Archive for May, 2012

My Life Flashed Before Me in 60 Seconds‏

It wasn’t a perfect “unofficial” summer day Wednesday with morning sun giving way to clouds and rain and highs only around 60 degrees.  However, Ray, Gretel, and I still went to Arnolds Park Amusement Park, just down the road from his parent’s place in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

While the park is downsized from when Ray was a kid, it still features rides for the kids and for the more daring, a roller coaster that still ranks as one of the top 10 wooden roller coasters in the country.

Gretel was content on riding the swings and the spinning apples after deciding she didn’t want to brave the Scrambler all by herself.

Since I’ve never been on a roller coaster, I thought I would give it a try.   We bought our tickets and we were off to the infamous roller coaster.  We gave Gretel the cell phone and told her that if it flies off the track into West Okoboji Lake, call 9-1-1 and they would contact Grandma Donna to come and get her.  I really hoped that would not be the case!

We boarded the ride and we were lucky enough to get the front car.  We strapped ourselves in with the seat belt and the safety bar was pulled down in place.

Moments later, we were off for the 60-second ride of our lives.  Okay, Ray was a veteran since he grew up in this area.  It would be the ride of my life.

As the creaky car started to move slowly upward, a sign that read “The Point of No Return” appeared in front of us and I knew this would be the most exciting or the most horrifying experience of my life.  As went rose higher into the sky only to drop and gain speed, I was shocked at the first drop that we came up off the seat.  While I knew we had a seat belt on and the safety bar was secured, that was still a shock.

After that, it became less scary.  At that point, I was just more concerned that I wanted to keep recording the experience without dropping my camera.

We both survived and I guess I expected the ride to last longer than 60 seconds.  But, I wasn’t exactly ready to go again.  On a warmer summer day and if we had been spending all afternoon there, I would have taken another life-defying ride on the wooden roller coaster.

With our rides behind us, it was time for sugary treats.   Gretel and Ray chose salt water taffy as the main treat for the group.  I ended up eating four of them.  While there were o.k., it really wasn’t my thing.  We ended up buying a 65-piece variety bag consisting of cinnamon, vanilla, banana, blue raspberry, walnut, and spearmint.

In addition to that, we bought a bag of pink cotton candy and had some in memory of Miss ABBA. She loved the sugary confection.  Well, she loved many sugary treats.

And, Ray and I really indulged and push our healthy eating to the limits with salted nut rolls.  He chose pecan and I chose chocolate-covered almond.  A diet meant nothing to me after I risked my life on the roller coaster.

Overall, Arnolds Park was a fun time on an unseasonably chilly May day.

Today is our last day of vacation because we head back home Friday and it’s back to reality for me Saturday with work.


Reflections While Staring At Spirit Lake

We still have two more days of vacation in Spirit Lake, Iowa.  I’ve really enjoyed my time away.  It is giving me plenty of time to think about my life and my future and to eat some really good food.

Papa Ray and Donna, Ray’s parents, with Ray’s help, have made some really good food.  We’ve had shrimp, chicken, and pork kabobs, barbecued grilled chicken, and barbecued ribs.

We’ve also been bad and gone out for pizza and Chinese food.

Sitting on the dock and staring out onto Spirit Lake is giving me plenty of time for reflections.  (Isn’t this absolutely gorgeous?)

I’ve been pontificating about what I want to do when I get home.  I haven’t been asked to renew my contract, but it doesn’t expire until the end of the November.  While I love forecasting weather and being a television meteorologist, I’m not exactly happy with being on weekends after almost seven years at the station. Believe it or not, I loved being on the morning show.  The lack of sleep didn’t bother me.

However, the bottom line is that I have a job!  In today’s economy, that’s a great thing.

I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about Miss ABBA .  She was always ready for a boat ride, swimming, and riding on the golf cart.  But, I know she is with us and smiling down upon us, especially the other night when it was thundering and lightning.

With two more days of vacation left, I still have to catch enough fish for Donna to make fried walleye for dinner Thursday night.


Slow News Day? You’ll Never Guess Why Slob Rush Limbaugh Is Criticizing Anderson Cooper

I actually slept in this morning and then I took a walk and the carp and gars are really roaming in the slough on the other side of Big Spirit Lake.

When I got back from my nature walk, I started checking out the websites that I usually check out on a daily basis.  Okay,  maybe several times a day and a battle of words between CNN “hottie” Anderson Cooper and conservative radio show “nottie” Rush Limbaugh caught my attention.

You probably already know that I can’t stand Limbaugh and his stupid and many times, inaccurate, views on things.  I’ve even called him out before in my blog about his badgering of a lesbian couple that got a divorce.  It is so ironic that Limbaugh would make fun of anyone for getting a divorce.  I didn’t realize having the right to get married and then go your separate ways was such a funny thing.  But, then again, when you’ve done it three times and you’re on your fourth marriage, maybe it is funny?

I guess while sitting at the breakfast buffet eating his third or fourth helping of pancakes with extra butter and syrup (I don’t know if this is anywhere near the truth since I’ve never and would never have breakfast with Limbaugh), Rush must have been reading about Anderson Cooper and thought he would spend a lot of time talking (fantasizing) about Cooper at bars, the gym, and other places.

So, being the consummate professional, Cooper called Limbaugh out on his inaccuracies.  However, Cooper did give Limbaugh credit for reporting that he actually goes to the gym and works out and that maybe Rush should try it sometime.

This is incredible.

Rush, just shut up and stop being a jealous slob.


Relaxing, Fish Viewing, & Golden Days

It’s day three of our getaway to Spirit Lake, Iowa.  Memorial Day is turning out to be a mostly sunny, breezy, and rather pleasant one with temperatures in the 70s.  It definitely feels nice right on the Lake with the south winds blowing across the cooler lake water keeping the warmth in check.  I won’t be saying that tomorrow or Wednesday with highs struggling to make it into the 60s.

As is the case back home, I can’t sleep past 6 or 6:30 a.m.  To keep from waking everyone else up, I’ve been heading out early in the morning to see if I can capture some amazing sunrise and nature pictures.

I’ve seen two families of ducks or geese, but I haven’t been able to get a perfect picture of them.

However, I did find several schools of huge carp swimming around doing their thing.  If you want a free trip to my free Spirit Lake Aquarium, check out these two videos.  One is about 26 seconds and the other, when the fish get scared is about 12 seconds long.

After breakfast today, I took some “me” time and headed out onto the dock with the Spirit Lake white-capping around me to read a few more pages of the first book I’ve read in more than three years, “Golden Days:  Memories of a Golden Retriever” by Arthur Vanderbilt.

And, speaking of Golden memories, Miss ABBA basked in the sunshine on the dock today, too! 🙂

While I’ve indulged in some naughty treats that Ray’s mother, Donna, made from scratch, I think the walks along the Lake are helping to balance things out.  I’m not weighing while I’m here and I’m not being religious with calorie counting either.  I’m on vacation.  With that being said, I’m not that concerned with it, yet I don’t want to pack on many pounds while I’m here.  I still want my reward of Osaka Buffet and sushi when I return home and I reach my goal of 147 pounds.

I hope you’re having a great extended weekend if you’re one of the lucky ones.  If you’re working, I hope you’re making the best of it.



They Said What??? A Religious Fanatic, Madonna, & Lady Gaga


“We want to be on record that the NAACP now firmly opposes all efforts to restrict marriage equality.  We will oppose threats to the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal rights under the law in any state where this issue is raised. And we will follow our historic mission to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all persons.  This means that we will oppose all efforts by Members of Congress or any Administration to enshrine discrimination in the laws of our great country.”


“And don’t worry, if I get thrown in jail in Manila, Beyonce will just bail me out.”


“Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there.  Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”


“I’m not going to vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover!  It makes me pukin’ sick to think about — I don’t even whether or not to say this in the pulpit — can you imagine kissing some man?””


(on being President for a day):  “You can’t really change much in one day. I think I would like to be president for a longer time. I wouldn’t spend as much money for weapons of mass destruction but instead for education and art.”


Don’t Bake Your Dogs (or Kids) In The Heat

Summer may be weeks away on the calendar but if you spent any time outdoor yesterday in the Quad Cities or today anywhere across the middle of the country, it’s going to feel like summer with highs in the 80s, 90s, and close to 100 degrees.

After this blazing hot day, the temperatures will be cooling off some for many of us over the next days.  However, by that time, it may be too late.

This is the time to remind people that it only takes a few minutes for the inside of a car to heat up and if you’re running a short errand with your kids or your four-legged friend, the heat can kill them.

While it’s going to be very hot out there today, which is a no-brainer for not leaving your child or dog in the car while you run into the store, a tragedy can happen even when it ‘s cooler.

Temperatures inside the vehicle rise quickly.  How fast may shock you!

In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside the car can rise to 20 degrees higher than the outside air. In 20-30 minutes, it is about 30-35 degrees hotter inside the car and in an hour, it can be 40-50 degrees hotter in the car.

That means on a 70-degree day, the inside of the car can heat up to 120 degrees.

And, cracking the windows does little to keep the inside of the car safe from the heat.

About 40 children and between one thousand and two thousand dogs die inside cars each year in the United States from overheating accidents when parents run inside stores for just a few things.

Be safe out there today and this summer.

That concludes my public service announcement for today.

Miss ABBA loved to R-I-D-E in the car, (yes, we had to spell it out), and when I ran inside “for a few minutes”, I left the air conditioning running for her.

While I don’t mean to make light of the topic at hand, here in the drama queen on a 2009 trip to Spirit Lake, Iowa.

And, the doggie Academy Award goes to…. Miss ABBA!


Vacation & Dieting — Wishful Thinking or Reality?

Happy Memorial Day weekend to you.  I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday.  While it’s nice for those that have that extra day off, I hope we take a moment to remember our fallen men and women that have fought for our freedom.  Monday just isn’t the unofficial start of the summer season.

While some will work Monday, many will have the day off for an extended weekend for barbeques and a trip to an area water attraction.  Back home it was the Lakes, in the Quad Cities, it’s the River, and for me this week, it’s the Lake.  Typically, I’m one of those that work holidays.  But, not this one.

This was the view out my window this morning when I woke up at 6:30 a.m. in Spirit Lake, Iowa, at Ray’s parents’ house.

I didn’t know what time it was since the clock chimed at the half hour.  I just knew that no one else was up, so it must have been early.  I’m accustomed to being up early.  Had Miss ABBA been here with us, we would have already been walking along the Lake and seeing what kind of trouble we could find.  And, I would have been trying to convince her, like Gretel, our soon-to-be 11-year-old daughter, that it’s too early to go swimming and the water is cold. 🙂

The bottom line is that we’re away this weekend and next week relaxing at Spirit Lake and Okoboji Lake in northwestern Iowa.  This will likely be our last visit here since Ray’s parents are selling their home on the Lake and moving away.

While my sister is back in Moline feeding our fish, watering our plants, and making sure that Gretel’s two cats have food and water, we have no responsibilities this week except for reading, relaxing, boating, and maybe, fishing.  Sounds rough, huh?

There will be one struggle!  The biggest challenge on this trip will be eating healthy and dieting.  As you may recall, Ray and I are on a diet and exercise routine to lose the weight that we’ve gained since we met each other more than three years ago.

And, while people are sweet and say, “you two look great, fine, (or insert word) and don’t need to lose weight”, we know that we’ve both packed on the pounds.  For me, it was about 18 pounds and for Ray, about 30 pounds.

We now eat balanced and smaller meals each day and we exercise more.  Both of us start the day on the treadmill, we take a walk in our neighborhood at lunch, and two or three walks in the ‘hood in the evenings.

So far, we’ve been doing very well.  Since Christmas, we’ve both lost 18 pounds!  It definitely is easier to put the weight on than to lose it!

When we get to our goals of less than 150 for me and 170 for Ray, we both have chosen rewards.  Me, Osaka Buffet for Chinese food and sushi and Ray has chosen pizza buffet!

However, being away on vacation and being more relaxed with the calorie counting is going to make maintaining or losing weight a challenge.  At home, we measure out our food to the tablespoons and cups, and for meat, we even bought a scale to weigh it to keep portion sizes in balance.  We weigh ourselves daily, even though we shouldn’t because of weight fluctuations.

We didn’t bring either scale with us on vacation.  We’re going to have to rely solely on guessing at portion size and exercising.  One thing that we do have is a website that we’ve been using now for about a month.  And, if you’re wanting to shed a few pounds, I’d highly recommend

After building a profile with your age, height, weight, and how many pounds you want to lose (it allows you up to two pounds a week), it will give you a daily allowance of calories for you to eat that will help you achieve your goals.  You go in and add all of the food that you eat and how many calories you burn off exercising and it keeps track of it for you.

If you don’t know how many calories you burn walking, mowing the law, or working out, it helps you.

It’s been very instrumental in keeping us motivated and on track.  Once you do it, you will be amazed at how quickly calories add up and you will realize how easy it is to gain 20 or 30 pounds.

However, if you don’t eat the daily recommended calories to get to your weight loss goal in a healthy way, it will yell at you!

Something tells me that I won’t have that problem this weekend eating Papa Ray (Ray’s dad) and Donna’s great cooking.  He is a master of the grill and she makes the best fried walleye and baked fruit pies.  I hope she asks if we want her to make a pie this weekend.  Peach sounds so good!

And, I had planned on going fishing this week for the first time in thirty years.  If the weather isn’t crappy (not crappie) and cool, maybe I’ll catch a few walleye and say, “why don’t we fry these and make sandwiches.  Subtle?  Probably not.

Okay, I’ve been up one hour.  Everyone is still sleeping.  I think I will head out on my first walk alone to get a head start on my exercise for the day.  It’s so strange not having Miss ABBA lead the way, since this is my first trip to Spirit Lake without her.  But, she’s in my heart.  I’ll take my camera along and take some fun pictures.

Have a great weekend.


A Bittersweet Spirit Lake Vacation

Spirit Lake, Iowa, here we come.   Vacation season for me officially kicks off today!  My sister is now in charge of the fish pond and Gretel’s cats!

As we relax listening to the crashing waves at Ray’s parent’s house for the next six days, the trip is going to be bittersweet.  Prior to this trip, I’ve been there four times:  the past three summers and once right around Christmas.  However, this is the first time there without Miss ABBA.  It’s going to be weird getting out of the car and not having her run down the dock and then into the water within seconds.

Miss ABBA loved the Lake.  It didn’t matter whether she was swimming, fishing, boating, or retriever sticks and limbs.

This video is from last Labor Day.

Also, I think that Miss ABBA knew that the frozen lake was still the same one she would swim in during the summer months.  This is from Christmas 2010.

As for me, I plan to relax, eat healthy, maybe go fishing for the first time in almost 30 years (I’ve never caught a walleye), and read two books (I’m being really optimistic).

I haven’t read a book in years since I’m still trying to get caught up on my magazines.

First up is “Golden Days:  Memories of a Golden Retriever by Arthur Vanderbilt.  Miss ABBA bought me the book many years ago and I hoped it would be a long time before I had to read it.  So, I guess it’s time.  When Miss ABBA went to “puppy heaven” in February, Ray read it in one day and smiled and said, “That golden was definitely like ABBA”.  So, I know I’ll smile and maybe shed a few tears.

And, the other book is more disturbing.  It’s called “Room:  A Novel” by Emma Donoghue.

Some of you may have already read it, but if you haven’t heard of it, here’s how it’s described:

“To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.”

I hope you all have a great weekend and a fun week ahead without me.  🙂  Just kidding!  I’ll be blogging and checking Facebook between vodka/diet tonics.


Only Six Days Away Now! Is the Middle East Ready???

For your benefit, I’ve tried really hard not to be a total Madonna-obsessed fan lately.  While she was mentioned in four blogs over the past two weeks, I haven’t written a full blog about her since May 14th.  However, with the news I have today, I couldn’t contain myself.

After months of preparation and weeks of rehearsals in New York, Madonna has arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel, early to prepare for the kick-off of the “MDNA Tour” next Thursday night.  But, the big news is that she has released pictures of the actual rehearsals complete with costumes and sets.  All I can say is “OMG” and “Is it October 13th yet”?

One more thing before the incredible pictures.

A website called is reporting that late night show host Conan O’Brien will be in Israel for the opening of the tour.  The site claims that Conan will exclusively cover the concert for a television on TBS.  He will be accompanied by 20 people and three broadcast teams.  I have not been able to confirm that yet, but Madonna’s camp recently hinted that there was some U.S. publicity coming before the “MDNA Tour” reaches the states on August 28, 2012, in Philadelphia.

Now, the fantastic sneak preview pictures starting off with my favorite, a very “Dexter”-esque one!

L-U-V Madonna! Y-O-U you wanna!


“Peeps’ Friday ’80s Flashback”

It’s Friday and I need to motivated and get things done at home to head out of town.  So, for my weekly flashback to the ’80s, why not start with “Vacation” by the Go -Go’s.

The Go-Go’s — “Vacation”

The Go-Go’s first album, “Beauty and the Beat”, in 1981,  hit number one and sold more than two million copies.  It also gave the group its first two hits and its biggest hit, “Our Lips Are Sealed” (#20) and “We Got The Beat” (#2).

They followed that album up the next year with “Vacation”.  The biggest hit off that release was the #8 title track (the album also peaked at #8).  The group did have two other smaller hits from that album and that was it for them.  A total of five Top 40 Hot 100 hits.

The Bee Gees  — “One”

In memory of Robin Gibb, who passed away last weekend of cancer at the age of 62, I’m featuring the biggest hit the group had in the 1980s.  While they scored many number one hits in the 1970s, they only scored three hits during my favorite music decade.

“One” hit #7 in 1989.

Air Supply — “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”

The Australian duo took America by storm in 1980.  Radio was their best friend and they hit the top 40 eleven times.  Of those hits, eight reached the top ten.

Their first hit, “Lost in Love” reached #3.   Only one of their songs reached #1 on the Hot 100, “The One That You Love” in the summer of 1981.

“Making Love Out of Nothing at All” reached #2 in the fall of 1983.