Friday, May 27, 2011


Thought for the day:  One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.

Well, are you ready for the big three-day weekend, America's unofficial start of summer? Ready for your first big cook-out of the season? Bought all your food, your booze, and have the swimming pool ready to go? Got those white shoes dusted off and back at the front of your closet? Your shopping list ready to take advantage of all those big sales?

Got everything done on your to-do list? Forgetting anything? Anything at all?

Some people consider Memorial Day to be our most important national holiday, but to others, it's nothing but  another three-day weekend filled with sales and cook-outs.

John Moon, the former commander-in-chief of the VFW, said

 Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. America's collective consciousness demands that all citizens recall and be aware of the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime. Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. That's why they are all collectively remembered for one special day.

Memorial Day.

 A memorial is something that keeps remembrance alive. Let's all of us, in the midst of our cooking out, and in the midst of our shopping and having a grand old time this weekend, remember all of those men and women who made the supreme sacrifice.

Those are the four words engraved on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.  And here is a poem with that same title, "Freedom is Not Free,"  written in 1988 by Air Force ROTC Cadet Major Kelly Strong:

                                              I watched the flag pass by one day.
                                              It fluttered in the breeze.
                                             A young Marine saluted it,
                                             And then he stood at ease.

                                             I looked at him in uniform
                                             So young, so tall, so proud,
                                             With hair cut square and eyes alert,
                                             He'd stand out in any crowd.

                                              I thought how many men like him
                                             Had fallen through the years.
                                             How many died on foreign soil?
                                             How many mothers' tears?

                                             How many pilots' planes shot down?
                                             How many died at sea?
                                             How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
                                             No, freedom is not free.

                                             I heard the sound of "taps" one night,
                                            When everything was still.
                                             I listened to the bugler play
                                            And felt a sudden chill.

                                             I wondered just how many times
                                             That "taps" had meant "Amen,"
                                             When a flag had draped a coffin
                                             Of a brother or a friend.

                                             I thought of all the children,
                                            Of the mothers and the wives,
                                            Of fathers, sons and husbands
                                            With interrupted lives.

                                            I thought about a graveyard
                                           At the bottom of the sea,
                                           Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
                                           No, freedom is not free.

Vietnam memorial
As an amateur radio operator, I've also had the privilege of serving as a member of  Army MARS. (Military Affiliate Radio Service) For Memorial Day one year, the Chief shared a story with us about a Captain who was stuck in traffic at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was pouring rain, and this captain was growing increasingly more agitated because he was running late, and knew he'd never make it to PT on time. Just as traffic was finally starting to move, the vehicle in front of him stopped, and a private jumped out into the pouring rain and ran into the Memorial Grove beside them.

What a bonehead! the captain thought.

Horns were honking, and the captain, as well as everyone else behind him, were fuming. Still, the private kept going, with his BDUs soaked and plastered to his skin. He ran up to one of the memorial plaques, picked up the small American flag that had fallen to the ground, and set it back up again. Then he came to attention and saluted, before running back to his car and driving off.

The captain later said, "That soldier, whose name I'll never know, taught me more about duty, honor, and respect than a hundred books or a thousand lectures. That simple salute - that simple act of honoring his fallen brother and his flag - encapsulated all the Army values in one gesture for me. It said I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will keep the mission. I am an American soldier."

We may not be soldiers, but the least we can do is remember them, a very small effort for those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The picture above is of the familiar Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., but most states also have memorials in honor of our Vietnam vets. The one in Springfield, Illinois, includes the following words:  To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace.

One last comment about Memorial Day. It also happens to be my brother's birthday. He's a retired Marine, who served multiple tours of duty in Vietnam. So to him, I wish a very happy birthday, as well as gratitude and peace.

Happy Birthday, big brother.  Semper fi

Enjoy your three-day weekend, all. Until next time, please take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Something's Fishy in Atlanta

Thought for the day:  What does a grape say when you step on it? Nothing. It just gives a little whine.

Yesterday, our forty-second anniversary, was absolutely rosy. My hubby isn't from Texas, but he should be, because he certainly believes in doing things in a large way. He gave me a kazillion flowers. Three bouquets of roses, and three big bouquets of mums. Gorgeous. To tell the truth, I would've been just as happy with a single rose, or a small bouquet of daisies, but you know what? There are sweet-smelling bouquets all over the house, and every time I look at one of them, I smile. He really is the wind beneath my wings.

Our trip to the Atlanta aquarium was fantabulous. Wind was happy to stand back and smile like an indulgent parent, but I joined the kids, and stuck my hand into the water at every touch tank so I could feel the sea anemones, sea urchins, horseshoe crabs, starfish, skates, and a bonnet head shark. Heck, why not, right? He didn't particularly care about touching any of them directly, but I very kindly shared as much of the wetness with him as I could get away with. I'm generous like that.

Nope, this isn't us. It's another couple. 

There were soooooo many cool creatures at the aquarium. The picture above shows a pair of wolf eels. The male looks like an old old man with no teeth. (Reminded me very much of a friend of ours.) Another tank had what they called a garden of eels. Looked kinda like grass at first, but it was actually a bunch of slender eels backed into the sand, with only their heads and parts of their body visible.

Sea nettles, or jellyfish, are no fun when they're wrapped around your leg, but when they're on the other side of a thick slab of acrylic, they're amazing.  Beautiful, delicate, and graceful, as though they're performing a slow motion ballet.

beluga whale
In spite of their size, the beluga whales are quite graceful, too. And their faces really make them look friendly, too, don't they? Kinda like a cross between a dolphin, a manatee, and a canary. (Don't you see something bird-like there?) And I know ... a cross between THREE different things? (Musta been a menage a trois.)

The whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. The four at the Georgia aquarium are about twenty-four feet long, but they can grow to more than forty. (So, yes, thank you, I DID look quite svelte in comparison.) One thing I found particularly interesting about them is that, in spite of their enormous size, their esophagus is only about an inch in diameter. So they pose no threat to the other fish swimming around with them.

sea anemone
fish swimming around coral

sea dragons

 Have you ever seen a sea dragon? They're even cooler looking than sea horses. Tiny ridges of cilia on the side of their necks and rumps move so quickly, they look like miniature helicopter rotors.

The Georgia aquarium is the largest in the world, and without a doubt, there's enough there to keep anyone enthralled for a day. Or more. (I can hardly wait to go back!) But here's the funny thing. As I was walking through this incredible place, loving every minute of it, I was also imagining it as an incredible setting for a book. Consider:

  • The aquarium hosts sleepovers. (ooooh)
  • Huge tanks of water, and all kinds of critters in those tanks. (ooooh, all kinds!)
  • Beautiful light play and reflections from the water during the day. Imagine how eerie it must be at night. (scary!)
  • Huge critters gliding past the enormous acrylic windows. Imagine that nighttime eeriness. (scarier)
  • Divers go into the tanks to maintain and clean them. Imagine if one of them finds, say, a human foot in one of those tanks after a sleepover. (oooh, something's fishy)
  • All we need is a title. How about "Trouble's Afoot"? 

So, are you ever guilty of imagining the incredible places you visit as a setting for a book? Surely, I'm not the only one. Do tell. And if you have another idea for a funny title for a mystery based in the Georgia Aquarium, let's have it. (Oh, and you're welcome to the book idea, too. Just mention my name in the acknowledgements, if you would ...)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Anybody Seen My Hard Hat?

Thought for the day:  The road to success is always under construction.   Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin was right. The truth is, we all have to put in a lot of manual labor and construction work to make a successful life. Years ago, a visitor addressed our Sunday school class, and though  I don't remember her name, I will never forget a short prayer she offered:  May I never be so blind that all I see is my own small world, nor so self-satisfied that all I am is all I ever hope to be.

Words to live by, aren't they? They apply to every walk of life, but are particularly well-suited for writers, I think, because writers not only seek to expand their own horizons, but also seek to open the world of possibilities for their readers, as well. And I dare say that few writers could be described as self-satisfied; as a matter of fact, no matter how successful, it's more likely that they harbor self-doubt, and secretly suspect that their work reeks. So writers are construction workers, consciously working at building their stories and  characters, and striving to improve their mastery of words and the craft.

 In countless other lines of work, people strive to build a career. Teachers and parents build and strengthen the character of our children and seek to give them the tools they need to start constructing their own lives. We build our homes, our families, our friendships, and our marriages.

And there we are, at the point of my meandering post: marriage. Tomorrow, my husband and I will be celebrating our forty-second anniversary. People frequently ask about the secret to our longevity. Let's call my husband Wind. (Honest, it has nothing to do with the burrito he ate last night; it's as in, what's beneath my wings.) Anyhow, Wind likes to claim, purely for comic effect,  that the secret lies in two words. He kids, "Say yes, dear ...  whether you mean it or not." Funny, but (ahem) full of hot air ...

Remember how easy it was when love was new? Life was all one long romantic kiss in the sunset, wasn't it?

If only it were this easy

Then real life happens. And we have to strap on those hard hats and get to work. Together. As a team. (On the same side.) And squeeze as much fun and laughter out of it as you possibly can.

Talking about fun and laughter, remember Red Skelton? He was a very sweet, very mild-mannered PG-rated comedian. Anyway, he and his wife were married for many, many years, and here's HIS Recipe for the Perfect Marriage: 

  • Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant, have a little beverage, good food and companionship. She goes on Tuesdays, and I go on Fridays.
  • We also sleep in separate beds. Hers is in California, and mine is in Texas.
  • I take my wife everywhere ... but she keeps finding her way back.
  • I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. "Somewhere I haven't been in a long time!" she said. So I suggested the kitchen.
  • We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.
  • She has an electric blender, electric toaster, and electric bread maker. She said, "There are too many gadgets and no place to sit down!" So I bought her an electric chair.
  • My wife told me the car wasn't running well because there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was, and she told me, "In the lake."
  • She got a mud pack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.
  • She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, "Am I too late for the garbage?" The driver said, "No, jump in!"
  • Remember. Marriage is the number one cause of divorce.
  • I married Miss Right. I just didn't know her first name was Always.
  • I haven't spoken to my wife in eighteen months. I don't like to interrupt.
  • The last fight was my fault, though. My wife asked, "What's on TV?" and I said, "Dust!"
One of the things we're doing  to celebrate our big day tomorrow is go to the Atlanta Aquarium. Should be a lot of fun. We've never been there before, and we always enjoy taking on new adventures. Another nice plus from my point of view ...

Compared to a whale shark, I'm quite svelte.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Meeting the President

Thought for the day: Don't worry about the world coming to an end. It's already tomorrow in Australia.

I wonder how many people around the world believe that fellow who claims tomorrow is Judgement Day. One rather amusing side story to his prediction is that a bunch of atheists are allegedly making money hand over fist by selling post-rapture pet care services to people who believe they'll be heading for Heaven tomorrow and leaving poor little Fido behind. (What's the chance any of them will get a refund on Monday?)

A couple days ago, I told you that my unexpected detour into amateur radio led to a meeting with the President of the United States.

Here's the story:

Many hams worked to make it happen, but because I happened to be serving as Georgia Section Manager when everything finally fell into place, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director and I got together and signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding. Hams had a long history of working with GEMA and other state, federal, and local agencies during emergencies, but this was the first time we were afforded such a high level of respect, and the first time our role was acknowledged and delineated in writing. It was quite a Big Deal.

Wow, is that who I think it is down there?
Later, in June of 2004, when the G-8 summit came to South Georgia, the Director called on us to deliver. Again, quite a Big Deal.

During annual G-8 summits, the heads of state from Canada, Japan, England, Spain, Germany, France, Russia, and the U.S. get together, and in 2004, as if the big eight leaders weren't enough, other world leaders, particularly from the Arab countries, were also planning to attend. Ergo, there'd be a LOT of prime terrorist targets in one location at the same time. Of the likely terrorist targets named by intelligence agencies, this summit was near the top of the list. Intel was scary and tension was high.

The director requested various levels of support from the amateur radio community, including a four-person A-Team of operators to deploy to South Georgia to provide back-up communications in case the fit hit the shan. My husband and I were two of the four. A network of hams worked in a number of supportive roles, but we went to ground zero.

The Cloister, site of the G-8 summit

The bigwigs stayed on Sea Island, at a very exclusive resort called the Cloister. Very expensive, very opulent, and somewhat secluded. Ground zero was a hop, skip, and jump away, at McKinnon Airport on St. Simon's Island, at  the MACC, or Multi-Agency Command Center. We were there in support of GEMA, and our base of operations was their enormous mobile communications vehicle, but the entire compound was crawling with Secret Service, FBI, GBI, National Guard, NORCOM, GA State Patrol, and all kinds of military, law enforcement, hazmat, and SWAT teams. Guns everywhere. Even a battery of SAMs. (surface-to-air missiles)  Helicopters buzzing overhead, two of which were designated Air Force One. Amazing. And incredibly tense, especially for the first couple of days, when intel suggested the possibility of a dirty bomb or bio-attack.

But the food was awesome. I mean, the government spared no expense. Huge steaks. Biggest breakfasts you ever saw. Fresh seafood. Low country boil.

By the evening of the low country boil, tensions were ebbing, and everyone was in a festive mood. Our mission was coming to an end, and though we'd certainly experienced some interesting happenings, we hadn't experienced any attacks, and we were all still breathing. Or more like panting. (South Georgia in June is hot, hot, hot.)

First, the distinctive black Special Service Suburbans with the dark tinted windows drove up and down the runway, which wasn't especially new. Then a team of snipers climbed on top of the outhouses. Um, okay, that was a little new. Then two Air Force One helicopters buzzed overhead. Always interesting, but not new. Then one landed, and Condaleeza Rice, President Bush, and his Scottish terrier Barney got out!

First off, let me tell you that Condaleeza Rice is a teeny tiny woman with a great big smile. Up until that time, every picture I ever saw of her in the newspaper made her look like the world's biggest grouch, always with a frown or scowl on her face. Not so in person.

A little while later, my hubby and I were in the chow line, when a Secret Service man burst out the door and told everyone to freeze. (I mean, crap, we were just about to scoop the shrimp onto our plates, too!) Then, out came President Bush. WOW. On a funny aside, one of the orders everyone got before deploying was ... NO CAMERAS. You would not BELIEVE how many cameras appeared when the president and Ms. Rice arrived. (And yes, we got pics, too.)

So, bottom line, President Bush shook my hand. I thanked him for coming to visit us, and HE thanked ME for being there. I know. Awesome, right? No matter what your politics are, shaking the hand of any President of the United States makes for an experience never to be forgotten.

One last comment on the experience. In the midst of all the tension, the Georgia State Patrol had a vehicle that made us laugh out loud. It was a little armored vehicle with a battering ram on front. And on that battering ram, there was a bright yellow smiley face and the words, "Have a nice day." Actually, we had a bunch of 'em.

And here we go, it's time for the (ta DA!)


** In New Mexico, border agents made a bust that was full of bologna. Literally. They caught a man who was trying to smuggle 385 pounds of the contraband into the country. For the record, it was the largest bologna bust in the history of that crossing. Somehow, I doubt if that fact will prevent the other agents from giving the agent who caught it a major ration of ... what else? Bologna.

** In a society fraught with frivolous lawsuits, frequently based on injuries caused by, let's face it, a lack of good old-fashioned common sense, warning labels have become more and more ridiculous. (Like on a can of peanuts, the warning, "This product may contain nuts.") For the past fourteen years, a non-profit group based in Atlanta has been hosting a Wacky Warning Labels contest, and here are this year's five finalists:

  • On a ballpoint pen package: "Swallowing the pen cap may obstruct breathing."
  • On a dust mask: "Does not supply oxygen."
  • On a hot tub cover: "Avoid drowning. Remove safety cover from spa when in use."
  • In a bicycle brochure: "The action depicted in this brochure is potentially dangerous. The riders seen are experts or professionals." (They were also young children ... with training wheels.)
  • On a leather holster, designed to look like a PDA: "For gun only, not a functional day planner."
** In the Czech Republic, the Prague Zoo is dishing out something unusual in those ice cream containers. Dung. Elephant dung, to be precise. It's the latest fertilizer fad amongst Czech gardeners, and the program was the bright idea of zoo director Miroslav Bobek, whose surname, by the way, literally means "dung." (Poor guy. Think he was destined for this job, or what?) Ah well, at least this stinky souvenir, which sells for just under four dollars a carton, has substance, so it's a better buy than, say, canned cow farts.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Convoluted Path

Thought for the day:  If  you come to a fork in the road, take it.  (Yogi Berra)

I'm directionally challenged. Anyone who knows me well knows this. In fact, this particular shortcoming provided my husband with a good deal of cheap entertainment before we were married. In the 60s, gasoline was dirt cheap. I'm talking a quarter a gallon or less. (PLUS an attendant pumped it for you, checked your oil and tires, washed your windshield, gave you savings stamps, AND a free gift if you spent over two bucks!) Anyway, since the price of driving was so low, cruising was a fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening, and we did it often. We'd drive around in his '61 Impala,  talk, listen to the radio, and usually ended the evening by meeting friends at our favorite drive-in eatery, which also happened to be a prime spot for pop-up challenges and impromptu drag races. (Natch, we were purely spectators.)

Once in a while, we'd be tooling along, yammering, listening to the radio, with no particular destination in mind,  (at least, not in MY mind) and he'd suddenly turn to me, grin, and say, "Show me how to get back home."

Say, WHAT? Half the time, I didn't even know where we WERE, let alone how to get home from there, but I tried. Even succeeded most of the time. Of course, there were times he'd get weary of the whole game and say, "Are you SURE you want to go that way?" or, "I DO have to go back to work on Monday."

Going in circles isn't the problem. It's knowing when to exit.

The point is, even though I made a LOT of wrong turns, we eventually made it home again. So, maybe Yogi Berra was right when he said, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." Maybe the precise route we take isn't nearly as important as we make it out to be. After all, there's more than one way to get from point A to point B. So what if our path is so round-about it resembles the ones taken by the kids in "Family Circus"? Or if we get side-tracked on a detour and take twice as long to get to our destination as we'd planned? So what if our sons and daughters quit college to do their own thing? Their paths to adulthood may not be the direct straight line paths we would've preferred, but as long as they make a success of the trip, isn't that all that matters?

 So what if I waited so many years before getting serious about writing? I'm here now.

If there were a cosmic information booth, I probably still would've chosen to wing it, rather than ask for directions to my predetermined destination. There's something empowering about picking our path when we come to those forks in the road, isn't there? One decision leads to another leads to another, and eventually our decisions bring us to the place we're supposed to be. Even if we make a wrong decision, it's never too late to change course. We may go the wrong way around the beltway, but baby, we're here now ... older, and hopefully wiser, for having taken the trip.

One of the longest side trips I took on the way to where I am today involved amateur radio. Getting a radio license had never been a part of my original plans,  so little did I know that once I did, my life would take so many other unexpected twists and turns. In a bizarre cause-and-effect path that indirectly started with my love of trivia and resulted in four terms as the Section Manager for my state, it was an exciting trip, and one I'll never regret taking. Next time, I'll tell you how following the path of amateur radio led me to such an amazing place, the President of the United States thanked ME.

So, how about you? Are you one of those fortunate people, like my husband, who set your guideposts early in life, and followed a fairly direct route to where you are today? Did you always have a love of writing, or of some other pursuit, and followed that clearly marked path as long as you can remember, with grit and determination? Or have you taken a lot of side trips and detours along the way?  (If you have, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I've enjoyed mine.)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh, Crap! It's That Time Again

 Thought for the day: Since men undoubtedly invented the mammogram machine, I think it's only fair that women should be given the opportunity to invent an equally delightful machine to test men for testicular cancer.

As much as I dislike having to compress anything I've written, as much as I hate having to scratch through any of my words, I'd rather cut another 10,000 words from my WIP than do what I have to do tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I get my up close and personal annual compression. It's (gulp) mammogram time.

OMG! It's that time of year again.

Alas, I forgot to forgo caffeine like I usually do the week before the big test, so I may regret that, but in preparation, I have been dutifully doing my exercises. Not the running around the block or stomach crunches kind of exercise. I still stink at doing that. But there are certain specialized exercises that can help any woman psyche herself up for her annual appointment with the torture machine. Out of the kindness of my heart, I share them with you:

Put a pair of metal bookends in the freezer, and leave them there overnight.
Invite a stranger over to help.
Next day, strip from the waist up.
Have the stranger place one of your breasts between the bookends. (This may require considerable stretching.)
Have him/her smash them together and hold.
Repeat with the other breast.

Open your fridge door and place one breast between the door and appliance.
Ask your biggest, strongest friend to slam the door on it, and to lean on it for a few seconds for good measure.
Hold your breath while (s)he holds the door shut.
Repeat with other breast.

Go into your garage at 3 AM, take off all your clothes, and lie on the cold concrete floor. (If you don't have a garage, the driveway will suffice.)
Ask a pal to slowly back the car over your boob. 
Turn over and repeat with the other one.

OK, so maybe I exaggerate. (But not by much.) 

Here's a poem that's been around for years, so you may have already seen it. Unfortunately, no one seems to know who wrote it, but now is the perfect time for me to share it with you. It's called


For years and years they told me,
Be careful of your breasts,
Don't ever squeeze or bruise them,
And give them monthly tests.
So I heeded all their warnings,
And protected them by law.
Guarded them very carefully,
And my bra I always wore.
After thirty years of astute care,
My doctor found a lump.
She ordered up a mammogram
To look inside that clump.
"Stand up very close," she said,
As she got my boobs in line,
"And tell me where it hurts," she said.
"Ah, yes! There, that's fine."
She stepped upon a pedal.
I could not believe my eyes!
A plastic plate pressed down and down,
My boob was in a vise!
My skin was stretched and stretched,
From way up under my chin.
My poor boob was being squashed
To Swedish pancake thin.
Excruciating pain I felt
Within its vice-like grip.
A prisoner in this vicious thing,
My poor defenseless tit!
"Take a deep breath." she said to me.
Who does she think she's kidding?
My chest is mashed in her machine,
And woozy I am getting.
"There, that was good," I heard her say
As the room was slowly swaying.
"Now, let's have a go at the other one."
Lord, have mercy, I was praying.
It squeezed me from up and down,
It squeezed me from both sides,
I'll bet she's never had this done,
Not to her tender little hide!
If I had  no problem when I came in,
I surely have one now.
If there had been a cyst in there,
It would have popped Ker-pow!
This machine was designed by man,
Of this I have no doubt,
I'd like to stick his balls in there,
And see how they come out!


On a serious note, breast cancer is nothing to laugh about, and every woman should be diligent about getting those annual mammograms, no matter how much we dislike them. I've lost several dear friends to breast cancer, and I'll bet you have, too. Do yourself and your family a favor: if you haven't had your test yet this year, call and make that appointment. Please. And men, make sure your wives, mothers, and daughters take care of themselves, too.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friggatriskaidekaphobia, Anyone?

Thought for the day:  Luck is the idol of the idle.

How ironic that on a day I intended to write about Friday the 13th, Blogger took a dive. A bit of nasty luck, eh?

Friggatriskaidikaphobia is a freaky cool word that means fear of Friday the 13th. Since Friday is considered by some to be an unlucky day, and thirteen is feared by some as an unlucky number, it should come as no surprise that when the two converge, superstitious fears multiply accordingly. We could say that

Unlucky Friday + Unlucky Thirteen = Unluckier Friday

The word superstition means a belief or practice resulting from ignorance and fear of the unknown, a trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. Although I have no statistics to back me up, I'll hazard a guess that there are far more superstitious males than females. I mean, really, have you ever heard of a woman refusing to change her lucky drawers or socks? No, of course not. Although I will concede that this peculiar attachment to one's dirty socks and undies and by extension, one's aversion to donning clean ones, may in fact be rooted in something entirely different than a belief in their ability to prolong a streak of good luck. For any gentlemen with a proclivity to wear said scuzzy skivvies, be forewarned: No matter how much  luck you believe those skivvies may bring you in games of chance or sport, I double dog guarantee you that wearing them will NOT lead to any semblance of luck with the ladies.

Most of us are familiar with superstitions dealing with black cats, spilling salt, breaking mirrors, and walking under ladders, but have you ever wondered where those superstitions originated?

And why FRIDAYS, for goodness sake?

And why the number THIRTEEN?

Since this is the only Friday the 13th we'll be encountering this calendar year, I thought today would be the perfect time to investigate.

WHY FRIDAY  : In ancient Rome, Friday was the designated day for executions, which certainly ended a streak of good luck for anyone whacked by the authorities, whether he was wearing his lucky bowling shirt or not. Witches' covens allegedly gather on Fridays, too, and in the Middle Ages, Friday was actually dubbed "Witches' Sabbath". The Good Friday crucifixion of Christ casts the greatest stigma on the day for Christians, but other Biblical events are also attributed to Friday: the day Eve gave Adam the apple, the day they were expelled from Eden, the day God struck the Tower of Babel, and the day Solomon's Temple was destroyed.
Some of the strange superstitions regarding Friday are:

  • Clothing made on a Friday will never fit properly.
  • Visiting a doctor on a Friday will lead to no good news.
  • Changing bedclothes on a Friday will lead to nightmares.
  • Marrying or moving on a Friday will come to a bad end.
  • Cutting your nails on a Friday will lead to sorrow.
  • Receiving bad news on a Friday will cause more wrinkles than receiving them on any other day of the week.
  • Starting a trip on a Friday will lead to misfortune.
  • Ships that set sail on a Friday are doomed to suffer bad luck.
About a hundred years ago, to disprove the superstition about ships, the Brits commissioned H.M.S. Friday. The crew was selected on a Friday, the keel was set on a Friday,  the ship was launched on a Friday, and the man chosen to captain the ship was even named Friday. The ship set sail on its maiden voyage on a Friday, too. And was never heard from again.

There are 13 members in a witch's coven. 
WHY THIRTEEN: You're probably more familiar with this word: triskaidekaphobia. That's the fear of the number thirteen, and it's no secret that many buildings don't acknowledge a thirteenth floor, and many cities opt to skip Thirteenth Street. But, WHY? 

For one thing, a witch's coven has thirteen members. There are also thirteen steps leading to the gallows, and thirteen knots in a hangman's noose. The blade of a guillotine falls thirteen feet, and at her trial, Lizzie Borden spoke thirteen words. There were thirteen people at the Last Supper, and the thirteenth card in a deck of tarot cards? Death.

Apollo 13, the thirteenth mission to be launched from pad #39, (13 X 3)  was aborted after an explosion in the fuel cell of the service module, after leaving the launching pad at 13:13 CST. The date? April thirteenth.

One theory about the root of triskaidekaphobia lays it at the feet of ancient man. It claims that when man was first learning to count, he counted on ten fingers and two feet, so anything beyond twelve was considered frightening and mysterious. On the other hand, what I find mysterious is why he didn't count on his ten toes, too. It's highly possible that he refused to take off his lucky socks.

Would you believe the number thirteen was once considered lucky? For one thing, some early religions considered the thirteenth step to be the one souls take to enter the eternal glory of the afterlife. And in the prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, the number thirteen represented femininity, and corresponded to the number of lunar (and menstrual) cycles in a year. The Earth Mother of Laussel, an ancient carving found in France, depicts a female holding a crescent-shaped horn with, you guessed it,  thirteen notches in it. Later, when society became male-dominated and the solar calendar replaced the lunar one, twelve became the "perfect" number, replacing the "imperfect" thirteen.

So, there ya have it. Now you know a little bit about the superstitions associated with Friday the thirteenth. Me? I still prefer the TGIF approach.

How about you? Do you have any superstitions or lucky socks?

OK, time for (a drum roll, if you will ...) the


**  In New York, a 21-year-old happened to be riding in a car that was pulled over by the police. As soon as the car stopped, the young man immediately took off running, and jumped into the Hudson River. He was able to latch onto a branch 250 feet downstream, where he waited for the police to rescue him from the fifty degree water. Know why he ran? It seems that the shivering young man thought there was a warrant out for his arrest. There wasn't. Sounds to me like there should have been.

** When two female investigators in Vienna, Austria began questioning his client, a lawyer (ahem) showed his briefs. The attorney dropped his trousers and then perched on a desk in his tightie whities with his back to the women. The client is suspected of a sex crime, but now the lawyer is being investigated, as well. (Maybe they were his lucky shorts?)

** After three late-night escape attempts, a German shepherd named Jack finally escaped from an Oregon veterinarian's office by pulling his kennel open, tripping the dead bolt on the clinic's back door and pulling down the handle to get outside. In the process, Jack tripped three motion detectors and tore open four bags of dog food. The vet said he was "impressed" with Jack's impressive recovery from the flu. Me? I wonder if that dog's last name was Bauer.
Bauer, Jack Bauer.

Until Monday, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2 Good 2 Be 4 Gotten

Thought for the day:  Can't think; too dumb. Inspiration won't come. Bad ink, worse pen. Good luck. Amen.

Just dropping in ...
Today's thought for the day comes straight out of my old autograph book. Remember them? In the late '50s, my friends and I all had them, but we didn't follow famous people around in hopes of snagging a signature; we passed them around our classrooms, or handed them to our favorite relatives. Everyone would scribble a poem or draw a silly picture in the book, sign it, and then either return it or pass it on to the next person.

I have no idea whatever became of my dog-eared autograph book with the red cover and gold lettering, but I still remember some of the words and pictures that were in there. The Can't think; too dumb poem popped into my head this morning when I tried to come up with a topic for today's blog. I considered just dropping in for a quick howdy and then taking off again, but then I remembered something else that was written in my autograph book: 2 Good 2 Be 4 Gotten. 

Ah, HA! Those words epitomize the presentation at last night's amateur radio club meeting!

Have you ever heard of a spark gap generator? In the early 1900s, spark gap was THE technology for amateur radio communications. It was also loud, dangerous, and highly inefficient. In the 1920s, better, safer modes of communications evolved, and spark gap became outlawed in 1927.

But STILL, spark gap is an early building block of radio history. A fascinating part, and something few people today know anything about or have ever experienced. But glory be, we experienced it up close and personal last night.

Blue Lightning in action

Over a period of several years, amateur radio operator Hal Kennedy painstakingly built an honest-to-God spark gap generator, which he brought to our meeting last night. Constructed of vintage 1910 parts and technology, not only is his Blue Lightning historically accurate, but it's also a one-of-a-kind work of art. In the early 1900s, amateurs put these things together as quickly and inexpensively as they could, without giving any thought to their appearance. Hal, on the other hand, not only built it to work like the rigs of 1910, but he also paid close attention to the aesthetics as well, using linseed oil and wax to give the mahogany a deep warm glow, and cleaning and polishing the copper into a fiery beauty. Since the completion of his ambitious project, Hal's been providing countless enthusiasts with the rare opportunity to see history in action.

No one would argue that a spark gap generator should have a place in today's modern world, but its place in history is too good to forget. No doubt, it's still loud, still inefficient, and still dangerous, but despite all the labor-intensive work involved, it was also a labor of love, and I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to see it dim the lights with my own eyes.

Spun any good yarns lately?

There was an article in last night's paper about a young lady who uses yesterday's technologies to make blankets. She does it all, from the initial planting of cotton seeds to the finishing work at the spinning wheel. My sister-in-law has a spinning wheel, too, and recently won several blue ribbons for some of the items she's created with it. 

Me, I have a cow horn. Yep, a genuine cow horn, that I use to make kielbasa by hand. And when I was studying for one of my amateur radio exams, I was rather enjoying working out the square roots longhand, until my hubby laughed and handed me a calculator. And even though I know it would've been much easier to mass produce post cards and labels, for the eight years I served as our state's section manager, I still chose to handwrite as many as 75 post cards every month to congratulate our state's newly-licensed amateur radio operators and welcome them to the hobby. 

Sure, the modern ways make life easier, more efficient, and less labor intensive, but sometimes, there's nothing more satisfying than doing something by hand. Sewing, crocheting and knitting, building, painting, writing, cooking from scratch. Nothing like it.

How about you? Is there anything you still enjoy doing the "old-fashioned" way? After all, the old ways may be gone, but they are also much 2 Good 2 Be 4 Gotten. 

If you aren't into any of that, did you have an autograph book? Remember any of the entries? (As I remember, my dear husband's poem compared my shape to a B-52 ...)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rhymes With Dream

Thought for the day: Why do people pay money to go to the top of tall buildings, and then pay again to look down at the ground through binoculars? 

One of the few good things I can say about growing up in a neighborhood of row homes is that there were always enough kids around to initiate just about any kind of game you can imagine: games like curb ball, dodge ball, red rover, Mother may I, spud, seven up, and of course, tag. A little convenience store down the alley from our house served as our meeting place, and the big metal pipe at its front corner served as home base for our tag games. Tag games always started by everyone yelling "Not it!" Whoever was slowest, WAS it, and would have to cover his eyes and start counting at that pipe while everyone else ran.

It's been 50+ years since I played that version of tag, but thanks to dear sweet Ruby of Blabbin' Grammy now I can play a different (more age-appropriate) version. She tagged me IT, so now I get to answer some questions, before tagging three other bloggers. Thank you, Grammy. Sounds like fun.

Here we go:

1.  If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?
It'd be that moment I spotted my husband at the airport when he finally came home from Vietnam.
2. If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
The airplane spent an interminable hour and a half sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta, and should have already landed in Baltimore by the time it finally got off the ground. My sister-in-law and her husband picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to the hospital, but my mother died twenty minutes before we got there. So, if I could change one thing, I'd make that plane leave on time.
3. What movie or TV character do you most resemble in personality?
I have no idea. Maybe a cross between June Cleaver and Lurch?
4. If you could push one person off a cliff, who would it be?
Geez, I'm boring. Can't think of anyone I hate, and even if I did, I'm not a push-somebody-off-the-cliff kind of person. I'm more of a guns or poison kind of gal.
5. Name one habit you want to change about yourself.
I need to exercise. Unfortunately, owning exercise equipment and a pair of spiffy running shoes doesn't do the trick. You actually have to use the darned things.
6. Describe yourself in one word.
7. Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.
8. Why do you blog?
It started out (reluctantly, I might add) as a means to establish a "platform" to benefit my writing future. Now, I do it because I truly enjoy it, and because I've come to care about the people I've "met".

OK, time for me to tag three more bloggers. Ladies, you are IT!
Linda, from Visiting Reality
Connie, from A Merry Heart
and Anne, from Piedmont Writer

If you ladies would be so kind, please snag the blog tag from the top of this page, answer the questions on your blogs, and then tag three more bloggers. Kinda like a chain letter, but better. No body parts will turn black and fall off if you don't do it. (I don't think so, anyway. Personally, I wasn't willing to take the chance.)

Did you notice that word meme in question number seven? Familiar with it? In answering these questions on her blog, Grammy said, "What the heck is a meme? I never heard that one before." Since the only meme I'd ever heard of before was the French word, which rhymes with hem and means same, I decided to do some investigating.

It turns out that meme, which rhymes with dream, can best be described  as a basic building block of minds and culture, similar to the way a gene is considered a biological building block. Just as genes transmit biological information, memes transmit ideas and belief information, like catch phrases, melodies, the latest fads, and fashion trends. By extension, an Internet meme would be a concept that spreads via the Internet, like viral videos, tweets, and ... games of blogger tag.

So now we know.

Last Friday, I told the funny-but-true story of my grandfather using most of my grandmother's clothes as diapers during their long voyage to America. Turns out, my brother acquired a copy of their ship's manifest through and informed me that their ship didn't sail into Ellis Island, after all. The S.S. Columbia left Glasgow on April 28, 1923, and actually arrived in Boston Harbor eight days later. Eight days. When Mom-Mom described the voyage, she made it sound like so much longer than that, but eight days of seasickness must have felt more like eighty.

Now that I know they entered via Boston, I've been thinking about another story my grandmother told me. She said they lived in New York City for a while before moving on to Baltimore, which is why I thought they'd come into the country through Ellis Island, but maybe I misunderstood. Maybe they actually lived in Boston. Still, wherever they lived, the story was hysterical.

My grandmother could wax poetic about Scottish heather.

She said the temperatures were hot, hotter than what they'd ever experienced in Scotland. And the bugs? They were absolutely horrific, and also something quite new to them, she said. According to her, they didn't  have such annoying bugs in Scotland. So, picture this: they're in a cramped hotel room in the sweltering heat one evening, and the flies and mosquitoes are flitting and buzzing around the room, and about a hair's breadth away from driving my grandfather completely insane. So, Pop starts chasing them around the room with a fly swatter in hand. Bouncing on the bed, swinging the flyswatter like a baseball bat, and cussing as only an irate Scotsman can cuss. And oh yeah, because of the heat, he also happened to be naked. When my grandmother looked out the window, a small crowd was gathered below, pointing up, and having a jolly good time. Seems they found my grandfather's shenanigans quite entertaining.

Now whether or not that story's entirely true, I can't say, but she certainly told it to me often enough. One part of the tale doesn't mesh, though. That part about Scotland not having any annoying bugs? I did a google search to see if that's true. Not even close. There's a wee bug called the Highland midge that is so annoying, it's been known to make grown men cry. Those miserable critters not only bite, but they swarm. Not talking little swarms, either. I'm talking swarms of hundreds, and even thousands, that attack all at once. They've been called the scourge of Scotland.

Still, why ruin a good story with facts, right? My grandmother chose to remember Scotland as a perfect place, with fields of heather and nary a bug in sight. Works for me. I love good dreams. (rhymes with memes)

 rainbow above the highlands

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mothers Cover Our Butts

Thought for the day:  If it's not one thing, it's your mother... 

With Mother's Day right around the corner, I'd like to share a story about my grandmother. In early 1923, she, my grandfather, my father and his brother left Scotland and set sail for the United States, essentially abandoning the only home they'd ever known so they could sail off into the great unknown and start all over again. Must've been scary, don't you think? A huge sacrifice. But like countless other immigrants, facing the unknown was a sacrifice they were absolutely willing to make for the sake of their children and their children's children. NO sacrifice was too great, right? Then again, the (ahem) naked truth is, by the time they reached Ellis Island, poor Mom-Mom learned that she'd sacrificed more than she'd ever intended.

Try to picture it. Can you imagine how everyone on that ship must have felt when they finally caught sight of Lady Liberty for the first time? My guess would be intense excitement and pride, mingled with a shot of apprehension. Probably a good deal of relief, too, not to mention exhaustion.

For Mom-Mom, I have a hunch relief was tops on her emotional menu. Relief that the seemingly endless trip was finally coming to an end, and relief at the prospect of standing on dry stable land again. Because my poor grandmother pretty much puked her way across the Atlantic. From the time they left Europe, she had such debilitating seasickness, she rarely left her bed.

Which left Pop, a rather dour Scot, in charge of the kiddies.

My father was still in diapers at the time, and though Pop, a master carpenter, was quite skillful at building a custom cabinet, he wasn't at all accustomed to being saddled with the business of childcare. So he improvised. He blithely tore up my grandmother's clothes and, one by one, used them to diaper my father's bottom. When a diaper got dirty, he simply tossed it overboard and reached for another dress.

So by the time the Statue of Liberty came into view, a long trail of improvised nappies stretched clear across the ocean, and my grandmother? Let's just say that she came perilously close to being one of those "naked masses" yearning to breathe free, with few clothes to her name beyond those she'd been wearing in her sick bed.

Years later, when Mom-Mom told me this story, she was laughing, but I doubt if she found much humor in it back in 1923.  Trust me, Pop paid for his blunder, though. As I remember her, my grandmother had an extensive wardrobe from some of the best stores in Baltimore.

For those of you who are mothers, I wish you a very happy Mother's Day. For those of you who are fortunate enough to still have your mother with you, do your best to spoil the living daylights out of her. After all, she may not have sacrificed all her clothes to cover your butt, but I'm sure she made many other sacrifices, and covered your butts in many other ways. For those of you who've already lost your mother, this is for you:

Your mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every teardrop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time... not space... not even death.

Sorry, I wish I did, but I don't know the origin of that little piece. Someone sent it to me without attribution many years ago.

If you're going to see your mother this weekend, wouldn't it be great to prepare a special treat for her? If she likes strawberries, she'll love-love-love  this pie. It's easy as pie (sorry) to make, and she'll be oh-so-impressed with your culinary skills. Or fix it for yourself, by golly. Guaranteed to please.


To make things easy on yourself, you can use a pre-made 8"  pie shell, either graham cracker or chocolate. (If you opt for the chocolate pie shell, it looks almost too good to eat if you drizzle a little bit of dark chocolate over the whipped topping before serving.)

For the filling, you'll need 4 cups of strawberries, 3 T cornstarch, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice. You can add a few drops of red food coloring, if you'd like, and will need either whipped cream or good ol' Cool Whip to top it off.

Now, here we go, easy as 1-2-3:

1. In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, water, and 2 cups of the strawberries. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and clear. 
2. Add the rest of the sugar; stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, food coloring, (if desired) and the rest of the strawberries.
3. Add Cool Whip and refrigerate until ready to serve, OR refrigerate first and garnish with whipped cream when you're ready to dig in. 

Before I bid adieu for the weekend, there's one more task to perform. It's time for the ....

Weirdest News Stories of the Week

** Former South Korean president Roh Tae-woo was admitted to the hospital with a nasty cough. Turns out, he had good reason to cough. Would you believe doctors discovered and removed a 6.4 cm acupuncture needle from his lung? The former prez claims to have no idea how it got there, and acupuncturists say none of their procedures involve sticking a needle into a lung. It's a mystery, doctors say. I say,  how much OB beer does a man have to drink to accidentally inhale a needle?

** Jackson Galaxy is a musician cum feline shrink who will be starring in an upcoming show on Animal Planet called "My Cat From Hell." One of his clients, who won't be featured on the program, had (I hope) a unique problem with his demon cat. Every time the man fell asleep, the crazy cat would come running and urinate in his mouth. ( Helloooo, wasn't ONE time enough for this guy? I mean, why didn't he close the damned door, already?) Anyway, it turned out that the man snored. Loud, really, really loud. And the noise scared the poor widdle kitty, who peed in the man's mouth to "help him." My cats are tremendously helpful. With cooking, making the bed, taking a bath, reading, just about anything we try to do. But THIS kind of help I can do without.

** Where else but in New York? Maybe it was in early recognition of Mother's Day, I dunno, but last Sunday, a New York gallery was handing out some rather unusual treats for adventurous eaters. Cheese, three kinds of cheese, but not just any cheese. Oh no, THIS cheese was made from human breast milk. The treat got mixed reviews. Some loved it; some gagged. All I can say is it had to be better than cat pee.

Until Monday, take care of yourselves. And each other.

No trees were killed in the sending of this message. However,  a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some Pets Have Gotta GO!

Thought for the day:  Why is it you put your two cents' worth in, but are only offered a penny for your thoughts? (Where are all those extra pennies going?)

Oh, yeah, this is reeeeeally funny.
As mentioned in Monday's post, this is National Pet Week, the time of year for rabid pet owners all over the country to make a concentrated effort to humiliate and pamper the living daylights out of their beloved animals. Coming up this Saturday will be this year's annual Woofstock celebration in Suwanee, Georgia. (I kid you not!) Alas, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix aren't available, but there will be other live music, and it's pretty likely that many of the pooches in attendance will be singing along. Thirty pet vendors and fifteen non-profit and rescue groups will have booths set up, and there will be food, drinks, and various entertainments for the two-legged kids, too. All pets are welcome, but they must be on a leash, and their owners must clean up after them. (Maybe one of the pet vendors will be selling pooper scoopers and baggies.)

OK, it's time to talk about another kind of pet now, the kind that requires neither a pooper scooper nor a baggy. Has neither feather nor fur, and doesn't even beg while you're eating dinner. Animal lovers and animal haters alike have 'em, even though we may try to deny their existence. They're those annoying little beasties known as pet PEEVES.

If she does that again, I'll SCREAM!

Pet peeves are those seemingly minute annoyances that get on our last nerve, and nurture simmering resentment that threatens to explode with little provocation. All it takes it that proverbial last straw. Here are some typical pet peeves:

  • You're so thirsty, your tongue is sticking to the roof of your mouth. You go to the fridge for a tall cold drink of your favorite beverage, and find the container has barely a half teaspoon of liquid left in it.
  • Someone empties the ice cube tray, but doesn't bother to refill it with water. 
  • Someone borrows your car and returns it with nothing but fumes left in the gas tank.
  • Someone borrows your XYZ and returns it broken.
  • Your neighbor encourages his 150-pound dog to defecate on your front lawn. (But he must do it at NIGHT, because you never catch him in the act. Still, there's that incriminating pile every morning.)
  • Your neighbor blows all of his leaves out of his yard ... and into yours.
  • After your mailman puts mail into your box, he forgets to close it. Rain or shine. 
  • At least twice a week, your paperboy throws the morning newspaper under your car.
  • Whenever your roommate, child, or significant other uses the kitchen sponge, (s)he leaves it sopping wet on the counter in a soggy sodden mess. 
  • Inside-out socks and underwear in the laundry basket.
Any of those ring a bell with you? My only real pet peeve is over people who don't use their darned turn signals. In particular, when I'm waiting at a red light with my left hand turn signal blinking, and there's a whole line of traffic on the other side of the intersection, blinkerless. Most of THEM are waiting to make a left turn, too, but they don't have their turn signals on, so I have to WAIT, just in case they come straight. ARRRRGH! It makes me crazy!!! Still, I wait. After all, some rights are worth dying over, but the right of way isn't one of them. How about you? What's your biggest pet peeve?

Now that we've talked about pampered pets and pet peeves, I want to touch on one other kind of pet, and that's pet words. If you've ever known anyone with a verbal pet word or phrase, it's hard to miss. I used to know a gal whose favorite word was "absurd." The first five hundred times she used it were mildly amusing. Then, there was the "awesome" phase, when it seemed like just about everyone was sprinkling their conversation with that word. Teenagers are probably the most apt to glom onto favorite words; they have their own unique "teen speak." My friends and I used to overuse words like gross, neat, cool, and gag a maggot. (Matter of fact, I STILL say neat and cool ...) 

Extending beyond verbal pet words, writers are just as likely to fall into the pet word trap. 

Out, damned pet!

When editing, we have to leash those pet words and show 'em who's boss. Many writers have a tendency to overuse words like and, but, then and now, and I'm one of them. Another weakness I share with some other writers is using phrases like was thinking or was running,  when the simple past tenses thought and ran are much more effective. It's also a good idea to be aware of the word used to begin each sentence. If fifteen sentences within the first page all start with the same word, maybe it's time to consider spicing it up with a little bit of variety. 

Even if there's a particularly effective phrase within your work, overuse can dilute its effectiveness, and turn what started out as impressive into merely ordinary. For example, one book I read described a woman's hair as being the color of a new penny. I loved that. Vivid image, right? But, in the course of the book, the author described half a dozen other things as being the color of a new penny. He did the same thing in his second book, so I guess that truly was a pet phrase of his. I'd be willing to bet he was unaware of how much he overused it, though. (Both of his books were self-published, so this is a particular caveat for those who seek self-publication: beware of those pet words!)

Now that we've discussed pampered pets, pet peeves, and pet words, I'll leave you with a couple of priceless quotes about words. Referring to Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner said, "He has never used a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." To which Hemingway replied, "Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

Until next time, it'd be awesome if you take care of yourselves. And each other. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Picture That!

Thought for the day: If you don't pay your exorcist, you may get repossessed.

By George, I think I've got it! 
So far, so good. Looks like I may have exorcised the problem I was having with Blogger refusing to save or publish images. On the other hand, if you don't see a picture here of me scratching my chinny chinny chin, maybe I DIDN'T, in which case, I believe I'll go do something lots more fun like clean out the commodes.

For now, though, I'll assume that the picture is gonna hang around, and just in case you encounter a similar problem, (and I sincerely hope you don't) I thought I'd share what (I hope) proves to be the solution for me.

Experimenting with other templates didn't make a difference, so I began reconsidering my use of Internet Explorer. When the Google techs suggested that IE was a possible source of the problem, I initially dismissed that as unlikely. After all, I'd been using IE since day one, so why should a new problem emerge on something that hadn't changed? Right?

But upon further investigation, it appeared that most of the bloggers complaining about the problem were, indeed,  IE users, and many of them reported the problem's onset about the same time it started kicking me in the keister.


Then it hit me. My PC is configured to allow Windows to automatically install updates. Ah HA! So it became more conceivable that one of those automatic updates could've changed IE such that it no longer plays well with Blogger.

So I installed Google Chrome, and so far, so good. Let's hope that's the end of that problem.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Dunno about that, but I sure will be grateful if I can regularly add a picture or two to this blog again.

I smell something special.

Know what this week is? Something special, if you're a dog ... or a cat ... or some other well-loved pampered critter. Go get the balloons and ice cream: it's National Pet Week!

Now, I could darned near fill up Noah's Ark with the number of pets I've had in my lifetime, but I reckon I'm a bit of a slacker when it comes to celebrating them. Love 'em? Yeah, no doubt. But throw them parties? Invite dozens of their "friends" to the house for a play date?  For the love of God, put clothes on them? Ah, NO! 'Fraid not.

April 17 was National Pet Parents Day, and there were even American Greeting e-cards available to mark the occasion. Miss that one? Yeah, me too. But statistics show that approximately 10,000 cards WERE sent to mark the occasion.

Yesterday was "Bark in the Park" day at Atlanta's Turner Field, and for the paltry sum of twenty-five bucks, you could take your favorite canine pal into the park with you to watch the Braves play. Now, I've had a lot of dogs before, but I don't recollect any of them having much of an interest in baseball. Only interest they ever had in a ball of any kind was if you were throwing it to them and taking the slobbery thing away from them when they brought it back. Sweltering in the hot sun at the stadium never would've appealed to my dogs. Doesn't even appeal much to ME anymore. Not when I have a perfectly good air conditioner at home. 'Course, although it's still early in the season, one could argue that the Braves games have been pretty much "for the dogs" so far this year, so maybe it's only fitting that the stadium hosted a bunch of panting slobbering fans yesterday.

But this, THIS takes the cake (and ice cream):  would you believe a "puppy prom"? That's right, in March,  a PROM was held for canines in the Atlanta area. With an "Almost Paradise" theme, a king and queen, ball gowns, bow ties, beach-style decorations, a sheet cake, and ice cream treats! Oh, no, no, no! My dogs would NEVER have passed muster at a prom. They were much too rude. Fancy clothes or not, if they had the urge to scratch or lick their private places, they would never have been dissuaded by a silly bow tie.

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. OK, I will admit that when our pooches weren't feeling well, I may have prepared them ground beef and rice. And when I was a kid, my mother may have made a tiny raincoat and boots for our adorable little toy manchester / chihuahua cutie. And yeah, my husband swears that I can turn any attack dog into an egg-sucking wussy that'll follow me around like Mary's little lamb. (Why have 'em if you don't love 'em, right?) But I have NEVER gone to a dog bakery. Or thrown a pooch party. Or dressed my poor dogs in Halloween costumes.

How about you? Are you into "pet-ebrations"?

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. If the pictures in this post publish, you can color me happy. Tra-la-la-la!