Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Can we REALLY take the scary out of life?

One of the country's leading insurance companies has been touting the slogan, "Take the scary out of life" supposedly by purchasing insurance to cover such situations. Is that all it takes? As I stayed glued to the weather coverage this evening throughout the tornado watches and warnings, I can assure you, our insurance coverage was not allaying my fears. Besides, isn't a tornado an Act of God, something usually exempted from insurance coverage (or is that just straight-line winds, falling trees and wind shears?)

Seriously though, insurance is meant to eliminate financial fears associated with traumatic situations and losses. It does help to know there is coverage that may help us buy our way back to some semblance of our normal life at such drastic times. But what about all those irrational fears most of us have?

Some of my such fears, irrational or not, include spiders, losing loved ones and walking on ice. (There are more, but they're the biggies.) Okay, the second one is very common and NOT irrational. Insurance won't cure that situation. Insurance may help with the last one though - I do have decent medical coverage. I've seen polls showing arachnophobia to be one of the most common fears out there. Do they sell policies for that one? (If so, I WANT that coverage!!!) Come to think of it, my medical coverage kicked in there, too. I once spent six weeks in a cast after chasing and killing a large wolf spider! (But that's a tale for another day.)

Seriously, what can we do about kids' fears. I mean, you can reason with rational fear and explain why something would not be so frightening. The family's 5-year-old is terrified of folks who have casts on their arms, feet, etc. She is convinced their hand (foot) is now gone and that terrifies her. As she has been exposed to such situations, I think she is finally understanding that those body parts are simply hidden for a while, not missing.

More difficult to reckon with is her violent fear of ANGELS !!!! Yep, she is absolutely terrified of them. I think I finally figured out why. Her maternal grandfather died just weeks after her birth and her mother found comfort in believing and saying her Dad's angel was watching over them at all times. She often told this to K. Unfortunately, K only knows him as an old man in pictures and, I'm afraid, pictures him more as a Peeping Tom, spying on her! I believe, instead of a cute little cherub-like image of angels, she sees them as dirty old men. Could be kind of scary!! This is going to take a while to rectify with her.

Even more confusing is her fear of St. Anthony!! Her other grandfather has a large (18") statue of St. Francis that was his Mom's. It's a family heirloom to him. He has kept it in the guest room for years. This is also the room K. sleeps in when she stays there. She has no problem with it being in the room as long as she can't see his face. Therefore, St. Anthony has become an Orioles fan. He wears his baseball cap over his face, year 'round.

I know he is the Patron Saint of those who are Down and Out. As Oriole fans we've prayed long and hard for a successful season. This season, like the past 10, is not off to a great start. Do you think the baseball cap covering St. Anthony's face has anything to do with this?

Or is he just a Yankee's fan?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Everybody's invited to Martha's - for salad !!!

Kind of a lazy day today so I took to checking out what was on TV. Found this listing for Martha Stewart's show this afternoon:

Couldn't help myself!! Had to tune in to check out that salad. Turns out it was cold CRAB salad.

What a typo!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter !!!!

Happy Easter, Y'all !!!!

Hope you all had a great day.

Ours didn't go as planned so we're considering this a practice run and we'll do the whole family thing next week. Seriously. All I can say, things did seem a lot brighter by the sun of the day!! Sometimes you just need to roll with the punches.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chocolate Everywhere !!!!!

My long time readers here may recall I'm the candy maker in the family. Both Easter and Christmas are huge production times around here and I've been elbow-deep in chocolate for days now.
Yesterday, we were out running errands and despite a shower and clean clothes, I swear I smelled of chocolate!!! I thought now would be a good time to remind y'all of the rules about Easter candy. (Yep, there ARE rules !!!)
Rules of Chocolate Easter Eggs
  • If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly.
  • Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.
  • Diet tip: Eat an Easter egg before each meal.
    It'll take the edge off your appetite, and that way you'll eat less.
  • If you can't eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can't eat all your chocolate, what's wrong with you?
  • If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
  • Money talks. Chocolate sings.
  • Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.
  • The problem: How to get two pounds of chocolate eggs home from the store in a hot car.
    The solution: Eat the eggs in the car park.
  • Why is there no such organization as Chocoholics Anonymous?
    Because no one wants to quit.
Enjoy your chocolate this week !!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

Walk softly and carry a big carrot.

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

There’s no such thing as too much candy.

All work and no play can make you a basket case.

A cute little tail attracts a lot of attention.

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

Some body parts should be floppy.

Keep your paws off other people’s jellybeans.

Good things come in small sugar-coated packages.

The grass is always greener in someone else’s basket.

An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare.

To show your true colors – you have to come out of your shell.

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I will not flash...I will not flash... I will not...

Hi, my name is Splashin and I'm a chronic flasher.

There, I said it. I like to point, shoot, and flash. It's easy ... and the results are, well, not always so great. See what I mean?

Well, as I worked to start listing all those glass paperweights I told you about that I'm putting in the new vintage section of my shop as quick as I can, I discovered I'm a really lousy photographer! I really don't know how to take a detailed picture. Oh, I can handle a shot of the kids carrying on together or somebody making a funny face, and they turn out just fine for passing around the family or hanging on the fridge. But then, I'm not usually trying to sell that subject to anybody (then again,...)
When you're selling online and folks can't pick up the object and handle it themselves, you need to be sure your picture tells it all, just as though there were no words. (Likewise, your written description must also tell all as if there is no pic.)

Thank goodness for digital cameras. You can take hundreds of shots and delete all of them until you get it right. Okay, I've needed to settle for close to right. I'm still learning.

After a couple hundred shots that weren't usable, I took time to go online and look for some suggestions. There are tricks to getting good pictures of shiny glass transparent objects. I, obviously, haven't learned them all but I AM getting better.
Ideally, one should buy a great camera. I really do want one. For now, I have a tiny, easy to use, pocket size Casio that is at least 10 years old. It has a limited zoom range and is only 4 megapixels. (It was impressive when I first got it.) My setting options are limited. In it's favor, it's small and easy to carry everywhere. The best feature is, it simply plugs into my computer for downloading and came with its own software. There is no need to remove the card, -EVER. (I'm still using the original disc in it which has now taken well over 9000 pictures in 10 years.)

First rule is TURN OFF THE FLASH. Use natural light if possible. I tried to do this but I have an old camera that is sometimes determined to do things its own way. It took two days of hitting the OFF setting before the camera agreed to do that. It still is not consistent. Yes, a new camera is on my list of wants.Next, CLEAR THE BACKGROUND of clutter. This requires you to set up the space not just point and shoot where ever.

REFLECT THE LIGHT BACK ONTO YOUR OBJECT. Many folks do this with the use of a light box. (There are tons of online instructions for creating a light box.) I didn't do this BUT I did create a reflecting board and base. I did it in a kind of Rube Goldberg style. Not necessarily recommended but it accomplished what I set out to do and was quick, easy and free.
My first efforts were done on the spur of the moment without a lot of thought and planning. One article I read suggested using aluminum foil to reflect natural light. This helped but was not the solution. Or maybe it's just the way I did it. The writer suggested covering pieces of cardboard with foil and setting them in a fashion to form three walls around a foil "floor". He suggested setting this up on a table pulled close to a window.
I pulled my dining room table closer to the window then I quickly grabbed a roll of foil. I didn't have any appropriate cardboard on hand so I spread one piece on the table and then stretched a sheet between two tall objects (bottles), taping it to the bottles to form one wall. I repeated this effort for a second wall. forming a L-shaped "studio" so to speak. (Hey, I had to grab what was handy. I was in a hurry.)
I accomplished "better" pics but not "good" pics. I used some done in this "studio" and I did make sales using them. But I needed to do better.
Again, I worked cheap with what was handy but I planned a little better. This time, I went for a plain white background. I pulled the same table in front of the same window. I pulled the curtains back to let in full light. I made my reflecting boards a little more stable this time. I still didn't have cardboard available but I DO have a set of 3 Pampered Chef flexible cutting mats that are solid and an appropriate size. I simply covered them with white computer paper (taping the paper in place) and used one for a floor, and two for walls. This worked!! I think I finally got some decent pictures of these beautiful objects.

Look for them all in my shop within the next few days.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stump the Paint Chump

The kids in our family have long played a little game we like to refer to as "Stump the Paint Chump." (Me, being the "Paint Chump.") This began a long time ago when the 30-something crowd were young. We had a whole slew of kids in the clan at the time and coming up with Christmas gifts could be a bit challenging. One year, I decided to paint everybody a sweatshirt geared toward their particular interests or activities. This was back in the days of those shiny, rubbery fabric paints that stuck together when you folded a garment, chipped, cracked, peeled and were laundry nightmares.

They must have liked them because by November the following year, they were putting in requests. Most I was able to fulfill. In fact, I only remember one that didn't fully satisfy the requester and I think it was set as a trap to begin with. I collect reindeer things and he knew it and played off of that. His dad is a hunter and they were raised looking forward to being old enough to go on those hunts. He requested a big deer's head, surrounded by a scope. (The telescopic sight on a rifle.) I painted him the deer without the scope. He still mentions that "disappointment" now and then!

The myth that I can do anything has been passed down through the entire clan so the Omaha 5-year-old is usually prepared with a special request for me when I get there. (I ALWAYS travel with paints.)

The request this time was for a "Crocodile With a Heart" on a sleep shirt. Once I found a satisfactory garment to paint, I had to come up with a crocodile off the top of my head. I was confident she would not be technical enough to think it was an alligator as opposed to a croc. Most adults don't know the difference, either.

This was what I came up with. Think she liked it?

Score "1" for the Paint Chump, again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Smiles Over the Miles

The best thing about our trips are the smiles and laughter we share along the way.

The following are in no particular order.

With the quickly climbing price of gas, I know many folks are once again planning "Stay-cations." This sign at a gas station car wash in a Toledo suburb had my mind wandering a bit.
Can you read it?
It says
Our car wash is open."

Can't you just picture a family donning snorkel gear from their local Dollar Tree, piling the gang into the family SUV and taking this Underwater Adventure ? Do you think they've painted fish on the walls behind the sprayers and brushes?
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Just East of the Illinois state line, we saw this billboard encouraging migration to Indiana:
Illinoyed by high taxes?
Settle in Indiana
This is not the first time we've seen signs encouraging folks to escape across that state line. Indiana is the only place I've seen try to harvest their neighbor's residents. Let's get real - they just want you for your tax dollars, too.

As you roll along I-80 between Gary and Chicago, one is bombarded with signs pushing Gentleman's Clubs and Nudie Bars, as if these were Chicago's only claim to fame. Some are quite enticing, many use humor. Mixed in among them is an interesting ad for a jewelry store. A very sensuous looking gal's bare shoulders and thick luxuriant hair catches your eye. White lettering above her states, "She wants a stud." Below her, it advises, "Give her two." There is a beautiful pair of glistening diamond earrings rounding out the picture! There are lots of other jewelry ads along this section of highway, too.

So --- do you think there's a correlation here? Buy the "little wifie" a gift to compensate for stopping off at the girlie bar?
The family's 17-year-old has finally gotten his first car. Nearly as old as he is, it appears to have been garage kept and looks beautiful - no scratches, dents or visible wear. (Yet!) It gets great mileage, too. That's because it doesn't run! His Grandad describes it as a vehicle to get one from Point A to Point B. Problem is, it only gets to Point A and then won't start again. It'll keep him in school, though. Once he gets there, he'll be stranded as the car won't start again!

We heard an appropriate riddle for him on the radio in Ohio - "What do the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and a $2,000 reliable used car have in common?" (That's what he paid.) "They're all imaginary!!" Well, everybody else in the family laughed.

That same guy got his first checking account while we were there. The bank has a special "Student Account" that functions as a checking account, using a debit card but does not issue actual paper checks for transactions. He'll be able to deposit and cash his pay checks. (He works part time). Of course, we all had advice for him and advised him to save a little from each pay for a "rainy day." This went right over his head and he asked what we meant. Again, Grandad, in his wisdom, said, "You need a little cushion for when a rainy day comes along and you need some cash." Our boy just looked confused and, shrugging, said, "No, the ATM's work when it rains. They all have a roof over them."

No wonder this country is in such deep financial do-do. No one is saving for emergencies because all the ATM have roofs!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


It's been a long road trip and it seems much longer when one doesn't have internet service the whole time!!

I missed y'all!!!

I've got all kinds of things to tell you but, for now, I'll just give you a view of the road trip itself.

We started out in snow in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio:

After the first evening with about an inch of snow in PA, the weatherman sort of inferred we'd drive out of the mess along about Pittsburgh. Well, we didn't. The roads were fine - perfectly clear, but there were places along the Ohio Turnpike with several inches of snow on the grassy areas and the skies did not look promising at all. Okay, they were actually a bit threatening!

We found sunshine and something resembling Spring as we entered Indiana. We started relaxing and enjoying the weather.

And then...

We checked out the rising Mississippi in Davenport, Iowa. My camera doesn't do well at night but this is a shot of the sidewalk and street at the entrance to Rythym City Casino. The water on the roadway was several inches deep and that's a sand bag wall behind the stop sign. That's the first time I've ever been close enough to touch the sand bags!

We woke up to a new world the next day, driving in beautiful sunshine as we crossed Iowa.

Nebraska welcomed us to "The Good Life" as we crossed the old Mormon Bridge on I-680 (I mean, what could be better than visiting the birthplace of Arbor Day?!?) We did find warmth, sunshine and true signs of Spring there. Yep, "the good life" felt good !
We did NOT see any snow on the way home. We even saw green grass and even a few forsythias in Ohio this week. It rained from the Ohio/Pennsylvania border all the way home (at least it WASN'T snow!!!)

I'm happy here at home, nestled in among our bright yellow forsythias, daffodils and even some tulips. Our saucer magnolia is in bloom. There are many flowering trees brightening the scenery all around us.

I think Spring is here in Maryland.

It's good to be home.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ring! Ring! Still me posting by phone! (No pictures) We found spring! It's hanging out in Nebraska! It's supposed to be 70 and sunny today. We've got the windows open and it feels fantastic. Back at ya soon,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hi there. Yes, it's me. No April Fool's joke. Sorry, I've been MIA for a while. I'm on my srping midwest tour with almost no internet access. I'm literally calling this one in. We've finally found some warmer temps and sunshine in Indiana yesterday. Snow in Pennsylvania and Ohio had us saying, "Spring? huh?" The Mississippi was overflowing it's bank in downtown Davenport (IA) last night. That's the closest I've ever come to a sandbag wall. (I could touch it!) We're still driving west this morning. It's not sunny and it doesn't look like spring. Hoping to touch base here soon.