About Me

My photo
Pennsylvania, United States
What changes hath time wrought...mostly a different hair-color, a few wrinkles and loss of short-term memory.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wildlife Too Close For Comfort

As I have previously mentioned my aversion to chipmunks this update is quite disturbing.

While toting my tender plants from the garage one chilly morning I saw a wily chipmunk zip into the garage. It went under Tim's car and I wasn't sure how I would grab it. I wasn't particularly concerned because I had more plants to bring out and felt the varmint would find its way back out.

But I did NOT factor in Jacob coming out of the house through the door that connects to our garage. OR the fact that he often leaves said door open. I continued to work and assumed the chipmunk had made its way back out. I closed the garage door and found the inner door open. Now, why would the chipmunk come in here? There aren't any nuts lying about or mounds of dirt in which to burrow holes, or delicate buds to nibble. Well, the next day I went downstairs to get something and I heard it- the chirping of the chipmunk- loud and clear. I did not see it. I had things to do and places to go and figured I'd get rid of it later. I did not warn my husband about our unwanted houseguest. The next day Jacob was jammering on about something and Tim went downstairs to check on it. I was on my way out to a lunch date. Tim called me down. Yes, I said, I knew he was there. Tim was just livid and seemed to think I'd purposely let that scoundrel in the house! The thing was just lying between Tim's weight bench and treadmill. Obviously, he wasn't a healthy creature. I told Tim to put something, a plastic bowl, over him and then slide a piece of cardboard under him and dispose of him. Which is what he did, I learned when I arrived home. Tim said one of our cats must've gotten him because he was leaking clear fluid. Honestly, from the cats point of view, they must've thought they'd gotten the perfect present. A "mouse" that never stops moving! It was probably exhausted when Tim and Jacob found him.

We have baby robins! Two summers ago they made a nest under our deck. This summer they made their nest in a rhododendron bush in front of our house and right below Sarah's bedroom window! Since the leaves have come in completely (and the bushes are blooming) that place is no longer a good spot to spy on them. These pictures were taken by simply holding my camera above the nest and hoping for the best. Today we can see the babies and when we first approached they would stretch their necks and open their beaks. Isn't it amazing how different they will look in a few short months?!? I spotted our first hummingbird today buzzing around my pink dahlias. Almost every plant I bought this year was to attract butterflies or hummingbirds.

After the marble-sized hail the sun came out today and we went out to play and garden. We found the cutest toad. It had such a pointed nose. I don't remember the other ones we've seen looking like this one. We also (Sarah) spotted a baby milk snake basking in the sun on our front sidewalk. There's just something thrilling and revolting at the same time when first coming upon a snake!

Tomorrow looks like another good day for outdoor activity. Who knows what creatures we'll commune with? My friend has had a bear as a regular guest and she just lives a little less than a mile up the hill from me!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wildlife and Challenging Scientific Principles

What a great Memorial Day weekend! Sarah and I hit Kraynaks Garden Center in Sharon for all our plant needs on Saturday. It was the warmest, sunniest day we've had for a while. Sarah was very good- mainly because she knew a new Webkinz was in her future. Anyway, Sarah has just been preoccupied with swamps recently. I'm not sure if it was a book/s she's heard or the Shrek movies, or both. On the way to Sharon she asked if we could stop at a swamp. There are a lot of wetlands on the way to Sharon and we DID find a swamp and it even had a pull-off/parking area. It's a state game land. We really needed boots to make the trip around the swamp. As it were our sandals were no match for what was under our feet- GOOSE POOP EVERYWHERE! Fortunately the flock must've been there awhile ago- it wasn't too squishy. So it was a worthwhile trip for Sarah- a swamp visit, a chihuahua Webkinz, and plants. She really enjoys helping me with gardening.

Today and yesterday we worked to prepare our gardens. Today we found an abundance of wildlife. First, Sarah caught a toad. Then I found a brown salamander. It looked like an earthworm with legs. Then while thinning out some hostas I saw the first garter snake of the season. Now that I write those things together... that snake better not have snacked on the toad! And chipmunks galore. They are so bad around our house. They make huge holes in our gardens and are quite impertinent. They don't even run when we come out anymore! Although, I have to admit, I enjoy watching them chase each other through the dried leaves, Chip and Dale-like.

Now, on to new matters. I just finished an article in the June 2008 issue of Discover. It's called Peter's Principals. And it reminds me of another thing that annoys the heck out of me: close-mindedness It's about a man, Peter Duesburg, who was a pioneer in cancer research in the 60s-70s. In short he was part of the team that first mapped the genetic structure of retroviruses and co discoverer of the first viral cancer gene in 1970. Pretty smart guy. In the 80s he wrote a paper challenging the prevailing theory that HIV was the cause of AIDS. (A side note: I read a book called And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts in the 90s. It's an amazing story about how the disease was ignored, misinterpreted, and used as a tool for furthering careers and fame! So THIS article seems almost anticlimatic, but very interesting! I also recently read a biography of Albert Einstein- Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. I mention this because Einstein, a pretty smart guy, toppled what was believed to be some laws of physics. ) Because of Duesburg's insistence at being the devil's advocate for a different theory of causes of cancer he has lost major support for his work! HERE IS MY POINT: Didn't we learn anything from Albert Einstein that what we THINK is the truth/answer isn't always right. Now, I don't know enough about this gentlemen to know if he merits government support. BUT the fact that his contemporaries have labeled him a charlatan is quite depressing. I would think highly intelligent people would KNOW that a new way of looking at a situation just may be the ticket to solving a long-standing problem. John Kanzius from Erie invented a machine using sound (I think- or it may be radio) waves to dissolve cancerous tumors. And it is currently being tested in clinical trials at a Texas hospital! And he was no medical man. He was the general manager at a TV station in Erie!!! I understand standing up for your own studies, research and theories. But I truly think a little more open-mindedness in ALL aspects of life would do everyone some good. I'll jump off my soap box now.
The End.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Odds and Big Ends

First- I must say I'm a bit disappointed in the results of my survey question. I don't know why it just bugs me when clothes are inside-out. I take my clothes off so they are right-side out. No extra effort necessary. My next survey question will be about chores. I'm still trying to figure out how to word it.

Second- I gave the wrong web address for PBS Kids. It's pbskidsgo.org My two and a half year old can even play Sesame Street games. I really like the cookie monster game. There's just something delightfully silly about that blue carpet puppet devouring "cookies" and crumbs flying all around.

Third- It's bathing suit time of year. As we have a brand new public pool opening this year we plan on living there. So, a good bathing suit was a must. We had gotten a Land's End catalog in the mail and I'd put it in our newspaper rack to look at when I had more time. Well, the garbage went out and so did that catalog! Now, we have Parade magazines from years ago. And a LLBean Christmas catalog still in the rack. But, no, the new Land's End went out. As you can tell I do not do the newspapers on garbage night. (It WAS unusual for me to want a catalog. I don't usually buy clothes from them. I just did NOT want to take Jacob with me to try on bathing suits. ) This turned out to be a GOOD thing. If you're looking for a suit, go to Land's End online. You fill out a questionnaire and a model appears based on your answers. You can then try every bathing suit on this model of yourself and it turns around completely so you can see all angles! That led me to this depressing discovery: Yikes! I'm old and pudgy!!!
I wanted something to camouflage my protruding abdomen. I found one I liked. It reminds me of an old lady swim suit. When it arrived (quite quickly I might add) I tried it on and shoved it in my drawer. It fits right. It's just my body that's not right. I'd been a contented size 8 from 1983-2003. Of course, I'm not so depressed I'm dieting. It's still a shock when you see yourself as someone different than who you imagined you were. But on to happier musings...

I have to put in new septic system at my dad's house. I suppose this is knowledge I can one day use again. My biggest surprise was there is a Sewage Enforcement Officer. Honestly. And he does not wear a rubber suit, boots and gloves with a big rubber nose plug like I expected. Hopefully once the septic system is installed the house will be sold! That will be a big relief.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Again, I wasn't going to blog today. Nothing much happened. Good Yoga class this evening. BUT...
I just went to Parade.com to vote whether our tax dollars should continue to support Public Broadcasting and I was astounded by the overwhelming number of people who voted NO!!!!! You can read the article at the website mentioned. But, in a nutshell, $400 million has been the budgeted amount for PBS. This administration wants to HALVE that amount!!! I went to vote that I thought the government SHOULD spend money on public broadcasting. Here is the tally so far: 3,138 voters agree with me: we should support public TV
10,096 voters think it should NOT be supported!!!

PBS is the only channel I let my kids watch when I am not in the room. (PBSkids.com is a great website, too.) And the reason is... there are no ads. The ads that are shown on other stations, including, Nick and Disney are horrendous. At one point TV was free. We had an antenna growing up- no cable. I consider that "free." But now advertisers are dictating what we watch on everything BUT public TV. Regular TV must use the advertising money to pay the ungodly salaries of the celebrities, studio heads, and on down. (I'm sure there ARE people in show business who work hard and do not get extravagant wages.) I feel I'm being manipulated by news shows, too. We are being told WHO are celebrities, WHAT is fashionable, WHAT someone said is important, even though anyone with a brain knows Paris Hilton is NOT a celebrity. Those tight tops and hip-huggers are a fashion NO-NO if you have a muffin top body. And who cares what Obama's or McCain's reverend said??????? There is currently no cabinet position for Secretary of the Interior Soul ( or Secretary to God).

The ever-increasing demand for higher-and -higher paychecks is going to completely topple the entertainment industry. Which MAY be a good thing. Who can afford to go to the movies??!!! Our cable-TV rates are outrageous and we only watch a few channels! Advertisers want to reach those with extra money to spend. Most of the shows are about the middle class and up! This could be the cause of a war between the classes! Maybe I exaggerate. I agree the government does not need to have its hand in every single industry. I do think the government has an obligation to offer programming/entertainment that can be honest and un-sexy and nonviolent because it is not relying on meeting a certain demographic or selling a product. The government has taken an apparent hands-off approach to the current entertainment industry and that's probably the right thing. That's democratic. BUT, just like prayer in schools, everyone should have a CHOICE.
And we need to have the option to watch TV shows that are free, in cost and content. ( I know PBS is not "free." We always donate money whenever they have a fund drive.)

I'm not a NPR/PBS fanatic. But I could go off on TV programming. Specifically, I find a show that I like and then the following week it's on a different day or time and I never see it again!!!!! Then I read it's cancelled in Entertainment Weekly magazine. Yes, I subscribe to this mag. And I enjoy it even though I don't always know who they're talking about!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Zoo Friday

I missed a blog day but with good reason-exhaustion. Since Sarah did not have school yesterday we took a trip to the Erie Zoo and visited my sister and dad, who live in Erie. We hit the road by 8:45am and made it to the zoo by 10:15. There were about 8 cars in the parking lot and I was a bit nervous the zoo didn't open until noon, or something. But it WAS open and we had a very nice three hour tour, ending with a train ride. My big surprise came when the tiger exhibits were blocked off and we had to take a special detour to see the warthogs. I had just been telling the kids I thought the warthogs were about the ugliest animals I'd ever seen. And as always when I make those kinds of declarations I had to eat my words. Here they are- looking so cute! Look at their front legs! They look like little pussycats!

After the zoo we picked up Julie, my sister, and went to Max and Erma's for lunch. It's after 2:00 now and we're getting pretty hungry. Mistake #1: My 2-year old son had selected an umbrella from the zoo's gift shop as his souvenir. It was raining by this time, but we had a George Costanza parking spot and he didn't really need it. But I let him take it in to the restaurant. An umbrella can be used as a cane/walking stick, baton, WEAPON! He had lost his TV privileges for Saturday by the time we left.
He fell asleep on the way back to Julie's house. Once I carried him out of the van he was reinvigorated. My sister made my dad a plate of food for his dinner and we- Sarah, Jacob and I,- took it next door and sat with him while he ate. The kids like to go there because it's new territory to explore. Jacob came back to the dining table with a slender crucifix and was gesturing with it like it was a dagger. I took it from him and asked him who it was on the cross. He looked at it closely, (and in his defense it was a figure draped with a chasuble.) He answered questioningly, 'Doc Oct?' That is a villain in spiderman who has a number of robotic arms!

We went back to my sister's house and visited for a while longer. We left and had only gone a few blocks when Jacob declared he had to pee. So back we went. Finally we're on the road and the rain was letting up. I had a $5 off coupon for Kohl's. I made a deal with the kids: if it was raining when we got to Kohl's we would just keep going. If it wasn't we would stop. Mistake #2: It was not raining. I only wanted to pick up a sterling silver necklace. Well, of course they were having a sale on about 10 different brands! Lots of shiny, beaded, floppy jewelry to tempt tiny fingers. My husband gets antsy when I stay in any one department of a store for more than five minutes, so I guess I should've expected the same with my kids. Sarah wasn't bad at first. She just had her ears pierce two weeks ago so she was interested in the earrings. There were quite a few ladies checking the jewelry bargains. I started losing it when Jacob swung one of the displays around with a good show of strength. Then a lady was trying to turn one and he was holding it still! The last straw came when both of them started trying to scare me by hiding behind something and jumping out and yelling, 'BOO.' They DID scare me but only when they wouldn't answer me when I called their name!!!

It wasn't too late when we arrived home. Sarah had taken her camera with her and had snapped a shot of almost every animal we saw (for daddy since he couldn't be with us.) So she wanted Tim to see all the animals. When we finally got them both to bed they were asleep within minutes. I told Tim the details of our trip and tried to stay awake to watch my favorite TV show at 10pm, The Soup. I was asleep within minutes. Unfortunately when I awoke at 12:15am I couldn't get BACK to sleep. My brain kept reliving the day but my body was, like I said, exhausted.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mistakes and Amends

One of the things that bothers me about politicians and the current president and his administration is their inability to admit when they've made a mistake! In our newspaper The Derrick a hometown columnist, Peter Green- I think is his name, offered his opinions on the importance of making mistakes. You can't learn from someone who is perfect, athletically, politically- if that's possible, or artistically, etc. Mistakes can cause heartaches and other catastrophic events. If they do then whoever made the mistakes better not make them again. And anyone associated with them will hopefully learn that lesson.
I accused my husband of being a "woman-hater" before I knew him. I learned it was more of a sports thing. And he's just impatient with teammates of lesser ability, man OR woman. But I learned and try very hard not to judge people. I'm not sure I would be this way without that first mistake.
Now, politicians. I wish people would LET them be honest about their decisions. If they made an error in judgment let them fix it! (I'm not talking about their sex lives. I don't really care about that.) I think "flip-floppers" was a popular term for Congressmen who had voted for the war and were now against it. I'll bet there were millions of civilian flip-floppers! I was a flip-flopper. I thought Saddam had WMDs and believed we needed to get him away from any kind of "GO' button. It's hard to believe how easily we were misled. We trust the government, I did, and really feel the executive branch let us down. How could they go marching in there and have no idea how they were going to get out?!?!? I think that is why people don't trust the government to start new programs, i.e. National Health Care (see first blog).
I would love for Bush's last speech to include: I am so very sorry for starting this war. I see now how pointless answering violence with more violence truly is. I want every grade school/high school child to learn from my mistake. When you're faced with a fight or a bully. Duking it out will only escalate the problem. People who don't care what happens to them can't be defeated. The source of the violence needs to be explored and diluted or deleted. (I hate to say this, but, people who are willing to kill themselves to kill others need to be deleted.) We need to enlist some non-military advisers to help us understand the Islamic people, not just the extremists, to determine a strategy for this nation to unite and govern themselves. Shoving democracy down their throats will only make them throw up on us. We can give them guidelines but then it is up to them. Because we're going to start putting our money on alternate fuel sources.
Of course he doesn't have to use those exact words. But you get the point.

Well I'm off to the showers Sarah has no school tomorrow so we're heading to the Erie Zoo.