Monday, July 31, 2006

Babes in Toyland

Once in awhile you take a picture and realize it is a classic. These are two more of my all-time favorite pictures. This is Brooke and Paige at Chuck E. Cheese's when they were only a few months old. Their expressions seem to say, "Was this supposed to fun, because quite frankly we are somewhat in over our heads, here!?" Of course it kind of reminds us of a Simpson's episode where a mall nursery worker dumps each new arrival into a huge container of balls, where they immediately sink with a panicked look on their face. One worker notes, "The babies look unhappy," and the cigarette smoking old hag who is in charge snaps back, "Add more balls."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mighty Mouse Strikes Again

Again with the cat attacking something. This time, it was in the living room and Fritz got to be in the front row at the Wild Kingdom episode. Grace and Em had just gone to bed but were still awake. While we cowered in the bedroom, Grandpa managed to TRAP the fat trespasser in an upside-down bucket. YEA! He came into the bedroom to report, panting but proud. Moments passed, and we waited, thinking this time the mouse would be gone for good. But no. The mouse got away when Grandpa tried to slide something under the bucket to move it. Dang! But I have to give Grandpa and the cat their props. After all, they did corner it.

Next step is to fill the holes in the bedroom floors with steel wool. The holes were drilled so that certain cables would fit through. The steel wool keeps the mouse from using the holes to get in and out of our rooms. At least when we go to sleep with the door shut we won't have to worry about a mouse climbing the bedspread! Those of you who suggested guns, snakes, pigs, and so on, thanks, but I'm already creeped out enough. I did know a gal who used a bb gun to shoot a mouse. She reported that the bb hit the mouse in the butt, and the mouse slid across the floor and ran away. Stay tuned for round 3.

Saturday Night Fever

These are a couple of pictures of our Saturday night, after the golf tournament. There was a big Euchre/Hearts card game in the dining room. And yes, that is Chantze playing...he learned it at Camporee! We made some popcorn and when the pop ran out, the ice water flowed freely. Brooke and Paige enjoyed watching Cinderella II in my bedroom, and Fritz and Bryan A were locked in cribbage combat in the living room. I didn't take a picture of them though...someone is camera shy and I already pushed my luck taking photos of the golf game. Viva La Summer! Or Viva Le Ete if you prefer.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Someone Help This Cat

The last night Brian G was here, I was sitting at the computer and heard Smoochie attacking something in my closet. She chased it out into the room. I saw her batting at something on my bedspread. Gingerly pulling the fold aside, I saw a fat mouse clinging for dear life to MY BED! I screamed. Not eeek, it was more like ARGHHH! Fritz got up to battle with the beast, and there was banging and clanging and some more screaming. He ended up sitting at my computer all night with the light on to protect me from the bed-climbing horror. Fortunately Brian didn't hear a thing.
Fritz bought some humane traps, but so far, the mouse isn't having any of that. And today, Smoochie cornered it again under my palm tree, and I broke my palm trying to get at it. The tree, not my hand. Anyway, our cat doesn't have claws. She sniffs it out and chases it, but can't hold onto it unless she bites it, and she is so well-fed I am not sure she realizes she could make a mouse-sicle out of it. So does anyone have a sure-fire way of getting rid of mice, who can hide in the wilderness of an overstuffed bedroom (hey, it's organized, but still very full) or do I have to lie awake at night listening to every rustle and scratch, toes curled and eyes wide, wondering if it'll get under the covers and do something to me I haven't even been able to imagine but am extremely jumpy about?
And don't you macho guys tell me it's only an itty bitty mouse. There is a gene in women's brains that prevents them from seeing any varmint as small and helpless. It's a Jungian memory of dinosaur-like rodents that must have attacked women when the cavemen were away, and the men never believed them when they described the size.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Players of The Great Golf Grudge Match

The players were Fritz, Brian G., Bryan A., and Ray. Pam A. also played but didn't get in the picture. As you can see from their expressions, the anticipation is great, the confidence is solid, and the competition will be fierce! Brian G. has an edge, being the usual winner, and being an attorney of course he know more about golfing than any of the rest. He comes from down south where the heat is tough, and he loves it, so that also gives him an advantage. Bryan A. has the home court advantage, having played the courses many more times. And he also has a fierce competitive streak that makes him want to squash the competition. Ray is a threat because he has a winning personality and often has good luck, combined with the more relaxed playing style of someone who doesn't feel the need to win. But he may find himself less competitive due to a night out the night before and less of a desire to dominate. Pam is a threat because she might decide, in her quiet way, that she isn't going to let all those guys get the better of her. But mother-of-the-groom stress combined with a stressful job on little sleep may put her in the bottom 3. Fritz is the one who always says he doesn't expect to win, he just plays for the fun of it, plus it's harder on him physically, but he has the ability to win if he sets his mind to it. However, he is up against not only some fierce competitors, but more skilled golfers. In his favor: I was only there a short time so as not to distract him and having never won the grudge match, he won't be rattled by trying to keep up a reputation. So.....who won? Keep reading. You may be surprised. Or not.

The Great Golf Grudge Match Winners!

And the winners are! Mr. G shows his winning form, having beaten all comers for the past few years on the Crazy Country side. On the Jungle Adventure side, the dark horse, Fritz, won round 2 with an unprecedented pair of holes-in-one! It was warm, it was humid, and it was grueling, but the 5 golfers sweated it out to the very end. Congratulations to the winners, and to the almost winners, there is always next year!

Emma Turns 3!

Saturday was a busy day, but I was able to spend a few moments with one of my favorite neighbors, little Emma! She just turned 3 and had a great backyard party with many of her family and friends. Her new little brother was there, too. The kids were all having a great time. They had balloon hats and got to take a swing at a Spongebob pinata. When asked if she wanted Dora or Spongebob for her birthday theme, Emma picked Spongebob. So I promised to make a Spongebob game for the party. The mouth on the front of the box is cut out so the kids can take turns trying to earn a prize by throwing a sponge in. I didn't get to stay for the game, but from the sounds I heard all the kids were enjoying themselves and the smile on Emma's face tells it all! I saw here go up and hug a little boy her size and tell him, "Come and have some cake!" And she shared her special big piece of cake with another little boy who was even smaller. I am so glad she had such a nice party and has such a loving family.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pictures That Go With The Update Below

Family and Friends Make Everyday Special!

Uncle Brian Has Returned!

Note: Blogspot's photo manager is once more malfunctioning so only two pictures on this update....will keep working on publishing a few more pics of our party througout the day.

Chris is still in a neck brace after his surgery and could use a few prayers for healing. His daughter Brandy is 10 and very pretty. The other picture has Bryan A. and Brian G. in it.

In spite of the fact Brian has visited almost every year and therefore knows exactly what it's like, he still came back this year! Yea! So we had a dinner in his honor. Most of the family came and we not only had a nice pork barbecue sandwich/relish tray with both mouth-watering and mouth burning items/a plethora of freshly picked fruit in its washed but otherwise natural state/food items of deliciousness unsurpassed too numerous to mention, but we also fit in a health walk (for the cool people). Did I mention it was the hottest day of the year so far? Good thing we have air conditioning. Brian said he enjoyed it all very much and I know we did, too. So who knows, maybe we can entice him back next year, whaddya think? And by the way, his dance card filled up fast. He has dinner invitations for 3-4 days this week already in addition to the big golf shoot-off coming up Saturday. A yearly alpha male friend of ours (also named Bryan) tries every year to beat Uncle Brian at mini-golf. It is a funny-serious game, much bragged about and looked forward to. Chilldaddy is getting in this year, having missed it before due to work or other obligations. So...I'll be there with camera.

Oh, and Brian took us out to dinner Monday night, to Chili's. Our dessert was watching numerous awesome storms come in off Lake Michigan. We also watched the LEX go out to "sea" with brother Yoobie onboard. She really boogied in the rough seas, and on her return trip (sans Mike) lightening struck all around her. But she made it and Yoob reported he never got seasick. A chip off the old block, as our father was a sailor. Other than the power going out almost everywhere, it was a great night of storms.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Moving Day for Shorten'sweet

Here are a few pictures of moving day. But I didn't take pictures of the inside of the apartment (except for Michelle sitting on couch after a lot of hard work.) 'Coz the new tenant will want to do that when she gets a day or two off to arrange things more to her liking. I just barely got my camera working as the work was wrapping up, but I did get a picture of Chris's muscles and Jamie and her dad leaving with a load of stuff from her room.

I like the new duplex lots better than her old 2nd story apartment, because in her old place there just wasn't enough room and nothing worked right. This place has a lot more quality and it's built as though someone really cared if the tenant would be content with the way things are made. Lots of closets, much more room, even outdoor areas like a flower garden area and a deck that isn't exactly tiny. She deserves a good place to go home to after a hard day's work, and this place fits.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bad Luck Day(s)

I am not feeling sorry for myself, but I do want to make a list of crappy things that have happened to me lately. Maybe I need someone to feel sorry for me?! I bet everyone has days like this. Although I really included two days because there wasn't enough crap in one day. I'm all better now and am really looking forward to Brian's visit and our family party. While you're reading these, be sure to feel sorry for me.

1. I ordered a roast beef sandwich with lettuce, mayo, onion. I was handed a DRY, hard bun with no onion and no tomato with sub sauce. (I mentioned mayo 4 times when I ordered.) Made them give me a refund.

2. After working so long and hard my blood sugar got low, I ate a high carb snack and got really sleepy. I no sooner laid down to take a short nap (I can sleep even five minutes and wake up raring to go) some lady came and rang the doorbell. I waited for her to go away. I was almost asleep! And then she rang again. Then beat on the door. Then rang one more time and knocked one more time. Good thing she left because I was ready to go ring her bell a time or two. Come to find out it was a politician handing out handbills. Well, I was so pissed I got adrenalin running through my system and couldn't sleep after that.

3. I had to clean the gutters that run across the front of our house. They sag in the middle and the debris that falls of our roof mixes with rain water and decomposes in the gutters, making a smelly muck that I am sure is full of disease-carrying bacteria or something. I was worried about the ladder sliding across the concrete driveway when I climbed, so I pulled the van up to put the base of the ladder against. When I went to move the ladder, it fell backwards and broke my flippin' windshield! Well, it didn't actually break, but the crack goes from top to bottom directly in front of where my eyes will be looking next time I drive. Wah! And then I stepped in some of the slop that spilled on the driveway, I had sandals on and it went between my flippin' toes. EUUUUUUUUUUU!!!

4. The drain in the shower backed up. I had to bail out grey foamy water until Fritz could get home and fix it. Next day, I did a couple rugs in the washer and the sink it drains into backed up! Now you can feel sorry for Fritz because he went down there and fixed that!

5. I walked into the garage using the back door and our 5 cd changer, which someone had precariously balanced on a narrow tv top, got jiggled just enough to go crashing to the floor, and you could hear the parts inside being thrown around. Okay, it wasn't working, but we were going to get it fixed!

6. I know there is more, but I am tired and am going to go to bed. Tomorrow, if I have time, a couple pics of the shortie on her moving day.....oh, and I still thank God for every day because there are usually far more blessings than curses. But I like to bitch, I've noticed. Wonder if that is old age or something.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Summer Blonde and Hot Redhead

Lyda and I were the very best of friends in middle school and junior high. Unfortunately, she had to move away before we had a chance to help each other pick out prom dresses or sign each other's yearbooks. Debbie sent me this picture which I just downloaded. It's Lyda and I on a summer day in 1967. I had dyed my hair blonde with Summer Blonde, which was a harsh bleach which made my hair look like a haystack. But who cared. I was 15 and blonde, Lyda was my best friend, she lived in a really cool neighborhood (for the prankish types like us) and we had the whole world to look forward to. Maybe things didn't turn out so well, there were some hard years ahead for us both. But looking at this picture, we had the world by the ying-yang, or at least we thought we did. I hope I remember, when I see my grandkids growing up, how it felt to be young and free and have the whole world to look forward to. And not to step on any dreams.

Friday, July 07, 2006

This is one of those pictures you can imagine showing a reporter when the kid grows up to be a rock star! This picture is just cute, and it's nice to have it, because for the past few years, every time I try to get a good shot of Chantze he moves or makes a funny face! This shot shows his personality without necessarily being a cheese smile. Plus I like it that he is playing the guitar with a pick. His look is like, OH! Caught me having fun! Aren't I cute?!

Favorite Pictures Category

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures. Of course, I have a few dozen more all-time favorites, which I will put on my blog as time and inclination allow. Taken at the Muskegon County Fairgrounds, I happened to catch a moment of wonder that is shown on the faces of little girl and big horse. Spending time with grandchildren is always the best time. Taking them to a place like the fairgrounds to see some of their favorite animals up close is a lot of fun, too. But I think what makes this picture extra special is the fact that Emily has always loved horses, and this time she got to get right up close, and the awe shows on her face. Maybe I am supplying the imagination, but the horse seems to be just as interested in the little human being held up for his inspection. (The owner assured us this horse was gentle and wouldn't nip.) So come on, let me know, what do you think the horse is thinking?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Across The Lake

Above: Dean and Eileen watching wild turkeys in the back of the property, deer in Pam's "backyard," Dean, Eileen, Pam, & Fritz, sunset reflecting off a Milwaukee building, Pam's backyard with the deer appearing as just a tiny speck near the center of the picture, and Pam with the trees her family planted.

It is beautiful in Wisconsin. We made the trip to be with family when Uncle Art passed away, so it was a sad occasion. But being with family helps, and cousin Pam was very good at making us feel comfortable and welcome, even though she had a memorial service and committal to attend to while we were there. Aunt Eileen and Uncle Dean were just as confident and knowledgeable about what to do as they always are, so that really helped.

Fritz had asked to see some of the places he visited in his youth. Delavan and Hebron were just over the border in Illinois, so one day we took a jaunt over there. Uncle Dean's car, with its onboard GPS, made for some interesting adventures and extra sightseeing. You might not know where you are, but you can't get lost! We saw Aunt Chloe's farm, which was really beautiful. Many children either grew up there or visited there, including Fritz, who once fell into some pig offal with a cousin in a famous incident that is still talked about. We visited the place where there are many Spencers buried, including Fritz's Mom. Delavan was beautiful, too, a picture perfect small town American slice of real life, with a red brick road downtown that is carefully preserved. This is where Eileen and Annabelle lived as children. They had a pleasant house on a shaded street not too far from where they attended elementary school.

The farms we passed were so inviting, older but well-kept houses, landscaped yards kept in perfect order, old barns still standing strong, and fields with many different grasses, not too many orchards. Wildlife areas were lush and green, and we saw lakes, marshes, creeks, and a river. We skirted an area well-known for being overrun with tourists, Lake Geneva. Back in Wisconsin, we went by the Univerisity of Wisconsin, Whitewater, where the Spencer girls attended college. Whitewater was awesome, a neat town, and to raise money, they had suspended wooden chairs from the lamp-posts downtown. Each one was painted artistically, imaginatively, colorfully, and delightfully! It was like a drive-through art gallery. I regret I forgot to take my camera on this tour, because words can't describe the beauty of the countryside.
And now a few words about the Houghton's where we stayed. Perched on a hilltop that gives a broad and beautiful view of the whole countryside in every direction, the home is like an eagle's nest. In front there isa a sweeping lawn, and in back pine and cottonwood (?) trees. During the day, out back, where you can see for miles, we saw wild turkeys feeding in the fields and once a deer. In front there were always birds or rabbits to watch, and at night, hundreds of fireflies. Early one morning a bird got caught in the window of the room we were sleeping in, and Fritz had to open the window to let it go.

One afternoon, after a rain, Eileen and Pam and I walked over to the farm next door, where Pam had grown up, before they built a house on the hill when her dad retired from farming. We saw the tall pines Pam and her family had planted. As the picture shows, they are very tall now! We also saw wheat the present owner planted, (Tony), he is an organic farmer with several steers on the premises that gave us the eye as we walked by. In spite of the sadness of the occasion, it was good company and an enjoyable visit. And by the way, the restaurants were nothing like here. The food was very good and quite a surprising variety. The service was cheerful and attentive. The roads were all in good repair, no road rebuilding needed everywhere like it is here. And there were help wanted and now hiring signs in several places. So I would say they are faring better in farm/cheese/beer country than we are here in auto/tourist country. But it is good to be back home, where children and grandchildren and sibs are. And the cat.