Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don't mess with The King

Did you watch "American Idol" last week, when they did their fundraising thing? It was actually pretty cool. It's heartbreaking to see such poverty and sickness, and I think it's important for us all to do or contribute at least a little. Just like I mentioned in the posts about everyone doing a little bit to help the planet, a small contribution to a worthy charity of your choice can add up to a lot. I was excited to hear that one of the charities AI was contributing to was Nothing But Nets. I read about them, and was planning on contributing. It's a simple concept: $10 will buy a mosquito net for an African family, and can help prevent malaria. If you think malaria is no big deal, the statistic is that a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. It's a preventable disease! We had a sad case at my lab a few years ago. A local family had traveled back to visit relatives in Africa, and although they took preventive medicine for malaria, the strain they caught was resistant to the drug. One of the kids died, and the entire family struggled with the disease. It's definitely a big deal.

Okay, enough preaching. Just give a little, okay?

I'm writing about this because one of the things they had on "American Idol" was a duet with Celine Dion (don't care for her, not one bit) and...Elvis! It was the coolest thing! They used the video of him from the '68 comeback special singing "If I Can Dream," and morphed her into it. I told Cousin Shane about it and sent him the video. I thought the power of Elvis's voice showed how weak and puny Celine's voice is (again, I really do NOT like her), but Shane disagreed and thought she did a decent job. It was cool no matter what, but I still think she can't hold a candle to The King. Watch it here and see what you think.

Shane also mentioned that it prompted him to find the original video of just Elvis singing the song. I found it, too, and it's even more awesome. Some things are perfect just as they are, and maybe shouldn't be messed with. Watch THAT one here, and decide for yourself. If you think that Elvis was a joke or a cliché (although it's always fun to mess around and do the Elvis karate chop), we've got a problem, friend, because you need to do your homework and realize that he's one of the best. Ever.

On a different subject, Shane told me that he told his friend Sam about this blog, and Sam reads it fairly often. I have never met Sam, but let me say "Hiya Sam, and thanks for reading!" I'm surprised and pleased that someone who doesn't know me takes the time to read this. I just like to write (I kept a journal for years--I guess this is the Web equivalent, although there are things that I definitely keep to myself. I am not into full disclosure on the Web. A gal's gotta have some secrets.), and it's fun for me to do. I really appreciate that there are some people out there that like to read what I like to write. Thanks!



Friday, April 27, 2007

A little spring cleaning

Okay, very little. But at least it was something! (All the advice people say to "start small." No problem.)

Our spice cupboard has been driving me crazy. We have one of those tiered shelves that helps to cram everything in there, but when it comes time to look for a particular spice, you have to move everything and dig for it. What a pain! So I found a couple of those wire racks that attach to the inside of the cabinet door. I filled them all up but still couldn't fit everything in there. That's okay--it was still a good chance to go through everything and toss out the old stuff and wipe down the shelf.

Something puzzled me, though. Why the heck did I buy tarragon?? I don't believe I've ever used it, and I can't think of anything I make that calls for it. I must have found a recipe somewhere that called for tarragon, and then I never made the recipe. I don't even know what the stuff tastes like.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An awesome discovery

I was flipping channels the other day and found a new one. It's so new (to DirectTV, anyway) it's not even listed on the guide we got a couple of months ago when we got our hi def box. It's ChillerTV, and I was delighted!

In the past week, I've watched "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," the original "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (LOVE that movie--Bette Davis is creepily perfect.) the remake of "The House on Haunted Hill" (that's such a stinker it's fun to watch), and it looks like they have other series like "Tales From the Crypt" and others of that type. As I told RaQuel, it's the greatest channel in the history of television.

I told my sister about it, too, because she loves this stuff. I can totally see her going on a three-or-so day ChillerTV bender! Personally, I can hardly wait for my next weekend off so I can stay up late and watch scary movies. Their website even has a poll about what you'd like to see more or less of. I especially love the B&W classics, but I also love some of the newer stuff like "The Shining," etc. I also said I'd love to see episodes of "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I miss those so much!

Life is good!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A gorgeous day!

Ahh, finally! We're getting some nice weather. I'm holding off on planting anything in the garden (although the indoor seedlings are still doing well), because I'm still leery of a frost. Spent some time outside today, trying to get a little sun for Florida and the cruise, turned the compost, filled in a hole that our resident groundhog was trying to dig by the garage...all in a day's work! Ha!

I like this picture that I took today. What do you think? It's a Windflower.


Monday, April 23, 2007


I wrote about buying some reusable cotton grocery bags. I stopped at our local grocery store tonight and took in my bags, and come to find out, they give you three cents credit for using your own bags! When I got home, I figured out the savings: at three cents a bag, figure on five bags per week, that's almost eight dollars per year! Woohooo! We're heading to Vegas, baby!

Of course, that's not the main reason for doing it. I honestly feel good about a few less plastic grocery bags in the world. Ken and I were talking last night about how we need to start binding our cardboard for recycling. We're currently getting rid of it by burning, and that's not good. We do use the larger pieces to put down on the garden beds in the fall, to help with weed control. But then in the spring, we pull it off and burn it. So yeah, we know that's something we need to start doing better with. Something to work on this summer!

I hope I didn't come across as angry with my political comments last night. I truly wasn't angry, just kind of puzzled (and a little dismayed) that my intelligent friend would make such a comment. (Are you feeling guilty yet, Bonesaw? Ha!) But really, this is the kind of stuff we need to get beyond. People like Ann Coulter don't help the situation any, and I can certainly say that she does NOT speak for me. But liberals have their share of A-holes, too, so no one should be getting all we're-better-than-you about it. It's such a charged topic, and I think the next presidential election is going to really raise the bar as far as debates and engagement go. That's a good thing--the more people involved and voting, the better.

I think that's all I'll say about that for now. I'm sure there will be more to come....

I should write a little bit about "The Sopranos," though. Third of eight episodes last night. Not quite as exciting as we'd figured on, but I sense that there are many things brewing underneath. I suspect the last four or so episodes are going to be unbelievably kickass. If I were to make some wild predictions, I'd say that A.J. will kill Junior, Tony will kill Christopher (but not Paulie, although it looked like he was thinking about it last night), Phil will try to kill Tony, Carmela will intervene and then SHE'LL kill Tony for his many infidelities and because she found out Tony had Adriana whacked but she'll make it look like Phil killed Tony....

<deep breath> WHEW! Love love love this show. Of course, all the above is sheer speculation on my part. I'm mostly just making it up. There will also have to be some kind of resolution to Tony's therapy with Dr. Melfi, and what will happen with Silvio and the Badabing? Also, Ken thinks that the chick Tony slept with is an undercover FBI agent--she certainly did seem to be asking him a lot of questions about his relationship with Paulie, etc. Hmm. We agree that it looks like Tony might be going down, but we also agree that we don't see him spending years in prison. The only thing I know for sure is that they're going to surprise us with several things. I hate it that it's close to being over.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

You gotta fight...for your be in a paaaaarty!

I'm not sure how this came up at work today, but I have a buddy (you know who you are, Bonesaw) who made the comment that one of the requirements to be a Republican is to hate gays.

Well, now. Is that so? Hmm. (I gave him a "look" at the time--sort of the Vulcan raised eyebrow look--but I'll respond here, now that I'm calmer.) I'll say right here and now that I am a registered Republican. This did not happen overnight. It happened after too many years of watching too many people sucking the government tit, and I just feel that while we have the responsibility as a country to care for the indigent and impoverished (which includes helping them get further education so that they can help themselves,), we should not have to foot the bill for every person who doesn't feel they have to put out any effort to make a living and have a decent life in this country.

To say that all Republicans hate gays is just not right, and that actually hurt my feelings, because that tells me that you don't know me. I love quite a few people who are gay. Ken lived in San Francisco for many years, and had plenty of gay friends. We are both fiscally conservative (yes, we believe that those with more money will invest in stocks, infrastructure, and research--it's what drives our economy), but we are liberal to moderate when it comes to social issues.

I do not make generalizations about Democrats, because I'm okay with a lot of things they have to say, and in the past, I've voted as a Democrat. And you know what? Ken and I have been talking a lot about the current candidates, and we both like Barack Obama a lot, and it's possible that he might get a couple of votes from us. Don't know yet! There is a lot of time to go. Disagreeing with my politics is one thing--although if you ask, you might find that we agree on quite a few things (and I suspect as most of us get older, we get a little more to me in 20 years, Bonesaw!). But telling me that because I'm a Republican I hate gays...nope, that's just wrong, and it's not fair.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A new arrival

No, it's not a new tree or a new flower, although we have some of both. This time, it's a real live human baby! My niece and her husband in San Diego just had this little guy, Liam:

Man, is he cute, or what? I'm not usually a baby person, but I really do think he's a doll. His grandpa, my brother-in-law, is just beside himself, talking about how there's a new player in the Cubs lineup, etc. It cracks me up, and I'm so happy for everyone. I predict it won't be long before we see Liam in a little tiny Cubs outfit.

On a weirder note, I see the big controversy tonight is about "American Idol." Well, of course it is. We do watch it, but sometimes I wonder about our collective fascination with the show. I'm sure there are many things to be written about the phenomenon (which isn't just an American thing), but I won't do that here, because it's entertainment, folks, not one of the burning issues of the century. Anyhoo, some are saying that Simon rolled his eyes when one of the contestants was making a comment about the Virginia Tech shooting. I watched the show and didn't see anything like that, but apparently he did roll his eyes, and some people thought he was doing it about the tragedy.

Honestly, why would anyone think that? Personally, I like the guy, because I appreciate his honesty, and I have to admire anyone who takes a simple idea and turns it into billions of dollars. Brilliant! I don't think he's the monster so many seem to think he is, and I certainly don't think he would make light of such a tragedy. He had to speak up and explain that he was reacting to something he and Paula were talking about, and that it was not about the tragedy. Besides, at the end of the show, he did make a very nice comment about how they're all concerned about it. So get off the guy's back, for Pete's sake.

While I'm talking about it, I will say a little more about the whole Idol thing. It really is one of the most amazing things I've seen in many years of television watching. It's got some legs, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down much. So many people from all walks of life watch it, and believe me, it's a frequent topic of discussion at work. I was amazed when I saw a story on the "NBC Nightly News" about the Sanjaya issue. Even Brian Williams had to admit that it's pretty amazing that Fox gets free publicity about the show on other networks. When was the last time a TV show made the national news? Oh yeah...just the other night when they were talking about the end of "The Sopranos." Never mind.

I will definitely be writing about "The Sopranos" soon, though. I love the whole contrast in this family--normal family problems vs. normal Family problems. Very cool. Someone's gonna get whacked this week, I just know it. I don't think they'll off Christopher this soon, but I think his days are numbered. Will Tony beat him to death like he did Ralphie? Oooo, I can hardly wait to find out!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Growing things

Ahhh, I just love planting seeds and seeing them pop up! My seedlings are doing quite well, and I hope to transplant them to larger pots in a few days. Almost everything I planted is up, and I just opened up the little greenhouse so it doesn't get too moist in there. Here's a picture of my greenhouse (one of my favorite presents ever from Ken!):

I think the growlights are pretty!

Despite the cold weather, it seems to have stayed warm enough with the lights so the seedlings didn't freeze to death. Even the peppers are starting to come up, and they usually like it fairly warm. After a transplant to a larger pot and a couple of weeks in those, then a couple of weeks of hardening off (where you put them outside for longer periods so they get used to the outside), they should be good to go. We got the garden ready yesterday: a general tidying, pulling the existent weeds and putting down pre-emergent for future weeds, tilling one of the old beds (it had a lot of grass that grew in it last year), and tilling a new bed for melons. I'm ready to plant, but the weather isn't cooperating! Still a little chilly for most things. Actually, I'll probably plant lettuce and radishes soon, after the pre-emergent has a chance to work.

Gee, you'd think I was ready to start gardening or something. Pardon the rambling, it's just that I find this a great time of year--warm enough that you can work outside, but the mosquitoes haven't attacked yet! I really like it in the summer, too, because you can work up a good sweat, but I have to practically give myself a Deet dip. I can be outside for 10 seconds and manage to get a mosquito bite. If I miss a spot--like an earlobe or an eyelid--they'll usually get me there. I didn't use to worry about it too much--just a nuisance--but we have to be a little more careful these days with West Nile.

My warmest thoughts and many prayers for everyone affiliated with Virginia Tech.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The list continues

This is how the list started.

* Turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. This is an easy one for us because we don't have central air! Actually, we had to break down and buy a window one for the bedroom and a free-standing one for the living room, because when it hits 90° in the summer, that's when we can't handle it (can't sleep, etc.). But if it's below that, the trees keep it nice and cool, and the cross-breeze we get helps.

* Use lowflow showerheads, a programmable thermostat, and insulate the water heater.

* Stop using plastic grocery bags. After reading the article, we went online and bought cotton bags to take to the store. We bought them at, which is worth a look just to see the counter at the top that shows all the bags being used. It's scary.

* Support your local farmer and cut out the massive shipping costs. This doesn't work for us in the winter, but I try to buy stuff grown locally during the growing season. What's even better is growing your own!

* Instead of chemical fertilizers, use a mulching mower and start a compost bin. When you plant things, use native plants and wildflowers. They thrive and keep the weeds at bay. Try not to use chemical pesticides. I haven't had to use them on our garden yet, and don't plan to.

* Keep your tires inflated properly. It can boost your mileage by one or two mpg, and that'll add up.

* Use fewer paper and plastic plates. I bought extras of my dish set, so it's rare that we run out of plates before the dishwasher is full.

* Something I've done for the last few years is cut up the Christmas cards we've received (after Christmas is over--we hang them when we get them) and make gift tags.

* I found this one odd, but it makes sense! Try to plan your route using as many right turns as possible--use fewer left turns. I said, "Huh?" But UPS is implementing this and planning its drivers' routes so that they're heavy on the rights. Think about the time you spend in the intersection for traffic to clear, or to get that green arrow. Such a simple thing!

The article ended with a quote (although I forget who said it): "Live simply. Meditate. Consume less. Think more. Borrow when you need to and lend when asked." Funny, that's kind of where we began when I started this list! So many of these things are second nature to me because that's how my parents raised me. Even little things like "Turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth--turn it on when you rinse." When I'd ask why, they'd say, "Because it wastes water." And we had a well! It was just the way we were. We had a garden. We were frugal. We were taught not to be wasteful, and littering was strictly off limits. The environment to be respected, and nature was sacred. Funny to think that my folks were "green" before green was cool!

If I sound holier-than-thou about some of this, I don't mean to. Believe me, I'm the first to admit that we're consumers--we love our cars and our big TV. We're not planning on going off the grid! But we actually do live fairly simply.  If everyone does just a few things, won't it all add up? Even if it doesn't add up to much, it's just the right thing to do. Makes sense to me.

Besides, there's nothing uglier than seeing a grocery bag stuck in a tree.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Our happy little planet, part two

Yesterday I wrote about Time's list of things we can do to help the environment, and the things on the list that we won't be doing for various reasons. Today I'll write about a few that we do or will do.

* Change light bulbs to compact fluorescent. We've already started this, and yes, they do cost more, but they last lots longer, and I think they're brighter, too.

* Live in a smaller house. This house is just right for us--it's on the small side, but that's okay. Less to clean, too!

* When doing laundry, use warm or cold water instead of hot. Always wash a full load instead of small loads. I've done this for years.

* Same goes for the dishwasher: wait until it's full to run it. We just bought a new dishwasher a few months ago, and they're so efficient now that they say to not even rinse the dishes before loading--it actually uses more energy to rinse them first.

* Pay bills online and use direct deposit to cut down on paper. Ken doesn't pay all the bills online, but we both have direct deposit.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Our happy little planet

So Al Gore's telling us how WE are destroying the planet, while his big ol' homestead in Tennessee is sucking the power grid for all it's worth. John Travolta is telling us what bad caretakers of the planet WE are, but only when he takes a break from flying one of his FIVE JETS all over said planet. Don't get me started.

Instead of a diatribe on the hypocrisy of it all, I'll comment on a nice article in last week's Time. It was a list of 51 things we can do--some big, some small, some beyond the average person's control--but it was kind of neat to read some ideas. I'm still not totally convinced that global warming is as bad as "they" say. Yes, I believe it's a problem, but I also believe there are cycles, and that may be part of the equation. However, many of these things are simply a matter of common sense, and good stewardship of the land and environment. [Please note that I am not a rabid treehugger. I'm just an average gal who was raised to respect nature and the environment. It's the right thing to do, and my parents taught me that at a very young age.]

First of all, there were a few things on the list that we won't be doing:

* Ride the bus. We live out in the boonies, and public transportation doesn't come near our house.

* Move to a highrise. There really aren't any around here, and I like having our house and land.

* Become vegetarians. Ain't gonna happen. We're carnivores. As some of us were discussing at work the other day, the only thing better than beef is beef wrapped in bacon.

* Plant a live bamboo fence. Time recommends it as a way to remove gases from the air. But it is not a native plant, and I'm against planting large amounts of non-native plants.

* Carpool. Again, out in the boonies.

* Stop planting trees. Time writes that trees in temperate zones (most of the U.S.) actually create more warming, offsetting the benefits of releasing oxygen. However, at our house, the many trees provide plenty of shade, enabling us to leave the air conditioning off most of the time (more about A/C later). They also provide vital habitat for the birds and other wildlife. They're part of our ecology, too, and I think it's important that they be protected.

Okay, that's all the stuff we won't be doing, and it's later than I expected. I'll continue soon with the things we are or will be doing. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many we already practice!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

105° sounds good

Our friends from California got here yesterday safe and sound, and we got around 2 or 3 inches of snow, as predicted. Actually, they were pretty happy about it--they never get to see snow unless they drive to the mountains, so they thought it was really pretty! So do I, but not after we've had days that were in the seventies! Today we took a walk around the property, and it was quite brisk. So I got to thinking about our cruise again, and about how right now, 105° or so sounds just about right!

The seedlings are doing well: all the broccoli is up, the Brussels sprouts are up, marigolds doing well, also the morning glories and cardinal climbers. The basil just started to pop up, and the ones I'm most excited about are the tomatoes that are sprouting! Mmm, tomatoes....

Friday, April 6, 2007

Bad Weather Mojo

I don't believe I've written on here about my little problem. It seems I have Bad Weather Mojo, which I will hereafter refer to as BWM.

It all started several years ago when I went to North Carolina in December for a week of training on a new lab instrument. Midway through the week, the weather turned bad, and the region got the worst ice storm it had had in oh, about a century. Trees were down everywhere, the hotel lost power, and I was lucky to make it to the airport when I did, because they closed down everything shortly after my flight.

A month or so later, I returned to North Carolina to finish my week of training. Midway through the week--again--we got snow, and everything shut down. By midwestern standards, it was totally minor, but this was the South, so that was that.

We were in New Orleans in July of '05, and got caught in Tropical Storm Cindy while on Bourbon Street. Our flight out a couple of days later was one of the last ones before Hurricane Dennis hit, and the airport shut down.

When we were in Oregon last year, it was cold and rainy, after a couple of nice weeks. In San Fransisco on the same trip, the weather was crummy and raining, and we got caught in a downpour one night while out on the Wharf.

When we went to Philadelphia just last month, we flew in right before that ice storm hit Philly and New York City.

Now here we are, our friends arrive from California tomorrow, and 2-4 inches of lake-effect snow is forecast. Apparently my BWM is affecting not only our own travels, but others' as well. I am drawing the bad weather to me like a moth to a flame. I'm not trying to use my powers for evil, but I don't seem to have much control over it.

And this summer, we have a vacation in Florida followed by a cruise. I wonder what the hurricane's name will be? I told Ken that I was going to tell people at work that he and the kids no longer want to travel with me, so I've got 3 spots available on the cruise. He said, "No, that's not quite right. The kids and I don't want to travel with you, we have ONE spot available, and we're taking the cat!"

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wha' happen?


It was 70° on Tuesday, and it didn't get above freezing today. I am just downright depressed. I didn't even want to look at the tulips that were coming up, because they were getting ready to bloom and they're probably nothing but little tulip corpses now. On the news last night, they were talking about how to protect your flowers and shrubs from freezing, and said the best way is to cover them. I told Ken, "Hey, got several thousand square feet of sheets? We need to get out and cover everything!" I suppose when you've got a small yard or garden, that'll work, but it's kind of hard to cover 11 acres of budding trees. Well, things will survive. It's not like it will kill everything, but it might cause some problems with the fruit trees. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

On a happier note, I was quite excited to see that some of my seeds are popping up! After only 3 days! I'm quite surprised. I have 3 tiny little broccoli sprouts. I'll be so excited if I can actually grow some broccoli. We love the stuff--it's good for you, and it's so tasty! too! (I'm channeling Lucy and her Vitameatavegamin commercial, if you didn't catch that.)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Nutwood Walking Tour

luvrte66's AOL Pictures Public Gallery. 

I was inspired by the lovely day, and took a walk around the place. I took my camera along, and got a few pictures. Things look a little drab yet, but if you look closely, you can see all kinds of green popping out. I love this time of year! Ken has taken the time and energy to make a wonderful path through the marsh (and he's working on one through the woods), and I'm so happy he did. It makes for a pretty little walk.

I had a lot to do today, but it was so nice I decided to stop and take the time to enjoy our place to its fullest. I'm glad I did, because around Wednesday, the bottom is supposed to drop out, and temperatures will get below freezing. That's why I didn't plant anything in the garden today--lettuce, spinach, etc. like it cool, but below freezing is probably a little too cool for them. However, I did get my seeds planted today, they are sitting under the growlights as I type, and I'm as happy as a little girl. Especially because I had a fun surprise--I opened the seed packet of Salsa Delight Peppers, and there was an extra little seed packet in there. It's the Mystery Seed! So of course I had to plant some, and I can hardly wait to see what pops up. They look sort of like green onion or leek seeds, but it's not like I'm a seed expert or anything. What fun!

In case you don't want to check out all the pictures on my little Nutwood Walking Tour, I'll put one up here--I just love this one. It's a bulb I planted last fall, and it's some type of hyacinth, but I don't remember what kind. I think the white-tinged-with-blue is so pretty, though....

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A little break

I got a nice treat today. Work was really slow--I was done around 9 AM--and after helping others and making sure they were okay, I asked if anyone would mind if I cut out early. No one did, so I took a couple of hours of vacation time and off I went! It was getting pretty nice outside, up to about 70° and fairly sunny, but now it's starting to cloud up and look nasty, and the wind is really strong. However, I managed to get a thing or two done in the yard, like getting some of the old growth trimmed back on the rose in the front and the butterfly bushes in the back.

This seems to happen way too often these days, but I managed to hurt myself. We have these little windmills that are supposed to create vibrations in the ground to ward off moles. I was trimming by one of them, and I could've sworn I was far enough away from it, but I raised up and the blade got me in the shoulder. Did I mention how windy it is today? Thank goodness I had a sweatshirt on, because as it is, I have an ugly welt. If I'd had a T-shirt or tank top on, it probably would have cut me pretty good. I don't know what it is about me. If I can run into it, stub my toe on it, get hit by it, or trip over it, I will. My clown name is Klutzo.

I put out one of the hummingbird feeders the other day (we have two, one in front and one in back, to try to keep the fighting to a minimum--for such tiny little things, they're quite fierce and territorial), but no sign of the hummers yet. Last year, I believe we had our first sighting around April 4th, so they should be here any time. I took this picture a few years ago. You don't often see hummingbirds perch, but this little guy seemed quite happy in a gentle summer rain, and very content to just sit and guard "his" feeder. They're the cutest little things, and I can't wait to see them again this year!