good thing to do.
In doing so in several spots around the Mall, I was able to engage in one of my favorite activities…People Watching. I have noticed that are a lot of other People Watchers in addition to me….we are taking note in our brains of who and what we see. And what did I see today???
1. The Mall is where teenagers and pre-teenagers gather in small coveys like birds of a feather flocking together …but for no apparent reasons other than being a part of the covey. Oh, a few had packages or bags in their possession but most of the groups I saw pass by were just hanging out together. It was amusing to see two sixth or seventh grade boys following 2 girls about the same age. They must have known each other but the four were too shy to acknowledge each other in a real way. One of those boys mystified me big time; all the time he walked behind the chosen girls, his shoes were halfway off and it looked like a miserable way to walk the Mall….he always had those shoes halfway off and I spotted him at least 5 or 6 different times. I wondered about the parents of these children. Do they give them a ride to the Mall and drop them off for hours and hours at a time???
2. Young women wear horrible shoes that are going to create foot problems somewhere down the line in their later years. Today I spotted 3-4 young women wearing impossibly high spike-heels. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain it would cause me now, at this stage of my life but I do have to admit that when I was about 22 and a beginning teacher, I wore 3 inch spike heels all day while I was teaching English to ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders. Perhaps it is one of the reasons that I now wear good walking shoes all the time and in every place. Some of these spike heels were on sandal-type shoes with tiny straps around the ankles…absolutely no support for the back of the heel and I thought of the several times I have had "Plantar’s Fascitis" which is painful to the max! These young women are warming up for their own cases of Plantar’s Fascitis as their foot ligaments get older and are not so pliable as they are now in their youth. The most bizarre pair of really high spike heels were attached to knee high brown suede boots worn by a young woman who was really in an "ensemble" consisting of a white summery pinafore type dress with brown and turquoise trim on it. The brown suede knee- high spike heel boots matched the dress perfectly. She also wore a three- strand turquoise necklace—the sort I last saw on Hillary Clinton when she was campaigning. Apparently those necklaces are all the rage…at least that is what the 13 year old granddaughters explained to me today.
3. Children are begetting and bearing children. Today I observed several obviously young teenagers with babies in strollers going up and down the Mall halls…..one couple—a young girl and a young boy who must have been the parents of a very young baby. Both of them could not have been more than 15 or 16 years old and I felt sad watching them walk by with this infant that probably is going to have a lot of troubles by the time he or she is ready to go to school. These children having children are not ready to be the sort of parents a young baby needs. They are not grown up enough to know what an awesome responsiblility they have taken on with their careless habits of random sex at such young ages.
4. Our sexually charged culture is everywhere. I am aware of the blatant sexuality of movies, modern songs, and other forms of so called "art"… but the advertising I saw on a huge black and white photo of a male body (no face) posted just inside the entrance of Abercrombie and Fitch was a shocker to my sensibilities. I had sat down in a comfy chair waiting for my girls to be done looking in a clothing store for the bargains they were seeking. Then I spotted the picture in Abercrombie and Fitch. I was facing it. I am definitely of another age and time. I cannot casually accept a huge photo of a young man with his jeans pulled down by his thumbs exposing nearly all of his pubic area. A gray shadow manages to keep his genitals from showing plainly. I do not think any of the people walking into that particular store gave that huge photo a first or second thought….it is just the way it is now. But it is not a part of my way now… or ever. It also made me sad to think about the way young people accept such advertising and other similar forms of sexually explicit displays. It is no wonder our culture is devolving into a no-marriage, no family, no stability- scenario for so many young people who bring babies into the world because it is just the thing to do! Call me old fashioned but I will never believe that I am wrong in seeing this phenomena for what it is…..our culture has become so coarse and so degraded. Modesty, self-control, morals and plain sensiblity that used to prevail have gone down the drain a long time ago. We are not better for it.
I do not want to end on a troubling note. My granddaughters thanked me over and over for the day shopping. We spend a lot of hours having fun, fun , fun!!! We hit the Food Court and enjoyed a meal there. We went to Gordman’s also and the two of them thought they had died and gone to heaven never having been in that particular department store. I love the place myself and never fail to inspect all the unique lamps they have in stock. If I had my "Druthers" (and a big wad of money)… my home would be full of cute lamps with fringes and bangles and Gordman’s would be much richer for my unquenchable passion for lamps.
We did not arrive back home til after 7 p.m. All of us were pretty spent by then. I had no arguements when I suggested that we all get cleaned up and into our ‘jammies and just lie around and watch a movie til bedtime. The girls had a hard time staying awake til the movie ended and there was little giggling or talking once they were in bed. ONe goes home tomorrow; the other goes home on Thursday. I will collapse and rest up for a day or two!! There is a good reason why we should have our children when we are still in our twenties or early thirties. I feel really sorry for those who wait til they are approaching 40. I could not have pulled it off. It takes a whole lot of energy to raise children.
In spite of some of the troubling things I pondered while I people watched today…it was a good day. I am so glad West Acres has put in all those lovely couches and chairs on which to "take a load off" and enable a non-shopper like me to last longer with some enthusiastic 13 year olds I dearly love to spend time with!!!
This has been a very special weekend. I was surrounded by the People I Love The Most …in the whole world! This was the special weekend when all 3 of our grown up sons and our "daughters" (they are not ‘in-laws’ but real daughters to us)….our 5 granddaughters, our 3 grandsons, my one and only sibling—my beloved Sister and her husband (our dearly loved "brother")…..my nephew and his wife and their three precious little ones….. my Niece and Namesake…..my only living Aunt who I have always called "my young Aunt" because she was 17 years old when I was born and lived with my parents at that time…..my cousin (her daughter) …..my dear friend and colleague, Fran, now retired as I am….my sister’s dear friend and ours also, visiting from Green Valley, AZ, ….my granddaugter’s special boy-friend…..and best of all…my precious husband of 48 years…..all these beloved ones were with us this weekend for the "140-Candle" party to celebrate both of our turning 70 in 2008.
What a wonderful time we had yesterday and today. The whole gang was present yesterday for a typical picnic dinner served at our home on the Buffalo Bluff high above the Buffalo River. It rained a bit and blew alot, but that could not deter our joy and our celebration. We had our "dining room" in the freshly cleaned garage (it takes a graduation, a wedding or a birthday party to get that garage cleaned up!!!)….we had the grill cooking our meats, and everyone else contributed special dishes to a typical picnic meal….potato salad, baked beans, fruit salad, fresh strawberries and fresh vegetables….french bread, and 3 kinds of cakes!!! We washed it down with a variety of soda pops , lemonade, and the inevitable strong coffee that is necessary at these gatherings and is enjoyed by people of Scandinavian descent(s). Even some of the teen-agers have been acclimated to strong coffee and are right in sync with us older caffienated grown-ups.
Then came the entertainment…..a game of "Autos" in the ballfield down one side of the big hill on the specially groomed "field of dreams"… courtesy of our adult sons. "Autos" is a baseball-type game invented years ago by our then-young sons and their cousin (the nephew who was with us yesterday). They played a spirited game of "Autos" and had a much bigger team to field with the presence of the 8 grandchildren who are now part of the "Autos" teams. I have never known the exact rules of this invented game but it mainly involves pitching and batting and hitting tennis balls and attempting to hit an "auto" (automatic homer over into the trees by the river). We also found and watched an old video from 1987 about the time the 4 boys invented "Autos". We shrieked with laughter at "The Brawl" which happend when "Nephew" at age 14 pitched to Middle Son (about 22 years old) and hit him on the back causing Son to rush the pitcher’s mound and attack Nephew in a mock baseball brawl. It was extremely dramatic with a take-down and consequent pummeling of Nephew who curled himself into a fetal postion which left him wide open for some hard fake kicks to the kidneys. It was all recorded and "commented" on by Youngest Son who was videotaping with an old fashioned video camera that must have weighed 15 pounds and had to be borne on one’s shoulders…a definite example of 1987 video technology. After "Autos" was exhausted and everyone had been up to bat at least twice, they switched to a Water Winger and a picnic cooler full of water balloons which then got shot into the baseball field from the hilltop where 3 Water Wingers would stretchd the bands back to the point of lying flat on their backs on the ground before sending the water balloons high into the sky in arcing loop-de-loops. The three youngest boys…two 11 year old grandsons and one 6 year- old great-nephew… who were armed with very old baseball mitts with which they tried to "catch" the water balloons. There were many water explosions on/ or/ near the three boys’ bodies and much loud laughter coming from the troups on the hilltop where the balloons were being launched.
When it began to clear off (rain clouds) a big bonfire was lit in the fire pit near the pole building and all the wet water wingers gathered round to dry off and warm up. One of the "grand-doggers" (the Very Nervous Dachsund) still smelled like bonfire smoke on Sunday morning. (I forgot to mention that among the best- loved ones were two grand-doggers..Otto and Jobie). Our Princess Kitty spent the day hiding in her special hiding places near the house and keeping away from the loud laughter, the roar of two 4-wheelers and the general commotion and celebration. Nightfall found us inside chattering away like magpies in many conversations groups, a long session of picture-taking (family groups, Auntie "B" with all the generations around her) and some candid shots taken unexpectedly of individuals and groups of chatter-ers. Gifts were opened by the "140-Candle Honorees" and a gasp went up as a quilt of a family pictures was opened. Never have I seen such a lovely gift for a Mom and Dad or a Gramma and Grampa! Our whole family on a lovely pink, green and white finely stitched quilt to be hung and displayed like a large family picture onone of our wall spaces.
What a great remembrance of a day and a lifetime and all those we love best. And all of those best loved ones were right there with us all day long surrounding us with love and friendship. It beat all the graduations, confirmations, anniversaries and all other birthdays past. Today we have the after-glow of remembering what yesterday was to us….a day of love and laughter and celebration with 4 generations surrounding us. And two good dogs and one precious Kitty, to boot!!!!