Monthly Archives: January 2015

Uff da – Technology…

So, several months ago, RC and I purchased two flat screen TVs – one for his TV room and one for our living room.  Two because it is almost impossible for me to watch TV with RC who successfully watches 2 or 3 programs simultaneously by clicking back and forth with the remote.  This drives me crazy!

And, yes, I know some of you are horrified that we put a TV in our living room; but, we have a very small house that does not include a family room.  If we are ever to entertain friends for a Super Bowl or Oscar night party or the like, we need to have a TV in a room big enough to provide seating for more than two people…thus, the living room.  Not to mention the fact, I previously watched anything I was interested in on a small TV in our bedroom while sitting propped up by pillows on our bed – not a good posture for my back; now, I can watch in the comfort of an easy chair.

Anyhow, that is just backstory for how and why we acquired two new TVs – probably TMI for you.

When we purchased the new flat screens we added a Blu Ray player.  Though I love watching movies, it’s not often we rent DVDs – in fact, very rarely; and wow, other than Red Box you don’t see video stores anymore, do you?  We thought it might come in handy though, to be able to entertain our grandsons when they are over, by slipping a DVD into the Blu Ray player.

Turns out, now, several months later, we have never used the Blu Ray player.  I turn to DirectTV for my movies and, as I indicated in a previous post, I am content to watch some movies multiple times.

Well, though I am a library user for borrowing books, it just occurred to me the other day the library also has a DVD section with scores of selections available for 7-day rental.  I’ve never taken advantage of this opportunity.  In my mid-winter doldrums (see previous post) I find great escape in watching a movie.  ZOWIE, I suddently have discovered a cheap resource for obtaining and watching a variety of films!

So, to get to the point – yesterday, I went to the library and checked out three DVDs (Nebraska, 42 and How Do You Know – in case you’re interested).  I brought them home and sat down to discover how to use this Blu Ray thingamachig  that has been sitting idle.

Library selections
Library selections

This is where the “uff da” comes in – after 45 minutes of both RC and I attempting to figure out how to make this thing work, we were unsuccessful and gave up.

Said demon device & its instruction manual
Said demon device & its instruction manual

What dolts we are!!  We even have the instruction manual, but that didn’t seem to help us.

I find it rather embarrassing or maybe discouraging because it appears we are now the old folks that can’t keep up with how to use new-fangled equipment, but we are going to have to find someone to assist us in learning how to use the technology we purchased.  It will definitely be someone from a younger generation – likely, our 9-year-old grandson!

I hate admitting defeat and I hate being classified as a silly or dumb old lady!

I have never had much interest in science or technology and how or why things work.  I just want them to work when I want them to work!

My other current struggle with technology is getting this blog site set up in what I consider a pleasing, readable, easy to maneuver format.  I visit other blog sites and am impressed with how professional some of them appear.  I have a long way to go!

Some of you reading this may be affected by one of my current challenges – sending email notifications of new posts to those of you kind enough to sign up for such messages.  I managed to send you an email just one time for a previous post;  I’ll be darned (damned, really) if I can figure out what I did to accomplish that notification.  I haven’t been able to duplicate it.

Again, what a dolt!!

I can’t promise I’ll ever figure all of this technology junk out, but I’ll keep trying.  For the Blu Ray player, I just want to be able to watch a movie when I want to!  For this blog, I really just want to do the writing and have everything else just work and look good!

Am I alone in feeling frustration with this fast-changing world of technology we live in, or do you also encounter some challenges?

Misery loves company!


Are you blue, too???

I’m looking for ideas to pull me (and maybe some of you) out of the mid-winter doldrums.  I know I’m not alone in needing a solution.  What are things you do to keep from having the blues?

A person’s lack of energy and motivation to do anything at this time of year may be caused by the lack of light exposure during these short winter days.  It’s called S.A.D. – seasonal affective disorder.  I’m sure that is my problem.  On my work days, I drive to work in the dark; and, it turns dark shortly after I arrive home in the late afternoon.  I work in the lower level of a building where there are no windows, but we have special skylights that bring in natural light.  The natural light is nice, but if I don’t wander upstairs during the day I really don’t see the sunlight or even know what the weather is doing outside.

You’d think knowing the cause of my malaise would help me combat it, but so far, that is not the case!

Some of the methods I do employ to try and cheer up are:

  • making a daily listing of several things for which I am grateful – either in my gratitude journal or at least, in my mind.  In truth, I am a very blessed person so I could fill pages of my journal with things I am thankful for…SO, WHY AM I BLUE?
  • taking time to sit under one of those special lights that are supposed to imitate outdoor light (phototherapy).  Now, the only problem with this process is if I spend time under the light too late in the day, it must mess with my melatonin and I can’t get to sleep at bedtime.  So, I need to use the light during morning hours which are not convenient on my work days.
  • walking outside instead of using the indoor track.  I try to get outside a couple of times a week but avoid walking on dark roadways so again, my opportunities are somewhat restricted.  Though it’s not always sunny, I think just getting into real daylight and fresh air is helpful…SHOULD BE, DON’T YOU THINK?
  • getting enough protein in my diet which provides tryptophan which is necessary to make serotonin which has something to do with helping people be happy.  Way too scientific for me to comprehend, but I’m willing to try anything.

I know this is a temporary condition for me.  It seems I have the same lack of gumption each year about this time.  However, I would sure love to discover a way to overcome it.  (I can’t afford to move to a tropical island for the winter!)

Is anybody out there a fellow sufferer, and if so, do you have any great ideas for overcoming the doldrums?

I’d also be curious to know if those of you lucky enough to either live in warmer climates than Minnesota, or who spend your winters in sunny places also suffer from S.A.D.?  I would love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, I will strive to find something more cheerful to write about before I sit down to create another post.  One piece of advice I have read is to surround yourself with happy, upbeat people – I probably haven’t fit that bill for you with this post…sorry!


A family vacation…

I don’t have a bucket list, not sure if I really see the necessity for one since I seem to already live a fairly fulfilling life.  I’m also realistic enough to know that I’ll never have enough money at my disposal to do some of the grand things I hear people put on their lists (e.g., seeing the 7 wonders of the world or visiting all the continents). But, I have long had the dream of having our whole family (daughter, son, their spouses and children) vacation together.  My vision has always been someplace warm in winter like Hawaii – 1st choice, or Florida.

Well, not warm and not exotic, but rather very cold and simple, we have just spent several days together on the North Shore of Lake Superior in two small, cozy cabins.

View from the deck of our cabin.
View from the deck of our cabin.

It really was a dream come true for me.  Lots of quality family time playing games, hiking, eating and laughing.  I think “quality time” is an overused phrase, but it does best describe the time we had.  When you’re away from Wi-Fi, Direct TV and all the responsibilities and options for things to do you face at home, you’re forced to pay attention to one another.

Yes, we did have cellular service, albeit sketchy, so tablets and phones were still being utilized when we could get service.

An amusing example of the cellular challenges:  Our two cabins were several yards apart so running between the two meant a short walk in the bitter cold we experienced while there.  (Occasionally someone would jump in the car and drive the short distance just to avoid the cold.)  Son-in-law, Dan, texted those of us in the other cabin one morning to inquire about breakfast plans.  We received the text about 5 hours later at 2:00 pm in the afternoon – long after we had actually convened and finished breakfast.  You can see, that mode of communicating wasn’t very reliable.

One day we took a walk through the woods along the shore.  Though there was very little snow – much to our dismay (snow boards remained unused leaning against the side of the cabin) – we did encounter some ice on the trail which had previously had snow and been groomed for cross-country skiing.  Six-year-old Max had fun using a stick to try and break the ice on puddles that were frozen solid.

The ice formations on the rocks at water’s edge were beautiful.  We spent some time throwing smaller rocks at these formations to see if we could break them.  We examined holes in tree trunks made by woodpeckers, and wondered at tall birch trees broken off at their base, and now resting across other trees’ branches – did they crash down during a storm or fall gradually as their trunks rotted?

Such simple entertainment!

There are 10 cabins on this property, but only two are heated for winter use.  Thus, we had the entire place to ourselves.  We bundled up and walked down the long driveway past all the cabins one morning and listened to Dan’s stories.  Dan and his mother, aunts, uncles, and cousins have been renting the cabins we were in for many, many years.  Dan has been there for annual vacations over the 4th of July since he was about 3 years old.  So, he knows the history of the place and has lots of memories to share with those of us new to the experience.

Our hike down the driveway ended at the fish house which is used by the owner of the cabins to clean fish, store his boat, nets and other equipment he uses for commercial fishing.  We spent some time tossing rocks from the shore onto the long, icy pier there to see if we could get them to skid off the end into the water. The boys, both big and small, had fun taking turns skipping rocks on the open lake water to see who could achieve the best score.  The morning’s activity ended in family pics lakeside.

The matriarch and patriarch with their babies.
The matriarch and patriarch with their babies.

Again, such simple entertainment!

Indoor activity included lots of game playing.  One evening we had an elaborate Tenzie tournament.  Tenzie is a very simple, but fun, dice game appropriate for all age levels.  Since there were eight of us and  only four can play the game at one time, our two “older” boys, Dan and Pete, devised a player bracket board to indicate who was to play whom  and show winners and losers – quite sophisticated.  When it turned out I was one of the losers, I declared it a very poorly run tournament!

Kids having fun.
Kids having fun.

Eating, napping, reading, crossword puzzles, Sudoku and solitaire filled the rest of our hours.  A very relaxing time for everyone.

Drama queen and king!
Drama queen and king!

I was not disappointed in our family vacation.  For us, our simple, relatively inexpensive vacation was just as satisfying as if we had spent a week (and lots of money) in Hawaii. Just goes to show you making/taking time to sustain relationships provides the greatest satisfaction!

Happy New Year everyone.

May you find ways to spend “quality time” with those you love in 2015!