Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zounds and Good Night to The A-Z Blogger Challenge


Photo from http://www.depreview.com/  Entry #11
With a zealousness bordering on the supernatural, I entered the A-Z Blogging Challenge created by Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Jeffrey BeeslerJen DaikerCandace Ganger, Karen J GowenTalli Roland, and Stephen Tremp, for the month of April. It was a vertitable whirlwind of posting, a virtual zamacueca of movement of do-si-does around the hundreds of other bloggers, as we posted, visited, commented, and moved on to the next participant with the speed of a zambomba -- but twice (no, three times) as thrilling.

I used the "Surprise Me" button to randomly go through a list too long to be done in an orderly fashion, but have copied it and put everyone into a special follow-up folder for some serious visiting and comment love in May. So, I will get to you! Trying to do it all with so many contributors would have left little time for posting. But, hot-diggity-dog! I made it through and have had a ball.

[An aside: Little did they know that this exercise would create a new species, a zaftig blogger now permanently recumbent upon her zabuton as a result of having developed a spreading rootlet system on my her ass whilst remaining focused on the project. She's not pointin' fingers, here -- she's just sayin'...]

And, that being shared, it is only fair that I renew my energy by, again, thanking them all for this great exercise and opportunity to meet some wonderful new people I look forward to hearing from and visiting and, second (but most important,in my view), it's finally time to re...ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.   
*****

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.
Definitions for the z words can be found here, if you've stayed awake long enough to make it this far.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Yoni - A-Z Challenge

NOTE: I have had some people say they can't play the video. If yours doesn't work, try Windows Media Player , a FREE download.
The word Yoni covers a range of meanings, including: place of birth, source, origin, spring, fountain, place of rest, repository, receptacle, seat, abode, home, lair, nest, stable.

Yoni is also the basis for the Western-used adjective yonic, which is the counterpart to the term phallic. Examples of yonic symbolism can be seen in Georgia O'Keefe's flower paintings.

The Aryans believed that a child is born from a yoni of stars - constellations that prevailed during the child's birth -- identifying some 50,000 astrological yonis that favour a child's birth. It is from this yoni of stars that my Staria Melodies are born.

The following is an example of a memorial melody created from the birth date of the subject, along with family photos supplied by her surviving family members. I've been doing this since my early 20s, usually putting the melody on a cassette (do they even use them, anymore?)  By using the exact date, time, and place of the birth, each individual's yoni of stars is used to create their own personal melody. The lighter support orchestration comes from the 'grace note' stars within the yoni and complete the melody.  




For each special moment of your life -- birth, marriage, or death -- the heavens resound with a new celestial melody, a subtle thrumming of heavenly strength and support meant for you and you, alone. It's a song that resonates within your soul, a song that brings you joy and inner peace throughout your life's journey. I'll bet you wonder how your astrological yoni melody sounds; don't you?

*****

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xylography - A-Z Challenge

Xylography - The art of engraving on wood.

Thomas Bewick. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) in History of British Birds. 1847.
We've all seen wood carvings (xyloglyphy) and marvel at the intricasies of the cut. Who hasn't picked up a pen knife and tried to carve something, only to discover that it just might take more practice than we're ready to give. 

And, I can't have been the only one to get a xylopyrography (woodburning) kit for Christmas, as a child. Fun, fun, fun.

But xylography art as shown above with Thomas Bewick's Barn Owl just blows me away. This is wood engraving.  Something that is done so meticulously that it can be added to press composites to create newspapers. Each line is no higher than the text tiles it nestles in so that printing is seamless -- and, it is almost limitless in repetitive printing. Give yourself a treat and take a look at these engravings.

And, we've all heard of Dremel tools, fantastic engraving/carving tools of the late 20th Century. No question, they make fast work of what used to be so laborious. But, these engravings were done by hand! Yes, by hand! And with a special cutting tool called a burin (that's a cutting tool with a V-shaped tip). It's done on the end of a block of wood rather than the soft side used by current laser engravers, which are cost-prohibitive to home hobbyists. Just look at all the cutting lines, all 8,935,632 of them. The hand skill is extraordinary when viewed from this perspective. Does anyone want to give me one? No pressure; just askin' 

It goes without saying that Bewick had no time for blogging, but what a legacy. Have you ever tried xylography?

*****

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Wash Day, a Three-Wring Circus - A-Z Challenge

Back in the day, wash day meant boiling water over a fire, filling a washtub, hand scrubbing the clothes against a washboard, then running them through the wringers, before hanging them on the line. Today, my wringer stand just holds a washtub waiting for some summer annuals.  And, that's all you will see as you pass by my little Creative Handz shop next to the house. "Oh, look!" you'll say, "What a great antique." (Which is better, I suppose, than suggesting that I'm the great antique.) You'll smile and drive on. 

But, my heart sees something different. I see my mother, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, and friends, thrilled to death that they wouldn't have to hand-wring all those heavy overalls, sheets, and woven fabrics, because someone invented this hand-cranked wringer miracle. There were still some items that had to be hand-wrung, that would produce blisters the size of quarters on our hands, healing just in time for the next wash day -- and, it would start all over again. Hand-cranking wringers were a big step up and we were thrilled to have them.


Time moves on and, in the 60s, at my first apartment, the tenants were graciously supplied one (yes, one!) electric washing machine in an outside covered porch with a concave floor for spillovers, along with two lines for solar drying. (If you think women get ugly at Black Friday sales, try putting that one extra shirt on another tenant's line space!) You attached the water hose to a cold water faucet over a wet sink where you could soak really dirty items. If you wanted hot water, you boiled your own and carried it to the washing machine. [Psst! Don't tell anyone, but, I used to insert one of those plug attachments into the single light socket and, then, hook up a hotplate to boil water.]  Then, I got smart and filled metal buckets with soap and water the day before, set them out in the sun, gave everything a good swish with a broom handle and let them have an overnight soak. The next morning, I would carry the buckets to the washing machine for some agitation and wringing. It was easier than using the hot plate that limited the pot size, meaning, lots of refilling and waiting. While the washtub was filling up with a fresh cold water rinse, I would add 1/2 cup salt to the first rinsing, to help remove the soap from the loosely wrung clothes. Then, it was agitate, wring, change water, return clothes to the tub, and repeat until no suds appeared during wringing process. (This was actually optional; but, I couldn't stand the stiffness from left-in soap.)

Now, for the uninitiated, those rollers required a learning curve. Many's the time I watched in horror as my husband's shirtsleeves would choose to wrap around opposing rollers! Karate moves were required to pop that thingy on the top or it was new rags for cleaning. Easier said than done, since you were so busy trying to feed everything towards the middle of the rollers to avoid your clothes and linens catching on the gears at each end and the inevitable shower created from ballooning suds-filled items, you forgot about the sleeves doing their ying-yang thing. (My gift for expletives grew with each wash day, as screaming "Oh, dear!" at the top of my voice lacked a certain something...) And, sheets? We're not even going to go there. Wash day was truly a three-wring circus! 

Thanks to my drill-sergeant landlady, you had to plan on getting up before the birds, if you wanted to get a turn and find good line space. Leaving clothes on the line longer than it took for them to get solar dried was just asking for trouble. The other residents would either pull your clothes off the line and leave them in a heap on the ground or, if more friendly, they'd be knocking on your door, letting you know that their clothes were ready to go up and could you please take your DRY things down. No cell phones, then, and the only available phone was in the landlady's house and, according to the Tenant Rules, it better be used strictly for business!

Better days were coming, but most households couldn't afford the new-fangled all-electric washing machines that you could use inside your kitchen. But, it was definitely on your Wish List!


Of course, we still had to use that handy-dandy solar dryer!  And, frankly, that was fine because nothing smells better than sun-dried clothes! Indoor dryers were still down the road. Today, these Energy Saver washers and dryers do everything but bake cakes and are a convenience taken for granted. The more crafty folks turn old clotheslines into gorgeous baskets.

As my family dwindles, every day that I pass this old washtub and hand-cranking wringer to go into my shop, I'm reminded of the days when my younger self, my family and friends, fighting the dust and grime of a different world at a different pace, fell in love with the convenience of this time-saving wonderful new way to get the family's clothes clean. It's not just a yard ornament, to me, it's a family timeline. 
  
*****

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Virtuosity and the Virtual Piano A-K Challenge

n. pl. vir·tu·os·i·ties
1. The technical skill, fluency, or style exhibited by a virtuoso or a composition.
2. An appreciation for or interest in fine objects of art.

Image from http://www.howtoplaythepiano.org/
Have you ever played an instrument? Wrote a song but didn't know what to do next or how to make it permanent, so those young whippersnappers in generations to come could also discover your virtuosity? Well, check out this virtual piano site and let your creative juices flow. Want to learn to play? The Sudnow Method promises you'll be playing by ear in just a few months. You may decide NOT to get that baby grand piano, after all; but, you're sure going to have some fun! Go ahead; enjoy!

*****

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Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Ungulate - A-Z Challenge

Mama Ungulate and Up-and-Coming!
Ungulates rule the world. Here you will get the whole story about the whole family of ungulates -- and, a might story it is. It's all about the cloven-hoofed mammal (although, I don't think the Devil can be considered one of them, regardless of genetics!) There's a gazillion of them so just bookmark the page and know you have something to do, later on, when it's just too cold to go outside. Have a great day. I'm going for a drive and enjoy watching our local ungulates ruminate in their undulating fields!

*****

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Troubadour



Noun1.troubadour - a singer of folk songs  - a person who sings

I've been singing and writing songs all my life. It's been a great journey and I've made lots of wonderful friends, over the years. And, a journey it is! Starting out in a Rest Home, as a young girl, I had a captive audience. I knew all the latest songs and the senior residents encouraged me. NOT my teachers. I attended a parochial school and, unfortunately, had a naturally low-pitched voice when good little girls were supposed to sing alto or soprano. Constantly being told there was something wrong with me because I couldn't sing higher, it took me a long time to become comfortable singing with others and, ultimately, I ended up following my own muse.

By mid-teens, there was a new-fangled thing called television and I got a job singing at WPST-TV on a Country-Western show called Sunset Ranch in Miami, FL.  Being a young teen, it was my job to sing one country song hit song in the first half of the show and then do the number one rock 'n' roll song of the week in the second half of the show. It was all fun and glam and we were "all live" as Uncle Martin would announce at the opening of the show. (Compared to those taped shows that were scheduled for the other 20-1/2 hours!) Television was young, kleig lights were hot, and the world was out there, just waiting. Molly Turner, who started out as Miss Effie on the show and went on to a very distinguished journalistic career on television in South Florida until her retirement in 1989, was a pioneer in helping women achieve success. It was she who helped sway Uncle Martin to give me that great opportunity and was a delight to know.

As the years passed, I've lived my life and used my voice and songs in any number of ways. After my husband's death, it was back into a more active singing life and heading a band called the Lee-Jackson Express for six years that, I'm proud to say, was booked most weekends. My biggest(?) moment came when I opened for a fellow named George Jones, along with a "Swingin'" John Anderson. Although, that ended up with George opening for me! -- but, that's another post. My songs were good enough that Conway Twitty's group still has them at Twittyville, somewhere. They tell a story of how I see life happening around me, and you never know what will be the catalyst for a new song.

Above, you can see I've come full circle -- back to performing at Senior Retirement Centers. There's comfort in hearing the songs of your youth and the memories they evoke, and I really enjoy being able to sing those oldies-but goodies for them. Performing is probably the wrong word to use, now, because it's really a sharing of time's gone by and bringing special moments back to life to be shared anew. I'm not the world's greatest singer/songwriter and I'm not sure I'd want to be. But, I do feel blessed that God has given me a talent to share and make people happy, even if only for an hour, or so. 

*****

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Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Solar Cooking - Of Course! A-Z Challenge

[NOTE:  Finally figured out why this didn't get posted. Thought I would be clever and schedule my A-Z Challenge postings. Hee hee hee. Apparently, you're supposed to not only schedule date and time, but publish it, as well. Please accept my apologies.]

I would be remiss is I didn't include solar cooking under "S" in the challenge; don't you think? Having cooked with the sun (FREE solar energy) for more than five years, now, I really can't imagine not continuing to do so. Here's a link to a recent post I wrote for the April 1-8 Ultimate Blog Party group introducing them to solar cooking advantages, and it serves just as well to help you discover the savings, both in your budget and in fossil fuel usage.  To my mind, it's the best kept secret from mainstream cooks. Introducing solar cooking has become my mission. It's an immediate way to reduce energy bills and enjoy some great meals in the process. I'm so committed to this journey that I've invented a mainstream solar oven, the SolarChief, that is specifically designed for beauty, ease of use, and expected to become available to the public by early summer. I hope you'll take the time to check out my cooking blog to discover for yourself how versatile this sensational way of cooking can be. Can't beat the price, compared to solar panels, turbines, etc., it's within the reach of almost everyone and, from the moment you have a solar oven, it's FREE. You're doing your part to help keep America green and putting money back into your pockets!

*****

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Ronald McDonald House Charity - A-Z Blogging Challenge

Mission and Vision

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. more.

If you are unfamiliar with the work done by this incredible organization for children around the world, do yourself a favor and check out the main site. You can be a part of this worthy charity in so many ways, and there is a chapter near you, ready, willing, and able to help you or accept your help in caring for the children in need in your neighborhood.


*****

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Quintessential - A-Z Blogging Challenge

quin·tes·sen·tial  (kwnt-snshl) adj.
Of, relating to, or having the nature of a quintessence; being the most typical: "Liszt was the quintessential romantic" (Musical Heritage Review).
 
That's what I ended up with for my Q posting. I was going to do one on 'quiet domination' but the Google responses were beyond the pale. Check it out for yourself. But, this is just a typical post.
 
So, it's being the typical anything, something we use as a guide to bring people to our point of view. But, wait! This is the 21st Century and is there really such a thing as typical in today's world?  If we are all unique individuals, how can we have typical behavior? Doesn't our individual history, time and place of birth, experiences at schools, in neighborhoods, communities, make us the who that we have become? 
 
Can we even use typical to describe what is forever changing in a world hell-bent for the future? What do you think? Can you give the quintessential answer?
 

*****

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Power and Profound Effects of Blogging - A-Z Blogging Challenge

Pieta Pysanki
This isn't what I was going to write about today. It was going to be a light and cheery posting about my pysanki egg decorating and this very special one made for a very sick friend. Then, I woke up, earlier than usual. I could check on emails and some posts from around the blogosphere with my morning cup of coffee before heading out to a few appointments. I decided to use my Pieta Pysanki egg as a signal to represent the solemnity of this occasion. Mixed with all the other carefree, coupon-saving, crazy day rantings, I found a post from LaDonna Rae at iFrog.me.com that stopped me in my tracks. She was sharing her own profound sorrow at seeing a posting from someone we both follow, Jessica, at Misadventures of an Army Wife, Final Goodbye
Jessica is a young woman in her 20s, living her married life with a soldier and following him to wherever he is expected to report. It's all in her blog. The ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows. But, not this one. This one shocks you to the core. A blog you are totally unprepared to see. But, the response from her many followers (most not even in her Following group) with the speed and power that only can be accomplished with today's Internet, probably saved her life. You expect blogs to be uplifting, fun, expository, informative -- but, never, real life-and-death. Do NOT go there if you can't handle another's pain. She didn't ask for help -- that came from her readers and the swift power of the blogging community that performed the miracle.  The follow-up from Jessica's mother is here

*****

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Naysayers and (Cockeyed) Optimists - A-Z Challenge

I'm combining N & O because they complement each other.

I raised my children to always consider the source of information. Why? Because so many people will give an opinion, usually negative, whether they have knowledge about the subject, or not. Playing the devil's advocate beyond supportive evidence to the contrary can become pure mule-headedness. On the other hand, you don't want to be a cockeyed optimist, either.

Opinions are asked for to help clear up any potential problems. As an example, your friend has decided to build Fido a tree house in case of flooding or to keep his bones away from other dogs. It would be inconceivable to almost anyone that this would work -- but, not to your friend holding the tools! Someone (that's you) has to act as the devil's advocate. To protect the dog, if nothing else!

What d'ya think?
Using soft, low tones, one might ask:
  • Is the tree low enough for Fido to see his house at the top of the crossbars?
  • Will the crossbars be highly-polished so Fido doesn't get splinters in his paws?
  • Will the window frame be strong enough for the 5000 BTU a/c?
  • Where can you get Fido trained to raise and lower that food basket?

These questions could spark some clarity for your friend. If your friend blows holes through your points, explaining Fido's love of heights and limb napping and that he can raise and lower a basket of kittens, still, you continue to press your point, you could be a naysayer -- someone who takes a negative or pessimistic view of everything. Are you afraid of new ideas? Are you jealous because you didn't think of it? Understand your motives before you bring someone else down.

New ideas are fragile and need nurturing or they will die under too much negative feedback. The best resource for an honest opinion is from people familiar with your subject. They'll focus their thoughts on familiar results and know how to counter, and you'll be able to trust them. The less your critic knows about your subject, the less effective and the more personal the comments.
  • What makes you think you can do that?
  • Are you out of your mind?
  • What a STUPID idea!
  • Oh, no! Here we go, again! 
How do you respond to new ideas? Are you a naysayer? Are you a cockeyed optimist? It's not your job to tear someone else down simply because they asked for an opinion. Do you agree with everything they do, knowing they'll be humiliated, later? The old rule still holds true:

For every negative thing you say, you have to say three positive things. It's best to start with two positive things, slip in the negative, and end with a positive -- especially, if you're not an expert in the field.
  • You have one smart dog, there, friend.
  • Hey! This is a perfect location for Fido's tree house!
  • Uh, can Fido climb crossbars?
  • I love the paint color -- it's so Frank Lloyd Wright.

Believe me, there will be enough criticism when the project is ready for a more public display. Life is too short to get beaten down by people not willing to take chances, themselves, but who are so quick to judge others. As a friend or family member, try to be supportive and protective. The wolves are supposed to be outside the door. Try not to be just an automatic naysayer or Pollyanna. Playing the devil's advocate reveals potential problems in a project seen with new eyes. Letting someone go ahead with cockeyed optimism is cruel. Share your thoughts with love. After all, without new ideas, you'd be reading this on paper.
______________________________

Success is 99 percent failure.  ---Soichiro Honda

Go for it. All you can do, is fail.  ---Sharlene Thomas

*****

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Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Mindmapping/Full View Outline - A-Z Challenge

This is what I do before writing articles or chapters in my books. I create my 'spider,' something I've been doing since I was a little girl. And, it still works great, today!

This can grow like Grape-Nuts if the project is bigger. Then, I'll take a 'leg' and create a new 'spider' for that section, alone. By seeing everything you need at a glance, you can see what should be added, dropped, or what you've missed, and helps to keep you focused.

When I was consulting medical offices and entrepreneurs in the 80s and 90s, I made it more attractive and professional-looking and called it and called it a Full View Outline. This was included in some articles I wrote for a medical magazine and it's just easier to give you a link.

This generation is more visual and enjoys pictures along with text and Mindmapping is the name given to this old concept. You can see some great examples that will help you, here. But, if you would love to see some absolutely fantastic mindmapping art, you need to check out Mindmap Art.  This may work as an art form, but would be far too distracting for me to accomplish my initial goal, which is to get my own project finished! But, they're both wonderfully creative sights and may well have something that will help you.

What do you do to keep focused on your projects?

*****

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crafting a Silhouette Wreath of Your Child


photo from Kathryn of Orlando site
With all my new followers, I thought I would re-post a great project that school moms should know all about -- that pre-school silhouette picture Christmas gift. It has been linked up with the It's a Keeper Linky for great food and projects you can share every Thursday. So, if you have a favorite recipe or project you'd like to share, by all means, check out her site and let the world know!

Remember these? Do they still do it? Do you have a silhouette of your child from pre-school days that is languishing in storage? When I moved to NC, I found my daughters' old silhouettes in a box and wanted to just do something a little more with them than use the simple

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

L is for Lollapalooza in the A-Z Blogger Challenge

lollapalooza definition
[lɑləpəˈluzə]
1.n. something very big; something wondrous. : Look at that bump on your head. That's a lollapalooza!
2.n. a big lie. : What a lollapalooza! You expect me to believe that?

I was trying to figure out what to do with the letter L for the A-Z Challenge and up popped lollapalooza in my little breakfast-deprived brain. I was going to tell a big whopper (which is the definition I'd grown up with as opposed to what's going to come next) and just thought I'd try a little Googling, first. Ta da! OMG! Well, I'll be... apparently, I've been living under a rock and there's more to lollapalooza than I knew! Lookee here:
Eminem - Getty Images
This young whippersnapper is supposed to be headlining the 2011 20th Anniversary of Lollapalooza! It's an annual music festival with heavy metal/alternative/punk rock (in my day, there was less confusion -- you had rock and roll and, well, rock and roll, period) along with the usual extra accoutrements. This year it will be at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, August 5 - 7th.  Here's the whole scoop for those of you praying you'll be able to attend and want those early tickets.

You can spend your time looking for me, first row, front and center, or, do you think I'm telling a big number 2!
*****

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

K is for Kitchen Konvenience in the A-Z Blogger Challenge

Have you ever tried to find just the right spice or herb when cooking and settle for something else because it's hidden behind other jars in your cabinets? Well, a thousand years ago, when I first started cooking and BEFORE Rubbermaid offered those spice holders to attach to the inside of a cabinet door, I had been using those little plastic drawer separator trays to do the same job. Now, I've found something that makes cooking meals an exciting experience that helps me create new recipes I would never have thought of without being able to see what's available.


When closed, it's nice and dark, and this cabinet door is away from the stove to prevent too much heat getting trapped inside. The pad and pencil are for writing down recipe ingredients as I go along. Since it's up high, a pencil means I don't have to worry about no ink in the middle of my 'creating.'

Right now, they're in alphabetical order, but, as time passes, I'm thinking of a new way to group them. I refill from larger herb and spice containers kept fresh in the refrigerator and know in an instant what needs replacing. It only takes a second or so to refill these screw-top nickel holders. Do you have a special way to keep your herbs and spices organized for easy use?

*****

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J is for Jerry-Rigged A-Z Blogger Challenge

If you want a serious case of the heebie-jeebies, try crossing this bridge in the dark! Definitely a prime example of something that's been jerry-rigged. You might even think twice about using it!
There are any number of jerry-rigged items in my workshop and kitchen. How about you? Do you have anything that was put together on a wing and prayer? I'd sure like to know about some of them. Short post, today, got lots to get done.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I is for Impel -- A-Z Blogging Challenge

New Mortgage Man
Being impelled by my new mortgage carrier, I felt compelled to take action as a result of their pressure or coercion -- yes, coercion. You see, I feel that both words bear the same mantle -- BLACKMAIL


I was compelled to send off two (count them, two!) mortgage payments to this new mortgage holder to cover THEIR potential losses after having bought the portfolio of my previous and now bankrupt mortgage holder. Huh? Yup.


Allow me to explain. As I'm sure you know, mortgage companies trade/buy portfolios all the time, like baseball cards. They prefer packages containing people in GOOD credit standing. Who doesn't? And, they also take chances on purchasing portfolios of other mortgage companies who go bankrupt, as in my situation, two years ago. 

The bankruptcy court froze all funds, including customers' payments. New company is told by HUD they cannot assess late fees or report 'missing' customer payments to the credit bureau as unpaid for a two-year period. They will be sent all monies when hearing takes place and funds are unfrozen. I have never missed a payment as it was paid automatically on the first of the month, until I decided to use the accelerated payment program, which then put me 1/2 a mortgage payment AHEAD to make sure there would be enough money for the next payment due.

The final payment was not forwarded to the bankrupt mortgage company but was sent directly to me, immediately endorsed and forwarded to the new company with a letter directing them to apply it as payment for the transition month's payment. Even though the check shows both my endorsement and my loan account number and their deposit stamp on the back of the check, they don't know where they put it! So, until they can find out where it is, on their books, my account shows a missing payment! 


I received a stern letter this month saying the moratorium has been lifted and, if I don't send them the 'missing' payments (the transition one and the other still frozen by the bankruptcy court), they were now going to have to report me (against their will, I am sure) to the credit bureaus as behind on my payments because they don't actually have the physical funds in their hands. So, to get myself current and not be reported to the credit bureau, I should send them a check. They can't help it, the moratorium has been lifted, and they now can not only report to the credit bureau but also assess late fees. If I send them the money, that will bring me current on their books and, when they get the money from the bankruptcy court, they will apply it to my note AND I WILL BE AHEAD and won't have to worry, anymore. Huh? This shouldn't be my problem to worry about, at all.


But, suffice to say, I am worried and don't want a bad credit report.  So I, in fact, have felt coerced into sending them two additional mortgage payments to cover their potential investment loss while waiting for the bankruptcy court's hearing and release of customer' funds -- at which time, they have promised I will then be given the choice of either having these monies returned directly to me or applied to my mortgage, thereby making me two (2) payments ahead! Bottom line, I think they're dabbling in the dark side of blackmail, or, at least, a mini-bailout. What do you think?

Friday, April 8, 2011

H is for Hospitals in the A-Z Blogger Challenge

Hospitals seem to be playing a much larger part in these senior days of mine. What with my gentleman caller in and out at least six times since the beginning of 2011, and my being able to sneak some hospital time of my own, last week, I find that, here I am, again, sitting in a waiting room filled with another bunch of seniors, like myself. Unlike the days of yore, these old farts (including, myself) were very au courant, happily working on laptops or reading the latest on their Kindles. How times have changed! Just one or two were knitting (used to be a majority) and the younger generation was texting away on their cells.
Duke University Hospital Entrance -- So classy, with shopping yet!
Don't you think that, over the years, hospitals have become less severe and more enticing to today's visitor than they used to be back in the day? I think the foyer here at Duke is as grand as any high-end hotel, very gracious and inviting. Why, there's even a piano player tickling the ivories to soothe frightened patients and visitors, alike, creating an illusion of well-being.

Soothing piano music in the lobby.
You could almost want to book a room, (if you hadn't seen Coma), during your visit to the City of Durham. And, of course, should you find yourself in a room, visiting the local high spots is out of the question! How does your hospital make you feel?

*****

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

G is for Gardening Comfort in the A-Z Blogging Challenge



Gardening used to be quite a chore, when I was growing up. Enough of a chore that I stayed away from it for many years because of the backbreaking labor involved and the vagaries of a good harvest, in spite of the work put into fertilizing, watering, cajoling, praying, gnashing of teeth, and the neighbor's pets thinking they had their own private bathroom! 

The years passed and I ultimately got back to putting my hands in that wonderful dirt and nurturing the seeds planted; but, AHA! now, I had an opportunity to do something different and make my gardening chores so much easier. The first thing I did when I moved into my home was build a waist high 6' x 24' container garden. Using the same French Intensive Gardening Method of building up soil layers that I used in Virginia, it has served me well for these past six years and I look forward to many more years of service. A quick turn of the shovel mid-January and all is ready for the next year's crops of fresh salad greens and vegetables. With just 144 squart feet of space, I can harvest almost 640 square feet of food. Now, that's just cool.

And, here it is from the other end. This was my garden in 2010. As you can see, waist high is great for just reaching in for the veggies (like a grocery store) and getting eye-to-eye with a few bees, on occasion!


Are you ready to try your own hand at easy gardening? Check out this post for a no digging, no shovel super easy way of doing a Lasagna garden! 

*****

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

F is for Facebook Fanatic - A-Z Blogging Challenge

FaceBook has engulfed the world and is insidious in the way it has been able to attach itself to every and any other online activity you may enjoy. Sooner or later, up pops a screen that suggests/demands/congratulates you on having been linked up to your FB account so that EVERYONE you know will know what you're doing when you decide to go online. Why in heaven's name would they think that? Where does that kind of thinking come from? I don't know. Don't want to; do you?

And, then, there are others whose free time is so limited, FB is the only way they can share time with friends and family, whilst enjoying some interactive games. Enter, my hardworking sister, who casts a scant eye at my pajama-clad figure every morning as she faces the elements, trudging off to work. Hey! I did my time. Paid my dues. Put in those 20-hour days. I digress.

Here is what is on her screen almost all the time. It's something about egg collecting. You find them on other people's sites, capture them, nurse them for a few days, and then the turn into some of the most beautiful creatures drawn by very skillful artists. These three lovelies were just eggs, like the chartreuse one below, when she collected them, and then they tranform into something so beyond what you could ever have imagined.



Turns out, my baby sister is like in the top 100 of the ENTIRE WORLD of egg collectors and has developed very solid friendships with some of them. I've been lucky enough to see her entire collection (there's hundreds of them!) and the beauty of them all takes my breath away. So, for the present, this is the best part of FB -- not the invasiveness -- but the opportunity to link with people sharing a fun interest, chitchat, and make hardworking people feel good.  How do you feel about Facebook?


*****

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

E is for Egg - Edible, Eternal, Expressive

The egg is a symbol for life, rebirth, renewal. It feeds us.

Edible - Solar Baked Eggs
We are faced with thoughts of eternity.
Which came first? ... the chicken or Col. Sanders?
And discover why it's a waste of time searching
for the beginning or the end of a circle.
More importantly, why on earth would a snake eat itself,
as shown by the Ouroboros.
Surely, a smart snake would have guessed something wasn't right?


Eternal - The Ouroborus
And for the creative, the egg gives us a palate to express ourselves,
as in this pysanki I made for a friend's Mother.


Can you ask for anything more...


*****


See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover
by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.

Monday, April 4, 2011

D is for Disney and Ducks

I'm not sayin' for sure but I think the Hurricanes have been influenced by the Disney encampment upstate. You see, this is an Ibis. Please note the downturned elongated bill, beady little eyes and glossy feathers. This will be important in just a moment.


Then, Disney World opened for business just outside of Orlando.  Strange things began to occur.
The start:  my older sister became obsessed with anything Disney.
The middle: time passes (imagine calendar pages ripped through fifty years) filled with
annual multiple pilgrimages to DW
The end: the celebration of 50 years together.
See the happy couple(s)!
 Not a Cake Boss challenge cake, but full of meaning and deliciousness, nevertheless.


Legend has it that the original Ibis mascot was too frightening.
Disney World firmly ensconced mid-state.
People want a friendlier mascot.
They came up with Sebastian, this.....


I'm sorry... this... this DUCK! (Looking a lot like the Donald, if you don't mind my sayin'... and, that's what it is...a duck, not an Ibis) I'm just sayin'

*****

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.

C - Christmas Crafting Starts Now!

FREE Christmas e-Book for A-Z Challengers!

More Info? Go To http://bit.ly/dRHYLF

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Fellow A-Z Challengers! -- "Decorating for Christmas on a $15 Budget," is my FREE e-book gift to you, just for visiting during this challenge. Now you'll have plenty of time to get ready for Christmas 2011! This was offered on my SITS day, last December, and folks loved it. You can find out all about the contents of this crafting e-book full of instructions and step-by-step instructions for all of you interested in stretching your dollars by going to Solar Cooking for Mainstream Cooks. The SITS day is gone but for all of you A-Zers, simply follow the directions at the end of this posting and let me know whether you want the e-book or the .pdf version. Now, this is a month-long challenge with lots of lovely visitors, so please be patient. You will get your copy, but not necessarily within the challenge period -- which should make it all the more fun when it arrives. It'll be like Christmas in --? What fun!

I hope you'll also take a few moments to check out my solar cooking site because this cooking method is the best kept secret from mainstream cooks. You will definitely see a drop in your fuel bills and, once you have a solar oven, it's FREE!

[IMPORTANT]  Now, it's on the other posting, as well, but important enough for me to repeat here. Because Blogger won't let me upload an e-book, if you want your FREE copy, simply let me know in your comment below and be sure to leave an e-mail address (spell it out so that it won't get picked up by crawlers) for me to use. I do not collect emails or share/trade with anyone. This is just the easiest way to make sure you will get your copy. (P.S. The e-book is about 6M to download and the .pdf is about 2M. Let me know which one you prefer.)

[NOTE: If you have a gmail.com address, the e-book will be returned to me as undeliverable, so I will only send you the .pdf format. Please make sure your settings allow delivery from sjthomas [at] mainstreamsolarcooking.com.

Happy 2011 Holidays from Creative Handz -- the crafty side of Solar Cooking for Mainstream Cooks!

*****

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Heart or Dutchman's Breeches

Ever since I can remember, I've always loved this harbinger of spring. Seeing it in my neighbor's yards, growing up, I knew someday they would be planted in one of my gardens. Well, life and all its wonderful detours diverted me from planting my own Bleeding Hearts, until now. Last year, they were planted in my shade garden and I kept my fingers crossed through the winter. Didn't know if they'd make it, or not. Well, here's the proof that all is well and, before too long, there'll be a gorgeous plant to welcome my springs, forevermore (or, at least, until my estate matures!)

Check out this site for some interesting and fun meanings and legends about flowers, including the Bleeding Heart (or, Dutchman's Breeches)!

*****

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Angel, Absurd, and The A-Z Blogging Challenge

See that The A-Z Blogging Challenge button on the right? I've decided to participate in the challenge. The photo one kind of stopped because the leader really had overwhelmed herself and we all needed a break. But, this should be just fine -- like I don't have enough on my plate! --

With more than 1100 bloggers participating, there's bound to be someone you'll discover by just clicking on the Next Blog or Surprise Me button. They'll each have a way to link to another, so you'll have some great discoveries, I'm sure. We post a blog a day, except Sundays, so that's 26 blogs to do. Other than the theme of the alphabet for the prompt, anything goes: poetry, sketches, pictures, whatever you're in the mood to write or show, so that shouldn't be so hard! Click on the link on the side bar to discover new bloggers -- or, better yet, why don't you participate? Here's where you'll get the full information.

A is for my adorable, affectionate, amusing, adept, agile, astute, and, of course, angelic Angel!

How may I help you?