Friday, May 30, 2008

What is it with the Headlines - "Crane Falls" ?

What is it with the Crane Accidents? The media reports accident after accident involving falling construction cranes. Perhaps these kind of accidents happen all the time and I'm only noticing them because I noticed One. Then Two. Is there a name for the phenomenon where once you buy a brand-new bright-red sportster you suddenly see them everywhere? I'm seeing these headlines everywhere! Click on the items below to see the news articles.

Crane Falls - May 30, 2008 New York
Crane Falls - May 27, 2008 Melbourne, Australia
Crane Falls - May 27, 2008 Lubbock, TX
Crane Falls - May 20, Adair, Iowa
Crane Falls - May 9, 2008 Volos, Greece
Crane Falls - May 8, 2008, Sydney, Australia
Crane Falls - March 16, 2008 New York

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fearful of Conspiracy Theories?

Are you tired of the conspiracy theories that abound on the internet and on that supposed "History Channel" and on youtube? Theories by crazy idiots who love to feed the fantasies of other crazy people.

Read Isaiah 8:11-13

Monday, May 26, 2008

Where is Edward Scissorhands When You Need Him?

I'm not much of a movie person. In fact I watched the 1990 Edward Scissorhands for the first time this year. I guess I was too busy in 1990 to watch a weird movie about a weird Edward. Should have taken the's a cool movie.

I thought of Edward today while I was setting two stepping stones into the corner of the lawn. Once I had them low enough that the lawn mower won't clip them I needed to trim the grass around them...just to see how it looked.

Do you think I could play the part of Scissorhands in a remake? Perhaps eclipse the performance of Johnny Depp?

Snip Snip Snip.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

ID Theft, Debit Cards and Credit Cards

Twice recently we have been the victim of ID theft through our debit and credit cards. Be Aware that there are Crooks and Thieves out there! (If you've arrived here using a search engine and this is the only post you see, you can read the rest of my blog posts by clicking on the blog title Wanna Walk Along. But first read this post.)

We first noticed an unauthorized electronic withdrawal from our checking account.
The second was an unauthorized charge to our credit card.
Both times the amounts were a mere $9.87
I suppose they thought we wouldn't notice!
And I'm betting that once they verified our account as being "good", the next amount would have been in the hundreds or thousands!

Fortunately we check our statements online and found the thefts almost immediately and so we were able to call the bank and the credit card company and ask for new accounts (new account numbers).

My advice for today? Check your statements often. In particular look for small dollar amounts to StockPhotoPortal, ThePhotosCentral, Photos Paradise, P&P Services, Images Paradise, ProPhotoLand, PolishPhotosOnline, PhotosGeyser, PhotosMix, PicturesJungle, and countless others. Google these names and you will find many online complaints.

If you see ANY of these companies charging small amounts $3 to $15 to your credit card or to your bank account, DO NOT CALL the Crook Himself! He will only squeeze more information out of you.

Instead Call your Bank/Credit Card Company and CLOSE THE ACCOUNT and GET A NEW ONE. The Crooks have your number and they will KEEP STEALING from you as long as they can. If your bank is not helpful ask to speak to someone in their Consumer Fraud department.

Banks will normally refund any theft you report within 60 days but sometimes you have to be persistent. Credit cards are a little more ready to remove unauthorized charges.

Be a Wise Consumer! And one word of if this entire post isn't one long "advice" ... Never use a debit card any place your card is taken out of sight, like a restaurant. It's an easy matter for an employee to quickly swipe the info from your card with a small portable skimming device. Watch your card like a hawk and never let it out of your sight. Better yet, learn to live without your debit card.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Once Upon A Time We Had Our Own Island

My siblings and I grew up on a small farm in the Midwest. That was when you could support a family of eight on 160 acres. The farm lay adjacent to the Little Sioux River. The U.S.Army Corps of Engineers had straightened the river channel allowing the water to escape more quickly during spring flood times. They left the old curvy channel in place but since the new channel was cut deeper, the old channel was dry except during spring snow melts and heavy spring rains when it served as an overflow area.

The dry channel lay next to our farm and between the dry and the new lay a several acre "island" of pasture land consisting of grass and tree areas. It was our personal playground. Grapevines grew plentifully in the tree areas. Along the dry bed and old banks we found all kinds of mysterious wonders ... teeth from some long-dead horse, dried skeletons of prairie mice, bits of glass and pottery, and small ponds of water left after spring floods that held minnows and tadpoles and other interesting creatures. I remember dragonflies and waterbugs and cardinals and goldfinches and the smell of summer air.

We fished in the river with primitive gear...a long pole cut from a tree with fish line attached to the end and a bobbin just above the hook. For bait we used earthworms dug from the damp dirt near the cow tank or chicken guts from a freshly butchered chicken. We seldom caught any fish but sitting on the bank, remaining silent so as not to "scare the fish", we soaked in the sounds of finches in the trees across the river and absorbed the peace of the afternoon air.

We learned to swim in that river. A long shallow area provided plenty of wading. And the new channel, which cut deep, provided a swim area. I said we learned to swim but the only stroke we knew was the dog paddle. Parents today would surely be accused of neglect, allowing us to play around dangerous water.

Later, in the 1960s, the Corps straightened a long length of the river, putting in new, high banks and filling the old channel with dirt. Our Island, no longer an island, is now cropland. But the memory of that place still brings pleasure to my mind.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Subtle Sibling Rivalry

My brother, younger by one year, forwarded me a copy of an email he sent to one of the long-lost nephews. In the email he mentioned that his sister (that's me) "probably has the most inert intelligence of any of our siblings".

The key word here is "inert" and I'm sure (I'm hoping!) that he meant "innate". Mind you, my brother is an excellent speller. And he's always sincere in his compliments. And there is no sibling rivalry between the two of us...we did away with that forty years ago. And so I'll give him grace and assume this was a slip of the pen (er, the keyboard).

See! My intelligence isn't so inert after all. (said with a guffaw)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Want a BICYCLE!!!

My email buddy in Ohio has purchased a bicycle. I have a bicycle in the basement (with flat tires from winter storage). Mine is a $20 yard sale find. Even after we bought a new comfy seat it still feels awkward to ride. I'm an old(er) woman and I don't need to be riding a racing bike in a horizontal position. I just want a standard bicycle to cruise up to the grocery store and back. We live on flat ground. No hills. No mountains. No mudholes. I figure this bike would be perfect for me. I think I will ditch that cheapo bike for a comfy ride. Watch me Cruise!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

There is Sin in the Garden !!!

Our backyard is small but I've crammed it with as many perennials as I can. Plus, there are two small raised beds for veggies. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, kale, spinach, asparagus and more. This day, in the cool of the morning, I put in two hours of "tending the garden", giving a large area that first light weeding of the summer.

Then I discovered it! Sin! In the Garden! Almost hidden from view! (for a closer view, click on the photo)

This little discovery in my backyard reminded me of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Sin entered their paradise and they were expelled to forever live by the sweat of their brow (for more, read Genesis, chapter 3).

Somehow this lone dandelion seed had found a foothold and was able to grow, waiting for the day when it would send out its hundreds of seeds ready to reproduce and infest the entire garden. Rampant Sin!

It was a reminder to me of how sin hides and lies in wait, biding its time until it can become master of our lives. I could go on an on, but I won't. My thought is simply this ... there is Sin in the Garden! But someday there will be a new garden and there will be no more sin. (Rev. 21:1 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, because the first heaven and the first earth passed away...")

Monday, May 19, 2008

Today's Word of Wisdom for The Lady of the House (or Whoever Does the Dishes)!

Wow! I was on a rant last night, wasn't I? Even though my mood has mellowed this morning I still stand behind every word of the Shark rant!

And my word of wisdom for today? Use a Clean Dishcloth on a Daily Basis to Stay Healthy!

I love my dishwasher. When we remodeled our home I cut corners elsewhere in order to install a high-end dishwasher that is so silent I can hardly hear it running. Our previous dishwasher sounded like a jet plane taking off from O'Hare. Silence is Golden, even in dishwashers. (big grin here)

However, I use a dish cloth to wipe counters, to swish out a slightly soiled dish, to wipe down the cutting board. The important thing to remember is that BACTERIA love a dirty dishrag. The best way to avoid bacteria (think food poisoning here!) is to change cloths (not clothes, although you can do that, too, if you wish) daily.

I buy those cheap packages of a dozen wash cloths. You know, the thin cheap ones. I like my dish cloths thin. They're easy to fold once and slip into the dish towel drawer. Each morning simply grab a new cloth and you are ready for a spic-and-span day.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Rant About Sharks and Dangerous Things

Pardon me while I go on a rant. I'm a Grandmother and certain things irk me!

I saw it again today. Two little neighbor girls playing outdoors in the skimpiest of bikinis. Their brothers were wearing knee-length trousers and tee-shirts. The girls were almost un-clothed in comparison.

Don't you know that you parents are the ones who are causing your young daughters to be sexualized at a young age?! You are in charge! You are responsible! And since you ARE in charge and you ARE responsible I have a question to ask you!

Why is it that parents of young girls allow their daughters to wear the skimpiest of strings to the swimming pool while at the same time the young boys are wearing swim trunks almost long enough to cover their knees? Boys are dressing like little boys while your little girls are dressing like some Hollywood femme fatale. Don't you have a clue that eyes are watching your young female children?

You think I'm old-fashioned, don't you! Just because I'm old enough to have gray hair (actually it's white) you think I'm too old to have a clue about anything "young".

Well, here's my viewpoint about scantily clad young girls. And unclothed boys and girls, too, for I've seen you parading your unclothed toddlers for hours at the beach as if you are proclaiming loudly how liberated you are from today's mores and admonishing the rest of us for our judgmental attitudes. All the while you blithely ignore that amongst the rest of the beach crowd there are perverts gleefully voyeuring your unclothed or under-clothed child whom you are supposed to be protecting. And while you are reveling in the beauty of your young offspring romping in the sunshine, your child is within range of the local beach cabins where some pervert is likely to be using his telescope lens to create himself a little movie video for later enjoyment.

My viewpoint? Put some clothes on them! Teach your daughters that modesty is appropriate whenever she is in public. Little boys seem to know that. You don't see THEM wearing skimpy bikinis, do you? Remember that you are the protector. There are human sharks out there and it is your job to be on guard. So do your job!

This is a Grandmother speaking!

Friday, May 16, 2008

I've Figured Out the REAL REASON Gas Prices are on a Steady Rise THIS WEEK

Gas prices have been going up for some time. That's no new news. But when the local stations began raising prices a nickel every day it caused me pause until a light bulb moment. Aha! Memorial Day is just around the corner. Of COURSE! They ALWAYS raise prices for Memorial Day and for Labor Day. I'm promising you right now, that no matter how high gas prices get this summer, the two weeks before Labor Day will show a substantial increase. And the reason? Why, We're all driving too much! Yah, right. Nobody is driving as much as they used to. Everybody is cutting miles and trips. But mark my words. Memorial Day and Labor Day. Prices will rise.

My cynical mind is at work again.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pictures on the Wind

This past week I scanned, sorted and labeled a ton of vintage family photos and put them on CDs. Tomorrow I will mail a CD to each of three newly-found nieces and nephew. Within a few days they will insert the CDs into their computers and retrieve photos of their father at age six in 1947. They will see photos of members of this side of the family whom they have never met---their aunts, uncles, cousins, their paternal grandparents and great grandparents. Faces that will be faintly familiar to them because of shared genes.

All of this because someone stood at some point in time, clicked a button on a box camera that opened a shutter for a fraction of a second, and which focused a brief moment in time on black and white film...moments that once were lost to them but now are found.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

They're Coming Out of the Woodwork!

Oh, my Goodness! The family is growing. Several long-lost nieces and nephews are appearing on the horizon and in my email (for which I am totally excited!). And today another email nudged me to introduce a different niece , Cat, to her second cousin, Matt, neither of whom has been lost, just busy elsewhere and never had the opportunity to meet or know each other. This niece is a first cousin to the long-lost nieces and nephews. Are You lost yet? Don't feel bad, it took me a couple minutes to be sure I had the right relationships typed. We need a family reunion!

My Thinking is Twisted

My thinking must be twisted. Last week I was aghast when I had to pay $3.49 a gallon for gasoline. Today I was tickled pink when one gas station in town was still ONLY $3.55, a full five cents Cheaper than the Other stations in town. We're fortunate in that we don't have to drive to get to work and I cringe at how this must be hitting below the belt for many hard-working young families. I'm thinking about buying a bicycle for my short jaunts around town.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Clovia Wallet of "Gasoline Alley" turns Fifty-Nine

I was still a little girl in 1949. One of America's favorite comic strips at that time was Gasoline Alley. In May of that year Clovia Wallet was born to Skeezix and Nina, characters in the funnies. The birth of the red-headed baby was much heralded and there was even a contest to name her. The comic strip was so popular that the baby became instantly well-known. I believe it was Ideal that created a special baby doll named Clovia.

It must have been 1950 when I received my Clovia doll. I may have had dolls before this one but Clovia is the first one I remember. She had "real" red hair which soon became unruly. My solution? Take a pair of Mom's scissors and begin whacking. Of course, this made matters worse and Clovia soon became bald on the back of her head. I didn't mind. I loved my doll.

I find it rather surprising that this doll is relatively unknown. I've tried to google information on the Clovia doll but have not come up with more than this link. (This is where I found the photo). The only other place I've seen mention of the Clovia doll is in the October 19, 1953 edition of Life magazine. Clovia was mentioned in an article that featured comic strip dolls.

I've asked at a couple doll shows, too, but nobody seems to know much about Clovia. I would love to once more own a Clovia doll. However, this doll had a rubber body, and I'm guessing its rubber body has long since gone bad. So any such dolls still in existence may not be in great shape.

Clovia Wallet of Gasoline Alley fame would be 59 years old on May 15. And if you've been doing the math, you will know I'm a bit older, she said with a smile.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Debit Card Fraud Hits Home

The identity thieves must be out in full force. Last week I helped one relative change their checking account at their bank because some thief had accessed the account on a monthly basis for quite some time. This week OUR checking account had an unauthorized electronic withdrawal.

Our bank was extremely helpful, walking us through the process of setting up a new account (with new account number) and helping us change all of our authorized bill-payments to utilities, insurance companies, mortgage, etc., to our new account. They will continue to monitor our account until all is well again.

The bank told us that Our Problem began when we used a debit card at a local restaurant. Someone associated with the restaurant stole debit card numbers of the customers and sold them to a Scoundrel who began drawing money from people's checking accounts. You can read about this local scam here.

Surprisingly, someone can easily steal your money. But more surprisingly, the bank cannot tell you WHICH restaurant was associated with the theft, nor WHO the person was who actually got your money. This has to do with our "privacy laws". Now how intelligent is that? Someone steals money from me and I am not allowed to know who it is?

The electronic withdrawal that was listed on our statement did have a (flaky) name and a phone number. The phone is answered with an answering machine which suggests we visit their website. The website, of course, turns out to be fake. No contact info there. Nothing. Nada.

My advice to everyone! Check your bank statements (and your credit card statements) on a monthly basis. If you don't recognize an item, find the toll-free number on the statement and double-check with the bank or your credit card company.

Credit card companies generally (perhaps not always, depending on the card company) are liable for unauthorized use.

The bank, however, is an entirely different matter. They may refund you any loss that you report within sixty days. But they may not always be as helpful as our bank was in remedying the situation so that the Crook can't dig into our bank account again and again and again. (Ours was accessed twice by this Crook!)

And if you don't bother to review your bank statements on a regular basis, and suddenly find that some Crook has been digging into your account for two years, just consider the money a total loss. But don't give up without first writing a letter to the fraud department at your bank and reporting your loss to your State Attorney General's office.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Feel As If I'm Living "Laurel and Hardy"

As children growing up in the Fifties and Sixties, one of our favorite Saturday morning television shows (you do remember black and white TV, don't you?) was a comedy series by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. They appeared in 106 films from 1919 to 1951. The slapstick comedy was hilariously funny.

Other favorites were Bugs Bunny, The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Zorro, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue, Sky King, Lassie, Yosemite Sam, etc. The westerns, especially, always had a moral lesson. Good wins. Bad does not win.

When we got our first television in about 1952 we could get only two stations. One station was in a city 35 miles north of us. The other was in a larger city to the south of us. A tall pole was installed outside the living room window and an antenna placed atop the pole. Metal twiggy arms on the post were aimed at either city. Two sets of wires attached to the antenna ran down the pole and were slipped through the wooden frame of the window where they were then attached to the TV. The TV had a switch on the back. If we were watching the station from one city an and wished to watch the other, we had to change the channel AND flip the switch at the back of the TV.

Initially the TV stations broadcast only certain hours of the day, not beginning until late afternoon...about the time we returned home from school. Eventually Saturday morning was filled up with children's programming including all of the above. The good thing about television in those days was that each and every child's program had a moral, a lesson.

This past month I've been tending to a relative who has had serious surgery. We've made multiple trips to the hospital 65 miles away. We've hit the local outpatient a couple times. I've dressed surgical incisions more times than I care to count. Not being a "real nurse" I've been apprehensive at times, both to the patient's recovery rate and to my own caretaking skills. Thank God for Home Health Nurses who have been so helpful.

Yesterday we had a followup with the doc. While we were waiting in the examining room I turned to the patient (who as a child was an avid fan of Laurel and Hardy) and quoted Oliver Hardy's famous oft-quoted line, "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." And we laughed, remembering again those hilarious characters of black and white movies.

The news was good. The doctor was happy with the incisions. Things are progressing. We go back in two weeks to remove 65 staples (plus or minus). Both the patient and I were greatly encouraged, even though we have a long month ahead of us for further treatment.

God is good.
P.S. Blog reader Cat comments that Ray Bradbury wrote a short story around Laurel and Hardy. Thanks, Cat. I had never read that, but thanks to Google I was able to find a condensed version of it here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eastern Redbud - Glorious in Spring

We've moved four times over the past twenty years. At three of those homes I planted an Eastern Redbud because I love its conspicuous spring color. Some describe it as 'purplish-pink'. I am more inclined to call it a 'fluorescent pink'.

When the blossoms appear (they appear all along each branch) they are initially a dark purplish pink. Or perhaps it is a pinkish-purple. As they begin to open the color lightens and from a distance they almost glow.

The Redbud is a rather small tree and is therefore perfect for a spot near the deck. My neighbor likes it, too. Our homes are very close together and the Redbud stands where she can see it from her patio. She says, "I've always wanted a Redbud and now I've got one." She's a sweet lady and I love having her for a neighbor.

The Latin name for this tree is Cercis canadensis. And no, I'm not a gardening expert ... I looked it up on google (big grin).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spring is Sprung. Or Daffodils and Asparagus. Or I Finally Had Time to Look Over My SPRING Backyard

Whew! This has been a hectic month. Dealing with hospitalization of a family member as well a lot of paperwork. Right now I'm the chief cook, bottle washer, and unregistered nurse. It's been a busy time and a lot of running and fetching. But I don't mind. I love this person!

Last evening, though, I had time to check out the daffodils and the asparagus. Daffs are a wonderful perennial bulb that multiply each year. They cheer me. And asparagus! This is the third year for the plants and I'm anticipating yummy meals for the next several weeks.

The deck? We designed it ourselves and a friend built it for us late last fall just in time for winter! So this is the first we have actually had opportunity to sit and enjoy.

Our small backyard is perfect for the two of us. Mowing takes all of 15 minutes (front and back yards). The flower beds allow me space to have a variety of perennials. They require a bit of spring cleanup but once that is done, they are good for the summer. And we have a couple raised beds for veggies. Yep. Just right. I like our home.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Recurring Dream I Used to Enjoy the Most!

Its been years since I dreamt this one. I used to dream that I could fly. Yep! Fly! Not very high, but I could fly. In the dream this is how I did it. I would sit on the floor with my legs folded cross-legged under me, put my hands down and push down without actually touching the floor. If I balanced just right I could hover about a foot above the floor. Then if I moved just right I could move forward, backward, sideways, always remaining in that sitting position with my legs folded in front of me. And if I REALLY had my balance just perfect I could hover up to the ceiling and carefully zoom around the room. The dream was so vivid that I almost believed it ... that in my waking moments I could really do this! I really miss that dream!

Friday, May 2, 2008


The Illinois DOT has no sense of humor. However, Oak Lawn's Mayor Dave Heilmann certainly does. I like his quirky inventive approach to solving a problem. IDOT disagrees and has required the city of Oak Lawn to take down the secondary octagons. Too bad!

Perhaps they should have allowed the city to at least keep the "Billion Dollar Fine" sign. Think of the civic improvements one single fine could cover! What a loss of potential revenue! It's sad that state and federal regulations can prevent a city from collecting such a tidy sum! Shame on IDOT!

And how about that "Stop right there, Pilgrim!" Can't you hear John Wayne's gravelly drawl? Maybe IDOT decided Illinois is just not far enough west to be considered so "western".

Meanwhile, In the Naaaame of Love, Stop and Smell the Roses. Life is short. And tomorrow it will be shorter yet.