Friday, August 31, 2012

Badlands, Oil Cans, and Dirty Underwear

Thought for the day:  In an effort to boost tourism, there have been several aborted attempts to drop the word North from North Dakota's name... as if dropping the word might somehow fool people into thinking the state miraculously got warmer.  (Yah, right.)

Rugby, North Dakota, the geological center of North America
So, how cold is it in Fargo? To give you an idea, folks up there think sexy lingerie means a  flannel nightgown with only eight buttons... Easter bonnets have ear flaps... and Independence Day is the only day that's warm enough for them to light a firecracker without wearing gloves. And come September? They have to golf with orange balls, just so they can find the darned things in the snow. 

You get the picture. North Dakota gets cold. They don't have a whole lot of trees, either. Matter of fact,  I've heard there are so few,  most of the birds up there walk. If a town's Main Street has three or more trees, know what the locals call it? The forest. 

Okay, enough picking on the state. It's not that bad. The average temperature in the summertime is seventy degrees, and in winter, seven. Not that bad, right? It's the extremes that'll get ya. Like the record low of sixty degrees below zero. That occurred in February of 1936, and strangely enough, the record high for the state also occurred in the same year, and came in at a sizzling one hundred and twenty-one. Makes those seventy and seven averages sound a whole lot better, doesn't it?

Okay, let's have a look around, shall we?

Located at Frontier Village in Jamestown, this is the world's largest buffalo monument. He's twenty-six feet high, forty-six feet long, and weighs a hefty sixty tons.

Here's a shot of some of the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Among other wildlife, this vast park is home to wild horses, bison, and elk. Roosevelt, who loved the rugged territory and raw beauty of the area, owned two ranches here.

Here's a suitably rugged-looking building to go along with the rugged terrain. This is the Paul Broste Rock Museum, located in Parshall. It's built of natural granite, all quarried right there in the area. What's most interesting about it is that it was built entirely by volunteers. When it first opened in 1965, Broste called it his Acropolis on a hill.

Here we have Salem Sue, the world's largest Holstein cow. She's located in New Salem, and is thirty feet tall, fifty feet long, and six tons in weight. (Svelte, compared to the buffalo monument!) Hmm, you've heard of beefalo, haven't you? Someone should get these two behemoths together. Poor things must be lonely. At the very least, maybe they can produce a couple chips off the old block. Who, of course, would never take their pop for granite. (Sorry.)

Now, here's something a little out of the ordinary. This is a fifty-foot tall pyramid, built by Max Taubert in 1933. What's unusual about it, you ask? This pyramid, located in Casselton, is made out of empty oil cans. In fact, it's believed to be the tallest oil can structure in the world. (Um, you mean there's more of them?)

Petroglyphs carved into two granite boulders can be found at Writing Rock State Historic Site, near Grenora. The carvings depict images of the thunderbird, (the mythological bird, not the car) a creature sacred to Late Prehistoric Plains Indians.

Aw, now who doesn't love turtles? The sculpture of this two-ton big guy, nicknamed Rusty, graces the entrance to the city of Turtle Lake, where the U.S. Turtle Racing Championships are held. (Who knew???)

The Dakota Dinosaur Museum, in Dickinson, contains twelve full-scale dinosaur models and thousands of fossils and rock and mineral specimens.

As a testament to the enduring friendship between the U.S. and Canada, the picturesque 2339-acre International Peace Garden straddles the border between North Dakota and her northern neighbor.

Well, darn I'd hope to find some scintillating footage of a couple turtles tearing toward the finish line. You know, some real death-defying stuff, with high speeds, screeching turns, and a last second win by a nose. Or a hare. No such luck. Oh well, our imagination of the event is probably considerably more speedy than the actual event. So, let's just amble on and take a look at the surprisingly few archaic laws still on the books in rugged North Dakota, where legislators evidently have things much more important to do than pass or hang onto silly old  laws. (Like stay warm.)

  • It's illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on.
  • It's against the law for any bar or restaurant to serve beer and pretzels at the same time.
  • But it IS legal to shoot an Indian on horseback... if you're in a covered wagon.
  • In Devil's Lake, it's against the law to shoot off fireworks after eleven P.M.
  • And in Fargo, it's illegal to wear a hat while dancing, or even to wear a hat to a function where dancing is taking place. 
Okay, that's it! Like I said, surprisingly few. So, you know what that means. It's time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

Boy, slim pickings again this week, folks. I only found one story worthy of lampooning, and I'll save that for last. In the meantime, how about some quickies:
  • London firefighters rescued a cow. No biggie, you say? The poor thing was in a tree.
  • Muggers robbed an Ohio man, but obviously, had a change of heart, because they went back and gave him busfare. (Awwww. Their mamas taught them to be considerate.)
  • In a misguided attempt to save money by skipping the courier service and insurance fee, a Norwegian art dealer saved a bit of cash this week, but the $8600 Rembrandt etching got lost in the mail. Talk about penny wise, and pound foolish.
  • A man in Nepal was so angry when a cobra bit him, he chased after the snake and bit him back. Matter of fact, he kept on biting it until it was dead. No word on how the man's doing, but he sure sounds like somebody ya don't want to mess with.
  • The store owner in India didn't understand all the negative hoopla when he opened his men's clothing store this week. I mean, just because the place is called Hitler, and the i is dotted with a swastika? He said he didn't know about those six million slaughtered people. Said he just though Hitler was a strict guy. Oh well. So sorry. He'd be happy to change the name of his store ... if somebody else pays for it.
Okay, here's the one story that kinda cracked me up this week, so I had a little fun with it. (How many Elvis Presley song titles can you pick out?)
**  Didja ever hear of such a bizarre good luck charm? Die-hard Elvis fans know, deep down, that he reached the end of the road years ago, but now they're all shook up, and mooning and crooning... as long as I have you. Wait, no! They're actually saying... as long as I have your underwear! Then they'll be, what? Lucky? Fulfilled? (Nuts?) Y'know, I don't think Elvis ever had the slightest suspicion that some day, because of all his fame and fortune, some fool would still be filled with such burning love for him that he'd be fighting the crowd to be first in line to bid on a pair of his old dirty drawers. Don't ask me why. Because of love, maybe? Because some people are living on the edge of reality? I mean, yeah, sure Elvis was a big hunk o' love, but just looking at the picture of those stained drawers gives me a dirty, dirty feeling. But that's all right. I understand. Some people can't help falling in love, and come what may, they want to follow that dream (no matter how weird that dream is) to Omega Auctions in London next month for old times sake. For the heart. For a stained pair of skivvies the King wore at a 1977 concert. So, if you want 'em,  it's now or never, folks. Undies may not be as cuddly as a teddy bear, but if you buy these things, just think: a hundred years from now, your family can still possess smears of  Elvis Presley DNA. Wearin' that loved on look. But don't wear them. Those things would give stuck on you a whole new meaning. (yuk!) Y'know, stuff you read on this blog is almost always true. And so is this story. Wanta see how much these skivvies fetch? Omega will be streaming the auction live on September 8th, and if you can believe it, they expect to get more than fifteen thousand dollars. OY!  (Maybe I'd better take a gander in my hubby's dresser drawer and see what kind of treasures he might have hiding in there...) Darn, I wasn't exactly brief with this one, was I? [Twenty-five titles of the many songs Elvis recorded were hidden in this paragraph.]

**  Images in this post come from wikipedia and morguefile  (And of COURSE, that isn't really Elvis in that picture ... HE has left the building. Can ya believe his UNDERWEAR is still here???)

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grandmas Can Be Hot, Too... in Flashes

Thought for the day: I'm very young at heart. Unfortunately, some of my other parts are a bit older. 

Some people hate Mondays. Not me. Some people can hardly wait for the weekdays to be over and done with, so they can get down to the serious business of squeezing every ounce of pleasure out of the weekend as they can. Not me.

See, once you smash face-first into the glorious age of retirement, every single day has as much potential to be a Funday as the day before... and the day after.

However, I must confess... I do have a certain affinity for Wednesdays.

That's because Wednesday is senior discount day.

Last week, I decided to cash in on a hard-to-resist double-header. Not only do the grocery store and hair cutting chain store both offer old fogie discounts on Wednesdays, but (ta-DA!) they're right next door to each other. Convenient, right?

So, I go diddy-bopping into the hair butcher first, happy as a piggie in the mud.

Until it was time to pay.

They didn't think I was old enough to merit their stinkin' discount.

I mean, just because my Cinderella hair was tied up in a pony tail, and I was blowing bubbles with my chewing gum didn't mean I wasn't old.

                                           Just because I was wearing hot pants and go-go boots

                                                            and a totally tasteless tee shirt

                                                       didn't mean I wasn't OLD, dammit.

Now, if you need it, I'll give you the last dollar in my wallet. Hungry? I'll gladly share my food. Cold? I'll give you the shirt off my ... okay, so maybe not that, but you get the point. But DO NOT MESS WITH MY SENIOR DISCOUNT. (Even if it IS only ten cents...) Nice person that I am, I explained to the young gals in the shop that you don't have to look old or act old to be old. I flashed my ID ... and my pearly whites.

                                              And I got my damned discount. Life is good.

Okay, so I wasn't really wearing hot pants. What can I say? The darned things shrunk like crazy since I last wore them. Wasn't wearing that (shudder) shirt, either. Ditto the boots. (My go-go boots went-went a long time ago.)

But if I can find them, I'm gonna have to get a pair of these hot pink ones for the next time I get my hair cut ... just for a laugh. They should go quite nicely with my gray sweat pants, dontcha think?

                                                                The face in the mirror
                                                                Isn't wrinkled or drawn.
                                                                My house isn't dirty---
                                                                The cobwebs are gone.
                                                                My garden is lovely,
                                                                And so is my lawn.
                                                                I think I will not
                                                               Put my glasses back on.
                                                                  [Cary Fellman]

Oops, gotta run. I hear they're having a wet shawl contest at the senior center tonight, so I gotta get ready. What can I say? This red hot grandma was born to be wild.

                                      Until next time, take care of yourself. And each other.  
 ** Images courtesy of morguefile  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Trowel and Error

Thought for the day:  When weeding, the best way to make sure you're removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it's a valuable plant.

Are you a gardener... or are you a garden-dreamer, like me?

I mean, I harbor amazing delusions of grandeur while browsing through garden catalogues and piling a cart high with purchases from the local nursery every year.

And then something happens.

I like to call it reality.

Gardens are not made by singing, 'Oh, how beautiful' and sitting in the shade.  [Rudyard Kipling]

Darn it. (I'm really good at sitting in the shade.)

Kipling was a real kill-joy, huh? I do fine getting all the stuff into the ground, and for a little while... just over twenty-three minutes, I think... the garden looks marvelous. Then comes these things:

                                                                      Yep, weeds.

The philosopher who said that work well done never needs doing over never weeded a garden.   [Ray D. Everson]

It's a little-known fact, but I'm pretty sure weeds are organized. Not unionized yet, but they're definitely working together. Just think about it. They grow at precisely the rate you pull them out. Yank a weed from one part of your garden, and boing! another one pops up in another part. Really. I've seen it happen.

Even with the whack-a-mole racket weeds have going for them, I don't mind weeding all that much.

At first.

And then something else happens.

I like to call it debilitating heat. In Georgia, that could happen just about any time of the year, but as a rule, by the end of springtime, (which could occur as early as February...) perspiration is pretty much flowing like Niagara Falls around here.

                                                                     I'm talking ...    
Oh, and did I happen to mention our annual summer droughts? And the outdoor watering bans? And whattayaknow? While flowers and vegetables gasp for water, weeds seem to thrive under these conditions.

Crabgrass can grow on bowling balls in airless rooms, and there is no known way to kill it that does not involve nuclear weapons.  [Dave Barry]   

They say hard work doesn't hurt anyone, but at my age, why take chances? I tend to agree with good ol' Tex here:

The best way to garden is to put on a wide-brimmed hat and some old clothes. And with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig.  [Texas Bix Bender]

Alas, nobody was around who was willing to let me stand around giving orders, so I tempted fate last week and went outside in the early morning (before the heat index hit triple digits) to weed and prune. I know. What a trooper, right?

So I grabbed a rug to protect my dainty little knees, my handy-dandy gloves, hand hoe, clippers, pruners, and trowel, and I was ready to go. Approximately two minutes later, the attack began.

First, the reconnaissance mosquito swooped down to sample the cuisine. Then came the rest of his brigade.

You think weeds are organized? They've got nothing on mosquitoes.

So, I tore into the house to swap shorts for sweat pants and to douse myself in bug spray. Which, I'm pretty sure, the mosquitoes around here actually like. Kinda like a finishing sauce.

But, I eventually managed to finish the job. (Which, of course, could stand to be done all over again now.) For some reason, our front garden is a flipping magnet for wild onions. Pain in the derriere to keep digging them out and digging them out, too. But didja know if you don't dig 'em out, they grow pretty little purple flowers? (ahem)  I may have read that somewhere ... yeah, that's the ticket...

Anyhow, the task gave me plenty of time to hum and think. Like, about editing. Wouldn't it be nice if it were as easy to axe the deadwood from a written work as it is to prune it from a bush? And, watching all those tiny bugs scurrying around, I thought about how tiny we are in comparison to the universe. Suppose we're part of some kind of a cosmic garden, waiting for the Master Gardener to come pull weeds? Then the question becomes: are we the weeds... or the flowers? (Yeah, I was getting a little heat-addled by that time.)

Even so, it kinda made me wonder. Who am I to decide which plants should grow and which should go?

Some...  no... most... wildflowers are beautiful.

And Ralph Waldo Emerson, a very wise man, I might add, said, What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.

I think he's absolutely right! So, I may just have to reconsider this whole notion of pulling weeds. Because, if you think about it,

                                                              Dandelions are quite dandy.

(sigh) If I could only grow green stuff in my garden like I can in my refrigerator... [unknown]

                                          Okay, hands up. I give. Time to throw in the trowel.

For now. I have been looking at topiary pictures lately. That just might be the way to go, ya know? Think our neighbors will be impressed?

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

** All images, except the last one, come from morguefile The topiary shot is courtesy of seniorark

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Failure to Communicate

Thought for the day:  Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie its ribbons.  [Ruth Ann Schabacker]

Hey, know what? We haven't ventured out on the road in quite a while. For those of you who missed the bus on our previous road trips, where we took a gander at some hilarious (but not real) billboards, you can catch up any ol' time by clicking on the funny billboards tag down on the right hand side of this page.

No new billboards to share with you this time, but I do have something with more of an Asian flavor to tickle your funny bone. Today, we're gonna check out some signs written in ... English? Kinda. What can I say? Some things simply lose... or gain ... a little something in the translation. Results in a teensy failure to communicate. (A hearty Thank You! to the wonderful webmaster from, who so kindly granted me permission to use this material.)

As much as I like that road trip picture, I already used that for all the billboard posts, so how about something new to go along with this new series of posts? Here we go. How about this?

Looks like he's ready for a little fun. How about you? Okay, here we go, then...

                                              There, did any of these make you crack a smile?
                                                       Good. Then my work here is done.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mugs, Jugs, and a Booby Prize

Thought for the day:  Do what you can, where you are, with what you've got. Break the rules, be different, be dynamic, but above all, be yourself! And have fun doing it!  [Paul Dixon]

It was pretty doggone evident when we saw this car in the parking lot that the art show inside was gonna be a lit-tle unusual.

(And fun!)

This past Saturday, we went to the 19th annual Folk Fest, where self-taught artists from all over the country gathered to show and sell their wares. Wow! What an amazing display!

I've gotta admit, the pictures seen at right are what I most associated with folk art. Y'know, colorful, primitive... like the pictures our kids and grandkids generate to snazz up our refrigerators.

But it is so much more.

Personality is everything in art and poetry.  [Johann Wolfgang von Goethe]

There was a certain feel-good hippy kinda sentiment in a lot of the works. Like the one on the left. The sign the couple is holding says,

      NO DRAMA
         TO THE

Lots of love, peace, and happiness kinda stuff. Protest art. Humor and whimsy out the wazoo. Lots of re-purposing... y'knownew things created from old and/or unexpected things. Creativity abounded. And above all, it was clear that the artists loved doing what they were doing.

There is nothing more marvelous than doing something you love to do and getting paid for it. It ceases to become work, money, and effort; and it becomes fun, your expression of the joy of life. [Stuart Wilde]

                                                    Wanta see some of their pieces?


See anything unique about this picture? Look more closely at the man's face and necktie. It's actually made from a guitar!

Artist Steven Moseley, from Missouri, takes from two weeks to two months to complete each of his whimsy bottles, which he constructs through the necks of the bottles. The one in front is entitled The Last McSupper, complete with miniature burgers, orders of fries, and drinks. (complete with straws and lids!)

Here's a... booby prize. In case you can't tell, it's made from the upper torso of a female form, and covered with... what else? A montage of bodacious tatas.

No folk art show would be complete without face jugs, very popular in Southern pottery.

Oh, and how about some mugs to go with those jugs?

Here, we have a couple bottle trees  created by Mississippi artist Stephanie Dwyer. West Africans, who believed the colorful bottles kept haints away from the house, brought the tradition to this country. (Not sure exactly what a haint is, but I've got a feeling they haint good.)

My husband even got a kick out of all the neat stuff built out of various pieces of hardware.

HA! Even a hot rod!

Actually, there were a number of cars and motorcycles. And musicians. Even a whole band.

All kinds of characters built out of all kinds of stuff. This little guy was kinda cute. The gal who built him said he was explosive. He, um, also has a bit of an attitude.

Great work comes from great joy. Leave the angst for the movies; do art that is fun. [Jack White]

It's pretty obvious that the guy who built the following figures has a LOT of fun with his art. PLUS he gets bonus points from his wife for cleaning some of that old junk out of the garage ...

Aren't they just too cute? Something about this guy reminds me of a Roman soldier in an old movie.

And this one reminds me of Tweety Bird.

                                              Okay, just gonna show you two more.

Would you believe this Noah's Ark is made out of the metal from an old oil drum?

And finally, this flag... the stripes are made of baseball bats, and the stars? Painted baseballs. 

Painting is very easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. [Vincent Van Gogh]

Okay, so the artists featured in this show may have been self-taught, but they definitely know how to create art. And how to put smiles on the faces of everybody looking at it, too. 

How about you? Ever been to an exhibit of folk art or created something from unlikely parts?

Oh, afterwards, we spotted a yard sale, and decided to stop by for a look-see. Guess what I found? A big fat 1920 book of humorous poetry! Cool, huh? For a DIME! Oh yeah, life is good.

                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
                                                            And remember ...
                                If it's not fun, you're doing it wrong.  [George DiCarlo]