Thursday, October 29, 2009

Handicapped Parking

Is there a new rule that I wasn't made aware of that says "No Parking in a Handicapped Zone without placards UNLESS you are in an Elementary School parking lot...then park wherever you feel like"?  

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fun and Exciting

One thing in life that I feel like I am missing out on, (and I feel that way because I am impatient and have a hard time "waiting my turn") is travel.  The idea of visiting every place I can imagine takes hold of my imagination, and doesn't let go too easily.  I want to see it all!  And I want my children to see the places I loved visiting as a child. We live in the Grand Canyon state...we should probably take a trip to the Grand Canyon.  I love visiting the local sights, the ruins, the hills, the trails, I want to see Oman, Korea, Sydney, Vietnam.  Pretty much the only place that doesn't spike my interest too much is Italy.  I have no idea why I don't care about Italy...JP says I don't like Italian food...maybe that has something to do with it. (For the record, I do like Italian food, but not Olive Garden, that's as Italian as Taco Hell is Mexican.)

So I found a writing gig for (you may have noticed the button on my side bar, click it to see my articles).  I took the Mesa, AZ Sightseeing gig.  I really expected it to just be very localized, I thought I would just write about what's to do in Mesa, AZ.  I felt really happy to do that.  It seemed like the perfect excuse to find new things to do and take my family all around town so I could write about what to do in Mesa.  What I didn't expect going in, was all the contacts I would make with people in the travel industry, in the know in their own towns (the Santa Fe, New Mexico travel Examiner has some great articles, she almost makes me want to try New Mexico one more time before deciding forever and always that New Mexico is an evil state.)
In addition, because pretty much required me to voluntarily (like that?) sign up for twitter, I have found lots and lots of FREE things to do in Mesa in the next couple of weeks.  Who knew?

I had no idea when I replied to a Craig's List ad for a paid writing gig that the result would be an answer to my desire to find ways for my family to enjoy some of life and to get out of the grind a little.

The pay for Examiner seems to be somewhere about a penny a click.  That's not alot.  But even after just one week, I can see that the rewards from making contacts not just in my community, but around the entire US (when will it become the world?) are going to be invaluable.

I'm excited.

Also, Examiner is in 120 cities, not all of them "large" if you think you'd like to become an Examiner, please let me know so I can refer you.  There is a special way to do the referral, and I get $50.00 if they offer you the gig, so it would mean alot to me if you'd let me refer you.  I think most of you can put a sentence together, so, why not see if its something for you?  There are lots and lots and lots of topics to choose from, and if there is not currently an Examiner for a topic you are passionate about, you can suggest a topic!  So if budget meal planning is your thing, suggest it.  If special education is your thing, suggest it!  If traveling by donkey is your thing, you can see if you can find some readers for that too.

Anyways, I just wanted to fill you all in on this, because I'm loving it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tis the Season

Since we're all about the spooky things in life, I suppose I may have brought this on myself, but the nightmares this month...I'm done.

Every morning I am waking up exhausted from having been fired by bosses I had 10 years ago, arguing with family members, discovering I was about to become a grandparent before 40, being attacked by snakes, haunted by 40 gallon barrel's of potato pearls, etc.

The bags under my eyes are not pretty.  I have never been so tempted to take the kids to school still wearing my pajamas.  A donut sounds really good.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

To Be Fair...

I received this in my in-box today in regards to my post about JoAnn Fabric and Crafts.

I'm all about being fair and considering other perspectives.  Apparently I was mistaken and forgot that it is MY responsibility as the shopper to make sure I get friendly service.  My bad.

"Anonymous said...

Maybe if you shoppers were a little nicer workers wouldn't be the way they are, looks like you walk in looking for something to complain about"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Sincerest Apologies

Dear Mr. Cave Hair,

I owe you an apology.
When we did this-

You were probably never expecting to wake up to this-

Is there really anything to say other than "I'm sorry?"

There's a reason why we call ourselves Clan of th Cave Hair.

(to all of you taking the before and after dare last week, I win.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm in a hurry, lets do "Wordless Wednesday"...why not?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Creeeeeeepin me out....with some musik musik

JP and I have been having fun all month posting creepy picks of the day for seasonally appropriate music. (Some  might call it Halloween, but JP prefers Helloween...its that special time of year when we can let our inner goth out)

Of course we have enjoyed the usual picks, "This Is Halloween" both the original and a spooky Marilyn Manson version (does it get more?) and "Every Day is Halloween" by good ol' Ministry, but we've found some other fun, weird, offbeat, bizarre, and just plain stupid tunes too!

My fave so far is this one:

Don't you just love the creepy buzzy organ and the wailing Wailers? My kids can't get enough of this song either, in fact one night last week, they begged to hear it just one more time during dance party time before bed, they had already heard it 4 times in a row. I agreed to play it one more time and told them "OK, one more time, run around, be crazy, do whatever you want for 3 more minutes, then its bedtime." Ummmm, lets just say that next time I will omit the phrase "do whatever you want." Before I knew it, they were both wearing nothing but their underwear and jumping over the couch. I had no idea that do whatever you want meant strip to your drawers and jump over furniture! I thought maybe it meant chase each other, do jumping jacks, maybe even play freeze tag. Now I know!

Here is the STUPIDEST song I've found so far...seriously, I don't know which is lamer, the chipmunks, or the rapping. Either way, it gets my vote for being next only to the Milk Shake Song, and My Humps for Stupidest Song Ever in the Entire Universe. (even stupider than the One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater---which I LOVED as a child.)It made the creepy picks list because its about a witch doctor, and witch doctors are creepy.

Get your kids over here before you click though, because they will love it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I need your Help

We got invited to an adults only Halloween Party.  Last year we didn't go because we didn't want to go hang out with a bunch of drunks, this year we're going, not because we want to hang out with drunks, but because we've used our inability to stop being judgmental as an excuse not to socialize, and not socializing, well, we're already kind of socially stunted to start with.

Anyways, here's where I need your help.

The theme is "Dead Celebrities"

I do not want to go as Farrah, Anna-Nicole, or any other boobtastic blonde.  Other than that, if she's dead, and a celebrity, its fair game.

Who should I go as?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Major Meltdown Avoided

JP's work schedule has really been taking its toll on our family.  For the majority of our marriage he has not had a "normal" work schedule, I guess if I say "normal" then he has never in our marriage had a "normal" work schedule, but for a period of time he did have one that was totally live-able.  But the one he's been working for the past two years has been really hard.  He's gone all night 4 days a week, and then home 3 days a week, trying to join in on a normal daytime routine.  His mind, body, and spirit have suffered.  His wife, children, and home have suffered.  There have been two things that are good that have come from this job:  We are now able to pay our bills on time and in full and have a small surplus, and he has thus far been able to attend church on Sundays. (I don't know what he's going to do when we move to 8:30 church in January.  I'm a little nervous about that.)  Those are two really good things that we haven't always been able to do.

So a change of schedule has been a subject of discussion, even prayer.  Its not as simple as just putting in a request and somebody either approving it or denying it.  A shift change means new leadership, new team-mates, even a change in scope and focus of work. None of that is particularly desirable to JP, but a happy family is desirable, so he's been willing to consider the change, should an opportunity come his way.

Keeping in mind that I am nearly desperate for a change, imagine how I felt when as we walked out of a movie on Thursday night (Couples Retreat, if you like Vince Vaughan being Vince Vaughan and are in the mood for something inanely silly, go for it, we laughed out loud several times.) and JP answered a phone call from one of his work buddies who had a "dilemma".  The dilemma was he was being offered a job on the Swing Shift.  (still night-ish work, but home by 1:00am).  Frank is, so far as I can tell, JP's BFF at work.  Its Frick and Frack, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Two Musketeers, Zoro and Tonto ( I think they take turns being the horses-ass).  JP was disappointed that his friend would be leaving the squad.  I sat silently in the car trying my hardest not to cry as I was feeling totally and completely slapped in the face by God.  I honestly felt like he was saying "I heard you, and this opportunity has come up, but you are not deserving so I'm going to give it to one of your friends."  I felt like the little kid who had to look on as her siblings ate ice-cream as she stared at her bowl of cream of broccoli soup she didn't want to eat.  I felt angry.  But I did control myself and remembered that Frank just got married 2 weeks ago and is trying to blend families and really probably needs this opportunity more than we do.

And then...

JP came home this morning and said "guess what?"  Frank's not leaving, they gave the opening to that woman we can't stand.

So here, this poor guy who just got married, who's wife I can only imagine was excited beyond belief that they would get so lucky for a more normal schedule two weeks into their marriage, who had actually agonized over whether to even take the transfer, and ultimately decided to take it because it was what was good for his family, had to go in to work to be told "oh, we gave it to someone else"...and that someone else is generally considered to be a free-loader who collects a paycheck. (Probably she had a superior who was ready to get rid of her.)

And that is where the major meltdown was avoided.  If that opportunity had come to JP, and he had accepted it, and then came home to tell me that a lazy, can't be trusted, inefficient, and possibly even incompetent person had been selected instead, there would have been a nuclear bomb gone off in my head.  The shattering disappointment would have been felt for miles around me.

And so, for once, I don't have to look back years, but only days to see that sometimes, our greatest blessings are the one's that feel like unanswered prayers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Who Will Pray For Mommy?

Although we do not always succeed, we really try to be "Glass Half Full" kind of people.  We are keenly aware that while our lot may not be exactly what we hoped for, we can look in any direction around us and find scores of people having a rougher time.  This tends to effect the way we pray.

Every night, before JP leaves for work, we gather as a family in prayer.  We give the usual thanks, and try really hard to find something different to be thankful for, and then we start asking for blessings.  But we've been very poor about asking for blessings of anything other than health and safety for ourselves.  We pray for our friends and family members having health issues, who are experiencing unemployment or underemployment, who are going through devastating divorces.  We pray for our leaders to have wisdom and the will to act upon what is right.  We pray with a heart of mixed sorrow and gratitude for those fighting in wars.  We pray for rain.  We pray that Daddy will be safe at work and that he will have the energy to do the things required of him during the night.  We pray that the children will rest and awaken healthy in the morning.  Mommy is usually left out of the request for blessings.  I wonder why that is?  Do we all think Mommy is doing ok and she doesn't need any blessings?   I sort of think that so long as mommy is still doing the dishes, the laundry, and making the meals, that we all think that mommy is just fine.  Its not true.  Mommy needs at least as much prayer as anybody else in the family does.  Mommy is not the pillar of strength that she would have to be to go through life without her family's prayers.

But the problem goes even a little deeper. 

As a family,  we haven't been praying for our needs to be met.  And its showing. Sure, we have a home to live in, food to eat, clothing to wear, and a car to drive.  JP has good employment, excellent insurance, and is currently happy with leadership at work.  But what about our emotional health?  What about our Spiritual Health?  Why aren't we praying for more kindness, more patience, more gentleness?  Why aren't we praying for things more specific than Health and Safety?  (which, we have been blessed with, so if the proof is there that you will be blessed with what you ask for, then we have indeed been blessed with health and safety.)

 There is a possibility sitting on the horizon that would make a tremendous impact on my ability to cope with Sunday responsibilities.  It won't change the fact that night work is what JP does, but it will change Sundays...dramatically.  Its out there, its being discussed and I've sort of crossed my fingers and thought to myself, well, that would be nice, but so far the thing I've been best at accepting is disappointment, so I'm not going to get my hopes up.  And then twice in the last 24 hours I've been reminded by someone else or an invasive thought that my Father in Heaven WANTS to bless me, but that I must ASK for the blessing.  So I've been on my knees asking, even begging for this one seemingly inconsequential change that would take away 12 tons of stress for mommy.  Maybe nobody else cares if this change occurs, but Mommy cares, and mommy needs it, so who will pray for mommy to receive just this one little blessing? I think its time for a talk with the family.  Mommy needs blessings too, and I'm asking for this one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Did you fall out of your chair? My heart beat for 20 minutes after my first encounter with this video.
Have I ever mentioned my irrational fear of snakes?  I was being very brave to even watch this, and then I was totally taken advantage of.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Open Letter to JoAnn Fabric and Craft

Dear JoAnn Fabric and Craft,

Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit a number of your stores in several different states.  I have yet to receive friendly, polite, or courteous service at any of your stores.  I have noticed that your stores consistently have "help-wanted" signs up.  That's interesting during these trying economic times when there are more workers than jobs available.  How is it that you cannot keep your stores fully staffed?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the fact that I cannot get friendly service in your stores, and you cannot keep employees working in your stores is related.  Either you are hiring anybody that says they're willing to show up for a paycheck, or you hire previously happy people and turn them into ogres overnight.  I suspect it may be related to nasty management because I can think of no other reason why people who are working in a store related to the things they love most (sewing and crafting) are so dang disagreeable all the time!

I am disgusted.  I really do not like giving your store any of my business, but since you've driven out every other fabric store in every town I've lived in, I have no choice.  If I want fabric, I have to go to your store and give you money in exchange for rude signs, rude people, and overpriced merchandise.

I am not joking when I say that I got friendlier service as a white Christian woman in an Arab market at noon during Ramadan, than I get in your stores.

I don't know what your policies are, or why your people are left to feel so undervalued that they cannot muster a smile or a thank you, or a polite phrase for the many hand-printed signs around your stores.  But I sure hope that you either fix it, or go out of business, because no business should thrive while treating people the way your employees treat people.


Mrs. CaveHair

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2nd Annual Skeptics Day Parade

Today is Skeptics Day! Its true, its on the calendar.
Last year I listed a bunch of junk I didn't believe, and then you left the things you were skeptical about in the comment's section.  We called it a Skeptic's Day Parade.

Lets do it again, shall we?

So, in honor of skeptics day, here is a list of things I'm not quite sold on:

Bean-o.  I'm skeptical, what can I say?  Do I really have to expound on this?  I just can't see how it could work.  I know they try to explain the whole enzyme thing in their commercials, but I'm still not sold.

The Nobel Peace Prize.  I mean, so long as we're handing out prizes based on effort alone, then I'm expecting Betty Crocker to come knocking on my door any day now with the Bake-Off grand prize. I deserve it for all the effort I've put into getting oil and water to mix.

The Swine Flu. I don't get what we are supposed to be scared of.  And from what I hear, neither does anybody else.  In fact, people seem so convinced that they're supposed to be scared of something, that the mass majority of people I hear from have decided it makes more sense to be scared of the vaccination than the actual flu.  Why do people think they are supposed to be scared of the N1H1 "Swine Flu" virus?  I don't know, but my guess is it has something to do with  Mexico and Pigs.

The Housing Market Recovery.  Honestly, I think this is hype from starving real estate agents who want to use fear of missing out on a deal as a motivating factor for potential buyers.  The fact is there is a glut of empty homes not yet on the market which will begin going into foreclosure in massive numbers in the coming months, and people are not done walking away yet.    Once these homes have been foreclosed on, they will enter the market in similarly massive numbers.  I'm no economics expert, but I know when supply is greater than demand, prices drop. And until employment numbers improve, there's not going to be a surge in demand. (And guess what, Arizona has dropped from the 3rd best place to find work to the 84th worst the math.)

And lastly "Simple" or "Simplistic"...I have become seriously skeptical of anything attached to these words.  These words used to actually mean not pretentious, sophisticated or grand, common, ordinary, lowly or plain.
I have yet to see anybody use the word "Simple" or "Simplistic" and then show me a picture of a cotton cloth. My favorite mis-use of the word "simplistic" involves hair-do's with 10 steps and three kinds of ribbon which have been baked in the oven on sticks and threaded through the hair with darning needles.  I am skeptical that this is more simple than a pony-tail.  But maybe I'm wrong, after all, skepticism is just a general disbelief, not a hard core fact of inaccuracy.

So there's my list of things I'm skeptical about.  What about you?  I'm giving you permission to leave a link to your blog in my comment's section today, so go for it, tell us what you're skeptical about, and find some new readers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

City Mouse/Country Mouse-An Evening of Contrasts

Dating is not something that JP and I are exactly expert at.  There are a lot of things we could blame it on.  Money, small towns, lack of suitable babysitters, you name it.  We have used every excuse in the book for being lousy daters.  But what it really boils down too is a lack of creativity.  Granted, living in a couple of small towns with few options that weren't bars,(and I don't mean TGIMcFunster type bars, I mean dives) kind of exacerbated our lack of creativity.  I mean, when there are bars, bars, bars, a burger joint and a movie theater in town, your options are a little limited if you're not the drinking type.  But still...its a matter of creativity, right?  Right.

But every once in a while, we get it right.  And it seems to be always when we really REALLY need to get it right. Its those times that someone's (singular or plural) mental health depends on it.  This past Friday was one of those rare events when we got it just right and we were able to return home refreshed and ready to be parents again.

We kind of lucked out, because the day started off with JP having to do some chores for work that he didn't really want to do, but while he was out, there was a TV playing, and he was there during the morning news and he happened to catch the "Savvy Shopper" who was doing a segment on cheap/free things to do around Phoenix this weekend.  ( we canceled our cable, so we would not have caught her segment had he not gone in to take care of the work stuff.)  As it turned out, there was a free art show in town, and just days before I had asked JP how was it possible that he enjoyed the kinds of music he enjoys without being much into visual art?  He took that to mean I would enjoy going to an art exhibit, so he set the whole date up.

 We had a perfectly ridiculous evening!

 We decided to call it our "City Mouse/Country Mouse" date because we could not have contrasted our activities more greatly if we had actually tried to have an exercise in opposites.  We ate BBQ at a chain restaurant  and then went to an Art Exhibit Open House at a University.  JP wore a plaid shirt, I wore black and too much eye makeup (we had a little miscommunication about what we were wearing and I really did not want to wash my face and start all over again, nor did I want to ask him to change since A: it didn't matter, and B: I was feeling pretty lucky that he was trying this hard to do something new and different for a date.) We sat at a table where a waitress wrote on a plate with BBQ sauce, had pig-puns printed on her back, and used papertowels to wipe our faces at the table.  We listened to "experimental" music. There was laughing, knee-slapping, and darn near pants-peeing over things that were supposed to be humorous, and things that weren't actually supposed to be funny at all, but were just trying so hard to be serious that it felt like a joke.  There was regret that we hadn't spent any "young" years together, and gratitude that we didn't meet until we were grown up enough to appreciate each other.  There was Gelato, Facebooking, hand-holding, and squealing around corners while we pretended we were 17 again. And then there was returning home, trying to pay an ornery sitter...I mean sister...who wouldn't be paid, and falling asleep on the couch like an old married couple.

Oh, and by the way, we drove our American gas guzzling SUV to the Sustainable Earth Art Show...are you surprised that we got out of there without a lynching?

Best line of the night:

(about the actual cockroach in the road) "Oh my gosh this roach is HUGE!"
                                                              "I told you I smelled Marijuana"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here's your sign

If the numbers on the scale weren't sign enough.
If the fact that your cute clothes don't go past your hips anymore, isn't enough.
If the fact that you are seriously considering puking as an acceptable weight-loss tool isn't enough.
If the tears of frustration and anger aren't enough...

Then maybe being asked when they baby is due will do the trick.

**note to self:  Do not wear Empire Waist again until 40 lbs have been dropped.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Strange things

Here are some of the strange things that have "lived" in my house from time to time.  Co-incidentally, these inhabitants have made themselves known in the times that I have had 3 and 4 year olds living in my home.

Twin Puppies named "Daisy"
Elephants with toilet paper ears
Cats, lots and lots of Cats
GI Joe
ponies, lots and lots of ponies
the occasional snake
Thor, the god of thunder
goats under bridges
rock-n-roller chicks
Hawaiian girls
Surfers-some of the world's best!
bouncing balls
muscle men
black knights
Spider Man
the Hulk
and last but not least Goo

What does the list of your home's strange inhabitants look like?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swimming Against the Current

Lately I've been feeling exhausted.  Mentally, emotionally, physically, just completely exhausted.  I couldn't quite put into words the source of my exhaustion, I only knew that I was tired, and it had something to do with a vague feeling that I was constantly at battle with outside sources.

Then President Monson gave me that "Aha" moment when he said in his closing remarks Sunday something about feeling like we are swimming against the current, and that it is tiring. I breathed a sigh of relief and for the first time when somebody from a pulpit said the words "I Love You" I actually believed I, ME, LISA was being told that somebody understood how I was feeling and that I really was loved.  Just the day before I cried out to my Father in Heaven, more like screamed out at him that if He indeed sees my family's challenges, and indeed loves me, then why would he not do something about it? ( I know, I know, I know.) President Monson's words were like an answer to prayer for me that I am not alone in experiencing the exhaustion of hard work and unrewarded dedication.

But the point of my post this morning is that today, for the first time in weeks, maybe months, I feel relaxed, happy, and energized.  This week I have taken some "personal days" and not ignored responsibility, but done a better job of prioritizing and delegating.  I've given myself some breathing room, I've used the word "no".  I've tried to simplify my expectations of myself.  I've acted promptly when needed, and have accomplished a fair portion, but I've allowed some non-essentials to give way for a few days.  I feel better.  There are some things I would change in a heart-beat if I could, but I can't.  So what do I do?  I find a way to be happy anyways.  I've done it before, I can do it again. Giving myself permission to rest a moment before the next jog upstream is probably the best thing I can do, because I have a sneaking suspicion the current's about to get stronger.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dearest Damsel In Distress/Elena wants a Portable Oven

Ok, so you're smart enough to age yourself by an extra year for the new 2009 round of this scammy "Damsel in Distress" e-mail (as seen by the posting from "Don Enrico" who had this exact same letter last year in which you were only 31 years old.) But what you're not smart enough to realize is that your letter smacks of scammery. Yes scammery. I know that's not "yet" a word, but I'm making it a word and I'm submitting it for "word of the year" to Websters Dictionary. If "Truthiness" can win, so can "scammery" its a verb, and it means "the action of scamming".

Let me break it down for you as to how I knew your sob-story was a scam.

1. Your broken English. Yes, you explained that you live in Russian Province, so I should probably just chalk your poor English up to your Eastern European background, but I only accept poor English e-mail from one source, my dear friend who's first language is Spanish. Everybody else, if you want me to think you're not trying to take my money, learn better English. (how's that for xenophobic?)

2. You "founded" my address on the internet. Well, you found it somewhere, but I didn't post it on a bulletin board as an invitation to all to send me scammy letters asking for wood burning stoves.

3. You're telling me the exact price of a wood burning stove, but you're asking me to send you a stove in case I happen to have one over here in America that I'm no longer using. Its alot like the guys standing on the corner with signs saying "will work for money" but they're sitting on a bucket across from a "Help Wanted" sign. You're hoping that I'll just send money, that way, if you decide you'd rather have a fur coat than an iron stove, you can totally do that!

4. How very kind of you to go ahead and figure out the exchange rate and all so you could tell me the exact dollar amount that this stove will cost in US dollars. It just strikes me as strange.

So here's what I think will happen if I respond to your letter. It will go something like this:
For one, you're probably really hoping I'm a man, because your little scam will work out alot better with a dude. So, if I'm a guy and I write you back that I don't have a stove, but I'd really like to help you and your children out, so where can I send a small amount of money? You're going to write back about how grateful you are for my kindness and lay all kinds of accolades on me. You're going to really build me up, make me feel special. We'll exchange e-mails for a while, and you'll eventually invite me to set up a chat with you, you like me that much. So we'll chat about all manner of things, how much my job sucks, how much I don't deserve to be treated so poorly by my boss/wife/mother/room-mate, we'll talk about your children, how they're just getting over pneumonia, how much the wood burning stove has helped them this winter, etc, etc. Eventually we'll exchange pictures. I'll send you my real picture, you'll tell me how handsome I am, even in all my self-loathing, I'll want to believe that you, the most beautiful girl from Russia I've ever seen actually thinks I'm handsome. The picture you have sent me will be somebody else entirely, in fact, you're probably a guy, but the picture you will send me will be totally hot! I will fall in love with you because you will make me feel special and you are the only person in the world that is grateful I exist. You will have more sickness, more job losses, maybe even an eviction, I will send you my rent money so you can pay yours. Eventually, something will happen to make me realize I've been used and I will kill myself because I feel so stupid about thinking a beautiful Russian woman actually cared about me when really it was some big fat convict taking my money.

So, I guess I won't respond to your letter this time. I am not a guy, I don't have a coal stove, and I don't really want to send $285 US dollars for you to get one.

Here is the e-mail I received:


My name is Elena, I have 32 years and I live in Russian province. I work in library and I can use computer after my work when possible. I finded your address in internet and I decided to write you this letter.

I have a 8-years old daughter Angelina, her father abandoned us and we live with my mother.

Due to the financial crisis recently my mother lost job and our situation became very difficult.

The prices for gas and electricity is very high in our region and we cannot use it to heat our home anymore.

The winter is coming and weather becoming colder each day. We are very afraid and we don't know what to do.

The only accessible way for us to heat our home is to use a portable oven which work with burning wood. We have enough wood in our region and this oven will heat our home all winter for minimal charges.

Unfortunately, we cannot buy this oven in our city because it costs equivalent of 285 US dollars and very expensive for us.

If you have any old portable oven and in case you don't use it anymore, we will be very grateful to you if you can donate it to us and organize transport of this oven to our address (200km from Moscow). This ovens are different, usually they made from cast iron.

I will be waiting for your answer.

With deep respect from Russia,
Elena and my family.

Monday, October 5, 2009

For My Shared Clan Eggshop and my friends in Thessaloniki

Why yes! I have a post for you.  While I'm sure this is not remotely what you were looking for when you googled the above phrase and landed on my blog, I do have a story to tell.  I'm sure you'll find it intriguing, provided you enjoy a good skin-crawling-ooh that's disgusting-truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story involving arachnids and insects.

The previous post is about Montezuma's Castle, the picture I posted of the "Castle" represents everything the average tourist will see when visiting.  You cannot climb up into it, you cannot get any closer, there are no trails, and no additional dwellings to be seen.  What you see is what you get.  There is a small "museum" I would rather call it a Visitor's Center which tells a very short history about the structure and the National Parks system.  That's it.  Nothing else.

The trip is not a disappointment, provided you understand you will not be climbing up into the dwelling.  Its worth seeing, make it a side trip on your way to doing something else.  The country is beautiful, its worth the drive.

That said...we had a little bonus siting the day we visited.  See the picture above?  This is a "Tarantula Hawk" (thank you google images for this picture.)  I think its rather beautiful myself.  What this insect does however, can be called nothing other than horrifying. Its the stuff horror movies are made of!  Think hairy spiders, paralyzing venom, kidnapping, egg-laying, being eaten alive by hatchlings.  These are the kinds of things put in movies to terrify people.  These are the kinds of things that are in movies I don't watch.  We had the privilege of seeing one of these do its thing in the parking lot at Montezuma's Castle.  The tarantula hawk had found its prey, one of these adorable creatures---------->

 What the park ranger told us next was fascinating.  We truly had a learning experience, and according to her, a rare one.

The tarantula hawk had found its prey, a nice hairy, rather large tarantula (did you know tarantulas don't really like to bite you, and if you do, its a lot like a bee-sting and shouldn't really be any big deal?  Tarantula's are nothing to be scared of).  He injected the tarantula with a venom which would paralyze the spider completely. Once the people cleared away and gave the poor hawk a moment to get its work done, his plan was to drag that spider to his den of iniquity where he would fertilize the eggs of his mate, and she, wanting healthy, well-fed baby-hawks, would lay her eggs inside the LIVE tarantula.  The tarantula would be kept alive as the embryos developed and eventually became baby tarantula hawks.  The babies would eat the live spider from the inside out, making their arrival into the world complete.

How's THAT for a Scary Halloween story?  If only I could make this stuff up, but no.  Its TRUE. And it was really cool to get to see this underside of nature in action.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Montezuma's Castle- (no revenge)

As it turns out, Montezuma had nothing to do with it, and it wasn't a castle, more like a high-rise apartment building for communal living.  Can you believe this beautiful cliff dwelling? I imagine a small band of people wandering into the beautiful valley, finding water and plenty of vegetation, and figuring it would make a good place to settle then looking around and thinking to themselves, "well, where should we sleep tonight?"  Somebody, probably one of the men, said "hey, there's a cave up there, lets climb up there and check it out."  He decided his family should sleep there and after 4 or 5 nights his wife said "this cave isn't bad, but it sure would be nice if I had a little wall right here to keep the animals out of our food."  And so the husband said "lets build a little wall then."  And so she had a nice little pantry she could store her corn and amaranth in and she liked it and thought to herself as she peered down at her pregnant belly "This cave isn't bad, but it would sure be nice to have a little wall right here so the baby won't roll off the cliff." So she told her husband "I'd sure like another wall, so the baby won't roll off the cliff."  And so they built the wall, and she left her handprints in the mud because she was too tired to smooth it out nicely, and she looked around herself and thought "Ahhh, this is nice." And then she realized, "My in-laws are coming! Where am I going to put them?"  And she went to her husband and said " know how your folks are coming for a visit when the baby arrives?" and he, seeing a major honey-do coming on, hesitantly replied "yeeeeeees?" And she said "well, I was thinking, they would probably really appreciate some privacy while they are here.  I know they said they don't mind sleeping on the cave-floor, and they'd be happy to fend for themselves and get their own meals while they're here, but I just feel like such a terrible hostess putting your mother on the hard limestone floor without even a wall for privacy.  I haven't even had a chance to polish it or make any petroglyph's on the walls." And he said "and so you want?" to which she replied, "Do you think we could add one more room and another storage room?  We could really use the space as the baby grows anyways, so its not like it won't be useful." And he obliged. (Even though he was tired from taking down that 8 point buck earlier that morning and fighting off the mountain lion late the night before.)  She helped him mix the mud and put it up on the walls he constructed for her, and she left a few more handprints (hoping her mother in law wouldn't notice.)

After the baby was born, the grandparents came and visited and word got out that these two sure had a nice set-up, plenty of storage and room to grow plus a huge green valley and plenty of water.  So guess what?  The wife's brother lost his job as lead-hunter in his band of people when there was that whole coyote-shape-shifting miscommunication thing and he accidentally shot a mischievous local teenager with his bow and arrow. Since food and water was running scarce in his village and he was having trouble finding another hunting gig, he decided to pay a visit to his sister in her big-fancy cave where he heard she had a nice guest room that wasn't being used, and plenty of storage space. So he and his family of 17 came wandering into the camp destitute and looking for shelter.  How could she turn him away?  So she returned to her husband and said "honey?" and a lively conversation followed where they argued over whether or not there was really a "misunderstanding" about that "coyote" and if they let them stay in their guest house, were they really helping them, or just giving them a handout and would they help hunt?  And if they did help hunt, could the brother really be trusted with a bow and arrow again? They finally decided the brother's family could stay, but only until his luck changed, and... he and his wife had to help out around the place.  Three years later they realized the brother was still there, and now his family had grown and they needed more space and more storage, and so up went some more walls.  Eventually, the brother got tired of his sister's husband acting like he was doing them all a favor by letting them stay there and so the family built their own castle next door.  The brother made it bigger, with even more storage, and his wife filled the rooms with so much junk he had to put down new floor boards every so often, but they built their castle in the middle of the real-estate boom and the contractor's hurried the project along and did it as fast as they could with the cheapest materials they could find so the house fell down a couple hundred years later.  The sister's house still stands, its beautiful and unique.  Mostly unadorned except for the hand-prints her husband came to love, the home is simple in its beauty with hand-carved wooden ladders, lovely windows, and 3rd level terrace dining.  The beautiful two toned "paint" job inspires neighbors for hundreds of miles around.
Of course...I could be all wrong. ;)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warm Milk

Did you know that WarmMilk is both the cure and the cause of Insomnia?  No?  Well in my house it is!  I mistakenly suggested a cup of warm milk one night when Gabe was having difficulty getting to sleep.  My generosity has been taken advantage of however, and has now created a reason to have insomnia.  This child waits for his younger sister to fall asleep, sneaks downstairs, tells me he "can't sleep" and then asks for a cup of warm milk.

I'm not sure if its the warm milk, or conversation with mom's that he enjoys, but either way, I've created a monster.  Good thing its a monster I'm fairly fond of ;)