Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

ECOG and ENG, the New Waterboarding!

So, I had some tests done to try to determine why I had the episodes of vertigo a few weeks ago.  I am firmly convinced these tests were invented in Guantanamo Bay!

The first test, Transtympanic Electrocochleography, or ECOG for short, tests for Meniere's disease by playing loud clicks for about 15 minutes separately in each ear and measuring the brain's response through an electrode on the forehead.  After it was over, I told the doctor I would give her my mother's maiden name, my social security number, all my passwords...whatever she wanted...just!

I thought it couldn't get any worse, but I was wrong.

The Electronystagmography, or ENG, test started out fairly easy.  I had to wear a really tight pair of goggles that had an infrared camera in them that photographed my eye movements.  There was a bar on the wall where a red dot was displayed and all I had to do was follow the dot with my eyes without moving my head.  After several exercises horizontally, I had to do some vertically as well.  Then the fun really began!  The goggles were closed so I was in complete darkness and cold air was blown first into my right ear and then into the left to force me to get dizzy.  The camera tracked my eye movements bouncing back and forth.  After the cold air came the hot air.  I was sure I was getting brain damage from the heat!  It was quite uncomfortable.  In between each test, the doctor had me name things that began with A, then with B, etc to try to help me get past the dizziness.  What fun!  I'm fairly sure they used this test during the Spanish Inquisition...

And, the bottom line:  Nothing appears to be wrong with my inner ear.  The tests were negative for Meniere's disease and my nystagmus (the involuntary movement of the eyes side to side) was normal.  This doesn't mean I don't have Meniere's, though.  The doctor says if I have more vertigo, we will do an MRI and get a neurologist involved.  The only little problem I have right now is a slight loss of hearing in the right ear at one of the middle frequencies, which is a little odd.  Usually, it is the higher ranges that go first.  I'm convinced it must be the exact frequency of my husband's voice that has gone...that's my story, any way, and I'm sticking to it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Goodbye Little Roxie

My best friend's little dog, Roxie, has gone to heaven.  We will miss you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Husband, the Movie Star!

This the 2007 Nashville British Car Club Show.  My movie-star husband makes his appearance at 4:59 in his spiffy 1975 TR6.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Pink Slipper Project

I have many friends at Make Mine Pink, and they have come up with a project to warm hearts and toes called the Pink Slipper Project.  Here is what I donated to the project.

Many years ago, I thought I might like to try quilting, but, so far, I have avoided the all-consuming passion of getting caught up in yet another craft where I spend tons of money!  But, I did buy some fabrics about 20 years ago that have been packed away in one of my craft crates.  I decided a better use for them would be cute little slippers!

If you would like to learn more or donate time, fabrics or money, I'm sure it would be appreciated!  The Pink Slipper Project.

(Image courtesy of Make Mine Pink)

Monday, November 16, 2009

International Day of Tolerance

Today is the International Day of Tolerance.  It is a day when we should all examine our hearts and adjust our attitudes for the betterment of mankind.  We are all part of the same human race, with the same feelings, hopes and desires.

If we treat each person we meet with the same respect and tolerance with which we would like to be treated, think how much better this world would be!

To learn more visit the United Nations website.

(Image courtesy of the United Nations)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Huntsville Half Marathon

Well, I finished.  I wasn't really expecting to do very well, considering I've only been allowed to run for less than six weeks since my last surgery, but I actually did better than I expected!  I thought it might take me close to 4 hours to run, but I finished in 2:56:14!  I'm happy with that!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pinhoti 100

On Saturday and Sunday, some of my running buddies and I will be "sweeping" parts of the Pinhoti 100 Trail Race in the Talladega National Forest.  The race starts near Heflin, AL on Saturday morning and finishes 100 miles to the southwest in Sylacauga, AL on Sunday morning.  Our job is to follow the last runner, pick up the course marker flags and make sure no one has fallen by the wayside.  Two of my friends are even HAM radio operators and they will have their radios with them on the trail.  Apparently, that is a first for this race.

Three of my friends will be sweeping from Mile 41 to Mile 60, in the dark!  There is one steep downhill section, aptly named Blue Hell, that is rocky and boulder-strewn with two creek crossings.  Did I mention that they will be running this section in the dark!!!  Not for me!

I will be sweeping with two of those same friends, plus one's husband, from Mile 85 to the end on Sunday morning.

I'm so excited, you would think I was one of the racers!

(Photos courtesy of the Pinhoti 100 website.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Remember the old Alfred Hitchcock movie called Vertigo?  Well, I have been experiencing my own version the last couple of weeks!

Apparently, there are small stones in one of the oval tubes of the inner ear.  They are supposed to collect at the bottom of the tube, but sometimes, they get stuck in other positions.  There are little hairs in the tube that, when touched, tell the brain what position the body is in.  When they get stuck where they aren't supposed to be, the brain can't tell where the body is, so it does the next best thing and gives it a "spinning" feeling.  This wouldn't be so bad if the same nerve didn't also carry the nausea feeling back to the brain!

But, I am heavily medicated now, for your safety...

Friday, October 16, 2009

To Tickle Your Funny Bone

This is sooooo cute!  And clever, too!  Cowboys herding cats

Monday, October 12, 2009

Budding Young Writer

My son Ricky's girlfriend, Crystal Cole, is now writing for the Auburn University newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman.  How cool is that!  She usually writes about sports and here is a sample article:  Students excited by Trooper Towels, new traditions.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What they never taught you in school about Christopher Columbus...

Here is a great blog about the real Christopher Columbus.  Unfortunately, I don't even get the day off!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Class of 74 Reunion

I have just returned from my high school class reunion.  In spite of my very youthful appearance, I graduated 35 years ago — can you believe it?  I hadn't seen most of my classmates in all those years.  I missed the 10-year reunion because I was (gasp!) pregnant, and I didn't want anyone to see me.  Stupid, I know!  And I missed the 20-year reunion because I was just too busy at work and couldn't get away.  I had to wait another 15 years for this chance!

My husband had the digital camera with him in Virginia, so I borrowed this photo from my friend, Penny Lundborg Mead, pictured on the right.  My other friend in the photo is Kathy Storm Lowe.  We were such good friends, it's sad that we have lost track of each other until now.  It was s-o-o-o-o good to see all my friends from high school — I just wish everyone could have been there.  I missed Julann Carlson, Cindy Halvorson, Mary Boe, Marsha Johnson, Pam Martin, Dalton Tietjen, Greg Miller, Gerald and Denise DeVaal...I could go on and on.

But it was absolutely great to see Rhonda, Tammy, Dave, Dave, Jim, Jim, Doug, Darwin, Roger, Darwin, Joan, Sherree, Debbie, Ken, Kenne, Kenny :-), Kathy, Loretta, Renee, Glenda, Christie, Ardell, Ron, Margaret, Randy, Tim, Julie, Lynnae, Terry, Clemens, Kevin, Danny, Leslie (where'd you go when we took the class photo?), Keith and anyone else that was there that I missed!  Oh, I miss you all already!

It was fun riding in the parade (I practiced my Queen Elizabeth wave for weeks!) and going to the football game.  The Milbank Bulldogs made some amazing plays and won the game handily.

But, I think the highlight of the reunion for me was the chance to finally tell Mr Bloem what an impact he had on my life.  He always wanted me to take the upper level math classes, but I, in my naiveté, took all the art classes I could instead.  I always wanted the chance to tell him I became a civil engineer, so I used the math he taught me after all!  Becoming a civil engineer was the best career I could have ever chosen, and I owe it all to Mr Bloem!

If you would like to see the rest of the photos Penny took, visit my Facebook page.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elkmont Lions Club Rails to Trails 10K

Ahhh!  It feels good to be racing again, even if I did have to walk the whole race!  I am being a good girl and following my doctor's orders — no running for another 10 days.

But I managed to finish the course in 11 minutes less than I had expected, so I am happy.  AND, I got to see some of my running pals — what could be better!

And I survived the deluge on the way home.  They say a cold front is coming through and we might even have several days in a row without rain.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Little Kate and her Blanket

Check here to see the sweetest baby-face and her "blasted blanket!"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

That Blasted Blanket!

My best friend at work had a baby girl in July, and I wanted to make something special, so, giving in to my occassional "I want to knit or crochet something!" urge, I purchased a kit called Little Bunny Fou Fou.  It was the cutest thing!  But, before I finished, it became "that blasted blanket!"

I started working on it way back in March, and I worked on it diligently every spare moment I had.  I knew I had my medical leave coming up, so I was confident I could finish it in time.  Wrong!

Unfortunately, I ran out of every color of the baby yarns in the blanket, all at different times, of course, and had to wait for replacements to come through the mail since no one in town carries that brand.  All of the yarns were doubled throughout which caused the crochet hook to constantly catch on the yarns funny or only pick up one.  It was a trip carrying the background color across the back of the bunnies, too!

When I finally had the panels finished and started on the embroidery of the little flowers, I discovered the two yards of each color yarn provided for the flowers would allow me to embroider about 1 1/4 panels, not five!  So I had to get my son to take me to Michael's, not being allowed to drive during my medical leave, and I purchased full-sized skeins of yarn for approximately 10 yards required of each!  Then there was the fun of creating six pompoms from angora yarn...

However, it truly was cute as a button when it was finished, although not in time for the birth, and my friend loved it.  It definitely cured my desire to knit or crochet something...for awhile, at least!  I'm glad to be back to my regular therapy — counted cross stitch.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to Work

My long 8-week medical leave will probably come to an end next week.  I see the doctor on Monday, and I should be going back to work on Tuesday.

To tell the truth, I don't really want to go back very bad.  I feel like my leave wasn't very restful at all.  Too much going on!  Hubby bought a brand-new Toyota 4Runner (and I had to sign papers only 6 days after surgery), Bobby started his job the same week I had surgery and he lived at home for a few weeks, Ricky moved from one apartment to another in Auburn ('though I didn't help), Bobby moved from Auburn to a new apartment here, his new cat came to live with us for awhile, and his old cat did not like it one bit!  Mega-cat fights day and night!

Then there were the trips to Birmingham — first for a checkup on the surgery, then to see the thyroid doctor and then to have the biopsies.  In the middle of all that, I caught this horrendous cold which hasn't relinquished its hold on me yet (and now Bob has it, too).  The constant coughing threw my back out, but, in the meantime, I bought a new washer and dryer so Bobby could have the old one...

And, on top of all that, I have spent every scrap of energy I did have on work.  I put in more than 80 hours of work while I was on leave and, consequently, didn't get any of the little projects done that I had hoped to.  And now I have to go back to work for real...

Poor me!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Return to the Living

I have been quite ill.  It all started with a cough and sore throat which eventually turned into bronchitis and then a sinus infection.  Even while taking an antibiotic for the sinus infection, I had a fever over 103° for several days in a row.  It has been less than 100° for a couple of days now, and I am finally able to actually get dressed!  Still no energy at all because I spend most of the night coughing, but maybe I am on my way back to the Land of the Living.

On a more positive note, my biopsies last week were benign, so no thyroidectomy for right now!  I am so relieved!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Tomorrow, I am going to have another fine needle aspiration biopsy on my thyroid.  If it is negative like the last two have been, I am going to put off having a thyroidectomy because I am afraid of the after effects.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams

I just finished reading The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams.  It is the first one of his books I have read, so I don't have any of his other works to compare it to, but I really enjoyed it.  Towards the end, I couldn't put it down!

The War of the Flowers is about an under-achieving, 30-year-old musician named Theo Vilmos.  He plays in a band in Northern California with kids 10 years his junior and drives a delivery truck during the day.  He feels like he should've had more to show for his life.  And his life is about to take a serious downturn...with some pretty grim family tragedies.

Then, an encounter with a 6-inch-tall sprite and a single-mindedly relentless, undead "thing" completely changes everything as he finds himself thrust into the world of Faerie, an alternate world parallel to our own.

Although the story starts a little slowly, it eventually picks up speed until it almost becomes frantic. There were enough plot twists to keep it interesting, but a few things were a bit predictable.  There was a little bit of Terminator meets the Hobbit with the Omen thrown in for good measure.  There is also a really well-written description of total destruction that very nearly mirrors the 9/11 tragedy, though it was planned long before the terrorist attack.  Some people may find this section particularly uncomfortable if they were personally touched by the events on September 11, 2001 (and who wasn't, really?), but it was essential to the story.

I enjoyed the depiction of Faerie as something refreshingly real, with its own problems, politics and prejudices. The characters were well-developed, although I am not a big fan of the "unhero" as the main character.

All in all, I think it would make a great movie.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Create Your own Tartan

Are you Scottish?  Or maybe just a Scottish wannabe like me?  Here is a site where you can create your own tartan.

Here is my first design which I named Heather Hills.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival

One more post from my recent trip to the Midwest and West:  Dad and I traveled up to Moorhead, Minnesota for the 32nd annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst (Homecoming) Festival.  This year, the focus country was Finland, but there were plenty of tables and exhibits from the other Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Saami Land and Sweden, too.  If you wanted to spend a little money, you sure could have found plenty to spend it on!  The crafts, jewelry, books, clothing and food were to die for!

One of the most interesting crafts was a type of quilling done in Finland, only with wood strips, called Lastu, instead of paper.  The ornaments were extremely intricate and beautiful with multi-colored strips of wood making up the designs.  I found this image online, but it doesn't do justice to the beautiful ornaments on display at Hjemkomst.

Back in the 70s, a man named Robert Asp decided to try to make a replica of a Viking long boat.  He dreamed of sailing his ship, the Hjemkomst, from Minnesota to Norway.  He built his ship, and even sailed it on Lake Superior in 1980, but he died of leukemia that same year.  In 1982, Robert Asp's family and friends sailed the Hjemkomst 6100 miles from Duluth to Bergen, Norway in his honor.  The ship is now stored in the Hjemkomst Center.

There were many musical events during the festival, and the one that really caught our attention was a Finnish rock/jazz band called KEHO.  The young men in the band range in age from 16 to 19 and the lead musician, Anttu Koistenen, plays a traditional Finnish instrument called a kantele.  The kantele is similar to a zither, but when electrified, it has a thoroughly modern sound.  Everyone should hear Santana played on a kantele!  Although the music was a little too loud for my Dad's taste, I really enjoyed their playing.  I asked one of the boys later if they had a CD, and he replied "Not yet," but you can listen to some of their music on Vimeo.

The name, KEHO, comes from the last names of the performers:  Anttu Koistenen (16) who is studying the ancient Finnish kantele instrument in a more "electric" way, Teemu Eerola (18) who is a first year bass student at Helsinki's Pop Jazz Conservatory, Rasmus Harinen (19) who studies violin, keyboards and guitar at Helsinki's Joensuu Conservatoire, and Jesse Ojajärvi (17) who is studying drums at Helsinki's Sibelius Junior Academy for talented young musicians.

As the brochure says, nothing Nordic happens without food.  The festival's method of selling food really seemed to work well — they sold tickets for 50 cents and each item of food was some number of tickets, so no fumbling for cash and no change required.  For example, the Danish Æbleskiver were 5 tickets and the Norwegian lefse was 1 ticket.  Dad and I tried several different things, some of which neither of us had had before.  I had Finnish Mojakka ja Voi-leipä (beef stew with cracked wheat bread) and Norwegian lefse (potato flat bread similar to a tortilla).  Dad had Danish Frikadeller (meatballs) with potatoes and red cabbage and lefse.  We shared a dish of Norwegian Rømmegrøt (cream porridge) and Swedish Krumkaka (thin, crispy cookies).  Heavenly!  And, no, we didn't have any lutefisk!  If you're Norwegian, you know what I mean!

There were also musicians playing while people ate, and the group playing while we ate was ASI Spelmanslag Friends.  The group is headed by Paul Dahlin and includes his wife, Marikay, and his son, Daniel.  They are often joined by students from the American Swedish Institute Spelmanslag (fiddlers' team) where Dahlin teaches.  The group plays traditional Swedish dance tunes such as waltzes, schottisches and polskas.  The polska, not to be confused with the polka, is the oldest dance rhythm in Sweden and feels just a bit strange to modern tastes.  Daniel Dahlin has even written several original polskas, one of which was played during their set.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Farley Fest, Milbank, SD

My home town, Milbank, has a festival every year named for the local lake, Lake Farley.  My husband laughs at the name Farley Fest because he says it sounds too much like Fart-ley Fest!  Which, of course, conjurs up some pretty hilarious images of tooting contests, "fragrant" clouds hanging over the festival, etc.

This year, I ran the Farley Fest 5K which starts on the track at the high school and then heads out onto the nature trail before finishing up on the track again.  I had never been to the nature trail before, but it was really lovely to run through a typical prairie grass setting with tons of flowering plants and grasses up to 5' tall.  If you get a chance, you should definitely take the 1.5 mile walk.  I even managed to get 2nd place in my age group!  (not bad for 1 week after a 30k :-))

Also, as part of Farley Fest, the Hollands Grist Mill was actually running during the day on Saturday, grinding corn for keepsake bags.  The English-style Mill has been the symbol of Milbank for decades and reconstruction was recently completed at a cost of over $1 million.  This is the first time the Mill has run in a very long time.  Visitors were even allowed to ascend to the upper stories to see the Mill's mechanisms at work.  Very cool!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Save this link!

Any time you need to be cheered up, watch this:  Guaranteed to improve your mood!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bear Country USA and President's Park

Since we were just in the Black Hills a year ago, Dad and I decided to visit some of the lesser known attractions this year — Bear Country USA and President's Park.

Bear Country is a drive-through wildlife park with plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with the critters!  There are fences to keep the animals apart from each other, but they can come right up to the vehicles if they want to.

The bears were being fed while we were there and there were pieces of raw meat and slices of whole wheat bread scattered along the roadside.  Curiously enough, most of the bears seemed to be more interested in the bread than the meat.  One of the largest bears came right up to the car and we had to wait for him to amble across the road in front of us before we could move on.

We even caught a couple of bears in the act of doing "the naughty", though the little female didn't seem to be enjoying it that much.  Maybe bears aren't that different from humans?

We also saw reindeer, Artic wolves, timber wolves, mountain goats, Big Horn sheep, miniature mules and even a white buffalo!  For the kids, there is a baby animals petting zoo, too, but we didn't stop to see that this trip.

Since we had received a free pass to President's Park while in Mitchell, we headed there next.  This attraction is fairly new and doesn't seem to be well-known yet.  There are 20-foot-tall busts of each one of the presidents along a pleasant half-mile walk.  Each president also has his biography on a plaque nearby.  The bust of President Obama was in place, but not quite finalized.  Note the wet plaster at his neckline!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

Well, after nearly two weeks with very little Internet access, I finally have time to post a few things.

On our way from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Sheridan, Wyoming, we took a little sidetrip to Mitchell, South Dakota to see the famed Corn Palace.  The Corn Palace is entirely redecorated every year using over 275,000 ears of corn and other natural materials.  This year, the theme selected by the committee was "American Destinations."  The panels were decorated with famous monuments — like Mt Rushmore, the Space Needle and the Arch in St Louis — from all around the country.

A group of hunky young men were trimming the branches from some green material which looked like weeds to this untrained eye.  Bunches of it were being placed in the design by the artist.  The green will eventually mellow to a nice golden color like the rest of the decorations.

But, on this day, the big attraction was the bust of President Obama being transported by flatbed to the President's Park in the Black Hills.  It was kind of eerie seeing the president's head and shoulders in two separate pieces!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fun day in Sheridan, Wyoming

My Dad and I are in Sheridan, Wyoming today.  Tomorrow is the Big Horn Trail Run, but today, we did the tourist thing with my Aunt Ethel.

This morning, we visited Big Horn, Wyoming, a tiny town south of Sheridan, population 198.  We toured the Bradford Brinton Museum, a gentleman's farm of the 1920s and 1930s.  Brinton was a farm implement engineer and well-enough off to have a 2000-acre ranch in Wyoming as a summer home.  The house and museum contain an awesome collection of western art from the likes of Hans Kleiber and Frederic Remington. 

We ate lunch at the Bozeman Trail Inn in Big Horn.  It is the oldest continuously operating inn in the west.  We had tasty ham and cheese sandwiches and awesome steak fries while admiring the collection of fancy whisky bottles collected over the years.

In the late afternoon, we headed to Story, Wyoming to visit the Story Art Station, an artists' coop with selections of local artists' work.  I particularly enjoyed the beeswax candles and Christmas ornaments by Harts Aglow and the fused glass objets d'art by Paulette Kucera.  I was equally impressed by the artwork of all the other talented artists.  If I had any wall space left in my house, I would have surely bought more!  And I would dearly love to own one of the fabulous hand-felted purses by Marilyn Roberts, but being allergic to wool has its drawbacks.  A humorous story from Story:  The road sign announcing the city said Population 650, but someone had painted a large 1 over the 0, so I guess there was a recent baby born to some lucky family!

We ate dinner at the Wagon Box Inn in Story, and all I can say is Yum!  I had the Coriander Salmon Salad with Huckleberry Vinaigrette and it was totally tasty.  Dad had the daily special — Stuffed Rainbow Trout — and Aunt Ethel had Chicken-Fried Steak.  They both enjoyed their meals as much as I did.  Definitely worth a trip!

Lastly, we visited the historical site of the Wagon Box Fight, a battle fought during Red Cloud's War in 1867.  Thirty-two soldiers held off an attack by 1000-2000 Sioux, Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne and members of other Indian tribes by taking shelter in a corral created by placing 14 wagons on their sides in an oval.  The soldiers were equipped with new Springfield-Allin repeating rifles with which the Indians weren't familiar.  The Indian warriors had planned to attack and then, when the soldiers reloaded, to storm the corral and kill the soldiers.  But the lull during reloading never came, and despite several attacks, the Indians were unable to overcome the soldiers.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


OK, so I've been thrown yet another curve ball.

I've had nodules in my thyroid for six years now.  I go have an ultrasound every year and the nodules have never changed...until now.  This year, I have two new nodules and two of the old ones have gotten bigger.  My doctor thinks I should have my thyroid removed.

I had the thyroid uptake scan back when the nodules were first discovered with negative results.  I've also had two fine-needle aspiration biopsies in the past, both with negative results.  My thyroid is still functioning, at the low end of normal, but my doctor thinks it is not worth the risk of it being cancerous.

I was agreeable to having the surgery until I read some of the posts online about the after-effects of the surgery.  One lady gained 40 pounds, another 20 and another 19. The last thing I need is to gain weight!  Other after-effects sound awful:  joint pain, mood swings, depression, tingling hands and feet, cold hands and feet, hair loss.  What could be more fun than that?

Now I'm not sure what to do.  I guess it will all work out eventually...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2009 EuroCross 5K

What a hoot!  EuroCross is one of my favorite races each year, guaranteed to provide some dirt and mud and lots of fun.  The 5K is run as five loops on a 1K course with two creek crossings on each loop.  There are straw bales to jump over, one short-but-steep hill, another longer hill, and a little segment on pine-needle covered trail through the woods.

That's me in the background, two years ago, climbing up out of the second creek crossing.  This year, the water at the first creek crossing was chest deep!  This crossing was waist deep instead of the usual calf deep you see here.  Everyone was suitably soaked and streaked with mud by the end — yum!

I even managed to get 2nd place (out of two!) in my age group this year.  I'll take 'em any way I can get 'em!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Big Horn Trail Run 30K

Lately, I've been training for my next big (and maybe last!) race, the Big Horn Trail Run 30K (18.7 miles) in the Big Horn mountains near Dayton, Wyoming on June 20.  I ran this race last year, too, and it was a blast!  There are also 50K, 50 mile and 100 mile races running simultaneously with different start times.  They bus us up to the start of the race at about 7600' and let us run down to the valley at about 3800'.  Last year, my bus actually saw two moose grazing alongside the road.

I didn't take any pictures on race day, but I borrowed some from another runner (thanks, Molly!) to show you what it was like last year, and what I'm looking forward to this year.  This photo shows what the start of the race looks like.  Don't be fooled by the gravel road.  It didn't last long!

This is what a lot of the course looks like.  The wildflowers were awesome last year.  There was still snow under the trees in many places.  We even get to cross several shallow streams.

Eventually, we wind our way down into the Tongue River Canyon, shown here.  The coolness coming from the icy water was very welcome, because the last leg of the race is run on a very flat, hot, dusty gravel road.  Last year, I asked another runner if the road ever ended and he replied, "Not today!"  It sure seemed that way...

But I did finish the race in 5 hours and 15 minutes, and the best part was that my Dad was waiting for me at the finish line!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stamps with no Printed Value

You know, the post office changes the price of postage so often, I have accumulated a number of old stamps, some of which do not have their denominations printed on them.  They're so old, I can't remember how much they were!  Here is a website that lists the value of non-denominational stamps:  Knottywood Treasures.  Nice to know!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Uncle Herb passed away last Friday...

Herbert Allen Johnson was born June 26, 1925 on the family farm near Marvin, SD.  He was the son of Elmer and Bertina (Barlund) Johnson.  He attended school through the eighth grade and also received an honorary high school diploma.  Herbert served in the United States Army, enlisting on May 14, 1945, and was honorably discharged on December 12, 1946.  He was united in marriage with Marcella Manning on June 27, 1948 in Milbank, SD.

Herbert farmed many years on the family farm south of Milbank.  He was a school bus driver and served on the Vernon #7 School Board for many years.  Herbert was a member of Parkview United Methodist Church and served on the board of Trustees and was a church custodian.

Herbert is survived by his wife, Marcella of Milbank; three daughters:  Linda Wendland of New London, MN; Audrey and husband Dixon Osswald of Colorado Springs, CO; LaVonne Watts of Wilmar, MN and one son:  Kenneth and wife Cheryl Johnson of Crookston, MN; 8 grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren; one brother:  Gordon Johnson of Milbank and one sister:  Marilyn Stemsrud of Stockholm, SD.  He was preceded in death by his parents.

We will miss him.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

She was found guilty!

The woman who backed into my Miata last December was found guilty of leaving the scene of the accident.  Yay!  Now, we just have to see if my insurance company is as diligent as I would be about collecting from her insurance company.  Apparently, in Alabama, if you are found guilty of leaving the scene, you are considered liable for the accident.

It was truly galling to have that loud, rude woman say in court that everything to which I had just testified was a lie.  She still insisted that I drove into the rear passenger corner of her big truck with the side of my car.  Not that many cars I know of can drive sideways...

She even said, with her lawyer's prodding, that she was afraid the "argument" was going to escalate.  She outweighs me by half again as much and is 2" taller.  I really don't think she was afraid of me!  Plus, there never was an argument; just her shouting at me that it was my fault.

But the judge quoted Hamlet and said he thought "the lady doth protest too much" and found her guilty.  However, she only got a $100 fine and court costs of $114.  I would have liked it to have been more, but I am just glad it is over with.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If you have accumulated as many books as I have...

You may be interested in a book swapping site such as BookMooch.  On this site, each user gets fractions of points for each book they enter into their inventory.  Then, when they have sufficient points, they may request a book from another user for which they will pay 1 point and the owner of the book will receive 1 point (slightly different for out-of-country mooches).  The owner of the book pays the postage to send the book to the moocher, but now has an additional point with which to mooch a book for himself.  Each user can build up a wishlist of books they would like to have and an email will be sent when one becomes available

It's a great way to clear off your shelves and get some new books to read at the same time.  The only cost is the postage for sending books to other users, and if you use Media Mail, the cost is usually just over $2.  Where else can you get books for $2?

There are other book swapping sites, but I like BookMooch best.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bobby has graduated!

Bobby graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Wireless Software Engineering on Saturday. It was wonderful to see him walk across that stage. I'm so proud of him!

We were slightly to the right and back of the stage and up as high as the seats went, but they were actually pretty good seats because we were relatively close. They were showing the kids' faces on the big TV screens hanging from the roof, too. It was difficult to hear most of the speakers, except for the man who announced each graduate's name. He was excellent! Bo Jackson was the main speaker and he was very good as well. He even got a little teary-eyed when he asked the students to thank their moms.

But, as Bob says, this is even sadder than when he went away to college because he might move away from us now. He is hoping to find a job in the area so he can stay close to his girlfriend, Sara, but who knows what will happen after that?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Miata is b-a-a-a-c-c-c-k!

After seven weeks in the shop, it is so good to have my Miata back.  For those of you who don't know, a lady (and I use the term loosely!) backed into my car the week before Christmas.  Because she left the scene, she has been charged with a Class A Misdemeanor and we are supposed to go to court next week.  She also lied to her insurance company and told them it was my fault, so they wouldn't pay for the damage, saying it is her word against mine.  So, after several months of fooling around with this whole nonsense, we decided to get it fixed on our policy and let the insurance companies duke it out.

But the best part is, my 2001 car looks brand-new!  Rusty Towers at Woody Anderson Ford did an absolutely fabulous job.  If you need body work done, and you live within 100 miles of Huntsville, AL, take it to Rusty at Woody Anderson Ford.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My new favorite site is LibraryThing

I love books.  There are books filling every shelf in every bookcase in my house with extras stacked on top of the properly placed vertical books.  There are more books stacked on the tops of the bookcases, and there are books on my nightstand and books on my sewing table.  There are books stacked in the hallway and on the floors of most of the bedrooms.  And, of course, there are even cookbooks in the cupboard in the kitchen!

So I was ecstatic when I discovered LibraryThing last fall.  I have been busy cataloging my books ever since.  I currently have 2009 books entered, and I am not done yet.  I have a bad habit of seeing a book I would like to have, but deciding to wait 'til later to buy it.  Unfortunately, I sometimes forget that I did, in fact, buy that book at some point, and I buy it again.  I'm hoping that LibraryThing will keep me from doing that so much.  My sisters have been the recipients of some of my duplicates, but I have found a way to deal with the ones they don't want:  BookMooch, a topic for a future post.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interesting book everyone should read

If you have a product or a service or a business, you really should read Jeff Jarvis' latest book "What Would Google Do?"

I am only about halfway through, but it has so many ideas about how to go forward in the world of commerce as redefined by the Internet. These are lessons no one in business should ignore.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

On being a minority

I know this will make me seem racist and definitely not politically correct, but I have a theory that if you act like a minority, you will be treated like a minority.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a co-worker about the swine flu we are experiencing in our area and how all the schools were closed -- bit of an overreaction, but still understandable. My co-worker mentioned that she thought it was ridiculous that they are considering closing the borders so no more infected Mexicans can come across, and I said they should have closed the borders long ago! She made several comments to the effect that they were only trying to make a better life for their families and how they do jobs no one else would do, etc, etc, and I made several comments to the effect that I have no problem with anyone wanting a better life, as long as they come to the US legally, but I disagreed with the idea that no one would do the jobs they do if they weren't here. I also said we don't need the crime and corruption they bring along with them.

To all of this, she replied that I couldn't understand because she was looking at it from a minority's perspective, and I, who came from the Midwest, could not.

Excuse me?!?! Because I am white, I can't understand? What I do understand is this: When my ancestors came from Norway, they didn't modify all the signs in all the stores so they were in Norwegian as well as English. If you didn't learn to speak English, you had to rely on someone who did. The post office didn't make it easy to mail money back to Norway, either. Same for my German ancestors. Surprise! They all had to learn to speak English.

And as for me having some sort of advantage because I come from the Midwest, I would just like to point out that my parents were ordinary farmers. We never had a lot, but we didn't really know it at the time. I put myself through college and became a civil engineer. For the last 19 years, I have worked in the software industry. Everything I have, I worked hard for. No one handed me anything on a silver platter. I am where I am because of hard work and native intelligence. (I actually think that may make me a minority.)

As I said, though, if you act like a minority, you can expect to be treated like a minority. If, on the other hand, everyone simply acted like a member of the human race, we would all be treated like members of the human race.