Friday, June 29, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

George and I watched Pan's Labyrinth last night. I had moved this movie to the top of my Netflix list. This movie is dark. We were both very captivated throughout, but we both commented as we were watching it about how "dark" it was. I think I expected something fanciful and fairy-tale, but what I didn't expect was the deep element of evil that surrounds the characters, whether in real life or in the Labyrinth. George said at one point that there was no relief from the bad stuff...that it was all bad upstairs and down.

I think it is a wonderful movie. I went to the website today, Pan's, and was amazed at all that is there to see. If you have seen the movie, please go to the website and see all the comments about how the movie was made. I love the website and it is obvious that everyone who was connected with this movie was really in love with it, including of coure, the wonderful director Guillermo Del Toro. Don't miss the INTERACT feature, Guillermo Del Toro's Sketchbook! It really is incredible, and they know it! Even the music behind the website is wonderful and usually I hate music on websites.

The characters are incredible and the art direction is amazing. But don't expect a light and frothy fairytale. This is NOT a children's movie.

After I watched it, I decided that I wanted to know more about the Spanish Civil War and the fight between Franco and the rebels in Spain. This is the war that Ernest Hemmingway and other famous Americans signed up for. This movie makes you think as well as feel. I was fascinated by the rebels and their bravery in the face the of the brutal Captain Vidal. And I was fascinated by the cast of characters in the labyrinth. It is all brutality, murder and mayhem and a lot of red blood handled in very artistic ways. And it is beautiful. It is almost impossible to imagine writing such a screenplay...much less making this fantastic vision into a movie.

Have a great day.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Teenagers behind the wheel

I am trying to be upbeat, but it is really a problem about teen drivers. I think that teenagers don't have enough common sense to really know how to drive well, and especially when there are other teens in the car. I think that the desire to impress others, or peer pressure, makes teens not think straight. It is hard enough to drive alone for most of us, and I would imagine that inexperienced drivers really have a hard time with other teens in the car--they just don't know it!

I am so saddened by the loss of life when five teenage girls died in upstate New York this weekend. They were passing a van, and hit a truck coming from the other direction. If only the driver had stayed where she was, went a little slower, and followed the van for awhile until she was sure. But, as a teenager, she was not sure, and she passed that van anyway.

What is the answer? Do we take drivers licenses away from teens? I am not sure, but I do know that if I had a teenager, I would try very hard not to let him or her drive with other teens in the car.

Recently I saw a TV show about seat belts. They interviewed a mom who seemed very close to her daughter, who insisted that HER daughter always used a seat belt, that they had talked about it many times and that her daughter never would go anywhere without one. She was very positive about this. Then they showed the mom a video that was taken of the car that her daughter was driving. She was with a group of girls, and none of them were wearing a seatbelt.

Taking away privileges isn't something that I take lightly when dealing with teens. My parents always gave us the benefit of the doubt and I was given my first car to drive when I was 16. Did I take chances? Yes. Did I do stupid things? Yes. Did I die? No, but almost. So....what is the answer? I guess all we can do is pray.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Community Garden

Oh, Raspberries!

This beautiful fruit was in someone's community plot. Left ripening, right by the fence, and no one would even think!!! of picking any. Community gardening is so great!


(Poppies have long been used as a symbol of both sleep and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of their (commonly) blood red color. In Greco-Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies are used as emblems on tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep. This aspect was used, fictionally, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to create magical poppy fields, dangerous because they caused those who passed through them to sleep forever.) From Wikipedia. How did we live without Wikipedia???

Taniko, exercising her right to be a cat.

Flowers and a bumble bee I didn't see until I saw the picture

(Echinacea is a genus consisting of nine species of flowering plants in the Family Asteraceae, all native to eastern North America, and often known as the purple coneflower.) People think Echinacea has healing powers, and can be a cure for colds.

George and the community garden near Mike's house

The Spirit of St. Louis - no windshield so Lindbergh had to use a periscope to see forward!

(My mom always talks about Charles Lindbergh with a special tone in her voice. She said that when she was in highschool in Minnesota ALL the girls were IN LOVE with Lindy!)

Cats and Stuff

We had a great time in Washington and a very relaxing weekend. It was great just to be together, and make meals on the grill, go out for a fantastic Korean barbecue buffet and watch the kitty roll around in a ball of yarn.

Sometimes just being together is enough. George and I ventured out on Sunday and went to the Air and Space Museum. We weren't there long, but I was impressed with the Spirit of St. Louis. I was also impressed that they had so many bathrooms and drinking fountains -- about every 100 feet I think. Amazing. The museum was crowded with people having fun. The pretzel and hot dog sellers were busy and left me wondering how much it costs to have one of those carts outside the Smithsonian and along the Washington Mall. I bet those vendors make a TON of money!

I never go through a World War II museum and see all those aircraft and think of those men fighting in the Pacific without thinking of my mom, who was at home with a little boy, working as a Rosie the Riveter at an air force base in Oklahoma, making airplanes fly, while dad was stationed off in the Pacific Islands. What an amazing time in our history. I always head for the WWII airplanes first. George has taught me a lot about airplanes, and he is a wonderful guide.

I had a great time taking pictures in the community garden behind Michael's house. It seems to me that when people live in an urban place, and are given a few feet to garden, they become very creative and almost every little plot had something really exciting planted there. I have included a few pictures of things I couldn't resist.

Mike's kitty Taniko entertained us all as she rolled around in my yarn for the socks I was knitting, and did all the usual endearing kitty things with yarn. For some reason, cats like to have strands of yarn running around their ears and heads, and act so amusing. The world may be a complicated place, full of Ipods, Blackberrys, super fast computers, and fancy cell phones, but cats still love yarn. Sometimes the simple things are the best.

Have a great day.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Deja Vu: the best we could wish is that we could go back the two hours it took to view it.

Deja Vu

Deja Vu: sometimes a bad movie can be just as much fun as a good one. Friday night we watched Deja Vu. George had brought along our Netflix disc. He had looked forward to watching this movie and we had gone out of our way to add it to the top of our Netflix queue.

If you haven't seen it, it is about an ATF agent (Denzel Washington) who travels back in time to save a woman from being murdered, falling in love with her during the process. IMDB gives it seven stars, which is usually good enough to be good enough, but this movie cut a distinct line through the four of us. Michelle and Michael thought it was laughably awful from the start, and George and I were trying very hard to find something to like about it. The four of us have very different tastes in movies anyway, and trying to find one that all of us would like is a challenge. But this particular movie was a shared experience that ended up more fun that it was worth. We joked and laughed about it all day Saturday.

The movie is highly improbable: not real, but not science fiction either, and it lost me when the ATF agent was driving recklessly fast in a souped up ATV looking through a head-piece camera that could see into the past by four days, while trying to navigate down the wrong way of the highway at high speeds chasing the bad guy. He may be trying to catch the bad guy, but he was causing several cars full of innocents to careen off the bridges and roadways at high speeds, catching on fire, killing...well you get the idea. It was supposed to be exciting, but it looked like excess to me.

The movie lost us at several other points as well, and simply fell apart so many times that we were left groaning in our chairs. Mike was making fun of it the whole way through, and poor George was trying his best to ignore this real-time melee beside him and concentrate on trying to like the movie.

Because the movie was so bad, we had a great time yesterday picking it apart, laughing at all the goofs and inconsistencies and discussing why it was such a bad movie. We all apologized to George for being so hard on "his movie", but he didn't really care. In the end, he didn't really like it either!

Have a great day!

Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm a Rock Star!

The weather & Washington DC

Here we are in Washington DC, where the weather is sunny, balmy and beautiful. It is also fun here inside Michael's house.

Every time I get together with Mike, he has to help me clean out my laptop. Today he purged it from a lot of unnecessary evils that came into being when I subscribed to AOL dial up while visiting mom's house in Oklahoma. AOL is a scourge, as I've said before here in this blog, and dial up is the evilest form of scourging. Mike found that my new computer was hopelessly plugged up with evil sites that I didn't subscribe to, didn't download, and didn't want. The computer hourglass was stuck on load and nothing was happening. Deleting his way through all this maze of awfulness, Mike cleared me out so that my laptop is now performing beautifully and I probably will not even take this computer to Oklahoma again unless I can find a wireless connection.

The weather outside is beautiful, but part of the fun of visiting Mike's house is all the fun things there are to do inside the house. Last night Mike and I played a game called Guitar Hero, a new game of rhythm and rock and roll. There is not way to describe the fun unless you play yourself. "Feel the grip of your spandex and smell the hairspray as you take the stage and become an 80's Rock Hero". It was a rollicking good time and I can't wait to try again. It is a game involving playing a guitar, getting points while you play along with the rhythm of classic hard rock. I'm not very good, but Mike played the hardest song on the game, Lynard Skynyrd's Freebird, and he won, of course.

We also have a movie scheduled in his home theater and then we get to barbecue on his big new outdoor grill. All fun.

The downside of Washington DC is the traffic, which was almost as bad as traffic was in Boston yesterday morning when we had an early start and still got logjammed in horrible morning traffic that caused us to go a measley 15 miles in 80 minutes! The trip got off to a un-rocking start, but it picked up and we had a great time all the way anyway. An accident caused another terrible traffic tie-up when we got to DC, and although we were only a few miles from Mike's house, it took us 45 minutes to go about 10 miles.

But we are here, the weather is beautiful, and we're having fun.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Road Trip

It is 4:30 a.m. and I am a real early bird this morning. I do hear other early birds out there chirping to the lightening sky.

George and I are leaving for Washington DC this morning to visit Michael and Michelle. I like a nice road trip, don't you? We will leave by 6 am to beat the crowds going around Boston on 128 and to be in Washington about 8 pm. We take our time. One of George's friends said it takes 10 hours, but it takes us more than that. We like to stop at a outlet mall in Delaware, and we make other stops along the way too.

I have packed sandwiches, fried chicken legs, potato salad, nectarines, cut up veggies & ranch dressing & lots of good things to drink. It is hard to find something good to eat at the rest stops along the way. Sometimes on road trips the food is great, but I'm afraid that is not in New York or New Jersey.

Everyone flocks to the Starbucks along the way. Starbucks--what a phenomena. I think we are all addicted to caffeine, but most probably we are addicted to their sugar. I take mine straight, thank you, without the added addiction of frothy sugared whipped cream. Do you know that some of those frappes have 17 teaspoons of sugar? I think we all need to go back to the time when a cup of coffee at a diner was a real cup, and not a super-sized half gallon, and when we added cream and sugar it was by the teaspoon, not the cup. I'm afraid there is no going back. Starbucks has taken over the world. I like Starbucks!

Today we drive through Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and into Virginia. I like Delaware the best. There is a lovely road that goes through beautiful horse country and hardly a car to be seen. By the time we get there we are home free! I like driving through these small states. It takes three days to drive across Kansas! When I went to my high school reunion in Oklahoma once, and told them I lived in Massachusetts, one guy said, "that's one of those tiny states up there in the corner, right?" Well, yes.

Time to go pack. Have a great day and see you in Washington DC.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My baby woodchuck "Scratch"

Old Fashioned Can't Be Beat Shortbread

Berry Shortcake from Gourmet Magazine
(I made this for dessert on Fathers Day and it was really good!)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
2 T. sugar
5 T. cold unsalted butter cut into bits
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Filling: 12 oz. raspberries or strawberries
6 oz. blackberries or blue berries
2 T. sugar

1 cups well chilled heavy cream
1 T. sugar
(I use Lite Cool Whip because it is better for us)
(Bake at 450 degrees. Put dry ingredients in bowl and mix in the butter with your fingertips until it is coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until soft sticky dough forms. Drop dough in 6 rounds on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm with berries mixed with sugar and top with cream. Oh yum.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday morning woodchuck watch

Today I am making pasta salad for a Fathers Day cookout we will have later. George's son and family are coming over for burgers and hotdogs on the grill. While I am preparing the salad this morning, I have a good view of the woodchucks.

I saw first one baby, then the other. Then mom came out of the hole and pushed something out with her nose. Then she went back in and debris starting flying out of the hole. Housecleaning time. I don't have a great view because woodchucks are well camouflaged. They are the color of compost.

Babies played around some, staying close to mama. Then, after awhile, mom climbed up on the stack of bricks and took a little snooze with one of the babies right behind her. Baby wanted to play some more, but mom was tired. They are there right now, napping and looking around.

I have some bits of celery, green pepper, radishes & scallions left over from the pasta salad prep, and I put it in a little bowl. Oh, please stop me before I feed the woodchucks!

In the meantime, through all this woodchuck viewing, I am noticing the squirrels walking all over my begonias, and digging holes in my flower beds. They are a real pest.

I hope they don't wake the woodchucks.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Non-collapsible Peyote Beads

I took a class at the Bead and Button Show called Non-Collapsible Peyote Beads. They are made using the ancient American Indian Peyote stitch. It wasn't easy to learn, but today I practiced for a couple of hours and I finally got the hang of it. I made five beads, and although they are not perfect, they aren't all that bad either.

It is fun to learn something new. These beads, when combined with silver and crystals, are going to make a knock-out bracelet! But, besides the fact that they are beautiful, the fun of them for me is that I am learning to do something completely new. Using the finest needle and thread, and tiny delica beads, finding ones way to something that makes sense is a challenge. I haven't used needles and beads together before, so this is really exciting!

After I get the bracelet done, I'm going to do the happy dance.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Today I didn't see the woodchucks at all. Maybe the skunk scared them away. Maybe when they saw the skunk they hightailed it to another hidey hole someplace. I sort of missed them, silly me!

I remember when I had a farm in New Hampshire with 20 areas of land to watch over, and a big deck off the back of the house. There were miles of apple orchards and gardens and woods and some days I would just DREAM of seeing a moose or a deer or some kind of wildlife visitor. The critters seem to live in their own dark places and sometimes they are hard to see.

One day as I was standing on the deck, I heard a faint "hiss hiss" up in the air. I couldn't remember ever hearing a sound like that. It was early morning and the mist was rising off the land over by the apple orchards. When I looked up, there was a beautiful brightly striped hot air balloon going up right over the farm. What a sight!

Have a great day!

Backyard Zoo

Last night I drove into the driveway about 10:00. There in the middle of the headlights was a big black and white skunk. I am very wary of skunks. But they are sort of amazing and cute--as long as they are going the other way.

George came out, saw me sitting in my car and said I needed to move my car forward, and I said, "Not until that guy moves out of the way." Mr. Black and White slowly ambled off, right into the area where Chuckie's family lives. Who knows who we have back there. I have seen a skunk in our driveway before, and I am pretty sure this one lives close by. Maybe he is sharing the garage condo with Chuckie. Woodland paradise.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ten good things about woodchucks

1. They are fun to watch
2. Chuckie has been here so many years he is like family
3. They are predictable
4. Sometimes they go to the neighbors house to eat
5. Squirrels are destructive too
6. The neighbors don't know they live under our garage
7. They don't poop on the lawn
8. uh...

ok. Seven good things about woodchucks

Have a great day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Woodchuck Stories

My mother suggested that we should call animal control and they will come and take the parents and babies to a nice forest preserve somewhere that has a nice warm cave. Yesterday she asked me if I could put out some veggie scraps for them, and with a night's sleep, she too has decided that Chuckie and family must go.

I am not sure that animal control takes care of woodchucks. I am pretty sure that they don't. Since it is illegal to trap them...well...I guess I could call and ask.

So far this morning our backyard is a woodland paradise. Woody One sits out by the garage door surveying his new kingdom with not a fear in the world. Big Chuck ran across the neighbors lawn and then came silently back to munch away on the neighbors grass for awhile. Mom is nowhere to be seen, probably inside doing dishes and laundry like all good moms.

I had a doctor in Chicago once, who when I went in for some malaise or another, recommended "cheerful neglect." We have tried using cheerful neglect when dealing with the Chuckie problem, and now we have four little problems. So much for hoping that the situation will go away by itself.

Right now George and I are at the stage where we sit on the deck eating our dinner at night, watching the birds at the feeders and doing woodchuck watch. But if they touch my tomatoes, I'm callin' the feds!

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oh no, babies!!

I am safely home from the Bead and Button Show. This morning, George and I were getting ready for church and looked out the kitchen window to the bird feeders. There was a baby woodchuck in the white petunia planter! He was really cute, and I really panicked! I went out on the deck to get a closer look and the little guy hightailed it to his home under the garage.

For three years, we have had a woodchuck living under our garage. His name is "Chuckie". In the past he has created havoc with our tomatoes and our flowers, and we have thought long and hard about ways to make him move someplace else. We thought about traps, rock music, rancid oil, guns, everything. We read advice, talked to neighbors and friends and googled woodchuck removal. Nothing seemed possible. Most methods are not humane, and if they are effective, they are not legal. I didn't want to transport a wild animal in a trap in my car. I can just imagine; "Hello, officer, meet my pet, Chuckie."

Last year we planted only flowers that Chuckie doesn't like. We put up a fence with little vials of fox urine around the fence. It worked. He did relatively little damage last year. We were learning how to get along.

This spring, I noticed that we had yet another woodchuck visiting our yard, this one a little smaller, and a little redder. I named her "Red". Seems that Chuckie found a friend. Well, one thing leads to another, and we have two baby woodchucks. We saw them out there for the first time this morning. They are staying close to home under the garage, but they come out to play, rolling around like cute little cubs.

Unfortunately for us, and for our neighbors, this is a disaster. One woodchuck can do a lot of damage, but four will eat us out of home and garden. They have already chewed up a planter of purple petunias, and if they discover our new baby tomatoes in the garden we are in real trouble. We found out one year that Chuck loved zinnias, since he came right up on the deck and brazenly ate a whole big planter of beautiful zinnias I had just planted. He doesn't eat snapdragons, marigolds or geraniums, but his favorites are baby tomato plants, petunias and zinnias.

I have named the new babies "Woody One" and "Woody Two".

They are really cute! This is a disaster.

Have a great day.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Beads like these!!!

Off to Milwaukee

It is 4:15 in the morning, and I am almost ready to leave for the airport for my trip to Milwaukee and The Bead and Button Show. If that doesn't prove that I'm passionate about jewelry-making, I don't know what does.

My friend will meet me there and stay with me at the hotel, and we have lots of other friends to connect with. Thursday evening is the wholesalers night, and you can feel the excitement with those doors open. It will be a full weekend of bead buying, bead talking, bead classes, and bead friends. I'm even planning on dinner at a famous German restaurant while I'm there. But the main deal is beads beads beads.

What could be better?

Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Le bonheur es a ceux qui savent rire

This is my new "jewel" tote bag which I finished to perfection by affixing some beautiful sparkly Swarovski crystals. You can't see the crystals real well here, but, take it from me, they are as sparkly and cute as they come. I love the design, and it fits right in with my Sparkle and Charm Ebay Store name.

I am taking this bag to Bead and Button, and I expect a LOT of people will want to know where I got it. One day when I had more time than sense, I looked at the 15,793 tote bags that are listed on Ebay, and I found a company that makes these terrific bags.

The translation from the French is: Happiness have those who know how to laugh.

The tote bag has a zipper pocket on the side so your money stays safe, and three nice pockets inside for your cell phone, a lipstick and more money, one would hope.

Anyway, it makes ME happy!

Have a great day.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Shoes and Purses

I have an addiction. Today George and I went to the storage unit to find the bin of summer handbags because there is a specific one that I want to take to Milwaukee on Thursday. Instead of one bin, I had THREE bins of summer handbags. That is way too many. I was embarrassed. I said, "I have too many handbags." George said, "ugh," in horrified agreement.

I also have too many shoes. But I am not near as much of a shoe freak as some women I hear about. But, yes, I do have too many shoes. However, when Mother's Day rolled around, I looked at Amazon to see what I might like (at Mike's request), and sure enough, what should I see but these gloriously purple comfy shoes.

They came in the mail and they are just as comfortable as they look. They are also the only pair of purple shoes that I own. In fact, I don't think I have EVER had a pair of purple shoes before. They are beautiful.

Now I need a purse to match.

Have a great day!

Mother's Day Present

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I think I need a system -- again

Michael and I talked a lot at Christmastime about a book that he liked, Getting Things Done by David Allen. Michael is very interested in this organizational mindset, and it was a lot of fun to talk with him last Christmas, and a lot of fun putting the system into a notebook and using it--for about a month.

At the time I was starting a new job and I thought that the lists made a lot of sense. After a few months, I dropped the idea, and my book now lies unused on the backseat of my car. (One of the things on my list should be to clean out the things from the backseat of my car.)

Today I am going to go get my notebook and start using the Getting Things Done system. It is a great way to list everything you have to do in categories, and then check things off. It seems that little things are getting dropped, and this may be my answer. My stuff to do system has now percolated up to the top of my stuff to do.

If you haven't read the book or don't know the system, I would recommend it. I bought the book at Barnes and Nobel. Here is a few things from the list of things for me this week.

pack for Milwaukee Bead and Button Show
find tote bag big enough for craft light I need to take
mail chickens
mail sailboat
call car dealer to replace broken aerial
water plants
buy plant for yellow pot on the deck
buy craft for Sunday school tomorrow
make cupcakes for last day of Sunday school
update blog

Oh, I already did that. One to cross off the list.

Have a great day!