Sunday, December 25, 2005


"I smell gas in the downstairs bathroom."

That was how I awoke my brother-in-law at 5:00 on Christmas morning. And I continued, "Don't make the obvious joke, please."

My sister, Carol, and I had sat up rather late yakking, sort of dozing, and yakking some more. We finally decided we needed to try and get a few hours sleep before everyone else awoke.

Carol went upstairs, and I stepped into the downstairs bath; and smelled a very strong natural gas odor. I went up and asked her what gas appliances they had and together we went down to the basement to check the furnace. Oddly, a fainter odor there, but definitely an odor. Carol has no sense of smell, but sniffed the air nevertheless.

I went up and woke up Bob, who grumped down the stairs to confirm what I had detected. He went into the downstairs bath and was in there for quite some time. At one point, Carol wondered if he had passed out. Then we heard the toilet flush. We rolled our eyes and went into the kitchen to look up the number for the gas company.

Bob came in and took over calling the gas company, who told him to NOT hang up the phone, leave door and windows closed, not to turn anything on, not to start any vehicles and to evacuate the house. And a technician was on the way.

Out of habit, he hung up the phone anyway, then relayed the information to us. He declared there was no way he was waiting outside and went upstairs to get dressed.

Carol and I asked each other if we were going to wake up everyone. I pointed out that I really didn't think the gas was that strong; but I would HATE for that to be the last mistake of my life.

So we went upstairs and started knocking on doors. My younger sister, Janice, shot straight up at the words "gas leak" and she and her husband were downstairs in no time.

As far as my parents, we waited....and waited...and waited. Carol went back up to make sure they hadn't rolled back over and gone to sleep. A few minutes later, they came downstairs, slowly and completely dressed. We are so lucky that our family never had to flee across borders to escape tyranny. We'd be toast if that were the case. Completely dressed, but toast nevertheless.

After Mom put on the coat she wanted, we all went outside. My parents waited in the car in the driveway along with my sisters. I passed the time pacing up and down the driveway, and noticed something unusual in the tread in Bob's truck tire. A very large nail.

The technician soon confirmed there was a gas leak (HA!) There was a loose fitting in the gas pipe that ran underneath the bathroom floor. He tightened it and we all went inside. Some groggily headed back upstairs to bed; some of us headed into the kitchen for coffee.

As I passed my brother-in-law, he jokingly thanked me for saving everyone's life. I mentioned the nail in his truck tire and pointed out that I'd saved his life TWICE!!! Then I finished by saying "It's all in a day's work and you're welcome. Now fix me some coffee, willya?"

UPDATE: There was a gas explosion yesterday morning in an apartment in St. Louis. One of the neighbors had smelled gas, but didn't think it came from the apartment that exploded because "the man doesn't cook." The technician who came out to investigate our leak pointed out that the odor is put into gas so you can smell it, and anytime you DO smell it, CALL THE GAS COMPANY. It's better than ending up as a headline.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Oh goody goody!

As of 11:47 yesterday morning, I'm on vacation!! YAY! I was supposed to be on vacation as of 11:00 AM so I could get to a nail appointment on time, but the important thing is -- I'm on vacation NOW!!

After my manicure and pedicure, I went to the airort to pick up my sister, Janice, and her husband, Don. There had been delays with the flight, etc., and I had a message from my mom that if we got there after 3:30, the patio door would be open as she had to leave for a doctor's appointment. We would be getting there after 3:30 and mentioned to Janice I needed to hit the mall.

She perked up. Don groaned. She batted her baby blues at him. He caved. I like their form of communication.

In the following two hours, I did the major portion of my shopping. That time of the afternoon on Christmas Eve Eve is a good time to get to the malls.

Meghan is home from school; sleeping right now with strict instructions to me that I am not to awaken her before 11:00 am. Something tells me the noises I'm going to be making while cooking and cleaning are going to wake her up. "Oh! Did I drop that pan right outside of your bedroom door? My bad. But as long as you are up....."

Jenni and Tim arrive at 3:30 today from their Florida trip. I had a message from them yesterday that they needed to talk to me as they had issues with their flight. NOT WHAT I WANTED TO HEAR. But it was actually an ink issue; the flight time was not visible on the printout of their e-ticket. All is well.

And now.... it's time to wrap, cook and clean....and awaken the Princess.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I had previously discussed my my Christmas tree situation.

I opted not to go for the upside down tree. Instead, I got a 3 foot rosemary tree, decorated it and put it on my coffee table. And, there's the upside of having fresh rosemary for chicken and lamb dishes.

To think, I started out with a tree that's full and at the rate I'm using the fresh rosemary, it will soon have a hole in it.

And it smells wonderful!

But I do need to get different garland for the windows. What I have has got to be the wimpiest garland EVER!

Monday, December 12, 2005


I fell asleep with the TV on last night and awoke to an infomercial. The information that seeped into my subconscious was that I could wake up, walk to my mailbox and get out checks totally $5,000 a week, just by being on the computer for 12 minutes a day.

WOW!!! I'm on a computer longer than that every day, so I could be making 4 or 5 times that amount, at least! PIE IN THE SKY!!

It seems I can do this all by selling a fantastic new product..... which they barely mentioned. It's some kind of vitamin that allegedly the real doctors don't want you to know about, but it will cure what ails you from scabby skin to alzheimers, if I remember correctly.

AND, there are opportunities to get weekly bonuses if you get 20 or more people to visit a website. Now, here's the beauty of all of this. You can get your money can have it put into a lifetime income generating fund. That means that instead of getting all of YOUR money now, you can trust the individual behind this scheme -- I mean IDEA -- to send you $200.00 a month for the rest of your life. And for each bonus, it's just that much more money. WHO would NOT want in on this fantastic deal???? We're all just stooooooopid for not jumping on this bandwagon.

Of course, they had scads of people talking about how many checks they receive each week, just by being on the computer for a few minutes a day.

Let's see...... these must be the same people who send SPAM E-MAIL!!!!!!!!

I haven't yet met anyone who has retired from their real jobs to become spammers, but from the commercials, we should be tripping over these new millionaires just walking down the streets.

NEXT UP was an informercial for a book that reveals all kinds of miraculous health information THAT DOCTOR'S DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW. It was researched and put together by 450 doctors WHO DON'T WANT ANY MONEY FOR THIS. They just want to get the word out. So the book is free, right?


It's $39.95. But if you follow the instructions in the book and STILL DIE, your money will be cheerfully refunded.


Sunday, December 11, 2005


Since you can't judge a book by it's cover, read the story before deciding she's nutz. I mean, kudos to her and her husband for their service to country.... but still. Although, it's better than replacing her husband with a real man or another woman's husband, so who am I to judge?

Friday, November 25, 2005

THE YEAR OF THE PUMPKIN BISQUE.....and other Thanksgiving Day Disasters

At the time they occur, culinary disasters at holiday times are considered just that. Disasters. But they live on in family lore and their retelling year after year provide laughter around the holiday dinner tables, thus helping aid digestion. UM, ok, I'm tring to put a good spin on it. And with good reason as I have my own disaster(s) lurking in my past.

The most recent was the pumpkin bisque. I had enjoyed the pumpkin bisque served at the Oglebay Inn and Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia and wanted to recreate it myself. Two years ago, I had decided that for Thanksgiving that year, we would start off the meal with pumpkin bisque and end it with pumpkin pie.

One thing you need to know about me is that I enjoy cooking, experimenting with cooking and have had good success with those experiments. But the bisque was not one of my success stories. Pureed pumpkin has an appearance and consistency of something that is the opposite of appetizing. I attempted to cosmetically enhance the bowls of bisque with a dollop of softened cream cheese and parsely. It was not helping.

We sat down, dug in and the Ugh's! and ack's! reverberated around the table. That was the year we met my son-in-law's father for the first time. He was sitting across the table from me and his reaction can only be described as comically valiant. He shuddered slightly, his eyes kind of crossed, he took a deep breath and started to take another spoonful. His momma obviously raised him to be polite. I grabbed his bowl before he could get another taste.

Tim was my soon-to-be son-in-law at that point and he declared the bisque to be delicous. He even had seconds. Suck-up. My mother, being a typical mom, said it "wasn't that bad."

My daughters -- being daughters -- gagged, wretched, and declared it to be the most vile stuff they've ever tasted.

My dad was quiet.

The story of Pumpkin Bisque was retold this year around the table and Tim stated he enjoyed it so much he had four bowls. I told him to quit sucking up.

The Year of the Pumpkin Bisque is (in)famous in our family for another reason. It was also the year my mother contributed a v!brator to the festivities. But that's another story for another day.

Everyone has had a holiday disaster; I invite you to share yours in the "comments" section.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


When one has a daughter with the nick-name, Her Royal Highness, Princess Meghan, one has a certain image of said daugther. Something like this......

.....or this on a casual day......

And one expects, and accepts, certain behavior from said Princess. Example; when she was still in high school, I noticed the light was out in her bathroom. I left a lightbulb on the sink for her. The next day, I noticed she was in there, door opened. I asked why and she said she didn't know how to change the light bulb (the makings of "how many princesses does it take to change a light bulb" joke) When she left for college, she had an appointed courtier to handle that task for her, and he did. I even expect to receive middle of the night phone calls from Boston, the first time she ever stayed in a hotel room by herself. "Mom I can't sleep, I'm afraid, I'm having nightmares. Please talk to me on the phone until I fall asleep", and I did.

In addition to these behaviors is a sweet and giving spirit and someone who loves her grandparents and goes out of her way to spend time with them when she's home; someone who will help out a friend in need, and cries at sappy movies like her mother.

So, it was quite a shock to my system when I received this picture last weekend in an e-mail telling me she had gone deer hunting. Yes, my baby girl, HRH Princess Meghan had been on a royal hunting party.....OUT WHERE BULLETS WERE FLYING AROUND!!!

This was a behavior I hadn't expected. I'm not saying it's something unusual in our family. I've been in a duck blind myself. And...there may or may not be some road signs in Wayne County, Illinois which may or may not have bullet holes supplied by yours truly. Wait, that was a very long time ago.....I'm sure those signs have since been replaced (and any applicable statute of limitations have run).

BUT, HRH PM has never had a gun in her hands and SHE WENT HUNTING! OK, she said she didn't do any actual shooting; but OTHERS WERE!! And SHE WAS OUT THERE!! My brother-in-law says that she looks like she looks like the newest member of the "Kaintuck Militia". (I suspect a student of another gender was involved)

And in other news, a study was just released that St. Louis is the third most dangerous city in the country.

I may need that gun.

And because I don't want to cause any bad feelings between my two princesses..... equal time: HRH Princess Jenni and Her Prince Charming, Tim.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


If you've heard about these upside down Christmas trees and thought "who would seriously get one of these" Thinking about it, that is. I have several reasons. One is a space consideration. The other is just to aggravate my daughter. Over the last several years, we've developed a Christmas tradition of her dissing the tree; and I must say, she does an admirable job.

I typically decorate sometime in the first two weeks of December. For the last 5 or 6 years, Jenni has lived away from home, so it's just Meghan and I. Decorating isn't her forte and she's already spent time at her Dad's helping him, so by the time I've asked her, she has an over-abundance of attitude built up.

About four years ago, she sat on the couch, arms crossed and criticized the HECK out of the tree. "there's a hole"..."the trunk is crooked"...."it's too short". I finally had it, made a reference to being visited by the Christmas B!tch and proceeded to take the lights off the tree and started to put things away. I told her I was going to pitch the tree and get a Poinsetta so I wouldn't have to spend Christmas listening to her dissing the tree. She changed her attitude and started cooperating.

The problem was, the tree quit cooperating. It WAS crooked. We could not get it to sit straight in the stand. We ended up putting magazines under one side of the stand, which made it somewhat unstable. In order to stabilize the stand, we used an intricate system of duct tape, rope and two five-pound bags of rock salt; all of which was hidden by a lovely tree skirt. We finished decorating the tree, topped it with the angel and went into the kitchen to get dinner.

When we came out of the kitchen a few minutes later, the tree had slid slightly to the right and the angel appeared as though she was about to do a half-gainer onto the couch.

The next year, I decided that was my last live tree and bought a fake tree. A nice fake tree. On tree decorating day, Meghan took her place on the couch, arms crossed and proceeded to diss the fake tree. When she gets a good rant going, it is sometimes best to let her go and when she runs out of steam, get her back on course. When she finished her rant, I asked her if the Christmas B!tch could please leave so she could help me out, and she did.

I was apparently under the wrong impression that fake trees were easier. Oh. My. Gosh. What a pain in the A$$. Color coding. Tabs. This part into that part. I soon became the Christmas B!tch. We finally got it assembled and decorated and stood back to admire it. Eh. We weren't impressed; but over the Christmas season, it was kind of nice not to have to worry about watering and vacuuming needles.

After Christmas, Meghan had the idea that instead of disassembling it, we just take it down to the basement as is so we wouldn't have to go through the color coding, tabs, and this part into that part next year. I thought that sounded like a good idea and also left the lights on it. That was a real good idea until we got to the part of the basement stairs with the right turn. The tree didn't take the turn well. When we finally got it all into the basement, it was missing some limbs and the lights were dangling. At that point, I had had it with Christmas, and just threw a sheet over it and decided to deal with it next year.

335 days later, it was next year.

Meghan and I went down to get the tree and take it back up the stairs with that turn. More limbs were knocked off. As well as one of the legs. We got out the duct tape, rope and two five-pound bags of salt and finished setting up the tree. A week or so later, Jenni and Tim arrived for Christmas. Tim's comment was that you seldom see a fake tree leaning like that.

After that Christmas, I pitched the fake tree and return to a real tree. Last year, I got a pretty decent one, I must say. Meghan wasn't home to help me decorate and it really wasn't as much fun without the annual visit from the Christmas B!tch.

Since then, I have moved and have a lot less room for a tree. And by "a lot less", I mean, none. To have a tree, it will require taking out the love seat....and put it where? So, I was thinking of a small table tree for the end table in the corner by the window.

Then I saw the story about the upside down Christmas Tree. It can either be hung from the ceiling or put on a stand. This could really work. And it would give the Christmas B!tch more material.

But it costs $299 to $499? OK, so maybe not.

I do wonder, though, if this trend will catch on with our Jewish friends. An upside down Menorrah?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I joked with my daughter today about voting. This is because "Something" always happens when I vote. The last time, I had a little old biddy shake her finger at me and shout, "You didn't read your white card, did you?" I had gone to my usual voting place, not knowing it had changed. I've never had my voting place change and didn't expect it to. I thought she was going to take away my voting rights for two elections for that infraction.

Tonight, my bus got home late, but I still had time to change clothes, grab my laptop and walk up to the polling place. My plans were to have dinner at Kaldi's Plaza across the street.

I arrived 7 minutes to 7. Following the signs, I went down the stairs and encountered a little old lady who looked startled to see me. "You don't want to vote do you?" she asked, shaking her head "no" to prompt me.

When I say "little old lady", I towered over her from my lofty 5'2". I seldom get to do that with adults.

I attempted to boom in an authoritative manner, "Yes, I do."

"Well", she quavered. "We've nearly torn everything down."

"Put it back up, it's not 7 yet." I was feeling my oats as an Amazon.

I walked into the room and caught 5 women in the act of packing up. They looked up; startled, then looked at the clock. They sighed as a group and started opening their Official and Mysterious Books of Voters.

The one apparently in charge (you could tell because her hair had the most purple in it) said "OK, but she's the last one."

I looked at the clock, it showed 7:02. I looked at my cell phone, it was 6:55 according to it. I didn't say anything because I was voting, after all.

They weren't happy about it and they let me know by slamming things around and sighing a lot.

I sure hoped I was voting opposite of them.

The door opened and a man walked in, reaching for his wallet to prove his identity.

The women all turned to look at Purple Hair for validation. "Are we going to let him vote?" one asked.

The man challenged them. "And why wouldn't you?"

Purple Hair said, "OK, but lock the door, he's it."

Then she pointedly looked at the clock.

The man pulled out his cellphone and said, "Your clock is wrong; it's 6:58."

Purple Hair said, pointing at the clock "We opened the polls by that clock and we should close by that clock." I looked at her closely, but she wasn't the one I tangled with at the earlier election. She had a different style of finger pointing.

He told her what he thought of that rule; which was followed by more book slamming and sighing.

I voted (only one issue so it was quick) and left, passing a couple on their way in to vote. My cellphone showed 6:59.

Good luck.


Interesting character study on the bus ride in this morning. After I boarded the bus and said my hello's to those who sat around me, I became aware of loud talking. I looked around in puzzlement, my fellow passengers near me rolled their eyes in exasperation and indicated a gentleman a few rows back.

He was loudly talking on a cellphone, totally oblivious to everyone else around him. Pointed stares in his direction were useless as he was blind. One had to wonder if he also had a hearing impairment as well. His conversation concerned his disdain for self-help books. Apparently, he really really dislikes them.

I quickly dug out my iPod and put in the earbuds. I could still hear him over my audio copy of Freakanomics. I switched to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. I continued switching to different albums, until I got to U2's How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. That seemed to drown him out. Of course, my hearing may have been impaired as well, but it was worth it.

Another stop later, another gentleman boarded who didn't seem to have the same social reservations the rest of us had. When he became aware of what was going on, he got up and approached the guy. I turned down my music so I could listen and pick up pointers on how to deal with the socially rude.

"Hey, buddy, you mind talking a little quieter?"

Buddy didn't even acknowledge him; kept talking about how publishers are the only ones who gain from self-help books.



"Buddy." Arm tap.

Buddy lifted his left hand and gave him a one-fingered salute.

OH-KAY, so Buddy is not a nice guy.

The other guy sat down, we all shook our heads in disbelief at one man's selfishness and I cranked up Bono.

Half way downtown, Buddy ended his conversation and put away his phone. With great effort, the rest of us refrained from applauding, but the sighs of relief could be heard through Tina Turner's Addicted to Love.

I removed my earbuds and started chatting with the people around me, getting caught up on each other's lives. We soon became aware of another noise. Buddy was snoring. Loudly. Sloppily.

Ironic that he disdains self-help books.

So, if it wasn't for his impairments, would he still be as rude as he is? Is he rude because of it?


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


The power cord to my Palm Pilot arrived today!! Yay and yipee. Now I can find phone numbers and know where I'm supposed to go.

In my rant the other day, I don't think I went into the whole thing about how I couldn't buy a power cord at Best Buy or CompUSA, etc. I had to go online to get it. Progress (??)

The other day, I had pointed out that all power cords seem to cost $29.99. I was quite floored when I opened the package today, I had gotten quite a deal. Apparently, they sent me a 4-in-1 power cord.

First of all......

......Palm apparently makes refrigerators. That plug is freaking huge!! It's about as big as the Palm Pilot itself.

After I got over that, I found that those prongs pop off (OK, I had to apply enough pressure, causing a nail to pop off as well) and based on where I am in the world, I can insert one of these prongs:

All of this arrived with a nifty little black nylon bag for storage.

OK now, here's the thing. I had to order a new power cord because I had lost mine....and they send me all of these options to use my Palm anywhere in the world.....which assumes that I'm going to be able to find them when/if I travel anywhere with a different electrical system. Based on history, that ain't gonna happen.

And quite frankly, I'm just a little scared of that big one. I'm afraid if I connect it to my Palm Pilot, I'll fry it and take down an entire power grid somewhere.

Now, I need to find someplace to store that bag o' prongs for safekeeping. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


A view of the 40-year old Gateway Arch from inside the 39-year old Busch Stadium.

Dignitaries, autographs and champagne toasts marked the first anniversary of the Gateway Arch's 40th anniversary. The wife and daughter of the architect were brought into town to mark the occasion; stories were told about how the first prototpye was made out of pipecleaners and the competition that took place for the design.

Barely a 15 minute walk away, another St. Louis landmark won't be allowed to celebrate it's 40th anniversary. At 39 years of age, Busch Stadium has been declared obsolete and, in the shadow of its replacement, it is being dismantled. It's somewhat reminiscent of a middle-aged wife being replaced by a younger, perkier and blonder neighbor.

Halloween Day was cold and rainy in St. Louis. In the late afternoon, I looked out of the window of our offices and saw that the lights were on in Busch Stadium; illuminating a scarred and empty interior. The seats are gone, the flags and pennants were gone; the scoreboard was gone. A lot of the "good stuff" had been sold and packed up and shipped to the fans who had bought them as souveniers and curiosities. In the background was the ever growing new Stadium; its new walls looking as though they were wrapping around the emptying husk of the old Stadium, closing in and sucking out the life of the older place. By turning ever so slightly to the left, the Arch was in my view. Tall, gleaming, proud, celebrated.

As I turned back to look at Busch Stadium, Jimmy Buffett's song, A Pirate Looks at Forty came to mind, especially the line:

Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I've found
My occupational hazard being my occupation's just not around
I feel like I've drowned, gonna head uptown

Two beloved St. Louis landmarks, both in the St. Louis landscape for four decades; but with diverse destinies.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


This is a brief addendum to an earlier rant about power cords.

1. The world will not end by a giant meteor slamming into us or by the sun suddenly going out. It will end by choking to death on defunct powercords.

2. In the event a power cord goes missing, one cannot find a fit from the brazilian(*) power cords clogging up the closets and drawers. One must buy a new one so that the powerless electronic device can be usable.

3. All powercords, regardless of the electronic device, cost $29.99. Plastic and wire. $29.99.

4. I think we should redirect our anger away from the petroleum companies and go after the powercord companies.

5. On second thought, let's get 'em both.

(*) That only makes sense if you've heard the joke about the 3 brazilian soldiers

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


This photo and quote were taken from CNN's website and story here.

You have to wonder just what WERE they expecting. They live in a mobile home; in Florida; in the path of the umpteenth hurricane to hit this year. And then there's the quote "We've lived here 37 years and we've never had a hurricane like this." I'm guessing it's getting harder and harder to find anyone in Florida for quotes like that.

From History of the World, Part I: "Nobody expected the Inquisition." However, THIS was predicted....and stories like this have been running all season long.

And you've gotta wonder if they rode out the storm in those recliners.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Your nice car is sitting in front of a garage and a hurricane is headed towards you. This means:

1. You are just too dumb to be driving a car like that;

2. The garage is too full of crap for the car to fit in;

3. You cannot afford the car payments and are hoping the tree falls on it so you can collect on the insurance.

4. You are too mesmerized watching Anderson Cooper Anderson Vanderbilt being buffetted by winds on a causeway to go move your car.

Friday, October 21, 2005


It's been awhile since I've been to Home Depot and/or Lowes. I was overdue for a visit. So I went today.

I just love getting that dose of inadequacy; that feeling that there are things in life about which I will never understand mainly because I'm not worthy.

My mission today, which I chose to accept, was to purchase a garage door opener. Don't worry, I'm not going to install it. I'm just barely this side of my element in buying it, let alone installing it.

Instead of wandering aimlessly around, my first stop was Customer Service to inquire where garage door openers would be located.

Answer: Millworks.

Millworks?? Seriously, millworks?

I must have looked as though the Customer Service Rep was speaking another language, because she said, "Millworks, you know.....DOORS."

Doors? "Millworks" means "doors". And there are people who know this? Because I thought "millworks" had something to do with ground flour or grain of some sort. But doors?

Now that I have the opener, I think it will be awhile before I have to go back and find out that it's a "soldering iron" instead of "soldiering iron".

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The Cardinals didn't do it tonight; they couldn't win the 6th game of the NLCS. In a post-game interview, of course one of the Astros said something about it being too bad they couldn't have won in Houston. No, one way or the other, win or lose, the last game the Cardinals played this year had to be at home. We had to give a fitting goodbye to our stadium.

There will be other championships for St. Louis. That's what we do; we produce winners. When I was a kid in the 1960's, I thought St. Louis was SUPPOSED to go into post season. The '70's were a bit of a wake-up call in that regard.

But when Molina hit his pop fly at 10:22 tonight, that was it for Busch Stadium AND for the Cardinals' flagship station for 50+ years, KMOX radio. If you watched any of the post game interviews and wondered why the fans were still hanging around after the loss, it was because they didn't want to leave. Tonight was it.

A lot has happened there.

In its first year, 1966, it hosted the All Star Game; which has been said to host the greatest starting outfield in history; Three Hall of Famers -- Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron -- started in the outfield for the NL.

During it's 39 year history, Busch Stadium has hosted 5 World Series. It has been the home of Stan Musial, Red Shoendist, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Jack Clark, Tony Pena, Darryl Porter, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGhee, Mark McGwire, Fernando Vena, Darrel Kyle and Albert Pujols; among others.

Records were made and broken there; as were memories:

1968: Gibson strikes out a World Series-record 17 Detroit Tigers in the first game of the 1968 World Series;

1969; Left-hander Steve Carlton strikes out a Major League-record (at the time) 19 batters against the New York Mets. However, he lost the game, 4-3.

1974 - Gibson records career strikeout No. 3,000.

1974 - Lou Brock ties and breaks the single-season stolen base record with his 104th and 105th of the year

1979 - Brock collects hit No. 3,000.

1982 - Backup catcher Glen Brummer steals home in the 12th inning to win a key pennant race game against the Giants. (I would have sworn it was Lonnie Smith).

7/18/84 - Darrell Porter hits a walk-off 11th-inning Grand Slam.

10/14/85 - Ozzie Smith hits a walk-off homer in Game 5 of the National League World Series to beat the Dodgers, 3-2. It was the first home run Smith had ever hit from the left side, and he got it off of Tom Niedenfuer, prompting the Jack Buck's famous call: "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!" Jenni and I watched from home. She was three and still remembers standing in front of the TV looking for her daddy who had seats in right field, wearing red. When Ozzie was up to bat, she chanted with me "Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie," to encourage him to hit the home run. Then he did. We went crazy.

4/16/87 - Tommy Herr hits a 10th-inning grand slam to lift the Cardinals to a 12-8 win over the Mets on Seat Cushion Night at the stadium. As a result, thousands of seat cushions are thrown onto the field in celebration.

10/14/87 - Danny Cox pitches a complete game shutout for the Cardinals as they beat the Giants, 6-0, in Game 7 of the NLCS to advance to their third World Series in six years.

5/14/88 - Utility infielder Jose Oquendo becomes the first position player to earn a pitching decision in 20 years in a 7-5, 19-inning loss to the Atlanta Braves. Oquendo gave up two runs on four hits. He was the eighth pitcher used by the Cardinals in the game. (I think he also played every position that night)

9/15/91 - Ray Lankford hits for the cycle.

7/30/94 - The largest regular season crowd in Busch Stadium history (53,415) watches the Cardinals defeat the Cubs, 10-7.

4/8/97 - Willie McGee hits a pinch-hit, walk-off HR on Opening Day. My daughters and I were there for that one. It was freezing, but they didn't want to go home until the game ended. Thie score was tied, 0-0 until Willie won it with that HR in the bottom of the 9th. They still talk about it.

7/27/98 - My birthday. I went to the game with my oldest daughter and some friends. I didn't know they knew it was my birthday. Thanks to my big-mouth daughter, they did know. One friend, Judy, convinced the entire section where we were sitting to stand up and sing "happy birthday" to me.

9/7/98 - McGwire ties Roger Maris' single-season home run record, nailing No. 61.

9/8/98 - McGwire breaks the most hallowed record in baseball when he hits his 62nd home run of the season, breaking Roger Maris' single-season home run record. The homer comes off Steve Trachsel of the Cubs.

9/17/01 - Jack Buck welcomes back baseball with his "For America" poem after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

7/28/02 - Down 9-4 in the bottom of the ninth to the rival Cubs, the Cardinals score six runs in the inning capped by Edgar Renteria's three-run home run. I was there for that one, too. As we walked to the car after the game, the crowds were still cheering. It was like winning a post-season game.

During the '80's (I think) there was a particularly long, extra inning game that ended in the early hours of the morning. Jack Buck was tired and instead of giving the usual announcement "this broadcast is own exclusively by blah blah blah and all rights are blah blah legal stuff legal stuff"; he said in his elegant way, "this broadcast is prohibited."

And speaking of Jack, Busch Stadium was the scene of a very moving memorial to him on June 20, 2002. I miss the sight of him on that green field in his poppy red blazer.

AND, the St. Louis football Cardinals played there; Dan Dierdorff, Tim VanGelder, Jackie Smith, Conrad Doebler, Jim Hart.

Busch was also the stage for musical events; The Beatles; The Who, The Stones; Elton John and Billy Joel, to name just a few.

At one point in time, I dated a guy who had a brief pro-ball career. Whenever we went to a game, he would look at the field with longing. He never got to play here and said that is every pro players' dream; to play on the field at Busch Stadium. He said it was his field of dreams.

I know we aren't the first, or last, city to say goodbye to a stadium. And it happened to us before when this Busch Stadium replaced Sportsman's Park. But it's like watching strangers march into your childhood home and start ripping up your favorite hiding places and tearing down the steps to your treehouse.

As I was driving home tonight from the baseball party, I was thinking that tomorrow I'll take some pictures before the wrecking ball hits. Then I heard them announce on the radio that the dismantling starts tomorrow.

I got misty-eyed. Losing the NLCS to Houston didn't do it to me; but hearing Mike Shannon say that got me.

And then he said that this was the last Cardinal broadcast from KMOX radio; the home of the Cardinals for over 50 years. It was also my employer for several years in the '70's. The baseball rights had been bought by another station. Shannon said, "I don't think I can say it; I don't think I can sign off."

The tears flowed faster. Which is odd. Shannon and Wayne Hagen will be back next year, but on another station. And I'm not that crazy about Shannon. It's just that it's another long-standing tradition ended tonight.

A lot of fun is poked at the "cookie cutter stadium", but I'll miss seeing the view of the Arch over the top of the 94 arches that surround this Stadium. That's why I love the picture at the top of this page.

But next year, we move into a new home and get ready to develop new memories and set new records. I hope when they move, someone remembers to pack the memories.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I received this in an e-mail today:

Mighty Pujols At The Bat
BY Dennis Denby.

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Redbird nine that day
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
With the season on the line, the manager makes the call
Lidge trots out from the pen, and confidently takes the ball.

His fastball clocks at a hundred, his slider can't be hit
And Redbird fans do cry and swoon, as his warm ups hit the mitt.
The Stroville faithful dance and scream, as one they raise their cheer
Their closer need but three outs, for this to be their year.

The first two batters took their cuts, but Lidge just mowed them down
And the building rocked and strangers kissed, in anticipation of the crown.
But one more out was needed, and the top of the order now due
As Eckstein walked up to bat, the fevered pitch just grew and grew.

Lidge pounded Eckstein with two strikes, he had his good control.
Then out of nowhere something happened; Ecky swung and found a hole.
He took second without a play; all that mattered was at the dish
"One more out" the fans cried out, only this their prayer and wish.

Jimmy Edmonds now dug in deep, his jaw was clinched and tight
And an edge crept into the stands; for they sensed they had a fight.
But Lidge glared in and took the sign, his stuff was such a lock
His pitches flew till the count went full; Jimmy finally coaxed a walk.

Eighty thousand eyes looked on deck, and there saw a famous number
For Pujols, mighty Pujols, stood there ready with his lumber.
He strode easily to the plate, and clenched his mighty fist
The first pitch flew and broke away; Mighty Pujols swung and missed.

And now Lidge gets the sign and now he winds and lets it go
Oh how the cheers are shattered, by the force of Pujols blow.
The silence becomes deafening, the air is all let out
For there is no joy in Stroville, the Mighty Pujols hit it out!

Copyright 2005, Dennis Denby.
Reprinted on with permission of the author.


This past Saturday was the day Her Royal Highness, Princess Meghan turned 21. And she turned it with her usual high maintenance flair. Drinking hasn't been a huge priorty in Her Highness' life thus far, so she doesn't have a favorite drink. But there are some things that are known already. She doesn't like beer, likes champagne (duh!), wants to enjoy her day, wants to remember her day, doesn't want to get sick.

She spent a great deal of the day fretting over what she was going to drink for her 21st birthday. I do believe more thought was put into that than into chosing her prom dresses, and she tried on A LOT of dresses. She was getting quite annoying with this "what should I drink" thing.

I hosted a family brunch Saturday morning. While we were putting the last touches on it, she quizzed my older daughter and me, listing the drinks she had under consideration; chocolate martini, amaretto sour, something else, something else, something else (I was busy cooking). She said, "I want to have something cute, but I'm afraid I'll get something I won't like and I'll be stuck with it."

Yes, she actually said she wanted to drink "something cute."

I pointed out that she always likes my chocolate martinis that she sneaks sips of at our favorite restaurant.

Her dad arrived and she went in to quiz him; rattling off to him her list of possible drinks. Then she asked him what he drank when he turned 21.


Her brother-in-law returned from a trip to the store and she went through the list with him and asked his opinion.


She turned up her royal little nose at that and continued her kvetching about it.

Following brunch and a successful gift harvest, she and her friends headed off to Anheuser-Busch Brewery for a tour and the free beer they give at the end of it. Yeah, that part didn't make sense to me either, what with her dislike for beer, but whatever.

I met the Princess, her friends and Jenni and Tim at our favorite restaurant for dinner that night, getting there some time before the others. I got a table for us on the patio which was lit up with twinkly lights. I explained to the waitress there was a birthday and made arrangements for a special dessert for her; and then ordered my chocolate martini.

When HRH PM got there, I warned her that the chocolate martinis that night weren't their best. She went back to agonizing over her choices and started to consider starting out with a rum drink and switching later to margueritas at the club where they were going after dinner.

I reached for my cellphone and called information, asking for the number of a college friend. At the mention of his name, both of my daughters were quite surprised. Meghan's comment was "this is random; what's going on?"

I haven't spoken to Doc and Anne in years, but decided this was the time to "phone a friend." I quickly explained to a very surprised Anne the reason for my call. Doc came on the line, floored that little Meghan was 21. I asked him to tell her the advice that had been given to him by Meghan's paternal grandfather one visit long ago in Chicago. Doc claims he heard what my father-in-law said, but did not immediately obey. He relates that after a few missteps, he learned his lesson and that it was an imporant one.

"Never mix your drinks," he told her. "Don't mix anything with sweet drinks. If you start out with something, stick with it or you'll get sick."

Then he apparently told her some stuff about college days, her dad and I because her jaw dropped and then she started to laugh hysterically.


They chatted a little more, then she hung up and made her decision.

*drum roll*

Cranberry juice, Fresca and vodka. The waitress told her they don't have Fresca. At that point, I dropped my head to the table and banged it a couple of times. I sat up and told the waitress that it took all day to come up with that drink order. She quickly said Sprite was available, and Meghan went with that.

When the drink arrived, she sipped it, we held our collective breaths, and she then decreed it was acceptable to the royal palette.

Following dinner, the "kids" went to The Big Bang on Laclede's Landing in St. Louis; a place I introduced to Jenni and Tim. To call it a piano bar makes sound more genteel than it is. They have dueling pianos and the music lasts until 3:00 a.m. They did NOT invite me! But as it is traditional for those celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. to go up on stage for harrassment, it was probably good that I didn't go.

The next day, Meghan told me she did drink a few shots, or Tuters, as they are called there. She said one was a Bloody N!pple. At the look of horror on my face, she said "Wait...that's not right." She thought and then said, "It was a Buttery N!pple." I explained to her the importance of getting the names correct; and we also had a discussion on responsibility. She did pretend to listen. She's been the Designated Driver for her sorority and after having taken care of drunk and sick sorority sisters, said she doesn't care to get like that.

The reports were that she did not get sick, did not get drunk and made it to church the next morning. Since her sister and brother-in-law were with her and WOULD tell me the truth, I'll believe it.

Now I just have to find out exactly what it was that Doc told her that made her jaw drop.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


I was doing my chores around the house earlier today, feeling a little chilly. I finally decided TODAY is THE DAY, and turned on the furnace for the first time this year. I continued working and a little while later, the smoke detector went off.

I went to check on things, and found out it was actually the carbon monoxide detector. I was on the phone at the time and my friend, hearing the beep beep beep asked me if every thing is ok. I raised my voice to be heard over it and assured her everything is fine, we continued the conversation and then hung up.

I poked the buttons on the detector, it reset to "O" and it quieted. I returned to doing my chores and it went off again. The numbers read "246". Then "888", then "246". It would be nice if I knew if that meant something. I poked more buttons in an authoritative way and it quieted again. I sniffed the air (for an ordorless gas(!) ) and went in to the bathroom to check my face in the mirror. My cheeks, lips and nose weren't red, I didn't feel sleepy or nauseated.

But, not liking the idea of going to bed later that day and that basically being all she wrote, I called the fire department.

They said they'd be right over and suggested I go check on my duplex-mates. I did, told them what was going on and they said they all felt fine. I told them the fire department was on their way.

I went back to folding towels, and started hearing a lot of commotion on the other side of the duplex; like furniture being thrown around; doors opening and closing a lot, people hurrying up and down the hallway a lot. I haven't heard that much movement over there since I moved in.

The guys arrived, turned my furnace up full blast, turned on the hot water and started checking things out. Nothing was detected.

They came upstairs and looked at the detector itself. They all proclaimed it one of the better ones (a Nighthawk). The cute one turned it over and removed a part of the back. "When was the last time you changed the battery?"

"Battery?" I asked looking at it dumbly. "I just plug it into the wall."

"It has a battery back-up," he said, removing the battery and holding it up. "This is the original battery," he proclaimed.

"Well, then," I said, "It would be safe to say 'never'." He asked how long I had it, and it was four years. I related that I got it when I was working out of town a lot one winter and there was a gas leak in our townhouse one night while I was gone. A neighbor had arrived home from work and smelled the gas and had called the fire department. It was so strong, they evacuated the entire complex, but couldn't arouse anyone in our townhouse. Fearing the worst, they broke down the door, only to find it empty. I was in West Virginia and the girls were at their dad's. I had been told that if we had been home at the time of the leak, since it started in our apartment, we would probably have died. The first fireman who entered had taken off his respirator to knock down the door and he passed out from the build-up of fumes.

One of the firemen here today said "I was on that call! Boy, that was a strong door. It didn't want to go down."

"Yeah," I said. "You took part of the wall with it."

"We thought you were all dead," he said. I assured him I wasn't upset, just kind of surprised at what happens when a door is knocked down. They don't exactly spring open like they do on TV. I went on to explain that the events surrounding that made me more conscious of safety and I bought the carbon monoxide detector then.

They advised me to replace it today, then they looked at the smoke detectors and I assured them those got replaced every time the time changes....which come to think of it is the end of this month! I had never replaced the one in the carbon monoxide detector because I didn't realize it had one since it was electric.

I felt silly.

They assured me they prefer these calls much more than ones where people don't have detectors and need them. They also thanked me for having one.

Then they left, not needing to go over to the other side of the duplex. All of that commotion over there for nothing.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005


We know this has been an active hurricane season. If it hadn't been for other reports and predictions, I just don't know how much stock I would put in hurricane predictions by "experts" at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Makes you wonder how many blizzards the University of Florida will be predicting this year.


There were reports that there would be No Sex Before Marriage;.

And now, Katie's Pregnant.

Actually, Beowulf is much more interesting.


You slept through the High School English Class; now sleep through the The Rock Opera!!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Both of my daughters were in town this weekend; and that's always a good time. The main reason for being here was to go to the baseball game today with their dad; the last regular season home game in this Busch Stadium. So they came into town with great expectations of a great weekend.

I was not feeling great that I was going to have to rain on their parade somewhat.

Earlier in the week, my dad had gotten a diagnosis of colon cancer. Tests are still being run, but we're hoping it's been caught early and that things will work out well. But my girls idolize their grandpa and I knew this was going to be tough for them to hear. It's an awful feeling to know you are going to have to tell your daughters something that's going to make them cry. I'm not talking about situations such as telling Meghan she couldn't go sledding with her friends at Suicide Hill. She threw an impressive tantrum then, but her world wasn't rocked. The only other time I've had to do something like this was when her Dad and I had to tell them about splitting up. As they sat in front of us listening to us, their little faces crumpled at the news. Meghan was 4 then and I remember that she kept sneaking looks over at Jenni to see if she should still be crying.

Friday night, I gave Jenni and her husband the news. Her face crumpled as I knew it would. She enjoys fishing trips with her grandpa and she got her love of crossword puzzles from him. Just a couple of months ago, while she was working on a crossword puzzle on a family fishing trip, she told her grandpa that some of her favorite memories are of the times she spent sitting on his lap when she was little and "helping" him with the puzzles. Her husband was upset as well, saying he hadn't known his grandfathers and felt lucky in having Dad as his surrogate Grandpa.

Meghan got into town yesterday around noon and began making her plans to fill up ever minute of her visit with activities. As she busily started listing everything she had to do, I kept saying, "Meghan....Meghan.....Meghan....." but she just kept rolling nonstop.

She was on her way out of the door to the first activity on her list and I darn near had to drag her in and get her to sit down. I told her. Her face crumpled the same way as her sister's. When she's home during the summer, she schedules at least one lunch a week with her grandparents; and on weekends home, makes sure she can work in a visit with them. As she sat there crying, she told me that on the drive home from school, she told her friends that her big fear is something happening to her grandparents.

We had a family card game yesterday before dinner, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. During the game, we had the opportunity to talk to Dad about the diagnosis. The girls had no problems asking questions about what is going on and what happens next; and Dad had no problem answering them.

Fortunately, Dad has always been able to express his feelings to his family. One of my favorite memories was when I was sleeping when I was about 12. I woke up and found Dad standing over me, smiling. He gently rubbed my face with the back side of his hand and said, "you are so precious." He went to each of my sisters and did the same -- which they slept through.

I've noticed in the last couple of years, he has kicked that up a notch. During family gatherings, he's made a point to tell us how much he's enjoying himself. After the family golf outing at Jenni's graduation this past July, and the fishing trip this past August, he's said that if he had to leave this life at that moment, he'd leave a happy man. He's also said that heaven must be a lot like this.

Mom said he's doing very well with the news and that he's either numb or it hasn't hit him yet. I think his attitude before hearing the news has a lot to do with it. While he's in no hurry, he's ready if he's called Home.

And, it's still early. We have a lot to learn in the next few days about his condition and hopefully this has been caught early and there will be more fishing trips and crossword puzzles.

Friday, September 30, 2005

IS IT A GOOD IDEA.... name a car after an alcoholic beverage?

*It helps to know that term means "beer" in a number of Slavic countries*

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I'm on my front porch, enjoying a cup of chocolate/almond rocca cappucino (yum) while a gentle rain is falling. By looking at the weather map, I notice this is the northern most remnants of Rita. About 36 hours ago, this system crashed ashore with 125 mile an hour winds, and now it is a soft rainfall on thirsty ground. On one side of me, I hear my neighbor's windchimes gently tinkling in the easy breeze. On the other side, I hear my other neighbor's soft curses because this means he'll have to mow the lawn. (hee hee)

I have a sister who lives 105 miles northwest of Galveston. After hunkering down the night before last, their only storm damage was a heavy loss of leaves and very little rain. By 10:00 am yesterday, they had sunny skies. We'll probably get more rain than they.

And the best part of it is, there's no Anderson Cooper in a red slicker standing out front yelling into a microphone that this is the wettest storm he's ever encountered.

(Seriously, Gloria, did you take drugs while you were carrying him?)

Friday, September 23, 2005


I've discovered a quirk of mine that makes me rather uncomfortable. With each of these monster storms we've been having, after they approach the Cat 5 stage, the reporters start talking about how there have been only 3 Category 5's that have hit in the states. Inevitably and thankfully, with the cooler waters along the coasts, the storms drop in intensity. Each time that happens, I have a brief flash of "oh! so close!"

It's just a knee-jerk reaction. Storms of lesser intensity are good things. But the way the reporters talk about the storms, I find myself almost routing for a Category 5. Wrong wrong wrong.

Once the storms reach the Gulf, they just get worse and worse due to the warm water in there. Seems to me we need to fix that. Some thoughts.

* drag icebergs up from Antartica. Place them at the entrance to the Gulf.

* Drop loads of ice into the hurricane and cool it down.

* get a squadron of planes to fly clockwise around the hurricane; kind of neutralizing it, or unraveling it.

Imagine my surprise when I found out I'm not as crazy as I think. (Hey! I heard that!) CNN had this story yesterday.

OK, so they didn't think about flying the planes around the outside of the hurricane; but the icebergs were considered.

And I would be REALLY happy if another CAT 5 never hits again. I don't think Anderson Cooper could withstand it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


This year, I'm in a Fantasy Football League. I have just an teensy inkling of a clue as to what I'm doing, yet for the second week in a row, I'm in second place. I'm sure that will change, but I'll enjoy the scenery from here while it lasts.

I have some players who have a bye week next week, and I have some players who suffered concussions lately. I apparently have a knack for drafting team members with eggshells for noggins. So, I'm playing around with my roster.

In doing this, I'm remembering when my former husband and I became pro-active with gardening. We had this magnificent hydrenga. For the first two springs after we moved into the house, it bloomed beautifully. Then we became industrious with our gardening and it never bloomed again. The roses also suffered a setback. We discovered that if we ignored the shrubbery, it did better.

So, I'm sitting here looking at my team and wondering if I should cast my fate to the computer, or actually strategize. But I do need to make a couple of trades.

Anyone want Ricky Williams?

Friday, September 16, 2005


It must have been one heck of a funeral to re-enact it.


Worldwide, wives are unimpressed.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


A certain vapid pop star and her even more vapid hubby just had a child....which is chilling enough. Then I found out that she just launched a new fragrance this past week as well. Many new mothers release a fragrance during childbirth, but seldom are they described as being " . . . all kinds of enchanting scents....lush red lychee......hint of cupcakes, white chocolate and jasmine."



I saw this story today about pregnant women panicking.

Panicking? I'm wondering, where are their mothers to guide them? Pregnancy is not new...although it's new to someone pregnant for the first time. HOWEVER, I heard on the radio this morning that the reason a certain vapid pop star had her child by C-Section was because her mother kept telling her how awful the experience of childbirth can be. !!!! One word: Epidural.

And a word to my daughters in the event they are reading this: (odds are, they aren't, but I digress) giving birth to you two was much easier than teaching either of you to swim. Especially Jenni. Oops, there goes that nervous eye twitch again. Yeah...oddly enough, drugs aren't allowed poolside.

And then there's this story:

Lena Driskell, 78, who was indicted for the June jealous-rage fatal shooting her former boyfriend, age 85, in an Atlanta senior citizens' home and who told police upon her arrest, "I did it, and I'd do it again!" [San Francisco Chronicle-AP, 7-11-05] [Newsday-AP, 6-24-05]

1. What did -- or could -- an 85 year old man do to cause a fit of jealous rage.

2. Seriously, at the age of 78...what are the odds she would do it again?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001




In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Copyright © 1986 Hope Publishing Company. 380 South Main Place, Carol Stream, IL 60188. (800-323-1049)

Saturday, September 10, 2005


PREFACE: In the interests of fair blogging, I will admit that I am not and never have been a fan of reality TV. Any time I've watched an entire episode...or any portion thereof ... has been when my daughters have been at home and I watched it to spend time with them. Otherwise...I just didn't get it. So the following is defintely from a slanted point of view. (Ed. Note: I was going to say "Fair and balanced blogging", but don't want Bill O'Reilly crawling up my a$$).

BUT, I just did a quick review of the upcoming television season. In light of Katrina, I think so called "Reality TV" will seem vapid; well, more vapid, actually.

Survivor: Please. Do I have to say it? Survivor: Guatamala is going to appear very trite after Survivor: The Attic.

Big Brother: A bunch of people living together in a house? Compare that to Big Brother: The Dome

The Apprentice: Several hundred thousand people are suddenly unemployed. Trumps pouty-lipped "You're fired" is just going to sound wrong.

The Amazing Race: Top racing a storm surge to save your life, then we'll talk Amazing.

The Real Gilligan's Island: Truthfully, I never understood the whole reality concept of that show. (and R.I.P. Little Buddy and Maynard G. Krebs) (and I know there are a bunch of guy types who think two Maryanne's and two Gingers are the makings for The Real Fantasy Island.)

Wife Swap: How about Wife Find?

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: You all are smart people, I don't think I need to say anything on this.

Fear Factor: Fortunately, I don't see this on NBC's fall line-up....but that doesn't mean it won't pop up as a replacement show. Wonder if the producers are thinking about the lost opportunity of having a swim meet in the toxic gumbo.

Then on the regular programs...Desperate Housewives and Lost. Now, I AM a fan of DH....but desperation has taken on a whole new meaning lately. And Lost; again, I don't have to say any more.

Yes, we will need our escape from reality, maybe more than before. But since we've had harsh reality TV the last 10 days or so, I'm wondering how that will affect the "reality TV" genre.

Saying "genre" after "reality TV" leaves a really nasty taste in my mouth.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


In reflecting back over the past 10 days; and in light that there is a bunch of activity in the Atlantic, I've been thinking about suggestions for future events (which hopefully won't happen).

1. If you notice that everytime you turn on the television, there's a talking head predicting doom and gloom for your area, pay attention. If you hear the word "Category" followed by any numeral and then see your city smack dab in the middle of the path...or even an inch or two either way, start packing. Ultimately, the person most responsible for your safety is you. If you can get your a$$ out of Dodge, do so. Billy, don't be a hero. If you choose to stay, then shut the heck up.

2. If you decide to leave and know of someone who may need help getting out of town, help them.

3. If you are the mayor of the place that's about to get nailed, there just might be a disaster plan in a file somewhere that was prepared by some disaster experts awhile back. Your city spent some good money on this. Find it, dust it off and follow it. And make sure someone gets the people out of the nursing homes.

4. If you are the governor of that state, be sure to place a call to the federal authorities requesting help. Apparently, there's something in the Constitution that prevents them from doing anything until that little formality has been taken care of.

5. If you are the head of a federal emergency organization and you notice a big white whirley thing headed for any coastline of the United States, you might want to clear your calendar for awhile and start working on memos now rather than later. Investing in a bullet-proof vest might be a good idea. You will be the first one to get blamed, so be pro-active. If you haven't received the required call from that state(s), yet you can see trouble coming, maybe pretend you got the call. It's the old "easier to ask for forgiveness later than permission now" kind of thing. Oh yeah. Update your resume.

6. If you are the head of a federal department that is in charge of security for something like, oh, say a homeland, it would be a good idea to start paying attention. You don't want to end up saying something like "no one predicted this" on national television when the entire week before people were predicting it on every news show around the television dial. This will make you look really silly. It will also start to scare people as they will be wondering what else you have been ignoring.

7. If you own a Wal!Mart or gun shop, for heaven's sake, hide the bullets. It would be a good idea to get rid of the guns, too, but I won't hold my breath.

8. If you are Anderson Cooper, we've seen enough flying aluminum siding and road signs. That's getting old.

9. If you are the producer of a news crew, load up the truck with water bottles at least. If you are going to interview someone who is in need of food and water, it's only courteous to help them out. After all, you will be getting some good footage.

10. If you are a celebrity, and you are on a national telethon to raise money to help the victims and the celebrity next to you goes off his nut and starts ranting, do a little soft shoe or tap dance to divert attention away from him/her. If that doesn't work, try faking a seizure, anything to shut him/her up.

11. If you are our two former presidents, you might want to start practicing the words to "On the Road Again" again.

12. If you are a local chapter of a charity that is requesting help at a local evacuation center, please be sure the people answering the phones know what they are doing and don't end up transferring a potential volunteer 6 (yes! 6!) times until she's transferred back to the original person.

13. If you are not in the area being affected and find yourself mesmerized by all that is going on, get a pool together with your friends to guess the exact date and time when the first blame will be placed on FEMA. Encourage the winner to split the pot with the Red Cross or some similar charity.

14. If you reading this, PRAY the forecasters are wrong and there won't be any more storms.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


I read two news stories about very different accommodations for some of the Katrina refugees. As told by MSNBC, some cruise lines are chartering ships to be used for temporary housing.

In Missouri, the former St. Louis County Jail is being offerred up as temporary housing for 300 refugees.

So, who decides who goes to the cruise ship and who goes to the jail?

When a little of the background about the old jail is known, it's becomes apparent how it is kind of fitting as a temporary home for New Orleans refugees. I'm not talking about the looting and lawlessness that broke out. I'm not addressing any of that here.

The old jail used to be called the Gumbo Jail and is located in an area of western St. Louis County that used to be known as "Gumbo Flats". As the St. Louis county area grew, and developers looked for more places to build, it was felt that an area called "Gumbo Flats" didn't sound appealing to people wanting to build high-dollar homes. So the area underwent a name change and became "Chesterfield Valley".

But the jail was still known as the Gumbo Jail.

Renovations are being made to the facility so the new residents won't feel as though they have been incarcerated. Partitions are being set up for the bathroom areas, and I believe real walls are replacing the bars. Let's hope so. These people have been through enough.

ADDENDUM: I neglected to say in my original post that "Gumbo Flats" is located along the Missouri River, protected by a levee that failed in the 1993 floods. The levee has now been built to withstand a "500 year flood" and the area has become heavily developed.

But the fact remains that some people will get a cruise ship and some people will get the Gumbo Jail. The two vastly different options reminded me of a line in a Don Henley song, In A New York Minute. So, with apologies to Mr. Henley, here's a re-write of that song:


Water came up
Swirling all in black
Rushed into their homes
many will never come back
And all their belongings
Scattered somewhere ‘round the town
No one will be down on Bourbon Street
in the morning

They all had homes
a place in the world
Many lost hope out there
As days unfold
Some went mad and crossed some line
Just too much pain to endure
They felt they didn't matter anymore

In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
Everything changed
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
The sea got very strange
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
Everything changed
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare

Out there in the darkness
you can hear sirens wail
Some are going to a cruise ship
Some are going to a jail
There will be someplace to live in this world
Just hang on tooth and nail
Help will finally be at the door

In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
Everything changed
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
The sea got very strange
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
Everything changed
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare

And in these days
When darkness falls early
there’s no place to rush home
where’re the ones they love
They had to stay, ride out the storm
Tried to take care of their own
One day they're here;
Next day they're at the Dome

Tried to gather his love to him
But it’s all so very stark
Water is rushing around him
The groaning city in the gathering dark
On some solitary roof
A desperate soul left his mark,
“Help, save us. Please come back.”

It the head makes cloudy
and makes the heart very sad
to see this big bright city
go so crazy, go so mad
Just know there's somebody somewhere
to make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, please believe
please believe, please believe

In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
Everything changed
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
The sea got very strange
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare
Everything changed
In a New Orleans’ Nightmare

Saturday, September 03, 2005


A discussion a few days ago about spiders and snakes reminded me of an event that occurred on a family vacation when I was a teenager.

(the image gets wavy as we slip back in time. It settles as we find ourselves on the campground of an Indian Reservation somewhere in Oklahoma in the Summer of '69)

My parents, two younger sisters and I had spent a week camping on the beach at Galveston, Texas; and were on our way home. We had stopped for the night at the Indian Reservation. There was a stream not far from our camp, and we were playing in it shortly before bedtime. The water was freezing, which helped numb my feet so I could walk on the sharp rocks without my shoes.

We had had a long ride up from Galvasten that day and were talking about the tarantulas we had seen on the road. There were some reservation kids playing in the stream with us and told us that tarantulas can jump. I don't really know if they can, but it added to our excitement about them.

After awhile, Mom came down to tell us it was time to get out of the stream and get ready for bed. We had these new sleeping bags which had a separate compartment into which we would slide our air mattress. It was great not having to feel rocks and sticks poking into our backs. I settled into my sleeping bag, hearing the air "whoosh" around in the air mattress.

I heard a mosquito buzzing around my ear and realized I hadn't sprayed myself down before getting into bed. I asked dad to pass the mosquito spray. I heard him sigh, roll over, saw the flashlight click on. Then heard him gasp.

"Doris" he said sternly to my mother. "Get out of the tent, take the girls with you. NOW." I turned to see what was going on but my mom was standing, blocking my vision of the corner of the tent that had Dad's attention.

I heard my sister say "Tarantula". I remembered what the girl in the stream said about them jumping and felt fear choking me. I realized my sister couldn't see what was in the corner any more than I, but there was SOMETHING over there that had both of my parents quite upset.

I tried to unzip my sleeping bag, but the zipper got stuck. I stood up in the bag and tried to shimmy out of it. The air mattress was hindering that effort. Somehow, I got turned around and was facing the mattress. I would push down on the material of the bag, bend the air mattress backwards away from me and it would fly back up and hit me in the face. This happened several times.

My dad said, "Donna, what are you doing? Get out of here!"

Still in the sleeping bag, I hopped my way across the tent, the air mattress hitting me in the face with every hop. Hop. Whomp. Hop. Whomp. My natural God-given awkwardness was accetuated by the sleeping back/air mattress combo. At one point, close to the door of the tent, I fell forward, the motion sliding me out of the bag across the air mattress. During my slide, I glanced sideways towards the corner of the tent and saw a snake coiled, highlighted by Dad's flashlight.

YIKES. My fear ratcheted up a few notches and I was now in full blown panic.

In one bound, I lept from the door of the tent to the hood of the car, joining my mother and sisters who were already perched on the hood of our '66 Mustang. I remember hearing someone snicker. Apparently, I had made quite a sight sliding out of the mattress and then leaping to the car.

The four of us sat on the car, our feet tucked underneath of us and watched as sleeping bags, air mattresses and luggage came flying out of the tent, being thrown out by dad.

He came out and retrieved a broom with a 3' handle that we used for cleaning the tent. He stood at the door, brandishing the broom, took a deep breath and then entered the tent. We saw the green canvas sides bulge and ripple, and heard whomping sounds as a battle took place inside.

It got quiet.

Dad emerged, the snake draped over the handle of the broom. He took it to the edge of the woods and flipped it into the darkness.

He came back to us and said, "OK, we can go back into the tent now."

The four of us shook our heads "no" in unison and at the same time said, "Motel."

We loaded up a few things into the car and drove 20 minutes into town. As we were walking across the parking lot, we all realized I was limping. A lot. The bottom of my right foot was burning. My youngest sister, 10, yelled, the snake bit her!"

When we got inside, dad inspected my foot and it had a three inch gash on the bottom of it which was packed with sand and dirt. Remember when I said the stream was so cold that it numbed my feet so I could walk on the rocks? Seems like that wasn't a good idea. I also couldn't feel the rocks slice into my foot.

After a trip to the emergency room and a tetanus shot (OUCH!!!) we finally go to bed.

We never found out what kind of snake it was, whether or not it was venomous. It didn't matter. It was a snake in our tent and that is now allowed. Ever since, sister, Carol, does a careful inspection of all corners of the tent before settling down for the night. And if she didn't, I would.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


At the suggestion of my friend Eleanor, I'm posting this after the two Katrina posts.

bubblewrap stress reliever

For those of you in a hurry to de-stress, I suggest selecting the "manic mode" option.

......and then, there's always Pig Blast

I think one of my plans this weekend is to change my blog photo. Truthfully, it kind of freaks me out. Looks more like "bugeyes" than "slyeyes". When that's done, I'll install a ceiling fan in my bedroom. And you know what that means. Yes, More Fun With Tools!

Salvation Army Online Donations

Red Cross Online Donations

UPDATE: My first spam....and it's for Alzheimers!!!!! ARGHHH

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


New Orleans breathed a prayer of thanks on Monday morning when Katrina veered to the right. Things were going to be bad, but not as bad as they had feared.

Then the levee broke.

Look around the city in which you live and imagine it becoming suddenly uninhabitable. For everyone.

Lives are gone.
Homes are gone.
Possessions are gone.
Jobs are gone.
Roads are gone.
The newspaper is closed.
Banks are closed.
Emergency services have poor communications as radios are failing.
No food.
No water.
Bodies are seen floating in the water.
Cemetaries have been destroyed and caskets of the long dead are floating away.
Hospitals are closed; the patients being airlifted to other hospitals. Do their families know where they are going? Are their families alive?

Life's necessities are gone or going while flood water is in abundance.

Bad enough yet? Here come the alligators, snakes, and looters. In hours, the city known as The Big Easy became a third world country. And those scenes were repeated all along the Gulf Coast.

Some are calling this the American Tsunami. Does it matter? Gone is gone; no matter what the method was.

Cherish and be thankful for who you have and what you have; because in the blink of an eye, it could be gone.

Salavation Army on-line donations

Red Cross on-line donations

Monday, August 29, 2005


Update: American Red Cross for online donations for aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Recovery is going to take awhile.


Katrina was one angry woman.

I awoke this morning to news that Hurricane Katrina was downgraded to a Category 4 and had veered to the east, sparing the catastrophe that had been predicted. But the news assured their voyeuristic viewers that there would be devastation nontheless. One weather man stated it aptly when he pointed out that there is no easy side to a category 4 hurricane.

One city's good fortune was another's disaster. Biloxi and Mobile were going to get the brunt of Katrina's wrath. And, boy did they ever. And I'm sure that those whose homes and businesses were destroyed in New Orleans don't feel all that lucky.

I went about my day as normal, but every so often I would log onto various news websites to check on the progress. It felt strange that while my day was progressing normally, peoples' lives were being dramatically altered just a few hours away. Usually, we don't monitor the progress of devastation; we see its aftermath. It seems the only times we can do this is during a hurricane or a war. When I've seen enough, I click the mouse and I'm back to my normal life.

We received the good news that a family member was safe. She lives in Baton Rouge with her husband. They had power, but the winds were 65 mph and raining hard. The roads were closed so they were staying home. Good.

I later saw footage of flooded downtown Pascagoula, Mississippi. I had worked there on an assignment one summer and hoped everyone I knew was safe and sound. Ironically, my last day in Pascagoula was when Hurricane Danny hit in 1997. It had been a tropical storm shortly before hitting, barely meeting the qualifications of a hurricane. Totally different from this one.

Early in the day, I read about people refusing to leave. One man angrily said he didn't like mandatory evacuations. Later, I read about a man talking to a reporter on a cellphone from his house in New Orleans begging for help. When I saw footage of people standing on rooftops waiting to be rescued, I wondered why they thought they could beat a monster storm. I later realized that many of those people were in the poorest areas of our country and did not have the means to leave the path of the storm.

Being able to leave and defying the odds is stupid. Being doomed due to economic circumstances is tragically sad.

And then there are the people who try to make lemonade from other people's lemons. On my way home tonight, my daughter called from Murray, Kentucky to tell about gas gouging there. She reported that gas in Paducah was selling for $4.00 a gallon, and stations in Murray were starting to raise their prices. The reasoning was that all of the oil production in New Orleans was stopped. Hopefully, that will be corrected by morning and the gougers summarily shot. OK, not shot. Tarred and feathered. OK, OK. Sent to their rooms without supper, TV, DVD, iPod or laptop.

After I got home from work, I spent some time watching some of the news footage on the various networks. There were the obligatory shots of reporters attempting to stand up in hurricane force winds. That reminded me of the joke about a weather rock. (To paraphrase an old joke, if a reporter is perpendicular to a sign post, there's a hurricane.) There were the shots of people standing on roofs hoping for rescue, some rescues, floods, floods, floods, and floods. I became very irritated with various reporters who seemed to be reassuring me there would be more deaths than the three nursing home patients who died while being evacuated. I was getting the feeling that they felt their jobs were in jeopardy unless there was substantial deaths to accompany the destruction. Many people lost homes, possessions and jobs. Wasn't that enough?

I watched Anderson Cooper trying to stand still next to a crane which had come loose in the screeching winds. I imagined his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, at home in her New York City penthouse apartment, drinking her morning coffee while watching her son report from inside the jaws of a bitch of a hurricane,debris flying around, standing next to a crane precariously flapping around. I wondered if she thought to herself "I raised an idiot."

Other stories filed by Cooper had him excitedly pointing out pieces of signs blowing around; apparently his trademark in hurricane reporting.

There was another reporter on CNN whose name escapes me who seems to like to duck walk in high winds so he can get behind stationary objects to report that it's very windy and to caution everyone to stay inside.

A young female reporter in Alabama was trying hard not to get blown down the street. I wondered if her cameraman and producer would tape the whole thing if she did, or if they would go help her. Fortunately, she made it back. I think. Maybe they turned off the camera before she blew away. Nah, she's OK. There would be footage otherwise.

And just as I had watched all I could, CNN apparently had had their fill as well and went to regular programming, which prompts me to ask:

Who is Nancy Grace and why is she yelling at me?

That is one angry woman.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

KNOCK IT OFF!! A life and death struggle with a purse

Let's review:

I had taken a trip to NYC with my daughter, sister and niece. While there, we bought a number of purses, knock-offs, from street vendors. We had also stocked up on shoes (not knock-offs), and I had lost the left shoe of a beloved pair of Liz sandals. We gave our purses new names to reflect the fact that they are imposters: Phooey Vuitton, Fake Spade, Nada Prada, Fucci and Foach.

My daughter fell out of love with her Fucci, mainly because it's a larger sized purse than she would normally carry. She made a deal with me and I bought the Fucci and her Foach wallet for $25.00. Here's a picture of the Fucci:

It's the right size for me, classic styling, and slender silhouette.

It's also a pain in the a$$.

The Fucci is the purse equivalent of the black hole. Stuff goes into it and disappears. It has three main compartments and two of those have an additional zippered pocket. The top of it stays together nicely because it's design was based on steel bear traps. When I open it to put something in, I have to be fast because it will quickly snap shut, trapping my hand inside. Then I have to go through the tedious task of gnawing off my arm to set myself free. And that's not as much fun as you'd think.

Notice the handles. They don't move. Ever. They stick straight up, getting in my face as I'm trying to pry the sides of the trap apart and peer inside to find my wallet, car keys, make-up, whatever. If I bend a handle to the side to get it out of my way, it quickly snaps back, whacking me across the bridge of my nose as I'm searching inside black hole to locate the item I need.

Earlier this week, I walked up to the plaza in the center of town and had dinner; eating outside, reading a book and enjoying a lovely evening on the plaza. When I left home, I had dropped my house key into a side zippered compartment in my purse. It was a single key on a butterfly keychain.

I got back home around 10:00, and went rummaging around in my purse for my key. It was gone. I sat down on the chair on the porch and started a fight to the death with my purse over possession of the key. It was determined not to give it up. I pried open the purse, slapping at those damn handles and item by item, emptied the purse. I had it completely emptied and no key. Risking amputation, I meticulously went through each compartment of the purse and did not find it.

I picked up my cell phone and called the restaurant and asked if they had found a single key on a butterfly keychain. No.

I felt through all of the pockets in my shorts. No.

I battled with the purse looking through each compartment again. No.

I threw the purse down on the floor of the porch in frustration and heard a small muffled metallic tinkle.


I picked it up, clutching the sides, and glared at it. Through gritted teeth I snarled, "Give it up or I'm giving you to Goodwill!"

I stuffed my hand inside again, feeling around and through several layers of black rayon, I could feel it. I just didn't know in which compartment it was. Keeping ahold if it in one hand, I used the other and went through each compartment again until I felt the cold metal with my fingers. A HA! Victory! And I KNOW I had searched there before. Demon purse!!

The other morning on my bus ride in to work, my cell phone rang, but I couldn't find it inside that black hole. I knew it was in there because I could hear it. A similar battle ensued, this time in public. The other passengers were looking at me rather nervously as I fought with my purse, called it names, while my cell phone rang and rang. I finally held the purse over my head, looked up in it, and shook it. The phone fell out with a solid clunk to my nose.

I wouldn't be surprised if that lost sandal is in there somewhere. And Jimmy Hoffa. And the Lost Tribe of Israel.

You ask why I still use it. Look again at the picture.

It's a great looking purse.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Our fishing trip last weekend was just about perfect. We couldn't even complain about the rain. When you are smack dab in the middle of a drought, it's not a good idea to complain about a gentle soaking rain getting in the way of weekend fun.

We got down to Bennet Springs Sunday evening and still had time to get in some fishing.

Jenni was the first to catch a fish. This is her "catching a fish pose". From every fishing trip, we have photos of her like that. She always looks so graceful. She did NOT get that from me.

Tim caught the next fish that night. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, this was the first time he's fished since he was five years old. He wanted to release his trout, but it had swallowed the hook and we didn't know if it would make it. He was initially concerned about that; we called it his "Phoebe moment". If you've ever watching Friends, you know what I'm talking about. Jenni made an agreement with him that they would put it on the stringer, put it in the water and if it recovered enough they would release it. It didn't recover. Jenni ended up cleaning it.

She later suggested to Tim that he use a single hook without barbs instead of the barbed treble hooks as those are easier for "catch and release". He opted not to because they would be harder to catch. He had apparently gotten over his "Phoebe moment."

That evening, Jenni caught two, Tim caught one, and I didn't have any luck. Dad opted to sit and watch.

A fog rolled in and gave the stream a mystical appearance.

We had some visitors that evening in the form of a blue heron

and an otter.

OK, you're pretty much going to have to trust me on the heron and otter. But they ARE there. If you click on the photos you can see the heron; and you can see the wake the otter was making in the water.

The next morning, we had to get into our rain gear. We make quite a fashion statement, don't we? Check out the kicky boots.

Tim was the only one whose hair benefitted from the weather.

We were in the water by 6:50 am; waiting for the siren to blow. We never heard it but Dad and the guy he was standing next to looked at their watches, saw it was 7:01, and decided it was time.

Every time I go trout fishing, I dream of catching a fish on my first cast. It's never happened to me. It happened to Jenni this time. A few minutes later, I did get my first trout. I love that feeling when the pole jolts. I tried to reel him in, but he wouldn't get any closer. I knew it was a trout and not the bottom of the stream or a branch, because I could feel him move. I wondered if he was just so big that he was stronger than my reel. He did jump out of the water at one point, and I saw he was a good sized fish, but no lunker my any means.

So I beached him. I slung my rod over my shoulder and walked up the shore and drug him onto the beach.

A few minutes after that, I had to land my second trout the same way. Obviously, something was wrong with my reel and I was going to need to replace it. But Dad came over to show us he'd caught his limit (at 7:20!)

So I used his pole. It has a left-handed reel, but it worked for me.

Jenni was the next to catch her limit, but she started cleaning her fish before we got any pictures of her stringer.

I was next...

....and then Tim. This is him netting his fourth trout; a good sized one. Jenni started cleaning his fish when she was done with hers, so we didn't get a picture of his stringer, either. I never could get her to clean her room when she was growing up, but she's a demon when it comes to cleaning trout.

But we did get a picture of them with their cleaned trout.


All four of us had caught our limit and had them cleaned by 10:00. That has NEVER happened before...for us. It did help that the limit was lowered to 4 from 5 trout, but it was still a good feeling.

We were able to pack up, get on the road and get back to St. Louis in time to have a fresh trout dinner on the table by 5:30 that night.

It was delicious.