Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doom and Gloom or Time to Say Goodbye?

Have you been following the reports of the recent swarm of earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park lately? Over 250 in the last several days, some barely a tremor, others up to a magnitude of 3.9. Now it’s not unusual for there to be quakes in this region. There are roughly 2000 a year. They’re normally more spread out than they have been recently.

What does it mean? Ah, that’s the thing. The experts don’t exactly know at the present time. It could develop into something big. Or not. They’re monitoring it for public safety but a park ranger that was interviewed said, “There doesn’t seem to be anything to be alarmed about.” Were it me I would have added a yet at the end of it, just to cover my ass.

Why? Because another article I read suggests this seismic activity could eventually result in a supervolcano. If that happened, life as we know it around here would cease to exist. Within weeks, all living, breathing things to the east of the eruption would be smothered.

Keep in mind that Yellowstone is located in the caldera of a volcano that last erupted 70,000 years ago and that the area remains a hotbed of geothermal activity. The park itself has over 10, 000 geysers and hot springs which serve as a constant reminder that there is a pool of magna a mere five to ten miles underground.

So you tell me? Should I cross it off my list of places to see and start packing to move in with Amarinda now since she's about as far from here as I can get or do I have some time before I have to worry?

Okay I know I said this last week too but it bears repeating. Whatever you do tonight, be safe, be happy and be good to yourself. Happy New Year everyone.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where Did It Come From?

The music used in porn movies, I mean. Have you ever heard anything like it anywhere else? Who writes this stuff? Even if it’s one guy with an electric keyboard in his basement somewhere in New Jersey, don’t you think he could manage just a bit of variety? Maybe toss in something resembling sultry blues now and then? You know, something that actually coincides with the action?

Seriously, if the music were better maybe I’d watch one on occasion. Okay, so maybe not but I’m just saying. It’s bad enough they contract the same breathy babe to do all the moaning in every movie ever made. Does all the music have to sound the exactly the same too? Is there some law that says all porno flicks need to have the same chicka chicka boom boom soundtrack and nothing else ever? If so, how can we go about getting it amended?

I’m sorry, but I get so distracted being annoyed with the music that I lose track of the whole purpose of watching the movie in the first place. Yes, I do know I could just turn off the sound but that makes it even worse somehow. To me, it then resembles watching an old movie where the sound and action are out of sync and just makes me silly.

Ha, bet I have you all wondering now, don’t I? Mission accomplished!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's History Lesson

Brigadier General William Irvine

Born in Fermanaugh, Ireland on November 3, 1741, William Irvine first studied to become a physician at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He was a ship’s surgeon in the British Navy during the Seven Years War. After the war, he resigned his commission and emigrated to America, settling in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where he practiced medicine.

When the Revolutionary war broke out he formed the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment and helped to invade Canada. He was captured and later exchanged and went on to participate in the battle of Monmouth.

An extra bit of history – If you’ve ever heard the tale of Molly Pitcher it stems from the same battle of Monmouth. Molly was actually Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, a servant of Irvine’s from Carlisle. She followed her husband, John Hays, into battle and earned her nickname, Molly Pitcher when she carried water to the exhausted, thirsty soldiers under Irvine’s command as they were fighting. When John was mortally wounded, Molly abandoned her pitcher and took up his canon ramrod in order to continue the fight. If you’re ever in Carlisle be sure to stop by the statue and pay your respects to this determined woman.

Back to the General. He served out the war at Fort Pitt after being promoted to Brigadier General by George Washington, commanding the western frontier. When the war was over and the new government formed he served many different posts, among them public land agent during which time he recommended buying the triangle of land where Erie now is which would give Pennsylvania a second international port city and Congressman representing Cumberland County which is where Carlisle is located. He led the Pennsylvania troops in the Whiskey Rebellion and died in Philadelphia on July 29, 1804 where he held his final post as superintendant of military stores.

Okay so why am I rambling about this man? Because while he was in Carlisle he married and had eleven children, one of whom was my great, great, great grandmother. Pretty cool, huh?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't Laugh

Back on her birthday, I ordered a snuggie for my mom. It finally came last week and of course I kept the free one for myself. Yes, I know what you're thinking. But what you must keep in mind is that I rarely turn my heat up above 60. When it's cold, I sit here with so many layers on I can barely move. It's very hard to type with my hands in my pockets.

You can make as much fun of me as want but I'm warm now. The sleeves are long enough that I can keep my fingers covered but they're loose so they don't interfere with what I'm doing. The thing itself is long enough that I can tuck it under my toes and don't have to wrap an extra blanket around my feet as I have been doing.

Okay so it's not as convenient to get up and walk around in as they show on TV but that could be my lack of coordination. I step on the bottom of it. Other than that it's a good idea.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Due to circumstances I won’t go into I ended up not going to Blind Hartman’s after all. Maybe next time…

Friday, December 26, 2008


Don't forget to come out to Blind Hartman's with me tomorrow night if you're in town. I'll be there around 8 if you want to join me for dinner. Music starts at 9:30. If you come you can meet Neeley and Riley.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From The Kitchen Of My Friend Sherry baby

Jose Cuervo Christmas Cookies

1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup or brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila

Sample the Cuervo to check quality.
Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.
Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add one peastoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the Cuervo is still ok, try another cup just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy.
Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the frigging fruit off the floor.
Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaters just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.
Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Who geeves a sheet.
Check the Jose Cuervo. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table.
Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.
Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
Don't forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the wishdasher.

Cherry Mistmas !

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Have a Happy

I’ve got some obligations over the next week plus so I probably won’t be here. I’d like to wish you all my best for the season.

One thing I’m doing is going to Blind Hartman’s Tavern on Saturaday December 27th. There’s a band, the Skidmarks, playing from 9:30 to 12:30 that one of my coworkers is a part of so a bunch of friends are joining me to have him croon at us. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi.

I’m also off to visit my sweet and wonderful great aunt. Wish you could all come along to meet her. She really is the best and you’re missing out.

Whatever you’re doing, be safe, be happy and most of all, be good to yourself.

Monday, December 22, 2008

To Bake Or Not To Bake

I ordered some cookie dough, chocolate chunk, from a school fundraiser. Yes, how nice I am.

It just got here. Now I'm faced with a dilemma. Normally I would get out a spoon and have a taste whenever I felt like it. However, when I stated my intentions, I was told I couldn't do that. Supposedly raw cookie dough isn't good for you. Huh? Never had any trouble with it before.

My thought is this. It has to be so loaded with preservatives anyway to last as long as it does that it's not going to hurt me. And it's not like I eat much at one time. No, eating the dough raw takes a lot longer to finish the container than it would to eat the cookies if I baked them.

Besides, this way I don't ever have to wash a cookie sheet, nor do I need to figure out where to store the cookies. If I use a plastic spoon I can even store it right in the container since it's not like anyone else is going to have any. I don't know about you but to me, it seems much easier my way and they taste just as good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Give It Back!

The one part of this season I truly enjoy is the music. I have a collection of over 40 cds of every sort of Christmas music imaginable. The thing is however, I rarely listen to any of them at this time of year.

For some odd reason I thought I might break tradition and play a few songs this morning. All my Christmas cds are stored together in a brown bag. I thought it was with the upstairs stereo. I know that’s where it was. I distinctly remember serenading the neighborhood one hot summer day. But when I went up to retrieve it, the bag wasn’t there.

I looked with the downstairs cds. Nope, not there either. Those are the only two places it’s ever been. Seriously, I would never put it anywhere else. Never ever.

Panic, hyperventilating setting in here. I’ve decided whoever it is that’s leaving all that odd food in my kitchen must have taken it. Give it back! Now! Just slip the bag back upstairs where it belongs. No questions asked. No one gets hurt. I’ll pretend I lost my mind and overlooked it the eighteen times I searched the area where I last saw it. Please?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Maybe, Maybe Not

By now you all know I get migraines. In fact you're probably as sick of hearing about them as I am having them. Well, maybe not. With one little click you can move on and be done with it. I, on the other hand, am stuck with them indefinitely.

I've been having a very rough few weeks here. Changing meds again. The topamax that was working so well to prevent the pain was messing up my mind, big time. In very bad ways. Sigh. I had such hopes for it but nope, it's better to be alive and in pain than the alternative. Yes, it was getting to that point.

So I'm back on what I had before that was only somewhat effective. Better than nothing, right? The problem is that it is something that has to build up in my system before it takes hold which means I've had a week's worth of headaches again. I try to save the very big powerful meds for the worst times when I can't stand it because they do very strange things to me. It's also something that loses effectiveness the more I use it.

Last night was extremely bad so I broke down and took some. This stuff doesn't knock me out. Instead it makes everything hazy and unreal. I can't ever tell if things are really happening or if I'm imagining them. I think Neeley may have stopped by at some point. Or maybe I just wanted her to because she should be home for her winter break visit soon. If she was here I don't think I let her in because she had an odd assortment of people with her among them some of my ex's family and a few other individuals I don't particularly care for. I can't understand why she would bring them with her. She knows better. Of course she may not have been here at all. Like I said, I really don't know. If nothing else, this stuff makes life interesting. Now if only it didn't hurt so much.

My head still hurts today. I've had just about enough of this.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So Wrong

Warning: This contains information that might upset you if you’re a pet lover.

I read an article yesterday about animal lovers in Beijing protesting cat now being on the menu in many restaurants China. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you my opinion on this one. Besides the obvious, I was astounded that only about 40 people showed up to protest. Forty people in all of Beijing. That horrifies me.

Supposedly, according to the butcher who was interviewed, the cat meat comes from legitimate farms, just like the beef they offer does. However the article went on to say that there are cat dealers who round up every cat they can find to the extent of nabbing people’s pets. There are roughly 1000 cats transported to Guangdong, the main region for Cantonese food, every day. In other words, if you ever move to China and have a cat you better plan on it being strictly a house cat.

Pet rescuers have tried to intervene however they run into governmental red tape because the traders list the reason for transport as animals to be raised as pets. There are no animals protection laws in China and the article went on to imply that few really care.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, it also said that cat tastes more like lamb than chicken. It’s expensive and needs to be pre-ordered at the butcher’s because it doesn’t sell as well as dog does so they generally don’t stock up on it.

Um, yeah. I’m damn close to being a vegetarian these days anyway. This could be the thing that does it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Forgive Me

Historically I’ve had a lot of trouble with this season and this year is no exception. Nope, not about to go into details. TMI and all that. Besides, the why isn’t all that important. I know I’m far from unique with this one. Lots of people feel down around the holidays. Doesn’t make me feel any better, being one of a crowd here. No, it just makes me sadder.

I was wondering if you could do me a favor. Well, not just me, everyone who feels like I do at the moment. It’s not a big deal and really won’t take any effort on your part. What is it I’m asking you for?

Be a little nicer to everyone whose path you cross. That’s it. Just be kind. Have a bit more patience than you might normally. Smile at strangers. It costs you nothing and might make their day a little brighter. Not that hard, is it? No, it isn’t and you really could make a difference in someone’s life just by doing something so simple. Trust me on that one because I promise it’s true.

Okay, that’s it for now. Thanks for stopping by. And again, I’m sorry for not being more entertaining lately. Stick around and I’ll hopefully do better.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gotta Love 'Em

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not Good

Nope, not a good day at all. Back when I'm capable of being civil. Or not, if my head expodes in the mean time.

Until then, go visit Amarinda's blog for some never before revealed holiday information. She's doing interviews again.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I grew up in an old stone farm house. Every fall when it started getting cold, the field mice would come in, seeking warmth. Happens all the time, all over the world.

What also happened in my house was the annual setting of the mousetraps in the pantry. Back then the only choice was the spring-loaded ones. You know, the kind with the little platform for bait and the bar that would then hopefully snap the poor mouse’s neck instantly.

My dad’s bait of choice was always peanut butter. Worked well too. He’d set out traps on the shelves, they’d do their thing, he’d go back and dispose of them. Only problem was there would inevitably be the one that didn’t do the job quite as well as it should have. The trapped mouse would still be alive enough to struggle, finally falling off the shelf into the bottom of the closet, dragging the trap with it as it sought to escape.

Oh it would die eventually. And then it would start to rot. With a glob of peanut butter left along with it. Yeah, real appetizing smell, rancid peanut butter and moldy mice.

There, now you know why I dislike peanut butter so much. The smell of a freshly opened jar takes me back to searching the closet for the one that tried to get away.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Last night when I wasn’t sleeping I heard something curious on the radio. There aren’t any acorns or hickory nuts this year. None at all. Anywhere. The trees simply didn’t produce them. And no one knows exactly why.

One theory is there was such a bumper crop last year that the trees are too stressed. Another is that it was a wet spring and the rain washed all the pollen out of the air. Some suggest that it’s due to climactic changes. The experts can’t agree but it seems they’re not going to overreact since it’s just one year. A fluke if you will. But, as I see it, the problem with all their theories is that they would apply to specific regions only, not all of North America.

The other problem with this is that last year the trees were so bountiful that wildlife was abundant too. Now, with the total lack of food this year, many creatures are going to starve. I know it’s nature but that doesn’t make much sense to me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

They're Back

Thirty-four years later and they haven't aged one bit. Who am I talking about? Why, the Miser Brothers of course. Heat and Snow. Only this time, they're working together to save Christmas. Or that's what the previews indicate.

This continuation was made in the same stop-motion animation, playing with puppets very slowly, in keeping with the original. Unfortunatley the puppets from 1974 didn't hold up and had to be recreated but the article I read reports that they were designed to emulate the first set. The new version even has some of the original voices, Mickey Rooney as Santa and George Irving as Heat Miser. Dick Shawn, Snow Miser, died in 1987 and has been replaced by Juan Chioran. Don't worry. In the previews you'd never know it. Good thing too, because Snow Miser was my favorite.

Anyway the new special airs tonight for the first time on ABC Family at 8 EST. It's preceeded by the original which I'm sure you'll all want to catch too. If you miss it today I'm positive you'll have another chance. Isn't it fun to stop thinking and be a kid again, if only for a few hours?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is It Just Me?

Or does the world seem particularly grouchy today?

I’m not really sure. All I know is I’m staying out of it. All of it. Been saying that all day long to anyone who’s tried to drag me into the middle of whatever it was that was going on. Sorry, but I’m in a good mood and I’d really like to stay that way.

Yep, going into hiding now. I’ll be back when things calm down. If I’m not here tomorrow you’ll know they haven’t so have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Midnight Meander

Sometimes it’s not a good thing to be up wandering around in the middle of the night. It’s okay now that I’m older but as a kid, not so much.

My earliest memory of prowling and seeing something I shouldn’t have was the Christmas Eve I was four. I stumbled across my parents building my brother’s train set, the one from Santa. They assembled the whole thing, tracks, buildings, trees and all without noticing that I was sitting behind them, watching the entire time.

I’ll never forget them backpedalling, trying to convince me they were Santa’s helpers and they were just setting it up for him because he was so busy. Nope, didn’t fall for that one. I don’t remember how long it took for them to give up and admit there really was no Santa but when they finally did it was only with a promise that I wouldn’t reveal that little tidbit to anyone. Not my brother, not my grandparents, not my friends or theirs, no one.

I promised. And then I spent the next three years pretending. Yeah, imagine that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I have a release date! January 16 which is much earlier than I expected. How cool is that? Don't worry, I'll remind you again when it gets here. In the mean time, here's the blurb and a tame excerpt. I'll give you a spicy one next time.


Tori Banks has suffered nightmares of the same two murderers for years. When she hears reports of another killing, she questions whether the others were also real or just macabre dreams. Can she trust the tall, dark detective who makes her forget about cold-blooded killers and think only of hot, screaming sex?

Detective Guy Breauchard is skeptical when he sets out to meet the woman who sees serial killers in her sleep. But one look is all it takes to stir his blood and have him yearning to fuck her. He’ll have to keep his hands off of the sexy psychic if he has any hope of keeping her safe and out of the hands of the chilling predators who have plans of their own for her.

Reader Advisory: This story contains scenes of extreme violence.


“Ms. Banks.” Guy forced a thin smile.
“Yes.” She took a step backward.
“I’m Detective Breauchard, Barry’s partner.” He extended his hand and noted both her hesitation and the slight tremble when she finally accepted. “Shall we?” He indicated a nearby table.
“Oh. All right.” Tori looked disturbed by his choice.
Guy let the silence stretch beyond the comfort zone. “I understand you believe you have knowledge of a homicide?”
“I think I might.”
“You might? As in you’re not sure?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Maybe. I don’t know.”
Fighting for patience, Guy made the mistake of glancing at Lana. When he refocused on the woman next to him, he knew she’d seen his date’s annoyed gesture. “Perhaps you could begin by telling me how you got this information that you may or may not have.”
Tori flinched. “I had a nightmare.”
“Pardon me. I don’t think I heard you correctly.”
“I said I had a nightmare. Of that poor woman getting killed.”
Guy snorted. “I see.”
“You don’t believe me, do you?”
“Of course I do, Ms. Banks,” he sneered. “We employ a full staff of sleeping witnesses. How else would we ever catch the bad guys?”
“This was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come.” Tori’s shoulders slumped.
“No, Ms. Banks what you shouldn’t have done was take advantage of the good woman who befriended you and her family.”
“What?” His words startled her into looking at him.
“What’s wrong? Are you so bored with our little community that you decided to play the psychic and stir things up?”
“I never…”
“Cut the bullshit, princess. This is New Hampshire, not California. Your Beverly Hills drama queen act may do it for you there but here, we have values. We respect honesty, not hyped up hysterics.”
“Beverly Hills drama queen,” Tori sputtered. “Since that’s where I’m from, that’s what I must be?”
“Hey, if the shoe fits.” Guy watched her features sharpen with anger and saw something in her eyes that made him question his opinion.
“Then that would make you an asshole, Detective Breauchard,” Tori emphasized the French pronunciation of his name. “Since everyone knows the French are all assholes.”
“My distant family is from Quebec, Ms. Banks but I assure you, I am as American as you are.”
“That may be.” Tori stood and leaned over the table toward him. “But roots count tremendously and Quebec is the next best thing to France. Forgive me for interfering with you evening. I’ll go now and let you get back to your date.”
Guy watched as she mustered her dignity and swept out the door. Anyone watching would see only her grand exit. If Guy hadn’t seen how her hands were shaking and the hurt and sadness in her eyes when she leaned closer to him, he would have believed it too. But he had seen and that made him wonder if her regal behavior as she left wasn’t the true act. If it was then that meant his assumption that she was an attention-seeking lunatic was wrong too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In A Pinch

I was speaking with Neeley a little bit ago and she had me laughing so damn hard with her resourcefulness that I can’t keep it to myself. She started out telling me it’s time for her to drop off her Secret Santa gift. Only problem is she has no wrapping paper or tape. Her solution…newspaper and a glue stick. Great! I would have come up with the newspaper. Yep, done that many times already. But the glue stick? I doubt it, perhaps because I don’t think I’ve ever had one.

Her other helpful fix-it hint was what I thought was so funny. It seems she ripped her jacket while helping someone move. Her down jacket. Of course it was cold so she couldn’t just take it off. And there was no needle and thread available. So did she leave a trail of feathers behind her all day? Nope, not Neeley. For some unknown reason the tape had already been packed up but the stapler wasn’t. Ah sure, makes sense to me. I always save my stapler for last, don’t you? You got it. She rolled the edges of the rip together and stapled them closed.

Don’t you love it? I do. But then I know Neeley and can picture her swearing and then going in search of a viable solution. I can also picture the expressions on the faces of the guys she was helping.

Surely you all have some unorthodox tip you’re just dying to share. Come on, fess up. What have you done lately that will make me laugh too?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Today's Tidbits

Types of Communicators
1. Passive – 60 % of the population
2. Aggressive – 20 % of the population
3. Assertive – 20 % of the population

Listening Styles
1. Passive
2. Selective
3. Active

Types of Learning
1. Visual
2. Audible
3. Kinesthetic

Three Steps to Mastering Anything
1. Practice
2. Explore
3. Have proper resources

If you read seven minutes a day you will finish twelve books in a year.

Two out of three Americans have low self-esteem.

Einstein’s Definition of Insanity – Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Some states are now requiring students to be certified in the entire Office suite in order to graduate.

The youngest person certified in Excel is seven years old.

The cost to ask one question on the Microsoft help line is $79. Hold times of an hour and a half are not unusual.

One Excel worksheet can have up to 256 columns and 65,536 rows which allows almost 16.8 million cells of information. A workbook can have up to 255 worksheets which is over 4.2 billion cells. Yep, I’m sure I need that many. How about you?

If you haven’t guessed yet, yes, I went to a seminar today.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Need This

Yep, one of those days.

Shoulda stayed in bed.

Back tomorrow.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Last Night

I had this dream. I was being suffocated, smothered by a pillow. Not an unusual dream for me. Someone’s always killing me. But what was a bit of out the ordinary is that I wasn’t struggling. Not at all. How odd is that? I always fight back.

Then I woke up enough to realize that I was having trouble breathing. There really was something on my face. And I still wasn’t struggling. I wondered why the house alarm hadn’t gone off. I know I set it. You had gotten in without me knowing it?

That’s when it finally sank in that the pillow pressed to my face was furry and purring. No wonder I wasn’t panicked. It was just Harry, coming to sleep on me as he’s taken to doing. Only he missed and landed on my nose instead of my forehead.

I reached up and petted him. Then I drew my hand away and wiggled my fingers. Good kitty, he followed them as hoped. Yay! I could breathe again. After a few attempts, he snuggled in beside my head, which is where I prefer he sleeps.

But can’t you just see the article in the paper now? Woman found smothered in her own bed with the alarm system still activated. No signs of struggle. Cause unknown. I wonder how long it would take them to figure out that the overly affectionate cat did it?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The 411

First I want to thank you for all the hugs. You guys are the best! Now I’ll tell you why I needed them.

When I had the flat spare the other week a good friend reminded me that I really need to pay more attention to routine car stuff. So, being the good girl I am, I made an appointment to have my oil changed. It was just a little overdue. I’ve only had the car for a few months over a year. No need to rush into it.

When I got to the garage, my mechanic was waiting so it took no time at all. Great, right? Well, the oil change part was. However he informed me that I’m about to need an exhaust system and it’s going to be VERY expensive. Foreign parts. The labor will be reasonable. I wondered if it would last until summer figuring I’d have some time to save up. He laughed at me like he always does when I ask my typical girl questions.

I hate dealing with car things, especially costly car things that are not in my budget. To me, cars are like computers. I want to turn the key or push the button and have them work. I don’t want to worry about all the background stuff. I don’t want to figure out the right moment to go and have this replaced since I’m sure waiting until it falls off completely is probably not the correct answer. Hm, I wonder how I can convince my friend who knows about these things to take over all this stuff for me.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Did You Know?

The Slinky was invented in 1943 by Richard and Betty James, somewhat by accident. Richard was a naval engineer stationed at the Cramp shipyards in Philadelphia. While working on a way to make a ship’s instruments easier to read, a torsion spring fell off a table. Watching, Richard decided it might make a fun toy so he took it home to show his wife.

Betty searched the dictionary for a suitable name and finally found the Swedish word “Slinky” which means smooth, flowing, stealthy, sleek and sinuous. The couple spent the next two years experimenting with different wires and perfecting the idea.

In 1945, Betty and Richard convinced Gimbels to let them set up a ramp in the toy department in order to demonstrate the walking abilities of their invention. They had 400 Slinkys with them and were afraid they wouldn’t sell at the asking price of $1.00. Ninety minutes later, the Slinkys were sold out. Over 300 million Slinkys have been sold since then and the cost for a standard metal model is still under $5.00.

With an initial investment of $500, the James Spring & Wire Company was formed. Made from 80 feet of wire the only design change since the beginning has to crimp the ends as a safety measure.

In 1960, Richard had a mid-life crisis. He ran off to join a “religious” order in Bolivia, leaving Betty and their six children. At the time, the company was in serious debt due to Richard’s excessive generosity with his religion. Betty saved the day with the Slinky dog. She moved the company, James Industries by then, to Hollidaysburg where Slinkys have been made ever since using the machine originally designed by Richard.

On November 4, 2001 Slinky became the Official State Toy of Pennsylvania. Also in 2001, Betty James and the Slinky were inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. Betty was the president of James Industries from 1960 until 1998 when she merged the company with Poof Products. She died earlier this year at the age of 90.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mustard Anyone?

I read a new catalog today, Raye’s Mustard. All they sell is mustard. Twelve pages of every flavor imaginable. Things you’d never expect like blueberry and maple horseradish.

Each blurb contains a serving suggestion ranging from the standard pretzels to seafood and chicken salad to the atypical apples. There’s a winter garden variety that boasts dill, garlic, celery and winter herbs. Um, what are winter herbs exactly? Flavors like garlic honey wine are recommended as a base for salad dressing. Okay, that I can see.

One mustard that these people have been making since they began back in 1900 is Down East Schooner. It’s the winner of the Napa Valley World-Wide Mustard Competition’s gold medal for world’s best classic yellow mustard. Wow, now I’m impressed. Did you know about this shindig? Perhaps we should attend next year.

Raye’s also makes select series mustards for various locals around Maine. In this line you’ll find Sea Dog Beer mustard, made with Sea Dog Brewery’s Windjammer Blonde Ale and Moose-a-maquoody Molasses, a must for New England’s traditional Saturday night beans and franks.

Mustards are available in small jars from 4 ounces all the way up to full gallon containers. Keep in mind I was reading the gift catalog. There’s not one person I’ve ever met who individually needs a gallon of mustard no matter what flavor it is.

Oh one last thing of note and then I’ll leave you to your day. Mustard Truffles. Need I say more?

Monday, December 1, 2008


The baby orangutan living within my head is very active today. He’s rapidly outgrowing the confines of my skull. Any minute now I expect his heel to push my left eye right out of its socket. Maybe I should set up the camera and record this so I could then sell it to one of those reality shows as the real cause behind migraines finally uncovered. I wonder if they make tranquilizer darts for wild animals that would work through my head. Have to investigate that tomorrow when I can see again.

Hope your day is better than mine.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Evil Genes

Last night when I was up pondering the meaning of life in the wee hours, I stumbled across a radio talk show. The topic, a book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley.

The premise of the book, or so it seemed at 3 AM, is that there is a genetic coding that causes individuals to be evil. From what I gathered it's written from a personal point of view, part memior due to her own sister's behavior, part scientific study. Interesting, yes? To me it is so this morning I hopped on Amazon and ordered it. Yes, I know. I'm fascinated by the oddest things.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just Not the Same

I love eggnog. It's one of the few things I enjoy about the holidays. I even have a recipe that's to die for. However it makes way too much for just me so I these days I usually settle for a small carton from the grocery store. Much too thick to drink straight so I resolve that dilemma be adding some rum. Okay, a lot of rum. And I grate fresh nutmeg on it too. Not as good as homemade but it'll do.

I meant to grab some while I was at the store this morning. Don't know how I managed to forget it since that was one of the main reasons I was there but I did. Darn!

I was out and about later and actually considered stopping to pick up a carton. Only problem is I hate to shop. I avoid it whenever possible and not even eggnog could convince me otherwise. I had resigned myself to drinking plain old water this evening, not as tasty but much healthier. But then I was stopped at the traffic light at McDonald's on my way home. I looked over and there in big bold lettering was a sign proclaiming eggnog milkshakes are back for the holidays.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Ew, right? That's what I thought at first too but then I remembered how easy it is to make mudslides with Arby's jamocha shakes so I thought oh what the hell, why not give it a try?

I had to drink an inch or so of the shake in order to make room for the rum. If you've never had a McDonald's eggnog shake I wouldn't recommend one. Borderline nasty and that's being extremely generous. I added my rum and nutmeg but it was almost as bad. So I gulped down another inch or so and added more rum and nutmeg. It's not nearly as disgusting now but I suspect that's the rum kicking in. Heck by the time I finish I'll probably be telling you how wonderful it was. Nah, probably not. Need to add more rum for that.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I made my holiday pilgrimage to visit my great aunt along with my mother and brother today. The woman is amazing. Ninety-two and sharp as can be. Yes, her body’s slowing down but she’s still living on her own. She gets out and about and does what she wants, when she wants. As I said, amazing.

I am worried about her however. She informed us of several more friend deaths bringing the total to nine this year. There’s only one left in her main group and she’s off to Florida for the winter, possibly for good. My aunt does have subgroups that she socializes with but they were never her first choice when it came to people to hang out with. Also I’m really not sure how many of them are left at this point either.

As she was telling us about this there was a sadness about her I hadn’t noticed before. On the way home I was pondering it and I can understand why. It must be extremely difficult to lose everyone you’ve been close to forever. Yes, some of the people who died this year were left over from her childhood. Can you imagine 85 years worth of memories with someone?

Of course this is not a subject that was discussed in the car on the way home beyond the fact that there is still nothing wrong with my aunt’s mind and that the state required she take a driver’s test about two years ago in order to retain her license.

Actually there was very little discussion in the car either direction. I had my laptop which tends to annoy my family. It prevents them from talking about me when I pretend to sleep which is my other option for these car trips. I was pleased even if they weren’t. I managed to get some work done for a change, something I’ve been having some trouble with lately so in my opinion it was a fairly decent day all around even though I am a little sad now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

I'm thankful for my friends, both two legged and four. Throughout my life, I've found myself with the very best of both. Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, be safe.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is It Possible?

I watched The Christmas Card on the Hallmark channel the other night. The basic plot is a woman sends handmade cards to soldiers, one is so touched he comes to find her when he gets home, her family invites him to stay giving him a job in exchange for room and board, she gets engaged to her longtime boyfriend who only proposes because he now has competition, the soldier starts to leave because it breaks his heart since he’s fallen in love with her, she ditches the boyfriend because she realizes she’s really in love with the soldier. On Christmas of course. The perfect sappy story.

But it got me thinking. Is it really possible to impact someone that much, just with a few short sentences? Can you be so drawn to someone you’ve never actually met that you’re half in love by the time you do meet them?

As a romance writer I feel compelled to answer yes. After all, isn’t that the whole idea of these books? A happily ever after in unlikely circumstances. It’s a great fantasy, isn’t it?

However as someone who hasn’t had the best personal experiences with love, I’m not so sure. I admit it. I’m a bit cynical. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just improbable. I have tremendous doubts that real life can ever work out like that.

Since it’s the beginning of the holiday season I’d like any of you with a fairy tale of your own to prove me wrong. Share it please, either here or in a private email if you prefer. What do you receive for being so generous? Nothing other than helping to restore some hope for me, something I could really use right about now. In the movie, a handmade Christmas card made a difference. In reality, your own story could.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today's News

Reading dropped to 63rd place on the list of most dangerous cities with population over 75,000, down from 32nd last year. However, Philadelphia is 22nd, Pittsburgh ranked 61st and Allentown, 89th. Seems to me Pennsylvania cities are attractive to criminals. I wonder why that is?

The timing of this article is interesting. Just yesterday as I was getting into my car someone ran by me in the parking lot. Not unusual considering I park in a busy area. What was out of the ordinary were the slew of police cars with flashing lights that followed almost instantly, blocking the street I normally use to leave.

The officer that ran towards me only had her hand on her gun. The one behind her had his drawn already. Wanting to make it very obvious I didn’t do whatever it was, I opened my window and waited. When asked if I’d seen a guy in a tan jacket I pointed to where he went and yep, you guessed it. I got to say, “He went that way.” How many of you have gotten to do that? Made me chuckle all the way home. I checked the paper today and there wasn’t anything in it so I can’t tell you what he was being chased for.

In other news, and I know you’ve all been waiting on the edges of your seats for this one, the men whose company sold the Whizzinator plead guilty and are awaiting sentencing in February. What’s a Wizzinator you ask? Why it’s a prosthetic penis in several living flesh tones that came complete with a heating element and fake urine of course. What else would it be?

Professional athletes used this device mainly to get around stricter drug testing standards. I remember first hearing about it a year or so ago on the radio when one of them was discovered going through airport security. Yeah, imagine explaining that. Sorry, no sympathy here. Or for the guys who invented it. Their possible punishment is only a half-million dollar fine or up to eight years in prison or both. Sounds like they’re getting off easy to me. But I suspect that’s why they plead guilty instead of facing a trial. Just my opinion but this is my blog after all and I’m entitled. You’re welcome to share yours on the subject if you care to.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Best Forgotten

When I was a growing up we always had Thanksgiving dinner at my dad’s parents. It wasn’t much fun for a kid because theirs was the stuffy house. Plastic runners on the floor, a plastic sofa cover, chairs I wasn’t allowed to sit in, things I wasn’t permitted to touch. Actually there was very little in that house I was allowed to touch, including the toys that were technically mine.

My grandmother cooked differently than I was used to so dinner wasn’t much to look forward to either. To begin with, I don’t like turkey. I don’t care who makes it, I don’t like it. My grandmother never believed this so there were at times big dramatic scenes with the whole accusation of me thinking her food wasn’t good enough. But that wasn’t reserved for holidays. That was just my grandmother. My dad and grandfather would take me aside before dinner and remind me to eat some of everything just to appease her when they thought of it.

Anybody else ever have potato filling made with saffron to make it yellow instead of butter and eggs to give it real flavor? Dried corn at her house was, well, dry as in powdery. This was the same grandmother who thought the best way to prepare hamburgers was to boil them in parsley water. Need I say more?

Anyway enough about the food. One thing that always amazed me about Thanksgiving dinner was Aunt Violet. The woman was 127 years old if she was a day and always turned up in a hat. I have no idea where she came from or where she was the rest of the year. She only appeared at Thanksgiving. For all I know she’s still showing up for dinner with the people who bought the house after my grandparents died. She was one of those little old ladies you see with the porcelain papery skin that smelled of that powdery perfume you can’t quite identify but recognize as old. She talked all the time to no one in particular and everyone just sort of ignored her until it was time to see her home. For some reason I was never allowed to go along even when my dad took her. It made me think there was some big mystery to her, like she wasn’t really alive or something and they didn’t want me to discover the secret. Hm, perhaps I’ll go lurk in that block Thursday evening around the time we used to eat, just to see if she’s still there.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Found It!

The tavern was originally established in 1823 by Jacob Hartman who was blinded in an accident as a child, thus the name Blind Hartman. Located at the bottom of a hill, it was not only a spot for travellers to seek refuge before venturing on, there was also a mountain spring with a trough for watering their horses. Clever man that Blind Hartman, wasn't he? [Note: If you're not local I should tell you the hill beyond this location is very, very steep. I can't imagine tackling it on a horse. It's bad enough in a car.]

The tavern has had many owners over the years. My earliest memories are of it as Les & Josie's. At that time it was very dimly lit inside so I can't tell you much about how it looked. I don't remember much about the food either other than it was a dress up place we went rarely when I was a small child. I do remember having Shirley Temples with dinner.

Many years ago I was there as a stop on a hayride. Don't remember the name but at the time it had become a true dive. The group I was with was hay covered and dusty but I think we were better than the regulars. Of course that was one of the last stops and much alcohol had been consumed, strictly for the purpose of staying warm, so perhaps I'm not remembering it correctly.

I was there once more recently, about ten years ago when it was then called Jack and Snook's and, putting it nicely, it was awful. The food was bad and the decor was, um, musty?

So when remodeling began again last spring I was skepical at best. It took a long time. The outside renovations were extensive and, I have to admit, impressive. A few weeks ago, when Riley and family suggested we try Blind Hartman's I thought okay, why not? Once won't hurt, right? We walked in and wow! The inside is completely redone. From the side we parked on you enter through the bar. It's gorgeous! High ceiling, well-lit but soft, not bright. Warm and friendly. The staff greeted us as soon as we were inside and gave us the choice of bar or dining room, either of which would have been fine.

The dining room is again wide-open, bright and warm with a floor to ceiling operating fireplace which made it so cozy. When I was there Friday with my mom I discovered that the Skip Moyer Jazz Trio performs on Wednesday evenings. If you're not familiar with them let me tell you they're a local treat you won't want to miss. We also learned that the attached barn is being renovated into a banquet hall and will be available for private parties. I'm sure it will be just as inviting as the rest of the tavern once it is finished.

I can't tell you what a pleasant surprise Blind Hartman's Tavern is. The place itself is pretty, with an area for everyone. Oh, there's also a patio out back which will be extremely nice on spring and fall evenings. The waitstaff is friendly, courteous, and efficint. And the food, well the food is absolutely yummy! Full entrees, sandwiches including bar-carved prime rib or ham, and a variety of salads. My only complaint when we were there for dinner was that there was no red salad dressing. You know, no thousand island, french, russain, that sort of thing. I ask Friday and it's already been added. How's that for service? Sorry, can't tell you about dessert other than they have them on the menu. We were all too full to sample anything.

I think the best thing of all is that this is the kind of place I can wander off to alone if I decide to go out on the spur of the moment. There aren't a lot of places around here I can say that about that are more than diners and I really like that, especially now that I know there's excellet jazz on Wednesday nights.

If you're in the area and looking for a place to eat I highly recommend Blind Hartman's Tavern. It's located on Rt 12 heading towards Pricetown on the left not far after the bypass ends. Of course you can always give me a call. I'd be happy to join you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh Well

I meant to tell you all about the cool place I had lunch yesterday, Blind Hartman's Tavern. Unfortunately I've temporarily misplaced the menu I was given which had the bit of history I want to include so that will have to wait until tomorrow after I find it.

Instead you get to hear how Harry and I finally watched the Shrek trilogy. Yes, I know it's been around for years. We're a little behind the times at my house. I can't tell you which character it was that drew Harry but he curled up with me all for all three movies which is not his norm so it must have been something he heard that inspired him.

Lucky for me that I have friends with kids who only laugh a little when I ask to borrow their movies. Overall, I enjoyed watching them although I'm not sure they're really kids' movies. I suppose these are like many Disney movies with cute things for kids and then lots of stuff that adults get and kids don't without realizing it until they watch them again years later. Have you noticed that? Or haven't you ever gone back and watched movies you saw as a kid only to discover they were completely different from an adult perspective?

Yeah, I'm rambling about nothing and doing in very badly so I'll spare you any further nonsense. Perhaps I should have had the sangria I intend later before writing this. Or maybe you should have had it. Oh I know, we all should have, then this would seem brilliantly clever. It's all in the perception of the moment...

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Did It!

But first, my deepest apologies to my empathic friends. I should have warned you of today's plans in advance. I'm sorry for worrying you and I sure hope you could shield yourselves from the wave upon wave of pure terror that were radiating from me all afternoon.

Why? I spent hours wandering around the preliminary day for the Philadelphia Kennel Club dog show which is being held at the Reading Expo Center this weekend. I can hear you all asking huh? There's one little detail I left out. You see, I'm absolutely petrified of dogs. There are a few exceptions but those are ones I've gotten to know slowly in very controlled circumstances.

So what the hell was I doing there in this ginormous wide-open space in the midst of hundreds of all sorts of canines just waiting for the opportunity to maul me? It was the other half of my mom's birthday present. Somehow she's failed to grasp the very real fact of my fear over the years although today may have finally convinced her.

I was okay while we were watching the agility demonstration. I'm not sure who was more athletic, the dogs or the girl throwing the frisbies for them. That was entertaining and we were seated up, out of reach in the draped in arena that will be featured in tomorrow's benched show which will be shown on TV on Thanksgiving day following the Macy's parade. I could handle watching that part and they were amazing so I forgot to be afraid.

Then we wandered around and looked at the dogs. Lots of deep breathing and internal chanting going on to stave off the blackness that was encroaching on the edges of my vision. I came across a golden retriever who had the eyes of a very old soul. He was sitting on his grooming table without a lead but with him it was obvious he wasn't going anywhere. He'd already seen it all. When his eyes met mine we stayed still, gazing at each other for a bit. He had a calming effect on me which was a very welcomed thing. Too bad he had to go so soon.

We ended up sitting at the main ring for the day watching the group judging. I'm not real up on how it all works but it seemed to be the best of each individual breed competing against others within their class. The kennel club has distinctions, working, sporting, terrier, toy, and various others. To me it was small scary, scary, big scary and gigantic scary. I really don't see how they can judge such a mixture all at once but they do. The people around me who understood such things were all abuzz over some over some of the choices, concurred with some others so I guess it was okay overall.

At one point there was a red and white husky beside me whose owner was speaking with someone and ignoring the dog. Every time I checked, she was watching me with a mm, you look tasty expression on her face. My mom was chatting with a woman on the other side of her who had a french bulldog. I guess I was too much to resist. The bulldog had to nibble on me. Well that made the husky jealous so she had to chew on the other hand. And all her owner said was not to jump up. I was very proud of myself. I didn't pass out. I didn't even cry.

I'm home now, in one piece, yay! And my mom gets that I'm honestly afraid. She's going back tomorrow and my presence is no longer required. If you're at all interested this is one of the five or six benched national shows to be televised this year, on NBC next Thursday at noon EST. Or if you're close by it concludes on Sunday but you'll have to go without me. Give me a call however, I'd be happy to meet you for lunch.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Always Something

I had to run out for something at lunch today. Things in my life however, never seem to go as planned. Halfway to where I was going I went around a corner and heard the telltale thunk thunk thunk. I got out to investigate just to make sure. Wishful thinking. Yep, the tire was flat all right.

As I was standing there, cursing the universal powers for choosing me for their games yet again I looked up and low and behold a tow truck happened to be passing. So okay, I took back half of what I said. Should have taken back all of it because the spare was flat too. Yes, I know. My fault. I’ve had the car for over a year now and no, I’ve never checked it. I was just happy to see I actually had a spare, not that it did me any good.

Dave, the wonderful rescuing tow truck man, loaded both me and my wounded car up in his truck and toted us off to Mikey’s place. He did ask first if I had any other destination I preferred. Nope. My only requirement was somewhere fast that wouldn’t soak me.

Mikey’s turned out to be a garage not far from my house, complete with dad Jason to keep me company while I waited. He was quite charming, white-haired and dapper in his uniform. I don’t think he’s used to having females in his little waiting area because he went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable.

As it turned out both tires only had slow leaks and were easily fixed. I never did get my errand accomplished but I’m only out $18 and an extra half hour lunch time but as I see it the entertainment value far outweighs that. Life’s an adventure no matter where you find it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When I Grow Up

When I was a little girl, before I started school, my parents’ friends would ask if I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. That’s what they all were. Uh, no. Even then I already knew I’d never have the patience for it. After all, why would I want to when all they did was complain?

So what did I tell them? I wanted to be a translator for the UN. Swedish to be specific. You should have seen the looks I got the first time I announced that one. I don’t remember how I came up with it but it sounded like an awesome idea to me. It lasted for years, right up until the time I could start taking languages in school.

That’s when the dream ended. Although my school didn’t offer Swedish it was still painfully obvious translator was not among my capabilities, not spoken anyway. Yes, I was very adept at languages. I picked them up with relative ease. I could write out most anything. It’s the pronunciation that I sucked at. The truth is there are a lot of days I have trouble speaking clearly in English. But that’s me. Most days talking to people is too tiring to bother with so I don’t.

What about you? Was there something odd you wanted to be when you were a small child?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

By Definition

anticipate – verb - to give advance thought, discussion, or treatment to

anxious – adjective - characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency

boredom – noun - the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest

curious – adjective - marked by desire to investigate and learn

delusional – noun - a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self

exhaust – verb - to tire extremely or completely

fascinate – verb - to transfix and hold spellbound by an irresistible power

frustrate – transitive verb - to induce feelings of discouragement in

furtive – adjective - done by stealth

kind – adjective - of a sympathetic or helpful nature

nonjudgmental – adjective - avoiding judgments based on one's personal and especially moral standards

pensive – adjective - suggestive of sad thoughtfulness

prejudge – intransitive verb - to judge before hearing or before full and sufficient examination

thwart – transitive verb - to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle

Monday, November 17, 2008

Local News

As I was getting dressed this morning I heard something interesting on the radio. Reading put a new law into place. Car owners will now be fined if their keys are left in their car ignitions with the doors unlocked and the cars unattended.

Oh. Okay. This brings up some questions. I didn’t have a chance to see today’s paper so I don’t know if it mentioned anything additional about leaving the keys in with the doors locked. You know. Say perhaps after an ice storm when the whole city starts their cars with the spare key and lets them melt instead of chipping away at the ice as we all do.

Also, what ramifications does this have in regard to insurance? If your car is stolen and your keys were in it, would your insurance company now not have to cover any damage after it’s found since you broke the law? Not that I make a habit of wandering off with my keys hanging in my ignition but I really don’t know if I would admit it if my car was stolen. Would you?

And what about the law enforcement aspect of this? The radio was unclear as to who exactly would be enforcing this new law, the police department or the parking authority. As I see it the city, doesn’t have the manpower in either area to do a highly effective job as I know they will strive to do. I’ve never seen any parking authority personnel in my neighborhood. If it’s to be the police officers well then just imagine all of the other crime that will go unchecked while they’re wandering the streets, peeking in car windows. Oh my, now doesn’t that just leave me with a renewed sense of security. I think I need to move. Or run for mayor.