Oct. 2 11:00 a.m.

Happy Oktoberfest! Celebrating Oktoberfest usually involves a polka band, but last night we were treated to Banjofest!

My husband, a houseguest and I had dinner at Harry’s Hofbrau, a popular local eatery, and while we dined on non-German food, we enjoyed the music of a group called “Happy Banjos.” Although I am not a big fan of the banjo (too happy for me; I prefer more morose sounding instruments like the oboe), I really enjoyed the music and watching the band members have so much fun.

The members of Happy Banjos were all senior citizens (averaging around 75 or so) and the band consisted of about a dozen banjo players, three bass players (one electric bass, two washtub basses) and a female singer. There was one lead banjo and the gentleman playing the lead was a very accomplished “banjoist” with great picking skills. All of the other banjo players were strumming most of the time (basic rhythm) but they were very serious and played well.

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I loved watching the two washtub bass players (upper left in photo below) who had such different styles — one woman played very stoically while the other woman bopped along with the music while plucking her bass with gusto.

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Harry’s was really crowded. Apparently, Happy Banjos plays every Tuesday night and the restaurant is always packed full of their elderly fans. I have never seen so much blue hair in my life (including my own).

The lead singer was excellent. She had a very low, husky voice and when she was done with her last song, I approached her to let her know how much I enjoyed her singing and her unique voice. I told her “You have such a sultry, low singing voice – very sexy, kind of like Marlene Dietrich.”

She smiled and replied “Thank you so much, but I don’t know who Marlene Dietrich is – I’ll have to get on the internet and Google her.”

I was shocked that she didn’t know who Marlene Dietrich was but then it occurred to me that I might be older than her.

I wonder if Happy Banjos might need another “senior” banjo player. Maybe I better start practicing.


Maybe not!


Serial Cannibalistic Cereal Killers?!

Sept. 19 9:15 a.m.

It’s a multiple-cup-of-coffee morning as once again I’m in a zombie like state because of insomnia last night. I was going to hit the couch but when the coffee kicked in, I decided to write instead of watching “Let’s Make a Deal” and “The Price is Right.” Yep, I’m one of those old farts who watches morning game shows but thankfully, I am not yet old enough to use a walk-in tub, Depends or Life Alert (I’m getting really sick of the walk-in tub commercials).

Speaking of commercials (I watch far too much TV), I find the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal commercials very disturbing. I just don’t want to eat anthropomorphic cereal “squares” that are cannibalistic. Who comes up with this crap?

The “square” on the right bears a striking resemblance to Miley Cyrus!

And, I’m getting really tired of Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials and the General (another auto insurance commercial); however, like the Jack-in-the-Box guy, they have become advertising icons for the companies they “represent” and unfortunately, will be around for a while.

And, lastly, when will advertisers (who most likely are men) realize that they don’t have to feature women being overly physical in tampon commercials or magazine ads? I love the commercial where the gal is diving into a pool (upside down summersault with her butt in the air) – I keep waiting for her tampon to spurt out, but of course that wouldn’t happen with that brand of tampon because of the braided string (or something else). Here is a tampon ad I found in a magazine which also irks me:

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Now, what woman, in her right mind, would wear a white bikini and play limbo while on her period (wearing a tampon of course)? When will advertisers learn that these types of ads evoke laughter or disdain instead of interest in the product?

After writing that, I am at a loss for more words, so this post will just have to be short and not so sweet. I’m getting hungry anyway — I think I’ll have some non-cannibalistic breakfast cereal . . .

Blog Blind

Aug. 23 11:30 a.m.

I’m still trying to encourage some friends and relatives to read my blog and not only haven’t they read it, I am mystified by their lack of response to my requests (via email). It’s not like I’ve been demanding at all – in fact, I’ve been very delicate about asking. Maybe I should be more assertive but I don’t want to force anyone to read what I’ve written. The only thing worse than forced writing is forced reading.

It’s almost as if my friends and relatives read the entirety of my emails except for the part that says “check out my blog at WordPress if you have a chance” (I even include the link to make it easy). They respond to most of what I’ve written in my emails except the part about my blog. I don’t get any responses like “I’ll check out your blog when I have more time,” or “I’m busy but I’ll read it soon.” It’s as if once they read the word “blog” they literally become “blog blind” and cannot read the rest of the sentence.

I’ve been trying to figure out this lack of response as I don’t really put much credence in my “blog blinded” theory. Perhaps they just don’t know how to say “I’m not interested,” or maybe they have read some of my posts, don’t like what they’ve read and don’t want to tell me. I would welcome any feedback, positive or negative, but what is really puzzling is not so much why they don’t read my blog, but why they don’t say anything at all about it.

Well, I guess I shouldn’t dwell on their lack of interest as I always have my fellow WordPress writers and a few of my friends and relatives who follow my blog and enjoy reading my posts. I just wish that more of the people who are closest to me would take the time to check it out or at least say “I’m glad you are writing again.” I know that if someone I knew asked me to read their blog, I would in an instant. Of course, I am an overly curious busy body at heart.

Well, at least the lack of response to my requests doesn’t disappoint me anymore. Now I am just downright perplexed.

Dog TV


Aug. 8 5:00 p.m.

I relaxed and watched a lot of TV this weekend, including a new Direct TV show called “Dog TV.” I was also watching “30 Days of Night,” a vampire movie, so I spent a good part of Sunday afternoon switching between the two programs (which may be why my recollection about these shows isn’t the best, although in anticipation of writing about both shows, I did take some semi-legible notes).

Dog TV certainly is a novel idea but I’m not sure I’m buying it (the concept that is). I think some dogs would just bark at Dog TV all day long. A corgi I often have for daycare barks at everything that moves on TV, mostly animals, but also the Pillsbury Doughboy and a guy who wears a termite costume for a pest control commercial. So, Dog TV definitely would not work for the corgi and its owner.

I think Dog TV could be beneficial for dogs that are alone for extended periods of time and dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, but I’m not an expert on the subject, so this is only my humble opinion. I will often leave the TV on for my dog when I’m gone for more than a few hours as I think it might be comforting; however, I have a strong suspicion that my dog just sleeps the entire time I’m away.

The creators of Dog TV do have some interesting ideas, in particular, the three major segments of programming for dogs: Stimulation, Relaxation and Sensation/Exposure. These segments are shown at various intervals during the day (apparently to coincide with a dog’s daily “rhythm”) and are typically videos of dogs or other animals playing (Stimulation), dogs or other animals resting/sleeping, waterfalls, soft music (Relaxation) and for the Sensation/Exposure segments, videos and accompanying sounds of things that may take the dog some time to adjust to such as cars/traffic, children playing, stormy weather, etc. – the goal being to desensitize the dog to these things (although it’s a good concept, I think the Sensation/Exposure segments could actually do more harm than good). Dog TV is also visually oriented for dogs (supposedly), taking in consideration their partial color blindness (how it was determined what colors dogs can or cannot see has always been a mystery to me).

In addition to the segments for dog viewing, there are tidbits about dog training, behavior, etc. for the human viewer, so I will continue to watch it until the free trial is over. Dog TV is not something I would pay for however, unless my dog wants to cough up $4.99 a month.

When I got bored with Dog TV, I’d switch back to “30 Days of Night” (referred to as 30DN as I don’t want to type it out every time). I’ve always been a sucker (no pun intended) for vampire and zombie movies. In fact, I’m looking forward to watching the movie “Zombie Women of Satan” later this week. What a concept – kind of like “Sister Wives.”

Anyway, 30DN had an intriguing premise as follows (description from Direct TV guide):

30 Days of Night: A lawman and an ever-shrinking band of survivors must fend off hungry vampires who have come to feed during an Alaskan town’s annual month of darkness.

That’s gotta be a vampire’s dream – an entire sunless month of non-stop, gluttonous blood sucking. What a great scenario — how could I resist watching this movie?!

I was expecting a campy, D-movie with lousy vampires but 30DN wasn’t that bad. The vampires were more than sufficiently creepy with dark black eyes, bloody rotten teeth and dirty, misshapen fingernails (and of course mandatory corpse-like complexions). The killing and neck sucking scenes were superb (although unlike typical vampire movies, I didn’t see any vampire deaths by a stake through the heart and now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t recall seeing any of the standard vampire props like crosses, holy water, garlic, bats and coffins). The vampires hissed and shrieked a lot and also spoke in what I believe might have been Romanian (there actually were subtitles!). Can’t get better than that.

The small town was Barrow, Alaska and “the shrinking band of survivors” were: the town sheriff (stereotypical hero), his estranged wife, a couple of relatives and a grungy stranger who had just drifted into town (horrible timing on his part). Character development was definitely lacking in this film but I did have a soft spot for the grungy drifter, who as expected was the “unlikely hero” of the movie, who of course ultimately suffered a gruesome demise at the hands (or I should say teeth) of the vampires (he killed quite a few with his snowplow before they got him). [Note: I apologize for not recalling any of the names of these individuals. I’m blaming that on the lack of character development and not on my lack of memory.]

I missed a significant portion of the movie while watching Dog TV, and when I switched back, I thought the movie was about to end. The estranged wife suggested that the sheriff should go to her mother’s house where there were grow lights (her mom was a cancer victim and was growing pot). The sheriff lured the vampires to the house, turned on a grow light when they got close but unfortunately he only managed to burn one of them because the vampires turned off the power. Very disappointing – I wanted to see more vampires sizzle under the grow lights or at least watch them get stoned.

As anticipated, the movie’s grand finale was an intense, bloody battle between the sheriff and the head vampire. The sheriff came up with a bright idea to inject himself with vampire blood in order to even up the “battlefield” and make it a competitive, kick-ass fight. Of course, the sheriff killed the head vampire (a fist through the head) and after losing their leader, the remaining vampires immediately ran off. The estranged wife and the sheriff then walked to a romantic spot to watch the sun rise. I suppose they both didn’t think about how the sun would affect the sheriff with his vampire-infused blood, and I was thinking that maybe the sheriff wouldn’t be affected by the sun since he only injected a small amount of blood. However, in the final scene of the movie, the wife is holding the sheriff in her arms and as the sun rises, his head turns into a charcoal briquet (his head also kind of looked like a big black turd). I laughed like crazy at that final scene – the movie wasn’t bad but the ending was awful! The sheriff should have gotten a blood transfusion before exposing himself to the sun or at least bit his wife, so they both could have turned into charcoal turds. Well, she was going to divorce the sheriff anyway, so she saved herself a lot of lawyer’s fees.

I went back to watching Dog TV after the movie ended to check out more of what it had to offer, but the “Relaxation” segment was on and I immediately fell asleep. I don’t know if Dog TV works for dogs, but it sure worked for me!


Kindle Bound

July 22 8:20 p.m.

Writing has eluded me as of late. OK, I have to come clean – that statement was a half truth. Now for the other half — I have been avoiding writing lately. My last WordPress post was June 23, almost a month ago, and I was going to blame my lack of writing on obssessively using my new Kindle (an early birthday present) as evidenced by the title of this post, but that’s not the truth either. God, I feel like I’m in a confessional and I’m not even Catholic. I suppose I just have accept the fact that sometimes I don’t write and not crucify myself over it, but I do.

Before I go on, I again feel the need to confess about a couple of my previous posts entitled “That Ticks Me Off,” and “Old Dog, New Trick.” Both posts were written over a decade ago for AOL Instant Novelist and recycled (edited a little) for WordPress. I’m glad I got that off my chest but you know, after finding a folder of my AOL Instant Novelist posts and reading them one night, I thought they’d be worthy of sharing on WordPress (plus I had a bad case of writer’s block at the time).

I still feel a bit guilty about doing that however and henceforth, I will admit to future “recycled” posts. I am now absolved of most of my guilt.

Long pause. The Bachelorette is on TV right now and it’s very distracting. It’s the “bachelors tell all” episode and I haven’t paid attention to any of it but it’s distracting nonetheless.

Thank God, a commercial is on and not the whining bachelors. Now I can concentrate. Somewhat . . .

I love my new Kindle. Now I can check my email without it taking 45 minutes. My computer is ancient and loaded with malware and viruses so Yahoo mail takes forever to load. Plus, when I type an email on Yahoo, it lags, so after typing a couple of sentences I have to wait a minute or two before what I’ve written appears. Very aggravating. Now I type emails on Word and copy and paste them instead of typing them on Yahoo mail or I use the Kindle to type emails, but I can’t be as verbose. It’s difficult to use a “screen keyboard” as I can’t use all my fingers. Wow, life is tough . . .

I haven’t been writing much but I have been doing a lot of reading on my Kindle lately. I just finished the book “Enslaved by Ducks” by Bob Tarte and coincidentally, I had a Bob Tarte experience last week. “Enslaved by Ducks” is about the author’s menagerie of animals, mostly birds, and last week, I rescued a young sparrow from the jaws of our cat “Domino.” Domino ran into the kitchen and instead of running right to the door to get into the garage (where we feed him), he ran under the kitchen table. I thought that was odd until my husband Mitch yelled “Domino’s got something” and I heard the dire peeping of a bird in distress. My husband is always scared to death of what Domino hunts and brings home to us, so I have to handle it.

I yelled at Domino, he dropped the bird and I immediately picked it up and ran into another room to assess the damage. The bird was young, a fledgling as evidenced by its pin feathers and some down on its stomach. He (or she – I will refer to the bird as he because I don’t want to say he/she all the time) had suffered major bodily damage and obviously mental trauma. Both feet looked mangled and one of his eyes was gray (blinded by the cat). Blinky became my new project and I immediately went to the internet for advice on how to care for him.

I put him in a small bird cage and I had found a nest in our back yard a few days prior, so I put that in the cage (he immediately hopped into the nest). I also put a t-shirt on the bottom of the cage to keep him warm. Internet searches advised that I put him in a cardboard box but I decided against that as I wanted him to have some air.

Per the advice I found on an internet wild bird rehab site, I made a mashed gruel of dog kibble (soaked in warm water), hardboiled egg and applesauce. I fed him every few hours during the day and he ate heartily the first day but I had to wrap him in a towel with just his head showing as he could not stand up on his damaged feet. The next day he cheeped for his food, ate a lot more and was able to stand on one foot. By the third day, I didn’t have to wrap him in the towel and was very encouraged because he was able to stand up to be fed (one foot was OK, the other still a bit wobbly).

When Mitch got home from work, I couldn’t wait to show him how well Blinky was doing. We went to the spare bedroom (where he was safely housed) for his late afternoon feeding and he wasn’t standing up as usual. Blinky was on his side in the corner of his cage. “He’s dead,” I screamed, picking up the stiff carcass. I cradled him in my hand, crying my eyes out.

Of course, I was devastated and thought about all the things I may have done wrong. Maybe there was too much water in the gruel (it was kind of soupy the first day) and he drowned (liquid in his lungs). Perhaps it was the dog kibble – too many additives or vitamins for a bird. Maybe I fed him too much. Then I thought about Domino. That damn cat; it was all his fault.

I was pissed at Domino but later that night, he came into the bedroom, jumped on the bed and began to knead the pillow furiously (I’ve never seen him knead so fast). He purred like a high-pitched motorboat and when I looked into his beautiful lemon/lime colored eyes, my anger about what he did to Blinky evaporated. I just wish he’d stick to hunting rodents . . .

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Our cat Domino “puts himself on a pedestal.”

Old Dog, New Trick

June 23 8:30 a.m.

We can all learn a great deal about forgiveness from “man’s best friend.”

Although a dog is often aggressive or destructive because of mistreatment, neglect or abandonment, a dog’s bad behavior is only instinctual – a “survival mechanism.” Dogs don’t resent or harbor malice. Dogs are forgiving optimists.

A dog will forgive its owner’s numerous transgressions and overwhelmingly reward its “master’s” attentiveness with unconditional love and loyalty. Dogs display melodramatic guilt when reprimanded. Cowering and passive, they seek the same forgiveness that they so willingly offer us.

Man’s best friend continually tries to teach us a new trick – forgiveness.


Tattoo Dilemma

June 9 8:30 a.m.

To tattoo or not to tattoo? That is the question on my mind as of late. I’ve always been intrigued by tattoos but never really considered getting one until my dad passed away in September of last year. I have been seriously thinking about getting a tattoo to memorialize him.

Dad had two tattoos, both of which he got while in the Navy during WWII. His first tattoo, located on his right upper arm, was a bluebird which signified having traveled over 5000 nautical miles. Dad was a radioman and gunner on a “Black Cat” PBY-5 Catalina (a plane known as “the flying boat” because it took off and landed on water) and participated in many patrol and bombing missions targeting Japanese shipping and other vessels in the waters around New Guinea and Australia. The bluebird tattoo was done while he was in a sober state of mind but his second tattoo was a different story. He and a few of his Navy buddies all got Betty Boop tattoos on their stomachs while on leave in San Diego after a long night of drinking. He woke up the next morning scratching his stomach and when he looked down, he was horrified to see Betty Boop permanently emblazoned on his belly. He regretted that tattoo at the time but had fun with it later in his life. Whenever someone commented on his Betty Boop tattoo, which stood very low on his stomach, he would say “you should see what she’s standing on!”

I immediately eschewed getting a Betty Boop tattoo because a bluebird is definitely more my style but I still have serious qualms about getting it done.

My first qualm is the pain factor. I asked a friend who has several tattoos how much it hurts and instead of telling me, she pinched my hand with her sharp fingernails (drawing blood) and said “that’s how much it hurts.” I have a small scar on my hand as a result of her demonstration but it really didn’t hurt that much when she pinched me. However, I’ve heard that the pain depends on the location of the tattoo which was my next worry.

Where should I get the tattoo? The same friend said that I should get it where I can always see it since it’s in my dad’s memory. But, I really don’t know if I want to get a tattoo where it’s visable all the time (like on my hand or forearm). I was thinking that next to my ankle would be a good spot (if that’s not a painful place to tattoo of course!).

Another consideration I had was the bluebird. I wonder if the bluebird “symbol” has any derogatory or weird meanings. I will make it a point to do a Google search on bluebirds. Also I will have to decide on the style and color of the design; I do know that the tattoo won’t be very large.

I will also have to check out local tattoo artists, references, look at portfolios, Google search, etc. I definitely would want someone who has superior artistic and tattoo skills as well as experience in drawing birds.

Finally, my last and most serious concern is if I want something on my body that will likely be permanent for the rest of my life. I don’t see myself getting laser treatment to remove my bluebird and God forbid if I have to get it covered up. I keep thinking that having a tattoo would be like wearing the same clothes every day of my life; however, if the tattoo is well done and not obtrusive, I don’t think I would mind “wearing” it for the rest of my life. I am still very worried that the bluebird tattoo will not be what I envision and I’ll regret getting it. Nothing would be worse than a getting a bad tattoo that was done in memory of my dad. I am so conflicted . . .

So, the question still remains: To tattoo or not to tattoo? I know it’s my choice, but I welcome your opinions and/or advice.