Monday, March 30, 2009

Somehow, a dreary day

And I don't mean the weather.
I felt a little "off" all day.
No particular reason.
Drove to facilitate a music therapy session and didn't want to go.
Wished I had called and cancelled.
Pulled out my guitar when I got there and discovered I had forgotten to put the strap back on it after a friend borrowed it this weekend.
Do you know how IMPOSSIBLE it is to walk around while playing a guitar with no strap?
Well it is!
I managed to jimmy a strap out of some ribbon and the session was great.
Music and human interaction energized me.
By the time I got home I was tired and sad-sacking it again.
Five piano lessons wore me out.
Dinner was frozen french fries and fish sticks.
I was gloomy.

Maybe it was too much weekend.

Jeff and I went car shopping on Saturday.
We were strong and did NOT come home with a new car.
We drove some very nice Mustangs.
I liked them surprisingly well.
We found a couple of cars that seem to be good possibilities.
Not Mustangs, sorry Bethany.
Time and our mechanic (Bruce, did I mention him already?) will tell.

Saturday night we went to a church talent show of sorts.
We sang some Everly Brothers songs with our friend Ron.
Maybe I will post pictures later.

Yesterday was Jeff's birthday.
All the family came over.
Nine adults and six kids.

We ate pulled pork with homemade hoagie buns.
And a dark chocolate-cherry cake with whipped cream filling and ganache icing.
Oh my.
After which, all six kids ran back and forth through the house like screaming banshees.
This was one of the four days a years that I wish I had a bigger house.

My Mum is visiting from New Zealand for three months.
Here she is shooting Jon's paintball gun last night.

And in a quieter moment, reading to Natalie.

Day off tomorrow.

Maybe I'll take a nap.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hi ho, hi ho, off I go....

to the Better Living Show tomorrow at the Expo Centre.
All kinds of fun stuff for GREEN living.
Last year I got my two kiwi plants.
The male died, sniff, but the nursery replaced him.
With a much more virile male, obviously, because he survived Oregon's very tough winter.
In a couple of years, I hope to have lots of these.

I also discovered Solatubes, a very nifty invention, of which we now own two.
My formerly dim living room and VERY DARK hallway thank me.
The same company also installed an attic fan, which lives inconspicuously on top of the roof and uses solar power to suck the hot air out of the attic whenever the inside temperature triggers the thermostat.

How cool is that?


Check out this short video that I found at Neo-neocon's blog.

Sigh. Sometimes it just feels good to be British!

Seriously though, isn't it eerie how this guy could have been speaking to our own government?

Dare I say it, to our own president?

A small rant

I can't figure out why people drink bottled water.

Let's look at the reasons to NOT drink it.

1. It takes lots of energy (think "terrorist oil") to produce the empty bottles and ship the full ones.
2. The discarded bottles use up lots of landfill space.
3. Messy people create litter when they don't bother to throw them away in a rubbish bin.
4. It is expensive.
5. Most of the time it doesn't even taste very good.
6. Bottled water is often plain old tap water.
7. Most bottled water is wasted. When was the last time you went to a function and DIDN'T see mostly-full bottles of water being tossed away.
8. It takes up grocery store shelf space that could be used more productively by purveyors of CHOCOLATE.
10. I'll think of another one in a minute.

Now, the reasons TO drink bottled water.


1. The REALLY EXPENSIVE ones taste good.
But so does the water from my Brita pitchers, of which I have two in my fridge.

2. Water in third world countries is not safe to drink.
But let's see....we're not in a third world country, are we?
3. If not for bottled water, we would use more paper cups.
So carry a nice eco-water bottle already.
Like this:

Here is the link to these nifty Eco bottles. They are a little spendier than plastic bottles but healthier for you and sturdier.

Now, are you convinced?

P.S. Did you notice I further refined my linking skills?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Check out this link for a nifty screen cleaner

Also, this one for various choices of related screen savers

Seriously, click on the links.

You won't be sorry.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Woohoo for Sue!

I just figured out how to add links instead of plain old addresses.
So you can go back and click away on all those postings you were too lazy to explore because you had to copy and paste the addresses.
I fixed 'em!

Sue's Very Horrible Friday

Here it is (although I am SO over it already).
I had a doctor's appointment at Good Sam Hospital on Friday morning.
Didn't want to go, but duty bid me do it.
Jeff came too.
Probably just to make sure that I actually went.
We were planning a nice lunch together at Quizno's.

Time spent waiting in doctor's office: ONE HOUR.

Detoured over the west hills of Portland on the way home.
It was a pleasant drive, guided by TomTom.

Left a package at a friend's apartment.
Tried to start the car.
Tried again.
Still nothing.
Called favourite mechanic.
His name is Bruce and you can't have him.
Unless you already do.
He said, "Sounds like the fuel pump. Hit on the gas tank and maybe it will get you home."
Jeff pounded on the gas tank with a rock.
It got us to the end of the driveway.
Called insurance company.

Time spent on phone arranging a tow: TEN MINUTES

Time spent waiting for tow truck: ONE HOUR.

Time spent waiting for driver to hoist the car onto his flatbed: HALF AN HOUR.

Drive home in a very bumpy, smelly tow truck: ONE HOUR.

Time spent shopping on the way home as planned: ZERO HOURS.

Time Jeff got home from work after all the delays: ELEVEN O'CLOCK PM.

Money paid to tow company over the covered amount: THIRTY DOLLARS.

Number of delicious Quizno's chicken carbonara sandwiches eaten by ME on Friday: ZERO


Friday, March 20, 2009

Good Old Reader's Digest

Here are a few things I learned from the April Reader's Digest today.
1. If you are as sick of telephone books as we are, this is a very easy way to put a stop to them.
Go to and sign up to stop them.
It's the easiest thing I've done all day.

2. At you can sign up to stop catalogues, magazines, and credit card offers.
Also quite easy, although you do have to register on the site.

3. A modern car uses up more gas in ten seconds of idling than turning it off and restarting.

4. And finally, if you go to the RD website there are all kinds of fun extras.
Like this:

Tee hee.

My ookelele

Oh, I am in the blogging big time now....I figured out how to post videos!
My latest love is the concert ukelele (pronounced "ookelele" if you are in the know) I bought last week.

Daniel got a ukelele for Christmas.
He wanted a guitar.
We persuaded him that a ukelele is just like a guitar, only "Daniel-sized."
I even made him a cool uke bag from fleece.
He has proved resistant to lessons from Nana, so I thought maybe if I had one too that it would encourage him.

I discovered this Hawaiian in a magazine at the doctor's office.
You never knew that a ukelele could sound so good.

He is apparently the God of ukeleledom.

I do love the uke.
It is just my size.
I have been busy taking uke tutorials on YouTube.
I can now play a mean "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" and
"Tiptoe Through the Tulips."

My uke needs a cool uke bag.

Maybe tomorrow.

Stay tuned for photos and the story of Sue's Very Horrible Friday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's an Outrage!

Please go to this link, which you'll have to copy and paste into your web browser bar
to view Michael Yon's latest post.
Or just click on the link in my blog list to the right.
An Iraq veteran is protesting the award given to John Murtha by the Secretary of the Navy.
Here is the link to the petition
so that you can all sign it!
We need politicians who will support our military, not take every opportunity to slander them and use them for their own political ends.
Interestingly, one of the things for which Murtha is known is being a dealer of earmarks. In other words, he trades earmarks for votes.
What a honey!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Little Boys

Four little boys and Natalie spent St. Patrick's Day at Nana's house.
The boys are learning the art of "hanging out" together.

It's fun to see them getting along.
It took a while for them all to jell, but it's finally happening.

Joshua spent some time engaged in the solitary pursuit of putting puzzles together.

For two-and-a-half, I think he has a mighty talent for puzzles.

Some Josh-isms of the day:

"Nana, I need pork with my 'ot dogs."
Thinks I, "They're beef, why do you need pork?"
Oh. Fork.

Me: "What's on your shirt, Josh?"
Josh: "A dolpin and a turtle."

"I want some poot snacks."

I think he's having a wee bit of trouble with his "f's"!

A host of golden daffodils

This is the view from my back window a little over two months ago.

Yes, those are ICICLES!

Now, spring is fully sprung.

I love all spring flowers, but the ones that really do it for me are the daffodils.
I can't see one without thinking of the Wordsworth poem:

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

My Mum has a keen eye for beauty and she almost always misquoted this poem when she saw daffodils.

A tradition I have continued.

EEEEK! Part 3

Not to beat the subject to death.
Ouch. Probably not the best turn of phrase.
It's 10am and I just found another dead mouse.
On the TOP SHELF of the bookcase.
Intrepid husband is at work.
Elder son is barely awake.
I know.
I just woke him up.
It will take great presence of mind to ignore the dead mouse until someone brave can dispose of IT.

I wonder how many more meeses there are.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

EEEK! Part 2

Ding, dong, the mouse is dead!
Poor little thing never stood a chance.
He was duly disposed of this morning by my intrepid husband.
Plastic-bagged and rubbish-binned.
Plastic-bagged due to the infamous "dead blue jay and maggots" incident of last summer.
Which I hope to never repeat.

I will not subject you to a photo of said dead mouse.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


There's a mouse in the house.
Or, as my Scottish grandfather used to say, there's a moose in the hoose.
Actually, I never had a Scottish granddad.
I never knew any of my grandparents, which speaks something to my desire to be the world's best nana.
Have I mentioned that before?

Anyway, back to the moose.
It's probably not as cute as this one.
It probably has much bigger teeth and scary claws.

Jeff has been telling me for some time that he wakes up at night and hears scrabbling.
I put it down to an overactive imagination.

Until Thursday night, when we had put our tired selves to bed and were hunkering down for our long winter's nap.
All was quiet, except for the TV in the family room.
(Annie had shown up for the evening and outlasted us.)
Suddenly, we hear a "scratch, scratch, scratch" coming from the vicinity of my nightstand.
We couldn't believe our ears.
It was spooky.
Jeff leapt out of bed, (okay, lumbered) and stomped around to my side of the bed. The mouse (oh, please let it only be a mouse) was forewarned, of course, and was nowhere to be found. Although some major dust bunnies and apparently yummy-smelling candy wrappers were very revealing of some of my most shameful habits.
End of mouse story for the day, as we nervously fell sleep.

Last night, Friday, Jeff was watching one of the "Mummy" movies in the rec room.
I was ensconced on the family room couch watching "Friday Night Lights," my favourite show.
A sad statement in and of itself.
Jeff came running into the room, announcing that he'd heard our little friend again.
"Oh, good," I thought, "at least he's not in the house."
The little beggar had made a meal of my gourd from Peru, eating off some of the decorative corn. He also (why do I keep saying "he?") ate some of my instruments and left little turds in a box and on the TOP SHELF of the bookcase.
How do mice climb to the top shelf, tell me that!
He left a nice little pile of rice in the corner of the bottom shelf.

This morning the pile was gone.
And we can't find it either.
That was one busy little mouse last night.
Today, I spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning my bedroom (scary how dust accumulates when you're not looking) and buying mousetraps at Freddie's.

Look out, little mouse, your days are numbered.

Now, let's hope he doesn't find my chocolate stash in the spare bedroom!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Some thoughts on pain

Don't be scared, it's not totally depressing.
Just grit your teeth and read on....

This is me, on that fateful day in September 2007, halfway up Mount St. Helens.
Blissfully unaware of what would follow.

It has been 18 months since I broke my leg. Eighteen months of fairly unrelenting pain.
I have spent a lot of time, money, and energy in trying to figure out a way to get rid of the pain.
Physical therapy.
More surgery to remove the hardware.
Attempting to walk through the pain in the hope that if I walk enough it will go away.
You have to understand, it isn't just my leg that hurts. It's my foot, my ankle, my other leg, and both of my hips as well, as they compensate for the bad leg.
And the pain isn't just announcing itself when I am using my leg.
It's there when I sit on the couch.
It's nagging at me when I am lying in bed, so that I toss and turn and can't get comfortable.
Pain has become my ever-present friend.
Not really interesting enough to talk about unless someone happens to ask me, "How is your leg?"
Then, when I tell them, I sense that it makes them uncomfortable to think about it.
I understand that. It's like when I used to watch my Mum silently wringing her hands because of arthritis pain. It used to make me almost angry because I couldn't do anything about it. I didn't want to think about it. Now I have my own arthritis pain and somehow it's easier.
But for me, strangely, pain has become my constant companion. It tells me I am still here, still fighting the good fight to get back to what I once was. So I don't hate it. I'm not even angry about it.

Then, suddenly, about two days ago, I noticed that my ankle hardly hurts any more.
My hip doesn't hurt when I walk.
Not even up the crazy hills this morning, thank you Brenda.
Was it the upward-facing dog that I finally pulled off in yoga class on Tuesday evening?
Or was it just persistence and the healing power of time?
I don't know.

But I think I like it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

This I love...

One of the best things about spending a good part of my life teaching people of various talent and willingness to play the piano, is that eventually I got to teach my own grand-daughter.
Somehow, it's much easier than when I taught my four children.

McKenzie listens to me.
She has conversations about why she likes this piece and why that one is hard.
She hums along to the songs she likes.
She is polite.
She loves me.
We don't yell at each other.

I am always second-guessing myself on my parenting. I wish I had done "this" better, or not done "that" at all. Piano lessons were a kind of microcosm of our relationships with each other. And while I am sure my kids would have their own versions of why taking piano lessons from Mom was horrible, it was partly those experiences that got us to where we are today. Now we can (mostly) laugh about it.

And while they don't all play the piano today, they all found instruments to love and music is a big part of their lives.

So there must have been something good.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


We spent the weekend in Southern California with Charlie.
We flew JetBlue, my new favourite airline.
They serve SNACKS.
As many as you want.
The blue potato chips are particularly scrumptious.

On Saturday, Adam and Shelley (Charlie's new surrogate parents) took us on an adventure. We test-drove one of these.
It's called a SPYDER.

Here's the proof.

We each had our own bike and rode in a convoy, up in the hills above Temecula, for about 30 minutes.
It was absolutely STOOPENDOUS!

Jeff always said he would never buy a motorbike.

Then a few years ago he allowed as he might be talked into a trike.

Do we see a pattern here?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More Good News

Got this in my Inbox today from Ode.

"Stem cells have the potential to be turned into any tissue, including heart cells, making the growth of 'spare parts' a possibility.

Scientists have found a way to make an almost limitless supply of stem cells that could safely be used in patients while avoiding the ethical dilemma of destroying embryos.

In a breakthrough that could have huge implications, British and Canadian scientists have found a way of reprogramming skin cells taken from adults, effectively winding the clock back on the cells until they were in an embryonic form.

The work has been hailed as a major step forward by scientists and welcomed by pro-life organizations, who called on researchers to halt other experiments which use stem cells collected from embryos made at IVF clinics."

If you want to read the whole article go to

Gol-ly, maybe President Bush had it right, we don't need embryonic stem cells after all. Betcha won't hear that tomorrow from our revered leaders.

And these, folks, are the little beauties themselves.

This makes me happy (edited)

I love it when Joshua visits for the day.
He has a precocious ability to put puzzles together.
His favourite puzzle this week is Happy Feet, which says, in flowing, sparkly letters, "I'm singing with my feet."

I, of course, put it to song.

"I'm siiiinging with my feet!"
(Think, "Siiiinging in the rain")
"That's right!"

So Joshie sings, "I'm siiiiinging with my peet!"
"Dat's right!"

Nana: "I'm siiiinging with my feet!"

Josh: "No, Nana, PEET!"



Monday, March 2, 2009

Good stuff

One of the things that gets me through the day in these slightly trying times is reading about good things that other people are doing. One of my main sources is Ode magazine. Ode is the magazine for intelligent optimists. I like that term, "intelligent optimists." I have often described myself as a "cynical optimist," but that is a discussion for another time.
Admittedly, the Ode can be a little kooky. For instance, it contains ads for cigarettes made with organic tobacco. What? And GreenSingles dating. And my personal favourite, "6 great ways to win an argument." Only six? But it is full of inspiring stories about ordinary people who have become extraordinary by following their passion in a way that makes a positive contribution to the world. Like Willie Smits, who started out rescuing one orangutan from a rubbish heap and ended up.....well, you go read the article here

One of my immediate travel goals is to visit the reserve's lodge in Indonesia and volunteer.
You can sign up for good news every day at

Check this one out: Someone had the brilliant idea of giving solar cookers to African women in refugee camps so that they didn't have to go out collecting firewood. When they left the camp they risked rape and even murder. Such a simple solution - free power, no rape, no murder.

Do you know any good news? Leave it in the comments section. And for you lurkers who never say anything, all you have to do is sign up for a Google account and you can leave as many adoring comments as you like.
Does anybody know how to make links instead of web addresses? I can't seem to figure it out.