Archive for June, 2010

Lately I’ve felt my spirits starting to slip a little for any number of reasons, so I thought it would be a good time for another installment of “good things.”  My first two installments were “10 Good Things,” but I’ve decided to reduce it to five, so as to not overwhelm the writer or the reader.  That would be you.  After all, five things are plenty to sink in and give you something to ponder.

(1) Fireflies. What says summer more than they do?  They have been out in full force around my house lately and they really take me back to simpler times in my life.  I remember how my little gang and I used to wait until dark and then run around the neighborhood, clutching Mason jars and vying to see who could catch the most.  At the time, it was just the most fun!  Ah, good times.

(2) A package in the mail. I’m one of those people who actually enjoy getting the mail, bills and all.  But, when I open up the box and see a package inside, I get a little surge of joy.  I mean, even when you’re expecting something you have ordered, it’s nice to actually receive it.  It’s like a little present to yourself.  And, if it’s something you’re not expecting, well, that’s even better.

(3) Organ Donors. They are often the forgotten heroes.  Last Thursday was the first episode of  “Boston Med,” a documentary of actual doctors and hospitals filmed in real-time.  One of the story lines was about two people waiting for a lung transplant when a healthy lung becomes available.  As they interviewed the people waiting and their families, it made me so aware of what a gift it is for someone to think ahead and make their organs available.  It is a really good thing.

(4) Bacon. For me, there is no aroma more welcoming than that of bacon cooking.  And not just any bacon.  I have found the perfect bacon.  It is Oscar Mayer Louis Rich Turkey Bacon.  I know, I know, you wouldn’t think turkey bacon would taste real and I’ve found that other brands don’t.  But this stuff is heaven!  You put two pieces on a plate folded between a paper towel, microwave them two minutes and then remove them. And you have two perfectly cooked pieces of bacon with no grease and they taste wonderful! And here’s the best part.  A piece of this is 35 calories, 2.8 gms of fat.  One piece of regular bacon is 120 calories!  Think of that next time you want to chow down on a great BLT!

(5) Sunrises. Every morning I step out on my balcony in the dark and watch the sun rise on the horizon.  And every morning I’m in awe of God’s handiwork.  What better time to say my prayers?

And I can’t think of a better way to end this post.

Got some good things of your own to share? Jump right in!  The comments are all yours.


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Moles…and More

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, then you’re well aware of My War With The Mole.  If you’re new here, welcome!  Let me just say that this summer I have been having a battle of wits with a persistent and unbelievably annoying mole who haunts my yard and that of my neighbor, Marcia.  I am determined to keep him from destroying my yard, while his goal in life is to create sort of a “mole Disneyland” of tunnels, mounds and mud.

My latest counterattack of a month ago seemed to have discouraged him, or so I thought.  Then yesterday, as I was walking back from the mailbox, I noticed that he had established a “trial tunnel” on the little patch of grass right in front of my porch.  The nerve of this guy!  Anyway, I pushed it down with my feet and stomped on it a bit and figured that was that.  Imagine my fury, when only an hour later I looked out again and saw that the tunnel was back! Now this was a new one!  Usually when I destroy a tunnel, he doesn’t try in that area again.  But then, that is when I use my trusty rubber mallet to pound it down.  Of course!  I grabbed the mallet, stooped down by the tunnel and started pounding it like there was no tomorrow!  I wouldn’t be surprised if people down in China didn’t feel little pieces of dirt dropping on their heads, due to the violence of my pounding!  This time it stayed pounded and I think he got the message:  GO ELSEWHERE!

So today I went out to water my hanging plant, and what did I see in Marcia’s yard?  This.

And these tunnels were just some of many.  I kind of felt guilty.  It’s like he had a temper tantrum in her yard!  Just to give you an idea of why I’ve become so manic in pounding down the tunnels in my yard, let me show you a close up of one in Marcia’s.  See how BIG these things are?  And once he’s done that, no grass grows there again, unless you plant some more.

But, you know what?  I’m not going to feel guilty.  So far, I’ve managed to keep this damned mole from destroying my yard, but I can’t fight the battle for everybody.  Maybe if Marcia’s yard becomes a big enough mud pit, she’ll go out and buy herself a rubber mallet!

The “more” in this title refers to a critter other than a mole.  One of the main streets through a shopping district near me, Barry Road, is undergoing a lot of construction work.  Once you get on, you’re subject to two lanes becoming one and lots of delays.  I was sitting at a stoplight there when my eye caught movement in front of the car in front of me.  At first, I thought it was a rat, but then realized it was a baby opossum!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me, but he looked a lot like this.  What was really fascinating to me is that this baby opossum wasn’t “dashing” across the street like you’d think.  No, he was walking very sedately, like a little kindergartener  who had been taught to cross with the light.  Here he was, completely unaware that the eyes of maybe 20 drivers were fixed on him in amazement.  And then, when he got to the other side of the road, he didn’t run and hide.  No, he slowly started to investigate huge hunks of concrete the workmen had pushed to the side!  When the light turned green, we all reluctantly started to go.  But I would have liked to track his progress.  With his attitude, I wouldn’t have been surprised if his next stop wasn’t McDonalds!

Have a great day, People!

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I managed to go a long time this year before I finally caved and turned on the air conditioning.  All during that time I slept with my  three bedroom windows wide open and during the day I kept my balcony’s sliding glass door open in order to catch the breeze and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Apparently, without my realizing it, I was putting out a welcome mat to various and sundry uninvited guests.

Now, finding insects in your home in the summer is not all that unusual.  I’ve always got a friend or two who complain about an infestation of ants in the kitchen or flies buzzing around the house.  In that case the solution is simple.  You deal with them with insect spray and are done with it.

Unfortunately, MY particular bugs are a lot more devious.  They know that if they appeared en masse I’d poison them or call an exterminator.  But these guys are not that obvious.  They’re waging psychological warfare on me.  In other words, they’re showing up one by one, in unlikely places most of the time.

It started in the kitchen with a gnat…one measly gnat.  He was flying in front of me as I was standing at the sink.  Naturally I assumed he was there because I always have a big bowl of fruit on the counter.  But, he went nowhere near the fruit.  When I’d try to swat him, he’d disappear.  If I stood very still by the fruit, he wouldn’t show up.  When I’d go back to what I was doing, he’d start flying in front of my face again.  Finally I caught him between my fingers and executed him and…no more gnats!  Not one replacement or back-up gnat appeared.

A day or so later I was sitting in the living room watching TV when, lo and behold, what did I observe, but a solitary ant walking across the carpet!  I looked around to see if he had brought any friends, but no.  He was alone.  But, what the heck was he doing in the living room?  Had he hitched a ride on the morning paper and jumped off as soon as he got into the house?  It was strange.  Anyway, I don’t like stepping on bugs because it’s hard to get up the squashed mess.  So, I’ve taken to picking up all bugs (except spiders) with my fingers.  I grabbed this guy and escorted him right out the front door and threw him into the front yard.  “Tell your friends they’re not welcome either!” I told him and slammed the door.

“Okay,” I told myself, “Maybe there’s no conspiracy going on here.  Maybe there’s no ‘One-Bug-At-A-Time’ strategy.  Maybe it’s all just a coincidence. After all, they’re only bugs.”

So the next day I was perched on the throne in my master bathroom on the second floor, gazing into the distance and thinking how wonderful it would be if I won the lottery, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  I leaned forward and looked closer and could not believe my eyes!  There on the floor by the door was a fuzzy caterpillar! What the hell?  He was just nonchalantly making his way and I’m sure if I could have heard him, he was singing “Doody-doo, doody-doo. I am here to torture you!” I was so annoyed at the sheer audacity of this guy that I picked him up and gave him a very quick “burial at sea,” if you get my drift.  For crying out loud!  How did he get into my house?  I mean, this guy was obviously too chubby to have slid in through the screen.  And, if he came in through the front door, how did he get to the second floor?

Do these insects have a secret entrance into my home?  Is there a little calendar in their headquarters that lists what day each of them gets a chance at me?  “Okay Beetle, you’re up!” Because if they think this is a big joke, I don’t think it’s very funny.

Now I’ll admit, I haven’t seen any bugs in the house in about three days.  But I know it’s not over.  Oh no, not by a long shot. These guys aren’t through.

They’re just regrouping…

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The Circle Of Life

Well, I’m bummed.  This evening I stepped out onto my balcony just to do one last check for the day on my “Bird City” which is located in a tree directly behind my house.  There was a lot of gossiping going on and squawking, but no major fights.  Then, at the corner of my vision, I saw something directly below on my driveway.

It was this little guy.  He seemed to be trying to get up, but his attempts were very feeble.  It broke my heart!  But, what really got to me was the fact that there were three or four flies that kept landing on him!  It totally pissed me off! Those despicable little creeps!  Here’s this poor little thing trying to hang onto life and they’re treating him like road kill!  Don’t they know that these are MY birds?  And you don’t disrespect MY birds in my driveway!

I stomped down to the basement and out the garage, hoping that the sound of the garage rising would make the little guy fly away if he could.  Meanwhile I was trying to think of what I could do to help him.  But, by the time I got there, it was too late. His little eyes were closed and he didn’t move when I came right up to him.

It was so sad.  The first thing I did was swat those stupid flies away from him!  Then I got a piece of cardboard and gently slid him onto it.  Then I went back to the woods and found a shady spot and gently eased him down.  I named him Charlie and told him goodbye.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it was a better death than being run over by my car!

For awhile I was bothered that he died in my driveway.  Why in MY driveway?  And then it came to me.  By now, the birds are used to me.  They know that I won’t hurt them.  I’m the one always taking their pictures.  I’m their “bird lady.”  He came to me because he knew I would treat him with dignity.  That made me feel better.

(And, if you don’t agree with me, you can just keep it to yourself!)

Goodbye Charlie.  I hope your life was good.

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So, are you all as grateful for the nicer weather as I am?  It wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t even go out on my balcony to look for clouds because it was covered in ice and snow!  As I am writing this, I am smack dab in the middle of a beautiful day, so beautiful in fact, that I turned off the air-conditioning so that I could open the windows and drink it all in!  Due to the fact that I write some of my posts ahead of time and schedule them, on the day you’re reading this it could very well have gone back to being muggy and miserable.  But hey!  As long as we get some of the good along with the bad, I’m good.

In case you’re rusty, I’m going to start you out with an easy one.  This is a cranky dragon’s head.  It’s right in the middle of the picture.  His mouth is open and his eye makes it look like he’s definitely frowning.  See it?

This second cloud is more interesting.  I call it, “Pointy-Nosed Guy Contemplating a Lobster.”   Surely you can see the pointy nosed guy.  He’s there on the left with his pointy nose and rather prominent chin.  He’s leaning forward.  The lobster?  Okay, it’s a stretch, but can you see the two leg-things?  (I don’t eat lobster, so I don’t know what they’re called.) Claws?  So anyway, that’s a real puffy lobster he’s staring at.  Anyway, I love the guy.  He’s cool.

This third one is pretty easy, too.  It’s a school, or a pod, if you will, of whales.  There are several of them swimming from the left of the picture to the right. But, in the lower right-hand corner, there’s one whale who just realized he forgot something and is headed back to the left.  Whales in the sky!  What next?  Oil in the ocean?

And last, but not least, I saved my favorite one until the end.  This is a dinosaur running away as the sun rises.   Can you see him?  He’s headed to the right of the picture and he’s going so fast that he’s kind of leaning forward.  I totally love this picture, but then, I’m a sunrise person.

Well, that does it for this cloud patrol.  If you have a minute, please comment and let me know what you saw and didn’t see.  I’m always so happy to know that someone, anyone, else saw what I saw!  And meanwhile, (say it with me now!)  “Keep your eyes on the skies!”

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My Hoppy New Friend

I know so many people who seem to have lost touch with nature. They give the excuse of living in the city.  But, in my mind, that’s not a very good excuse.  Any time you step outside, you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.  The key is to learn how to be still and listen and observe.

I went out this morning to water my hanging plant on the porch.  I was standing there watering when I saw something dart across the sidewalk and into the neighbor’s flowerbed.  It was this little fellow.

He’s a baby and quite obviously new in town.  Here’s a little closer look.  Check out those adorable little ears!

When I saw that he intended on sticking around, I very slowly put down my watering can, cautiously opened my front door, and, once inside, dashed for my camera.  When I emerged, I stood very still until I saw him again.  He was so interesting to watch!  It was like the whole world was new to him and he wanted to check out every single thing as fast as he could.  He’d munch on some dead flowers, then dart across the sidewalk again to a tree and check it out.  Then he’d head back. He went through this again and again.  Finally, I just sat down on my front step and I noticed that with every foray, he was getting closer and closer to me…until he was right in front of my feet! I could have so easily reached down to pet him and, oh I wanted to, but I was afraid of spooking him.  So I just enjoyed his trust. And he didn’t even run when he heard the camera click.

I think he was testing me.  And I think I passed.  Now he knows that I’m not a predator.  So here I am  in a house facing a pretty busy street, and yet, I have my own private little nature habitat!  Something like that is really special.  And now you probably think that this is the end of this tale.  But no, I have a far better “tail” than that!  Check this out…I’ve never seen a bunny tail droop like that!

Oh, and by the way, I’ve named him “Benji.”

So, maybe you should go look out your own front door right this very minute.  You might be surprised at what you find!

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One thing you need to know about me is that I LOVE science fiction and horror movies.  In science fiction movies, I love visions of the future, robots and aliens.  When it comes to horror movies,  I want to be really scared. I’ll even turn out the lights while I’m watching to heighten the sensation.  When I saw the previews for “Splice” and got a look at the creature, I knew I had to see it.

To give you an idea what it’s about, the storyline goes like this.  Two superstar genetic scientists (played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley,) splice different animal DNA and create two new little creatures they call Fred and Ginger.  The pharmaceutical company which is funding them, wants them to isolate a protein to create a cure for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  When the scientists want to push the envelope and splice animal and human DNA, the company forbids it.

Naturally, they go ahead and secretly do it just to see if it’s possible to create a hybrid.  Well, not only does it work, but their tiny little lump of a creature grows and evolves at an astonishing rate, learning how to think and reason.  “Nerd” is the first word she spells, so they name her Dren, which is nerd spelled backwards.

The story introduces all sorts of issues regarding nurturing, parenting, and crossing the line between right and wrong.  It starts out as a really interesting experiment which made me eager to know “what happens next,” but started kind of creeping me out (and not in the good way.) Dren as an adult was alternately sexy, human, creepy, pitiful and frightening.  Like the two scientists, the movie, too, crosses some lines and makes the audience a bit uncomfortable.  Toward the end it just deteriorated into a “run from the monster” film.  And after what seemed like the end, I knew there would be one last scene and exactly what it would be.  Sadly, I was right.

The special effects were very good as were the actors.  But I wasn’t scared…ever!  I waited and waited for that moment when I’d be climbing my chair like I did a million times in “Cujo” or “Pumpkinhead” or “The Birds,” but it didn’t happen.  😦

It wasn’t a bad movie, but I didn’t feel very satisfied at the end.  I guess it gives one food for thought.  For example, I learned that it’s never a good idea to splice animal and human DNA together.  But I hadn’t really planned on doing that anytime soon, anyway.  No,  I’m perfectly happy with cloning. With cloning you know exactly what you’re going to get, right?   So anyway, that’s my review.

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