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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mind Games: The Good Kind

After watching this clip of the products of our Unionized American Education system. It reminded me of "The Night of the Living Dead". Brain dead zombies who only want to destroy the living. The scary thing is that these brain dead zombies actually VOTE and make decisions that affect the rest of us. Be very afraid.

I appreciate my parents more and more every day. They taught us to think, reason and to learn.

A quick background:

When I was a child, we traveled the US. Traveled, A LOT. My parents, myself and my younger brother. We were basically gypsies and lived in a trailer that we hauled behind a string of station wagons.

Here is a photo of the trailer in the background.

I think we were in San Antonio at the time. My brother was very much into Davy Crockett (can you tell?) and we were going to the Alamo. Nice bangs, huh? Hair cutting might not have been my mother's forte.

The traveling was for my parents' jobs. They were both Union Printers back when printing was a highly skilled occupation. Today, anyone who can use a word processor and a keyboard can work in the industry. Back then, it was hot lead type and required math skills.

As Union card holders, they could "pull a traveling card". This meant that you could go into any newspaper and see if anyone was looking for a "sub". This means that the permanent employee would like to take his vacation or some extra time off, and then my parents could step in and work in their place. As a result of this lifestyle we moved from town to town and my brother and I went to many different schools in a year. I remember, and have been told, at least 8 in my second grade year.

In the 50's traveling in the car wasn't entertaining or really much fun. No air-conditioning. AM Radio with spotty reception. No seat belts. Traveling through Arizona on Route 66 for the fourth or fifth time, with two irritable fighting children in the back seat, my parents must have been out of their minds. To beat the heat, we used a window hung evaporative cooler (like the one in the photo) and hung canvas bags of water in front of the radiator to keep the car from boiling over. My parents would take turns driving and would place wet towels on the arm that was exposed to the blistering sun to keep from blistering themselves. entertain us and try to keep our collective sanity, we played "Mind Games", sang songs in rounds and in harmony and we practiced our reading skills on road signs and of course Burma Shave signs.

One of the favorite Mind Games was: "I'm Thinking of a Thing".

You had to specify it was Animal, Mineral, or Vegetable or a blend of the three Then the game was to ask questions that could only be answered by Yes or No. It really made us think and think logically. We could while away hours playing this game.

If the thing was "A Mink Coat", it was Animal.
"is it a living animal" No
"is it a part of an animal" Yes
"do we have one of these" No
"does anyone we know have one" Yes

And so on, until we guessed it or gave up and the person won that round. My brother was really good at picking things that we could never ever guess. A feather.

My mother or father would read stories to us during these long long drives and read from historical novels and text books and we would discuss, ask questions and absorb the information like the little mind sponges that children are. We played a game where we would add up the numbers on the license plates ahead of us and see who got the right answer first. My mother usually won because the rest of us are math challenged. We would name the animals that we have seen and see who got the most between towns. Who could spot the most cars from different States. My brother and I, take turns reading the road signs. And when we were all tired out, climb over the back seat and go to sleep on the pillows and blankets in the back of the wagon. I imagine that was a huge relief for my parents. Blessed silence.

Every day, I thank my parents for giving me a really unique and wonderful childhood and encouraging us to learn and to think.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Martin Guitars: A GREAT Company

I just discovered that the guitar that I bought, well actually my father bought, for me in 1967 is still under warranty 43 years later. Now this is a true and lasting value from a great American company. need to do the math...OK.

My father bought a guitar for me to replace the Gibson that I had been playing for several years. The Gibson was stolen in 1966 and I was very bummed out. You could say those words with a straight face in 1966. Bummed out. I had been playing for some time and had taken lessons in a store in the San Jose general area from a guy who was about 8 years or so older than me at the time, he also gave my Dad some lessons too. He turned out to be someone famous. One day in San Francisco, I was at a concert and saw him playing with a group. Jefferson Airplane. You might have heard of him Jorma Kaukonen. So cool. I hadn't had lessons in quite a few years by then but I still remembered him as Jerry that kind of cute but much much older than me guy who could play the guitar pretty good and tried to teach me a few chords. who made that name up?

Sooooo anyway. Back to the guitar. I had just turned 17. (I told you DON'T do the math.) Since I was playing in front of larger crowds by this time, doing USO shows as well as gigs in auditoriums and other large venues we decided to step up to a bigger box guitar. A Martin D-18. Dreadnought. I loved that guitar. What a sound! I continued to play and sing for some years and performed in coffee houses and cocktail lounges in the Bay Area and other places, sometimes in a group or as a solo act doing blues, soft rock and folk gigs. I even took my guitar to Ireland and England for a summer with a girl friend who had a boyfriend there and we sang and played our way around the country. I was into Irish music at that particular time.

After a few more years and having moved around a lot, college, working, marriage, a family. I gradually gave up playing so much and eventually I put the Martin in the case and just brought it out occaisonally and then rarely.

Over time the tension on the strings of any guitar will cause the neck to bend a bit and lift the strings from the frets so that the action is not as low as it should be. It makes it hard to play on the upper frets and bar cords become troublesome. Especially for hands that are .....well....seasoned. My Martin was no different.

The neck has to be reset completely. Possibly the bridge lowered. In addition over time the pick guard lifted a bit and created a crack. Plus the neck arch makes it very difficult to tune. The cost to repair would be huge. I was very "bummed out".

Through some conversations on the net....I discovered that the Martin Company has a lifetime warranty if you are the original owner. GET OUT!! Really??? Yes, really.

How fantastic is that? How cool is this? All I had to do was prove that I was the original owner. Each Martin has its own serial number. However, it wasn't registered when bought and has never been registered.

"Do I have the original receipts?" they asked.
"You have to be joking!" I said.

"Do you have any photos of you playing it when new?"
"Why.... yes I do!"

Age 17 at Fort Ord...I think.

The upshot is: I now have a warranty and on my way to visit family for Christmas, I'm taking the Martin to a repair shop in Palo Alto to be fixed. FREE!!!

So exciting to be able to play again. I can't wait.

Is Martin a great company or what?

Me at age 14 playing the Gibson

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Obama Wants Moms To Go To School

Every morning my home page comes up with various panes that contain news, weather and of course.....advertising. For the last several months it is all about Obama.
Obama wants us to get new house loans. Obama want us to go back to school.

So this morning I see THIS.

WOAH!!! They must have some butt ugly Moms in Alabama.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Uh Oh. The Secret Is Out.

Now I've done it. Exposed myself.

I gave directions, from my perch on the couch, to hubby on how to cook the chicken. He went to the store and bought one of those bags of Cesar Salad mix and decided to make some instant mashed potatoes to go with the chicken thighs.

We have a friend who is just now single again. (Divorce) He is hopeless in the kitchen but he told my hubby that instant mashed potatoes were easy to make. Dumbplumber said: "If Don can do it, so can I."

So....he lined the roasting pan with foil, rubbed the thighs with Dijon Mustard, sprinkled each one with some brown sugar, salt and pepper and put them in the oven at 350 for 35 minutes, then sprinkled the thighs with bread crumb, turned up the heat to 450 for 15 minutes. Made the salad. Read the instructions on the mashed potato packet.

He had some questions like:

He: "How the hell do I know what 2 tablespoons of butter are?"
Me: "It says it on the butter wrapper"
He: "There isn't a wrapper!! Now what?"
Me: "About an inch and half of the stick" (He's very good with measurements)

"Where is the sauce pan?"
"Under the left side of the stove on the lower shelf"
"There are three!! Which one do I use."
"Hold them up so I can see>--->> that one....Oh and be sure to use the lid."
"Grumble grumble"

"Where did you hide the bread crumbs?"
"On the lazy suzan in the lower cabinet next to the right side of the stove. Its in a blue kind of can."

It was actually kind of funny. All strange territory for him, trying to find things. Just about as lost as I feel in his workshop if I have to find a tool.

When dinner came was GREAT. He said. "Wow. This isn't hard. Its a snap." Very proud of himself. Rightly.

Now I'm exposed. The secret is out. Cooking really isn't that hard.

However, his next statement was.

"Hurry and get well, I'm tired of being the woman in the house."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Help I've Fallen and I'm Trapped in the Living Room

Well, I really did it, this time. I fell on the steps in our sunken living room and cracked one ankle and severely sprained the other.

I tripped on my pajama bottoms while turning on the stairs to grab the television remote. I was just about to sit down an enjoy a really bad B- movie, when......wham.....missed that bottom step.

You know how you take some things for granted. Mobility is one of those. We have a sunken living room attached to the home office/guest room which has (Thank GOD) a full bathroom. Now I'm trapped in that area because I can't climb the stairs to the rest of the house while using crutches yet. My world has now shrunk for the next few days, maybe a week. They don't think I need a walking cast, just stay off of the feet for a while....oh and stay off of the stairs.

I guess it could be worse. I could have broken an arm, hip or something really serious.

So in the meantime, I get to work from home. Sitting in front of the computer with my feet on a pillow, popping a pain pill or two. I'm also getting a lot done on my knitting projects and reading that has stacked up not to mention a probably marathon session of World of Warcraft later today.

My hubby, "The Dumbplumber", has really stepped up to the plate. He has learned how to make coffee (we make it from fresh ground whole beans) and swears that he will promptly forget this skill as soon as I am better. Until we got the crutches from a friend, he was my crutch helping to the bathroom and back to the couch. Since the kitchen is in the upper level, he also gets to play Stepinfetchit, bringing me dinner, coffee, clothes, pillows, books and of course water for the pain pills.

We were planning, before my gymnastics on the stair, to have fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and salad, followed by his favorite, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Ah well. I informed him that I would now teach him how to roast a chicken and make roasted yams. The salad he can already do. He swears to forget these skills too. Actually if it weren't snowing, Mr. Plumber can barbeque a mean steak and he isn't half bad on breakfast either. He made us scrambled eggs with mushrooms, bacon, english muffins and quartered oranges. And later today said he would clean the kitchen and so some laundry.

Hmmmm.... I wonder how far I can push this being waited upon thing? Not too far I think.

Seriously. I miss walking.