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Saturday, March 9, 2013


I just noticed the temperature outside -- it is in the 70s. I was just outside on the back deck and I thought that it felt really nice. I had been inside for a few hours and did not notice that it was getting warmer. The sun is shining brightly -- but it was the other day too when the temperature was much cooler. So a pleasant surprise . . .

And actually all around town we are seeing these blossoms on the trees. I happened to talk with both my sister and my daughter in the last two days -- one lives on the SE coast and the other lives on the NW coast,    both said that their weather was pleasant as well.

The huge major problem areas were in the Midwest and the NE areas of the country. Apparently March has arrived for those areas like a "lion". After seeing some of the news footage -- it makes one feel lucky to not have to be putting up with huge piles of snow along with wind and rain.

Dino Comes Home

On Thursday Gail took part of the day "off" and we drove to San Rafael to the Headquarters of Guide Dogs for the Blind. There we made our way to the offices in charge of cell #305. When we presented ourselves and mentioned our purpose of the visit -- everyone knew Dino and was so helpful as we went through the procedure to "take ownership" of the 18 1/2 month old puppy, now "former" GDB puppy-in-training.

When we were reunited with Dino -- he was very much sedated as he had had surgery (neutered) just the day before. None-the-less we could see signs of recognition as he was handed to us -- but he was a bit unsteady. He will need to be "quiet" for the next 10 days or so -- and we were given information and equipment that would assist us in that.

We visited with the Vet at GDB who explained about Dino's cataracts and that they were very minor in nature and that it was very unlikely that they would pose much of a problem for him in the coming years.

After about an hour of process we were able to take Dino for the ride home.  He was at GDB for about 18 days and we were really glad to be taking him home. When we had left him there on February 17, we were not sure if we would ever have him back again -- we are so lucky.

In the top left photo, this is what Dino did just after having a long drink of cool water -- chewing a favorite Nylabone on one of his beds being petted by Gail. Most of the time that he has been home he has been sleepy and very quiet.

If he gets up and around or goes into another room where we can not see him -- we have been putting the "lampshade" on him for protection -- so that he does not disturb his surgery area. He does not resist the shade at all even though it cramps his walking around a bit and causes him to crash into things . . .

Since Dino and I are both convalescing (of course for different reasons) things have been pretty quiet around here anyway. I am pretty much captive on the single level but I am feeling much more capable to walking without the walker though I plan to not risk too much. Stairs are touchy but taken slowly they are doable.

Kitchen Project

Things are lookin' up . . . there has been a lot of noise and conversation coming from the sealed off kitchen area. I have managed to sneak in and take some progress photos. We are pleased that our empty shell of a room is taking shape and filling up -- but that is what we want.

Sometimes when Gail gets home (in the dark) we have gone into the kitchen and just sat and looked at the progress. And in the middle of the week, even when it was dark we got light  in the kitchen as the cans in the ceiling and the spots under the cabinets shone brightly.

On the left are the start of the cabinets and the unlighted room. On the right, are some of the cabinets along with some of the lights. The ceiling was raised several feet and now will accommodate cabinets some of which will require a ladder to access -- to be used for storing not-so-often used things.

Next week, hopefully the counter tops will be installed and the flooring attended to AND then the cabinets will be painted the color that we have selected. After that I guess it will be the installation of the appliances AND then maybe -- completion. We'll see. We're guessing that the completion may coincide with the end of the tax season.

Cellular & Telephones

I finally broke down and got a "smartphone" this week. I took the advice found on Dick Eastman's blog and bought a phone from Republic Wireless. It is one that offers full services for a very low monthly rate ($19) and there is no contract involved.  So far the phone has worked fine -- but then I don't tend to use the phone all that much -- so for me it is certainly a pretty good deal.

It got me thinking about telephone service and such -- growing up in the 50s we had interesting numbers -- our home telephone (the only one that we had) was FA3-6866, with the FA standing for Faculty. In the 50s AT&T started the two letter, five number arrangement for telephone numbers. Another number that I called frequently as a teenager was FL4-1338 with the FL standing for Fleetwood -- that number was in LaGrange, Illinois.

My Grandparents number was CA_ -____ with the CA standing for Capital -- all of a sudden their number escapes me. And when you think back to that era other exchanges are brought to mind. Butterfield 8, the movie title actually came from an exchange.

AT&T (the company I retired from in 1999) actually had a list of recommended exchange names. It is for me a trip "down memory lane" and conjures up many -- mostly pleasant experiences.

Click on the above and you may find the exchange name that was active in your home town. Not all exchange names are listed but a high percentage of them are.

Speaking of the 50s -- besides the exchange names we had land line based telephones. The only place to get a telephone was from THE telephone company AT&T, the Bell System. And one could not just plug into the telephone system -- it had to be done by THE telephone company (to protect the integrity of the system).

Even a bit earlier than the 1950s, I remember having a "party-line" at the house. I think if I remember right we had a "two-party" line. It is not what it sounds like -- there was no party about it -- it meant that your house shared a line with another house. In those days when you picked up the phone to place a call, an operator would respond "number please?".  If instead of hearing that phrase you heard a conversation going on you were politely supposed to quietly hang up the phone and wait until the other "party" was through and then you could make a call.

Well you can be sure that the polite thing did not always happen AND that people quietly listened in to your call OR they would constantly pick up their phone (with the accompanying "click") until you politely (or not) ended your call . . . what a system, can you imagine that today.

The phones of the 1950s were built to last and many are still out there today. I remember we had one phone, it had a standard wire attached so that stretching it to the limit you could get maybe ten feet away from the outlet (and prying ears). Phone calls in our house were treated in a special way. A ringing phone was almost always hurried to and it seemed that everyone spoke in a loud voice.

Some of the above styles you may recognize -- the two that I remember the most as a working sales person was the pay phone on the top left and the phone booth below. Both I had to use to make calls back to headquarters and both were uncomfortable in their own ways. The pay phone due to it's very short cord allowing almost no "give" in where you stood. The booth for having very little room to open sales manuals or report forms though it was usually fairly quiet in there.

On the bottom right was what was described as a "cord board". Even into the 80s and maybe even the 90s in some parts of the U.S. these were still being used. I know from experience because during two strikes at AT&T, I was sent to Spokane, Washington and I worked the cord board during the strikes -- I actually had a great time doing that as I knew it was soon to be a dinosaur.

And so back to my new smartphone -- it has way more computing power than my first computer back in the 80s . . . and it has so many features that I may never figure them or it out. The first time the phone rang -- I could not figure out how to answer it and I had to let it ring until the caller hung up and since I had no voice messaging yet -- well you get the idea.

An Old Ad from a Relative's Store

I love looking into old newspapers for stories about relatives from our tree. I was going through some of the articles that I had cut out a while ago and spotted an ad from what has to be a relative, though I have not figured out which one.

Spirit Lake Iowa is a small town and a lot of my Mother's relative's lived there and their name was Bumgardner. So if a store in Spirit Lake in the 1930s was named BUMGARDNER'S it for sure was owned by a relative.

But this ad had a twist to it that probably would not escape today's critical audience though you never know:

This was an ad encouraging folks to do their Christmas shopping in Spirit Lake and specifically at Bumgardner's Furniture Co., (and Funeral Home).  This is not unlike we hear in our small town -- shop locally . . .

First of all in the above ad, maybe the 1930s were a different time, but "giving" a new mattress to someone for the holidays somehow doesn't seem appropriate. Or what lucky youngster, daughter or son, wouldn't love a new chair or lamp . . .

But the kicker for me was the "use our lay-away plan" point -- was that in association with  the furniture company part or the funeral part . . . I love looking at old ads.

Genealogy This Week

While I did a variety of things associated with the family history, probably the most useful was the time I spent on two different Webinars. No matter the subject, I always find useful items to incorporate in my research --  and this week was no exception:

Both of the above sessions were well worth my time. "Behind the Cheese Curtain" was valuable because of the fact that Wisconsin is so integral to our family history -- and I purchased a "Wisconsin" cheat sheet in addition to what I learned on  the webinar.

And "Blogs: Easy-To-Make Web Pages" was helpful because they wee talking about things that are done mostly in conjunction with "blogger" the free system from Google that I use to write this blog. Nicely done and contained a lot of good ideas.

That Was Our Week

I keep a count down for the days left in the tax season for obvious reasons one of which has to do with the number of days left in how my "free" time is spent -- the other as informational -- so there is just over one month left in the season . . . and the evenings will be "lighter"  in the coming days:

That is tonight at 2 AM . . . for us that translates to about 9 PM these days . . .

Leftover BBQ chicken tonight . . .

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