Sunday, January 28, 2007
Click on this link to see a sample of the fabulous "The Book as Art" exhibition currently showing at the National Museum of Women in Art in DC. The interactive page turner feature is so great! Alas, the exhibit itself runs only through February 4, 2007. I finally got to see it this afternoon, and it is one of the best and most mind-blowing art exhibits I've ever seen anywhere.
It's been especially enjoyable for me personally to see these marvelous handmade books. One of my first attempts to write a book resulted not only in writing the story but also in making it into a physical book, as well, in collaboration with Sister David, C.S.J., aka Martha Greenwood, a graduate of St. John's Academy in Jamestown, ND, in 1954. Martha and I were born 16 days apart in December, 1936, and we both entered the community of the Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul, MN, on September 8, 1954. As novices, we were assigned at various times to work in the library. This involved not only typing a book pocket for the back of each new book but also repairing books. We learned how to make a book from scratch by replacing torn covers and reinserting loose pages. Martha did the fabulous calligraphy for this book...I forget the exact title...Agnes...maybe? She also did the calligraphy for our second and final book, but goddess knows what the title of THAT one was. We left the books behind when we left the convent...I in 1959, Martha a few years later. The books probably bit the dust somewhere along the way.
Martha is now a wife, mother of three children, and grandmother of three, also, including the fabulous Ruby, age 9. She is retired from long service as a teacher of English as a second language with the public schools in her town and is currently several years deep into a collossal family history project. A vastly talented artist and musician, she gave up both while raising her family. Now she's passed on some of her gifts to Ruby by teaching her to play both the recorder and the violin. She also is probably the very best cook I'm privileged to know personally. When they moved into their present house, they tore out half the downstairs and made it into a kitchen, complete with a commercial range (six burners, two ovens, and a raised griddle).
Saturday, January 27, 2007
- iVillage has a great free diet & fitness website that you can use to help customize your meal plans, an exercise regimen, and stress relief activities (didn't they used to call this meditation back in the day?).
- Trader Joe's sells the most wonderful whole wheat hot dog buns! I know...hot dogs are a no no...but on my custom designed iVillage meal plan (1200 calories/day, nonvegetarian), my first dinner called for one hot dog on a multi-grain bun. I haven't found any multi-grain buns yet, but the whole wheat one is great. And who's to say you can't put a tofu dog in one of them? Some of those fake sossidges are better than others.
- One of our coworkers showed up at a meeting the other week looking very thin. We all asked her how she did it, as she's been battling overweight for several years....the old yoyo diet gig....lose 18, gain 15, lose 10, gain 15...we all know how that goes. She said she tried the program at my hospital (which is also Dick Cheney's hospital, grrrr). Anyway, I was emptying the wastebaskets of junk mail this a.m. in preparation for Carmen's arrival this afternoon, and a blurb on a flyer caught my eye: "Soandso Lost 140 Pounds in One Year! Learn More on Page X." I turned to Page X and discovered that the program was at my hospital. The program was not about simple weight loss, however. It was offered by their center for bariatric surgery. I don't know if our coworker actually had weight loss surgery. I know my hospital does other things besides surgery to support good health practices. But, gee. Another of our coworkers did have this surgery several years ago, and she's as skinny as Wallis Windsor now. I'm sure this kind of thing is going to go over big here in the City of Satan's Everlasting Brunch.
Friday, January 26, 2007
GWU MFA have a bunch of young resident doctors who do all of these pre-op physicals. They ask a bunch of questions, enter the answers into a computer, and then fax the whole wad over to Dr. Niparko at Johns Hopkins. Because I am over 50 (mad, hysterical laughter) and have cardiac problems, I also had to have a chest xray, an EKG, and some blood tests.
The first very young, beautiful doctor (from India or the Middle East, I neglected to look at her badge) had hiccups when she came into the room, and they kept up for a while. She was very embarrassed, but I thought her shy little hiccups were charming. I told her that hiccups must be a young person's plague, as I haven't had hiccups in years. She smiled....and hiccuped. My dad used to call them "hee-coughs." He had some very Irish expressions that he inherited from his mother, Alicia Hogan Dwyer. Her vocabulary was very Irish at its roots, but she attemped to refine it. Instead of "praties" for potatoes, Grandma Dwyer would say "perAYtoes." She thought it was common to say "praties." I suspect "hee-coughs" arrived in my dad's vocabulary by the same route. (And btw, many of the very young doctors at GWU are beautiful. That seems to be another young person's attribute--at least among the GWU MFA.) It's fun to look at all these Doogie Howser types running around practicing excellent medicine.
She asked me how old I was when I lost my hearing, and when I told her I was 26, she got a startled look on her face. Then a senior resident came in a while later and asked the same question. When I told her "26," she, too, got the same startled look. I suspect the two of them were about 26 themselves. That kind of information would make you wince if you were 26.
There's nothing between me now and the operation except the calendar. Two weeks before the surgery, I have to remember to stop taking a baby aspirin every night. And either two or five nights before (I have it written down at home), I have to stop the Plavix. And I have to buy a train ticket to Baltimore and back. It's so much easier than driving and parking. It's a very short cab ride from the Amtrak station to the outpatient center.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
The first snowfall of 2007 started this afternoon sometime around 12:30 p.m. Cathy and I were both working on books in my den, when Cathy got up to get a cup of tea and said "Look!"
She pointed out the window, and sure enough....tiny little flakes were falling fast and had already covered the cars and tree branches out back. The flakes are bigger now at quarter to six and still falling. They look so beautiful drifting past the amber-colored street light at the end of our property. Of course, both of my cameras would be disabled! I took this photo with Cathy's, but she's gone home now.
The first snowfall has always been a miraculous event: the stealthy arrival--even if snow has been predicted, it's still a surprise. One minute the sky is leaden and grey, and the next, white flakes are sifting down. I love the soft blanket covering the earth as it rests, the whiteness and brightness. I remember my mother's excitement every year when the first snow started to fall in Fargo, N.D. (often around Halloween). So much of my love for nature comes from mom's calling my attention to natural beauty whenever we walked to the grocery store or to church or to school.
Like the inner 4th graders we really are, both Cathy and I (and I'm sure 100% of our coworkers) will be huddled around the TV tomorrow morning watching the school closings and hoping against hope there will be enough snow in DC that they will close the schools. Snow days are a gift, pure and simple, to those of us who love to stay at home on snowy days and color or read or make popcorn or take a nap and get paid for it to boot.
[Note to the Little Red Hen....it's colder here right now than in NYC or Minneapolis!]
Winter is finally here. All the flowers that were blossoming here just ten days ago (see above) are now frozen solid, and there are no more little insects flying around in the beams from our security lights at night. I, for one, am relieved. After 70 years on this planet, most of them in the Midwest, my cells hanker for cold weather--maybe not quite as cold as in Minnesota, but cold enough to require an honest-to-goodness coat, gloves, and even a hat.
However, cold as it has been this past week, things are changing. A friend in NYC was expressing her wonderment at finding her town colder than Minneapolis the other day. That's something to think about. Minneapolis-St. Paul is the coldest major metropolitan area in the U.S. and one of the coldest large metropolitan areas in the entire world.
After reading my NYC friend's email, I thought about living in Minneapolis. I remembered that I used to take great comfort in the fact that there were only about 12 or so days per year when the temperatures were lower than -20. One solid week of severe cold weather would eat up seven of the 12, and it always comforted me to know there would be only five more left if it was a normal winter. (And yes, my cells did not like all that cold, but we got used to it.)
Minnesota, because it's a crossroads of three major continental biomes, may serve as a kind of canary in the coal mine for global warming. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a newsletter for their volunteers, and back in the January/February 2001 issue, they ran a fascinatingly informative article, "The Crossroads of Climate Change," about just this.
2001 is now six years ago....before Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" but after G.W. Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto agreement. Six years ago, scientists and naturalists in Minnesota had a specific vision of what could happen if we the people do nothing to curb our carbon emissions. I shudder to think what they'd say now after six years of foot dragging and denial from our leaders and from most of us, too.
And sure enough, the Washington Post had an article last week on climate change: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/19/AR2006121901769.html
In it, the curator of the U.S. Botanical Garden said "Washington is the new North Carolina." A University of Minnesota regents professor is quoted at the beginning of the Minnesota DNR article as saying, "If I wanted to live in Nebraska, I'd move there." I feel the same way about North Carolina. Washington would not look half as beautiful if it were covered with kudzu.
Here's another quote from that article, and remember, this was written six years ago:
Reducing emissions is "not about giving up your car," says Michael Noble, director of Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Instead, he says, it's about galvanizing public demand to put energy-efficient technology into use now. Just as the world has embraced information technology--cell phones, personal computers, the Internet--in the past 15 years, so can people transform the use of energy technology, he says. "It's not a mystery how to fix this problem," says Noble. "Every change in energy technology has led to an improvement in the quality of life--wood to coal, coal to gas . . . now to solar cells, wind turbines, fuel cells."
Research ecologist John Pastor insists that people need to view both the causes and consequences of warming in personal terms. How we use our land, cities, and highways affects the climate as surely as the climate affects us. If we drive fuel-efficient cars and reduce our annual mileage, for example, we keep tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.
Though we must continue to investigate the impacts of warming, Pastor says, we cannot afford to wait any longer before we act. "Once we see broad-scale changes happening in vegetation," he says, "it's too late." Natural systems will collapse.
Humans might be able to adapt to new habitat in a warmer world, but what are we willing to give up? At risk is our natural heritage, Pastor says, our sense of place. And we could lose that identity soon. While they skied together near their home in Duluth, Pastor's college-age son asked him to estimate the speed of change. Pastor calculated a possible time line based on his own age of 48. "I'll live out the rest of my life in these north woods I love. You will not," he told his son. "By the time you die, this is not going to be here. Your children--my grandchildren--will only live a small part of their lives here. And my great-grandchildren probably will not see this at all."
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
You Might Live in Minnesota if...
You consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping the food will swim by.
You're proud that your state makes the national news 96 nights each year because International Falls is the coldest spot in the nation.
You have ever refused to buy something because it's "too spendy."
Your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March.
Some0ne in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there.
Your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead.
You have worn shorts and a parka at the same time.
Your town has an equal number of bars and churches.
[If there are more churches than bars, how d'ya like D.C.?]
You know how to say... Wayzata ... Mahtomedi .... Cloquet ... Edina... and Shakopee.
You think that ketchup is a little too spicy.
Vacation means going "up north" for the weekend.
You measure distance in hours.
You know several people who have hit deer more than once.
You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day... and back again.
You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching. [Don't think so....35 mph, maybe]
You see people wearing hunting clothes at social events.
You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.
You think of the four major food groups are: beer, fish, beer, and venison.
You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them.
There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at Mill's Fleet Farm at any given time.
[Global warming, anyone?]
You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.
You can identify a southern or eastern accent.
Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to the blue spruce.
"Down south" to you means Iowa.
A brat is something you eat.
You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."
You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to your friends.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Thursday, March 1, 2007, 10:45 a.m.That's when they'll install the cochlear implant. "Tune in" will be a month or six weeks after that--April 1 or 15 or thereabouts. My horoscope last week said, "The long melt-down of your life is almost over." Hmmm....
After the operation, my ear will be worthless without the implant. The shrink asked me yesterday how I felt about that, and I said, "It's worthless now." I'll still be able to wear an earring on it or tuck a pencil behind it, though. And it will hold up the processor, which please the gods, will work as desired and hoped for.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Officially, there are no rocks or other impedimenta in my cochlea, even though my head is as round as the Minnesota heads Charles Schultz immortalized in "Peanuts." Looking at the scans, you'd think they'd taken photos of a bowling ball. The diagram above is what the surgeon handed me yesterday with his notes regarding the possible risks: infection (I'll need pneumovax vaccine), weakness in my facial nerve, imbalance, and failure of the device itself (1% need to be yanked and replaced).
Officially now, too, they have the evidence on paper that my auditory nerve is not dead or too seriously disabled. I got maybe 50% of one batch of monosyllabic words right with my right ear helped along by a hearing aid, and 94% with my left ear, ditto. So it's working. If it were not working, all the cochlear implants in California (where they make a lot of them) wouldn't do a thing.
A beautiful Chinese resident really rattled my brain (I could hear it sloshing in there--yeah, really!) when she was twisting my head to see if I would still get vertigo from sharp, sudden movements of my head, and I didn't. When I was first losing my hearing, even tipping my head down to peel potatoes could set my head spinning. I'd have to lie down until the spinning stopped. Then I'd go throw up, and after that, I'd go finish the potatoes.) I also could not eat movie popcorn without risking an attack of vertigo--too much salt--but now I can. As my hearing has gone south, the vertigo has disappeared, too.
They told me yesterday, too, that officially I now need a permission slip from my primary care doctor for them to perform the surgery. (She is a marvel, by the way...she got her B.A. from Barnard College, then a law degree from Yale, then an M.D. from Yale. She's one of the best doctors in D.C., and she speaks not only English but Hungarian--not that that's going to do me any good, but she has a very lively mind. She always notices things: what I'm reading, the color of my new glasses, etc.)
And I told them yesterday officially that yes, I did want to get a cochlear implant. The beautiful Chinese resident said, "Why do you want a cochlear implant?" To which I replied, "Why not?" When cochlear implants first came out, they had one channel of sound. The contrast between the number of natural channels of sound in the human ear and the one in the implant seemed too great. But now there are implants with 22 channels of sound. You don't need to have all of the channels to make a huge difference in what you hear. So why not go for it? I'm looking forward to the experience of learning to hear with the bugger.
One more barrier to leap is the psychological evaluation, which is tomorrow. On the questionnaire, they had items like "In the past few days, have you felt depressed or suicidal?" and I checked "yes." Well, it was right around Christmas. Of course I was depressed (though not suicidal)! Isn't everybody? Tom Lehrer had it right in his "Christmas Carol":*
Christmas time is here, by golly,* http://www.lyricsfreak.com/t/tom%20lehrer/a%20christmas%20carol_20138380.html
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don't say when.
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.
On christmas day you cant get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
There's time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.
Relations, sparing no expense'll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
Just the thing I need! how nice!
It doesn't matter how sincere it
Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
Whats important is the price.
Hark the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!
So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend Kris Kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don't stand underneath when they fly by.
Another item they asked about is "How many alcoholic drinks do you have every day?" To which I replied, "As many as it takes." Well? What do they expect? I can't listen to music!
Anyway, if by some miracle I pass this last hurdle, they will send me an email as to when they will perform the surgery. The surgery itself will be an outpatient procedure and take about one hour. The surgeon will cut a flap in my scalp behind the back of my right ear, drill a hole through the temporal bone, thread the electrode through the hole into the cochlea itself, where it will curl up next to my auditory nerve, and then sew everything up.
After the surgery, we'll wait about a month to 6 weeks for the incision to heal, and then they will start to tune me in. Thus, I'll have a metal implant a little smaller than a flattened bottle cap under my scalp; the electrode leads off this into my cochlea. On top of my scalp, there will be a round thing with a magnet attached to the processor (which looks like a very big hearing aid). The magnet will grab onto the bottle cap thing under my scalp, and transmit sounds via the processor behind my ear, through the electrode, and directly to my brain. It's all done with electric impulses, and part of the reason why the processor is so much bigger than a regular hearing aid is because it has to hold 3 batteries at a time instead of just one. A rechargeable battery unit comes with the processor, also. I had my choice of colors for the external parts: black, brown, that new titanium steel color, tan (the boring old hearing aid color), pink, and blue. I got the steel color. There's also a little panel on the processor that comes in other colors and patterns. I definitely did not want the leopard print!
These pictures are from the Cochlear website: www.cochlearamericas.com/Products/23.asp
the electrode with the 22 channels (l), the processor and external magnet (r)
It's a typically exquisite Lida letter, written on a drawing she sketched on the back of a flyer from her condo office advertising a talk on "My Trip to India." As Lida says about my blog in her letter--"like when you were a kid & had your own friend & sat together talking on & on & sharing thoughts & stories..."--I want to share it with my readers (my gift to you for January 7, 2007)....
One of the many wonderful things about Lida is that light shines through her every word and deed. Lida is the bosom buddy everyone dreams of as a kid. Who knew that when my special friend came along, she'd be almost 90 years old (and me not too far behind)? However, she's better than any 9 year old. She is wide open to the world and has no judgments for those who are in any way different from her. She has no time to sit around sucking eggs over the past because she is fully immersed in living in the present moment. She continues to work harder than almost anyone I know. Thank you for the joy of your friendship and the grace of your good example, Lida.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
NO SALT diet: 1961-1962
The Army nurse at Fort Devens put all of us pregnant mothers on this one. We were allowed to gain 1.5 pounds per month or face being sent to Ward E, where we dined on bread and water until we'd lost the excess weight. I weighed 118 pounds on my wedding day, which was down a bit from my normal weight of 133 thanks to all the running around and anxiety involved in getting married and preparing to move to Massachusetts the next day, and I got pregnant approximately 3 weeks later. You really do get used to the taste of food without salt, and as required, I did not gain more than the baby's weight plus a few pounds here and there for the placenta and all that. Even so, my body was sprung and I could not get into my sister-in-law's regular clothes when it came time to leave the hospital. However, with a new baby I didn't get much sleep or time to eat, and I was soon back to 133 lbs.
Diabetic 1200 calorie/day diet: 1971
Ten years and 3 more kids later, I was weighing in at 168 pounds!! I looked like Porky Pig, and the good doctor at St. Louis Park Medical Center suggested I go on this diet. He said "You're not diabetic, but this is the most effective diet we've found here." I really did stick to it, and by the end, it was hard to eat everything on the diet every day (all those apples and glasses of skim milk!!). When I called off the diet, I weighed 138 pounds.
Atkins diabetic diet: 2006
Bob, one of my printer sales reps, stopped to visit around in the beginning of January this year, and he looked fantastic! He had lost 27 pounds since I'd seen him last, and looked years younger. I asked him what he was doing to look so good. He told me he had gone to the doctor, and the doctor told him he was officially diabetic and had to go on a strict diet to get rid of his extra weight. I weighed 184 pounds at the time, thanks to all kinds of things: lack of exercise, side effects from pills, etc. He wrote down the diet for me, and I forged ahead. The Atkins diabetic diet allows you to eat all the protein and green vegetables you want, plus ONE serving of whole grains and ONE serving of fruit/day. No milk, no cream, no juice. One glass of red wine/day. I was down to 164 pounds by the beginning of the summer, but the weight started to creep back up again even though I was still eating the same things. The day I left for Paris (November 29), I weighed 168. (I don't think I look so much like Porky Pig any more....I'm not as pink, for one thing.)
High fiber diet: December 2006 - ??
I went to CVS to refill my presciptions just before I left for France and found the price of Pravachol had tripled since I first got it a year or two ago. That was too greedy of the drug company for me, so I said no thanks. I started researching on how to lower one's cholesterol without prescription drugs, and one of the things I found in many sources was that dietary fiber and niacin can work well. So I started eating beans and rice, fresh veg and fruits (no fruit juice, though), whole grains (especially steel cut Irish/Scottish oats). I'm somewhere less than 168...maybe 166 today, although yesterday's Christmas dinner was a blowout...but I have lots more energy. I don't know what my cholesterol reading is. It used to be off the charts--like 340 or so--and the last time it was maybe 190, which did not satisfy the cardiologist at all. He said he wanted to see a total reading of 170.
My friend Cathy won't even tell me how much she weighs, and she's struggled with weight for the past two years since having major surgery.
I read somewhere online that "Hoodia works." Whatever Hoodia is.
Secrets of the Supermarket diet - January 2007
Friday I read an article called "Secrets of the Supermarket." It said that the cereal ads' claims--"lose weight," "lower cholesterol"--mean that if you eat a bowl of cereal for two of your three meals/day, you will lose weight and have lower cholesterol. I'll buy that. In fact, I bought it and tried it, and today I weight two pounds less than I did on Friday. And that's even with cheating on Whole Foods's delicious marshmallows--no fat, 12 calories, hardly any sodium. I think this works so well because it's hard to drink red wine with Cheerios.
Yinka, our secretary, and several other coworkers went on the Three Day Diet last week. Presumably, you diet and fast a bit for three days, then eat normally for four days. I can't wait to find out how they've fared with this. Somebody said they eat peanut butter for breakfast during the three days?? Oh, man....
And so it goes.....
Friday, January 05, 2007
The new year brings a chance to start fresh. Now that the holidays are behind us, we can focus on organizing and making plans. Here's what's on the to-do list this month:Right. All these things are really good to do. That last one "Review household paperwork" is a hot one. I have the most wonderful accountant in the world, and I have a whole drawer in my desk into which I stuff the kind of thing he'll want to see. God love ya, Joe. It was a happy day (well...) when I moved to Brooklyn and discovered your office on the main drag.
Make New Year's resolutions. Take stock of what you've accomplished over the past year, and make a new list of goals. Catch up on correspondence, and write holiday thank-you notes. (Mail them by the end of January.) Clean wood floors. How you treat your floors will depend on their finish. Vacuum first to remove dust and dirt, and then clean polyurethaned floors with a damp mop and a mild cleanser. If the floors are waxed, strip the old wax, and then reseal. Let dry, then buff. (Do this once a year.) Update calendars and planners. Take time to make appointments for annual physicals, biannual dental exams, and so on. Test batteries in appliances and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; replace if necessary. (Do this twice a year.) Clean out closets. Start the year with an orderly wardrobe. Sort items by type and color so they're easy to find. (Do a thorough cleaning once a season.) Review household paperwork. Prepare for tax season and a meeting with your accountant. Gather financial documents, receipts, and other papers for filing taxes. This is also a good time to check insurance policies and make necessary updates.
Speaking of papers, I started cleaning up my office today, and I was relieved as heck to find that one of the stacks of papers that have been weighing down my desk and that credenza thing in the back consisted entirely of old permission requests from 2004 and 2005!!! These have already been entered in my log (yes, in 2004 and 2005!), and I can't even remember now why I kept them. (Probably just too busy to think. Who has time to think?) So they took a flyer to the circular file under my desk. Too easy!
"Update calendars and planners" - There's another good one. I spent a couple of hours looking for the slip of paper with Billy the Plumber's phone number. My garbage disposal is clogged again--or rather, the drain pipe way below it is clogged. I do not put any garbage down my disposal. Occasionally there will be some crumbs from the sink, but that's it. I don't believe in throwing my garbage in the river, which is what would happen to it I used the disposal. However, as it was last time, this will probably be clogged with long curly hair, and again, as last time, this will not be my hair (or hairs as they say in parts of North Dakota). Two of my nearest neighbors have long curly hair, but it never seems to affect their drains...just mine. Anyway, I did enter Billy the Plumber's number in my Filofax. Let's hope he's still answering that phone.
New Year's resolution? I liked Sally's: gain ten pounds. And I've already done that, so I can relax until 2008!! (Well, that's just rhetoric....who can relax as long as GWBush is still in office?)
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Here are some little known facts about Minnesota:
·Minnesota became the 32nd state on May 11, 1858, and was originally settled by a lost tribe of Norwegians seeking refuge from the searing heat of Wisconsin’s winters.
·The state flag of Minnesota consists of a blue background upon which sits a design best described as “How a 7-year-old city girl would draw a picture titled ‘Life on the Farm’.”
·Minnesota gets its name from the Sioux Indian word “mah-nee-soo-tah,” meaning “No, really, they eat fish soaked in lye!"
·The state song of Minnesota is "Someday the Vikings will...aw, never mind."
·The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, covers 9.5 million square feet and has enough space to hold 185,000 idiot teenagers yapping away on cell phones.
·Cokato, Minnesota, is known as “The Lutefisk Capital of the World.” Avoid this city at all costs.
·"The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was set in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was Mary’s first real acting job since leaving “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” The show—about a single woman’s struggle to find happiness in the big city—was originally titled “Life without Dick,” but that was changed for some reason.
·The state motto of Minnesota is, "Where even a man who wears a feather boa can be governor.”
·Downtown Minneapolis has an enclosed Skyway system covering 52 blocks, allowing people to live, work, eat, and sleep without ever going outside. The only downside to this is that a Norwegian occasionally turns up missing.
·Cartoonist Charles M. Schultz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was the only artist to perfectly depict the circular heads of Minnesota natives.
·The Hormel Company of Austin, Minnesota, produces 6 million cans of Spam a year, even though no one actually eats the crap.
·Water skis were invented in 1922 in Lake City, Minnesota, by Ralph Samuelson. Sadly, he drowned shortly afterwards, as the motorboat hadn’t been invented yet.
·St. Paul, Minnesota, was originally named “Pig’s Eye,” after French Canadian whiskey trader Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant. Its “Twin City,” Minneapolis, was known as “Pig’s Sphincter.”
·The stapler was invented in Swingline, Minnesota, by a chubby, mumbling man named Milton in 1899. The city was mysteriously destroyed by fire later that year.
·Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, is home to a 16’ tall concrete pelican, which subsists on a diet of 4’ long concrete fish.
·In 1973, Olivia, Minnesota, erected a 25’ tall fiberglass corn cob to celebrate its rich agricultural heritage. Then, in 1974, it was eaten by a 50’ tall statue of Babe the Blue Ox. Yes, Minnesota has a lot of problems with statue cannibalism.
·Minnesota license plates are blue and white and contain the phrase, “Blizzards on Independence Day—You get used to it.”
·Frank C. Mars, founder of the Mars Candy Company, was born in Newport, Minnesota. His 3 Musketeers candy bar originally contained three bars in one wrapper, each filled with different flavored nougat: chocolate, Spam, and Lutefisk.
·The first fully automatic pop-up toaster was invented in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1926. Minnesota’s stringent bread-control laws currently allow only residents to own semi-automatic toasters.
·Tonka Trucks continue to be manufactured in Minnetonka, Minnesota, despite the fact that thousands of GI Joe dolls are killed by them annually in rollover accidents. No airbags, no seat belts. These things are deathtraps, I tell ya!
·Author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in Walnut Creek, Minnesota, and was famous for writing the “Little House” series of books as well as for inventing the “Spam Diet,” which consists of looking at a plate of Spam until you lose your appetite, much like the “Lutefisk Diet.”
·The snowmobile was invented in Roseau, Minnesota, so as to allow families a means of attending Independence Day picnics.
·Minnesotans are almost indistinguishable from Wisconsinites. The only way to tell them apart is to ask if they voted for Mondale in ’84.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
As I was sitting in the waiting room at the radiology place, I was feeling tense, as usual, about figuring out if they were calling my name. I had to watch the speech (or read the lips, though it's not just lip reading...it's everything else, too: body language and head, nostril, throat, and eye movement) of all three people behind the desk...the woman who checked me in, a woman with a stethoscope who was looking at the charts, etc., and another woman, off to my right a bit, who was answering phones. They were all talking with each other, and periodically, one of the two who were not on the phones would call somebody's name.
I was thinking about how much work goes into getting through this kind of experience--and how much patience and focus on the present moment is involved. I suppose I could relax and just read my newspaper and trust they would come get me, but I've missed being called before, and they generally DON'T come to get you. They proceed down their list, and if I've blown it, I have to go to the end of the line. So I pay close attention, and a little bit more of my psychic energy gets eaten up. This is why they told me when I first lost my hearing that I would need extra rest. Well, I've never gotten any extra rest. I've been lucky to just get the normal amount. But I have perfected, in my 7th decade, the art of sleeping while sitting upright in my office chair. Ha. Works for me.
I also was wondering if the cochlear implant will change this experience for me. Will I be able to go to, say, a dental appointment and read a magazine article and depend on my hearing to know when it's my turn? Will I be able to sit in the boarding area and hear when they're calling my flight?
The purpose of the psychological evaluation is to make sure I don't have any unrealistic expectations for this cochlear implant, should they decide to give it to me. I'm curious as to what they consider unrealistic. I want as much as I can get from this thing, if I get it. I know I'll have to work for it, but so what? Do I want to be able to hear music? Hell, yes! Use a cell phone? Sure. Make snarky comments sotto voce in meetings? Yup. Do I want to survive the freaking operation? You bet! Do I want to be able to get on the bus in the a.m. and say hi to all the interesting-looking neighbors I've been riding with for years now? Oh, boy, yes! Do I think it's going to solve all my communication problems? No, but hey....if it works, at least I'll have a shot at it.
Besides the lyrics, however, there were the riotous sound effects on Spike's records. Best of all, to my 12-year-old mentality, was the belching in the third verse--about taking "a lovely lady out to eat - Burp! Burp!"
Here are the lyrics, thanks to STLyrics' website:
This is my New Year's resolution:
When my mother-in-law begins to yell and shout
Through the window I would like to throw her out.
But I resolve not to do it, here is why:
I'm afraid of hitting someone passing by.
This is my New Year's resolution.
When I'm at the movies watching a love scene
And a lady's hat is blocking half the screen
I resolve not to shout, "Take off that hat!"
I'll remove it gently with a baseball bat.
This is my New Year's Resolution.
When I take a lovely lady out to eat
And she orders caviar instead of meat
I resolve to let the lady have her fill.
And of course I'll also let her pay the bill.
This is my New Year's Resolution.
When I'm sitting with my wifey on a bus
And a dear old lady stands in front of us
I resolve to be a gentleman discreet.
I'll politely offer her my wifey's seat.
This is my New Year's Resolution.
When my mother says, "Come in, it's time to eat."
And I keep on playing games out in the street
I resolve to rush right home now when I'm called
Cause my pop just got a hairbrush and he's bald.
This is my New Year's Resolution.
On the radio this year I hope to score
With some funny jokes you've never heard before.
I resolve not to tell a corny joke.
Hello, what's that? The church burned down? Holy smoke!
This is my New Year's Resolution.
In this coming year I'm going to be discreet.
Have the Slicker's playing music soft and sweet.
I resolve to treat Tchaikovsky tenderly
And set his second movement with TNT.
This is my New Year's Resolution.