Thursday, October 30, 2008

Computer Exploration

Crash here. Ever since my mom got home from her last Geographical Exploration she's been ignoring me for hours. She spends all her time on her computer. I don't know what's so great about it, I'm much more interesting and I'm prettier.

Anyway, today I decided to get up on her desk and see what was new and what was so great.

I looked all over, it doesn't look that interesting to me.

Hmmm....It looks like she left a snack there. Is that where she keeps all my treats? Now I know why she spends so much time there. I like them too.

Oh well, enough exploring. Time for my nap.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Small Achievements

I'm feeling proud of myself tonight. This has been a day of small achievements. This morning I decided to go for a walk. It was cold and windy and it did feel good. I was prepared for everything - I had my cd on Shakespeare's Hamlet, I was dressed warmly. I walked for a mile on the track. I felt as if I could do more, but decided not to press my luck. Shortly after I got into my car it started to rain.

In the car I was reading the manual and finally was able to switch to cd mode. Of course, I don't know whether I'll be able to do it again. At least I did it today and I may have to listen to the same cd over and over again until I can figure out how to eject.

These small achievements help me over my embarrassment of last night. I'm the treasurer of our Singles Club. For the past two months we've had a balance of over $1,000.00 which is very unusual since we only have about 40 members and our dues are $10.00. When I was preparing my report yesterday I noticed that I had not deducted $900.00 in expenses for a Games Day and Luncheon.

My admission of error came right before the slate of new offices was announced. Obviously, my name is not on it. Don't think they would have voted for me after that mistake.

At least I did a couple of good things today. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Experiments with Photography

I just got a new software program, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7. I've heard that you can do some pretty unusual things with it. One demonstration showed a couple standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. It looked so real, I admired the people for taking such a chance. It really was a compilation of two pictures. The couple was superimposed on the rocky edge. Very impressive.

I tried playing around with one of my pictures, but I had a hard time making any changes that looked good.

Guess I'll have to break down and read the instruction book,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Black Blizzard

Yesterday I caught a show on the History Channel on the Black Blizzard. I had heard about the dust bowl, but I had never heard about this. This is the name given to the dust storms of the '30's. In some cases the storms were so bad that cars were buried in the dust. Visibility was so bad that people would tie ropes from the fence to the barn or house.

There was no escaping the dust. The homes were so poorly insulated and the spaces between windows and frames were so large that the dust got into every corner of the home. Homeowners tried to seal these openings with cloth soaked in a mixture of flour and water, sometimes they hung sheets soaked in plain water to catch the dust, but none of these measures helped. Women had to quickly stir the food, or knead the bread in a drawer that was open only enough to allow two hands in.

The worst of this was the number of children who died of pneumonia caused by the dust getting into their lungs. Some families lucky enough to have family in other parts of the country sent their children away to safety.

There were no crops, livestock starved. Then came the insects, they were all over. Because the predators were gone, jackrabbits multiplied and ate whatever crops there were.

And yet, some people survived. Eventually the rains came and the farmers learned more about soil conservation and the midwest thrived.

The survival and recovery of the people and area says a lot about the human spirit. The people were amazing, there were so many hardships - no crops, no jobs, death and yet some stayed and rebuilt the area.

Could we survive such hardship?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Scarlett (1995 app. - 10/2008)

A little over 12 years ago there was a fire in an abandoned building in Brooklyn. As fires go, it wasn't too unusual except that one of the fireman saw a calico cat going back into the building five times and coming out each time with a kitten. After her last trip, she touched each of her kittens with her nose and then collapsed.

This fireman, David Giannelli, took the badly burned cat and her litter to the North Shore Animal League, a no-kill shelter. There the cat, named Scarlett, and her kittens were treated for their injuries. Unfortunately, one of the kittens developed a virus and died, but all the others survived. The four remaining kittens were adopted in pairs and Scarlett was adopted by a woman in Brooklyn, Karen Wellen. Scarlett's injuries were extensive, her ear tips were burned along with most of the fur on her face. Although her injuries healed, the scars remained, Her ear tips were burned off and the fur on her face never grew back.

Her heroic actions inspired two books, The Bravest Cat!: The True Story of Scarlet, and Scarlett Saves Her Family: The Heart-warming True Story of a Homeless Mother Cat Who Rescued Her Kittens From a Raging Fire. There was also a poem, "Why is Everybody So Surprised That I Saved My Furry Five?"

This week I heard that Scarlett had died. She was about 13 years old and had multiple health problems including a heart murmur, severe dental disease and lymphoma which are common diseases of geriatric cats, but the real cause of death was kidney failure.

This simple stray calico cat became world-famous because she cared about her babies and braved a fire to rescue them. She had a comfortable and happy life. She will be missed by Ms. Wellen and all who knew her.

She has gone to the Rainbow Bridge to be with all the other pets who are missed by their owners.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Book

Today I bought something I've wanted for a long time. I bought a dictionary. Not just any dictionary, but WEBSTERS NEW EXPLORER ENCYCLOPEDIC DICTIONARY, 2006 Edition. I got a great price - 15.98, reduced from $39.95. I had looked at other dictionaries, more up-to-date ones, but they were much too expensive, in the neighborhood of $130.00. I like words, but not that much.

When I was a child, my parents had a WEBSTERS DICTIONARY. It was great, there was a guide to grammar and punctuation along with a listing of geographical names and meanings of people's names. In the back, there were maps of all the countries and the continents. I spent many hours just looking at those maps. I also spent a lot of time just picking a word and checking the meaning, pronunciation and spelling.

I'm so looking forward to spending time with my new dictionary and checking out the new words that have been added such as "air rage", "animatronics", "duh" and "usb". One of these days I may even amaze you with my extensive vocabulary.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Tonight I attended a meeting of the local Republican Club in New Jersey. It was a very short meeting (which I love) and the also served food (another good thing). The guest speaker was Chris Smith our representative. He's running for re-election and gave us a rundown of his achievements since he has been in Congress for the past 28 years.

Some of you may recognize his name. This past summer he was responsible for bringing back to America the two little girls who had been caught up in war when Russia invaded Georgia. They were visiting their maternal grandparents. What I didn't know was that there were several children in that same situation and Congressman Smith also helped re-unite them with their parents.

He realized that there was no protocol to be followed when Americans are stuck in a war zone, so he proposed and had passed the steps to be followed for the safety of Americans. He has also proposed several other pieces of legislation, including the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 which makes genetically matched cord blood stem cells available to patients who need them. He has also been involved in legislation to stop human trafficking.

He seems like a good person. He is trying to make a difference.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Adventures in Driving

Yesterday while driving home from church I discovered the tire pressure light was on. Because it was the first real cold day I thought that was the cause, so I took a ride, but the light stayed on.

This morning, at 8:00 o'clock I called the service department asking to take the car in today, this morning to be exact. I had plans to meet a very good friend for lunch and I'd have to travel about 50 miles each way. The manager of the service department gave me an appointment at 9:00 am and said they would also change the oil since I was late for that change.

I got to the dealer on time and got the necessary work done. The tire pressure was a little low, but there was no damage to the tires and the oil was changed. I went on my way.

After driving around for a while because I thought there was an entrance to the parkway near the dealer, I headed back toward home where I knew I could get on the parkway. As I was on the approach road and I was supposed to yield to traffic on the main road, out of the corner of my eye I saw a hugh car carrier.

I slowed down, then stopped. Unfortunately, a few seconds later another car didn't stop until he hit my car. He was very appologetic, said he was in a hurry and it was all his fault. Since we were both running late, we exchanged phone numbers. I don't know if he had old damage to his car or my car did a lot of damage, but the hood looked pretty bad. I think it was old damage. I was afraid to look at my car, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a scratch on the back, but otherwise it looked OK. The other driver went on his way and I have his phone number and he has mine.

A little later on the parkway, I saw a car that was pulled over by a policeman and I think it was the young man who hit me. The car was the same color and there was damage to the front end. Since he was running late, I suspect he was getting a speeding ticket. Right now I feel a little sorry for him. He really had a bad day.

I don't know if I'll follow through with contacting him with a repair bill. The damage doesn't look that bad. I'll have to think about it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Celebrate Fall

I've always said that I decorate for Christmas a little bit at a time, windows one week, the living room another week, etc. I didn't realize that I do that for other seasons as well.

About two weeks ago I decorated the house for fall. I have a large assortment of fruits and gourds.

Then I filled a vase with an assortment of leaves, and also had some leaves gathered around the base.I also bought some glass acorns of various colors and put them around some candles.
Some pumpkins in the entry.

Then I got out my sweatshirts and sweaters. I thought this was the end of my preparations for fall.
But, yesterday I really celebrated fall. I took some chicken wings and made a huge pot of chicken soup. I had it simmering on the stove all day and it smelled delicious. Last night I had a wonderful bowl of soup.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Last Christmas my son gave me a new computer with the Vista operating system. Except for getting used to the new system, I've had no problems and it is easy to use. But after everything was transferred from my old system, I discovered that I couldn't scan with my printer/copier/scanner. So, I learned to live with it.

But, today I decided to find out why. I went into HP's site and picked out my printer and looked for the scanner. There were the instructions as clear as day. I didn't have to do any downloading, the capability was still there. All I had to do was go into the Picture Gallery and instruct it to scan. It was so easy.

Now I can start scanning all my old pictures.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Field Trip

One of the members of our community has started a photography club, and of course, I decided to join. Today we took our frst field trip to a local park, which I had no idea existed. It's very nicely laid out, and is a wildlife area, but of course as is usual, I didn't see any wildlife. There are several paths for walking, jogging, bicycling, etc. I'll have to keep this mind as a place to walk when the weather gets a little cooler.

Here are a few samples of my work. The trees are starting to change color and that added some interest to the scenery.

There was one area with a lot of dead trees. It looked so out of place being so close to the other trees and grasses. I don't know why, but I'm fascinated with reflections. So many of my pictures show reflections of either mountains in the lake, or in this case, the trees. I wonder what that says about me.

This last picture has an amusing story. While I was taking several shots of this tree with birds, a jogger came up to me and asked what kinds of birds they were. She suggested osprey, but I said I thought they were too small. I thought, maybe mourning doves, but I really have no idea. Maybe I should look into birdwatching. Hmm, something else to learn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Voter/Registration Fraud

The news this week has been all about the roller coaster that is Wall Street. There is another story that has been largely ignored by the mainstream media - voter/registration fraud.

I admit that except for short glimpses into the market progress or lack thereof on CNBC, my TV is tuned to Fox News. They have been spending a lot of time this week discussing the work of ACORN alleging that they have encouraged young people to register multiple times. In Florida, Mickey Mouse is even registered to votel. The Dallas Cowboys football team is registered in Nevada. I don't know which side is doing all this registration fraud. An ACORN spokesman has said there is no voter fraud, maybe some fraudulent registrations. That's a matter of semantics.

There is one thing that I'm sure of. Anyone who is submitting fraudulent registrations is making a mockery of our election system. They think so little of it and our rights and way of life they are trying to destroy confidence in the election.l No matter who wins, there will be a question about the results. Are all the votes legitimate? Has anyone voted twice? Have dead people voted?

I hope this gets straightened out before election day. If not, the new president will have a cloud over his administration, all because some people think so little of us, they are willing to cheat to win.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Fall is here. I know, it officially arrived a couple of weeks ago, but these past few mornings have been chilly, and I love it.

Fall is in a three way tie for my favorite season. Everything has a crispness about it. I love to watch as the leaves become almost jewel like in their colors. The reds are like rubies, the yellows like topaz.

Along with the changing leaves, I love changing clothes. There is nothing more comfortable than snuggling up in a great turtle or cowl neck sweater and a soft pair of jeans and shoes. No more tired t-shirts and shorts and sandals. Some of my favorite clothes for hanging around the house or cleaning are sweatshirts and one favorite sweater. I have had this sweater for at least 10 years. It's loose and so comfortable that I wear it at least once a week. I'm sure it's not as warm as it used to be because of its age, and I never wear it out of the house. But I love it and dread the day when I have to get rid of it.

A few years ago I went back to the store where I bought it hoping they might have more of this style, but, alas no luck. I keep hoping that old saying, "Everything old is new again" will prove true and the store will start carrying it again soon. After all, haven't I seen some styles from the 70's and 80's back in the stores?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Dow

WOW!!! The Dow was up over 900 points today. Everyone is excited. This is good, isn't it? Is the economy starting to recover? Will the foreclosures and layoffs end soon?

I don't want to be a pessimist, but I don't necessarily think so. Of course an increase in the Dow is good, but this many points? To me, that points to volatility, and that can lead to a big decrease the next day or the next week. I'd rather see the Dow rise or even fall only 10 to 50 points in a day on a regular basis. That would really point to a recovery and some stability.

The rise in the Dow is encouraging, maybe we've turned the corner, hit the bottom, etc. I hope so, but I'm not celebrating just yet. I'm looking forward to a few weeks of moderate gains, although the huge swing is sooo exciting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Embarrassing Momet

Is my face red! For some weeks now, I thought my speakers were dead. I've had them for seven years and they do take a lot of abuse from videos and games. With my usual "make do" attitude, I've learned to live without sound. Sometimes the quiet is refreshing, but I've missed out on a lot of videos.

I was ready to go out and buy some new speakers, but as usual I procrastinated. Today, as I was leaning over the keyboard I saw a message in the lower left hand side of my monitor, "mute on". Then I realized that as some point, probably when I turned my monitor off, I had turned the mute on.

It never occurred to me that I had such a button since this is a relatively new keyboard and I never had such a button on previous keyboards. At least I don't think so.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn Views

Because my kitchen window faces toward the west, I usually can't do dishes until the sun goes down. I have to wash my dishes because I, like a lot of other women, have a great dislike of emptying the dishwasher.

This afternoon I was washing a few dishes and happened to look up. That tree has been there since I moved in three years ago, but I never really looked at it before. Its leaves have turned a beautiful shade of red. It was really breathtaking. This is the view from the kitchen window over the sink.

I may even wash dishes more often this fall.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Skin Care, Part II

As I said the other day I have very dry skin. There were times when I was younger when the inside of my clothes looked like I had dandruff of the skin. I was a real flake.

So, I'm always looking for ways to help my skin. Some winters it gets so bad it actually splits. Not too long ago I saw an article that suggested that you add half a package of dry milk to the bath water and soak. It sounded like a good idea so I tried it.

I have a spa tub and had the jets on when I poured the powdered milk into the water. It just kept bubbling and bubbling up. Soon Crash and Burnie came to keep me company and were just fascinated by all the bubbles, and they smelled good too. They were walking all around the edge of the tub checking out the bubbles and making me very nervous. It was a refreshing bath and we all survived.

Now I just keep an idustrial size bottle of lotion on hand. After my shower, in addition to all the face creams, I apply lotion to my legs and arms. Then I have to apply the special cream for the cracked skin on my shins and elbows. Then before I can put on my socks, I have to apply my foot cream otherwise my rough heels can tear my socks.

With all this skin regimen it's a wonder I have any time left in my day before I have to start in on the nighttime regimen. Now I know why I'm so tired, it's so much work.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Skin Care

For years I've referred to my make-up bag as my lab. Of course I never say that in the vicinity of an airport for obvious reasons. I think that now it truly is my lab.

Yesterday I went to buy some mascara. While there, the saleslady suggested a moisturizer. Since I do have very dry skin, I agreed. She showed me a collection of various creams which, of course, I decided to buy. Last night while getting ready for bed, I decided to try my new collection. First I washed my face with a moisture rich foaming cleanser. This was followed up with an eye cream for those lines around my eyes. Then a night cream with collagen. In the morning, the same routine except now I use a moisturizer with sun block. All of this before I even put on my make-up.

I know that even though they claim to make you look younger, I'll never look as young as I feel (about 35 to 40). I don't buy into all the claims and fear of aging, but I must admit that I do cringe sometimes when I see a new wrinkle forming.

I'm not a kid anymore, after all my best friends are all turning 70 soon, but none of us looks it. And there is no reason why we should, even though it takes more and more time and products to achieve the natural look.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Programming Schedule

What good is a schedule is you cannot ever keep it?

Every football season, CBS has consistently started its Sunday prime time programming late. 60 Minutes is supposed to start at 7:00 pm, but I can't remember the last time it did. Because 60 Minutes starts about 1/2 hour late, all the programs that follow also start 1/2 hour late.

I understand that football runs late, but maybe CBS could revise their schedule so that 60 Minutes would start at 7:30 pm. They could then run a 1/2 hour program at 8:30 pm so that the regularly scheduled program would start at 9:00 pm. One of the programs from the Sunday lineup would be moved to another day during the week.

It's so easy, I cannot understand why they don't do this.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Why I Can't Lose Weight

This week I discovered another reason why I can't lose weight, that is besides the fact that I'm very self-indulgent and eat whatever and whenever I want.

I was thrilled when I returned from France that I hadn't gained any weight in spite of the delicious pastries, wines, cheeses and meals I had. About two weeks after I returned, I got on the scale and saw that I had lost a pound. And I hadn't even been trying.

I'm not a hypochondriac. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I once walked and worked out for a week and a half with a broken bone in my foot. But this time, I panicked. I decided there must be something terribly wrong with me for me to lose a whole pound. So I decided that I should see a doctor, but first to soothe my nerves I had some cookies. Then I had some bread and butter. Then I had a good dinner.

The next day I got back on the scale and saw that I had gained back the pound I lost and an extra for good measure.

Based on my reaction to the lost pound, I've decided that I'm my own worst enemy. I've actually been sabotaging my weight loss program.

Now, how do I stop sabotaging myself. Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Burnie's Side

Burnie here. Mom is busy watching something on the TV called a debate. It doesn't look like too much to me, just two people talking. There are no animals like birds or dogs or fish. Boring.

Anyway, I'm here to set the record straight. Yesterday Mom said that I was stressful just because I like to climb ladders. What else are they for? She has forgotten all the good things I do for her. She doesn't mention how I wake her up nice and early every morning by tapping her face, or combing her hair with my paw. She forgets how I take her to my breakfast every morning by leading the way by nudging her leg forward. Or, how about the times I alert her to a sound outside that she doesn't hear? Let's not forget the times I sleep close to her legs so she doesn't fall out of bed.

Really I'm very relaxing to be around. Sometimes I'm so relaxing that I make myself fall asleep. Speaking of sleep, it's time for my next nap.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Feline Stress Relief?

While going through some old magazines today I came across an article that claimed a 20 year study done by researchers from the University of Minnesota found that cat owners were 40 percent less likely to die of a heart attack than people who lived in feline-free households. Researchers think that it's possible that the cats offer stress relief.

Don't you believe it!

Today I had an appointment to have my windows washed (aren't I lazy), so I opened the door from the house to the garage to give Crash and Burn the confidence to go into the garage. A short time later I heard a strange sound coming from the garage. It seemed that Burnie had climbed the closed ladder that was just leaning against the wall. He was walking along the top step. I was afraid he would dump the ladder and it would hit the refrigerator and who knows what it would do to him. I then put the ladder into the bathroom and closed the door.

As soon as the windows and curtains were clean, I took the ladder out of the bathroom and leaned it against a closet door. As I was threading the curtains onto the rod, I looked up and there was Burnie again on the closed ladder. I dropped the curtain, stepped on the other half of the rod and ran the length of the house to either stabilize the ladder or grab Burnie.

I guess I'll have to lock him up again when I hang the curtains.

That's just one day living with Burnie. That's enough stress to last a year.