Archive for May, 2008

Published by sylvia on 25 May 2008

Memorial Day tribute to our military

We have the greatest Armed Forces in the world.

Our all-volunteer military consists of men and women who must accomplish goals set by others, sometimes at the cost of their lives. In many places around the world, the military is run by greedy officers to further their own ends. Elected officials have been routinely overthrown by military juntas for centuries. But our military has followed the orders of its Commander-in-Chief even when most of its members disliked or distrusted the President, such as when Bill Clinton held office.

And, mostly, it has comprised members who had ethics and tried to live by them. George Washington refused to allow himself to be named King of the new country. Robert E. Lee was not the only Southerner who resigned from the U.S. Army when he felt his primary duty was to his home state rather than the federal government. The occasional glaring exception to the high standard of conduct, such as My Lai and torture of Iraqi prisoners, has been punished. (Our free press takes some of the credit, of course, but let’s commend the military for their tolerance of this essential element of our democracy.)

Our citizen-soldiers take their can-do attitude into military service. The Normandy invasion during WWII is probably the shining example of the difference between rigid and free societies. On D-Day, no one in the German war machine had the authority to get the reserved Panzers into action (which experts agree could have turned D-Day into the worst Allied defeat) and Hitler’s personal staff refused to wake him up. But when Allied tanks were halted by enormous hedgerows, American ingenuity quickly developed several ways to enable them to advance, including the famous “rhinoceros” that cut through the hedgerows.

My father is a vet of WWII and Korea. I grew up during Viet Nam, and thought at the time that the antiwar activists were wrong to blame and abuse the participants. I’m glad today that even those who oppose our involvement in Iraq recognize the military deserve our commendation and support. My 16-year-old son is planning on serving in the Army after college. Although I naturally hope nothing happens to him, I’m proud that he has this goal.

There are (well-deserved) tributes to those who died or suffered injuries in the cause of freedom. But we need to also remember those who served, came home, and lived the rest of their lives as productive members of society, sometimes with haunting emotional scars. Thank you, all of you, for the freedom we take for granted.

Published by sylvia on 10 May 2008

May in Wyoming

I love Wyoming, I really do.

I drove DD and all her stuff home from college yesterday. It was wonderful to see her, of course, but I decided to tease her a little. Spring is the snowy season in Wyoming, and all semester, whenever it snowed she griped about it snowing AGAIN. So I told her that she probably wouldn’t have any more snow to complain about until fall.

She responded, “you never know.”

So, naturally, it’s snowing today. Not just a few light flakes, but hard enough that sometimes I can’t even see the next house below us. In mid-May.

It’s just never safe to say that winter is over!

Published by sylvia on 07 May 2008

Read about writing … or write?

I’m a Writer’s Digest addict. I admit it. My local library carries it, and I always get great ideas from reading it. The problem is that I don’t carry through with those ideas.

I think in some ways I’d rather read about writing than actually write. Like many people, I have enough ideas to fill my time as long as I can use a keyboard. (Some of them are even pretty good.) But at actually making myself sit down at the keyboard on a regular basis, I have failed miserably.

That doesn’t mean I don’t write. I enjoy writing the product descriptions for my online store. I pop off chatty Emails at the drop of a hat. I review and revise the files for CheyenneFreecycle regularly, to keep them useful to the members. But writing that I actually might be able to sell — always seems like too much work, somehow.

Published by sylvia on 04 May 2008

Who needs TV? We have cats

Up at the top of this page as I write is an image of our two cats.  Several years ago, I gave in to the pleadings of our kids and let each of them adopt a kitten. I stressed that how they were raised would largely determine their personalities, and both kids needed to spend lots of time petting and playing with them. They happily agreed and both did a good job. Unfortunately, one cat didn’t come back after a trip outdoors, but the owner picked out a duplicate from the animal shelter who liked people attention even more.

Fast-forward a few years. Older child is off at college, living in a dorm where animals are not allowed.  Cat is left at home, with no human slave dedicated to petting her. Cat does NOT like this. So, in between long naps to recover from hours of doing nothing, she saunters out of her human’s room looking for petting.

I am not the favorite petting source, but right now no one else is home.  So she has condescended to jump up on my recliner, purr for a while, and then settled down to sleep with her chin on my laptop.  (Cats are only comfortable when they are in the way. They are a lot like toddlers.) When I pet her, she may stretch in her sleep, or meow complainingly, or start trying to lick my hand. When she wakes up, she may glare at me like I’m from another planet, or race the length of the house making as much noise as possible (her “thundering herd of elephants” game), or amble off like I am not worth noticing.

The one she is really dedicated to eliciting attention from is my dog, a border collie mix who has decided the two house cats are her herding charge. To see the two of them together, the cat rubbing against the dog trying to make friends while the dog looks horrified because this is NOT the proper distance to keep the animals one is herding, is hysterical.

I don’t remember the last time I turned on the TV. Our own unscripted sitcom is way funnier than anything coming over the airwaves.

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Tragedy: no brownies

We need brownies.

This doesn’t sound like much of a problem. Just mix some up and bake them, right?

Not exactly. The mixer arm to my Oster Kitchen Center hasn’t reappeared since we moved over a year ago. I bought a replacement on ebay which my son dropped a spoon into. Clue: OKC mixer arms aren’t designed to stand up to having a spoon dropped into the beaters while running. I bought another replacement on ebay. It doesn’t work. So, while the OKC works very well for its other functions (blender, chopper, salad shooter, even ice cream maker) it is useless to mix up brownie batter.

It’s not that the house falls apart when we don’t have brownies. It’s probably been months since anyone made brownies (partially because we don’t have a mixer, see above). But right now, we need brownies. (Okay, I need brownies. But when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.)

DH keeps saying he can mix up batter by hand. But he has disappeared into his office and hasn’t responded to my announcement that we need brownies.

So there are no brownies in the Steiger house. <sigh>

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

My new blog home!

I have officially switched my attempt at blogging over here. My dear programmer hubby found this blogging software that not only allows me to write but allows readers to add their own comments, so enjoy!

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Getting caught up on my Quilt Pati projects

3/24/2008: I’m sure none of you EVER have this problem, but I’ve let too many Quilt Pati projects turn into UFOs. <hanging head> I’ve now dug them out and they are sitting on my desk to remind me to finish them. First will be a reversible Little Bag as a present for my sister (fortunately she doesn’t read blogs), then a Star of Bethlehem using Quilt Pati diamonds, and then I can get back to my scrappy GFG which will (eventually) be a bed quilt. Stay tuned, I’ll add photos when they are done! (If you’ve never seen this great way to hand-piece challenging figures like the Grandmother’s Flower Garden, click here to check out my tutorial.)

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

What NOT to keep in a motor home

3/22/2008: If you’ve ever thought about keeping an emergency stock of food for “just in case,” such as in a motor home or camper, let me tell you about one item NOT to include if you live in a climate that freezes: canned potatoes. We’re cleaning out our motor home to sell and using up the food that was stored in it.  Anything in there has been there over a year, including in temps down to at least -10 F.  Sealed items like sugar were fine; so were unopened items like pasta.  But oh, those canned potatoes did NOT survive in edible condition.  I opened a can today to make a potato casserole, and they were the exact consistency of jellyfish that had been left in the sun and then rained on.  Blech!  Straight into the trash.  (The canned milk wasn’t in great shape either.)

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Check out my new online store!

3/21/2008: Click here to see MamaSylvia’s Stuff, my new online store. I finally got most of the customization done, so you can find specific products and order them, and see my store name. I’ll be adding options to pay by check or money order soon!

Published by sylvia on 03 May 2008

Desperately trying to setup new online store

2/19/2008: After years of running my little online store via static HTML, I’m trying a free online store program, ZenCart. It has a steep learning curve but lots of neat capabilities. I’m still fighting to get ZenCart installed and somewhat customized. I’m not trying at this point to redesign pages or even set a different color scheme. But I’d really like to get rid of the “Sales Message Goes Here” blurb and the “Zen Cart” page description that appears on the top blue line of Netscape. There are some people on the ZenCart forum trying to help me, but I feel like they are giving me programmer answers when what I need is “pick up the blue duckie and put it on the sofa” simple directions. So far, every time I’ve changed something, the store has disappeared. I’m sure glad I do know enough to reinstall the original file so it reappears, even though it is still with the “Sales Message” message!

Published by sylvia on 01 May 2008

Evidence for Creation: the cat

The basic idea of the evolutionary theory, grossly oversimplified, is that traits that promote survival enabled their possessor to survive long enough to reproduce.