Cat Fanciers Get the Spotlight

Frosty-Bichon FriseOkay, I’ll admit it…

I’m more a dog person than cat. (Not that I haven’t had a cat in residence before, and if you own one, you know that she/he is not your pet–you are hers/his.) Continue reading “Cat Fanciers Get the Spotlight”

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Cutesy Animal Picture Overload on Freaky Friday Features

I love cutesy animal pictures and have been known to post them before; especially dog pictures. Increased our walk!

Well, dog and horse pictures. Spider!

But then these two came across the internet and I couldn’t resist downloading them to post for my Freaky Friday Feature this week. It’s Friday! Another work week is over. It’s time to relax and have chips, chuckle, and a drinkypoo drinkie-poo. Blinking lion

Okay, the lion isn’t really a kitty, but if you have a really cute one of your favorite feline, I promise equal time. Send it to me and I’ll post! I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Which Side of the Oxford Comma War Are You On?

Oxford CommaThe Oxford University Press sparked a war back in 1892 that continues to this day with as many on both sides of the line protesting their side as the right one.

The Oxford comma (also referred to as a serial comma, or even the Harvard comma) is that “comma before the conjunction at the end of a list.” The Oxford University Press style guidelines touched off the conflict back when Horace Hart, controller of the University Press, organized a set of rules for the Oxford Press employees.

While the anti-comma faction would eliminate the second comma, the pro-comma faction would add it, sure that it provides clarity. The “pro’s” are more commonly found in the U.S. (I wouldn’t be without mine!) Only journalists forced to use the AP style generally omit it, but that was originally a bid to save space! The anti-comma people hold sovereignty in the U.K., except, of course, for Oxford University–go figure.

Why all the fuss over bell, book, and candle? Aren’t we invoking the Oxford comma for purposes of clarity?  Click to Tweet

And doesn’t that really promote consistency of comma use? Apparently not in some scholars eyes. The article by Warren Clement to The Globe and Mail noted this example: “She invited her father, a tuba player and several ballerinas. It is clear that she invited her father, the musician and the ballerinas.(?Is it?) Now insert the Oxford comma: She invited her father, a tuba player, and several ballerinas. Suddenly the father has become a tuba player.(Really?)

Hmmm…You say to-may-to and I say to-mah-to…

And we’ve been at this 125 years? So I’ll submit to you one final argument illustrated in riveting detail that you may or may not have seen before: “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.” I rest my case.

Illustration-Oxford comma
Illustration by AE Ferg-Offered by Stephen Tall

 

I’ll stick to my Oxfords, but I’d be interested to know if you do. Do we have a majority? ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Exploration of Sunken (Treasure) Ships

the MargueriteWhat is it that attracts us to sunken ships? Whether treasure ships or WW2, the fascination seems endless and demands a search. If found; explored.

What happened to the ship and it’s crew? Was it a battle? Was it a hurricane like the one in which the Marguerite went down?

Sole-SurvivorMy grandfather, son of the captain, was first officer abroad the Marguerite about to cross the equator “some ten of fifteen miles west of Lagos,”  (aka the gold, ivory, and slave coast) on a starboard tack when a typhoon struck the ship and she down, stern first. My grandfather always classified the Marguerite as carrying general cargo. No treasure there–we think! Continue reading “Exploration of Sunken (Treasure) Ships”

Budweiser is Still King of Horse-Dog Commercials

 

Dog and Horse
Ellen DeGeneres tweeted, “They’re so cute and they nose it.”

I was struck by the recent post on Twitter by Ellen DeGeneres of the charming little picture of a dog and horse friendship and the obvious appreciation by Ellen as she noted, “They’re so cute and they nose it.”

 

Not the first picture of an unlikely pairing of animals far out of their own species, but as amazing and fun as the friendships between canines and felines or mammals and avians.

Sitting Horse and Dog
Sitting companions courtesy of pawmygosh.com

I suppose the bond between horse and dog isn’t so unnatural as the two have a history of working together under domestic situations for their humans the world over.

 

It’s Friday and we love cuteness overload. There are possibly few videos of a horse and dog relationship better than those Budweiser has put out over the years. What is your favorite?

©2017 Virginia Williams

 

2017 Spring-Summer Fashions Are Here!

Once again, left in the dust when it comes to haute couture, I set out to see what kind of fashion Europe has cooked up for us this spring-summer and discovered they are not as heavily into the off-the-shoulder look as the home front would have us believe.

 

Thom Browne 2017 Fashion Collection
The Thom Browne 2017-18 Fashion Collection debuted in Paris in January.

The Entertainment Section of the Sacramento Bee, January 22, 2017, ran an impressive number of pictures that would set your heart aflutter; that is, before you noticed the price. But no problem–you’d definitely be in the “in” crowd with Thom Browne’s 2017-18 fashion collection that debuted in Paris the same month. It would appear they bought a huge bolt of this material though, as they presented two notable styles with the same fabric. Continue reading “2017 Spring-Summer Fashions Are Here!”

Winter May Be More Attractive South of I80

Just over 30 years old, Interstate 80 runs across the United States from San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey, which is actually in the New York Metropolitan Area, according to Wikipedia. The interstate is the second longest in the US (after Interstate 90) at 2,899 miles. Started in 1956, it wasn’t actually completed until 1986!

US Weather Mapplacerville-jpgFrom California, the highway progresses over the Sierra Nevada range, through the barren, windy desert and over the Rockies, where it finally drops into the plains. This time of year that means everything from more rain in California, blizzard conditions in the mountains, and treacherous driving and flying most everywhere else.

MerrillvilleMore than half the country is expected to receive a major wallop in the next week with three successive storms. Meanwhile, there has been a wild variety of temps along the I80 corridor demonstrating what an expansive, topographically diversified country in which we live.

Around here they can’t remember a recent winter with this little snow (18″), but they are expecting small amounts from these systems. Meanwhile, it was 75 degrees in Goodyear AZ today. ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Celebrate Another President’s Day–It’s Not Just Another Day Off Work

We are about to celebrate another President’s Day weekend, and with good reason: We’ve had some amazing presidents!

Most of these men issued forth a veritable number of memorable quotes. So it is here that I shall honor just a few:

George Washington - quote

George Washington-Born February 22, 1732-Died December 14, 1799

Actually, this quote was shortened–the full text was: “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.”

Thomas Jefferson-1743-1826

“When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.” 

Abraham Lincoln-quote
Excellent quote for today’s president–yes?

Abraham Lincoln – 1809-1865

 

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1882-1945 “The only thing to fear is, fear itself.”

Harry S Truman-quoteHarry S. Truman-1884-1972

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” 

John F Kennedy-quote

John F. Kennedy-1917-1963

Ronald Reagan-quoteRonald Reagan-1911-2004

“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” 

Of course, there are the memorable quotes made by others regarding our presidents, such as the one from Ann Richards about George W. Bush:

“Poor George. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

And then, there is the one from William Taft that all authors and writers can take to heart: “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.” Good one, Bill! Thanks to BrainyQuote.com for all the great photo pins! ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Let’s Go Audio-Books

Audio BooksPerhaps you are one of the folks out there who just love the kinesthetic feel of your books, and I’d agree with you–most of the time. (I love the feel of those books, too.) In the four years since we left Idaho, however, our print book library has taken a major hit. Indeed, we finally had to sift through even our old college books and decide whether we really needed to store or lug those poor things around–again. (We didn’t.)

In all the miles we shared on the road either in our car or the RV, one of the things we enjoyed most (after heart-to-heart conversations, of course) was to fill some of those open roads with borrowed audio books or those gleaned from a thrift store for a couple bucks. We listened to a wide variety of genres, and they were as exciting and remarkable for the distracted-free driver as the passenger. Continue reading “Let’s Go Audio-Books”

What State Are These Authors From?

crown-point-courthouseI’ve spoken before of the “Grand Ole Lady” (the Lake County Courthouse), resplendent with the striking brick red facade (love this building!), but probably not The John Dillinger Museum, a focus of the 1930’s with Dillinger memorabilia enclosed within the building in Crown Point. If you recognized that as being in northwest Indiana, you’d be correct.

LaToya JacksonAdmitted to the union in 1816, Indiana can claim a number of authors, many of whom hail out of Gary, about as far north as you can go without wading out into Lake Michigan. Of the well-known Jackson family born in Gary, Janet gained fame as a singer/songwriter and LaToya as both author and songwriter.

Alex KarrasAlex Karras, who gained fame as a pro-ball player, wrote a journal that was published in the Detroit Free Press and much later, a novel entitled “Tuesday Night Football.”

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.Kurt Vonnegut Jr, born 1922 in Indianapolis, wrote for more than 50 years and although he published many novels, plays, short stories, and non-fiction, was probably most famous for the dark “Slaughterhouse-Five.”

Vonnegut dropped out of Cornell University to enlist in the army and was deployed to Europe to fight in WWII. Captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge, he survived the Allied bombing by seeking safety in the meat locker of the slaughterhouse in which he was imprisoned.

Of course, there are whole alphabetized lists of authors from Indianapolis from Charles W. Akers, also a (WWII–navy) veteran, wrote what is called one of the three best books about Abigail Adams, “Abigail Adams, an American Woman,” Marguerite V. Young, American writer and academic and Dan Quayle, former VP, who wrote his memoir, “Standing Firm” in 1994.

Lest you think the famous authors of Indiana were only from the big cities, there are also lists of writers from Anderson to Terra Haute. Disappointed though, I didn’t see any from Crown Point. Do you know the authors of your area? ©2017 Virginia Williams Resource Box

About That Twitter Chat Explosion

I’m off on another challenge and looking for input, advice, comments regarding Twitter Chat–Twitter Party(?) Twitter Bird

I’ve been looking for a blogging group, Meetup, or publishing-marketing group locally and still coming up empty-handed. Seems most groups are located in or much closer to Chicago than I want to travel. Failing a local, physical group, I started looking around for something online and may have found an idea in a Twitter Chat–looks like they discuss blogging. The host is Mack Collier @MackCollier and his chat is #Blogchat.

Twitter ChatYes, I know, there are gazillions of chats–and parties, out there. Anyone have any experience in this arena with sage advice to impart? Have you participated in another you would recommend for book marketing, for instance?

I’m considering using Hootsuite (but I’m not sure it’ll be fast enough). I’ve used Hootsuite in the past to schedule posts and tweets. I understand there are a number of other platforms out there can be used to keep up with posts, including TweetChat, however, their “permissions” include one or two I wasn’t ready to agree with. TweetChat also keeps a schedule, which is quite handy as it lists chats scheduled for everyone from 5th grade teachers to food prep with Star Olive Oil. And then there is Tweetdeck and that looks the same to me as Hootsuite. Is it better?

Twitter ChatsMack Collier has assured me they are very helpful in all things blogging–and will discuss a different topic each week. They also have a Facebook page if you’d like to check them out as well. I’m up for trying #Blogchat this Sunday, January 22nd, at #Blogchat, 8 pm CT. Meet me there? ©2017 Virginia Williams

TGIF -Freaky Friday Feature

Happy DogIf TGIF resounds with you, as it used to do with me when I was still in the work force, then you will be celebrating today as the end of your work week and looking forward to the weekend. Of course, Dr. Eldon Taylor, who wrote the book I just reviewed on this blog, Choices and Illusions, said that embracing the TGIF mentality means you hate your job. True–either that or you have plans for the weekend you just flat can’t do during a work day!

Fire Dog
Definitely a Bichon Frise

For me, Friday is a mini-celebration, and as I’ve noted before on this Freaky Friday Feature, time to kick back, have some laughs, and hopefully enjoy a few of the fotos and funnies I’ve gleaned lately. Somehow, the puppy pictures always catch my eye!

One of my blog buddies, Rob Moses of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is a photographer who has a phenomenal eye and posted this one he called, “Mustachio.” Looks like he was having a GOOD Friday! Mustachio

Another of my buddies sends me great little ditties from time to time and I thought it was time to share a couple of those as well. Freaky, huh? Happy Friday–have a safe, warm, and dry weekend! ©2017 Virginia Williams

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10 Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Christmas came and went in a flurry of last minute buying as it always does, sometimes dictated by a late pay check, often times by a clueless giver that left the gift recipient wondering, “What Were They Thinking?!!”

Point being; maybe they were issuing subtle hints–or you took it that way?

31 Days of Exotic Toothpaste Flavor1. A boxed set of 31 tubes of toothpaste. This set consists of exotic flavors such as Indian Curry and Kiwi Fruit. (Are the tubes one time use only? Or with judicious use, could you get a whole year out of  each of them?)

2. Bar of Soap

3. Pity Marcia A., of Carlsbad, California, who one year received a pill vial designed like a white elephant filled with baby teeth of the friend’s children!

4. Dental floss

5. How about one slipper–or slippers designed to look like bear claws, rabbits, cats, blah, blah, blah

 6. iPod Toilet Paper HolderHow about this iPod toilet paper holder? (I just plugged my iPod into a clock-radio.)

7. Did you get a piece of coal in your box or stocking? Uh oh

8. Fruitcake–does anyone EVER eat those? (Why do they continue to make them?)

9. Vacuum, kitchen pans, blah, blah, blah

10.(Inappropriate–or any) Magazine subscription 

Perhaps the best gift of all just came in a “prank” box, popular now in various sizes. These can be ordered direct from PrankPack.com or Amazon and can be found in local stores like K-Mart. Prank box-Bathe&Brew How about the Bathe&Brew box? Bacon scented dryer sheets?

Relax. If you only got a sweater two sizes too large, the wrong color, or one you are allergic to, count yourself lucky. ©2016 Virginia Williams

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Can A Bichon Frise Handle a Polar Blast?

Dog nose muffObviously, we’ve gotten out of the habit of being prepared for cold winter weather since leaving the Treasure Valley of Idaho. There, we had doggy coats and sweaters for our Bichon Frise and carried emergency equipment in the car. Now, one hour south of Chicago and facing a major Polar blast this weekend, the weather forecasters are warning people to dress in layers, cover the head, ears, nose, mouth and wear heavy gloves. Can you say Sasquatch?! 

Frosty DancerI got to thinking about my little dog who loved the Idaho snow–bounding around in it and digging to see what treasure she could find under all that cold, white stuff. I did put a coat or sweater on her depending on how cold or wet it was outside, but didn’t worry so much about her feet. Now, she is almost eleven (January) and I’m thinking fleece, earmuffs, and booties. Continue reading “Can A Bichon Frise Handle a Polar Blast?”

These Real-Life Sculptures by Seward Johnson Are Too Soon Gone

I was crushed when I went back to “the Square” in Crown Point, Indiana, to take pictures of the sculptures by Seward Johnson that I’d taken for granted would still be there, not knowing they were part of a summer collection and would soon be going bye-bye. I had vowed to take pictures of the life-size sculptures of everyday life every time I returned to Crown Point, but was always on a different mission or the sun wasn’t right, yadda, yadda, yadda. BIG mistake!

Old Lake County Courthouse, Crown Point, IndianaFortunately, the Midwest Wanderer had the foresight to take pictures and post for the rest of us to enjoy; certainly better than I would have. Apparently, this was not the first time Crown Point has sponsored a sculpture display as part of their public summer art project. There were twelve sculptures largely located around Crown Point’s iconic courthouse. This courthouse is so beautiful it would demand your attention anyway, but coupled with the “people” who don’t move, you are overwhelmed with the desire to park the car and browse–I have to think the downtown merchants had that result in mind.

Sculpture "Holier Than Thou" by Seward JohnsonLocal businesses sponsor the exhibit. For 2016, sculptures included a photographer, a woman walking her dog, a hot dog vendor, and people deeply in private conversation over a newspaper. "Relish, Too?" Sculpture by Seward JohnsonThe collection also included Marilyn Monroe (holding her skirt down, of course). Although most of Johnson’s sculptures are life-size, he does have a collection of “Monumental Scale,” which includes a depiction of Lincoln.

Marilyn Monroe, Sculpture by Seward Johnson The merchants thoughtfully prepared an exhibit brochure, which included a map. Located within the Old Lake County Courthouse is the John Dillinger Museum, Crown Point’s claim to fame. I have to believe the sculpture exhibits will replace that claim with a more artsy one, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the winter. And next summer, I won’t miss the chance to photograph the 2017 Johnson sculpture collection! ©2016 Virginia Williams Resource Box

From the Desert to the Rust Belt

RoadrunnerFrom the southwest to the midwest. It’s a given that fall comes earlier to some areas faster than others. While we enjoyed a slow decline in morning temps in Goodyear, there were not all the outwardly signs of the slide into winter as we are currently beginning to note in northwest Indiana. I love the landscape of Arizona, the cactus, the beauty of sunrises and sunsets and I never tired of the artistic parks crafted with the perfect balance of sand, rock, and arid vegetation–there is an amazing variety of plants and trees in the desert. And so many hiking trails! There is a bounty of hiking trails for everyone from short to long or level to climb. Continue reading “From the Desert to the Rust Belt”

Coca Leaves and Kola Nuts-America’s Favorite Drink

What patent medicine begun in 1885 eventually became one of our most popular drinks?

Here’s a hint: It contained two “medicinal” ingredients–extract of coca leaves (cocaine) and kola nuts (the latter being a source of caffeine). How much cocaine was actually contained within the syrup at the time is unknown, but we do know that cocaine continued to be an ingredient in the syrup (however minute) to secure the trade name “Coco-Cola” right up to 1929.

Colonel John PembertonWounded in the Civil War, inventor Confederate Colonel John Pemberton became addicted to morphine. His need to replace morphine led to the formulation of the Coca-Cola recipe, originally produced as a coca wine. It was formally registered as a French Wine (Coca) nerve tonic. It was reformulated in 1886 in a non-alcoholic version, became Coca-Cola, and sold out of Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. But “soda” drinks had already become popular.

Coca-ColaIncreasingly found in pharmacies by the 1830’s, soda fountains were helping to dispense medications with the flavor of mineral (or naturally carbonated) water. Back then, two plant roots, specifically sarsaparilla and sassafras, were recognized for their unique flavor and presumed to contain medicinal properties. Sassafras (as well as sarsaparilla) was a major ingredient in root beer, brewed as a mildly alcoholic beverage. (Studies found sassafras oil caused cancer or permanent liver damage in laboratory animals in 1960. A process was then discovered to remove the harmful substance.)

And, by the way, Coke’s main competition was created by Caleb Bradham of North Carolina when he concocted a fountain drink in his pharmacy that was intended to aid digestion and boost energy in 1898. The main ingredients are pepsin (a digestive enzyme) and kola nuts, later to become Pepsi-Cola.

And really, this is nothing. Think what man discovered they could do with rice, corn and grapes and those drinks have been around for thousands of years! ©2016 Virginia Williams Resource Box

Craig’s List-Looking for Furniture?

Pool Shark Cue RackCraig’s list has a reputation for unusual or hard-to-find items; it’s a go to whenever you are looking for something. Looking for a desk recently, I found some very unusual items and I’m not sure if it is just a representative sample of what can be found perusing “furniture,” or whether it’s the area of search (NW Indiana). For instance, this area seems to be big on “man caves.” Here is the perfect accessory for the pool table out there. Called a Pool Shark Cue Rack, it will hold 4 for the measly price of $100.00.

The French tend to go a bit overboard with their French Provincial; this love seat with matching couch at only $400. (Do you like the way they pulled the plastic off for the picture and then left it there?)

French Love Seat

 

Herman Miller Landscape Social Chair

 

 

 

 

Need something a little more modern with some color? How about these Herman Miller Landscape Social Chairs–only $150. (Well, you have to imagine it with legs.)

Even more simple, you say? How about these “hand chairs?” $100 each. Pick a color–any color–or not.

hand chairs

An absolute must-have around here with all these lush green areas, however, are riding lawn mowers. You won’t find them in furniture–or lawn equipment for that matter. Apparently once you finally get one, it’s stays in the family for life. I didn’t see one. ©2016 Virginia WilliamsResource Box

Bought Any Clothes For Your Pet Lately?

Dog painted to look like a tigre.No, this blog is not all about dogs, it just seems that way lately. I was struck recently by a couple pictures I saw of dogs dressed in human clothing and dogs painted to look like other animals.

My own dog, shown on this blog before, hurt her foot and has been way over attentive to it, licking the fur off and practically laying the foot raw. She is receiving an Epsom Salts soak every night, and it does seem to be helping a little, though my son and daughter-in-law thought she might need a plastic hood designed to keep an animal from aggressively attending an owie (sometimes REALLY important).

Harry Potter dogThis is the third time she has had a sore paw (she gets stickers between her toes) and the second for the hood and once again, I was struck with how difficult it is for her to negotiate her normal routine. That hang-dog look is obvious; the change in attitude a dog exhibits upon being “dressed.” Is it really possible they can be embarrassed or demoralized? Ask most canine owners and they would say YES! (Once again creating an anthropomorphizing quality to a canine.)

So, besides the restrictions to eating and drinking, do costumes, clothing, or protective devices actually change a dog’s attitude? We know, depending on the costume or clothing, it can change the dog’s body language, which is especially important when confronting other animals.

Costume May Lead to Stress cave dog 

The inability to signal other dogs might lead to stress, which in turn may make the dog less tolerant. If the dog cannot produce subtle signals, she/he may resort to more obvious or vocal signals–i.e., barking or lunging. Additionally, a change in temperament may change his normal pack order. Knowing your dog well will help you watch for important behavior cues.

dog coneWhile clothing or bootees might be a good thing in the winter for some thin, shorthaired or small breeds, it can in some instances allow the dog to overheat.

In the case of the “head cone”, I’ve had one vet advise for it and one against it. Guess it depends on the dog. ©2016 Virginia WilliamsResource Box

Commute–The Train People

commuter-cartoonTaking a commuter train, I am sure, is somewhat akin to riding the Greyhound. There is an unmistakable impression that follows–the “train people.” But there are a whole myriad of train people; there were the train people that caught the rails during the depression hooking a ride to wherever the train was going, and the train people who refuse to fly–taking the “smell the roses” route of transportation–and then there are commuters.

In America, a steam engine was installed in a vessel in 1807 that hauled passengers from Albany to New York. England opened their first steam powered rail line in 1825, France in 1830, and Germany in 1835. In New York, a fella named Beach tried to create a secret subway system in 1870, but was denied any extension to his successful 400′ line.

Subsequently, subway systems were built world-wide including London, Paris, and Madrid. New York City built a subway that eventually became one of the largest in the world. (I’ve ridden “the tube” in London [awesome] and traveled under the English Channel from London to France–unfathomable [pun intended]. Commuting to work by rail was born!)

South Shore Line to ChicagoWe became one of the faceless crowd as we joined the group boarding the South Shore Line in Portage, Indiana, for the Millennium Station in downtown Chicago yesterday for the bargain price of $4 one way per person. (It was built between 1901 and 1908.) The line that operates between South Bend International Airport and downtown Chicago is now an electrically powered inter-urban commuter rail service operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

Interior commuter trainThere were people pulling carry-on bags we used to call luggage. There were students heavy laden with backpacks, shoppers, tourists, and people like us–out to enjoy a day in Chicago. The train, thankfully, was equipped with WiFi, but unfortunately didn’t keep everyone occupied, as we were treated to the lady on the way into Chicago on a non-stop conversation that no one in the car had a problem hearing. Likewise, a younger man on the way back had to involve us in this profanity filled, F-word laden conversation. At least the lady’s conversation included sage, age-driven advice. I didn’t learn a thing from the guy. ©2106 Virginia Williams

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