Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fiddling Around

A 14-year-old fiddler leaves his companions in the to speak.

By the way, the song is the 'Orange Blossom Special,' performed by the Kempters.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018


In honor of Oct. 31, you've got to watch Michael Jackson's opus macabre:

(be sure to full-screen it to get the best effect)


It's coming.

We've had temperatures in the 60s and 70s for a few weeks. Tonight, while I was taking clothes off the line, the wind picked up. A huge bank of clouds started to move in.

We're supposed to have a high of only 40 degrees for the next few days. Snow, too. 

What a way to finish October!

P.S. It's been snowing since noon today (Tuesday)...but nothing collecting. Yet.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Book Signings and Such

We're back, from three book signings...and some surprises. 
    The most successful spot? The Costco book signings! Both times, we sold LOTS of books.

The worst? Ironically, Barnes & Noble. (My guess is that it has something to do with volume. Hardly anyone was wandering around the Friday before Halloween in that store.)

And the most fun? The Firefighters Museum. The kids were fascinated by the misting machine. (Thanks, cousin Joy, for the suggestion.) No ghostly visitors, but lots of real ones. 

Plus a strange one...
 This week, it's back to appraising...and continuing to catch up. Okay with me. 

Remember him? A long look at William Pratt... better known as Boris Karloff.  (From Sightings At 60)

Five ghostly encounters people say they experienced. (The presentation and photos are scarier sometimes than the actual event. But hey, it's Halloween...why not.)

From, via Pinterest

Dozens of quotes about the Devil! These are illuminating, and often remind me of C.S. Lewis' memorable Screwtapes Letters.

"The creepiest thing that ever happened to you.  From Cracked readers.

'Christmas creep.' Why is Christmas sneaking up, when Halloween isn't even over yet?  (From Surviving and Thriving)

Perfect cooked rice...25 minutes.  (From Thrifty Mom in Boise)

What everyone is getting wrong about FIRE...according to Mr. Money Mustache. Including Suze Orman...

But she may have changed her mind. (According to Afford Anything.) Of course, ol' Suze is also insisting a million isn't enough -- you need at least $5 million to retire. I'll remind the Brick of that, as his 3 1/2 year anniversary comes up. (No, we don't have $5 million, or even a million in our accounts. Oh well.)

The Arctic explorer who wanted to 'do' the South Pole solo -- and paid for it with his life.

One of Julie Swetnick's 'corroborators' says she was clear from the getgo that she did NOT back up Swetnick... and told her high-powered lawyer so. (A second source cited by Swetnick also denied her claims.) NBC News knew this from Sept. 30 and didn't mention it...sick sick sick. Makes you wonder even more about the 'fairminded' coverage of Kavanaugh's hearings, doesn't it.

BUT -- one of my new blogger friends, Barbara at Living Richly in Retirement, pointed out:
    "It occurs to me that if the current candidate for higher court had just said something like 'I was young and stupid in college, and I partied and I drank. I don't remember this incident but I apologize to Ms. for any pain I caused her,' or the equivalent [ed. like 'any pain she endured'], he would probably be sitting on the bench now. His mistake..."

I think she's right. A lot of agony and accusations would have shut down pretty quickly. Then again, we've seen pride get in the way before. 

The dog at McDonald's who pretends to be a stray...for burgers!

Revenge for having your lunch stolen at work. Don't miss the comments -- they're almost as good as the article!

Ten money mistakes that will keep you from retiring.  (a guest post from ESI Money)

The oddity cabinet -- a classic from yours truly.

An 11-acre Hawaiian island wiped off the map.  Thanks to a recent hurricane.

How to stay faithful, according to Michael Caine: Take your partner with you. The Pence Rule is looking better and better. (The Brick and I try very hard to follow this -- and it helps.)

A University of Maine professor offers course credit to students willing to bus down and protest Kavanaugh's selection in the Supreme Court hearings. Hey, that's showing an impartial response! (She's no longer teaching, for some shocking reason...)

Lavender pills ease anxiety?!?  I dunno...but lavender's smell is very calming.

Signs that your employees (or someone else) may be stealing from you. Aarghgh.

Three 'new' (actually, incredibly old) shipwrecks found -- that may change history!

Lotto winners through the years -- a slide show.

Rice and beans -- a much-requested recipe made famous by the Frugalwoods.

Does Bigfoot roam Yellowstone? This video is from the Old Faithful webcam, shot on Christmas Day...looks like he brought his family with.

A history of the London Zoo, including this interesting tidbit: in the 18th century, you could pay your admission by bringing a cat or dog to be fed to the lions! (Ewww...)

'My favorite book inscription from 76 years ago:' a review of  Marjorie Hillis' Live Alone and Like It is included. One of the most practical entertaining how-tos out there, even if it's gained antique status now.

Have a great week. Go out and enjoy the warmth, if you can...our temps have been in the 60s and 70s, here on the flatlands in Colorado. But there's always this little edge in the air, once the sun goes down. 
     Winter's coming.

Were You Surprised, Too?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Signings and Scary Stories All Weekend

For the next few days, I'll be out with Ghost Stories & Legends of Colorado's Front Range, signing copies and telling stories.

First stop is at Barnes & Noble, Southlands Town Center location, in Aurora, CO -- Friday night (Oct. 26), from 5-7 p.m.

Saturday morning is another Costco book signing, this time for the Aurora, CO store (Oct. 27, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.).

At night, the Brick and I will be at the Firefighter's Museum in Denver -- the same place pictured on the cover of the book. They're hosting a Trick or Treat night, beginning at 5 p.m., including yours truly telling ghost stories.

    Considering how haunted this place seems to be, I hope everyone, real and wispy alike, behaves themselves.

Stop by and say hi.  

If you can't make it, you can still order the book via Brickworks' pre-pub special.
       (Click here for info.)

Dog vs Cat

And in case you're not convinced yet...

Makes You Wonder...

Yesterday afternoon, I set out to do errands -- a lot of errands. 
Here's how it went:

*Trudge out to the truck, loaded down with packages to mail, purse, list, etc. etc. Ruby and Charley try to slip out underneath your legs. (After all, they want to 'go for a ride,' too.) The Brick drags them back, just before they trip you on the sidewalk. Shove everything in, dogs watching sadly from the living room window. List instantly disappears.

*Post office first -- it closes in less than 5 minutes. Make it barely in time.

*Library next -- only then, realize that you forgot to bring the dangerously overdue video and books -- the reason you were going to the library in the first place.
     Stop anyways. Pick up a book on hold. Check the used sale room. (Nothing good.)

*County building next, to drop off yours and the Brick's votes. (So proud that we did this early. If you haven't voted yet -- you need to!) Get there -- the ballots are nowhere in sight. Search the truck. Did they fall out at the post office?

*Drive back to the post office. Maybe the ballots fell on the ground while unloading. Nope. Must have been left on the counter inside... Doofus.

*Pick up a prescription at Target. While there, the pharmacy tech says another one has just arrived: 'Want to wait for it?' So you do. At least these people don't treat you like Safeway.

     While getting in the truck, suddenly notice the missing ballots. They, plus a few packages, accidentally fell into the side door pocket. No wonder you couldn't find them.
     Heave a sigh. Resolve to deal with it after groceries. (By now, the sun is going down and it's suppertime.)

*First, the dollar store-- filled with little kids screaming in Spanish. It's the same as in English, of course: 'I want this/that,' 'So and so is picking on me,' 'Mommm....where are you,' etc etc. Children are the same everywhere, no matter what language they're yelling/shoving in.
     Lots of last-minute Halloween party-throwers, filling their carts up with flashy decorations. You're stuck behind one at checkout, with a clerk who feels a desperate need to comment on every item as she (slowly) rings them up.
     Realize, once the chatty clerk has finally bagged your order, that two items are still hiding in the cart. By now, a huge line has formed behind you, too.
     Decide you didn't need them, after all.

*Trudge down to Sprouts, bags in hand. (Easier than going back to the truck.) Get groceries...see neighbors who are also friends, and stop to talk to them for a while. (Being out of state working for more than two weeks will do that.) The list is still missing -- but it's ok, you'll remember.
     Realize, going out the door, that you forgot milk -- the whole reason for groceries, in the first place. Oh well, Safeway's not far from the post office.

              Where you're going.

     Trudge back UP to where the truck is parked...this time, with much heavier bags. By now, it's dark, and clouds are swirling around the moon. Temperature's dropping. Tired, hungry... just tired.

*Circle back into town. Drop off the vote ballots. Stop at the post office a THIRD time, and use the machine in the lobby for postage. (Thank God for that.)

*Turn toward Safeway, via the four-way stop. Look to your left - everything's fine. Start turning -- then suddenly notice the huge semi on  the RIGHT, turning the same direction. (It was a Good Humor truck. I swear.) Gun it -- and miss him by perhaps a foot. Maybe two.
     Thank God and His assigned guardian angel, then apologize to both of Them for being such an idiot. Since the truck driver is also turning into Safeway, prepare to grovel and apologize to him, too.
     (Whew. He didn't go inside yet. He's yelling on the phone about something. Probably me.)

*Groceries at Safeway, including some bargains...but too tired to care. Pizza's on sale -- guess what's for supper.

By now, it's 8 p.m. and the parking lots are deserted. Drive tiredly home, to be greeted by a worried Brick: "WHERE have you been??" (He also unloads the bags, the sweet guy.) Put the pizza in the oven, and the groceries away. The dogs are hungry -- feed them. Then finally...sit down and feed yourself.

      Oops, a frozen veggie bag never was put away, you realize hours later.

      And the library books still need to be returned.

      Everyone has days like this.

But at least you're finally home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Frugal Hits & Misses: October Report

Another squeaky-tight month for us...but with God's grace and a lot of holding back, except largely essentials, we're ok. Early in the month, I was still hoping to build up our savings, but that wasn't happening. However, we were paying our bills. Some welcome income by month's end, as well as the sale of the Outback (see below), made all the difference in the world.

I will still have several work things going, particularly for the new book. I'm done teaching and judging for 2018, though some appraising will continue. Time to start in on the other jobs that need doing around here. 

It's clear that this year, presents for Christmas are going to be modest. No large -- and frankly, not that many small -- purchases. I've been lucky to find some real steals already, and am finding more as I clean out the room that I normally hide presents in. (Apparently I hid them too well, because I'm finding stuff that was planned for the kids years ago.) In spite of that, I've decided not to apply for any holiday season jobs. The extra income would be nice, but both the Brick and I need the rest to continue improving. 
    One more week's left in October -- but I'll post this report now, since I have the time to do it.

(This includes some late September items)

*I flew to the working gig in Michigan this month, so had to be careful what I packed. Mostly, it was items for the gigs, but I tucked in a Delft blue and white bowl, plus a few goodies for The Mama.  (Thank you, Southwest, and your two-free-bags plan!) Left books and videos behind that will be Christmas presents for the family in Michigan. I can send them later via media rate.
     Headed home, I was able to fit in a bag of homemade doughnuts plus a package of windmill cookies for the Brick; several dollar store items for the book signing table; plus two large bags of apples and a small pumpkin. Suitcase #1: 50 pounds. Suitcase #2: 43 pounds. (Darn! Could have stuffed in more...)

*Sold the Outback -- able not only to pay some looming bills, but plump up the emergency fund again. Thank you, God...and Daughter #1, who wore out some shoe leather, showing the car for us.

*Paid the loan back that we took out from The Mama -- plus interest. Wonderful.

*Made meals a number of times at home...even though it would have been easy to go out, instead.

Soup is always good

*A free meal or two, courtesy of The Mama. Also, free lunch on a Worship Team outing.
     The Mama also let me borrow her van for traveling, which was very nice of her. (I did fill her tank once -- which was all she would allow me to do.)

*Five antique books for $7 from the thrift shop in Sparta, MI, including a history of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, which will be great for research -- plus a red reversible fall jacket for $7. I like '7 math' equations like this. (That thrift shop also had a wonderful leather chair, plus some vintage blue and white plates I had to reluctantly walk away from. Sigh...)
     Another Michigan thrift shop produced a suede winter coat with hood and 'fur' trim. Warm and stylin' -- and half-priced at $10.

*Half-price day at one of the local thrift shops, which meant a couple of Christmas presents, plus two new sweaters, a pair of classy black shoes (99 cents!) and a tan corduroy jean jacket. Oh yes, a small unused crockpot, as well ($2.50). The Brick has been wanting to try slow cooking in smaller quantities.

*Went through our closets for fall/winter clothes to wear...rather than going to the store or thrift shop for reinforcements. I generally bought only what I actually needed.

*Vitamins ran out -- but I found more on clearance. Funny -- that's how I got the last bottle!

*About 13 or 14 videos ($2 each) from the library used bookroom...some were relisted on Amazon, others will be Christmas presents. The rest will go into our collection.

*Some goodies from Amazon for Christmas stockings. We have the money now, and these were real steals. I also sent The Mama a box of Walker's shortbread fingers, her favorite. (She loved it.)

*Watched several movies and tv series via Amazon Prime, including the current season of Man in the High Castle. Finished it barely in time to cancel before our month-long free preview ended.
     We used Prime for ordering, as well, but noticed something unsettling. Although a few items were a bit less, at least one (the fog machine) was considerably more expensive if I ordered it via Prime, rather than my normal procedure! It doesn't make sense to have to pay for this privilege, then get dinged on products, as well.

I really need to read the novel, too. (Wikipedia)

*Sold a book on Amazon -- plus a number of Ghosts & Legends of Colorado's Front Range books, via Facebook and this blog. Hooray! Thank you to everyone who's purchased a book -- I hope you're enjoying it.

*Got our electric bill down $20 last month, compared to the bill a year ago. Others are more vigilant, but I felt proud we got it down this much, at least.

*Had two 'fahncy dinnahs' to and from my trip to visit friend Tammy's quilt shop in Angola: chicken nuggets from Burger King and Wendy's! The King's were cheaper (10 for a buck), but I think I like Wendy's version better.

*Free pkg of lunchmeat, thanks to Safeway. Other meat bargains, thanks to Daily Deals in Grand Rapids, MI: ham for 50 cents, chipotle chicken breast for 99 cents, 4-oz pkgs of cooked real bacon bits for a buck. If you live close to this chain, you surely need to visit -- I find incredible buys every time I stop there. (It was also the perfect opportunity to stock The Mama's freezer with a few ready-to-eat meals and treats.)

I still miss our chickens...but it was nice, not having to take care of them

*Got several Christmas presents from Safeway's clearance bin at 50% off...only to find, when they rang up, that the store was offering another 50% off that week! (I can't say yet what these were -- both Daughters will read my blog on occasion.)

*Fancypants Canadian cookies for half price. (The Dare brand - this company's chocolate is deep, dark and amazing. I only wish I'd bought more.) Ghiradelli chocolate bars at the same place (Safeway) for half price.

*Cut trees in our backyard down. They were already dead, so it tidied up the yard, as well. Their wood and branches (tied in bundles) will keep us warm via the woodstove this winter.

*Decorations for the table at book signings were all purchased from Dollar General, including 'sticky eyes,' skull shot glasses, a skeleton table cover, and 'candy corn' lights. Plus the best buy of all: a fog machine!  ($11 - Amazon)

Plus Costco's added touch: a Christmas village, stacked behind the table.

*We weren't getting a group policy discount for insurance -- the Brick caught this one. We'll get a credit for several months to come. (Plus, we no longer have to insure the Outback.)

*The Brick never did go hunting. He didn't feel well -- lingering effects from his surgeries earlier this year, we're guessing. Our friends went, and not only got skunked, but slogged around in the mud all week.
     It's nice to save on the gas and supply costs...but I still wish the Brick could have gone.

Quite different than back-East hunting conditions. (This photo is from a 2016 hunting trip.)

*Requested several books and videos (for research and pleasure) from the library...rather than purchasing them myself. This is a great way to get quality materials stocked, so others can enjoy them, as well.

*Fabric purchases - half-price. (Other fabrics were given gratis. Thank you, Tammy.)

*More Christmas presents... including two videos for $2 each and some playful stocking stuffers for 35 cents each. Hey, I've got the money -- they were great prices -- and I don't have to search much during December.

*Twenty dollars worth of, thanks to Swagbucks. (You can take advantage of this, too. Click here for more info.)

*Found a great new place for breakfast -- Steak n' Shake! I had no idea this 'lunch and supper' place had good breakfast food at such amazing prices.

*Finished our taxes. (The April deadline came right while I was in the middle of the Aussies tour; we just couldn't do it.) Got a refund!

*Phone costs were ramped down $30/month...because we called to complain about reception problems. (Turns out the whole neighborhood was having the same struggle that week.)

*Gave a few piano lessons. Appraisals ditto. (Pretty quiet in this area right now -- but that's totally normal for autumn. I was out of town a lot, anyways.)

*Kept the furnace turned off much of the month.  It helped that we didn't have a frost -- or snow -- until mid-month, while I was gone. I've rarely seen people still harvesting tomatoes this late in the fall.

*Free tomatoes and peppers from friends. The Michigan apples were also free, picked from friends' orchard. (The last of the peaches and strawberries in the fridge will pad out one final smoothie.)


*Paid for a hotel in Chicago for two nights -- including (and I still don't get this) $10/day for parking! We were at a cousin's wedding, and it was just too much for The Mama to make the 3+ hour trip from Sparta. (It was tough for me, too.) On the plus side, it was comfortable, with a free breakfast. And I got a reasonable price on it, thanks to Swagbucks and
     On the negative side, because I misread the schedule, we missed out on breakfast checkout morning. (But that's how we discovered Steak n' Shake's breakfast menu -- so I guess I can't complain too much.)

*Two sub sandwiches, purchased around wedding time -- and wasted. (Frankly, I thought they were taken by somebody else.) Found them after they'd been sitting out for a week, and tried an exploratory bite. It wasn't a smart idea.

*Went out to eat more than I'd planned in Michigan...but it was partly for The Mama, and partly for a cousin who looks after her frequently. I'll feed those ladies anyday. (I was also careful what I ordered.)

*The server crashed. Not having access to my 'permanent' file of appraisals is a little frightening. It took the Brick several days to figure out the problems, order new equipment, and Fix Things in General. Whew -- but it wasn't cheap.

For more reports, you can start with last month's -- click here for more. Or read the October 2017 report,. It's interesting, to see the weather -- and our lives -- changing, month by month. I'm guessing they're changing for you, too.

The Brick and his girlies - Hunting 2014

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Book Signings...And Kitty Pride

The book signing today at Costco went GREAT. At least 25 books sold in just a few hours...I'm pretty sure the real number was closer to 27. (It got a little busy there for a while.) 
    Considering that the Parker, CO Costco only ordered 45 books to begin with, they were very pleased.

    Also, considering this is my seventh book, I have never done a book signing before! So I have no idea whether I did it 'right' or not.

    Maybe that's a good thing, too. 

Next week, I've got another Costco book signing, this time for the Aurora, CO store (Oct. 27, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) Not long after, I'm headed to the Firehouse Museum in Denver to tell ghost stories during trick-or-treating time there. 
    Or you can meet me at my Barnes & Noble book signing on Oct. 26, 5-7 p.m. This is at the Southlands Town Center location, also in Aurora.

Stop by and say hi.

Book sales for Ghosts & Legends continue to do very well. Based on what the website is saying, books have already sold out a second time, even though publication was less than two weeks ago. This is music to an author's ears!

We've still got copies, though...and we're still running a 'pre-pub' special.

Meanwhile, here are some new kitty memes to entertain you. Charles & Ruby refuse to look, but you'll enjoy them. 

Charles & Ruby deal with this issue by desperately wanting to 'go outside.'
They then stand by the bin holding the dogfood, and look at me expectantly.
The stinkers.

Or maybe it would...


Friday, October 19, 2018

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: 'Finishing'

Now that I have a little sleep (and one book signing) under my belt, it's time to start cleaning up around here. I only have one appraisal to do -- and big plans to spend the rest of the time finishing unpacking and getting completely caught up on everything before Friday night -- and the next book signing.

     It would be wonderful.

The apples are safely in the fridge now, but won't last -- they got banged up enough in the suitcases, coming home. I need to process them into something... apple pies? Jam? Dumplings?
     First things first, though. Maybe next week.


An outstanding autograph/signature auction is happening this week in Dallas. Click on the link for direct access; letters from Abraham Lincoln, Hemingway, Agatha Christie and all sorts of politicos are included. Plus one from my personal buddy, Charles Dickens. (His is going for only $2500 -- actually a bargain for a two-page letter and envelope.) From Heritage Auctions.

Sears declares bankruptcy! This affects not only Sears, but Kmart.

Five movie stunts that went horribly wrong. Did you know Kate Winslet almost drowned while making Titanic? (From Cracked)

Boston Baked Beans.  Perfect for a rainy, blustery night. Think I'll make 'em this week.  (From Hundred Dollars A Month) Speaking of blustery:

What the Wisconsin/Illinois college football game looked like this weekend. Snow!

Jayme Closs's parents are dead... where is she? There seem to be hints that she was involved in this situation in ways that the police are not specifically alleging right now. Curious.

Ten things you didn't know you could freeze. Or maybe you did. (From Moneysaving Mom) And as a side:

Freezing taco meat (one of the 10 things, above): how to do it, how to stretch it, and some good recipes.

Celebrities who've been thrown off or denied entry to planes. The list seems endless...obviously, the "Do you know who I am?" argument isn't working.

An 'inconvenient truth' about the Republican party:

    You can certainly argue with this...but it is historical fact. 

Weird vintage photos of people, places and things...with the flu.

And to finish up -- an interesting threesome from Listverse:

Ten extraordinary dogs -- and the lives they saved.

Strange things that happened when celebrities died without a will. (A good lesson for us commoners.)

Ten intriguing and 'new' discoveries about Neanderthals.

Have a great week.

Book Signing At Costco Sat, Oct. 20

I'm home. 

Hauling two large bags of apples, plus a bag of homemade doughnuts and a package of Dutch windmill cookies (for the Brick), AND a ton of quilt tops, quilts and embellishments really takes it out of you. (Okay, and a few clothes, too.)

I was lucky to be able to spend some time with The Mama, as well as my friend Tammy (and her new store, the Angola Quilt Shop in Angola, IN), AND...

    new friends in the Log Cabin Quilters guild in Kalamazoo, MI.

Kind, friendly AND talented. A triple threat.

(Yes, Sandy, I know you're an old friend, from the John Campbell school teaching gig some time ago.)

And a shoutout to Patsy, a new friend who's been lurking on my blog for years! You're on my Facebook page, thanks to Sandy's photos, looking cute in your usual pink.

(By the way, if I look tired in the Kalamazoo photos, it's because I was.)

The first showing of Vestibule, the class project for Quilts with Secrets.
Photos coming from class soon.

Now it's on to the first book signing for The Book, Ghosts & Legends of Colorado's Front Range.

Come on over to the Costco in Parker, CO (18414 Cottonwood Drive, Parker ) -- 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. I'll show you a good time.

We're still running the pre-pub special, too...through at least the end of October.

More soon, after I get a deep breath. Orders need to be shipped, clothes washed, suitcases unpacked and reports caught up. (The ones I was working on were on our server here at home -- the same server that was down until this morning. I couldn't access it from Michigan, either. Aargghghg.)
    The fall leaves were just kicking in around Michigan. Here, they're pretty much finished. Snow is thick on the mountains, but bare ground's the norm down here on the flatlands. (If you can call 6250 ft. elevation flatlands, I guess.) The Brick greeted me with open arms -- some health issues didn't allow him to go hunting this season, after all. (And friends Thommy and Chris got skunked. Ah well.)

It's nice to be home.