Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Received A Liebster Award Nomination

So I was nominated for the Liebster Award for my blog.

The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

There are certain criteria that must be met in order to continue sharing this award with other bloggers. It’s sort of a fun chain letter that helps bloggers connect & discover new blogs.

The rules are simple:

11 Random Facts About Me:

1.  I'm a pet photographer, writer, blogger.
2.  My head is full of useless historical facts.
3.  I have long, curly red hair, it's natural and although I get many compliments, I really look more like Merida from Brave.
4.  I am an only child.
5.  I love the movie Sense and Sensibility and cry every time Marianne gets her heart broken & when Elinor finally gets together with Edward.
6.  I have dreams of opening an animal sanctuary.
7.  I've written my manuscript, but too afraid of rejection to publish.
8.  I love to make people laugh.
9.  I'm addicted to coconut Jelly Bellies.
10.  I'd rather nap than clean house (which leads to...).
11.  I'm a stay-at-home-slave.

11 Questions I have to answer:

Why did you start blogging?  Because my husband got tired of listening to my constant chatter.
What are your favorite topics to blog about?  Whatever pops into my head.
Whom? What? Where? Does your blogging inspiration come from?  My random thoughts or something I've heard then pondered.
How do you handle a stressful day?  I eat.  A lot.
What do you hope your readers remember about you?  Some little something they'll carry with them throughout the day.
What is your favorite food?  Mexican.
What’s your favorite quote? You can't fight stupid.
What’s your favorite movie?  Always.
What is your best trait?  My honesty, although it's shocking for some.
Do you have a resolution for 2013?  Don't die.
What makes you giggle?  My husband and son who are equally hysterical.

11 questions for my nominees:

Do you find blogging hard?
Do you blog daily?
Does blogging interfere with your personal life?
Do you judge other blogs against your own?
Do you stick to one theme in your blog?
What is your biggest pet peeve?
What is your Achilles Heel?
Do you blog and regret a post?
Are you a Facebook addict?
Could you live without your cell phone?
What is the greatest technological advance?

And now the blogs I nominate:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cocoa Mulch: The New Deadly Trend

Who wouldn't buy such a highly touted product?  But the warnings are not on the bags.  Know what you are buying/using.

First we'll start with why everyone loves this new mulch trend...


Adding any mulch is good for the garden but Cocoa Shell is the best mulch on the market. And here is why:

1. It looks much better than other mulches. It begins life as a reddish brown color but after time darkens to give a rich brown color that stays for its life. Bark tends to bleach in the sun giving an uneven and untidy appearance. Cocoa Shell gives a lovely contrast to foliage and flowers.

2. Cocoa Shell is packed full of healthy nutrients for all your plants. It has a Nitrogen:Phosphorous:Potash of 3:1:3, which is better than any other mulch. It means it has enough Nitrogen within itself to compost down, whereas bark robs the soil of Nitrogen as it composts and hence deprives plants of this nutrient.

3. It works better than the other mulches. It is better at weed suppression because of the loosely knitted porous mat, and for the same reason better at keeping moisture in the ground (up to 50% better in independent tests). So for a low maintenance option cocoa shell is the best mulch.

4. The texture deters slugs and snails. The texture is not dissimilar to broken egg shells, and hence slugs and snails do not like it. As such it is a very environmentally nematode deterrent. Many hosta growers use it on top of pots for this reason, and as any hosta lovers know, this plant is favorite dish of these slimy pests!

5. Most cats do not like the texture either, so again it is a cat friendly way to keep them off your borders.


If your dog likes to spend sunny days lazing in the garden, his treat-seeking nose may lead him to one danger in particular: sweet-smelling cocoa bean mulch. 

Many gardeners are familiar with the use of cocoa bean shells, a by-product of chocolate production, in landscaping. It’s especially popular for its attractive odor and color and eventual degradation into organic fertilizer. But many pet parents don’t realize that cocoa mulch, if eaten in large quantities by mischievous dogs, can be toxic.

“Dogs are attracted to the fertilizer’s sweet smell,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA Chief Operating Officer, “but like chocolate, cocoa bean mulch can be too much for our canine companions.”

Ingestion of large amounts of cocoa bean mulch may cause a variety of clinical signs, including:

elevated heart rate
muscle tremors
neurological disturbances (seizures)

Dr. Hansen recommends that the gardeners among us consider using a nontoxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, to beautify their yards. These will keep your pooch and your garden happy and healthy.

If you suspect your dog has ingested cocoa bean mulch, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

The cocoa mulch contains a chemical called theobromine, when ingested can cause death in 12 to 24 hours.

This product is sold everywhere from Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, to any lawn & garden store.  Please, please, please do not buy or use this product if you own a pet or care about neighbors who own a pet.  

Even my cats like chocolate, I have to be careful with all my furbabies

Be diligent, again, this product comes with no warning.  Spread the word to your friends.

Friday, May 24, 2013

My New Level Of Hell Just Opened Up

I'm afraid of roaches.  Terrified to the point of paralysis.  Absolutely cannot deal with them on any level.  I'll burn my house down around one rather than face it.  I've set off a bug bomb in my car because one sneaked in through a cracked window.  I've thrown away heirlooms without hesitating because they were spotted making themselves at home inside...

It's called Katsaridaphobia.

This is why I have cats.  They just love to take them down on my behalf, like my own personal Army of Darkness.

Now, news of their evolution, (especially against me in particular as I choose to believe because they hate me and know I'm afraid) has hit the airwaves.

In the ongoing battle between humans and cockroaches, a new study finds that roaches evolved their taste buds to make sweet insecticide baits taste bitter.  Now, the roaches avoid the baits and thrive, to the chagrin of homeowners and fearful humans everywhere.

Plenty of insects evolve resistance to pesticides; they gain the ability to break down poisons without dying. German cockroaches, on the other hand, evolved what's known as a behavioral resistance to baits.  They simply stopped eating them because they have sensitive taste buds.

German cockroaches are the small, scuttling roaches frequently seen in human habitats, including homes and restaurants.  They grow to be about a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) long and are omnivorous, scavenging everything from grease to starch and creeping us out for decades.

Beginning in the 1980s, many pest control companies switched from using spray insecticides to control cockroaches to using baits.  The baits combine sugars with insecticide so that roaches eat them, thinking they are sugary snacks, return to their nests and die.  Ideally, the other cockroaches in the nest then cannibalize their dead relative, getting a dose of the poison, too.

This worked for a while.  But in 1993, several populations of German cockroaches around the world were thriving in spite of the baits. The roaches were refusing to eat the glucose, or sugar, that was supposed to make the bait appealing.

Pest control companies switched up the sugars in their baits to keep them working, and for years, no one knew how the roaches had developed their glucose aversion.

In normal roaches, some of the cells in the taste hairs respond to bitter tastes and others to sweet tastes.  In roaches that avoided glucose, however, there was one change.

"The system was perfectly normal, except for the fact that glucose was being recognized not only by the sweet-responding cell, but also by the bitter-responding cell," one scientist said.

In other words, the glucose-averse roaches tasted sweet things as bitter and thus avoided them.  (Even cockroaches have standards, it seems.)

Roaches could have evolved this response simply because people started poisoning them with sweet baits.  It's also possible that the trait goes way back in cockroaches' 350-million-year history.  Some plants produce toxic bittersweet compounds that roaches would have needed to avoid before humans came around.  Once humans started building dwellings and roaches moved in, they may have lost this sugar-avoidance ability in order to snack on humans' leftovers.  When people started developing sugary baits, the pre-adapted anti-sugar trait may have re-emerged.

Either way, the finding has implications for pest control. The industry has replaced glucose in baits with another sugar, fructose, but evidence already suggests that roaches are evolving to avoid fructose, too.  The industry needs to vary baits frequently and make multiple types at once to stay a step ahead of the roaches.

God help us all!

People Stricken With Bias Blind Spot

The definition for this in some sort of professional terms are as follows:

The bias blind spot is the cognitive bias of failing to compensate for one's own cognitive biases.

Experts explained to subjects the better-than-average effect, the halo effect, self-serving bias and many other cognitive biases.  According to the better-than-average bias, specifically, people are likely to see themselves as inaccurately "better than average" for possible positive traits and "less than average" for negative traits.

What does that mean?  People who are of above average intelligence or book smart tend to be pompous (and annoying) smarty-pants and don't even realize it.

Everyone knows this person.  The one you can't stand to talk to.  

The one-upper.

The corrector.

The pain-in-the-butt who can hold a conversation completely on their own while snubbing you at the same time, as you look for the nearest exit door.

Apparently there is an actual named disorder for this effect and we should at least no longer feel guilty about hating this person, avoiding this person, or day-dreaming of running this person down with a Sherman tank.

Put two of these people alone in the same room and you'll have a scientific debate that would rival any presidential election, only using real words and biased arguments involving complex things such as string theories, art nuances, nuclear particle physics, and evolution vs. creationism.

By the way.  I'm one of those morons.  

I didn't even realize it until I came across an article describing the symptomatically forced verbal vomit they spew without consideration to those in their path to self-destruction.  

It's what makes my husband think I'm the smartest person he's ever met while simultaneously being the dumbest klutz with no common sense or filter between my brain and mouth...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Drawing A Line In Shifting Sands

I finally broke the news to my mother that we adopted another cat, Sassy Miss Daisy.  Our third cat.

Sure I'm an adult, married for 18 years with a child going to college in a couple of years... 

My mother still scares me half to death, though.

The conversation went like this (she in quotes, me in italics):

"(Use of my full name)!"
I know.
"You have to draw the line!"
(My husband) said no more.
"You cannot keep volunteering with this animal rescue group."
They know I'm not allowed to foster or adopt any more.
"The problem with you is you draw the line in chalk and keep moving it."
I know.
"If you drew it in paint, you'd just paint over it and draw a new line."
I'm sorry. (fully chastised)
"Put (my husband) on the phone!"

After a time I was given the phone back and was told something I never would have thought my mother would say to me.

"I know you want to save them all."
I can't help it.
"I know.  Even when you were a little girl it was a gift."  

She said gift.  Stunned silence.

"From insisting on hatching the last egg when the momma duck left with the other hatchlings, to riding your tricycle with a chicken in the basket, you always loved animals and had a certain way with them.  Once, when you were three you rode your bike all the way to Williams Boulevard and rescued a litter of kittens whose mother had been killed.

I told you that you couldn't keep bringing them home and you looked at me and said, 'But they are all mine.  I created them.  I created the birds.  I created the cats and dogs.  I created all the animals.  I have to take care of them, for they are all mine.'  It scared me half to death because you sounded like God talking to me.

*Remember the time I came home from work and you had a hawk sitting on your arm?  How about the baby alligator?  Remember the lion?!?  They came to you like some sort of pied piper.

Listen.  I'm not fussing at you.  I do understand, but you have to realize you can't save them all."

I cried silently.  

I couldn't help myself.  Maybe I can't save them all, but I can sure try to find homes for as many of them as possible. One day I'll have enough money to start my own rescue group!

*I found an injured hawk once and nursed it back to health.  It tried to attack my mom, but sat calmly with me.  It used to fly around when I rode my horse and land on fence posts along the way. It kept the mouse population down around the barn after that.

*I had a baby alligator that we kept until it was about three feet long and then re-released it into the wild.

*My mom dated the guy who raised & cared for the big cats for the Audubon Zoo when I was little, six I think.  Once he took us on a tour and I opened the lion's door and was rolling around playing with him.  Nearly gave them both a heart attack.  

I never saw her go out with him again after that day...

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Crazy Things People Search And Find This Blog Instead

On my administrative page, it tells me what people put into search engines to wind up here.  I guess it would be a useful tool in getting more visitors, but mostly it just leaves me baffled.  What could I have possibly written at any time for some of these people to land on my site.  Some are obvious, but some just make me giggle.

"boobs and knives":   I'm sorry.  WHAT??  Once I did write about a man smothered by his girlfriend's breasts, but I remember nothing with knives and what kind of sick person is that?

"baby ducks laughing":  Nothing.  I drink a lot of coffee and my mind is a cross between on-the-brink-of-genius and ADD, but I definitely don't remember that combination.

"stupid people doing dumb things":  Yes.  Quite popular actually.  So I have done a few, but it started merely with idiots putting weird animals on a leash and my ranting about how stupid I thought it was, like a turtle and a goldfish (not together).

"lol":  My husband once typed "lol" while we were Skyping (his mic was broken), but he didn't and I called him on it.  "I can see you!"  That led me thoughts to the use of the phrase.

"beaver":  I wrote about an actual beaver, the furry creatures that build dams, but I didn't know how popular that animal was.  (or the rest of you are just sick)

"corner roach":  Huh?  Is that a specific species of the bug?

"m so sick of": Yeah, just "m".  That pops up a lot so I think it's the same person and Google just keeps putting in their misspelling.  Or maybe I just don't get it?

"christmas" (with or without "images, pics, & pictures" after it):  A very popular holiday and makes complete sense, but I have people doing searches for it now.  In May.  Even the Hallmark Channel's not there yet.  Or Walmart.

Those are just a few that came in this week.  Often there are many that make me shake my head and call my husband into my office to prove I'm really seeing it.

I find it fascinating how the mind works, but even more so when it comes to what people are looking into.  Good thing I don't write about serial killers, or bomb making, or terrorism...  Then again, maybe the FBI would be checking out my blog.  Of course, it might draw in more weirdos...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Another Round of Really Stupid People

The internet has brought us many things:  breaking news, infinite knowledge, research at our fingertips, privacy to do things in our own home, and it's become a place where some of the dumbest people ever known to mankind are immortalized.

I don't know, maybe the ocean is behind the picture taker and a hurricane just passed and brought fish to a hole in a parking lot, but I'm inclined to believe either that guy is a moron or this photo is staged.  Because how can anybody be that dumb?

Who thinks of this stuff?  And what idiot put the boat there in the first place.  Because you own a nice truck, an expensive boat, but you won't spring a few extra bucks for a proper trailer?  

You deserve this.    I feel bad for the road and the pole.    Green means go, buddy.

OK.  Let's build a bonfire.  Let's get the bonfire to burn brighter by pouring gasoline on top of the small flame from atop an overpass. Gasoline's not volatile, what could possibly go wrong?

Stop, drop and roll!  Idiot.  That goes for the guy taking pictures as well, let's watch a guy burn to death, but get some good shots for the internet while we do it.

This next photo...all I can say the comments part after seeing the video still shot.  Is it possible to be that dumb?  Apparently.

Five words:  You missed a spot shaving. (shudder)

Wax, for the love of God!

This must be a relative of the boat guy above.  What would make you think a load of plywood that weighs more than your car would ride home with you without incident?  

And I would have loved to see the guy's face when he said, "Sure, I'll put it on top of your compact car.  Let me get the forklift, hee-hee."

Look closely and you'll see they tied it to the door handles (and the windshield wiper?) then climbed through the window.

All I can do is shake my head, there are just too many of these people out there.

Can't quite put my finger on it, but something tells me this won't catch on.  Really?!?  What would liability insurance cost?  Roller skating on a coaster?  Everyone that responded with "Cool!", you're an idiot.

Nice pants.    YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

I have nothing to say about this one.  A picture's worth a thousand words and they're all synonyms with idiot.

He seems pretty happy about it.    Lesson here:  Don't drink wine on the 4th of July.

Once again, I'm rendered speechless. I wouldn't bother making these people more popular except for some reason they are.  I might as well capitalize on their stupidity...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Day As The Messiah

If Jesus is the Son of God (*Luke 22:70)...

And we're all God's children (*Colossians 1:16)...

How come I'm not the Messiah?  I mean, since menopause kicked in, I can grow a pretty good beard and the robe looks comfy enough.  Not to keen on the sandals, though.

I wouldn't waste my time raising the dead, walking on water or trying to cure people of illness.  I would just make a few changes.

Like going back in time and slapping the Church for burning the learned at the stake.  Maybe we could have cured all diseases by now.

I could also share the wealth of the church for the poor (*Matthew 19:21).  Did you know the bulk of the wealth in Vatican City came from seizing the Templars treasure before assassinating them or that the Church ran brothels in the Middle Ages?

I mean in reality I'd probably spend my day doing ridiculous stuff like break dancing or talking to animals since I can't seem to do either, but who knows.  Maybe I could walk around slapping the stupid out of people.  It could be fun.

Let's make it like jury duty.  Can I be notified when it's my turn?

Sure, today I could have talked about Anjelina Jolie's mastectomy, the IRS breaking the law, Alaska's volcanoes spewing lava, Longmire's return to A&E, South Carolina's being sued for cutting off the wrong part on a hermaphrodite, or the heat in the upper Midwest, but where's the fun in that?

*There are many references for my silliness in The Bible, I just used a few.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Disney Don't: Merida's TV Makeover

I'm a redhead.  It's curly, long, and has a mind of it's own.  I'm also a bit of a tomboy.  It made my mother crazy growing up.  It made my friends jealous of the clothes in my closet I didn't wear.  It made me jealous of the pretty girls that were more feminine.

Add to that: Disney movies are sort of my thing.  I love Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and now Brave (among many others).

You see, Ariel (Little Mermaid) was the only red-haired princess Disney had and I adored that.  We aren't often found to be pretty outside of a 1940's WWII pin-up poster.  I wasn't much like Ariel, but at least they finally had an auburn rebellious heroine I could relate to.

Then came Brave.  See Merida is more like me.  I'm very good at archery, horseback riding, I'm very good at angering my mother (still), and my hair looks a lot like her tangled mass of curls.

My oldest made the comparison throughout the movie because he's been with me when "Mom" turned into "Who are you?"  We were fishing and the motor gave out on the boat and we ended up in a tangle of an old dead tree.  I whipped out the paddle to get us where we were headed.  I baited hooks, I caught and unhooked fish...

All while my son sat with his mouth agape.

I taught him gun safety (with a BB gun) and while we practiced shooting, he missed the target every time, so I asked to see the gun.  I nailed the target dead center which warranted another whispered-in-awe "Who are you?"

(me & my Charity, a long time ago)

My kids learned that prissy and pretentious Soccer Mom had a secret identity and I earned a new level of respect from a bunch of boys.

So back to Brave:

I guess the TV Disney doesn't think that messy hair and an athletic body make for good television, so they gave Merida what's being called the Victoria's Secret makeover.

I agree with angry fans everywhere; I don't like it!

What made for box office and DVD sales in the millions was her unique ability to be real.  Letting girls everywhere know that to be a princess you didn't need a Barbie body and make-up.  That amazing women/girls come in all shapes, sizes, and yes, sometimes our hair has a life of it's own.

(Merida & Angus)

Merida was fearless.  She was, well, brave.  She was beautiful, inside and out, just the way she was.  She certainly wasn't what they are portraying her as now and she definitely wouldn't approve.

Maybe the hair is easier for cartoons that need to be pumped out often, but put her tunic back on under her dress (bare shoulders? sequins?), take out the bulimia, get rid of the coy, flirty look, then lose the make-up.  A belt?  Not without a quiver attached!!

Shame on you Disney.  I thought you would set a better example than that!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cupcake Vineyards: Something To Wine About

Yesterday as my husband was grabbing a six pack, a new bottle of wine caught my eye.  Cupcake Vineyards, Angel Food, a white wine. It's a domestic.  I'll get back to that...

I love my wine and if I'm not having it with a meal, but to unwind, I love a good sweet wine late at night, an aperitif if you will.

My first love was a German wine, Schmitt Sohne, Auslesse.  It was sweet and smooth and I discovered it at a young age, but it's not always easy to find.

Young, poor, and wine was cheap so I basically stuck to a Zinfandel over the years, but then one day the liquor store manager pointed out a wine to me.  It was an Idaho vineyard, St. Chapelle Winery, and they had a sweet white called a Soft White.  A hint of citrus & floral, but crisp, clean, and smooth.

I adore this wine, living in Utah I had an endless supply, but alas I haven't had it since moving to North Carolina.

Our local Biltmore vineyard, from the famous Biltmore Estate, has a delicious Century White Wine.  It's delicate, airy, and crisp with a hint of roses and mint.  It's unique, a little hard to describe, but if I want to splurge for a special occasion, it's worth it!

I suffered along for a few years until Sutter Home came out with one called Sweet White.  The name said it all and it is just what it claims to be.  

Sweet.  White.  Wine.  Very sweet and crisp, smooth to the point I could almost describe it as creamy to the palette.  Almost as delicious as my beloved Idaho domestic and a quick favorite, not to mention it's often on sale.

Ok, so back to the Cupcake vineyard:

Angel Food.  The name caught my eye because, hey, I love angel food cake.  So I picked up the bottle.

The back label reads:  "Made with premium grapes, this wine is luscious, aromatic and delightfully reminiscent of an Angel Food cupcake.  Flavors of baked Granny Smith apples and hints of toasty vanilla combine for a creamy mouthfeel that has become a signature of Cupcake Vineyards."

Mouthfeel?  Whatever.  Angel food cupcake in a bottle?  I threw it in the basket without a further thought.  

Hell yeah!

It was double the price of my usual wines, but a sweet liquid cupcake?  You had me at "cupcake".

When I got home, I threw it into the freezer until later.  My first glass and a hot tub full of bath oils.  I'm giddy, excited almost, I will unwind and sleep like a baby.

I think the screw top should have warned me when I tried to uncork it.  Hmmm.  Ok, well, maybe it's some sort of recycle thing?  They are from California.  Cupcake, cupcake, cupcake.  I get the big glass out and take it to my awaiting lavender steamy room.  After easing into the garden tub, I lift the glass to my mouth for my first taste.


There's no sweet.  It tastes like a Pinot Grigio!  It's harsh on the tongue.  There's no apples or vanilla.  No angel food.  And certainly no cupcake!  You couldn't improve this wine if you put an angel food cupcake in it!  I don't know who does their baking, but I'm not going to their house for the holidays!  

Do not waste your money.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Just Spit It Out!

If you sigh, I will not ask you, "What's wrong?"

I will assume one of two things:  You are either suppressing a yawn or you are trying to catch your breath because you must have jogged recently.

If you're doing it in an attempt to get my attention, you failed.

If you make a vague comment about being mad, "Oh, sometimes I could just scream!", I'm going to assume it's something you do often and say nothing back.

Perhaps you have a tickle in your throat and want to get rid of it.

Maybe you saw a spider...  It was large enough to creep you out, but not big enough for you to run away.  Either way, you must have an explanation and since you didn't offer it in your initial statement, I will not ask.

Perhaps you think I'm not nice or caring enough.  I have empathy, but I'm not going to coddle you endlessly for hours trying to fish out information you'll share eventually anyway.

I'm patient, I can wait.  And I can wait a very long, long time if necessary.

The fact is, I'm tired; I haven't slept since 1993.  I'm busy; I work twenty hours a day seven days a week.

My friends know that I will listen, react, and help in any way I can.  They also know they can't dilly-dally, pussyfoot, or drag it out for dramatic effect, because I don't have the time and patience for that.

For the love of God just spit it out so we can solve the problem.  Otherwise, find someone that has the time and inclination to play your theatrical game.  I threw away the rules.

Just remember:  If you wait too long, though, I'll forget you even sighed in the first place.

My Zimbio
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