Friday, November 30, 2007


"YA BETTER NOT BLAME ME. I'M PENNY, THE GOOD DOG IN THE FAMILY. GRACIE'S THE BAD DOG. YA, GRACIE'S THE NAME AND BEING NAUGHTY IS HER GAME." (Photo from the Internet - not the real Penny, although Gracie is giving Penny gray hair.)

I am at my wit's end. Tonight - in just one night - Gracie chewed up a box of cards and the thumb out of one of Dan's gloves - Dan's sturdy, buttery soft gloves that he's had for ages, the gloves that keep his hands toasty warm when he has to work outside all day. And my cards - my oh-so carefully chosen, beautiful cards that I could send to my blogging friends who celebrate Christmas and those who observe Solstice/Yule. Every single card in the box, damaged.
If you have read the book "Marley and Me" you know the kind of dog I am dealing with. Although Gracie is a much smaller dog than Marley was, she matches him pound for pound in destructive behavior. Gracie may not have chewed up sheet rock, like Marley did, but she has chewed out the side of the dog house. The dog house, for cripes sake!!!!
I've already mentioned that on Sunday Gracie destroyed the gate that kept her captive in the kitchen. What I didn't mention is that because Dan wasn't able to replace the gate until a day later, she got into the mail on Monday and chewed up a postcard a friend sent me. Oh, just a postcard, you say? No, not just a postcard. AN ELLEN CLAPSADDLE Thanksgiving postcard, a rare, not cheap, vintage postcard of the kind that my friend knows I collect.
Yesterday morning, she was munching on one of my silk autumn picks. And regular readers will remember all the items she tried to bring indoors last summer. On Thanksgiving Day, she obviously thought that my niece's orange hoodie was a tasty treat, since she was constantly trying to nibble on it.
What to do, what to do? My immediate reaction, upon seeing my cards, was: "This dog is gone. She is so out of here!" I admit to uttering a few choice swear words. Dan was all mellow and forgiving, until after dinner, when Gracie had his glove for dessert. Then he was singing a different tune. I have threatened to get rid of her before, but let's face it, I won't do it. I am too softhearted, and Dan won't even countenance the idea.
Dan and I have had six dogs in our married life. All of them chewed things as pups, but they all grew out of it. Gracie has not. I say I can't afford obedience training, but I suppose what I mean is that I would rather spend my money elsewhere. I really don't even know if obedience training covers obsessive chewing. I guess I will just have to dedicate myself to be hyper vigilant rather than just vigilant.
Anyone want a dog, cheap???


Sunday, November 25, 2007


By Jamie Evrard
(A random painting to go with a random post,
chosen just because I like it so much!)


Kate over at "Meanderings" challenged me to do a meme on seven random things about myself, so here goes:

1. I am a really good parallel parker. Why do people think that women can't parallel park?

2. I went to a one-room country school my first six years. I think I received a good education there.

3. I always used to hate pumping my own gas. Dan thought going to full serve was an awful waste of money but I considered it a cheap luxury. When gas prices skyrocketed a few years back, I started pumping my own gas. Funny how I don't mind it anymore.

4. When I was a sophomore in college I won a scholarship to attend summer language school in France. Another UND student and I went to the Summer University of Bordeaux-Toulouse in Pau, a beautiful city in southern France. We loved Pau but hated the school. We skipped all the afternoon sessions and went roaming about the city.

5. I hate wearing sweatshirts. I think they make me look extremely dumpy and frowzy.

6. I played with dolls (fashion dolls) until I was 13 when I was shamed into stopping. I had the most beautiful doll, much more beautiful than Barbie. My mom threw her and all her clothes away.

7. When I was little I couldn't sleep with the lights off. Then for decades I couldn't sleep with the lights on. Now I can sleep either way.

I'm not going to challenge anyone else to this meme, but if you feel like doing it, let me know when you've done it. I'm curious, just never know how much people like memes.


As long as I am thinking random thoughts today, here are some more:

I have absolutely no interest in Christmas this year. My fall decorating items are still up. Also, when I was at the antique mall yesterday, I had no desire whatsoever in purchasing the Gurley Christmas candles, vintage 1950s ornaments and "Christmas Rose" china I used to collect. Funny how our tastes change. In fact, nothing interested me. Maybe I was just in a blah mood.

Destroyed today: One baby (now dog) gate, while Dan was out and I was napping in the bedroom. The reason Gracie was confined to the kitchen? So she wouldn't try to get in the bedroom and bug me. Now Dan is pondering whether they make steel dog gates, and I ponder Gracie's future at our house.

I hate having carpal tunnel syndrome. It has become obvious that therapy is only a temporary measure. Every other malady/injury I've ever had has gone away or been fixed or been cured. My irritable bowel syndrome just went away, my depression is medicated away. My fractured elbow came back 100% and my severely bruised kneecap is almost normal. Even my acute arthritis attacks go away. I expected CTS to go away as well, and it hasn't. I know I could have something much worse. When I was at therapy on Friday, I watched another woman painfully try to screw nuts onto bolts and unclip clothespins. "Last year at this time I could still write," she told the therapist. Not be able to write? What would I do?

After I left therapy on Friday I ran up to Lowe's to look at light fixtures for my bathroom. As I was driving there, I realized that the light snow and freezing winds had made the streets slippery. I crept to Lowe's and afterward crept home, lightly tapping the brakes to judge the slipperiness. On the news that evening I heard about the dozens of fender benders in the city. This happens every year! My question is, "Do people forget how to drive in winter?"
Do you dislike Sundays as much as I do? When I was a kid, I hated Sundays, even though I did well in school. And back then, the stores had to be closed so it seemed like the most boring day of the week. Did you know that North Dakota and Maine were the last two states in the nation to do away with Blue Laws (Sunday Closing Laws?) But still, even with stores open, there is a certain feeling to Sundays. Instead of "back to school tomorrow," it's "back to work tomorrow." After a rare four-day weekend for me, the feeling is much worse.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007



When the Pilgrims
first gathered together to share
with their Indian friends
in the mild autumn air,
they lifted the voices
in jubilant praise
for the bread on the table,
the berries and maize,
for field and for forest,
for turkey and deer,
for the bountiful crops
they were blessed with that year.
They were thankful for these
as they feasted away,
and as they were thankful
we're thankful today.
The Pilgrims
In the year of 1620
on a cold Decembre day
a hundred and two pilgrims
sailed into Plymouth Bay.
Still wary from their voyage -
still facing winter's chill -
they kept their sights on freedom
with courage, work, and will.
Pilgrims did not stop to think
of riches, fame, or glory
while bravely playing starring roles
in our new nation's story
by Bobbi Katz
T is for the trust the pilgrims had so many years ago
H is for the harvest the settlers learnt to grow
A is for America, the land in which we live
N is for nature and beauty which she gives
K is for kindness, gentle words, thoughtful deeds
S is for smiles, the sunshine everyone needs
G is for gratitude... our blessings big and small
I is for ideas, letting wisdom grow tall
V is for voices, singing, laughing, always caring
I is for Indians, who taught them about sharing
N is for neighbors, across the street, over the sea
G is for giving of myself to make a better me.
by Judith A. Lindberg
For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!
For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman's hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!
For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the "Land of the Free" --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!
Author Unknown


Roast Turkey
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Scalloped Corn
French's Original Green Bean Casserole
New England Yam Bake
Norwegian Lefse
Crescent Rolls
Whole Berry Cranberries
Pumpkin Pie and Whipped Cream
Perkin's Caramel Apple Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream
The entire menu above is what we would be serving if my sister and her family were going to be here tomorrow. But since my sister, who is a nurse, has to work, and since we're not sure of her kids' plans, we're having the abbreviated Thanksgiving Dinner with only the items printed in white.
I like stuffing, but only in small amounts, and Dan doesn't like it at all, so there'll be no stuffing tomorrow. Besides, no one could beat my mom's stuffing so I prefer to go without. I like New England Yam Bake, but I think the others only eat it as a polite gesture to me. (They eat the sweet stuff on top and leave the sweet potatoes, which we use instead of yams.) Hence, no yam bake tomorrow. But I'll get them with it at Christmas! Although I like green bean casserole, I only make it if my sister is coming. And, since it's just the two of us tomorrow, we're skipping the desserts all together. (Pumpkin pie is okay, but I adore Perkin's Caramel Apple Pie.)
However, having said all that, I am going to print the recipes for the yam bake and the green bean casserole, because they are very good dishes and you don't have to have them just at Thanksgiving!
1 can pineapple slices [20 oz]
2 can yams [17 oz ea] (I use sweet potatoes -
only ONE can - see reference to yam bake above)
¼ cup flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp margarine
¼ cup chopped nuts (I always use hazelnuts)
1 cup miniature marshmallows (or large ones cut into smaller pieces)

Drain pineapple, reserving ¼ cup syrup.
Line sides of a 10x6 inch baking dish with pineapple slightly overlapping.
(I use a round baking dish - works just as well).
Arrange yams (or sweet potatoes) in center.
Pour pineapple syrup over yams.
Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in nuts.
Sprinkle over yams.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.
Top with Marshmallows. Broil until lightly browned.


2 9 oz pkgs frozen cut green beans

1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 c milk
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/3 c French's Onion Rings

Mix all ingredients except 2/3 c onion rings. Pour into buttered casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with remaining onion rings and bake 5 minutes more or until onions are golden brown.

P. S. The scalloped corn is made from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Can't beat it!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Annie Elf!

"MORNING JOURNAL" by Sally Rosenbaum

I am posting this a bit early so that you can go over to Annie Elf's blog ( and wish her a Happy Birthday. My dear blogging friend from California is celebrating (erm, mourning?) her 60TH BIRTHDAY!!!

That's right, Annie Elf is 60, 60 years old on Sunday. Please go over to her blog and wish her a Happy 60th.

Whenever I think of Annie, I think of Annie at her favorite coffee shop, with a journal strategically placed in front of her and a coffee cup by her side. Why can I visualize this so well, you ask? Because she published a picture of herself at her favorite coffee shop!

Annie is a wonderful poet and a deep thinker. Now, don't get Al Franken as "The Deep Thinker" in your head. Annie is an original deep thinker, a seeker of the meaning of religious life and life in general. She is a wonderful person and I am glad to think of her as a cyberspace friend. And, she has the cutest new puppy named Tinker.

Annie - 6o is just the beginning!! You are a wise woman and you are growing wiser and stronger by the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Photo courtesy of the Internet site "Thanksgiving Corner"

NOTE: This post edited on Friday, November 16.

When I first wrote this post, I merely gave a link to a blogger named Jim Sullivan at I provided the link because he and I share the same view - that Christmas madness is overshadowing Thanksgiving.

Today I realized that I was doing an injustice to Jim by only giving the link to his blog. Since I don't know how to link to a specific post, you may not find it. Therefore, I decided today to reproduce a large portion of his post.

"Thanksgiving Comes First"
By Jim Sullivan, written on Sunday, November 11:

"They’re beating me down. I keep getting up, but I don’t know how much longer I can continue to do so. It’s tougher every time. The soulless bastards have once again begun their push to shove Christmas down my throat a month early. My television has been full of ads for holiday shopping since a full three weeks before Thanksgiving. Certain malls have already dragged Santa Claus out of the mothballs. The shelves of my local supermarket sport cookies dressed up in green and red sprinkles, and my mail is clogged with catalogues touting spectacular savings if I do my shopping NOW. (As a matter of fact, the New York Giants are playing the Dallas Cowboys as I write this, and the camera just panned the crowd. Some boob wearing a furry Santa hat was waving a towel and screaming. If I could have somehow teleported myself to Giants Stadium and wrapped a length of piano wire around his neck, I would have delighted in seeing his eyes bulge from their sockets while the wire sliced his jugular vein. Merry Christmas!)

I shall now go into miserable old fart mode. You’ve been warned.

When I was a kid, Christmas was magical. The lights were colorful and amazing, making the night a warm, bright, wonderful place to be, even if it was 20 degrees outside and the snow was up to your waist in drifts. When you heard a Christmas carol, it gave you the same sorts of butterflies in your stomach that would be associated with love at a later time in your life. Cities and towns put up decorations on the main streets, with the larger municipalities erecting lovely Christmas trees in central spots. A big reason for all of the above working was because it happened at an appropriate time. No retailer (or city or homeowner) dared to breach the unofficial line of demarcation – Thanksgiving. It was an unwritten rule that one holiday would play out completely before another was allowed to be spoken of.

Now? Nobody cares. Whatever you can peddle, whenever you can peddle it, is the mantra. It matters not a whit how many people’s memories are trampled, nor how irreligious your displays and advertisements. The only thing that counts is that you get into the black. Restraint and taste are passĂ©. The more outrageous the spectacle you make, the better for your bottom line.

Make no mistake about it: I’m a capitalist. I believe in a system wherein the market regulates itself. I’m all for everybody making as much money as they can, as fast as they can, in whatever way they can, so long as nobody is physically hurt in the process. I’m not looking to enact laws against early Christmas advertising, nor am I in favor of jail terms for such nebulous concepts as greed. What I AM in favor of is for those of us who decry this incursion upon our holiday ground to stand up and be counted. My hope is that we might make enough noise to affect the situation. If we can’t, then we deserve this despicable state of affairs.

Last year, I began a blog called “Bah! Humbug!” It was, at inception, all about getting indignant concerning the growing encroachment of any one holiday upon another. I asked folks to send me their gripes about holiday advertising – about offensive holiday displays – about anything they deemed lacking in class, basically. It garnered a limited readership. The kind people who sent me stuff to talk about seemed very much in favor of what I was doing, but they turned out to be pretty much the only ones who came by.

I asked folks to stop shopping at places featured on the blog as being particular offenders. So far as I know, these efforts had little effect on anyone’s coffers. Oh, well. We tried. There’s some solace to be had in doing what you believe to be right, even if the end result is negligible.

(As I finished typing that last paragraph, there was an ad for Lowe’s on the tube. It showed a red-and-white clad salesperson and a giant inflatable Santa/reindeer snow globe for your lawn. A woman shopper displayed orgasmic delight at the prospect of finding - and being able to buy - such a monstrosity. I feel like Sisyphus.

(And today is VETERAN’S DAY in America. The official holiday is celebrated on Monday, but the actual day is today. Of course, what kind of money can you make celebrating the sacrifices of life and limb made by courageous soldiers in defense of our country and our freedoms? Let’s sell mass-manufactured kitschy crap, instead.)

I’m going to give it one more try. And I'm asking for your help.

If you believe, as I do, that Thanksgiving should play out before Christmas; that Christmas carols should not be heard on the radio before at least Thanksgiving evening; that advertisers who dare to encroach upon Thanksgiving with their hideous advertisements should be told in no uncertain terms that you will not shop at their establishments; that malls who put Santa Claus on display before Veterans Day has even finished should be made to pay a price; then please consider doing what I'm going to ask of you.

Should you be as incensed as I am concerning Christmas schlock, please post a "Thanksgiving Comes First" entry on your blog. Write from the heart, immediately, while the passion is alive in you, and everybody who visits your blog will know how you feel. I hope that, if enough of us do this, we might have some small effect in stemming the tide.

Please title your post "Thanksgiving Comes First". If we all do that, it will make a bigger impact. If you wish to reference this post, or other posts with a similar title, please do so. It isn't mandatory. I'm not looking to drive people to my blog; I'm just trying to make a difference concerning something that truly rankles me.

I'm a Christian, so I have more than an annoyance factor at work here. I think that cheapening the holiday, by expanding it beyond reasonable bounds, does a world of disservice to my religion. It gives people a false view of it, by making it a greed-fest. However, if you aren’t a Christian, your take on matters is still important; maybe even more so than mine. If you're Jewish, for instance, I'm sure it makes you mad to see your religion's holy days buried beneath this overkill. If you're an atheist, it must truly make you seethe. Let it out. Tell the world that you've had enough."

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today, Veterans’ Day, I salute my favorite veteran, my husband, Dan. With an offer to train as a medical corpsman, young Danny Fredericksen, from Williston, ND, age 18, joined the Navy to see the world. He never set foot on a ship; instead, he saw Vietnam.

Dan’s theory as to why he was sent to Vietnam is that he pissed off the head nurse at the Naval Hospital at Oceanside, California. Very shortly thereafter, instead of having a safe stateside job, he found himself, at age 19, in the jungle. Instead of a white sailor suit and hat, or dress Navy blues, he wore a helmet and flak jacket.

Dan – known to his comrades as “Doc Fred”, was in Vietnam from September of 1967 until September of 1968. That parallels my freshman year in college and the beginning of my sophomore year. While I was swanning my way through the University of North Dakota, he was living the hell that is war. Dan recalls that the only time – the ONLY time – he ever saw his Dad cry was the day that Dan went to Vietnam.

I did not know Dan while he was in Vietnam. I met him in 1970. Most of our first dates that late fall/early winter were held at The Highlander bar in Grand Forks, with its tartan-covered walls and blue-collar-neighborhood feel. During those dates, those tartan-covered walls and I absorbed Dan’s stories. I listened and he talked: about how he pulled dozens of leeches off his body after wading through rice paddies, about how he and his buddies, stoned, sat atop buildings back at the rear and watched flares light up the sky. About how terrible the Medevac choppers smelled while carrying the body bags. About how his best friend died in his arms.
(Below) A very different Dan from the one above. This badly-scratched photo is the only one from Dan's Vietnam days that we were able to salvage from our house fire.

I learned. I learned about Vietnam, about the terrible Tet offensive. I learned that Navy corpsmen are attached to the Marines. Navy corpsmen are not medics. Medics are Army. The Army fought in the south of Vietnam. The Marines fought up north, near the DMZ. I learned the names: Dong Ha, Quang Tri, Phu Bai, Chu Lam.

I learned the smaller, more personal things of war as well: That Louisiana Hot Sauce makes C-Rats (C-rations) somewhat more palatable. I learned that the sun goes down abruptly in Vietnam, with no sunset. I learned about short-timers’ calendars. I learned that Marines don’t wear underwear in the bush. When you get an attack of dysentery, it’s faster to get your pants down that way.

I listened, and I learned, and I saw. I saw how malaria racked Dan’s body with sweats and fevers for years afterward, and how tiny bits of shrapnel kept working their way out of his body. I see that Dan can barely tolerate hearing a helicopter pass overhead. And I know that it is true, what a blogging friend’s husband told me: that all Vietnam vets, whether they display overt symptoms or not, have post traumatic stress disorder.
(Below) The telegram Dan's parents received when he was wounded in action.

Thank you Dan, for serving your country, at a time when vets were reviled and spat upon when they returned home, not feted with parties and parades. Thank you for patching up your buddies and saving their lives. Thank you for enduring the serious wound you received.

We owe you and other veterans so much, no matter which war you served in – a righteous war or an unnecessary war, a declared war or a police action, a war that ended suddenly with surrender and armistice, or with retreat – it matters not.

(Below) Dan was interviewed by the local paper after returning home. About the situation in Vietnam, he said "We're just not accomplishing anything worthwhile. There's too much politics in the war and we should either go all the way or get out".

Saturday, November 10, 2007



Tomorrow is Veterans' Day here in the United States (celebrated, of course, on Monday so some people can have a three-day weekend). In Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom it is called Remembrance Day. It is also known in some places as Poppy Day, and the original name was Armistice Day. The armistice ending World War I was signed at 11:00 A.M. on 11/11/1918.

Here in the U.S., the day will mainly honor World War II, Korean, Vietnam, Gulf War and Iraq War vets, especially those who have lost their lives. But in Britain, the memory of World War I is still vivid, even unto younger generations. I am posting this picture today in case some of you want to use this picture on your blog tomorrow, or send an e-card.

Yes, it is an e-card, and I have a special reason for wanting to share it with you. The two British WWI soldiers in the card are my two Scottish great uncles!~

William Munro, on the left in the photo above, was with the Seaforth Highlanders. John Alexander (Jack) Munro was a member of the King's Own Scottish Borderers. William was 25, and Jack just 23, when they were killed in France, within four months of each other.

The card was created by a wonderful British blogger named Chris. Her site is "A Touch of Class", My Scottish cousin, Shirley Sutherland, worked with Chris to create this card. Since last March, when Shirl and I "met" via the Internet, I have learned a great deal about my Scottish relatives, including those who fought and died in the War.
I wrote extensively about William and Jack in my blog on Memorial Day. I hope you go into my archives and read about them. It's just a few posts down when you click on May archives (posted May 28).

I have felt a deep connection with these men, especially Jack, ever since Shirl sent me all the information on them and their brother Archie, who fought for Canada. Jack was a gallant soldier, the youngest Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army, and a highly-decorated hero. He died doing something he had done several times before - saving the life of a fellow brother in arms.

But I think a lot about the every day Jack as well. I create scenarios in my head about him. I even asked Shirl if he had a girlfriend back home (we believe there was a special someone named Grace.) Jack is with me so often in spirit that I think I am going to have to write his story.

To send this free e-card or get the picture, click on the link underlined above. Once there, scroll down to "Other Places to Visit" on the left side of her blog and click on "Cards from Touch of Class". Choose "Remembrance Cards" and you will see this card.

(Chris also creates beautiful desktops.)

Friday, November 9, 2007


by Russell Cotes

Today would have been Daisy Lupin's 57th birthday (I believe. If I am wrong as to her age, someone please correct me and I will change it.)
Before Daisy, one of the world's best bloggers, died unexpectedly in June, she had initated a Summer Poetry Fest. She chose the themes for poems for June, July, and August. Since then, I, in my feeble way, have tried to carry on with her fest, by choosing themes for September and October, and publishing poems in my blog.
I was thinking that November's poems should be about the ending of the year, since, naturally, thoughts in December would turn toward Christmas poems. But as I read other blogs, and searched the Internet, I discovered that November has a rich vocabulary all its own. There is enough poetry here for an entire Poetry Festival, let alone Poetry Fest. A feast, a carnival, a plethora of November poems!
I confess to having a hard time with November. When Daylight Savings Time ended at midnight Saturday, it gave us more light in the morning, but now, night descends before I even leave work. Soon, it will be dark during my morning and evening journeys. Already, I have scraped frost off my windshields. Already, I have wiped snow off my car.
December is different, even though the days are shorter. December is colored lights against soft snow. December is Christmas music drifting out over frozen parking lots. December is living Nativity scenes, church programs, community symphonies.
November in North Dakota is unremittingly brown and gray, or even - shudder -white. All our lovely color is gone. Mellow days are few. Out come the winter coats and gloves, scrapers and, if need be, shovels.
Fortunately, a couple of bloggers have helped me see the beauty of November. Several have printed some of the poems you see below (I found all of them by Googling "November Poems.")
Some poets agree with me that November is cold, cruel and capricious. Others look at the precious little that November has to offer, and revel in that.


This is the treacherous month when autumn days
With summer's voice come bearing summer's gifts.
Beguiled, the pale down-trodden aster lifts
Her head and blooms again. The soft, warm haze
Makes moist once more the sere and dusty ways,
And, creeping through where dead leaves lie in drifts,
The violet returns. Snow noiseless sifts
Ere night, an icy shroud, which morning's rays
Wildly shine upon and slowly melt,
Too late to bid the violet live again.
The treachery, at last, too late, is plain;
Bare are the places where the sweet flowers dwelt.
What joy sufficient hath November felt?
What profit from the violet's day of pain?

- Helen Hunt Jackson, "Autumn Sonnet"


The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!

My last walk in the trees has come. At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.

It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odors that partridges love.

- Robert Bly, "Solitude Late at Night in the Woods"

(Minnesota's own beloved Robert Bly!!)


November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

- Clyde Watson


No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds -

-Thomas Hood


The wild November come at last
Beneath a veil of rain;
The night winds blows its folds aside,
Her face is full of pain.
The latest of her race, she takes
The Autumn's vacant throne:
She has but one short moon to live,
And she must live alone.

- Richard Henry Stoddard, "November"


The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.
The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain Loveliness--

-John Updike, "A Child's Calendar"


My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
-Robert Frost, "My November Guest"


Dismal November! me it soothes to view,
At parting day, the scanty foliage fall
From the wet fruit tree, or the grey stone wall,
Whose cold films glisten with unwholesome dew;
To watch the yellow mists from the dank earth
Enfold the neighboring copse; while on as they pass
The silent rain-drops bend the long rank grass
Which wraps some blossom's unmaturéd birth.

- Charles Lloyd, "To Autumn"


Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky,
How beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness
There is a poem, there is a song.
Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring.
When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with
The music of many leaves,
Which in due season fall and are blown away.
And this is the way of life.

- Krishnamurti

And as hard as it has been for me to do, I have resisted printing the lyrics to Guns 'n Roses' "November Rain." (She said, tongue in cheek. Tee Hee!)

Monday, November 5, 2007


Oh, my goodness gracious me. My baby sister is 50 years old today! And like her heroine, Molly Shannon's Sally O'Malley, she promised me she was going to shout out, "Ahm Fifty! Ahm Fifty Years Old!"

Another birthday, a few years ago
(Must have been the 80s!)
(Our dog Beau thought he should have cake too.)
She had to work the previous weekend, and also tonight, so I will be taking her out for lunch on Saturday. Do you think I should give her black flowers and black balloons? Well, since she didn't do that to me, I won't do that to her. But I am going to make her do the "Ahm Fifty" routine. (Actually, we like it this way: "Ahm Fitty! Fitty years old!"
Instead of "Over the Hill" gags I'll be giving this "old antique" a gift certificate to the Antique Mall, since she loves to browse it as much as I do. (Plus, then I have an excuse to go as well.)

I've already blogged about how proud I am of my sister, about what a difficult time she had as a young woman, how she put herself through nursing college while raising three kids, and how she was recently named employee of the quarter at the nursing home where she works.

(Below) Oh so serious!

My sister's name is Gloriann, no middle name, but she answers to Glori and Gloria and Gloria Ann as well. I tease her that when she was in grade school she gave herself the middle name of Katrina. She absolutely denies this, but I know it's true!

She goes through life with an equanimity that baffles me (I am much more temperamental.) The only time I ever saw her get really upset was when she was in labor with her second son, Michael. "Give me drugs", she roared when the promised epidural was long overdue. I swear her head spun around a few times, a la "The Exorcist."

Actually, she had another name in the beginning. Someone in the family nicknamed her Baby Ann and that name stuck for quite a few years.

By the time Glori was born, I had had two rowdy brothers, Johnny and Ronnie. When mom left to go to the hospital, I pretty much told her, "Don't bother to come home if you don't bring me a sister."

I stayed with a girlfriend and her parents while mom was in the hospital. One day, after school, my girlfriend and I stopped at my stepfather's shop to cadge some candy money from him. After he gave it to me, he said, "Well you got what you wanted." "Yeah," I agreed, wondering if he wanted me to thank him again. "No," he said, "You got your baby sister."

Well, that was good news and has been ever since. I am 8 years older than she is, so we were not terribly close when we were younger. But now we are the absolute best of friends. My sister has survived a lot of things, including having our brothers haul her to Main Street in the wagon and leave her there in the middle of the street (fortunately there wasn't much traffic in Larson).
She is loving, giving, caring, a good mom, and the best damn nurse on the planet. I love ya, Sissie.

(Below) Baby Ann, another
dog lover in the making.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I went to the neurologist on Thursday after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome by my family doctor. Thank goodness my co-worker, who had severe CTS in both hands, didn't tell me before hand what they do (No pun intended!). I was given electric shocks and had needles plunged into my arms!

I was pretty brave through it all, although those last jabs to the thumbs really got to me. I was telling Dan about it afterward and he told me that when he had these same tests done on his "dropped hand" a few years back, he got to a point where he told the doctor, "Enough! No more shocks." So I guess I am braver than he is.

So, it turns out I have mild to moderate CTS in my left hand and very mild CTS in my right hand. I knew I didn't have a severe case in my left hand - people who do have pains shooting up their arms to their elbows, but I thought it would be at least a definite moderate in my case. I mean, I have a great deal of hand pain in the mornings, my fingers tingle as if they'd been "asleep", I feel like icy-hot liquid is rushing through my hands, and my fingers are numb (except for the little finger - see in the drawing how that nerve doesn't go to to the little finger, and to only part of the ring finger?).

My doctor doesn't recommend surgery for now and hopefully I will never need it. I will wear a splint at night, take NSAIDs and have hand therapy starting Tuesday. When I made my appointment at the Bone and Joint Center the receptionist told me she has CTS too and that Vitamin B6 helped her a lot. This made me very happy because Lila at Indigo Pears told me about B6 right after my diagnosis and I've been taking it for several weeks now, so I have a head start.

All this misery happens because the median nerve leading to the fingers has to travel through a very small, rigid space at the wrist. It is surrounded by bones on three sides and a tough ligament on the fourth. The nerve has to share this cramped space with tendons. Because of irritation and swelling, the space sometimes becomes just too small and the median nerve gets squeezed and pinched. It becomes very unhappy and reacts badly!

Of course, knowing me, I had to do a lot of research on the Internet when I found out I had CTS. One of the things that upset me is that CTS is often a precursor to diabetes. I don't have diabetes but my family history is rampant with it. Another interesting thing, which I learned from my neurologist, is that people who have had tennis elbow are prone to developing CTS. I did have tennis elbow in my left arm about 10 years ago.

People are on both sides of the fence regarding whether or not CTS is caused by repetitive movement. I type all day long - did I do this to myself? However, a 2001 study by the Mayo Clinic found that heavy computer use (up to 7 hours a day), did not increase a person's risk.

Or, I could have done this to myself by sleeping on my hands, which I like to do. However, it may just be genetic. Women are three times more likely than men to develop the syndrome just because their carpal tunnels are smaller, and mine may be even smaller than normal.

But enough dwelling on how or why it happened. Now I concentrate on fixing it. I'm glad I don't have a "surgery-happy" doctor and can try these alternative therapies instead. CTS can get better, I'm told.