Sunday, February 27, 2011

Letters In Sunshine ~ Letters In Shadow

Letters in sunshine... letters in shadow.
Max and Erma's Restaurant, Virginia Beach
Posted by Picasa

“My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz.
It's the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz.
You'll be sort of surprised what there is to be found
once you go beyond 'Z' and start poking around!”
~ Dr. Seuss (1904-1991)
Painted letters on a window... bright sunshine in winter with an angle low in the sky.... wooden window blind slats..... add them together and you get letter shadows. Now, I know you hope I know what they say... you want me to read them backwards..... but I can't. The restaurant is Max & Erma's... we went there once; not because the food was bad, but it is across town near the new Virginia Beach town center and a mall and frankly, we just don't get over that way very often any more. These days we try to group our outings together to get the most done for the gas we have to use. So, doctor's appointments near the beach become trips for necessities... gas at the cheepest station in town, stocking up on canned goods and paper goods from Costco and the very rare trip to a restaurant in this part of town....or rather, to use the Christmas gift card Mom got from Nyssa at Cheesecake Factory. By the way, Nyssa... she picked up one, a red velvet cheesecake.... red velvet cake layers between layers of cheesecake with a cheesecake icing and shreds of white chocolate on top. Just thinking about it puts on five pounds. We are rationing it for her.... it was already cut into slices and these have been individually wrapped and frozen. She gets ¼ slice every couple of weeks... so her HgbA1c doesn't go through the roof. It really IS an unbelievable treat and I don't even love cheesecake.

Oh, look... off subject again. Anyway, I have no idea what these letters say... I know they don't say "Max & Erma's", but haven't been able to decipher the words.. just the letters. The top row seems to be "i,d,e" and the bottom.. well, all I can make out is "ailable"... it could be "available" but why would that be on a window? I will try to remember to look and see, the next time we are over that direction.. the next time we have to make a run to the doctor down by the beach, to Costco and to Cheesecake Factory.
“Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.” ~ Elie Wiesel (Romanian born American Writer. Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986. b.1928)
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Carmi's Theme ~ Letters
Shadow Shot Sunday

Saturday, February 26, 2011


There is more than one way to be "haunted"...... Posted by Picasa

"Sing once again with me our strange duet ...
My power over you grows stronger yet ...
And though you turn from me, to glance behind,
The Phantom of the Opera is there inside your mind ..."
~ Batt, Michael; Hart, C; Stilgoe, R; Lloyd-Webber, Andrew (lyrics)
In 1989 a casting call went out to singers, including classically trained opera singers particularly in Chicago. Andrew Lloyd Webber was casting for the second traveling company of The Phantom of the Opera... the show was to originate and play in Chicago for its first nine months. My brother, Stephen, was doing an apprenticeship at the Lyric Opera in Chicago after completing his Master's at New England Conservatory. He auditioned, was signed and that is how his "haunting" began.

Of course, we thought this was great and over the eight years he traveled with this company, we were able to see the production in many different venues.. The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC and The Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia to name a few. Eight shows a week, 52 weeks a year, for eight years.... you do the math. What happens when you sing and act the same thing over and over and over? Stephen said that some nights he could do the entire show and not really remember the details at all.

What do they do to break up the repetitiveness? Well, for one thing, birthdays. When Stephen turned 30... I planned a surprise. I can't remember if they were in Denver or Chicago, but I got in touch with another cast member and sent a box to them. Inside was a small black coffin shaped box filled with black and white shredded paper and all sorts of "Over the Hill" gifts, coffee mugs and such. In addition, they delivered thirty white carnations that had been tip dyed in black with greenery in a large arrangement and a special ballon... the Grim Reaper holding a cup cake.. it read "I'm just here for the cake." Others had put together some finger foods and a cake and they set all the things up on a large table backstage. I sent a package of stickers as well, that read... "Look Who's Turning 30". The cast passed them out amongst themselves and attached them in various strategic places on their costumes.

The woman who played Carlotta was quite buxom and the neckline of the costume for the Masquerade scene was very, very low... but she had a decorative scarf of some sort as well. So, she attached the sticker, strategically .. well, on her partially exposed bosom and covered it with the scarf. Carlotta had to dance with Stephen when he played the part of Piangi and apparently he had to do so that evening. As they were in the middle of the scene and whirling round and round across stage.. Carlotta (with her back to the audience) would fling up the scarf and show Stephen the sticker.... what a way to break things up! It was a memorable birthday after all.

I was able to see the show ten times and always found it moving. Nyssa was four when it began and seven when we went to Chicago for her first viewing. She was mesmerized... and afterward, when we went backstage, all the cast stopped to talk to her and she saw all the heavy, heavy costumes and the stage props and wigs and even the Phantom's makeup. We thought it amazing and wonderful and never tired of the performances. But, after years of hearing the music night after night... Stephen DID tire of it. He was "haunted" by the Phantom of the Opera sounds wherever he went. Do you know how many fine restaurants have live background piano music playing during lunch or dinner? More than you know. The songs were in their cycles and it never failed that a strain from some part of Phantom would begin as he ate.... he has several times paid a tip to the piano player NOT to play pieces from Phantom until he left the restaurant.

The final touring companies closed last year in November 2010 in Los Angeles. In all there were three different touring companies and at closing, they had played 205 engagements in 98 cities for an unprecedented combined total of 36 years and 14,605 performances. Of those, my brother performed for eight years.

Oh, as for the picture. I was in our local Walmart parking lot and I saw this car with this bumper sticker and just could not resist. I had to use my handy dandy small point and shoot so as not to cause too big of a scene, so it isn't my best picture, a little spooky really ... but, I thought I would post it for Stephen... who will in some ways, forever be "haunted" by the Phantom of the Opera.

(end of post)
Carmi's Weekly Theme ~ "Letters"
Saturday Photo Hunt ~ "Mostly Black"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Computer Maintenance Blocking Left Lane Ahead

Working on the webpage....... Posted by Picasa

"If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization." ~ One of Murphy's Laws of Technology
I am taking the plunge, heading into unknown territory, on a mission (hopefully not a five year one) to explore the inner workings of this layout and attempt to change over from the worst commenting system in the universe JS-Kit Echo..... to something manageable without losing all the comments. Cross your fingers, say a prayer and hope.... In the mean time I have to disable commenting for a while... I really don't know how long. I will try and keep it as short as possible... but as you know with computers.....
"The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back." ~ Author Unknown
(Gulp!) OK... Here we go!

(end of post)
Update: Well, I did it and with less than stellar results. Yes, Disqus imported the Blogger comments that were synched up with Echo... But, while Disqus imported the raw files that I had exported from Echo.. Echo and JSKIT (which is the ABSOLUTE WORST!!!!!! commenting system in the universe and who wants you to PAY $120 a year for using the ABSOLUTE WORST!!!! system) for all their self-serving praise, managed to download their comments without identifiers to show which post they belong to. I figure this is because they thought of those of us who used Haloscan and whom they had to bring into the system when they bought and ravaged Haloscan were simply second rate. They did nothing to help us salvage the Haloscan comments if we wanted to move. Their pricing went from "free" if you came over from Haloscan, to $11 a year, to $120 a year within four months. Their service is lousy... two to three weeks to even get an email back when initiating a service problem. They have dismounted their forum where a lot of quick help could be had .... probably because they were getting so much NEGATIVE feedback that it tied up too many employees to delete it from the site.

I found out that there is one redeeming thing about all the old, old spam that showed up in comments. You know.. when you occasionally go to the 2005 posts and find a comment from "Cleaning houses in _________.(insert VA, NV, GA, or whatever).. It seems that the presence of those comments, somehow getting posted by bypassing some form or other... well, they grounded the post... gave it identity and made the other imported Haloscan comments that were legitimate, show up. So, I've lost all the comments on many favorite posts.... sigh. I still have the exported original Haloscan files from the day I was forced to switch to Echo. Perhaps some geeky angel will figure something out.

Until then, I am back and I think this comment system is more user friendly.... at least it has a spot to put in the commenter's website so I can return the visits.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ABC Wednesday: "F" is for Fauna, Flora and a Final Exam

Yes, this is a quiz...... get your pencils ready!
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

“Educational television should be absolutely forbidden. It can only lead to unreasonable disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around with royal-blue chickens.” ~ Fran Lebowitz (American Writer and Humorist, b.1950)
ABC Wednesday is here again and the letter this week is "F". I figured that a pop quiz is in order, having never posted one before. So, I collected a few of my favorite pictures for you to match with descriptions and the answers will be below. Just fit the descriptions with the letters in the picture mosaic. So, have fun and don't fake it. Enjoy. Ready? Begin!
  1. Foreboding Forest ________
  2. Fragrant Flowers _________
  3. Fuzzy Flyer _____________
  4. Friendly Face ___________
  5. Filigreed Fern___________
  6. Fanciful Fuchsia _________
  7. Fabulous Flutterby _______
  8. Frilly Foliage____________
  9. Fluffy Feline ____________
  10. Feisty Finch _____________

(end of post)
ABC Wednesday Cycle 8 ~ Letter "F"

Answers: 1. f; 2. i; 3. b; 4. j; 5. c; 6. g; 7. a; 8. d; 9. h; 10. e.

The "Yo-Yo" Season

Male cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and common finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)... winter bright spots. Posted by Picasa

"You have to believe in happiness,
Or happiness never comes ...
Ah, that's the reason a bird can sing -
On his darkest day he believes in Spring."
~ Douglas Malloch, You Have To Believe
The weather has evolved into what I call our "YO-YO" season. Finally, the temperatures reached 50℉ for a few days and then it was back into the low 40's for a while with a four inch snow just two weeks ago. Then there was this past Friday... a balmy, sun-drenched but slightly breezy day more reminiscent of late May or early June; temperatures soared to 78℉. I started pruning back the roses and cutting back the remaining winter debris and (drum roll please).. I planted 100 tulips. I know. Late again. But at least this time the bulbs weren't completely mushy and all had started their sprouting process in the garage. We'll see.

Yes, I have once again strayed off subject.. weather. So, Friday was warm enough to get a sunburn... Saturday was still in the 60's but the wind was no longer a breeze but a stiff gale with gusts and blowing in from the north and west. I opened a window to about six inches in Nyssa's room and one in Stephen's room and my room to get a nice cross breeze. With this six inch opening the wind was strong enough to blow papers off a dresser in the room's interior.... I finally put a paper weight on them. So, Saturday felt brrrrrr cold.. simply from the wind chill. Sunday... highs back in the low 40's. Today? The mercury topped out at our house around 76℉. Wind was predicted with this but for most of the day.. it was really calm, cloudy and most pleasant. I worked outside pruning all the potted plants and finishing up the roses.

Around 4PM I was sitting out on the deck and taking photos of the titmouse, nuthatch, chickadee and the downy woodpeckers that decided to visit the feeders and just enjoying nature. The change was dramatic and sudden. From complete calm to a sharp wind from the northwest. From 76℉ and feeling comfortable in a short sleeved summer shirt to feeling a deep and slightly damp chill in the air. The temperature fell almost 20 degrees in just under an hour.. you could sit and watch the temperature sensors number fall like a rock. By 9PM it was 40℉ outside and windy. This wasn't a normal cooling on a clear day when the evening creeps in.. it has been cloudy all day. It was definitely a cold front and a strong one... so far, no rain; but I see on the map that once again places north and east of us, in Delaware and Maryland, there is ice and snow. I have seen fronts come through before, but have never personally experienced such a sudden change in the air temperature and wind speed in such a short time. Fronts come and go.. this one was physically noticeable.

You see the "YO-YO" don't you...78...62...40....75....45....etc. Such is late winter in coastal Virginia. I think these birds, however, will like it just fine... as long as no more snow comes our way.... yo-yos they can handle.

(end of post)
Ruby Tuesday

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Silhouetted Sentinel

Blackbird poised on the edge of the roof. At least he has the look of a powerful creature.... Posted by Picasa

"In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence" ~ Robert Lynd
When I saw this picture in my camera shots, Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds immediately came to mind. He knew how to make you squirm inside and spend the entire movie tensely wondering what would happen next. But the man did not know how to end a movie, at least he didn't know how to end this one. I always thought I had missed the ending each time I watched it on TV... I would switch to another channel when the characters were getting into that car to get away from the millions of birds... and when I switched back, it was over and the credits were running. So, one time I forced myself to keep focused on that car and to my shock.. it simply drove off. What happened? They simply drove away and it was over. Is that an ending?! No answers to any questions... Why were the lovebirds not effected? What happened to the birds, did they simply stop congregating and go away? Why didn't they attack the car like they had before? Who cleaned up all that bird poop? I have to tell you that that was one of the most disappointing endings to any movie I had ever seen... not satisfying at all.

We occasionally have one of those flocks of blackbirds that cover the back yard looking for food and then with one noise or one movement in the bush, they ascend almost as one into the sky and in a wave, move on to another rooftop and yard. I think this fellow was the sentinel or lookout. You see, we have a hawk... a Cooper's hawk, as best as I can identify from pictures... and he hunts in our yard. Most of the time he seems to catch the hapless mourning doves who are slow to respond to his presence or the finches, whom he confuses and makes to fly toward the house where he can more easily grab them. Several times this winter he has posed on top of the feeder after a satisfying hunt, but not long enough for me to grab the camera. He did capture a red-winged blackbird a year or so ago and sat posing with his prey for quite some time. I appreciated his patience as I snapped off several pictures. I've wondered why the hawk doesn't manage to catch more blackbirds... I would welcome him catching more blackbirds.. at least the common kind. Perhaps having a watch bird staked out at the roofline gives them the upper hand. Hmmm... that's a thought.

Completely off the bird thought. Have you seen the intricate silhouettes in black that were popular in colonial times... most homes had at least one hung on the wall. Some are simply outlines of a loved ones head, while others show complete scenes and have delicate lace-like cuttings with minute details. Before cameras, if you wanted a keepsake or picture of your child or husband or wife, you had to draw one yourself or pay for an artist to do a full painting. Even if you could keep your subject still long enough for the artist to do the painting, the price was usually prohibitive. A silhouette was a quick and inexpensive way to go as you simply needed the paper and a light source to make the shadow.

My mother was a teacher all her life. I remember that for Mother's Day, she often had her children stand in front of a light and she would trace the outline of their shadow and carefully label them. She spent hours at home cutting these out and then helped the children paste them onto a white background... as a present for mom. There must be a box around here with one of Stephen and myself as well... we were always the guinea pigs when she was figuring the distance the light and child had to be from the backboards to get the right size of silhouette. Mothers loved them. It makes me a little sad that I do not have one of Nyssa.. I never thought about it while she was growing up and neither did any of her teachers. OK, Nyssa, if you read this... make me one for Mother's Day... you can find instructions on the internet...

OK, so I rambled today... it is a rambling sort of day... needed every once in a while.

(end of post)
Saturday Photo Hunt ~ Silhouette(s)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ABC Wednesday on Thursday: "E" is for Echinacea

Echinacea purpurea (Purple coneflowers)... not just purple any longer. Posted by Picasa

"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it is your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else." ~ Georgia O'Keeffe (American Painter, 1887-1986)
Well, this is a day late and a dollar short but the color infusion is a blessing and much needed in February. And days like today with balmy temperatures and that blast of Spring that is in the air.. well, I am looking forward to seeing if these beauties survived the winter and if they are truly able to multiply and grow stronger in their second garden go round.

These are all Echinacea purpurea or purple coneflowers... which is fine, except they are not purple! The purple variety are the native wildflowers that grow in the central plains. They derive their common name from the prickly cone shaped central disk that towers over the daisy like petals. These days an explosion of color has appeared as cultivars that range from bright sunrise yellow through hot orange to tomato soup red. Whites and even lime green varieties along with double rows of petals and fragrant flowers have been added. So the purple coneflower is not your great-great-grandmother's coneflower.

A derivative of the tap root, Echinacea has been touted as an enhancer of the body's immune system... great for colds. It was used by Native Americans for a variety of disorders including toothaches, sore throats and coughs. Some proponents insist that this is great for preventing or shortening colds and other research indicates that it has no effect at all. Ah... the power of placebo suggestion.

So, I don't really know the answer to the "medicinal" uses.. but if you let these gorgeous blooms fade in the garden and leave the central cones to dry and turn brown.. well, yes, it doesn't look that neat and pristine... but the seeds in those cones are simply bliss for the small birds in winter, particularly the finches. I have seen them perch on the sturdy but dead stems and graze to their little hearts content.

So, this (late) ABC Wednesday is the letter "E" and that stands for Echinacea... an efflorescence of exquisite elegance, easy on the eyes as well as an edible entrée that endows essential energy to our fine feathered friends. (Just thinking about next week)

(end of post)
ABC Wednesday Cycle 8 ~ The Letter "E"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Game Play, Shadow Play

Chess and checkers on a mild spring day. Geneva, Switzerland. Posted by Picasa

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play." ~ Heraclitus
Spring in Geneva, Switzerland and in the park oversized checkers and chess boards are in play. Two teams of two members each are deep in thought about their next move. I can imagine that the air is comfortably warm... a lazy day. This looks like a lot of fun, although if I were in a really lazy mood, I would pick the checkers.. a lot less thinking to do.. Perfect strangers to most... I wonder, did they know each other before beginning the game?

This almost looks like our area today with the warm breezes.. well, more like wind to the tune of traffic restrictions on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, but still unseasonably warm, almost 70℉. Even the shadows cannot hold back the heat as the last of our recent snow slowly melts on the north side of the house. We're back on the roller coaster weather pattern... warm today, cold tomorrow then warm again the next. Geneva, right now? Not game playing or shadow making or bare armed weather right now... 46℉ with drizzle and probable snow flurries overnight. Brrrr.

(end of post)
Carmi's theme ~ "Strangers"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There's Snow Valentine, Like My Valentine

"The heart must have its time of snow . . . to rest in silence, and then to grow." ~ unknown

Even snowmen have hearts....and need a little Valentine before they melt away. Posted by Picasa

i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
~ e.e. cummings (American poet 1894-1962)
A funny little snowman wrapped in a warm red muffler, with button eyes and mouth and a long orange carrot nose and green pipe. On his coat we see a row of coal buttons. And there on his chest... a heart... a red heart.. ready for Valentine's Day.

My Valentine is my daughter Nyssa... and the poem is for her... for I truly carry her heart... I carry it in my heart... ALWAYS!

(end of post)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Singularly Mysterious After All These Years

I see the moon, the moon sees me....... Posted by Picasa

"There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery." ~ Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
Would the moon be as mysterious if we had more than one orbiting around the earth? Spectacular moonrises every night, to be sure, but what would the tides do? Would they both be "silvery" or would one be red or amber? Would the two moons be in different orbits or at different stages at different times of the month? Surely, the physics of the whole thing would be vastly different. And that singular thing about the moon that is most precious.... the fact that I can see its face on one side of the continent and know that my lovely daughter can see the same moon, at the same time on the other side of the continent...well, that would probably be lost or more difficult to be sure of with two moons in the night sky. For me, the reflected light of that singular silvery moon embodies more than enough mystery for a lifetime......I say we keep it, as is...
"I see the moon
The moon sees me
Down through the leaves of the old oak tree
Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the one I love.

Over the mountains
Over the sea
Back where my heart is longing to be
Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the one I love."
~ Unknown
(end of post)
Carmi's Theme ~ Singles

ABC Wednesday: "D" is for Dogs and Daughters

Daughter Nyssa with Dottie....1989

"Those are the moments that I think are precious to a dog - when, with his adoring soul coming through his eyes, he feels that you are really thinking of him." ~ John Galsworthy
"D' is for dogs, among others in our life have been a trio of divas named Dottie, Dixie and Daisy. Two came into our lives over twenty years ago, they stayed through ups and downs and provided times of joy as well as extreme angst.. and then within a span of six weeks, both were gone. Daisy came into our life just over two years ago and though she is more elderly than we thought, she quietly shares our space and lives to be with "her" people. All three were rescued...

Dottie was found while we were looking for a lost dog... another beagle, Barney. He dug out through the thick red clay of our Oklahoma yard and with his nose to the ground.. he ran, right into a car and was found four days later in a deep ditch several houses down from ours. I had plastered his picture all over the place, even at the local SPCA as he lost his collar in the escape. We saw Dottie, a small beagle pup who had been dumped at the side of a road, when we went to pick up Barney's picture at at the SPCA. It was the first of July and a long holiday weekend coming. I learned that the puppy's time was up and she couldn't be held over the weekend so the euthanasia was set for that evening... and I couldn't take that. So, Dottie came home with us. She grew and grew and ate and ate and eventually became one of the fattest beagles I have ever seen.

Dottie was a master at escaping as well but not that great at finding her way home. How many times did we search the neighborhood after the move to Mississippi... until she and her partner in crime.. Dixie.. came running out of the woods.. happy as clams. The end was quick... a tumor in her chest, ascites in her abdomen that made it hard for her to breathe... she only showed signs of her illness for a few days. I remember that she looked serene and grateful as she took her last breaths in my arms and licked my hand. Fifteen years together.

Nyssa and dachshund Dixie...1989

Dixie was Dottie's partner in crime most of the time... if she wasn't trying to start a fight with her. Two females together, even if no hormones were involved.. just caused friction at times. It wasn't always so. But I get ahead of myself. Dixie was wandering the streets of our Oklahoma neighborhood looking for her person, the one who took all her tags off a too small muddy leather collar and left her on her own. She was afraid of men and boys.. always. She would run up to my truck and then see that it wasn't who she was looking for and run away. Finally, the hunger overcame the fear and she came home with us. She became Barney's best bud and the night he was killed, she must have seen it happen. She came back into the yard and I found her sitting at the back door, wailing when I got home from a meeting. After we found his body, she sat on his grave and cried. Then Dottie came and she had a friend again.

Dixie followed Dottie everywhere, even after the day of the "big fight". As with all fights, it was over something small.. getting paw prints in the new concrete dog patio. After that it was a bit touch and go with them... sometimes they would feud for days and make us think they would never be able to live with each other again and while we thought it best to feed them in separate areas from then on, in their air conditioned/heated doghouse... they peacefully got along.

I always thought Dixie would leave us first. She started showing her age and lost her hearing and then her sight started to go. Dottie became her guide. But Dottie died first and Dixie was suddenly lost, frail and blind and unconsolable. She gave up eating and walking and six weeks later, it was hard, but time. Sixteen years together.

Nyssa and Daisy... 2008 Posted by Picasa

Daisy is my current darling doodlebug. After losing another rescue cocker, Max to cancer in 2007, I was never going to have another dog. But partly because I missed having a dog and partly because my mom was thinking about getting a tiny miniature type of dog that I could see being stepped on or tripping her or my dad... well, I started looking. Daisy is my internet dog... rescued from a gassing shelter in South Carolina with only a half hour to spare.. sent north to the B.A.R.K rescue group in Richmond and to a foster home and then posted on the internet. I put in the application and then drove to Richmond to visit with Daisy and another cocker, Simon. Simon was lively and loving and Daisy was quiet. Simon was interested in the other dogs... Daisy only had eyes for the humans. I sat down to visit and she climbed in my lap and put her head on my shoulder.. and as they say "that was that". She chose me. Oh, Simon also got a home that day.

I have discovered that the nestling of the head on the shoulder is her thing with most people she meets. She loves elderly people, sits quietly beside them at the nursing home, patiently waits for pats and offers her paw. She doesn't bark. She can bark, I've heard her on occasion when she chases squirrels, but it has been a year now since her last vocal bark and it would probably scare me to death if she did. She is older than they first thought and her energy is low.. good for a home with two 80+ residents... and she has some heart failure but is perfect for we couch potatoes. She doesn't mind baths, loves the cats (that love is not reciprocated) and isn't bothered by my snoring. I hope several more years together.

As for the daughter, well.. she has grown up. In the pictures above, Nyssa was three and a half (that "half" always seemed so important when we were little didn't it?). She grew up with Dixie and Dottie. Now, she is almost 25 and off on her own. Daisy arrived after Nyssa left for graduate school... she calls the dog "her replacement". And now Nyssa has her own rescued pup... but her name doesn't start with a "D".

So, "D" is for daughters and dogs and for the daily doses of delirious delight and the occasional dastardly distress that come with them. I couldn't live without either.

(end of post)
ABC Wednesday Round 8 ~ "D"

Monday, February 07, 2011

Musical Beds Monday

One of the beds in transit... bringing to mind the statement yelled out by many a child in the morning...
"MOM! I can't make up my bed... the 'insert one' (cat/dog/grandma) is on it!"
Posted by Picasa

"The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late." ~ Charles Caleb Colton
Just a short (turned out longer than I expected) post on this VERY busy day. Mom and Dad have a queen sized sleep number bed that they have had for several years and they said they 'loved' it. I have questioned this because on top of this sleep number bed they have put a protective mattress pad, a three inch memory foam mattress pad, a pillowtop mattress pad and a heated mattress pad. In fact, the thickness of the mattress pads has almost equaled the thickness of the mattress itself. How they could ever feel if the sleep number bed did them any good or not... well, I don't know. The bed frame was a modified full size headboard and footboard.. dark cherry and antique, or at least antique now. We have two such bed frames in the house, one was my grandmother's. Hers was not modified and is still a full size with the original slats and is currently in Stephen's room. These are four poster beds and normally the bottom of the frame and therefore, box springs sit about 12 inches off the floor; but when you add the "Princess and the Pea" set up of sleep number mattress and the myriad pads and foam and such.. their bed is 34 inches above the floor.. almost 3 ft. As each additional pad was added the pockets of the sheets became thicker and Dad started building small platforms to step up on to get into the bed. Currently it takes two levels.. a five inch and a ten inch for Mom to get in and Dad had to make himself a six inch one. They are both 82. This is the most insane arrangement I have ever seen.

Finally, Mom decided she wanted to try the Tempurpedic Ergo Adjustable bed with the memory foam mattress and they have ordered one. It is to be delivered tomorrow and set up.. and I have been trying to arrange help to play musical beds...move the sleep number (sans at least three of the pads) up to Stephen's room and the bed in Stephen's room taken apart and moved to the storage unit on the outside chance Nyssa wants an antique bed for a guest room that was once her great-grandmother's. So, I thought they would bring the bed and then call to arrange a time to set it up but, they are going to set it up at the time of delivery. I am in full scramble mode to get help to get this done... at least all the moving parts, before the delivery.

Oh... and they have already started with the mattress pad obsession for the new bed... I hope to be able to at least limit them to one or at most two for each side of the split king this time.. new bed height is said to be 25 inches from the floor... no steps required. And the headboard and footboard for the new bed? The company assures me that we can just add this around the outside of the bed later... I certainly hope so..

But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? Oh I can't think about this now! I'll go crazy if I do! I'll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day! *

(end of post)
*Borrowed and rearranged from Gone With The Wind

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Red Hot in the Greenhouse

After blizzards and ice storms, we could all use a little something "red hot".
Norfolk Botanical Garden. (Click picture to enlarge)
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"Annette looked at the geraniums, very red against the blue sky.
'No matter how I try, I cannot find any thread of such a red. My bleeding hearts drip stuff muddy in comparison.'" ~ Amy Lowell, “The Basket” in Sword Blades and Poppy Seeds
Gray is the color of the day, the week, the month, the season; everything seems gray outside.. the grass, the trees, even most of the birds. Our snow melted and either ran off the yard or soaked into the dirt/clay mixture we generously call topsoil around these parts. Add to that a couple of inches of rain over two days and then more freezing temperatures before a single solitary balmy day that warmed to 70 degrees before plunging back down into the lower 30's and you have a recipe for frost heaving. Of course, those five crazy squirrels that keep busy digging and burying who knows what might have something to do with it. And it probably didn't help that last summer was horrible with the grass... too dry, too wet, too acidic, too basic, too.. well, just TOO. A layer of compost and heavy reseeding helped a lot, or would have had the monsoons not arrived the day after the seeding. Yes, they came and reseeded again... just before another monsoon session and a short time before that November freeze hit. Now, there are just small little tufts of compost/topsoil scattered around the yard with hibernating (hopefully) grass seed still visible in areas. Before the deep freeze the grass looked nice and green, but now it is spackled with a drab green and dead-gray. It's not dead... it's just resting.. that's my story and I am going to stick with it.

I was going to have tulips this spring.. bright red big glorious tulips. I was going to plant them on time this year... those 100 tulip bulbs.. around the trees and in the flower beds. I was going to get over my fear of planting bulbs here, having them come up too soon with the warm winter weather we usually experience and even risk them getting hit with a freeze just as the buds were beginning to form in the spring. I was going to plant them in November, just as the instructions said.. late November.. not in February or March as I did last year. The operative words are... "I was going to." But...the cold came and multiple small snows and more cold and the ground froze. I tried to plant them, really I did.. but the ground was too hard to dig in.. even the cutting bulb planter wouldn't make it into the ground. So...

I'll plant them late, just like last year and they will come up and make nice foliage and that's it. No blooms. No red. No respite from the gray of winter until the daffodils that have been planted for two years now come up. What to do? The only thing I can do... go to the botanical garden. Even though the butterfly garden is bare and wildflower field cut low and though the azaleas and tulips and daffodils are yet to emerge... they DO have a greenhouse for tropical plants. And though they are not tropical, the geraniums are blooming with the big balls of radiant red blossoms. Next to pastel orchids and bright masses of background greenery, they pop with fire and with the fire, heat. And my goodness, don't we need the heat this winter!?

(end of post)
Theme Thursday ~ "Red"

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

ABC Wednesday: "C" Is For Camellia ~ Charming and Captivating

Pink Camellia, formal double bloom. Norfolk Botanical Garden. Posted by Picasa

"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size." ~ Gertrude S. Wister
I have officially cracked up, gone crazy, become a real cuckoo.... I thought it was Tuesday, all day until about 5pm. I lived through Tuesday, but it was obviously a day to simply forget. So, now I am a day behind on everything, at least in my mind.

It is ABC Wednesday and today's letter is "C". I bet my faithful friends and readers who know me thought I would post pictures of my cats..... the crew....but I have been saving this picture since last February. Today, "C" is for camellias. Camellias are the winter's color with delicate petals and yet cold hardy. Norfolk Botanical Garden is home to the Hofheimer Camellia Garden contains around 750 different types of camellia bushes and the garden overall, contains more than 1700 individual camellia plantings and is one of the largest collections in the southeast. All shades of pink, coral, red, lavender, white and variegated blooms cover the bushes at this time of year. Nestled beneath the tall pines, they seem to love or at least tolerate the shade. The mass plantings are not far from the garden's Bald Eagle nesting site.

Speaking of the eagles... they have built a new nest and the Eagle Cam is in full swing for 2011. Each year they band all the eaglets and typically attach a small transmitter to one of them. It allows the scientists to follow the wanderings of the young ones until they mature and find a mate, building their own nesting spot. Eaglets with the transmitter are named and it just so happens that last year's is named "Camellia".

ABC Wednesday is brought to you this week by the letter "C". Our camellia will also be seen at Nature's Notes... and don't forget to check out the eagle cam... it is amazing to watch from January to July.

(end of post)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Around the Curve, Beyond the Bend

What do we find around the bend? Williamsburg area. Posted by Picasa

Final Curve
When you turn the corner
And you run into yourself
Then you know that you have turned
All the corners that are left
~ Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967)
Do we ever really know what is around the next bend? I know I would love to know what is coming up and sometimes it seems like we are going along on a day to day basis with all the cogs in the wheels just falling into place and then... life throws us a curve. When that curve hits, it seems like the cogs just grind to a halt and anxiety increases as we suddenly realize what we should have known all along... life is a huge curve, we can never know what is around that next bend. It's an adventure and it is probably best that we only see just a little way in front of us... we couldn't handle all the curves if delivered at one time. Personally, I would be inclined to stay in bed with the heated electric blanket pulled up over my head if I could see the future. Instead I rely on Jeremiah 29:11 ~ "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (NLT) This is one of the promises to hang on to tightly when that curve is looming large.

So, how do you handle the curves of life?

(end of post)
Carmi's Theme ~ Curve

How To Make A Memory

Father and daughter... with a gaggle of geese brandishing bountiful backsides.
(Click picture to enlarge)
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"They say that from the instant he lays eyes on her, a father adores his daughter. Whoever she grows up to be, she is always to him that little girl in pigtails. She makes him feel like Christmas. In exchange, he makes a secret promise not to see the awkwardness of her teenage years, the mistakes she makes or the secrets she keeps." ~ Anonymous
On a cool winter's day we find a young daughter and her dad roaming around the park. It is a gathering place for all types of water birds, including a large noisy gaggle of geese. The child is entranced by these fat and fluffy fowl who flirt with shaking stubby tail feathers and honk harmoniously, all the while trying to be the dominate diva of the group. The little girl can't stand it; she has to grab a bunch of those feathers and wrap her arms around at least one of those waddling bodies to feel the softness. Perhaps she has a stuffed duck or goose at home or maybe her dad has read her The Ugly Duckling or the rhyme Old Mother Goose:
Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.
Of course, it is most likely the fact that she is a child.. who is curious and who wants to touch those lovely white feathers. So she takes off and a toddle run with her protective father right behind. The geese do not seem to fear this tiny tot... why should they? She is barely taller than they are and these geese are used to being admired by human children and fed by adults. She has no food, so they simply march away in an unhurried fashion, fanning out and away, keeping just out of reach of her wistful hands.

The child may not remember this day when she grows up... but her father will.

(end of post)
Two 4 Tuesday: Adult ~ Child