Thursday, December 24, 2020

Have a Jolly Holiday!

Jezebel ignoring my camera
Christmas 2013

Where has the time gone? It startled me to realize how long since I posted anything here. Now seemed like a good time.

Our Christmas season has been low-key for years. I'm fine with that, and especially grateful nobody expects us to travel. My husband buying me a powerful, super fast new laptop last month was a wonderful surprise bonus.

Sad to say, a downtrodden friend made me even more grateful for my husband and our life together. How I got so lucky as to find a responsible and respectful man compared to the loser guy she married is beyond me. I can only wish her a brighter future and appreciate my joyful existence.

Why is it some people make themselves feel better by tearing down another? And how do their victims succumb, tolerating the mistreatment for decades when the early warning signs were so obvious from the outside?

I hope this wasn't too much of a downer. Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Hey! Whatcha doing?

Our darling Jezebel is becoming quite the snuggler. As I type this, in fact, she is pressed against my leg.

Don't mind me...

If I'm in an unusual spot she'll investigate before settling down. That entails sticking her nose and paws in my way more often than not.

Excuse me, I'm trying to sleep here.

She can also be a pest about it. She got restless this afternoon and tried to walk across my keyboard5.62 Uh, yeah... The numbers are her input.

Jezebel wants to know if I'm being deliberately obtuse. "Why don't you wise up and feed me, human?"


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Change of Plans & Pictures

My Monday outing did not reach the arboretum as planned. Instead I visited a closer, more esoteric park along the way. This public space features a disc golf course.

Tee Time...
The visible upkeep and apparent upgrades made me happy, as did seeing incoming and outgoing athletes discuss various challenges. I also explored more new (for me) terrain. The old footbridge was a fun surprise, as were some other sights.

View from the bridge...

Can you see the blue target up the hill?
It's an athletic sport, to be sure.

Sycamore Trails also features an ugly but
prolific duck pond with beautiful birds.

Have you ever played disc (or Frisbee) golf? Did you know there is a professional players' association?


Monday, December 7, 2020

Off to the Arboretum

It's cold. It's dreary. And I'm going to take a hike in the woods. I tried to convince my husband to accompany me, but he doesn't fancy this weather. Me? I look forward to having the place pretty much to myself. I hope to share a few cool pictures tomorrow.

Meanwhile, do you like super dark humor? If so, and you have a few minutes, check out this Gary Larson collection. Every panel had me laughing. Have a great day!


Friday, December 4, 2020

Feline Senility, Boredom, or Something Else?

Of late I've discovered our aged kitty Jezebel displaying new and strange behaviors. We can't help but worry a bit that she is fading despite her apparent physical health. For example, Tilly used to sit in the shower stall before her passing in September of 2019. And why Jezzy kept returning to sit on our top cellar stair this afternoon is a mystery.
What? I'm on patrol.

Do you think she's becoming senile? Or perhaps she needs an entertaining feline friend or two? Then again, did the huge hairball I cleaned up a few minutes ago cause her strange actions?


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A Bit of Good Luck, Some Holiday Flavors, and Bit of a Bummer

To get a minor disappointment out of the way, my husband told me Gary Larson asks that no one posts his Far Side comics on social media. It’s understandable since everyone has to make a living, so here is a link to The Daily Dose. I don’t know if ad blockers will prevent viewing, but be sure to show him some love by clicking on the hearts if you can and do visit.

Meanwhile, I’ve been experimenting a little in the kitchen. It started with leftover apple cider from a failed recipe. I debated how to cut the sweetness and am not a big fan of hot drinks, though mulled cider is nice. Then I remembered my reduced calorie cranberry juice cocktail contains apple. Mixing one part cider with about three parts juice, it turned out okay. Then I added a can of diet 7Up. Yum… Refreshing, too. There is no picture because, to be honest, the muddy color looks unappealing. If you try some variation or other let me know what you think.

This morning I tried a simple recipe from ‘American Lifestyle’ magazine and baked actual cookies for a change. While our ground ginger and cinnamon are ancient, the treats turned out tasty. I almost ruined them, however. This recipe calls for baking soda, not the baking powder I pulled to mix with the flour and spices. What luck I caught and corrected that error in time. I wonder how they would have turned out. Not good, I imagine.

I lacked the pretty crystal sugar;
and we didn't miss it...

Do you know the difference between baking soda and powder? Did you know that freezing peeled ginger root both keeps it fresh and makes shredding easier?


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

One of the World's Goofiest Looking Predators - WARNING: Creepy Insect Closeup

We enjoy our nature shows and my husband has been finding all sorts to distract me from current events. Thanks, honey!

One awkward looking insect fascinates me. Called assassin bugs, this large family of ambush predators are widespread.

I did not know we had them in Ohio before discovering this critter outside our front door. Thanks to Horizon Pest Control for some interesting facts.

And below is the creepy image...




What are you looking at, human?

Doesn't that tiny head look goofy on such a big body? And isn't its retractable piercing beak bizarre? Did you know that some species know as 'kissing bugs' spread deadly Chagas disease among humans?


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Origins of the Term 'Whippersnapper' & An Example of the Opposite

Out of curiosity, I looked up the term 'whippersnapper' and found an interesting origin story. I owe thanks to for the following...

Young layabouts in the 17th century were known by various names, all of them derived from the habit of hanging around snapping whips to pass the time. Originally these ne'er-do-wells were known simply, and without any great linguistic imagination, as 'whip snappers'. This term merged with an existing 17th century term for street rogues - 'snipper snappers', to become 'whipper snapper'.

While researching I stood using a cat tree perch as a sort of standing desk. One level is the ideal height. And Jezebel, not a lap cat, gave me a pleasant surprise by curling up on the sofa inches away. It's funny how she acts all casual about it while often wanting to be near me.

I hope Brad Pitt wouldn't mind
a cat butt in his face.

Isn't it funny how cats like to lay on things (like my messenger bag here)? Do you think they do so because the object smells like his or her slave human?


Monday, November 23, 2020

The Best Humor has a Grain of Truth


The term 'whippersnapper' comes to mind. Heh...

Have you ever heard this antiquated insult?


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Yeah, Baby!

Check out that quote at upper right:
"Hey, I am sexy to you now."
That's not at all creepy.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Where the Bodies are Buried

My dreams keep getting weirder and weirder. The other night, what my dreaming self thought to be a church with attached graveyard ended up being a private home. That wasn’t scary. The live inhabitants’ ominous activities threatening me inside the house turned things nightmarish.

Sad to say, that’s been my imagination’s sole outlet. My writing challenge project, supposed to be a lighthearted romantic comedy, morphed into an unrelated satirical story before petering out on the ninth. Oh, well. I’m not upset since I considered skipping National Novel Writhing Month altogether, both this November and in 2019 (!) for various reasons. I do need to let my fellow writers know I’m still alive.


And that nightmare brought to mind a question. You see, here in Ohio one can often find tiny cemeteries on private land, especially on multi-generational family farms. The picture below is from Island Farm on Roanoke Island North Carolina. I think the epitaph is wonderful.

Fannie B. Dough
Born July 14, 1826
Died Aug. 2, 1894
Age 68 yrs.
As a wife, devoted;
As a mother, affectionate;
As a friend, ever kind and true.

Would an attached burial ground sway you from buying an otherwise ideal home or would you simply honor and care for these harmless neighbors’ plots? What about where you live now? Have seen any private ancestral cemeteries?


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Trick or Treat

Since Gary Larson continued the Halloween theme with his website's Daily Dose, I couldn't resist. Sorry, Liz. :P And yes, Pam, I am always in the mood for this holiday. :)

But where's the candy?

Crossed with Fatal Attraction, in my opinion...


Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Other Side of the Tracks, Wisdom of the Ages, & a Change of Heart

Taking a walk today, I chose a different route and parked near a downtown railroad crossing. Heading south on the bike path confirmed that old lamentable stereotype ‘the other side of the tracks’. Each rundown residence rather depressing, I noticed the nearby senior center’s HVAC units surrounded by a heavily chained and padlocked fence topped with razor wire (!), no doubt to thwart scrap metal thievery. I’ll stick with the familiar northern path in future.

If I do return, it will be to help the wary cats teaming near one pitiful intersection. That area needs someone like dear Strayer intervening.

Our pampered Jezebel won life's lottery.
And she's blissfully clueless

In a striking moment of foolishness earlier, I struggled to open a powdered drink mix before realizing I still held a fork. The tines were pointed toward my eye. I had to chuckle and wonder if my wisdom stems from growing cynicism and a dark sense of humor rather than aging.

Either way, I’m happy to say both my eyes and eyeglass lenses remain intact.

Meanwhile October is coming to a close and, as Pam of The Whimsical Way kindly noted, for many years I’ve engaged in a month long writing challenge each November. The current state of our world decided me to skip this year. Then it dawned on me, a focus on writing prose is just what I need. I even started a new short story three times before stalling. Now these new characters will have a chance to tell their tale, which has a title but no actual plot.

Do you have any special November plans? Are you, unlike me, the type to organize before undertaking a new project?


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Busy, Stressful, but Ultimately Joyful

Well, I've been busy. On Saturday morning an unfamiliar cat sat atop our uppermost retaining wall. Even the most skittish felines I've met receive care from known neighbors, so out of curious concern I took canned food onto our back patio. The hungry critter devoured every bite and eventually followed me into our walkout basement.

Excuse me, I'm eating here...

By early afternoon it occurred to me that our veterinary clinic could scan for an identification chip. After all, that ended well for a little orange tabby who stole stole my heart a few years ago. ~sigh~ Anyway, the clinic was super kind in not charging me for a cursory exam including removal of a few ticks, age estimation, gender identification, the fact he is neutered, etc. Since the left eye had been surgically removed with great skill (and who knows when?), he was introduced around. Alas, nobody there recognized him and no chip found. Taken in by his sweet nature (like us), the staff suggested returning him there for re-homing if necessary.

First, I needed to try and locate an obviously loving family. Various pet finder websites and social media platforms led to a single dead end. One well meaning area lady suggested releasing him to find his home, which might have worked but we have coyotes around. Instead I put flyers around the neighborhood and reached out to clinics and the Humane Society.

Amazingly, while I began typing this post lamenting my stressful search and subsequent attempts to acclimate a (very tolerant) Jezebel to a possible new housemate, my phone rang. A man wanted to meet, having seen the one flyer I drove down the hill to post. As before, I went to the video monitored space outside our local police department and met him and his sweet wife. Success! A little girl will not cry herself to sleep tonight.

Isn't this the best thing you've read all day? What other sweet ending have you heard about lately?


Monday, October 12, 2020

Another Fine Kettle, Fall, Flowers, and a Funny Photo Fail

A so-called kettle of circling red-headed vultures are not experiencing hard times such as the comedic 'kettle of fish' tribulations suffered by the legendary Laurel and Hardy, but they are fun to see. The birds might migrate south or perhaps stay the winter, a cool surprise one year.

Like bubbles in a cauldron...

While we enjoy those flocks all throughout their stay, our many neighbors' maple tree leaves are season specific. Lucky us, only a few strays land in our yard each autumn.

Atop my rustic birdhouse...

Daylight hours are growing shorter and our plants are making the most of them. The deep purple aster came from one of two bought during my garden center visit.

I harvested more tomatoes, peppers, some
'pink fairy' baby's breath, as well as
cosmos along with the aster.

The altered shutter speed proved more interesting than expected. This cosmos flower almost looks angelic.

Ephemeral Beauty

Meanwhile, silly Jezebel left her tongue hanging out long enough for me to snap photos. And of course, I botched every one.

Unfocused, but at least recognizable.

Do you think our kitty was in the midst of grooming? Or was she perhaps deep in thought?


Monday, October 5, 2020

Fall Fun at the Garden Center

Browsing garden centers is one of my favorite relaxing activities, even if I leave wishing we had the space and money to bring home half the plants. A coupon gave me the excuse to shop and what a delightful surprise to find elaborate decorations around every corner and down every aisle.

Spongebob Squarepants (!) greeted me...

Upon checking out I praised their efforts and learned that one employee spent that very morning bringing over all her creations one by one. My timing could not have been better. Skeletons, witches, scarecrows, festive flower displays, and every type of ghoul and creepy crawler abounded. I don't want to overdo it, so here a few more of the most unique.

Cousin It among the perennials...

 With these next two, one was beautiful and the other downright creepy. I'm sure you can guess which is which.

The Lady of the Harvest

At least it's not the 'Headless Horseman'!

Are your local businesses and neighbors going all out as ours seem to be?


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Up Side of Falling Backward

Autumn’s cooler weather lures me outside like no other time of year, especially with the lower risk of insect bites. I decided to take advantage after my husband had gone to bed the other evening. Taking along my iPod speaker, I sat chilling to music and playing digital solitaire.

Unbeknownst to me, my patio seat’s legs shifted to the edge as I ‘chair danced’. In one breathless moment I went from relaxing upright to staring at the branches of my crabapple tree overhead. Thank heaven nobody witnessed it. Of this I’m quite sure, as no laughter rang out along the windswept street.

It took me several moments to compose myself before crawling off my overturned chair lying atop our coiled garden hose. That probably cushioned my landing somewhat. While my upper arms and hip are a bit sore, the spots aren’t showing bruises. What a blessing I didn’t hit my head on the brick wall, faucet, or even lose my eyeglasses. They did fly off the top of my head, but with a short flashlight search those spectacles turned up.

Best of all, so did a delightful animal surprise. At first I thought a large earthworm crawled onto an unused plastic chair tucked near the weeping crabapple’s tree trunk. But how? Then I noticed tiny legs. Knowing Ohio has salamanders and seeing one are two very different things. Alas, I was too shocked to grab my iPod Touch for a photo. The one below is courtesy of the Wildherps website.

This little guy might be a different species, though the description fits here. I think the tiny creature was stunned as me at our introduction.

Can you believe there is an aquatic species known as the Eastern Hellbender? Have you ever seen a wild salamander?


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Nature's Bounty

My oldest roses, some heritage breed planted before we bought our home, did not fair so well this season. I'm not sure why. But yesterday I picked a red bud off of one and delicate pink blossom off the other. The others are from a younger, thriving KnockOut variety plus some Russian sage (if memory serves).

I love my Mom's old double bud vase.
The base is even heart shaped.

Have you ever seen such a vase? Did you know many KnockOut roses lack the fabulous scent of vintage types?


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Life – I’m Lovin’ It

Dear as he is, my husband’s food cravings are killing me with kindness. Yesterday’s physical check-up informed me that I’m now officially on the diabetic scale, my current blood pressure medication is inadequate, and my cholesterol is too high. Of course, some of this is genetic and these conditions run in my family. And the doctor was happy with my slow weight loss and exercise regimen, plus amused at how I handled hubby’s latest hankering for McDonald’s new spicy chicken nuggets.

In the name of portion control, for the first time in my 51 years I got a happy meal. The smart phone app even let me choose the theme of my toy.

(I could have opted out, but where’s the fun in that?)

My pick? Jurassic World, betting on the hope I’d receive a dinosaur to dress up my little indoor ‘fairy’ (read: zombie) garden. Heh…

Enter, if you dare...

That box has theme park ‘doors’ you can open. Tucked inside were my hamburger (the bun was oversized, but oh, well), apple slices, and the cutest little box of French fries I’ve ever seen. Also, a giant egg!

A Carnotaurus egg?
Dino even has moving parts. Yes, I am easily amused.

 Seriously, check this out...

Did your parents ever buy you a happy meal, or you do so for your children? And why did I wait so long?


Friday, September 18, 2020

Joys of Autumn and Sheer Silliness

Reading about a large family of hardy plants on Pam Montgomery's blog reminded me of a volunteer specimen that seems to be a hybrid between my 'autumn joy' stonecrop (or sedum) near the public sidewalk and a much shorter spreading 'dragons blood' variety close to our house.

Rosy flowered as opposed to rust red,
this sedum still makes for excellent
mantid hunting grounds...

The silly thing I want to share did not photograph so well. With the homeowner in his open garage, I snapped a quick pic and drove away.

The green rectangle frames
what I tried to show...

At least an Internet search offered plenty of images. There are numerous vendors and some of their products actually spin.

I think the solid silver one looks better.

Have you seen one of these novelty car accessories? Would you own one?


Friday, September 11, 2020

Picture Perfect – & – Hoping I Can Help with Blogger

With summer here coming to a close, I am thankful for our grape-style Roma tomato plant my husband picked on a whim and the Gong Bao pepper specimen I found. They have out-produced all the rest. Yesterday, though, I harvested two ripe Marglobe tomatoes that weren’t either munched on or rotting. One I ate right away, the larger one I’ll share with my husband.

Almost too Pretty to Eat

As for wanting to help, I am not at all technically minded, but have managed to work with the new format of Blogger. Cleo said her human dad has been frustrated. I cant blame him, and who doesn’t want to read more from lovely Cleo the cat? Feel free to skip all this, of course, and forgive me if this seems pretentious. Nonetheless, here goes…

To start, I set up templates for both text and photos/video, using a publish date several years out so they stay in ‘draft’ mode. Switching between HTML and ‘compose’ formats, I copy and paste into a new document. Again, risking ostensible conceit, allow me to illustrate with images:

Text Template with 'Placeholders'

Text Template in HTML Coding

Photo Captured to Its Template
Using the Compose View

Now, the Image Encoded


I've Inserted the Image Code Between Text Lines


The Preview, Incomplete, of Course

Did I just make it more complicated? ~shakes head~ And did you know the thousands of current coding languages are so unlike person-to-person communication that learning them suits those of a science minded disposition? Can you guess how many my husband knew during his technical career?


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Being Fish Food - & - Miscellaneous Thoughts

I'm going to copy some of my blogging friends, such as sweet Pam, and respond to comments while also sharing yet another memory. And like you, dear Ellen, I am definitely a mosquito magnet grateful for cooler weather. As for your thoughts on Alaska, you know what's coming next since I added it in the comment on your blog. But I was wrong on two (!) points. Anchorage is neither on the Kenai Peninsula nor does the peninsula's interior share our Midwest weather.

For those who don't know and may be interested, however, the Kenai Peninsula is about the same size as Ohio. And the state's southernmost regions share our plant hardiness zones. While their shorter summers cause plants to take advantage and mature fast, the mosquitoes flourish during those often rainy warm days.

This is random but worth sharing.
What a lovely September day!

On an entirely different note, Pradeep Nair kindly introduced me to binjal, a tasty treatment for eggplant. Unfortunately, I used my fresh tomatoes instead of tomato paste and the results were too sweet. Oops. But now I know. So thank you, my friend.

At long last, as to the 'fish food' bit of my title, a boyfriend and I used to swim in his neighborhood's pond. One especially dry summer, the shoreline dropped to the point the fish were going hungry. Whatever their usual diet, they schooled around us and began taking bites. For once I wasn't the only one providing a meal. so there's that. ~grin~

Did you know that eggplant got named for being both oblong and white? Would that put you off from eating it?