Monday, December 31, 2012

Got Black-eyed peas?

Superstitions abound on New Year’s Day.  In my family I always make a big pot of Black-eyed peas with tomatoes and rice for luck, but why are they lucky? 

Well, in the south the story goes that when Sherman’s troops raided the south they took everything but the black-eyed peas, which they considered animal food.  So the southerners made it through the winter on black-eyed peas.  They were lucky and they credited the black-eyed peas.

Since I grew up in the south, that theory works for me, but my parents from whom I got this superstition were northerners and their parents came from Greece so none of my ancestors were around when the Southerners were eating those peas. 

Another tradition for New Year’s Day is the Greek New Year’s bread/cake.  Hidden inside this sweet bread is a coin--a dime when we were kids, but with inflation now it’s probably a quarter.  Whoever got the coin, got the luck.  My brothers always got the coin…and the luck.

Another superstition, (and I don’t know where this came from) is that a man has to be the first visitor on New Year’s Day.  My grandmother would not open the door unless it was a man on that day.  My mother always a rule breaker, made my brothers go outside and come back in just to be safe.  They weren’t men but hey they had that Y Chromosome so it worked for her. 

So just to be safe I guess I will go soak those dried black-eyed peas now. I mean why push my luck right?

What about you, what do you do for New Year’s Day?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all

Not to sound like a complainer, but this Christmas season has been the pits.  

After our trip to Florida for three days to visit relatives we came back to our 55-gallon fish tank leaking. We cleaned up the mess and then (See previous post) we went out a bought a 37-gallon fish tank to transfer the fish, which were biding their time in an interim tank. Hey, it happens, after all the fish tank was 25 years old.

Then the dryer broke.  Honestly I haven’t used a clothesline in years.  In fact I haven’t even seen one since I visited Amish country several years ago.  So, we went out and bought a new dryer.  Hey, it happens after all, the dryer was 12 years old.

So yesterday my husband worked all day fixing the new tank and transferred the fish from the interim tank, and then he went Christmas shopping. I figured I would take a nice hot shower.  As I relished the steamy warmth, I heard a loud noise.  I shrugged it off as a figment of my overactive imagination.  When I came downstairs…the new fish tank had burst.  All 37 gallons of water was seeping into the carpet where the fish (sadly) lay dead.
A fine crack that was already in the tank had worked its way all across and the pressure of the water pushed everything out. I can only imagine the speed with which it exploded.

HEY, that shouldn’t happen the tank was only several hours old!!! 

Honestly I do write fiction, but I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to.  Part of me just wanted to say—“Christmas is canceled”, but the rest of me wasn’t going down without a fight.  I grabbed my umbrella, (37 gallons of water makes an umbrella a necessity) and got to moving all the storage items that were stored in the very, very damp basement to a dry area. We are, however, done with fish tanks.  Judging from the recent events I think that the universe is trying to send us a message. 

So on Christmas Eve, we took the defective tank back to the pet store.  and I sat in wait for the delivery of my new dryer.  At least I won’t have to string a clothesline.  The turkey is in the oven, and the standing rib roast is standing at the ready.  Soon I will have a ton of people over and I will celebrate Christmas.  I always say that good things come from bad.  Good thing number one is that I will HAVE to go through boxes of stuff that have been in my basement for years gathering dust.  I’ll take the junk to the dump and the good stuff to Goodwill.  I also got a cool new dryer, and I’ll get a new rug for my office. Because no matter what problems I have, I still feel as if I am the most blessed woman on earth, and yes I will have a Merry Christmas and I hope you all have the best Christmas ever!

Merry Christmas and a (dry) and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Go fish

Water, water everywhere

I am starting to believe that Murphy must be a distant relative of mine. You know Murphy, the guy from Murphy’s Law, which states that if anything can go wrong it will.  I won’t attempt to research the actual Murphy associated with this law because there are many opinions and many stories.  Let’s just say that whoever he is, he must be a relative of mine.

After spending three days visiting relatives in Florida with the usual minor irritations like late flights and Floridian flu, we started our return trip simply enough, although arriving back during Washington D.C. rush hour was a poorly planned decision.  2 ½” hours later, we walked in the door ready to hit the hay.  The only problem was that the hay in this case, was in a sense, under water. 

Our 55-gallon fish tank had, while we were traveling, sprung a pretty good leak.  Ever had your feet squish as you walk? (50 or so gallons of water will do that) Ever had to rush around trying to find someone with a spare fish tank to save the underwater creatures that were soon to become land animals?  Ever had it rain in your basement, when it’s not raining outside?

After several hours, wet vacs and fish transfers, we survived, albeit a little worse for wear.  The fish swam in an interim habitat.  We slept. 

The next day, I purchased my husband’s 2012 Christmas present…a new fish tank and stand. (The old stand and tank now reside at the county dump)

Just like the Aesop’s fables there is a moral to this story. 

Never, ever put your faith in a 25 year old fish tank filled with 55 gallons of water because…

You can't trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.
~ W. C. Fields

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This Christmas--Color me happy

Last night I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, “Miracle on 34th Street”…again.  I say again because I have probably watched it every year since I could sit in front of a TV.  This time I watched it colorized.  I hope you all refrain from the preaching, I know you purists are gritting your collective teeth. It’s a 1947 black and white classic, oh no, not color!

Let me say that the color was amazing.  I know that it takes a lot of work to colorize a film.  Artists have to add the color frame by frame. It’s time intensive and probably very expensive.  To me (and I know many won’t be with me on this) it is just way more satisfying to see Santa in a red and white suit instead of shades of gray.

In 1947, adding color to a movie was way too expensive to stay within the budget.  So they filmed in black and white.  After all, most people back then only had black and white TV sets, if they had any at all.

Jump forward to the world of today.  There are 3-D TV’s, high definition, and screens so big that they almost belong in a theater. No modern kid will ever sit down and watch a black and white movie no matter how awesome it is because they wouldn’t give it a chance.  So would we rather be stubborn about it and keep the movies in their original black and white condition or use modern technology to enhance them for future generations?

Times have changed.  Walkman’s were better than transistor radios. (Remember them)  CD’s were better than record players.  IPods are better than CD’S.  And color is better (in some cases) than black and white.  When it comes to the old Christmas movies, colorization is like a gift from Kris Kringle--wink wink.

Hmmm, “I believe, I will go watch “It’s a wonderful life.”  Colorized of course.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Word (War) Games?

Frostina the snowgirl


a family possession handed down from generation to generation.
Law. property neither personal nor real that descends to the heir of an estate as part of the real property.

Why the dictionary introduction?  Well, let me explain. At a party the other night, just for fun, we were asked to unscramble a group of words relating to Christmas.  One of the words was heirloom.  A discussion ensued on whether heirloom actually had any relevance to Christmas.  On researching this debate, I discovered that….

To some people (although not those in tropical climates) snow would be a Christmas word—sleet although technically similar, not so much.

To some, hot cocoa could be Christmassy although probably not to Starbucks.

Carol the song…yup that screams Christmas.  Carol Burnette—nope, not unless she’s wearing a red hat with a white pom pom and yelling “Ho, Ho, Ho.

Before 1949 Rudolph was just a Latin lover in the movies named Valentino.  Nowadays ask anyone, and they will tell you he is a reindeer.  And by the way what do reindeer have to do with Christmas? Until the 1823 poem “A visit from St. Nicholas.” No one ever heard of a reindeer at Christmas.

Just try and list cow or sheep as a Christmas word and most people will be scratching their heads.  Try setting up a nativity with a reindeer instead of the above-mentioned livestock; however, and…well you get the picture.

So what have I discovered about Christmas words?  Just like art (you knew I would somehow fit that in didn’t you?) Some like Picasso…whereas others like Da Vinci. So it’s all pretty much relative.

Going back to the word--heirloom.  There are heirloom ornaments and there are heirloom tomatoes. Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable?  Scientifically speaking tomatoes are a fruit, where cooking is concerned they are a vegetable...

Hmmmmm….I think we have reached an

m·passe [im-pas, im-pas]
A position or situation from which there is no escape; deadlock.
A road or way that has no outlet; cul-de-sac.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas is coming; the goose (from too many cookies) is getting fat

Last weekend we visited Christmas town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. After seeing all the hundreds of thousands of lights twinkling everywhere one looked, I will never again complain about the three strands in my dining room that refuse to cooperate. 

When I was a kid Santa’s were usually heavyset guys with a barely attached fake beard who smelled like garlic and sometimes whiskey.  We still believed.  Gullible and innocent as we were, my parents told us that even though it wasn’t the big guy, it was a look-alike helper. 

Now I find that Santa’s almost everywhere are real!  I’m an adult and I believe.  Do you think it’s because kids these day are a little smarter than we were?

As we traveled the much-lighted pathways we soon found ourselves at the Fest House.  Yes, fest house, where they sang almost all of the carols I’ve ever heard.  I admit it I joined in even off key I couldn’t damage the mood. 

The highlight came as my husband tried to scale Mt. Chocolate (cake).  He didn’t want the world to see him eat this gargantuan confection so I edited him out, trust me--- the cake was as big as his head.

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday as much as I am.

I got lucky and won a gorgeous Santa from Maddy at Santa and the Mrs.. Check out her awesome blog! I love, love, love him and I believe. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

X marks the spot?

I just read in the morning paper that 45 states are seriously considering eliminating teaching cursive writing from their curriculums in schools by the year 2014!  Ok I get it, kids can text lightening fast, but is it really necessary to leave them unprepared to even sign their names?

Let me get this straight right off the bat.  I admit that I have poor handwriting. (So does my Doctor, so I'm not alone)  Sometimes I can’t even decipher what I’ve written if it is more than 48 hours old--but I can sign my name.  It may look a bit wonky, but it is a signature, a cursive signature, my own unique stamp.

Teens love the fact that the kids coming up after them won’t be required to learn to read and write in cursive.  I mean they'll never use it-- right?

Thank you notes, birthday cards, and even Christmas greetings have become a simple email.  Let me say that my son left me a birthday wish on my Facebook page and I was totally hurt that he didn’t even take the time to buy a birthday card, sign it and mail it.  Puhleese!!!

At the rate we are going how long before speech becomes obsolete?  After all you can always text.  People fight by text, they make up by text, and they even break up by text!  A Dear John letter is now a text or maybe even a tweet…seriously, how many sentences does it take to say it’s over?  

What will the future look like without cursive?  Well…

2025- Computers fail for one day and the world is plunged into a state of chaos.

2100- a boy graduates from high school and receives many well wishes and gifts.  He pulls out his hand top (laptops are ancient) and sends a hundred thank you notes with the touch of a button.  He smiles, thankful that his parents taught him good manners.

2199- a petition is making the rounds in an office asking for better pay and benefits.  The only signatures garnered are a hundred X’s.

2200- a teen goes to a sports game and waits outside the player’s gate.  He sees his idol and walks up to him pulls out his electronic paper and asks him to sign his screen.  Yes, he signs with a big X. and it fits nicely into this teen's X collection.

2255- while digging in the dirt outside his home a child finds a long cylindrical item with a point at the tip.  He ponders for several minutes on its use, pulls out his cell and texts a photo to his dad, who has no idea.

3099- someone discovers some ancient letters in a cave. The letter contains a computer printout AND cursive. Hailed as Rosetta stone #2  scientists have a tool for deciphering the words of ancient, long gone civilizations.

Just thought I'd mention...Virginia is one of 5 states that still want to require cursive.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanks for the not so wonderful

What follows is a list.  It’s not the usual list of thankful things but I am thankful nevertheless. In my life I have been through many bad things, but through it all, I found that,

I am thankful for mistakes, because I learn from my errors.

I am thankful for sad times because as a result I can truly appreciate the happy ones.

I am thankful for the lonely times because they make times with friends and family all the more precious.

I am thankful for hunger and thirst, which help me to savor times with plenty.

I am thankful for tears, which cleanse my soul and give me peace.

I am thankful for the years, which although they may bring new aches and pains, also bring wisdom.

I am thankful for memories.  Although they sometimes bring tears, they can also bring smiles.

I am even thankful for bad days, because every day is a gift.

On Thanksgiving when we are all thankful for a lot or a little, (and there is always someone with less) let us also be thankful for the not so wonderful which elevates our joys to higher levels.  Remember without the bad times, the good times would be simply…mundane. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dagnabbit… again

Dagnabbit-- a phrase coined by the cartoon character, Elmer Fudd, when referring to Bugs Bunny (Dang rabbit) is the word I use to identify my online nemesis, namely Captcha.

Captcha or word verification is something websites use to cull out the spam from the real comments.  I guess it serves a purpose but lately I am beginning to think that it also leaves some of my comments out in the cold.

For some odd reason I just can’t seem to get a captcha phrase that I can actually decipher. When I try to comment, the made up word is a mangled mess and I have to guess.  I’ve never been good at guessing games, so I get a message that basically tells me…”if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, with emphasis on the try, try.

Sometimes I give up. Sometimes the tenacious side of me takes over and I keep trying or hitting the little squiggle that tosses out another mixed up word.

Just to clarify I don’t want to put anyone through this, so I have disabled captcha on my blogs. 

Downside:  I get a ton of anonymous comments.  And lately these spammers have really picked up the tempo and I’ve seriously contemplated re-instating captcha.  Don’t fret, it was just a passing thought, I’m having too much fun deleting these comments en masse.   It’s simple.  Blogger captures, I delete.

For the benefit of these robotic spammers:

You are wasting your time I don’t buy drugs online or otherwise

Your ridiculous attempts at flattery fall on deaf ears

Your poor grammar in these fake comments just make me laugh…I thought robots were smart!

Don’t make up a name to get past the spam filter, I still catch you and delightfully – DELETE!

Now, lets just see how smart these robots really are. I’ll let you all know if I get any spam comments on this post!!!

Update:  As of December 19th, I have had three anonymous comments on this post.  To the robots responsible, I really don't care if your brother directed you to this blog, or that my information is just what you are looking for.  To everyone else, welcome and stick around for a while.   Pull up a chair and set a spell  :-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving trivia

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it.  While your consuming your Thanksgiving feast, remember all of the things and people for which you are thankful, and just for fun, here is some Turkey day trivia:

The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 lbs.  Its no wonder commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.

Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 MPH for short distances.

Male turkeys are Toms.  Females are hens. You call a baby fox a kit and a baby kangaroo a Joey, but what do you call a baby turkey?  Poults…you call a baby turkey a poult.  I bet you didn’t know that.

Males gobble…I know you know that…but females, they make a click. 

Turkey’s heads turn colors when  excited.  Sounds like my husband when he is embarrassed.  

Turkeys have heart attacks.  When the USAF conducted tests in breaking the sound barrier nearby turkeys dropped dead from heart attacks.  Yup, it scared them to death.

Turkeys are native in every state…except Alaska.  Guess they will just have to eat Salmon for Thanksgiving.

Turkey breeding causes breasts to become so large that the turkeys fall over.  I always had a feeling breast enlargement wasn’t a great idea!

Commercial turkeys have been bred to have white feathers. 

They actually tan turkey skin in order to make belts and boots, although I can’t imagine anyone admitting to wearing turkey boots.

If Benjamin Franklin had had his way, the turkey and not the eagle would be our national bird.

Did you know that fresh cranberries bounce?  Overripe ones just go splat.  Cranberry growers use this to cull out the bad ones.  Have you got a visual yet of bouncing cranberries?  You know you are going to have to try this right?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Flip-flop or silent sock?

My husband doesn’t have many flaws.  He washes dishes, does laundry and even vacuums so how could I complain right?  The man is nearly perfect but there is one thing that grates on my nerves—his favorite pair of flip-flops.  Maybe it’s the way he walks, maybe it’s just because he’s a man, but the loud flipping and flopping sometimes make me want to just pull my hair out.

I have to say for the first 8 years we were married he never wore flip-flops.  And I have to take credit for being the one who bought him his first pair.  Let me clarify…I don’t wear flip-flops.  They just irritate the place between my toe and I just don’t have the patience to wait till that sensitive area toughens up.  I opt to wear sandals and open toe shoes that slide on and steer clear of my toes, but in the house I wear slippers or socks or heck I go barefoot.

Not so for hubby dear. He flips and flops noisily around the house.  They are great for the beach or pools or boating but in the house—all the time? Who would have thought that a man who never even owned a pair before would love them so much? 

I’ve contemplated hiding them.  I’ve asked him why it seems so loud when he walks but he has no explanation as he flips and flops by.  And then I recall an episode of “I love Lucy” where she complains about a habit that her husband has and at the end of the episode, she comes to find that habit endearing.  Well, that mode of thinking just isn’t working for me yet!

So from May to the first frost I will have to endure (As Lucy says-- small price to pay for such a great guy) the endless flipping and flopping.  And after that frosty night, the annoying footwear will retire to a darker section of the closet and he will again pad around in “silent socks.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Party Poopers

I still have a ton of candy leftover since the usual amount of kids just didn't show up.  Whats a person to do, have a sign up sheet posted the week before so you know exactly how many kids will be visiting?  Why you might ask do 40 or 50 kids show up one year and maybe 15 the next?  Is it because I live on Party pooper lane?  Ok so I don't really live on party pooper lane, it's just a nickname I give the street when EVERY house closes their doors and their lights on Halloween.  Yes, they are home they just can't be bothered.  It's not that they are hurting for money, most are pretty well off.  I understand if one has religious beliefs that may stand in the way of enjoying Halloween, but everyone? And honestly there is no connection to religion these is simply... in the words of Winifred in the movie Hocus Pocus..."All Hallows Eve has become a night of frolic where children put on costumes and run amok."

It reminds me of other party poopers albeit different kinds.  At least it taught me something important....

Back when I was a kid if Halloween fell on a Saturday there was no waiting till you got home from school to go trick or treating.  Kids didn’t wait till dark to begin their collections.  While I wasn’t much of a candy eater I still enjoyed donning a costume and going trick or treating. 

On one particular Halloween, my mother decided to take us downtown.  Storeowners gave out candy to costumed kids.  We had already amassed quite a bit of candy from the neighborhood and the weight of the candy stressed the twisted paper handles of my paper Halloween bag. 

My mother decided to cross the street and leave my brothers and I at a fenced in playground while she went into a small store.  Unfortunately the playground closed and we waited none too patiently outside the gate. 

I could see them coming; a group of about 6 or seven older kids swinging their Halloween bags.  It wasn’t long before they confronted us.  They got my sibling’s bags with no problem, but I wasn’t giving up so easy and I held on tight.  Even so, it didn’t take long, and they continued up the street looking for easier collecting.  When my mother returned, there I stood, holding my handles.

Funny but I don’t remember not having any candy that year.  I don’t remember much of anything except standing there holding those handles.

It wasn’t all bad though because I learned a lot about myself that day. I learned that I was not about to go down without a fight, and I never would.  It was about triumphing without winning.  While I didn’t keep my bag, I held in my hands that day the symbol of my tenacity, those twisted paper handles. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We dodged a Halloween bullet

We don't live that close to the ocean but hurricanes and weather events have taunted us for years--

Isabel--loss of power for 2 weeks and a large tree felled

Frances--Stuck on a cruise boat for 9 days

Derecho--loss of power for 5 days in 100 degree plus heat

And then came Frankenstorm...

Sandy--nothing - 0

Looks like we dodged a bullet when it comes to Frankenstorm.  Yes we were lucky, others not so much.  My thoughts go out to those in areas where the wrath of Sandy was not so kind.  For those in my area--this time at least we could have nicknamed her Hurricane Houdini (Honestly why can't they name hurricanes more creatively? ) since she was in and out before you knew it.

I hope that my friends and relatives in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and those closest to the coastlines have their power restored quickly and do not suffer any damages to property or self.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Waiting for Frankenstorm

Fall color earlier in the week

Today we are cleaning gutters and waiting for the anticipated Frankenstorm that is poised to strike our region tomorrow and last for a few days.  They are predicting power outages lasting several days...eek. We do have a generator but it sure didn't help during last summer's derecho. We struggled and juggled trying to keep things plugged during 100 degree plus days. After 5 days of no power I threw in the sweaty towel and hightailed it to a relative's house with power. This time, thankfully, it will be cooler.

The sad thing is that the beautiful multi colored leaves will surely be a distant memory after this week with torrential rains and (they say) gale force winds.

The stores are already out of batteries, toilet paper, and bread.  Not that I need see I always shop at Costco!  :-)

Signing out....

Crystal clear

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ouch at the apple festival!

My husband swears I channel Lucille Ball. Either that or I am channeling the unknown Murphy of Murphy’s law.  You know…"If any thing can go wrong it will."

Last weekend I thought it would be a nice idea to go to a nearby Apple Festival and although it wasn’t really my husband’s thing being the great guy he is, he readily agreed. The day was gorgeous with warm temperatures, and colorful trees to enjoy. Pretty soon the enticing aroma of kettle corn, Brunswick stews and bar-b-cue was to tempting to ignore.

I got my lunch and it included French fries.  What do you usually put on French fries but ketchup?  I reached into the basket that held the condiments and OUCH…a splinter found it’s way under my fingernail.  I tried to pull it out with my fingers but I just couldn’t get a grip. 

Then came the quest…. the hunt for the tweezers.

I went back to the cashier and asked if she had a first aid kit that had one included in it.  She enlisted the help of cooks, and cleaners but they couldn’t find it.  Then some boy scouts got involved.  Let me tell you one thing…they were NOT prepared. 

So they called the farm owner and she came down with an industrial sized first aid kit.  The stuff included in that kit was enough to supply a small hospital, but alas, a hospital with giant tweezers.  I don’t understand the need for giant tweezers unless it’s for removing olives out of a jar. They are pretty much useless for grabbing a tiny splinter peeking out from under a fingernail.  All it managed to do was push it in even further.

The owner suggested I go over to the rescue squad station and ask if they had some tweezers.  So our hunt continued.

“Over by the porta-potties.” She said 


We found the porta-potties but nothing that resembled a rescue squad station.

We finally spied an older gentlemen standing by a truck that had fire department printed on the side.  My husband asked if he knew where the rescue squad station was and he told us he was it.  So honestly it came as no surprise that he had no tweezers.  He did have a knife, however but I opted to keep all 10 fingers in tact.

I momentarily considered asking strangers who carried large purses if they included tweezers, but reconsidered when my husband said people might think I was bit loopy.

So I figured I would just tough it out and wait till I got home.  When we arrived home I went into my studio, put on my super magnifying headgear, got a fine pair of tweezers and voila…. I was splinter free.  Just for future reference, I am keeping these tweezers in my purse from now on.

Incidentally, my husband loved the apple pie.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No football, politics or poison ivy!

So the game is over, and hubby’s team lost.  I have to say he was a bit of a sore loser. Seriously now, it’s only a game!  I think he is over the initial pain of it and things are back to normal.

As I said, I don’t discuss football or politics but poison Ivy, that’s another story altogether.  Did you know that poison ivy in the fall turns gorgeously colored?  There have even been incidents where people have picked the stuff to decorate with…. and paid a price…a terrible price.

Poison Ivy

Maddy (My Jack Russell) and I walk every day on a 2-mile trail by my house.  It is peaceful (except for the cawing crows all over the place) and relaxing.

The scenery is just awesome especially in fall, even the poison ivy. 

A Halloween message from Crystal Clear…

Poison is everywhere
Ivy, in red, gold and green
Angry red bumps soon will be seen

Sunday, October 14, 2012

No football or politics

You know if you want to keep friends and sometimes even relatives there are two things you never discuss—football and politics. 

Today I am on my way to a NFL football game.  I come from a long line of football fanatics.  My two brothers, daughter, son, husband and step-kids all adore the game.  The only issue is that it ends up like the Civil war with brother against brother. 

I’m for one team (and I’m not saying which one since that would be breaking my rule even though since I’ve lived in the Washington D.C. area most of life it isn’t that hard to figure out) and my husband, stepdaughter, and in-laws are for another. 

Now, most of the time things run smoothly and we tolerate each other’s allegiance, unless of course the two teams are playing each other.  Today my husband’s team and mine are battling it out. 

Interesting to say the least. 

To be continued….

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maryland Renaissance Fair

Last weekend hubby and I went to the Renaissance fair.  Honestly I had been to one many years ago and had fun.  My husband was a bit apprehensive and didn’t think he would like it much but being the great guy he is he went because I wanted to go. And surprise, surprise—he had a blast.

Sure there were some people there who just can’t seem to decide to which century they belong…but there were also a lot of just regular ole folks just like us. Honestly seeing the costumes that some of the people wear just adds to the fun. 

First of all let’s talk about the food…AMAZING!  Anything you can think of from steak, pork chops and chicken on a stick to bread bowls filled with soups and chili.  There are crab cakes and fish and chips and the obligatory smoked turkey legs.  And the prices are unbelievably inexpensive.  I had an amazing rack of ribs and potatoes for only $5.00!  And as soon as I finished it and new enticing aromas met me, I wished I were able to eat something else!!!

I had a frozen banana and if you’ve never had one you’ve missed a treat.  It’s kind of like ice cream but better for you…sort of.  And these bananas were fresh and you could have them any way you wanted, dipped in chocolate, caramel, butterscotch with the addition of optional toppings of which there were at least 25 choices. 

The place was huge.  And there were a lot of shows to enjoy.  We saw the skinny German juggler boy and while it sounds pretty hokey, it was absolutely hilarious!  There was just so much to do and see that personally I can see why some people go back every weekend.

Drawbacks…the line of cars to get in the place was rather long and frustrating, but that’s what happens when something is really fun.  And with all the numerous choices, there were virtually no lines for food, but the beer lines were verrrrry long.  Fortunately I don’t drink beer.

There’s two more weekends and then it’s gone till next year, so if you can I’d hop in the car and go to the fair!

Friday, October 5, 2012

San Diego’s best kept secret

Rare white Rhino

I know you are wondering to what I can be referring, but it’s something my hubby and I recently enjoyed while in California.  Yes, we visited the world famous San Diego Zoo, so we decided to check out it’s sister—San Diego Safari Park. 

What?  You say you’ve seen one zoo, you’ve seen em all?  I don’t think so.  First of all it’s kind of deceptive.  This satellite zoological park has been around for 40 years, but you may overlook it. This zoo itself sits on acres and acres of land and most of the animals live as they would in large enclosures that mimic their natural habitat.

When researching this zoo, pricing is a bit deceptive.  We almost didn’t go because I wasn’t sure that you would have anything to do but ride a tram (the least expensive option at $42.00) but I was oh so wrong.  You could spend days in this park.  Yes there is a lot of walking but most of it is wheelchair accessible and they do give discounts for AAA, seniors, and travel industry employees.  There are many other pricier options like up close adventures, and overnight stays in tents available if you desire.

As with the main zoo, they are really into conservation and while we were there we saw several African elephant rescues.  One elephant had just given birth 3 weeks prior.

A 3-week old baby elephant is just too cute for words—so I will refer to the photo.  

Oh yes, I heard you say “Awwwwww.” 

We saw rare white rhinos.  There are only 7 left in the world and two are right here in this zoo.

They have trainers that bring out various animals at specified times during the day, to educate and you will get up close photo ops. 

If you are into the environment and animals, don’t miss the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  Check it out!

Monday, October 1, 2012

San Diego Zoo

California condor

I continue my-- sort of—travel log because when you travel you learn things and I like to share what I learn.

One of our goals in vacationing in southern California was to visit the world famous San Diego zoo.  If you visit the zoo you will walk, and walk and of course, walk some more.  I set my pedometer when I entered and shut it off halfway through the day at 6 miles, much of which was uphill.  Nothing wrong with exercise, but I just thought I would warn those who have trouble with walking a lot.  

The thing that impressed me about this zoo is their focus on conservation and saving endangered animals.  And they don’t only talk the talk; they walk the walk (there is that word again) because they use utensils that are biodegradable, compostable and made out of potatoes.  Can you believe that?  Potatoes!  And they look just like those plastic ones that will still be around littering the landscape when we are all dust.

If you visit the zoo don’t miss the California condor, which has gone from 175 left in the world to over 400 and are now being re-introduced into the wild.  Bravo San Diego Zoo!  

We visited in late September and the temperatures were almost 100 degrees and surprisingly quite humid.  It stayed pretty hot the whole week and here I was led to believe that California was always a very comfortable temperature all year round.  This heat rivaled any Virginia summer to I guess I won't believe everything I'm told from now on.  Be sure to hydrate and bring your sun block!  At over $40 per admission the San Diego Zoo is a bit more expensive than most zoos but they do offer senior, AAA, and travel industry discounts, and after all the zoo itself is non-profit so you can feel good about spending your cash here.  Well, as good as you can when spending hard earned cash.  :-)  If haven't had enough animal interaction...well I'm talking about the San Diego Zoo Safari Park later this week, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


No old gray mares here!

This Saturday is my birthday.  Nope I’m not fishing for birthday wishes, just saying.  I come from a long line of birthday denouncers.  My mom never had a birthday that I know of and due to this fact she remained 40 for 20 years. 

This year is particularly distressing for me because I reach a new decade.  Not telling which one… but you can rest assured it’s not 20. Ironically I received invitations to two parties that day (darn birthday has to be on a Saturday this year) one for my friend whose birthday is at the beginning of October and one from my High school celebrating my classmates who all reach a new decade this year.  I don’t want to sound like a party pooper but I don’t plan to attend any parties.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t really like cake.  And I’m not comfortable being the center of attention. I have doctor’s appt. on Monday.  I look really stupid in a party hat.  The birthday song is sort of hokey and no one ever sings on key.  And can you visualize me beating a piñata? 

Ok, so I admit it, I like gifts, but then again who doesn’t?  Oh well I guess I should just relax and enjoy the obi-wan like wisdom that comes from having another one of those…well you know-- days of birth. I mean it’s called a birth-DAY, not a Birth YEAR…. so I’m just going to open my presents and celebrate the Day and we will all forget about the year.  Sounds like a plan to me. 

Be sure and visit after I get over this milestone birthday for more of my sort of--travel log of California. 

Keep smiling

Crystal --not-so-- clear

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Finally found the swallows at Capistrano

California is full of fun things to do, but it’s a very big state. My husband and I like to explore on our vacations and we had a list of places we wanted to visit but finding them, well, that was tricky. 

I have no sense of direction.  I can’t read a map. (And folding it back up is out of the question.  I have a GPS on my cell phone but I can’t figure out how to set it.  My husband on the other hand is usually pretty good in that department.  His only problem (which I believe is a common male ailment) is that…he refuses to ask directions.  This habit translates into all aspects of his life.  He walks in a Home depot looking for a certain item and will walk around for an hour looking for it, bypassing employees right and left.  So it comes as quite a surprise to me that he does depend upon the other woman in his life, let’s call her GPS.

He trusts her.  He is under the impression that all he has to do it type in the name of a location and she will take him there, turn by turn.  The guy loves his devices.

Warning:  She is a fickle female and the famous mission with the swallows in Capistrano isn’t the only mission in that particular area.  In fact there happens to be an industrial park that shares the name. 

So we drove around in the middle of nowhere following GPS’s directions and every time we turned because it just seemed wrong, her familiar sweet voice piped up.


Hubby is nothing but persistent and we chased her wild geese till someone pulled up beside us in a pick-up truck and asked if we needed directions.   A human.  And he asked. 

We discovered that GPS took us quite a ways off course and a real live person steered us in the right direction, so much for technology.  Words to the wise, when depending upon GPS, use the address not the name.

We finally enjoyed the mission.  You should go!  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall has finally…arrived!

The last couple of nights have been heavenly.  Temperatures have lowered during the day to the upper 70’s or low 80’s with very little of the hated humidity.  The nights are crisp and feel very fall-like. 

I get up early and walk the dog outside before anyone is awake.  It is barely sunrise.  This is the best time of day.  It is quiet and relaxing.  In the ground cover on the street the spiders build little slings to capture unsuspecting insects.  It seems that all they are collecting this morning are droplets of dew.  How fairy like they look with the morning sun shining brightly on them.  It is great day. 

I will be taking my vacation starting this Sunday in Southern California.  I am looking forward to the trip although I will miss the early autumn mornings.  Perhaps when I return in a week the leaves will start to begin their colorful transformation.  Red, burgundy, yellow, gold and orange, I can’t wait.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Painting on glass and paint party friday

I know it's been a while since I have participated in Paint party friday due to personal issues, mainly carpal tunnel surgery on my painting hand!  It's getting better daily although my thumb still hurts sometimes and my pointer has a bit of numbness.  I still think a tiny numbness is a good trade off for waking up with my whole hand numb.

To the point, Crystal!  Ok, this week I finally tried a bit of painting and I must admit that my hand hurt a bit afterwards but it was a good hurt.  (The doctor told me that it could hurt for up to a year)

This weekend is my step-daughter's birthday.  In my family I always allow the birthday honoree to choose a menu for dinner.  Anything goes and through the years, there have been some really unusual requests.  My husband always chooses eggplant parmesan and strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream. Once my son chose hot dogs and enchiladas.  For my daughter the menu consisted of potato soup, london broil and fun-fetti cake.  This time, (remember I said anything goes?)'s Bang-bang shrimp tacos, orzo, and angel food cake.  Not exactly a go together meal is it?

I thought it would be nice to paint a wineglass to set on the counter with the odd culinary companions.  Since she loves cherries, well, that was the theme.  

Painting on glass is not hard if you haven't tried it give it a go.  You will need enamel paint specifically for glass and when it has dried for at least 48 hours you need to bake it in a home oven for a 1/2 hour at 325 degrees to set the paint.  Most of the time this allows you to put it in the dishwasher but I recommend hand washing...I mean do you ever put your wine-glasses in the dishwasher?  I don't.

I thought a fishy one would be cool so I did that too

I will try and visit throughout the weekend and hope you all have great one!


Paint Party Friday
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