I just heard on the radio that scientists now say that there are BILLIONS of planets in the Milky Way.  Do you remember yesterday when we fatuously believed that we were the only ones in this vast blackness?

Well, I’m trying to learn to blog, and so far I am standing at the edge of the vast blackness of the internet wondering if there is anyone out there?  I hope so.  I don’t really care what you look like or what kind of alien you might be. You could breathe through stomata like a plant or chew your food with pebbles in your craw like a bird.  Just have something to opine, to praise or to condemn cause I’m tired of the silence in my life. I swear I will send a present to the first person who comments on my blog.

FYI, I was one of the creatures in Men in Black but have decided to hide my identity and pass among you.  The distance of the internet will protect you from the suckers along my arms and the baleen behind my ears.  Blog home.

It was Christmas time in Argentina, a beautiful country with friendly people. My missionary companion and I bought toys and went to visit the local “casa cuna” (orphanage).  We were going to “do good” and just knew how warm, and happy we would feel.  When we walked into the crib gallery, we beheld a room that looked like an airplane hangar with baby cribs  lined up row after row from the doorway to the far, far wall.  We looked at each other and immediately knew that this would be a far harder visit than we ever dreamed.   It felt like going to a zoo with barred cages.  But these little “cages” held human babies, over a hundred of them–maybe more.

We talked to the attendant, and she indicated that we could go among the cribs and put a toy in each crib.  We didn’t have something for every baby, but swallowed hard knowing that at least some of them would get a toy.  Although it would be another four years before I’d experience motherhood with my first baby, I knew after two or three cribs that something was horribly wrong.

We tried to happily chirp greetings to each little crib baby, smiled big and put a toy within the baby’s reach.  Those poor little babies just sat there in their cribs, hardly looked at us, and didn’t even inch over to explore their new toy.  That had no reaction whatever–nothing.  After a few more cribs, my companion and I began to get hard lumps in our throats making it hard to speak and an engulfing sorrow pressed down upon us.

We trudged on until we had no more toys;  and as we moved along, we lost our naivete step by step.  When it came time to leave, we went back to talk to the attendant. (I can’t remember how many women worked there–not many.)

“When will these babies be adopted?  How long do they stay here?”

She looked us over and said, “Most of these babies will never be adopted.”

“Well, what will happen to them in that case?

With almost no inflection in her voice, she said, “Most of them will die.”

Not enough loving arms, caressing hands, approving smiles, or even little games like “peek-a-boo to help these babies grow and thrive.

The attendant knew how desperate the situation was; she knew that all she and her few helpers could do was get the babies fed and their diapers changed.  Taking time to hold one baby meant that  the next babies would remain hungry and dirty.

My companion and I stumbled out of the door, too moved to speak, overcome with the shock.

I learned.  Boy, did I learn.  I vowed that my future babies would get extra hugging, caressing, and playing.  When my four babies finally arrived, I always stroked their legs and arms, patted their bums, met their needs promptly, played silly games, laughed and cooed and loved them.

Once at church we were asked to take care of a months-old baby while the single mother had an operation and some recuperation time.  My four little kids and I thought that that baby was the cutest, sweetest baby doll imaginable.  At first she was very passive, she seemed to never cry but she never laughed either.  She sat in her little chair mute.  We began to carry her around, play with her, and practically never put her down when she was awake.  Well, you know what happened.  She began to laugh and reach out to us.  She also began to cry when she needed something as she learned that her needs mattered.   It was heart breaking to give her back when the time came–we loved her.  You can’t imagine the report that came back to us.

We thought we had done a really good deed for the young mother and waited for her grateful words. When the Bishop reported back to us her reaction to our help, I once again saw those poor little Argentine babies haunting my memories.  The mother said to the Bishop, “I don’t know what they did to my baby, but they ruined her.”

Ruined her?  Why?  Because she learned to laugh and cry and waken from a neglected  life?  Because she learned to communicate? I knew by the way that baby acted that she was put into a lonely crib and left there, just like those babies in the orphanage.  She had been abused by a mother who did not nurture her–whatever the reason.

To you poor little Argentine babies who have inhabited my heart all these years, thank you so much for making me a better, wiser mother than I otherwise might have been.  You poor little souls, how I wish I could have saved you all.

These memories overcome me once again with a profound sorrow, so I will sign off.

Remember.  Nurture your little ones; love, caress, kiss, hug your babies every chance you get, and thank God that you have such a privilege. Their childhood will be gone in a heartbeat and in the future you will long for just one more day to once again hold your babies in your arms.  Enjoy your great blessing before the sun goes down–tomorrow is nigh.

I know that I’m not supposed to be deepening my laugh wrinkles by guffawing at Two and a Half Men at my age, but I just can’t help myself because Jon Cryer is so funny: his eyes, his facial expressions, his postures–right down to his prissy fingertips.

So, I, the queen, was not amused when Alec Baldwin won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series instead of Jon Cryer.

Oh, yeah, I watch Alec Baldwin in Thirty Rock also, and he’s funny, too, depending on the script.  One of the best things I can say about Baldwin, however, is what a handsome man he is. Take a look at Baldwin in the movie The Getaway with Kim Basinger and see an utterly breathtaking, drop-dead gorgeous male human. Watch him in The Marrying Man, too.

This hunk is also an excellent actor as seen in the movie The Edge with Anthony Hopkins.  But . . .

Jon Cryer is funnier in every single episode of Two and a Half Men whether playing the cheap-guts miser, the jackass master of all things gauche, or the guy tasered in the hallway. He’ll do it all to be funny: sit on the toilet, run around in his jockeys, wear a shower cap while exposing his soft chest. Because he is less handsome than Baldwin or Sheen, Cryer is even funnier–and handsome to me.

And who decides these awards?  Somebody deaf, dumb, and blind–with the funny bone of a Nazi prison marm?

And no, my opinion has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t like much of what Baldwin opines from his own brain, when he is not uttering fabulous dialog  put in his mouth by some writer’s witty words.  Alec, God looked down on your acting family of four brothers and anointed you with most of the handsome genes and the acting talent.  Isn’t that enough?.

When Ashton Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men, I thought the show was doomed  Then I realized that Cryer is the guts of the show, and Alan Harper the mooch wasn’t moving out soon.

I’ll cry for you Argentina–err Jon Cryer–the truth is this fan never left you. Thanks for the laughs–I’ll just buy more anti-wrinkle cream.

The first time I heard the term “down under” it sounded like something rated R.  I know better now.

I first fell in love with Australia when I saw the movie The Man from Snowy River and later saw Crocodile Dundee with Paul Hogan’s jerked-meat face.

I’m still seething from years ago when Gwyneth Paltrow won Best Actress for Shakespeare in Love while the brilliant Australian actress, Cate Blanchett, did not win for her role in Elizabeth. When they announced Paltrow, I choked on some popcorn and for days hacked like a lifetime smoker.  Some of the academy awards must have been chosen by a blind drunkard throwing daggers at celebrity pictures spinning on a carnival knife board.

What was the problem?  Did Cate not have a father in the Hollywood royalty?  Well, never mind. Cate went on to gain a truckload of awards including an Academy Award in 2004 for The Aviator.  Cate rivals Meryl Streep in acting brilliance, but Cate is also beautiful. John Wayne was John Wayne in every movie (except that horrible role as Genghis Khan–the worst casting of all time), whether or not he was a cowboy, a sailor, or a lover. By contrast Cate makes you BELIEVE she is her character.

And I love Australia for all the other great talent they send us:  Eric Bana, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, and Sam Worthington.  And look at the talented actresses from down under:  Rose Byrne, Naomi Watts, and the incomparable Nicole Kidman.

You’ll have trouble focusing on Eric Bana and Rose Byrne in Troy with Brad Pitt because testosterone will cloud up the screen. In Gladiator I still get the chills remembering Russell Crowe caress the waving wheat on his way to rejoining his loved ones in the Elysian Fields. The first time I saw Nicole Kidman was in Dead Calm with Sam Neill and Billy Zane. The hunky monkeys were nice, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of this porceline beauty who could also act.

Yeah, I’m glad I get to go “down under” at my movie theather.  Good onya, and G’Day.

Sorry, Proctor & Gamble, I’m rejecting the chill penury imposed on me by buying your expensive products.  By the way, I don’t think that your symbol/logo has anything to do with the church of the devil.

Frugal’s the word. Nothing spells frugal better:  B-A-K-I-N-G  S-O-D-A.  Baking soda is a pretty cheap aid/remedy for many of life’s challenges.

One half teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in one half glass of water will do wonders to alleviate an acid stomach. Especially late at night when the drugstore is closed.

Baking soda deodorizes many things: socks, carpet gluck, tennis shoes, etc.

Baking soda is a cleaning agent (try it in place of SoftScrub.)

Baking soda paste alleviates insect stings..

Baking soda dissolved in the bath soothes the skin (good for chicken pox).

Baking soda paste is an effective form of toothpaste.

Baking soda enhances the cleansing effect of your laundry detergent.

Baking soda extinguishes small fires.

Here’s a good old bit of penny-pinching advise:  keep a big box of baking soda in your house and use it all over the place.  For more ideas, check “51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda” on line.

Meanwhile, I’ll buy one of my best household aids in the baking aisle of the store. You can pinch a penny until it squeals.

No, I don’t mean extorting money for  the mob.  I mean the germs on your hands.  Oh yeah, they’re dirty all right.

The other day I studied how women washed their hands in the public bathroom at our local movie theater.  Not one woman did it well. And I can only imagine what goes on in the men’s room.  There are three parts to good hand washing..

Washing:  Wet your hands with hot water, remove your hands from the running stream of water so as not to dilute the cleaning power of the soap, and then add soap.  Scrub your hands around together, cleaning finger tips, backs, palms, and between fingers. Count slowly to at least twenty–and no, thinking “Happy Birthday to you” two times is not long enough.  Better, mentally recite slowly the Pledge of Allegiance two times. Imagine the good these words could do if the politicians washed their dirty hands while pledging allegiance to our country. Rinse your hands in hot water.

Drying:  DO NOT TOUCH THE FAUCET HANDLE YET, rather get a clean paper towel, dry your hands thoroughly, and use the towel to touch the faucet to turn off the water. (Use clean towels because blow dryers spread germs into the air; rubbing with a clean towel helps to wipe residual germs away.)  Do not throw away the towel yet.

Exiting:  Go to the exit, open the door handle with your towel protecting your hand, hold the door open  with your foot, and drop the towel into the nearby trash can.  No trash can at the door?  Drop the towel near the door where no one can trip on it.  Rest assured that sooner or later the proprietor will figure out that there needs to be a trash can near the door.  I judge an establishment somewhat by whether or not they are savvy enough to put the trash can in the right spot.

You will notice how extra clean your hands feel when you follow this procedure. You can do more to protect your health by frequently washing your hands than almost any other basic habit you can name. And don’t ever eat unwrapped candy or food from a public bowl or tray.  You’ll never guess the disgusting microbes detected there.

You guessed it.  The type of germs found in the public trough proves that people do not wash their hands well..  Yuck!  Just wish all the restaurant employees wash their hands the right way.  And you do it too.

Sooner or later this old dog has to learn some new tricks, like how to run a blog, how to control the controller on the TV, and what the sign “check engine soon” means on the car dashboard. Who knew that I had to put the gas tank cap back on really tightly?

Do not mention the wiry tangle that controls the water system for the yard.  Programming the house thermostat is beyond me because the lettering is so small that I can’t even read it with a magnifying glass  Just talk to me using  the acronyms/jargon of technology and watch the silly grin spread across my face, the dumb grin I saw on  Spanish-speaking Julio Iglesias face when Johnny Carson interviewed him in native-speed English on the Tonight Show.  The goofy/spacey look that says, “I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”

I have learned to recharge my cell phone, however, and turn off the alarm on the fridge door.  Besides, everyone knows that there is only so much space in one’s head for technological claptrap, and I don’t want to trigger Alzheimer’s by overcrowding my cranium.  I need to save space for important things like whether or not Brock Lesnar will succeed in cage fighting or whether or not con trails are causing infertility and autism.

The good thing about being older is the old ploy:  “I can’t see very well.  Would you please help me?”  I don’t have to admit that I don’t know where the trunk-release button is on my Grand Am or why there’s a pair of baggy panties stuck to right back leg of my newly washed polyester pants.

It’s hard to cover up not remembering your zip code or your new address.  So, I carry a recent letter addressed to me in my purse so I can quickly check where I live.  And, when necessary, check who I am.

You?  What old-dog-new tricks do you use to ease yourself through your senior years?  Do, please, share.

I discovered a good way to get a freeway tailgater to back off.  I reach up and slowly, slowly, with exaggeration adjust my rear view mirror, knowing that the other driver can see my raised arm through my back window.

Usually this ploy will cause the other car to slow down and put some space betrween us.  Does the other driver think that I am an off-duty cop, carefully monitoring  his poor driving?  Or does he think I’m trying to see myself in the mirror and can’t find my face?  Perhaps he thinks I’ll get behind him and turn off at his off ramp and “off” him? Whatever.  This tactic seems to work.  I used it just a few minutes ago on my way home from the grocery store.

And no, thank you very much, I am not a slow old geezer driver;  I go the speed of everyone else ahead of me.

Let’s invent a stinkbug-vomit bomb that attaches to the trunk of our cars and automatically spurts out a gooey,  miasmic stench that adheres to the car behind. Without obstructing the other driver’s vision, the stinky stuff has to stick like glue so other drivers will know by the smell that this particular driver is a chronic tailgater puke.  Imagine, he won’t even be able to go through a fast-food drive-through without making everyone inside throw up.  His wife and kids will shun him, not to mention the parking-lot attendant–but the dog will love to go bye-bye.

Short of provoking road rage or a horrible accident, what do you do to cure another driver of tailgating?

Don’t bother me right now.  I’m trying to figure out how to do my blog.