Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kudos To My Sister

I wanted to send kudos to my sister, Marilyn Sue Monroe, today.

She has written an article about our mother, Emily Monroe. It's posted in two parts, today and tomorrow, on Potpourri's sister-blog, Elder Care Cafe.

Susie took care of Mom for about the last six or seven years of her life. Mom was diagnosed with TIA dementia around 1995, and entered a nursing home in April 2003. She died June 13, 2004, on Susie's birthday and Mom and Dad's 58th wedding anniversary.

We all miss her very much as she was the hub of the family. I think you know what I'm talking about - most families have that one person who keeps everyone and everything together.

Since Mom died, we have mostly gone our separate ways. Holidays are different - much quieter. Vacations aren't the same - many of us, at different times, traveled with Mom and Dad around the United States. The level of activity around the family home as dramatically dropped.

But, all in all, Susie is the one who stepped up to the plate when Mom needed someone the most. Her poignant stories are well worth the read and I hope you check them out.

I am certain, someday, we will read...the rest of the story.

Also worth exploring are her beautiful photographs on Red Bubble. Have a look and leave a message encouraging her to upload more pictures of her travels.

Who is or was the hub of your family? If they are no longer with you, how has life changed for your family?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yeah! The Women Won - Finally!

Over the past year, my aunt, uncle, Dad, and I have played a series of cribbage games. Although we women win a game on occasion, the men have always won the series.

Well, yesterday the women won!

We were invited over for lunch, which was delicious. A pleasant surprise? The meatloaf was made of venison.

Then Dad and I headed for home, taking the long way around through the countryside where Dad was raised. We did a drive-by through the cemetery to check on Mom's flowers. We decided to get a fresh hanging basket although winter will arrive all too soon.

All in all, a beautiful Friday heading into the Labor Day weekend. Country drives have long been a family favorite, and this drive did not disappoint.

Best of all? The women prevailed at cribbage - this time.

Do you ever take long drives through the countryside? What is your favorite location?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cereal Wednesday

An interactive blog, Cereal Wednesday promotes all things cereal with a video of the blogger introducing and promoting a different cereal with each video.

The videos are fun entertainment for anyone who loves their favorite breakfast grain.

When we were kids, my siblings and I had our chosen color cereal bowl and matching plastic glass. God forbid, Mom ever gave the wrong child, the wrong color. Tears and wrestling could ensue.

I don't remember all the various kinds of cereal we tried, but I do know there were often pictures of champions to look at and prizes to dig out.

I know in our current household, Cheerios, Wheaties and Raisen Bran reign supreme.

Since this blog is scheduled to release on a Wednesday, how about celebrating hump day by filling your special cereal bowl with your favorite cereal, fill with milk, click on the title of this blog entry, and enjoy another edition of Cereal Wednesday.

What is your favorite cereal? Did you have a special cereal bowl as a kid? Don't tell me it was just our family?

Poverty Rises in Michigan as Income Falls

Devastating news for Michigan was released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The only state where poverty rose last year, as well as the only one where incomes fell, Michigan demonstrates the free fall of an auto industry no longer relevent to the masses.

For decades Michigan led the country in auto sales and production.

As the auto industry crashes, our state reels from the fallout.

Unfortunately, this has a great affect on the already-poor and the elderly. Anyone on a fixed income knows the reality of our struggle. Prices are rising in the basic areas such as food, utilities, gasoline, and health care. Drug prices have risen dramatically in the last year according to recent reports.

Where will this all end?

According to the Associated Press article (read article by clicking on the title above), "more than 18 percent of Michigan residents get some type of assistance through the state Department of Human Services, said Sheryl Thompson, acting director of outstate operations.

Although general cash assistance is declining, programs that provide food and emergency help with energy and medical bills are growing steadily. The Food Assistance Program is up 136 percent since December 2000."

Governor Granholm is scheduled to attend a "poverty summit" November 13th in Detroit. Hopefully productive steps can and will be taken to stop the slippery slope Michigan currently experiences.

What are your thoughts about this dire situation? What would you like to see come out of the summit? What steps are you taking during this time?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outsiders Inn

This show has to be the most hilarious I've seen in a long time. Over the last couple years, I have watched quite a few of CMT's reality shows. They are fun, innovative, and sometimes, beyond belief.

Cast mates on the original Gone Country, Maureen McCormick, Carney Wilson, and Bobby Brown are involved in a bed and breakfast that Maureen leased with option to buy. The B&B is in eastern Tennessee. Carney is the master chef and Bobby is the entertainment director.

They are deep in redneck territory which causes multiple problems for the three. Joining them are Leroy the handyman, and his two friends Mike and Todd. Ross, the intern on the Tonight Show, appears on episode two.

Bawdy humor and redneck characters raise (or lower) the humor to all new levels.

New episodes are on Friday nights at 8:30 p.m. on CMT with reruns throughout the weekend. Check it out for a great time!

What are your favorite shows? Anything out of the ordinary?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Three Music Icons Earn Invites From AARP

Can it be? These three music icons, who hit it big in the 1980's are now eligible to receive AARP's infamous invitation.

In no order of importance:

1. Madonna. I didn't mention her first just because she's from Michigan. Nope, not me! Madonna's birthday was August 16th. She grew up in Bay City, a beautiful city of fabulous older homes.

Her first #1 album, Like a Virgin, set the music world on fire and she has barely slowed down since that time. She routinely launches national and international tours that easily gross millions of dollars. Married to director Guy Ritchie, and raising three young children, Madonna looks great and appears to have the world at her feet.

2. Prince. Also from the mid-West, Prince turned fifty June 7th. His home town and still home base is Minneapolis, Minnesota. Credited with the Minneapolis sound, albums such as 1999 and Purple Rain, shot Prince into the hemisphere of music.

Shying away from touring, Prince prefers single-venue runs or special appearances. Prince is a respected composer, producer, arranger, singer and multi-instrumentalist, known for his prolific output.

3. Michael Jackson. Irregardless of what you think of him today, Michael Jackson ruled the 1980's and much of the 1990's. A star since he was 11, 1982's Thriller shot Jackson into orbit. Thriller dominated the music scene for two years, setting numerous records as it started the moon-walk fad across the country.

Although his impact on the pop scene was phenominal, his star has dimmed due to unusual behavior during the last decade or so. Many pop and hip-hop stars still credit Michael's influence on their early music.

Many celebrities turned fifty this year, but these three had the greatest impact on the music scene throughout their musical lives.

Do you think they will join AARP? Let me know what you think of this list in the comments.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Three Favorite Country Music Videos of Today

Usually, every Saturday or Sunday morning I watch CMT's Top Twenty Country Videos. Today, apparantly, was an emotional day for me. There were several, for some reason, that struck a strong sentimental vibe.

I will list them in order of appearance on this week's chart. You can read more, or even see the videos, by clicking the title of this message.

1. Learning How to Bend. This tear-jerker is sung by Gary Allen and currently #15 on the video chart. Learning has a life lesson wrapped up in a beautiful tune and poignant lyrics.

2. Don't Think I Don't Think About It. Sung by Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, this surprising entry is sitting at #11 and taking the country by storm. As I write this, the video is highlighted on the front page of the CMT website. Check it out for a great song!

3. Waitin' On A Woman. Brad Paisley and special guest, Andy Griffith, sing about how men always seem to wait for women to get ready to go somewhere, or to meet at a location. It's a wonderful song and having Andy Griffith as part of the video just raises it to a whole different level.

If you are a country music fan, what is your favorite song? Who is your favorite singer? Do you watch the country videos?

Ed McMahon's House Saved

Ed has found a buyer, and it is not Donald Trump. Although The Donald was willing, he was still in negotiations when someone else sealed the deal.

The Ed McMahon situation has brought high profile attention to a grave situation occurring all to often throughout the US.

Recent stats show "According to figures from property tracking company RealtyTrac, one on every 464 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in July -- a 55 percent increase from July 2007."

Click on the title of this message to read the complete article.

I am sure Mr. McMahon was embarrassed by this whole situation, but with the increased attention on a serious national issue, hopefully the powers that be will make more of an effort to stop this onslaught.

What do you think? Who is at fault for the high number of foreclosures? The home owner, the lending agency, the economy?

Express your opinion in the comment section.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Michigan's Autopalooza August

In following the links from yesterday's article regarding Fall Foliage, I came across the link and found the Pure Michigan Official Travel and Tourism site.

The month of August is Autopalooza August in honor of 2008:Year of the Car. Michigan is celebrating the centennial of General Motors and the Motor T with a summer long auto-tourism festival in SE Michigan.

If you click on Autopalooza August then go to Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, you will find a fantastic slide show of race cars and Belle Isle. This year, the Grand Prix is August 29-31.

I'm having trouble linking everything for this site, but if you are interested at all in racing or other sites around Michigan, do check out the site.

The views of Belle Isle from the air are exquisite.

What is happening in your area of the country? As summer ends and fall begins, will you visit any festivals, fairs, or fall color tours?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fall Foliage Season Arrives Soon

As avid readers of the Potpourri know, I am a huge fan of fantastic, funny, and unusual web sites. Today, I found a couple of web sites of interest to those who love fall colors around the U.S. and Canada.

The article highlights five areas of special interest around the country: Alaska, New England, Michigan, North Carolina, and California. Each section includes URLs for more information and beautiful pictures of each region.

Today I'm going to mention the New England area. Photographer Jeff Folger provides tips for amatuer photographers and a link to his website Yankee Foliage at

Jeff's site is well worth checking out for the beautiful photos.

Are you a follower of fall foliage? Where are your favorite places to view the vivid colors?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When Success Takes Teamwork

Well, he did it! Michael Phelps accomplished his goal of eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics.

The greatest part about his success? Three of the events involved a team of four swimmers. Each of the four had to do their part in order for Michael to achieve his goals.

One of the team events was won by .01 of a second. How astounding!

I am sure that Phelps is aware he did not win these medals by himself. I read that the team was strong this year and it shows in the results.

No one should ever think they can accomplishing anything in life by themselves.

Sometimes it may feel like we are all alone, but the world around us is still working on our behalf.

What have you accomplished as an individual that, in all honesty, took a team to help you reach your goal? Did you appreciate the effort of others, or did you feel like you were on your own?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Customer Service Etiquette

AARP, the website, had a couple of interesting articles regarding customer service. One was about the things you should not say to customer service, and the other was what you should always say.

The what you should say article reminded me of a situation a few weeks ago when I changed over from a satellite dish computer network to Verizon DSL. Due to problems with the my old security system not wanting to leave the premises, I spent literally hours on the phone with Verizon, twice, and then with the security system people trying to rectify the problem and get back on line.

When the conversations ended, a survey appeared regarding the service I received. The second call I had to make, later in the day, lasted for well over an hour and the gentleman just could not get past the security problem. He not only tried to take care of the problem himself, he also called the security company and worked with them, got me a name and number to call, then ended our call.

Misguided Questions

The interesting thing about the survey is that the questions asked would have given this man a bad review. Although he did not solve my problem, he went out of his way to help. Therefore, I gave him high points for service even though he, personally, could not fix the problem.

By that point I had spent at least six hours on the phone that day trying to rectify the glitch and knew I was facing another phone call. I could have poured out my frustration by knocking the tech. But, because of my "what comes around goes around" belief system, I gave him high points for his efforts. I made the next call, and was given excellent service, the problem was alleviated, and I was on line in no time (so to speak).

The articles are worth checking out. The link on the title should get you there.

They are good reminders of how we should treat those who are not always able to "fix" our problem.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Donald Trump Is Now "The Man"

Many people don't seem to like Donald Trump, or his hairdo. But, I must say he has come through this time.

Ed McMahon has struggled with his health and finances for a while now. He is in danger of losing his long-time home.

The Donald rides to the rescue! He is buying Ed's home and will lease it back to Ed for the duration.

I'm sure Trump sees the value in buying the property at it's current value, or whatever he is paying, especially since it is in Beverly Hills.

So in the short run Ed stays in his home, but in the long run Donald will more than likely make a hefty profit.

Everybody wins in this situation. I love when that happens.

Music of the Big Band Era And Beyond

Back in the day, my parents listened to Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey and other swing bands from the 1930's and 40's. We still have the old 78's that Dad played on a turn table. Dad and Mom would dance for hours to the romantic music of the times.

The big band era ranged from 1935 to the late 1940's and held the country captive with the jazz and swing arrangements. That time was called the Romantic Era, and took the country by storm.

Later, in the 1950's, I remember watching Your Hit Parade with my mother. The show ran from 1950 to 1959 and featured the top seven hits from the previous week. I still remember listening to Eileen Wilson, Snooky Lanson and Dorothy Collins.

And who can forget the long running "How Much Is That Doggy In the Window?"

Very seldom are the names of past greats mentioned. Now days the "old days" are the sixties, but recently I've run into several blogs and websites that talk about the good old musical days of the 1980's and 90's.

What? Now I know I'm getting old.

What happened to big band music and the syrupy ballads of the 30's , 40's and 50's?

Why, a young man by the name of Elvis Presley came along and everything changed. Now that was the REAL good old days!

What was your favorite era of music? What songs did your parents have reverberating through the house? What do you remember from your good ole days?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Let's Sleep On It

Home and Garden channel (HGTV) had a show last season called, "Let's Sleep On It". I thought it was an interesting show. A house hunting couple narrowed their choice down to two houses. Of course, most of the time she liked one and he liked the other.

What was unique about this show? The couple could spend the night in one of the houses, the one they thought they might buy. They even got to invite family and friends over for a party.

Then, they got to sleep on it while they pondered the pros and cons of living in the house. The next day they were required to make a decision on whether or not to buy.

I often wondered if they decided not to buy that house, could they go back and take another look at the other house? The show never goes beyond their final sleep-on-it decision.

I think a follow-up show of several couples and where they end up six months later would be interesting.

This morning on the WebMD website was an article about making decisions. Many times people are told to "sleep on it" before making a decision so they aren't making a choice by knee-jerk reaction.

This article indicates just the opposite is now proving true. It is much better to sort through all the information, deliberate, and then make a decision.

Some people make decisions in the blink of an eye, others require time to think about it, while still others choose to sleep on it. New studies show the thinkers who spent time consciously thinking things through were the winners.

All this thinking is tiring me out. Maybe I better sleep on it after all.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Butcher, the Baker...the Cake Decorator

My mother loved to bake and decorate cakes. We have several photo albums with pictures of the cakes she baked, many times with the recipient in the picture.

I hope that none of her cakes ended up like the ones you will see when you check out the blogsite below.

I know, in the bottom of my heart, she would love the cakewrecks website. I can hear her laughing right now.

My favorites are:

+ June 21 - Naked Mohawk-Baby Carrot Jockeys

+ June 10 - Its just a cold sore

+ June 3 - The anti-wedding cake

+ May 24 - The most disturbing cake EVER

+ July 25 - Freud would have a field day. You really need to read the description below the picture on this one.

As you scroll through the pictures, be sure to read at least some of the commentary with each picture. The most fun was I never knew when I was going to double over with laughter. Hope you enjoy these wonderful posts.

Have fun and please let me know which ones were your favorites.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ticked Off Postmistress, Part 2

As Paul Harvey always said, "And here is the rest of the story."

While I was standing in line at the post office mentioned in the previous post, I observed an approximately seventy-year-old woman trying to send two packages. The soon-to-glare-at-me clerk was going through an interrogation process with this pleasant looking, but increasingly confused woman.

She told him that the seven to ten day shipping was fine, but he kept pressing her to use the quicker two-three day service. She specifically said, "No, the seven to ten day is fine." He gave a shake to his head as if to insinuate that she was senile and said, "But it will get there faster this way, and it's only a few cents more."

She again said that the longer time was no problem. He again insisted that it was only a few cents more to ship it the faster way. The few cents more was approximately sixty cents or so for each package. She had asked several times how much this was going to cost so price was a concern for her.

Finally, in frustration, she said, "I don't care. Do what you want."

He smiled what could only be called a Cheshire grin, put the postage on the box, and charged her the higher amount.

This is what lead me to question the possibility that the postal service is trying to up sell.

Am I going to take on the U.S. Postal Service over this issue?

You're kidding, right?

One Ticked Off Postmistress

Well, I did it this time. Stopped at the local post office to mail a package, walked up to the counter, and after the fourth or fifth question, naively asked, "What are you doing, trying to up sell?"

That question hit a hot button with my previously friendly postmistress. I was told in no uncertain terms that they were required to ask these questions and many people realized they needed more than they thought they did when they came in to mail packages.

I asked how long they had been asking all these questions and she responded, "Three years. We used to have fifteen questions we were required to ask, but the postal service has whittled it down to..."

I missed her answer because I was shaking my head and saying, "You're asking too many questions."

She asked me a couple more questions, I paid the required amount, and turned to walk away. The other postal clerk was glaring at me, but so be it. I glared back.

I've been around marketing long enough to know what up selling sounds like and this sure sounded like up selling to me.

Is it up selling or is it customer service? What do you think?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What Bloggles My Mind: Passwords and Email Lists

How in the world did I end up with three (3) e-mail addresses on my Verizon and Yahoo page toolbar? And, I have two other email addresses I have to use to get to websites created for my article writing service.

This is too much for my senior mind to accept.

For organization sake, years ago I created a password cheat sheet on Excel. There are twenty-seven line items on each page. Sometime last year I had two full pages, but now I have another ten locations to add to the list. That will bring me into the third page.

The headings on each chart include the site, my user name, password, note column that includes password hints or member numbers, etc., and two more columns for the same type of info. It's easier to write down the name of my first dog, my mother's middle name, or my screen name in the notes section. Especially when various sites require different info.

Now that I have Dad's info also, I really need to keep good notes. With our banking alone I need to remember such things as city where we were married, city oldest child was born, month we were married, month oldest child was born, etc. Trying to remember all that just bloggles the mind. Thank God I'm the oldest child!

I say bloggled instead of boggled because my newest passion is blogging. My mind is stuck in blog-mode.

Therefore, today I plan to retype/update my password list to include all of the handwritten notes for the newest locations around the internet.

I'm going to delete some of the older line items that I don't need anymore and try to get back to two pages. That way I can print double-sided and place in a plastic sleeve.

Sounds like a good Saturday project.

Now, what do I do about all the e-mail addresses?

What bloggles or boggles your mind? What do you do to unboggle? Please share your wonderful ideas with us.