Friday, February 27, 2009

Now Break

The Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Have a great weekend everyone. I am going to start mine early so I'll see you Monday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

There Ain't No Cure For The Summertime Blues

Of all the plagues that heaven hath sent,
A wasp is most impertinent.'


Remember how warm it got here on Tuesday? I thought it would be a good idea to get my patio umbrella out and sit under it reading. I got it and the stand out of the garage and started setting up. When I got the umbrella open I looked up and saw the remains of three wasp nest on the underside. I thought the best way to remove them was to hose them off. When I returned after hooking the hose up to the water faucet I saw that the outside of the umbrella had about ten wasp nest glued to the fabric. I had not seen them when I first brought the umbrella outside because they had been hidden in the folds between the ribs.

Although I knew these were Mud Dauber nests, the idea of them being there freaked me out. I am allergic to wasps venom and the thought of any wasp being anywhere near me gives me the heebie-jeebies. I also know mud daubers rarely sting people but rarely is still too high a number for me.

These nest were left over from last summer. The interesting part is that I usually pull that umbrella out several times during the summer months but last summer I did not. I tried to a few time but each time I got near the umbrella I would change my mind and leave it alone. I don't even want to think about what would have happened if I had picked the thing up and started jostling it around. Like I said, rarely is still too high a number for who has a severe reaction to wasp stings.

So, instead of quiet afternoon reading under the umbrella, I spent my time cleaning off wasp nests. The amount of water needed to clean every speck of wasp mud off umbrella fabric is greater than you think. Of course I may have gone overboard in my estimation of just how clean the umbrella needed to be. I am not really sure how much water it takes to remove wasp cooties.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Brain Damaged Children

Last night I found another reason to not like the Republican Party. After the president's speech to Congress last night, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal gave the the Republican Party's response. What that response was I can not tell you since I did not make past the first three minutes. I do not listen to anyone who talks to me as if I am a brain damaged child. Plus, this was supposedly a response to President Obama speech so what the hell was this man babbling on about during those three minutes?

I found Jindal's speech on YouTube and watched it today. I still do not know just what the hell they (the Republicans) thought they were doing with this bizarre speech.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wait, Wait Along

As you know we have a bird feeder and bath in our yard. This morning I looked out to find we had quite the party going on with many finches and sparrows eating and drinking. Later I look out to find the bird equivalent of High Noon. The streets were deserted because a gunslinger was in town. Up in our peach tree sat a Sharp-shinned Hawk. I would not be surprised to find out it was the same one we rescued earlier last week. I tried to get a photo but he was too fast for me.

In other news, it is going to be a beautiful day here with the high forecast to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit/ 21 degrees Celsius. I plan to spend most of the afternoon outdoors enjoying it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Winter Solitude

Winter solitude--
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Money, Money, Money, Muun-ney

The Love Of Money by The O'Jays

I took Duke down on the river for a run late yesterday morning. While walking on the trail I scuffed my hiking boot on a clump of dirt causing it to explode. When I looked down a wad of tightly crumpled green paper was just dropping to the ground. I reached down to pick it up and saw that it was a dollar bill. I started gently pulling it apart and realized it wasn't a dollar bill but four half-bills. Three of the halves were twenty dollar bills while the third one was cemented together by dirt, making it impossible to identify. They were all in pretty good shape but they did have some yellow stains on them. I was so busy examining the bills that I did not notice the smell that was coming from them. When I finally did I blurted out, "Oh, crap!"

It took me a second to realize that what I had just said was the literal truth. I had not kicked a clump of dirt at all. I had kicked a horse turd. The only way this money could have been in a clump of horse manure was if a horse had eaten and then later...(How should I put this?) lost it.

I had been walking while I pulled the bills apart so I turned around and went back to were I thought I had found them and looked around. I didn't see any more money so I decide to take what I had to the bank and find out if I could exchange them for newer bills. I had read that if you brought in a damaged bill, and you had at least 51 percent of that bill, you could exchange it for a whole bill.

After dropping Duke off at home and putting the bills into a plastic sandwich bag, I drove to the bank and told a teller my story. She decide this was a job for one of the bank officials so I took my small bag of bills to the office of one of the higher-ups. She, with some understandable reluctance, removed the pieces from the bag and started trying to put them together. When she was done only two pieces matched. She placed the remaining pieces back into the sandwich bag and dropped the bag into a "to be shredded" trashcan. I ended up with a new twenty dollar bill.

That should have been the end of it but it did not work out that way. A couple of hours after I returned home the idea popped into my head that I should go back to the bank and retrieve those remaining pieces just in case I found the rest of the money. I decide the odds of this happening were so slim that going back to the bank wasn't worth the effort.

This morning I took Duke down to river again for his run. When I reached the point where I thought I had found the bills I gave the ground a quick glance but saw nothing. About ten feet farther I glanced down again and saw another small wadded up ball of green paper lying next to the trail. I could not believe it. I had found the other half of the two remaining bills, but I knew it was too late. I should have gone back for those other pieces when I had the chance.

Although I knew these half-bills were worth nothing I decided to take them back to the bank. I knew the people I had talked to would be amazed that I had actually found the rest of the money. When I got there, the bank official I had talked to had someone in her office so I sat down and waited. When I finally spoke to her I asked her if she still had the money I brought in yesterday. She said yes and asked me if I had found more money. I nodded and held up the two pieces I had found. She left the room and came back a short time later with my sandwich bag. I asked her why she still had it and she told me she realized it wasn't a good idea to put the plastic bag through the shredder so instead she had set the bag and bills aside. She pulled the two larger bill pieces out of the bag and matched them to the two pieces I had just brought in. This brought my found money total up to forty-one dollars.

Now, there is usually a lesson in the things that happen to us. So, just what is the lesson here? That what may seem like sh*t at the time can actually be valuable? That if you ignore an opportunity the first time (me not going back to the bank for the bills), you will get a second chance? That.....well, what do you think?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Separated At Birth?

Dick Cheney

Karl Rove

John McCain

Rush Limbaugh

Pillsbury Doughboy

My mother was the first to point out to me the resemblance between these men and the Pillsbury Doughboy. She also once asked me this rhetorical question while we were watching the news, "Why do all these conservative, middle-aged, white men have the faces of half-formed fetuses?"

(The reason for this post in the first place? Ghosts of politics past.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's The Story, Morning Glory? (Part Two)

Now, the rest of the story-

On Monday morning I was walking down Main Street and just as I reached the building shown in Monday's post someone started banging on the window. It startled me at first since I knew the building was abandoned and that no one was supposed to be in there. When I turned my head to see who it was I was surprised to see a small Sharp-shinned Hawk trapped between the window glass and the old weather worn piece of plywood that had been nail on the inside edge of the window frame. The sound I had heard had been made by the hawk's wings frantically striking the glass as he struggled to fly out of the man-made trap.

My first thought was to get him out and to do it as quickly as possible. I knew I would need some help and some tools so I jogged back home to get my husband. After I told him what I had found, we rounded up the tools we thought we would need (a mop, a small crowbar, a hammer, and a screwdriver), got in the truck, and quickly drove to the back of the building.

Now, that photo of the inside of the building on Monday's post was taken in November when the weather was fine and there was no snow on the ground. When we went inside on Monday there was snow, water, mud, debris from the fallen ceiling, and pieces of wood with rusty nails in them from the no longer standing wall studs scattered about on the ground and flooring. All this made things a little slippery. It was also earlier in the day so not as much direct sunlight illuminated the inside of the building.

In the photo you can also see that the building has been added on to two times, creating three different sections. The back section, between the camera and the brick wall; the middle section, between brick wall and the pile of debris just where the concrete floor ends; and the area that was the original building. That section has a wood floor covered with linoleum tiles.

We walked up to where the concrete ended and found out the pile of debris was actually small chunks of plaster that had fallen off the walls and ceiling. Someone had swept the pieces into a foot wide gap between the concrete and the original wood floor. I was hesitant about walking on the wood floor since I was worried, first, that it would no longer support us, and, second, that the snow hid holes in the flooring. I noticed cat paw prints in the snow that lead straight to the window and decided that if the cat making those prints had not fallen through the snow we wouldn't either. I stepped unto the wood floor and walked over to the window, my husband following behind me.*

After examining the plywood, my husband said the best way to get the bird out was for me to ease the mop down into the space between the glass and the plywood at the far end of the window and then use the mop head to shoo the bird toward the end of the plywood closest to the front door. He would then use the crowbar to pry that end away from frame. This would give the bird a escape route. We tried it once and found out the opening wasn't large enough for the bird and that he also had just enough room to get round the mop head and scurry back to the other end of the window. My husband removed a couple of the screws that held the plywood against the frame and we tried it again. This time the opening was large enough and the bird dived out and then immediately spread his wings and flew away.

Mission accomplished.

By this time our eyes had adapted to the light conditions and as we walked toward the back of the building, following the path we had taken on our way in, I was shocked to discover that I had walked right next to a large hole in the flooring. I had not recognized it as a hole when I passed it the first time- I just thought it was an area of wet dirt. That is when I realize how stupid and lucky I had been.

When we reached the concrete flooring my husband said he thought he should go back and remove the plywood since the window would still be a trap for other birds if we left it there.** I waited while he went back and carefully removed the plywood from the window. He then leaned it up against the window frame and turned and walked back to where I waited. Before he reached me the plywood fell backward and soundlessly hit the floor. Instead of going back to pick it up we left the building. I for one had had enough of the place.

*I now have a sneaking suspicion that he did not step on the flooring until I reached the window. When I got there and looked back he was halfway across and following my footprints in the snow.

**We found out later that our bird was the tenth bird to get trapped in there.

What's The Story, Morning Glory? Part One

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Difference Between A Nitwit And A Halfwit

The answer is here.

Yesterday my husband and I acted like halfwits.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What's The Story, Morning Glory?

1. This building.



2. This bird.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

3. Two of this.

Care to guess?

What's The Story, Morning Glory? Part two

Friday, February 13, 2009


"When you learn to pronounce it, you're cured!"
-Donald E. Dossey

-A unreasonable fear of this day or date.

-A reasonable fear that they will never, never stop remaking this movie

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Calling All Doctor Who Fans

The last episode of Doctor Who, season four, was broadcast by BBC America last Saturday and, because I was in Denver at the time, I got around to watching it Tuesday night. Since then I have been trying to find the answers to a couple of things that confused me. First, what happening to Donna after she became Doctor-Donna and started breaking down? Second, why did the Doctor take away her memory? There were plenty of past companions of his in this episode and they still had their memories of their time with the Doctor. Why was Donna different?

Also, my recording of the show stopped right when the Doctor took Donna back to her parent's house. You can imagine what my howl of anguish sounded like. What happened next???

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blossom Dearie Is Cooler Than I First Thought

She did a Schoolhouse Rock multiplication segment.

"Figure eight...That's a circle that turns 'round upon itself
Place it on it's side and it's a symbol meaning infinity"


Best Of The Best

Back home after spending a long weekend in Denver. One of the things I did while there was watch the first half of the Westminster Dog Show. Last night, after I got back home, I watched the second half and was pleased when a Sussex Spaniel named "Stump" won Best Of Show. First, because he is a sporting dog (my dogs' category) and, second, because he is ten years old.

Credit: Barton Silverman/New York Times

His winning Best Of Show would be equivalent to Helen Mirren winning the Miss Universe Pageant.

Credit: Giles Keyte

Which would be great, too, now that I think about it.

New York Times article on Westminster.

New York Times slideshow.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I Wish You Love

I first fell in love with the voice of jazz singer and song writer Blossom Dearie when I heard her singing Put On A Happy Face and I Wish You Love on the soundtrack for the movie, Kissing Jessica Klein. I thought at the time, "I should write her a fan letter and tell her how much I enjoy her singing."

I never got around to it and today I learned she died over the weekend. My and the world's lost.

New York Times obituary here.

In memory of Blossom Dearie, National Public Radio is streaming a 2001 interview and performance she did on Marian McParland's Piano Jazz show (55 min. 49 sec). It includes her signature song, I'm Hip. It is worth a listen if you are interested in jazz. You can find it here.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thank You, Carrie

Carrie over at Classic Montgomery has presented me with the Premio Dardos award.

For those who have not heard of the Premio Daros Award, a little information:

The Premio Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

There are rules to accepting the Premio Daros:

1. Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

2. Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

My list of five blogs include: one I've followed since 2003; one that is not on my blogroll yet (do to no fault of their own); one that proves the saying, A photo is worth 1,000 words; one that had been described by the Washington Post as "...the quintessential seniors' blog" (it is); and, last but not least, one who's subject matter always delights me.

1. Blue Witch- "defiantly and resplendently un-trendy"

2. Advanced Style- "Proof from the wizened and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age."

3. London Daily Nature Photo-"London, almost, Daily Nature Photo"

4. Time Goes By- "what it's really like to get older"

5. morirafinnie over at Movie Morlocks- "The beauty of a well-lit black and white scene as it flickers and glows while telling a tale of human beings without any noticeable special effects makes her heart sing."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What's The News Across The Nation?

Space... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
-Opening voice over read by William Shatner on the television series Star Trek

It is fascinating how the media and other interested parties report news. This morning I saw this headline at website for the CBS affiliate in Denver, CO.:

Man with Klingon sword boldly goes on crime spree.

Seems a man using a replica of a sword used by actors playing Klingons in the Star Trek television shows and movies robbed a convenience store in Colorado Springs. Notice how the headline writer made a pun out of the fact that the robber used a sword connected with the series. Either it was a slow news day or there are a lot of news writers who are secret Star Trek fans out there because this story got big play. Here are two more of many headlines using the boldly reference:

Man boldly robs Colo. store with Star Trek sword

"Star Trek" sword boldly used in thefts
- Denver Post

Another used a "where no man has gone before" reference:

Where no Klingon has gone before — Colorado 7-11 robberies
- Vail Daily

Another referenced the fictional Klingon proverb "Today is a good day to die." (I only know this because I googled it):

Today Was Kind Of A Good Day To Rob
- TrekToday

Then there are the headline writers who do not know that Klingons are not real:

Klingon Criminal Robs Two 7-Elevens In Colorado
- io9

Qapla'! 7-Elevens Knocked Off By Klingon

Star Trek Klingon Raids Denver 7-Eleven Stores

I also found some judgmental headline writers:

Star Trek Nerd Robs Convenience Stores
- EscapistMagazine

Batleth Robbery by Nerd in Colorado Springs

And lastly, I found the serious headline writers:

Man Uses 'Star Trek' Type Sword to Rob Stores, Police Say

Suspect Robs Two 7-Eleven Stores With Sword,

I like how the last one reports "Just the facts, ma'am" (Dragnet reference, get it?). It is from a Colorado Springs television station. No frivolous details for them!

In case you have not figured it out for yourself, I will now admit that today is a slow blog post day and that I am so glad I found this frivolous subject to write about.

Live long and prosper. V

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

I am in that woozy stage of lack of sleep today. For the last three days (and nights) my older dog, Kate, as been going through a bad spell. She must have eaten something she shouldn't have and has been in severe discomfort. This means she was pacing around the house night and day trying to find a somewhere safe to lie down.

I finally had to set up the portable doggie playpen in the living room for her. I covered one end with a blanket to make it cave like and then put her dog bed under there. This seemed to help. Whenever she is in this state she stops eating food and drinking water. That meant I had to syringe at least 35 cc's of water down her throat every hour or two. She also needed to go outside (she thought) every three hours and it was easier for me to just put her out when she wanted to go. But when she gets like this, she stops noticing just where she is so I had to go outside with her to make sure she did not fall down the stairs.

Yesterday she started eating again and this morning she started drinking water on her own, so, although we are not out of the woods yet, the trees are thinning. She is still sleeping a lot today but when she does wake up her eyes are clear, which is a great relief. Still, I was worried about her and needed something to lift my spirits and, thankfully, my other dog Duke provided just the thing.

Since hunting is over for the season Duke has gone back to his old game of chasing squirrels out of his yard. Today a squirrel got into the platform bird feeder so Duke, knowing where his duty lies, started stalking him. He would carefully move only one leg whenever he took a step and he would pause at least five seconds between each step he took. I did not know a dog could move that slowly. At one point he thought the squirrel was looking at him so he froze with his right back foot off the ground. That caused his body to rock but, being a professional, he maintained his point.

When he decided he was close enough, he sprang, barking furiously, causing the squirrel to race to the top of the pole holding the feeder. Dog and squirrel stared at each other for a few seconds and then the squirrel made a mighty leap over Duke's head and raced toward the tree. Duke was right behind him and I swear close enough to grab him but instead he eased up and let the squirrel run up the trunk of the tree. I thought that was the end of it and went inside.

A few minutes later I heard Duke bark and looked outside. Duke was still under the tree but now he was in his play stance; bowing down with his butt and tail in the air and his front legs on the ground. He would bark a couple of times, stand up, spin around, drop back into the play stance, and bark again. I started laughing. This is why he did not really try and catch the squirrel, it's all a fun game to him and now he was inviting the squirrel to play some more. The squirrel, not understanding dog, did the smart thing and stayed up in the tree. Duke's antics were just what I needed. I feel much better and am even more confident that Kate will keep improving.

Aw, crap. Kate just threw up.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

-Don McLean's American Pie

Buddy Holly website.
Richie Valens website.
The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) website.

Monday, February 02, 2009

It's, Groundhog Day!

Hear Ye Hear Ye
On Gobbler's Knob this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009
Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators
Awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper
And greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths
After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers,
Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were World Champions one more time
And a bright sky above me
Showed my shadow beside me.
So 6 more weeks of winter it will be.