Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Talisman

Since I was a child I have always had a talisman, usually more than one.  A perfectly round rock from a dear child, a piece of glass polished by the sea, a round silver disc that says, "You've got a friend forever."  And this year for Christmas, I got two more.  I will not likely carry these in my pocket like I tend to carry the others.  They are Poppets, tiny hand-painted figurines.  Poppets are said to be magical,  filled with cheer and bigger on the inside than out.  They force you to be honest with yourself.

The "original" little red poppet.

With the clown poppet.

And a lovely watercolor drawing by the creator of the poppets and artist
Lisa Snellings Clark

The little poppets sit on my desk and remind me of childhood days of fairy tales and imagination.  I just love them.  Today's weather is very blustery with very high winds and driving rain.  Just looking at my little poppets and the drawing gives me comfort.  You can find more information about poppets here.

From the Poppet Web Page

Thanks, dear daughter, for a great gift.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Toadstools and Mushrooms

Some say toadstools have both a stem and a cap so that a toad could sit underneath.  Some say mushrooms are edible and toadstools are poisonous.

So what IS the difference between toadstools and mushrooms?  Well, toadstools are the stuff of fairy tales and legends.  The word is not, in fact, a scientific term.  Mushroom, on the other hand, is the scientific name of a family of fungi.  So basically, there is no difference between a toadstool and a mushroom, although toadstool is a more colloquial term.

I know very little about mushrooms, except that I love to eat them.  Many people here in the mountains gather and eat wild mushrooms.  The only wild ones I would try would be Morels. (And they are delicious!)  Another option is to purchase spores and plant them yourself on a dead log.  (BTW:  It's not a good idea to plant them on Hemlock.)

I cannot identify any of the mushrooms that grow in our backyard.  But I do love to see them and I'll share them with you.  Following are only a few of the various types of mushrooms around here:

Mycetism is the term for mushroom poisoning.  Roman Emperor Claudius (remember the series?) supposedly died from mushroom poisoning.  Nicolas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer ate mushrooms he gathered on holiday.  They turned out to be poisonous.  He suffered kidney failure requiring dialysis until he received a kidney transplant.  Last November four patients at a California nursing home died after eating mushroom soup.  The soup was made from mushrooms picked in a field near the nursing home by a member of the staff.

As for me?  I'll eat only the ones from the grocery store.  Unless, of course, you cooked them for me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Icy But Still Fridays Are Golden

As if we were a cake frosted overnight, our mountain is a glaze of sheer ice.  Fortunately, my husband always checks the deck and realized it before heading out with the Golden Girls.  And with temperatures not expected to reach freezing today, the ice will remain.

Following their after dinner walk, the girls snooze the evening away.

This is often how they nap.

Whether sleeping upstairs or downstairs, they used to be reluctant to get up at 9:00 for their final trip outdoors.  Often I would have to call more than once.  But then we found a magic word.  This word, spoken softly sends the girls immediately to my husband's chair.

They wait in expectation.

They would sit and wait forever.

And what, you may ask, is this magic word?  PUPPYCRACK!  A couple of years ago our son and his wife were visiting us and bought the girls some special treats at a pet store in South Carolina.  Ellie and Lucy have never been so excited over any treats, not even bits of cheese.

Puppycrack is made by a relatively small company and every batch is hand made of natural ingredients, no preservatives, and with no sugar, salt, corn syrup or corn.  A portion of the sales goes to aid dogs in shelters and rescue dogs in need of medical care.  Some specialty pet stores in the Carolinas carry Puppycrack, but it is not widely distributed. You can order the treats Online here.  I assure you your dogs will love it.  Another benefit is that the treats are small.  We give them to the girls only once a day because they think they are so special.  In the evening when I say "PUPPYCRACK" they come running no matter where they are.  They are that good.

We will spend the day indoors except for outings in the back yard.  The roads are basically impossible to travel.  Even the driveway is dangerous, so it's out in the woods for us.

This week our community continues to mourn the sudden death of our good friend and neighbor.  My husband and I organized a gathering at his home following the funeral.  All our neighbors pitched in and it was such a warm community spirit.  Our friend's children took great comfort in knowing that their mother had such a wonderful support group to help her through the coming days.  Guests from outside our neighborhood said they wished their own neighborhood was as closely knit as ours.  We are very fortunate and we do appreciate that fact.

The quote today is an anonymous one:

Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening.  But no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love.  It can't take away our memories either.  So in the end, life is stronger than death.

Hug your loved ones.  Try to mend any broken relationships.  Our time here on earth is finite and we know not how long we have.

As the nation faces severe cold, our thoughts turn once again to the less fortunate.  Highs in some areas will not reach positive degrees F.  If you can do so, donate a little more to those organizations who help the poor.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Fridays Are Golden

Our weather has been rainy and foggy all week long.  Rivers are well above flood stage and many roads are closed.  The dryer has been running often as I try to keep up with the wet dog towels.  So I decided to use some photographs of the Golden Girls in better weather.  They both look rather shaggy given the number of times they have been soaked this week.  I wouldn't want you to think we don't groom them.

Lucy stops to think about something.

Ellie is her happiest when we are on the trails.

And they lie together on the floor.

Today's quote is a somber one but one worth heeding:

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying.  Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day...Whatever you want to do, do it now!  There are only so many tomorrows.
Pope Paul VI

On Sunday night, the last night of a terrific winter vacation, a good friend and neighbor died in his sleep.  He was only 61, trim, active and apparently healthy.  When his wife called me from Mexico I was shocked beyond belief.  And as I told our other neighbors and friends they could not believe it either.  His death has definitely made all of us think more about our own mortality.  And so we should.

Godspeed, dear Joe.  You are gone way too soon and we will miss you.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sorry, I Can't Make It

I have missed a lot of opportunities offered by the Asheville Tea Party PAC.  I missed the September 29 "Machine Gun Social."  This fund raiser offered the opportunity for interested people to pay for the privilege of shooting assault weapons here in Transylvania County.  For a contribution of only $25 dollars, participants could shoot a 30-round clip from an UZI.  If you ponied up $35, you could shoot a 30-round clip with an AK47.  A contribution of $50 put you behind the stock of an M16 loaded with a 30-round clip.

On December 20 (the week following the Sandy Hook school shootings), the Asheville Tea Party PAC held a gun raffle for an assault weapon similar to the one used in the school attack.  It included a carrying case and two 30-round ammunition clips.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 has been declared "Gun Appreciation Day" and all citizens are encouraged to patronize local gun shops and gun shows and buy a gun and ammunition.  The Asheville PAC will again hold a gun raffle and is celebrating the day at a shooting range here in Brevard.  It is of note that apparently an American flag will send a message to Congress.  An American flag?  That is a symbol of support for ownership of assault rifles with 30-round magazines?  Really?

Once again the social will include a raffle, this time for two weapons with 30-round magazines.  The Asheville Tea Party makes no apology for providing these weapons so soon after the Newtown massacre.  Chairwoman Jane Bilello says that gun-free zones and gun control "don't work."  She further added that "One reason we are doing this is those kids were sitting ducks.  No one was there to meet him with deadly force and he shot his way in the school."

Once again, Tea Party I must decline your invitation to the gun social.  Yes, I do indeed support the Constitution.  And that definitely includes the Second Amendment.  But I do not believe there is any reason for anyone to be able to own a weapon that will shoot thirty rounds of ammunition in fewer than 30 seconds.  And I don't want our teachers packing heat either.

[NOTE:  I did not label this post as "politics."  I do not understand how this issue became "political."  Well, unless you look at the tremendous contributions the National Rifle Association and weapons manufacturers gave to one political party and their PACs.]

Monday, January 14, 2013

Congress or Cockroaches?

"Would you rather have both eyes gouged out or your tongue lopped off?"  Such were the questions we asked each other as children.  Making choices between two horrid things and then explaining our answers.

Public Policy Polling asked similar questions (all right, that's exaggerating) of more than 800 registered voters.  The voters expressed a low 9% favorable opinion of Congress.  The voters were then asked to rank their opinions about Congress and several other people or situations.  The answers might surprise you.  Or maybe not.

Traffic jams had a higher favorable opinion rating than Congress (56% to 34%).  So did root canals (56% to 32%), colonoscopies (58% to 31%) [no mention was made for the prep; just the procedure], and even lice (67% to 19%).  There were a few things that with a less favorable opinion than Congress.  The voters had a higher opinion of Congress than playground bullies (43% to 38%) and gonorrhea (53% to 28%). Congress barely won out over Lindsey (sic) Lohan (45% to 41%).

From US News and World Report

Brussel sprouts won easily over Congress (69% to 23%) and even cockroaches (ugh!) squeaked by (45% to 43%).

You can find the full report here.  This poll is no more accurate than most polling.  But the results are far more interesting.  And perhaps distressing.  This is truly a do-nothing Congress.

Four North Carolina Representatives voted AGAINST the aid for Hurricane Sandy victims. [NOTE to Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Richard Hudson, and our own Western NC Mark Meadows:  North Carolina is on the Atlantic Ocean and regularly suffers severe hurricane damage.  How'ya gonna vote when we are the victims?]

Congress is definitely unpopular and deservedly so.  We should all be disappointed when we hear the rhetoric bantered back and forth.  And we ask ourselves, "Who voted for these jerks?"  Pogo has the answer:

From Wikipedia

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fridays Are Golden

Our weather has been very strange indeed.  We have had very mild temperatures but the sun has been hidden behind the clouds and rain.  Unusual to think it's cold and dreary only to go outdoors and find it's warm and dreary.

The girls do not like the rain and stay out only the necessary time to attend to body functions.  Fortunately we do have two play areas indoors.  We have a large den with heavy furniture as well as a screened porch we use when the weather is this mild.  So they do romp and play.

Mostly, however, they snooze.  And more often than not in the same bed.  And more often than not with Ellie serving as Lucy's pillow.

Please don't ask me to get up.

I'm really bored and tired of this rain.

I'll just look the other way.

Pro football and college basketball rule our house right now.  The Packers are still in the playoffs, and the TarHeels are really struggling.  (To be expected when 80% of your shot-makers went pro, but disheartening nonetheless.)  Thank goodness for books and downstreaming.  Although I wouldn't miss a Packer game for anything.

Many are getting the mid-winter doldrums and so our quote today comes from Goethe:

Sometimes our fate resembles fruit trees in winter.  Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom?  But we hope it; we know it.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blindsided Before I was Four Years Old

Monday's post about Aunt Ruby reminded me of her wedding.  Aunt Ruby lived with us when I was very young and shared my bedroom.  Needless to say, she spoiled her little niece and I loved her dearly.

Before I turned four, my Aunt Ruby got married.  I have a very limited memory of the events surrounding the wedding.  I do remember seeing the beautiful long white wedding gown and the amazing wedding cake.  And I recall knowing that her fiance Bob would soon be my "Uncle Bob."

I did not like getting dressed up and most especially I did not like hair ribbons in my unruly curly hair.  But for Aunt Ruby's reception, I had to dress up AND wear a hair ribbon.

I have little recall of the reception save one very important detail.  In all the wedding planning and talk about Aunt Ruby getting married, no one told me that it also meant AUNT RUBY WOULD MOVE OUT!!!  I was fine with the Uncle Bob thing but I was furious about the fact that Aunt Ruby would no longer live at my house.  Why didn't anyone tell me THAT?  I pitched a fit and got sent to my room.  Later I was brought out for photographs.  I was still furious. I was angry at my parents, angry at my brother (who called me stupid for not knowing Aunt Ruby was moving), angry at Aunt Ruby and especially angry at this man I wasn't about to call Uncle.)  My anger extended to the photographer who tried to amuse me with all the tricks at his disposal.  I was having none of it.  Not the comments about how cute I looked nor the squeaky toys.  No, not even the sock monkey.  Neither my father's pleading nor my mother's threats would change my attitude and facial expressions.  Finally, they simply gave up and took the photographs.  This is how I looked in all the single and group shots.

You might make me stand here, but you can't make me smile!

I was teased for years about my behavior at Aunt Ruby's reception.  But I will defend it to this day so many years later.  Everyone assumed I would know that getting married meant leaving, but that was too big for this three-and-a-half year old to comprehend.

I came to like Uncle Bob and every summer I got to spend two weeks with Aunt Ruby.

Aunt Ruby, you are still very special to me.  Oh, and I'm sorry I ruined so many of your wedding photographs.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lil' Ruby

Aunt Ruby is the single surviving sibling from my mother's family of seven girls and two boys.  She lived with us when I was very young and we were always close.  Since we  moved back to NC, I try to visit Aunt Ruby often and call her at least once every week.

She has tended a huge green plant for years.  It is so large that it reaches the ceiling and she has to get someone to move it for her.  It spends the summer on her porch and occupies most of the guest bedroom during the winter.  It is huge.  In October Aunt Ruby told me excitedly that her plant "had a baby," the second one in many years.  She said she had potted the "baby" for me and wanted me to have it.  I gulped as she said, "I don't know how many years I have left and this way you could have a little part of me."

I wanted to tell her that was a responsibility far too awesome.  (Not to mention that I tend not to have good luck with any house plants save African Violets.)  Aunt Ruby is active but she is elderly by any standards, so she does not have a lot of years left.  But the idea that the plant will represent her in some way is frightening indeed.  To make the "gift" even more burdensome is the fact that the plant is ugly.

But what could I say?  Except a gracious "thank you, I love it."  I made a visit to Aunt Ruby in late October and she proudly showed me the plant and gave me detailed instructions on re-potting, watering, fertilizing, etc.  When I got ready to leave, I tenderly placed the plant in my car.  As I started to drive away, my aunt called out, "Make sure you take good care of Lil' Ruby."  Lil' Ruby???  She has named the plant Ruby?  And I must care for it forever?

The plant had two leaves on it when I brought it to our house.  I put it near a window with south-eastern exposure and Lil' Ruby loves it there!  She has grown to a frightening degree and given me a new leaf already.

Little Ruby
The large leaf is more than 14 inches in diameter.
And still growing.
She ADORES my house!

I have no idea (nor does Aunt Ruby) what specific plant this is.  I suspect a type of Philodendron but only because I can't think of anything else it could be.  Every time I talk with Aunt Ruby, she asks about the plant as if it were one of my children.  She was delighted when I sent her a photograph of Ruby's new leaf.

So I'm stuck with a giant plant with an equally giant care for it and make it thrive at least as long as Aunt Ruby does.

I will share a secret with you.  I secretly call "Lil' Ruby" by a more appropriate name.  "Audrey II."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fridays Are Back...And Golden

It seems that Blogger finally fixed the problem with uploads.  At least for now.  I had not exceeded their "free" limit, but understand that I would have had no problem paying five bucks to them.  But only if I could send cash with no identifying information.  And apparently that is not possible.

I hope all of you had a most excellent holiday season.  We certainly did.  The girls always love extra hands available to pet them.

Ellie opens a present while Lucy observes.
For some reason Ellie has been designated to open everything.

It's a wonderful ball that makes all sorts of animal sounds.
Ellie just loved it and carried it around carefully.

Lucy got a ball that lights up with motion.

They took the toys to one of their beds.  Ellie guards her ball while looking at the light from Lucy's.

Ellie kept her ball between her paws, moving it whenever it stopped making noise.
Lucy nudged hers with her nose to make it blink over and over.

These balls will require supervision because of their small size, but we will definitely give them play opportunities.  Surprisingly, Lucy has not picked up the talking ball although Ellie tried the blinking one.

Here we are beginning another year.  I remember thinking as a child that I would be far too old to enjoy the year 2000.  I'm so glad I was wrong.

The Friday quote is from Abraham Lincoln:
"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."