Sunday, April 13, 2014

Old person, new world

It’s amazing how huge changes in our behavior sneak up in small steps. When I look at even the vocabulary I use today, I realize that even as recent as a couple of decades ago words like mouse, desktop, icons, footprint, kindle, application, tablet, and so many more, meant something completely different than they do now.
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I no longer have a home phone. I don’t subscribe to cable TV. I have no print. I rarely buy a hard copy or paperback book. I don’t collect coupons, or print coupons and loyalty cards are now on my keychain.
I do not have a GPS device on my windshield and rarely use paper maps. Why would I when that helpful woman’s voice, sometimes irritating, tells me where to turn and gets me, usually, to my destination.  Unknown-7pge.jpg
I listen to news on a tablet in the morning or on the Internet radio station available on my Apple TV, and I don’t have to be sitting in front of a TV to do this. A tablet is quite portable.
In the early ‘60s I read a TV guide article about the future. I was excited about tall tales of being able to get any movie you want on demand through some touch screen. I couldn’t wait to have an audio greeting telling me I have messages, or reminding me to shop or call someone. Now I am frustrated if the movie I want isn’t yet available on Netflix or Amazon Prime. If it isn’t there now, though, it will be soon, I am confident.
Jeff Bezos stated in an interview that it is his intention to have (almost) every book every published available on Kindle. That is quite an ambition. I expect he will soon say the same thing about movies on Amazon Prime.  Unknown-8 Unknown-9
I still sometimes prefer the feel of a paper book in my hands, but for travel, there is no question of Kindle's convenience over lugging heavy books on a trip where we are now so limited by airlines on cost of baggage.
Modern life is ever changing, and APPLE, Amazon and Netflix have truly changed our behavior on a large scale. How many people have PC’s but still have the Apple products for phones, tablets and Apple TV?  Right?
It’s getting as though you have to think twice before you purchase almost anything—DVD’s of TV series that are free online make purchasing DVD series so unnecessary. And at this point, if the season I want on a series I am following isn’t out yet, I switch to a different series until it is. The selection is so vast, I wouldn’t have time to see everything anyway. And, unless I need to watch a live sports game, I have no idea why I would pay $100 a month for cable or Dish.
I just heard that the stats on people giving up a home phone have risen dramatically. We gave ours up ten years ago. The only people who ever called it were telemarketers and long, lost relatives, who if we wanted to talk to, would know our cell numbers.  Unknown-10 Unknown-11
Technology is so amazing that it connect over generations, gender, and even people with vastly different interests. Where but on Facebook, for instance, can you instantly find out which of your friends has a new grandchild, or a birthday, or needs prayer, or wants you to Like some cause they believe in--even if they are thousands of miles away. I don’t always act on everything there, but I am glad it is there.
The down side of all this is obvious. Privacy and quiet time are rare. I was unnerved to see my photos are waiting to upload to Twitter and Google Circles. I don’t remembering setting that up and don’t want to.
But, when I want to share photos, like asking my contractor friend to look at an inspection report on a house, it was amazing to be able to discuss that with him, having instant pictures and the report and being able to go over it line by line. No down time.   At Christmas, I wanted to give my son-in-law a picture of a train that my daughter took. It took my son and his girlfriend about a half hour to help me get it to CVS in Los Angeles, so it would be awaiting me at the store by the time we arrived there the next day. Then I could buy a frame and have it ready for Christmas, rather than the old days of film, developing, waiting, printing, paying for copies, etc. This was amazing to me.   Unknown-12       1003147_4894137400773_1868205741_n
For all it’s downside, I love technology, and am so happy to have the efficiency of  digital copy and paste, scanning, digital bank deposits, Amazon grocery delivery and countless other conveniences I never realized have crept into my life as normal, everyday activities. They say a million dollar idea is one that changes behavior. I can’t wait to see which one I can come up with, but for now, I will enjoy paying for or accepting for free the myriad of ideas that have changed mine--mostly for the better.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LOFT LIFE: Taking pHun to a new level

You all know I am into green smoothies, organics, antioxidants and the like. But when I began reading about how to do the  pH thing, I was overwhelmed. Learning all about the balance of alkaline and acid for the body  seemed foreign to think about.    51doKJVk1vL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_
I dabbled with the idea, but really had no idea what to actually eat. The whole idea of it reminded me of the chemicals we used to clean our swimming pool (when we lived in California).
But, I began to do more than dabble when my “California girl” daughter texted me a picture of her sore throat, gross as it was, and told me she thought she was getting strep. Rather than rush to the urgent care center, she decided to completely change her food for a couple of days to alkaline foods. The throat redness left, her fever left, and she was well in three days. Wow!  This got my attention, big time.
So when I started to feel some flu-like symptoms, I did the same thing and it all went away. Health.
I read up on what foods are alkaline. I started making sure my daily 8 to 10 glasses of water all had a squeeze of lemon. My daughter was buying alkaline bottled waters and was concerned with the expense. I told her to go to Costco for a bag of lemons, and make her own. Much cheaper, tasty and easy to do. You can get 8 wedges from one large lemon, which does the daily dosage for both alkaline food and water. I mean, really. If drinking lemon water can give me a flu-free season, why wouldn't I do this.  Unknown
The research tells me that, although lemons and other citrus are acidic, they become alkaline when ingested.
On the other hand, animal protein becomes acidic to the body, So, next I cut down dramatically on how much animal protein I consume.
Greens, ala green smoothies, are also alkaline.
I have to say, that barring having all the overwhelming reading to do, these three simple steps--lemon water, less animal protein, more greens--have gotten me through flu season with no symptoms of flu and a really robust health, even with our extreme winter.
The pH people claim that it is the acidic diet that most Americans eat that increases inflammation in the body and they say inflammation is what leads to disease--and not just flu, but disease like cancer and other gnarly stuff. The toxins and waste that accumulates in our bodies because of our high-acid producing diets are also the culprits in decreasing energy and even speeding up the effects of aging.
Getting myself to learn how to maintain the ideal pH of 7.4 is more of a challenge, since it requires me to learn way more. But, the benefits claimed seem to warrant at least considering doing this.
If it is this simple, why not try it? It is easier and cheaper than medication, and has the benefit of not only warding off disease, but creating health. Rather than a cure, why not go for the preventive?
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The answer for why most of us don't attempt this seems to be tied to the whole idea of the modern American eater. I am sure our grandparents weren't dealing with the problem of trusting food companies and restaurants, because they didn't eat packaged foods and seldom went "out" to eat. They didn't have the soft drinks daily, if at all, and they weren't eating snacks we think of as normal (donuts, candy bars, giant sugary drinks). They had gardens, they canned veggies and fruits for winter. So when this seems like going to a lot of trouble to eat more like they did, it is true. It is a lot of trouble changing over to the former ways. But, did they have the health problems we think of as normal? Were they generally obese?
I am still in process on this, still reading, thinking, changing my diet. But, I will now hunker down and really read the book that claims miracle powers of a balanced pH eating plan, and I will begin to make permanent changes where it just makes sense to do so.
Let me know what you think about this, please.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ANNOUNCEMENT



For all you faithful readers--about 300+ of you from literally all over the globe--I am now redirecting you to my new HUB website: www.readmstadinger.com. When you click on MENU, you can see ALL of my writings in one spot, and I am updating constantly.

With the MENU button, you can find Spinning Straw into Gold (I may continue to post it here also for awhile, but want people to make their comments on my new site, please). Also, you can find Lunch with Marjorie, my newspaper column about people's lives--an inspirational wealth of stories about ordinary people and their great significance. And, my travel blog City Cites is also there.

In the future I will have my downloadable Resume workbook. Its techniques have been used successfully by thousands of people over the 35 years I have been doing resumes.

And my Pray for Our Troops bookmark will soon be available in lots of 10 for a donation of $1 each ($10)--as soon as I figure out PayPal. :)

Lastly, for now at least, I plan to have my Sourdough cookbook as a downloadable eBook, containing authentic sourdough recipes from my grandfather in the early 1900s, when he was a US Marshall on the Santa Fe Trail.

Happy reading! Your comments always make my day.  www.readmstradinger.com

PS, I am thrilled with my new affiliate Blue Host. They are the most helpful, customer-oriented hosting site I have ever worked with. If you plan to start a blog or website, please check them out through my site: www.readmstradinger.com

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LOFT LIFE - Angel update

Thanks so much to my readers for all of your wonderful Angel suggestions. I decided to start with making my Christmas angel into a Valentine angel.
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This wasn't as easy for me as for you very creative types, but I took my All Recipes friend Pam B.'s suggestion to visit the Dollar Store, which she advised the toy department, and that was very helpful.
Of course, upon entering the store mid-January, all of the Valentine stuff met me at the door, so I did not need to proceed to toys yet.
I purchased $6 worth of hearts, ribbons, and, for some reason (probably the fact that I didn't have my glasses on), rose petals.
Returning to my loft, I made a pattern for a "heart dress" by tracing the wooden angel shape and cutting it out of the red heart of swirls and flowers. I, all by myself, created a paper-doll dress for Angel dear.
Now when I was a young girl, I really didn't get into playing with dolls much, but I did like dressing them, and my mom made beautiful clothing for my Mary Hoyer. But, I was more comfortable with paper dolls, I guess because I could mess them up and not be out the price of an expensive doll.
So this exercise brought back that memory, and I think I may be able to keep that going for other seasons and holidays.
I found out, after I got home, that some of my hearts, little pink ones, had two-sided sticky stuff on their backs. You know folks, to most of you this probably seems very elementary, but to me it is an entirely new adventure on which I would never have embarked without the encouragement of Pam.
So I stuck the pink hearts on the wire frame to cover up where Christmas balls had been, and presto, a Valentine angel was born.
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I used the same patterned red heart (the package had two) that I had cut the dress from, and stuck it on my door. That took a bit more work, since there was no two-sided sticky tape on that. I created my own double-sided tape, but it didn't stick well. I used some Scotch tape, finally, out of desperation and also made a hole in the top of the heart, inserted Valentine ribbon, and hung it over the door. That worked better, although because the heart is edged in black, the Scotch tape shows. Do they make a clear red tape?
Anyway, this should serve until St. Paddy's Day, for which I will return to Dollar Store to get green stuff.
Thanks Pam. Thought you all might want to see my solution.
Let me know how you like it, and please don't laugh too hard (at me).

Monday, January 13, 2014

LOFT LIFE - What do we celebrate?

On my walkabout today around the inside of our apartment building (15 rounds is three miles), I was noticing the Christmas decorations on the doors of floor two. That got me to thinking:

I, too, still have my Christmas angel, bells and wreath decorating our apartment door. And, I keep wishing I could move on to the next season, but really think the earliest I would do that would be Valentine’s Day. But, then Valentines would be a very short-lived decor, unlike Christmas which at least lasts about a month.

But, what is the decor for January? What do we celebrate after Christmas and before Valentine’s Day?

Really there is nothing. Well, there is nothing that Madison Avenue or Hallmark tell us to celebrate.

So have we come to this? We can’t figure out how to or what to celebrate unless there is an advertising campaign for it? I find that a little disturbing that I am so dependent on them for this, rather than looking into my own heart and life for motivation to celebrate.

I thought about just celebrating “life” and putting up decorations for that. But, that seems like it’s more of springtime and Easter. And, welcoming spring before it is time goes against my whole reason for loving living in a place that has all four seasons. I like the winter months. They give me time to contemplate, to visit friends, to turn in a bit and do some soul searching which doesn’t seem to happen in the good weather months (or in California ever when I lived there).

Some people have their favorite football team logos out. I guess that would be appropriate for January and early February. But, my heart wouldn’t be in it. Don’t get me wrong, I like football. But, I don’t get into it enough to use my door to cheer on my team (which has already lost).





There are no leaves on the trees. There is still some snow and more to come. It is raining and, though not so cold as last week, it’s winter. So I don’t know what to replace my angel, bells and wreath with. Maybe a wreath of twigs?


I will keep on considering this, but I am open to your ideas. I’m really not very creative about this area. And, decorating has never been my strong suit. But, I do seem to choose friends who are both creative and artistic. What is it we celebrate in January that could have a decor to go with it? Bring it on readers. I welcome the good winter ideas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

LOFT LIFE: Women are natural shoppers

Maybe learning life lessons from Hollywood isn’t a reliable standard, but, I have to say, I really have learned a lot from the movies.    


For instance, Judy Benjamin, the lead character in the 1980 Goldie Hawn film, Private Benjamin, had to decide on what her Army career duty choice would be, and it just seemed obvious to her that women are natural purchasing agents.

So when I told my sister-in-law, Lisa, that I do not like to shop, it started me thinking about whether this is an accurate statement.

Really, what I mean by not liking to shop, is that I am not one to browse, hang out at Walmart, or run around to bricks and mortar stores to find bargains--which today seem to be all made in China, so not really bargains in my opinion.

But, I do enjoy being the family purchasing agent. I think much more like a purchasing agent than just a consumer. I mostly shop online

Purchasing agents look at the big picture more than whether they save a dollar on one item. This becomes very interesting when the economy is bad, prices are skyrocketing, and quality is suffering. 

What does this look like in my real life?

I shop in bulk for many food items that I use regularly. I do this not only at Costco, but more and more at Amazon. I have used their subscribe & save grocery store, and not only do I have regular shipments of things like oats, coconut oil, raisins, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and nuts for my granola, cultures for my yogurt making, soup blends, veggie stock, almond milk, coconut water, and dried beans, free trade coffee, cocoa, chia seeds, hemp hearts, hawthorne tea, and more, but these things arrive at our apartment so that hubby gets to carry in the heavy boxes, rather than me straining to get things from the car to the door. 

I also get a 15% discount and because I am a Prime Member, free shipping! I don’t have to hunt these things down, and they are always in stock. Awesome. Saves on gasoline too.

Also, I no longer make the $180 milk trip to Costco. I now have everything in stock, so I only need to go to the store for fresh produce and the occasional item I know I need. I get in, and get out. Simple now.

Amazon is great also for some clothing and household stuff. I recently found a Tommy Hilfiger hooded, down coat ($400 retail) for $79.00, free shipping. I did look at many stores for this, and nothing even compared in style or value to what I got online at Amazon.

For 40 years I have been an Amway distributor, and I buy all my household products, beauty supplies, nutritional supplements, and various other things, from my own store, at wholesale prices, and am assured they are high quality and “green.” I really miss things like Scrub Buds, SA8, LOC and other essentials when I am traveling, because there is nothing like them on the shelves.

Recently, since my hair stylist had surgery, I have switched to having my color and cut done at a beauty school. I was a little apprehensive at first, but both the color and cut were very well done, and the cost is one quarter of my usual salon. That means I can get my hair done, have manicures, a monthly massage, and even have hubby’s haircut for the same cost as just my hair cut and color. That is pretty irresistible. And, they have late hours so hub doesn’t get all frustrated rushing home from work for his monthly cut. 

I hardly ever go out to eat anymore unless I have a Groupon or Living Social discount. With restaurant dining becoming way more expensive (we don’t do fast food), we can still enjoy lovely meals at half price. We also use these companies for weekend getaways, and I have bought Egyptian cotton sheets, a Sherpa blanket, and other items with extreme discounts. 


So I am not just looking for cheaper stuff or services. These are the same quality products and services I used to pay much more for, with much more convenience and less stress.

For most shopping, it has to be something I really need, really have wanted for a long time, or something I am giving as a gift. I don’t look for ways to spend. I look for ways to get what I need at savings without too much effort. And, yes, I think Private Benjamin was correct. For most women, this attitude comes pretty naturally. Yes, some women do like to browse and shop recreationally. But, I don’t know any women who don’t make smart purchasing decisions. They seem to have it in their DNA to ferret out the good prices.

The whole coupon idea is big business, and probably because women see the value. I have never been big on clipping coupons for three reasons: usually it takes a lot of time and planning to be of value, most items are processed food, which we don’t eat much, and storing and remembering which coupons are where is a big deal and often involves going physically to many stores to find brands. But, I understand those who do this. I used to pay my kids 10% on weekly savings to do the clipping and match coupons to our menu. That was fun, and they enjoyed the income when they were too young to earn other ways.  


So, no, I don’t usually love shopping. But, yes, I do enjoy the art of purchasing. 
    Would love to hear your stories.






Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LOFT LIFE: The heart of the matter



I’ll start right out with the disclaimer that I do respect doctors, nurses, medical personnel and health care workers of all kinds--if they have the heart to help. When you really need them, they are wonderful.

The problem is, even with good hearts, bad teaching and vested interests sometimes get in the way of people even when they have the intention to help. I guess we all help with a bias, hopefully a bias created from truly believing in something.

Okay, so what am I talking about?

Well, when you are over 60, and deem it necessary to walk into the medical system, you should know they have a bias. It’s medicine. They believe in medicine. They have been taught to believe medicine is the answer. It is a rare doctor, or even nurse (most of my friends have been nurses, and the others are usually in health care of some kind), who can see other options. Of course, chiropractors and naturopathic health people do not believe in medicine. But, the medical people write these people off as quacks and ignorant do-gooders.

So when my very, I say very, very goodhearted ophthalmologist suggested I may be developing glaucoma in my right eye, he proceeded to give me three options for treatment--if it did, indeed turn out to be glaucoma. The three options are: eye drops, which he says would have to be used every day for the rest of my life. I hate the statement: you have to do this every day for the rest of your life. I think to myself, Well, what if God heals me? How will I know if I am lowering my eye-pressure with eye drops? Treatment two is laser surgery, which they say only lasts about three years before having to be repeated. So I figure that would maybe work out if it bought me time for them to perfect and legalize medical marijuana, which would really be my first choice.


NO! I have never used it, not even without inhaling. But it is a natural, plant-based treatment, which seems better to me. But then my doctor told me he wouldn’t prescribe it because using it would entail being “stoned” 24/7 or it wouldn’t work. *sigh.*

Then he added another layer of confusing choices. It seems that having glaucoma in only one eye is extremely rare, and so he thought it would be a good idea if I just had a brain scan, “just to be sure nothing else is going on,” AND a second opinion from a glaucoma specialist.  Also, I seem to have convinced my doctor that when the med books say that in 97% of cases blah, blah, blah, but in a rare 3%, blah blah, I am ALWAYS in the rare 3%. Always have been. So he believes me and thus the second opinion thing.


Well, sorry to make this long story even longer, but then, how are you going to really understand the dilemma unless you have these details, right?

So, I thought, probably I will get the second opinion before I have the brain scan. No sense dabbling around the brain if the specialist says absolutely you do have glaucoma in one eye.

I called her office, and they reacted strangely. They first ask your birthday--before any other questions. So the secretary says, “Oh so you’re on Medicare, right?” “No,” I say. That seemed to throw her even when I told her I would pay cash up front.

“Well, I will have to ask the doctor. I don’t know how she wants to handle this,” she said.

“What’s to handle?” say I. “I am paying cash.”

She seemed very, very irritated at me. 

I received a pre-invoice for $1200, which I am sure raised both my eye pressure and my blood pressure. Oh, did I tell you I have been monitoring my blood pressure and it has been mildly to moderately high some of the time.

So, I stewed about this whole dilemma for a few weeks. In the beginning of October I called my own eye doctor’s office to tell them about my bad reception at the second opinion doctor, and about their invoice, which I have a hard time imagining is the “self-pay” cost for what my own doctor does for half that. My sweet Whitney at Dr. E’s office sympathized and said she would call them to see what was what.

In the meantime, I had read about and ordered Hawthorne tea to see if it would reduce my blood pressure. It did, along with my walking two miles a day and drinking more water. The blood pressure is now completely normal 120/80 when I do all three, which is almost daily. When I don’t do all three--skip the walk, the water or the tea--it goes back to about 140/89, which isn’t probably life-threatening, but I want it lower.

I called Whitney back after a couple of weeks of this treatment and said, “So do you think I will die of my brain tumor or go blind before January?”

She laughed at me. They get me there. No runaround. No huge combat experience because I am not on medicare. She said, “Marjorie I don’t think you have a brain tumor, and I think if the doc thought it was urgent, he would be pushing harder.”

“‘Cause I want to save up my HSA deductible for once, and if I spend $1200 for a second opinion, $1200 for a brain scan, and $1200 for laser surgery (which I was still considering), I will never get this saved up. And,” I told her, I am also seeing my blood pressure back to normal with my Hawthorne tea, and I am thinking, maybe it is also lowering my eye pressure. NOTE: eye pressure is supposed to be 10-20 somethings, and mine is smack in the middle, 14, making my “possible” one-eyed glaucoma what they call “Normal Pressure Glaucoma.”  

Then I was listening to a health station on my Internet radio and the guy was talking about HEMP HEARTS! HMM. I Wondered if hemp hearts could possibly do what marijuana does without the “being stoned 24/7” effect. So I ordered hemp hearts from Amazon with my order of Hawthorne tea.

So I am also thinking that between the hemp hearts (which have only recently become legal in the U.S. because they were so much like pot, they were outlawed) and the tea and the walking and the water, I just may get my eye pressure down to 12 and impress Dr. E. 

Whitney said that would be okay and to call in January or February. (Don’t you all think that from July to November--and then to February--I would have some brain tumor symptoms if that were a problem?) I am asking. Your input is welcome.

Okay, so I am gambling a bit with my life. But, I ask you, if I can bring my blood pressure down 20 to 40 points with tea, why would I take gnarly blood pressure meds with really bad side effects? And, if I can (we will find out) lower my eye pressure with natural, non-stoning plant-based solutions, why would I take eye-drops or have surgery? The only reason I can think of is that we have somehow deified the medical route beyond all reason. 

Yes, it may be a gamble, But so are those medicine side-effects. I would rather gamble on this, and keep thinking health and not disease. Whitney assures me that if these natural methods do, indeed, reduce my pressure the same way eye drops would, Dr. E. will count that. He just wants the best for me, which I really do believe.

What think you?




Monday, October 28, 2013

LOFT LIFE: Shootout at the Ware Groupon lesson

I promised you the full story of my very first shooting lesson, which hubby dear was very excited about. As previously mentioned, he grew up on a very large cattle ranch in South Dakota, where guns, shooting, and generally keeping “critters” in categories of pests, profit-makers, pets, and wildlife are just a part of life.

 “Popping” prairie dogs, as they call ridding the ranch of these pests, is not considered to be cruel. In fact, not “popping” prairie dogs and letting those sweet cows break their legs in the holes left by the pests, would be considered cruel.  

 I might want to add here my disclaimer, that this is a perspective of a city girl who has only visited the ranch a dozen plus times, and the opinions expressed here have not been approved by the ranch owners or their relatives, or their South Dakota, non-city-people neighbors. I heard a nasty rumor that the ranch folks think I actually hate the ranch, being a city girl and all, which is absolutely untrue. I love the ranch. I just need to learn how to do ranch life, which no one seems to think I am ready for.
  That said, I found it somewhat amusing that when hubby dear, who loves guns, “popping” prairie dogs, hunting, and eating deer, bear, pheasant, and the like, discovered that he had sired a daughter who would say things like, “Aw, look at that poor (whatever the present roadkill was) creature. Can’t we take her to the vet to maybe save her?” hubby would look at me and wonder how in the world to answer such a strange question.
  Her compassion for animals has since shifted a bit, mostly to cats, and she loves the ranch, and has learned to enjoy shooting--so her father is proud.
  But, I have steered clear of the gun thing for our 33 years together, until I received a Groupon for a shooting lesson. 
  This seemed to be a sign, and I decided it was time, in light of all the fuss over second amendments and rights and such, to at least pick up a gun, figure out how to hold it, and maybe take a shot or too.   


  Arriving at the Ware Gun Shop, the outside was extremely different than I had imagined. This was a little house-like place, very rural, and not at all looking like a school for shooting lessons. Not that I really know what that would look like. Of course, we ventured in, Groupon in hand.

The owner, Mike, refused to introduce himself, or confirm that I had talked to him on the phone, and seemed to want to hurry us out of the main retail area, if you want to call it that (the place didn’t have a shiny, clean appearance).

I was fine with being escorted down the stairs to the basement area where there was a lot of open space with targets all around.  

  
But when Mike began to do his lesson thing, I found him rather fascinating in a grumpy kind of way. He started with a casual interview on why we wanted to have a lesson. Of course I told him I hate guns, but sweetie loves ‘em and I was doing my wifely duty learning a little. I pointed out that my cowboy husband probably didn’t need a lesson but was there to support me. Mike look dubious.
  Next was the laser gun with the red dot thingy, that as he was about to hand to me, I asked, “Um, have you germicided that?” He didn’t answer, and you could feel the humorless countenance beginning to boil behind the eyes. “I mean, how many people have touched that?” I clarified.
  Mike looked at Jay and said, “Is she serious?” Jay of course smiled and explained I was sort of “pulling his chain.”
  Later Jay, also a pretty non-sarcastic sense of humor guy, tried to explain to me the irony of asking about germs while holding a lethal weapon, to which I, of course, replied, “That’s why it’s funny.” I guess not to everyone.
  In any case, Mike had threatened to return our Groupon investment and tell us to leave if I proceeded with any more questions like that. I think he had real people coming in after our lesson, and there would be no more silly questions to waste his time.
  Just so you know, when I get anxious, which happens when holding a gun for the first time, I get funny (or try to be). Since this was lost on Mike, and somewhat on Jay, I figured since I had no audience, I would shape up. I was, after all, here to do something sweet for hub.
  I used the practice laser gun and didn’t feel a whole lot more confident, but cowgirled on.
  When it came time to move on to the big guns--well in my case a .22 or something like that, I started getting serious, especially when Mike began to lecture us on muscle memory, and the three important areas to train.That reminded me of Jack Reacher, and having read the first four books, this lesson began to take on some challenge for me. Jack won’t even shoot until he gets his heartbeat under control. I thought I would try that, if I could remember to while training my muscles to shoot.
  I am, as you regular readers know, extremely audio and Mike is such a clear teacher that the input into my audio file was really very thorough. 
  So, my first ever attempt to shoot a real gun resulted in the cluster you see here. I think both Mike and Jay nearly fell over that this nutty city girl, obviously nervous, scared and worried about germs, actually did quite well. 

  Jay was ecstatic to a point where even annihilating his virtual rat wasn't quite as exciting as seeing his wife take seriously the thing he enjoys the most--except for motorcycles.
  I was a bit proud of the old gal myself.
  Mike seemed somewhat tamed after that, and after realizing we shared the same eye problem--only seeing out of one eye at a time--he told me that on another occasion he would show me how to compensate so I would move slightly to the right and cluster right in that target area. I think that was a compliment. And did I detect an open invitation in that "next time" comment?
  I read the Goggle reviews for Mike and his gun shop and most people found him rude, not customer-oriented, and not even in favor of the second amendment (which I doubt). My guess is that he just doesn’t prefer to converse with the public. Not sure why he is in business, but the bottom line for me is that his teaching style was perfect for my learning style, and I learned what I had come to learn. And I did well--especially in the eyes of the one for whom I was there picking up my first .22.



Friday, September 27, 2013

LOFT LIFE: Opposites attract, but...


I think it is a testimony to God having a sense of humor that, to a person, we seem to choose someone as a mate who is our direct opposite in many important areas:

I like cool crisp September weather and hate hot humid. My honey likes hot, humid summer weather, and the minute he sees 40 degrees F. on any gauge, he instantly goes into what I refer to as his annual winter depression.

“But, it’s not even freezing, I say. “But, it’s gonna be,” he replies. I think he relives his South Dakota ordeal of feeding the critters in sub-zero weather.

He says, “We should move to Florida,” and I say, “How about Maine. He says, “How about New Orleans;” I say, “Alaska!” We have for some reason agreed that someday it will the desert--so hot and not humid. We’ll try it. I love Montreal.

On the same note, my sweetie piles up about six blankets (only three in summer) and I am kicking off my half’s three and swinging my leg out on top of the sheet to get cool--we’re still talking winter. They turn the heat on in our manufacturing building loft--central boiler room furnace--so we don’t even need to turn the heat on ourselves. He comes home and 20 seconds upon entering the apartment, he makes a bee-line for the thermostat to turn it up. I think the shivers runs in his family--maternal side.  


Then there’s noise. He likes it. I like calm. He likes motorcycles. I like to go slow. He likes motors. I like quiet. He likes rock music (he is 90 percent deaf, so I think the drumbeat is all he can perceive). I like Chopin and Jewel’s
lullaby’s.

He likes the smell of gasoline. I don’t think I even need to say, I don’t.

When we eat in a restaurant, I call him a fat magnet. He will peruse a menu filled with healthful choices, and opt for anything with sausage in it. And, even though he has agreed to our going more plant-based, he tries my quinoa casserole with roasted veggies and mozzarella cheese or goat cheese, and he says, “It’s really good. Needs sausage.”

This is by no means an exhaustive list. For instance, I can’t tell you the joy it brought hubby dear when I signed us up for a Groupon shooting lesson. He is a sharpshooter, and I never held a gun in my life--being a city girl. He grew up on a cattle ranch in South Dakota. Guns are just part of ranch life. 
But I will never forget the light in his eyes when he watched me hit the target--with pretty good success for a first-timer. Maybe I’ll give you the whole story in another post. 


Suffice to say, we actually have very little in common. But after almost 32 years, we are more in love than on the first date. He says, “We live in amazement.”

So I ask you, Isn’t this proof of God’s sense of humor. This opposites thing forces us to compromise, which I suspect is the heartbeat of love and the path to unity. Left to ourselves, we would be, well, selfish.

So in the end, it’s a good thing we are paired with one who brings out our complete other, and who forces us to consider that the preferences of another are valid and valuable too.

I just wish we could move to Montreal. I would be okay with the six blankets.   

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

LOFT LIFE: We're Sears people


I was adopted. For some reason, my mother had a hard time not reminding me of that in oh so many ways. She seemed upset that I like the finer things, and was bent on letting me know that was not OK with her.

When I was 16, I was out shopping in one of our Philadelphia suburban strip malls, and came upon the Bonwit Teller’s, a very fashionable department store in that decade. I went in and drooled over a $35 blouse, which, of course, I knew I could not afford. This was the ‘60s, and a $10 blouse was pushing it.

I made the mistake of telling my mom I had seen a beautiful blouse at the little shop and she literally spent about fifteen minutes telling me in no uncertain terms I was not to even imagine such a purchase from such a shop.

I guess I didn’t learn this lesson, because when my girlfriend Grace bought a beautiful cardigan from Strawbridge & Clothier for $12, I saw how good it continued to look for as many times as it was laundered. My cardigans cost around $5 and I got three for Grace’s finer Garland one.  
                          


         

When I told my mom I would be happy to have the better one, that didn’t “pill” after one machine wash, and that I didn’t need three that did “pill” after only one wash, she was very indignant at her recalcitrant daughter.

“We’re Sears people,” she pontificated, with the hidden, but not really well-hidden, message that if I were to be “one of them” I would stop my “highfalutin’” ways, sooner, rather than later.

My internal response was, “WELL, YOU may be a Sears person, but I am not.”

I now realize I should have agreed. “Yes, you are.” And. left it at that.

When I had a discussion with my girlfriends recently about the wisdom of paying $100 for a Coach purse, one of them responded much like I did, that her cheaper purses wore out and showed wear after a few months, where her Coach purse, which she now buys one of annually, looks great after the year.

So, now I realize, there are Sears people, and there are Strawbridge & Clothier, Bonwit Teller, Coach people.

Now I am not trying to be snobbish. I still maintain it is a matter of enjoying quality vs. quanity. Someone who buys a $15 Walmart purse three times a year, and has to throw them away after use, isn’t really saving much over the person who waits for the Coach outlet savings, and purchases a beautifully made purse for $65 that will still be in style and look good the next year. But, there really are people who pride themselves on preferring the cheaper product, and they would rather have quantity than quality.

This seems to be true in so many ways. I marvel that some people open a restaurant or a gift shop or a yogurt shop or any kind of business, and know how to make it look really “classy.” Other people seem to go out of their way to keep things as mundane and non-descript and undistinctive as possible.

When I owned and managed a Christian bookstore, I found beautiful Christmas cards from Abbey Press. They were very sophisticated, and had a clean design. I still purchased some “regular” greeting cards from American Greetings, which looked so much less attractive. Guess which ones were more popular? Right!

Is it that some people really prefer that? Or are they afraid to “look” richer? Or is it just what they are used to? Or is it a lack of a sense of value?” I really don’t know. Maybe I am a snob.

Suffice to say, I AM STILL NOT a Sears person. I almost hyperventilate just walking into Sears, reliving the humiliation of my Bonwit Teller lecture experience. I realize I am over-reacting a tad. And, I know it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round. But, I ask you, wouldn’t you prefer a better, higher quality item if you could have it? And, should a girl get a lecture and feel punished for “just looking” at that better quality?

These and other things my inquiring mind wants to know.