Sunday, March 30, 2008

But it doesn't make you look thinner . . .

Kathy, Cindy’s daughter’s mother-in-law told Cindy.
Cindy told the neighbors at Bunco which is where I heard about it.
Then Kris said that she liked it and Dottie said she had heard about it.

Like Bob, you may be wondering why I bought four! Well, unfortunately, long ago, I missed the classes Make-Up 101 and Hair 101. Therefore, all of the beauty products that I buy are bought at a store that also sells bread and milk. I looked at Walgreens, Osco, Wal-Mart, Jewell and ALDI but to no avail. In desperation, I made a special trip—about a half a mile from our home—to a store that specializes in these types of products. Yes, they did have TIGI Bed Head Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray that provides enormous strength and hold with a brilliant sheen to last throughout the day. I took two cans up to the cashier as it had taken me awhile to make this find and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable among so many beauty products that I knew nothing about and besides what if I liked it and then I would have to come back to this place. A stunningly beautiful thin 17ish young woman with a perfect face while texting on her phone asked me if I would like to buy three cans of hairspray. There was a sale and if you bought three cans, the fourth one was free and you also received an absolutely free make-up bag. And so that’s it.

For Kathy and Cindy it is a miracle elixir in a spray can.
For me, not so much, but I have further to go.

I have liked my hair better than usual for three days in a row. Naturally tomorrow is my day for a new haircut.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Don't Blink

I turned on the evening news
Saw a old man being interviewed
Turning a hundred and two today
Asked him what's the secret to life
He looked up from his old pipe
Laughed and said "All I can say is. . .
Don't blink!"

(Kenny Chesney)

Dad and I were both happy for a beautiful sunny day to drive out to the farm.

I checked the two beehives that we have left in Ohio. Dad shared my disappointment that the bees did not survive the winter. It was a tough winter.

We burned a few things in the burn barrel. Dad grinned at me when I put too much on the fire and smothered it. He pointed out the vents in the burn barrel and told me that if we keep those open the fire would burn better. Then we both took turns stirring up the burn pile with big sticks to remedy the problem that I had caused. It was fun. He knew and was teaching me. I was the daughter learning from him. It was good for both of us. Lately, when I visit him, I become the parent. It is an inevitable role reversal, so sadly and regrettably typical in our life stages.

Dad told me—he didn’t ask me—to come into the barn with him. I told him, “This creeps me out.” He grinned at me. It always has creeped me out!

When I was probably ten years old, my brother and I went to feed steers in that barn. I reached my hand into the feed bin and was attacked by a mouse! At least that is how I remember it! I screamed, of course! I declared that I was never ever going in that barn again. Dad had to talk me down. He told me that the mouse was more frightened of me than I was of the mouse. He told me that I need to make lots of noise when I go into the barn to let those little mice know to get out of my way because I was coming in and I was bigger than them. After that Lowell and I sang loudly when entering the barn. We yelled out to let the mice know we were coming because I never wanted to see one again. Today, I had that impulse to let the creatures know that I was around again. Dad grinned at me.

First Dad had to try starting the tractor mower. The battery turned over and he was pleased. It had survived the winter. I was pleased for him. We take joy in tiny victories.

Dad told me there were some things that he wanted to show me. He showed me old metal. It was not worth much for a long time but now it is worth something. A man from their church goes to the new church site and picks up scraps of metal everyday and takes it to Bryan, Ohio and they pay pretty good for that old metal. The man gives the money to the church. Dad showed me metal that we could sell from the old bridge. Dad showed me a heavy beam and reminded me that they pay by the weight for that metal.

He reached and found light switches of which I was unaware. A few years ago, someone vandalized the barn and shot out the light bulbs with a bb gun. I had a scary vision of Dad getting up on ladders to replace those light bulbs. They were all working.

We looked at an old wagon and some old tractors. He told me a bit about what he had in there. Dad said, “I know you are bored, but I need to show you a few more things.” I protested that I was not bored. Dad grinned at me.

Dad told me, “Kay says my kids will be mad at me when I die because I have such a mess in this barn to clean up. I would clean some more of this up. . .” Again, I protested! “Not so! Dad, your kids could never be mad at you!” Once again, I was rewarded with a small smile from my dad.

Dad went on, “I want to clean it up. I wanted to get more done. I can’t get out here much. I get awfully tired and sleepy and I feel weak. Maybe it is because I haven’t been able to exercise much this winter.”

I said, “No, Dad, I think it is more than just lack of exercise.”

We went into his workshop room. Dad told me that not all of those tools are junk. Some of those tools are good tools. Someone can still get a lot of use out of those tools.

I said, “Okay, Dad, I won’t let anyone just burn this barn down. I’ll make sure that some of this stuff gets sold or given to someone who needs it.” Dad once again grinned at me. In fact I am sure that I heard a small chuckle.

Now, how am I going to do that? I am imploring my siblings who may read this blog to understand that I gave my word. I couldn’t help it. He showed me. He trusts me. You are going to have to help me. Not now, of course, but sometime.

I said, “Good-by, Dad. I sure do love you.”

Dad said without a trace of a smile, “I sure am sorry you have to go home so soon.”

Ditto, Dad.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Better than Par!

Obviously, I am a non-golfer but as of a few days ago, I am a golfer wanna be. Bob and I and my sister, Lou, and brother-in-law, Rog, had the opportunity to watch three days of the PODS PGA tournament in Tampa Bay, Florida in unseasonably cold, windy weather. If you are a golfer, you can stop reading right now. For one thing, I was not even sure of the terms “birdie” and “bogie” before this past weekend. However, since arriving at home, I have chosen the golf channel on TV twice over Jeopardy and Price is Right, mind you! So for non-golfers, I will share this non technical info to better inform you should you happen upon this same opportunity.

Lou and I talked about volunteering at a PGA tournament sometime. We found out that the volunteers have to pay for their shirts but they do get a voucher for one drink, one sandwich and one bag of chips. We kept looking for the perfect volunteer job but never quite found it. We think our arms would get tired lifting the QUIET sign for the golfers. The best jobs seem to be driving carts around but I am not sure what that job actually is called. We would not want to stand at the gates and pat people down. That reminds me of something worth knowing. You cannot take a cell phone or camera or really just about anything in with you to the tournament, leaving you feeling a bit naked. That explains why we have no photos of any famous golfers. Also, you cannot go out to your car and make calls and come back in again. Your ticket is good for one entry per day.

At the tournament, each morning you receive the pairings schedule based on the prior day. The better golfers started from the first tee and are the last to tee off. The second half of the golfers started from the 10th tee also in reverse order of their scores. It was amazing to me that after four days of the tournament, the best golfer was only 10 strokes ahead of the last golfer. That was out of 140 golfers!

Our options were to either follow a particular golf pair—or in this case three golfers around the course and watch them at each hole or sit at one hole and watch how various golfers did at that particular hole. We chose to do some of both options. Finally on the third day, Lou and I signed up for a credit card even though my hubby thought it was not a good idea. The gift was a cute little fold up chair and it was great for sitting at the holes where there were not grandstands. Neither Lou nor I had any identification when we signed up for the credit card because like I said earlier, pretty much you could not take anything into the tournament with you. I think on the last day of the tournament, they were desperate to fill their application quota. This is how they checked Lou after she handed in her application. They asked her for her birthday that she had just written on the application. They checked me by asking me the spelling of the first and last name on my application. I think if we had failed, they would have given us another opportunity.

With my nifty little red chair with a mesh carrier, I preferred watching at the hole rather than watching the drives at the tees because I couldn’t really see where the ball went and I could not even pretend to know if it was a great swing. Watching through binoculars did me no good at all as I could never track the ball. It was much easier at the hole, because it is pretty obvious whether the ball goes in the cup or not. Also, the weather on the last day was absolutely perfect so we could choose sunny spots in order to get some vitamin D!

I had always smiled when golfers talked about golf being great exercise. But I was enlightened! The golfers really moved between holes. It seemed mostly uphill—I don’t know how they did that. Most of the golfers were lean and tall. I felt sorry for the caddies! A few looked like they had just come out of a sauna. The bags looked like they would exceed the airline limits. They must have to truck them in.

There were times when we did camp out for awhile at the 9th hole or the 18th hole—for three reasons. There were grandstands so we could sit. That is where golfers were finishing—those starting on the 10th tee ended at the ninth hole. There were large video screens that told lots of interesting information. Lou, the mother of all sports fans, sat in the cold and with dust from a sand pit blasting her for several hours on Saturday. She did see lots of exciting action. What that really means is that about every 10 minutes, another group would come into sight. Then twice or maybe three times in four hours, you saw someone “birdie” and got to cheer for that person.

I camped out in at the 18th because there was a much better windbreak and the wind was in the opposite direction of the sand trap and the screen was much easier to read. I did not get to cheer. A lot of balls went right to the edge of the cup and sat there instead of dropping in. I was able to stifle a desire to go pound that cup in a little farther. I sympathized with golfers that pounded the ground a bit with their clubs.

Another thing that I noticed was how some golfers were very meticulous about the greens—using a little pick to pull up the grass and then carefully patting it down again with a club. We didn’t talk about it but I think Bob understands those golfers. Some golfers would practice their shot and then look in the distance probably imagining exactly where the ball would go. They did this over and over again. I would look for the ball also only to realize they were just visualizing. I was fooled in that way many times.

The leader through most of the tournament, Cink, fell apart on Sunday. That was sad because from all reports, he is a very good person. Shipnuck a Senior Writer, at Sports Illustrated sadly wrote, “He’s too nice for professional golf.” What does that mean?

The winner was a 25 year old, O’Hair. He dropped out of high school and turned pro at age 17. His father pushed abusively hard for O’Hair to make the PGA. They do not have any contact with each other any longer. O’Hair credits his father-in-law, often his caddie, with encouraging him to believe in himself. He is married with two small children. Because of his win, he now gets to go to the Masters.

After we got home, I discovered that Kevin Streelman was in the tournament. He graduated from WWHS the year after my son, Brad. Kevin was one of the nine players that got eliminated on Saturday because he shot 84 on that very windy day. The Tribune said that he finished in 79th place and made $9,646. So far in 2008, he has made $102, 250 in eight tournaments and is ranked 128th. Hmm, maybe I should have pushed golf a bit.

One of the fun activities of any event is people watching. On Saturday night, the tournament was called for darkness before 7:00 p.m. We stayed, of course, until the last shot was taken. On the shuttle back to our condo, we rode with several people. One was a young spirited woman that thought that every time the driver talked on his walkie-talkie, he was speaking to her. He asked for some help on an intersection and the woman stood up and said, “I’ll help. You need help? What should I do?” Her friends pulled her down. Another young male volunteer worker had forgotten where he had parked his car and had been to all of the parking lots on another shuttle. Apparently he had someone, a she, waiting somewhere for a ride home. It was dark by this time and he had no idea where to look. He had already checked if the car had been towed and it had not. The shuttle driver reassured him, “Trust me, it has not been towed.” The driver asked him what he remembered about the place he parked. He asked if it was by a swimming pool. The man remembered nothing. He just kept saying, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” He must have had good training though as a volunteer because he did remember that his job was to make the guests feel comfortable. He kept asking us questions like, “Did you have a nice time?” “Where are you from?” It didn’t seem like a good time for inconsequential conversation. I was getting nervous for him but then just before we got off, he spied his car in another condo parking lot—across from a very large swimming pool. At least he got off and we assumed he found his car. I guess we need Paul Harvey for the rest of the story.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Am I making this too hard?

Maybe you can learn some things not to do from me. Like Edison, I tested quite a few things that did not work. Here is why. The day came when I had to make a decision—actually several decisions.

Wood doors or white doors? All the same for the whole house? Or depending on the room?

Regular doorknobs or levers?

Brushed nickel? Brushed copper? Burnished copper? Polished brass? Antique copper? Antique pewter? And probably some more that I have forgotten.

I called on friends—Debbie, Ellie, and Beth. Also, I emailed Nicole, who stages houses and knows all there is to know about trends and paint colors. All my advisors have beautiful homes, are well read, and pay attention to new trends. The answer on the doors was fairly easy because they all agreed. It was not exactly my choice but three to one was kind of a no brainer for me. (I had not yet sought Nicole’s advice.) Especially since I am insecure and I was the one.

Doorknobs or levers? Levers pretty much are the way to go but the color? That is totally debatable! Any help there? I think I will match the hardware on my windows since we will not be changing those.

Then there was the problem of paint color in the kitchen and in the bathroom.

I went on the computer and looked at Decorating Color Trends for 2008. I finally found a article that said, “Blue is the new green” in decorating. Thank you for that! Yes, I did have to hunt, but finding one article was good enough for me. Actually, after looking, I found two or three. Here is even a blue kitchen.

I scanned the curtains on my computer and used the eyedropper tool in Photoshop and made twelve pure color samples. I could have made more. I found things around the house close to the bathroom tile color and I took my bag of items with me to ACE.

At ACE, I had the paint man run a piece of the material through his computer and he came up with 6 colors that would go with the kitchen curtains. None of them were even close. Material does not scan well.

Comparing carefully to my curtains and the computer pure colors, I carefully looked through all of the color charts. I decided which color looked the closest to the curtains. None were exact—and I looked at lots! After picking a little sample, I looked through the little testing bottles so that I did not have to pay for a whole quart. I bought two little bottles.

I bought two foam boards for testing and two adorable little rollers and paint trays. Then I went home and tested.

It wasn’t long until I returned to ACE.

After the third trip, the checkout lady greeted me as I came in, “Hello, Mrs. McDonell.” Bob has the ACE card with his name on it. She was astute and so did not call me, “Robert.”

The paint man said, “Weren’t you just here a few minutes ago?”

My son, Andy, once said, "Frustration levels, when doing home projects, is in direct proportion to the nearest Lowe's or Home Depot." (I would add ACE. Fortunately we have an ACE Hardware within about 3 minutes of our home.)

On my sixth trip to ACE, the patient checkout lady, said, “Have you still not decided on a color?

On my last and seventh trip to ACE, she encouragingly said, “One time I chose a paint that I didn’t like initially after I had the room painted, but I got used to it.”

So after getting on a first name basis with both the checker and the paint man and a rather hefty investment, and many hours of time, I decided on a paint color for each room. Here is the kicker. I chose the very first blue color that I brought home! For the bathroom, I found a paint chip right away that I thought would work. However, it was not in one of the little sample testers so instead of ordering a full quart, I tried four other colors and finally on my last and final trip, I bought a $16 quart—which is the smallest amount that you can buy if it is not in a test bottle. I should have done that right away. I think it is the best that I can do in the bathroom for matching the tile and the countertop.

I am wondering now if I made a mistake. After all, I asked advice on my kitchen and didn’t take the suggestions. Kathi reminded me that the kitchen sells the house. She asked me three times, “Are you painting your kitchen blue?”

Nicole said, “If you are selling, I would paint it neutral, but if you are keeping it, the blue in the curtains would be fine.”

The thing is, what if our house doesn’t sell and I live here for five or ten more years? I think in that case, I want a blue rather than a neutral kitchen.

At dinner, Bob went over all of the things he accomplished on Saturday. I told him I chose colors for the bathroom and kitchen. I didn’t have anything else to add to my list of accomplishments.

If you come to our home sometime, it would really help if you love the kitchen and hall bath colors. Thanks.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Ins, The Outs, The Ups The Downs, of Bob’s Party

This picture is typical of photgraphing eight kids that have just surprised their grandpa. Jessica is still hiding. Hale, in his enthusiam, is hiding Grandpa as he makes sure his Webkinz gets in the picture. Seamus is probably recovering from just getting bopped with the dog that Hale is holding. Other than that, it is a perfect picture.

Steven, David and Jessica did not have school and since their mom did not have the day off, they helped me with the party plans. It was so much fun! First we went shopping for decorations. It was such a group event! I loved hearing them decide what colors to use—blue and orange because “I know Grandpa loves the Bears.” and because “My Dad is totally going to love these colors.” David looked all through the store for something that had 70 on it. He came up with candles and a balloon. We also bought party blow horns—just for fun. I loved hearing the kids talk through whether to get helium balloons or just the kind that you blow up. “Helium balloons cost more money and are not that much fun anyway. One would be nice but that is all we need.”

I was surprised to hear David say, “I will blow up the balloons!”

My jaw starts to hurt thinking about it. “Oh, come on, Grandma!”

I didn’t even tie any balloon knots! And none of the grandkids get upset when a balloon breaks! No nostalgia for me over either of those blasts from the past.

Next we went to Dollar Tree to choose prizes for the game. What a joy to do this with the kids! It was so fun to see what they chose and why. They were thoughtful--finding things that others might like. Steven, picking up a bow and arrow, “I know Hale will like this!”

Jessica picked a colorful daisy for the yard and said, “I know my mom or Aunt Susan are going to LOVE this!”

While decorating, jokingly, they decided to tape some of the better prizes to the bottom of the prize table so they would still be available in case they were not one of the first winners.

Via email, I told Kathi, “I am planning on a simple party game—no skills—no strategy.”

She replied, “I hope it is not Twister!”

“Nope not a chance!” That also hurts (not my jaw) just to think about it.

I happen to have the neighborhood Bunco box at my house because I am hosting in March so I taught the children how to play. I knew that we would need four tables and that way Steven, David, Jessica and I could each teach one table.

We ate in the basement for two reasons—we have someone stripping wallpaper in our kitchen so it is pretty torn up. Also, in the basement, we could all fit around one table which was very nice.

The three children decorated the basement with no help from me as I was finishing a few dinner preparations and frosting the cake. They hung streamers, decorated the stairwell and made a sign and hung it. The basement looked great!

It was while the kids were decorating the basement that I vetoed using the birthday blowers altogether. It was certainly a weak moment when I bought them but reason prevailed. I knew the noise I was hearing from three, let alone multiplied by five, would totally destroy whatever hearing Grandpa and I were still enjoying. David figured out a way for us to still use the blowers. I'd like to claim that those innovative and persistent genes came from me but there is not a chance! He carefully went through the birthday blowers one by one and destroyed the horns but the blowers still worked!

I asked everyone to give Grandpa a verbal gift after dinner—either something that they liked about Grandpa or a favorite memory. When I mentioned earlier, that I was going to do that, everyone groaned. However they rose to the occasion chiming in more than one time. Many of their favorite memories involved beekeeping, or fishing or water skiing behind the fishing boat. Grif said, “I really look forward to the day each summer when we extract honey. I really like that day!”

Kathi, Andy and Kevin entertained us with some new and old stories. A personal favorite is about the time Kathi did not want to leave for a Nebraska family trip until evening so that she could get a suntan. Her Dad told Kathi that he could tie her to the roof of the car and they could stop every now and then and she could turn over. Then he told her that they had better do a trial run. He actually tied her on top of a mattress on top of the car and gave her a short ride—but long enough so that she decided not to ride on top of the car.

After our “Happy Birthday” song, Bob received a lovely book in which everyone had completed a page of memories or something special. Our Bunco game was successful and everyone that wanted a prize got a prize. We finished the evening with ice cream cake, visiting with the adults and the kids playing with bows and arrows and pop guns—I am not sure what all—but there were not any injuries and the house is still standing. Does it get any better than this?

Happy Birthday, Honey!