Friday, January 25, 2019

Just Chillin'

Thought for the day: Calvin: Today for show and tell, I've brought a tiny miracle of nature: a single snowflake! I think we might all learn a lesson from how this utterly unique and exquisite crustal turns into an ordinary boring molecule of water just like every other one when you bring it into the classroom. And now, while the analogy sinks in, I will be leaving you drips and going outside..." [Bill Watterman]

[image courtesy of Unsplash]
Hi-ya, fellow drips.
Parts of the world, including the U.S., have been shivering in a deep freeze lately. Yeah, I know those of you Down Under are trapped in a miserable heat wave. (Too bad we can't find a happy medium, huh?) It hasn't been too bad here in Georgia yet, but it's been plenty cold enough for me. (I didn't see a single person in shorts and flip-flops at the grocery store the other day!) No snow here, either, but some of you have snow up to your... well... LOTS of snow. The Super Bowl will be coming to town in a couple of weeks. Let's hope Mother Nature doesn't decide to toss a monkey wrench into the works by staging an ice storm like she did the last time the Super Bowl was held here.

Back to Calvin's tiny miracle of nature. Snowflakes really are beautiful, aren't they? Especially those big fat wet ones. How odd that some people have co-opted the word in an attempt to use it to disparage and vilify people with beliefs that don't mesh with their own. Really? Snowflake? That's the worst they've got...? Never mind. Their intention is bad enough, but it doesn't faze me, because nothing anyone says can detract from the beauty of a snowflake, and if you think about it, we're all kinda like snowflakes. Supposedly, there are no two snowflakes alike, and that's true for people, too. We're all unique and beautiful in our own way. Kinda like winter butterflies. (Okay, okay, so butterflies don't pile up on the ground and have to be cleared away with shovels and plows... but you know what I mean. We're all beautiful like butterflies. Sheesh.)

I'm not saying I like snow. Or winter.

 ♪ ♫ Oh the weather outside can bite me. My muscles ache, despite me. I don't have a happy glow. Winter blows, winter blows, winter blows...♪♫

But snow's beautiful. To look at. Preferably in pictures. 

And snowflakes? A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together. [unknown origin] And that's true, whether you're talking about those big wet beautiful flakes floating through the air or the flesh-and-blood activists attempting to fight injustices.

Okay, enough of that. I have no intention of dipping my toes into political waters. Let's move on to find a few giggles in these cartoons:

This last cartoon is more appropriate in our neck of the woods. (And I'm okay if it stays that way!)

I'm not the only one who doesn't wax nostalgic about the joys of shoveling snow. Lot of people prefer more moderate temperatures. Like Dave Barry, who said, The problem with winter sports is that, follow me closely here, they generally take place in winter.

Of course, some people... and animals... LOVE winter and winter sports...

How about YOU? Do you like cold weather and snow, or do you prefer heat and sunshine? (Or are you more like me, and prefer something in the middle... picky, picky, picky...)

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

More Wonders of the World

Thought for the day:  Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth. [Martin H. Fischer]

There is sooooo much to see in this wonderful world of ours, and just because we may never see any of these things in person is no reason for us to forego the appropriate oohing and aahing over their existence.

Snowed in? That's no excuse. Got cabin fever... and hiding from the excess heat in your area? That's no excuse, either. We can still explore. 


 I've never seen one of these in person, but ever since I was a child, I've marveled at photos of giant sequoia trees that were sooooo enormous, tunnels were actually cut through them. The most famous of these trees was the Wawona tree, which was carved out in the late 1800s and felled by a storm in 1969, at the ripe old age of more than two thousand. In 2017, the Pioneer Cabin tree, 1000 years old and carved more than 100 years ago, also succumbed to a big storm. Ordinarily, these trees can be expected to live as much as 3000 years, so it makes me wonder... were their demises hastened by man's ill-conceived cutting through their trunks? Thank goodness, the practice of tunneling through the trunks of these majestic trees for our convenience is no longer practiced or condoned by the Forestry Service. [The remains of other sequoia tree tunnels are either dead or lying on the ground as ancient logs, but there are still several active redwood tree tunnels in existence, all operated by private companies.]

What's a tree's least favorite month? Sep-timberrrr, of course.

What did the tree wear to the pool party? That's an easy one. Swim trunks!

If you're not impressed by the heights nature can reach with the giant sequoia trees, how about some of the stuff man has built?

Like a carousel. As in the Guinness record book's tallest chained carousel in the world, which spins 383 feet (117 m) above Vienna, Austria.

Um, not for me. Thanks to some of the smart-ass comments made by Smarticus, whenever I see rides like this, I can't help but wonder if it was built by the lowest bidder. Besides, I'm more akin to that cat who got dizzy from just spinning in a chair. However, for the more adventurous of you, here's a peek at that carousel:

Dubai was already famous for its stunning architectural feats... like an indoor snow-skiing place right there in the middle of the desert... but the new Crescent Moon Tower, completed last year, is bound to become the United Arab Emirates' most recognizable iconic image yet. Thirty-three floors tall, the building contains a library, conference facility, a restaurants, cafes, and an observation deck. What a unique place for gazing at the sky! I wonder what it'd be like to observe the real moon or a sunrise from that deck...

What do you call a rooster that crows every morning as the sun comes up? An alarm cluck.

[image courtesy of wikipedia]
 The border between Belgium and the Netherlands is 281 miles (450 km) long, and there are no border controls... no tall fences topped with concertina wire... and no so-called big beautiful walls between these two countries. In fact, as shown in the image, one part of the border goes right through a cafe in Baarle! I wonder if you could order your meal in one country, go to the restroom in another, and then be back at the first country before your meal is served. Kinda cool, huh?

Being a bigger fan of bridges than walls, this concept really captured my imagination. And respect. I reckon you could say it's... enlightening...

What did one lightning bug say to another? Oops! Sorry...  gotta glow!

[image: AVAX news]

This amazing structure is the Wat Samphran Temple in Thailand. This 17-story cylindrical Buddhist temple might remind you of a shorter version of the Tower of Babel, except for one thing. One very big thing. The giant dragon sculpture that surrounds it.

WOW, huh? Dontcha kinda wonder what prompted this unusual architectural feature...?

Wanta get away from the maddening crowds? Enjoy a quiet meal of reeeeally fresh seafood while surrounded by the clear azure waters of the Indian Ocean? Then... talk about a getaway!... Zanzibar's Rock Restaurant could be just the place for you. This cozy eating place is literally located on a large rock, which is delightfully isolated and surrounded by water during high tide. But if you're interested, better make reservations. They only have twelve tables, so seating is limited! (I wonder if they serve chicken nuggets...HA!)

How do we know the ocean is friendly? It always waves.

What does a cloud wear under its clothes? Thunderwear!

[image: Sandra Critelli]

I dunno why, but the migration of animals has always fascinated me. In the past, I've posted about the migrations of tortoises (a very sloooooow migration, needless to say) and the migration of some adorable little red crabs. This time, golden stingrays are in the spotlight. These graceful creatures, which can be as much as seven feet wide, engage in a mass migration through the Gulf of Mexico two times a year... heading north in late spring, and back to the south in late autumn. Gee, I wonder what it'd be like to see them while... snorkeling??? Hey! No need to wonder... just look-ie here:

What's a great white shark's favorite game to play? Swallow the Leader.

[image courtesy of wikipedia]
The Banpo Bridge in South Korea is more than just a bridge. It's the world's largest fountain bridge. This moonlight rainbow fountain contains 10,000 LED nozzles and squirts 190 tons of water per minute. It contains thirty-eight water pumps and 380 nozzles per side. As you can see in this photo, people gather every evening to admire the show. With all of that water splashing, I wonder if there's a bunch of port-a-potties nearby...

Wanta glimpse at what they're seeing...?

[image: Nan Palmero]

Humans can be such blockheads. I mean, what were they thinking cutting those tunnels through those gorgeous trees...?

Anyhow, this sculpture by Czech artist David Cerny shows man's more hard-headed side. Entitled Metalmorphosis, its forty layers of polished stainless steel can rotate individually to create a wide array of possible images. (I wonder if that's meant to illustrate how messed up we can be, maybe?) Most of this sculptor's works are a bit more controversial, and have gotten him in a bit of hot water from time to time, but this one sits serenely in a cool reflective pool at the Whitehall Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The last item for your consideration is a sculpture by French artist Bruno Catalano. He did a series of similar sculptures for a celebration in the city of Marseilles, and each one is as unique as this one. Ever feel like something's missing, or you aren't all there? Well, Catalano's people aren't all there. Some of the sculptures seem to defy gravity, and each one is thought-provoking. (Yep, they make ya wonder.) To see more of his work, check out his website at

Well, folks, that's about it. But first... What did one volcano say to another? I lava you.

And I lava doing these kinds of posts. I hope you enjoyed it.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
[Oops! Sorry'bout that... this post was all ready and poised to go live at 12:34 AM, as usual, but some bonehead... no need to point fingers... failed to hit that pesky "publish" button...]

Friday, January 11, 2019

For Aaron

Thought for the day:  The most precious jewels that have ever been around my neck are the arms of my grandchildren.

Because I wrote the past few posts prior to the holidays, this is the first one written since the new year began, so Happy New Year, y'all!

We spent the Christmas holidays with our older son and his family, and it was fantastic, as always.

Have you ever baked cookies with four grandchildren and three dogs? Um, not that the dogs actually did any of the cookie-making or baking, but they were definitely a presence. To say it was a chaotic and joyful experience would be a gross understatement.

While we were there, the kids asked me which of them I loved the best, so I did what any grandma would do. I told each of them, "I love YOU best, because..." followed by a list of wonderful things that makes each of them special.

Reminded me a little of when a bunch of my cousins had a reunion a few years ago. An older cousin said she was the only one of all the grandchildren that Nana ever allowed to spend the night with her. Then the rest of us piped in about all the times WE'D spent the night. Nana had a LOT of grandchildren, but somehow, she managed to make each of us feel like her favorite. Was your grandmother the same way? What a wonderful talent to have.

During our visit, our eight-year old grandson Aaron asked me why I call Grandpop Smarticus. Turns out, he's been reading my blog. (!) (Which, of course, means he has impeccable taste. HA!) He lamented that when he Googled his siblings, he found links to my blog, but when he Googled his own name, he came up with a lot of pictures of some old guy with the same name. So this post is just for Aaron. By tagging it with his name, hopefully, he'll find himself when he does a Google search next time. Along with some fun pictures.

Check out all those curls! This is a pic of Aaron from Thanksgiving of 2012.

Also from Thanksgiving of 2012, here's a pic of our son with his whole crew. The children, from left to right, are Aaron, Jaiden, Devyn, and Kymber.

Aaron, in August of 2013. What a smile! He looks like a professional model, doesn't he?

The cutie crew, Christmas, 2012.

Also Christmas, 2012. Who can resist Devyn's smile? (I can't.)

First day of school, 2015.

July, 2015. We all went to the premiere viewing of Minions. (Loved it!) The cutie between cool cat Aaron in those snazzy sunglasses and his sister Kymber is their cousin McKenzie.

Christmas, 2015, and the Minions are still the best thing ever... both for Aaron and Grandpa Smarticus.

Christmas, 2015, and even Grandma has a pair of Minions softies. Smarticus and I are still big Minions fans, but alas, the kids have outgrown them. (Hmmm, not sure what that says about US...)

Now for some pictures from this Christmas...

Kymber & Devyn

When I asked Aaron to stand still so I could take his picture, he wanted to know if I was gonna put it on my blog. (Which gave me the idea to do this post for him...)

You've gotta love a gal who not only wears Elf pajamas, but happily poses in them so her goofy mother-in-law can take a picture.

Jaiden was thrilled to get a compound bow for Christmas.

Smarticus putting said bow together. (HA! And he thought his putting-stuff-together for Christmas days were over...)

Kymber was sooooo excited to get an adorable little hamster... and just a tiny bit apprehensive.

Leo and Troy were also very excited about the hamster. So was Stormy, but she was temporarily exiled for being a wee bit TOO excited. I'm sure it didn't mean a thing that Troy (the Huskie) kept licking his chops while observing the little critter...

Books written by two fellow bloggers provided great reading material for Aaron and Kymber.

Okay, y'all. Thanks for indulging me so I could make Aaron happy.

We saw the new year in with our friends in Tennessee. We stayed up waaaaay too late, but we had a terrific time. Lots of games, lots of laughter. The PERFECT way to end one year and begin another.

Before Christmas, I posted this cartoon on Facebook, which initiated some funny comments from our Tennessee pals, suggesting Smarticus and our buddy could maybe benefit from a similar air freshener...

I must say... the fresheners didn't work, but they did make for a great photo op...

So again, Happy New Year. Let's hope this year doesn't stink.

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

                                                          Grandparents are just antique kids.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Fresh Start

Thought for the day: Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right. [Oprah Winfrey]

First off, Happy New Year!!! Now that the ball has dropped, the champagne's gone flat, and the resolutions have been broken, it's time to face a new year of endless possibilities. Let's try to carpe the heck out of every new diem, shall we?

As you can probably tell by that nifty badge on the left, it's that time again.Time for our monthly IWSG posts. As always, thanks to our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh, for founding this fine group, and
 thanks to all the other nurturing guys and gals who've helped turn it into the thriving community it is today. To join this super supportive group of writers and to see links to other participating blogs, please go HERE

We all have a brand new soft-as-a-baby's-butt year ahead of us, and the possibilities are endless. We've all been given a clean slate, and it's up to us to grab the chalk and start scribbling. I suppose the notion of each new year being a clean slate explains the age-old tradition of starting each new year with a list of resolutions and a determination to get it right. 

As Mark Twain said, Now is the time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them. 

Me? I don't make resolutions. I mean, why set myself up for failure, right?

As exhilarating as the idea of a blank slate may be, there's also something a teensy bit intimidating about it, too. Kinda like a blank sheet of paper... or a blank computer screen with that cursed pulsing icon urging you to WRITE SOMETHING, YOU MORON!  (Or is that just my computer...?)

 A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God. [Sidney Sheldon]

Ah, but I'm an optimist. Let's all make the most of this shiny new year, shall we? Let's dazzle ourselves.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in; a pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. [Bill Vaughn]

Whether you're an optimist or a pessimist, 2018 is now officially kaput. Perhaps the champagne bottle is empty and the candles extinguished, but there will be other bottles, and hope can always light the way, if you let it.

And you know what? If you think about it, what lies behind us doesn't really matter all that much, and neither does what lies before us. When you get right down to it, the most important thing is what lies within us. For all of you, I wish that to be peace and joy. Here's to a successful 2019 for all of us!

Okay, let's take a quick look at the question for this month, shall we?

What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing? 

Hmm, just having someone acknowledge my writing is pretty darned exciting. I suppose my favorite thing would be when they ask me anything about the characters in my book. Hearing other people discuss something I've written at a book club or whatever is absolutely thrilling. Makes me want to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. (But not too hard. I'm old, and I bruise easily.) Least favorite? Hmmm, that's a toughie. Maybe being asked when the next book is gonna be released like a day or two after one is published. Geez. Gimme a chance to enjoy it, willya? HA. Just kidding. I don't think I will ever tire of people talking to me about something I've written. It's a sort of vindication, ya know? It might not pay the bills, but it feels pretty darned good.

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man. [Benjamin Franklin]

No thanks, Ben. I'm pretty darned happy with the one I've got. [me]

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