Sunday, July 31, 2005

Say hello to my friend!

I had a visitor today!

Now let me explain. I have a friend on a bulletin board who, for a long time, would take pictures of Gumby having adventures while she took her morning walks (it helped make her walks tolerable and she entertained us a LOT.)

Anyway, several folks started picking up toys which would take "adventures" too. One such friend was a pink plastic "Mr. Bubbles." He has taken some lengthy trips, even going to Hawaii, Vegas and the Philippines.

Somewhere along the line, Gumby went missing. Now we know why he hasn't been taking walks with my friend in Maryland lately -- he's been doing a cross-country trek! To see ME!

Say hello to my little friend ... Gumby!!

Image hosted by

He was very hungry by the time he got here, so he started helping me stir the glaze for the pork roast I was fixing.
Image hosted by

He took a good look at the roast after it had been cooking for a while.

Image hosted by

Needs some more glaze, he says.
Image hosted by

Let's put it back in the oven, OK? Gumby is concerned for safety, so he put on his protective gear first.
Image hosted by

OK, we can relax for a little while. How about a beverage?
Image hosted by

Maybe a snack? How about some grapes?
Image hosted by

Or perhaps cherries, since we're having a cherry glaze on the roast?
Image hosted by

Let's see... what shall we have as a side dish? Gumby's checking out potato recipes. There's one he likes!

Image hosted by

Gumby's auditioning to be my spokesmodel when I open my business this week, selling knives. Here's a fine knife for helping prepare dinner. Be very careful of the sharp edge!
Image hosted by

Gumby has dishes to wash now, and then I think he'll probably be heading to bed after a long day of traveling and cooking. I hope you enjoyed today's visit!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A milestone day

I did something I've never done before today. And it may change my life. The potential is there.

Today I went to the state tax commission and got a sales tax permit so I can start an eBay business. I've picked a company name and I've been photographing my products for the past week.

I've also been working with my friend, who is a distributor for several lines of my product. He will be wholesaling to me, so we'll both be making some money on my sales.

So, what's my thing? Can you guess? I suspect not, unless I've told you already. (No fair guessing if you already know.) Go on. Guess. I'll wait a minute. ....

OK, I'll tell you.

I'll be selling knives. Yep, knives. High-end kitchen cutlery, collectible pocket knives, folders, custom knives and assorted others. Some are beautiful works of art. Some are beautifully functional.

I've discarded the motto I first came up with: "Buy my knives or I'll cut you!" It sounded a little harsh, even though it makes my evil inner child laugh.

My seller name will be Sharp Girl. I'll let y'all know when my listings go up.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Frenzied is having a birthday!!

Image hosted by

Sing along

Happy birthday Frenzied Feline, and many, many more happy birthdays to come in your new home!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

What's Your Hidden Talent?

Your Hidden Talent
You are both very knowledgeable and creative.
You tend to be full of new ideas and potential - big potential.
Ideas like yours could change the world, if you build them.
As long as you don't stop working on your dreams, you'll get there.

Friday, July 22, 2005

How redneck am I?

I picked this one up from E.R.'s blog and thought it would be fun.

You Are 5% Redneck

I'll slap you so hard, your clothes will be outta style.

You ain't no redneck - you're all Yankee!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Teaser Thursday

Image hosted by
Say hello to my newest friend! His name is San Diego and he is a Galapagos Island tortoise. San Diego is a first-generation Tortoise-American; his parents were captured in the Galapagos Islands and now reside at the San Diego Zoo, where this fellow was born in 1964.

He's now living in Oklahoma where he is cared for in a tortoise protection program. He weighs more than 700 pounds.

More at a later date.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wacky Wednesday

Well, as bluesy as Tuesday was, that's how good today has been. Good things happened most of the day for me and it was a productive day. Things work together like that. If you get a little encouragement or something interesting to do, productivity rises proportionately. And so does satisfaction!

I had some minor technical problems with my camera today which was exasperating, but it's just a temporary setback which can be rectified easily, thanks to a friendly and understanding subject.

Even so, the reporting part of my work is going better than expected. The information I found has turned out to be much more interesting than I could have anticipated, which is a turn I ALWAYS love. This happens a lot more often than I would expect -- something I think will be a humdrum basic story often turns into the most fascinating human interest story. Wahoo!

I'll share details when I can, probably in a few weeks. Until then, I hope all your days turn out to be a lot more interesting than you thought they might!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I've got a bad case of the Tuesday afternoon bluuues

It has been a surprisingly productive day. The week's work is moving forward, with some interesting twists and turns.

And I've gotten a few domestic chores done that have been hanging over my head for far, far too long. I may be pulling myself up out of the pit of slobdom, slowly but surely. The surprising incentive was one of the morning court shows (Judge Joe Brown? Judge Mathis? one of those.) Anyway, a 22-year-old man was the defendant, being sued by his parents for "destroying his room."

The kid was an absolute slob who refused to clean his room. He never threw away his trash (mostly drink cups from fast-food places and various food wrappers); he burned cigarette holes in the carpet; he never did his laundry, not even bothering to put it in a hamper or basket. A. Real. Pit.

The verdict: $500 to the parents for the carpet, plus an order from the judge to say "I am pitiful." (I love the way TV judges can humiliate ne'er-do-wells.)

OK. I didn't want to wind up on this show having to declare myself pitiful. I looked around and realized that I was veering too close to this same sort of slobdom. (This is VERY painful to admit publicly!!)

So, in between phone calls and other work tasks, I've been doing the laundry hokey-pokey, flip-flopping several loads; the dishwasher has been swishing away as well. The trash was taken out this morning and hauled off by the garbage truck.

This kid's face keeps haunting me. I don't want to be a slob any more. I want to get back to the days when I would Windex my desk top before leaving the office on Fridays. Not that I've ever been a Martha-Stewart type housekeeper, but I do like a tidy work area. Working from home just increases the work space and means there's more work area to keep clean!

The work day is supposed to be over now for most normal people; I may get some callbacks this evening from people who weren't able to talk during the day. That's fine by me since I work from home. But I need to keep moving and reclaim my turf from Slob-Me (who is a cousin of Mini-Me, I believe.) I'm grounded!!

(Who said confession is good for the soul?)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Some of my favorite things

Some recently taken photos of timber-framing and reclaimed old wood.
Image hosted by
This is the owner of Renaissance Wood of Edmond, OK, Randy Henke. For the past several years he's been collecting wood from barns and other structures that are at least 100 to 150 years old. Many of the sources have been Amish barns in Pennsylvania.
Image hosted by
Some of it is antique quarter-sawn oak, like this board. Henke tries to preserve the character of the old wood, keeping the original saw marks like this. This particular piece was going to be used in flooring.
Image hosted by
This is stacked yellow pine flooring that had been remilled and was being stored to use in a customer's home.

Henke's original goal was to collect enough wood, in the form of heavy beams and other substantial pieces, to build his own timber-framed home. His collection just happened to grow to such an extent that he formed the company to sell the excess, which helped fund his home-building.

He's now collected enough to complete his home, which will be raised in Omaha this summer.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comItinerant timber-framer Jim Holzknecht of Kerrville, Texas, has been working on Henke’s home for the past several weeks, carefully hand-cutting each mortise and tenon.

Each piece is numbered and stacked, ready to hoist on a truck to move to Nebraska where it will be raised in a week's time. The pieces will fit together like a Tinker-Toy puzzle. More reclaimed wood will be used to enclose the walls after the skeleton is put together.

“It’s a very old and solid construction,” Henke said. “The joints are held together with wood pins.”

Image hosted by

There's a down side to Henke's success, though. He's putting himself out of business now that it's time to raise the house. He and his wife will be moving back to Omaha to be close to family, which means it's time for him to sell the wood reclamation business he's built up here.

He's hoping to find a true owner, rather than an investor, to take over.

“So many people want to buy a business and cash a lot of checks,” Henke said. “Those are called investors.

“Others want to buy a business to make a living and grow the business. Those are owners. Those are the people I’m looking for – people who want to get to know the material and who will love it.”

Friday, July 15, 2005

Done in by the heat

It's Friday, and it's been miserably hot. I've been outside for a good portion of the day at a couple of construction sites. HOT. HHHHHOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT!!!!!

The heat has really sapped my energy today, much to my chagrin. I'm not functioning very well. I'm not thinking well. I did OK taking notes and compiling information, but this is not the hour for me to be putting it together as a work product. To be honest, I suck right now. I couldn't write if I had to, not for a little while.

So, I surrender. I'm going to crash for a while. Then maybe I'll take a cool shower to refresh myself and take another shot at it.

I hate to sound like a kid in school who puts off doing homework, but as long as it's done by Monday I probably won't be killed. But I'll feel much better if I just take a rest and then come back and get the job done.

I've driven too much in the past couple of weeks, right about 2,000 miles. My brain is fried. I'm so glad it's the weekend again.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble and wallow in a bit of pity. And please don't kill me. The heat will finish the job.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More from Missouri

Big round bales in the late evening sun:
Image hosted by

Corn that's as high as an elephant's eye:
Image hosted by

(and it's so tasty, too!)
Image hosted by

Cousins learning to dowse for water.
Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by

Aunt who still does all the cooking for family gatherings even when we try to help.
Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

In memory of Shirley

Image hosted by

I am standing upon the hillside.
As she who has come before me spreads her
arms in the morning breeze and
reaches for the blue sky.

Image hosted by

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the land and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says:
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all.

She is just as full of life as she was when she left my side.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAnd just at the moment when someone at my side says "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
"Here she comes!"

--Adapted from "Gone From My Sight" by Henry Van Dyke.

Image hosted by

Be Warned: I Am Darth Lobster

What Reject Sith Are You?

Monday, July 11, 2005

An adventure in history

Many of my adventures have involved activities of today. This one will step back into history just over 140 years ago, in the midst of the Civil War. The war was a major changing point in my own family's history, as it was for most every American.

This weekend I visited a historically significant Confederate cemetery which is located less than a half mile from my family's farm in northwest Missouri, on the outskirts of Camden Point.

Today's population of Camden Point is 484, up from the 393 I recall it being during my childhood. There are 182 homes in the little town, a branch of the Mid-Continent Library System, a garage, Post Office and the Christian Church. Not much else, except bountiful farming.

Many decades ago there was a Christian College and a military academy. The college was burned at least twice, caught up in the Missouri-Kansas border wars.

Ah, but this adventure... let's get back on course, shall we?

This was the first time I've visited the Confederate Cemetery, simply because it was on the south side of the EE Highway, which is the route we always take to work our way back to Interstate 29. EE has always been an artificial border and I simply hadn't broken through it until Saturday evening.

I'm glad I finally did. I've learned this is the oldest Confederate monument west of the Mississippi River. It was established in 1871, seven years after the death of several members of Thornton's Missouri Cavalry on July 13, 1864.

Here's what I've learned:

In July of 1864, Col. John Calhoun Thornton began recruiting men for Confederate service in Platte County. Even though the puppet Union government of Missouri forced the enlistment of its citizens into the "Enrolled Missouri Militia" (E.M.M.), approximately 1,500 E.M.M. members rallied to the Confederate cause.

These pro-Southern E.M.M. were sometimes known as the "Paw Paw Militia". According to one Federal report, "There never were more than 200 true Union men in this county" and "the Southern sympathizers all call themselves conservative Union men now, and are very active in withholding the facts and misleading the authorities."

Union General Clinton B. Fisk on July 12, 1864, reporting to Maj. Gen. Rosecrans, declared, "the Paw Paw militia in Platte County, with scarcely an exception, went over to Thornton in a body, and the great mass of the citizens have thrown off the mask and declared openly for Jeff. Davis and the Southern Confederacy. An abundance of Confederate uniforms was found to be in waiting at Platte City, and the Paw Paws with alacrity exchanged their blue jackets for gray ones.

Major Clark reports the uprising among the people as general... General, be not deceived, Missouri is as rebellious to-day as ever, and the earlier the national authorities act upon this conclusion the better. It will require more than 5,000 reliable U.S. troops to hold my district from a general uprising; every hour I spend among the people confirms me in this opinion."

While an account by Confederate Col. Thornton is not known to survive, it is believed his intentions were to liberate Platte and adjacent counties from Federal occupation and perhaps hold the area long enough until Gen. Sterling Price could arrive with reinforcements from Arkansas.

With a three- to four-hundred-man detachment, Col. Thornton "attacked and captured Platte City and its garrison of militia." Union General Clinton B. Frisk reported, "The Confederate flag has been waving over Platte City for two days, protected by men who for many months have worn our uniforms and carried under the stars and stripes the guns they now turn against us."

In response, Federal forces were not idle. On July 13, 1864, detachments of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry (under Col. J.H. Ford) and the 15th Kansas (under Col. Charles Jennison), sometimes known as "the worst body of cut-throats and freebooters that ever tortured a victim or looted a community", made a surprise attack on approximately 200-300 of Col. Thornton's Confederates at Camden Point.

Union Assistant Adjutant-General, G. A. Holloway reported, "Our combined forces had a fight with the rascals last night at Camden Point, burned the town and mustered out a few devils, but the rest were routed."

Col. J. H. Ford (2nd Colorado Cavalry) reported, "we ran on to the enemy at this place, killing 15 of them. Our loss, 1 killed and 1 badly wounded", "killed no citizens, although many of them need killing" as well as "capturing and destroying a large number of muskets, shotguns, cartridges, accouterments and also ten kegs of powder."

Even though the Federals reported killing 15 of Thornton's men, the Confederate memorial at Camden Point only lists six Confederates who died at the skirmish. The names of these six are: Robert McCormack; Jasper Clements; Almarine Hardin; Richard Alvis; Andrew Smith; and Jesse Myles.

These men were first buried on the battlefield, then later moved to the Camden Point Cemetery nearby. Aside from the human casualities, the loss in arms and especially gunpowder was a devastating loss to Col. Thornton's command. Although Thornton's forces again clashed with federals on July 17th near Fredericksburg (Ray County, Missouri), most of his forces dispersed, and the general uprising abandoned, being replaced with guerrilla tactical warfare.

(I believe this information was provided by Jerry Wheeler on a Camden Point history site. There is no credit given for the writing, but Wheeler is noted as the photographer at Camden Point Confederate Memorial

These are my photos of the cemetery from Saturday evening. The Confederate graves and memorial are on the north end of the cemetery, which also includes many other graves, as you will see.

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Local members of the Sons of the Confederacy continue to decorate the graves with Confederate flags, renewed during national holidays. The cemetery was reclaimed from an overgrowth of trees and brush several years ago by civic volunteers and the Boy Scouts.

Image hosted by

Nature continues to wage its battle against time, and it is very difficult to maintain the cemetery, especially as lines of families die out in the area. These graves remain hidden in the undergrowth as caretakers continue trying to recover them. The lure to this spot was intense; there was a cottontail rabbit that would hop past me, then stop long enough for me to catch up with him before hopping further into the woods. However, I stopped when I reached this spot, daring not to disturb the spirits long left sleeping here.

Image hosted by
Some of the graves in this old cemetery are those of people who were born in the 1700s. I don't know when this family monument was erected, but is obviously has not been standing here as long as many of the headstones.

Image hosted by
Many of the monuments have fallen over because of the creep of the ground. The cemetery, which is built on a hill, has fought the movement of the ground in several directions. Restorers have attempted to put all the pieces of these monuments together, with the hope of someday repairing them.

Image hosted by
So many of the markers may be lost forever, unfortunately, covered over by the earth. Some of the taller markers were hollow inside when they were made, and so when time tipped them, they crushed under their own weight. I think this progression serves to remind us that from dust we were made and to dust we return, whatever our efforts at immortality may be.

Image hosted by
Even in this gated portion of the cemetery, there is little to tell us who lies below the soil. There are iron rods standing in some spots, apparently supports for some of the taller memorials left for loved ones. I am not sure what the fence designated, whether it was a particular family's plot within the cemetery or an area designated for a certain group of citizens.

Friday, July 08, 2005

On the road again

I'll be going to a family gathering near Kansas City for a few days.

An adventure will be involved, but I'll report back more fully on that after the fact.
I hope you all have a great weekend, especially hoping to hear good things from Frenzied Feline. We've got our fingers and toes crossed that she and her family will be in their new home! Stay cool and don't forget your SPF 500!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Morning in the Garden

Before leaving Austin Friday, I spent much of the morning at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden at 605 Robert E. Lee Road (west of downtown on Barton Springs Road, just east of Zilker Park.) It was a bit of an unexpected pleasure, as I learned about it through street signs on my way to see Zilker Park. And since I love sculpture and gardens, I couldn't seem to stop my car from turning.

More than 130 pieces of Charles Umlauf's works are on display in the museum and sculpture garden. He has a distinct style, but I'll let you read more about the artist at The Umlauf Sculpture Gardens.

Image hosted by
War Mother (1939)

Many of his works are religious in nature -- angels, Christ, the Holy Family. Others center on the human family -- mother, father, child. And there are figures of all types, from children to reclining nudes and a whimsical area devoted to sculptures of animals.

The garden is extremely shaded by tall trees, but the landscaping is not lush -- it's a xeriscape garden. However, a waterfall forms a small creek which flows to a pond covered in water lilies. Two small bridges cross the water and offer refreshing views of the falling water and the artwork which fills the garden.

Image hosted by

Mother and child (1950)

Image hosted by
Bambino su Cuscino

Image hosted by
Come Unto Me (1976)
This was the scale model for the central panel over the entrance doors to Christ Episcopal Church, San Antonio. The full-sized panel is 13 feet high by 9 feet wide, or four times as large as this piece. This was set slightly off the path with a few stone steps inviting visitors to a bit of a symbolic pilgrimage.

Image hosted by
Crucifixion (1946)

Image hosted by
The Kiss (1970)
This work stands at the edge of the lily pond where it can be seen from many perspectives. A visitor feels like an intruder.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comHope for the Future (or Abilene Family) 1984

This is a scale model of a work that was commissioned by an Abilene bank, which was later moved to the campus of Abilene Christian University.

Image hosted by
The Family (1960)

Image hosted by
And one photo of live people -- a mother and two young children visiting the garden. They ended their visit by spending a little time blowing bubbles among the trees and statues. It was rather hot, so I hope this playing helped them cool off a little.