….is flat. All the roads, flat. All the yards, flat.  All points of the compass, flat enough to see 2 farms away.  Although, that’s not a record. Illinois is that flat in many areas, particularly between St. Louis and Peoria. It’s 3 to 4 farms flat. Boring flat. Sleep behind the wheel flat.

Then there’s Kansas. Didn’t believe I can see so far. Then there’s the panhandle of Texas. You can see the curvature of the earth there. There are ranches instead of farms, bigger than farms, and you can see 2 of those in one direction.

But we’re not in Illinois, Kansas, or Texas. We’re in Indiana visiting an old frield who lived briefly in Minnesota and worked in our store. He’s moved back home to Indiana. And if I’m not mistaken there’s a song title similar to that phrase.

We rolled up to his house, 15 – 20 miles north of Elwood (’ve not heard of Elwood?) and we thought we’d been trapped in a corn loop. Corn, corn, OH! soybeans, corn, corn, corn.  All of it at least 7 feet straight up.  Finally, 37 angled toward the northeast and we drove straight onto 600W, past a brick church and turned in.

We’d just left 97+ tropics in Tennessee, where it’s still going on, and stepped out into perfect low 80’s sunshine and breeze. I almost wished I’d brought a jacket. Today the weather is the same. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be the same. I’m liking Indiana more every minute.  And on top of that, it’s not north enough to be infested with mosquitoes after sunset. wow.

Today we hopped in the Indiana issue pickup and went to a town about 7 miles from his house to find the grave of James Dean, the First of Cool. (Not really. My older brother wore the costume in 1951 just before he went to Korea.) It took us about 45 minutes to find the head stone, small, chipped from tourists wanting souvenirs, nothing noteworthy to make anyone who was not aware that The James Dean was buried in the middle of Indiana, think this marked the grave of the same.

There are a couple of older two story homes in Fairmont converted to James Dean museum and gallery and every year they have a James Dean Festival but that’s about all the hoopla Fairmont does for their world famous resident. As a matter of fact, in that festival, there is a parade of ’49 Mercurys from all over the world, that are driven to the cemetery in his honor, the model he drove in Rebel Without a Cause.

To them, he was one of the boys who lived there and occasionally baled hay for a few extra bucks in the summer.  In fact, our friend and host says he worked with Dean back in the day baling hay with his brothers. When Dean was back in town between films, he hung out with our friend’s older brothers. Just one of the local good old boys and that’s how his memory and his grave are treated.


If you want me to I can walk you right up to his grave so you can take a picture.  Because, like a dummy, I left the house with all the makeup I could imagine using, all my hair care, two cell phones, clothes I won’t wear, the computer, even a cake mix and frosting for the birthdays we’ll celebrate this week…..



The edge of the continent

Early evening, cruising over an endless carpet of cotton topped clouds unbroken from Chicago, I saw him, Mt. Rainier, unaffected by mere clouds, unimpressed by mere man’s noisy jets, regally challenging anyone and everything to top him. This was not my first sight of him.  But the sight of the peak ruling the sky isn’t old yet.

Raised amid cornfields on all sides, I moved to a state sporting more than its share of lakes and snow, and am currently surrounded by tree covered hills and softly rolling mountains.  It’s all beautiful.  But I always wanted to sleep next to and wake up to the sound of the Pacific.  Last weekend, my daughter booked us a room on the Oregon coast with only a sidewalk and a few yards of sand between us and surf.  I am a displaced beach bumette.

Those who live near enough to the ocean to spend a random Saturday on the beach or drive by it every day, try to imagine when you kicked your first wave, the first time you just thought it was ankle deep.  This was not my first trip to the Pacific or the Atlantic.  It was the first time I was there long enough to watch the sunset paint the underside of a day long cloud bank, spilling color on the breaking waves making it shimmer all the way to where water and sky meet, be lulled to sleep by its whispers and hums, and gaze at it from a balcony in early light wrapped in a blanket.  I was on the edge of a continent touching the edge of the greatest sea on earth.  Li’l ol’ me.

Seaside.  We walked the sand, kicked the waves, took pictures (to be posted but it’s midnight now and it won’t be tonight) enjoyed way overpriced and insanely wonderful seafood followed by arcade mania.  Before heading back to Seattle, we made one more short trip down the road to Cannon Beach to walk the sand again to Haystack Rock, buy a piece of pottery, home made fudge, fresh salt water taffy, grab a designer coffee and check out a kite store. The city is remodeled for tourists and it’s working.

Thanks, BB, for the girl talk and the beach.

As soon as I find that little camera cord …

Since the SD card I used in the camera this weekend is the weird one that won’t function simply by inserting it into the slotty thing, I need the cord to connect from the camera to the laptop.  It’s 8:45, I’ve been up since 5:02, worked two extra hours and am in no way excited about digging around for a connecting cord.  Besides, Fringe is coming on.

We spent 4 short days with our Seattle kids, daughter and son-in-law.  If I could retrieve it, a picture would go here.

We played games, went to a movie, shopped, shot fireworks, ate at a way cool restaurant on a bluff, talked, grilled, celebrated Jesus’ resurrection, grilled some more, shot off fireworks, laughed, went to Ripley’s Acquarium in Gatlinburg, ate carmel corn, played mini-golf, and watched a couple of  movies at home.  All that took 4 whole days to pack it in but we managed.

Tuesday morning came all too soon and early too.  So did clock in time at work.

Our workload is heavy if not heavier than it was before they cut staff.  Now they have to kick in with the overtime, begging for it in fact.  After 3 weeks of  “thou shalt not clock in earlier than your appointed time, nor shalt thou clock out later than your appointed time, not one minute!”  So much for cutting expenses.  Speaking of cutting expenses, I headed for the kitchen for my coffee and saw a monstrous machine that actually requires MONEY, 50 cents to be exact.  HAH!  I went to Wally’s and got an air pot!  Too bad, so sad.  They’re not getting my 50 cents a cup.  I figure it will take a couple of weeks, then my coffee is freeee, freeee, I tell you! And mine, miiiine….

I miss my kids.  We’re scheduled to fly out there the first full week of June for a combination trade show for Honey and the rest of the week with the kids.  They want to take us to Seaside for a couple days of fun on the beach.  In the meantime, that feels like a long time away.

Gotta run.  Fringe is on.  There’s a heavily clawed mysterious people eater on the loose and I have to concentrate on the plot.  I hope I’m not so tired I fall asleep in the middle and dream about it.

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor

on the bedpost overnight

If you know even part of the tune, you may as well go to the link, print out the lyrics, and keep them on the nightstand ’cause this song could keep you awake for hours and wake you up in the morning.

My manager stopped at my cubie one day last week and offered my neighbor and me our choice of peppermint or spearmint gum. Her daughter’s science project is experimenting with various brands of chewing gum testing the flavors’ individual longevity. Since she and her husband are developing speech difficulites along with jaw pain, would we please participate? Please, pretty please? I decided after approximately a half hour that the flavor was going rather flat and noted it as such on paper for the sake of science.

Then it occured to me that if it were stuck on something like a bedpost or underneath a shelf, the side of the monitor, or under a chair seat and left there overnight or for several days, the flavor would be revived. How, I don’t know exactly, but it would.

I called my sister last night and asked her what was our first trip to see the oldest sister Mary in New Mexico. I was pretty little at the time and couldn’t remember exactly. The first was 1953, Christmas.  That puts me at 2 months shy of 4.  According to her, we traveled the 2000 mile round trip at least once a year, making the one in ’53 and at least 2 of the subsequent trips somewhat of a blur of memories for me.

I remember high rock walls on either side of the highway, yucca plants, cacti, scenic desert overlooks which are documented in tiny black and white snapshots, and sand. Lots of sand. One memory was eating in a diner, the kind with the long counter and swivel seats trimmed in chrome mounted on a step up from the floor away from the ordinary tables where we, the lowly rabble, were confined.

The swivel stools fascinated me. Every chance I had I would find an empty one, lay on it on my tummy and spin. Mom being Mom, I imagine this didn’t last long. Something about my feet hitting people trying to walk by. (Mean mommy) When it was time to pay the bill, the rest of the family dashed to the car to establish the standard seating arrangement, one sister got one window, the other sister the other and the short one had to sit in the middle with a comic book. (Mean sisters) So I stayed back with the mommy who had given me strict orders not to spin on the stools anymore. I turned to look at them one more time and noticed that underneath every stool was a treasure of free chewing gum. Bubble gum, juicy fruit, doublemint, Beemans, all reclassified as ABC, it was all there for the taking, but I had to work fast.

I don’t know how many miles we were down the road before someone noticed how fat my cheeks were. But I can tell you for sure that it takes more than one person to use up the flavor completely.

I used to drink out of the ditches around Cameron too. Maybe that’s why I don’t need a flu shot.

Home again, home again

jiggity jig 931 miles one way. (Where did that little ditty come from? I think I’ll google it when I’m done here)


In the last entry I mentioned going to a nephew’s house for a birthday party. What a pile of bedbugs. Fun, friendly, happy bedbugs and I am one of them.

My sister has 5 grown sons. #1, Jaimie, #2, Schon, our host, and #5, Jordan, were at the party. #3, Jason, was attending to his wife after their 3rd, Hawthorne Russel, was delivered via C-section on Tuesday the 15th. #4, Robin, was still in the hospital fighting for his life having overdosed and being brought back after 8 minutes of no heartbeat. More about Robbie separately.

The birthday was for Sam, 8, Schon’s firstborn. In attendance was …… oh, man, don’t make me list everyone — they were ALL OVER the place!! I took pictures too. And that’s another thing! The digital camera world — and we have an older one generously given to us by our daughter’s fiance, Chip. The image is captured two full seconds after we all say cheese and the button is pushed and anything can change. What we aren’t used to is checking the image and saying “Nope, try again Bucko!” before we let the subject(s) wander off at 50mph. For example, my sister brought Jason’s two girls to the party, one of whom has big Frodo eyes. We tried gathering her, Schon’s 5 & 8 yr olds, The Bug, me, Camille (3) and Lily with the big Frodo eyes. The phrase “herding cats” comes to mind. Stan snapped it, declared it good, and when I checked the collection in the camera somewhere around Rockford, I saw that Lily’s head was down and we captured the part in her hair. (eyeroll)

The Bug is social to say the least. We didn’t know how he would travel with just Nan and Pop but he was great. We get there and all we had to do was walk in the house. He sniffed out the potato chips, the cookies and the cousins — pick-a-cousin and follow down to the family/toy room. Half of our time was asking if anyone had seen our grandchild. More than once I worried that Randy would be really ticked if we lost his kid.

Randy and my sister’s 5th, Gobie aka Jordan, are 3 months apart and spent quite a bit of time together growing up. So when I saw him there, I handed him my cell phone and dialed up The RanMan so they could talk. Oh, and Gobie, tell Ran that his son is downstairs playing with girl toys. They have a great little pink vanity with a brush and a fake hair blower and did Drew ever like them. I heard a distinct “NOOOOOO!” on the other end of the phone line.

Also in attendance was my other sister, Sharon, and her daughter, Laurie, and family of four. Laurie’s daughter, Emily, is gorgeous. Son Blake sort of recognized me. Good lookin’ kid.

It was the chaos that inspires. The party was in River Falls, WI, about an hour’s drive from Bug’s house. We left about 9 or so and worried a bit that he would crash and throw off his sleep schedule. Hardly. The Bug is nocturnal and doesn’t want to miss ANYTHING. He was awake, ready for games, playing with his MacDonald’s happy meal treasure chest, lost the key, I want my jammies, Nanny, key Nanny, where key, light on, key Nanny, there’s Daddy’s TV tower (thank you, God) where key Nanny, light off Nanny, peek aboo, and so on, but no crying. Such a good and FUN little boy! We brought him home sweaty, dirty feet, tired and we found the key. When he comes to our house we’re watching The Little Rascals and The Three Stooges. What are grandparents for anyway?

Tune in soon for fun at the 40th class reunion. (Who are all these old people?)

One more day with the munchkins

We have another new game.  It’s called Tip Over Poppy.

The routine is that Bug (the 3-yr-old) is to stay in bed or at least in his room until 7am.  This lets mommy and daddy get a last wink after various night feedings.  The rule still holds when grandparents are visiting both for consistency for the 3-yr-old and the tired, creeky grandparents’ need for that last wink as well.

Nana has been assigned the nursery futon, Poppy the downstairs futon.  7:00.000001 and I open my eyes to a grinning Bug.  “Hi Nana.  Where’s Poppy?”  The child has no clock in his room and can’t tell time anyway.  How does that work?

“Poppy’s downstairs.  Go get him”  is followed by foot-thumps, grrrr’s, giggles, and repeated Oh, noooo’s.

Tip Over Poppy starts with “Help me! Help me!”  Pop then sits up as if to escape.  Step two is  “Rahrrr” and a charge.  Step three is a body tackle toppling a helpless Poppy.  Follow-up is two or three rolls and simultaneous tickling.  Repeat, repeat, repeat until someone (probably Poppy) thinks of something else to do usually involving food.

This afternoon Pop and I are to meet with some of my side of the family 2 hrs into Wisconsin; tomorrow is Honey’s 40th class reunion 2 hrs the other direction.  We will be spending the night there with Honey’s brother, leaving way too early, stopping one more time here before hitting the 14 hour trail.  If we go the way we came, we’ll stop and retrieve the eggs we left in our friend’s frig at the empty farm house.  If we go our usual route, we will be camping in Bloomington or maybe Indianapolis.

Time keeps pace with the Concord.  Giggle when you can.