Category Archives: Uncategorized

Computer Illiteracy

Some of the computers in Boxwood.

Image via Wikipedia

Years ago, my Mother commented to my Step-Father:  “Do you realize that we are illiterate when it comes to computers.”  My Step-Father bristled at the idea that he was illiterate about anything.  I find myself in similar circumstances.  On my computer, I can email and look up information.  I know how to find Youtube and view videos.  I recently learned how to cut and paste.  I have this blog which my husband set up for me.  I’m constantly hitting keys that take me to God only knows where and I don’t know how to put things right so I have to wait for him to help me.  I’m becoming a little more literate as time passes.  My husband recently set up a spreadsheet for me to do our budgeting and I know a little about that, but mostly, it’s slow going.

I have a standard cell phone.  No bells or whistles.  I don’t know how to text.  I used to know how to text on my old phone, but once the format changed, I couldn’t figure it out again.  I’m sure if someone showed me, I could get on top of it again.

 My son has an Itouch and an Iphone.  If we’re talking about something and we don’t know the answer, he pulls his Iphone out of his pocket and gets all the information on the topic that we need.  He checks and sends emails on his Iphone and texts so fast, I don’t know how his fingers can find the keys.  I asked him to let me try a text and it took me five minutes to send my oldest son a message telling him that I loved him.  The keys are so small that I had trouble operating the Iphone, let alone going fast.  My grandson can use the Itouch like nobody’s business.  His little thumb scrolls across the screen quickly and he knows exactly how to get to where he wants to go.  He’s 3 years old.  He’s going to be a whiz when it comes to computers.

I realize that the world is passing me by and that I need to learn how to become more literate on the computer.  My husband doesn’t have an Iphone, but when he gets one, he won’t have any trouble figuring it out.  It’s troubling that this is all happening so fast.  It’s not like you just learn the alphabet and then you can read.  It’s much more complicated.  There’s  entire generations out in our world who know nothing about computers.  People who are too poor to own computers are going to be left out of this literacy program.  There are going to be a lot of people left behind.  Look at China and all the people who live in villages where there are no internet services.  Look at Somalia where they have trouble just getting a meal.  I’m sure the last thing on their minds is computer literacy.  

The good thing is, if you have the capability for computer use, it’s never to late to start.  Most colleges have computer courses and for those brave souls, there is the figure it out as you go sort of method.  I’m sure there’s probably a Dummies book out there to help someone learn how to use basic computer skills. 

If you have a chance to learn how to use the computer and you’re not taking it, you will probably be sorry.  No one wants to be illiterate.  The world is evolving and computers are the way the world is growing.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  Jump on and take the ride.  Besides, it’s fun!   

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Let’s go to Yellowstone

Geyser "Old Faithful" in Yellowstone...

Image by Montana State University Libraries via Flickr

When I was very young, me, my brother and my parents took a trip from Nevada, through California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  The goal was Yellowstone National Park.  We were in a van, so  some nights, we drove off the road and camped out in the middle of nowhere.  Just threw our sleeping bags down on the dirt and slept under the stars.  No tent. 

When we got to California, we saw Mt. Shasta, and it was beautiful.  The mountain was covered with snow.  There were Shasta Daisies everywhere.  A big field of them.  Later, as we got closer to Yellowstone, we stayed in a motel in a little town with rhododendron bushes all over the place.  My Dad was a gardener, so he was going on and on about all the rhododendron bushes.  The next stop was another cabin with a river close by.  I remember being in the water and my Mother was spraying me with bug spray.  I was protesting and while she was spraying my face, I opened my mouth, and she sprayed me in the mouth.  It was awful.

I remember one cabin that was by a river.  The inside was made of big rocks, a wood beamed ceiling and a gigantic fireplace.  My Dad took his fishing pole and we went out back to fish in the river.  It was the first time I’d been on waterfront property.  It was my first feeling of euphoria.  My Dad was a fisherman and a deerhunter so we usually just camped out in the wild.  Staying in a cabin was a luxury. 

 I don’t remember whether we were in Wyoming, Montana or Idaho, as Yellowstone covers all three states, but I remember driving down the road and seeing a moose just standing there in a field.  He was huge.  We also saw bears.  I remember waiting for the Old Faithful geyser to spray into the air and when it did, it was like magic.  I had never seen anything like it.  We stayed overnight at the Yellowstone Lodge.  It was this neat, big, old building.  It had a big fireplace with big stuffed chairs scattered all around.  The 3rd floor and beyond was roped off and no one could go up there.  I remember wanting to sneak up there so badly, but I didn’t dare.

I don’t remember anything about the return trip home.  It was disappointing to be leaving the cabins, the rivers, the moose, the bears, the lodge and all the fun we’d had.  That’s one thing kids have in common with adults.  They know when the good times are over and it’s time to go home.  I was disappointed, as I’m sure my Mother was.  It was the most memorable vacation I took as a kid.  They were memories to last a lifetime.   

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Pet Shop Stories – 2

There is an old concrete Portuguese structure ...

Image via Wikipedia

When I worked at the pet store, we had this ugly, brownish-black Asian spider.  He was about as big as the palm of your hand, including his legs.  He had a big, thick, bulbous body.  I only saw him once.  Every morning, with trepidation, I would put crickets in his cage for him to eat.  He was always hiding in this little log that was in his cage.  I was very fearful of this spider even though I had been told he was not poisonous.

One day these two black leather, chained and booted motorcycle looking guys came into the shop.  They were probably 18 or 19 but they were a little scary looking.  They asked if we had any spiders.  I told them we had 1.  They asked if they could see it.  I looked at the owner, LuAnn, and she said:  “Show it to them.”  She also told them:  “If he gets out, you have to find him and put him back in the cage.”  They agreed.  I opened the cage door.  “He’s in there” I told them.  Before I had a chance to back away from the cage, the spider came lunging out, quick as lightning, and jumped on my chest, scurried down my legs and ran under the display case that was holding the cages.  I have no idea what happened to make the spider come out of his cage but I freaked out.  I jumped away from the cage and stood there shaking.  It was creepy.

The guys started looking around for the spider.  I thought they’d never find it, but after an hour or so, they did.  They got the spider and put it back in the cage.  They weren’t interested in looking at it anymore.

I told LuAnn I had almost screamed.  LuAnn said to me:  “You can pee your pants but you must never scream.”  I never let the spider out again.

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Pet Shop Stories – 1

Furcifer labordi

Image via Wikipedia

When we were living in Omaha, Nebraska, I took a part-time job at a local pet shop for a few months.  There weren’t a lot of pets, but there were dogs, parrots, parakeets, chinchilla rabbits, reptiles, fishes and 1  big, ugly, Asian spider.  My main job was to keep the aquariums clean and ring up merchandise.

My son dropped me off at the pet store one morning and came in with me for a minute.  I went through the store checking on the critters and all was fine except for one chameleon.  I noticed that his long tongue was extended and stuck to one of the rocks inside his cage.  He was just sitting there, unable to move.  It was awful.  I didn’t know what to do.  Panicked, I called to my son and asked him what we should do.  He didn’t know either.  I reached inside the cage and tried to remove the chameleon’s tongue from the rock.  It was seriously stuck.  All I could do was wait for LuAnn to come in and call the Vet.

LuAnn came in a few hours later, and me, Jeannie, Donna, LuAnn and my son, stood around looking into the cage wondering what to do.  We called the Vet.  The Vet said there was nothing we could do.  Donna wanted to kill it, to be kind to the poor thing, but we didn’t know how to do that.  After talking it over, we came to no conclusions.

I went about my duties, waited on customers, vacuumed the fish tanks and cleaned up.  I kept checking on the chameleon who continued to sit in his cage with his tongue stuck to the rock.  Later in the morning, I noticed that the chameleon was gone.  I asked LuAnn what had happened to him.  She said not to worry about it.  I didn’t badger her.  

There was a break room in back where we kept supplies and had a small table and a full size refrigerator with a freezer.  I was ringing up a customer when I heard Donna scream.  When I was done with my customer, I ran back to the break room and she was holding the freezer door open.  Inside the freezer, I saw the chameleon just sitting there.  I don’t know if he was dead from hypothermia but he wasn’t moving.  LuAnn had severed his tongue from the rock somehow and stuck him in the freezer to die.

At first, I was appalled that the reptile was in the freezer but the reality was, when the chameleon got his tongue stuck on that rock, he was as good as dead.  We didn’t know how to kill him gently so LuAnn did the only humane thing she knew to do.  She put him in the freezer.  I thought it was a very creative approach to the problem.  This is the sort of thing you encounter when you work in a pet store.  It’s never easy when you deal with life. 

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Lost On The Golfcourse

Two Nuns rock formation, Sedona AZ

My Mother and Step-Father have a fine view of the first hole on a golf course in Sedona, AZ.  They have a beautiful view of the red rocks that pepper that famous area.  When I was there visiting, I decided to go for a walk on the golf course.  Sunset was near, the golfers had gone home and a walk on the course was something I had done several times with family.  This time I went alone.

I headed toward hole 2, then 3 and on until I got to the restrooms.  It was getting dark so I turned around and started walking back.  I could see lights illuminating the back of the houses on the course and I started thinking about a murder mystery I could write using my setting.  I could see the people inside their homes  and my imagination was running wild.  I thought I knew where my Mother lived.  I looked for the big cactus in her backyard but I didn’t see it.  I kept walking.  I soon realized that I was lost.  My Mother had a great view of the golf course, but it was impossible to see her house when you were actually on the course as it sat back from the other houses.  It was only getting darker.

I continued walking until I got to the clubhouse.  I knew where I was.  I figured I’d just walk the long way home, down the road.  The road was asphalt and there were no sidewalks.  I thought my Mother lived 4 streets down, on the right.  I continued on, to what I thought was the 4th street.  It was not my Mother’s street.  I became confused and concerned.  I went up to one of the houses and a sensor light came on.  I knocked on the door, but no one answered.  I walked away, turned around and started heading back toward the clubhouse.  It was now pitch black outside.  There were no street lights on the street.  I started to think:  “This is how girls go missing, just like this, alone, at night.”  I started to get tense and scared.  I continued walking, worrying about my situation.

By the time I got to the club house I was pretty well freaked out.  The club house was dark.  I went up to the glass door, peeked in, and I could see, way in the back, 4 men sitting around a table.  I knocked on the door.  One of the men came to the door and opened it.  I asked if there was a phone I could use.  He said there was.  I called my Mother, but no one answered.  No one was there to come rescue me.  I wondered where in the world they could have gone.  They never went anywhere at night.  I called again.  No answer.  There was no help for me there.  I didn’t know what to do.  My Dad was an Eagle Scout and he was always teaching me preparedness.  “When you’re lost, stay where you are until someone finds you.”  I knew this was not going to happen.  I had to get home.  I felt shame for getting lost, at night, on this scary road with no street lights.  What would my Father think.

One of the men from the table came up to me and asked if I was having a problem.  He was a nice looking, older man.  He was a stranger.  He seemed nice, but he was still a stranger.  I told him that I’d been out walking, that it had gotten too dark to see and I’d gotten lost.  My parents weren’t home and I didn’t know what to do.  He offered to take me home.  I paused to think it over, then said: “Yes, please.”

When we arrived at the house, my Mother was out front, running back and forth in the driveway, in her bathrobe.  This is why they didn’t answer the phone.  They were certain something foul had happened to me.  My Step-Father was out standing on the porch watching my frantic Mother.  We came driving up and my Mother rushed the car, panic written all over her body.  Relief swept through me. I thanked the man who brought me home and so did  my Step-Father who actually knew of him.  He was kind of a local legend.  My Mother threw her arms around me and began to cry.  She thought something had happened to me.  Something had.  I had learned my lesson.  Don’t go out walking by yourself at night if you don’t have to.  

All my Step-Father could say of the man who brought me home was:  “He got a hole in one on our golf course.  He’s famous in town. He got a hole in one.”  At least, I thought, he was a good guy.  He had helped this damsel in distress.   

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Anyone for Skiing

Skier carving a turn off piste

Image via Wikipedia

When I was in high school, me and a bus-load of kids went up to Utah to go skiing for an overnight trip.  I didn’t know how to ski.  I’d never been on a pair of skis before.  Nobody that I knew was going on the trip but I went anyway.

I managed to get my skis on with the help of the Instructor.  He pointed me in the direction of the “bunny slope” and taught me how to snowplow.  The bunny slope is  barely a hill and all the little kids hang out there. When you snowplow,  you put the tips of your skis together and you eventually come to a stop.  I practiced skiing and snowplowing on the bunny slope.  After a while,  I figured I knew enough about skiing and headed for the lift.  The lift was fun.  My feet were dangling high above the ground as I rode up the mountain like a ride at Disneyland.  At the end of the lift, I jumped off just like I’d seen everyone doing in front of me.  I made if off the lift smoothly and didn’t fall.

Once, at the top of the mountain, I started my descent very slowly.  I was doing pretty well for a while.  I was enjoying my day on the slopes.  The sun, the trees, the snow.  What could be better. Right after the lift, the mountain wasn’t very steep so I wasn’t having any trouble skiing.  Somewhere I took a wrong turn and ended up on the steep slope rather than the lesser slope which I had been headed for.  I had gotten the trails mixed up.  I didn’t realize my mistake until I was there, on the steep slope, looking down an almost vertical mountain.  I was frightened and I thought I’d be on that mountain the rest of the day.  I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there, sideways on the slope, with my ski poles in the ground securing me to the mountain.  I didn’t know how to get down.

Soon, a boy from my class came skiing down the slope.  He stopped and asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was trying to get down off the mountain but I didn’t know how to ski.  He told me to get behind him and hold on tight around his waist.  I put my skis in between his skis, like he told me to, and he said in a firm voice:  “Whatever you do, don’t cross you tips.”  When we were in position, we headed down the mountain, slalom.  You know, where you zigzag down the slope.  I focused really hard on not crossing my tips, watching them the entire time.  We were going really fast and the trip down the mountain took forever.  I knew that if I crossed my tips, we would break bones or die.  It seemed to take forever, but eventually  we made it to the bottom.  I had done as I was told and the boy was the hero of the day.  For those of  you that don’t ski, this story may not have much meaning.  For those of you that do, I’m sure you can appreciate how dangerous it was for that boy to bring me off the mountain.

 I didn’t go up the slope again. Ever.  I just hung out at the lodge the rest of the trip. Not only did I learn that I didn’t like skiing, I learned that one person cared enough about me to help me out of a serious bind.  A boy I had never met before.  A boy I went on to date for 4 years.  I’m not sure why I went on that ski trip, but I found romance waiting at the end of it.

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Family Bonding

Skydiving - US military

Image via Wikipedia

Our family is very close.  Me, my husband and our 2 sons.  Our sons always want to do things together.  Ahh, togetherness.  Isn’t that a wonderful thing.  Family bonding.  My eldest son called my youngest son yesterday and told him he thought we ought to all go skydiving in Colorado.  I’ve had two knee replacement surgeries and my knees always hurt.  My youngest son said to my husband:  “Mom will do it for sure, don’t you think?”  My husband said:  “With her knees, I don’t think so.”  My youngest kept insisting.  I laughed all the way through my shower.  I can just picture myself in a hard landing, not being able to standt up after falling.

My youngest’s ex is getting ready to take their son to the beach for the first time in his life, on his birthday.  Our grandson is almost 4 years old.  We keep telling our son to make a pre-emptive strike and take our grandson to the beach first, for a day trip.  “Why don’t we all go?” my son says.  My husband said he will go, but being the wet blanket I am, I’m going to decline.  I can’t take uncovered sun and heat for an entire day.  I’m more like, let’s sit in the car and watch the waves.  I hope this little trip happens.  I would love to see my grandson at the beach for his first time, but it’s not going to happen.  It would, however, be a bonding experience.

Yesterday, my son wanted to bring over a TV tray and stain it.  It didn’t match his other furniture.  He wanted do it on our patio rather than his. “How about it Dad.  It’ll be a Father and son bonding experience.”  My husband proceeded to tell him no, because it would mess up our patio (rather than his) and he would leave it unfinished and my husband would have to complete the task.  There was no more talk of the TV tray.

We’ve taken a few family vacations where either one or both of our sons came with us: Seattle, the Four Corners and Orlando.  Orlando was really fun.  Our oldest son was going to fly into Orlando from Colorado and we were going to pick him up at the airport.  He called us Friday night, in Orlando, to say that he would not be at the airport because he got busted at a Halloween party for disturbing the peace and was in jail.  It was a mix-up, the cops were zealots, what can I say.  We picked him up Saturday and though our vacation was cut by a day, we had a great time.

My youngest son and my grandson are at our home several times during the week.  The only reason we live in this city is because of them.  They moved from Colorado to be with us.  If they moved somewhere else, say, Colorado, we would move in a heart beat.  My oldest lives in Colorado but comes home every Christmas.  I talk to him daily over the phone.  We recently went to Colorado for his graduation and it was a slice of heaven to see him twice in 1 year. We were able to meet his girlfriend’s family and we all went to a nice dinner.  His girlfriend comes home with him every Christmas and her family is very close too.  It’s such a nice feeling.  We finally had a bond with the people we’ve been hearing so much about for the past 6 years.

My cousin and I are unusually close.  We are almost like twins.  We email each other everyday and try to talk once every couple of weeks and we definitely talk if there’s ever a problem.  We’ve known each other for 60 years and have been attached our whole lives.  I don’t know what I’d do without her.  I consider her part of my immediate family.

My husband and his Mother and sister are very close.  They talk everyday and  my husband is the Patriarch of the family.  He’s not close with his niece and nephews, but they respect him.

 It’s terrible when families don’t function.  My two brothers are estranged.  They’re both recovering alcoholics.  They can barely be in the same room together.  I think my older brother dislikes my younger brother.  My younger brother doesn’t dislike my older brother but is  annoyed by him.  My older brother keeps it going.  I’m on good speaking terms with both of them and try to patch things up whenever I can, but it’s a lost cause.  I talk to my younger brother everyday because he takes care of my Mother who is at home, in Hospice.  I talk to my older brother occasionally and it’s always good to hear his voice.  He is an unforgiving man and the rift between my brothers will, I doubt, ever heal.  This  affects me indirectly because we all live in 3 separate cities. 

If your family is close, thank the good Lord above.  People who don’t know or get along with their family are missing out.  The moral support you get from your family in invaluable.  Nothing can take it’s place.  It’s pure joy.

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