Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Stories Your Mother Shouldn't Tell You

But she did. I give credit to the unknown author and apologize for any mistakes.

Little orphan Annie came to our house to stay,
To wash the cups and saucers and brush the crumbs away,
And shoo the chickens off the porch and dust the hearth and sweep
And make the fire and bake the bread to earn her board and keep.

And all us other children, when the supper things were done
Used to sit around the fire and have the mostest fun
Listening to the witch tales that Annie told about
And the goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out.

There was a little boy who wouldn’t say his prayers
And when he went to bed at night, a waaaay upstairs,
His momma heard him holler, his daddy heard him bawl
But when they turned the covers down, he wasn’t there at all.

They seeked him in the rafter room, the cubby hole and press
Even up the chimney flue and everywhere I guess
But all they ever found was his pants around about
And the goblins will get you if you don’t watch out

There was a little girl who always mocked and grinned
Who made fun of everyone, even blood and kin
One day there was company and old folks were there
She mocked them and she shocked them and she said she didn’t care

But when she turned around to run away and hide
There were two big black things standing by her side
They snatched her through the ceiling fore she knew what was about
And the goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out

Little orphan Annie says when the day is through
And the lamp wick flutters and the wind goes wooooooo
And the crickets are quiet and the moon is gray
And the lighting bugs are all squinched away

You better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear
And cherish those that love you and dry the little orphan’s tear
And help the poor and needy as they cluster round about
Or the goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin, Scarecrow & Witch, Oh My

I know, I know, the first line of this little ditty has been used a million times before but I’m using it anyhow.

It’s a dark stormy night
In this spooky old town
The thunder and lightening
Keep crashing down
Winds are a howling
Streetlamps go out
And there's too many monsters
Around and about.

So run to your homes,
Lock doors and windows up tight
Because goblins and ghosts
Abound on this night.
There are witches and ghouls
Hiding here, lurking there
But the scariest spooks
Are up in the air

What???…. in the air????

Yep, one of those uglies is me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Changing of The Guard...en tools

Say goodnight pruners, trowels, claws, diggers, and hose nozzles. You are now finished for the year and can hide in the shed (and you’re very good at that, aren’t you?) until spring comes around once again.

I’ll have to say none of you did a very good job the few times you actually decided to go to work but at least you managed to keep from getting lost in the bushes this year as so many have done before. So get yourselves cleaned up and oiled and into the bucket with you.

And as for you, it's your turn now.

For the next few weeks you will be working almost daily trying to keep up with the zillion leaves that blow into your yard. It’s not my fault that your yard is in the wrong place and that the wind whips all the leaves from yours, and all of your neighbors trees, smack up against the back of the house. And those that are not by the house are piled high against the back fence.

I hope your work habits have improved since last year because you were a totally lazy good-for-nothing back then. And if you don’t do your job this fall, I can promise you that you will be working your butt off raking up those leaves in the spring.



With any luck I won’t have to be dealing with your work ethics for a while yet.
Stupid snow shovel.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We all have our own idea of what home sweet home is.

Some like a little witchy log house with a pointy roof complete with it’s own resident mouse standing in the doorway to welcome them home. It also comes with its own canoe in case of flooding and a hatchet for when it needs to replace the parts that get eaten by termites. I have no idea why that armadillo is hanging around the front steps. I kinda like this house even with the mouse.

Others like a cold damp house. The ones who live here are so vain they even had statues of themselves attached to their house so everyone could admire their good looks and handsome bodies. I think I know some people like that.

Still others prefer a double decker with balconies and railings and with a warm cozy fireplace inside. This house also includes it’s own spiders to keep the insects away. Lots and lots of spiders. I think the other residents moved out of this house. I know I would.

And then of course there are those who like to live dangerously. They build their house in the lofty branches of the highest tree, held together by the thinnest of weaves, rocking back and forth in even the faintest breezes. It makes for an exciting night when the wind is howling and the occupants are holding on for dear life. These houses also need a lot of remodeling and renovations all year long. Sometimes complete walls have to be rebuilt. This is a never-ending job for the ones who choose this type of house. Not for me, thank you very much!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I’m afraid it’s that time of year. Time to bring the froggies in that have been hiding in the garden all summer and put them on the kitchen shelf before the frost nips at their little webbed toes.

First is Nan’s frog. I stole him from her garden when Betty and I went to visit her one year. I think he looks better in mine and he must like it here since he never tried to leave.

Next we have “The Thinker”. I never knew what he was thinking about, but it looks pretty serious.

Fatty here was pretty skinny when I first got him, but certainly made up for it in no time. I must have had a lot more slugs in my garden than I was aware of.

Three sisters. I’m the cute one. Don’t be kissing these frogs because I don’t know what we would turn into, although I’m quite sure it won’t be princesses.

Whoa, not you big fella. Sorry but you have to stay outside. There’s no room on the shelf for you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dancing The Bunny Hop

Glancing out the window yesterday, I noticed a rabbit backed all the way up to the chain link fence that separates my yard from my neighbors. And he was dancing. All four feet jumping up and down to the beat of some song only he could hear, not unlike the way I dance around the house when I’m alone. Oh, c’mon, I know you do that too!!

It took a second or two for my brain to tell me that rabbits probably don’t dance very much, duh, and I realized that his little butt was actually stuck under the fence where he tried to crawl through and that there was a large black and white cat on the other side. And that cat was batting at his fluffy white tail with it’s two front paws. As I was getting set to run out there to try to help the poor little fella, he danced a little harder, squeezed the rest of his body through and off he went, none the worse for wear.

The cat just sat there and stared at him as he hopped away, stared at me as if to say “I was only playing”, then carefully washed his paws before he slowly sauntered back through the bushes and went back home.

For not dancing very often, that rabbit had some pretty good moves. I’m going to have to add some of those to my routine.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

History Lesson #1 Via Lake View Cemetery

The other day Betty and I decided to go on a little excursion to the cemetery. Not to purchase or plan anything mind you, but just to look at some of the notable's monuments and headstones.

And Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery has a whole slew of them. From humungous mausoleums and monuments down to the smallest of tombstones and grave markers. From huge names like Garfield (I’m talking about the President here not the cat) and Rockefeller to the unknown (to me anyway) names like Raymond Chapman.

Chapman was a Cleveland Indians shortstop from 1912-1920. While playing the New York Yankees in New York on August 16, 1920, Chapman was hit in the head with a ball thrown by pitcher, Carl Mays, and died 12 hours later. Chapman is the only major league baseball player to die due to an injury during a game. Dedicating the season in memory of "Chappie", the Indians won the league and world championship for the first time. I know that players have had to quit the game because of injuries but I never knew of one that was fatal. See what you can learn?

So anyway, after walking around a bit, taking a few photos, and marveling at the fact that some people will spend huge amounts of money for something they’re just going to lie around and decay in over the next hundred years, or less if an asteroid does indeed plop down on us and we’re all obliterated, I decided to post about a man that is known by everyone. Well, maybe not everyone, but a whole lot of people.

Eliot Ness
Anyone out there who doesn’t know of Eliot Ness? For those of you who don’t, he was the law enforcement officer who brought down Al Capone. Anyone out there who doesn’t know who Al Capone was? Watch some old movies.

Anyhow after being responsible for sending the biggest mob boss in the country to jail on income tax evasion, (thought to have been responsible for a few dozen murders, but could only get him on tax evasion) Ness came to Cleveland and became their safety director in 1935, cleaning up a very corrupt police department, (most big cities had that problem in the thirties), modernizing the police department by developing two-way communications between police cars and their police stations, and developing the Emergency Medical System. Ness also took Cleveland's worst traffic fatality record in the nation and turned it around to twice win the National Safety Council's award for reduction of traffic deaths. But problems were looming on the horizon. Along came the infamous Kingsbury Run Murders, “The Torso Murders” is what one newspaper called them, because… well… the torsos were cut up and there were…um… no heads.

This was the American equivalent of the gruesome crime spree of Jack the Ripper. Like the Ripper case, the murders left a number of mutilated victims behind and they remain unsolved to this day. It was a series of killings that started in 1935 and lasted until 1938 and had a total of about 12 victims, (they weren’t sure of the exact count because….well you know). Obviously it terrified the city and the ensuing newspaper coverage eventually destroyed the career of the once untouchable Ness. (Get it? Thinking Robert Stack? Kevin Costner? No? geeze, what’s it gonna take?)
Later, Ness said he believed that he knew who the killer was and this suspect continued to taunt Ness for years after the killings had stopped, but sadly, the Kingsbury Run murders really began the downturn of his earlier illustrious career.

He never really got over the taint that the murders left on his reputation and the fact they were never solved. The last decade of his life was full of poverty and frequent disappointment and he passed away in 1957 at the age of only 54. Ironically, considering his destruction of the Prohibition bootlegging gangs, Ness became a heavy drinker and suffered from poor health. He resigned from the position of Cleveland’s public safety director in 1941, after a scandal involving a hit-and-run accident, and in 1947 was badly defeated in a run for the Cleveland mayor’s office.

In 1953, after five years of poverty and obscurity, he became involved with a papermaking company and through a friend at the company, he had a chance meeting with a journalist named Oscar Fraley. The two men would later collaborate on a book entitled The Untouchables. It came out in 1957 and was an immense success, becoming a bestseller and inspiring two television series and a popular film. Tragically, Ness would never learn of this success as he died of a heart attack on May 16, 1957, six months before The Untouchables was published. His ashes were scattered in one of the many small ponds in the cemetery, and that reminds me of one of the old mob sayings “he sleeps with the fishes”. A bit ironic wouldn’t you say?

A little more than you really wanted to know about Eliot Ness? Just wait until the next history lesson.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monkey Shines

I have no idea why they call this a Monkey Flower. I can see no resemblance to a monkey no matter which way I look at it. Backwards, forward, sideways, upside-down, or inside-out (yes, I tried that).....nope, no monkey. I have to admit when I first bought these seeds, I did it mainly to say, "I have monkey flowers and you don't, nah nah" Also because I love the way they look.

Every year I start these from seed and put them in hanging baskets for the shady part of my garden. And every year they make me smile until the weather gets really hot, and they get leggy and ugly. But.....cut them back and they will start all over again.

Now in October all hanging baskets are finished, kaput, brown and ugly. All except one little plant with 2 little monkey blooms.
Earlier in the year, I cut some for a little vase on my windowsill.
See any monkeys in there?
I don't. The only monkey I see is the one on the other side of the camera. I beat you to it, nah, nah.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Seeing Is Believing??

While watching the almost full moon come up last night, I noticed the halo around it and thought it would make a great photo.
Mmmmm......Both of them
Maybe I'm wrong but I'm almost positive Earth only has one moon.
Just goes to show, you can't believe everything you see.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Pond Swans

You all know how disappointed I was when my sister and I took that little road trip the other day and the batteries in my camera died before I could get a picture of the swans. So my sister, even after I made the crack about her driving, and maybe mentioning the fact that perhaps she might not be all that knowledgeable when it comes to computers, put all that aside and went back to Grangers Pond, braving the bugs, snakes and whatever else was lurking in the bushes, to capture these for me.

Knowing her, she was probably knee deep in water trying to get the best shot. Well, maybe not knee deep….. probably not even ankle deep….. maybe just the soles of her shoes got slightly damp if anything, but nevertheless, here is what she got.

First some pictures of the “Pond”. Not a pond at all as you can see. Isn’t it gorgeous there?

And now……. drum roll please……..

They’re just so regal and elegant

Don’t they look as if they think they own the place

I’m surprised they aren’t wearing little crowns on their little heads.

So, great job Betty. And although I’m still pretty sure you had someone else get them from the camera to the computer and send them in the e-mail, I won’t mention it. As far as anyone else knows, it was all you!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friend Or Foe

I probably use the word hate more than I should. “I hate that” “I hate when that happens”, “I hate those stupid things”. Hate is a very strong word and I actually hate very little. What I really mean is that I intensely dislike that, those things, when that happens, but to save time and typing I will use the word hate in this post.

I hate yellow jackets. Not the wearable kind to keep you warm, although I myself would not wear a yellow jacket because I’m not a yellow wearer kind of person and yellow just does not look good on me. For those of you out there who have a yellow jacket, I’m sure you look gorgeous!! The yellow jackets that I hate are the little ones that fly around your head when you’re outside deciding whether they should sting you or not. In August when they become twice as aggressive as usual, which is aggressive enough thank you, it’s almost impossible to go any where outside without a couple of them dive bombing you and sending you scurrying back into the house. All summer long they continually fly around the oriole feeders trying to get to the sugar water inside and I have to keep putting a little oil around the ports to keep them out. (It works) They drive me absolutely crazy!! So yes, I hate yellow jackets.

Another thing that I hate are the crane flies. Those who follow my posts know that I have been bombarded with these insects this year since the end of September. And they’re still here. Still swarming all over the place, still in my hair, still sneaking in the house when I'm not looking and generally making pests of themselves. So yes, I hate crane flies.

Now to get to the point of this little story. Today I went outside to cut down the four o’clocks. They only had a few flowers left, and I would rather do it on a nice day like today instead of waiting too long and freezing my butt off, which I have done more than once. There was one yellow jacket out there buzzing around my head, and making a nuisance of himself but not really threatening, so I pretty much ignored him. There were, of course, also a bunch of crane flies out there keeping me company which I could have done without.

After cleaning up the plants, I sat down to take a break. There on the chair next to mine was a large crane fly. I guess he thought he needed a little rest too, after pestering me all that time. While I was debating whether I should just reach over and swat him, the yellow jacket flew over and grabbed him. Wrestled him right off that chair and onto the ground. They were both rolling around for a minute or so and then the yellow jacket grabbed tighter and flew off with him. I sat there dumbfounded almost not believing. I have never, ever seen anything like that before. Have I been wrong about the yellow jackets all this time?? Are they here to help instead of hurt?? Are they not my foes but instead my friends?? No, I can’t really say I believe that. Maybe for 2 minutes I didn’t dislike him as much as I did before, but that’s about it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On The Road Again

Leaving Fairport Harbor and the lighthouses behind, we traveled over to Mentor Lagoons planning to take a little electric cart on the numerous trails, but when we got there they told us the cart season was over (of course it is) and we would have to hoof it. Not having any idea of which trail would lead us to the most wildlife we decided instead to head over to a place called Grangers Pond. (Pond is a definite understatement) This place is very close to Betty’s house and she knows every inch of it, so we got back in the car and headed out.

When Betty drives she has a habit of looking out the windows at the scenery. When I ride with her, I have a habit of looking at the road in front (someone has to watch where we’re going). So on the way out of the lagoons, she yells “Look”. “What?”, “There”, “Where?” She stops the car and sure enough on the side of the road not more than 8 feet away from me, was this scene just begging for a picture.

He stood there for quite a while as I fiddled with the camera, patiently waiting for me to get it right.

I could tell the geese were muttering to each other about the lame brain taking forever to get the right shot. Geese do that. When they’re not making snide remarks about your camera capabilities, they’re chasing after you, wings flapping, necks outstretched, and honking as loudly as they can. You can also see in this photo that they’re pretending to be totally uninterested in having their picture taken, but they also didn’t leave until they were sure I had a good one so they're not fooling me.

So on to Grangers. We could hear them quacking as soon as we got out of the car. There are signs posted saying "do not feed the wildlife", but the way these ducks immediately came over looking for a handout you know a lot of people out there must not be able to read.

I just love ducks.

Betty said that the last time she was here she saw the swans and a blue heron so we went looking. Sure enough there they were. Five swans! Four in the water and one on a little island. They were pretty far away and I was trying to get them in the camera lens when all of a sudden my batteries died. Oh no!!. Sometimes if you turn the camera off for a few minutes, then turn it back on you can get enough juice to take one more shot. Not this time. Totally dead.
AARRGGGGGHHHHH. And there’s the heron too!! #$$#%%&##

Betty said she thought she got a pretty good picture of the swan on her camera. I asked her to upload it to her computer and send it to me. Hey Betty, you know I was only kidding when I made that remark about watching the road, right? You’re an excellent driver and I really don’t feel the need to watch where we’re going. I was just making a joke. You’re laughing, right? So send the picture.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"I've Seen The Light"

Lighthouse that is. Two of them in fact.

My sister and I decided to take a drive to the nice little town of Fairport Harbor. On the shores of Lake Erie, Fairport Harbor is a old town in which the lighthouse sits at the end of the main street, protecting the mouth of the Grand River since 1825. Didn’t want all those ships making a wrong turn and come chugging up the river right into downtown.

Due to the first light keeper’s strong views on abolition, the light has served as a guide for runaway slaves, marking a stop on The Underground Railroad to Canada. In 1871, the current tower which is 70 feet tall, was built to replace the deteriorating first one. This lighthouse is believed to be haunted by a gray cat, which was a former pet to a bedridden wife of a past keeper. Some claim to have seen a ghost cat whisking about upstairs, describing it as a gray puff of smoke. Interestingly, a mummified cat was found by a worker years later.

No, we did not see a gray cat, or any other cat for that matter. No animals of any kind. No cats, dogs, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks……..hmmmm...I wonder if they know something we don’t. And although it didn’t show up in this picture, I’m sure I saw this kind of eerie glow at the very top…..

That lighthouse served until 1925 when a new lighthouse was built on the breakwall jutting out into the lake. This lighthouse is actually still working.

Standing on the beach for this shot I then just swiveled to my right and took a picture of the new technology right after the old. Quite a comparison, wouldn’t you say? Not a lighthouse, but it certainly lights up houses.

The lighthouse is still working after 83 years, with no pollution. The nuclear power plant started up in 1987. Any bets on whether it will still be working in 2070? And since the handling, disposal and storage of spent radioactive fuel, that is toxic for centuries, is a major concern, any guesses on the amount of pollution it will be adding to our planets’ environment?

Whoops. How did I get up on that soapbox? Well I’ll get right back off and will continue this little road trip on a lighter note at a later time.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Crafty Crows

No, I’m not talking about myself or my sisters this time. Although I have been called “the old crow” on numerous occasions, as far as I know I’ve never been called “crafty” so this post is about the feathered kind.

There have always been quite a few crows around my yard. At times I have seen up to 20 of them hanging out together, cawing and cackling in the trees, chasing each other and generally having a fun time while planning their next caper.

And they do plan these things. Once, they spotted a chipmunk under a large forsythia bush in the front yard. Four of them flew down and surrounded the bush. Thinking that they had him cornered, they closed in but the little devil was too fast for them this time and scooted out. Crows are very smart, but chipmunks are very fast.

When you decide it’s finally time to get rid of that stale bread you’ve been saving in your kitchen for some unknown reason, tear it into small pieces and scatter it in your backyard. They will come down and take each piece one at a time, put it into a big pile, then stuff that pile into their mouths and fly off. If it’s a little too stale and hard, they will first stick it in the birdbath to soften it up before taking it away. I wonder if they like that little green stuff that’s growing on the crust.

Besides being the best birth controllers of bugs and small rodents, they are also one of natures great clean-up crews. Once, after having a small roasted chicken for dinner, (you know the ones in the grocery store, already cooked, still steaming, crispy brown skin, mmmm) I thought I would set the carcass outside to see what would happen. Didn’t take long. Down they came landing about 6 feet away from it. Not quite sure what to make of this featherless, almost meatless, bony bird, they circled it, slowly inching closer and closer until one was finally near enough to stretch out and take a small bite. Since it didn’t bite back, the rest of them moved in and picked that carcass clean. I figured when there was no more meat left, I would go out there, pick up the bones and throw them in the trash, but before I could do that, one of them picked up the skeleton and flew off with it!! It was as big as he was!! Where he took it, I have no idea, but I’m sure someone around here wondered where in the world that chicken skeleton came from that was lying in their front yard. Sorry about that.

Then the West Nile Virus came to the U.S. First mentioned in the news in 1999, it didn’t seem to affect the crows in this area until about 2001. Then every year there were fewer and fewer crows, until there were only 3 or 4 of these great birds in my trees. I would look at them and think, “Come on guys, you can do it, fight this stupid, deadly virus. Mice and chipmunk populations are getting out of control, bugs are rampant, nature is askew. We need you”

Fast forward to yesterday morning. Hearing a lot of squawking and screeching and wondering what the heck…… I went outside and there they were. Fourteen crows (yes, I counted them) in my tree. Cawing and cackling and chasing each other from branch to branch just like old times. Down to the ground to eat the craneflys that are now numbering in the zillions (no, I did not count them). Crows flying from the back to the front, to the neighbors and back again. Whoo hoo!!!! Welcome back guys, and if you eat all those craneflys I’ll give you a chicken for dessert.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thank You

I would like to thank all the bloggers out there that I visit on a daily basis and those that visit me. Those of you who gave me the inspiration to finally get out there and clean up my flower beds. With your work ethics and sense of pride in your gardens, you finally forced me to work in mine. Mostly out of guilt. Okay…totally out of guilt.

So today I went out there armed to the teeth to do a good job. With pruners, gloves, knee mats, rakes, hoes, trash bags, trowels, and shovels I stood there and surveyed the site. Geeeze, this is going to be a huge job, and it would be a lot easier if I had someone to help me. Looking around I see that the 2 neighbors who were outside just moments ago, have now conveniently disappeared (I’m not saying that they’re now hiding inside, but I’m pretty sure that window shade was up before) There is now no one in sight that I might rope into giving me a hand, and I resign myself to the fact that it is just me, all alone in that tangled mess, no one caring if I’m in over my head,
sob, sob.

So where do I start? At the beginning I guess, and so I did. Starting right at my feet I began to move slowly forward. Pulling, pushing, muttering some bad words, cutting, digging, cussing, tying, raking, outright swearing, kneeling, standing and kicking. That’s kicking myself for not keeping up with this mess all along so I wouldn’t be in this situation now. Oh oh, be careful in this corner because one year something here caused me to break out in hives (never figured out what), make sure you pull these that are hiding under here and over there and don’t try to pretend that’s a plant because you know it isn’t so dig it out!!

Finally after too many hours I looked upon a clean and neat flower bed. Do I feel a sense of pride, of accomplishment, a good feeling of a job well done? NO. I feel cold, exhausted, sore and cranky. And this was only one flower bed. One out of four. SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

So thank you people. Thank you for the sore arms, back, knees and hands. Thank you for the dirty, torn fingernails and the dirty, torn jeans (the mats and gloves got discarded somewhere along the way). Thank you for the sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. And since sore muscles always feel worse the next day, thank you for tomorrow. When I’m moaning and groaning as I try to get out of bed you can bet I’ll be thinking of you. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Surprises for Slackers

I am a slacker. Yes, I admit it. This time of year I am totally devoid of the energy and diligence to attend to my flower beds. The grass that started growing in the beds a few weeks ago is now twice as nice as the grass in the lawn. Twice as high too. I kinda like it.

And the weeds. It’s hard to tell where the plants stop and the weeds begin. I like to think of them as some new ground cover, because they certainly do cover the ground and the mulch that I put down this spring. At least I think I put mulch down. I’m not quite sure since I can’t see any of it now.

From a distance the beds look great. Nice and green and healthy. What you don’t want to do is get too close because then the nice, lush green stuff looks like what it really is, weeds. So of course the solution is to either pull the weeds or stand back. Guess which one I chose.

And I’m glad I did. If I would have been keeping up with the grass and the weeds all this time look at what I would have missed seeing.

A little impatiens popping up in the middle of nowhere

A little blue wave petunia and a larger pink one

And a pretty little snapdragon whose seeds had to have been hiding for at least 2 years

So, slackers do sometimes get rewarded.

Works for me.