Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Happy Christmas to All


Sending warmest wishes for a wonderful and joyous Christmas Day!

I have put up a small tree and a few seasonal decorations in my living room. Amazingly, the cats have left them alone, for the most part. The tree is on a small side table by my reading chair.  Each morning, I expect to see it on the floor, but it has stayed put.  Perhaps they are on their best behavior, waiting for Santa Claws to bring them some treats.

Rain, rain, rain!  Since midnight, December 23 (only yesterday), the official weather service has recorded over 7 inches of the liquid sunshine.  My own rain gauge is FULL and running over, and it tops at 8". We're on our way to setting a record for the wettest December since the Weather Service started keeping records. 

On the bright side, it's supposed to turn much colder tonight, so perhaps when I leave the church after our Christmas Eve service, which starts at 10:30 p.m. and lasts until after midnight, there will be a few snowflakes in the air and on the ground.  Snow on the ground would make Gardening Daughter happy. For some unfathomable reason, the child loves snow!

I'm off and away to take care of last minute details, of which there are more than I care to admit.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If You Treat A Cold, It Will Last About...

...seven days.  If you don't treat a cold it will last --- about seven days.

My seven days are up, and except for a few residual coughs and a slightly stuffy nose, my cold is over.  I will admit to "treating" it, although I didn't seek professional medical attention. In addition to my throat and chest, I did rub the bottoms of my feet with Vick's (a remedy suggested by two blog commenters and my son), took a couple of antihistamine tablets during the worst days of my streaming eyes and nose, and followed up with about three doses of dextromethorphan and guaifenesen (also a suggestion by a commenter.)  Along with those tried and true remedies, I drank many, many cups of hot tea, most of it of the spiced variety such as Chai and my favorite "Constant Comment."

For the most part, I just took it easy. Between frequent visits to a steadily diminishing box of tissues and sipping my tea, I managed to read four books: an Aaron Elkins' "skeleton detective" mystery Tiny Little Teeth, and two forensic mysteries and one very informative non-fiction book (Death's Acre)-- by the same authors, Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson.  If you're a fan of gory forensic stuff, I recommend the Bass/Jefferson books; I found them fascinating.  If you are squeamish, those are not for you.

I'm also about one-third through Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations... One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  It's a fascinating true story about one man's determination to build schools for desperately poor mountain children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I understand that Mortenson has been getting some TV exposure lately (which I missed), although I first read about his book in a monthly book review magazine at my local library. I'm sure you could find a wealth of information about the book and Mr. Mortensen on the Internet, should you be interested in doing so.

Gardening Daughter's husband helped to supplement my food requirements during my self-imposed confinement, bringing me a huge container of chicken and dumplings from my favorite "chicken place," cornbread muffins, and a slab of pizza -- not all at the same time, of course.  He also made a run to the pharmacy to pick up the cough syrup after I discovered that the bottle I had tucked away in the cupboard had an expiration date of 06/2007.  It seems I need to perform a cupboard-wide check on the expiration dates of  OTC medicines. I don't know if expired medications get stronger or weaker, but I'd hate to either overdose myself or waste my time taking something that is completely ineffective.

Now that my semi-annual cold seems to be on the wane, and my energy is slowing rising,  there is much I need to accomplish: more Christmas cards to make, address and mail; gifts to wrap and ship; last minute gifts to purchase, etc., etc.

More later.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Achoo!

I have a bad code!  I sneeds alod, by dose id rudding, by eyes are weeping, by froat id sore and by chest id tight!  I am floading from dringing so mudge hot tea. 

Exactly where or when I picked up the germ/virus that caused all this discomfort I don't know, but I wish I had left it where I found it.  I don't often "catch" a cold, but generally will have one major episode during the summer and one in winter. My winter cold doesn't usually hit me until after Christmas, but it's come early this time.  It began last night during our church service when I started sneezing and my eyes started weeping; I hate to do that in church!

I will drag out the Vick's Vap-o-Rub and apply copiously, and suck on some mentholated throat lozenges.   I have things to do!  I can't give in to a cold.

Later, with dryer eyes and nose.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All's Well That Ends Well



On Saturday morning before Thanksgiving,  my son in law called me to say that he'd found a young male Cairn Terrier wandering in his neighborhood; in fact, he had seen it running about for several days, looking tired, scared and hungry. It had finally wandered its way into his yard, and his dogs were not happy!  The terrier wore no collar, thus no tags which might help reunite him with his owners. Since I had a fenced back yard, could I please keep the little dog for the weekend until the Animal Shelter was open?  He would bring dog food from his own supply, and a kennel.

Since I'm known to be a pushover, I said "Sure" and he quickly arrived with the dog and kennel, which was placed in my kitchen.

The little dog was a honey!  Dirty, but sweet and friendly, and we took to each other like we'd been raised together. After wolfing down a pack of moist dog food and taking great slurping drinks of water, he had a great time leaping and romping through the leaves in my back yard, barking at birds and chasing squirrels.  I took a few photos of him and, while he was romping, I prepared a "FOUND" poster for son in law to post in his neighborhood.

As evening drew near, bringing quite chilly temperatures, I knew it was time to bring him inside (I don't "cotton to" leaving dogs outside in the cold. I know some folks keep dogs outside, especially large ones, but I'm too tender hearted to do that. I expect if I had a Saint Bernard or a Great Pyrenees, it would be a house dog, too.)

Before carrying him into the house to meet the cats, I brushed him down to remove the worst of the grime. He accepted the brushing almost gratefully, so I expect he was tired of being dirty. I would have loved to have given him a bath, but I didn't think I was up to quite that much activity.

The introductions were more civil than I expected.  The female cats mostly ignored him; only my large male cat seemed to be incensed over the intruder, but warfare was avoided by sharp reprimands to both cat and dog.

It appeared that the little dog, who I temporarily named "Charlie" was used to being inside, and was very comfortable being a lap dog, and just the right size.  He lay beside me in my recliner on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.  When it was my bedtime, I placed him in the kennel, turned off the lights and went to bed. I didn't hear so much as a whimper from him all night. Nice dog!

On Monday morning, I called the Animal Shelter (a prerequisite before bringing an animal to them.) They had not had any inquiries about a lost Cairn Terrier, but would accept him. "Charlie" sat calmly in the passenger seat of my car while we made the trip to the Shelter. He was logged in and the attendant said that, were he not claimed by the owners, he would be put up for adoption the following Monday. I told "Charlie" good bye, and went on my way, knowing that were he not reclaimed nor adopted, I would be back for him. (Our shelter is, unfortunately, not a "no-kill" shelter. Animals not claimed one way or another are euthanized after several weeks.)

Now... you're thinking that I have a dog in my household, aren't you?  Wrong!

I called the shelter on Thursday of the week he was up for adoption and learned that he had been reunited with his owners.  As I said in my title: all's well that ends well. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Am I Ready For a Job with CSI...

... or at the Jeffersonian?

Those of you who are squeamish may not wish to read much further, although I've tried to be "gentle." Those intrepid souls who may watch, or be addicted to crime scene and forensic investigation TV shows, as I am, know what I'm talking about.

Background: On Thanksgiving evening, after dark (which comes much too early these days), I ventured outside to the small shed in my back yard to retrieve a shovel with which to dig up some tender plants in my front garden, since below-freezing temperatures were forecast for that night.  As I got to within about 6 feet of the shed, my nostrils picked up the unmistakable scent of decomposition -- and it wasn't moldy leaves.  Some creature of the Animal Kingdom had died within close proximity and was making its remains known in natural, but most foul, manner.  It was too dark to look for a body, and I hoped it was just some bird, or perhaps a squirrel which had met its Maker on my property.  I didn't want to be walking around in the dark and go ankle-deep into something I'd much rather not step on.

Yesterday afternoon, I ventured out with gloves,  a rake, and anvil pruners (unfortunately there is quite a bit of undergrowth behind my shed.)  Even with my nose in full operational mode, I did not locate the object of my search by the time the light was waning, and so put off further investigation until today.

A more aggressive investigation, with more snipping and raking, and again using my olfactory sense, led me to believe that whatever was decomposing was in a spot underneath the back side of the shed, which is only about 6 inches off the ground.  I could see nothing, even with bending as far as I could and peering underneath.  I finally used a long-handled two-pronged hoe for a probe. I initially pulled out a few small pieces of fur, which I took to be that of a squirrel.  I thought to myself that a creature as small as a squirrel would rapidly disintegrate and the odor would soon fade. "Let Nature take its course," I thought.

However, the next probe encountered something much more substantial than a squirrel.  I pulled gently on the object and there quickly was revealed a large and very dead raccoon.  It had been dead for some time, as insect and larval activity had reduced its mass by about one-third.

After a quick call to Gardening Daughter, who advised me to dig a hole and bury the creature, the remains were interred with minimal ceremony.  "From Earth you came, to Earth you are returned. Rest in Peace."

I managed all the activity quite well, I thought, but quickly came to the conclusion that I definitely am not ready for a job that would require dealing with human remains. I know that, unfortunately, that is a job which must be done, and the people who deal with such things on an all-too-frequent basis are to be commended.  

Later, with more pleasant things, I trust.

Friday, November 27, 2009

ICQ!

Has any reader heard from or had other contact with our dear Jeannelle, of Midlife by Farmlight?  She has been missing in action for three weeks, or so,  and several of us are quite concerned.


Any information would be gratefully received.


Thank you.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to All

 At the time of this writing, my home is redolent with the fragrance of freshly baked pecan pie and the magnificent (in my opinion) fragrance of cornbread dressing (or stuffing, if you prefer that term).  Yesterday, I cooked the celery and onions for the stuffing, and baked a loaf of bread, and the house smelled good, too.  Thank you, Lord, for the sense of smell... and taste.


My daughters'  and son's homes are redolent with the fragrance of baked turkey, sweet baked ham, yeast rolls, sweet potato pies, and all the foods our family tradition requires on this Day of Thanksgiving.  I throwing in a "ringer" this year by also bringing one of my favorite food memories of my younger days -- mashed turnips, sweet, and seasoned with black pepper and a bit of bacon drippings. My mama used to make this often, and I've not had turnips many times over the past 30 years.  This extra contribution can be blamed on Jim Sullivan, or Suldog, who gave me the idea in one of his blog posts.



Although the family numbers have decreased somewhat over the years, we'll have 18 folks for dinner today, each one bringing his/her specialty.  My daughter-in-law (the only one I have since I have only one son) makes an incredibly delicious carrot cake, and that will be one of their family's contributions to the dinner.


Gardening Daughter and her husband bought the home in which my husband and I raised the children, and which I occupied until about 18 months after his death.  It's a large home and has been remodeled to be even more open and accommodating of large gatherings. I warned my son-in-law when they bought the home that they were also obligating themselves to hosting large family gatherings, and thus it has been for the past several years, with smaller gatherings held in the homes of my other near-by daughter and my son.


It's time to check the stuffing to see if it's done.  

I leave you with one of my favorite seasonal quotations.:

Give us thankful hearts...
in this season of Thy Thanksgiving.
May we be thankful for health and strength,
for sun and rain and peace.
Let us seize the day and the opportunity
and strive for that greatness of spirit
that measures life not by its disappointments
but by its possibilities,
and let us ever remember that true gratitude
and appreciation shows itself neither
in independence nor satisfaction
but passes the gift joyfully on

in larger and better form.

~ W.E.B. Du Bois


Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's a Bit More Like November Today



Gone are the balmy 70+ degree temperature, blue skies, open windows and the pure pleasure of walking around on a fall day that we had yesterday. I awoke to light rain, brisk winds, and considerably cooler temperatures.  Going outside without a jacket is for those with a bit more padding than I have, and I have plenty, thank you, since the wind chill is at the 40 degree mark.
The temperature is not supposed to fall into the freezing range this week, but I really should have already begun to think about moving a few plants inside (all I have room for), and taking cuttings from those that can be carried over to spring in that way.

Since we've returned to "regular" time, I've been enjoying the earlier light, but I don't like the early darkness. As I write this, it's not quite 5:30 p.m., and it's already time to close the drapes and turn on the lights.

The early darkness also seems to make me sleepy, and I'm sometimes ready to turn in for the night at an unreasonably early hour. Yawn!   I haven't had supper yet, and I have a stamp club meeting at 7, so I can't go to bed now, but I'll bet it won't be long after I get back home before I'm tucked in.

I hope you're enjoying your mid-November weather, where ever you may be.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where, Oh, Where is My Roll of Ribbon?

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This knot of ribbon, which is, in real life, only 2" across, is an integral part of the design for a card that is to be made at the Christmas "Stamp-a-Stack" I'm co-hosting on November 13 and November 14. I need to make 160, yes, one hundred sixty, of these knots, ready to apply to the cards. However, I have a problem!

When I left to go to Virginia, a full roll of this polka-dot ribbon (the only one I had in my stash), was on my stamping table. Safe enough, I thought. But, oh, no! Sometime during my absence, the entire roll of ribbon disappeared. I spent the better part of a day looking for it. I've cleared everything from the stamp table, piece by piece, looked on the floor and under cabinets, moved boxes and bags and so on and so on. I've looked under the kitchen table, in the living room under the sofa, under the chairs, under my bed. No ribbon!

I suspect that one or more of the cats, trying to get even for my prolonged absence, knocked the roll of ribbon off the table and batted it around to who knows where! Missy, my black mama cat, has been known to carry entire rolls of ribbon from the stamp room into other parts of the house, but I've always spotted them in plain view. The culprit might even have pushed the roll off the table into the large trash bin that I keep nearby, and which Gardening Daughter thoughtfully emptied during my absence. (Note to self: move trash bin to another location.) If that's the case, my brand new roll of ribbon is now residing under a pile of yuck at Mount Trashmore, the local landfill.

All is not lost -- except the time I've spent looking for it, and even that had a benefit: my stamping table and environs are neater than they've been for some time. My stamping partner and co-host of the Stamp-a-Stack has some of this particular ribbon on hand which I can use for the project, since I don't have time to order and receive it in time to prepare for the stamping event. I'll just have to order two rolls, one for me and one to replace the one I will "borrow."

Off now to cut paper and create kits for the other cards -- which fortunately don't require red polka-dot ribbon.

More, later.



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

Northern Virginia Countryside

I've been away for a couple of weeks, visiting my sister and her husband, who live just outside Washington, D.C., in northern Virginia. I don't get up there very often; my last trip was about two years ago. I usually go alone, and drive the almost 1,000 miles each way; it's a long and physically taxing trip, but I very much enjoy the scenery through Tennessee and Virginia.

This time, I was afforded the luxury of flying, courtesy of my brother-in-law, and the trip took just over 6 hours. Airline routes being what they are, I had to fly from Little Rock to Houston, then Houston to Washington, D.C.

While Arkansas was experiencing downpours (October, 2009, was the wettest October on record, with over 16" of rain during the month), there were only light showers in Virginia -- just enough to prevent us from getting out and enjoying the fall scenery -- until the last day of my visit, when the sun came out and things dried out enough to let us to go out to lunch at my sister's favorite restaurant, Heart in Hand, in Clifton, VA, and for a short drive in the surrounding countryside, where I took the photo shown above.

The area around Clifton is "horse country" and there are literally hundreds of miles of fence similar to the one shown in the photo above. There's some serious money in "them thar hills!"

I think my cats were glad to see me come home; I can't sit down without having one cat in my lap and another yowling around my ankles. I was glad to see them, too.

More, later.

P.S. The Kairos card count is now almost 1,400. The ladies have been busy since I've been away.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kairos Card Count, So Far

Friend "B" has used her time as a volunteer in the church office to put Kairos cards and envelopes together. As of this morning, there are 1,031 cards! Yay!

There will be some more to add to that group before the card-making is done. We may have to rent a U-Haul to get them all there! (just kidding, but they will fill a large box.)

Our minister is delighted with the results of our card-making efforts, and the ladies of the church who assisted feel the effort was well worth-while.

More, later.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coming Up for Air

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I've just been busy. Really, really busy!

Card-Making Activities

The card-making frenzy is over -- for a while, at least. In an earlier post, I mentioned the Kairos Prison Ministry. Last Friday evening, in our church's Parish Hall, nine other women and I produced almost 900 Christmas cards. That's nine hundred, folks!
All these cards will be taken to one of the state's prisons, Tucker Correctional Facility, where they will be made available to the inmates to send to their families during the holiday season.

We ran out of envelopes at 796 cards, so had a bit of shopping to do. One of the church office volunteers will finish putting envelopes with cards this week. I suspect that we'll have more than 900 cards when the final count is done.

My friend "B" and I furnished all the supplies and materials for this effort, so we had a LOT of paper cutting and folding to do, but it was worth it.

The volunteers who joined us in this effort said they had a great time, and are interested in making another huge batch of cards (Easter, birthday, all-occasion) in the spring of 2010. We'll make "stampers" out of them, yet!




Friday, October 9, 2009

Thanksgiving Comes First


If you are dismayed, as I am, by the overwhelming displays of Christmas merchandise in the stores well in advance of even Hallowe'en, I recommend to you the following blog post by Jim Sullivan, a.k.a. "Suldog."

Thanksgiving Comes First


I wholeheartedly agree with Jim.


ALL holidays that have commercial potential are pushed far out of their intended time frame. One of our local super centers will have Valentine merchandise on the shelves when the store opens on December 26, having moved the left-over Christmas merchandise to the clearance department. Makes me disgusted, it does!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just Stuff

Back to Earth!

Hot Air Balloon Ride
Should you be wondering why I haven't posted again about my marvelous hot air balloon ride, it's coming, it's coming! Sorting through and choosing the best of several hundred photos is taking time, and I do want my tale to have some sort of order to it. My fellow passenger is sending me a CD of the photos she took, BalloonLR is sending a CD with photos taken from the ground by the Chaser and, with their permission, I may include some of those in my post.

 Greeting Cards
I'm not working on much of anything EXCEPT cards! Our World Card Making Day event was a success, with 16 ladies creating 240 cards. As I've stated in a previous post, half the cards are going to the Little Rock Ronald McDonald House, and half will be sent to Cards for Soldiers. Below are photos of two of the cards we created during this event.


As if that were not enough, one of my church friends and I have organized a project to create Christmas cards for the inmates of one of Arkansas' prisons. Several members of our church are actively engaged in the "Kairos Prison Ministry" there. Our priest told us of a need for cards for the inmates to send to their families and several ladies have risen to the challenge. We'll be making Christmas cards next week -- several hundred if we work it right.

Why Have All the Birds Gone? 

All summer long, my yard was filled with birds: four or five families of cardinals ; a plethora of squawking blue jays; grackles by the dozen; lots of sparrows of different sorts; some randomly visiting chickadees and nuthatches; a family of hummingbirds. I filled my feeders at least twice a day and spent hours watching them. On the first day of Autumn, except for the hummingbirds, the majority of them disappeared, leaving only a few stalwart hangers-on. I've seen only one blue jay in the last three weeks, and not a single grackle. Even the squirrels have deserted me. I suspected that the neighbor's cat, lurking under the trees, had scared them off. I shooed her out of the yard every time I saw her (Maggie's a nice cat, but I don't want her around my birds).

Maggie may be playing a part in their absence, but something else is scaring them off, and today I saw the culprit! A large hawk swooped through the yard and perched in the branches of one of my trees not far from the feeders. I've never before seen a hawk in this neighborhood, much less my own yard! Of course I ran to get my camera but was not quick enough. Just as I was focusing the telephoto lens, off it went!

I watched for quite some time, and finally a brave little nuthatch visited the feeder, soon followed by two cardinal pairs. The hawk must have been long gone for them to come out of hiding. Fortunately, all my trees are still fully leafed, so there are hiding places for them.

* * *

More, later.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Would You Like to Fly in My Beautiful Balloon?

That's ME up there!

It finally happened! This morning's weather was perfecto-mundo in every way, and I was airborne at sunrise. More details and more photos later (at least the fewest number I can limit myself to share -- I took 237 and Gardening Daughter, who drove me to this event, took 55.) I promise not to overwhelm you. The first two photos in this post were taken by Gardening Daughter, who assisted with balloon preparation, and followed the chase car all the way to landing. The sunrise photo below is mine.



Pilot David and me just before lift-off. Do I look happy? I was!

Sunrise over Lake Maumelle, west of Little Rock, Arkansas

It was marvelous!

I'm off and away now to participate in World Card Making Day activities.

More later.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Blessings

Yesterday was a busy day. It started off somberly, and ended joyously, with blessings on both ends.

One of dear young (47) church members died in his sleep last week. He had been courageously battling cancer for some time, but his death was unexpected and a shock to us all.

Blessing #1: At church yesterday morning, we had a lovely and well-attended service to celebrate his life. Members of the Arkansas National Guard, of which he was a member, were present as the honor guard and conducted a military service -- twenty-one gun salute, Taps, and all -- after the church service. Afterward, the ladies of the church, and a gentleman or two, did us proud with delicious food brought in for a luncheon for the family and friends. About 50 folks stayed to share the meal and visit with the family.

Gardening Daughter had created a beautiful arrangement of glowing salmon pink roses for the altar. I regret that I do not have a photograph of the arrangement; as I knew I would be actively engaged in the service and then helping with the luncheon, I didn't take my camera to church at all.

As is our custom, we offered the altar flowers to the family, should they wish to have them; they graciously declined since none of them live in the local area. We decided to share these flowers in the same manner as we share our Sunday flowers. Each week, we take the altar flowers to shut-in parishioners, or to a local nursing home, or to someone in the hospital, etc. Upon this occasion, we decided to take the flowers to the Arkansas Veterans' Home in southwest Little Rock, even though it is about 25 miles away. We divided the arrangement into two large and two smaller arrangements, since the original altar piece was too large to transport easily.

Blessing #2: I am very glad that we decided to take them to the veterans' home. Not only was the staff delighted to receive them (I think the home gets very little attention from the public at large), we garnered very nice comments from nearly all the residents who were outside their rooms as we carried the arrangements into the building and down the hall to their "rec room." They seemed surprised and delighted that ladies were bringing them flowers. It was a real spirit-lifter for us, and I'm sure our departed friend would have been glad to know that the flowers were taken to that particular place.

As I said: blessings on both ends. Thank you, Lord.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Early Autumn Jaunt

Yesterday I took the day off from card-making activities and drove to Hot Springs Village, about 70 miles southwest of my home. It was an absolutely gorgeous day: sun shining brightly, a slight breeze and temperature just perfect! I opened the sun roof of my car and rolled down the side windows just to let the wonderful, crisp early Autumn air wash over and through me. I took big, deep breaths as I drove through the still-green countryside and became almost giddy during the drive. Must have been all the fresh air that made me feel that way.

My journey was made by traveling on one of Arkansas' lovely scenic by-ways, a sometimes narrow two-lane highway that winds its way over the gentle hills of central Arkansas with more than a few 25- 35 mph curves. We have several beautiful scenic drives in the state, but this is one of my favorites, perhaps because loved ones are waiting at the end of my drive.

The reason for the trip was to help celebrate the 86th birthday of my brother-in-law, who is an absolutely wonderful guy (even if he is a Yankee), and who is looking quite robust for a person who is even older than I (see photo below). In the interests of home safety, we didn't put 86 candles on his cake. I don't think the delicious chocolate cake (his favorite, of course) would have held them all, anyway, and the one we lit did quite nicely.

Happy Birthday, Dear Leon!

Before we arrived at birthday cake and present-opening time, we had driven a few miles outside the Village to a small home-style restaurant for a pleasant and most satisfactory lunch. In the restaurant's parking lot, we spied an interesting vehicle. When I questioned our waitress, I was told that it was the property of the restaurant owners. After our meal, I approached them to say how much I admired their unusual looking car. They told me it was a replica of a 1929 Mercedes Gazelle. Of course I had to get a couple of photos! I love the headlights and the trumpet- shaped horns on the front.



On such a lovely Autumn day, I certainly would have enjoyed jaunting about the countryside in this little beauty!

Yesterday's euphoria will have to last for a while. This morning brought a heavily overcast sky and the threat of rain -- which materialized this evening. Ah! How grateful I am for memories!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Card Parts & Bird Sighting

How many pieces do you see?*

Seems like all I've been doing lately is cutting paper and tieing ribbons. Pictured above are the pieces needed to make 40 card kits for one card design. Granted, the *320 pieces shown above are a bit outside the norm; most of the cards I design usually have four to six pieces each, not the eight pieces needed to create this particular card. All the card stock is cut, the ribbons tied, the kits assembled, and the non-kit supplies (stamps, inks and adhesives) gathered in readiness for tomorrow evening's Stamp Camp. My partner and I will have another session on Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, the cards will be the same for both sessions, so there is no more paper to be cut, thank goodness.



Bird Sighting: I spied an unusual visitor to my Safflower Seed feeder this afternoon. I tried to get a photo from inside the house, but the results were not good (I will blame it on the atmosphere; it's gray and rainy today, but it's really an 'operator problem') which I emailed to Gardening Daughter who tentatively identified the bird as a juvenile or female Lark Bunting,

the state bird of Colorado, and normally a resident of more western and northern states. I know that I have never seen one like it here before today; it must have become blown off course during the recent storms to have arrived in my yard. It spent quite some time stuffing itself with Safflower seeds; I think it must have been ready for something to eat. I was sad to see it leave the yard. Perhaps it will visit again before going on its way.

I would welcome a more positive identification from any bird-watcher readers. Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Update on Sweetie Pie and other Stuff

To those who have inquired, thank you, Sweetie is doing much better. So much so that she is fighting me tooth and claw over every administration of topical and/or oral medication. I will have scars to prove what a dedicated 'mother' I am.

I know she's feeling better since she has been running through the house at full tilt, jumping on the other cats, and batting around everything that she can physically move. (I have a rubber stamp that states "Everything not nailed down is a cat toy." How true!) I am much encouraged by her improvement; she had been quite lethargic.

On other subjects:

Rain -- we're about to mildew, again. My rain gauge shows over 4" since 12:01 am on Wednesday. We needed the moisture, but this liquid sunshine is really putting a crimp in my yardening.

Old Friends -- I had a serendipitous encounter and totally wonderful visit yesterday with Pepper Pepper, a young man (young being relative to my own age) who I first met in 2000 and with whom, over the intervening years, I had spent a goodly amount of time. However, I had lost touch with him and had not seen him at all for almost a year. He is a photographer, poet, and multi-media artist, a very good one, I think, and a world traveler. He has a website showcasing some of his work. If you're interested, you can see it here. I invite you to do so.

Some bittersweet news is that he has purchased a property in Ghivizzano, Tuscany, Italy, and will be moving there at year end. He showed us dozens of photos of the town and surrounding areas, all of which took our breath away. I know there are many beautiful places on earth, but he has selected one that is nearly perfect for the variety of landscapes. And, here I am, with no passport! That situation, of course, can be remedied.

Stamping -- I have over-obligated myself in this area, and it's definitely affecting how much time I spend blogging and reading others' blogs. To wit:

* I am making cards for a stamp club on Saturday of this week.
* On the following Monday, I will be teaching a stamp class for 10 participants.
* My stamping partner and I are hosting a two-session Stamp Camp on Sept. 25 and 26, which calls for a lot of designing, cutting and creating kits, a total of 120.
* She and I will sponsor and donate all materials for an afternoon of stamping for World Card Making Day on October 3, for which I will design 4 cards and prepare materials for 30 of each design. I really don't mind about this one at all, because half of the cards go to the Ronald McDonald House in Little Rock, the other half to Cards for Soldiers.
* As soon as this almost back-to-back flurry of activity is over, we will begin preparations for another Stamp Camp on November 13-14, for which each of us will prepare materials for 480 Christmas cards.

That's about it! Look for me when you see me coming.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Bits and Pieces: Cats



I think of my cat Sweetie Pie as still being a kitten, although she is 7 years old, the youngest and smallest of the three cats who own me. Sweetie Pie has been plagued with ear infections since she was about one year old, the cause of which is unknown; she just gets them. The other cats have had no such problems, at least to date, for which I am am truly thankful, as Sweetie Pie's visit to the vet this past Friday cost almost $100.


Usually, a week to ten days of a topical antibiotic squirted into the ear canal clears up the problem. This time, however, since Sweetie had a similar infection just this past March, the vet has prescribed an oral antibiotic in addition to the stuff in the ear.


For those folks who do not have cats, a note: cats DO NOT like to take pills -- or anything else given to them which is not to their liking! Sweetie Pie doesn't much like having a tube stuck down inside sore ears, either, but performing that task is "a walk in the park" compared to trying to give her a pill.


Gardening Daughter, who is also a cat person, said she would show me how to administer the pill, which is a bit smaller than a standard aspirin. Her process is as follows:


1. Place said cat on the floor and kneel over the cat (Note: one might want to say one's prayers while in this position);
2. Gently but firmly clamp said cat between the knees, cat's head facing outward;
3. Pry said cat's mouth open (all the while trying not to get one's hands ripped to shreds by cat's front claws);
4. Insert fingers, and the pill, between said cat's razor sharp teeth, placing pill as far back in the throat as possible;
5. Immediately remove fingers and clamp said cat's jaws shut;
6. Blow on said cat's nose (this part seems to be the key; for some reason it causes the cat to swallow);
7. Release a very upset cat.


O-K! Like eating a piece of cake, right?


Gardening Daughter demonstrated this intricate procedure for me on Friday evening, was cajoled into coming back here on Saturday to do the same, but was unable to be here yesterday evening when it was time for the pill. What to do? What to do? Sometimes I surprise myself with my foolhardy faux-bravery! Last night was one of those occasions.


My knees being in a somewhat less than desirable condition, I am not able to kneel on the floor (not if I wish to rise again without crawling to a heavy chair and pushing myself up with my arms), so I substituted the top of my higher-than-usual bed, where I could stand and just bend over to do the deed.


I placed said cat on the edge of the bed, rear feet hanging over the side, and gently leaned my body down upon hers to (Hah!) immobilize her -- I can think such foolish thoughts, sometimes! I pried open her jaws and threw the pill in, then clamped her jaws and blew on her nose.


There followed the immediate escape of said cat, with said pill lying nearby on the bedspread -- not even the least bit moist! Said cat was now sitting on the pillow on the other side of the bed sending stares at me that would melt the Polar Ice Cap! "Sweet kitty! Good girl! Come to Mama." Hah!!


After a small runaround, and much sweet-talking, said cat is once more under my control (Hah!, again!) This time I wrapped her body in a crocheted afghan in an attempt to entrap her feet. Once again I pried open her mouth and inserted the pill. I didn't get a chance to clamp her jaws shut before the pill, this time bitten in half and rather moist, was deposited on the bed and she was out of the confines of the afghan and gone.


Did I give up? Pat, the foolhardy? No, sirree!!


Ah! Enlightenment! A bit of information given to me by the vet tech who delivered the pills finally worked its way to my conscious mind. She had told me that the pills were "chewable" and I could break them up and put them in Sweetie's wet cat food. My cats don't eat anything but dry food, so that wasn't an option, or it would have been exercised with the first dose.

Chewable? That means they can be dissolved, right? So... I took the remaining portions of the pill, dissolved them in warm water and sucked them up into a small (needle-less) syringe that I had on hand. (No, I do not now have, nor have I ever had a drug problem. I think the syringe was a leftover from administering liquid medication to a long ago deceased dog. Thank goodness, in this case, that I am a pack-rat. It took me a while to find it, but I did find it!)


Said cat was captured, again; again wrapped in the afghan, jaws pried open, syringe inserted into mouth, and --- with one plunge, the now liquefied medication was administered, and swallowed.


YAY!!!


Since there are seven more doses of this medicine she has to take, guess what system I'm going to use tonight?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is the 75th anniversary of my birth. I think that sounds better than saying "I'm 75 years old." Most of the time, I don’t feel my age, and my friends and family say that I definitely don’t act my age. I am greatly enjoying my second childhood, and am thankful to the Good Lord for allowing me to live and enjoy more than my alloted fourscore years and ten.

(Edit [since I am more awake]: as was pointed out in the comments by my blogger friend, rhymeswithplague, I should have said threescore years and ten. )

I don't put a lot of emphasis on birthdays, gifts and/or hoop-la after one reaches, say, 10 or 12 years old. I had a birthday party when I was 10 (during which I dropped my cake, upside down, on the floor) and didn't have another party until I was 50. That occasion was just a gathering for family and very close friends, but I did receive a beautiful floral bouquet and a Julio Iglesias record album (I had a crush on Julio at the time.) My children surprised me with a large, formal party when I reached the ripe old age of 65 (a good half of my church congregation attended) but the intervening years have been party-less, thank you very much.

For the past 10 years or so, my children have pestered me about birthday gifts. "What do you want? Would you like an XXX? Blah, blah, blah." One year, I wouldn't allow them gift me with a new lawnmower (too expensive, I said) and so they gave me a plastic pink flamingo, which has been the subject of many jests (to those who may enjoy having them as part of your yard décor, way to go! They are “not my thing.”) That event taught me a lesson. Since then, when asked, I usually mention that I'd like to have a specific thing to eat or drink, or some trinket -- just so it's something I don't have to dust.

However, at my family birthday supper the year I turned 73, I told them that I had decided what I wanted for my 75th birthday, should I live that long, and they could start making plans to make it happen. And, sure 'nough, they did!

Some time within the next few weeks, Good Lord willing, I will be experiencing my first, and probably only, HOT AIR BALLOON ride!

(image, Wikipedia)


The event was originally scheduled for this morning, with lift-off at sunrise, which would have been lovely, as it is officially my birthday. I’ve been up-and-at’em since about 3:15, awakening before the alarm went off. At 4:30, I was dressed, had fixed my second cup of coffee and was just ready to “fix my face” when I got a call telling me that, due to an atmospheric disturbance in the area, this morning's flight has been scrubbed, and will be scheduled at a later date. I’d been checking the local weather radar on my computer every few minutes since I awakened and was anticipating the call, so I was not surprised, and not overly disappointed. Better safe than blown into kingdom come! I have something to look forward to: an extended birthday celebration.

This afternoon, we will have a family gathering to celebrate the day with homemade-from-scratch German’s Sweet Chocolate cake with the traditional gooey, caramelly, coconut frosting. Elder daughter, at whose home this will take place, is an awesome cake maker!

In the meantime, I think I'll go back to bed, or at least take off my shoes and lean back in the recliner. At my now "advanced" age, I need all the beauty sleep I can get. Then, when it's daylight, and if the atmospheric disturbance doesn't cause it to rain here, I'll do some more yardening.

It's Labor Day weekend; y'all be careful out there!




Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Bird in the Hand is Worth...

...how many in the bush?

(click on photo to enlarge)

My apologies to my neighbor, who may have thought I was trying to be a Peeping Thomasina, but this was the only angle from which I could capture these birds. I had to stand inside my den and peer through a (really needs to be cleaned) glass door to take this photo. Underneath the scraggly vine is a small 'trash tree' that needs to come down. While it's ugly, the small birds found it the perfect perching place. At one time, I counted 22 birds on the vines.


I believe these to be sparrows of some sort, but they haven't been around all summer, having just arrived in my yard since it has turned cooler. They have a sweet, brief chirruping song, and they talk to each other a lot.


It's a real pleasure to have them here, for however long they may stay.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 30

Birth of a Sunflower

This volunteer sunflower appeared in one of my newly created flower beds, most likely from bird seed which found its way there. Insofar as I can remember, this is the first sunflower I have ever had on my property in the twenty years I've lived here, and I've watched the plant grow from seedling to about three and one-half feet tall. Now it's bearing this almost-ready-to-open flower.





Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Having Fun with Naked Ladies...

... or how I met a fellow blogger, her husband and their wonderful dog, Luckie.

Luckie, feeling a bit shy.
(all photos may be enlarged by clicking on them)

My Gardening Daughter (henceforth known in this post as MGD), my almost five-year-old granddaughter and I made a three-hour trip to northern Arkansas yesterday. The excursion was designed for two purposes: first, I'd get to personally meet another Arkansas-based blogger; secondly, I'd have some new flowers to add to my garden.

I have been corresponding for a few weeks with blogger Carol Coward, of Coward's Corner with Luckie, concerning her comments about her flower beds which were overcrowded with lilies which are known by many names: Surprise Lily; Magic Lily, Naked Lady, Amaryllis Belladonna, or proper name Lycoris squamigera . As she had a stated surplus and I had none, she agreed to share her bounty, and I agreed to come dig them up -- the "I" in this instance being myself with the critical assistance of MGD, who is both skilled in such things and has a strong back!

After a brief and very tasty lunch, brought back to their home from Carol's favorite mom & pop burger stand, during which we shared chit chat like old friends, we were ready to dig. Granddaughter played with Luckie; Carol supervised; MGD dug with a vengeance, and Carol's husband also put his back into the digging, pointing out lily clumps where the above-ground vegetation had already died back and were otherwise invisible. My contribution to the process was, I fear, picking up bulbs and placing them in the cart we brought for the purpose, and removing a few weeds and grass roots loosened by the digging. I still worked up a sweat!

Husband digs lilies at one end of the flower bed

Husband and MGD hold a lily clump

Carol was not kidding when she said she had a lot of lilies! The bulbs are as large as medium-sized onions, and some clumps would have five, or more, bulbs each. To ease the digging process, Husband had watered the bed recently, and MGD's sharp shovel made relatively quick work of it.


Partial results of the digging and thinning.

Husband insisted on giving us a bucket-full of bulbs he had already dug from their back yard; 56 of them, as I recall him saying. Those are at the bottom of the cart, covered by the freshly-dug plants.

I was feeling greedy about taking so many lilies, but MGD kept getting encouragement from Husband to "come over here; here's another clump." Carol kept telling us that there would be more lilies arising from the places we thought we had removed most of them, that they were almost impossible to eradicate. I hope she's right. I'm going to feel terrible if she doesn't have a nice display of blooms next year. If that's the case, I'll reverse the process: dig some of my plants and take them back to her.

After thanking them profusely for their largess in sharing so many of their bulbs, we returned home by a different route (got to see different scenery, that way) and arrived here about 6 p.m. -- still daylight, and prime planting time, according to MGD. After leaving my granddaughter in the care of her older siblings, MGD and I unloaded the lilies into paper bags, 50 bulbs/plants to a bag. How many did we have? Would you believe two hundred thirteen? Yes... 213 lily bulbs!

I reserved 25 bulbs for the church garden (and might end up putting more there; it depends upon how tired I get digging holes in my own yard), sent a bag of 50 home with MGD for her yard (and she may get more), set aside some to plant in a friend's yard, and will ask my next door neighbors and the nice folks across the street if they would like to have some. I try not to be a "greedy gut" (crudely put, but you know what I mean.) Some others I will plant in groups in my back yard where I can see them from my kitchen window. I don't have anything "pink" back there, so these will be a welcome addition.

MGD and I prepared and enriched the ground for and planted about 35-40 bulbs in three different places in my front garden before dark last night. Photos (taken this morning) are below.





All the remaining foliage will soon disappear. If I'm lucky, there will be new growth (leaves only) next spring which will die back completely during the summer. If I'm lucky (again), come next August, I'll be surprised by Surprise Lily blooms.

I had an extremely enjoyable day in all respects. It was a real pleasure to meet Carol and her husband, and to see Luckie. I enjoyed the scenery, treasured the time spent with MGD and my granddaughter, and came home with new additions to my flower collection. All in all, a day well spent.

I should be recovered in about a week! :)



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 23

Full Blown Rose - John F. Kennedy


In my rose garden (very small, only 4 roses, two of which are of this variety), the John F. Kennedy rose is the longest blooming. There may be one or two buds left to open, but when other roses have finished, the J.F.K. is still putting on new growth. The buds have an ivory hue, but when fully opened, the rose is very white.






Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What I've Been Up To Lately

Besides yardening, that is. Making greeting cards; attending parties; posting to another blog.

Read all about it here
. (long article about rubber stamping activities, with photos)

Yes, the cake was delicious!

Post Publication Clarification: I did NOT make this cake!
RSVP is the rubber stamp group to which I belong. We observed our tenth anniversary as a group last Saturday.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 16

The Continuing Saga of the Mutant Coneflower

click on photo to enlarge

My last week's entry for Today's Flowers was a strange coneflower I saw growing in my Gardening Daughter's wildflower garden. Several commentors expressed an interesting in seeing the progress of this aberation. These photos were taken this afternoon.

Several of the small growths springing from the seed head have turned into stunted blooms, as shown by the photos above and below.



click on photo to enlarge

The photograph below is of another coneflower from the same patch. It has several small stalks arising from the seed head as well as tiny purple blooms very close to the surface of the seed head.

click on photo to enlarge




Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today's Flowers - August 9

Mutant Cone Flower

While I was running around a couple of weeks ago snapping photos of flowers, I ran across this unusual growth. The flower head has other small, misshaped cone flowers growing from the top. It's growing in my gardening daughter's wildflower garden, so I'll be able to keep an eye on it to see what happens as it matures. I thought it was interesting.



Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.



Saturday, August 8, 2009

August 8 - Happy Birthday, Mama - And Other Stuff

Mama
August 8, 1901 - October 18, 1986

In addition to my mother being born on this date, I discovered, through Internet research, that a great many historical events occurred on August 8, some of which may be of interest to you, and others not at all:

870 - Kings Charles the Bare & Louis the German divide Lutherans (I wonder where King Charles was bare?)
Post-publication note: I knew somewhere in the back of my brain that the above mentioned kings did not divide the Lutherans, which if I am correct, did not exist at the time. Further research on my own (rather than just picking up a list of historical dates from the internet) reveals that it was King Charles the Bald, and he and his (turns out) half-brother, Louis, divided Lotharingia, not the Lutherans! -- So, I guess, Charles the (not) Bare, was bare on the top of his head.

1502 - Jacobus IV of Scotland marries Margaretha Tudor (so.. that was the beginning of all that flowery embroidery, Jacobean tapestries and other stuff)

1585 - John Davis enters Cumberland Sound in search of the Northwest Passage (also see this date in 1794)

1588 - Sea battle at Grevelingen: English fleet battles Spanish armada

1673 - Dutch battle fleet of 23 ships demands surrender of NYC (didn't get it though, did they?)
1709 - 1st known ascent in hot-air balloon, Bartolomeu de Gusmao (indoors)

1786 - Congress adopts silver dollar & decimal system of money

1794 - Joseph Whidbey and George Vancouver lead an expedition to search for the Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska.

1815 - Napoleon Bonaparte set sail for exile on St Helena

1844 - Brigham Young chosen Mormon Church head following Joseph Smith death

1854 - Smith & Wesson patents metal bullet cartridges

1863 - American Civil War: Tennessee's "military" Governor Andrew Johnson frees his personal slaves. During the early 20th century, the day was celebrated by blacks in Tennessee as a holiday.

1864 - Red Cross forms in Geneva

1864 - Union troops/fleet occupy Fort Gaines, Alabama

1876 - Thomas Edison patents mimeograph

1882 - Snow falls on Lake Michigan

1890 - Daughters of American Revolution organizes

1901 - Pat- Arkansas's mother is born in Temple, TX (I didn't find this on the Internet, I already knew it)

1911 - The millionth patent is filed in the United States Patent Office by Francis Holton for a tubeless vehicle tire.

1929 - German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight

1940 - Battle of Britain began as Germany launches air attacks

1945 - Pres Harry S Truman signs UN Charter

1950 - Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins LPGA All-American Golf Open

1960 - "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini" hits #1 (I'll bet you know the tune, don't you?)

1963 - Great Train Robbery in England, £2.6 million ($7.3 million)

1968 - Republican convention in Miami Beach nominates Nixon for pres (see next entry)

1974 - Pres Richard M Nixon announces he'll resign his office 12PM Aug 9

1974
- Pat-Arkansas plants a crepe myrtle tree in her mother's front yard in celebration of her birthday (this one didn't come from the Internet, either.)

1988 - Temperature hits high of 88 on 8/8/88 in NYC

2000 - Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor.

2007 - An EF2 tornado touches down in Kings County and Richmond County, New York State, the most powerful tornado in New York to date and the first in Brooklyn since 1889.

WHO KNOWS WHAT MAY HAPPEN TODAY?