Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The New Year Intents (not in tents)

We'll be ringing in the new year with a few friends tonight. Maybe we'll actually see midnight this year. Any bets?

Resolutions suck. I'm tired of being disappointed when another year has slipped by without accomplishing the tough resolutions. I am looking forward to 2009 and have made a few very attainable resolutions for the upcoming year. Wait, I'm not even going to call them resolutions and have that stigma placed upon them. Rather, here are my intents for 2009:

1. I will say "ott nine" as much as possible as it's the last of the "ott" years this century.

2. I will bring my re-usable shopping bags to ALL stores, not only the grocery store.

3. I will listen to ALL the songs in my iTunes folder and remove the ones I always skip over. According to iTunes, it will take me 12.2 days to listen to them all. Yikes!

4. I will continue to drive the hubby (a.k.a. the prince of darkness) crazy by leaving lights on around the house in rooms I am no longer in and blame it on the ghosts.

5. Rico and his kitties will receive lots of love and TLC.

6. I will not plant 23 tomato plants in our garden as I did last year. I will also not attempt to make homemade ketchup again. Blech.

7. And last but not least, I will grow taller to lower the body mass index number. Oh damn.

Have a safe and happy new year all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday



A vintage photo from six Christmases ago. At the print shop I was working at, jobs were stored on CD's and stacked up quickly.

Hubby and I will be doing some traveling for the holidays but I'll be back soon. Enjoy the holidays and peace to you all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adorned Pole

This Disordered Life received the knit-up I sent for her guerilla art project. Since it's in the UK, does this make me an international guerilla artist? ;)


Photos courtesy of notmassproduced.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Have a Barney of a Christmas

1. Get a ruler.

2. Watch this:





3. Quickly, measure how far your jaw dropped. I had 3 inches.

4. Please tell me this is not our tax dollars hard at work.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Collaboration defined

Fellow blogger KMKat posted these videos on her blog the other day. They moved me so am sharing with you. View top one first.





whoisamy.wordpress.com

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fame

Below is an email I received from a friend/former co-worker who should have her own blog because she is a great story teller with a wicked sense of humor. With four very amusing kids, a husband, a job and a farm with interesting critters, she has great fodder for entertaining stories. I can't imagine how she gets everything done on a daily basis and fitting in time to sleep. Maybe a blog will come later when a few more kidlets get into school full-time. I'll keep working on her. Her oldest son, Cody, is nine years old...

Cody had a little buddy call him tonight. They are busy making big plans about how they are going to start to save $100 a year so when they are 17 they will have $1,700 and will be able to buy a big truck and have enough gas that they can travel all over the US to go hunting for big animals.... blah, blah. Very detailed oriented. Anyway, Brandon (his friend) had to "call Cody back" cuz he had to eat supper. In the meantime, Chuck asked Cody what Brandon's last name was and Chuck said, "Ooooohhhhhh.... that must be balou & her hubby's neighbors." So fast forward 15 minutes... Cody was just sitting here gabbing with Brandon again and as I walk by I hear him say...

"Hey, do the people who live by you have a round shaped barn that has a round shaped roof with an antenna or spear thingy on top of it?"
[pause]
"Yeah? Well that is my Mom's friend!"
[pause]
"Yeah. My dad likes to go in their hot air balloon that has all the rainbow colors in it."
[long pause]
"HEY! Did you know that that lady that lives by you is missing a FINGER?!!"
[short pause]
"YEAH!!! Only 4... but you can't really tell. She showed me."
[pause]
"No, I am totally serious dude."
[pause]
"I WAS counting her thumb. Geez!"
[pause]
"No, she didn't care. She showed me and my brother. And she was laughing. Aaaaaannnnd.... SHE HAS A CONVERTIBLE!!!"

Oh balou, your legend lives on here! :-)

I am big with nine year olds. I wonder if I added another chapter to the legend of balou after a school bus full of kids drove by a couple of days ago. It was -10˚ and I was walking outside from my office to the house...in my purple wizard bathrobe...wearing snow boots...and a stocking cap...with a cat on my shoulder. By now I am probably known as "that fingerless crazy cat lady who does magic in the round barn."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The northerner instinct

Salmon are born with the instinct to return to their freshwater birthplace to mate and die. Dogs are born with instincts - like my German Shepherd that needs to know where his humans are at all times. Sea turtles that hatch on the beach follow their natural urge to run towards the water. Humans, now there's a different lot.

I am not well read on the subject of human instinct but it seems we know very little of it. The only studies I've heard of, which doesn't surprise me, involve human sexual attraction. I do think there is one non-sexual human trait worthy of study. It appears in many of the human species born in snow country and is one I've found myself taking note of and checking in on frequently. It was happening this past weekend with the threat of snow storms and sub zero weather. What is this urge you ask? It is to stock up on bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper with impending bad weather approaching. Is this desire to make, consume and digest French toast during snow storms instinct or learned behavior? I'm going with instinct, pure as the driven snow instinct. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pop!! go the bloggers

I had the opportunity to meet several other bloggers on Saturday night at the Pop!! restaurant in St. Paul, MN. Minnesota Matron did a fine job of organizing the get-together. The restaurant was a pleasure; good food, great service and a very patient young waiter dealing with a bunch of flirty cougars. Downtown St. Paul is a beautiful sight with wonderful light displays to celebrate the season. I took some photos but the camera wasn't cooperating and everything turned out too blurry to share. (Typical, blame the equipment, not the operator.)

I've always wondered about other bloggers. Are they the same people in the real world as they are in the virtual world? I think writing down the words describing inner thoughts surrounding our life moments makes us more interesting to our readers. This group proved to be just as entertaining as their blogs. We agreed not to blog about specific conversations but the topics ranged from everyday humor to our deep, inner workings. It was a great evening and I look forward to future get-togethers.

Here is a list of the folks that were there - give them a visit.

Minnesota Matron
Are we there yet
Licking Calcutta
The Philosophy Factory
Stitch Simple
Standing Still!
Sozzled

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guerilla Art Appreciation & Knit-Ups

There are as many reasons to perform or install guerilla art as there are forms in which it takes. For most of us, the first form that pops into mind is graffiti. Some of the other forms of guerilla art, at least the ones I have heard of include: sidewalk chalk, stickers, stenciled art, sculptures, flyers & posters, postcards, leave behinds such as art or gifts or money, inserts in books at libraries or book stores, or the well known message in a bottle. Subject matters of guerilla art are just as varied including: drawings, collage, doodles, paintings, beaded sticks, recipes, photos, good luck charms, secrets, humor, fortunes, quotes, poems, political or activist messages.

I recently discovered a new form of guerilla art from the talented Susan Sanford's blog, ArtSpark Theatre. Susan is a extraordinary illustrator and the creator of the art sticks I've mentioned in previous posts. She also brought to my attention another blogger, Grrl+Dog from Australia.

Grrl+Dog's blogger profile reads, "Grrl + Dog runs with scissors, colors outside the lines and barks with her own voice. She commits random acts of guerrilla knitting in the inner west of Sydney and is growing old disgracefully." She creates and installs wonderful guerilla art "knit-ups" in public places for all to enjoy. How could you not smile when coming upon a sign post wearing a knit-up. She usually has tags with notes on them as well. Here are a few examples of her installations from her blog (photos courtesy of grrl):





It's the blogger way to go from blog to blog to blog isn't it? ArtSpark posted a call for knit-ups to go to an Arts & Crafts Centre for people with learning disabilites in the UK. Another blogger, this disordered life, works at the center. Since I am a faster and more talented crocheter than knitter, I put together a piece of guerilla art/knit-up/crochet-up/graknitti for a pole at the center and sent it off yesterday. They requested the pieces have varied textures as some of the visitors have low or no vision so I added ruffles and bells. Here's some music (hit play) & a show:





After my Christmas gifts are made up, I'll be working on an installation for the 4"x4" post under the stop sign at the end of our road. Although trying to figure out how to add a 'from the car readable' version of "& smell the roses" to it is becoming a challenge.

Here's a video of some Guerilla Art Knitters from the U.S.:




Be on the lookout. You may be passing by a form of guerilla art every day and not even notice it. And if you see a funky stop sign post on County Road J, know balou is not too far away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Bug Eyed Pajama Day

I had an installer here all day Friday to install two additional satellite receivers. It was interesting to watch how he handled our situation with an old house. He had to run some long lengths of wire and drill through 112 years of layers to get us up and running. There is some wire laying on the yard that will need to be buried by more than just snow. We will take care of that when the ground thaws in the spring.

As a bonus for the add-ons, we are getting HBO and Starz movie channels free of charge for three months. We subscribe to the basic channels along with our local TV stations. The movie channels are a big treat. So guess what we did yesterday? We stoked up the wood stove, wrapped up in blankets and watched movies all day in pajamas. Hubby did sacrifice himself and put real clothes on to go outside and play with Rico and do outside things for a bit. All I accomplished besides movie watching was to make one meal and finish up a guerrilla art project that's going over to the UK (more on that tomorrow).

What movies did we watch? After a while they all become this pixelated blur in the memory but I think we watched "National Treasure Book of Secrets" twice, "American Gangster", "The Last Mimsy" and bits and pieces of others. I feel like a bug eyed slug this morning. Is there such a thing as TV overdose?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hands and Mourning Doves

My Dad would've celebrated his 80th birthday last week. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him. I've been feeling guilty because I can't remember the exact date of his birthday. I couldn't bring myself to ask Mom...it's something I should never forget. And I have. Hanging on to the too few memories and it hurts that even one little piece went missing. I was nine years old when Dad died from a heart attack at the age of 44.

Little things will trigger memories of him. Yesterday it was hearing the coos of a pair of mourning doves. I always think of Dad when I hear mourning doves. I'll imagine that it's his voice and he's reminding me that he's not too far away. Who knows? Maybe it is him. And maybe it's just the little girl inside needing to be comforted. She's never very far from the surface.

One of my most vivid memories of Dad is from church on Sunday mornings. Being the youngest of five, I think it was his job to keep me occupied and quiet during the Sunday morning sermons in our little Methodist church. I would sit in his lap and he would hold my hand in his big, tanned, calloused farmer hands. Ever so gently with his fingernail, he would push the cuticles back on each of my small fingernails. I can picture this so clearly. We always sat in the pews on the north side of church. Often the windows would be open. There were trees outside the windows and the mourning doves would be coo-coo-cooing outside. If all the other memories slowly disappear, this memory of touching hands and mourning dove songs will never be forgotten.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oh them DTV no signal blues

Is anyone else feeling the DTV switchover blues? It hit the balou household full force this week. The TV ads and booklets make it all sound so simple. That is until you have problems or questions.

We own three televisions; one in my office (in a separate building), one in the kitchen (a tiny 20 yr. old black & white TV/Radio), and one in our living room which is connected to a Dish Network satellite. I braved Black Friday and picked up a small 10" digital to replace my kitchen set and a $40 antenna from Radio Shack. They said I wouldn't need a more powerful antenna unless I lived in a valley or a hollow. Which we don't. We live on top of a hill and as a crow flies, about 45 miles from the major TV transmission towers.

We got a converter box and hooked it up to the TV in my office. We're fairly technologically savvy and made sure connections were correct. There's a very large antenna in the attic of my office which pulls in the current analog signals just fine. When we turned on the TV and converter box, a real pretty blue box with "No Signal" popped up. Wait! Excitement! There was a blip of football! Oh. Disappointment. Back to the blue "no signal" box. This was the same with all the stations we tried. My PBS station didn't come in at all. No blips even. Only the blue "no signal" box. Unacceptable. This was the same scenario when I connected the new digital TV to the new indoor antenna. I searched the internet looking for answers and made some phone calls. The only answer I got was that we would have to adjust our TV antennas for each station and possibly put it in a higher location and perhaps buy a new antenna. Way back in the anals of the documentation were the words "digital TV signals can be finicky." Well. They don't tell you THAT in those nice TV announcements aired on our local stations.

Would we have to tune the antenna to each station? I had visions of my childhood. Oh the horror! First we had to WALK to the TV set and TURN the dial WITH OUR HANDS to change a station. Then we had to turn the dial of the contraption on top of the TV - again, WITH OUR HANDS. This tuned the antenna so we could receive signal from one of the, hang on, THREE stations we had to choose from. I can remember being scolded for turning the antenna rotator too far and having visions of the it's wiry arms spinning out of control on top of the metal pole that was strapped to our old farmhouse.

I thought digital TV is "the way of the future." I guess it is as long as you have cable, live directly under the TV transmission towers, have satellite TV or have wiry antenna arms reaching into commercial air space. I think this is close to the end of free TV. It is for us anyways. Tomorrow morning an installer from Dish Network will be here to wire up this 1896 house and my just as old "pump house turned office." Dish Network will get $10 more a month from us, all three TV's will get their signal beamed in from contraptions spinning in space above our big blue ball and there will be PBS.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Star Gazer

When I stepped out of my office last night, my eyes immediately raised into the night sky to see a beautiful crescent moon flanked by two very bright planets. I'm used to seeing Venus sitting alongside the moon but the second one was a surprise. Hubby said that this is the brightest we will see these for a very long time and the second illumination was Jupiter.

The three-way conjunction of Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon will be visible to all around the world during the next few days. It's so bright that even light polluted city dwellers will see it depending upon clear skies. In Europe they'll get a special treat as for an hour the crescent moon will eclipse Venus. They say Venus reappearing on the border of the dark side of the moon is beautiful. I can only imagine.

One of the perks of living in the country is our bright starry nights. I'll often walk to the part of the yard obscured by the beaming yard light and stare into the depths of the universe. Usually with Rico on the end of a leash doing his business. The winter sky also opens up more of the stars to our eyes. I suppose the lack of humidity in the air plays a part in that. It seems that the more you stare, the further you can see beyond the obvious. Then the shivers set in and Rico pulls me towards the door which ends the gazing. Small pleasures.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Laughter and Tears

Friday night my niece and I met in Minneapolis and went to see "All I Want For Christmas Is 700 Billion Dollars," Brave New Workshop's latest, and 50th, holiday comedy show. If you're in Minneapolis, you should get tickets now. It was a great performance. This troop of performers never fails to make us laugh hysterically - and rather loudly apparently. It seems one of the performers, Mike Fotis, mentioned to my niece in a Facebook conversation that they noticed the crazy laughter coming from the piano section.

One of my favorite bits was a video they had produced portraying parents learning how to use their webcam. It ended in a rather, well, a situation you wouldn't want to see your parents in - computer screen or not. It brought me to that crazy silent air laugh with tears streaming down my face. You know, when you laugh so hard all that comes out is air and you have to cover your face with hands to hide the weird distorted facial gestures and the only way you can tell you're laughing is by the shaking of your shoulders and the tears ruining your eye makeup? Um, no? Oh. Well then. That's just me I guess. There were a few other skits that did the same. Then there was the one where I did the crazy laugh and no one else did. It involved a dolphin voice imitation and the troop singing a version of the 12 days of Christmas. Laughed 'til I cried.

But those aren't the tears I'm talking about in my title. This was our last get-together before Rose moves to Portland next week. I've convinced her to start a blog to document her new adventures and will link to it when she gets it up and running. I've also decided I need to learn about iChat as there's a built-in camera in my iMac. (I promise to put a post-it over the lens if things get a bit jiggy in the office with your uncle and I.) Oh dear. Too much information yet again.

(Rose - have a great trip to Portland and thanks again for last night.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Last Minute Thanksgiving

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. Hubby and I invited his parents to spend the day with us. They obliged and brought offerings of apple pie, cranberry wine, a cheese ball and the most beautiful home-made dinner rolls I've laid eyes on. We had initially planned on going to our neighbors for the T-day meal. On Wednesday I received a call with the news that my neighbor had come down with the flu and the dinner was off. My neighbor, a perfect southern belle, is a master at entertaining and always cooks enough for a small army. It is a labor of love so was sad to hear she had fallen ill. I'm sure she was disappointed.

I surprisingly didn't go into my usual flurry of worry over the last minute meal I had to prepare. We went to the grocery store on Wednesday night and picked up a thawed turkey, ingredients for dressing and ice cream for the pie. Turkey was in the oven by 9:00am on Thursday. My Mother-in-law taught me how to make the best dressing - bonus! And the timing was right on - everything was done at the same time.

I think these meals are getting easier with age. I can remember stressing and fussing for a week beforehand only to be disappointed when it took a mere 20 minutes to devour the food. So I've decided these family meals are going to be easy like this from now on. No huge planning. No having 4 different vegetables. No more 3 different flavors of pie. Be prepared family because from now on, you gets what you gets. Oh, and from now on, after the dishes are done, I'm disappearing for an hour to take a nap.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free Holiday Music

aI was watching Oprah today and she had a good freebie I thought I'd share. For the next 48 hours (until Friday afternoon), go to this link and you can download 8 holiday songs courtesy of Oprah.

The songs are:
Faith Hill, "Joy to the World"
Tony Bennett, "I'll be Home for Christmas"
Il Divo, "O Holy Night"
Josh Groban, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"
Brian McKnight, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
Amy Grant, "O Come All Ye Faithful"
Harry Connick Jr., "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
Aretha Franklin, "Silent Night"

Wordless Wednesday: Enquiring minds want to know

Big Ole is NOT anatomically correct.

(OK, so I suck at Wordless Wednesday. I need words
and now apparently, I need sound effects too.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

The yarn is calling me

It's shivery outside. A speckle of snow falls now and then. The wood stove is filled steadily. I need a coat to walk between the house and my office. It's time. The yarn and crocheting and knitting projects are calling me from their tidy bins up in the sewing room closet. They were packed away last spring when my attentions turned to digging in the dirt. Soon my living room chair will be surrounded by baskets and tubs full of balls of yarn and boxes with hooks and needles and books and magazines filled with ideas and patterns. After our Thanksgiving company leaves, I'll build my nest of yarn-y goodness.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guerrilla art under foot

Susan Sanford of the blog ArtSpark Theatre inspired me. Susan created some wonderful art sticks with the intention of sending them to other bloggers and documenting their placement for others to find. What a great idea. She calls it "guerrilla art." I've just recently discovered Susan's blog and in a recent post, one of the art stick recipients shared her story of it's placement. Susan is an extremely talented illustrator and sells some of her designs on wearable art through redbubble.

Since I was going up to visit my family this weekend in Alexandria, Minnesota, I thought I'd make my own art stick (no where near the quality of Susan's) and perform a random act of art or guerrilla art. I decided to leave it "under foot" at a fairly well known landmark which is frequented by visitors to the area.




He's their 28 foot tall Nordic superman known as Big Ole.

Note: Birthplace of America you ask? An interesting claim from a town in central Minnesota. The claim is based on a rock discovered near Alexandria with cryptic carvings, the "Kensington Runestone." The 200-pound stone, was supposedly "placed in Douglas County by the Vikings in 1362," according to the Kensington Runestone Museum. It hasn't been proven to be authentic, nor disproven. But it may explain the stories of the blue eyed Mandan Indians living in ancient Norwegian-style structures and having knowledge of Christianity before the settlers arrived. It is thought the ancient Nordic mariners traveled to Minnesota via the Hudson Bay and great lakes. Why they kept hiking from Lake Superior all the way to west central Minnesota with this big rock though... (wink, wink)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sleepus Interruptus

I can't seem to get a good nights sleep lately. I'll lay in bed and if my mind eventually quiets down, I sleep for a couple of hours. Then it's a progression of flip-flopping, sleep a bit, getting up and go downstairs to use the facilities, go down to the basement and put a couple of logs in the woodstove, dog is sitting by door with his longing look so I take him outside to do his duty, go back upstairs to bed, sleep a bit, wake up to rearrange pillows or move to the other bedroom, sleep a bit, etc. Sometimes I'll wake up with my to do list running through my head. I haven't been dreaming much lately. I miss my dreams.

That's why I'm here blogging tonight. I went to bed, got all comfy and started running through things in my head. I remembered I made an error on something for work and I had to go downstairs, outside to my office to fix it. And since I'm here...I might as well blog. At least "what to blog about tomorrow" will be one thing off the list that runs through my head when I go back in the house and upstairs to bed.

Here's what will be running through my head in a few minutes when I lay my head on my pillow: work projects #1-7, things to do before I take off up north this weekend, when am I going to clean house for Thanksgiving guests with this work, remember to pay the bills, I need to get the fixings for pumpkin pies, what's for dinner tomorrow, take the movies back to the library, make phone call to the state about that tax thing, I need to clean my office and find the top of my desk, which holiday song should I learn on the concertina for Neil's Holiday Concert on Citizen of the Month, need to go to the bank, don't forget to keep the Saturday after Thanksgiving open for dinner and comedy club with my niece, need to do laundry, how can I help my friend that's going through a rough patch, and on and on. Ugh! Maybe I should start drinking.

Wordless Wednesday: In Flight


In flight over Pierce County Wisconsin.
Click on photo for a larger view.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jam packed Saturday

Riley and I had a great time on Saturday and packed a lot into our afternoon. It had been far too long since I had seen my friend of 25 years. We only live 90 miles apart but it worked out that we hadn't gotten together since August. I don't know how she grew her hair so long in those few months. I need to figure out her secret. Maybe it's her "flexitarian" (mostly vegetarian) food choices as of late.

We first had a great lunch at the "Taste of India." I enjoy Indian food and have had a couple of successful attempts making dishes at home. But as usual, it's always better when someone else makes it.

Then is was off to the Minneapolis Central Library for the PostSecret traveling display. It is there until November 30th. I was impressed with the artwork and range of emotions; humorous to heart-wrenching. Both Riley and I made the comment that "there are far too many sad people in the world."

Next stop was the Twin Cities Chocolate Extravaganza. The best part was the wine tasting seminar we attended. We discovered that any booth giving out free samples had a good ten minute wait in line. We weren't in the standing in line mood so we visited the booths that weren't busy. Luckily I had received free tickets. We both agreed that if we had purchased our tickets at $25.00 each, we would've been extremely disappointed. We left with the decision that once is enough for that event. I'd advise anyone to go spend $20.00 at your local chocolatier, sit down and enjoy every piece in peace.

Since there was still daylight and we were so close, we made a stop at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. It's been around since the mid 1980's and I had never been there before. I'd like to go back in the summer when it's warmer and greener and sunnier.

On the way back to the restaurant to pick up my car, we detoured around a few of the lakes of Minneapolis and oohed and aahed at the beautiful homes surrounding the lake.

Thanks Riley! Had a super fun day!

That's my story - here's the slideshow...

Natalie Dee: Failed Jelly Belly Flavors


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Do you Haiku?


LILACS ARE CONFUSED
OLD MAN WEATHER TRICKING THEM
NOVEMBER, NOT MAY

Friday, November 14, 2008

Little Potato

Great Aunt Balou got a picture in the mail the other day. This is Campbell. Don't you just want to cuddle her and squeeze her and love her and tickle her toes and blow a raspberry on her belly and pinch her cheeks and blow her kisses and play so big?

(Press play below to play a song that goes with this post.)



Thursday, November 13, 2008

PostSecret dipped in Chocolate


While watching a segment on the local morning news program, I discovered there is a PostSecret exhibition on display at the library in downtown Minneapolis. It is a traveling exhibition of 400 postcards illustrating people's innermost secrets. Often, the artwork is just as compelling as the secret.

For those not familiar, PostSecret is a community art project started by Frank Warren. It invites people to anonymously share a secret on a postcard and send it to him. Mr. Warren has published several books of select "secrets." He also posts several of the postcards on his PostSecret blog each Sunday.

I've often heard of people bringing in their own secrets to these displays and even placing their postcard secrets in the PostSecret books in bookstores and libraries. I think I have to get busy and bring a secret along.

I don't get into the big city very often so I'm excited to be adding the PostSecret exhibition to my previously scheduled attendance of the Twin Cities Chocolate Extravaganza. Lucky me, I am receiving two free tickets from a client to the show. I wonder if they are golden. A fellow chocolate lover and I are going to luxuriate in an exhibition hall full of chocolatiers and purveyors of chocolatey goodness. I am imagining the smell I will encounter once walking through the doorway to the chocolate room. I guess it's no secret that I love chocolate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Just Never Know #3

You just never know what you're going to find when searching for a turkey video...


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I had to stay up for it...


...just in case something important happened. It was an uneventful minute.

Veterans Day

Unlike todays soldiers abroad with internet hook-ups, video chatting and email, in wars of past, paper, pencil and mailed packages were the links to home. I've found a few blogs that have posted letters from WWI and WWII veterans. They are interesting reading.

WWI: Experiences of an English Soldier is a series of letters from an English Soldier writing home to his brother, wife and other family members. It is an awesome collection of letters and notes regarding WWI. Eventually a book was created from the blog.


Here's one from privateletters.net, the letters of US Private Melvin Johnson.

May 18, 1944

Dearest,

Got a letter from you today; dated May 1st and May 3rd. I expect to hear from you more often now. It certainly revived my spirits to get some mail - especially from you. I'll build my letter around some of the topics mentioned in yours.

About spring fever - it's too cold for that here. The only thing that's warm in this country is the sun and it's Brrrrr. Did I tell you we sleep in tents? But we sleep warm. Of course it's a bit rough getting out of that warm bed in the morning.

About that book "Nana". The reason I want it is that I've partly read it and want to finish it. It doesn't seem to me to be such an improper book as you intimate. It's more of a social case study than anything else. Whether I will find time to read it or not is an open question. I may or I may not have the time.

Glad Elaine likes to be out of doors. Like to see her tottling about on the lawn. Bet she goes down on her sitter every now and then. Do you suppose Tony is a little on the outs with you and didn't take you to town just to be spiteful? I suppose it's quite a problem to you to know what to do this summer. Also whether to teach next year or not. I'll leave those problems to you. I don't want you to over-tax yourself. And take good care of the baby.

What's the present bond balance? You never said whether you got that bond I sent you or not? It's possible too that I may send a little money home now and then. No promises of course, but if I do, put it in bonds or use as you see fit. Never mind the prescription for glasses. I think the reading may be taken from the broken lens. I nevr thought of that before.

Read a newspaper article the other day describing the tense atmosphere of invasion expectancy that prevails everywhere in America. Of such things I'm not allowed to say a thing.

Thanks a lot for your generous attitude toward me in your plans for the future. I've some ideas regarding a book cabinet and a record album cabinet too. You know, we used to have a lot of fun together. I don't think we sufficiently appreciated those Sundays and Saturday afternoons. Sleeping late, eating a breakfast of what you wanted to eat, reading, and listening to the radio. You know, one thing I miss a lot is, music. There's little opportunity of hearing the music you like here. Even then it wouldn't be like hearing it at home. You know, I'm thinking a lot about that translator position in the Maritime Service. Maybe a job like that would give us a little more free time and a chance to take a vacation once in a while. We can go to California or Colorado or some such thing. Well, some day I believe all our dreams will come true.

Lots of love, Melvin

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tear Jerker

I have a strange affliction. I can't seem to go to a movie without crying at the cheesiest of sentimental moments. I mean when I finish "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" with a cry tally of three, there is something wrong with me. My friend (whom I might add is the one that wanted to see that movie, not me) just laughed at me and I laughed along wondering why I cry at every B movie cornball moment. Next week "Madagascar 2" is playing at our local theatre so I expect I'll need to buy a new mini pack of tissues for my purse. Aren't hormones fun?

Friday, November 07, 2008

First Snow



I'm glad we have wood stacked and the smell of burning wood
will be wafting through the house.
I'm sad that this means the convertible goes into hibernation.
I'm glad I get to wear my wooly sweaters, stocking caps and scarves.
I'm sad I won't be able to walk barefoot in the grass for months.
I'm glad I still think the snow is beautiful.
I'm glad that there's more glad than sad.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

One Minute Writer: Jeopardy

Trish from Pendill Pages brought to my attention a recent blog of note called One Minute Writer. I love the concept. C. Beth posts daily blogging fodder which come from readers suggestions. You are challenged to write about the subject within one minute. I liked today's subject so thought I'd give it a shot.

If you were on the game show Jeopardy!, what interesting story would you tell to introduce yourself?

I used to tattoo dogs. Before the days of micro chips and identity theft, a friend and I would travel around the area and tattoo identification numbers on dogs inner thighs. The ID numbers were usually the owners social security number which was then registered at a central dog registry. I was only asked to get creative once by the owner of a weimaraner. I tattooed a heart with an arrow going through it under the ID number.

ABC3D - Marion Bataille

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

American History - The Good Kind

President-elect Senator Barack Obama stands with his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia (2nd R) and Sasha as they face supporters at his election night rally after being declared the winner of the 2008 presidential election in Chicago, November 4, 2008. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sweet Meat Vote Tee

I'm excited to see the results of todays election. I'm going to the polls in a couple of hours to cast my vote. That way I get the right to complain if my guy doesn't win. Either way, the next president has a heaping bin of stinking mess to clean up.

Saw this t-shirt at zazzle.com and thought it was weird enough to share...



Get out and VOTE!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Desiderata

Desiderata
written by Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sticker Shock

It's been about 2 years since I've gone to a mainstream movie theater. I usually frequent the family owned, single screen theater in a nearby town that shows new movies for a $3.00 ticket. For an additional $1.75 I can buy a medium buttered popcorn and a large soda.

Last week, a friend and I went to see "The Secret Life of Bees." I thoroughly enjoyed the book and had heard good things about the film. I was not disappointed. When reading the words and forming pictures in my head, they were so similar to the film makers interpretations - it was uncanny. The screen writers stuck to the book and it didn't feel like much was dropped from the story. The acting was exceptional.

I was disappointed in one thing - the prices. We went to a 4:00 pm showing so got the discounted mattinee rate of $5.75 per ticket. I think I saw $9.00 for a regular ticket price. Yikes. Then on to the snack counter. A small popcorn was $5.10! A SMALL popcorn. I had to check it three times because I thought I was reading it wrong. Nope, $5.10 for a small popcorn. I wondered why the .10 at the end bit when I saw the price of the small soda, it made sense. A small fountain soda was $3.90! And after all that, with the small army of teenagers working at the theater, the bathrooms were atrocious. All I could think about was for $4.75, less than a small popcorn at this 12+ screen behemoth, I could get a ticket, a medium popcorn, a large soda, see a neighbor or two, a clean bathroom and a good feeling knowing that I'm keeping my money in the community. I'll stick to my local theater.

The next day I heard on the news that Jennifer Hudson's family members were killed. She was in the movie, "The Secret Life of Bees" and I had thought how much her life must have changed in the few years she's been in the public eye since being on "American Idol." My heart goes out to her and her family, what an unimaginable loss they've suffered.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Never Thought I'd Miss These

I never thought I'd miss TV commercials. At least the non-political genre advertisements. I'm so tired of the political jabbing ads and the fake sentimental ads of one senator holding the hand of a boy who suffered from a rare disease or another candidate apologizing for "getting her words wrong" and calling her fellow politicians anti-American. Or candidates mispronouncing nuclear and purposefully dumbing down their language skills by forgetting the "g" in words ending with "ing." Listen up you political handlers, I want someone smarter than me running the show - not a dumbed down version of the average Joe or Josephine out to run our government. Hey, I can pronounce nuclear and words ending in "ing", maybe I should run?

I heard someone had an idea to limit the amount of political TV advertisements allowed in a 24 hour period and only starting 6 months before elections. I'm all for government censorship in that case. Think that bill would get passed? Maybe if it had 140 billion dollars of pork tacked on.

Five days. Only five more days until it's back to the good old Pillsbury dough boy giggling, bears using Charmin in the woods, Mothers washing their soccer playing kids clothes in Tide, Diet Coke artistically bubbling into the surreal sky, super mega shrimp specials at Red Lobster, iPhone commercials making me drool and the list goes on and on and on.

So, next time you're cussing out the large amount of commercials plugging their goods before Drew Carey tells you who won the showcase showdown, remember those political ads of 2008. Or, better yet, turn the damn thing off.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fashion faux pas?

Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images

I couldn't decide on the caption so choose your favorite or add your own:

1. I think there's probably an opening for a Republican power shopper.

2. Looks like there's an infiltrator in the Republican personal shopper brigade.

3. I think we know who Sarah's secretly votin' for. She's a maverick.

4. On sale now at a Goodwill near you.

Here's a little more info on the scarf from Newsweek blog.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Words of my Heart" by Irene Kennedy

I recently ordered this book of poetry and am so glad I did. The author, Irene Kennedy, is the ninety-something year old grandmother of one of my graphic designer friends. Clint worked with his grandmother, gathered her wonderful poetry which she's been writing as a hobby since the 1940's, and designed a book that's available for purchase on lulu.com (link below.) What a talented wordsmith she is. Here are a few examples:

(below are copyright Irene Kennedy)


Step by Irene Kennedy

Part way up the stair

On that step

That is neither here nor there

She squats.

Topaz-colored head

Presses against the spindles

That the small hands grasp.


I do not say a word
But smile into those

Blue-green eyes staring down.


There's something about that step
Part way up the stair

That's neither here nor there.

Her thought brings forth a sigh
from that sturdy little chest,
"Mother, do cows cry?"

-------

I Sit Beside You
by Irene Kennedy

I sit beside you,

Your hand in mine,

And watch you breathing

Shallow and slow.

I felt your tired spirit

Tugging to let go.

For one precious moment

I held your life to mine;

And your great love

Burst around me,

For all time.


When we at the altar

Said our "I Do's"

You were very much aware.

When our babies were born,

You were there.

When they went out on their own,

You were there.

When they returned,

Their ventures to tell,

You were there.


You rejoiced with me

In all our happiness,

And comforted me in sorrow.

When at times, my anger did unfurl,

You were there,

Saying in your quiet voice,
"Down Girl."
You laughed at all my schemes and quirks.

But at the same time

Helped me to make them work.


Now as your hand slides

Slowly out of mine,

I see you through a fallen tear.

Your spirit says to mine,

"I am always here."


-------


Lydia "Rangar's Wife" by Irene Kennedy

Oh, Lydia's tall and handsome

Of lovely eye and hair

But she can wield the woodman's axe

And shoot the eye of a bear.


Oh, Lydia's cakes are fluffy

Her sewing even and fine

But she can portage her own canoe

And cast a good trout line.


Oh, Lydia's like a forest tree

Sturdy and straight and strong

But she can dance like a gypsy

And sing a glorious song.


-------

I greatly admire people with the talent to use words so eloquently to paint the picture of an emotion, person, experience or place. There are over a hundred other poems in the book. The website, lulu.com, is a self publishing service and you'd be buying direct from the author. Here's a link: http://stores.lulu.com/irenekennedy

Friday, October 24, 2008

Karen Armstrong - TED Talks

I subscribe to a podcast from TED.com. TED is short for Technology, Entertainment and Design. These TED talks are inspiring, educating, new idea generating, studies on humanity, thought provoking and the list goes on. I thoroughly enjoy listening to the speakers and their ideas worth spreading. Every year TED talks awards prizes to visionaries. One of the three 2008 TED Prize winners is Karen Armstrong.

Karen Armstrong, a former nun, has written many books on the major monotheistic religions; Islam, Judaism and Christianity. She is a visionary who is observing their common grounds and how they can work together for a common world peace. An idea worth spreading.

I do not belong to one religious group as I don't think one group is right and another group is wrong. Her speech struck home with me as I've always thought there must be similarities in religious doctrines/beliefs and those are what we should focus on, not the differences. I do believe there is something beyond this life but I do not know what it is and do not believe one book or group of people know what it is. I'm content in being surprised when/if I ever find out. In the meantime I'll treat others as I would want to be treated, be compassionate and have an open mind.

You can watch Karen Armstrong's speech here: http://www.tedprize.org/video-talk-karen-armstrong/

Mankind is No Island

This beautiful video titled “Mankind is No Island” recently won first prize at Tropfest NY. Directed by Jason van Genderen, it was shot entirely on a cell phone with a budget of $57.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ron Howard Video

OK, so I haven't talked about politics on here. I had chose to abstain from the political viewpoints as I don't think letting you know who I am voting for will change anyone's choice. But I had to share the video below that Riley over at Licking Calcutta posted.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dream a little debt free dream

Three years after we moved here, we purchased an additional 20 acres directly behind our property. We were able to purchase it with the equity in our home so we own it free and clear and have the deed in hand. It always felt good to have that piece of land. We baled hay on it for 4 years and have rented it to a local farmer since. There are about 6 acres of woods on one side along the dry run and a 3 acre spot that we call the balloonport where we launch the hot air balloons. This spot is mowed and groomed and perfect for a building site.

We decided to put it up for sale in this crazy real estate market. Who knows if it will sell. It's a beautiful, private spot on a quiet road so it has it's advantages. And then there's the awesome neighbors they'd have ;). If it does sell, we plan on using the proceeds to pay off our mortgage. A little dream...to be debt free. In these unsettling economic times, it makes a lot of sense to us.

Hubby is 53 and has been with the same company for 24 years. His company is directly involved with the construction industry so things are slowing down. What would we do if he was laid off or let go? It's unfortunately not unheard of for companies to think of their bottom line and let the older, higher paid employees go. My sister is a prime example of this having been let go for a minor infraction after 30+ years at the same employer. We need to be prepared for the worst.

I have a friend that has been unemployed since February. A talented sales person who has an average of 2 interviews a week and hasn't been hired. Finding work right now is not an easy task. The unemployment percentages are hugely inaccurate. They don't count the people that are still unemployed after their unemployment benefits run out. I wouldn't doubt that the numbers are double what you hear on the news.

So the thought of not having that mortgage payment looming overhead is occupying our minds right now. Send us some good "real estate selling vibes" and let's hope someone out there is ready to buy.

(Note: This is the 200th post on born a girl. Who knew I had all these words inside of me?)

TFD Cracks me up

toothpaste for dinner
toothpastefordinner.com

Monday, October 20, 2008

Make a Wish

Have a wish that needs to be made? Over the next few nights, the Orionids meteor shower, second of the year, will be producing the most shooting stars October 20-22. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, we'll see about 20 meteors per hour in the Southern Hemisphere, 40 per hour. They will be most visible in the Eastern/Southeastern night time skies. 20 per hour? Hmmm. I better go get started on my wish list.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Around the Yard

Before all the leaves drop to the ground, thought I'd get a few shots around the yard of the changing foilage. And then there's that creative bit that dwells within...