Friday, April 29, 2011

Playing Games at the Palace

You certainly can't blame newscasters for trying to come up with new and interesting facts about the Royal Couple.  Especially when everyone has been on TV for more than sixteen hours now.
But earlier this evening the BBC reported that the Royal Family is not allowed to play the game Monopoly.  I thought this was hilarious.  And I can fully understand.

According to Prince Andrew, the game got too vicious. 

Hey Sis, hear this?  Did you teach someone how to cheat?   Remember those long, long games when we had to put the board under the bed for the night?  And the next day questioning if all the money was there?

The only game I can remember being banned in our family was 'slap-jack'.  Some cousins were playing and one nearly had her ring finger broken with a rather vicious 'slap'.

My card game was more like pinochle or canasta.  My mother-in-law preferred playing cards for cash.  And she had a knack for winning.

But the great thing about hearing of the 'Monopoly' ban, was that the Royals play parlor games just like the rest of us.  I wonder if they do jig-saw puzzles too?

More about the Dress

It was a bit of a rush this morning.  I got up early, ate, watched the wedding and blogged.  I am sitting here now with a recap of the wedding on the telly.
I've also had a chance since this morning to look at some of the commentary, see the polls and read some blog comments.  When I blogged about the dress, I did not venture an opinion.  In truth, I thought it was spectacular and voted for 'gorgeous' on AOL. 

I still remember getting up 30 years ago to watch the wedding of Princess Diana.  When I saw the dress, I gasped and said it looked like a 'dress made by committee'.  While I did not get to travel to Grand Rapids to see it in person last year, I cannot imagine that it improved up close.  Years later, I would associate it with the "Seinfeld Puffy-shirt episode".  But the dress was the 'fairy-tale' dress many expected.
So, there was a very small percentage of viewers who did not like today's dress.  I'm OK with that.  I'm still in the huge majority on this one.
While getting ready to leave my house, I heard an interview with author Philippa Gregory.  (can you say 'meow'?)  Apparently, she had said earlier in the week that none of her friends were going to watch the wedding.  Who cares.  She also said that Kate's life would change and that her family would be shut out from the life of the newlyweds.  I hope she is wrong about that last part.  I find it hard to believe that William would allow that to happen after what he experienced with his mother.

Later that morning I was sitting in the hospital waiting to be taken to pre-op.  There were two American commentators making 'catty' comments about the hats.  One, wearing a hat too big for her head, said she hoped they would do away with the custom for this more modern couple.  Well, pomp and circumstance is what this monarchy is all about.  Without all the fuss, they are just another ordinary family.  The other reporter looked like she got dressed in the dark with a hat and dress that did not match. 

OK.  I am being really catty.  But I loved the hats and the matching outfits.  All I can say is this:  The Queen knows how to throw one heck of a party.  Hooray for the Kingdom.  I am sure we all wish them the best.

Reflections...

Hello everyone.  I visited my framer today.  She is a warm and lovely person who also took care of her mom, and lost her not long after mine passed.  She's had this business for as long as I can remember and I though you might like to see some of the items she has on display.  You probably have several framing studios to choose from and most bigger than mine, but this is all I have so pretend you're impressed.  It was very difficult to take photos because of reflections from the window and ceiling lights so most of them I'm not even bothering with.  But I was introduced to Tru Vue museum glass.  Not having anything framed for a quarter century, it's new to me, but not you.  I did have one piece framed last year at Michael's with a coupon but requested standard glass, thinking the frosty looking non-glare of years back was the only other option.  I thought I was getting a bargain with the coupon but found the pricing comparable to Margaret, so I will stay with my local independent.

                                         










I was amazed at the difference in the museum glass.  Some times I feel a little foolish for being out of the loop for so long, like someone awakened from a long sleep and discovering the transpired changes.  I call it mentalpause.   Margaret has done some wonderful shadow box collections, but all I can show you are hers personally.  A customer had one done showcasing an antique cloth doll and related items with an aged looking dark background and frame.  Surprisingly primitive and early looking display. This one is so unusual - the narrow silver edge is the outside frame, the wider silver frame is behind the glass and part of the interior, along with the matching silver fillet bordering the mat. 
  
An heirloom plate done with the museum glass.  You can see a slight reflection of the ceiling light and my outline, but the others were like looking into a mirror.
Here's the grouping and you can see the difference in reflections compared to her other items.
                         

I don't know if this would convince me to frame more items or not since the price may be the sticking point.  I didn't have anything for her to quote, so it's hard to tell.   How about you?  Do you use the museum glass, or would you if the price was considerably more? 
She has some other gifts and framed military branch patches that a local guy has embroidered in India.  They are beautiful, but pricey.  The patches are $150 and $239 framed.





                                          These pottery bird houses with removable lids were $69. 
But these mugs and vases really got me going!  A lot of the local pottery was very reasonable such as a large pitcher of browns and blues for $26.


I started stitching last night on what I though was a small quick project, while I await the return of Stacy.  It calls for 36 count so I grabbed what I thought was 32, and started.  I'm not sure what the count is, but two threads are almost two much, and one wasn't enough for me.   Look how big that needle looks compared to the stitches!  I have to count this - it may be 36.  AUGH!!

 I haven't stitched on this count for a very long time, if ever, since I'm not sure of the true count.  I was having much difficulty going over two for the eyelet, and could see right away that I was actually doing three.  Easy to correct when it's immediately obvious.  Then I actually did something I am guilty of not doing the majority of time - I read the rest of the chart.  Crap.  That sweet little design is over one.  I knew the letters were but not the whole design!  Say it ain't so!  I'm having enough trouble with this count let alone having to do the much hated over one on it.  But I put on my big girl panties (my usual size) and continued on.  Did I get frustrated and annoyed the more I stitched?  No, not really.  After completing the A, I got the hang of it and it became fun.  So much fun, that I figured what the hell!  Let's stick a fork in my old fillings or maybe chew on some aluminum foil.   But speaking of panties - we have one dressing room in Macy's that is about the size of a fridge, with a half door so your legs are showing.  I was trying on jeans in this tiny room, got one leg in, bent over, hit my head, which shoved my ass into the wall, making a LOT of noise as I bounced off the walls trying to regain my balance hopping on one leg. By now the entire department is hearing the commotion and looking at the door and then it happened.  On the floor in the door's open bottom sat a large rear wearing white cotton Hanes full briefs.  In the modern world of thongs, and $8 fitted low riders, there I was in large white cotton up to the waist.  At least I didn't knock the door open and fly out into a rack.   Now go back up and look at a nicer picture to rid yourself of this image.




                                                                                   

It's all about the Dress

Kate Middleton Wedding Dress by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueenLet's face it ladies, all we really wanted to see was the dress.  And, if the wedding is British and you love hats, especially those designed by Philip Treacy, it's the hats.  So, this morning, after having seen THE dress, it seemed all down hill from there.

I have had some experience with wedding dresses.  When I worked for the JL Hudson Company, I spent many months selling wedding dresses, along with bridesmaid dresses, in the old downtown store.  Most of the brides were pretty forgettable, but I still remember a few outstanding ones.  My all-time favorite was the tall blonde who purchased a gorgeous pale ivory alencon lace dress with long fitted sleeves and a satin sleeveless overcoat.  She was absolutely stunning. 

On the opposite end was the bride who chose the very unflattering lace and tulle 'Scarlett O'Hara' full skirt with loooong train.  She looked like a big white barn.  And then there was the bride who chose black bridesmaid dresses with white tulle overlay.  A sea of gray.  Kind of like today's skies.

I never got the opportunity to plan any 'famous' Detroit weddings.  I did have the opportunity to help Julie Bertoia pick out her wedding dress.  Her brother, Reno Bertoia, (who died just a week ago) was a former Detroit Tiger.  I knew the Bertoia family (relatives on my mother's side of the family), so I had an 'in' in helping out. 

Picking the gown was always an exciting time for these future brides.  My future daughter-in-law was all excited on Sunday.  She and her aunt had gone shopping to pick out her wedding dress.  The latest discussion for a wedding location is Vancouver, BC.  That sounds exciting to me.

Getting married in a beautiful white gown can make any girl feel like a Princess.  At least for a day.  And we are only thirty minutes away from the BIG kiss.  Enjoy your day, however you plan to spend it.
kate middleton prince william kiss catherine princess

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Merry Month of May

As I sit here in my office blogging, I have a view of birch trees bending in the wind, cloudy skies, and just a drizzle of rain, as opposed to last night's incredible downpour.  It seems as though the March winds and April showers have combined to form the month of Marpril and I have had enough of it.  I am looking forward to May.

Actually, when I think of the month of May, there are lots of good memories.  First of all, my father was born on May 9.  Oftentimes, it was the second Sunday in May which meant his birthday and Mother's Day were celebrated together. 

Other May dates I remember are May 1, 1988, when I was sworn into office at West Bloomfield Town Hall, the old building on Orchard Lake Road not the new edifice.

That's me on the right with Clerk Sharon Law and Supervisor Dorothy McIntosh. 

Then there is May 4, 1993, when I received my Master of Business Administration degree.

That's my sister, Arlene, next to me. (Oh, how much better digital photos would be.)

But, the most memorable May of all has to be 1969.  On May 4 of that year, I flew to Heathrow Airport outside London, England to begin what would be ten weeks of traveling in Europe.  On May 5, travelling into the City from the airport we passed the Queen's motorcade.  And on May 7 we went to Buckingham Palace to stand with the crowds and watch the 'Changing of the Guard'.  With all the people standing around that we could have talked to, we ran into someone from Detroit.  Small world.

(Unfortunately, I can show you no pictures of me from that trip.  They are all on slides in my basement.  I wonder if they are even visible anymore.  And I am sure some of my younger readers are wondering WTH 'slides' are.)

I thought of all of this as I read the papers this morning reporting on all the people in London for the wedding of Prince William.  Yes, I plan to get up and watch the festivities. 

As it turns out, I have to go into the hospital tomorrow for some minor out-patient service and can have no food after 7 a.m.  So, I figure I will get up early and have something solid to eat.  I am thinking I should make some of those yummy scones to have with my English tea. 

And if we have another one of those thunder and lightning storms again, I will not have to set the alarm clock.  Mother Nature is doing a pretty good job of waking me at 3 a.m.

Oh, for the month of May and warmer days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finished!

Hope you all had a nice Easter and are still safe from the storms.   I tried using the push mower today for the really high grass areas and the little wheels were buried in mud.  I think all the work from last year on landscaping and shrubs will need to be redone.  We'll never be dried out enough to put in a garden, and may not be able to cut the grass for weeks. 

Fanny is finished!  Took a while - I made more pomanders, a day of stuffing cabbage, making cwikla (beet horseradish relish), kielbasa, and mom's rice pudding, but today I sat outside and stitched. 

































I changed the colors of the bottom motifs and I like the way it looks.  Now the big question for me....do I want it framed?  My preference on displaying stitched items may be a little weird, but I prefer seeing the texture of the pieces which is some times lost behind glass.   Margaret's blog header has several gorgeous samplers just folded together and you see the character and weave of the linen, the thread, and that appeals to me.  I am drawn to Shaker and simplistic primitive decorating so having a sampler lying on a desk or in a basket, even hanging with frayed edges, is OK with me.  Perfectly pressed?  Or slightly wrinkled?  Like me, wrinkled.  Well, not THAT much, but some.  Some of you are probably cringing right now that a treasured work of time and talent would be lying around, free to collect dust or be handled by a guest.  Now, something like Deb's Ann Medd is a different story.  Something of that size needs framed and it looks magnificent.  They all do!  Being perfectly mounted behind glass doesn't detract at all from the beauty of the piece.  And all of mine from 25 years ago are framed behind glass.  Today, I may prefer hemmed edges showing, mounted to a backboard, rather than stretched under the frame's edge.  I really like the way Fanny looks hanging on her own on my cupboard door though.  I guess if you have one or two, it's OK to have them on display without the formality of framing, but with a collection, framing is a must.  Did I just have a hot flash?  Am I contradicting myself?  No.  I prefer to see Margaret's pieces "free", but I have to be reasonable about how many can be displayed in such a manner.  For now I will scrunch Fanny a bit, even up the fringe, and hang it with nicer pins.  My favorite (now closed) shop's models were almost exclusively samplers, very few framed, all on linens.  They were attached to valances, draped over small side tables and basket handles, pinned to walls.  Unrealistic for a family home with pets!  But I loved being able to hold them and closely examine the stitching.
*Chocolate break*
















Yes, I went to the sale.  But I only bought a few 2 oz., perfect for a treat, which will go in the freezer.  Yeah, right. 
*Back to stitching*
I can't remember why, but I visited The Scarlet Letter's site.  Not a good idea.  Why do I want to keep purchasing charts I will probably never stitch?   I know that most stitchers do the same, but at least they have SOME desire to stitch them at some point.  I'm not in that groove baby and haven't been for years so it doesn't make sense.   Several have been drawing me back for another view.  One is Mary Jones.  The colors on that green linen are stunning and I still have a yard of that beautiful green with the teal tinge, but it's 25 count.  The others are Sarah Brown and Maria Theresa Wilkinson.  There are so many others on her site that are magnificent, and I spend a lot of time perusing, in addition to the catalog photos.  So what's my next project?  Not sure.  One more pear to go and I'm trying to plan a few projects for giveaways in June leading up to my 60th.  Maybe paint a Santa box?
No, not this complicated and big.  
 Maybe a gourd.  But that's another hobby I haven't kept up with and stitchers want stitchy stuff.

SIXTY.  A new decade.  Where has the time gone?  Well, a lot of it has gone to searching for Stacy.  Nope.  Not yet.  

To Facebook, or not to Facebook?

A video regarding Facebook dangers was posted on AOL this morning.  As I have said before, I do not go onto Facebook AT ALL.  Just call me old-fashioned.  I don't 'tweet' either.  I leave that to the damn robins who wake me at 5:30 am.  Besides, does anyone really care what I am doing or thinking at the exact moment I am doing it???

Anyway, here is the link to the Facebook video, extolling the dangers of Facebook.  The 'bots' are real.  Trust me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thank You Ina Garten

I enjoy watching the Food Network.  Not every show, mind you.  There are several folks on there I cannot tolerate.  But, there are two individuals that I really, really enjoy. 

One is Giada De Laurentiis.  She is entertaining, has great recipe ideas and a killer smile.  Her family, especially her Aunt Raffi, who cooks the Italian way without measuring anything, add a nice 'homey' element to her shows (and reminds me of my family growing up).

My favorite Food Network star, without question, is Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  In my opinion, she is phenomenal.  I own all of her cookbooks and I have never made anything from her repertoire that has not turned out just as expected.

Recently, I was working my volunteer shift in the Friendshop at the library.  There were two other women in there and we started talking about cooking.  We all agreed that Ina was our favorite and that her recipes always worked.  No kitchen flops.

I have heard trained chefs say that they never watch the food channels because the stars on there are not 'real' chefs.  As far as I am concerned, 'real' chefs are anyone who can make really good food.  Making something exotic with calf brains and haggis does not make you a 'real' chef in my book, but then I am neither a 'real' chef or a highly paid food critic. 

So, I guess in their definition, Giada, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, might rate, but not Ina, who left her job at the White House Policy Office and bought The Barefoot Contessa on Long Island.  But I come from an Italian family of some really good cooks who never even walked past a culinary school, so she is OK with me.

My reason for posting today is that the ham I made for dinner yesterday was my best ham ever.  I combined a technique from America's Test Kitchen and used Ina's glaze on top.  Yummy good. 

If you plan to make a spiral-cut ham anytime in the future, here is how I made mine.  And thank you Ina.  Your glaze was the best!

Baked Spiral-cut Ham

1 8-10 lb Busch's Spiral-cut Ham in natural juices

4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup Major Grey's Chutney
1/3 Dijon mustard
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
Zest of one orange
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

Take ham from refrigerator and remove outer wrappings. Leave heavy plastic wrap on ham. Fill a large lexan or plastic food container with the ham, cut side down, and add very warm tap water to cover. Let sit for 45 minutes at room temperature, decant water and replace with more warm water. Let sit another 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 250 degrees.

Remove plastic wrap from ham and place ham in oven cooking bag, cut side down. Seal the bag close to the top of the ham and cut off excess wrap. Poke four holes in top of bag to allow steam to escape. Place ham in 9x13 Pyrex dish with cut side down.

Place in oven and cook to an internal temperature of 100 degrees. This will take 1 to 2 hours.

While ham is cooking, make glaze. Mince the garlic in the food processor. Add the chutney, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange juice and process until smooth. (This can be made the day before and refrigerated.)

Remove ham from oven when the internal temperature reaches 100 degrees. Turn oven up to 350 degrees.

Open bag and fold down around ham. Glaze the ham with 1/3 of the glaze. Return to hot oven for ten minutes. Remove and re-glaze with another 1/3 of glaze. Tent with foil and let sit for 15 minutes on a counter.

When ready to serve, add two Tbsp of ham juices to remaining glaze and stir to combine. Carve ham and pour remaining juices over ham slices. Serve with remaining glaze.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter, Happy Birthday Mom

Hello to all - hope none of you have experienced the terrible storms across the states.  We are drowning in rain again.  Thanks for your comments on changing design elements.  I wrote about this issue before, saying that we are interpreting and personalizing and it's perfectly OK to embrace our errors and leave them in just as the young ladies did years ago.  But I didn't take into account how a designer would feel if we made changes, and none of you feel that they would mind.  So that's settled!  Here's my unapologetic changes to Fanny...
The big motifs at the bottom are all monotone, so I changed the flowers to blue (311) and rust (400) with green leaves.  Haven't done the last one yet but it will be similar.  Seems to perk it up a bit and I felt less bored about stitching this now.   I'll move the star motif over and probably do a brighter gold, so the bird errors are staying.



I am still in awe of Thread Gatherer's Ann Medd, and she recently posted a sweet little Singer that she snatched at an antique store.  I have one.  HAD one.  All I have left is this....
I searched for the machine for years with no luck.  I wasn't fond of it (at the time) and it was displayed on the table in the guest room.  We searched the attic, all closets, basement, everywhere, and it's gone.  Stacy is still missing too.  My husband asked if I'm sure I had it.  YES.  I just bought the chart and posted a picture of it!   He still calls me toast.
                                                  Today is Mom's birthday.  She passed at 89 and I still think she is sitting in her room, waiting for me to bring her something sweet.   It's been three years, and I miss her so much.
And speaking of sweets, I will try my best to NOT participate in the crowds on Monday at my two local chocolate makers' half off sale.  But I'm not making any promises.  Dad and I used to stand outside in line with the crowds and load our baskets with nut eggs and solid chocolate treats.  You can't beat our Daffin's and Philadelphia chocolates.  But just in case I regress, I ate a bunch of this...
 I LOVE Waldorf salad.  I'll be making stuffed cabbage tomorrow.  Easter was Mom's favorite holiday and her parents were from Poland so we're doing Polish food.  My Dad's parents were from Italy and that's usually our Christmas meal.  Bolbaki (sweet poppy seed and bread) was my favorite dessert from my husband's Slovak grandmother and I usually make that around Easter, but not this year.  I end up eating a LOT of it and just in case I'm in line Monday morning,  I'll refrain from baking. 
Hope you all have a joyous Easter.

A thought, A rant, A suggestion

When I sat down at my computer this morning to check my email, I switched on the television.  This is not something I ever do in the morning unless I hear about something earth-shattering on the radio when I wake-up and check the weather report, usually gray skies with gray clouds, gloom and a chance of rain.  What's new.

So, on the Today Show I see some guys singing and dancing outside of the studio and think, "A revival of 'How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying'?"  Well, I guess it is.  When they come back for the news, they start in on six dollar a gallon gasoline and no one traveling this summer and I flip off the TV.  I do not need this early in the morning. 

So I read my email and there is my morning legislative update from the State.  I find that several new bills have been introduced including one that would cap local contributions to health care for employees. 

Seems like the State is spending a lot of time telling locals what they should do. Why do we not just let the State of Michigan run all the local governments and abolish the municipalities? How is that for consolidation?  No more union negotiations for benefits.  Big brother will just decide.   And the State can then forget about revenue sharing cause they will get to keep all of it.

Here is a State that has done a stellar job of running itself for many years.  A State that has never put one dollar aside to fund retiree health care and now talks of the huge obligation, which didn't just happen overnight. 

I, along with a few other folks from the MGFOA, wrote Public Act 149 of 1999 which allows any government unit to pre-fund this obligation and invest the money as they would a pension plan.  West Bloomfield started setting money aside in 1988.  And so did Oakland County.  And the State?  Nope.

My point of ranting is that the State government is out of control.  Yes, we have some local units that are in bad shape due to a combination of poor leadership, or entire lack of same, and declining revenues, over which they have little control.  And the shifting of school taxes to the state level under Proposal A has been a disaster in my opinion.  Are those school districts who were underfunded any better off now than they were in 1992?

Are there too many local units of government?  Yes.  Are there too many school districts?  Yes.  So why not introduce legislation to deal with these issues instead of telling them how to run their business?  You, the State, are not a very good example of decision making. 

I know that my opinions are shared by others.  I hear it everyday in the community and from businesses I deal with.  As the old saying goes, 'People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'.  Get your act together and set an example of good policies.  Then consolidate the locals and have them follow your lead.  If locals are to have no power in decision making, then why have them at all?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Show me the Money?

This blog is ad free.  No commercial interruption.  My reason is simply that I do not think I would generate enough income to make up for the ugliness of ads on the web page.

OTOH, I could ask you for donations.  Yes, donations.  If you think I am crazy, consider this link.  I enjoy Rex Parker's site.  Sometimes the answer to a NYT crossword clue is obscure even after I fill it in.  Then I go to Rex's site and get an explanation.  In truth, sometimes I am still shaking my head and then two hours later I have an 'AHA' moment.

But I have noticed that Rex asks for donations.  No, I have never sent money.  I figure that these blogs are done of our own free will and our expense is our time.  If we don't want to write, then we don't.  Plus, it's not like it's a job that we have to do.

I always thought that asking for donations was a rare thing.  But this morning, while googling 'recall snyder', I found other sites asking for donations. 

Well, you can pay me to do this, but I am not asking anyone to do so.  It just seems like blogging and asking for money to do so is the new version of the guy with the sign and the cup on the street corner.  And I'm sure he'd give you his opinion if you asked. 

I figure there's a sucker born every minute.  Maybe that is why these folks ask you to send them money for reading their thoughts.  At least Rex is giving me some useful help.  I might just send him a buck.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Sign or Not to Sign...

For years I have said that people get the government they deserve.  Make uninformed decisions and the results may come back to haunt you.  Voting for someone based on their political party affiliation or because they are 'Nice' is not making an informed decision.  Who cares about 'nice' if they can't perform their duties?

Of course, make a stupid decision in the voting booth, along with a majority of other voters and six months later, or sooner, and you can all yell 'RECALL'.  Now, in defense of those who voted for Rick Snyder, the choice in the general election was not one between quality candidates, IMHO.

Let's go back to the Republican and Democratic primaries.  Neither of the candidates I preferred made it past that point.  I liked Andy Dillon, but Democrats obviously did not.  The rumor was that he was really a 'republican'.  So Virg Bernero became the 'D' candidate. 

On the Republican side, Snyder only got 36% of the vote, and he did not get mine or that of many of my friends who voted on the 'R' side of the ballot.  If Cox or Bouchard had dropped out of the race, I think those votes would have gone to Pete Hoekstra and not Snyder.  How do you vote for a candidate who will not tell you what he plans to do?  Do you really just 'trust him'?  If he had thrown out his ideas before he got elected, he would be sitting in Ann Arbor watching the news instead of being in Lansing making it.

This man cannot in any way, shape, or form relate to the blue-collar workers in Michigan.  He was willing to throw $6 million of money in the race, more money than most of us will earn in a lifetime, or two.  He plans to take money away from the education of our children.  He wants to tax the pensions of our seniors who he claims use government services without paying for them, yet no one has been able to tell me which state services I am receiving.

The recall effort against him cites the passage of the new Emergency Manager legislation.  While I was the Chair of the MGFOA Legislative Committee, we re-wrote Public Act 72 to address early warning signals for communities in trouble.  We could not get a hearing on it, though Rep. Shelley Taub did get it drafted for us.  I am in favor of the new legislation.  If we elected more qualified individuals to public office and then hired competent employees, we would not have to deal with communities in fiscal stress.

On the issue of taxing pensions, well... Nuf' said for now.

If the language is approved, people will be out circulating petitions for a recall.  Everyone needs to make a decision of whether or not to sign and also know the consequences of going down the path of actual recall.

While I do not like Gov. Snyder, I do not see where he has committed misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office.  He is just out-of-touch with the electorate.  We are not just numbers in a budget.  We are real live individuals trying to get by in very difficult times.  Very few of us have money to waste, Mr. Governor.  Listen to the voters before we waste money on another election.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Earth Day To You

Earth Day is only a few short days away.  From the looks of the forecast, I won't be spending much time outside enjoying it.  But I can reminisce about past days spent in my garden.  I thought I would share some of my flowers from my gardens with you.  I hope you enjoy them.





It Amazes Me

I track my reader stats on this blog.  I find it interesting to see who's reading this.  Originally, I was looking for reader numbers outside the United States.  I still find it interesting that I get more hits in Russia than I do in Canada.  And twice as many readers in France.

Recently, I titled a blog, TMI.  It soon became one of my most popular entries.  I thought it was because people were reading about the nuclear problems in Japan after the earthquake and found 'TMI' when researching 'Three Mile Island'.

Not so.  The search terms entered all had to do with Katie Couric's colonoscopy.  Really?  It was that interesting?  I must be out of touch.  As I said in the blog, it was just too much information.

You never know what people are going to be interested in reading.  I have an MRI scheduled for Thursday on my spine.  Maybe I can get pictures and blog about it.  Or not.  Just TMI.

Why the Fuss?

I have finished watching the mini-series titled 'The Kennedys'.  The eight-hour series was made by the History channel, but was broadcast on the REELZ channel

Supposedly, the reason for the move was due to protests from Caroline Kennedy and Marie Shriver.  If true, and after watching the series, I am dumbfounded as to what, specifically, they objected.  Other reports say that the History Channel did not think it was up to their 'standards'.  Yes, it is tough to compete with the quality of 'Swamp People'.

For me, it was a rehash of everything we already knew. Joe Sr. was not Mr. Nice Guy. Jack was a philandering husband, much like his father. There was a Marilyn Monroe segment and the mystery surrounding what was really going on. The mob ties. Bobby hated J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon hated Bobby. So, tell us something we did not know.

The only thing I learned during the broadcast that I had never heard before was that the term used to address the Attorney General of the United Sates is 'General'.  Or at least that is what Robert Kennedy insisted he be called.

We know a lot about public figures.  I am guessing the producers and writers just wanted to make another movie about the family, or at least part of it.  They seem to have lost a few children along the way.  We only saw Joe Jr. Jack, Bobby, Rosemary, and a brief appearance by Patricia.  No mention of anyone else. 

Was it great TV?  Well, no.  Was it at least entertaining?  I thought so.  And the acting?  When a performer so embodies a nasty character that you want to spit in their eye, I give them a thumbs up.  That award should go to Tom Wilkinson as Joe, Sr.  Nice job. 

If you get a chance to watch it, you can make your own determination on its quality.  I don't feel I wasted my time.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Changing insults?

Hi!  Are any of you losing your mind today?  Is it life....or is it menopause?  Not only have I not found my Pears and Strawberries yet, but I was changing my header photo to this
until I realized the current photo is gone from my files.  What?   If I change it I'm afraid I won't get the header back since menobrain lost it.   How could I lose it?   So until I find it there will be no changes - just look at this one and pretend it's at the top.  Now....here's Fanny.  Another error.  I said we should just keep our errors and call it "personalization" and I planned on doing that until the star crashed into the border.   See the star to the right of the birds in the chart's photo?
















Well mine doesn't fit.  My birds are missing are few feathers being one row shy of their true height.  Both of them - because instead of looking at the chart, I looked at the completed first bird for stitch count since they are the same.  Trying to take the easy way out again has cost me. 

 So I'm two rows up and had to rip out the star.  I decided to stitch the outside border and start from the bottom up now.  It'll give me time to decide on ripping the birds or changing placement - right now it's changing - by moving the star and circle over.  Hey - there's room - and Fanny has been planted for many years so she doesn't care.  I also think I may add some color in the motif flowers.  I wonder how the current designers feel about someone changing their designs, even slightly.  I mean, a counting or minor error aside, would it bother them if you moved something or really changed the colors?  They put so much time into making it a work of art, and then some woman with red boots and a bad attitude thinks she can improve it.  Well, Fanny's dead so it doesn't matter here, but would I be insulting the artist if I changed their layout?   It's like getting a good haircut, going home and seeing a flip so you cut it off, but now there's a hole, so you trim around the hole and before you know it - it's butchered.  Like pulling a loose thread that ends up unraveling the entire seam, once you start messing around, it never ends well.  My stylist is insulted and gets a little snarky when I mess up her work and I don't blame her.   She is afraid friends will think that butcher job was done by her.  If we changed a design creating a not-so-pleasing result, would the designer be upset since it's her name on the chart?  I doubt if any of us ever change anything other than a variation in color, but what if we did?  Would some feel insulted?

Why No Forsythia?

I moved into my home in October of 1972.  The following Spring I thought about landscaping, which has been an on-going process.  My parents were generous enough to give me flowers from their very small garden, along with some forsythia.

I still have lots of old-fashioned hostas,


                                                                     lily of the valley                                        


                                       and chives, both of which have spread over large areas. 

My parents also gave some forsythia, which are nowhere to be found in my garden.  The reason is quite simple.  Weather.  These bushes would have beautiful buds and then a sudden severe frost would kill them all.
I just took the picture below:
There is at least two inches of snow on the deck and it is still coming down.  The new deck furniture, that was delivered yesterday, is still in the boxes and that is a good thing.  The Doppler weather map shows snow all the way back to Lake Michigan.

Last week I spoke to the handyman who has been helping me with my lansdscaping the last few years.  He said he could come by this week and start my new projects.  Maybe he could come by and shovel the snow.  That is about the extent of what we can get done right now.

Welcome to Michigan.  And global warming.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back to Tradition

Last year I wrote about not following tradition for my holiday meals.  I wanted to be more adventurous and try new things for my family.

Unfortunately, while they enjoyed the food, I still listened to the question of  "Where is the (fill in your favorite food)?" each time.  This year, if you like Polish food, that's what I will be serving.

First, I am cooking to accommodate the question of 'Why no pierogis?'  Second, Polish cooking is pretty easy if you do not serve stuffed cabbage.  Besides, I only know how to make stuffed cabbage for 50, not six.  And third, I need 'easy' to accommodate my back issues and standing on my feet (though sitting is not great either).

To start my menu I bought a spiral ham.  I'll spice it up by making a chutney glaze for the top.  Throw it in the oven to re-heat.  Done.

I am making 'kapusta'.  Fresh Polish kielbasa from Kowalski's, sauerkraut, and mushrooms.  Throw in the slow-cooker.  Done.

Fresh peas.  Cucumbers with sour cream and dill.  Salad.  No stress there.

My sister will arrive and fry the pierogis in butter and onions.  The sour cream comes right out of the carton.

She will also make her rolls, which my sons love, and can be used for small sandwiches with the ham.

Dessert is up in the air.  I would love to create something with poppy seed filling.  I was thinking of making kolaches.  But they need to made on Saturday and a lot will depend on how I feel.  I always like something with lemon for Easter, so I am also considering a lemon mousse parfait with blueberries.  If all this fails, I can always make my lemon curd ice cream.  Actually, that sounds like a plan no matter what I decide.

Whether you are eating for Passover or Easter in the coming week, remember that it is not the food, it is the family.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

No Wonder

Last night I finished reading 'Bringing Adam Home'.  It is the story of the twenty-seven year search for the killer of six-year old Adam Walsh.  NO, that is not a misprint.  27 years.  Twenty-five years after Ottis Toole first confessed to the Hollywood, Florida police that he did it. 

The book was very difficult for me to read.  Several times I had to close it up and move on to something else.  Joyce Carol Oates put it best on the back cover when she referred to 'police incompetence'.  Utterly unbelievable.  I wanted to go to Florida and slap Detective Hoffman up side the head, if he is still around.

Les Standiford, the author, makes the point that the wrong detective was assigned and there was lack of supervision.  Not an excuse.  I kept wondering how this guy got to be a detective or even on the police force.

It is this kind of individual (Hoffman) that makes people think public servants are over-paid and lazy.  And his successors on the case were not much better, nor the FBI agent involved, or a succession of Police Chiefs. 

Not until Det. Sgt. Matthews was asked by John and Reve Walsh to personally go over all of the materials to see if he could put an end to the search was it finally concluded that Toole was the killer.

What angered me most about reading this was that Reve Walsh, Adam's mother, was given not one, but two, polygraphs.  Ottis Toole?  Not a single one!!!  And the guy confessed on multiple occasions, but good old Det. Hoffman just didn't think he did it. 

If you like non-fiction, I suggest you pick up the book and give it a read.  And when you do, remember that not all public servants are like the detective assigned to the Adam Walsh case.  The great majority are good and hard-working public servants.  Unfortunately, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch, or at least the public perception of the bunch.  It's too bad.

Friends and Memories

Yesterday, I had an absolutely wonderful experience

Earlier in the week I was asked by my long-time and dear friend Debbie Macon to interview her for StoryCorps.   StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.  The organization was here at our Township Library as a result of winning the National Medal for Museum and Library Science. 

I was thrilled when Debbie called to ask me to be her partner in this.  Deb and I have known each other for over 25 years.  We told our story of first meeting and beginning our friendship when the interview began.

But before we even started, things got a little emotional.  The StoryCorps person, Naomi, asked me what was my favorite thing in the Township.  Without hesitation I told her that when I think about leaving West Bloomfield, I know that what I would miss most is our wonderful Library.  Debbie started tearing up and then replied that her answer is the same.

We both think of the Library as a place of safety and refuge.  Both of us grew up in large cities: Deb in St Louis and myself on the edge of Detroit.  She walked or took the streetcar to the library; I rode the bus or took my bike there.

The library opened windows on the world to me.  In books, I saw foreign places and dreamt dreams of traveling there.  In books, I sought out my future.  I decided that I would become a Registered Medical Technologist after reading a novel about a young woman studying to become one.  Otherwise, I do not think I would have ever heard of the profession.

During the interview, we discovered that we both have in interest in Greek mythology.  An 'I had no idea' moment.  We talked about living here, our families, our shared experiences, both in and out of government.

Our interview will be archived at the Library of Congress.  Because Deb is African-American, it will also be archived at the Smithsonian and the Museum of African American History.  If you are interested in preserving a bit of your history, I suggest you check out the website.

And a BIG 'Thank you' to Deb for allowing me to be part of this experience.  It is one I truly will not forget and will treasure for a long time.

Get a Blog!

I had lunch the other day with a friend and as women are wont to do, we talked about anything and everything.  Included in our conversation was the ongoing sagas of a mutual friend. 

I am sure all of you women know the type (men are usually oblivious to this).  The person thinks the world revolves around them and they are only too happy to fill you in on their trials and tribulations until your ear is ready to fall off.

You love them dearly as a friend, but no matter what illness you have, theirs is worse. No matter the great bargain you found, they found a better one.  And if that isn't enough, you are regaled with their entire life experiences since the last time you met. 

While I was sitting there eating my sandwich, I came up with a wonderful idea.  I suggested to my friend that the next time they meet, she suggest that the person 'get a blog'.  I think everyone should get a blog.  This is fun and liberating.  No need to tell your story ten times when you can tell it once to the entire world.

OK.  I may be exaggerating the friend's storytelling and the audience potential, but the blog is fun.  And with a few lyric changes, we could have a theme song:

Don't Tread, or tax, on me in Retirement

Ever since I retired a little over two years ago, I've thought about where I would spend my time in retirement.  I was content to stay here in Michigan for the time being.  I say 'for the time being' because I knew that at the age of 70-1/2, when I must make mandatory withdrawals from my IRAs, I would not want to be here.  Why?  Because Michigan would tax that money.  And I do not like paying taxes for no services received (assuming I don't get locked up, where a good chunk of our taxes to the state are spent).

I really never understood people complaining about local property taxes to support local schools.  Yes, folks with no children may not see a benefit, but there is an overall benefit to the community as a whole by having educated members of said community.  No young men selling drugs and young women selling their bodies on street corners.  But I digress, as usual.

With a Michigan proposal to tax any part of my pension, I am looking at moving up the date of relocation.  Today's Detroit News has a really good map of states with no income tax and/or no pension tax. 

Prior to the tax on seniors proposal by the State's Governor, I considered Texas, where my oldest son lives.  Also on the list, because IRAs are not taxed, is Pennsylvania.  A Chicago suburb is also appealing, as is the rest of Illinois.  I enjoyed my vacation in Seattle, I can deal with gloomy weather, and it is close to Vancouver, another favorite vacation spot.  And then there is Tennessee, which I also like.

We seniors are not without choices.  We no longer need the three-bedroom homes with the higher property taxes.  Most of my disposable income is spent on travel and services, so sales tax is not a big issue.  And even if I did pay more sales or property tax, at least it is based on what I spend and becomes my choice.  Not a tax just because of what I spent my lifetime working for.

My only concern at this point is the ability to sell my home for what it would cost to rebuild it, not what some person looking for a real bargain is willing to pay.  Or I could do as my neighbors' have done and rent it out to a nice family.

Anyway, for those of you who may be in the same situation, here is a really nice map to go along with my other retirement living posts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Everything old is new again

According to my sons, and those redo folks on HGTV, some of my furniture is 'out-dated'.  If you watch the shows about selling your home, you are told that you need to make it look up-to-date.  This has been taken to the extreme in my opinion by having the owners rent new furniture and putting their own stuff in storage.  Give me a break.  It is not like the new owners get to keep the furniture in the house.  I say, let them use their imaginations to figure out how their own furniture will fit.

Anyway, I digress from the purpose of writing this entry.  When I quit working for Detroit in 1977, I withdrew the money I had contributed to my pension plan there, since I was not yet vested, and bought living room furniture.  With the exception of two chairs, I still have it all.  And I still like it even if it makes my sons groan.

This morning I am reading my newspaper and there is a small article titled 'La-Z-Boy adds "BoHo chic" colors.'  And there is a picture to go along with it:


OMG.  Is this really true?  Can it be?  Wait till I show the kids!

The article says that the 'Bohemian Rhapsody' collection is a combination of "old world" and fashion-forward styles in hippie-inspired earthy hues.

Of course, I grabbed my camera and ran (OK, I moved slowly, whatever) into the living room and shot this photo:


The sunlight coming in makes the color seem lighter than it actually is.  But unless I am mistaken, the style of the sofa is very similar to the 'new' La-Z-Boy.  Admittedly, several of the items on the coffee table are quite old, but I am going to pass my furniture off as new.  It's chic. 

Now if I can just get the kids to stop bugging me about getting an HDTV, I'll be living in relative peace.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stacy...where are you?

If it wasn't for my sore finger from making pomanders, I would be further along on Fanny.  The cloves stained my fingers but I doubt if it would transfer to the linen.  Here's a fresh, half dried, and fully dried.  Big difference!



The alphabet is finished, numbers next, and then the motifs.  Hopefully I will get to them tonight.
 I decided to do Stacy Nash's Pears and Strawberries, but I can't find it.  I've torn the house apart and now my stash that took me months to put away is all over the place.  How can I lose it?   I hope I didn't burn it yesterday!  Nah.  It will show up eventually in a weird place.  So I picked a few others.  One is the Ohio Sampler from Eye&Ewe.
The next is Pears Two from Historic Needlework Guild. 


I've had it for a very long time, LOVE it, but there's that "over one" thing.  Since it's so tiny, I think I may go ahead with it.  I don't plan on doing the back in drawn thread as it calls for, just using the same linen fabric for the back.  Unless I find Stacy! 
I can't tell you how many times I've had an item in hand, and then it magically disappears.   Some I still haven't found, but I'm sure Stacy is here somewhere.  In the search I came across a lot of other stuff I have no use for.  DMC metallic threads, metallic spools,  a lot of fuzzy stuff in several colors (Santa's beard thread?).  I may just pull that bead offer off since no one is interested.  In fact, I'll do it right now.  Goodwill is starting to have its own cross stitch section with all the stash I've taken in!  I even carry excess in my car in case I run into an Amish family.  Last week I approached a woman with her daughters and gave her 20 packs of embroidery needles.  She was a little apprehensive when she saw me calling to her.  I seem to have that effect on people. 

I just knew it

Update 4/20/2011  Another voice heard:   I've just been cautioned by a reader regarding the use of drugs, addiction, and suicide.  Come on, folks, read the blog entry, not just the title!!!

When I picked the title for my blog entry yesterday, I just knew I would get some dumb---s comment from folks using 'bots' to search for certain words - like vicodin.  Sure enough.

Someone called 'overseas pharmacies' has sent me an email and warned me to be careful with my drug addiction.  I guess that would be my 'addiction' to following the on-going antics of West Bloomfield politics. 

The rest of the message is unintelligible. Something about it being difficult to obtain narcotics and worry about side effects, but you have to rearrange all the words to get that out of it.

My guess is that the writer is quite addicted and wrote while 'under the influence'.  Perhaps this is what my Nigerian and Columbian readers were following yesterday?

A Diversion

Last year I went to Glacier National Park.  What I could see through the fog was gorgeous.  Budget Travel has some really nice shots of glaciers on their website.  Check them out here.



Where is Sgt. Friday when You need Him?

Any of you remember 'Dragnet' and Jack Webb as Sgt. Friday?  While he never actually said "Just the facts, ma'am", in those words, it became the catchphrase for the series.  Well, why confuse anyone today with the facts.

Yesterday I spent a good deal of time on the telephone (my blog post was quite popular).  One of the callers happened to mention The Colbert Report and suggested I watch last Monday's show.  With Comcast 'On Demand', that is pretty easy to do.  So, between phone calls, I did exactly that.  There was a segment that has generated a gazillion 'tweets' all about non-factual statements.  The impetus was the following:

On April 8, 2011, US Senator Jon Kyl spoke on the Senate floor and claimed that performing abortions is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."  Planned Parenthood responded that 90 percent of its services are preventative, and only 3 percent are abortion-related.

A spokesperson for Kyl later claimed the Senator’s remark "was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions."

Hoo-boy!  I am sure we all knew that a lot of trash talk comes out of the halls of government.  Now we have not only have proof of it, but also a justification for it. 

If you are interested in seeing some of Colbert's 'tweets', they are on his website.  And if you get to view the show, it had me rolling in my chair.  Alas, I could hardly roll on the floor with my bad back.  I'd never get up again.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

When I was growing up, my Mother repeated lots of sayings that I heard over and over again.  Such as:

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.-- Mark Twain

I am sure you are all familiar with the 'clean underwear' one, though I am not sure who that is attributed to.
 
Another one I like is:  If you keep your mouth shut, you will never put your foot in it. -- Austin O'Malley
 
My favorite when I was on the Board was:  Give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves.
 
If there was going to be a guidebook for politicians, I would expect to see all of these sayings in it.  Unfortunately, a lot of politicians probably would not read it.  Furthermore, they become so enchanted with themselves that they think everything they say is wise beyond belief and that the masses will fall at their feet praising their profound wisdom.
 
How else to explain the comment in today's Oakland Press by the West Bloomfield Supervisor?  She states "I have a tough time doing my job when the courts are broken."

Honey, you lost.  More than once on more than one issue.  And now you want to take on the Circuit Court?  You want to waste taxpayer dollars on an appeal?  How does that benefit the taxpayers of West Bloomfield?
 
In an online article for the West Bloomfield Patch she says "I need to know what powers the supervisor has, if any. Right now, it isn't very much, yet I am held accountable and responsible."
 
Well, former supervisors did not seem to have an issue with this, but I have a few thoughts.  How about not hiring a budget director and doing it yourself.  THAT is one of your statutory duties.  Alas, you are not qualified to be an assessor, another statutory duty.  Could you be the Personnel Director?  Another statutory duty. 
 
Gee, it seems that your job is to be accountable and responsible for those people actually performing the duties you are not able to perform.  Oh, and run the Board meetings.  And for that you make a damn good salary.  All from taxpayer dollars.  Otherwise, what I am hearing you say is that you do nothing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Freedom of Speech

I had an interesting comment today regarding my blog.  Someone commented that they appreciated that 'I tell it like it is'.  That was not always the case. 

I pretty much said what I thought up until I entered elective office.  By then I had spent the better part of 40 years speaking my mind. 

But local politics is brutal.  You say the sky is blue and someone is in your face saying you are wrong.  So, every comment is tempered and sometimes not made at all, though I continued to be outspoken in my committee work, whether people were appreciative or not. 

It is only in the last few years that I have called it like I see it, whenever and whatever that entails.  I know there are folks who do not like it.  Well, they can 'like it or lump it'.  It's called Freedom of Speech.  And it's unfortunate that not everyone feels free to speak their mind.

Was it the bear...or me?

This isn't related to stitching (except for the burning AidaUglies) but I mentioned in the prior post about burning papers and such, which I did this morning.  No hair involvement, which is good.  I knew I was not complying with the township burning hours, but we're on a dead end street with little traffic.  This morning was different.  There was a horrific fire that destroyed a home and business at 5 am, and firefighters (my nephews) and policeman were all over the area.  I didn't know of this, even though it was fairly close to my street.   I have a lid on my barrel and always take a bucket of water with me because even though I love to see those flames, I am extremely aware of the damage they can cause.  Because of the yard swamp, I had my red boots on, and there I stood at the fire when a police car came down.  Uh-oh.  I wondered how big the fine would be.  Maybe because it was drizzling and I had my water bucket he would let me go?  Or maybe the red boots would trigger a flashback he would rather forget....

A few years back when Mom had a visitor, I took the opportunity to work outside in the area behind my shed overgrown with brush and hanging limbs.  We have lots of briers, wild multiflora rose, and poison ivy so even though it was very hot and humid, I had on my red knee high boots, paint stained capris and tee, a huge torn nylon jacket with the lining showing through, big work gloves, and safety glasses.  Hey - I needed protection.  I cleared the brush and the bushes, sweating buckets, then took my bow saw and started cutting limbs.  Looking up as I sawed, the fine sawdust fell onto my sweaty face. One limb scratched my cheek pretty deep. I was out there for over 2 hours and then I heard "Yo!"   Startled, I popped out from behind the shed and there was a policeman standing in my back yard.  He was startled too and took a step back.  He was going house to house to warn of a bear that crossed the highway and went into the woods behind my house.  He still looked startled, I thanked him, and decided to get back in the house.  I proceeded to the bathroom where the full length mirror told me it wasn't the bear that put that look on his face.  What popped out at him was a 5'10" woman on a 92 degree day, soaking wet, with red boots, a torn jacket, red paint (or blood!) on a t-shirt, dried blood on her cheek, two huge black eyes from mascara and liner melted behind tight safety glasses, an indescribable facial skin texture caused from an even coating of sawdust stuck to sweat, a wild head of curly hair that had little twigs and sticks extending in all directions, holding a bow saw and a hatchet.  I'll bet he thought he needed to warn the bear about me - he figured I could take 'em.  Can you imagine seeing a lady looking like this holding a saw behind a shed in the woods?  That image may be why his car kept going and I didn't get fined.