Archive for June, 2011

Disconnected. And Grandma’s Marathon.


Through a series of half-understood conversations and well-placed phone calls, I managed to disconnect my computer from the internet. Not just with a cord, but by calling my internet service provider and telling them I wished to cancel my account. I thought I was simply canceling a mailbox that collected spam and porn, but I actually canceled my internet access. Imagine my surprise one Tuesday night when I came home and was unable to get online. And you can’t just call them back and say “Just kidding,” which makes you look like a bigger jackass than you already are, so I called Qwest and it took them one week and two visits to get me back online. But hey. Here we are. Seven times faster. (Possibly seven times more expensive.)

But here is the wisdom I gleaned from my week without internet access, those long boring days when my body would drift to the computer and stare at the blank screen, willing it to just turn on! If I could share any piece of advice with you, it would be this: If you don’t want to cancel your internet service, do not call your internet service provider and ask them to cancel your account.

There it is. Read it and learn.

On a happier topic, last Saturday was the running of the 2011 Grandma’s Marathon, in which one niece, one nephew, and two niece’s husbands ran, along with some folks from the office and other friends and thousands of runners from around the world. It was a cold, rainy icky day, especially because I got up at 4 a.m. to prepare the annual “Eat & Go” breakfast, where a bunch of us eat breakfast stuff and mosey on down to London Road to watch the half marathoners fly past.

I think that is my niece Heather looking our way, next to the oblivious guy in the white tee shirt.

Here’s my beautiful great-niece Gabriella and her equally beautiful dad, Mike. Mike had just run the half marathon and Gabby was admiring his finisher ribbon. Someone down the street had given her a black balloon, which didn’t seem too festive, but hey: she’s 13 months old. What does she care?

Here’s a whole bunch of runners at 43rd Avenue East. I probably don’t know any of them. I think the picture was a mistake. It was cold.

My beautiful niece Katie is holding Gabby on her shoulders, while Gabby’s Grandma Paula warms her hands on a coffee mug. I think Gabby was wondering why we were all standing under the trees in the rain. It must have seemed pointless to her.

About half a block from us, a group of young people set up a band and entertained the crowds. They were pretty good!

Although the runners are a long way off, my brother-in-law Chuck (in camouflage, though we could all easily see him…how are ducks fooled?) was ready with the cow bell. Just in case! Behind him is Heather’s husband Mike, and next to him, Mike’s dad, Jerry.

I’m a terrible photographer, I know. For years I’ve blamed it on the camera, but let’s face it: I’m just not good with picture taking.

After the half marathon we came back to my house to warm up with coffee and leftover breakfast stuff, and then went back down to London Road to watch the runners who ran the full 26.2 miles, like my niece Heather. I don’t know how they do it.

Later in the afternoon we all congregated at my sister Be’s house, where she always has the Marathon after-party, which is lots of fun. The runners are there with their friends and spouses and parents, relatives abound, little kids, one pretty spotted dog. My brother-in-law grilled hamburgers, brats and tuna steaks. Plenty of salads and desserts and a lot of laughter.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Glad to be back. It was a long, lonely week without internet access. It forced me to give up my dreams of becoming Amish.

Since Last I Writ. And Radish Dip.


There’s a funny line in a not-so-funny movie (“State and Main”) where one of the characters careens down a road and smashes his car into a telephone pole. The scene is quiet for a while until he pulls himself out of the car and cheerfully announces, “Well, that happened.”

That’s kind of how I feel about my life since I last wrote. Too much going on, too much to catch up on, too many things that happened that I forgot to jot down or write about, and now I’m in the process of forgetting most of it so I will have room in my brain to remember some new things for a few days. Hopefully I will write about those things so they aren’t lost, too.

I am planning a trip to South Dakota later this month, to Deadwood, because after watching the series I want to see the town and especially the graves of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. I’d also like to see Ian McShane, but that’s a whole other story. I haven’t taken an “away” vacation for a long time, so I sort of want to get in the car and drive off somewhere interesting. By “planning,” I mean to say that I looked at a road atlas.

One thing that didn’t happen was The Rapture, though I was not expecting it and didn’t give away my money or my car, as if anyone would have the latter. I remember the last Rapture that also didn’t happen, and this one was pretty similar, except I’m older now.

I signed up to do some hospice volunteer work (my friend Kim compares this to an episode of “Ellen” where she also did some hospital work) but the woman who trains volunteers is out of work recovering from knee surgery, which is interesting to me because my left knee is killing me, so that’ll give us something to chat about. “Speaking of hospice work, did I tell you about the arthritis in my knee?” Oh, yeah.

Read a bunch of good books: “The Road,” which made me cry, and “Dirty Secret,” about a hoarder in Minneapolis. Also Augusten Burroughs’ books “A Wolf at the Table” and “Running With Scissors,” both very good. Now reading “A Strange Piece of Paradise,” about the two young women who were biking across America in the 70s and were attacked in Oregon by an axe-wielding creep. I saw the author on television a few weeks ago and was impressed with her eloquence. I often wonder if tragedy makes one eloquent, which often seems to be the case, and which seems more likely than tragic things only happening to eloquent people.

Had friends over for dinner, went to friends’ houses for dinner, went out to eat with friends, had a Memorial Day picnic at my house last weekend. Tis the season. Great to see everyone; fun to spend time with people who can make you laugh, and so nice that we finally have warm weather.

At the picnic, my brother-in-law Lenny showed us a “What is this?” thing that he bought at an auction, and my friend Jean thought it was a good candidate for the “Faces in Places” website. So here it is:

Here’s a picture of two of my beautiful nieces, Courtney and Katie. Courtney is due to deliver any day now. I just saw her on Saturday and she looks radiant and not at all like someone who will never get another peaceful night’s rest until the year 2029:

Here’s my sweet sweet sweet great-niece, Gabriella, whose parents are so destitute that the only toy they can afford is this empty salad container from Super One.

And here’s a recipe for a radish/cream cheese dip that is great for parties. It’s pretty, it’s easy to make, and it’s just right for summer when radishes are plentiful and not very expensive. I got this recipe from my sister Kim in 1985. Not sure where she got it. Stolen, probably.

Radish Cream Cheese Dip

1-8 oz package cream cheese

1/4 cup softened butter

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1 cup finely chopped radishes

dash of paprika

1/2 tsp worcesterchire sauce (I doubt you’d miss it if you didn’t add it)

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

Mix the cream cheese, butter, celery salt, paprika and Worc. sauce until smooth. Stir in the radishes and onions. Chill several hours or overnight. You could shape it into a ball, but that’s hard work. Put it in a pretty bowl and get out some of those little decorative spreader knives you got as a wedding gift but never knew what to do with. This is a chunky dip so you’ll need some sturdy crackers, like Ry-Krisp. (Not my friend Kim’s horse, but the kind you buy in the grocery store.)

Happy Sunday!