Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Forest Hill


Let’s say you broke your hip 5 months ago, and you are eager to walk less like Frankenstein’s monster and more like your old self, and you know you have to do your exercises and do a lot of walking to get stronger and faster…. Oh, let’s just say it’s ME, because of course it is.

I try to get outside each day to walk a bit, but I’m still a little unsteady on my feet. I often feel that bumping into someone or something could send me sprawling (been there, done that) and so I’m cautious of crowds and uneven ground just now.

Sidewalks seem treacherous to me these days, fraught with all sorts of things to trip me up. Cracked concrete, pebbles or gravel, uneven pavement. It gives me the heebie-jeebies. The Lakewalk is nice and smooth, but I currently walk at a snail’s pace, and would be passed by bikes, strollers, joggers, kids on skateboards, dogs on leashes, and other things that might sneak up behind me and throw off my concentration. Walking is serious business these days.

But I’ve managed to find the perfect places to walk: Cemeteries. Aside from the bucolic setting and historical headstones, lush green grass and beautiful old trees, cemeteries are generally free of bikes, dogs, walkers, runners and crowds. They are peaceful and serene. Of course if you manage to actually fall, you’re completely on your own.

How many ghosts does it take to…. Well.

At Forest Hill in Duluth, the scenery is breathtaking and you can walk long stretches (if you count one block as a long stretch) without being accosted by pitfalls. Earlier this month, all the ducks and geese and other quacking critters were on the ponds, showing off their babies. What a sight! So glad I had taken my camera.

Go have a look when you have time.

Take bread.


Baby ducklings out for a swim.

Mom (or dad, I can never tell) keeps a watchful eye on the babies.

“Take a picture. It’ll last longer.

And so I did.

Furnish Your Home. Free!


Still getting your furniture the old fashioned way, like going to a store and putting out MONEY for it? Sister, please. Here in Duluth, you can get all the furniture you want absolutely free!

Some examples shown below. Driving around town one day, I found all these pieces just ripe for the taking. Sure, a few stitches may be needed here and there, a coat of paint, some duct tape, perhaps, but you’re a handy, creative type, and soon you’ll have more stuff than you know what to do with.

Free furniture in Duluth.

Bring a truck!






A Tiny Mystery Guest.


Speaking of waving, this morning I found this tiny perfect paw print on my front steps. Not two prints, or dozens, but just this one, in the melting snow. A squirrel? A raccoon? The Easter Bunny? I couldn’t match it up with any print I found online.

I should have put something next to the print so you could see the size of it, but the entire thing was about the size of a quarter.

An alien?

I’m guessing it was probably a very very tiny person coming to visit; one who could not quite make it up the stairs.

What do you think?


Useful Phrases for the Everyday Loser.


As someone who watches a lot of daytime court programs, I’m continually amazed at the number of people who don’t mind admitting they borrowed $500 but don’t want to pay it back (“He continues to harass me, so I don’t feel I owe him anything.”) or who will hire a contractor and decide to not pay him (“I didn’t realize what I was signing.”) or who will rent a car for one week and keep it for 3 months. (“I needed it to get to work.”)

Not only are these witless fops proud to go on television to demonstrate their lack of common morality, but they have developed several lines which they invariably use at the end of each trial. I’m gonna tell you what they are, so you can down a shot every time you hear them. Which will be often, so if your own constitution is questionable, avoid alcoholism and just use coffee, like I do.

Here are the daily Loser Statements that are brief but pack a thoughtful punch:

“I’m just glad it’s over.”

“He’s just jealous because I have a new boyfriend.”

“It is what it is.” (Most common Loser Phrase, used when all else fails.)

Daytime TV. You gotta love it.


So Long, Cecil.


This is not Cecil. Or is it?

Until about a month ago, I’d never heard of Cecil, the Zimbabwe lion. But I am sorry he is dead.

Likewise, I’d never heard of the Minnesota dentist who paid close to $53,000 for the privilege of killing one of these magnificent beasts, and who perhaps unwittingly killed Cecil. My feeling is that this fellow, like Donald Trump, has more money than common sense, which is a always a bad combination.

Unless you are being pursued or attacked by a lion, I don’t see much point in killing them. The way things are going, they may be extinct one day without our help. So Cecil is dead, the dentist closed his business and was in hiding, and the world is in up in arms over the whole ugly affair.

I have to ask myself: where did all this outrage come from? As an animal lover and a human being, it pains me to hear when an animal is killed, especially in a gruesome way such as Cecil’s death. (Allegedly shot with a bow and arrow and then tracked for an hour before being shot to death.) In my dotage, I find it hard to set out mouse traps or even kill those spiders that show up in the bath tub from time to time. Life is life, whether it’s an ant or a lion, and it’s generally our duty to protect it.

But this outrage seems out of scale to me. You can’t turn on TV or a radio or look online these days without seeing discussions about it. Hateful discussions, in some cases calling for the death of the dentist. The director of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) “jokingly” suggested the dentist be hanged. Most everyone’s got an opinion, including me. I’m not a Facebooker or Twitterer or Instagrammer or any of those other socially interactive er-things, and I avoid anonymous discussions where people’s suggestions can often seem much more horrifying than the death of Cecil.

So here’s my question: Where is this outrage for the daily horrors of the lives of ordinary citizens? Where is the outrage for people living in war torn countries? Where is the outrage for the Syrians who are fleeing their homes and trying to find shelter in other countries? Where is the outrage for children who go to bed hungry or cold or frightened? Where is the outrage for the disenfranchised elderly, often warehoused alone and lonely until death? Where is the outrage for the thousands of Americans who were shot to death from towers, in shopping malls, watching a movie, or standing on a street corner?

Come on, fer chrissakes. All this energy directed toward the misguided dentist could be put to good use. This is America. We know how to get things done, don’t we? Let’s let the courts deal with the dentist, if need be, and use this outrage to fix the things that need fixing, right here at home.

Cecil is dead, and he’s not coming back. That is a difficult story, but the damage has been done. Let’s turn our attention to the homeless, the hungry, the disenfranchised among us. THAT is something that deserves our outrage and action.

Let’s get to it. Let’s stop thinking of ways to punish one man for his bad judgement, and let’s start working to make things better for all living creatures. Even dentists.

The Sad Story of Bowe Robert Bergdahl


In an Email message the other day, my friend Quinn commented that probably 95% of Americans know what Kim Kardashian had for dinner, but they have no idea about the situation involving Bowe Bergdahl.

My immediate thoughts were this:

1) She probably had sex for dinner, which seems to be her only claim to fame.

2) Who the heck is Bowe Bergdahl?

Since Quinn is a former soldier and veteran of the war in Iraq, and since our conversation was generally about the Wounded Warrior Project, my curiosity was piqued. I immediately turned to Google, and was stunned by Bergdahl’s story.

Bowe Bergdahl is a 27 year old former farm boy from Idaho who joined the U.S. Army in 2009. That much I know for sure. What happened after that is a story of wild online speculation, just like the story of the Kardashians, but infinitely more interesting. Bergdahl was called to service, and he went. He was stationed in Afghanistan, and after becoming disenchanted with US policy and the things he saw happening, he chose to walk away. He gathered his stuff together one fine day, and he left. Shortly afterward, he was captured by the Taliban (a word that puts an icy grip on any heart) and has been held prisoner since that day.

Nothing is ever that simple, of course, and the details of his life and inner workings of his mind are unknown to me.

At some online sites, he is labeled a traitor and an anti-American crackpot who ended up exactly where he belongs and got what he deserved. More sites side with Bergdahl, and many are signing petitions while others are working harder to get him back to America.

I asked Quinn, who has served in Iraq, what his thoughts were about Bergdahl. He’s read a lot of the same things I found.

“Who is the real traitor?” Quinn asks. “I feel it is the U.S. for not bringing him home yet. I believe most everything said about him has been propaganda. If it is true that he is helping train the enemy, he probably has no choice. Nobody can judge Bergdahl unless they are in his shoes.”

My own thought is less complicated: He is an American. He belongs in America. We can deal with the rest once we get him back.

Does Bergdahl have psychological problems? Surely by this time he must, whether he had them in the beginning or not. His own father is quoted as saying Bergdahl was “psychologically isolated.” Couldn’t the same be said for many of us? What does it even mean, given Bergdahl’s actions? How might any of us react in the same situation?

You can find a million links to Bowe Bergdahl online, and you can make your own decision. But either way, I hope you will make his name known to everyone around you, who may not have heard about the one lone young American who, to this day, remains the only American prisoner left in Iraq or Afghanistan.

* * * * *

Much of the information I used here was taken from a June 21, 2012, Rolling Stone article written by Michael Hastings and Matthew Farwell.

You can read the entire story here:

A “Support Bowe” site can be found here:

The photos I used were taken from various Google’d sites.

Strange Go-Togethers.


Cleaning out the refrigerator this afternoon, I came across the world’s strangest carrot, at the very bottom of the vegetable bin. Had to share!

Then I figured, hey. What goes with a strange carrot better than a goofy rabbit? So here’s the chalkware Bugs Bunny that I found at auction a few weekends ago. I love this guy!

So that’s my quick entry for tonight. More to say (some heavy stuff next time, I think) but for now, a goofy carrot and a wascally wabbit, and best wishes for a happy and safe holiday weekend!

The Joy of Time


Remember that book from the ’70s, The Joy of Sex? I remember it well, mostly because I just found my copy in my kitchen on the cookbook shelf. How it got there I do not know. I may have thought it was The Joy of Cooking, or maybe I am just way more messed up than I give myself credit for.

Anyway, the book was filled with a lot of pencil and charcoal sketches of couples in various nude poses, doing what people do when they are together with their clothes off. It was sort of an instructional book, I suppose, one more in a series of self-help books from that era letting you know that no matter how you were doing it, you just weren’t doing it right.

But I digress.

I’d like to write my own book: The Joy of Time. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, since I now have so much of it to do with as I please. Since I’m not a sketch artist, I’d probably have to rely on the work of others. (Thank you, Google!) I’ve already depleted my limited artistic skills to design the cover, though.

If you are unemployed and have some sort of income that will let you keep body and soul together, and while you are looking for work or suddenly find yourself retired, you also suddenly have the joy of time. It’s a marvelous thing. Time. The time to do whatever you want, when you want to do it, with whom you care to do it, or the choice to not do it at all, and simply take a nap.

Remember when you are at work and it’s after lunch and the office is dim and warm, and you think boy, a nap would be great right about now? Well, it is. It’s just as great as you imagined it, and in all likelihood, about 20 times better. A little snooze in the middle of the day. Heaven! And if you have some of those Sleeper Cats in the house, as I do, so much the better.

And throw out that pesky alarm clock. You don’t need it! You’re at the stage again when there is only one 7:00 in your day.

Remember all those things you said you’d do when you had time, like clean out the silverware drawer or rearrange your closet or haul a bunch of stuff to Goodwill or change the furniture around in your bedroom? No longer a “some day” dream, but luxurious time to do accomplish all those things.

Maybe you’d like to try out some new recipes? You can do that. (Not the ones from The Joy of Sex, which you may find on your cookbook shelf, though of course you can do those, too. It’s less fattening.)

Or maybe you want to meet some friends for lunch. Go! Eat! Fly, little bird!

You can grocery shop early in the morning, late at night, on a Tuesday or Friday or when the mood hits you. You don’t have to go after work or on Saturday or Sunday. You can just go. In the middle of the morning, the aisles are all yours. You can complain to the greengrocer about the short pomegranate season. He apparently has time to listen, though he is helpless to change it.

If you decide to expand your volunteer work, you will have the time and the energy to do it. (And you should. People need you!)

You can watch all those movies you’ve been meaning to see, and you can read those books that were in your “some day” pile.

So close to the truth!

The best part of having all this time is that, should you choose, you can do absolutely nothing. When was the last time you did that?

It’s the kind of freedom everyone should have while they are young enough to enjoy it. Maybe our society is putting all its energy toward the wrong ideals? I don’t know. That’s a concept way too big for my brain. The same brain who put The Joy of Sex on my cookbook shelf, remember.

Speaking of mindless pursuits, I am off to one of those right now. Oh, the joy.

* * *

PS: The next auction drawing will be held on Thursday night, January 31. Be sure to get your name in to claim your box of auction treasures. Remember… I drive 300 miles every weekend and stand in long lines so you don’t have to. Leave your name in the comments, or Email me at You can win more than once. With my dearth of readers, your chances of winning are so, so good.

Long Time No See.


This little fellow has sat on my bookcase for years; a leftover from childhood. Corny though he may be, he originally belonged to my mother, so for me has become a treasured object solely on the basis of sentimentality.

Originally, he had a small set of eyeglasses, which I remember well. They were brown and round and had actual glass in them. Kinda like this.

During childhood (mine, not his) the glasses were broken and thrown away, a confession I heard from my sister Kim last week. I suppose it was one of those childhood things you just have to do, like the time I poked pinholes in the nostrils of my mom’s Southern Belle painting.

Satan. It’s the only logical explanation.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally tried to replace those glasses. I would find doll glasses at yard sales, or wire glasses in craft shops, and bring them home and try them on, all to no avail. The very last pair I tried was so ridiculously wrong that even the gnome laughed. But he wore them for a few years, uncomplaining as gnomes are, I guess.

The wrong glasses:

Maybe it wasn’t all that important. If you are on the same page for 50+ years, perhaps ill-fitting glasses are not your problem.

But to get back on point: Last weekend Kim and I were at an auction, where she purchased a box of Christmas junk on one of those “end of the table” sales. She had her eye on one thing, and when she retrieved that, she sent the rest of the stuff home with me.

So I was meticulously going through the box (because you never know what you’ll find in one of them) and there, among the garlands and plastic flowers and a knot of ornament hangers, there at the very bottom of the box, I found them. The gnome glasses. I couldn’t wait to see if they’d fit him.

They did!

They fit!

And doesn’t he even look happier? (True, somewhere along the line his face was broken and poorly put together by someone else who probably needed glasses, but nonetheless, the glasses fit. Let’s try to stay on topic.)

And by the way, here’s what he’s reading:

It just goes to show ya: You never know what you’ll find at the bottom of a box of auction junk.


So what are you going to find at the bottom (or middle or top) of your auction box? Don’t forget to sign up for the drawing, so you can win some treasures of your own. Obviously it won’t be the little pair of gnome glasses, but it might just be something you’ve been trying to find for many years.

Here’s hoping!

LOST: My job.


For reasons I do not fully comprehend, our already downsized company decided to downsize once again, and about half of our overworked 28 person staff was let go. This time, I was one of the “let go.”

Once the shock of the news wore off, the 12 of us continued on for two more weeks, knowing that the end was near. It is hard to be a productive employee when you know your days are severely numbered, but we soldiered on and did what we had to do.

Our last day of work was a disappointing end to our careers, which is my one regret about being pushed out of the company where I’d worked for more than 30 years. Without notice, we were all locked out of our computer systems, including Email and server access. Nobody “in charge” showed up to say goodbye and good luck. I guess when you’re in management, you can come in when you damn well feel like it, and saying goodbye to your employees didn’t seem like a good enough reason to make an appearance.

So we milled around for a while, said our goodbyes, and walked out.

Not quite the way I envisioned the end of my copywriting career, but there you have it. No gold watch, no going away celebration, no “thanks for everything” speech, no cake, no nothing. Just a bunch of people who had put in many years of service, and while the expression “shown the door” is generally used in these situations, we were not even shown the door. We were summarily ignored. We turned in our ID badges and we went home.

For most of this group, there is the agony of finding new work in a town that does not have a lot of employment opportunities to offer. Fortunately we are able to collect unemployment, but that may only last 6 months, and after that… I don’t know what happens after that.

For one of us (me, the old copywriter) life is a little better. I can collect unemployment. I will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare in a few months. I have some retirement savings. I also have a home mortgage to pay, but I do not have a lot of debt.

One of the first things I did upon hearing the news was to create a budget. I have created budgets all through my working life, but rarely paid much attention to them. The bills got paid, some money was put into savings, and the rest went wherever it went. Not a great way to live, but hey: It was fun.

These days, a budget matters. I am now living on approximately half of what I was earning, so it is critical to pay the bills, keep something for savings, and hope that there are no emergencies or disasters that befall me any time soon. I do not have health insurance as of this writing. Fortunately I only use one prescription each month, and I’ve discovered that Wal Mart is the cheapest carrier of this drug, so I’ve said goodbye to Walgreen’s for now.

Life marches on.

I have written about corporate greed before; about executive decision makers who care about nothing but getting more and more and more, no matter what the cost, and how greed propels them to things that may have been unthinkable when they started out. Most would not recognize “enough” if it bit them in the ass, which it already has but nobody jumped. Outsourcing (or as I like to call it, The Devil in America) seems to be the altar at which they worship, and as long as their pockets are deeply lined, everything seems peachy.

You only have to lose your job once to figure out how un-peachy it all is.

So if you are working for a large corporation and begin to hear the word “outsourcing,” which is business-speak for “f**k you,” update your resume immediately. Keep your eyes peeled for a new career path. You’re gonna need it.

Next I will write about the joys of retirement, but for now, I’m gonna burn some sage and cleanse my senses.

Hang in.