Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Entertainment News and Skews…

Two things struck me yesterday in the world of entertainment.

The first was that my favorite Captain…Jean Luc Picard or, in real life, Patrick Stewart…is returning to television next year in a show called Blunt Talk.  Seems it’s going to be a comedy that is a fictionalized version of a flawed character that stars in a sort of Colbert Report.  I am sure looking forward to giving it a try.  I so admire Patrick Stewart.  Not only did he star in my favorite TV of all times and one of the most socially advanced television series that has ever aired, Star Trek:  The Next Generation, he is also an outspoken opponent of domestic violence.  Well, he’s just cool in so many ways.

The other news is that there is going to be a new Star Wars movie.

Now, I have to admit that seeing the original Star Wars movie really did change my life.  I can still remember how exhilarated I felt as I exited the cinema that night.  It engendered a love of science fiction that has not left me through the years, although maybe it was really the original Star Trek that did that.  Probably Star Wars just strengthened it.

But the original Star Wars movie certainly set the bar high for the quality of movie that I wanted to spend my money to see.  It had it all… a great story, action, adventure, good vs. evil, interesting characters, terrific cinematography and, most of all, a strong female lead.  While the original Star Wars had great and innovative special effects, it was story and character driven as opposed to so many movies today that are CGI (computer-generated imagery) driven pieces of crap, all action with little plot and dialogue.

Anyhow, I opened up the paper this morning and the first story inside the front page (I could go on and on about what qualifies as REAL NEWS, so don’t get me started) boldly stated:  “Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Unveiled.”  There were the pictures of five MEN.  At least one of these dudes I’ve actually heard of, Max von Sydow, and he is an excellent actor.  And you know, I’ve got nothing against men.    In fact, some of my best friends are men.  Hey, I’m married to a man.  But give me a break.  You mean the only important female in the new Star Wars is going to be an aging Princess Leia??

Forgive me if I think there’s something a bit skewed about that.  Of course, it does all take place “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” where there were no Susan B. Anthonys or Gloria Steinems around to stand up for Women’s Rights.

   Still, I have to admit to being disappointed even before I’ve seen the first trailer.

Well, my photos today have nothing to do with what I just wrote about but here they are nonetheless, a bunch of tulip photos.  Now, isn't that so girly of me.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Time for Turtles...

Today I had a very fun morning thanks to my friend Fritzi.

Last week, Fritzi told me about a free program that was scheduled today by the Turtle Rescue League (click on the green words, if you want to learn more about them).  They are based here in New England and located in Southbridge the town next to where we live.   The program was basically a Turtle 911 class.  It covered what to do if you see an injured turtle, if you see a turtle digging in your yard, if you see a turtle in the street and if you see a baby turtle.

I was pretty sure I would enjoy learning more about turtles, which to me are some of the coolest creatures on the earth, but I was unprepared to be so totally engaged by the presentation.  We learned a lot of facts about the turtles that are residents of Massachusetts, but we also got to see a lot of them up close.  And that was fantastic!

Here is a Painted Turtle.  They are pretty common around here.  When Olive, the pug, and I walk down to see the horses, we often stop by the Turtle Pond to watch them sunning on the logs and rocks there.

This is an Eastern Box Turtle, a less common turtle than the Painted Turtle.  He has protected status in all the New England States.

And here’s the much misunderstood Common Snapper.  This young turtle (whose name I can’t remember.  Sorry, Turtle!) was raised by the folks at the Turtle Rescue League for the purpose of education and seemed very comfortable with the people in the room.  She sat and watched us watch her for a while.

Then I guess she got sick of looking at us and did an about face.

We were told the proper way of handling a Snapper.  It’s easier than you think and can be done very safely.  They are not nearly the scary turtles I always heard they were.

We got to see a very small baby Painted Turtle…

This is a poor picture, I know, but I was impressed by the small size of this little fellow.
…and turtles in various stages of rehabilitation, most of who will eventually be released into the wild.

I was so impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of Alexxi and Natasha who are the principal staff of the Turtle Rescue League.  I would like to thank them and their volunteers again for the tireless work they do for these special creatures.

I promise to put together a turtle rescue kit for my car.  I must say though, helping a turtle cross the street is one thing. I’m not sure how I would react if I ever found a turtle who has been hit by a car.  I hope I would have enough pluck to do what is necessary to get the turtle safely to the folks at the Turtle Rescue League so that they can nurse it back to health or in a worst case scenario, humanely euthanize it.   On the bright side, they actually harvest eggs from mortally injured female turtles and have released very many of the surviving turtle babies back into the wild.  And that is just so cool!

You know, it’s very uplifting to meet people who are so passionate about nature, even this small, but important, part of it!

PS.  I am informed by my friend Diane O-J who accompanied Fritzi, Fritzi's daughter Emily and me to the Turtle 911 class that the Snapper's name is Nibbles.  I can't believe I forgot that because just last week I was doubled up with laughter at this video of Joey Votto (of the Cincinnati Reds) being interviewed on Fox Sports.  If you watch it, you will see why.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Village Fences...

I'm hooking up with Good Fences today on The Run*A*Round Report.

Here are some fences from the visit that Carrie and I took to Old Sturbridge Village last week.  There are loads of fences there.  I guess they have to keep the sheep and oxen in and out.

They have town fences:

The Salem Towne House

The lawyer's office. with the General Store in the background.

And they have country fences:

That's the school house in the background with the kiln behind that.

This is the Small House that I mentioned in the last post.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Life in the Village…

I mentioned in my last post that my daughter Carrie and I went to visit Old Sturbridge Village last week.  We are very fortunate that we live in the same town as this outstanding living museum, which depicts life in New England in the 1830s.  Well, Carrie lives in Northampton now, but grew up here and worked at the Village for a while a few years ago.  We don’t take advantage of our proximity to the Village nearly enough like we did when the kids were younger, but every spring, the birth of the spring lambs is a big pull and that’s what got us over there this time.  There seems to be a bumper crop of little lambs this year.  I counted eight.

The video is not so good.  Because it was so bright out, I couldn't really see what I was taking.  But I wanted to post it so you could see them in action.  They are so much fun to watch.

But there’s a lot more to see at the Village even if you are taking a casual stroll around the place.  It’s an excellent way to spend an afternoon or a couple of days.

These are shots of the interior of the Small House.  It shows a house typical of the times where newly-weds or renters might live.

The Freeman Farm has always been my favorite destination at the Village.  This house was built in Sturbridge around 1808 and moved to the Village in 1950.  The barn is from Charlton, Massachusetts circa 1840.

A Freeman Farm resident.

Here’s what was cooking the day we were there.

Well, I could go on and on.  Every time we go to the Village, I take hundreds of photos.  I hope you all get to visit there one day.  I'm betting you would enjoy it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Joining the Hunt…

This week I got photos together to join in Ashley Sisk’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday.  It has been a while since I’ve participated because…well, I just haven’t been too organized.  A lame excuse, I know, but there it is.  Anyhow, without further ado, here are the prompts for this week:  Trick, Selective Color, Close-up, Mirror and Bright Colors.  And here are my photos:

Trick:  I think it’s a pretty good trick that this squirrel blends in so well with his background.  If he didn't twitch so much, you might not even notice him.

Selective Color:  After I finished processing this photo, I noticed I missed a couple of spots, but I like it anyhow.  Here's my daughter Carrie.  She's a chip off the old block when it comes to the camera.

Close-up:  A scilla growing in our yard.  I love that glorious blue.

Mirror:  Carrie and I spent the afternoon on Thursday at Old Sturbridge Village.  Here we are mirrored in a window of the carding mill.  You can see her pretty well here, but I am the dark blob to the right.

Bright Colors:  Another shot from Old Sturbridge Village.  This is in the small house near the entrance.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oh, snap…

When I woke up in the middle of the night last night like I usually do, I glanced out the window and saw that we had gotten a bit of snow.  Yesterday friends from the mid-west USA had posted photos on Facebook with bitter complaints about the weather because they had snow.  Didn’t the Powers That Be know that it was April 15 already??

  Here in Central Massachusetts, it was a nasty day yesterday but it was warmish so it rained all day and the wind was blowing like a son of a gun.  I thought that that was going to be the worst of it.  I wasn’t expecting snow.  But there it was staring me in the face at 3:30 a.m.  I didn’t lose sleep over it.  These late snow storms are ephemeral and really more like April showers than snow.  They don’t even make the flowers that are trying like heck to come up complain much.  But, here is what it looked like when Olive and I went for our walk this morning:

Looking out the window a little later, I saw that most of the snow was gone.  I went out and took a few snaps of the lonely flowers that are growing in our yard.  They looked a little down-hearted, but I think they will survive.  I suppose that that is the good news.

The bad news is that I felt like I had to put on socks today.  Oh, snap!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Never put a sock in the toaster and other musings about socks…

“Never put a sock in the toaster” is excellent advice from Eddie Izzard.  But sometimes I must admit to being tempted to do just that.  It’s the truth that my absolute favorite thing about spring and the coming warm weather is that I don’t have to wear socks, wash socks, match socks or, most of all, listen to complaints about someone’s favorite sock going missing.  Socks have been the bane of my existence since the day I got married and started doing someone else’s laundry besides my own.  I don’t think I need to mention any names here.

Personally, I tend to be a traditionalist about socks.  Most of mine are black or white because they are easy to match up and I can wear them even if they don’t “match” precisely as long as I have long pants on.  But I do like brightly colored socks.  I just don’t manage to get to the Bright Sock Store…ever. When my socks seem to be running low having been eaten by the dryer or when they acquire too many holes in places that make them really uncomfortable, I just pick more up in the supermarket.

I think that the very best advice I’ve seen on the Interweb about socks is from Jerod Kintz.  He said, “I soak my white socks in coffee, so I can wear them with brown pants and keep my feet from falling asleep.”  I may just decide to do that one of these days.  I need all the help I can get.

My daughter Carrie, on the other hand, is most definitely a bright sock person who has never even been too particular about her socks matching.  I call it Serendipitous Sock Syndrome but I don’t think it needs to be treated medically.  I actually admire SSS in a person.  Carrie recently brought me a bag of her old socks that are orphans or have holes in strategic places.  Those colorful socks will eventually be stuffed with organic catnip and made into catnip toys for some discerning cat or possibly a designer cat bed, giving these colorful old tubes a new lease on life.

Last year's selection of catnip toys and an upcycled cat/dog bed designed primarily by my friend Diane O-J and made in last year's colors.
Carrie does knit but I don’t think she has tried to make socks yet.  If she ever did, this story might just be about her:  A policeman spotted a woman driving and knitting at the same time.  Driving up beside her, he yelled, “Pull over!!”  “No,” the woman shouted back, “a pair of socks!”  Actually, Carrie is a very careful driver.  Just because she suffers from SSS, it doesn’t mean she would be careless with knitting needles.

But I know that most of you have lost socks in your laundry so you can, like I can, relate to this quote by Rod Schmidt:  “I washed a sock.  Then I put it in the dryer.  When I took it out, it was gone.”  My friend Kathi Clayton is a notable exception to this law of nature and claims to have never lost a sock in the laundry.  I think she needs to go on tour and explain exactly how this has happened. What’s your secret, Kathi? People would flock to her lectures.  She would be the next big thing and would be able to buy socks made of silk and cashmere woven with gold.  My guess is that socks like that would get lost.  What self-respecting dryer could resist gobbling those up?

Enough about socks, already!  I would say that it’s about time to put a sock in this blog post.  But I ran across this article written in 1979 by the incomparable Erma Bombeck.  Apparently she asked that people let her know their theories on the cause of socks going missing and this is what she found out:

Most of the writers zeroed in on sex.  Like coat hangers and paper clips, socks were believed to have an active sex life – but only in water.  Some believed they married, but they fooled around and often divorced in the dryer.  No alimony was involved.  Some stayed together through two or three washings, but suddenly turned into a swinging single.  One writer believed that socks went through a sex change, coming out another color.

                A large number embraced the Planned Obsolescence theory, that is a conspiracy between sock and washer manufacturers who incorporate sock disintegrators (right next to the button crusher) and sock sensors which grind up a sock and spit it out as lint.  The newer models even have a reconstructed sock cycle which returns a sock lost five years ago.

                There was a Sock Fairy theory for those of you who believe in Peter Pan, the Cloning theory where for every pair of socks an extra one is cloned driving you crazy with three socks of one color, and the Best Friend theory where your friend is secretly after your husband and both are trying to drive you whacko.  There is the Reincarnation theory where it is believed that a sock returns in another form.  (One woman swore that after five years of losing socks, they all came back one day as a sweater.)

                Some believed socks had an identity crisis and split.  Others leaned toward cannibalism.  One writer went for the Steve Martin theory where socks, instead of getting high on detergent, got small and disappeared.

                A great number believed socks to be a migratory species, activated by simply adding water.

                And finally, one writer blamed the United States government for programming washers to eat socks and keep the economy alive.  One blamed the Russians for undermining American women’s stability.  I’d have been disappointed if someone hadn’t said that.

My last words on the subject are that I’m just glad my dogs can breathe.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Study in Contrasts…

I’m joining the fun over at TexWisGirl’s Good Fences today.

Here are a couple of fences I’ve come across in the last couple of weeks.

This first one is not too far from our house and I pass it often in my travels.  It surrounds a beautiful estate.  It’s graceful and well-kept.

This second one here I found in Worcester, Massachusetts one day when I had to scurry over there for an appointment.  What the story is there, I have no idea.  But with the razor wire and the sneering face, it doesn’t look too welcoming.

It’s a curious thing that while the first picture is more appealing in many ways, the second one is much more interesting to me.  What do you think?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Life and Times of Olive the Pug: The Wait

This morning it looked like spring has finally arrived here to Massachusetts.  When I took Olive out for her morning constitutional, we decided to walk down to the pond to see if there was any ice left.  I am happy to report that all the ice is off the pond and this morning it was nice and flat.  We took a couple pictures that I will share.

This one reminds me of a picture of sound waves.

But we had to hurry home because Olive’s favorite people were coming to the house.  A few years ago when my knee was at its worst, I hired a couple of women to come and clean our downstairs.  They come every other week and mostly concentrate on doing the vacuuming and the floors.  It’s an indulgence that I haven’t given up even though my knee is much better now that it’s new.  One of the reasons I haven’t given it up is because Olive, the pug, loves these women.  I mean to say that she LOVES these women and she goes pretty crazy when she knows they are coming.  How she knows is a mystery to me, but she knows.  Here’s a video I took of her waiting for them to arrive:

If you watch the video, you can hear that I am still a bit under the weather because I sound a lot like Marge Simpson’s sister Selma and I don’t even smoke!  But every day, it gets a little better.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I Like Leftovers…

I am still feeling a bit low but getting better each day.  But I haven’t been feeling like going too far afield to look for green stuff.  A short stroll through our yard only yielded a couple of rather pathetic looking little snowdrops that have bravely popped out of the ground.  It’s not much, but it’s a beginning.
I’m sure that any day now, all sorts of green will burst forth.

Meanwhile, I did find some leftovers from last summer…the skeletons of once living flowers, seed pods and leaves.  I think they are still worthy of study.  So I gathered them up and here they are.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


No, I haven’t dropped off the edge of the earth.  After an extremely busy (for me, anyhow) week last week, I managed to pick up a nice head cold and have been rather out of it since Saturday night.  But I appear to be somewhat on the mend today, so I thought I would put out a short post.

We had a little bit of a set-back yesterday on our way to spring when we got a bit of snow overnight.  But it was gone fairly quickly and there are only a few stubborn piles lying around now.

Spring has finally sprung and it was a beautiful day here today.  The pond isn’t completely thawed yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

The rest of the week looks like a quiet one for me so I intend to use it to catch up with the blogging world and to get rid of my stuffed up nose.

Hope you all are doing well!