Friday, March 28, 2008

You Pay Your Money and You Take Your Chances

The first time I ever went into a casino was in 1999 when I went on the cruise. I don't want tell you how old I was then. Suffice to say I was very legal.

As much as I enjoyed the casino, my budget was much tighter than the friend who took me on the cruise. Each night when I had piddled away my allotment on the slot machines, I'd wander over and watch her play with her one armed bandit.

"C! You're up $500! Cash out! Cash out!"

"I can't. The jackpot on this machine is $50,000. I will play my initial $20 until it's gone or until I've won the jackpot".

And so it went every night. Some nights her $20 lasted 10 minutes and some nights it lasted hours. She never hit the jackpot. I almost peed my pants the night my $5 turned into $90. Which I cashed out.

C stopped by today for a Scrabble game. She is staying tonight at a casino in Waterloo and getting up in the morning to finish the drive to Milwaukee. Waterloo is not a halfway point between here and Milwaukee, but whatever, it has the most convenient casino. She has to return the rental car to the Milwaukee airport tomorrow and finish her ill fated journey.

While we were squabbling, I mean playing Scrabble, I mentioned that I'd picked up lottery tickets today. She wanted to know the size of the jackpot. She wondered if she missed something? Is the jackpot up to 100 million?

I'm throwing this out to the universe -- I would pee my pants if I won a paltry $200,000.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

For Your Consideration

Two images. One of the morning commute in Minneapolis, the other shot out my living room window. The images were taken within minutes of each other. Keep in mind, my living room window is 175 miles south of Minneapolis.


looking out the window

Monday, March 24, 2008

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Hannita orchestrated the Last Minute Great Midwest Blogger Fest and it was a great success. It consisted of Hannita (driving from Chicago through a raging blizzard), H (driving from her boyfriend's apartment in Ames), and me (driving 50 miles southwest).


I arrived in Small Town and was surprised that I had to wait for a train. This town is my half way pit stop to Des Moines and I've never waited for a train before. I was early and went into the cafe and grabbed a table and waited for the party to begin. I was there 5 minutes and another train went by.

Hannita arrived and we had barely made our introductions when yet another train went by. We ordered breakfast. It was served, we commenced to eating and I lost track of how many trains went by. Then H arrived and we continued chatting and eating and listening to the train traffic. I may have ignored the wonderful company because I was so fascinated by the amount of train traffic. I live by the tracks and I saw more trains from the Chit Chat Cafe in one hour than I see at home in a week.

I didn't photograph the trains and the traffic backed up off Walnut Street. What's wrong with me?? But I did get this of the cafe:

chit chat
Chit Chat. You gotta love it.

And the inside was all decked out for Easter, as evidenced by this lovely portrait of Hannita and me, under the Easter Bunny arch:

Hannita & pj
Bunny Arch at the Chit Chat.

H had noticed an interesting tableau on her way to the cafe. I took a pictures on my way home since I had to wait for a train anyway.

Confusion House
Confusion House.

At first glance the place was all about Easter. But if you looked closely inside the sun room, you could see they just couldn't let go of Christmas.

Christmas never dies
Christmas never dies.

I went home from there but not without worry, as my best friend was trying to get from Philly to BFE Iowa.

Planes, Automobiles

She left Philly early Friday morning. She was worried about the 35 minute window at Milwaukee to catch the flight to DM. Not to worry! Her flight arrived on time at 9:00 a.m. The only problem was that it was snowing in Milwaukee and once she was there, she was THERE. It was 3 p.m. before any announcements were made about the airport being closed and all passengers being screwed. My friend compared it to a disaster zone with shell shocked people stuck in limbo, food kiosks closed and no hope in sight.

My friend booked a hotel room and a rental car and spent the night in Milwaukee hotel with room service and high speed internet. I knew she'd be up at 2 a.m. but my mistake was thinking she'd be on the road shortly thereafter. I didn't hear from her Saturday at all and I was worried.

I called her mother's Sunday morning and talked to my friend. She did get up at 2 a.m. but didn't make it home until 9 p.m. Saturday night. There were mishaps and missteps on her end and miscalculations on mine.

I worry because... because... it keeps the really bad crap from happening.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Forced Spring

I have spring on the brain. It's been there for months but now my brain is closer to reality.

Captain Crab had a post with a picture of my tomato Christmas tree. I've kept this plant alive for years, which amazed me. I didn't know it was possible. All this winter we've had a lovely ripe tomato to eat now and then. (Confession time) I've gotten more tomatoes than Crab has. I can't help it if the fruit reaches optimal ripeness when he is on the road.

When the days started to get longer the plant really started to put out, blossom wise. I haven't eaten a tomato in a while but this thing is a blooming and fruit setting fool.

tomato blossom
Tomato Blossom.

green tomato
Green Tomato.

tomato blossom with cat hair
Tomato Blossom.

If you click on the last picture and see it in a larger format you will see a cat hair among the hairs of the tomato plant. And then you will know why I scoff at Hannita who suggested her perfectly lovely present might be somewhat tainted.

Sorry, Gwen, if all this talk about eating tomatoes is making you queasy. I just don't get the non-tomato-eating vegetarian thing. It's just not right.

Hannita Update

She called! She survived the treacherous journey through a raging blizzard!

Actually, she said the drive was not that bad.

So H, if you're paying attention, we have a date for 10 a.m. at the Chit Chat on the old Lincoln Highway (main street).

Spring Sprung

Spring came this morning. Leaves didn't suddenly appear on trees but a flower bloomed.

A gift from Hannita

Sweet Hannita sent me a lovely present. Out of the blue. I was stunned. I still am. Her note cracked me up. She was concerned about the possibility of cat hair on the pristine hand-embroidered towel she sent. Cat hair?? I am more concerned about washing the towel in my rusty well water. I may have to frame it instead.

Hannita and I have tentative plans to meet tomorrow. Last night I dreamt about her and slept fitfully. She was to come from Chicago to Boone County, Iowa today. The weather between here and there was not good. I called her phone today after I got her gift and got her voicemail. She has not called back.

I don't know the who she is visiting so I can't call them. I don't know if she made the trip through the snow. I just don't know...

Monday, March 17, 2008

An Annual Event

My Mary Engelbreit daily calendar has a cheerful green illustration for St. Patrick's Day. Mary Engelbreit does not live in Iowa. My illustration for the day is this, a rerun from last St. Patrick's Day:

Happy St. Patrick's Day
More snow.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wicked Witch of the West

I'm melting! Melting!

We have had several days above freezing! With sun! There are only a few spots left of the lane glacier. I didn't think that would melt until July.

Today I saw my first robin and the red-wing blackbirds have returned. The trees are alive with their twittering chatter. It feels like it might be spring!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pick a Time. Then Stick With It.

I hate the switch to and from Daylight Savings Time. I don't care which time you want to live in. Just pick one and stick with it. Right now it is 9:44 a.m. and I am ready for lunch. I know it is only 8:44, but I feel like I've been up for days.

Crab was kidding me yesterday about sleeping so late. I hadn't switched any of the clocks. He wouldn't have thought anything of the changing time himself but he looked at his cell phone. Cell phones do not lie and follow government mandates explicitly.

We listened to NPR until mid afternoon while we adjusted ourselves. Sunday Weekend Edition had a story about the time change that had me wanting to reach through theradio and strangle Liane Hansen.

Wanting to strangle Liane is common on Sunday mornings. I hate her cackling laugh. I despise the way she butts in on contestants playing the puzzle and then is so patronizing afterwards. But this Sunday she had an interview with a California dairy farmer:

Daylight saving time took effect Sunday morning. While many people complain about losing an hour of sleep, humans aren't the only ones affected by the time change. According to organic milk farmer Doug Beretta of Santa Rosa California, cows also have a problem adjusting to the new schedule, too.

Excuse me, make that an organic milk farmer.

During the interview Liane asked the farmer about the cows stress and confusion at being milked an hour earlier. She never once asked what I thought was the most obvious question: Why milk them earlier at all? Why disrupt the schedule of these poor creatures that you have trained to perform as machines? Why, why, why?

I told Crab the story of my brothers who were milking (6 a.m. and 6 p.m.) for my neighbor while he was gone. The first Sunday morning after the time change, the neighbor's wife called at 6 a.m. DST wondering where the boys were. She claimed the cows were anxious.

Then Crab related the story of an old-timer from this neighborhood who never changed his clocks to DST. "My cows ain't on daylight savings time and neither am I."

Friday, March 07, 2008


The windchill this morning when I got up was -18.

But it was a really warm -18, it being March and all.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Orange You Glad?

Knock, knock.

Orange you glad I haven't complained about the weather lately? Crab posted about the guy who complained. If you followed the link and read the comments to that letter to the editor, you'd see a consensus that Iowans who chose to live here full time have a right to complain. Others do not. So I stopped complaining just to be contrary. (Plus one day when I complained to H, she told me to quit whining because we weren't going to get very much snow.)

But the weather has not improved that much. I have not posted about the snowfalls, freezing rain and other crap that seems to happen at two, (or if we're lucky) three day intervals. We did have two thawing days last week but stiff winds sucked the joy out of the thaw. Not that I'm complaining!

This morning I woke up to a Christmas card scene. The ugly, dirty drifts, sunflower seed shells and other detritus was obscured by a gentle white blanket. It was lovely and very deceiving. I forgot that the lane and much of the yard was still a glacier.

So on my way to the compost pile with a container of kitchen refuse, I fell. Boy, was I surprised. I looked up to make sure no one saw me. Whew! At least pain came without the guffaws of bystanders.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


H gives me calendars every year for Christmas. Every time she comes home she checks my calendar, i.e., she flips it to the correct month. Last year she gave me two calendars which vexed her twice as much when she came home.

This year she gave me my favorite -- a Mary Engelbreit daily desk calendar. Each day has a one of ME's sweet illustrations along with a famous quote or saying. They are corny, I know, but I like them. The calendar displays the correct month and most of the time, the correct day. Less work for H.

My favorite ME illustrations deal with the Queen of Everything or Princess Quite A Lot. And who could not love "Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies?".

Since I'm all about intellectual property and copyrights I did not scan today's entry for a post. Instead I made my own illustration which better fits my mood.

My post was going to be "Never, Ever Volunteer Unless You Are Rich or a Lawyer". More precisely the title would be "Never Get Involved in the Conception of an Organization (Unless You Are Rich or a Lawyer)". If you are a lawyer experienced in non-profits and would like to help me wade through government forms pro bono, please leave me a comment. Let's talk. In the mean time, I AM FINE.