Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Knitting ...

I am starting a sweater. I haven't made a sweater in over 20 years. Wish me luck!
This one is supposed to be pretty easy, so we'll see. I love the asymmetry of the front, and the fun buttons. I am doing it in a beautiful Peruvian wool that is kind of blue-grey. Haven't picked out the buttons yet but I saw some that were made out of nuts when I bought the yarn that called to me.
I'll let you know how it turns out!

Monday, January 28, 2008

It oughtta be a holiday!

What fun to go to Google today and see this:
50th Anniversary of LEGOS!!!!!
In this household, that makes today pretty much a national holiday!!!
(Really, ask the boys in excitement? No, says the mother. Awww..... say the boys.)

Peer Gynt

This weekend I went to see Peer Gynt at the Guthrie. One of the treats I have allowed myself is season tickets to the theater. I have missed live theater in recent years and so when the Guthrie called last fall, I said YES, sign me up!

Peer Gynt was AMAZING. I beleive I read the book in a class on Ibsen at the University many, many moons ago. At least I have a copy of it, and two books on Ibsen, on my bookshelf. However, I have no memory of it at all. I was musing about it with the friend I took along to the play that perhaps I read it in Norwegian and that's why I remember so little ...but I don't own in in Norwegian, so it's going to remain a mystery.

What amazed me the most about this production was the translation. In reading reviews, I learned (or maybe re-learned?) that Peer Gynt as Ibsen wrote it is full of word play, rhymes, jokes and puns. In every English translation up til now, the translators have focused on getting the meaning of the play, keeping it amusing, but not putting in as many rhymes, jokes and plays on words as Ibsen did. I find that quite reasonable, I mean, how can you translate rhymes to rhymes - what are the chances that two words that rhyme in Norwegian are going to rhyme in English? How can you just make up rhymes in English and maintain the meaning of the original text?

Well, Robert Bly did. I still don't know how he did it, but he did, and he did an amazing job of it. (As an aside, who knew Robert Bly - I think of him as the man with drums - is fluent in Norwegian??)

Now I do want to go back and read it in its original format, to further my appreciation and amazement at Bly's miraculous work.

HIGHLY recommend this for those of you in the Twin Cities!

Health Update

Well, it's been a full week and I'm doing really well on the eating side of getting healthier, not so good on the exercise side, though. I actually dropped 5 pounds this week :-) I know from past experience that the first week is always big and then it tapers off, so I don't have huge expectations - but am celebrating this morning (I held off from weighing myself all week long until this morning.)

So - this week's plan is to hold steady with the food and bump up the movement.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I habb a cohwd

Last night I was lying on the counch minding my own business when


All of a sudden I have a cold. The yucky, achy, just want to stay in bed kind of cold.

Tomorrow better be better.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I think they do it on purpose

Well, I have just spent the last 65 minutes on the phone with Capital One. See, I have a Capital One credit card. They show these commercials all the time, and their website says, you can change your reward structure any time you want to. So heck, I believed them, and thought I would give them a call to make a change.

As soon as they found out the change I want involves lowering my interest rate, I got transferred to another department. There I was on hold for 23 minutes. I timed it. Then I got cut off.

So I started again. This time I started pushing "0" as soon as I was connected, to get a real live person. I got one, he was VERY friendly and accommodating, but he just didn't have the authority to make that kind of change, so he transferred me to Tammy in Account Management. Tammy was also pleasant and she said I had to talk to the Rewards Department. After being on hold for just 9 minutes this time, Tina in Rewards picked up the phone. She gave me all kinds of information about my existing account, information I already knew and which really isn't pertinent to the request I am making today.

When I told her my request, she said "You have to talk to an Account Manager to make that change." I said "but I just did talk to them and they transferred me to you!" ... pause ... "Can you hold while I explain it to them?"

So then I was back to a very nice man who sounded as if he was talking to me from India, which he probably was, but he was using a tin can and a string.

He confidently told me that I needed to apply to open a new account, then transfer the balance, and then close my existing account, and that he would be more than happy to transfer me to the people who could process all of that over the phone.


So he transfers me and I get a recording.

"Thank you for calling Capital One Account Opening Specialists. Our office is closed."

And I am still paying the higher interest rate.

They won this round.

Wise Words

Many wise people have pointed out
that it is not so much
what we do
as it is how we do it
that makes the difference in our lives.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'm so tech-savvy ....!!! HA!

You may notice I have a Dilbert thingee on the side of my blog now. It's called a Widget. Perhaps you already know what a widget is. I didn't. But now I have one. And I may not keep it but it was presented to me to try, so being the lemming I occasionally am, I dutifully followed the instructions and uploaded it to my blog.

I feel powerful :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm going to bed now

I didn't do anything bad today so I am going to bed now before I ruin my record!

It's about health ...

OK, this year I didn't consciously make any resolutions, but I am announcing here and now - so you are all responsible for keeping me accountable - that I AM going to get into better shape in 2008. That almost rhymes ... shape-eight. Humor me.

Lately I have noticed how hard I breathe after minimal exertion, and sometimes when I lay in bed at night I feel my heart beating faster than I would like it to. I am tired too often, and not able to accomplish as much as I would like to in a day. Or a week. My hours are still pretty good though.

Everyday there are new headlines about what is good for you and what is not good for you, what will promote longevity and what will rush you to an early grave - obviously every one of those "discoveries" needs to be taken with a grain of salt (except those about blood pressure, no salt needed there), but the bottom line is ... yeah, we all know it, eat less and move more.

It's not about losing weight (not that I would mind that!) It's about my grandchildren, and being around to play with them.

So, today, January 20 - which is, by the way, my Mom's birthday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY! - is the beginning of my attempt to become healthier. Wish me well, and ask me frequently how it's going so that I know I have to answer to you as well as myself.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun with Harry Potter

This morning I assigned the boys the task of reading a magazine article and then writing a summary or response in their writing journals. Ty found a fun article on the botany of Harry Potter and we wanted to share some of the things he learned.

1. Voldemort's wand is made of yew -- the tree of death.

2. Harry's wand is made of holly -- the bark of which is used for healing.

3. Lily's wand is made of willow -- the tree of sorrow and grief.

4. A mandrake is a real plant, which, according to lore, screams when you pull it from the ground. And look at the picture of the mandrake root - can't you totally see a person in there?

We are quite impressed with the research JK Rowling did and the meanings behind small details. I know Sirius is the dog constellation, and Lupus is a derivation of the Latin word for wolf. I know there are tons more - and I am betting at least two people will be able to share more that they know .... Carla & Shawn, we await your posts!!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

This just in!

On my way home from a meeting tonight I heard the latest news - the Golden Globes Awards were announced tonight (they did not have a whole big extravaganza show due to the strike) and ... as I called it here ....

Best Picture: ATONEMENT!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sock Mishap

Well I finished pair of socks #4. This is the first one I have done with "regular" yarn -- i.e., non self-striping. And I guess I need those stripes, as I made one sock a good half-inch shorter than the other one. See, with the striped yarn you can simply say "finish the sock at the end of the blue stripe" or whatever, and you don't need to measure. When you don't have those nice stripes telling you what to do and when, you actually have to pay attention.

Apparently this is an area I need some work in.

(And I can't take a picture because my camera battery is dead and I can't remember where I last used the charger!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Has anyone else ever noticed that the amount of time you wish to spend outside with your much-loved canine friends is inversely related to the amount of time so-named canines require to search out and find the exactly perfect spot to pee?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

More Magic Socks!

I am liking wearing these homemade socks ... pair #4 is almost done; here are pairs #2 & 3 which I made while up north over New Year's.
My favorite part is that there are no seams! As one of those people who HATES seams and tags, I feel like I have found paradise when I wear these socks.

Plus it's just darn fun to follow the instructions on the written paper pattern and then look down in amazement as the yarn turns into a sock. It's still magic to me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Barack and Hilary

This morning on the radio I was listening and the discussion was on Hilary's question of "where's the beef?" which she apparently queried regarding Barack's campaigning.

The announcer put forward a theory that at first I snorted at but then as he explained himself, I found myself wondering and agreeing it could be.

Hilary has always championed herself as a fighter for the people, but she also always chose a career and life path which put her in law firms and political situations. Barack never presents himself as a people's hero, yet his career path has been in grass-roots nonprofits and working to make changes for everyday folks.

So does Hilary look at his background and think to herself "that's what I wanted to do but couldn't (or didn't)?" And does she regret any of her choices which have now led her to a place where she has to publicly question someone who acted on what she claims to represent herself?

Somehow I don't think I am presenting this as clearly as the radio announcer did.

Is she on the offense, questioning him precisely because he has walked the walk while she has only talked the talk?

More on the Movie

Mama Ava wonders if I watched The Great Debaters thinking about how my ancestors could have been involved in race relations in the 1930s ... it is a good and valid question, and the answer is sort of.

Honestly, my forefathers came from other countries quite recently and stayed pretty much completely in Minnesota, so I while I don't know their feelings about people of other races, I am pretty confident they didn't participate in anything like was shown in the movie.

Not to say that they wouldn't have, had they been there. I believe you can't know what anyone would do in any given situation. There was a book written a few years ago by the sister of someone I know here in Minnesota. While the immediate family I know of was "all Minnesotan", there is one branch of the family that are true southerners, living for several generations in Mississippi. And there were some members of that branch who were quite prominant in the klan there. Apparently the Minnesota branch wasn't aware of the extent of the involvement until the research was done for this book, and it brought on some heated discussions and caused some splits in family relations. And it certainly doesn't mean that there is "bad blood" in that family, or change my opinion of the family members here. It just is what it is, I guess.

So maybe I project too much on the African-American boys I saw at the movie. Maybe they did sit there and watch and have the same feelings as I did, of horror that those things happened, but also didn't internalize it any more than I did. We can all sit now and say how wrong it was. And not have it be anything more -- nor anything less -- than that.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

3-Movie Weekend

This weekend had been a triple screening one for me. On Friday evening I went with my folks to see Denzel Washington's new movie, The Great Debaters. It's the true story of a debate team from Wiley College in Texas in the year 1935. The all-black school invites schools all over the nation to challenge them to a debate, and eventually Harvard takes them up on it. It's well done and the characters are moving. But what I was most struck by was the 5 young men sitting in the row in front of us at the theater. They were all African-American and looked to be about 16 or 17, and I kept finding myself wondering throughout the movie what THEY were thinking as they watched the way the black students had to struggle to be taken seriously, and the way the white townspeople treated the college, its professors, and students. These young men could be only two generations removed from the families in the movie, they could have grown up with stories of how their own great aunts and uncles suffered. When they heard the same dialogue I heard, and saw the same action I saw, what were the thoughts they thought? Most definitely not the same thoughts as were in my head.

Then Saturday I saw Juno. Polar opposite in tone! Just plain fun, even with the subject matter being a 16-year old girl finds herself pregnant. Allison Janney (of The West Wing) was brilliant as the step-mother, and Jennifer Garner, not my favorite actress by any stretch of the imagination, was also quite good as the adoptive mom. Clever dialogue, interesting character development, enjoyable movie.

But today, I saw what should win Best Picture. Atonement. I knew the bare bones of the story line -- younger sister lies about older sister's boyfriend and then war intervenes with everyone's lives. But wow. Powerful. Compelling. Moving. I don't even have words to share my feelings. I was swept in to this story so completely, I was so emotionally involved, that I was completely exhasuted at the end of it and had to sit quietly in my seat for a while before I could even stand. Not having read the book I can't compare, but I have to believe this was an incredibly excellent screen play.

I'm exhausted from all this entertainment. But it was so worth it, every minute.