"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Legos for Christmas - It's LEGO FRIDAY!

Legos are high on the list for a couple of the Fab 5 - that's the grandkids, just in case you have forgotten.  So to get into the swing of the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share some Lego videos with you all.  Ladies and gentlemen, these are NOT the legos of our childhood.  So take a look and have fun! Oh, and there might be more through the Christmas season so keep an eye out for them...you'll get the joke and groan after you watch the video......  Merry Christmas!

Hope your Christmas Season comes together in little pieces that make one big Happy Holiday!

Musing about Muses and Christmas

Oh, yes, I have been away from the blog for months.  But when The Muse is dormant there isn't anything I can do about it.  I should say the Writing Muse has been quiet, for the Artistic Muse has had me in her grips and control for sometime now.  I have been working feverishly on the Etsy shop (which is under a new name, by the way - The Celtic Heart - if you are so inclined as to take a look.  The Flyboy's Baby, the original name is now the Vintage section of the shop....stop by and take a look at The Celtic Heart .....as I was saying, I have been a mad woman making Short Scarf Neck Warmers, covered buttons, Christmas ornaments and beaded wrap bracelets, as well as selling 31 Gifts, my newest venture, which I might add, is a wonderful company to represent.  So let's get the shameless plugging over with - here are the link 31 Gifts http://www.mythirtyone.com/PamAndGabriel/ .  If you are so inclined, please go take a look at both 31 and Etsy!  Now onto the real reason for this long awaited post...Okay, I know you all have not lost sleep in anticipation and pondering if I would ever write another blog entry, but I have!

It is the second day of December and the time of the year that I circle the wagons, so to speak.  Candles get lit, the house gets decorated, music is on and the TV is set to the sappy holiday movies on Lifetime and Hallmark rather than the news stations.  In other words, the real world is shut out, avoided, shunned.  If only for a few weeks, I try to capture "the warm fuzzies" before we all return to the chaos and day to day routine of normal life after the New Year.

Last year I shared with you different aspects of Christmas time and the holidays that make it special to me.  I hope I accomplished that goal.  Just today, I went back and reread some of those blog entries.  And it was then that the Muse called her siren's call.  Who can deny the Muse?  And so I am in the clutches of the Writing Muse once again.  Between the magic of Christmas and the overwhelming desire to compose, I surrender....surrender to the wonderful elixir of words and language and phrases, an elixir that is to me as intoxicating as any liquor.  How lovely!  So given that I have no choice over this element of creativity, I am committing to blogging this Holiday Season.  Fulfilling for me, possibly entertaining for you.  We shall see.....

So I am committing to writing on the blog once again.....expect in the next month my take on December and the festivities and soul searching that comes during this time of year.  A December Word of the Month, some reflective pieces on the holidays, and if they are out there, new Flash Mob videos for Flash Mob Mondays!  I know you are all just waiting with bated breath.....hang on, I'll be posting some new stuff shortly! 

P.S. And yes, it is BATED breath, not BAITED breath, for those of you who really care and for those of you that think I have a typo.  Bated means "almost to stop", thus holding your breath waiting for the next entry to this blog......  End of English grammar lesson.  Sorry....I just can't help myself......Carry on!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Requiem for Summer

"Summer is like the ultimate one-night stand....hot as hell, totally thrilling, and gone before you know it." ~ Author unknown

Summer 2011 in the deep South took us with a vengeance, as it did with most of the country.  Days the temperature hovered in the 80's were in the spring and short-lived.  Choking ninety degree heat, closer to the century mark, has been the norm with little respite in the form of rain or cooler temps.  Our little waist-high pool was much used by the Fab 5 grandkids and I particularly enjoyed the new hammock we purchased and set up in the shade of the trees in the backyard.  We anxiously anticipated our vacation to Hilton Head Island at the end of August and enjoyed it immensely even though I had a tooth extracted while there and Hurricane Irene threatened to ruin the last few days but in the end was no more that some heavy rain squalls and wind on our last day. 

As we drove back to Atlanta, tired from our vacation and using the proverbial joke about needing a vacation to recover from our vacation, it dawned on me that something had changed while we were away. At first I couldn't pinpoint exactly what the change was.  I just knew it had.  After riding in silence watching the gray band of highway pass under our car and the dusty trees of late summer edging the interstate slide by mile after mile, it came to me:  the light - the light was what was different.  It wasn't the light of late summer - that blaring white hot light that heats the air to the point you feel you can't breathe.  No, there had been over the course of the week a shift in the light and the haze it produced was the pronouncement that summer is dying and we were witnessing the initial hint of the autumn season that will soon overtake summer and send it on its way.  Looking out the big picture window of our home just a few days ago, we saw the evidence of falling leaves scattered on the lawn. Labor Day, summer revelers' last hurray, brought rain from Hurricane Lee and with it temperature highs barely in the 70's yesterday and just 65-68 degrees today. 

Yes, temperatures will rebound into the eighties, possibly nineties, as they are expected to do so by week's end.  But for all practical purposes, summer is over.  Summer with its fireflies and hammocks, swimming pool fun, meteor showers, lush green foliage, watermelons and homegrown tomatoes,  popsicles and snow cones, and all the hundred other little things that make summer fun, laid back, worth savoring. 

So....Good-bye Summer.  For some inexplicable reason I will miss you more this year than usual. I'm not quite sure I know why. Yet I do know, as sure as the passing of the seasons, I will embrace Autumn as I always do.  The boxes of fall decorations are already pulled down from the attic, waiting to be placed on the mantel and hearth, around doorways, in the dining room.  Hello, Fall.......
"Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled.  The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of the season's last crops."
-   Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis 

Back to Normal - If I am ever THAT!

"Writer's block is a disease for which there is no cure, only respite."  ~Terri Guillemets

After a short and eventful summer I am back to writing.  Most of you know I broke my arm on Memorial Day weekend and that made it quite difficult to write.  Then I got busy with grandkids coming to visit, starting a new business venture as a 31 Gifts consultant (insert shameful plug - www.mythirtyone.com/PamAndGabriel), a wonderful week's vacation at Hilton Head Island, joining the Y to get these blasted last 50 + pounds off, and being distracted in other areas of my life.  All that adds up to  less time to put the thought and effort into writing and the ever dreaded writer's block.

Now, however, Labor Day has come and gone.  Putting my thoughts down and playing with words are once again calling my name.  I really, truly am back this time to write.  Hope you will join me, as in the past, for the ride!  Stay tuned......

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Owling Update Alert!

Yesterday I brought to your attention the activity of "owling" and gave you my word that I would be ever vigilant in keeping you posted on the latest crazy trend people around the world are doing to amuse themselves and friends.  (Go here if you want to see what "planking", "owling" and "cone-ing" are all about and have a laugh or two!)

True to my word, I want to share with you what I discovered late yesterday.  Keep in mind that this hasn't gone viral - yet - and for once I may be ahead of the curve.  Imagine that! It seems that "owling" is so....so....Last Week.  And geeky - not my words, but according to some young people. A new alternative craze is beginning to take its place. Better get in on it before it, too, becomes obsolete, which could be about 24 hours or 2 months.  With these things, you never know.  So without further ado, I bring you....


There is even a FaceBook page that you can "like".  You can see the above pictures in a larger format if you really, really must.

All this begs the question:  What bird would YOU like to pose as and post? Or any other animal.  Name one and start your own fad!  Comments are welcome, requested in fact, because I want to see what clever internet trend we can start and give these crazy kids a run for their money!  Make it fun, make it unique, make it zany and maybe there will be a giveaway involved!  Let's go for it!

And, as always, I will be forever vigilant to whatever wild and crazy things are going on out there in this great big world....... Stay tuned!  Happy Storking!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Giving a Hoot

"You can only be young once.  But you can always be immature." ~ Dave Barry

Sometime last year, if you will recall, I introduced you to Extreme Ironing, as well as Cheese Racing.  Fun stuff!  I am ever on the outlook for the bizarre and clever ways that young people create to entertain themselves and others and today I think I have outdone myself in bringing these two three items to your attention and edification.

Before I continue, let me say that I think the internet and social networking is, for the most part, fantastic, educational and entertaining.  I am not sure which of those three categories these will fall into; judge for yourself....

Are any of you out there familiar with "planking"?  If you are, more power to you; you are well ahead of the curve, in my book anyway.   "Planking" is the activity, if one can call it that, of lying face down on the ground, yes, prone as one can lie.  You must put your face into the ground or sidewalk or whatever, and your arms must remain close to your body, straight down to your side, which in doing so you resemble a plank of wood. Yes, a plank of wood, thus called planking! The object is to do this in the most public of places and the most unusual locations, preferably, and have your picture taken in that position and then post it on the internet.  

I guess you would have to be really "bored" (oh, dear, pardon the pun) to do this.

As with most of these type of activities, it seems planking started in England by two guys named Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon in 1997.  It has since spread all over the world and is known as "on one's belly" in France, "extreme lying down" in Australia,  "facedowns" in the U.S and Ireland and "playing dead" in South Korea. This year there has been an upturn in the number of photographs taken of planking on roofs, poles, fences,  and vehicles, with some deaths reported of people planking on balcony railings and falling to their deaths, etc.  Wow, who knew?

Not to worry though, it seems that planking may have reached its climax in popularity.  Thank God, you are saying to yourself, I bet.  Oh, let's not get too relaxed and think that all is well in the world of our youth.  No, there is something afoot out there in the internet world that is going to replace planking as the "hey, take a picure, quick" and post it for all the world to see.  WHAT IN THE NAME OF SAM HILL COULD IT BE, you are pondering at this very second.  It is, my friends, "OWLING".

Owling, yes, owling.  And what pray tell, is owling?  Well, words cannot do it justice, so see this:

 As you can plainly see, to owl is to squat, put a blank stare on your face with eyes wide open, in public, of course, and have someone to take your picture for posterity.  And share it for all the world to see.  And no, I am not kidding. 

SO there you have the latest craze!  Wait...hold the presses!  What have we here?  A new fad has just come upon the scene and is the "new planking' - CONE-ING.   Words cannot describe adequately but video can:

As you can see, the object of cone-ing is to go to a fast food restaurant drive-thru, order an ice cream cone and then grab it in bizarre ways.  Just taking an ordinary picture isn't enough. The "wow" factor must be upped by recording it on a camcorder and then, like planking, sent out over Facebook or other methods.  The ultimate goal is to capture the astounded look on the drive-thru server's face - What fun!  Let's be brutally honest here - the person who is working at the drive-thru window is hating life.  I mean, it sucks to have that as your job.  By being "coned", you can give those people something to share and talk about with their co-workers, family and friends and will make those boring hours go by so much faster.  Think of it as your civic duty, your Random Act of Kindness for the day!

But wait!  What's this?  Just when you think you have this whole fad thing "licked" (yes, i did, forgive me) along comes a twist (I can't help myself) to the "cone-ing" thing.  Take a look:

We have covered a lot of ground today, haven't we?  I hope I have widened your horizons and educated you so that the next time you are looking for something new to do, you can have a wide range of choices.  Make sure you bring your camera and camcorder! In the meantime, I will have an eye out be on the lookout (don't want to start a new fad of eye patch pictures, must be careful what I write) for the latest and greatest crazes to hit the streets.

And remember, just like Heidi Klum says:  You're either 'in' or you're out.
What a hoot!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Confession Friday on a Saturday - I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me

 "The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand." ~ Frederick Lawrence Knowles
I'm not quite sure why it is, but for some reason I have become obsessed recently with the moon.  There is nothing better than a mild summer night with the requisite slight breeze, clear skies,  bright stars and accompanying moon.  And lying in the hammock....but that's another obsession to explore later......  Let's get back to that summer night of stars and moons....

My dad was a moon planter.  What is a "moon planter", you ask? Someone who uses the moon and its phases to base when to plan and plant vegetables in the garden.  He was an avid, die-hard believer in using this system and never a new year came that he didn't get his copy of The Farmer's Almanac to study and chart where and when he would plow the garden in the spring.  It was a tradition that farmers believed in, before there were weather forecasts and meteorologists reports ready available.  His copy of the current year's Farmer's Almanac was dog-eared and well used by the time May rolled around.  I can recall some good natured kidding from folks he amicably endured, but the proof was in the pudding -  Dad's garden was abundant and rich in its bounty.  He always had the last laugh.

Hey, hey! Don't be so quick to snicker and poo-poo the moon and its effect on planting and growing gardens. Seems now there are some truths that have been discovered recently that confirms and proves that our agrarian ancestors were on to something.  Here's how it works:  Our planet Earth resides in a large gravitational field.  Both the sun and the moon have their influence on this gravity field. When the moon is in its new and full moon phases and the sun and moon are lined up with Earth, the oceans' tides are at their highest.  Like the moon's pulling the tides, other smaller, insignificant sources of water are being pulled, too.  This results in the moisture rising in the soil, which in turn, increases growth.  Thus, the moisture in the soil is at its highest during these moon phases and seeds absorb the most water during the full moon!  Who knew?  Well, obviously, our ancestors.....

Even today we cannot get away from the folklore that has been passed down to us through the ages.  When we hear of people acting strange, committing bizarre crimes, more babies being born than usual, we blame it on the full moon. "Must be a full moon" is our way of summing it up. Yet, upon further exploring of this subject, this, too, isn't just a figment of our imaginations.  I came across the following:

Gout and asthma attacks peak during new and full moons, according to work carried out at the Slovak Institute of Preventive and Clinical Medicine in Bratislava, where attacks over a 22-year period were monitored.....
Data from 140,000 births in New York City showed small but systematic variations in births over a period of 29.53 days - the length of the lunar cycle - with peak fertility in the last quarter. "The timing of the fertility peak in the third quarter suggests that the period of decreasing illumination immediately after the full moon may precipitate ovulation.'....
A study in Florida of murders and aggravated assaults showed clusters of attacks around the full moon. A second study of three police areas found the incidence of crimes committed on full-moon days was much higher than on all other days. And a four-year study into car accidents found that the lowest number happened during the full-moon day, while the highest number was two days before the full moon. Accidents were more frequent during the waxing than the waning phase.
Another study of some 800 patients with urinary retention admitted to hospital over a period of three years found higher retention during the new moon compared with other phases of the cycle. Interestingly, patients didn't show any other daily, monthly or seasonal rhythms in their retention problems.....
Even what we eat and drink is affected by the lunar cycle, according to a study at Georgia State University. Researchers looked at lunar variations in nutrient intakes and the meal patterns of 694 adults. They concluded: "A small but significant lunar rhythm of nutrient intake was observed with an 8 per cent increase in meal size and a 26 per cent decrease in alcohol intake at the time of the full moon relative to the new moon.''....
While scientists have been trying to prove for some time that the Moon does exert an effect, what has not been established is why. Scientists have until now examined the theory that the Moon triggers changes through its gravitational pull. But the latest research points to an effect on people's hormones. "The lunar cycle has an impact on human reproduction, in particular fertility, menstruation and birth rate. Other events associated with human behaviour, such as traffic accidents, crimes, and suicides, appeared to be influenced by the lunar cycle,'' said Dr Michael Zimecki of the Polish Academy of Sciences....
"Although the exact mechanism of the Moon's influence on humans and animals awaits further exploration, knowledge of this kind of biorhythm may be helpful in police surveillance and medical practice,'' he said....
The researchers also found links between the lunar cycle and the likelihood of people being admitted to hospital with heart or bladder problems and with diarrhoea. The menstrual cycle, fertility, spontaneous abortions and thyroid disease were also affected. Just how the Moon could have an effect needs further research. Dr Zimecki suggests that it may be the effect of the Moon's gravity on immune systems, hormones and steroids.
He said: "At this stage of investigation, the exact mechanism of the lunar effect on the immune response is hard to explain. The prime candidates to exert regulatory function on the immune response are melatonin and steroids, whose levels are affected by the Moon cycle....
"It is suggested that melatonin and endogenous steroids [which are naturally occurring in humans] may mediate the described cyclic alterations of physiological processes. Electromagnetic radiation and/or the gravitational pull of the Moon may trigger the release of hormones.''

So there you have it.  Give the Moon some credit, okay?  It's not just hokus-pokus like we thought all along.  Which gets me back to my original thought of being ever so conscious lately of the moon- that glorious, mysterious nocturnal orb in the dark sky.  I am fascinated by the phases, the waxing and waning, the new crescent, the quarter moon (which looks like half), the full moon, the dark side and the far side.  Do you know the difference between the dark and far side?  Neither did I till recently.  The dark side is the part that faces Earth and us but is not illuminated.  The far side of the moon is the side we never see - the other side.  And the difference in the waxing and waning?  Waxing comes after the new moon, which is the dark moon followed by the waxing crescent, which is the crescent moon with the round part that looks like the round part of a capitol D or a left parenthesis ).  Waxing means the shining part of the moon is getting larger, culminating with the full moon. Waning comes after the full moon and the illuminated part gets smaller until the waning crescent that looks like the round side of a capitol letter C ( and ends with the new moon once again.  Every 29.5305882 days the moon goes through its phases and starts all over again.  And nature responds.  I don't know about you, but I find that fascinating.  Just think, since the beginning of time and Earth's creation, the moon has been going through its phases, guiding planting and nature and tides.

Then there are the special moons.  The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox; a blood moon is a harvest moon that appears large and dark orange or red.  I've seen these over the course of my life and they never cease to amaze me and give me a little bit of a spooky feeling.  The Hunter's Moon -a full moon appearing in October or November, usually in October - was named for when Native Americans tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter.  They celebrated The Hunter's Moon with a feast. Let's not forget a Blue Moon - the third full moon in a season with four full moons, but some people say it is the second full moon in a calendar month, neither of which happens very often.  Thus the phrase "once in a blue moon", meaning something rare or that doesn't occur regularly.  And don't forget the intriguing phenomena of the lunar eclipse which happens when the moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the sun's rays from striking the moon. It can only happen when the moon, Earth, and the sun are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Remarkedly, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon.

Oh, and I love the sayings that refer to the moon. "I love you to the moon and back" comes to mind.  Remember Ralph on The Honeymooners?  "To the moon, Alice, to the moon!"  "Shoot for the moon" is always a good thing, no matter how high the goal.  I am "over the moon" about my grandkids!  "Mooning" - dare I say more?  But "mooning" can mean to long for something fiercely, too. Have you ever seen "the Man in the Moon"?  I think I have.....

 I confess I am not sure the moon possesses any mystical powers, but I know that I find delight and entertainment in it.  And I thank the Creator of all things that above us all, every single night, the moon is there for us to admire and ponder and love.  So at least one night this summer, take a blanket, or if you are as lucky as I and have a hammock to lie in, and go out and do your own moon gazing and feel the power of the night.  Let's go do some howling!

I'll leave you with this bit of entertainment.  From Jim Brickman

Moonlight is sculpture.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne