Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

© Huffygirl 2012


Mother doesn’t want a dog: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. It’s time to get your poetry on, if you have any that is. Time to write poems, read  poems, discuss poems.

I must confess I’ve never been that good at poetry. I occasionally write poems, usually from a fleeting spurt of inspiration. If I don’t get the words down when the inspiration hits, poof, it’s gone. If I do write poetry, it’s almost always of the rhyming type, and often inspired by an event such as a holiday, someone’s birthday, or by some cause I’m all worked up about. When my local newspaper cut back from being a nice daily newspaper to a three-day a week paper, with a crummy, hard to access online version, I was inspired to pen this verse to the local editor:

“I’ve tried to be open-minded, I’ve given it a good try,

But reading your e-replica on Android just makes me want to cry.

 What were you thinking when you came up with such a clunky set up?

You should have tried harder so your subscriptions would not let up!

 Gazette on Kindle equals “D minus”, on Android equals fail.

No Doonesbury, no NY Times Crossword – it all makes me want to wail!

 You took away my favorite parts,

and gave me boring self-help columnists whose words hit me like darts

 Your new Gazette just makes me want to holler,

and long for the old days when newspapers were worth every dollar.”

(Original poem by Huffygirl, © 2012)

The editor, though impressed with my verse, did nothing to improve the paper, It’s still crummy, still doesn’t work on Android, and still lacks the NYT crossword and Doonesbury. But, I digress.

The Poetry Whisperer, age seven.

My happiest poetry moment occurred when my youngest son was in second grade. He had a teacher, Sister Salmonella, who turned out to be an awful teacher, but had one good quality, which was having the students memorize and recite poetry. What could be cuter than a group of sweet-faced seven-year-olds  standing together and reciting funny rhyming poems to their doe-eyed parents? Listening to their recitation would just make your heart melt.

The highlight of the poetry recitation came around Mother’s Day. Sister Salmonella had the students memorize the poem “Mother doesn’t want a dog” by Judith Viorst, and coached them to recite it at home for their moms on Mother’s Day. My son, being the darling little boy that he was, took it to the next level. After reciting the poem for me, he sat his seven-year old self down at my new state of the art word processor (okay, that’s a fancy typewriter) that I had gotten from my husband for Mother’s Day, and hunted and pecked until he had typed out the entire poem for me. Ah, heart melting all over again. I framed it and still have it today.(Insert contented motherly sigh here.)

May your poetry month be rhyming and cheery, and I hope all those poems don’t make you grow weary!

© Huffygirl 2012

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Two Subjects

This week’s photo opportunity challenged us to produce a photo with two subjects. This happens to photographers a lot: you take a photo of someone or something, but something interesting shows up in the background. Typically the foreground subject is in focus, and the background subject is fuzzy. Today I attempted to take such a photo with a beautiful pair of white Dicentra I had just bought at the greenhouse. But the plants weren’t cooperating. I tried putting the shorter plant in front of the taller one, then focused on the shorter, so the taller plant would be out of focus in the background. But it just wasn’t working. The two plants just looked like one big plant, and I kept ending up with the side of the house or the barbecue grill as the background  subject. Finally, I came up with this shot, a reverse of what I had originally intended. The flowering branch of the Dicentra in the foreground is out of focus, the new shoots of Panicum virgatum (red switch grass) in the background are in focus.

This is another photo with two subjects that I took a while ago, that I’ve been using lately as the spring header photo for Huffygirl’s Blog. Because they’re so close together, both subjects, the zinnia and the butterfly, are in focus. I’ve tried to capture photos of butterflies since, but have never managed to get a decent shot with the butterfly with wings open, and the flower both in focus.

© Huffygirl 2012

My doctor’s office STILL thinks I’m fat, and a troublemaker too

Well, it happened again. Unfortunately, I had to go back there. To the medical office that thinks I’m fat. In case you haven’t heard this story before, the skinny, er fatty is this: the new medical group I’ve been going to has decided that my BMI (ratio of height to weight) qualifies me as overweight, causing them to give me a weight-loss handout (aka fat handout) every time I leave their office.

Against my better judgement, I went back there for a follow-up visit, but this time, determined that I wasn’t going home with the fat handout again. My strategy: if I don’t step on the scale, they won’t record my weight, and won’t be able to give me the fat handout. I went in resolved to avoid the scale at all costs.

“Put down your things and step on the scale,” the medical assistant, whom I’ll call Ethel, says after calling me back into the office. “No, I don’t want to be weighed today,” I answered calmly. I was totally unprepared for the ensuing backlash. “You have to be weighed,” replied Ethel, her voice going up a few decibels. “Um, no I don’t and I don’t care to be weighed today,” I answered, pretty calmly I thought. “But you have to be weighed, it’s our policy,” Ethel replied, putting the same emphasis on the word policy as if she were saying mandate, decree, or law. “Well, no I don’t have to be weighed. I have the right to decline,” I answer back. I’m getting a little worried now about the backlash I’m getting, but I can’t back down now.

Ethel is positively sputtering now. Her voice has gone up well above inside voice level, and I’m a little surprised that she’s carrying on this way in what should be a professional setting. “Well, I’m going to have to get the manager,” she finally sputters back, several times, I might add. She’s positively frantic by now. Apparently, this hasn’t happened before.

The manager? Really? Let’s stop and look at this situation for a minute. The issue that has caused Ethel to go to red alert is that a patient has declined to be weighed. Does she get paid by how many people she weighs every day? Or does she get beaten or fired if she doesn’t weigh every patient? Now granted, there are a few groups who really should be weighed at their health care visits: children; anyone being seen for unexplained weight loss or illness; persons with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease, pregnant women, and people who are ill. But I don’t fall into any of these groups. I was just there a few weeks earlier and was weighed then, so this really shouldn’t be an emergency now.

But, back to reality. Ethel is still sputtering about calling the manager and their policy. She’s positively shrieking now. I would expect the manager to be more upset about her unprofessional behavior than the cranky patient who declined to be weighed. So finally to stop the standoff,  I told her to ask the provider I was seeing, and if she insisted that I be weighed I would do it, but otherwise not. “Well, we’ll just see about that” Ethel answered as she shuttled me back to the exam room.

So back in the exam room, I talked to my provider and told the whole awful story. She’s good-natured and understanding, unlike the others in this office. “I’m just sick of getting the fat handout every time I come here,” I told her. “I’m really not overweight, it’s just that I’m too short. If you could make me a little taller, I’d stop getting the fat handout.  An inch should do it”

So, I finished up the visit and left, not sure if she was willing to go out on a limb to save me from the fat handout. Then, I looked at the papers they handed me at checkout. I know I was 5′ 2″ when I came into the office. But on the way out, I had turned into 5’7″.

© Huffygirl 2012

Celebrating good old-fashioned grilled cheese

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Cheese Sandwich (Photo credit: powerplantop)

This probably seems odd. The woman who proclaims herself as “…waging a one-woman war against cheese” is excited about National Grilled Cheese Month. First, let me clarify: I’m not opposed to cheese itself, just the overuse of cheese, such as when every item on the restaurant menu includes cheese;  and the use of “cheese-like food” being passed off as cheese.

But grilled cheese? That’s the ultimate Mom food. I relish my childhood memories of Mom making us grilled cheese sandwiches on Fridays. Having grilled cheese was a treat, a departure from our usual tuna or egg salad. Mom didn’t really like to cook, and getting out a frying pan to make grilled cheese bordered on cooking, so it didn’t happen often. I’d watch the process with anticipation. First, she got out a stick of margarine, and set it on top of the gas range near the pilot light for a few minutes to soften. Of course we had real, old-fashioned margarine, not the light buttery vegetable oil spreads like we have today. She’d slather two slices of soft white bread with margarine while the frying pan was heating, then peel off a thick slab of American cheese from the package. Real American cheese, not  the slippery, plastic wrapped “cheese-like food slices” of today. If I was really lucky, I’d get to have chocolate milk, and maybe even potato chips, but the sandwich was so good alone, that really didn’t matter. I liked my sandwich well-toasted, pretty close to burned. I’m still not sure if I developed that taste on my own, or just expected it that way, as Mom tended to over-cook most things on our ancient gas stove. I’d sit at the red kitchen table, my feet swinging far above the floor, and enjoy my greasy, drippy cheese sandwich on a special Friday afternoon.

Since I’ve  developed a dairy allergy in adulthood, I can’t join in the National Grilled Cheese Month festivities. But if I could, I’m be making a grilled cheese sandwich today just like Mom used to make.

What’s your favorite grilled cheese memory?

© Huffygirl 2012

Easter Morning

A beautiful day, and especially bright for those celebrating the Christian holy day of Easter. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy a Sunday morning walk along Lake Michigan on this warm spring day with me.

A perfect day for a walk on the beach.

The waves create these back pools. Some days there will be many, other days none at all. The sun warms quickly warms the water in the small pools, making it many degrees warmer than cold Lake Michigan.

Sun sparkling on the lake makes it look like diamonds. This photo is my favorite!

Time for the long walk back.

Happy day and Happy Easter everyone!

© Huffygirl 2012

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Little bagels? I think not.

Okay, a week ago I didn’t know what a Baggallini was. Last week, while shopping with my sister-in-law who is getting ready for an out of country adventure, she suddenly went into a fit of excitement when she saw a sign outside a store proclaiming that they carried Baggallini. All bets were off as we headed inside. Haplessly, I followed, wondering why anyone would be that excited about miniature bagels. Then, I found out.

Turns out that Baggallini is not a little bagel, but  a whole line of practical and unique purses. But these aren’t just purses – they’re useful purses, with cross-body straps, appurtenances, and zippered pockets. Made of sturdy, lightweight nylon material, Baggallini are designed by flight attendants. Who better to know what kinds of zippers and pockets one needs to make a purse actually useful, especially for travel? But Baggallini are stylish enough to use every day, not just for travel, although Stacy and Clinton, who insist that one’s purse must match one’s outfit, might not agree.

I had been looking for a cross-body purse ever since I had shoulder surgery in January. I still can’t carry a purse on my right shoulder, or anything else for that matter, so I’ve been schlepping around for two and a half  months trying to carry everything in one arm. Hoisting around my somewhat stylish, but way too heavy purse, did not help. Besides carrying the  floppy, heavy purse on my left arm, I was carrying my brief case, lunch bag, extra sweater, papers for work and my other extra sweater. (Okay, so I admit it: I wear two sweaters.) Getting anything out of my purse, unlocking doors, or doing much of anything was difficult. I had searched the major department stores for a cross-body purse that would hold the essentials, yet still be somewhat stylish, to no avail. Everything I found was either too big, too small, too expensive, or just not practical.

But not anymore. The Baggallini is a little small, but I think will do. I had to sacrifice a few things from my old heavy purse to get the essentials in. Extra change, a pack of gum, a few credit cards I never use, checkbook, and a smashed Luna bar wait forlornly in the bottom of my heavy old purse. Maybe I’ll regret not having the Luna bar, but the rest I can probably do without. All in the name of carrying a lighter, efficient purse that doesn’t hurt my poor old shoulder.

Goodbye heavy purse. Hello Baggallini.

© Huffygirl

Disclaimer: This is not an ad for Baggallini. It’s just that I’m so darn excited about my efficient new purse!

Huffygirl does not endorse Baggallini or any other products, nor does she receive any incentives for writing about Baggallini.

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US takes advantage of Canada’s cost saving move

Coins of the Canadian dollar

Coins of the Canadian dollar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the heels of Canada’s announcement of phasing out the penny from circulation, US Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy  Geithner, announced a new program to boost the economy, and save taxpayers millions of dollars over the next few years. Today, in a surprise press conference, Geithner announced that the US Treasury will adopt the Canadian penny, and cease production of the current Lincoln cent. Geithner explained: ” While Canada has been producing their penny at a cost of for 1.6 cents, production of the US cent runs 2.6 cents. By stopping production of our own pennies, and buying up the Canadian reserves, US taxpayers will see a savings of one cent per penny, which, ironically, is exactly what our penny is worth.”

In a special arrangement between the US and Canadian Treasury Departments, the US will buy pennies from Canada, at 1.6 cents each, and gradually phase the Canadian cent into US circulation. During the phase-in period, expected to last about six months, both the Lincoln cent and the Canadian cent will be considered legal tender. At the end of the phase in period, only Canadian pennies will be accepted as US tender. At that time, Geithner predicts an even further boost to our economy, as coin collectors and speculators will hoard the Lincoln cents, then buy and sell the defunct coin on eBay, Craig’s List, and at coin shows throughout the country. “This will be even bigger than the Susan B. Anthony dollar,” predicts Geithner. “The demise of the Lincoln penny may just be the answer to bringing the country out of recession and turning the economy around.”

While some question the validity of adopting another country’s currency as our own, Geithner refutes this point. “Americans are used to outsourcing. We have India running our call centers, China producing our iPhones and Japan making our TVs. Why not have Canada produce our pennies?”

© Huffygirl April 1, 2012

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