Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Westward Ho! (And that's not Jim talking to ME)

The temperatures have been dipping pretty low at night - in the low 40's last night. And that can only mean one's time to pull up stakes. Tomorrow, October 1st, we start heading West.

Although we only plan on driving around 300 miles a day, it's somewhat of a grueling trip because:

a) the truck isn't THAT comfortable (the back of my seat doesn't recline at all);

b) only going 55 mph makes for about a 6 hour drive at least, not counting potty breaks or eating;

c) if we unhook the truck, it's a lot of setting up and taking down day after day. We like it better when we stay at any one place for two or more days. You can imagine how spoiled we are when we stay for 3-5 MONTHS in one location!

Here's our tentative plans:

Thursday night - Montgomery, Missouri
Friday night - Lyndon, Kansas
Saturday night - Liberal, Kansas
Sunday night - Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Monday night - Albuquerque, New Mexico

Our main purpose of going to Albuquerque is the hot air balloon fiesta, which runs from October 3rd through October 11th. We will arrive on October 5th and depart on the 11th. We have been to the town of Albuquerque a few times, but never for the festival. I am excited to see all the balloons (up to 600 are launching this year), and hope to get some fantastic pictures. I also hope to meet up with fellow blogger Stephen Baird at Nikon Sniper who just happens to be going to the balloon fiesta on some of the same days as me. What a co-ink-y-dink! I'm hoping he'll give me some great photo tips since he is a fantastic photographer.

Here are photos from the 2008 launch. These were taken from the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta website.

Photo courtesy of Ray Watt

Photo courtesy of Cindy Petrehn

Tonight we are going to my daughter's house, for one last fill of our granddaughter, Lily. What a sweetie pie. I know I will cry when I leave her. I will miss her terribly. She has such a great smile and she laughs at anything. She is so easy to please.

I still have a few things to blog about that we saw/did while in central IL that I'll have to throw in somewhere along the way here. I hope to be posting while on the road. Internet can be sporadic - I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Take care and stay tuned for Jim and Pat's Great Adventure!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Watery Wednesday

Today's contribution to Watery Wednesday comes from the city of Shreveport, LA.This is Riverview Park, which is located in downtown Shreveport on the banks of the Red River. It has several water fountains, a 300-foot-long floating boat dock, and a waterfall that cascades down multi-tiered rock steps.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know #2

Why is it....that when I'm cruising along down the road, some idiot pulls out in front of me, even though there's nobody behind me, then goes slow, so I have to slow down for them? Uh, hello? Couldn't you have just waited till I passed?

Why is it....wrong that I want to slap the person wearing their pants halfway down their butts? For what reason? Do I care what their drawers look like? Unless they're this person, I don't give two craps about them.

Why is it....that the dip runs out before the chips or vice versa?

Why is it....wrong that when I see a big breasted woman out in public without a bra I want to ask her, "Seriously? Have you looked in a mirror lately?"

Why is it....that you can't only sneeze once?

Why is it....that a teeny tiny paper cut makes me want to cry like a baby?

Why is it....That when you pay with cash at a restaurant, some waitresses give you back BIG bills, hoping that you'll reciprocate with a BIG tip?

Why is it....that car dealers think putting a huge gorilla out in front of their dealership will make you want to buy a car?

Why is it....There can be nothing on TV for weeks, and then, BAM! Two good shows on a the same time!

Why is it....that we have to have so many fricking remote controls to watch television? Remember when we had to get off our butts to change the channel?

Why is it....that when I pour my pop into a glass and it looks like it's going to overflow, if I scream, "Oh, oh, oh" - it won't overflow?

Why is it....that one day the weather is nice and summer-like, and then - BAM! Fall is here with a vengeance - and I don't mean with the pretty colored leaves. I mean with windy, cold days. Rain. Cloudy skies. Yuk.

Why is it....that I can't find a seat belt that doesn't choke me while sitting in a car?

Why is it....that the drug commercials have to list the side effects, making me not want to take the drug in the first place? And even if they have a person talking with a nice voice does not convince me that the product is safe.

Why is it....that I am like a dog with a fire hydrant, and even though I've just gone to the bathroom, if I see another bathroom I think, "Oh! I'd better go to the bathroom. I might not see another one for awhile!"

Why is it....that TV shows can make me cry even when I KNOW they are not real? Right? RIGHT?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Out of the mouth of Babes

I have to give a shout out to Wendy at On the Front Porch. I read her post about her youngest son saying some embarrassing things in the store, and it reminded me of a story I'd like to share with all of you.

When my daughter, Jessica, was three years old, she just loved babies. We were at a McDonald's, along with her brother, Jason, who was five.

I pointed out the window and said, "Look, Jessica, there's a baby!" and she replied, in a REALLY LOUD VOICE,

"Mom, where do BABIES come from?"

Suddenly, it got real quiet at all the tables surrounding us, like the old E.F. Hutton commercials. Everyone was waiting for my response.

I leaned across the table and practically hissed at my daughter, "Jess! This isn't the time or place to talk about it! We'll discuss it later. And use your inside voice!"

Ignoring my warning, she asked loudly, "Why? Doesn't everybody ELSE want to know where babies come from?"

I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole......


When Jason was 5 and came home from his religious education class one day, he asked me, "Mom, when God made man, did he put his head on first, or his arms and legs?"


I used to have a routine in the morning - after my husband left for work, the kids would come into my bed. I would get up and shower, then come back into my room to get dressed. Jess was 3 and Jason was 5.

I never thought they were paying any attention to me since I'd put the TV on and they'd watch cartoons. That is, until the one morning when I was bending over to put on my underpants and Jason piped up, "Mom, exactly how LONG are your BOOBS?"

uh, what? Does he think I'm some kind of cow with an udder? Yikes!

That wasn't bad enough. He went on to ask,"And exactly what is that 'fur' on you?"

Ooookay. Right then and there I knew he was getting too old to see me naked. I just hurried up and got dressed, and luckily he was distracted by the TV. Whew! Close call.

But, alas, the dreaded time for the birds and bees came the next year. Jason was about six years old. I can't remember the original question. I do remember that I had read somewhere to always answer the question honestly and to use the correct vocabulary. That part was going to be hard.

But I did it. I answered his original question. And I took it one step further. (Or a mile further!) I game him a 10 minute dissertation on the facts of life. I was so proud of myself that I didn't notice his little eyes glazed over. When I was done lecturing, I looked over at Jason and asked, "Do you have any questions?"

"Yeah, Mom, why are some houses made of brick?"

Ah. A job well done I see.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Idioms for Dummies

According to Wikipedia,
"An idiom is a phrase whose meaning cannot be determined by the literal definition of the phrase itself, but refers instead to a figurative meaning that is known only through common use."

In one of my previous jobs I was a sign language interpreter. I went to school for five years - two years just to learn the language, and three years in an interpreting program. One of the topics we studied were idioms. They were the bane of our existence. In American Sign Language, you are interpreting what you are hearing. But that would not be the case if you heard an idiom. So if the person says, for instance, "It's raining cats and dogs," you would not sign rain + cat + dog. It just wouldn't make sense to the deaf person. There is a sign for rain, and a gesture that goes with it to show that it is raining hard. But that means that the interpreter had to of understood the idiom to begin with and figured out what to sign, all in a matter of seconds. Yeah. Now you see my point. Luckily I didn't come across too many idioms because I was an interpreter in a school setting, and for that I was grateful.

Anyhow, this started me thinking about idioms, and how often we use them in our daily conversations. I looked up idioms, and came across many that were silly or that I've never heard of before. You might enjoy these.

Use Your Loaf:

Use your head. Think smart.

I don't think this is the same as being called a 'dough-head'.

A slice off a cut loaf is never missed

Used colloquially to describe having sexual intercourse with someone who is not a virgin, especially when they are in a relationship. The analogy refers to a loaf of bread; it is not readily apparent, once the end has been removed, exactly how many slices have been taken.('You never miss a slice from a cut loaf' is also used.)

Is this saying that it's okay if I sleep around?

Can't dance and it's too wet to plow

When you can't dance and it's too wet to plow, you may as well do something because you can't or don't have the opportunity to do anything else.

I like this one. I just hope I can remember it.

Fur coat and no knickers

Someone with airs and graces, but no real class is fur coat and no knickers.

This just reminds me of those scenes where the woman shows up at her husband's office wearing a fur coat and nothing else underneath. Am I wrong?

Keep your pecker up

If someone tells you to keep your pecker up, they are telling you not to let your problems get on top of you and to try to be optimistic.

To me, if you tell someone to 'keep your pecker up' that mean you want THEM to get on top of you, not THEM to get on top of their PROBLEMS. Again I ask, am I wrong?

Screw your courage to the sticking place

Meaning - Be firm and resolute.Origin - This line is from Shakespeare's Macbeth, 1605: Lady Macbeth: 'We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we'll not fail.'

I just love this one. Now I just have to find my sticking place.

Juggle frogs

If you are juggling frogs, you are trying to do something very difficult.

No shit, Sherlock, I can't even juggle BALLS, let alone slimy frogs! Give me a break!

One swallow does not make a summer

This means that one good or positive event does not mean that everything is all right.

This sounds like a word of advice I might have gotten from an old boyfriend.

Teach your grandmother to suck eggs

When people say 'don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs', they mean that people shouldn't try to teach someone who has experience or is an expert in that area.

Okay folks, this is an image I have to poke out of my mind's eye. Wait, wait, done.

Tell them where the dog died

If you tell them where the dog died, you strongly and sharply correct someone.

It's nobody's damn business where I buried Fido!

Know your onions

If someone is very well-informed about something, they know their onions.

Vidalia, yellow,green, and white. Plus people KNOW when you know your onions. They can SMELL you a mile away.

Lord love a duck

An exclamation used when nothing else will fit. Often fitting when one is stunned or dismayed.

Uh, this sounds a little too much like bestiality to me.

I had a friend who was from the south that used this expression a lot. Before that, I had never heard it before. Then I met another woman who would say something similar to this. But she thought the expression was, "Lord LOVERDUCK!"

Every ass likes to hear himself bray.

This means that people like the sound of their own voice.

Oh! I thought this had something to do with passing gas. Never mind.

Yah boo sucks

Yah boo & yah boo sucks can be used to show that you have no sympathy with someone.

So remember this one folks, when someone is whining to you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yah boo sucks. Don't 'cha just love it?

Zigged before you zagged

If you did things in the wrong order, you zigged before you zagged.

Who knew? I've been zigging before I zagged all my life. Geesh.

Decorate the mahogany

When someone buys a round at a pub or bar, they decorate the mahogany; putting cash on the bar.

You can decorate the mahogany, the kitchen table, the living room furniture, anywhere in my house, er, trailer, I don't care. I like the color GREEN.

What can you expect from a hog but a grunt?

This means that you can't expect people to behave in a way that is not in their character- a 'hog' is a 'pig', so an unrefined person can't be expected to behave in a refined way.

I don't know about you, but I thought pigs snorted.

So you have me to thank for enlightening you to these wonderful and wacky idioms.

Your welcome.

And I have these two websites to thank for helping me find them.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cherry Mine Disaster

November 13, 1909 started out just like any other day at the mine in Cherry, Illinois. There were approximately 490 men and boys, some as young as 11 years old, working that Saturday. Almost all were immigrants.

The Cherry Mine was considered one of the safest mines in the Midwest. And it had electricity for illumination. But a few weeks prior to this fateful day, the wires had shorted out and the mine went dark. The miners had to resort to using candles and kerosene lamps to light their way and the veins of the coal mine.

This particular mine had three horizontal veins that were connected by two vertical shafts. The main shaft had a mechanical hoisting cage, the other pushed in fresh air from large fans situated on top. Both had wooden stairs and ladders.

There were over 50 mules that worked beside the miners. They were stabled in the third and deepest vein, about 500 feet below the surface.

Between 12:00 and 1:00 pm on this infamous day, someone had carelessly left a wagon with six bales of hay under a dripping kerosene lamp. In no time, a spark flew from the lamp, igniting the hay. So the fire spread, licking up the wooden framing of the mine. The miners, young and old, began to panic and scrambled up the stairs, or used the hoisting cage.

A whistle had blown alerting the town of an accident in the mine. People started coming from all over.

Someone decided to reverse the fans so as to suck up the air, hoping to put the flame out. This only spread the fire, lighting up the escape hatch and made matters worse. At this point, 200 miners had escaped.

Here is one lucky miner who got out okay.

But miners were now trapped below in the third vein.

Here is a photo of people rushing to the mine on Sunday morning.

Twelve miners who had escaped went back down in the cage to help rescue their fellow workers. Six times they went down and successfully brought up survivors. On the seventh attempt there was a mix up in the signals as to when to hoist up the cage, and when it was finally lifted, all the men were dead, their bodies still on fire. The waiting families were horrified. Women fainted, men cried, and children ran away from the scene.

It was decided to seal the two shafts to smother the fire. This caused a huge upheaval among the waiting crowd, thinking that the remaining miners would be forgotten.

The downside of smothering the fire was cutting off oxygen to the miners, causing "black damp" which is a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, in turn, suffocating the men and boys.

Soldiers were brought in to control the crowds who were enraged over the sealing of the mine.

A photo of the makeshift morgue:

Three from one family: A father, a son, and a brother

Funeral procession down the street:

But something good happened from sealing the mine. Eight days later, when the mine was cool enough to enter after the fire had gone out, firemen entered the mine with the thought to bring up dead bodies. They could not believe when they heard weak cries for help and found four miners still alive. These miners told them of the other 17 miners that were farther back in the mine. All 21 miners had holed themselves up in an area for 8 days with no food and very little water. Their only light lasted from Saturday until Tuesday. Once again the mine's whistle blew, but this time for joy, as the townspeople ran to see what the news was. In this picture, if you look carefully, you can see the man with his arms raised, exclaiming, "THEY'RE ALIVE!"

When all was said and done, 259 men and boys died from the Cherry Mine Disaster. Because of this horrible event, it caused the State Legislature to establish stricter regulations for mine safety and to pass a Workmen's Compensation Act making an employer liable even when there is contributory negligence.

There is a beautiful memorial in the local cemetery in Cherry devoted to the miners.

Here is a full view of it.

Here is a close up of the same statue:

The woman/angel is wearing a beautiful gown that drapes the stairs. Here's a view of that:

Some of the miners are buried in this little cemetery on the side of the road in the town of Cherry. Here are some of their tombstones.

The only thing that is left from the mine today are the slag piles.

The remaining buildings are fallen down or torn down. The mine is now located on private property.

On Saturday, November 14th and Sunday, November 15, 2009, the town of Cherry will be honoring the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Mine Disaster. There will be a tour of the mine area and cemetery.

For more information click this website by Ray Tutaj He has done a wonderful job and a lot of research putting all the information together on this disaster. All the black and white photos are courtesy of his website. All the photos of the cemetery are mine.

Watery Wednesday

Today's contribution to Watery Wednesday is Palisades Cliff located in Silver Bay, Minnesota. The ending of the movie, "The Good Son", with Macauly Culkin, was filmed here.

Taking a scenic drive north on highway 61 is a pull off to the Palisades Cliffs. There is a single, winding road that goes up a hill and a small parking lot at the top. The rugged, sheer cliffs overlook Lake Superior. The water is clear and cold. Storm clouds were gathering over the water that day. On a clear day you can see all the way over to Wisconsin.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My life has gone to the dogs

My schedule has really changed over the past couple of days. Usually Jim and I stay up till at least midnight; he in one room watching TV and surfing on the computer, and I'm up in the bedroom watching the other TV. We usually wake up in the morning around 8:00 am. Remember that Jim is retired, and I'm along for the ride. Sound nice? It is.

Until I started dog shitting sitting while my brother goes on vacation. I agreed to stay at his house and watch his two hairy beasts while he's gone. Jim and I drove up to his house, which is located about 2 hours north of where we are currently camped. Jim only stayed over the one night because we had a family party to go to the next day, then he hightailed it out of here. He is NOT an animal lover. He grew up on a farm and firmly believes that all animals belong outside. Now me? I love animals. I would love a cat, dog, and bird. So I am animal-less, and have to get my "fix" when I visit my friends and family who have pets. Thus I really didn't mind being here.

This is Shawn. He's a 12 year old Collie, who's old and frail and doesn't have much longer on this earth I'm afraid. He weighs about 60 pounds. This is what he does best.

This big galoot is Reggie. He's a 100 pound Golden Retriever. He's the star of the show. My brother thinks the sun rises and sets on Reggie. I can see why. He will melt your heart. You just have to look at him, and his tail starts thumping.

Okay, so that sleeping in thing? Not gonna happen. My brother usually gets up at 4:00 a.m. and leaves for work by 5:00 a.m. He takes Reggie for a 2 mile walk before he goes to work. Umm, not gonna happen.

Soooo, there's a little bit of adjusting going on, on both our parts. I'm trying to go to bed earlier (at least by 11:00). My brother was in bed by 8:00 p.m. So I figure that if I let Reggie out right before I go to bed, he should be good to go all night.

Last night was our first night alone together. I woke up several times during the night, hearing odd sounds that the house makes, and keying in on dog noises. He'd scratch himself, lick himself, sigh, walk across the room, dog tags jangling, slump down on the floor, tail would thump when he'd hear me turn over. He probably couldn't sleep from my snoring. It will take a few days for both of us to get used to each other's idiosyncrasies, I guess. At one point I felt the bed jerk a little and I thought Reggie had jumped up on it. I even thought it was him in the dark as I felt around on the large king-sized bed, but it was only the covers that were bunched up. He must have hit the bed when he came to lie beside me on the floor. That's another thing - I have to be careful not to step on him when I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. AND I have to ignore him, because if I pet him? He thinks it's time to go out and pee. I guess it's only fair since I just went potty, but somehow taking the dog out in the middle of the night while I'm all by myself doesn't sound like fun. And Reggie doesn't seem like he'd offer much protection. Unless you'd call licking the intruder to death something.

So my wake up call is a big, cold, wet nose shoved into any exposed body part of mine. Hello! That's worse than Reveille!

It seems that 6:30 a.m. is the longest that poor Reggie can keep his paws crossed. What a rude awakening. I fumble for my glasses, throw on my robe, stumble down the stairs, flipping light switches as we go. Reggie prances impatiently at the sliding glass doors while I try to clip on his lease and unlock the door. Finally the door is open and Reggie dashes out. By this time, Shawn has worked himself into a standing position and is ready to go out, too. There is a light drizzle coming down and of course, Reggie thinks we are out there to play. He has so much energy, but unfortunately, his current caregiver does not.

I know it's your duty as a dog owner to pick up your dog's poop, but seriously? Can it get any grosser than that? My twin sister has a husky, so she knows all about the poop issues.

"So, how was it picking up the poop?"


"Did you get the dry heaves?" She said laughing.

I really didn't see any humor in the situation. My brother just uses plastic bags to do the job. I seriously have to look into purchasing a pooper-scooper this week.

So I don't know how much blogging I'll be doing this week. I'll be busy doing this:

And if you see me walking Reggie, I'll be wearing my new hat:

But for now, I'm trying to tell Reggie that it really isn't necessary to slobber all over me. He seems to be listening intently.

Then he goes and plants one right on the kisser. I snapped the photo right after the lick.

So my week will be filled with dog hair, dog poop, dog drool, and dog smells. But it will also be filled with dog love, adoring eyes, and someone who doesn't mind my singing - even if it is a little off-tune.