Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nature Surprises Yet Again

Yosemite National Park has a double-cool phenomenon:

A fire waterfall!

It happens two ways --
*Horsetail Fall, just off the east side of El Capitan, is only flows from approx. Dec. to April. But in February, for just a few weeks, the angle of the sun is just right to set the stream of water 'on fire.' Take a look here for more.

*Then there is the literal firefall! For more than 80 years, it was a tradition to build a fire on the rim, then literally push it over the edge at nightfall, sending of stream of wood, fire and sparks down the rocks. (Darn it, they don't do this anymore...the Green Police stopped it, no doubt.)

Someone wrote in and asked, a famous clearinghouse for urban myths and such, whether this really happens -- or happened. Their detailed answer: it did. And it still does.

Take a look! While you're at it, don't miss these intriguing rainbow roses, either. 
Have a great weekend.

Jimmy Stewart, Back Atcha

I am a huge (if rather secret) fan of the long-legged actor  James Stewart, who left his mark on suspense, comedy and westerns so many years ago. How many actors can claim to change each of these genres? Not many...but he did. Not only was he someone to rely on -- but he also had WEAKNESSES. And got ANGRY. Failed sometimes. But wasn't afraid to show it! (See his anguished face when he loses his love off the bell tower in Vertigo, and you'll see what I mean.)

Now comes along Doug Dibben to argue that Jimmy singlehandedly wiped out the golden age of Hollywood classic film -- because audiences couldn't handle his obvious anger. And failures. And mental lapses. No more lavish extravaganzas? Deep mental dramas?

All Jimmy's fault. Dibben even tags him as "The Angel of Death."

After seeing Winchester 73 last night for the umpteenth time, I'd beg to differ. This is an especially tough one -- Jimmy is out not only to regain the fancy rifle he won in a trick shooting contest, but to avenge his father's murder -- by his brother. Somehow Stewart has to convince us he's set on drawing blood -- without being bloodthirsty. He manages it, but I'm still not sure how.

Certainly Stewart's earlier movies don't bring out the range of emotion he shows in the later ones...but I personally think that makes the later ones all the better. I would argue that if classic cinema changed (and I'm not sure it did that much), it actually became more realistic, and able to appeal to the average person. It acted not only as a release from the cares of the moment -- but it also gave some possibilities for solving them.

I may get a kick out of seeing Fred Astaire dance around a room -- ceiling, then walls, then floor. (In fact, I did like it, in Royal Wedding.)  However, I got a lot more out of it being used to make a (fighting) point in Inception.

Jimmy, wish you were still here. No doubt you'd be making some amazing movies.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A New Blog for Your Delectation!

Ah, Friday...but with the promise of more work ahead. Only a few days until we leave for New York City, and I need to make the minutes count.

One blogger you need to add to your list: Donna Freedman, the frugalista of the MSN Money network. Donna graduated recently from college, after a middle-class life and divorce. She survived on an income that most people would have dismissed as impossible -- no more than $12,000 a year, if that. Yet she did it, so far as I know, without student aid, and without the "I deserve being treated special" attitude so prevalent right now for people going through hard times.

She comes from frugal stock, which helps. But she has some great ideas of her own, including a thorough acquaintance with beans, and a nagging thought in the back of her mind that she may end up a bag lady someday. (I can relate to both.)

I've learned a lot from this gutsy lady; you will, too. Her new blog is Surviving and Thriving -- visit it soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saving Your Life - In A Very Weird Way

Friend Marcie sent me this link to a British "Life is Precious" seatbelt commercial. I should be admiring its sentiment, and cheering along with it, right?

So why am I faintly creeped out, instead?

Take a look and see what you think...

The World's Smallest Church

...and it seats how many? Just two!

 (photo from the Time magazine article)

See it here, along with 49 more roadside attractions around the country.  (And a whole batch more, in case you're curious. I'm still not clear why you'd build 'em so tiny...)

Another missing-ship mystery solved: The Investigator and her crew were one of the expeditions sent out to search for the Franklin Expedition. (The latter were never found (alive, that is, though skeletons, artifacts and messages were discovered years later.) The ship got stuck in the ice in Mercy Bay (Canada's Western Arctic) and the crew were forced to abandon it after some months. Fortunately, the men were rescued. The ship was not.
    Now the Investigator has been found, still sitting upright on the ocean floor of Mercy Bay.

Oh yeah, and Winston Churchill's dentures sold for more than $23,000.

How do these go together? Beats me...I'm in a strange mood today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shadow Stonehenge

According to archeologists, ground-radar imaging is showing a second, wooden version of Stonehenge not far from the original stone version. Although they've rotted long ago, the imprint of huge wooden posts is still there.

(photo from the official Stonehenge website, where you can learn much more about this mysterious spot.)

   Find out more here, including details about the 4,600-year-old ruins -- including hearths and building foundations. It's thought to be the largest Neolithic village site found yet in Britain. (The conjecture: this is where the villagers who were constructing the Stonehenge site lived.) The CNN version of this story will show you grainy images of the wooden circle, as documented via magnometer.

Having Coffee a Whole Different Way!

The wall gardening idea takes a new direction...with coffee cans!

Find out how to do this -- and other ideas with cans -- at Re-Nest.

A whole batch of creative re-use ideas for other items here, too.

My only worry: it gets so hot here in full sun that I'm afraid the plants would literally boil in place. But for the price of a little paint, a hook and a nail or two, it's sure worth trying.

Heating Reflections

I've been thinking lately about ways to beat this blanket of heat...wonder why?

This is Old House's take on the subject. There are some frugal tips out there, as well, like this list and this one. Some of the ideas are basic, like wearing less clothing and going to a store or library (so you enjoy someone else's air conditioning.) One list announces, "Air conditioning is a dumb mechanical response to a design problem." It may have a point.

Mid-Colorado generally has a very even climate. Even our worst blizzards tend to clear up and melt off within a few days. Husband and I have thought about a swamp cooler...but why do it, when your hot periods usually last for just a few weeks?

That's small comfort right now, though, when every surface in the house seems sticky, dusty and cluttered, no matter how hard I clean. (Actually, this heatwave has had me cleaning more because of it -- a small blessing to Husband, I'd guess!) A few small things have helped:

*hosing down the front (brick) and back (concrete) porch and deck. Keeps them tidy, and makes a real if short-lived difference in the air temps.
*a fan by the front screen door. Pulls in cooler air, and circulates it toward the rest of the house.
*ceiling fans. I only wish we'd installed these right away, rather than gradually, one room at a time.
*hanging damp laundry inside the house to dry, rather than outside. If I do this in the morning, clothes, sheets, etc. are dry by nightfall.
*let your clothes dry -- on you. Wearing from-the-washer sundresses was one of the few ways I could cool down when pregnant. (And I had two August babies.) Don't do it with underwear, though -- too much of a (ahem) surprise!
*open windows at dusk -- close them in the morning.
*a quick snooze under the fan. Occasional naps can help keep you productive. (That's why dogs and cats do it, right?)
*fruit smoothies and iced coffee. We keep leftover coffee in a quart jar in the refrigerator -- saves $$ and refreshing.
            Smoothies:  5-7 ice cubes, a handful of fresh or frozen fruit, tablespoon sugar, 2 cups milk (add more if needed). Optional, but good: a small flavored yogurt, or a black-spotted banana. Blenderize and swill, occasionally putting icy glass to forehead.
            Iced coffee: 5 ice cubes (give a few extra to the dog), teaspoon sugar. Fill the glass halfway with strong coffee, top off with milk. (Plus a spritz of whipped cream, if you've got it.) Sip and reflect.

Back to work. Hope yours is going ok, too.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Lordy, it's hot here. We trudge through the day with a film of sweat all over. Smoothies and hot fudge sundaes do a soft shoe through my reverie, like those dancing hot dogs on the movie commercials. Buck the dog finds a spot by the loudest fan, and hunkers down for the afternoon.

And wouldn't you know it -- this is the week I've got a ton of appraisals to finish up. Which means hauling quilts around, piling them, letting their warmth and weight flow all around me. (sigh)
   Ah well. At least I can enjoy their beauty -- and try really hard not to drip moisture on them.

Daughters and I head to New York City next week for the annual meeting of the PAAQT appraisers. (You can find out more about them here. An excellent group to learn more about your textiles.) We'll be there from Aug. 4-10; our hotel (and the conference) is in the garment district, but we plan to wander all around.
    Any suggestions on great food and places to go? I heard about Yorkology, which has some interesting ideas. Maybe even a Letterman show taping,  -- who knows.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Acting Confident -- Even When You're Not

Trent over at the Simple Dollar is suggesting ten simple things to do to increase your confidence in public situations. They range from learning to hold your posture up to asking questions -- good stuff! (Although I personally would find it extremely freaky if someone whipped out a flask, took a swig and gargled it around. Well, I'm just saying. Stephen King used to guzzle mouthwash instead when his wife noticed too many liquor bottles.)

I often have to meet strangers in my work, and the first meeting can be uncertain. Here are some tricks I use for bolstering my public persona:
*Wear something distinctive. Handmade jewelry, a cashmere sweater, whatever. In my case, it's often my handmade cowboy boots. They're dressy, beautiful, and I can stand twelve hours or so in them without hurting. This item may end up becoming your signature piece.
*Be the first to step forward and reach your hand out. This signals that you're open (and unafraid -- very important).
*If you've forgotten the person's name that you're meeting, take a friend with-- and introduce them. The person will then automatically mention their own name! (Write it down and/or memorize it this time!)
*If you see a pretty dress, smile, jewelry, whatever on a stranger...compliment it. It will make them feel good -- and won't hurt you a bit. (You'll be surprised, too, how often you bump into this person in the future.)
*Smile....after you're sure your teeth are clean. I wore braces for years as a kid...and am very grateful I did. (Crooked teeth run in the family.) Teeth whiteners are good, to a point. (You don't want to look fake.) Keep gum handy; a travel toothbrush is helpful, too. If I don't have a toothbrush handy, I take a piece of paper in the bathroom, and carefully rub across my teeth, just in case.
*Don't make a huge fuss about what you do -- but do mention it, and do keep business cards handy. Trent suggests saying your name, and letting the rest develop. A great idea.
*Pay attention to what's going on. Who's the person off to the side, who is quietly observing you with bright, intelligent eyes? (The biggest mouth in the group is not necessarily the most interesting person. Nor are they usually the leader.) How are these people interacting with each other? With you? (This is especially interesting when you first arrive -- and they don't know who you are yet.)

And finally --
*Ask questions AND LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS. Your new acquaintances would love to tell you more about themselves and their world! You'll not only have a better idea of your new environment, but you'll get the insider's scoop on great places to eat and visit...great bargains...interesting people and events.

   Best of all, you may make some new friends.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Got A Minute -- and Lots of Cash?

Got money to burn? Here are 12 of the silliest splurges...including Elvis Presley's hair clippings, a $175 hamburger and my favorite -- Charles Dickens' toothpick for more than $9000!

Still Hot

...and muggy.

We've had some incredible thunderstorms, which drive the dogs right under our legs. ("You'll save me from the scary thunder...right, Mom??")

I was more concerned about this because of Daughter #1, who's been backpacking all week. Picked her up yesterday, and we soaked in the hot springs....aahhh. Got home last night, feeling like a limp noodle. In general, Daughter's week out in the boonies went well, in spite of rain and a visit one night by a Large Scary Animal. ("Was it Bigfoot?" I asked. She looked at me scornfully.)

Remember the whale who landed on the sailboat? (See the previous post.) Well, it's no fake -- a tourist actually got video of the incident. Wow!

This is interesting, too -- a kid who started trading on Craigslist with a used cellphone -- and ended up with a Porsche.

Appraisals await...I'm finally starting to clear away some of the stuff on my platter. Just in time to leave for New York!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On with the Show

I spent a lovely day with Daughter #2 up in Nederland, a little mountain town. We looked at her garden, went out to lunch, went mushrooming (a first for me!) and fishing. Just missed the latest storm, though Daughter #1 was caught in it further over on the Front Range. She's been finishing up her backpacking trip solo -- her friend had back trouble and was forced to come back down.

More on some of those subjects when I can draw a deep breath. In the meantime, take a look at these photos -- a whale who jumps, and lands on the deck of the boat that's watching him! (Score one for the whale, who swam away largely unharmed. As for the boat, that was a different story.)
    Also, an odd, but strangely intriguing overview of human mermaids. Including this amputee, who is using a mermaid tail to swim much more effortlessly.

Headed to bed -- can't keep my eyes open. More soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DUIs, Lindsay Lohan...and Sympathy

Oh boo hoo, Lindsay Lohan's now serving her jail sentence for violating the terms of her DUI. (Not to mention other things.)  You can get the dish on her jail cell, see photos of her and hear about her last tweeting efforts. (No internet or tweeting allowed from now on!)

I just feel terribly sorry for her.
Actually, I don't.

   A much-loved person got busted for a DUI. She wasn't actually driving, but in her state, being behind the wheel in the parking lot, with keys inserted, means the legal equivalent of roaring down the highway. (She was sleeping it off, and the night was cold.)
   She did something stupid, and she has paid for it, over and over and over. 'Blows' to determine whether she was drinking -- daily, then twice a week for literally years. Weekly counseling sessions. Meetings with the parole officer. No chance to visit out of state. Even house arrest for a month. And every one of these items had to be paid for out of her pocket.
   It's now been more than two years. After complying with every single thing she was required to, she is finally close enough to see the end of probation. Provided she pays $200-plus for more court fees, plus $100 and 40 hours of community service, that is. (Not to mention the $150 or so she'll pay every month for a 'blow-and-start' device on her car. We won't even talk about the extra insurance she'll be paying for years.) 
   Thousands of dollars. Hundreds of hours. Opportunities lost. All because of one evening and too many drinks. Was it worth it? She's the first to say -- of course not.
    My young friend did not have the time, money and resources Ms. Lohan had. She definitely did not get the second chances, extensions and other 'slaps on the hand' Ms. Lohan did. (And ignored or wasted.) Yet my friend decided, early on, that she would learn from her mistake, and clear her record.

And now Lindsay has a 90-day sentence staring her in the face. I hope they make her serve every single day of it. It may be the best wake-up call she will ever have.

Pack One Bag -- Save A Boatload!

I have a BUNCH of trips to prepare for this summer, and fall -- and have been dreading the idea of paying for checked-in luggage.

Well, maybe I won't have to.

   Take a look at this New York Times tutorial. Forty garments in one carry-on bag, plus three pairs of shoes and that's my kind of math! (Other good packing tips are here. Mostly from pilots and stewardesses, who do this sort of thing all the time.)

Two weeks now, until Daughters and I go to New York City for 9 days. I already told them I'm not paying for checked luggage...I hope they're listening.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Making Progress for the Week

I've got a lot to do. Washing...don't you try to do that on Mondays? (Guess it's my Irish/Scot/English grandma's influence.) A big pile of dishes from the weekend. Two dogs to be washed and brushed. (Actually, that's done...Buck, plus Jack, Daughter #1's Great Dane mix, who's staying here while she hikes the Colorado Trail with friend Shannon this week. They -- the dogs, not the girls! -- are both shedding like crazy.) Water the plants, including the Russian sage on Goonie's grave.I'd love to transplant some stuff, but very little would survive in this heat.

Then on to business stuff -- orders to fill, an article to work on about Turkey Red, appraisals, and a little Hanky Panky thrown in to sweeten the pot. My staffers are off all week; they seem to think they should take some vacation time in the summer!

   Gotta cook this week -- no cheap tacos, since the Rockies are just doing awful right now. I was thinking about making soft pretzels -- these look wonderful, have step-by-step instructions, and healthy ingredients. Maybe a pretzel dog or two, as well, with the leftover dough. Some soup? A nice salad? Husband is still not up to par -- his flu went into pneumonia, and he's only gradually recovering his strength.

We've had our share of heat and dryness -- broke some records last week, in fact. It's a little cooler today. Hopefully, your weather is, too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Additions to the "What's Going On" Department

for those of you who read Roland Dahl's (admittedly sometimes odd) short stories, here's a twist from reality:
   An elderly couple get stuck in their home elevator -- and die there.

Don't leave the link when that story's done, and you'll be treated to the Boulder city council being all offended because a critic shows up to speak in his underwear. (They latter banned similar behavior during future meetings.) This same council thought it perfectly okay if people wanted to garden topless, or in a thong. Hey, that's the ticket. Perhaps the topless lady should come speak in celebration of artistic freedom! Then what could they say...

And finally, 25 secrets revealed about the Mona Lisa, including eyebrows!

Have a great weekend.

A Very Strange Ground Zero Discovery

Have you heard about this? Excavators at Ground Zero, the former World Trade Center site, have found the hull of an 18th century sailing ship! Turns out it apparently was filled with rocks and sunk to help fill in swampy areas. (In essence, "making" land to use and build on. Developers use fill dirt for the same purpose today.)

   During the Gold Rush, many ships were abandoned in the San Francisco harbor after their crews deserted to head for the mining camps. These ships were often used as fill in the same way...and that's one reason why San Francisco has some very unstable areas when earthquakes come to call. Rotten wood and nails do not a sturdy foundation make.

Basting in the Summer more ways than one. The concrete is too hot to walk on barefoot, and the flowers in the planters look wilted every morning, in spite of a vigorous watering the night before. (Tip: try growing zucchini in a planter pot! It looks wonderful, like some sort of exotic jungle plant. I've had some of my best zuke crops from planter pots; I think it can get too cool at night sometimes around here for some of the warmer plants, like tomatoes and zukes. But put them in a large pot, on top of a concrete deck that releases heat during the night -- and they do great.)

It is almost impossible to transplant anything right now -- though the Russian sage on Goonie's grave is hanging in there. This type of sage will take a lot of guff anyway, which is encouraging.

On the plus side, you don't feel like going outside much, and the cool basement (where most of the Brickworks inventory is stored) beckons. Maybe I'll have to do some organizing this weekend.

I've mentioned Moneysavingmom before as a great spot for coupons and savings. (Right now, for example, she's got a link that will get you 28-cent steaks from Walmart!) MSM's post on easy money saving ideas for cooking is a jewel. (You'll understand this even better when you see where it's coming from.)

Husband sent an advertisement for Frito-Lays potato chips in the Jackson tunnel...look at the ceiling first!

too bad they don't make iced potato chips...salty sounds good. Hot (or at least non-cold) doesn't.
Hope your world is less steamy than mine right now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flowers in a Whole New Way

Remember that lacy fence I mentioned earlier this year? Well, other girls are adding florals to the construction fences around their area! You can read more about it here, including many more photos...

Gives a whole new meaning to the idea of "bloom where you are planted..."

Midweek, Midsummer

There are Dutch iris and liatris (a sort of pink spiky stuff) on Goonie's bed now, planted at deep dusk. It was the only time I could do it without thinking too much about him. In spring, God willing, his spot will be an explosion of flowers. Did you ever read the kid's book about Ferdinand the Spanish bull, who used to sit in the middle of the square and sniiiifffff the flowers? Goon was like that -- the only dog I've ever known who made an effort to smell the flowers in my garden beds.

I want to add some daisies, eventually...but not yet. I'm not ready to laugh about this yet. Goon was one of the few dogs I've ever known who seemed to have a sense of humor. He would enjoy the joke of having daisies on his grave. (Think about it. You'll get it, too.)

Back to work, trudging through. Hopefully it isn't as hot in your neck of the woods -- that heat that flattens you down, gasping for a good breath of fresh air, or iced tea, beading in the glass, a sprig of mint thrown in. We had a huge thunderstorm in late evening, which the dogs hated -- but gave us blessed relief.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Heart is Hurting

Our 'baby' died today.

Goonie (the fitting nickname, instead of his legal name, Gunther) has been going downhill steadily for the past few weeks. His hindquarters were slowly giving out -- Weimaraners often have problems with hip dyplasia, and Goonie was no exception. He spent most of his time sleeping or lying on his pad, watching the household goings-on. He would look at me or Husband and wag his tail: "Mom, I'm hurting! Can't you do something? No? Well, I love you, anyways..."
    This morning, he began bleeding from the mouth. His hindquarters were nearly completely immobile. (Try hauling a 100-pound Weimaraner outside before he soils himself's almost impossible to do it in time.) We talked it over -- no more suffering. We had him put down, and buried him tonight.

I have so much to get done...yet I spent a lot of time this afternoon just sitting by Goonie, petting him and telling him what a good dog he was. I dug the hole myself in the herb garden. He lies peacefully not far from where he liked to sniff among the strawberry plants. I've put a Russian sage there, and will plant some more things tomorrow, when I can manage to look at the spot without weeping.

Goonie would have loved to bake bread, like these Wegman Weimaraners. (In fact, he would have been the one getting flour on his nose, and trying to eat the raw dough.) 

He was a Very Good Dog.

Goonie (on the right) and his housemate Buck. Rest now, sweet puppy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pantry Principles

When funds are low...or you have company coming at the last minute...or you just got home and supper's due in a half-hour or so...a pantry can save your patootie over and over.

I thought about this after reading Cheap Healthy Good's take on the subject. (She's restocking after her recent move.) Her post includes links to other pantry pundits, as well.

What stays in my pantry? Spices are critical -- salt, peppercorns (ready-ground is a tad boring), garlic, chili powder...and the baking and green soup/stew spices. (A couple jars of salsa, salsa verde and steak sauce are essential, too.) Then comes the baking stuff -- dry milk, pancake mix, flour (white, wheat), cornmeal, sugar (brown and white), chocolate chips (Ghiradhelli's best). And the main course stuff -- rice (balsamic, white and brown), noodles, pasta, mashed potato flakes. Canned stuff's important -- diced tomatoes, soup, mushrooms, ravioli, applesauce, mandarin orange sections, tuna, oysters, crabmeat (if it's not too expensive)...and one can of corned beef and/or corned beef hash. Finally, some ready-mix-at-the-last-minute stuff: a few boxes of cornbread mix, Hamburger helper, macaroni & cheese, potato or rice side dishes.

New pantry essentials that I never grew up with, but are hooked on, nonetheless:  green curry sauce (I'd kill for a jar or two of Trader Joe's brand), and a few batches of nasi goreng, that Indonesian spice mix that makes a simple meat/rice dish amazing. A friend brought back a jar of Hawaiian spices that are great with grilled stuff -- so is the jar of Kansas City-style spice dry rub that keeps a regular place on my stove back. (I'm crazy about the "Best Blend" mix, too.)

With the contents of the freezer, we could go for a long time without a visit to the grocery store.
Here's a week's worth of recipes, using pantry items...and just a little time. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Musically speaking (I guess)

It's been a weird week. I've gotten some things done, but it's tough with Husband sick pretty much every day. (Poor guy.) The doctor said "a virus:" the catchall term for 'put up with it until you get better.'

I love Husband dearly...but frankly, when he's sick, he's a big baby. Dealing with this is interesting. In between taking trays into his bed of pain, trying to keep him company, and getting my own stuff done, I've been watching weird music videos...Beaker's Ode to Joy at the top of the list. But there's also his tribute to Carmen to ease my achin' mind. (It could be worse. I could be one of Roy Rogers' family, watching Trigger get put up for auction.)

Mystery Guitar Man's been great, too. Here he is, playing balloons and kazoos...and the master himself on what he does best -- the guitar. (This one's Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.) Don't miss my engineer buddy's Pizzicato tribute to MGM, either.

Hey, if you're going to listen to classical music, make it the good stuff.
Have a great weekend...and don't get sick.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

VIB (Very Unusual Blogs)

...well worth reading!  I bumbled onto these while doing research on "An Adventure," a very odd book about a very odd day two Englishwomen had at Versailles in 1901. (They claim they were transported back to Marie Antoinette's time, and actually saw the queen herself painting in front of her show farm, the Petit Trianon. Fascinating, and some unexplainable stuff here, plus some controversy. More here, if you're curious about specifics.)

 Anyhow, there's a complete blog dedicated just to 'time slips' like "An Adventure" describes! She doesn't post very often, and sometimes her entries wander off into Wackyland. But they also led me into several interesting side roads, like the repeated Bold Street sightings in Liverpool, England. (Some fascinating stories here.)

And that blog led me, in turn, to an unusual blogster who loves old European history, especially medieval and ancient Roman sites. She's big on churches and monasteries, too. LOTS of photos and intriguing places on this one. Start with this post: "what you can find in cellars," about a tavern that planned to expand its basement -- and stumbled onto an old Roman era bath during the excavation!

Cool, especially for Americans -- we just don't hear that often about stuff like this across the pond. I plan to come back and visit these blogs now and then, just for fun. Who knows, I may also learn something!

Today -- and Beaker!

It's been a strange day...gloomy out, and cold. (I'm not complaining! I'm not complaining! It's wonderful to be chilly, for a change!)

I spent a lot of it cleaning. (Not that the house needed it...:)  Supper was tacos, thanks to the Rockies' amazing 9th inning last night. They're two outs down, behind 9-3. Nearly everyone has gone home, and it's started to rain. Then out of NOWHERE, they start hitting...and hitting...and hitting...including a 3-run homer by Seth Smith. The endscore? is Rocks! I still don't know how they did it.

They did it again tonight -- but took a few innings to accomplish it this time. WOW.

One of the best places to hang out when you're in a peckish mood is Youtube...I bumbled onto this wonderful Beaker (from the Muppets) version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy. (It won a Webby award for best musical.) Husband does a great Beaker imitation when he's in the right mood. He also does a terrific chicken impersonation! If you're a Beaker fan too, try this one, wherein he copies himself... has too much coffee...and ends up being everybody at show's end! (You'll have to watch it to understand.) I love the Poor Boy guys, as well. I'd ask Husband to serenade me tonight, Beaker-style, but he is not feeling well -- and losing his voice. Guess I'll have to "meep" myself to sleep, instead.

For more on the greatest lab assistant in the world, try Beaker's Wiki entry. You'll find the graphic below there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Come Visit Colorado...for Free!

Want a free trip to Colorado, including a river rafting experience?

The Colorado Tourism office is holding a sweepstakes -- a five-night, six-day trip of fun (and a zillion activities) for four people. Go to this page to enter. Come see us, y'all!

Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff

From the "This Must Prove Something (But I'm Not Sure What)" Department:

Swedish Feminists barbecue approx. $13,000 in cash -- to prove that women earn less than men. According to the article, it was 'ok' to waste the money, because it had been donated by two men for just that purpose.
Tell that to the local charities.

A New York judge rules that a divorcing (and feuding) couple put up a dividing wall in their home, until proceedings can finish. (According to the plan, Wife and five children would have 700 sq feet more of living space than Dad. Whoopee.) According to Wife's lawyer, they'd been living as if they had a wall between for the past two why not.

A woman puts her neighbor's trailer (loaded with furniture) up as a freebie on Craiglist. (She said she was sick of looking at it -- 'just pull it away,' she offered. Without the neighbor's permission, I might add.) After the whole thing unraveled, the woman went to jail -- and the trailer was returned, but damaged.
   Hey -- I know of some neighborhood yipey dogs that might be -- oh, never mind. 

Beaker's version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy. (Ranks right up there with Gonzo and friends' rendition of the Blue Danube Waltz!)

Princess Diana's hair is now available as jam. $7.50 a jar. (Try reading that without gagging.)

A truck overturns in Rome -- and 2.5 million in euro coins scatters across the highway, causing a massive scoop-up. (One motorist called it "the miracle of the coins.")

And last but not least -- the Israel soldiers on patrol who break into dance.  (Thanks, Angel, for passing this on!)

Ah well. Back to work...

Want to Save Money the Groupon Way?

Well. I was supposed to do an appraisal this morning, but Ye Olde Client apparently has flaked out. It's ok...I've got lots of stuff to do --

But I'm thinking about SCUBA LESSONS!!! Found an introductory class for Husband and me for only $10, thanks to Groupon, a site that offers a daily special that's usually a steal. It's not just for the Denver, CO area, either -- lots of bigger cities have Groupon-selective deals. I've gotten everything from half-price plants to a half-price dining card at one of the best burger joints in town. They've also offered half (or less) priced manicures, river rafting trips, comedy shows -- about anything you could guess. The companies like the extra publicity and customers, and we get the buys!
    Go here to sign up (or at least check out the place) -- and you'd give me a little extra bonus credit, too. (For which I thank you.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Patriotic Dish!

(no, it's not George Washington in a Speedo...)

This Jell-o pie is a tasty way to incorporate red, white and blue in your next holiday meal.

Go here for the recipe. (Thanks for sharing, Kendrick Clan!)
Same pie...but with some additional twists.

A cool idea for a hot summer's day...

Dead to Rights

Here's a strange one -- a 91-year-old widow in Pennsylvania who missed her husband and sister a little too much. When they died, she saw them buried properly, decided they would be claustrophobic...and dug them up. The bodies then lived with her for years, so she could talk to them and touch them. (She even used makeup on her sister's face, and put on her glasses for her.)

I miss my Pa badly, but it never occurred to me to do this...the bones in the ground are not him. Not at all.

* * * * * *
Husband has been struggling with a nasty case of flu...strep...something like that. He hacks and coughs and tries desperately to clear up his chest congestion.
   Combine this with our dog Goonie's poor health, and we've spent a quiet weekend. We thought we'd have to put Goonie down yesterday -- his hind legs were completely numb, and he would just lay there and soil himself. Somehow, though, after I came home from church, he met me standing up, wobbly, but tail wagging.

Fireworks last night, but they competed with a thunderstorm the whole time. It's been sooo warm here. We keep at least two fans going most of the time, and only open windows in the late afternoon and evening to let the cool breezes in. (Other tips: hang your damp clothes inside to dry...or a wet towel in the sunniest window.) We eat a lot of meals outside on the deck, too. Less crumbs to clean up, and we can watch the sun go down over the mountains!
   Another help has been iced coffee. It's easy, cuts down on the trips to Starbucks...and you'll never pour leftover coffee down the drain again.

Put 5 ice cubes in a deep glass, pour a teaspoon sugar on top. Add milk until the glass is 1/3 full, then fill to the brim with cold coffee. (Use it straight from the pot, or keep leftovers in a jar in the refrigerator.) Stir gently. For extras, add a swirl of whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles or chocolate syrup. Yum!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Decorating -- Made Encouraging

There are very few decorating blogs out there that actually encourage you to express yourself.
Using materials on hand -- or what you can rustle up inexpensively.

Emily of Jones Design Company is one of them, which I happened on thanks to another easy decorator, The Nester.

Jones Design Company has an easygoing flair that's a cool breeze in a land of snootiness and big bucks. Take a look at her easy way to make a sign; I loved her hand-painted 'wallpaper,' as well. (Would I have the patience to do that? Not sure...but it's beautiful.)

Take a look; I'm sure you'll be inspired, too.

Happy Fourth!

We've been watching History Channel's The Revolution, and marveling how our country managed to stand all the pressure and hard times to finally come into being. From Tarleton to Clinton to Cornwallis, and a bevy of incompetence on the American side, led by General Gates and abetted by the Continental in the world did we do it? Probably thanks in great part to sterling men like Nathaniel Greene, Benjamin Franklin and that amazing commander, George Washington.

The tv winter scenes are a breath of coolness in this sticky place that's Colorado right now. I'm so grateful for cool evening breezes. This heat won't last forever, though. A neighbor is taking out his cedar hedge, and his grandsons just dropped off a pile of cut wood -- at least a cord's worth. Won't our winter fires be glorious! It even makes all that trudging back and forth to pile the wood up neatly worth it.

Tomorrow -- the church picnic, a long afternoon snooze and fireworks at night. Husband is deep in the throes of something that I thankfully just skirted the edge on. But this heat makes him tired and short-tempered, and the humidity makes it hard to breathe. Just a quiet Fourth, as a result.

Happy Fourth of July to you!
And our marvelous, stubborn, determined country.

Happy Birthday, U.S.A.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lesson Learned -- the Hard Way

I had a difficult reminder this afternoon why it was (and is) so important to keep checking your bank and other financial accounts -- someone broke into my Paypal account! They were busy helping themselves to $250 from my bank account when I noticed...not that the bank cared. ("You get lots of deposits and withdrawals from Paypal -- how would we know?" the clerk said rudely. This was after, of course, I'd mentioned the problem. Eventually they grudgingly agreed to refund the overdraft fee, when Paypal sent the money back.)

Fortunately, Paypal had flagged the transaction as suspect, even before I called. They shut it down. I changed the password. (Plus passwords on my other accounts -- all are different now.) Things are looking up.
   So do me a favor. If you haven't checked your financial accounts lately, take a minute and make sure all's well. You won't regret it.

Why Do So Many Pro Athletes Go Broke?

The reasons, according to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, are simple: they don't pay attention.
   Of course, there are contributing factors:
*grow up poor, then try to make up for lost time  (like eight vehicles, all on lease payments)
*hire family and friends to manage your money -- instead of a professional
*hire a professional you haven't checked out
*invest in a business, new invention or whatever...ditto
    Once these steps are all in place -- pay absolutely no attention to what's going on. Don't open any bills. Don't check your bank account. Do nothing.

Then what happens? According to SI, 60% of professional athletes are broke within two years of their retirement.
   We may not be scooping up bazillions of dollars, but can still learn from these basic cautions:

*Don't invest in a 'sure thing' unless you're certain it is.
(A number of the sad stories in the SI article have to do with investment scams. And I can never forget the $7000 we lost years back from trying to invest in wireless licenses.)
*Don't let your family or friends make up your mind. Advice is good -- but you have to make those decisions yourself.
*Keep checking your portfolio. Weekly or monthly or whatever -- just do it.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'd better go see how my Ford stock is doing.