Ah, the rural life. Critters, events, opinions and trivia.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Travel back in time to the Renaissance

Ah it's Spring. Time to enjoy the lovely seasonal Renaissance Faire activities. In CT, we are about to embark on the Robin Hood Springtime Festival, see:

So much to the dismay of family and friends who can not believe how geeky I am, I am going to get out the garb, cinch up "the girls" into a bustier and go have a blast.

In case you are looking for me, you can't miss a 6' tall red haired senior citizen elf....

Then we have "her ladyship" at the Blackmore's Night concert. I seem to have misplaced my pirate garb, complete with live parrot. That's the great thing about being old, it enables you to indulge all sorts of foolishness....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beauty products from our youth

Recently, I recalled a beauty product from my youth. It was called Tangee lipstick and when a wearer put it on, it would turn to a unique color based on the chemistry of the wearer. For many of us in the 1960's, Tangee was the first (and sometimes only) makeup we were allowed to wear, since it produced a "natural" look. Nevermind that my particular chemistry made Tangee lipstick appear to be an unattractive bright orange on my mouth. Tangee was like a lipstick "mood ring".

Much to my surprise and amusement, I saw a recent catalog from The Vermont Country Store and they are selling Tangee lipstick. They are known for reviving and selling products that have been off the market for many decades. I'm thinking of ordering a lipstick to see what color it turns to these days.

The catalog also advertised "Evening in Paris" perfume, in the bright blue bottles. I think every one of our school teachers received an Evening in Paris gift set for Christmas each year. My recollection is that the perfume smelled rather like an evening in Paris with a prostitute, but our teachers were very kind and expressed great pleasure with our holiday offerings, bless their hearts. I'm also thinking of ordering a bottle of the fragrance to see what it really smells like these days.

I am also racking my brain to think of other products that have disappeared since my youth and might be suggested to the Vermont Country Store for re-vitalization. They did bring back AquaNet hairspray and many other "oldies but goodies".

The Vermont Country Store is a great resource for those of us "baby boomers" who are trying to recollect aspects of our youth.

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Lessons in humility

Per Wikipedia: The term "humility" is derived from the Latin word "humilitas", a noun related to the adjective "humilis", translated not only as "humble", but also alternatively as "low", or "from the earth", and "humus", humid.

My Old English Sheepdogs fill my life with joy in many ways. They also ensure that I don't run the risk of becoming over-confident.

A recent example:
A beautiful late Summer day and I will be joining friends at a gathering to promote dog rescue. Many dog rescue groups will be in attendance and we (New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue) will be pleased to join them. It is our hope to: educate the public attendees regarding the nature and variety of rescue dogs available; suggest that rescuing a dog is a wonderful alternative to obtaining a puppy from other sources; engage individuals who may we willing to act as foster homes for our dogs pending their adoption.

To accomplish that goal, and to attract attendees to our booth, I brought my energetic OES Rescue, a 2 year old named Zen. Zen is an unusually large OES both in terms of size/height and weight. He and I have not completed his entire obedience training, because I broke my wrist before we finished the class. He is for the most part, well behaved but in exciting public situations he is challenging to control -- he wants to play with everyone and every dog.

After years of study and practice, and obedience competition with former OES Rescue dogs, I assume that I have some level of competence in handling my own dogs. I understand the importance of providing strong leadership, especially for large dog breeds. I understand the importance of helping my dogs understand that I am their leader. I thought I had mastered those concepts with Zen -- HA!

I was speaking to a lovely couple who had expressed interest in becoming a foster home for Old English Sheepdogs, and I was explaining that many of the dogs in the Rescue program are already trained for the most part and just need some "polish" and gentle reminders of appropriate behavior.

The gentleman of the couple smiled and looked at Zen, then said to me:
Do you know that your dog is peeing on your leg?" And indeed he was. Zen had chosen that moment to assert his own leadership role and wanted to tell the world that I belonged to him. It certainly left me feeling "humble", not to mention "humid".

Good thing I have a sense of humor and a high threshold for embarrassment. Previously, Zen had urinated on his toys in the yard and on our female OES, Brie. Clearly he wanted to make sure that his possessions were clearly identified.

I returned from the day's event realizing that I should never assume that my leadership role was understood by my dogs, and that it requires regular reminders to show who's in charge.

Sigh. When I get a chance, I should post my many other lessons in humility, taught by my beloved OES Colby during our days of Obedience competition. At this point, I should be the most humble person on earth....

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Thanksgiving decoration

This weekend I was in pain big-time. My doctor prescribed higher dosage pain meds and gave me a shot - short of euphoria, but would probably allow me to take a bullet to the body without flinching.

Yesterday, when I got home and realized I could move without excruciating pain, I thought I would do a load of laundry. Did that and went downstairs to pick it up. To save myself a trip, I thought I would get the Thanksgiving wreath from the next room, and hang it on the front door as I went up the stairs.

So far, so good. This morning there was a knock at the front door (nobody that knows me comes to the front door). It was the UPS guy laughing his head off. He said "Are you making a feminist Thanksgiving statement with your decoration?" I had no idea what he was talking about until I looked at the wreath. Somehow, when I transported the wreath on top of the laundry basket, my bra had become hooked to the wreath. So there, draped on my front door, was my underwear. Good thing UPS made a delivery, else my bra would have been there until I changed to the Christmas wreath.

Many folks in my generation had mothers who insisted that we always have proper, mended and clean undergarments in case we were in an accident.

I bet my mother never counted on them being used as holiday decorations....

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Where oh where did my focus go?

I am trying to figure out exactly when I lost the ability to focus. In specific, to get a task done without being sidetracked. I suspect menopause is the cause of this disappearance, but then again, I blame menopause for everything that's gone awry, (memory loss, facial hair growth, sleeplessness and other stuff that I already forgot).

Yesterday was a perfect example of how my focus wandered. I was so annoyed about the Ellen and the Rescue Dog story on TV, I decided to write an email or post an item on my blog. Early in the morning, I started to do just that. I wanted to include a picture of my adorable Rescued pets. I decided to use a photo that is on my website, so I went to that site. Since I haven't used or updated my website in quite a while, when I opened up the site, I noticed that a number of links were broken and information needed to be updated.

I decided that it was a good time to launch the Frontpage program and edit my site. It has been so many months, I have temporarily forgotton how to use Frontpage, and I have no recollection of what userid and passwords I used to access the site. In my search for a valid userid/password, I discovered a repository of critical web development information that needed to be sorted and organized. So I sorted those files and finally found the information I needed. It is now mid-morning.

Back to Frontpage to see if I can recall how to manage that program and update my web pages. Right off the bat, I notice that the picture of me on the "about me" page is badly out of date. I go searching in my photo files for a more current picture.

I find a current picture but it needs to be "Photoshopped" a bit to be appropriate. I decide to do something "arty" so the Photoshop process takes many hours. It is now mid-afternoon, and my Blog item about Ellen and the Rescue dog is not finished, the photo of my rescued dogs is not uploaded and the Photoshop picture is not finished. Grim.

I go back to Frontpage and almost re-capture the process I need to use in order to edit my webpages. Almost, but not quite. By now it is late afternoon and I know I need to feed animals and family their dinner.

Thank goodness I am retired.

It is now the next day, and I have finally finished the Photoshop pictute, I have created the Blog page and included the dogs' picture. I still have the whole mess of editing the website and re-learning Frontpage ahead of me. I just spilled some granola and in order to clean it up I need to: find the vaccuum (and the bag is full); find the vaccuum bags and since they are low, I should probably order some more online, but I can't remember where I got them... you get the picture. There's no telling how far off track I'll get today.

There once was a time when I could decide on doing a task then actually get it done from start to finish. Then there is the whole "mulit-tasking" thing, but I digress....

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shame on us: Ellen and the Rescue Dog

If you haven't already been bombarded with media coverage on the topic of Ellen DeGeneres and the Rescue dog, read the background at http://www.tmz.com/ .

Shame on "Mutts and Moms" the rescue organization who removed the dog from the family where Ellen had placed it. I work with a dog Rescue organization, and animal Rescue is already a difficult process. The last thing we all need is a Rescue organization giving all of Rescue a public black eye. For goodness sake, it's supposed to be all about the DOGS.

Many/most dog rescue organizations have guidelines regarding placement of animals in homes that have young children (and preference for homes with fenced yards and more). Rescue organizations also usually have a guideline/requirement that an animal rescued from them should be returned to them if the adoption does not work out. "Mutts and Moms" needs to think about WHY they have the "rules" that they do. It's to protect the health, safety and well-being of the DOGS.

Rescue organizations want dogs to be returned to them so that they don't end up: in a pound or kill shelter; let go as a stray; given to an inappropriate home; donated to animal research, etc. If this dog has ended up in a loving, caring home (that they can visit and do a home evaluation), why in the world shouldn't they welcome the opportunity of having one of their rescue dogs placed in a good environment?

I too am passionate about animal rescue and animal welfare, but I think "Mutts and Moms" organization is really handling this issue incorrectly. Worse yet, I'm afraid that their actions will spill over and have an impact on all animal rescue organizations who have volunteers truly dedicated to the placement of the animals they re-home.

Secondly, shame on us mocking Ellen for her emotional public appeal. Ellen has a history of being passionate about animal welfare so why shouldn't she be emotional over an issue that is her passion? We seem to be derisive about anyone who has a public display of intense emotion. Why is this? Are we embarrassed? The unfortunate exception is that we often see and accept media clips of families grieving a tragic event; we also see and accept media clips of individuals venting incredible anger. Why are we willing to accept public displays of grief and rage, but not personal passion?

I do wish that Ellen had enlisted the help of other dog Rescue organizations to have a mediated private discussion with "Mutts and Moms" and come to some reasonable solution. Now that this is a big public issue, it will be difficult for either side to back down from their position gracefully, and there is slim likelihood of re-uniting the dog with her new friend Ruby.

And for those of you who think: "What's the big deal, it's just a dog" -- a big juicy Brooklyn cheer, since there's not much point in trying to convince you otherwise.

Here are my personal rescue angels

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Can spam drive you crazy?

I have come to the conclusion that spam can drive you crazy. Not the Spam in a can, spam that arrives un-invited in our electronic communications sources. My ISP has "spam blocker" software, but even with that software in place, I get at least 50 pieces of spam in my email every day -- the software does block hundreds of items daily. Then, my home phone and cell phone, which are both registered on the "do not call" list are regular targets for spamming.

It appears there are loopholes in the "do not call" registry, including the exemption of: companies that you have previously done business with; non-profit solicitation; political campaign information; calls that are initiated from outside of the US, and more.

I have a friend who once ordered prescription drugs from a company online. He now gets at least 10 calls a day on his cell phone and that's with call blocking in place. There appears to be no way to get these callers to stop. This causes him to rant daily about his phone and email spam, and I realized that spam has driven him crazy -- of course, he did have a good head start in that direction.

I regularly receive phone calls for "surveys" and multiple automated robot political campaign calls. I finally contacted the political websites of these callers and told them if they don't stop calling me, I will never vote for them. Thank goodness election day is just around the corner.

The thing that puzzles me is why on earth do the originators of the email spam messages think they are effective? Everyone attempts to block them. Do they really generate business from these messages? The spam ads I get for loans, investment opportunities, prescription drugs and porn sites are sent in massive numbers with the exact same message from multiple senders every day. Do these advertisers really think this is an effective method of delivering their message? I would go out of my way to avoid supporting these businesses.

The spam that drives me crazy are the "phishing" efforts that look like legitimate email from sites that I have a relationship with. I worry that I will actually delete an important message when mistaking it for spam. Someday, my ebay account, or paypal account or bank account, or ISP account, may be suspended because I have missed a legitimate message.

In the "olden days" where spam arrived in the mailbox, I found an effective way to get removed from the solicitors' lists -- when they included a postage paid envelope or postcard for return business, I would glue it to a brick, or some other heavy object, so they would have to pay the postage due when they received the item.

So, in the future, if you see news coverage of some lunatic(s) who have gone on a rampage against spammers, don't be surprised. Their defence can be that the spam drove them crazy....

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

What Happened to Halloween?

This is one of those "when I was a kid" moments....

The time frame was the 1950's through the early 60's. Overall, I always say "I hated the 1950's -- the politics, the food, the furniture, the clothing". But in retrospect, that was a wonderful decade to be a kid, and the music was great.

Moms mostly stayed at home to raise the family. There actually were morning "coffee klatches" where moms would get together, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and trade recipies. Favored recipies made the journey from household to household some became traditions -- green bean casserole with mushroom soup and fried onions; yams with tiny marshmallows; ambrosia fruit salad with tiny marshmallows; tuna casserole with crumbled potato chip topping and of course, jello salad. Many of our dads had recently been in the armed services, so Spam and creamed chipped beef were also included in the recipe roulette.

When I was a kid, celebrating Halloween was quite different from today. I can remember the smell of leaves burning (can you believe that it was common to rake the yard, then burn the leaves in the street?). We eagerly anticipated dusk or the earliest sign of darkness, so we could dress in our home-made costumes, select the appropriate size paper bag for goodies, and get started on our search for sugar treasures. It was a major milestone when we were old enough to trick or treat without parental chaperones.

Our journey started in our own neighborhoods where we knew most of the families and we would visit every house that had lights on. We quickly learned which houses had the "good" treats -- goody bags with candy corn, loose candy and candy bars and which houses had the less desireable "healthy" treats -- apples, popcorn balls and the like. There were always the homes where the owner (usually the jokester dad) demanded we actually earn our treat by performing a trick. I have no recollection of what tricks we actually performed.

Next, our search for treasure expanded from our own neighborhood to houses that were quite far from home. Our parents were not particularly concerned about our peronsal safety or the safety of our Halloween treats -- their biggest concern was that we not over-consume our candy en route home. I can't recall hearing of a single incident of inappropriate behavior toward children, or of candy tampering. Some years, we were overcome with altruism and bypassed the candy treats and carried Unicef cans instead

I do have many fond memories of those Halloweens. One outstanding memory involved an annual visit to the "Burr mansion", former homestead of Aaron Burr. I can recall huge solid silver trays covered in candy and two lovely eldery genteel ladies serving us. I think they were distant relatives of Aaron himself.

Today, in 2006, traditions involve sponsored Halloween parties at town locations and I'm sure those events are much safer, and will be cherished memories for children today. Nonetheless, I long for a return to the times when children were safe and protected throughout the town and were free to explore.

Happy Halloween from me and the furkids!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanksgiving Memories

This evening I went shopping for the Thanksgiving dinner provisions. Darn, the store was out of bottled onions, forcing me to buy the fresh tiny white onions. My creamed onions with sherry are always a big hit and every year I try to sleaze out of using the fresh onions since they are a pain to cook and peel and there are seemingly hundreds of them. The year that I used bottled onions, the family said: "Oh, these aren't as good as the ones you usually make...". Sigh.

I remember the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked. I had moved to Santa Barbara CA and lived in an apartment with an artist friend. We invited lots of folks to join us (it was the late 1960's and everything was groovy). For some reason, I decided to "get fancy" with the dinner. I had a cookbook with extravagant recipes and had chosen to make chesnut stuffing, among other things. The recipe said to heat about an inch of oil in a heavy skillet and when it was good and hot, to add the chesnuts in the shell to the oil. So I did. In about 3 minutes, the disaster began -- the chesnuts came flying out of the skillet clear across the room. Of course the doorbell rang and the first of the early dinner guests had arrived just as I was crawling to the stove to turn off the burner while dodging the hot oil chesnut missiles. Not the gracious hostess impression I was striving for. Now I realize that the cookbook should have said to cut a hole in each chesnut shell, so that when they heated up, and the air expanded, they wouldn't explode.

It's been years since I tried to add any new "gourmet" items to my Thanksgiving dinners. My last attempt was to introduce a cranberry orange chutney in lieu of the jellied cranberry sauce (nobody ate it but me).

I don't try to make the entire dinner on Thanksgiving day anymore either. I make everything except for the turkey, gravy and asparagus on the days before Thanksgiving. That way, I get to enjoy my company.

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy holiday. Peace