Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekly Wordzzle Challenge # 222

Friday has caught me off guard yet again. Time really does go faster and faster the older you get. Anyway, I only just remembered and it's already after 7:00 pm and I have 3 people and Tara Grace to reiki, so I think I will wait and post tomorrow again. My apologies for always being late.

Words for this week's 10-word challenge were:  howling woman, experience, selection, for sale, star, crackers, you've got mail, limp, fuzz, characteristic   And for the mini: birds in flight, rainy day, ribbon, blanket, Yikes!

SOON  (Well, Saturday Afternoon sometime), I hope.....





Words for next week's 10-word challenge:  horrors, family, ginger, relevant, center, cheaters never prosper, flag, twine, mayonaisse, he's got my vote,

And for the mini: books, pressed, off the wall, anchor, lavender

Thanks you for playing.  Newcomers can check here for some guidelines to make the game more fun. There are no rules, just some general guidelines and tricks.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Request for Your Prayers

I'm writing to ask that you pray for my friend E. The house she has been living in burned to the ground today, taking with it a number of the many cats she has rescued, taking with it all of her photos, CDs and other personal belongings. She or the firemen rescued one or two of the cats, one of whom was pretty badly burned. Some of the cats escaped. She is a singer, in her efforts to rescue them she may have damaged her throat inhaling smoke.  She is otherwise OK. I know she would appreciate your prayers on her behalf and for her animals.

Thank you.

10/26 - Thank you to those who have offered prayers and reiki for Ellie. I wish I could give you an up date on her situation but I have no way of reaching her. I spoke with a mutual friend and she was with her sister, though whether they were here or in MA where her sister lives is not clear. If/when I hear more, I will let you know. 


I sent the video with the Ukulele Orchestra to a bunch of people and was blessed to receive this in return. Thought I'd share it. Very impressive. There's even Beethoven in it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saving our National Parks

I was lucky enough to visit a number of our National Parks. They are awesome priceless national treasures that can't be replaced.

Parks in Jeopardy - NPCA Infographic

Saturday, October 20, 2012

MaMuse Chico Gospel

Heard this for the first time today and thought I'd share it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Strange But True

This apparently not a hoax....

Weekly Wordzzle Challenge # 221

Can't believe it's already Friday again. Not having one of my best days. It's fairly warm out but it's damp and that time of year when sometimes it's warmer out than in. Anyway, I had hoped to maybe do my wordzzles on time, but it looks like - yet again -I will probably not post until Saturday. Sigh.

4:50 Saturday update:  Done! I kind of enjoyed these words... 

Words for this week's 10-word challenge:   substance, as the crow flies, sharpen, purring, crater, forgiveness, frantic, eager, blank slate, coffee  And for the mini:  paradise, paper bag, heat, what do you mean by that, licorice

My mega: 

Tamara woke feeling somewhat frantic. She hated it when she had dreams with what she liked to call "substance" that she could not quite remember and/or understand. This one had been quite a mega production. "Licorice," she said to the purring ebony kitty who was rubbing against her leg in an effort to speed up the feeding process, "I had the strangest dream last night. I need a cup of coffee to sharpen my thinking and then I'm eager to get it all written down before my brain becomes a blank slate with only fragments of memory. Hope you don't mind if I tell you about it while I get organized," she said, as she pushed the brew button on the coffee maker and pulled a paper bag with a couple of bagels out of the cabinet. "So anyway, in this dream I was standing at the edge of a huge crater that seemed to be a dying volcano... I say dying because it was still giving off heat, but it wasn't glowing or anything like that. Anyway, this strange wizard kind of person - he looked sort of like Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books - appears suddenly and he says to me "Paradise and forgiveness as the crow flies... that is your path." "What do you mean by that," I reply, but he just smiles one of those mysterious smiles - the Mona Lisa kind - and hands me a picture of my brother... and then beams out with a kind of StarTrek twinkle.  So I'm standing there trying to figure out what he meant and ANOTHER wizard shows up and says. 'Crowdar has spoken true, but he forgot to mention, that before a crow flies, she must explore the depths from which she is rising.... that's all I remember, Licorice. It seems like it ought to be really obvious to me what they are talking about, but I'm not sure... and what if one of them is a good wizard and one is a bad wizard? Who do I trust? See what I mean? I can't wait to talk to my other therapist about this, but thanks for listening in the meantime, my furry Munchkin."

My mini: 

As far as Fred Fenster was concerned, Angela's Candy Emporium and Ice Cream shop was as close to paradise as he ever needed to get. Her candy - which was homemade and weighed and sold in small brown paper bags - was beyond delicious. It tasted like love, like heaven. Her ice creams too - his favorite was called Licorice Ambrosia - had some kind of magical quality that left one full in spirit as well as body. Of course some of this could have been because Fred had fallen madly, hopelessly in love with Angela two years earlier and lived for his daily visits to her shop. Recently, he had had the courage to compliment her. "Angela," he had said, "I think you are not of this earth." "Why, what do you mean by that," she had replied, somewhat perplexed by his words. He was usually so quiet and reserved that she had been caught off guard by such a long and rather fantastical sentence coming out of him.  "Well..." He took another spoonful of ice cream for courage, "It's just that you are so beautiful and that your candy and this ice cream are more than just tasty... they are nurturing and nourishing. They... you... are wonderful," he managed to cough out, the heat rising in his cheeks. Blushing, Angela, laughed delightedly, "Why that's the kindest think anyone has ever said to me... and so poetically as well. I always suspected you were a poet, even though you are so quiet. Thank you for the kind words."  "You have wondered about me?" Fred exclaimed, his astonishment at such a thought pushing aside his insecurity for a brief moment. "I can't imagine someone as wonderful as you even noticing me..." And before he knew it, he has asked her out on a date and she had said yes and by the same time the next year they were happily married and a year after that, they had twins. In finding love, Fred also found himself. His heart opened itself and flowed onto paper in two books of poetry and then a novel - Paradise in Her Eyes - which quickly found its way onto the best seller's list. 

And my 10-word: 

Sitting sipping a cup of coffee, Jane stared vacantly at the TV which was playing in the background of her thoughts. It was a movie called As the Crow Flies.  It had gotten great reviews and she had been very eager to see it, but so far there seemed  to be very little substance to enrich the blank slate of her empty life. So far - 15 minutes into it - the film was mostly shots of a frantic (and of course beautiful and scantily clad) young woman trapped in some kind of crater alternately trying to escape and resting to muse on the back story behind her predicament, which included a gorgeous cat (star of the show as far as Jane was concerned), a handsome lover and her "homely" (also very beautiful) jealous sister whose purringly whispered hatred that could only have been missed by someone who needed to do so major sharpening of her wits (or who perhaps had none) if she was to survive crossing the street, none-the-less the evil plot of a bitter and psychotic sibling. The movie was supposedly about redemption and forgiveness.  "Worst movie ever," Jan said to the walls. "I should finish my screenplay and submit it, if this is the best Hollywood has to offer." Oddly, it was the most inspiration she had felt in several years. She sat at her desk that very day and began reworking an old story she had written five years earlier... and she submitted it. In later years, when people asked her what her favorite movie was, she would say, "As the Crow Flies. It was so bad, that it inspired me to write one of my own."

Words for next week's 10-word challenge:  howling woman, experience, selection, for sale, star, crackers, you've got mail, limp, fuzz, characteristic 

And for the mini: birds in flight, rainy day, ribbon, blanket, Yikes!

Thanks you for playing.  Newcomers can check here for some guidelines to make the game more fun. There are no rules, just some general guidelines and tricks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

I found this kind of delightful. First the idea of a ukulele orchestra is entertaining in and of itself... and then they turned out to make pretty good music.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Clinton's Excellent Explanation...

Clinton is so good at giving clear, understandable explanations of complex issues.


Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Build a Cooler City

Saw this on the PBS News Hour last week on Chicago's efforts to lower temperatures and save money and the ecology and thought it was fantastic. I had heard the idea of roof-top gardens for city buildings before, but some of the other ideas are just so clever.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekly Wordzzle Challenge # 220

Almost forgot it was Wordzzle day. Just turned my heat on for the first time. It's supposed to go into the TWENTIES tonight. Argh. Beautiful day, though. Half rainy, half sunny.  Anyway... I'll probably post my exercises tomorrow. Think it's another lone wordzzler week since CJ who has spared me wordzzling solitude of late has an exam or a paper to write or something like that.

5:22 Sunday:  Finally posted something. I apologize about the last one. It's shameless political pandering not written very well. I was too tired to scrap it.

Words for this week's 10-word challenge:  funding, week, truck, paper, salt, that's why we're here, globe, lemonade, tight, vigor  And for the mini:  extreme makeover, perfect sense, good news, cheater, share

My mega:

Funding for her extreme makeover had not come easily to Sara. So determined was she to make lemonade out of the lemon she perceived herself to be when she looked in the mirror, that she had sold her home, her truck and almost everything she owned in order to recreate herself. Although she had a pretty good income, she placed the lion's share into her make-over fund and forced herself to live on a very tight budget, cutting coupons from her local paper - the Daily Globe - every week. Despite the efforts of those around her to convince her that she was beautiful as she was (and it was true) there was no convincing her. She was a zealot for her cause, pursuing it with maniacal vigor and refusing to be a cheater even on the most special occasions. It all made perfect sense to her and she could not see what it was doing to her. She could not see the dimming of her joy, how tired she had become, or the creeping depression that her friends saw when they looked at her and their efforts to persuade her otherwise was received like salt on an open wound.  After four years of watching Sara struggle and suffer, her friends felt the need for an intervention. Ten of them knocked on her door one Sunday afternoon, picnic baskets in hand. "You won't talk me out my dream," Sara declared before anyone of them had spoken."It means more to me than anything.and if you care about me, you'll support me in reaching my goal." "That's why we're here," here best friend Megan replied. "We have good news. We think you are crazy and we have watched you struggling to seek something you don't need because you are already so beautiful to us. We've spent a lot of time trying to talk you out of it, but finally, it occurred to us, that instead, maybe the best thing we could do as friends would be to help you. The ten of us have each reached into our piggy banks and believe we have come up with enough to get you to your goal. We did a lot of research and have gotten you a spot on one of the make-over shows. We did this because we love you and because we hope that once this is behind you we can have our beautiful friend Sara back because we miss you."  For her part, Sara sat in stunned silence, tears running down her cheeks. In truth, she was not sure how she felt. Her wish granted, she suddenly realized that her obsession with the goal had somewhat overtaken the goal itself... and she realized too, that she was a little scared. She also saw - something she had not seen before - how much her friends loved her and how lucky she was to have them. 

My mini: 

Mark Cheater, unfortunately, was true to his name.  (Who says Cheaters never prosper, he liked to say.)  He was a con man of the worst kind, preying on vulnerable families with a "good news" scam that promised them an extreme make-over on their homes for only a small share of the cost. It all made perfect sense the way he explained it and since he was careful not to promise anything too over the top, they tended to trust him and happily signed any paper he put in front of them. Having taken a sizable share of their savings, he then stole their homes as well, reselling them to equally vulnerable marks. He was smart enough not to stay in one area too long, but eventually his list of victims became long enough that the cops began tracking him and were able to run a sting operation that landed him in "the Big House."  Although, they couldn't undo the emotional damage done to dozens of families, they were able to recover a substantial percentage of what he had stolen and thanks to the publicity that came with the trial, many of those families were adopted by the communities in which they lived and ended up - ironically - with exactly what Mr. Cheater had promised them. 

And the 10-word: 

"How come you're trying to put salt in my lemonade?" truck driver and would be novelist, George Goodheart replied to a reporter from a weekly paper, who was stopping drivers at the local truck stop and interviewing them (with a clear bias) about their views on the election and who could best heal the current tight economy. "I support Obama," he declared with passionate vigor. "Recovery has been slow, but he kept us from going over the cliff despite obstruction from the GOP and Congress. With more of the requested funding for his programs the economy would be doing better.That's why we're here and still struggling:  Because of what Bush left and because of Congress. Around the globe, countries trying it the GOP's way are not recovering. Under Obama we're slowly getting back on course. And we haven't thrown the poor and the unemployed into a ditch as the Republicans would gladly have done. I'm voting Democratic all the way. The other guy.... well as far as I can tell he's incapable of telling the truth and he isn't very good at math or details. I don't trust anybody who proposes big changes but wants to keep how he'll make them a secret. Doesn't pass the smell test. I'm an Obama/Biden 2012 voter and proud of it." 


Words for next week's 10-word challenge:  substance, as the crow flies, sharpen, purring, crater, forgiveness, frantic, eager, blank slate, coffee 

And for the mini:  paradise, paper bag, heat, what do you mean by that, licorice

Thanks you for playing.  Newcomers can check here for some guidelines to make the game more fun. There are no rules, just some general guidelines and tricks.

Thought for Food

Some food for thought....

You can also go to the Hunger Site daily and donate a cup of food. Ten seconds of your time each day adds up to 401.5 cups of food each year. Even if only 500 people participate, that comes to 200,750 cups of food.  If a thousand people participate it becomes 401,500 cups... 50,000 people - at the cost of ten seconds of their day - could provide 20,075,000.  That's a lot of food for not much effort. Just a thought.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Weekly Wordzzle Challenge # 219

Oops... I forgot all about Wordzzles today, so I'm posting very late. My apologies.  It's late, so I will yet again be putting off doing my exercises until tomorrow. Sorry again.

6:10 Saturday: Finally finished. Had a hard time doing these. I like the last one, just because I like my play on words. The other two are pretty lame. Now I can go read CJ's offering. Yippee! I'm not the only one this week!

Words for this week's 10-word challenge:  gratitude, immediate, vivid, choice, fragments, carving, charity, solitude, lagging, where did I put my glasses   And for the mini:  irresponsible, teddy bear, colorful, knife and fork, wheels

My mega: 

Amanda Collins set down her knife and fork and sighed deeply, enjoying a few moments of solitude.  and the luxury of being a little irresponsible and self-indulgent for a change. (Joe was working late and she had treated herself to Chinese take-out despite the fact that their budget was lagging slightly behind their expenses.) She would have loved a glass of wine but since that was not possible at the moment, settled on a glass of water instead. She could hardly believe that it was already September and that she was six months into married life. It seemed like only yesterday and not three years ago that she had met her husband at an event for the charity event in New York had been called the Fragments Ball and Auction for Autism, she recalled, though she no longer remembered why. At the auction, Joe had outbid her on a wonderful carving she had fallen in love with. Afterwards he had asked her out on a date and a year after that - when he proposed - he had given her the ring attached to the small carved object that had brought them together in the first place. How could she not say yes to someone that romantic?  Reaching for the cookbook that was lying on the edge of the table, she whispered to herself, "Enough goofing off. Time to earn my keep and start planning the menu. Where did I put my glasses? I guess it's really true that pregnancy impacts memory." She was not looking forward to Thanksgiving. Not that she wasn't full of gratitude for all her blessings, but beyond the work involved in cooking for nine people, the politics of playing hostess to her own family and Joe's at the same time was daunting indeed. There was no choice, unfortunately. It had been scheduled months ago, before the big news. She was still only 3 months pregnant, but what she and Joe liked to call the Grandparent Wars were in full swing. Almost immediately on hearing the news a short two weeks ago, both sets of parents had apparently completely lost their minds. Her as yet unborn child had a huge and vividly colorful collection of teddy bears in many sizes, and two of the classiest baby wheels (strollers) on the market. And there were promises of furniture and a host of other gifts. Not that they didn't appreciate their parents' enthusiasm and their offers of help, but it was already clear that finding a way to draw a line so that they got to enjoy the journey and excitement of preparing for their first child together was going to be tricky. We'll work it out, I guess, she whispered to the miracle still forming in her belly. Lucky you.... to be so wanted.

And my mini:

"How could you be so Irresponsible! I want an explanation and I want it now! I can't believe you did that! Put down your knife and fork and answer me now, young man!"  Fred "Wheels" McCarthy could hardly believe the fuss she was making. Looking at the filthy, mutilated pile of his younger sister's once colorful teddy bears, he replied. "We needed targets, Mom and Annie said we could borrow them." "Annie is three and you know full well that she didn't know you were going to destroy them.," she said shaking her head in aggravation. "Well, you will pay for them. No computer for a week and you will work until I decide you have done enough to pay for replacing them." "But, Mom," Fred started to offer his best whine.... then, looking at her face thought better of it. "OK," he said, instead. "Good decision," his mother said, "Now, finish your dinner and when you are done you can clear the table and help me wash the dishes... for starters." Life, Fred, thought to himself, is so unfair.

And the 10-word:

"Where did I put my glasses?" Choice Martin, asked his wife, whose immediate response was - incorrectly in this instance - probably on top of your head." Despite her penchant for gentle mockery, Choice felt nothing but gratitude for Jenny, his beloved companion of 30 years. She had rescued him - he still  felt a kind of awe-struck wonder at the fact that she loved him - from a life of wounded solitude. His had not been a happy childhood. His mother - a fanatical anti-abortion activist (hence the name Choice) had made it clear that she had given birth to him as kind of a noble act of charity because it was, she was fond of telling him, "the right thing to do." He had vivid fragments of memory of being forced to stand outside clinics at the age of 2 or 3, carrying a sign that said (he learned later) "Make the right choice." Annoyed by his lack of toddler gratitude and enthusiasm, she would scold him for lagging and lolly-gagging, explaining how less morally right mothers - usually, she would point to some young woman entering a clinic - might have ended his life before it began. By the time he was a teen, he found himself rather wishing that she had spared him and when he reached his 20s and moved out on his own, he began working for a pro-choice (ah, the irony) organization in the community where he first met his beloved Jenny, whose perceptive heart saw beneath his surface and began gently, patiently, carving through the layers of hurt and shame and self protection to help him realize that he was not a burden to be endured, but a treasure to be mined. She had taught him the difference between love and duty and he had felt not only loved, but liked, for the first time in his life.  His mother had never spoken to him again. "Your choice,"  he had replied in their last conversation, wondering if she understood the irony.


Words for next week's 10-word challenge:  funding, week, truck, paper, salt, that's why we're here, globe, lemonade, tight, vigor 

And for the mini:  extreme makeover, perfect sense, good news, cheater, share

Thanks you for playing.  Newcomers can check here for some guidelines to make the game more fun. There are no rules, just some general guidelines and tricks.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


It's October 2nd again. Gandhi's birthday and also the anniversary of my older sister's murder. It has been 24 years since my phone rang on Sunday evening and my father's shaky voice said, "Carole's dead." Carole, the kindest, funniest and most generous big sister a person could have... dead. And then he told me she had been murdered. Stabbed to death. We didn't know much more at that point. Just that my beautiful, amazing sister was gone. Usually, I write about her... about how she read to me when I was little, how she gave me my first Marguirite Henry book (KING OF THE WIND) and read it with me. How she taught me grammar with humor. "Me and you" is a mistake I never make because  she would pretend to cry and say, "You called me mean." I'd tell you about how she took me with her on a trip to Europe when I was a sophomore in college, shortly before she got married.. Usually I'd tell you about what an awesome parent she was to her own children and what magic and joy they brought into my life - both while she was alive - and still. I see her in each of them in small ways and large. Carole was the best that my well-meaning but screwed up parents gave to the world. She was smart and funny and passionate (I suspect much of my passion for politics came from her...) about life and ideas and everything.  She was and is one of life's greatest gifts. She died too young. She died too violently, especially for one so gentle and loving. There's so much to say about her. But this year, I want to talk about something else as well, because by the time October 2nd rolls around again next year, Walter Anderson, the boy who stabbed her to death, will have had his first parole hearing. It is possible - though I hope unlikely - that he could be out of prison at this time next year and I don't know how I feel about that.

Or, I kind of do. I'm surprised to realize that the thought of that makes me very angry. My better angels seem to be vacationing. I don't believe Walter Anderson is capable of reform. I don't believe he even understood what he had done. He expressed regret, but it sounded and felt more like regret for having been caught. He couldn't even remember what Carole looked like. She was a random victim. She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong moment. He wanted to kill someone and she was there. Part of me weeps for someone that damaged. How could life have dished out that much pain and anger and rage to a 16-year old boy?  There is something wrong with a world in which that can happen. I thought that then and I think it now. Still, the damage to him is done and from what I saw of him at the trial, seems unlikely to be repaired. He did not seem intellectually or emotionally capable of redemption. The damage he did to me and my sister's children lives on. 

Not that our lives haven't moved on. Carole's children are amazing. They have moved through their loss and pain and become unique and awesome adults... creative, kind, generous, intelligent... the best of both of their parents. I am alive.  I am still broken in many ways, but the truth is that I was broken before Carole was killed. I was already a cracked vase that shattered with that last blow. I have slowly been gluing myself back together. 

Anyway, I'm surprised by my anger. Troubled by it, too. The part of me that hopes Walter Anderson  (a damaged 16-year-old boy) has found redemption is no match - at least in this moment in time - for the angry, hurt me. 

I miss my sister. It's as simple as that.