Monday, December 17, 2012

Remembrance



Dear Blog Friends,
I am one of many bloggers who had posts to share with you today, but am posting in remembrance of the victims of Friday’s shooting in Connecticut instead.  No words, gifts, or acts of service will ever obliterate the pain this event has caused, but, of course, time will help temper it.  To honor the memory of lives cut short, we step away from our blogs to reflect upon the fragility of life and the preciousness of those we share our worlds with.

Peace.




Monday, December 10, 2012

Techli and me . . .


Now, not many of you would think of me as a techie, but, believe it or not, I was a guest blogger yesterday on Techli, a wonderful technology blog.  My post?  CEO Sundays: Why Communication Needs to Be a Part of the Science.  So, all of you whiz-brained geniuses out there, give this little missive a gander, and let me know what you think.
To read my Techli guest post, click here:  Science and Communication
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Amazing Animals


 Who doesn't adore animals? Furry, feathery, finny (well, they all might not officially be animals, per se, but you get my drift). And, funny. Sometimes, when words don't seem to be enough, pictures are just the ticket. I've assembled a nice collection of animal photos for your entertainment and inspiration. The question remains, though, which one speaks to you right now? Take a minute to scroll down and then vote for the animal picture that most appeals to you.
Have fun!





 
 
Have a great day!

 
 
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grammar Gaffes

Holy Cow!  I got to be a guest blogger on the blog, Writing Forward.  Check out my article, "Don't Let the Decline of Spoken English Ruin Your Writing," running today on their terrific creative writing website.  And while you're at it, be sure to catch up on all of the amazing posts and links Writing Forward offers.  It's truly a one stop shop for writers.  (And, don't let the hyperactive pencil animation drive you nuts.  I think I gave him too much cyber coffee.)
Click here to read the article:  Writing Forward


Sunday, November 11, 2012

No More War

Today is Veterans Day and I wish all veterans a day of peace and satisfaction.  I wish none of you would have had anything to do with war -- with training for it, experiencing it, and being forever altered -- physically, mentally, emotional and spiritually -- by it.  Think of the enormous amounts of lives, money, energy and resources lost in order to fight with each other.  I know it's hard to imagine life without war, but why is that the case?  Perhaps, we should start trying to imagine it, and maybe, someday, we might get closer to living in such a world.

How many lives have been lost by war?  Click here to find out:  American Lives Lost in Wars

How much money is spent on the most recent wars?  Click here to see:  Cost of War Counters

Want to sing along with John Lennon?  Click here:  Imagine

"I hope someday you'll join us and the world will be as one."~ John Lennon

~PEACE~
 
 








Sunday, November 4, 2012

Iron Jawed Angels

I don't need to tell you what's going on this Tuesday, Nov. 6th.  And, hopefully, I don't need to tell you to exercise your right to vote, either.

But, here's something else for you.  A little treat.  A reward.  I just found out that the famed film "Iron Jawed Angels" is on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.  This amazing film is a must-see, especially now.  It tells the story of the first wave of feminism and the American Suffrage Movement's struggle to obtain the vote for women.  It's an important film, true, but it's also really good!  Enjoy it.  Then, go out and vote.

Click here to watch the film:  Iron Jawed Angels




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Coins on top or bottom?

What's wrong with this picture?  Isn't it obvious?  The cashier has given you back your change with the coins on top method.  Now the coins are going to slide all over the place, maybe even land on the floor.  And, if  you're lucky, same cashier will top this whole debacle off with the receipt, which you'll stash in your mouth for safekeeping while you deal with the rolling coins and eventually get a chance to tuck the all-important bills into your wallet.  Grrrrrrr.



 Now, take a look at this picture.  Doesn't your blood pressure go down?  How calming and reasonable to have the cashier give you back your change with the coins on bottom method.  You slip the bills into your wallet, put the coins in your pocket or change purse, and all is well.  Perhaps, the cashier has even nicely counted your change back to you -- coins first -- and you are certain you've gotten back the correct amount.  Maybe you even feel so good about this transaction that you take your handful of coins and deposit them in the cashier's tip jar!
 
It's obvious which method I prefer.  Lately, the coins-on-top thing has become a pet peeve of mine.  But, I've heard various defenses for the coins on top method -- mainly, that the cash register shows the change as dollars first, coins second, and so cashiers grab the change that is shown and put it into your hand . . . also as it is shown, with coins on top.  They don't count back to you because they don't know how or were trained not to.  I've also heard that cashiers use the coins on top method because they don't want to touch germy hands and so put the bills (sanitary as they are) into your hand first, then drop the coins on top to avoid actual skin-to-skin contact. 
 
We won't even begin to talk about putting the receipt on top of everything because this issue is complicated enough.  But, please do tell which you prefer.  Are you a coins on top or a coins on bottom kind of customer?  And, if you're a cashier, what is your method of change delivery?
 
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 Humanist of the Year Award



"Equal pay, and I mean for equal work, would put $200 billion more into the economy every year ... Those women are not going to put that money into a Cayman Island bank account, they are going to spend that money, and that is going to create jobs." ~ Gloria Steinem
The Humanist of the Year award was established in 1953 to recognize a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition. Selection of the awardee is based on research derived from biographical data, writings, studies, and contributions to humanity.  The 2012 recipient of The Humanist of the Year award is . . . none other than the fantastic Gloria Steinem. 

Here, here!  Congratulations to a humanist among humanists for this well-deserved honor.
For more information about the American Humanist Association, click here: American Humanist Association

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Haruki Murakami's 1Q84

You know how it is.  You read a book and put it down.  You continue to think about that book for a while (that’s how you know it was a good one).  You continue to think about that book for more than a while, for months even – and that’s how you know it was a great one.
I read Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 this summer and am still thinking about it.  It is a crazy book – one of those that I would read, then put down and shake my head over.  What was happening?  What sort of book was this?  What sort of writer was this?
After finishing the looonnnggg read, I was sad that the strange, twisting Murakami-conceived literary adventure was over. I’m still sad that it’s over.  Murakami’s works are considered humorous and surreal and deal with modern culture.  I particularly enjoyed his views about modern Japanese culture in 1Q84. 
The Guardian praised Murakami as "among the world's greatest living novelists" for his works and achievements.  ,Murakami’s fiction and non-fiction have garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Jerusalem Prize, Franz Kafka Prize, Tanizaki Prize, World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, Yomiuri Prize for Literature in Fiction.  He has spent time in the U.S., teaching at Princeton and writing several books while in residence here.
 
In sum, go read him.  And then, let me know what you think.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just Say No to Body Scanning

Who doesn’t hate the rigmarole of airport security, or, as the New York Times recently dubbed it, “Security Theater?”  
 
Take off your shoes and put them in the bin (or on the belt, depending on the airport): take off your belt; take off your jacket; pick through your purse to find the mini bottle of lotion and your lipstick and mascara and squirrel them away in a plastic sandwich baggie; put your laptop in a separate bin; put your keys and change into the little bowl; throw your carry-on onto the conveyor belt; walk your bare feet over thousands of germs; throw away your half-finished water bottle; be prepared to have your small jar of peanut butter confiscated . . . and walk through the . . . 
WAIT!
Don’t do it.  Do not walk through the body scanner.  You do not have to.  They cannot make you.  And it may be dangerous for your health to do so.
Irritating compliance with ridiculous rules aside, this last step in the security process is downright wrong.
There are two kinds of body scanners in airports across the country – those that use x-ray technology and those that use millimeter wave technology (and, according to a recent New York Times article, millimeter wave machines DO emit radiation, albeit less radiation than the x-ray scanners).  For decades, health care practitioners have cautioned against exposure to unnecessary x-rays.  You even get a little lead-apron to wear when you have to have dental x-rays.  So, why is it now okay to expose thousands of travelers to unnecessary radiation all for the sake of “security?”  Even if those levels are labeled “low” and “safe,” why risk it?  
European, American and Australian studies are mixed about the safety of body scanners.  Plainly, they are just too new to have accurate long-term data about their safety.  In fact, TSA has just recently admitted that the x-ray scanners are probably not safe and are pulling them from many airports in favor of the millimeter scanners (the ones with the “low” radiation).  But, why is low radiation considered safe?  What about people who travel frequently and are exposed often to this “safe” radiation?  Logic would have it that even the millimeter scanners may not be the best for people’s health.
Recently, I flew out of O’Hare and faced the usual ordeal of Security Theater.  Instead of encountering the ire of security staff when I opted out of going through the scanner (they then have to do a pat down instead), I actually got sympathy from the TSA workers.  The first person I had to deal with told me, “I don’t blame you.  I won’t go through those things either.”  The second person, the woman who was assigned to do my pat down said, “Have you done this before?”  When I nodded, she said.  “Yeah, I bypass all the time myself.”
So, go ahead and exert your right not to be scanned.  Opt for the pat down, even if it takes a little longer and isn’t exactly the most pleasant experience in the world.  If entire lines of passengers refuse to be corralled through the scanner, perhaps TSA will come up with saner – and safer – methods of ensuring security.  
Considering how few terrorists are caught, despite Security Theater, isn’t it unconscionable to expose thousands of travelers to health-damaging radiation – “just in case?”
 
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Here come the Bagel Heads . . .

What's the latest and greatest new fad in Japan?  The Bagel Head.  Apparently, people voluntarily want to look as if they've had bagels surgically implanted into their foreheads.  Why? Good question.  I can't see the aesthetic, ironic or creative draw to the procedure.  It is shocking, though, and a little weird -- and that's probably the whole point.
 
Bagel heads get that way by having about 14 ounces of saline injected under the skin of their foreheads.  The saline creates a round, domed mass.  To get the bagel look (versus, say, the snowball look), the practitioner pushes his or her thumb deeply into the saline mound to cause an indentation.  The indentation -- in fact, the whole bagel look -- lasts for under a day.  Then, the saline is absorbed into the body and the person goes back to looking like a boring old human again.
 
So, do tell.  Is this a look you've secretly been admiring?  Or does the thought make you want to skip breakfast? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Coco Tapi Tea?

Recently, I’ve tried two new food trends – coconut water and bubble tea.  Both beverages.  Both tasty.  According to advertising, coconut water is healthy – it is supposed to help you lose weight, prevent diabetes, aid digestion, fight viruses and “revitalize your cells and boost metabolism.”  I don’t know if coconut water does or doesn’t do all of those things, but, frankly, the claims seems a little over-blown.  And, coconut water, while tasty, isn’t, in my humble opinion, that tasty.  Maybe it needs a kick-butt health campaign to sell it. 

And, then there’s bubble tea – the drink that’s fun to eat.  Bubble tea, reportedly invented in Taiwan tea shops, is a tea base beverage that is mixed with fruit or milk.  It can be frozen, chilled or served as a sort-of slushy and comes loaded with small chewy tapioca balls you can slurp up through a wide straw and eat.  Bubble tea may contain some of the same antioxidants as tea, but some recent reports have linked certain types of the tapioca pearls with cancer.  The reports haven’t been verified to date, though.  It might just be a scare tactic. 

It’s interesting that these two trends produce big discussion.  Is coconut water really the fountain of youth and is bubble tea really the end of civilization as we know it? 

I think we should combine the two drinks into a coconut water bubble tea concoction.  The coconut water’s health benefits would negate any negative effects tapioca might have on human cells.  The result?  A tasty, healthful, fun beverage, maybe called Coco Tapi Tea.  Hmmmmm.
Bottoms up!

 




Monday, September 17, 2012

Cray Cray

Yes, frustration.  That's what you get when you deal with bureaucratic craziness.  Here's my latest example:  I used to have a cell phone contract with Sprint.  Yes, I'm naming the carrier.  Probably not a good idea.  Definitely poor taste.  But, whatever.  Anyway, I used to have a cell phone contract with Sprint, as I said.  That was three years ago.  I didn't mind Sprint.  I was reasonably happy with Sprint.  But, we found a better plan and changed to it.  It was with a different company.  A company that is not Sprint.  Another decent company not much better and not altogether worse.  Whatever.  However, lately, I have begun to hate Sprint.  Detest Sprint.  Have horrible dreams about Sprint.  Why?  Sprint is a prime example of bureaucratic craziness. 
It seems I overpaid the last payment of my last Sprint bill by 72 cents.  Yes, that's right, 72 cents.  So, Sprint dutifully sent me a statement informing me that I had a credit of 72 cents.  I called them and told them that I am no longer a customer and therefore, would never be in need of my 72 cent credit.  Could they send me a check for 72 cents?  No, Ma'am, they couldn't.  They can't cut checks for less than a dollar.  Well, then, I said, just keep the 72 cents.  No, Ma'am, they couldn't do that either.  Accounting controls.  Well, what should we do?  Did they want me to send them 28 cents so they could cut me a $1 check?  No, since I was no longer a customer, there was no way to pay into my account. 
 
X*&!#Z!
 
So, what happened?  For the last three years, I have received a monthly statement from Sprint telling me that I have a 72 cent credit with them.  I've called them several more times and had repeats of the above conversation with different representatives.
 
Grrrrrr
 
 
So, if Sprint goes bankrupt because they have had to send me a hundreds of statements in the mail, each with 42 cents worth of postage, and have had to buy the paper to print those statements and have had to hire the people to process those statements and to keep track of my account that is closed . . . well, don't blame me.  I tried.
 
Do you have a frustrating story about bureaucratic craziness?  Do tell!
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Battle of the Oddities

Enter:  two hot, new trends for you to debate.  In this corner, notice the "Sun Stache." Advertised for women, children and "all of the mustache-less" out there, sun staches, as you can see, combine sun glasses with fake mustaches. I wonder how we ever survived before this invention -- I cannot tell you how many times I've gazed wistfully at myself in the rear-view mirror, clad in my bare, ordinary sunglasses, and thought, "Too bad I am mustache-less. If only I could add a mustache to this stunning look, I'd be sure to attract everything I've ever wanted in life."
 
On the other hand, I needn’t have worried too much.  Being mustache-less is, apparently, nothing compared to being beard-less, especially on cold winter days.  Note the other oddity – the Beard Beanie.  Who doesn’t want a fake beard to warm the face in the face of blustery wind?  Combine it with the attractive skull cap and you’ve suddenly got the go-to look.  Bonus:  If you look carefully, the fake beard comes complete with a fake mustache.  Add you own sunglasses and you’ve combined the two trends into the ultimate of cool warmth.
 
Questions of the day:  Have you ever seen anyone actually sporting these looks?  Do you secretly want to try them out?
 
 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unusual Historicals Guest Blog

Today I am honored to be featured as a guest blogger on the very cool blog, "Unusual Historicals." 

Of course I waxed enthusiastically about Fanny Fern and Shame the Devil, but the editors of the blog asked interesting questions about writing and the writing process, too.

Take a peek at my recent interview, if you please.  And while you're at it, check out the extensive listing of great books, interesting authors and terrific takes on history.

Click here for fun and adventure:  Unusual Historicals




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trickle-down is still a trickle

 
This photo and quote say it all.  Trickle-down is, at best, a trickle. 
 
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Double rainbows to you



Who doesn’t marvel at the wonder of a rainbow?  There’s something about seeing such colorful grandness arching overhead that makes all of humanity stop and stare.  And a double rainbow?  Well, that must just bring twice the good fortune.
We recently spotted this double delight while at our son’s and new daughter-in-law’s wedding in Colorado.  We were conversing during the rehearsal dinner, everyone thrilled with the light rain that was falling then (instead of the next day at the outdoor nuptials), when the natural phenomenon was spotted.  Oh, my, we all gushed.  Surely this portends extra special good luck for the happy couple.  And because we thought it, it is true.

Since that day, this picture has beckoned to me more than once. 

A good friend’s mother was celebrating her 91st birthday and my friend asked 91 people to send her mother birthday wishes.  Their address?  Rainbow Road.  Of course, I sent a copy of this picture in my card.

A dear mentor of mine recently celebrated her birthday.  She’s given me the comfort and wisdom of her old-soulness, in ways I’ll never be able to repay.  But, she reads this blog.  And, so, I can offer her this double rainbow of good wishes.  J
And, lastly, we just heard about the death of a very special aunt.  As we prepare to bury her and to say our goodbyes, this picture, again, makes its way to the group of us.  We feel lighter looking at it, as if we’re connected, again, with our loved one who has joined the spectrum of light.

It’s time for me to pass the double rainbow on, and so, I give it to you.  Take from it what you need and keep it for as long as you like.  Then deliver it to others who will make good use of it.
 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Callie the cat is 21!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CALLIE!
Our wonderful calico cat, Callie, turned 21 years old on Saturday.  Yes, you heard correctly. Twenty one.  And, she’s still kicking.
Callie is now officially legal in every state, and by cat/human charts is the equivalent of 104 human years old.  Perhaps a tuna juice toast is in order?

According to our veterinarian, cats, on average, live to be about 12-14 years, so, yes, this puts Callie at the top of the charts.  Granted, everyone seems to have a story about some or another aged feline, but our vet says our little ball of fur is the oldest cat he's ever seen.
And we are grateful.

So, cheers to little Callie, recently deemed “calm and beautiful” by an admirer.  Thank you, Callie, for many warm memories and for your comforting presence these past decades.  


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cuteness




A few weeks ago, I gave a reading at Cook Memorial Library in Libertyville, IL.  The reading was well attended and during the Q&A, a woman asked if I had any advice for young wanna-be writers.  Well, naturally, I waxed effusively about the joys and wonders of the writing life and encouraged any as-yet-unpublished scribblers to write away, keep the faith, never give up, etc.
After the reading, a ten-year-old girl came up to me and confessed that it was her mother who had asked the question about writers for her.  We chatted for a little while and the little girl told me that she was already “writing a lot” – in her diary and in emails.  Recently, she had also started a blog and had a right smart number of followers.  I told her that she had a great start as a writer since she was already doing exactly what she needed to do – practice.  I told her to keep writing and she would have a book herself someday.
She thanked me, grinned sweetly, then presented me with this little bit of origami.  “It’s a bunny,” she said.  “I made it for you.” 

How adorable is that?  She absolutely made my day. 

Of course, I gladly accepted the bunny, and still have it sitting on my desk.  Whenever I see it, I smile, thinking of the little girl who made it and her wishes and dreams.  I can only hope the advice I gave her had half as much impact on her as her impromptu gift had on me.
Here’s a toast to up-and-coming little writers everywhere – may your pencils be sharp and your imaginations unfettered!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mondegreens


Mondegreens can be thought of as aural malapropism. Instead of saying the wrong word, you hear the wrong word.  The term mondegreen was originally coined by author Sylvia Wright. As a child, Wright heard the lyrics of “The Bonny Earl of Murray” (a Scottish ballad) as: 

Ye highlands and ye lowlands
Oh where hae you been?
Thou hae slay the Earl of Murray
And Lady Mondegreen



Wright eventually realized that Lady Mondegreen existed only her mind – the actual lyrics were "slay the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green." To this day Lady Mondegreen's name has been used to describe mishearings of this type.

Do you have a mondegreen example?  Here are some humorous ones I found scrolling around online:   
  • "There's a bathroom on the right."
    "There's a bad moon on the rise."
    Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater
  • "Excuse me while I kiss this guy."
    "Excuse me while I kiss the sky."
    Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
  • "Dead ants are my friends; they're blowin' in the wind."
    "The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind."
    Blowin' In The Wind, Bob Dylan
  • "Midnight after you're wasted."
    "Midnight at the oasis."
    Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur
  • "The girl with colitis goes by."
    "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes."
    Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Beatles
  • "You and me and Leslie."
    "You and me endlessly..."
    Groovin', The Rascals
  • "I'll be your xylophone waiting for you."
    "I'll be beside the phone waiting for you."
    Build Me Up Buttercup, The Foundations
  • "Are you going to starve an old friend?"
    "Are you going to Scarborough Fair?"
    Scarborough Fair, Simon and Garfunkel
  • "Baking carrot biscuits."
    "Taking care of business."
    Takin' Care Of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive
  • "What a nice surprise when you're out of ice."
    "What a nice surprise bring your alibis."
    Hotel California, Eagles
  • "Hope the city voted for you."
    "Hopelessly devoted to you."
    Hopelessly Devoted to You, Grease
  • "I'm a pool hall ace."
    "My poor heart aches."
    Every Step You Take, The Police
  • "Just brush my teeth before you leave me, baby."
    "Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby."
    Angel of the Morning, Juice Newton
I, ahem, must admit that I always thought it was “You and me and Leslie . . .”  No lie!  But, I cannot imagine anyone thinking the lyrics are really “baking carrot biscuits” – “every day,” no less (some kind of bunny bakery?).  Seriously?  Who would think this?  I mean, if you would bake carrot biscuits, you may do it, perhaps once in your life.  Right?  Try some new recipe in the food section and then agree to go back to baking regular biscuits, like other members of normal society.  Or maybe not.  In any case, I have never baked carrot biscuits and likely will never bake carrot biscuits.  Nor will I sing about baking carrot biscuits.  So there.  Unless you and Leslie want them, that is.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Feminist = Fine





First, she took Britain by storm. Next up, the United States.  Caitlin Moran’s mission: to blow up the nasty image feminism has acquired and to reclaim the word (and the ideology) for the people. Sort of a backlash to the backlash. And, she's a hoot (which helps).
According to Sarah Lyall of The New York Times, Moran’s book, How to Be a Woman, is “part memoir, part philosophical rant, part manifesto written with the lightest touch. . . The book aims to make women proud of being feminists.”
Moran says, “The word ‘feminism’ has for some reason gone off the rails to connote, incorrectly, preachy humorlessness and grim separatism.  When I talk to girls, they go, ‘I’m not a feminist.’  And I say, ‘What?  You don’t want to vote?  Do you want to be owned by your husband?  Do you want your money from your job to go into his bank account?  If you were raped, do you still want that to be a crime?  Congratulations:  you are a feminist.”
Check out Caitlin Moran’s website and see for yourself:  http://www.how-tobeawoman.com/


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Texts from Jane Eyre





If you know anything about me, you know I'm crazy (well, not quite Bertha-in-the-attic-crazy, but Cocoa Puff-crazy) about Jane Eyre. What if Jane, and Rochester and St. John, were alive and well today? Well, they'd be texting, wouldn't they?
Kudos to my fellow English department professor, Heidi Lavine for unearthing this gem from the website "Hairpin" -- a rendition of what texts between Jane and Rochester and St. John would look like. Check it out. It is hilarious! (I, personally, liked the line, "But I taught you Hindi and everything. That's basically the same as getting engaged for missionaries.") What's your favorite line?


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Turkey and the Blackbird

Notice the turkey. It was in our yard, recently, gobbling up the bird seed.  A real turkey?  Yup.  A wild turkey?  Apparently so. Eating the bird seed meant for the delicate flutter of cardinals, bluebirds and chickadees? You got it.

After we got over our initial astonishment at seeing a real turkey in our backyard, my husband opened the window and shooed it away.  It ran, head a’bobbin’ for the marshy meadow beyond.  A few days later, though, we noticed it again, filling up on the songbirds’ chow.  But before we could do anything, the dominant bird of our feeder, a hellacious redwing blackbird we call “The Maitre d” (because he decides when the feeder is open and which birds will or will not get a perch that morning), took care of business himself.  Although as small as David was to Goliath, our gutsy guy puffed himself up and attacked the turkey’s feet, squawking and pecking fiercely.  The turkey, as you see in the photo, ran for dear life . . . and has been kept away to this day.   



We were more than impressed with our glossy-winged sentry.  According to birdish sources, this behavior is not at all unusual for redwing blackbirds.  They’ve been deemed among the bravest of birds, defending their territories and the nests of their females from animals and much larger birds.  Not only do they call and flap at danger, but they don’t mind outright attacking, as we witnessed with the unfortunately turkey.  These confident birds, it is said, are real swashbucklers – doing everything they can to get noticed by their ladies, and doing everything, afterward, to protect those ladies, and their families, in kind.

Our bird drama amused us for days.  It’s amazing what you can see by simply looking.  A romantic tale of ladies and gentlemen . . . and a big-bellied thief chased back to the shadows.  All for the price of a little birdseed.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Abracadabra


You know you're being fooled, yet you watch like a hawk.  You will figure it out, this magic trick, if it's the last thing you do.  But, over and over again, the assistant gets sawed in half, the rabbit is pulled out of the hat, and Uncle Charlie pulls the quarter from behind your ear.

Have you ever wondered about magician's secrets?  The brain, it seems, continues seeing the reality of the situation it has already assessed.  Reality and our perception of it are not always aligned, in fact are "off" by fragments of time.  According to a recent New York Times article, our perceptions lag behind reality by a split second and it is that delay that magicians utilize for their trickery. 

Scientists are researching this phenomenon to study human behavior in order to better understand the connection between reality and perception.  To read more about these fascinating ideas, click here:  The Science of Illusion

Have a magical day!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer


Sun lovers take note:  Summer officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20, 2012, at 7:09 P.M. (EDT).  That's tomorrow.  The Summer Solstice.  The longest day of the year. 

I plan to enjoy the extra rays of sunshine starting with early morning golf and ending with sunset drinks on the patio (with dashes outside during the work day to soak up a little more of the golden goodness).

What about you?  Will you turn your face upward as your garden?  Bask in a hammock?  Bake on a beach chair?  Will you walk a little more slowly to your car and let the sun's warmth relax your shoulders, warm you to the marrow?  Will you sit on a porch and watch the kids play way beyond bedtime? 

Whatever you do, enjoy the extra light and the little emotional charge we all get knowing that summer has finally arrived. 

And if you're having trouble getting into the mood, watch this video of The Beatles singing their fabulous song, Here Comes the Sun



Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Viewing

I'm not much of a T.V. watcher and am always late in getting into the latest television thing (maybe not such a bad trait).  But, I am later than late in discovering  –  and subsequently becoming addicted to  –  the wonderful television drama, Downton Abbey.  The British-American television series shown in the United States on PBS is set on the fictional estate of Downton Abbey in the North Riding of Yorkshire area of England.  The show is a wonderful blend of drama and trauma highlighting the early 1900s.  Award-winning writer Julian Fellowes co-created the immensely popular series with Gareth Neame.   Season I and II are available for viewing on Netflix, etc.  Since summer is traditionally slow for movies and the like, if you're looking for a great series to immerse yourself into, this, in my opinon, is the one.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Inspiration

Today, I am lucky to be the featured guest blogger on famed Smoky Zeidel's "Inspiration Series."  Click below for my musings about one way I get inspired as a writer . . . by being with and experiencing the wonderful works of other writers.  Then, explore the rest of Smoky's blog!
Click here to read my guest post and to explore Smoky's amazing blog:  Inspiration


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Special thanks to my rock star students, Caroline Slavin and Kate Woodward, for giving me the heads up about this wonderful YouTube video, "Feminist Frequency:  Conversations with Pop Culture."  This particular video has garnered almost 100,000 hits and nicely explains the media's trope of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl." 

Take a peek at this fascinating explanation about the preponderance of women characters written to "fix lonely sad men so they (the lonely, sad men) can fix the world."  Of course, as this video so aptly points out, women are not just muses -- frankly, never were -- but are their own selves, with passion, ideas, problems, ambition and life journeys of their own.

Enjoy this clip, then pass it along:  Manic Pixie Dream Girls



Monday, May 21, 2012

Nice Ride

This contraption may not look like much, but I've probably ridden around the world on it -- if you only count miles, that is.  Not to give any indication of my rapidly escalating age, but let it be known that I've owned this exercise bike, and have used it faithfully, for well over two decades.  That's a lot of newspapers, magazines, textbooks and novels I've read while pumping the manual pedals and adjusting the tension with the little knob attached to the handlebars -- not to mention a few calories burned.

I'm a firm believer that regular exercise keeps one somewhat, well, firm.  Imagine my dismay when my trusty bike could no longer be trusted to hold the seat in place, meaning the seat would randomly crash down to knee level (ouch).  All said, my baby was begging for retirement.  I couldn't bear to give it away, let alone throw it away, until I was certain that the new-fangled plug-in model I bought to replace it would perform satisfactorily.

It's been a year.  The new bike has given me no grief.  So, with this blog, my old bike will finally rest in peace . . . unless someone wants it for the parts!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Standing Guard

When we leave our Missouri home to head north to our Wisconsin home, we don't worry -- our house is in very good hands.  The house is 133 years old and is guarded by two stately pines.  The trees flank the house to the north and the south.  To the left is the south tree.  Notice how tiny our car is parked underneath it.  The north tree is pictured below.  Both trees are a comforting presence and perfume the yard with their piney scents.  How old are the trees?  They've never given us a straight answer when asked, but they have certainly seen a few years.  It's amazing to imagine what these trees have been through and how many people they've kept company over the decades.  The only thing we know for sure is that they peek at each other over our roof and surround us with their good energy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Virtual stroll through our Missouri gardens

Hello, Nature-Lovers!  Welcome to our Missouri gardens.

I hope you will take a little break among our springtime plants . . .
and flowers!

Breathe.


Relax a little. 



And enjoy your virtual nature walk!