Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flash Fiction Time

You know the rules. Write a 55 word story and tell the G-Man all about it. It's fun. It's addictive. Hey, at least it's not fattening. Hey, that leaves room for some Halloween candy.




As the camera appeared, the subject attempted to slink away. Not because he wasn’t photogenic. In fact, he was handsome and quite noble. But he truly hated the whole process.

“Come on,” she coaxed gently. “I can’t help it the calendar became so popular. Besides, it’s only once a year.”

Disgusted, he refused to smile.


Meet "Mr. October".
Needless to say Smokey isn't fond of "calendar season".


It all started out as a joke for Christmas several years ago. Hubby's Archery Shop would not have the usual girlie calendar found in other men's shops. No, I Super Wife would create one just for the out of doors kinda guy. Every month would feature Smokey or Hubby and Smokey with whatever they had found in the field. I thought it was a one time thing.

In November of the following year hubby said, "I can't wait to see this year's calendar!"

Sigh.

So a tradition was born. In fact Hubby keeps all the calendars and new customers often ask to "review" them while they wait. I tried to help Smokey one year by featuring his laid back son Bou as "Mr. October." See for yourself.


He was sleeping when I put the horns on. He slept through the photo process. He was still sleeping when I took them off. I called his name to make sure he was alive. He wagged his tail enthusiastically, but never opened his eyes. Bou loves his naps! [Note: I'm sure Hubby would like me to point out that after this photo was taken, he personally refinished our hardwood floors, so they no longer look like this].

So rather than torture Smokey every year, I just reuse the October shot. I still add the occasional new ones and now I have Bou for a model as well. But I don't want to push my luck. After all, the look Smokey gave me when we finished that shot scared the devil out of me. :)





Monday, October 26, 2009

Cure for Monday Blues

If you've been here before you know I'm not fond of Mondays. If it's your first time here, I won't scare you away. Let it suffice to say Work is not a happy place...I go in happy, but the smile falls off my face by five o'clock.

Today, Dan made sure he started my day off right and kept the smile on my face all day long. It worked. Because he gave me this.
Now I know I'm suppose to get jaded at some point, put all my nice little awards in a file and tell you good people to go peruse them at will. Sorry, not happening. It's not an ego thing. It's a GRATITUDE thing. Folks who have been nice enough to share should get a pat on their back as well. So THANK YOU DAN for ensuring today was a better way to start the week.

Now, a quick question....which would've been this post if Dan hadn't been so sweet first. Yesterday I watched a program about the "Shroud of Turin" which offered an interesting footnote past the usual, "It was faked". I'll try to go back and find the program link, but the bottom line was this: It was a custom work of art created for a rich family....by

Leonardo da Vinci.

The program went on to say that daVinci was a student of human anatomy who constantly studied to see what composed the "perfect" face. [As in how far apart the eyes should be, etc.]. Using a computer generated image, an expert showed that the "Mona Lisa" is actually....

...yep, da Vinci.

It was amazing to watch how they put all this together. The "Mona Lisa" and da Vinci's self portrait as an older man were overlaid and it was a perfect match. The most interesting point came with the overlay of another painter's portrait of a young man that proved a perfect match with... the Shroud of Turin. The subject of the portrait? Say it with me...

da Vinci.

The portrait was of Leonardo as a very young man. In fact, that portrait made the experts go back and do one more overlay. It seems Christ in the "Last Supper" was once again the face of da Vinci. The program concluded that it was not known if da Vinci was thumbing his nose at religion in general or at the Church in particular for asking its followers to believe without question.

So, in your opinions, (humble or otherwise), do you think da Vinci faked this religious relic, or is the "Shroud of Turin" actually the shroud of Christ?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tightening up on Security

With the times we live in, you can't be too careful. Although Hubby's Archery Shop is small, it's insured and has an alarm system. We live out in the country and I've always felt safe here. But you never know what's lurking around the corner.

The other night Hubby walked in and said, "I think there's something you should know". With that, he handed me his camera. Now usually this means I am about to download and edit photos of him or his buddies as it's hunting season here. That usually entails lighting up shots taken way past daylight without use of a flash or cropping out whoever is holding the camera and casting a shadow. But this time, I was stunned. When I downloaded the photos, I discovered I was no longer Hubby's sole employee.

He'd hired a security guard. Take a look for yourself.


Yep, it's Walter.


Some of you already know Walter...the grumpy old man Mockingbird which we jokingly refer to as our "Watch Bird". You see, Walter doesn't like other people on "his" lawn and swoops and squawks until the offender leaves, whether they are feathered or human. He's finally made peace with the dogs, Smokey and Bou, realizing they're not interested in anything more than marking the tree he covets on their daily rounds. Personally, I think they like having an "eye in the sky" to keep the premises safe for the people who drive the vehicles that take them on rides. And because I always talk to him, Walter only squawks at me once. I'd like to think he means "Morning!" rather than "Move!"

The other day Hubby said he'd opened the door to catch a nice breeze. In swooped Walter. Rather than look startled or confused, Walter made himself right at home. Hubby said Walter "talked" the whole time he was in the shop, which was for over half an hour.


Here Walter questions why Hubby needs arrow feathers more colorful than a Mockingbird's.


In a move I'm not sure that I [the Bookkeeper] likes,
Walter decides to man the register and wait on customers.
I don't think he'll win Employee of the Month as it was too early for customers.
I suspect he was merely checking to see what we are worth.

Walter is an interesting character.
Yet in spite of his ability to sing a variety of songs,
he still acts like an ancient curmudgeon.
I was almost shocked to see him looking so downright...
cheerful in these pictures.
Until I got to this one.

Ah yes, that's the little feathered grump I love.
What's that Walter?
Either buy something....or get off the lawn.
Got ya. Keep up the good work.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time to Flash...No, not like THAT!

It's Friday and amongst other things, it's time to play 55 Flash Fiction, a game which the G-man has used to mesmerize all of us. (So far, our bank account numbers are safe.) If you write one of these 55 word stories, be sure to let him know.




There was wailing and whining. Gnashing of teeth. A howl of frustration at the unfairness of it all. Of being left behind. Again.

The agitated pacing back and forth finally frayed my nerves, and I shouted angrily, “Oh for heavens sake boy, he doesn’t HAVE to take you everywhere!”

Smokey decided he'd simply drive himself.








Monday, October 19, 2009

I Am...Honored

Mondays have recently become my least favorite day. Because it's time to go back to work. A sense of dread begins to kick in at say 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. No matter how I fight it, it's like having someone place a bag of disgust on your back, turning you into a hunchbacked drone. I work where they rearrange your schedule at the drop of a hat, usually with less than 24 hour notice, then complain when those who visit your Center don't seem enthused to be there.

Well gee, that's because the folks are never sure when they're ALLOWED to be there.

Needless to say, it was another one of those Mondays, where I was asked to cancel an event which will anger my folks and make it necessary to rearrange the speaker I had coming prior to lunch. I'll stop complaining now since I just finished reading Dan's blog and I'm trying to be grateful to be employed.

I am, however, grateful for the good folks in Blog World. I'll now proudly display the award I received from Bill [a.k.a. the Old Fart]. It's not just because I did well on a quiz he hosted. No, it's because of the title. See for yourself.
I can't remember the last time anyone praised me for being honest.
And for that, I'm truly grateful.
Thanks Bill!
You just made my Monday.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Happens When You Share

Earlier this month, Titus shared with us an interesting art project she had "borrowed" from another blogger. I say borrowed because readers had been invited to share their creativity in this drawing exercise. You really need to go have a look and see what Titus and her Terrific Twins did.

The premise was simple. What belongs at the end of this string?

Now that seems like a simple concept, but the kids I work with in the afternoon aren't your "average" group, even in the low income neighborhood where we're located. Over half of them come from disadvantaged homes where "absentee parents" can often mean Mom and/or Dad is in the other room, but not interested. Sadly, I've met too many parents who believe "giving birth" was the last responsibility they had to that child. The crime rate continues to climb and gangs are invading our territory, offering to be the caring family a kid may not have at home. So anything I can to do let them know they're worth something and that childhood is suppose to be FUN every now and then, we try. So we took on Titus' art project.

A psychologist would have a field day with the results. Me? I just saw the usual personalities emerging, with an occasional new fact sneaking through.

Now to be fair there were 6 drawings in total. My scanner had a bad day and ate 3/4 of two of the drawings. What you missed was both "common" and "scary". The 11 year old girl who has a good family drew the typical hot air balloon, with lots of flowers, trees and bright colors. The little girl in Kindergarten, with the really rough mother I've met, made me somewhere between sad and shaken. She'd drawn a tree, a stump with a squirrel sitting on it and a colorful rocket in the air. She'd even drawn another smaller Granny. When I asked her what Granny was holding, she said cheerfully, "Oh, that's a gun." Before I could comment, she pointed at the smaller Granny and said, "So if she doesn't behave, the lady will shoot her." I think I'm even more scared of her mother now. This kid just turned six.

Thankfully, the majority were less horrifying versions. This was done by a boy who is 9. The rest of the kids gave him a hard time for doing something "easy". Part of that was because he found out I had additional coloring pages and he loves to color.

Before I could suggest they work on their own pictures, he said to me. "You know last week I didn't have enough air to blow up a balloon. You know how that feels, don't you?" He has asthma and once he found out I'd been recently diagnosed with the same, we compare notes. He says that if he ever has an attack coming on he'll tell me because he won't have to explain. He then added that he was worried that my recent cold would make me have an asthma attack. I thanked him for thinking of me, then handed him the next coloring sheet.

This drawing was done by his 6 year old sister. She tried to draw an arrow going through the balloon, then decided not to finish it because that would let all the air out. The * are suppose to be stars. Although her brother complained, all of the girls insisted on making the grass at the bottom stretch across the entire page.


With the older kids, the creativity kicked into a higher gear. This girl is 10 and we lovingly refer to her as our "Drama Queen". Yes, to her face. Now when she turns on those crocodile tears to get her way and we just look at her, she dramatically wipes them away before grinning and saying, "I know. I'm such a Drama Queen".

But she also listens. When I was explaining about this project I mentioned that Titus had twin sons who'd also finished this drawing. So she not only added to the picture, it had a story to go with it. This is a picture of Granny and her twin. The twin is stuck in a hot air balloon so BOTH of them are trying to burst the balloon with matching pins. I was impressed that she drew another lady and dressed her the same as the first. When one of the boys pointed out they weren't the same because their hair color was different, she rolled her eyes and huffed, "If I gave her dark hair it would clash with the balloon colors. Hello!"

The one which surprised me the most was our 11 year old boy who has no attention span and is way to old for his age. The kids are always hugging me, but they know the rule is "Hug and let go". This kid, who's almost taller than me, likes to hug and try to um...stay clamped against you longer than necessary. He was expelled last year...for dropping his pants at recess to, as he put it, "Show the ladies my stuff". Sigh. The parents at least had him home schooled so he wouldn't be left behind, but they still leave him watching way too much pay-per-view t.v. for his age.

And yet we've been working on his patience as much as his school work. The week before we did this art project, he and I had a heart-to-heart talk. He thinks he's stupid. I assured him he wasn't stupid, he just didn't understand math. I told him my own humiliating 4th grade math story and he laughed. Then he brightened when he realized I had managed to figure it out because I was helping him...with math. I just explained that everyone is different and goes at their own pace. I remember adding that the world would be a boring place if we were all alike. Which may be why he was the only one who didn't draw UP.....


No, his Granny went fishing and from the looks of it, things are going to add up great.

Friday, October 16, 2009

And when I looked up again...

...Friday had come and gone! So next week I promise to get back into the swing of Flash 55.

Now all I have to do is go and read what the rest of you good people contributed!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So I Looked Up

On my way home I was thinking about how odd weather here is this time of year. Yesterday it poured all day long. Hard. And the temperature got very chilly. You'd think I was living in Ireland or something.

Today the sun was shining and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue. Tomorrow's forecast: a repeat of Monday. In fact there are already precautionary "flood warnings" in place in case we get another taste of monsoon season. It's been so dry for so long, hard rain wants to roll off, rather than soak in.

As the weather guy on the radio was telling me to enjoy this afternoon with it's pleasant, seasonal temperature, I looked up. Instead of the usual fluffy balls of cloud we get around here, I got this.

I'll admit it. At first I thought my vision was going.
Then I looked again.
Nope.
It was just a stroke of cloud...as if someone had taken a brush
and feathered white across the blue sky.
Exception to the rule, I thought, pulling into the driveway.

Then I looked again.
Every cloud in the sky looked as if it was an artist's rendition
of marshmallow fluff.
Of how dandelion seeds looked riding on the wind.
White flames dancing in the air.
This one even looks like an exclamation point on that theory.


I haven't seen clouds like this in ages.
Wisps of moisture gliding across the sky.


And is it just me
or does this look like
a dragon flying through the trees,
looking for dinner?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Look! Up in the Sky...

A NASA news item caught my eye this week. On Oct. 12th, NASA’s Cassini-Huygens probe will fly by Saturn’s moon, Titan. Titan has been described as similar to a “frozen Earth” prior to the arrival of life forms. The Huygens probe is actually on Titan’s surface and on Monday, the Cassini orbiter will pass by to take new readings.

The word moon reminded me of a story I did here a while back. While working on my family tree, I discovered a famous cousin; Sir William Huggins. Sir William was an English astronomer credited with the discovery of Spectrum analysis. Later that same year, he developed a new technique allowing for longer exposures of light, which enabled him to photograph celestial objects previously invisible to the naked eye. Sir William’s techniques and research revolutionized observational astronomy. Two craters, one on the Moon, the other on Mars, as well as an asteroid referred to as “Minor Planet #2635” were named after him. I’ve even looked at them, courtesy of Google Earth.

So what does that have to do with the Saturn’s moon, Titan?

Think! my brain prodded. There’s a clue there. Look again. Closer.

What originally caught my eye about the NASA story was the name of the probe for this mission: Cassini-Huygens. Christiaan Huygens was a Dutch mathematician born in 1629, who one day became interested in building a better telescope lens. In 1655, less than two years after working on improving the telescope lens, Huygens detected the first moon of Saturn. Titan. The following year he discovered the true shape of the planet’s rings. Since working in astronomy required accurate timekeeping, by 1656 Huygens had patented the first pendulum clock. In 1663 he became a member the Royal Society in London and by 1689 had moved to England permanently. Huygens even has a crater named for him on Mars. In his final years, Huygens wrote one of the earliest discussions of extraterrestrial life, which was published after his death in 1698.

Hmmm. A Dutch Scientist, eyes searching skyward, who’d moved to England and had a crater named after him.

The light bulb over my head lit up.

During my family tree research I’d found a book written by the son of my 4xs great uncle. One passage discussed a letter to that uncle from Sir William concerning the origins of the family name. According to Sir William, Huggins had originally been…

…Huygens.

The name was Dutch. The Huygens had fled their homeland for England to avoid religious persecution. The spelling would one day change, but the cycle would repeat when the clan fled England for America… for the same reason.

Have I been able to connect the two men, genealogically speaking? No. Not yet. Of course my curiosity will continue to make me dig. So far I’ve discovered both men were members of the Royal Society in England. Sir William even served as President of the Society from 1900-06. Who knows what else they may have in common?

Is it coincidence that I stumbled upon this news story? After all, there were many stories in the paper that day. Is it mere coincidence that two scientists, eyes trained on the sky, share a name with a common history, a love of the stars and the curiosity to want to see things more clearly? What are the odds that BOTH would have a crater named after them on Mars?

Have I mentioned I don’t believe in coincidences?

They looked up, so I’m going to go look up more about their life stories. While I’ll never live up to that caliber of scientific importance, I’d like to think we still share that same sense of wonder. That need to know WHY? What IS the rest of the story?

From now on, if anyone ever says I’m a little spacey, I believe I’ll take that as a compliment.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Flash 55....fizzles this week

At this point, it feels as if I've gone through 55 boxes of tissue trying to get the tail end of this head cold out of my system. Sadly, it appears my body is a swell vacation spot for those germs, so Head Cold felt no hurry to vacate.

However, I've sent it an eviction notice. This afternoon, it appears Head Cold is packing his bags and moving out.

So next week, when my head doesn't feel as if it's underwater, I promise to play the 55 game. At least this will give me a little more time to go read what the rest of you wrote.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday...at least it's downhill from here

After a week's vacation, followed by being ill the first 2 days of this week, my Supervisor greeted me this morning with, "What are you doing here?"

Oh the urge to reply, "I don't know. I ask myself that all the time."

"We have a Staff Meeting," I replied, taking my place at the table.

She sat down next to me and added, "Well, I heard you were running a temperature. Are you sure it was just a cold?" No, she wasn't showing concern. This was code for "You don't have the Swine Flu, do you?"

I assured her I was fine and to ignore the fact I sounded like a frog who'd been smoking cigars and drinking rot gut whiskey. She nodded.

Then she changed my schedule yet again, adding more work.

Yeah, that'll cure me.

When I arrived home I had this silly little gem from my best friend Claudie. Yes it's a stupid stereotype but it made me laugh. And laughter is just what the doctor would've ordered had I actually gone to one.

There had been a problem with her password.
During a password audit, the blonde was asked why her password MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLoueyDeweyDonaldGoofy was so long.

Rolling her eyes the Blonde replied, "Hello! It must be at least eight characters!"

Here's wishing that your week speeds along without bumps and Friday is quickly here to embrace you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well it SAYS it's a BMW

As promised, here are the pictures of our new BMW.
See, here's the logo.
Why yes, it is an odd color paint job
for such an expensive vehicle.





Now when I said new, I meant new to us.
As in we've never had one of these.
I'd be willing to bet that half of you
don't have one of these either.

No, it is NOT a camouflaged golf cart.
It's a Country BMW.
What did you expect for that kind of trade?



As you can see, DaBoys already want to go for a ride.
Smokey puts Bou in his place
and won't allow him to ride shotgun.


Yes Smokey, I know you're the oldest child.
No, you MAY NOT take it out for a spin by yourself.
Kids.

Now Dan, as for your worries that the Hounds of Hell
will come for me now that I've donated virgin hair,
they'll have to get past Hubby first.
He hunts Water Lizards for fun.
With a bow and arrow.
That's an alligator for you lay people.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Donating Myself to Science...sort of

I'm the first to admit I tend to use "vacation" time to do things I whiz past in daily life. You know, muttering to yourself as you pass that pile of whatever you've been meaning to get around to, "As soon as I get a minute to myself I promise to [fill in the undone chore of choice].

On Friday, I accomplished one of those necessary evils AND made a contribution to society by donating a part of my person for experimentation. Yes, it was legal. No, drugs were not involved. Nor was blood. In fact, it didn't even hurt.

You see, I have this love/hate relationship with my hair. It's baby fine, straight and plain old brown. Okay, so plain old brown is currently being invaded by a few grey hairs but hey, they're thicker than the rest so I don't mind if they bring friends. I'm not interested in coloring my hair because chemically camouflaging my age doesn't interest me. Besides, I plan to win that bet with Mom; she thought I'd cave in and cover the grey while, sadly for her, my rallying cry has become, "Never!" And I'll stick to it, mostly because in the past, I did my time getting smelly perms for "fake" curls. About every third perm I looked like a poodle which had come fresh from the "Fluff" cycle of the dryer before being tossed into a passing tornado.

So, with the blessing of my hair stylist Cindy, I went cold turkey on perms. That was three years ago. Cindy swears, in amazement, that my hair looks better than it ever has. Considering a haircut is about a quarter of the price for a perm, I believe her. Plus, her Mom owns the local beauty college right next door, where Cindy is a well respected instructor.

Friday was the day I stopped putting off a haircut. With my summer work schedule, it'd been easier to utilize pony tails or hair clip instant styling. Cindy greeted me cheerfully. Other stylists would've pointed out exactly how long it had been since my last haircut. Cindy merely noted that this was the longest she ever remembered seeing my hair before adding, "and it's never looked better!" We agreed giving up perms was the right thing to do.

Her Mom walked in just as Cindy had finished cutting 3-4 inches off my head. As I reached for my purse and Cindy reached for the broom, I heard her Mom muttering something low. Cindy paused, then replied, "No. Nothing."

"Put away the broom," her Mom instructed. "And I'll send someone over from the school to collect it."

As her Mom walked out the door, I looked at Cindy, then to where she was staring at the floor.

"Collect what?" I asked, watching her kneel down to carefully gather my shorn locks.

"Your hair," she answered matter-of-factly. "Do you know how difficult it is to get virgin hair?"

"What?"

"Virgin hair," she repeated with a smile. "No perm. No coloring. Nothing but shampoo."

"Oh," I smiled as a student from next door came to aid in the collection process, gently laying those valued hairs upon a towel. "So, my hair becomes a study aid?"

"Yep," Cindy replied, sounding very instructor-like. "They don't see a lot of virgin hair," she remarked as the student nodded, muttering something about bad coloring and over processing.

As I sat there, proudly smiling down on my fine brown locks being so lovingly cradled on a towel, Cindy added, "We'll be able to use these samples to show them how to properly color and bleach hair."

Oh, the irony.

And no Mom. You don't win the bet. After all, said hair wasn't ON my head at the time it decided to become a new color.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Time for another REALLY short story

I almost let Friday slip past me! It's amazing how many things I can find to do when I don't have to be at my work desk. But I couldn't let a Friday pass without carrying on the G-man's tradition. Make sure you let him know if you write one of these 55 word stories.


He settled into the car. She asked about his day.

Better than Wednesday, when a substitute employee had terrorized them, he replied.

He questioned her driving. He liked questions. But his statement caught her off guard.

“I love you,” he announced cheerfully.

Only nine, yet her nephew already knew how to win a woman’s heart.