Saturday, April 30, 2011

Late Evening Blog

My laptop went on the fritz this morning, so we took it to the Geek Squad.  They are sending it on to be fixed, and it might be two weeks before I get it back.  The extended warranty runs out June 4th, so it's by the skin of my shinny shin shin that it will get repaired at no cost to me.  In the meantime, my hubby is very accommodating about letting me use his laptop. 


The sunset was so pretty tonight.  We just had to stop along the roadside, roll down the window and capture the sacred sight.  There's nothing quite like a sunset to zip up the day.

Good night everyone!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Day

Thank you to those who called or emailed to check on me after yesterday's blog.  I guess the disappointment of not getting invited to the royal wedding simply got the best of me.

After Will and Kate announced their engagement I thought we'd get an invitation to the wedding.  But, as April 29th drew closer and closer, my hopes flattened like an old tire.  Oh, well, my life will go on, and the hat I was going to wear has already been tossed in the garbage.  I suspect it was Cam, and her jealous nature, that got our names crossed off the guest list.  She and I never did get along.   

Dutchess Catherine's dress was elegant, refined, and classy. She absolutely looked like a Queen.  William and Harry made their mother proud dressed in their uniforms.  Diana had to be looking down on her little boys and Kate, blowing kisses that will bless them forever.

When I look at the hats some of the ladies wore on their foreheads, I can't help but wonder what they used to fasten them down with.  Is there a hat glue out there that I don't know about?  Please allow me to be a bit catty here, but didn't Queen Lizzy look like she'd been dipped in Easter-egg dye? 

I must say that it's especially refreshing and uplifting to watch happy times on television, rather than the usual depressing drama of war and the economy.  The Brits certainly do have a bloody good way of balancing the prim-and-proper with toasting the bubbly in the streets, don't they? 

Married life for Willliam and Catherine won't be what married life is for the rest of us.  I pray that they will have a soul-sanctuary, at all times, that will shelter them from the infestation of media bugs that will swarm around them wherever they go. 

In many ways, I sympathize with Catherine, the Dutchess of Cambridge.  She relinquished the life she had and has just taken on a global responsibility like none of us can even fathom.  This royal couple has the potential for serving humanity beyond  measure.  Diana is no longer with them physically, but her caring spirit most assuredly lives on through her thoughtful and patriotic sons.  England is in good hands.
 
Question:  Does the Royal family have a last name?

(Photo from Yahoo news) 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Have you....................


Well, I'm having one today.  Am going to pull inside my turtle shell and stay there.     

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Place to Put My Feelings

Oh, dear, this morning I had the kind of dream that was so real, it felt as though life was going on without me.  Now I'm left with the disturbing emotions that my dream stirred up.

Usually I don't have really bad dreams, but once in awhile a doozy will come out of the blue and really rattle my cage.  If I was college age, I'd seriously consider studying the psychology of dreams and that whole other dimension to life.  Now that I'm retired and have served my time working, all these wonderful opportunities and interests entice me.  Guess we have to live out our life before we know what we want to do with it.

It's a hoot to ask little children what they want to be when they grow up.  Like, how are they supposed to know!  All they have to go on is what they see.....probably in the movies or on t.v.  Thinking back to my youth, I don't remember a big choice in what I was going to do.

This morning we're headed to the dentist's office once again.  Another hour appointment for my husband.  He's growing weary of this dental drama, and I surely can understand why.  But, when it's all over, he will be good to go.  That's what staying healthy is all about.  If we stay ahead of the game, we'll stay in the game!

The sun is peeking through the clouds, and every few minutes our house fills with bright sunshine.  When the sun goes back behind the clouds, the house goes darker. 

Yesterday's book discussion went very well.  My reading partner offered some interesting possibilities on what might come in the next one-third of the book that we'll read this week.  She gave me enough of a reader's shove that I want to start turning those pages and see what develops.  I personally want an author to have grabbed my sole attention by the time I'm one-third into a book, but with "Elsewhere" I have to be patient.  Part of this Reading Assignment is journaling, so the student makes each of us a little journal that we write in each week, and when we're finished the journals are turned in as part of the school assignment.  It's such a cool way of sharing ideas and getting to know something about the reading partner.

Journaling, for me, is second nature.  It comes to me as easy as breathing.   Sometimes I wonder if the type of occupation I was in had something to do with my passion for journaling.  Confidentiality was #1 in my field, so for over 40 years I had to have somewhere to put my feelings and opinions. 

Don't they say that we all need a place to put our emotions?  If we don't release them, we'll explode.  That's so true, I think.  Occupations that deal with child, and other domestic, abuse situations can weigh heavy on the worker, because those situations play themselves out over and over in our minds and we must put them to rest somehow without letting them out.  It's a prison of its own sort, that's for sure.

The coffee this morning is dark, strong, and stout.....just the way I like it.  Best quit gabbing here and move on with my day.  Ta-ta till tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Making Rain

I'm looking outside through a pane of trickling raindrops.  Grass is the color of Irish green and looks lush and healthy.  Dandelions are making their presence, and, as I've said before, I like dandelions.  If they had been named Sun Circles, perhaps they wouldn't be considered such pests.

I'm off to my book discussion this morning.  The book the two of us are reading is "Elsewhere" by Gabrielle Zevin.  The author offers a new spin on life after death.  Instead of aging like we do on earth, the dead person ages backward in Elsewhere, back to the baby stage.....at which point it is sent back to earth to start life all over again as someone else.

In these discussions we tackle the book in thirds, so today we discuss the first 86 pages.  The fun part is getting a 7th grader's spin on a book.  "Elsewhere" so far isn't ringing my bell, and I'd have hoped by now the book would have piqued more of my interest.  But, that's the intrigue of reading and sharing thoughts about a book.  Two minds can interpret the same book far differently.  So it is that I anxiously await our half-hour of thought sharing.

Yesterday we took our new vehicle back to the dealership for its 2,000-mile service.  We were surprised when the mechanic handed us the service printout and said, "This one is on the house."  Not too many things are done for free these days.  Of course, it's not like we didn't pay for it when we bought the vehicle.  Still, it was a nice gesture.

The waters of the Mighty Mississippi have gone down since the flood stage a week or so ago.  Back waters are still higher than usual, but the dangers of flooding have passed.  Sandbags remain proof of human fears of high waters.  One question we had as we drove by the river is why the high water doesn't erode the railroad tracks that are so near the river's edge.

Rain is Mother Nature's best lesson in recycling its resources.   A fun experiment to do with kids is to "make rain." (www.essortment.com/kids-weather-rain-facts-57126.html)  Here's what you do:
  1. Fill a glass about half full of water.
  2. Cover the glass tightly with plastic wrap.
  3. Put a rubber band around the glass to hold the wrap in place.  Make sure there are no holes in the wrap over the top of the glass.
  4. Put the glass of water in the refrigerator.
  5. Wait one or two hours and check the glass.  When you see water droplets on the inside of the glass on the plastic, you know your experiment is working.  The longer you wait, the more water droplets will form.  You can even wait until the next day.
  6. When you see plenty of droplets, take the glass out of the refrigerator and set it on the table or counter, or some other place where it won't be in the way. 
  7. The water has evaporated up to the top of the glass where the plastic is.  The plastic is like the clouds.  Soon, as the glass starts to warm up, the plastic will have more water than it can hold onto, and the drops will rain back into the glass.
You just made rain!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Memories

Warm fuzzy thoughts of Easters past are coming back to me this morning as I remember new pink shiny shoes with a strap across the top of my foot,  thin white anklets with lace around the cuffs, a frilly pink dress with a sash that tied in a back bow, and a new Easter bonnet that had a ribbon streamer in the back.  I remember how Mom would help me get dressed to go to Easter Sunday Mass, and it was when she carefully placed my new bonnet on my head that I felt life was all it could ever be for me.

I remember the spring rains made for muddy driveways, and our farm had a long one.  We didn't have 4-wheel-drive pickups to grind our way through the ruts, so getting to Mass took some struggle on Daddy's part to get us to the main road.  I'd get all prettied up in the house, they'd have to carry me out to the car so I wouldn't get dirty, and then I'd sit in the back seat and pray to Blessed Mother that we'd  make it up to the main road and not get stuck and have to stay at home.  My life depended on us getting to church so everyone could see my new clothes.

A local grocer one year held a drawing for kids to win an Easter Lamb Cake.  My Mom signed me up.  At the time, I'm sure I didn't understand what "winning something" meant.  Lo and behold, my name was drawn.  We drove in to town, and the grocer's wife handed me a cake she had baked in the shape of a lamb laying in a bed of green coconut grass.  We took the lamb home like it was alive, and I wouldn't let anybody touch it.  The rest of the family thought we should cut into the cake and enjoy eating it for our Easter dessert.  But, I held the ruler on this one.  My cake was put on display and that was the end of that.  A couple of weeks later, my dear little lamb started turning green.  I almost died when I no longer had a choice in the matter, and we had to throw my once-in-a-lifetime cake away.

One Easter I remember it snowed during the night.  My older brother noticed rabbit tracks out in the snow, so he told me this bull story that they were the tracks of the Easter Bunny.  Omigod.  How was I supposed to deal with something as big as that. 

Coloring Easter eggs was such a big deal.  The stubby wax pencil that came with the coloring kit was simply spectacular.  I wrote our names and all sorts of swirly designs on the egg shell, then when we dipped the wire egg holder and the egg into a brightly colored dye, the wax marks would stay white.  Magical, that's what that was!

Even now that I'm grown up, I still like having fun on Easter.  Day before yesterday we baked 4 dozen bunny cupcakes to deliver to our neighbors.  Makes me wonder how I'd have reacted as a kid to having a whole army of these little guys sitting on a shelf.....I'd almost bet they would have all turned green for me!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Bushel and a Peck

There's an editorial in today's newspaper titled, "Always say 'I love you' --- just in case." 

The gist of the editorial comment is how critical it is that we prepare for the unexpected.  This may seem trivial when life is going along smoothly, but our last "I love you" may be the one that carries us through a devastating loss. 

From time to time, it's good exercise for our hearts to think upon the reasons we love someone the way we do.
  • Their sense of humor
  • Their smile.
  • The way we are growing old together and can still tease each other.
  • The respect we have for each other.
  • Even though they know everything about us, they stick by our side.
  • All the little things they do for us every day.
  • Their outgoing personality.
  • Their generous nature.
  • Their silliness.
  • Their kindness and thoughtfulness.
  • The way they make us laugh.
  • The way they protect us and make us feel safe.
  • The way they thank us for doing everyday things.
  • How they make us feel better when we're feeling down.
  • How it feels like we're still dating after decades of marriage.
  • How they would do anything to make us happy.
  • They share and support our interests.
  • We are always there for each other, no matter what.
The older we get, the more precious every day gets.  We never know when it will be our turn to be erased from the game board.  Let's not leave without making darned sure the other person knows that they live within the deepest chambers of our heart and forever will. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

April 22, 2011, has a lot of weight on its shoulders!  It is not only Good Friday for us Christians, but it is Earth Day for the world.

One doesn't have to look far to see how Mother Nature is being violated for human gain.  Here are some sensible ways we can do our part to preserve our beautiful and bountiful planet......
  • Drive less to save fuel and reduce pollution.  For short distances, walk, ride a bike, or carpool.
  • Service vehicles regularly.  A poorly-tuned engine can use as much as 50% more fuel and produce up to 50% more emissions than one that is serviced properly.
  • Buy, grow or pick fruit in season.  Freeze or can it for winter.  Enjoy fruit out of season without having it shipped great distances.  Food transportation is a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Drink water out of a reusable bottle instead of always buying water bottles.
  • Reuse plastic/paper bags as waste-basket liners.
  • Turn unnecessary lights off.
  • Draw drapes at night to help keep the warm air in during the winter months.
  • Turn down the heat/air conditioning when leaving the house. 
  • Follow the "rule of 5" when it comes to regulating heating and air-conditioning.  Go green by lowering the thermostat by 5 degrees in the winter or raising it in the summer by 5 degrees. This will save, on average, 7% to 11% on the electric bill, depending on how well a home is insulated.
  • Change furnace filters two times each winter.
  • Install proper weather stripping around doors and windows to keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. 
  • Ceiling fans are efficient and consume power at the rate of only pennies per day.  Especially during spring and fall months, or summer mornings/evenings, a ceiling fan can be provide sufficient air movement for a comfortable room temperature.
  • Wash clothes in cold or warm water, rather than hot. 
  • Wait until there's a full load of laundry or dishes before starting the machine.
  • Use detergent sparingly. 
  • Hang clothes to dry.  If using a dryer, clean the lint screen after each use.  Lint build-up reduces efficiency.
  • Take shorter showers.  If we shower every day, we easily save 1,000 gallons a year by cutting the time we run the water by just one minute.  We can probably make up this time simply by making sure everything we need is close at hand before turning the water on.
  • Turn off the water while brushing teeth.  The average person, who keeps the water running while brushing their teeth, will use 1.875 gallons of water.  This means that in a year's time of brushing, a total of 684 gallons of water will run down the drain.  If only 1 person in every 100 people keeps the water running while brushing their teeth, 2,079,768,512 gallons of water goes down the drain wastefully.   
  • Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice make great SAFE cleaners.  Store-bought cleaners are adding harmful toxins to our homes and our bodies.
  • Make stoves more efficient.  Use the burner that matches closest the pan size.  Heat is lost and energy is wasted if the burner size is larger than the pan size.  Use lids on pots and pans to cook at lower settings.
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances.  
  • Don't waste paper.  Printing is an energy-intensive process, so be sure to edit documents on-screen before pushing the print button.  Use discarded pages for jotting notes.
  • Turn all equipment off when it is not in use.  
  • Choose a laptop if buying a new computer.  Laptops use less electricity than a typical desktop computer.  
  • Recycle eye glasses.  There are millions of people around the world who need glasses every year, and many of us have old pairs.  
  • Avoid pesticides on lawns and plants.  They threaten health, particularly in pets and children who are more likely to roll around on chemically-treated lawns.  If it is a "cide," it is made to kill things.  
  • Plant native trees, bushes, and flowers.  This encourages native wildlife back into the area, and each tree will provide oxygen for 2 people for the rest of their lives!
  • Keeping plants in the house helps clean the air.
  • Every time we repair something, we help the Earth's resources last a little longer.  Buy second-hand, borrow, or rent.
  • Take advantage of community toy and book libraries, which are great alternatives to purchasing.
  • Donate things no longer in use to charity or friends.  Give books to the library and share magazines and newspapers with others.
  • Give "green" gifts, such as homemade gifts or acts of service.
  • Buy eco-friendly products.  Choose toilet paper made from chlorine-free, recycled material, choose latex or water-based paints, thus eliminating toxic thinners or solvents.  
  • Use olive, peanut or almond oil to polish unvarnished woods.
  • Buy locally-made products.  Craft fairs are terrific places to shop and help others who are trying to make some extra money.
  • Reuse wrapping paper or use comics to wrap presents.  
  • Choose recreational activities that have minimal negative impact on the environment.
  • Teach children to be environmentally aware.  Involve them to explore the forest, take them to wilderness slideshows and presentations, nature walks, etc.
  • Teach children not to litter.    
  • Go to http://www.reuseit.com/ for other good ways to help save our beautiful Earth!
  • Lowe's is celebrating Earth Day by giving away a million trees.  Check a local Lowe's Store tomorrow, April 23rd, to get a seedling tree.  Mother Nature will benefit, and so will we.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Open Hand or Clenched Fist?




 How would we respond to anger if all anger was a call for help?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Junk Mail, Complexity, and Two Politicians

For the past few months now, our post office box has been inundated with business-type envelopes addressed to me.  Why?  Because I'll be crossing the 65-year threshold in July.  That's why.  Insurance companies are nipping at my ankles like anxious puppies, begging me to pick their supplemental insurance plans to partner with Medicare.   

Yesterday was bill-paying day at our house.  When I finished going through the mail, I had a small white garbage bag filled with junk mail from numerous credit card companies, health insurance and life insurance companies, household magazines baiting us to subscribe, and well-known sporting stores offering hot deals for the spring fisherman and the canoe and kayak enthusiasts.  Every frickin' envelope offers hoax deals that make me want to spit!

This morning I'm about to spout off about the subject of complexity.  Why the hell is everything so incredibly confusing and complex?  Let's start with the prescription drug plans for seniors.  There are the deductibles, the co-pays, the formularies, the non-formularies, and so on.  Every sector of business has their own jargon, but how 'bout they leave the jargon for their coffee-room discussions.  All we consumers want is a simple, straight forward explanation.  The more questions we have to ask, the worse the complexity gets.     

For sure it's our turn to start experiencing the disrespect that is commonly shown to elders in this country.  How sad for us that we have to endure this, but we watched it happen to our parents so we know it's for real.  One thing for sure, I'm not going to be a pushover for some little cutie sitting in her cubicle.  This morning one such little chick asked me if we had a computer, and I wanted to ask her if she was blond.  She informed me that if we had a computer, we could go to http://www.medicare.gov/, type in the prescription drugs we take, and the system will regurgitate the most effective plans out there.

Few Americans are happy with the direction things are going here these days.  Nothing upsets me more than the way the media flaunts the political shmucks before us.  Two in particular.  One a male.  One a female.  I won't mention any names, but their initials are SP (female) and DT (male).  Honest to mergatroid, how could this country have gotten to where people like this get publicity and recognition.  If either would get elected to a high office, there will be an immediate for-sale sign put in front of our house, and we'd be heading to Canada to die beside a lake.  If anyone wonders who these two people are, let me give a couple of clues.  The female doesn't know where some countries are located, and the male combs his hair in a disgusting frontward sweep.

Where's the vodka!   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Snow Falling on the Wildflowers

Holy Shmuck!  It's snowing like crazy where I live this morning.  The last couple of weeks we've been having spring-like weather, kids have been wearing shorts, riding their bikes around town, farmers have been working in the fields, and now we look out the window as it's snowing pitchforks and hammer handles! 

Just to show how spring has been struggling to get here, we took a few pictures day before yesterday on one of our country-road drives.  We spotted tiny patches of sweet adorable Anemones on the hillsides.  I wait for wildflowers to pop out of the ground this time of year like kids wait for Santa!


April is a cantankerous month.  One day it behaves, the next day it throws a tantrum!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Challenge #40 - I Want You To Be Happy

Forty days ago I presented myself with a Lenten challenge of writing 40 inspiring blogs, with the hope that by today I would have a sense of renewal and be a better person.  Isn't that what Lent is all about?

It has been an intriguing challenge, and, honestly, wasn't as difficult as I at first thought it might be.  On days that I was without any idea what to write, an idea would come to me or I would read something very powerful and worthy of being passed on.  Sometimes I think I use quotations in my blogs more than I should, but I collect quotations like some people collect state spoons.

Being alive is a huge challenge in itself.  If we take time to count the ways we have to challenge ourselves every minute of every day, it would surprise us to see how hard we all are working to be the best we can be.  Most of the time we deal with our personal challenges privately so no one will notice that we even have them. 

My hope is that something I have included in one of my blogs the last 40 days has provided an inspiring lift to one of my readers.  If that be the case, then my Lenten challenge has been worthwhile.  The other evening I was surfing the Internet and watched a lecture video about Compassion.  The gist of the lecture was this........

If every one of us, starting right now, would look at the person, or pet, next to us and privately think, "I want you to be happy," and keep thinking that, we could create a bigger melt down than a nuclear explosion.  It may be an impossible challenge for politicians to think like this, but the rest of us are surely capable of trying.  This isn't rocket science.......it doesn't require a diploma......it doesn't require wealth or status.......all it requires is a kind and caring heart.

My Lenten Challenge Is Completed

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Challenge #39: About Turning 65

In the April 2011 AARP Bulletin appears the article, "About Turning 65" written and submitted by Kathleen Canrins, of Palo Alto, California.  Her article is so right-on-the-mark that I feel it needs to be available in other venues besides a bulletin for seniors only.

Twenty years ago I would have been scared out of my pants knowing I'd be turning 65 in a couple of months, but, hey, I'm looking forward to the Medicare Milestone.  It's a trophy age, as Kathleen writes.....

"What could be great about being 65?  As good as those peak work years were, and childhood and young adult years, and the child-rearing decades, too, the time of life that begins traditionally at age 65 has them all beat.  Of course, having those other parts of life behind me has something to do with this.  A lot of have-to's are in the past, and I am freer than ever before to choose how I spend my time.  What shall I learn more about or become better at, or what new activity shall I try, I ask myself.  Where would I like to volunteer?  I sense a world of possibilities, many more than when I was 23 and starting my work life.

"Though I am not rich and have age-related physical problems that limit what I can do, though I still have responsibilities that take up much of my time, I know that I am the happiest I've ever been.  Key to this new state of being is that I find it impossible to dwell on what I don't have or can't change.  Perhaps some individuals are born with this attitude or developed it along the way, but I cannot imagine having reached this state earlier than 65.  Becoming a card-carrying member of the senior generation was a reality check.  I don't have time to waste on ways in which the glass is half empty.

"Instead, I pay attention to the good and the good within the bad.  I am not preoccupied with how I can make life turn out one way or another.  For the most part, it has already turned out.  I appreciate things I didn't notice earlier in my life--a stranger's smile, a driver who slows to allow me to change lanes.  The priorities that dictate how I spend my time are clear:  the people I love, the activities I enjoy and those that keep me healthy.

"Observing my children move along in their life paths does not make me long to relive mine.  For me, it's great to be on the other side of those extraordinarily rich parts of life, free from the demands that go along with them and free from 'what if' and 'if only' thinking."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Challenge #38: The Cherokee Legend of The Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson
about a battle that goes on inside all people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two
wolves that dwell inside each and everyone of us.

"One is Evil.
It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is Good.
It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity,
truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for
a minute, and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied:
"The one you feed."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Challenge #37: Dealing With Disappointment




Reality is the name we give to our disappointments.
(Mason Cooley)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Challenge #36 - Stop Spending

Our U.S. Government leaders are referencing "trillions of dollars" of deficit.  A trillion dollars.  What exactly is a trillion?
  • A trillion is a million million.
  • A thousand billion.
  • It's a one followed by 12 zeroes. 
  • Stack a trillion pennies one on top of another, and you have 986,426 miles of pennies.  That is nearly three times the distance from the earth to the moon.
  • A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.
  • It would take a military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills.
  • If your annual salary or wage is $50,000, it would take you 20 millon years to earn a trillion dollars.
  • A person given $1 million a year to spend would need 1 million years to blow a trillion dollars.
  • Counting to a trillion at a rate of one number per second (no sleeping) would take almost 32,000 years.
  • Think of it this way.  A thousand seconds is a coffee break, a million seconds is a vacation, a billion seconds is a career, and a trillion seconds is 310 centuries!
These figures have been gathered piece-meal.  If there are discrepancies, who the hell cares!  It's all way over the top of any human being to comprehend the depth of the doo-doo we're in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Challenge #35: Botany Lesson

As a little girl, the wild violets, the trillium, and the columbines were my favorite wildflowers.  Thank heaven that we never really do grow up and away from reverencing the tiny gifts from Nature.

There is a trout stream about six miles from our home.  My family fished at this stream all through the years and still do.  After my daddy died, it was to this trout stream that I went for comfort.  Don't ask me why, but I felt he was there.

Every April I wait for the white trillium (scientific name Trillium Grandiflorum) to pop out of the ground.  They belong to the lily family and are native to Eastern North America, from northern Quebec to the southern parts of the United States, through the Appalachian Mountains into northern Georgia and west to Minnesota and Iowa.

I've done a bit of research on these precious wildflowers, and studies show that their seeds are typically dispersed by ants.  Ant dispersal is the result of an oil-rich body attached to the seed, which is high in lipids and oleic acid.  The oleic acid induces corpse-carrying behavior in ants, causing them to bring the seeds to their nesting sites.  As ants visit several colonies of the plant, they bring genetically variable seeds back to a single location, which later results in a new population of more biologically-fit flowers. 

The white-tailed deer like to eat trillium, will digest the seeds, and later disperse them through defecation.  A deer will eat the larger plants, leaving the shorter ones behind, and this information is used to assess deer density and its effect on plant growth in general.

In 1986, the Ohio General Assembly declared the white trillium to be Ohio's official wildflower.  They selected this little flower, because it grows in all of Ohio's 88 counties.

These little spring flowers symbolize the early arrival of robins, and that's why they're also called "Wake-Robin."  They have a long history of use by the Native Americans for medicinal purposes.  And, they are the provincial flower of Ontario, Canada.

If parents are looking for inexpensive, yet fun, outings with their children, try looking for Trillium.  They're out right now, pretty as they please, they grow close to the ground, and like to have their pictures taken.  That's what I was doing yesterday ....until an old rusty car pulled up, two guys got out with their fishing poles, and let their big mean-looking dog loose.  Here I was walking with the fuzzy one, zooming in on the wildflowers, and then we had to go back to the car because this big dog decided it wanted to take a better look at the fuzzy one.  Unfortunately for us, that ended our walk and our picture taking.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Challenge #34: Thoughts On This Tuesday

Frosty rooftops this morning, but the sun is shining now.  It seems like spring is having a hard time being born, but it keeps trying nonetheless.

This morning I had a 10:30 appointment to get my hair cut, but I canceled.  I'm known for canceling appointments and rescheduling them.  That's a girl's prerogative, right? 

I really like it when businesses call the day ahead to remind us of our appointments, mainly because once in a while we forget to write them down on our calendars.  The reminder is a good thing, especially for those of us who have entered the Wonderful World of Lost Thoughts.
 
I'm going to clean out one of our kitchen cupboards today and do some rearranging and organizing.  We have a coffee and cereal cupboard where we store our boxes of cereal, regular coffee, flavored coffees, and packets of tea.  It seems that it would be more efficient to have our everyday assortment of coffee mugs in that cupboard, as well.  I'll see if I can re-vamp it and improve its value to our kitchen.

What is it about springtime that energizes us to clean and want to have a fresh start!  Guess maybe that's one of the benefits to living in a 4-season climate.  During the winter months we get lax and lazy, but as soon as temperatures warm up, we get what feels like a strong dose of adrenalin.   I'm not one who likes to tackle huge projects and work like a nut case to the finish line.  Rather, I take the turtle approach and do a little at a time until my project is done!  Am not sure if that's a good thing, it's just the way I am these days.

Actually, I see no sense to hurrying.  Seems we spent more than enough years racing down life's track at break-neck speeds, only to find out that there was really no place to go.....except here.  Now that we're "here," there's surely no sense in us hurrying to that next big bus stop!  It's better we just mosey our way through these first days of Spring, whistling and watching Our Creator rewrite the Book of Genesis for us.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Challenge #33 - Socks for Japan

If you are like me, you feel helpless when natural disasters hit our Earth.  The latest one was in Japan when the earthquake and tsunami destroyed entire towns, leaving survivors dazed and searching for lost family members.  I sit in my home watching CNN and wish to high heaven there was some tangible way I could help.

Big organizations are getting a lot of publicity these days because corporate greed has misued donations.  When I hear things like that, unfortunately I get a bit gun shy about sending money anywhere.  But, I happened upon a website that might be just what I've been looking for.  It's called Socks for Japan.  http://jasonkelly.com/helpjapan/.

Instead of me trying to explain the project, I'm simply posting the web address for anyone who might be interested in participating.  I know I'm going to Walmart this morning to buy some cute and colorful little-girl socks.  I want to feel in my heart that I may have touched the heart and soul of a little girl who may have lost her mommy or daddy, or both, or even her puppy.  The sadness over there has to be beyond our belief. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Challenge #32 - The Knots Prayer

My 40-Lenten challenges will soon be ending.  Ironically, this morning I received an email-forward that is perfect to pass along, especially on a Sunday.



THE KNOTS PRAYER

Please untie the knots
that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.
Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots
that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find
a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots,
would nots and
should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life all of the 'am nots'
that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought
that I am not good enough.
Amen.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Challenge #31 - Love Bouquets

Lake Superior is a glorious sight in the morning.  A couple of years back we camped in a bayside campground, and the morning sun transformed the lake into a sea of sparkling diamonds.  We took our lawn chairs out, our coffee, and watched the morning miracle unfold.

  One morning in particular, we were eating a local baker's recommended pecan rolls.  A little girl, about 3, was walking beside our campsite with her Grampa.  They stopped to talk a bit, and we learned that the little girl was born in Israel and now lives in South Africa, as her parents are in the Peace Corps.  Her Grampa told us that the way we see white-tail deer along our roadsides, the little girl sees zebras along the roadsides of South Africa.  The little girl's name was Irene.  She was picking yellow blossoms off wild plants and handing them to her Grampa, who was patiently holding the short stems for her until it became obvious she was picking more than he was able to hold.  So, I went in our camper and gave them a blue plastic glass to use as a vase for her bouquet of flowers.  Grampa told little Irene to say thank you.

The love that the Grampa had for that little girl dripped like syrup.  The little girl adored Grampa, as well.  The two of them were simply out for an early morning walk along Lake Superior, picking pretty flowers, and savoring their time together. 

The two of them touched me so much that they found their way into my daily journal.  There's a compelling kind of beauty that exists in this world of ours, and it has nothing to do with bright sunshine and glittering lakes.
 
I'd be willing to bet that little Irene will always remember how her Grampa held her flowers and took the time to go for a walk with her.  It's all about spending time together.  The simplest outing can have the greatest impact. Little children gravitate to those who give of themselves.  They want to feel more of that kind of love, foster that love, and take it back home with them. 

When I think about it, maybe all of us have invisible vases where we keep the bouquets of love we've gathered during our lifetime.  Invisible flower gardens.  Hmmmmm.  That's pretty cool, isn't it?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Challenge #30 - Staying Ahead of the Game


Maxine tries.  We all try.  Do we see results?  Not much of the time.  Anyway, that's the way it is for me.

There's another way to look at our endless trying.  What would we be like if we'd never have tried?  Erase all of our attempts to be the best we can be, and there may be someone different looking at us in the mirror.

In 2001, I was in Maine with two dear friends.  We were eating freshly caught Maine lobster at the home of my one friend's uncle.  Besides getting lessons on how to disassemble and eat a whole lobster, I learned some Maine sayings that I was quick to write down in my notebook so I wouldn't forget them.

One, "Little taps will kill the devil."

Two, "I may shake, rattle, and roll, and bounce,
but I'm still movin', and that's all that counts."

Three, "Sometimes the bear eats you--
Sometimes you eat the bear."

So, I guess I'll continue with my little taps.  Trying in small increments.  Maybe I won't ever see drastic results, but hopefully I can maintain a status quo.  We humans are so quick to see what I call our "freckles"......we compare ourselves to others, forgetting about the unalterable gene structure that makes us who we are.  We tend to zero in on what we think is wrong with us.  Pshaw to that!  We should rather zero in on all that is right with us and hold that in our mind vision.  It is absolutely possible to destroy our beautiful lives by dwelling and fretting about things that are influenced totally by the movies, the media, and the beauty magazines. Peer pressure is one of the enemies of our society.  It ensnares us in our adolescence and keeps us trapped until we reach my age, and then we see it for what it really is.  Gobbledegook. 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Challenge #29: Tongue Twisting Fun


Mr. See owned a saw.
And, Mr. Soar owned a seesaw.
Now, See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw
Before Soar saw See, Which made Soar sore.
Had Soar seen See's saw
Before See sawed Soar's seesaw,
See's saw would not have sawed
Soar's seesaw.
So See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw.
But it was sad to see Soar so sore
just because See's saw sawed
Soar's seesaw.
****

Ned Nott was shot and Sam Shott was not.
So it is better to be Shott than Nott.
Some say Nott was not shot.
But Shott says he shot Nott.
Either the shot Shott shot at Nott was not shot,
Or Nott was shot.
If the shot Shott shot shot Nott, Nott was shot.
But if the shot Shott shot shot Shott,
Then Shott was shot, not Nott.
However, the shot Shott shot shot not Shott, but Nott.

****
A tree-toad loved a she-toad
Who lived up in a tree.
He was a two-toed tree-toad,
But a three-toed toad was she.
The two-toed tree-toad tried to win
The three-toed she-toad's heart,
For the two-toed tree-toad loved the ground
That the three-toed tree-toad trod.
but the two-toed tree-toad tried in vain;
He couldn't please her whim.
From her tree-toad bower,
With her three-toed power,
The she-toad vetoed him.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Challenge #28: Human Commonality

Poetry speaks to my soul, and some poems whisper softly to my soul.  One such poem is "A Little Girl's Dreams."  The words so eloquently take me back to kidhood when my days were spontaneous and carefree and every small natural wonder was mine.  I shall always be amazed by human commonality.  One person can author a poem that perfectly reflects another person's thoughts and feelings.  We're all so uniquely different on the outside, yet miraculously the same on the inside.

A Little Girl's Dreams
(by Angie Olson)

Dreams keep running through my mind
Reflecting memories of long ago.
Made in a land of fairy tales,
A place my heart longs for so.
Cut off from the rest of the world
With streams, and meadows to roam,
Viewed from a little girl's eyes,
A place that would always be home.

A place where berries grew wild
where rabbits and squirrels were seen
Where a racoon could be a friend
And deer played down by the stream.
A world where imagination made all come true

And a little girl could be a queen
Where daydreams were spun like cobwebs
But a world where everything wasn't what it seemed.
For every little girl has to grow up
And daydreams shatter in your hand,
You find the home you thought was your own
Is nothing but a simple piece of land.
The flowers don't seem to bloom so bright,
And fairy tales no longer come true,
For it is seen now through grownup eyes,
No longer the world that you knew.
But still.....Somewhere in the back of my mind
That place will always remain
From all those memories long ago
To beckon me back time and again.
 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Challenge #27: Caring for our Faithful Ones

Last night our estate increased in value......by $20.  Yup, my betting buddy let me pick my team, and I chose Connecticut.  My reason for choosing Connecticut was strictly geographical preference.

This morning at 10 o'clock, our fuzzy one is going to the doggie beauty salon to get her winter fur cut off.  This is not an ordinary pet-grooming experience.  The fuzzy one doesn't like anyone messing with her body, so it's easier and safer if her veterinarian gives her a shot that puts her to sleep during the grooming.  My husband will stay for the grooming, to provide reassurance to the fuzzy one and to assist the groomer. Besides getting groomed, she will get her annual physical and update on shots. She has a small wart on her left lower eye lid, and that will be taken off while she's under sedation.

Pets are little people, too, and I feel absolutely sick when I hear that the state of our economy is affecting pet care.  People don't have the money to spend on their pets, so as a result, the animals are suffering neglect.  There's got to be a way to work some of these things out so no one ends up on the short end of the stick.  After all, why did Noah build the Ark in the first place!

Isn't it grand having spurts of spring the last days?  Yesterday we went to pay our respects to a grieving family, and we took back roads to get to where they live.  Hillsides are greening up, and the trout in the streams are teasing us.  Can't wait for the "who can catch a bigger fish" battles to begin. 

I haven't bought my fishing license yet, nor my trout stamp.  Must do that one of these first days so I'm ready when the whistle blows.  We bake trout on the grill, we fry trout in the skillet, and we even smoke trout in our smokehouse.  Fishing isn't only about the catching, it's about providing sustenance and promoting togetherness, as well.

The sun is casting shadows on the floor and on the furniture.  Another life lesson displays itself......without the sun, everything is a shadow. 

Best get to my day.  The fuzzy one has no idea what's ahead for her.  It's the two of us adults who are fretting about her having to go through this.  As soon as the visit to the doggie salon is over and little missy has her new fur-do, then I'll take over with the doting, cuddling and smothering her with the slobbery t.l.c.

It's called dividing the love!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Challenge #26: The Two Lumberjacks

Two lumberjacks were in a tree-cutting contest.  Both were strong and determined, hoping to win the prize.  But one was hardworking and ambitious, chopping down every tree in his path at the fastest pace possible, while the other appeared to be a little more laid back, methodically felling trees and pacing himself.

The go-getter worked all day, skipping his lunch break, expecting that his superior effort would be rewarded.  His opponent, however, took an hour-long lunch; then resumed his steady pace.

In the end, the eager beaver was dismayed to lose to his "lazier" competition.  Thinking he deserved to win after his hard work, he finally approached his opponent and said, "I just don't understand.  I worked longer and harder than you, and went hungry to get ahead.  You took a break, and yet you still won.  It just doesn't seem fair.  Where did I go wrong?"

The winner responded, "While I was taking my lunch break, I was sharpening my axe."

(Harvey MacKay)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Challenge #25: The Triple Filter Test

In ancient Greece, Socrates had the reputation for holding knowledge in high esteem.  One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

"Hold on a minute," Socrates replied.  "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say.  That's why I call it the Triple Filter Test.  The first filter is Truth.  Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"Well, no," the man said, "actually I just heard about it and ......"

"All right," said Socrates.  "So you don't really know if it's true or not.  Now, let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness.  Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?"

"Umm, no, on the contrary ......"

"So, Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about my friend, but you're not certain it's true.  You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left--the filter of Usefulness.  Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well, concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"

(Source unknown)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Challenge #24: Appreciate Our Resources

Kids now days are incredibly fortunate to have computers and the World Wide Web......not for things like facebook, twitter, and email....but as valuable tools for Learning. 

The reason I say this is because of the way I struggled with math.  My head was not wired for it.  Poor daddy sat with me by the kitchen table trying to get me to understand 'story problems.'  His gentle frustration showed, yet he never once made me feel dumb because my brain couldn't understand.  He was the type of guy who would sit patiently with me, explain and re-explain, until his explanations sort of made a little sense to me.  I remember feeling so sorry for him that I'd tell him I understood, when I really didn't.   

Now, there are websites where kids can have fun with math, for instance http://www.funbrain.com/, www.playkidsgames.com/mathGames.htm, and http://www.mathplayground.com/.  Catholic grade school didn't afford us kids "fun" venues for learning our arithmetic, as it was called back then.  We were either good at our numbers and praised, or we faltered and lagged behind with no special help or outside resources whatsoever. 

My final word on math is simple and concise.  Mickey Mouse and I think with the same side of our brains.  Both of us are tickled pink to be able to count to 20 without taking our shoes off!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Challenge #23: Be On Your Toes

There oughta be a "bad-word beeper" on my blog dashboard, cuz you'd be hearing 'em this morning!

I live with a prankster.  It was literally seconds after I came to my senses this morning that I was told, "Boy, it's really snowing outside."  My ladylike response, of course, was, "You gotta be shittin' me."  Then he innocently says, "Either that or it's April 1st."

Phuque!

The worst part is that I have to be nice to the guy today because we're heading for his second 90-minute dental appointment.  What kind of wife would hold a grudge and be nasty to a husband with a numbed mouth!  (hmmmmmm....maybe I'll have to re-think this a little bit.)

Okay, I got that off my chest.  Now, let's get down to the real nuts and bolts of my day thus far......and, that is the priceless element to any human relationship......humor.  I can snit and snart all I want about getting fooled so early in the day, but I love it and, of course, this puts the ball in my court.  Don't think for a hot second that my wheels won't be spinning.  I shall bide my time and strike when he least expects it. 

Do you want to know what he did to me one Sunday morning after we first got married?  I was walking around downstairs in a short red neglige' when he grabbed me, tossed me out on the front porch, and locked the door.  He had waited until church was over and a steady stream of cars was driving by our house.  There I stood, looking like a matador's cape flopping around out there in broad daylight, while he was in the house laughing his ass off.  I ran around to the back door, but the wise bird managed to have that locked, too.

Oh, yes, my friends, he's a little jokester, all right!