03 November 2015

Missouri Death Penalty - Man with IQ of 67

Gov. Nixon--
Please give consideration to commuting the death sentence of Ernest Johnson immediately. I am confident that when you make a thorough review of Mr. Johnson's mental and medical history, you will have no further doubt about commuting his death sentence. A woman in Afghanistan has recently been stoned to death for adultery and we in the west are horrified. Is Missouri government to act with the same merciless judgment for a man incapable of controlling and understanding his actions? One need not try to balance on the scale of justice the horror of murder committed by a mentally ill person to the unfaithful actions of a spouse. To condemn to death any human being for his/her actions has no moral, no ethical, foundation.

If Mr. Johnson dies at the hands of the state of Missouri under your leadership, will I judge you to be as merciless as the Taliban? I will judge you with human mercy, Gov. Nixon, just as I respectfully request you to have mercy on Ernest Johnson today. His death is in your hands alone at this moment. Will the state of Missouri be an example to the Taliban, to the world, of human mercy and good conscience? Or will you make of Missourians another example of the disrespect for human life? Gov. Nixon, please do not take that low road and presume you know beyond a shadow of a doubt another person's motivation for acting, whether for good or evil.

The facts in Mr. Johnson's case speak for themselves. Medical evidence has been presented. The truth will set you free, Gov. Nixon, from a course of action so familiar during the reign of Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, the Khmer Rouge, Taliban, Isis, Idi Amin, etc. These are leaders who presumed they knew good from evil actions, trusted their own judgment in allowing some to live and putting others to death. The execution of Mr. Johnson will make of the great state of Missouri one more example of injustice and atrocity at the hands of state leaders. We have elected you as our governor because we believe you are man who understands justice and cares for human lives.

I will not feel safer or believe that his actions justified the death penalty if you execute Ernest Johnson.

Please renew my trust in Missouri's leadership. I respectfully request that you commute the sentence of Ernest Johnson based not only on the evidence submitted by his representatives but on the foundation of humane treatment of all human life.

18 August 2015

Art in the Field

Standing on their own in a field below Falling Water (Frank Lloyd Wright), the Red Army spreads out across the green grass.

Hair Beautiful Hair

In 1970 men really cared about their hair enough to buy THE HOT COMB from Remington. Seems to me like blow drying hair has always been something ordinary, everyone knows how to use the hair dryer, and directions are unnecessary. Judging from this booklet that accompanied the THE HOT COMB, some men needed a little help.

10 January 2015

Before and After

The new year brings an end to remodel projects in our home. Before I do the big reveal on the kitchen, I want to take some space in this post for a renovation of the master bath which was finished a two years ago. While organizing the photos for the kitchen big reveal, I ran across the before photos from the bathroom. This was one ugly bathroom I saw in the photos. And now we have an impressive spa like bathroom. Hard to believe, even for me and I saw it all transform before my eyes.

You have to admit, this is ugly--

The bathroom looked just like this when we moved in. Seriously devoid of any style or color. The "Japanese" tub did not actually hold water (the real-estate description called it Japanese-style, though I don't think that has anything to do with it leaking). And shower/toilet room gave privacy, I guess, but it's a bathroom with a door anyway. Pretty useless.

When we tore out the fixtures and cabinets the space automatically improved.

We were amazed at how much space we actually had to work with. Having the empty space allowed us to get a feel for how big the shower could be, how long the tub would be, and led to some creative ideas for the vanity/sink space. Agape Construction brought in the elbow grease labor and the architectural know how. Whatever I could dream up, I trusted they could make happen. And they did not disappoint us.

Vanity is concrete and flooring is tile. Shower surround tile matches flooring. Lighting above the vanity enhances the design and also allows ambiance for shower/tub use. The dim lighting under vanity and above light cabinet provide non-blinding light in early morning or middle of the night trips to the bathroom.
Cascading water from Moen faucet gently fills the air-bubble tub. Shower has a variety of water sources: rain head, adjustable height shower head which can also be taken off pole for hand held sprayer, two power sprays in the wall.

Under the cherry vanity cabinets you can see in the photo a row of pebble tile spotlighted by recessed lighting. This pebble tiling is repeated vertically in the shower wall for dramatic accent.

The bathroom has a sky-light in the sloping, extra-high ceiling, located above the tub for air circulation of steam in addition to ceiling ventilation on a timer. A recessed nook in the shower looks unique and functions as a shelf for bathing products.
 Tub is easy to step into with enough room on ledge for sitting. The modern toilet has water conservation technology.

We love our new bathroom so much that we couldn't wait to get started on the kitchen remodel.

Check out the upcoming post with photos of the BIG kitchen reveal.

29 November 2014

A Work in Progress

Artist on the River click here to view artist site
Follow a work in progress: "the possibilities of what our planet, and more specifically Minnesota’s Mississippi River Valley, will look like over the next 150 years. Using scientific research and historical analysis," the artist will develop "a multi-channel video installation that combines hand-drawn animations, high-definition video footage of the Minnesota landscape, and field recordings to paint a picture of what may come." 

05 September 2014

I love a room with a view. And the inside ain't so bad either.

Can I call this home?

30 June 2014

The Big Reveal: Before and After

We live in a house built in 1987 by some very creative people. The real-estate blurb called it "Colorado Contemporary." It was love at first sight. Rustic Colorado stone exterior in front and cedar siding all around with clear-story windows and a unique floor-plan. In addition to everything we need on one main level, the house features a solarium with full length windows.
The roof lines give that Colorado Rockies vibe, also emphasized by the steep climb up the driveway. Our vision for the interior reflects an eclectic vibe, not as rustic as the exterior.

A few years ago, we started on the kitchen renovation. We stopped with yanking out the Jenn Air stove (with only two burners) and the small wall oven. In their place we installed the cabinets and counter where the wall oven had been, and added a new inductive range with large oven, and a microwave above it. The cabinets remained white, as originally built, except the ones on top over the range/oven. Those we replaced with a wood grain that imitates the original upper cabinets over the sink that have wood-framed glass doors.
In the middle of the kitchen pictured here, you see the enormous island (interior shot after cabinet and counter were removed). An island does not need to be this large, and we wanted to have a hangover for bar stools (get it hangover for....never mind).
Yes, that's a Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer (right of the photo), original to the 1987 house. Still works well. Since they cost more than most cars and have to be specially installed, we have learned to love it.
Stay tuned. I am not giving away the BIG reveal in this post. This week the finishing touches will be added and all in good time I'll share the photos of this 21st century make-over in another post.

Boats on the Water

The only thing more fun that one peddle kayak would be two peddle kayaks on the water. These speedy water crafts maneuver easily and defy tipping over.

Hobie Kayak with peddles, paddle, and a sail (not shown here)

26 June 2014

Stop! Don't eat that....

Organic market in Rome.
Knowing you have an interest in healthy eating, I thought you might find this article worth reading.
It's on the Internet so it MUST be true....
On the No No list you will find these US made foods, sold here, are banned in other countries. But some of the countries have changed their product make-up  to UN-ban the food to export to other countries to make it safer to consume, and they still don't change it here. Go figure!
Highlights from the article--to save time....the article lists more....

Mountain Dew --banned in Europe (MD does keep you from spontaneously bursting into flames)
Boxed foods, (Mac and Cheese) --banned in Austria, Norway, warnings in Britain, European Union
Chicken fed with Arsenic --banned by the European Union (lots of skinny chicks over there)
Bread made in the US --banned in Canada and China and the EU
Food made with Olestra --banned in UK and Canada (I never thought this stuff was a good idea)
Preservatives BHA and BHT (it's in everything) --banned in EU, Japan, UK
Milk and Dairy Products Made with rBGH  --Australia, New Zealand, Israel, EU and Canada

Read the details here    -----    http://oracletalk.com/10-foods-sold-u-s-banned-elsewhere/
Next time I have to grocery shop, I'm going to France. Well, I could go to Canada once in awhile.

Here's a mini-world tour of food I have experienced in traveling out of the USA. 

Frankfort, Germany. BOILED pork chop!

Fish in Ostia Antica, Italy.
The making of CAT POO POO Coffee--yes, cat feces, actually. The USA would probably prohibit this coffee.

On the coast of Bali, Indonesia.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Vancouver, Canada.

Dessert, in Ireland.

24 March 2014

Schist Adds Beauty

When hiking along trails, creeks, and roads, I have seen more than my share of leaverite rocks. Sometimes these rocks show up back at home, in the garage or the washing machine, after they've fallen out of pockets. Such specimens should stay where God or the DOT put them--just leave-er-ite where it is.

Not so for the large slice of schist that surrounds our fireplace. While the warmth of the fire caresses my cold nose and chilly toes, I gaze upon the beauty of the fireplace surrounded by schist.

Take a look.

Set the auto-thermostat on the direct vent fireplace, sit back, read a book, sip wine, and watch the flicker of flames reflect on the sparkling gemstones in the schist hearth. A piece of art--made by God.

18 March 2014

Counting the Dead

Do you know how many dead people are buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery?

Trick question: They're all dead!

My father told me that joke when I was a child---every time we drove past a cemetery. I passed the chuckler on to my children and now to their children.

One day last week the clouds turned gray while we were driving toward the new bridge crossing the great Mississippi. The grandsons in car seats (3+ and 1+) were getting restless from the long ride. Where we can let them out for fresh air and room to explore? Bellefontaine Cemetery, of course.

I didn't know we had a couple of tomb robbers with us.
Looks like he needs help.
We'll never find them now.

A friend of mine gives tours of Bellefontaine Cemetery, and I've walked there with her a few times. Very impressive -- architecture, memorials, St. Louis history! Check it out online and plan to visit.

You can tell the joke as you pull in to the cemetery. Every time you visit.

Come across the new bridge from the east.


24 February 2014

Costco Still Unaware

Not long ago, several posts previously, I described the typo in the Costco marketing brochure. While I was at my nearby Costco for my most recent purchasing adventure, I checked the brochure. All one billion brochures in the world (one presumes they only print one since the info won't change from state to state) have the same typo, mispelling the company's name as COCTCO.

When will they notice? What will it take to change the text of brochures?

COCTCO is not even pronounceable, really. Do they get many new members, or new members who pick up their Costco members brochures to learn about joining Costco? If not, why does Costco spend money on these brochures? If they don't care about Costco's image and attention to detail (or lack thereof), what does it say about the rest of Costco's business/management practices? Or the quality of Costco's service and products?

Well, Costco, I'd like to know.

21 February 2014

Where have all the flowers gone?

The Nazis lost the war in 1945. I would like to believe that the world has changed since then.

Look around--nothing important has changed. Innocent people suffer today at the hands of those who refuse to accept their own weaknesses and their unarguable equality to everyone on the planet. They will stop at nothing to gain ultimate power, to prove (in large part to themselves, for they are the ones who really care) their unique superiority.

I remember, about 15 years ago, I flipped the television channel from a documentary on concentration camps of WWII to a channel carrying a special on the Rwanda Genocide (which occured just shy of 50 years after WWII ended). The trains and trucks carrying the dead or nearly dead into camps. Slaughtering hundreds of people by firing squad, execution style without blind-folds or last meals. The fallen bodies kicked into a ditch and covered with dirt. I flipped back to the Nazis and back again to Rwanda, back and forth. The footage so similar I could not tell the difference except for the color of the skin.

In the 21st century the world watched as footage from Darfur proclaimed genocide is alive and well. Sometimes governments argue over whether certain uprisings or internal wars can be characterized as genocide. Still, no one intervenes.

The language we use with one another, the messages of AM radio talking heads, and even religious leaders blow hatred not so gently on the sparks of genocide on every continent, in every country, and near your own home. Acceptance and tolerance are not enough. Every human being is equal. Each of us is imperfect. All of us deserve the full respect of those with whom we share this planet.

(photos care of my husband who just returned from Europe where he visited the camps)

06 February 2014

My Kingdom for a Phone

Ever been creeped out by technology? We hear the government can track our whereabouts and listen in on our phone calls, read our emails, and find out what we buy most of at the grocery store. Actually, I never heard they can or want to know about grocery habits, but I have a feeling they do know. After all, the long receipt with the items and prices on it [that I put in my pocket and lose] triggers coupons when I am checking out. I don't really care if they know how many times I buy olives, cheese, and wine, do I? What I do care about is being the trackEE and not the trackER.

We have a family wireless account to save money on service for three cell phones. One of those phones went missing over the weekend.  When we checked the usage online, we saw that they'd made several calls, including two to Mexico. We tried calling the local numbers they had called. Left messages. And then we suspended service to the phone.

Our carrier has an add-on feature to track the phones on the account--free for 30 days. The "How To" gives examples of parents tracking the phones to find out whether the child has arrived at the agreed upon destination. We signed up for the free 30 days feature, unsuspended the phone, and clicked on "Locate device." Bingo. A little red dot inside a blue-lit circle on the map indicated the phone's current whereabouts. Less than a mile from where it was last seen.

Well, not exactly. It describes the location as being "within 70 yards" of a specific address. Twenty minutes later, the estimated location is withing 253 yards of a different address around the corner. If you are familiar with iPhone's Find My Phone, this feature works the same way. The satellite's position, I think, determines the location generated and sent back to you.

Staring at the computer screen waiting for blue circle and red dot started to creep me out pretty quickly. I switched to Google-Earth for a view of the buildings on the street indicated by the red dot. Somewhere on that block, maybe in that very building the phone we were looking for sent us a message, "I'm here. Help me!" I felt like Sherlock Holmes; not the Conan Doyle original, but the Benedict Cumberbatch's contemporary version.

Flyers were immediately posted in that neighorhood and handed out door to door announcing a reward for the return of the phone. It's a basic phone. No big deal. Unless you try to get another basic phone to replace it. ALL phones these days with two-year contracts have to have data plans, because the only ones they sell with contracts are smart-phones. We lost a dumb-phone. Darwin's principle of evolution or Murphy's law apply. Also, economic theories tell the wireless provider that they can get more money by requiring all smart-phones to have a data plan, and only offer smart-phones to customers. All we want is a basic phone. Sorry.

The service provider rep I chatted with online [that goes by three simple letters of the alphabet, two of which are the same] told me we could get a pay by use phone and substitute it for the one we lost on our family package ($9.99 for second and third and fourth lines). We'll just pay the same additional line fee, plus $.10 every time we use it. Huh? Then, I went to a land store and asked. The service provider rep at the store said just what I said, "Huh? What? That's crazy." They will take a regular SIM card, drop it into a pay by use phone and all's well, just like having a basic phone for $9.99 a month. I won't know who's right until we try it and see the bill.

By this time, we'd already ordered a new SIM card for a basic phone, and after it arrived we dropped it into the previous phone that had been replaced by the stolen one. This recycled phone is falling apart, and we hope to find a new old phone to substitute soon. But it worked immediately.

The technology to locate phones and the people with them in less than a minute, across state lines if need be, exists and works well. It's a little creepy. Whether or not we use smart-phones or basic phones, we can't hide as long as we choose to use the phone. The satellites track our every move.

While we are being stalked by those on our family plan, we're being skinned for extra charges on our family package because they require everyone to have a smart-phone. Like they don't have the technology any longer to permit us to have basic phones on contract that work just as well (if not better) than the high priced smart-phones.

There's no going back. That only happens in Dr. Who or a Stephen King novel. Unless the future resembles the latest craze in teen-fiction (not vampires, but where mass destruction leads the human race back to primitive lifestyles), we will all have smart-phones, Google Glasses, and chips embedded under our skin for all manner of ingenuity. That time may already be here.

31 January 2014

All My Friends Have Joined

For the past few years we have had a Sam's Club membership. All my friends have joined Costco lately, and I visited Costco last week to look into becoming a member. As I waited at the Costco help and service desk, I picked up one of their brochures to get a head start on the application process.

When I unfolded the brochure, I read the following statement: "Complement your Coctco Executive membership today." That's right, Coctco--not Costco. I flipped back to the front of the brochure to check on the spelling, though I'd seen the giant letters on the building when I pulled into the parking lot: "COSTCO." And just this week I heard the President of the United States speaking about raising the minimum wage, saying, "Costco is an example of a business that is acting on its own to pay its workers a fair wage, supporting increases to the minimum wage because it helps build a strong workforce and profitability over the long run...." I had heard the president say COSTCO, not Coctco.

I immediately brought the typo to the service agent's attention. But really this is so much more than a typo--not like leaving out an article or spelling a preposition wrong. The agent shrugged at first, because a typo is no big deal--he's making a fair wage, after all. Shrugged it off, that is,

until I showed him the typo. He gasped, "Costco is misspelled? No way." I circled "Coctco" and handed him the brochure to see for himself. The service agent at the next register wanted to see it. Another gasp. I explained, too apologetically, "I'm an editor and writer. I proof-read." I did not say that I am also an English teacher, but when I circled the error everyone at the counter probably had flashbacks to grade school.

The people stocking shelves, working the registers, cleaning the floors, and answering questions at the service desk all make a "fair wage." None of them noticed their company's name misspelled in 1,000s of brochure handed out daily. No doubt, the person who wrote the marketing copy, the manager who approved the copy, and the proof-reader all make more than a "fair wage." None of them caught the error, either.

Mistakes happens. Typos happen. English teachers and editors get more worked up about typos than other "fair wage" earners. I do; especially my own (if you see one in this post, don't tell me about it). You may have noticed in the photo that the word "complement" is spelled correctly. Extra points to Costco copy-editors for that one.

Wouldn't it be nice if Coctco offered to give me a one year membership for free or a new 65" television in return for finding the error on their marketing brochures? No one offered. I doubt if the "fair wage" earners told anyone, quite honestly. Their "better morale and lower turnover rates" that President Obama applauded in his speech may not stretch that far. They are not paid to read the brochures, after all. Their jobs will be safe no matter how you spell Costco.

I returned to the store today to use my new membership American Express card (six days after I joined, the day I found the error). All the brochures looked the same as they did then. I wonder how long they'll wait to reprint the brochures and toss out the ones with the typo. Maybe Sam's Club is just easier to spell, but I never noticed a typo in any of their marketing copy.

05 December 2013

Thankfully, the bust of Limbaugh cannot speak

Once again, Rush makes Missourians proud! Maybe the taxpayers should NOT have to pay for the tightened security around the Rush bust in Jefferson City. We could spend it on duct tape for the bewildered Rush's mouth.

Really Rush? Pope Francis a Marxist?

30 September 2013

Beyond Boundaries

I hadn’t gotten very far into Rebecca Solnit’s essay in Orion magazine (courtesy of Longform) when I read and re-read this sentence that had sent a jolt of reason through my mind:
Truth for me has always come in tints and shades and spectrums and never in black and white, and America is a category so big as to be useless, unless you’re talking about the government.

Far more often than finding reason at the center of someone’s clumsy argument, I find more frequently a direct bias for black and white reasoning, the worst reasoning of all. Solnit presents her case for the trouble with categories by blurring the boundaries that often limit, well, categorizing people, places, and things. I have never been fond of boundaries myself. And I am in favor of softening the edges whenever possible.

Take for instance one category Solnit touches upon: prisoners. We can point to any number of “prisoner-types” like prison inmates, prisoners of poverty, prisoners of war, people imprisoned by their own limited imaginations, those wealthy individuals whose freedom has been squelched at least as much as lack of wealth ever has, and gender, intelligence, size, race, religion, and culture may imprison any one of us if we choose to be a victim, rather than tearing down the boundaries others build around us. Our victim-minded reaction, though, causes us to draw boundaries right back at them. Instead of seeing them as just like me, I can only envision them as "one of those."

At the center of Solnit’s essay sits Henry David Thoreau, a particular favorite of mine in the “literary category.” I have always thought Thoreau wanted to defy all boundaries, which makes sense given his reputation at civil disobedience. He wasn’t perfect at being disobedient, as it turns out. Critics, who usually argue over his philosophy, also argue over how true he was to his cause as expounded upon in Walden. And if he could not be bothered to wash his own clothes, to defy the gender boundary of his day limiting laundry to the category of “women’s work,” then maybe we cannot hold him up as an iconic boundary bender for today.

Maybe no one can be a perfect boundary bender, but I like to think it’s possible to come close. The more we try, the better at blurring the lines we become. Not that I am attempting to build boundaries around a category of “boundary benders.” The world could be a better place with more porous edges of human categories. If we cannot eliminate categorical boundaries altogether when building personal, local, national, and global relationships, let us at least live with flexible boundaries.

16 June 2013

Papa's Papa and his Papa

In the last few months, since my mother's death, we have been sorting through the flotsam and jetsam left in her house. Every now and then we discover something notable, usually because we can't believe anyone would have saved it for so long. Last week, we discovered a piece of family history, a real treasure, just in time for Father's Day.

My father's mother, Bernadette, hand-wrote a brief autobiography on the back of a photocopied article by John Risser. Neither the print source or date of the published article are visible on the copy. The article tells the story of John Augustus Sutter, and bears the title: Gold Found in California. His story has been told and retold over the years; you can find one version of Wikipedia.

This article begins, “John Augustus Sutter, who, for a while, was one of the richest men in the world, was not born to wealth.” And continues with the saga of how John Sutter discovered gold in California and died in Washington, D.C., with nothing but his reputation.

Above the photo of John A. Sutter "as a young man," Bernadette has written, “He looks just like my father.” The story she has written on the reverse side, begins with her family of origin, all the way back to John Augustus Sutter's brother, who never came close to being the richest man anywhere. I have preserved her handwritten story in a Word document, without changing her spellings and lack of punctuation--not an easy task for and English teacher.

An abridged version of the story appears below. Suffice to say it's filled with my grandmother's wit and knack for storytelling. Her story and the details of the article itself fill in some of the family names and dates, so useful in filling out the family tree. It also fills in the gaps of her life, the childhood that often was unhappy and accounts for the strong willed, often cantankerous grandmother I knew. My maternal great-grandparents died before I was born, and I don't recall ever hearing anything about my great grandfather.

This, in part, is Bernadette's story:
This is my great grand fathers brother. [John Augustus Sutter]

My grand fathers name was George Sutter and he was born in Switzerland and when he came to the U.S.A. settled in Mexico Missouri.

He made hand made cigars for a living.

All the Sutters had a son named John. After there grand father. My grand parents George and Caroline are buried in Mexico Missouri. Her maiden name was Brown. I have a picture of there tomb stone its five ft high.

My father had a brother Charles and three sisters Elizabeth and Katie and Caroline my father was the youngest. He was two ½ years old when his mother died and three ½ when his father killed his self went out to the Cemetary leaving five little orphans.

He was a Mason and lodge brothers the children in there homes. Captain John Sutter was my grand fathers great Uncle.

A family named Ed Hilderbrandt raised my father on there cattle farm. And Pa Pa was raised as Edward Hilderbrant they never adopted him.

When he was sixteen he ran away came up to St. Louis to look for his brother Charlie and three sisters. Lupton the undertaker raised Charlie and he had been Mayor of Mexico and owned a General store and undertaking Parlor. His first name was Clayton. And there family still own Luptons on Delmar.

Charlie was married when Pa Pa found him and so Lizzie and Caroline. Katie never married and was the only aunt I knew never met Caroline or Lizzie.

I worked one summer for my Uncle Charlie and lived with him and his wife Kate.

Thats how I found out so much about what happen. His Mother was 28 when she died and his father 20. Charlie was eight and Lizzie 10 Caroline 6 Kate 4. So Charlie told Pa Pa they had an Uncle Otto in Chicago and he went up there and Otto and his wife Mary took him in. But he visited the others often and one June he met mama at a Garden party. And they started writing. She was daperate girl trying to get away from her domineering father and so she gave him her address.

She would have given Jack the ripper her address.
...And so Christmas came and there windows were so dirty and mama said John will you wash the windows for me. And so he got some rags and newspapers and coal oil and he wiped the windows down on the outside with a rag dip in coal oil to cut the grime and soot off and then wash them with water and vinegar in it dryed them and shined them with newspapers. Mama said it was a work of art. So clean and clear they were.

And so she said John you have found your calling you were born to be a window cleaner.

Thus was born the St. Louis House and Window Cleaners.

...He got so many Jobs word of mouth he had to hire a crew. And so he hired green horns from other countries. Had a Swede and couple Germans Pa Pa spoke fluent German. His brother Charlie owned the Sutter Shade Co. and he threw Pa Pa a lot of work and Vice Versa.

...His favorite past time was drinking and his favorite sport was drinking and his hobby was drinking get the Picture. He was a Drunk.

He hardly ever came home only long enough to get mama pregnant he had a room in a hotel down town. And it was his office too.

If mama needed money she went to his banker the Barender where he spent a lot of time and money and she would get fifty dollars and tell him put it on Johns Tab. Tell him I was here and if he ever gets in our neighborhood to stop in Wed like to see him....

07 June 2013

Ester Williams

Pulling from a past post on Ester Williams. This wonderful actress and athlete died this week. What happiness she brought to so many. May she rest in peace.

From a conversation I had with my mother in 2006 (my mom died 3 months ago):

Well, the first question might be who the hell is Esther Williams? She's a movie star that swam in all of her films. Glitzy, splashy Hollywood style movies (couldn't resist the pun).

Muzzy (nearly 80) saw a commercial with a young, really young, mom cooing to her adorable, chubby baby. "That's Esther Williams' baby. Isn't it cute?"

"Nah, nah, that's not Esther Williams. THE Esther Williams, you mean?"

"YE-E-E-S," she said sarcastically, "Esther Williams. You know Esther Williams?"

"The swimmer."

"Yes. She's wonderful in all her movies."

"That's not Esther Williams. She's like 80."

"What? Oh, stop. That was her right there."

"Mom, she's older than you. That woman was in her twenties."

"Esther Williams is maybe 40 at the most."


Then, she used my full name, middle name and all! "Yes, she's young. That's her baby."

"Her daughter's baby, maybe, or her granddaughter's baby. But Esther is OLD. Too old for babies."

"She is not. Don't be ridiculous." Now she's angry.

"Ok, I'll go google her." And I left the room knowing that no matter what I found out she wouldn't believe me.

When I returned, I said, "She was a member of the 1940's Olympic Team and her first movie was with Mickey Rooney. And I think he's dead. She's old."

"Now I know you are making things up. He is not dead, he's about 50."

I'm thinking I should just give up about now. Obviously, she wants Esther to be young, eternally, as she is in all the films. But something drives me to pursue this ludicrous venture. "When did you see her movies?"

"I don't know. They're on from time to time."

"No, I mean first see her in the movies." Then, I jump to the chase. "She was born in 1922. You were born in 1927. It be--like you having a baby."

"Well,............................ she's just 40. You're wrong. Not 1922, that must be someone else."

Here we go, I pushed her wheelchair through the house to the computer and showed her the Wikepedia on Esther Williams which was showing a photo of Esther at about 20.

"Yes, that's her. Look, see, she's still young."

"IN THE PHOTO, mom. Not today. Read this--born in 1922."

"Oh. I can't believe that."

So, we go back to the kitchen and she says, "I bet no one knows that."

"Everyone knows she's 80 something. I'll call someone and ask. I bet your sister knows." She scowlls at me as I pick up the phone and dial. "Hi, hey, do you by chance know how old Esther Williams is?"

"I guess she's about 40. Why?"

I am shocked and appauled. Has the world gone mad? Is this a dream? "When did you first see her movies?"

"I guess when I was young."

"How old?"

"When we were in school we used to go watch her in the movies."

"It's 2006. How old is Esther Williams."

Gasp! "She must be in her 80's."

"I am handing the phone to my mother. Tell her how old Esther Williams is."

My mother's face says it all. Esther, we now all agree, is 85.

Why do I feel NO relief, no sense of having won the battle. I feel guilty. I've taken away their false reality. What difference does it make if Esther Williams is 25, 40, or dead? I really did think she was dead actually. So, I guess I'm happy to find out she isn't. We should all be happy she's alive and well and recuperating from an infection for which she was hospitalized in sunny California.

Moral of the story: We are only as old as we feel until someone comes along and throws cold water with an old swimmer in it right in our lap.

26 May 2013

Celebrating 10 Blogging Years!

Happy Anniversary Blog O'Mine. To honor this occasion  I am posting the first post from May 16, 2003.

Joy Blogging
How can sitting all day with your eyes on the screen
make you think of new things and say what you mean?
The keys are alive with the power of words
though the thought of it all is something absurd.
In Bloggsville they type and they type and they scroll.
They read and they search trying to make themselves whole.
But all that arrives on the screen are the bits,
the tids and the flotsom and whatever fits.
The blogging goes on, day in, and day out,
as they wonder out loud and shift with each doubt.
It's a Zeuslike land all the words that they blog.
Yet, the bloggers blog on, blog, blog, blog-blog, blog.

originally published online May 16, 2003 FIRST POST - title has been updated

Since then, I've met some famous authors and asked them what they would blog about today if they could. Here are two of them:

The tenth years begins with postings from Eastern Europe. I stowed away on one of my husband's business trips, discovered Moscow's treasures, archeological wonders of Ostrava (Czech Republic), and perfect parks in Pszczyna (Poland; pronounced CHINya). Here's a photo preview.