Saturday, December 04, 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, to me, Happy Birthday, to ME!

Today is my birthday. I am 49 years old. I can't remember the last time I proclaimed proudly to the world that it was my birthday - I think probably when I turned 18. My 30th and 40th went virtually unnoticed, and I am already planning for my 50th - what a celebration that will be!

But this year I just decided to toot my own horn and announce to the world that it's my day, and to revel in the birthday wishes.

And boy is it working! I am having




I have so much in my life that brings me joy. And gosh darn it, if I don't celebrate it, it might not get celebrated! I have worked very hard to get to the place in life where I am today, I have learned something important in every one of my forty-nine years. I have earned the gray hair I cover on my head and pluck out of my eyebrows (just did that this morning.) I have wrinkles and age spots and they are signs of victory that I am still here and I am thriving.

So Happy Birthday to ME!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


The latest Positive Online Image website:

This is the site of a friend of mine who recently became a doula. She is still fine-tuning the content on some of the pages, but my part - designing and creating the actual site - is pretty much done.

And I have to admit I absolutely LOVE it. Not that I'm biased or anything. Each site I do gets easier and faster, and, I think, better.

In the wings now ... a Pilates instructor, a professional musician, and maybe a veterinarian. And then maybe a site for my nephew, the film student. Anyone else out there need a site?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Up and Down

I got all excited today because I bought some new software to help me out in the development of website templates. It's so cool, lots of menus to use if you want, but total flexibility to bring in your own stuff quickly and easily. I'm working on a site for a doula right now (there's a profession I wish I knew about a long time ago) and it's so fun.

Then the new software stopped working.

It gave me a message that my "activation limit is reached." I don't know what that means, either. So I sent off my "help" note and I am waiting for them to get back to me after checking into my account status.

Waah. The creative juices were really, really flowing well there.

The good news is this doula (she calls me her "website doula" - how cool is that?!?) has several people who are watching her closely and asking her questions about how she's getting a website, and will be potential clients for me! YAY!

So once the new software is working again, this website doula will be back at work. When the site is done I will post the link.

In the meantime, anytime you hear anyone musing about a website (or complaining about their current website) ... send'em my way!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A look back

One year ago, I was just back from the Iowa State Fair. I was just a week or two past the decision (accepting the reality, really, more than deciding) that I was not going to be selling the townhouse and moving into a house-house. And I was musing about whether or not I should be my son's Facebook friend.

Two years ago, I was celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I had just discovered "Where in the world is Matt" (or something like that) and I had cried when Michael Phelps won his last gold medal.

Three years ago, the boys & I had recently returned from our Chicago getaway where we explored museums and parks and all agreed it was an amazing place to spend a vacation. And four years ago this month I was hosting a lot of friends at the Peterson family cabin ... back when I was legally a part of that branch of the family - no clue that that would be my last summer as a Peterson wife.

Today, I am making spaghetti (my sons' favorite dinner), thinking about getting State Fair tickets, hoping for full-time employment, still wishing we could have moved to a house-house, congratulating my parents on 52 years of marriage, and feeling ambivalent about whether or not I should keep blogging.

But without this blog, I wouldn't be able to so easily review my past. And that's worth something.

I guess.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Three Weeks (almost)

I know, I know. I started blogging again, and then - nothing. For almost 3 weeks. What can I say, I've been busy, and uninspired.

I'll try to start again.



In the meantime, here's something to make you smile.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Many, many moons ago I was an AFS student. I am thinking about it now because a young man I have never met but whose life intersected with mine through a connection with K12 is preparing to leave on an AFS year - made even more special to me because he is going to Norway, just about my favorite country in the world.

I remember those days before departure oh-so-well, even though I was just 17 (do the math, I'm 48 now...) I don't recall exactly when I left - sometime in late July, I believe - but I do remember that I didn't know where I was going. Back in MY day, you couldn't choose your host country, as you can now. I knew I was going somewhere, but didn't find out where until about 3 or 4 weeks before I left - and that was just the COUNTRY. Yugoslavia. My first reaction was "WHERE is YUGOSLAVIA?" I didn't find out until a few days before departing what town I was going to (Skopje) and who my family was (the Darkovski family.)

Looking back, I find myself wondering what my parents were thinking. How did they manage to let me go on such an apparently unorganized trip - for a year - on the other side of the world? But I don't recall ever being stressed about it, just excited. And I am certain that feeling came from them. I often think that I was an AFS student to begin with because they had both wanted to be but couldn't. The day I came home saying "there's this thing called AFS and you can go live in another country for a year ...." they both started telling me I was going. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was open to the idea, but they were both so firmly in the camp of DO IT that it never really seemed optional for me.

And off I went. The night before I left, I went to the Doobie Brothers concert in St. Paul with a friend, then came home to my house filled with all of my friends - we stayed up all night, packing and talking and laughing ... and though I don't remember it, there was probably some crying, too. I have absolutely no memory of going to the airport or flying to New York, which is where we had about a 4-day orientation. The next clear memory I have is when our flight from Brussels to Belgrade, the capitol of Yugoslavia, was landing and we (me and the other 3 AFSer coming to the country for the year) looked out the windows at the armed military guards surrounding the plane. And we looked at each other and a tiny granule of fear was evident in our eyes. Remember, this was way back before terrorism was even on the radar screen for airline travel. I don't think I had ever seen a real gun before.

As I think about Jon heading off to Norway, now, I think about how different his experience will be. When I went there were no computers, no email, no blogs, no cell phones. Handwritten letters took 3 weeks to be delivered and postage was significant enough that we used extra-thin paper and wrote really, REALLY small. I knew going over that I would get two short phone calls - one on my birthday and one on Christmas, but that would be it. Nothing else. And back then, AFS even discouraged that much contact. TWO phone calls was pushing the limit. Because, you see, they felt that if you had such frequent contact from home it would inhibit your bonding with your new home and new family.

Wonder what they say now?

I wonder if now the focus of an AFS year is to "visit" for a year - make friends, observe a new culture, learn to get along in a new language. Whereas 30 years ago, you went to come as closely as possible to completely, 100% assimilate and become an almost-native of a new land, and a true member of a new family.

And I wonder if that difference matters.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Tattoo Alert

I love my tattoo. I got it on my birthday, 8 years ago. I had wanted one for years and years, but could never decide what image to put permanently onto my skin. Before the artist was even done with my first one, I was planning my second - I hear that is very common. But 8 years have passed and I still don't know what image to use for this next one.

But now I may be making that decision - soon. Brian's sister is coming to town in a week and she wants to get one (her first) and she wants me to go with her, and get one too. Being as I've been there - done that, and all.

And I am excited at the prospect.

Current ideas on the short list:

1. Something to reflect my Norwegian heritage - a rosemaling image, most likely

2. A friendly dragon - like Sapphira if you've read Eragon. A loyal protector who is very, VERY cool-looking.

3. A Chinese symbol for some meaningful word or phrase. I'm hesitant on this one because it seems kind of cliched (clicheed? How DO you spell that, it looks wrong no matter what.) Looks too much like a cliche (better?) BUT I do like the simplicity.

4. Something very cool.

And yes, #4 is a wee bit vague. Thus my problem.

In the past when I have been close to acting on this, Carla has spent a lot of time scouting ideas for me online, but she is on vacation and won't have time to help me out, so perhaps one of my other 4 readers has an idea?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

POI Update

Things are moving along ... I have two more sites in the works. One for a musician, and one for a Pilates instructor - who is going to pay me in private training sessions, HOW COOL IS THAT??? I knew having a "barter" option would work out well!

I am still nervous and anxious and worried and (what's another word that continues my stretch of using several words to say basically the same thing?) Well, you get the idea. But every time I start talking with a new client and planning a new site, I get so excited and my mind just races at the possibilities and I want to drop everything (I am out of milk AND dog food today but am I out shopping right now? Um, no.) and GET. TO. WORK.

AND - bonus! - the sun is shining today.

And this picture is in no way related to this post, but it's where I was yesterday. Nice.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just because you can ...

Last year sometime I read somewhere (don't you love my powers of recall?) "Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD."

And after viewing photos of myself in my favorite jeans this past weekend, I think it's time to retire them. Just because they do still button doesn't mean I should wear them. (Need I mention many of those photos were taken from the back? A perspective I rarely see?)

It's just that inside this nearly 50-year old body is the mind of a teen and I just plain forget that I can't get away with dressing like said teen.


On the other hand, in some areas of life I think just because you can do something is a perfect reason to go for it. I know I often talk myself out of things for the silliest of reasons, when, in actuality, I CAN do it and I should. This whole website design thing ... my new career - there's a million reasons NOT to go for it. I woke up the day after launching my site shocked - yes, shocked! - that I didn't have 4 emails in my inbox from new clients wanting to hire me right then and there. But I keep reminding myself ***I CAN*** do this, and therefore ***I WILL*** do this, and the clients will come.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Daze

In two days our family moves into a situation that we have never, ever been in before. And I am more than a bit nervous.

Yesterday was the last day of school. Monday is the first real day of summer vacation. Monday morning I head off to work. Leaving my two sons home.

Now, they are certainly old enough to be safe; they can feed themselves quite nicely, and they can be counted on to do any chores I list for them.

But. This is the first summer of their lives that I have worked out of the home. And I would be lying if I said I was sure everything would be just fine.

I know without a doubt that given their druthers, they would watch TV, play video games, and be online all day, every day. For obvious reasons, that is not going to be allowed. I am struggling with determining how far I go to make sure that doesn't happen. I want to trust that all I have to do is say so, but my fear is they will sneak ... if not the first week, surely by the third or fourth. But if I lock things up (literally in a closet, or by use of passwords and parental control options) am I saying much too blatantly "I don't trust you" ???


edited to add: Just after I hit "publish post" on this blog entry, I went to check email and I had one new one. BOOT CAMP FOR YOUR TEEN.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I feel like I have given birth. Well, OK, not physically. And yeah, OK, not really emotionally, either. But it is somewhat similar in that there were times when I thought this day would never come, and I find myself checking on it every few minutes to make sure it's still OK. And I really do think it's awfully good-looking and of course very smart.

I am launching my new company - or POI for short - and it's so exciting! I'm not giving up my day job (for now) as I don't know how long it will take to get clients - but I am completely confident I will get them, and that the business will grow just as quickly as I am prepared to handle it.

So what is it, briefly? The elevator speech is this:

Everyone needs a website these days.

And, honestly, most people need more than just a site - they need to manage their web presence, which is a website combined with e-communication, blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. And web developers have this reputation of being expensive and elusive - they don't return phone calls or emails, they make one update only to cause a need for another, and you never are sure if they are really listening. POI is none of that. We are fast, we are affordable, and we are GOOD.

I am offering friends & family discounts, and special start-up savings for clients who sign on in June or July. I also will barter - make me an offer I can't refuse!
Share my site with those you know. Contact me if you want to talk business. Or even if you just want to say "hi!"

And I'll keep you updated as my new baby grows.

Monday, June 07, 2010


I took an hour to watch TV and feel sorry for myself and dry my tears, came here and blogged briefly about my frustration, and then I tried again - AND I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tonight I cried - actual tears - in frustration. Why do I think I can do this web stuff? It's so maddening.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

My name is Karen, and I'm addicted to .....

Cardboard boxes.

There, I said it.

When I was about 23, I bought my first house. It was the cutest little 2 bedroom, 1 bath Minneapolis bungalow. I was only the third owner. The second owner had added on in the back so it had a big kitchen and a wonderful back hall / pantry area. The attic was delightfully romantic, and the yard just big enough to make me feel like a land owner.

It also had a special room in the basement, filled with floor-to-ceiling shelves on all walls. No doubt it was originally meant to hold all the canned goods the owner was expected to put up each fall, but to me, it meant one thing and one thing only.

It was a box room.

An entire storage room where I could keep all my boxes. You just never know when you are going to need one and to not have the exact size and design needed - well, I can't even imagine what might happen in this world.
This addiction grew as I aged. Even with moves (you have to save boxes to move with, you know) and marriage to a non-believer, I still managed to keep my boxes. Oh, I learned to be very clever at hiding them and justifying them and convincing myself I had to have them.

Yesterday, I decided to clean my garage. I have attempted this before, most recently when I needed to get Hillman's van into the garage for the winter. Most of the stuff in the garage has been there - untouched - since I moved into this place 3 years ago following my divorce. But in amongst the unpacked boxes of kitchen utensils and memorabilia were boxes filled with other boxes. Shoe boxes. Boxes with hinged lids. Boxes with built-in handles. Shiny boxes. Sturdy boxes. Boxes ranging from small jewelry sizes to wardrobe boxes for moving.

Brian bravely ventured out into the garage with me, and in a moment of great strength, I quickly pulled about 30 empty boxes off the shelves and from their hiding places and pushed them towards him, begging him to act quickly, while I had the ability to allow it, and gave him a box cutter.

Then I took the dogs for a walk, as I just couldn't bear to watch, and I knew if I stayed in the house I would find reasons - compelling, logical, important reasons - to keep at least a dozen of those boxes. Brian was swift and true and when I got back, the boxes were condensed into small rectangles of flat cardboard.
Today, I have mixed feelings. I am proud of myself for taking the first step, but I am also mourning, and I am thinking of at least 17 ways I really could have USED those boxes which, alas, are no more.

I am also eternally grateful to have Brian in my life - a man who looks quizzically at me but doesn't comment, listens to my tortured theatrics, and then acts - without questioning or laughing at me, and finally hugs me and congratulates me when it's done.

And FWIW ... this truly is NOT exaggerated hyperbole. This is my life.

Friday, June 04, 2010


Either the gardening or the typing is slowly killing me. Or perhaps it's the combination of the two. For whatever reason, I have had more aches and pains in the last week than I can remember ever having before. Today my neck is so stiff and sore that I did go online to read about meningitis, just in case.

It's not.

So I am sitting here now with a hot compress around my neck, and Brian has been massaging it, and I am going to try a different pillow tonight.

And I am DONE gardening. I will water, but that's it for now.

The typing I can't be done with, but I think I will try to get a more ergonomic set-up. Don't know how I will do that, but I think I better try.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Going Geek

I have been learning how to increase my geek-dom lately (did I really admit that?!) And I am loving it. [This in addition to my learning to enjoy gardening. 2010 is apparently a year for big changes in my life.]

When I started working at the church I am at, I quickly discovered that my favorite part of my job is maintaining the website ( I had never done this before - and I soon found out that if I wasn't careful, I could easily spend all day every day adding this, tweaking that, editing the other thing ...

Suddenly I realized that I could be a webmaster - without being a programmer (shudder at the thought) and I could be good at it!
So, over the past several months, I have been slowly moving towards launching a new career as a web designer. Mostly it's been thinking big thoughts as I drive back and forth to work, but in the past 3 weeks it's become more concrete as I actually have been working on three sites. The first is very simple and I plan to go back to it and spice it up a bit ( The other two are not quite ready to showcase yet, but I am excited, and will share them with you as soon as they are ready.
My goal is to have about a half-dozen sites done by mid-July and then start soliciting paying customers in earnest. I plan to focus on small business and nonprofits, and entrepreneurs - people who want a quality web presence but don't want to spend a ton of money to do it. I have two defining characteristics of my business: I am affordable, and I am good! I can't believe what I have been learning some people pay to get a website up and running. I also can't believe how many sites I see with mistakes - typing errors, or navigational problems, or garish color or font, making sites unfriendly, disreputable, and not conducive to getting my business. My sites won't be like that. (Well, I suppose the color thing could be a matter of taste, but there's no accounting for some people's taste!)
So as you read this, if anyone or anything comes to mind who might need a website, I hope you will think of me - soon I will have my own site live to refer people to.
Loving the inner geek.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Glee? Not for me.

I have watched exactly two episodes of Glee.

I don't remember the name (or theme) of the first one I watched, but it was one where they all seemed to be eager to lose their virginity but turned out no one actually did it. I think. Then I just watched the Lady Gaga episode on Hulu, because I do like me some Gaga. And FWIW, apparently someone is pregnant now so even if they didn't do it on that first show I watched, they must have done it subsequently.

Now, I know there are a lot of Glee-fanatics out there who adore this show. But I have to say, I'm not feeling it.

During the first episode I watched, I was, to be honest, shocked. I had thought that this show, about a high school glee club, would be something I could watch with my kids. But as that episode played I was very relieved that my kids had shown on interest in it at all, and weren't anywhere near me. I found it objectionable - I am fine with sexuality in movies or books or even late night cable TV shows. But prime time network high school shows? This was blatant. This was in your face. And it really bothered me.

I didn't expect to ever watch it again, but the lure of Gaga brought me back - and while I did enjoy listening to their renditions of Gaga songs (and the costumes were crazy fun) - I was once again not happy with the plot line.
One of the main characters is gay, and he has a crush on another of the main characters, who is not gay. At the same time, their parents (gay's dad and non-gay's mom, both single, no idea if they are divorced, widowed, never married, whatever - not, I suppose, that it matters) start dating and fall in love and decide to move in together. They make this decision without telling the non-gay son, and then spring it on him - he is moving into this other house and has to share a bedroom with the gay son who has a crush on him. He is uncomfortable both with the fact that he had no say in any of this (or warning about it), and with the details of this living arrangement. Eventually he reacts in anger and uses the "f" word (fag, not the 4-letter one) and the Dad kicks him out for gay-bashing.

And here is where I took objection.

Forcing your teenager to share a bedroom with someone who has a romantic crush on him is icky - yet no one seemed to notice or care about that. (I'd use their names instead of gay and non-gay but I really have no clue what their names are.)

As far as I can tell, non-gay has never exhibited any signs that he dislikes gay for being gay, or that he is uncomfortable with anyone's sexuality. Heck, within the glee club there is a young woman with two dads, and the afore-mentioned pregnant one - and the father of her baby is also in the glee club - so lots of sexuality-based character development here, and non-gay never blinks (or perhaps he does but since I have only watched two episodes I am missing that about him? I doubt it, but am always open to the possibility.)

But the issue today is that he really doesn't want to get dressed or undressed in front of gay, and who can blame him? I half expected gay to speak up and say "it's my fault, I made him feel uncomfortable" but that didn't happen. No, non-gay apparently has to be happy about sharing a bedroom in order to prove his open-mindedness. His discomfort is ignored, and he is shown as a teen with prejudice, and from the editing it seems the audience is supposed to agree with the dad. Then, at the end of the show, he apologetically expresses remorse and claims to have grown in his understanding of himself, and of gay's "gayness" and now all is right with the world - all done while he wears a Gaga-styled red ball gown in the boy's bathroom while staring down two football players.

Seriously? Could there be any more stereotypes in one scene?

I gave it my best, I watched two episodes but forget it. I found this show to first be offensive, and then to just be stupid. Defenders? Give me your best.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Your Next Adventure!

I was a small part of this company for a very short while. I wish I still were. I will be going on a trip with them someday, I don't know when - and you should, too.

Today is the founder's birthday. Happy Day, Jodi!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

No photos, but ...

RAVE reviews! Everyone loved the cakes - especially the carrot cake! It was gone faster than the other two. Chocolate was a close second, and there were actually a few pieces of streusel left at the end. I cut each cake in 16 pieces, so 48 pieces for 27 people ... they really, really liked it.

So - any of you who like carrot cake - the recipe I made up below is a keeper!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday is Baking Day

The church I am working at is holding a planning retreat tonight and tomorrow. I get to go along to observe and take notes and take photos (gotta remember to bring the camera!) and I really do mean it when I say "get to" go along - no sarcasm at all, I am eager to meet some of the people I email with or talk on the phone with, and I am VERY eager to see what types of plans they develop for their growth. The church is in a transitional phase right now with TONS of potential, having recently hired an impressive minister and a dynamo administrator (if I do say so myself) - they are poised to do some great things, if they can figure out how to organize and align themselves.

How many times over the past 25 years have I watched (or participated) as a nonprofit tries to plan for growth and development?!?!? It's got to be one of the most difficult things in the world. We will have about 40 personalities in one room, led by an able facilitator - I haven't met her yet but I am very pleased with the impression I have gleaned from her website, her emails and phone calls, and her plans. But while I have not met the majority of these 40 people in person, several of them I am getting to know quite well - and several of them are very headstrong leader types, which can be difficult in a group setting. Too many queen bees and not enough worker bees can make planning complicated and contentious. So I am very eager to see how this group works through all the strong personalities.

And - I am in charge of bringing desserts for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunch. I volunteered in the spirit of "Oh, I LOVE to bake!!" It's so easy two weeks ahead of time.

So - I am baking two batches of cake-mix cookies - the easiest, yet most delicious cookies there are:

1 Cake Mix (any flavor)
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
Mix up, drop on cookie sheets, bake 9-11 minutes at 350.

I made one batch of chocolate cake mix + PB Chips as "stuff", and one batch of yellow cake mix + chocolate chips as "stuff." Easy-Peasy.

Now I am working on 3 bundt cakes.

First, I am making Christy's Amazing Chocolate Cake - as blogged on previously, here.

Next, I am making a cinnamon-streusel cake - without a recipe. I have made them before, years and years ago, so I am hoping that if I just follow my gut, all will be fine.

And finally, I am making a sour cream carrot cake. Again, no recipe, but I have had this carrot cake mix in my cupboard for too long (they don't go bad, do they?) I've never tried this before - and I figure if it doesn't work out, I still have time to come up with another option. Basically I tried to adapt the chocolate recipe - so I added 8 oz of sour cream, 4 oz of baby food carrots, an extra egg, and then, when it seemed too thick, I added a 1/4 cup oil. It's in the oven right now - my fingers are crossed.

I'll add photos when they are all done!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sorry ...

Just don't know if I can do this anymore. Blogging, I mean. I thought I would give it a go again after the holidays, but it just doesn't seem to rank high enough on my list of to-dos, and I just never seem to have anything to write about.

So maybe I'll get back into it in a while, but for now - life is full and blogging is not a priority.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Heavy Sigh

In 2009 I lost two of these; one is back.

The holidays were killers this year. I loved every moment of gluttonous enjoyment, but I am paying for it now. And since I refuse to buy another set of work clothes, I simply must be strong and determined and get back into the ones I just bought in the fall.

Dating one who can - and does - eat any- and everything without being affected a whit makes it really hard. Plus he's so darn generous, always offering me bites of whatever indulgence he is taking in ... baked potatoes slathered in butter and cheese, fully-loaded nachos, chocolate treats of all kinds ... I'm drooling even as I write this.




(and then I found this graphic.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Super Juice?

I was recently given two bottles of Mona*Vie acai juice blend. It is supposed to be a "super juice" with tons of health benefits ... you can find just as many reports that it's a scam as you can that it's as effective as it claims.

But two women I trust gave it to me so I am going to drink it. Two ounces a day. I have enough to last me 3 1/2 weeks, so I will let you know if I feel any change. So far - my primary impression is that it's tasty!

Anyone (other than the two who gave it to me) tried it? Heard of it?

Hmmm ....

Processing what happened in Massachusetts today.

So many things to ponder.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Skol, Vikings!

Some how this year I have become a Vikings fan. Big time. I guess it's not all that surprising given that

A) They are having their best season EVER (well, at least in recent history)
B) I am dating a DIEHARD fan

I have to say I am really, really enjoying it. We have a small group of people that we gather with every weekend to watch, we laugh a lot, yell a lot (at the TV, not one another) and share the exhilarating experience of watching our team - OUR BOYS! - win, week after week.

Who wouldda thunk? Me - a sports fan!

Shows that I can change and expand my life even as busy (and [gasp] old!) as I am. Makes me curious about what other new changes in my interests and choices are still coming up? One year for my parents' anniversary I gave them something with the inscription "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."

Can't wait to see what my best is going to be!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti and a Dream

Last night I had a dream that I was in a place that had had an earthquake. Now, it was nothing like Haiti - most buildings were still standing, and there weren't people dying in the streets, but there was no power anywhere, I was separated from everyone I know and love with no idea how to find them again, and there were people taking advantage of the situation and doing bad things that I was afraid of (no detail on what they were doing, exactly, just Bad Things.)

I had been on a train of some sort, and had developed an instant bond with another woman who was sitting next to me, as it's easy to imagine could happen in a catastrophe. The train doors opened, and there were two very young children - a girl and a boy - standing there crying, so this other woman and I drew them in to us and shared the thought that we would care for them until we could find where they belonged. She took the girl, I the boy. Shortly after that, we got separated and it was just the toddler boy and me.

We walked the dark streets (somehow it looked a lot like south Minneapolis) and I tried to figure out where I was going to get food for this baby, where we were going to have shelter to sleep, how we were going to protect ourselves - or rather, keep ourselves out of harm's way so we didn't need to protect ourselves, and where-oh-where was MY family?

And that's when I woke up, crying.

Suddenly this was real, and personal, and inside of me in a way that it wasn't before.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helping Haiti

How can you not?

I read this.

I chose this and donated.

Please, give what you can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Health Moves

I have been working for the past few years to get my blood pressure under control, thanks to the genetic hand I was dealt. Last week I had a follow-up appointment with my enthusiastic young MD, after switching to a new medicine. And it works! None of the side effects, all of the benefits. He and I were both pretty much dancing on the ceiling. He is such a great doctor to go to - he really, really listens to me, even when I sound wacky or emotional, and he celebrates every milestone with me so enthusiastically. AND HE'S YOUNGER THAN ME. This is critical. I am of the age where I do NOT want to be switching doctors midstream as I age, and while I know there are no guarantees in life at all, finding a younger doctor at this point is even better than finding the perfect chocolate recipe!

Now we are tackling my cholesterol. It's not sky high by any means, but it's higher than we would like, so I am trying to make some lifestyle changes over the next 5 months and then will go back and get it checked. With luck and hard work, I won't need meds to get that down.

So I have started hanging with the Wilford Brimley crowd. I'm on day 2 of daily oatmeal. Thankfully I really like oatmeal. But even as much as I like it I think it may get monotonous, as I really don't want to succumb to eating Honey Nut Cheerios and calling it healthy. But perhaps once in a while, just to mix it up a bit.

And next, sigh, I am going to have to exercise.


OK, I think I have to go now.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Chili - nature's perfect "get warm" food

Tonight I made chili, from a new recipe I found on That is my favorite "go-to" recipe source. When I need a recipe, like I did tonight, I browse through their listings until I find one that has at least 4- or 500 reviews, and an average rating of 4.5 stars (or higher - on a 5 star rating scale.) This recipe had around 842 reviews and was a 4.5 star recipe, so I tried it out.

Unfortunately, no photos, as I (as usual) didn't think of it til after the bowls were scraped clean. But I will still share the recipe because yes, it was that good.

Flatlander Chili (no idea what that name means. anybody?)
(this is exactly what I did - which is varied from the original recipe)

Brown 1 lb hamburger
Add 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
Add 1 can "spicy chili beans" and 1 can rinsed white kidney beans
Puree one can of stewed tomatoes (so there are no lumps!) and add to mix
Mix together spices into a paste before adding to main pot:
1/4 c water
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each: black pepper, oregano, sugar, and cayenne pepper
3 tbsp flour

Stir spice mixture into pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 - 1.5 hours. Serve over bed of white rice, with grated cheese on top.

(original recipe calls for chopped onion, which I forgot, chopped celery & green pepper which I didn't have, and garlic powder, which I somehow didn't see so didn't do.)

Enjoy!!! We sure did.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

How I spent my Thursday evening

So Brian & I went to visit his mom in the hospital (a story for another post - the short version is she has a cracked pelvis but there is really nothing to be done about it, just bed rest, pain meds, and slow increase in activity as tolerated) and when we left the parking ramp, we heard a strange thwap-thump-thwap as the tires rotated. More intrigued than concerned, I pulled over to the side of the driveway to get out and look, thinking there was a hunk of ice banging or some such thing (which, in retrospect, seems kind of not really possible, but that's what I was thinking at the time.) Well, no ice or snow - just one flat tire.

And it's dark.

And it's about 4 degrees out.

And I am not wearing heavy-duty gloves, or boots, or a hat, even.

BUT! There is a gas station - a Sinclair - just a couple of blocks down the road, so we decide if I drive slow, with my flashers flashing, we can get there - perhaps, maybe, hopefully, it's just a cold-related thing.

So off we went, down France Avenue at about 14 mph, to the station, where a nice young man came running - yes, running - out of the station when we drove up -- "Full Service at Self-Service Prices!" -- and directed us to the air pump. He then looked at the tire, and asked what was going on, filled it with air, and then got his magic spray bottle of diagnostic power bubbles to discern the real problem (he tried not to laugh when I feebly suggested it might be the cold?)

He had me drive about 9 feet forward, and then, yup, there it was. A big-ol'-honking piece of metal sticking out of the tire. The nice young man told us he could fix it right there, while we sat inside the car (on our heated seats), all for the whopping price of $15.50, if that was OK. I told him I would even pay him $16 to fix it, and into the car we hopped.

I watched out my rear view window as he tugged at that piece of metal, and tugged some more, and lay down on the frozen tundra-like ground, took off his gloves to better grip the pliers, and tug some more.

This is one tough Minnesota Dude.

He could not get it out. He called his co-worker. Co-worker tugged. Tugged some more. Could not get it out.

Time for Plan B. We will remove (and I use the word "we" loosely) the tire, put on the spare, and they will attempt to do tire surgery in the morning. Brian and I move to the station, where Nice Young Man sheepishly apologizes because just this morning the heater in the station went out, and it's 38 degrees in the station. He points to the thermostat which displays the 38, as if we wouldn't believe him otherwise. But they have a small electric heater which looks older than my grandmother, in the corner, earnestly trying to heat the entire room, and Brian and I hover around it while we watch Nice Young Man and Co-Worker out there, bare-handed, trying to get the spare tire off the back of my car.

They can't get the protective cover off. Brian goes out to help, I stay with the little heater that could.

They can't get it off. I brave the cold to see what's up. They are worried about ripping the spare tire cover. I, being the car owner, have no such illusions and I YANK on that puppy, and now they call me She-Ra.


So, now we just have to get the old tire off. Oh, did I have you going there for a second? NOTHING IS THAT SIMPLE.

Now Co-Worker tells me the old tire is rusted on and the lug nuts will NOT loosen. Co-Worker, Nice Young Man, and Brian brainstorm and they decide if they re-inflate the tire, lower the jack, and rock the entire vehicle back and forth while standing on the lug nut wrench, maybe - just maybe - it will work.

By now about 45 minutes have passed.

They try their plan, and IT WORKS!!!!! Great celebrating ensues. Well, in our minds, anyway, it was too cold for anything else. So. Old tire is off. Spare tire (which is full-sized, not one of those little make-believe baby tires) is on. They ask if I want the Tire Doctor to look at the tire tomorrow, and Nice Young Man is salivating because he really REALLY wants to see what that sucker piece of metal so deeply embedded is, so I humor them and say yes. We all go inside to trade contact information, and I steel myself for the bill.

Two service workers, one HOUR in the frozen air, lying on the ground with no gloves on wrestling with my frozen hunk-of-metal car, apologizing to me because they have (nearly) no heat in the station AND it is taking so darn long.



TEN DOLLARS. Written up as "put on spare tire."

Good service is not dead. It lives in Edina, Minnesota.

Please stop by there for gas or service and tell them She-Ra sent you. They have won my undying loyalty.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Promises, promises ...

Ok, Ok, I am well aware that it's been a few days and I am overdue to write here. It's just that this week has been crazy-busy with the boys back at school and me back at work for post-holiday stuff (and did you know that Lent starts on Feb 17 this year? WAY TOO SOON.) And Monday we hosted my dear friend Ron from Amsterdam and Tuesday I had to make & serve supper at a women's shelter and then go to a band boosters meeting, and today I MUST get the church newsletter to the printer and it is no where NEAR ready and tomorrow I am meeting a friend for a drink after work to catch up as we have been woefully out of touch then Friday my parents come to town to stay overnight which means I have to get the sheets washed from when Ron was in our guest bed. And the dogs are almost out of food (but at least we have milk.)

So. I am thinking of blogging, but .... gotta run ......

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Cheery Thoughts for this COLD day

I do love cake and I do love daffodils, so this combination of the two is making me grin this morning! Can you even imagine this as your birthday cake? I think I would have to order a sheet cake next to it as I would be so hesitant to cut into this masterpiece. Thanks to Jen at Cake Wrecks for such a day-brightener!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year, Day 2

Well, I have to say, so far ...... meh. I have come to realize that I am not a big fan of New Year's. As holidays go, it just doesn't move me - it's because I am now getting to that part of life where the changing of one year to the next is more about the end of things than the beginning. I find myself looking back at who or what has been lost to us in the year that is ending. I find myself recognizing the parts of my life that are changing in ways that make me feel melancholy. I become sentimental and cry a lot and think of could've-should've-would've things and then look ahead at what I want to try to change and it just feels tiring.

Damn, I'm a lot of fun here, aren't I?

Before you start worrying about me - DON'T. I am fine, really I am. But just not all cheery and WOO-HOO IT'S A NEW YEAR!!! Perhaps it's my proximity to the big five-oh that makes me more aware of upcoming difficulties than upcoming possibilities. Well, that's an overstatment. I am not MORE aware of difficulties, but twenty - even ten - years ago, I didn't think about things related to aging at all, and now I do. And that's a sobering change.

A lot of people have been reminiscing about where they were on the eve of 2000, a decade ago. I was still married, hadn't started homeschooling yet, as the boys were 2 and 5, I loved being a mom but not so much being a wife (though I worked really, really hard at hiding that fact from myself and can only truly see it now from a distance.) I wasn't working outside the house, I was very VERY involved in my church, I spent my days going to ECFE classes.

Wow, not much at all that is still the same. I'm still a mom. Not a wife any more, not homeschooling any more, not going to ECFE (or any) classes any more. Not going to church any more (though ironically now work at one). Have a job outside the home.

The people who were my friends then are now people I rarely, if ever, see. Other than a few solid "forever friends" who will be with me until I die there is almost no one who I called friend at that time who still warrants that title. It's not that there were huge falling outs (fallings out?) just that those were friendships based on proximity, and shared station in life, and now that I have moved on both literally and figuratively, the friendships have faded away. And the people who I now rely on and spend time with weren't anywhere on my radar screen a decade ago.

Which naturally leads me to wonder if they will still be in my life a decade from now.

[Edited to add...] However, I also have one more significant difference in my life now that didn't exist a decade ago. This New Year's Eve I was (and still am) in the company of an amazing man with whom I am completely, mutually, marvelously, in love. And you know, that makes up for a lot :-)

So, happy new year, all.

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