Tuesday, February 24, 2009


In my apparently futile attempt to downsize, I have been going thru closets and cabinets, boxes and bags. Ugh. What a way to find things that you REALLY did not, do not want to, even have to deal with.

For those who did not know him: my late spouse had been in a country-western band in northen Minnesota. He was the drummer with Whiskey River for about 10 years, spanning from about 1970 to 1980. I met him after his exit from the band, when he was a worker bee, wearing a shirt and tie and no longer sporting the long-ish hair and ZZ Top-style beard. I am not sure that Mister Band Member would have been attractive to me - ever. Since his death, I have come across various things related to his days with the band, including "drum toys" such as various cymbals, etc.

This is to give basis to my latest discovery. Monday evening, I was poking around another closet upstairs. This had been somewhat simple to clear out: to the right (on the shelf above the clothing pole) is a stack of audio components. I hope that they will find favor with someone at the garage sale. But way to the left, tucked back on top of a covered carton (labeled as the aforementioned "drum toys") is a canvas tote sack. I cannot reach that from the floor, so I put that on my to-do list for another day.

I am currently precluded from using the master bath, while the painter does his thing, preparing the walls and ceiling for painting. So I run upstairs to shower each morning, then downstairs to blow-dry my hair (upstairs plug is dead - don't ask). I remembered the bag, so I dragged up the folding two-step stool with me. Put it in front of the closet and l-e-a-n-e-d way over the to left on my tip-toes and ah-ha! got hold of that canvas bag. Brought it close to me and.... WTF? Harmonicas, maybe 8 to 15 of 'em, in their original boxes. It appears that they are all Hohner brand, made in Germany. I am assuming that these are at least pre-1980. I don't know if he had been interested in playing these at one time or not. I have given up asking questions, and now figuring out what to DO with these. I looked on EBAY, and it doesn't appear that there is much demand for vintage harmonicas - if these would even be considered in that class. I'll talk with a couple of his old buddies from the musicians that I know and see what he had these for - if, in fact, he even mentioned these to them.

As Yul Brynner's character says in the King and I, "Is a puzzlement."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My new baby!

Well, given my adeptness in Florida on a bike, you may find this crazy, but... I bought a bike! Being on the bike (and even falling with it) brought back my old yearning for one.

I had used a bike during my childhood and into my teens, of course. And when I got divorced in the 1980's, I bought one and used if frequently after work (this was in Minnesota, so it obviously was NOT in the winter). I'd get on that baby and bike thru city streets for 30 to 45 minutes. Great for unwinding, for clearing out the mental cobwebs - not to mention the coincidental exercise. At that time, I was in good shape and the biking probably only contributed to that. When I left the townhouse that my ex-spouse and I had shared and moved to a southern suburb of Minneapolis, I took the bike with me and continued my biking habits - this time, it was usually on weekends.

Then I re-married in 1985. We were now living in Houston (I sold the bike before we moved here) and the weather was NOT conducive to bike-riding, most of the time. I tried to find a way to exercise, but the commute and everything else was not helping that. A coupla years ago, we joined L A Fitness. I loved the place, but as the enrollment increased, the wait for the machines got worse and worse. I was really chafed at the ones who would SIT on various exercise machines and chat (or worse, be on their cell phones!) - obviously they were there more for the social stuff and not trying to use the place as it was intended. I absolutely LOVED the elliptical machines - one of the most perfect things (IMHO) that you can do for indoor exercise. But we decided to halt our membership - too many things were eventually broken, including (several times) the heater on the indoor pool. Let me tell you: an unheated pool is merely a cold indoor "lake". Bah - had ENOUGH cold lakes in my past life in Minnesota!

Anyhoo: after having the trial run in FL, I had my appetite whetted for another bike. I talked with a friend of a friend, who gave me enough pointers to go shopping with. And so I became the proud owner of a Specialized Globe Caramel (not sure where this is manufactured) model. With a Shimano 21-speed geartrain (whatever that means!), it has twist-grip gears (recommended by the friend) and is pretty light-weight - frame is aluminum (also by recommendation). They had to get a small frame for me (the medium, even with the seat lowered, was too much for my short-y legs), and the bike has 26" tires - supposedly flat-resistant. Yes, I purchased and USE a helmet. Have had it out a few times for a spin - usually about 20 - 25 minutes at a time. Just using it on the suburban side streets, so far, where I live.

Now... Here's the kicker: I had my annual visit with the cardiologist on Friday and was telling him about the bike. He questioned just WHERE I was doing my bicycling, and when I told him, he relayed this (unfortunately true) story: he knows a married couple who are both doctors, and the husband is an oncologist at M D Anderson (a well-know Houston Medical Center hospital for cancer treatment and research). He was biking in THEIR suburban area one morning. A "soccer mom" (my cardiologist's wording) was driving home from running her son to soccer practice, fell asleep at the wheel of her SUV and ran OVER this man. He is now a paraplegic. He tried to tell me to invest in a bike rack for the car and to ONLY bike on bike paths/trails. Sorry, that will NOT be happening. I want to hop on the bike and just GO. Trust me, if anything at all, I am WAY too cautious.

The good news from seeing the cardiologist: he thought everything sounded good (I have an artificial heart valve), was very satisfied with my weight, my cholesterol numbers, etc. So I got out of there easy - just grabbed my prescriptions for the upcoming year and RAN for the door. Don't know if I have ever related my experiences with the cardiology community or not. The short story is that I have an artificial heart valve as the result of (1) having had rheumatic fever when I was 9; then (2) had several other bouts of strep infections which contributed to scar tissue on my mitral valve; then (3) had some stressful health incidents (the last was an awful bout of flu in 1987) which brought up the need for the valve replacement. That was done five years later, in 1992. I think I was the youngest patient on the post-operative floor of St. Luke's here in Houston at the time of my first open-heart surgery in 1987 (not the one where the valve was replaced) - I was 39 (looking even YOUNGER than that), and boy, did I draw second glances on THAT floor - both from other patients AND their visitors!

Anyway - enough about THAT. I confess that I have not YET taken the time to get a photo of the new "baby", but I did copy (and edit) said photo from some bike shop's internet site. Whatever it takes, guys.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bag tag (thanks, cuz!)

Well, I will be putting this together over at least two days. The primary reason being: that I stupidly waited until 9:54 pm to begin this post, so I know there is NO way that I will assemble the arsenal needed for this one (download a coupla photos, inventory the handbag, etc.). But I hope this will remind me tomorrow (Saturday, the 21st) that I have an unfinished task. Of course, I will only be reminded if I do log on to the blog. Okay... I am blurring the goal here.

My fellow blogger and cousin, who writes The Retirement Chronicles (another reason that she is NOT in my good graces, having had the audacity to retire AHEAD of me), tagged me (and others) with this one.

According to her, the rules are:

1. Take a picture of the purse you are presently using. NO CHEATING...you cannot take a purse that is spiffy and cute that you keep on your shelf and use for only special occassions..OH NO. You must be honest and take a photo of the one you are using everyday, right now.

2. You must post the picture of your purse and tell us how much it cost, and where you got it and a little about it.

3. (HER added rule): You must also tell us a list of EXACTLY what is inside your purse at this very moment. DO NOT lie, and you MUST list EVERYTHING, no matter NOW embarrassing.

4. Tag another 6 of your favorite bloggers to do the same and list them on your blog. Then notify them they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

That's it.

So... back to my handbag -

It's a brand called Fossil (heh heh - no comments from younger readers!). I bought it because it is leather, will (hopefully) last a while, has TONS of zippers and pockets and so on, and although it was originally pricey, I seem to remember getting a $70 bag for considerably less. It's about 10" long, and about 6.5" high. At it's widest (overstuffed) point, it is about 7" max. Yes, I HAVE had it for awhile now, and it looks a bit weathered, etc., but. So maybe I was right on that "last a while" speculation?

The inventory: clip-on sunglasses; four keys on a key-ring; an Obama-Ladin inaugura- tion key ring (not connected to the keys); several kleenexes; a pen and a mechanical pencil; business cards - from the Faux by Two business and from the Port of Houston; business cards with friends' names/cell #'s/e-mail addresses written on them; a glass "forever" nail file; a (wrapped) chocolate mint from the Olive Garden; $59 in paper money; lotsa change; a gift certificate to Walmart; checkbook; small address book; five lipsticks/lipglosses!; small container of hand lotion; wallet with credit cards, car and health insurance cards, drivers license, Sams Club card; small notepad; small tin of mints; packet of rice paper (oil-absorbing); mirror with pressed powder (okay - I have oily skin!); vinyl packet with optical cloth; wrapped pantyliner; Hallmark pocket calendar - keep track of birthdays!; two pill bottles: one with advil and tylenol and vitamins - the other with prescription drugs (I take 7 scrips a day) and various crumpled notes and receipts. OOPS! Nearly forgot that lovely Viking-purple cell phone hanging off the handle there. I think (fully loaded) the bag weighs about 5 pounds. Years from now, archeologists will find our skeletons, with the females often having a groove on their left (or right) shoulder bone (aka clavicle). I wonder what they will attribute this to?

And other bloggers to tag with this? Hmmm.... will also address this tomorrow. So there you have it: lots of promises (tomorrow never comes?) that I will have to fulfill.

Time to back-pedal to the living room, catch the weather, and the Tonight Show. Catch ya'll later, when I flesh out this post tomorrow. 'Nite!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm b-a-a-a-c-k!

Nancy is back. From Florida. Badly timed visit, weather-wise. Colder 'n a grave-digger's arse, folks. Two mornings where the temp hovered at 35 degrees. Brrrrrr.

Anyway, she came back with a positive frame of mind that she hopes will continue. Time, indeed, will tell.

While there, she fell.off.a.bike. Yes, her did. I will post a photo to attest to my bruises and owwwees. By the way, this happened at the very end of a much-longer bike ride than I had been on, for ages. I was congratulating myself (silently, of course) on how well I had done. And then, on perfectly FLAT ground, while rounding a small curve on the driving area, I leaned a leeettle bit too far. And found that flesh gives and asphalt does not. The photo shows my healing body over one week after my fall. It was suggested that maybe I should wear a biking helmet - but I did NOT hit my head. Maybe kneepads would have been more appropriate, although most don't wear those unless they roller skate. Sometimes you just cannot protect a person from their own stupidity/clumsiness.

The other photo shows the t-shirt that I wore back from St. Pete. Three women were working at the checked-baggage counter for Southwest, and the first one who saw the shirt HAD to get the other two to see it, before I left there. So I was glad that I had worn it. It seemed an appropriate shirt to wear back to Texas. (If you cannot read it, it says: Forget the bull. Ride the cowboy. Some folks don't like Southwest, because they have the cattle-car boarding procedure. It has never bothered me, as long as I can get in with the first boarding group (or second one, in a pinch). And I so appreciate that Southwest has not decided to charge you for checking one bag (yet). It was a godsend, because the Florida weather this year was so changeable that I had to pack for two climates, in effect.

I had expected a jam-packed plane going into Tampa. But about one-third of the seats were empty - and this was the Thursday before the Super Bowl, y'all. Maybe a reflection of the economy? And the returning flight was about one-quarter empty, also. Although I (and most of the rest of the passengers, from what I could see or hear of their reactions) would GLADLY have left behind the parent with the shrieking child. Kid was screaming - not in pain, at all. Before boarding, I had been talking with a woman who was returning to Houston to see her grandkids, after being in Florida caring for her aging parents. She was looking forward to this. And after hours of putting up with the screaming - directly across the aisle from her, and one row behind me - I heard her say, "I do NOT want to even see my grandkids after this." Although I did see her at baggage claim, with her grandkids, later on. But when she made that remark, I knew that the shrieking had gotten to her, as well.

So, back at work and NOT liking it. Certainly hope that my house sells quickly and at a fair price, once it is painted and ready for outside eyes to see. Please, God, help me to force myself to pack, pack, pack - or to sell, sell, sell - or to throw or donate stuff as I see fit. I am already downsizing (in my mind) so that I will not have to move a lot of stuff. Anyone want a custom-designed china cabinet? Check the Houston Craigs List shortly (after I take and post photos of that item).

Gotta run. Bye for now!