Thursday, July 31, 2008

Five Embarrassing Songs That I Muskrat Love

A muskrat to love:

Steviewren from a little birdie told me so, and Poetikat from Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes challenged me to name 5 songs that I am embarrassed to admit that I like. The problem is that I still like some of these songs, and have never really been influenced by my peers about what I have enjoyed over the years. I have more, the list is long, but I'll stick with these. Mostly for the shock value.

The rules:

1. Post the link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share 5 songs you are embarrassed to admit to others that you like and tell why.

3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post.

Click on songs for a listen on YouTube.

1) How Much is that Doggie in the Window Well, how much is it! Listen to it by clicking on the title. You'll be singing it for the rest of the day. Banging your head on the wall will not help. Don't forget to sing the Arf! Arfs! Anyway, it was a catchy little tune, and Doris Day was just such a cutsie singer and all.... I think my sissy Janet sang this one with me. On the sidewalk. In public.

2) Lonely Goatherd High on the hill is the ....I LOVED every song from the Sound of Music. I was in my high school glee club at the time the play was making the rounds. We went downtown and saw the play. Although we were warned NOT to sing along, we sang "high on the hill was the lonely goatherd ladio ladio ladie whooo"

3) Muskrat Love Pahleeeaz! Muskrat Love????? It's the national food of Wyandotte Michigan. ( I was never in Wyandotte on purpose.) Passed through a few times. Admit it, you loved the song too and didn't you LOVE Tennille's hair?

4) The Name Game Chuck Chuck Bo Buck Fo Nanna Nanna Fo....... I still sing this song with my brother Bill Bill Bo Bill Fo Nanna Nanna Fo Fill Fe Fi Fo Fill Bill! We mostly sing neener neerer bo beener fo nanna.....and Ronny Ronny bo bonnie.... Don't ask.

5) Do The Freddie "move your head both ways like you see me do..." It was one of the few dances I could actually do. Look, some of us ain't got no rhythm. Or taste.

I have to challenge seven people??? I'll do 5 - it looks like quite a few of my buddies have already been tagged.

Marie from Vintage Postcards

Sharon at Sweet Repose

Camille at Simply Lovely

Sandy at Birds Bees Bugs and Blossoms

Helene at Driving Miss Willow

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Effect of Unsolicited Faxes on Super Volcanoes

Don't let this serene view of Yellowstone fool you.

I know I said I would get on the super volcano report first thing in the morning, but I was scheduled to help out at the church office this morning.

One of the things that kept me there later than expected was an attempt to stop unsolicited faxes from several companies. If you want to stop unsolicited faxes you have to follow the instructions at the bottom of the unsolicited fax form. It's usually typed in .003 font size, so first you have to locate a magnifying glass. Then your choices are to call an 800#, or send an e-mail or fax the form back. I called one # and the guy said "I'm kinda busy right now, can you e-mail me? It is SO impolite to say the f word when you are calling from the church office. Anyway that activity delayed my volcano reporting.

The news people do that to you all the time. You should be used to it. First thing in the morning they say things like "10 things that could kill you by lunchtime. Report, tonite at 11:00." Or they say "Meteor hurtling towards earth, tune in on Thursday for evacuation instructions."

So a late report on a volcano is not going to kill you. There are other things out there that take priority. Driving on US 19 for one.

Those of you who watch the Discovery Channel are probably already aware that there is a SUPER VOLCANO right in the middle of Yellowstone National Park. First let me explain that when a super volcano erupts it will make Mt. St. Helen and even Krakatau look like a barbecue gone bad. It will cover the US in about 3 feet of ash, so stock up on vacuum cleaner bags now. You'll need about 647 of them.

The volcano is called the Yellowstone Caldera and the location is Wyoming. That seems innocent enough. How many of us have ever been to Wyoming? How many of us could even find it on the map. Try this game. See if you can find Wyoming: United States Game. If you can, stay away from it. And all surrounding states from Illinois to California.

The Yellowstone Caldera is an EXPLOSIVE caldera. This means it will not simply ooze lava like the Hawaii calderas do. The volcano has erupted at least three times; 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago and 640,00 years ago. If you've ever waited in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles you will understand the time span between eruptions better than those of us who get our renewals on line. You do the math. We are due for an eruption starting anytime within the next 100 years. When it blows, everything goes.

It is not dependant on it's own personal activity, either. For example, eathquakes in Alaska and California can affect the geothermal and seismic activity at Yellowstone. It's similar to someone dropping a lunchbox on the other side of your wobbly 3rd grade lunch table which causes your hard boiled egg to roll unto the floor.

The magma under the Yellowstone Caldera is only about 3 to 6 miles below the surface and recent uplift caused by magma injections have caused uplift and subsidence (this means it goes back down) in the caldera. The magma is under intense pressure, and a runaway chain reaction could cause it to explode. The US Geological Survey has classified Yellowstone as a high-threat system. None of them vacation there.

So, I'm just saying. Keep an eye out for those "more at 11:00 PM" news reports. If they mention the word Yellowstone, take that dream trip to Europe you've always wanted and plan on staying for 10 or 15 years. When Yellowstone does explode, if you are not lucky enough to be among the expected 1.5 million casualties, you can still forget about planting petunias. The high density of ash in the atmosphere will lower earth temperature for several years causing global hunger and winter coat shortages.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Super Volcanoes and Simple Home Remedies

Yellowstone Caldera

For today's post, I was in the midst of gathering references, charts and important data on Super Volcanoes in America. I was going to discuss active alerts, the current situation with uplift of the Yellowstone Caldera as well as seismic ground movements at Norris and activity within the shallow hypo thermal system at the Black Basin.
However, a friend known affectionately as C1 sent me some exciting and very timely information on simple home remedies. We'll go with that. I thought I would just save my brain cells and do a little cut and paste with the home remedies for today. The Volcano update can wait. I'll scare the beejeebers out of you tomorrow with the update. Promise.

(Author unknown)
(at least to me)
(If anyone else knows please e-mail me immediately)
(If ash and pumice start raining down on your house overnight, call me)
(I'll set the alarm for 8:00 and get that report posted)
(good luck)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Stuff That Urban Legends Are Made Of

Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled "211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull." We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents "conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago." Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the "Malibu Barbie".

It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to it's modern origin:

1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.
2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.
3. The dentition pattern evident on the "skull" is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the "ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams" you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it.

Without going into too much detail, let us say that:
A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.
B. Clams don't have teeth.

It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in it's normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.

Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National Science Foundation's Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name "Australopithecus spiff-arino." Speaking personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species name you selected was hyphenated, and didn't really sound like it might be Latin.
However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your back yard. We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that you proposed in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the Director to pay for it.

We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the "trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix" that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.

Yours in Science,
Harvey Rowe

Curator, Antiquities

The above letter is, by far, the most endearing, droll and entertaining of all Urban Legends. It was written in 1994 by Harvey Rowe - who has no connection whatsoever with the Smithsonian. He sent it to several friends, just for fun, who sent it to several friends, etc. And 14 years later the Smithsonian is still getting calls from gullible American's asking to speak with Harvey Rowe. Check it out: I am forever indebted to my friend, Kathy H. for cluing me into the existence of this letter. Not because she believed it, but be cause she believed I would get a good laugh out of it. I still do 7 years later.

We've all gotten e-mails from well intentioned acquaintances filled with weird facts, catastrophic food ingredients, conspiracy theories with a panicked request to forward it IMMEDIATELY to 2,106 of your closest friends to avoid calamities, major disasters, world crisis beyond imagining or save an individual who is dying of cancer, leukemia, curiosity or any of a dozen other terrible illnesses.

The thing that amazes me is people believe these things without question. I think some thrive on them. They live in Cyberville and have lost touch with reality. Other than watching soap operas and serving Hamburger Helper there's nothing going on in their real lives.
When you get your copy of the life or death request you see 94 names listed along with yours. Most of the other e-mail names read like a sleaze dating ad: HotMama, Whosyodaddy, Bestinbed, Fuzzytiger, Handsomdude243. Do you like your name sitting there big as life in between Pinkpanties and Sexybob? I don't. I get creeped out. After I delete the e-mail I usually take a shower. Or gargle. Or wash my hands at least.

I check out requests that seem plausable, probable, vaguely or partially true at my favorite Urban Legends site, Snopes is the sanity check of the cyber-nation They will tell you if it's true, partially true or not even close. You'll usually find your latest warning among the 25 hottest legends.

I get a certain amount of satisfaction by copying the url debunking the urban legend in question and replying to my best and dearest concerned friend, leopardskinzdoll. I'm always so very sorry to burst his/her little catastrophic bubble with truth and logic, but hey. They just made me take an extra shower.

The usual result: They decide I'm no fun anymore and delete me from their e-mail list.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blog In Bloom Award Three to Four

Visiting other blogs is such a delight. Each has the personality and the essence of the author within it. The the words, pictures, poems and sometimes even music flows and blooms. I have recently spent time with the following bloggers that bloom and would like to bestow upon each, if I may, the Blog in Bloom award.

The first goes to Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes who's delightful poetry, punctuated with humor and pictures makes her blog a joy to visit. Her poems "Touch", and "Spider Kid" clinched the need to recognize.

The second is presented to Sweet Repose. The blog is filled with wonderful antiques, poetry and pictures. Her "Ships of Earth" and "Lament for a Friend - Again", both pictures and verse are quite amazing. Sweet Repose has found beauty, promise and a voice in spite of and because of change.
For these and previous recipients, I did not create any rules with this award. If you would like to pass it along to other blooming blogs, please feel free to do so!
To find out more about the Blog in Bloom, click on the award in the margin of my blog.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cooking With Stars

Visiting other bloggers - which I love to do - can be a bit intimidating when they are obviously wonderful and inventive cooks. I was an excellent and inventive cook when I lived in Michigan. What else are you going to do during the 73 month winter?? Other than shovel snow. And kick the ice bergs off the wheel wells of your car? Stay in the cozy kitchen and make wonderful soups and stews and meals using the tomato sauces and jams and jellies you put up during the summer, of course!

I had a wonderful vegetable garden and a lovely herb and everlastings garden. My pantry was full of tasty homemade foods including a special cranberry sauce that I made each Thanksgiving weekend to be served on Christmas Day. It sat ripening in all its glory on the shelf right next to the plum pudding I made the same weekend steeped in Grande Marnier. Well, yes, I was steeped in Grande Marneir too. Why do you think my kitchen was so cozy? I made bread, and pasta. I layered my smoker with turkey, fresh keilbasa and when the coals cooled down a bit I added a cheese for a wonderful smoked gouda. I even made my own vinegar - just to see how it would turn out. Bon Appetite magazines and cookbooks from a rather large collection were in my hands when I was not in the kitchen. I read them like good novels.

Then I moved to Florida. I cooked for a while out of habit, but then I realized that with all of the wonderful restaurants to be investigated, what was I doing in the kitchen??? I still make some excellent meals. If I feel like it. I made beautiful marmalade out of the delicious blood oranges that grow next to the lanai, but it wasn't because there was a blizzard howling outside. It was because deep down inside I love to cook.

I was asked to bring something edible to a Christmas party last year. My mind was in the usual catatonic holiday state. I had no ideas. No plan. No shopping list. I wandered through Publix trying to decide what to make, and settled on shrimp. The large cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp were on sale at a miraculous price. But what to serve with it? Cocktail sauce is soooo - well - cocktail sauce. I continued to browse, roaming the aisles like a lost soul. Then I spotted some miso sauce and my cooking mind suddenly clicked in. An idea formed, and I was on my way. I added several other ingredients to my basket along with a fresh lime and a lovely star fruit (carambola) for good measure.
I ended up with a beautiful and delicious holiday wreath of shrimp studded with stars and centered with a delicious miso mayo dipping sauce. It got rave reviews. It was stunning. And delicious. And most of all easy. It's what I strive for. Easy. I had the sense to write down the recipe so it didn't end up on my list of one time wonders; Wonder how I made that?

Here is my recipe:

Cold Starry Night Shrimp with Miso-Mayo Dipping Sauce

Miso-Mayo Dipping Sauce (makes 1 cup)

3/4 cup prepared mayonnaise
1/4 cup prepared Miso dressing
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - divided
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared fresh chopped ginger (sold in tubes at fresh produce counter)

24 ounce bag frozen cooked peeled and deveined medium shrimp with tail on

1 star fruit for garnish

Prepare dipping sauce: In medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, miso dressing, 1 tablespoon lime juice and ginger. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Pat dry with paper towels. On round serving tray, place shrimp in attractive layers around edge of dish with tails toward rim. Leave room at the center for small serving bowl. Drizzle shrimp with remaining tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Spoon dipping sauce into a small bowl and set in the center of the tray. Slice star fruit into 1/4 inch thick "stars." Garnish shrimp with stars saving 1 star to place at edge of dipping sauce bowl. Serve.
If carambola are not available, garnish the shrimp with slices of lime.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Scent of Good Books

I was wondering what I should wear to the Especial-Tea, so I browsed through my cyber closet and found just the thing! Since I can be a size 8 for the party, if I'd like to, this will be just perfect. I'll be looking for shoes and a hat as well. I can wear any size shoes for the occasion, so sky's the limit! So far, we are three for tea. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Several weeks ago I ordered The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham. It is a boxed set of 2 books printed in 1953. A day or two after I placed my order, Lavinia Ladyslipper ( I love that name!) posted a picture of the same set of books as she wandered about trying to decide what to do on a rainy evening!

It is such fun to see how many of our blogger friends have similar interests. The (correct) order finally arrived yesterday from an independent dealer. They are in wonderful condition. Just a little wear on the box, as the seller advised. Although I've read many of Maugham's short stories, there are several in this set of books that I have not, and many that I have read - and will read again - several times. These are wonderful quiet evening, or rainy day books. They have that wonderful old book smell. A musty mixture of oak bookcase and city library with a hint of Earl Grey. I love the way he writes. He is often very droll. And always very English. A very traveled and observant English. You are reading along with no hint of humor and then there it is. Here is an example from a story in Volume 2 called "A Woman of Fifty":

"Laura has money, Wyman went on. "when they married she furnished the house from cellar to attic in Chicago. It's quite a show place; it's a little masterpiece of hideousness and vulgarity. I never go into the living-room without marvelling at the unerring taste with which she picked out exactly what you'd expect to find in the bridal suite of a second-class hotel in Atlantic City."

Love it.

Although my horoscope said I would run into several unusual people today, I did not. I was really counting on that so I could tell you all about them. Instead, I will leave you with my poem about weekends:

Conflict of Interests

It is difficult to write poetry
On weekends on Florida
House guests sleep soundly
In rooms scattered with sun-block and swimsuits

Their children issue forth, clear-eyed at dawn
Not for the words I attempt to write on tranquil mornings,
But for ALPA-BITS poured into a bowl
In no particular order

My dog, until now
A puddle at my feet rises
Ready to lap up fallen vowels and consonants

Soon children are perched all about me
Eating upper case letters punctuated with sliced bananas
And sipping milk from bright plastic mugs
While unwritten verses slip away
Like hummingbirds from my garden

The fleeting dawn turns into day
Illuminating the lanai in prosaic disarray
Chairs strewn about to catch yesterday’s rays
Tabletops brimming
Pool in need of skimming
Damp towels smother the last of my musings
And turn my thoughts to the practical

Cynthia Ann Conciatu 1996

1997 Welaka Humorous Verse Award,
Florida State Poets Association

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You Are Invited To An Especial-Tea Just For You!

I have an idea - it may have been done before - but I'm quite new to blog land.
I thought it would be nice if we all had tea together on Tuesday, August 5th. The plan is simple: decide what you would like to picture on your blog for the tea on August 5th. Use your imagination - It can be anything you would like to prepare, bring or do at your Especial-Tea.
You may want to take a picture of Especial-Tea things you have, a table setting, a desert, a jam or jelly, a place in your garden, birds that might visit us during tea, something you might wear, a hat, a pet you would like to bring with you, flowers, anything at all. Anything. Take a picture that expresses your Especial-Tea. Post it along with whatever you would like to say about your contribution on your post for the 5th. This is an all day event.
You may also extend this invitation to all of your readers! Everyone is invited. If a friend is not yet a blogger and would like to attend ask them to send you a picture to post on your blog for them.
If you would like to attend,
1 RSVP in comments on this post.
2 Copy the invitation and paste it in the margin of your blog.
3 Check the comments on this blog to see who will be participating
4 Visit with each other on the 5th and see what each of us has brought to the tea.
I would love to see all of you, and all of your friends, on August 5th. Please come! I think this will be lots of fun!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Several Survival Stories

Check this out! My sissy Mary was featured on a billboard in Mt. Dora for several months. She is the pretty smiling lady on the far right. One of 5 cancer survivors pictured. After her chemo, when her hair started growing back Mary decided, and correctly, I might add, that the new short look was not only very attractive but wash and wear low maintenance. Mary leaves the Loolielouise comments on my posts. Love you, Sissy
Layla's a survivor too and really isn't such a sad sack as she made herself out to be yesterday. She gets lots of hugs and kisses and gets to sit on my lap a LOT. I was busy doing things and when she asked of she could be the guest blogger for the day I said yes. I didn't even know she could type.... Moments ago, just as I was posting a comment, Lucy had the audacity to put her feet inside the doorway of my office. Layla did her big teeth and squinty eyes thing and made Lucy stand there holding her woobie and wouldn't let her come in to sit with us. Layla wasn't exaggerating about that!

Another "survivor" is my other sissy. I won't mention her name, but her initials are Janet. She's joining the 60 and older club in just a few days. July 28. In honor of her birthday I will share my poem, On Aging.

On Aging

I once thought that
My mom was old
Oh yes, my father too
In retrospect
I made that claim
When they were thirty-two

I’ve long surpassed
That golden year
I just turned forty-nine
And look with
Reconditioned eyes
Upon these peers of mine

With each decade
Old gets older
I renegotiate my gage
And live well by
The rule of thumb:
Age is relative to age

Cynthia A Conciatu
1995 Russell Leavit Memorial Award, FSPA

Janet shares her birth date with our paternal grandmother, Grandma Clara, who I loved dearly, and whose picture is in the margin of my post. Grandma Clara was born in 1890. The picture was take in 1946. Grandma was just 56 years old! So, Janet. If you're feeling old, just look in the mirror. People old enough to be grandmas don't look like grandmas anymore! And age is relative to age. Happy Birthday, Janet! Love you!

A few quick notes about Grandma Clara. Her husband, my Grandpa John, worked in a bar in Detroit, for a time, in the roaring 20's. A member of the notorious Purple Gang came into the bar one day and started to flirt with Grandma. Grandpa John, who would kill lions for her, threw him out. Grandpa always said that Grandma was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was his one and only true love. She died in 1953. He survived her by 28 years and missed her every day of his life.

Purple Gang rum running on the Detroit River
Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Layla's Dog Days of Summer

I'm Layla. I was an only dog. Just like in this picture. See any other dogs in the picture? Nope. Just Layla. I got alllllll of the attention, alllllll the treats and allllll the love alllllll to MYself. All the dog toys in the WHOLE house belonged just to Layla. It was MINE, MINE all Mine.
Then one day the people who give me stuff and sleep on my king sized bed like they own it say they have to go out for a while. They say it all sing songy which sounds stupid but I let them get away with it. I figure they're going to buy some Layla treats. So, I'm minding my own business, sleeping on MY king sized bed smack dab in the middle of the Dads pillow with MY Layla toys and MY chewey things sprinkled all around. And then I hear all the racket they make when they're coming home. And, get this, another dog shows up with the mom and dad! Lucy! She's all bouncy and wags her tail in my face. A big brown dog who wants to share. Share? I don't want to share. It's all MINE, all MINE. Lucy wants to play and be friends. Who wants to play with a giant brown dog who chews with her mouth open.

So here's a picture of the new dog, looking out MY window, standing in MY living room and spending time with MY family. She eats here, swims in Layla's pool, eats Layla's dog food, sleeps in front of Layla's TV, drinks Layla's water, goes outside and poops on Layla's lawn. Big poops. She plays with Layla's friends, and gets to lay in Layla's kitchen with the mom while dinner is cooking. I never do that. The mom makes too much noise and gets in my way.

If that's not bad enough, the first thing Lucy did was take MY personal private gingerbread boy. Here's a picture of her with it. She's got in her mouth all day long. She even jumped in the pool with it. What a dolt. It got all wet and and mushy and then it started to smell like a dead armadillo. Next thing you know, the Dad washed it in MY washing machine and dried it in MY dryer and now it's all clean and smells like mountains and lavender. Whatever the hell that means. And who does the Dad give it to when it's all fluffy and clean? Layla? No! He gives it to Lucy! Tch.
I just gotta say that this is a dog's life. I am really bummed out. So, okay, she can take my woobie, and some of my chewy stuff and jump around in front of me like a doofus trying to play with me, but guess what? I do not let her in MY bedroom. Ever. I make my teeth real big and make my eyes all squinty and mean. It works. She's such a pushover. So, Lucy has to sleep out in MY living room on MY new big dog bed that I decided to let her have. Plus, another thing I do is, I won't let her in MY office when the Mom is in there going clickety click on that thing she sits in front of. For hours. Like a zombie, when she could be holding me and giving me treats instead.
When Lucy tries to come in to MY office I do the big teeth thing and make my eyes all squinty and mean. It works. Here's a picture of me looking sad and forlorn. It looks like I'm an only dog in this picture. But there's another dog. She's standing next to the camera, jumping up and down like a doofus. She wants to play. The only thing I want to play is Make The Big Brown Dog Go Back Where Ever She Came From. That's what I want to play. Tch.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stress Test? Stress Test? Who Needs a Stress Test?!?!

I passed my stress test today. I studied. It's the other stresses. The every day stuff that makes my heart go wacko. Not running on a treadmill. That only made me thirsty.

My list of things that are stressful. These are NOT in order of the heart palpitation factor:

Linda Gelanela standing in front of Pinellas County while she gives the weather report (MOVE)


Not Working

Applying for jobs

Being ignored when I apply for jobs

Ignoring job application alerts

Physical examinations

Stress tests

Deciding what's for dinner

Watching Saving Grace (talk about stress!)

Things that go bump in the night

Watching my 401K descend into Never Never Land

Never Never Land

Michael Jackson


People driving tan cars

Trying to get to church on time

Hurricane reports

People who take giant steps across the parking lot to get in front of me at Starbucks

People who are spread eagled over the sugar and cream station so I can't get JUST ONE napkin

Losing stuff

Forgetting why I opened the refrigerator

Car making a kabink kabink kabink sound

Leaving my shoes all over the house

Looking for the shoes I left all over the house

The dogs staring at me (WHAT?)

Billy Mays commercials (stop screaming at me!) (SHUT UP)

News Reporters standing on Clearwater Beach with rain slickers on reporting on hurricanes

The Mister staring at me (WHAT?)

Talk Radio (any)

Forgetting where I put stuff

Make-up counter ladies (What's with the attitude and quit looking down your nose at me)

Having to get out of bed before 9:00

Sleeping till 9:00

Sleeping later than 9:00

Dryer lint

Trying to figure out what to wear for a stress test

Football season

Wondering about being old

Remembering that I'm already old

Looking in the vegetable drawer ( I am not responsible enough to buy and store fresh produce)

Having to remove unidentified oozing objects from the vegetable drawer

Things that go bump in the night in the vegetable drawer

Trying to live up to other people's standards

Trying to live up to my own standards

Forgetting I only have to concern myself with living up to God's standards

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watch Out! Virgos May have an Attitude Today!

Today's Yahoo Horoscope for Virgos: Not everyone can be as informed and as experienced as you are, and it's not always their fault. So cut some people some slack when they frustrate you with their questions. They are just working at their own pace and abilities, and they are dong their best -- you can't fault them if their best isn't good enough for you. Instead of getting frustrated with them, just go off and take care of other things. They'll feel less pressure, and you'll feel less restricted.

Cut some slack.. Heh heh. I love it. Doin' the best they can. Heh. Heh.

Sooooo, I've been right all along. Not everyone can be as informed and experienced as us Virgo's. That explains a lot about my attitude when I'm out and about in the big world dealing with obviously non-Virgo Sunday drivers, Starbucks customers, shoppers, meteorologists who stand in front of the weather map, the lady who does her eye make-up in such a way that it looks like her eyes are upside down, sales people, grocery baggers, Order takers at the "other" Dunkin Donuts. You name it. I try to cut them some slack. Sure. The professor in one of my psychology type classes asked why we talk about other people. Someone said "Because they are asking for it." I need to change that to: Because they are not Virgo. I don't believe in horoscopes, but when they say something like this it is necessary to pay attention and share with other signs.

As for the "other" Dunkin Donuts - I had to quit going through the drive through. It was misnamed, for one thing. It should have been called the "sit here until hell freezes over -thru". Here's a sample of the typical ordering dialogue: AND I am NOT exaggerating!

After 15 minute wait at speaker with only one other person ahead of me:

Go ahead.

I'd like a large iced latte with skim milk only and a large iced coffee with mocha and cream

So, you want 2 medium coffees and did you want any donuts today

No, I'd like a large iced latte with skim milk only and a large iced coffee with mocha and cream

Did you want that medium coffee hot or cold?

I'd like a large iced........etc. (I make eye contact to the person waiting behind me and roll my eyes)

Oh, OK, make that a large iced latte. What flavor did you want in it?

I'd like a large....etc. No flavor.

Oh - no flavor. Whipped cream?

I'd like a.....etc. no flavor, no whipped cream.

Will that be all today?

Did you get the other drink?

That medium coffee?

No, that large iced....

And it goes on. And on.

So. I had to get away from there. I don't think it had to do with whether they are Virgo's or not. Is there a sign for "don't understand the spoken language?" I go to the Dunkin donuts in the Hess Station. There's something about eye contact. They don't even ask. They just take a look at me and start making the drinks. Unless a new person shows up on the job. They ask what I want, and I don't remember how to say the order. I haven't had to say the order for 3 months.

So, getting back to Virgo's, our tendencies are:

Blonde - check

Blue eyed - check

Taller than average - actually I'm an inch shorter than I started out

Slender - welllllllllllll I was once.

Thin eyebrows (really!) They are now - I started ripping them out when I was 14. I looked like a Yettie.

Intelligent- Of course!

Artistic - absolutely

Methodical - er. uhm...

Orderly - listmaker - yes! Has anyone seen today's list? I lost it.

Wholesome - of course. Unless I have to park in BFE.

I'm the only Virgo among my siblings, so the rest of youse guys are going to just have to go along with this. Especially the three of you Leo's who are having birthdays at the end of this month. By the way, I told mom I was on to her -that when I counted backwards 9 months from July, I came up with October. Wedding Anniversary.

This was a lot from a person who couldn't even believe, for a time, her parents actually had sex. Despite the fact that there were six other kids in the house with me. So what.

Happy Birthday, Leo Sissy and Bro's - especially the one who is turning the big Six-Oh. Welcome to the club.
Happy Birthday Joe, Janet and Jim!

After I contemplated the picture of that birthday cake for a while I realized it looks like it has dog food pressed around the sides. No cake for me, thank you. I'm.... er...ahhh.. watching my waistline. Yeah, that's the ticket. Erp.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some Uneventful Gardening

These pretty flowers are in the buttercup (ranunculus) family I planted them several years ago, and they just keep blooming. The flowers are only open for about 3-4 hours each day, so I have to make a point of visiting them. They were already closed up for the day when I went out at 1:00 to pick up my piles of trimmings and weeds. Sometimes the squirrels will bite the tips off of unopened buds. When the flower opens it looks a bit like the snowflakes we cut out of folded paper. There is one "snowflake" flower in the picture - can you find it? I've read that animals will not bother buttercups - obviously the squirrels don't read.

Skipper Moth Visiting my Golden Dewdrop

I spent some time in the garden this morning while it was still cool (80 degrees) by Florida standards. I cut back the golden dewdrop where it was crowding my plumeria. I pulled some weeds, but had to be careful not to step in places where the turtle laid her eggs. They may hatch next month.

At one point, the Mister asked me to stop what I was doing and look down at my feet. I did. I recognized his request as a Fire Ant Alert. All was well. No fire ants. Those little eternally angry denizens of the garden let me alone today. I saw no snakes, did not raise the ire of any bees and neither mosquito nor deer fly honed in on my exposed parts. No alligator was basking on the bank of the pond. Gardening can be a risky adventure here. Life threatening, actually. Wear gloves! Maybe a helmet and a concealed weapon.

Today was pleasant and uneventful as I yanked out the weeds that flourish and crowd out my herbs and flowers. My miniature roses are healthy and happy, except that the squirrels do not allow them to bloom. If I remember correctly, I have a white, red, orange and pink. It's only a guess. Ask the squirrels - maybe they know.

The plumeria was a gift from my friend Heather. She gave me a cutting from hers about 2 years ago. I let it grow in a pot on my lanai for the first year and then, early this spring, I planted it between the golden dewdrop and the fig tree. The next morning I found that a deer had nipped the top off of it. Swell. I waited a month or so for it to start a new growth of leaves, and when it did not I trimmed the top off once more to see if that would wake it up. It worked! I have 3 new shoots coming off the top with nice shiny healthy leaves. When it flowers I'll take pictures for you. I'm being extremely optimistic here. Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Poem For Friday

Shell Seekers

A Pale half moon
Lies buttonholed
Against the morning sky as I
Walk quietly along the shore
Between the sounds of waves
Lapping gently at my feet
And gulls chattering overhead

Jaded as I am by many other trips
To summer shores, I
Scan the mounded piles
Arranged by foamy breakers overnight
Choosing only perfect shells
Of sunset hues
Undamaged by the crashing surf
That cast them there

And yet, who really chooses - Is it I
Or these frothy salt waves
That rush between sand shod feet
Like impatient givers of gifts
Perceiving a lack of appreciation
And taking back
Those for which I pause too long

Cynthia A. Conciatu
25th Annual FSPA Convention Award

Rosamunde Pilcher wrote a wonderful book that I have read many times. It's called "The Shell Seekers." I purposely used her title for this poem which was inspired by a quiet morning of shell collecting on Sanibel Island.

Several years ago, I wrote Rosemunde a note thanking her for her wonderful novels, and told her how much I enjoyed reading them. Several weeks later I received a hand typed reply thanking me for taking the time to comment on her writing. I keep it in my copy of "Coming Home."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blog In Bloom Award Too

All right. Stand back. This is it! I have got to give Stevie Wren a Blog in Bloom Award. Now. I have been reading her posts for several weeks, and she is ALL OVER the place with fun, artistic and nostalgic postings that just bloom with love and enjoyment. It is a pleasure to pop over to a little birdie told me so and visit with Stevie. We can peek at her garden, sit with her while she makes aprons (aprons!) for her grand daughters, watch her paint a picture that would make Georgia OKeeffe take notice. Then, just before we sit down to watch Burn Notice (love it!) we can browse through her vintage Simplicity patterns - the same ones mom had tucked away in a drawer. What fun! Thank you, Stevie, for a beautiful Blog in Bloom!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lucy - the Real One- Not the Facsimile

I finally managed a few shots of Lucy! She is constantly on the move. Here's Lucy on the move:

Lucy with Layla's gingerbread man. It's in her mouth constantly. We call it her woobie. Layla calls it a problem. She's tried to get it back a few times, but I think she finally understands there is pain and some hair loss involved in the retrieval process.
"Here's lookin' at you, kid. Wanna touch my woobie?"
A rare shot - she's actually lying down and she's giving her woobie a rest.
Trying out her new bed for size.
"I think I like it here. Where's the treat jar?"
What do you mean, these apples fake?
Layla and Lucy went to the beauty shop today and are both sporting new bandannas. Layla loves her bandannas. She has a wardrobe for all seasons and holidays. If her's falls off she brings it to us so we can put it back on her. Lucy seems to think her very first bandanna is stylin'.
Layla was napping on the Mister's pillow during pictures and couldn't be bothered to come out to pose with her new sister. After I feel there won't be any fur flying I'll get a few pictures of the two of them together - well at least in the same room.
Layla still won't let her in my office or our in bedroom. Other than that, Lucy has the run of the place. As long as she doesn't try to take anything else that belongs to Layla. Or get to close to Layla with the woobie. Or try to be the first one out of the front door. Or be the first one out the back door.
She's made herself at home with us and continues to be one of the quietest most well behaved dogs I have ever seen. She loves swimming in our pool and has spent some time in there catching her ball. If we are not up to having a wet dog in the house we'll just tell her "no" and she'll stay out of the pool. Cool. We taught her the most important swimming lessons a dog needs to know: Where the steps are, so she can get out of the pool, and how to "dry" on the towel.
So that's Lucy. We love her! See you tomorrow. Thank's for taking time to visit.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why, I'm Just A Happy Go Lucky Rain or Shine Girl!

It occurred to me this morning as I was walking in and out of the rain several times that my high maintenance days are long gone. I may or may not use an umbrella, I don't care if my hair gets a bit wet, I don't dash from car to building unless it's pouring out. The only consideration is shoes. Which ones take puddles in stride? 98% of my clothing is wash and wear and so am I.

My first trip in the rain was to take the dogs out. The second: I had an appointment for my annual physical today. I must have thought I'd be working by now, because I made the appointment for 8:45. A.M. Well I'm not working, and it was a huge inconvenience to have to roll out of bed before 9:00, but I made it on time. Doctor Santos is wonderful, thorough, and makes excellent suggestions about my health and well being. She doesn't raise her eyebrows or roll her eyes when I answer her questions. I appreciate that. If she doesn't play poker, she should. I, when left to my own resources, check to see if I am breathing in and out each morning. If I am, I'm good to go. I dust off my exercise equipment every few months, rearrange the fiber cereal to the back of the pantry, give a fleeting thought to leading a healthier lifestyle and then go out on the lanai in my robe and fuzzy slippers and do a crossword puzzle.

Dr. Santos, on the other hand sees to my health AND my social life by handing me a fistful of fun things to do. Dr. notes to pin to my shirt. This time I have 3 social opportunities: blood test - but that's not until October. Mammie -o- grammio (you better get one too!) and Stress Test. The last two are no longer left for me to schedule some time in the next century. Mease Medical Arts calls me and tells me when to show up. Apparently some of us are not to be trusted to do this on our own. That would be me. She also wrote out a prescription to me - not the pharmacy reminding me that I should be eating more than a half gram of fiber per week. I have yet again resolved to lead a healthier lifestyle, maybe exercise. At least get in shape for my stress test so it doesn't kill me.
So anyway, back to the rain. Remember the days of the plastic rain bonnet? Remember walking into church on a rainy Sunday and the entire church smelled like wet hair and Aqua Net? I was afraid that between the candles and the Aqua Net fumes we'd would have a flash fire. Might melt our rain bonnets. We'd have to go to yet another bridal shower to get another free one. Or the Dime Store.
"Back in the day", if it even looked like rain we wore our rain bonnet, nylon rain coat, clear plastic rain deer boots and carried an umbrella. What did we think was going to happen? It's water from the sky! Well, for sure something really bad was going to happen to our hair. Teased coiffed, curled and sprayed with 8 oz. of spray. Our hair was more likely to fall off than to blow in the wind, but pour a little water on it and we all walked around looking like we were wearing drowned cats on our heads. Charming.

Times have changed, hair is easier to manage, clothes stand up to a bit of excessive moisture and I have a come as you are attitude that works well for me!

More about the dogs, and chocolate dog pictures tomorrow - gotta go get dog supplies. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A New Family Member - and Chocolate!

The dog picture is just a facsimile of our new pet, Lucy, the chocolate lab. Lucy has not stood still long enough to take anything but a fuzzy picture. I'll work on that today so I can post one of the real Lucy. We brought her home on Saturday. She's a four year old "rescued lab" who needed a good home and lots of attention. She'll get some of each. She is very quiet and extremely well behaved and most importantly, housebroken. She's a bit thin at about 60 lbs, but that may just be how she is. She needs her shots and she has not been neutered, so we'll be making some appointments with the vet. She looks healthy, has a good shiny coat and a very sweet nature. She may be the proud owner of a flea or two, but we are treating her with Advantage.

Lucy already has a favorite toy - much to Layla the dog's distress. It's a little stuffed gingerbread boy "woobie" that Layla has had since Christmas. Lucy has it in her mouth all of the time except when she is eating. If I give her a treat she takes the treat in her mouth without letting the woobie go. Layla has tried taking her toy back several times. She did not ask politely. She became air born in her attempt and quickly found out that was not a safe or painless thing to do with a dog 3 times her size. She nursed her wounds (very minor) and her pride(very major) and decided to let Lucy keep it for the time being. Layla wants to be the only dog in the house. She also wants her woobie back. She was used to getting her way with our Carley, the chocolate lab, who died in 2004. Lucy prefers not to be trifled with, and Layla is starting to see that. At least until she completes the Woobie Retrieval plan she has mapped out:

She asked if we could go to the Army Surplus store today. I think not.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Get Me To The Church On Time!

Whoa! Where do these people come from???? They drive one and a half miles an hour and have no concept of forward motion! They are called Sunday drivers for a good reason. They know better than to come out during the work week. They'd be shot. I left home for church with an entire 15 minutes to spare for the 3 mile drive, plus a Starbucks run. This generally works quite well. But things deteriorate immediately when a guy in a tan car pulls out in front of you on Alderman and goes one and a half miles an hour. He speeds up just as he gets to the light on US 19. HE gets through. Do I? Noooo. I have to wait for the 94 minute light to change. Florida traffic lights are SOOOOO slow. You can read a book, clean out your glove compartment, pull $37 worth of loose change out from under the seats and still have time to check your make-up and hair before it's time to go.

I got away from tan car man for the second time on US 19. He had managed to travel 1 1/2 blocks in a 50 MPH zone. Then he made a dead stop (no turn signal) and turned into the shopping center for whatever. I don't care. Just so long as he's not clogging up traffic.

I turn into Starbucks and it's like the mall parking lot on Christmas Eve. I wait for 5 cars to back out and exit the lot. I get in the store, and there are only 3 people ahead of me but they are ordering the usual 87 item coffee request. Half-half-decaf-light cream triple shot-caramel on the know what I mean. Plus the barrista is on the phone with the supplier, and the person at the cash register apparently just walked in off the street that very morning and doesn't know how to ring anything up. AAArrgh. 200 minutes later I get my latte, but Mister 87 Item Person is spread eagled over the sugar and cream station, covering any opportunity for me to just snag one napkin (MOVE!) while he counts out sugar grains and stirs his coffee 43 swirls and takes a month to get the lid on. By now I am feeling so un-Christian I'm wondering if I should even go to church. But I do. Or attempt to. Mr. tan car's 3rd cousin is drifting along Nebraska Ave. He's motorized by the sea breeze perhaps at 12.2 MPH with his turn signal on, slowing to a dead stop at each intersection. We're on the one lane street now, Riviere Rd. so there's no chance of escape.

I idle along. and along. and along. Until he comes to his last dead stop and then s-l-o-w-l-e-y turns into his church parking lot. ( I just knew he had to be a different religion than I) Finally, I am free!!! I rev the engine up to 30 MPH (posted speed limit) well, okay, 34, and get to my church with a heathen attitude. At least with my latte in hand, plus that napkin I waited for, just as the first hymn starts wafting across the lot. Appropriately enough it is "I Am Free". I say a prayer of forgiveness for my evil thoughts toward my fellow man, barrista, tan car, tan car's 3rd cousin and the cash register person and I walk inside for some soul reconditioning. Amen! Enjoy your Sunday! I was late posting this. I took a nap!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Blog in Bloom Award

I have created the Bog in Bloom Award, which I will present from time to time to writers who have created a place that is blooming with the beauty of their spirit, personality and words and who encourage others to do the same. The orchids pictured are my own. They are a fragrant phalaenopsis hybrid. The blooms look like dawn when they first open and sunset as they close.
The first presentation of this award is very appropriately given to Lavinia Ladyslipper of The Birdbath Chronicles ! Lavinia has created a beautiful garden of words and pictures that is a pure joy to visit. She shares her garden with us, and encourages others with her wonderfully kind, inspiring and often humorous comments. Thank you, Lavinia for a beautiful Blog in Bloom!

Forget-me-nots and a Poem for Saturday

I would be in a very difficult position if I were to have to choose a favorite flower. It be like choosing a favorite friend. Each friend and flower has their own enduring qualities, beauty, charm, spirit and individual reason for bringing joy to the soul. On my very long list of favorite flowers are forget-me-nots. Who couldn't love these tiny sprigs of blue sky with a sunny center. I grew them easily in Michigan, but they don't seem to like my Florida yard. I've planted seeds several times with no success. I tried again this year and am waiting to see what happens. While I wait, I thought I'd share my poem by the same name with you:


I was sitting in a Waffle House
Just outside Peoria
Trying to get some syrup off my elbow
With one of those inadequate tissue napkins that pop out
None at a time
From a black and silver dispenser
Invariably jammed
Between sticky salt and pepper shakers
And a crusty catsup bottle

I wish to God that Estelle
(Her name tag reads)
Would spend more time
Cleaning syrup off chipped Formica table tops
And less time washing leatherette seats
With that sour dishrag
That appears to be universally owned
By every Waffle House in the region

Probably has “Waffle House Midwest”
Stamped on one smelly corner
And makes the rounds by express truck
Arriving three minutes before I do
At any given location

At least I can depend on a good cup of coffee
And a runny egg
If I want one

Reminds me of my mother’s kitchenette table
With that yellow oilcloth cover
Always slightly damp from a sour dishrag
Frayed some around the pinking-sheared edges
Dotted with small blue flowers

Probably forget-me-nots
Must be
Because I haven’t

And those cigarette burns on the corner
Where my father used to sit
And peruse the morning paper
Over his runny eggs

Might as well call the cigarette burns
Forget-me-nots too
Because I haven’t

Cynthia Ann Conciatu

HM 2005 Letters Contest, National League of American Pen Women, Inc.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Book Lovers and What's for Dinner???

I was listening to my favorite Christian music station on the way home from working at my church this afternoon. Joy FM. Love it. The DJ said (perhaps quoting someone - don't know who) that "you can tell a true book lover, not by how many books she/he has read or owns, but by how many books she/he has re-read.

I am, by that definition a BOOK LOVER. I have always loved to read and re-read books. I was given my first book, Heidi, when I was 6. I remember asking my mom where Frankfurt is - Heidi was traveling to Frankfurt to see her friend Clara. Mom said it's in Kentucky. I set the book aside for a year or so. I was having a huge problem understanding how Heidi got to Frankfort, Kentucky from the Alps. On foot and by train. I was bright enough to know there was a large ocean to cross. I was also having a problem with the vast number of words I had not encountered in my school reader Dick and Jane. I think the whole series of Dick and Jane books had a total of 7 words in them. Run, Dick run. See Spot run. Jane, go get a dictionary and see if we can't get a sprinkling of adjectives and adverbs in here. Watch out for that handyman, Zeke. He is one scary dude. He has an outstanding warrant. If you see him, run, Jane, run. Run run run.

Anyway, back to Heidi. When I felt I was ready I picked the book up again, started from the beginning and my love for books began.

The books I have read many times include The Shell Seekers by Rosemunde Pilcher, Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert Macey, Somerset Maugham's short stories - one of my favorites is "Before the Party", also his book The Painted Veil. My anthology of Eudora Welty's books and short stories is another of my often read books - my favorite is " Why I Live at the P.O." I have a tape recording of Eudora Welty reading several of her short stories. It is delightful! It was recorded in the 50's. She reads very fast and with a wonderful Southern accent.

My list of re-read books goes on and on, but those listed are the first that come to mind, and you will find all of them next to my bed looking a bit tattered and worn. I'll bet there are lots of book lovers out there. What's your favorite?

Another question for you: Do you write out a dinner menu for the week or the month? If so, please send it to me immediately. What happens here is, some time between 3 and 6 PM either the Mister or I ask the age old question, What's for dinner? The other person looks in surprise at the one asking the question. Like they just grew a second head. Dinner? Oh. Yeah. We eat dinner every day. Huh. What should we have?

Somewhere along the line a meal is decided upon. It may require a trip to the store for a missing ingredient or 2 - or 10, and then a meal is prepared. But why is it always such a surprise to find out at 3 PM that we not only eat dinner every day, but actually have to think something up and prepare it for ourselves.

Are we still in denial about having left the homes of our mothers? Is this normal? Do you do this or do you plan ahead?

At least we generally have stuff in the pantry and the freezer that we can add together and make a meal. At least most of the time. Sometimes there aren't any enticing ingredients available unless we are into eating combos like pumpkin and beansprouts or maybe that mince meat I bought 12 years ago along with the Spam left over from last hurricane season. When that happens we go out to eat. That's what restaurants are really for. Are the other people that show up at the restaurant also there because of that sudden shock of realization? Or did they plan on going when they made out their menu for the week and carefully shopped for all of the ingredients. I hate them. Let me know your thoughts on this. Don't be too hard on me. Thanks!