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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Herbs, Mia, Bazinga and Stuff

 I get bored pretty easily and look pretty hard to find things to amuse myself. When Dad isn't up to leaving the house, with the cold, that is most days, I am limited as far as options.

I got my camera out the other day and took photos of things in or very close to my house. They don't really go together, but I had my camera and they were in my way. If they didn't want their pictures taken they should have moved.

 Of course the always present and most easily assessable subjects are Mia and Bazinga. Mia has been on a diet lately. I'm trying to lighten the load on her almost ten year old joints. She likes her diet. She gets tuna every morning. That's about all that I've changed so far, she's lost a half a pound.
 I bought some living herbs at the store yesterday. I need them for Thanksgiving dinner you know. Willie saw that they still had dirt with them and quickly sprang to action. The gardener in him gets restless and a little stir crazy in the winter. Any chance to plant something is greeted with glee.

I got all of the important herbs. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, you know, like in the song. Except I forgot the parsley. I also got some sweet basil. That wasn't in the song though. Sad.

Once Willie got them all planted he put them on a stand by the window. I noticed how the setting sun was showing threw them. It was very pretty. What made me want to take photos. 

Rosemary reminds me of miniature Christmas trees. I think it is one of my favorite herbs. It smells so good. The flavor works so well in so many things. I love chopping it. I don't know why. It just seems to crunch in a very particular way when the knife hits those leaves. They don't bruise or flatten when chopped. They stay sturdy, thick, and the aroma, oh the aroma! 

 This little guy was supposed to be decorated for Halloween. Kahlen came over for a day while Dad was in respite. We were supposed to decorate him then. Being able to be out and about with her was so fun, we pretty much forgot about the poor thing. I think he will be brought in for Thanksgiving.

We had our first snow the other day. Not much really, but apparently enough to make drivers on Interstate 380 forget how to drive. There were wrecks all over it. There are aways wrecks on that stretch of highway, though. I guess people that travel from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids need to go back to driver's ed. 

Willie wanted cheese burgers yesterday. I forgot to get fresh hamburger at the store, so we had to thaw out frozen. Willie was chasing the sunshine all day trying to keep the hamburger in it. He really wanted cheeseburgers. 

Mia and Bazinga hate each other SO much! It really breaks my heart how they just can't seem to get along. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


I was merely eleven months old when President Kennedy was assassinated. Just a wee bit of a child. Safe from understanding what was going on around me. Immune to the chaos around me. Or was I? Do I remember where I was when the world changed in 1963, of course not. Yet, it must have made a very strong impression on  me none the less.

I can't imagine the strong emotions that were around me at that time. I imagine I was crawling around perplexed, not completely comprehending what was going on. I'm sure that the adults around me were transfixed, listening to radios, or watching it on TV. Much like we all were on September 11, 2001.

I am sure our TV was on channel 8. At that time it was CBS affiliate KRNT. Mom and Dad always watched CBS when there was important news of the world. I can see them watching Walter Cronkite sitting at a desk in the CBS news room, explaining carefully, and calmly each event of the assassination. Reporting the details as he learned them. Responsibly relating the facts as they came in. Until that moment, when he announced to the world, "President Kennedy died at 1:00pm central standard time, 2:00pm eastern standard time, some thirty eight minutes ago."  At that point he could no longer hold his composure. His quiet pause, as he held back tears, made an entire generation hold their breath. He then continued to relay the news of the events. News that shocked the nation and the world. News that flung a people into days of mourning. News that affected, very deeply, individuals, families and communities.

As an eleven month old, I would guess I sat on the floor in the living room, playing, as my mother sat flabbergasted unable to turn the TV off. Unable to look away. Perhaps my mother cried. I really don't know. My father would have been at work, probably huddled around a radio with the rest of the people he worked with.

What I do know, even though I don't remember details, I was affected. I didn't know how to process the information, but I believe I processed the emotions, and the importance of the event.

How do I know this? I remember, very distinctly, with great detail, a dream I had as a child years later. It was one of those dreams that feel very real. I was probably four or five. I wasn't in school yet. The dream, you ask? It was a dream of sitting in the living room watching TV. A man, President Kennedy, was speaking. His head and shoulders prominent on the TV, the typical "talking head" you see in news shows and presidential addresses.  He was making a speech. His voice filled the living room. It seemed like a very normal presidential news conference.

Then a hand holding a gun appeared in the TV screen and shot the president in the head. That's when I must of awoken.

The next morning, there was something on TV about JFK. Maybe it was an anniversary of his death.  It might have been a documentary or news piece about him. At that point I'm sure emotions of the event were still right at the surface. Maybe the memorials that must have been going on even years later triggered the dream. I looked at my mom and said, "I saw that man shot last night." My mom looked at me in horror. She was speechless. "I saw them put a gun to his head and shoot him," I continued. She just looked at me.

"It must have been a dream," she told me.

"I remember," I said. "I saw them kill him on TV."

Mom didn't know what to say. My brother, who was ten or so,  saved her, "no you didn't, he died a long time ago."

We argued a few minutes until my mother stopped us. "It was a dream." She told me. I wasn't convinced, the dream had seemed so real.

I had the dream a few more times in my young childhood. I did learn that it was just a dream, though it still felt very real. Every time I had the dream, it felt very real. I still can see President Kennedy, on an old TV, with the gun to his head. It is as clear to me today as it was the day I told my mom about it.

You don't think about how tragedies affect very young children. Even after that, I didn't stop to think how things like the Challenger, or coverage of the first gulf war might have affected my very young children. I know I tried to be careful to talk to my children in 2001, but if one of them had been a toddler, would I have thought about how it affected that child?

You don't think very young children understand. You hold them tight, to comfort yourself in such situations. You watch the, now, twenty-four hour coverage, unable to tear yourself away. If you have very young children, don't think they are oblivious. If a national tragedy occurs, don't forget to protect even your toddlers from the constant barrage of pictures, sounds and videos. We stop to think of the school age child, we know to not let a five year old get over whelmed by events. Just remember, even an eleven month old can be affected.

Even I forgot, until today. Maybe the 50th anniversary coverage is what made me remember.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


If you have a delicate constitution, you may not want to read this. Yes, it is about THAT kind of skid mark, also the reason there are no photos. You're welcome.

I feel a disclaimer is also in order before I start, this is NOT about anyone in particular. Just a general question to be thrown out there to the great universe.

How is it that men can leave enough behind to make a skidmark, but not go bat crap crazy itching? I understand that they have obstacles that make it more difficult to get clean. That it takes a little more work to remove the offending debris. I understand.

How does it not, however, drive them nuts? Why do you never see them doing the "my ass itches twitch?" How do they not go screaming into the bathroom desperate to clean themselves the rest of the way?

They can leave a skidmark that can land a jumbo jet airliner and calmly go on with their everyday lives. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Does male poop lack some kind of itch enzyme? Does male poop excrete aloe vera and sooth the male tushi? Is the male anal area coated in Teflon?

I know I will never have the answer to this pressing question. I believe it is a male conspiracy. It is meant to drive mothers, spouses, and significant others insane every time they do the laundry. There must be a reason that it causes them no mind destroying, fire breathing, itch that makes them unreasonably irritable and impossible to live with.......

Oh, wait...... now it all makes sense!!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Product Review

I have never done an actual product review on here. I  have gushed over things, like Dutch Letters. I have lamented over having to use certain products, like hair dyes. I don't think I've ever done an actual product review.

This is one one instance that I will. I feel very strongly about it, not in a good way though.

I read a story online from CNN that
a little toddler ate one of these because
they look like candy. He died. My guess is
they do not add Bitrix to these the way they do
other harmful substances. Bitrix makes things taste very
bitter so a child or animal that tries to eat them
will spit them out.
I had run out of laundry detergent and asked Willie to pick some up at work. Instead of the normal liquid Tide that we usually use, he brought home the new Tide Pods. We read the instructions. You just through one or two, depending on the size of your load, in the washer tub and turn it on. Easy, I thought to myself. Why I need an easier way to use Tide, I couldn't really figure out, but as long as it isn't harder, I'm down with it.

The first load came out fine. Great actually. They seemed bright and clean and smelled great. I was very happy with the product.

Then I washed a load of Dad's clothes. He has special socks he wears over his stump for his prosthetic leg. One of them came out of the drier with a sticky purple goo on it. The sock had stuck to itself. I pulled it apart and showed it to Willie.

We read the instructions again.  We thought maybe I had done something wrong. It said the pod dissolves in any water temperature. It said to make sure to handle the pods with dry hands. I was pretty sure I had, but I quite often do dishes while loading the clothes washer, so maybe that was what I did.

I threw the sock in with another load of Dad's clothes. I was very careful to use dry hands to handle the pod. Everything came out fine, and the sock came out clean. Well, ok then, I thought to myself. I must not have had dry hands.

The next day I was doing another load of Dad's laundry. (I have to do his laundry every day.) I folded it up and put it away.

Dad went to put on a ted hose sock on his good foot. It was all glued together. This time I couldn't pull it apart. It was hard and stuck but good. I soaked it in hot water, it still stayed stuck I soaked it longer.

That was also the day of the great box elder bug hunt. At one point I had run out of dish soap and started throwing these pods in the water I was boiling with borax. I had read that laundry detergent worked as well as dish soap. I wasn't done killing box elder bugs.

Even in the boiling water, part of the outer shell of the pods still did not dissolve. Hmmm, my culprit! At that point I was much more concerned about killing box elder bugs, than worrying about the laundry. Though, I did note, that none of the four or five pods I used dissolved completely. Not even when the water was so hot that it boiled over, all over the kitchen.

While I was killing the evil nemesis, I had another load of laundry going. I pulled the laundry out and looked for the glued sock, so I wouldn't put it in the drier. It still had the purple goo on it. It was softer, but sticky and soaking it did not remove it. I had to scrape it off the sock, not easy to do either. Once I got the visible goo off, I soaked it in dish soap and hot water. Then washed it again. Somehow, these "easy, convenient" little pods had become anything but!

see the purple?
 I checked the laundry as it came out of the drier. It all looked fine. I folded it and put it away. That night I changed the pants on Dad's leg when he went to bed.

The next morning Dad showed me his pant leg. It was glued, to itself. I tried to pull it apart. It was stuck even worse than the socks were. I couldn't even pry it apart a little.

I took the jeans into the bathroom. I ran some hot water on them. It was like super glue had been spilled on them. I thought, super glue.... acetone! I grabbed my fingernail polish remover. I poured it on the jeans. I started trying to pull it apart. Nothing. I poured some more on. I walked away. I was hoping letting it soak in would help.

It did a little. I had to work very hard to pull the crease apart, but I got it. There was a very hard crust still on the pants though. I poured more acetone on it. I got a little more scraped off. I threw them in the washer. This time I used regular liquid detergent that I had gone to get at the store. I pulled the jeans out of the washer. They had re-stuck on themselves. It was gooey though and I was able to pull it back apart. I then scraped as much of the goo off as I could, and washed them AGAIN!

Finally they came out clean. At least they weren't ruined. They sure wasted a lot of my time. And since I won't use them again, my money. I guess the rest of them will become box elder bug killer.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dad's New Chair

 A few weeks ago my dad got a new chair. It is a power chair. I like it! Other than scaring the poo out of me when he comes out the front door, I'm always afraid he will go right off the front porch, it has been wonderful!

He doesn't use it in the house. He could if he had to, but I want him up and walking some, even if it is just to the bathroom. He needs to keep his strength up a little. If I let him use the chair in the house he would lose all of his ability to get around.
 But outside, OUTSIDE it has been wonderful! We can get around and go for walks. We went down to the square and went to the meat market. We went to Star Drug, we got outside! It felt so good to be outside! I wish we would have had it much earlier. It would have been great to have it during the warm months. We have it now though, and will have it next spring!! I can't wait! FREEDOM!!

Our biggest goal right now is to just get him used to it. It has a joy stick to steer it, and he doesn't quite grasp how it works. Right now I have it set at his walking speed. I figure that way it gives him a chance to null out which way to go. It is slow though. Very slow. I kick it up a notch when he is crossing a street, but then turn it back down.
The physical therapy department at the VA wasn't really sold on the idea of Dad having a power chair. He panics a little when he can't figure out how to control it. His doctor wanted him to have it though. Plus, I will always be with him when he's on it. He won't be going anywhere by himself. He can't even get on it by himself. I think he will be safe. As long as he doesn't go off the front porch. I'll be there to stop him before that happens though.

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Arch Nemesis

I have an arch enemy, and his name is Dr. BoxelderBuggo. He is crafty and invincible. He has the power of teleportation. One second he is no where around, the next he's crawling on your arm.
He is a box elder bug. He is creepy, he is crawly, and he MUST DIE!

I would be fine with him if he would stay outside where he belongs. I would be fine with him if he stayed in the maple tree that seems to attract billions and billions of his minions. He, and his evil doing friends, however, do not want to follow those simple rules. So, for that fact and that fact alone, he MUST DIE!

It seems box elder bugs are attracted to, and feed on the seeds of box elder trees, maple trees and ash trees. We have a maple tree. It is a big beautiful maple tree. It shades my house in the summer and protects it from the wind in the winter. And it feeds those darn box elder bugs until they breed into a gazillion more nasty little things.

If they would just stay outside, I think I could easily coexist with them. They don't bite. They don't harbor disease. They aren't like roaches, or even those horrid biting Japanese beetles. They are even kind of pretty. They have a black shell with brownish orange detailing. Even if one or two accidentally found their way into my house, I would kindly pick them up and take them outside. I could do that.

However, they don't know their boundaries. They don't seem to get that they are OUTSIDE bugs. For this, they MUST DIE!

I'm hostile, you say? Where is this all coming from, you ask? You take an innocent drink of your ice tea one day only to have to spit out a wiggly, bug and see how calm and friendly you stay.

That's right I almost ate a box elder bug. Grossed the hell out of me. It was bad enough when I found one floating around in my tea the day before. When one ended up in my mouth the next day, that's when I declared WAR! I had had it! It was on!

My friend, Kelley, had told me that spraying them with soapy water would kill them, and that Borax would kill and repel them. I took my box of Borax, and a spray bottle of hot soapy water and went outside. I went to the south side of my house where they congregate to bask in the sunshine. I started spraying. I sprayed until the bottle was empty. I watched the bugs fall. I didn't know if they were dying or just cold and shocked. Then I covered them in Borax. I figured the more I killed outside the less there would be to come in my house.

Box elder bugs can flatten themselves out to the point that they can wiggle into the smallest spaces. The can get under your siding to get into your house. Even the smallest space between your house and window frame. And then there is that whole teleportation ability.

The day after I had gone out to spray the spawn of the devil, there seemed to be even more in the house. I was picking the damn things up and throwing them in the toilet all day long. Dad would go in to go to the bathroom, come out and tell me there were five of them in there. I'd say, I know I put them there. "Well, they're gone now." He would say victoriously. He takes great pride in flushing the box elder bugs.

Later that day, after flushing thousands and thousands of them, I decided to go on the attack again. I put a big pot of water on the stove. I dumped Borax and dish soap in the pot. I waited for it to boil. I went to help dad with something. I came back and the pot had boiled all over the stove and the floor. HA! I thought to myself, it's READY! I took the pot outside. I went to the south side of the house. Where were the bugs?

It was raining that day. There weren't very many bugs that I could see. Well, I'll get the ones I can see, I decided. I crept up on them. They have the super power of ultrasonic hearing you know. I aimed my pot at the house. I splashed the water on the house. OOOOWWW! I also splashed my own legs. (and of course I was wearing shorts, stupid menopause) I quickly recovered, and looked at my victims. As the water ran down the side of the house, many more bugs ran out with it. AH HA! They are hiding under the siding! I threw more water and made sure it I aimed it up under the siding. More bugs came sliding down the foundation. (And more water ended up on my legs, but I'm tough!) This spurred me on!

I went back in the house and boiled more Borax, dish soap solution. I went out to the maple tree and poured the solution on it. I made so much Borax, dish soap solution that I ran out of dish soap. Undaunted I turned to laundry soap. I went back and forth between the south side of the house and the tree. I kept this up until I ran out of Borax.

I don't know how many bugs I killed. I don't know if any actually died. I do know, despite 10th degree burns on my legs, I felt better. I may or may not win the war, but I won an emotional victory that day. I fought the good fight and won that battle. I see more battles ahead. They will be fierce, there will be blood, (probably mine). I will conquer the dreaded Dr. Boxelderbuggo.

There will be a day, a day when an innocent tea drinker can drink her tea without having to worry about a stupid bug materializing in it without warning. A day, do I dare dream, where that same tea drinker will never have to cover her tea with foil, ever again. A day where there will not be five box elder bugs in the toilet for Dad to flush away. That is my dream. It will be an ugly war, but it must be won!