Monthly Archives: July 2006

I’m Just Wild About Harry

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There’s just one problem with laughing your ass off to Harry Shearer’s weekly radio show, Le Show. Your faith in mankind just evaporates — for a while anyway. Are people really as idiotic as they seem? Can the war be really costing us half a TRILLION DOLLARS!!!!????? Can KFC be so stupid as to use a respected 17th century Tao icon of the Chinese to supposedly endorse their damn chicken! What that Tao icon was, gee, a VEGETARIAN????!!! I’ve been in marketing for years and I am just appalled at the idiotic things “Marketing Experts” attempt — and consumers fall for.  Like Coca Cola’s Dasani water — TAP WATER. JUST FILTERED TAP WATER. England was smart enough to tell Coke to take a hike, but not the US. Let’s wake up shall we? We don’t really believe that most business is really looking out for us, so why do we get suckered into their crap? Splenda is another one. “Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar.” It’s NOT. It’s one molecule of sugar and THREE MOLECULES OF CHLORINE. It’s a CHEMICAL. IT IS NOT FOOD. Use stevia or zylitol instead — you can get those at Whole Foods, but not Splenda, because it does not meet their criteria for being natural. I used it for a long time before getting the real scoop on it — and its effect on the body. Check out www.thetruthaboutsplenda.com.

Another subject…hot under everything

The heat. Oy. At about 3 p.m. my car thermometer said it was 113 degrees. We lost power for about 12 hours yesterday. We were able to hook up a generator to get one window air conditioner, a fan and a light to work, but it meant we had to sit in one room with the door closed. We finally gave up and headed out to our dinner location early to sit in an air conditioned bar. That worked fine but midway through dinner at Buca’s, their exhaust fan broke and all the kitchen heat went straight into our dining area and booted the temp up to over 90. The ice cream was half melted when it was served. Just pathetic. So back home we came and the power was still out. Edison, after a half hour wait on the phone, said engineers had been in the area since 1:28 p.m. (it was now 10:30 pm), 1000 people were without power and they had no ETA when it would be restored. We kept trying to listen to local radio to hear what was happening, but they were apparently completely unaware of the lack of power and KFWB in particular seemed focused on all the other news around the world instead of what was happening right here. Do we need a better local communication system in times of storm, stress, etc.?

We’re turned our hot tub into a cool dip and thank fully the clouds are here today to cool things down. Global warming or not, this is a horrible summer and I wish you all the ability to stay cool.

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Lizzie’s Adventures or Greased Lightnin’

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Lizzie extended her stay in the beautiful Wyoming country because she was meeting so many potential clients. Lots of money up there, including VP Cheney. Here’s a tidbit…Cheney pays $22,500 rent on a house there for his security staff! Besides working her tanned rear off at the million dollar mansions, she called while sitting on a porch in a flower covered cowboy shirt  under eaves full of swallows. And she met a counterpart of my poodle Fozz, named Cosmo. They were having a fine time.  But finally she had to head back to L.A.

Love and plants saved her journey home, however. Her drive was a death defying act worthy of Mario Andretti. About 2:30 pm Wednesday she called, very upset and trying to stay calm. “I just scared myself like I’ve never done before,” she panted. Seems she was happily toodling along in her much defamed Pontiac Aztec — but it served her well Wednesday. As she approached Barstow, a desert thunderstorm burst out drenching the road at the same time her tire blew. Before she knew what the problem was, “I went cross country! I spun out twice, sailed across all lanes of the highway into the center divider area, down a hill into the ravine and up the other side — mud everywhere and all the other cars on the road scattered all to hell. Had to let go of the steering wheel because there was nothing I could do!”

As luck would have it, she had hundreds of pounds of plants in the back and she credits the weight with keeping the car upright instead of rolling in the ditch. “As I was spinning I noticed the LOVE sticker you gave me that I put on my mirror. Then wham, it got slimed in mud! she laughed.”  Sitting out front of my house, the car is unscratched, but muddy, the love sticker still in place.

See, love does conquer all. Love sticker anyone? I made sheets of them…

Oh and as for the jerk in Barstow who would only take $170 cash to replace her tire — she beat it over to Baker and found out she needed two new tires — and got them at half the price. Here’s to beating the skeezy opportunists!

Really Buggin’ Me

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So Monday I’m ready to tackle a bunch of projects around the house while my housekeeper is here. We’re finishing up the painting of the kitchen in periwinkle and yellow, so French. And Swedish for that matter. But I notice a wormy thing on the wall. Ugghhhh! Turns out I’d been invaded by those little Apple Moths. They were swarming inside the pantry. I’d seen a few here and there and swatted them, and threw out a few things in one cupboard where they seemed to be the previous week. But that was just the beginning. Three hours, six trash bags of food in bags and boxes, and half a bottle of 409 later, we’d gotten all we could get. The pantry was now half empty and we were trying hard not to smear the dead pests all over the new paint. When it comes to pesky bugs, my compassion is sadly lacking. The heat had just helped breed dozens of the damn things. That night I got up at 2 am cuz I was sure there were more. Sure enough, at least a dozen to whack. By 6 am, another dozen. At noon, a half dozen. And on it has gone. Today I’ve slammed and spattered another half dozen. They’re relentless!!! I looked them up but couldn’t find a thing about how to treat an infestation — especially in a food area. New Zealand proudly boasts it has eradicated the beasts from its soil. I see where they have gone…Think they’d send an exterminator?

P.S. Just found out from Lizzie they’re corn moths, not apple moths. the rest of her installment shortly!

Buried Treasure

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My difficulty with writing is that I have so many stories and unbelievable things that have happened to me, it’s been hard to sort them all out. Here I hope to write about tidbits in a targeted way so I can bring all these stories to life in new ways. I’m now in the middle of my life’s biggest treasure hunt. It’s not about money, or fame or being a material girl; it’s about life. Family. Roots. My family was shattered early in my life and I’ve spend all the ensuing years identifying, repairing and ultimately putting some of the pieces back together. It’s not a flip thing to do, or an easy thing, or a quick thing. It takes years full of taking peeks here and there to avoid being scared off by the whole process. So I would find a little insight here, a little distraction there, some pain over there and fun over here and then find it was time again for more insight. And on goes the cycle. Eventually I started filling in those missing pieces of my foundation, understanding more about who I am and why, getting over the blame and hurt and anger and all the psychodependency of it all. I’m here. I’m alive. I’m happy. I’m having adventures I never thought I’d have and I’m still waiting for some I haven’t even thought of yet. I feel like Walter Mitty, or George Plimpton, or Alice in Wonderland at times — living out adventures and fantasies — unfortunately sometimes not in a good way. 

My childhood was slightly milder than Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate Events, yet it left me unable to navigate the world quite the way I wanted to. Yet along the way I discovered many other people with the same or similar issues, the same fears, the same insecurities. So I found guideposts here and there, people who are rocks in my life, and some who were just flakes and had to be jettisoned, and ways to sort out my damaged parts for repair and nourishment and enhance the great parts waiting to shine. All a balance game, a fierce determination to grow and stretch and understand all things lacking or just missed as life whizzed by. 

So that brings us to now. My uncle Vern is dying of cancer. And we’re in a race to put together the family history. There’s not much time. Vern, his oldest son Wayne, the family Lutheran minister (we’re Swedes, what other religion is there even if you’re not in Lake Wobegon?), and I seem to be the most interested in all this. He’s been here visiting and helping my aunt with the arrangements and we’re tackling boxes of photos and memorbilia as fast and thoroughly as we can. Wayne has two children and Vern has already started writing them installments of what he knows about the family. He has written sweet notes to them with each chapter. We’ll try to get a few more done. I’ve written two family histories and edited a book on Abbot Kinney among all my writing projects, but this one is the real pot of gold for me.

Yesterday we tackled the first box. Thankfully Vern’s memory is astounding. He’s the last link to our Swedish past. My Dad was Vern’s brother, and he and my mother both died when I was still a teenager.  Luckily we have dozens of photos going back to Sweden as long as 100 years ago. Photos of my great great grandparents on my grandmother’s side. Rather stern pioneer looking folk sitting in rough bent birch chairs in Hamneda Sweden. It was a family of workers and farmers…Great Grandpa was a fine looking businessman. There are pictures of him at a table with business partners or lodge brothers, in fine suits and combed hair, all looking proud as possible.

I learned lodges of one sort or another are a strong part of my family, from Sweden, to Moline, Illinois where my grandparents met and married, to my generation. My grandparents were members of the Vasa ? Lodge , a Swedish American lodge. Grandpa was the last remaining founding member when he died. He was also member of the Nobel Lodge…There are ribbons and pins to prove his membership — and lots of newspaper clippings. Those Swedes loved to talk about what was going on with everyone!

My Dad didn’t take much interest in lodges, being a WWII pilot and then a commercial pilot, but mom was in a woman’s club, and my sister and I are both in the Elks — her by marriage, me by my own recent membership (much to some friends’ chagrin). My cousins, Verns sons, are involved more in the church and church groups and science, rather than lodges. Let’s face it, we all have the benefit of a wider variety of choices and lodges aren’t at the top of the list for most of us.

 What I’m enjoying about all this is seeing Vern’s face light up as we find discover something. He’s confied to his hospital bed in the middle of his Scandinavian style furnished living room, so we set up a card table to spread out all the treasure. As we find something that needs identifying, one of us stands and takes it to him to read or view. Being a meticulous man, having worked at Rocketdyne/Rockwell for many years, he takes every task seriously.  Upon rediscovering a very large photo of my young grandfather at work in an office, Vern asked Wayne to scan it and enlarge it so we could make out the date on the calendar and see if there were any company names hidden so we could determine if it was the John Deere office. My grandfather apparently worked there a short time.  The date appeared — April 19, 1913. but no company name, so that mystery remains. I’m intrigued by some of grandpa’s other work. He arrived in the US in 1910 when he was 14. He had some schooling here but went to work as a teenager to help support the family — he had three sisters and a brother. One of his jobs was building levees — in Minnesota and we also think in New Orleans. We have more than a dozen photos showing levee projects and grandpa with various people at these sites. We just need to do some more detective work to identify the locations. A couple of photos have two or three black men — is that more likely New Orleans than Minnesota?

Lizzie’s Adventures: Hail to the Gooseberries

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So Lizzie’s busily at work on her landscape project at a huge home in Jackson Hole with a view to die for (pictures will be coming). The redneck danger seems to have passed for the moment. Well, except for the “Gardener’s Ass” she has — that’s instead of “Plumber’s Crack.” She says she has a helluva tan on her upper bum right now!

Luckily, she’s enjoying beautiful summer days, crystal clear views of the Tetons, hillsides of gooseberries and afternoon thunderstorms that dump painful hail on all, and leave behind not just rainbows, but double rainbows. Didn’t you just love those when you were a kid? Seeing one was like getting a double scoop ice cream cone. And imagine how many gold coins are at the end of TWO rainbows!

Lizzie swears her infamous Jesus is my Homeboy T-shirt inspired a nearby homeowner to plant a Christ figure in their yard. hmmmm…We’ll see when the picture comes. Oh, and the JC Penney store? It actually DOES say MOTHER store right on the sign. Picture coming of that, too.

Did you figure out what JC stands for? Well, his godfearing parents couldn’t have named him any better…Little James Cash Penney went on to make millions…and make shopping a fruitful experience for us all. And Penney’s still has its catalog…

Ok, back to trying not to fry in this 100 degree heat. Where’s some hail when you need it?

Lizzie’s Adventure or Womanly Ways

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Welcome to the weeklong adventures of Lizzie, on her way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a landscaping gig.  

Day 2 — Lizzie called from the road again. “Took a wrong turn, went about 60 miles out of my way, but ran across a town called Kemmerer where there’s a JC Penney Mother Store and Museum!”  Apparently, what she meant is that it’s the “parent” store of all the other JC Penneys. In fact, This is what I found on the JC Penney Web site (hope they don’t mind me borrowing, but talk about free promotion…)

Many courtesies that today’s customers expect from a retail store, such as money-back returns, standardized pricing, high quality merchandise and friendly customer service, simply were not widely practived when Mr. Penney opened his first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902. In those days, many merchants operated their businesses under the motto “caveat emptor” — let the buyer beware! Customers had to be on their guard against shoddy merchandise, fraudulent claims about quality, deceptive dual pricing systems, highly discriminatory sales practices, and rude, uncaring sales people.

In naming his first store The Golden Rule, Mr. Penney boldly proclaimed the idea that set his store apart from his competitors, namely, “Do unto others as youwould have others do unto you.” In doing so, he forever changed the way Americans do business with retail merchants and the way they shop at stores. Choosing the name Golden Rule was no coincidence…Penney’s father was a minister who preached the better part of his life. He raised his son very strictly and taught him to believe in the practical application of the Golden Rule. His mother, a devout woman, taught her son the value of service to others by example in the way she lived her live for the benefit of those around her.

Years later Penney explained, “In setting up a business under the name and meaning of the Golden Rule, I was publicly binding myself, in my business relations, to a principle which had been a real and intimate part of my family upbringing. To me, the sign on the store was much more than a trade name … We took our slogan ‘Golden Rule Store’ with strict literalness. Our idea was to make money and build business through serving the community with fair dealing and honest value.” — JCPenney web site

Good for you, Mr. Penney. Guess it worked — Penney’s is now 104 years old — and how many other retailers can say that?  Here’s a quiz: What does the JC in JC Penney stand for?

Oh, and Lizzie also ran across another fun spot — the Opaline Cattlewomen’s Association — yeehaw!

Lizzie’s Summer Adventure or Jesus is my Homeboy

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While I have already had my major summer adventure of going to Europe on my honeymoon (more about that some other time), my pal Lizzie, i.e. the wild-haired English Gardener, is off on what else — a wild hair — not ususual for her. One of the Queens of salvage shopping, she’s a former designer for the Muppets and Steisand and God knows what else. She is WOMAN, hear her roar! There isn’t much of anything she can’t do — except deal with communication devices very well. Getting messages off her cell phone is a World Cup event.

Her new career is landscape designing, which she does with a master’s touch. A job derail for a time at a major chain Garden Center gave Lizzie way too much grief and misery,, so happily she’s now off and running with her own business. To prove it, yesterday she called me at about noon, when she was due to be over to catch part of the World Cup. “I’m not coming,” she said. “I’m in Salt Lake City on my way to Jackson Hole for a landscaping job.!” I squealed. “GREAT!!!! What a fabulous place to go!” “I’ll call you later to find out who won the game!” And that was that.

Later turned into this morning. “I hear the Italians won,” she said. “Yes, but not without a huge controvery and tres mal behavior. Where are you now?”

“I’m in Wyoming and going through all these weird little towns with funny names. A truck just drove past me with two huge recliners and a TV bigger than yours!” She’s mocking our newest member of the family: iTV — a 50-inch plasma that takes up our entire den. I think we’re going to face it out to the street and have our own Drive in or lawn theatre.

Lizzie continues — “And I’m passing one of those prefab houses that’s being hauled somewhere.” Ah. life in the redneck country. Wait til she finds the so-called restaurants with “Mexican Home Fries” on the menu — you know them as Tater Tots.  “Yesterday I saw a sign that said ‘I support OUR presidnet and HIS troups.’ Guess my bumper sticker is coming off!” Hers reads: There’s No U in B-SH. She proudly made it herself.

“So I stopped in the Levi’s outlet and bought a T-shirt that i have on — it has a big cross and says Jesus is my Homeboy.” She laughed like the pen full of cackling chickens she has at home. And let’s not forget three dogs, several cats, pigeons, ducks, rabbits and visiting neighbor pets. Only Lizzie.

“Oh, and would you mind watering my potted plants in the front yard? I don’t want to lose them because I can still sell them. But lean over the porch or you’ll get soaked by the sprinklers when you turn on the hose,” she finished.

Duty calls. More tomorrow…