Thursday, October 30, 2008
- Candy corn has been around for over 100 years.
- It was invented by George Renninger.
- A serving of candy corn has about 140 calories.
- Over 35 million pounds of candy corn is produced each year.
- That's over 9 billion pieces of candy corn.
- The variety with brown ends is called Indian Corn.
So, what is your stand on candy corn? Do you love it or do you hate it? I was on a lady's blog the other day and she posted how she hated candy corn and used it as punishment to hand out to kids who were too old to trick-or-treat. Candy corn hater! I wonder what she'd do if I showed up at her door every night? For me, it's a year-round obsession, but I mostly buy it at Halloween. Here today is National Candy Corn Day and I don't have any in the house. Perhaps I'll stop on the way home from my dentist appointment and pick some up -- heh heh.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I started thinking about all the homes I've lived in. I know some people who have lived in the same home all their life. I know others who have moved more times than they can remember. As for me, I've lived in 9 different places, including apartments. They've all been in the same general area, with the exception of the house I'm in now. How about you -- how many homes have you lived in?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thirteen years ago I had to say goodbye to my best friend. CJ may have only been a cat, but he was a once-in-a-lifetime cat. I've had four cats since and if you added them all together, they'd never come close to what CJ was. He was truly special. Rick & I came home from school one day in 1981. As we were getting out of the car I heard a faint mew sound. I followed the noise up to a brick wall in my yard and there sat this little ball of fluff. He was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. He was way too young to have wandered off by himself. He wasn't even weaned from his mother. We're pretty sure someone had gone around dumping kittens off at various homes in the neighborhood. Rick & I took the kitten inside and tried to get him to eat. He wouldn't eat much, but then went off to sleep in my arms for hours.
He was a playful little guy, so I named him CJ, which was short for claws & jaws. He didn't have a mean bone in his body, but he liked to rough house, so the name fit. At the time, my brother and his wife were living with us and they had a cat named Mosh. The cats got along great. At that time, I let CJ come and go as he pleased. He was able to go outside through the dog door whenever he wanted. When he was just about a year old, I heard people outside yelling for me. CJ had gotten hit by a car right in front of my house. The driver didn't stop. I ran outside in horror and saw him by the side of the road. When we picked him up, a stream of blood rushed out from his behind. I knew he was hurt bad. This was in the evening and our vet office was closed, so we had to drive CJ to a pet emergency clinic in another town 30 minutes away. He was examined by the vet and given a "grave prognosis". The vet told us CJ had a broken hip, a concussion and a femur was broken in 3 places. He also had internal bleeding and there could be other things going on. The vet said his chances didn't look good. I had the option of putting him to sleep or going with surgery, which would be very expensive. In addition, surgery had no guarantees. I decided on surgery. It was a long process and the vet bills were outrageous.
CJ did very well with the surgery. It took a lot of time to heal. He wasn't able to move around, so Rick built him the cage you see in the picture above. The top lifted off so we could get to him easily. We put his cage in our living room so he could look out the window. He used to rub his head on the chicken wire and I remember being grossed out when he'd rub where his concussion scab was. He had a favorite blanket too. We had to keep clean blankets in his cage and since he couldn't use a litter box, we'd set him on unfolded disposable diapers. When the day came to wash his blue blanket, he wasn't happy. We'd put others in, but he'd push them aside. He loved his blue blanket. Eventually, his wounds healed and he was back to normal. He became an indoor cat from then on, which he didn't seem to mind.
Eventually, I moved from home and CJ went with me. He was our first baby. He was with me when I got married, he was with me during my first 2 pregnancies. He was the type of cat that would announce his appearance whenever he walked into a room. If I was sad, he was right with me. He used to lay on my chest and put his paws around my neck. He'd knead for hours like that until my hair was a teased mess. I could sit in one position for hours, just so I didn't disturb CJ. In 1990 he got a job as an editor of my newsletter, PET PALS! It was a pen pal newsletter for people who loved their pets. CJ was the editor and the whole thing was written in his voice. It was a lot of fun. CJ was even published book called Uncommon Cats, where he was featured in a chapter about working cats.
Over time, the effects of his accident took a toll on him. He had arthritis built up in his hips where they had been broken. He also developed renal failure, which he lived with for a long time. When he was 14 years old, it started getting the best of him. We were in the process of building our house and we were living next door at my ILs, all crammed into one big room. We finally moved into our new house, but by this point, CJ's health was deteriorating rapidly. As soon as we moved in, he started hiding from me. I knew his days were coming to an end. After 14 years, I had to make the decision to say goodbye. It was the worst thing I've ever had to do. I have 2 main regrets. The first is that I never got a picture of him in the new house. By that point, he was so sick and didn't look like himself. The second is that I had to take him to the vet at lunchtime and the office was closed. They took him in, but said they couldn't put him down until the staff came back. I couldn't stay because I had to pick my girls up from school. CJ perked up at that very last moment, as if he was saying goodbye. I regret not being with him, but in hindsight, it might have been for the best. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember a CD I had playing all that day, which I haven't been able to listen to since. I remember what clothes I had on as we drove him to the vet. It was an awful, awful day and I continued to cry for months.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about CJ. It's hard not to because I have his pictures everywhere. I have 2 on my bed stand, another on my dresser and one in my bathroom. In my living room there is a framed poster of CJ and he's on a digital photo frame that changes images. I have photo magnets of him on my fridge, he's in picture frames in the boy's playroom, the basement and in our office. I have a picture of CJ in my wallet and even in a little sunglasses holder in my Jeep. We buried his ashes at our home in California. When we made the decision to move to Montana, I couldn't leave him. I had Rick dig up his ash tin for me. I have it with me and I won't bury it again. Cats like CJ don't come around often. I've considered writing a story about his life. However, I'm not sure if anyone would find it interesting enough to publish, but who knows. Today is a hard day for me and I'm amazed how 13 years ago can feel like it was just yesterday. If you've read this entire post, I thank you. I realize it's very long, but CJ was just that special to me. I miss him terribly.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
We packed everything up and were on our way to a new adventure. We packed up the kids and the cats. Kitty & Belle were not too happy. They took turns screaming in the car for the next 3 days as we made our way north. They did fine and eventually got used to riding in the car and stopping each day in the RV. We didn't move into our new house until October 26, 2006, so we had to camp out in our trailer for a few days.
Rick and I took one last drive through Ojai, pictured above. Down the road on the left is the Arcade, which is a shopping center. The post office tower is on the right, which is a common site if you've seen pictures of Ojai. To the right is the Ojai Playhouse. It's a small movie theater. I saw JAWS for the first time there, in the front row. Directly on the left is The Oaks, which is a famous health spa that people come to from all over. This is Ojai Avenue and if you were to keep driving straight down this road, you'd end up in the area where I grew up. These pictures were taken on October 20, 2006. I haven't been back to Ojai since. Rick has because he had to return to finish up work for 6 weeks. There are a few things I miss like my family, friends and a few silly places like Andria's fish restaurant and Trader Joe's. The move has been positive for us. It was a big decision, but I'm glad we made it.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
We decided to head to the park one last time this year so we could see the summit and look at the fall foliage. It was rainy and cloudy most of the time, but it was still fun to see. I loved seeing the fall colors. But what really surprised me were all the animals we saw. We saw a mule deer, a lone bighorn sheep, a herd of mountain goats, a golden eagle, a black bear and a grizzly bear. Everything but the deer were all far away, but it's still cool when you see them. The bears were funny because the black bear was on one mountainside. Directly across the road on the other mountain was the grizzly. That doesn't happen too often, trust me. A lot of times we go to the park and don't see any wildlife, so we got lucky. We took lots of pictures, but with little sun, they weren't anything spectacular. I did get some berry pictures. I'm not sure what type of berries these are. They could be Buffaloberries, which are edible, or they could be Baneberries, which are poisonous. I'm not sure if they're Baneberries because the leaves look different. And we think the bears were eating these. They also go with the description of Nightshade Fruit, which is also poisonous. I guess I'll have to look at another berry book the next time I'm at the bookstore. The summit part of the Sun Road will have 30+ feet of snow on it soon, which is why we won't be going on it again until spring. It was a fun day in the park for us -- I really love it up there, except for that scary, scary road!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
See this little mountain goat picture? That was my inspiration. I didn't spend all my life dreaming about being an author. The idea hit me one day out of the blue. We were camping in Glacier National Park here in Montana. The big thing at Glacier are the mountain goats. People come from all over the world to see them. Mountain goats aren't commonly seen and only live in certain parts of North America. The babies are adorable.
While driving home, a story came to me and I wrote it down. I researched the writing process. I did everything wrong. I submitted to a lot of publishers. Looking back, I submitted before it was ready. These are common mistakes. My first story was called Manny the Mountain Goat. It has since been revised from the original. It has also been separated into two stories, fiction and nonfiction. The fiction one is titled Manny's Big Adventure. I am thinking of doing some revisions on the nonfiction one. That particular one is photo-illustrated and I've heard those are hard to sell because they cost more to print. You would think it would be the opposite because they don't have to pay an illustrator, but I guess that isn't the case.
But in all honesty, I can say it was a little white mountain goat that inspired me to write. Manny won't be my first book published, but it will always be special because it's the one that got me interested in writing. I don't want to give up on Manny. I plan to revise both stories until someone thinks they are worthy of being published. It's like your first love -- even if it didn't work out, you don't want to let go. It's kind of funny. I was inspired to write by a mountain goat named Manny. My first published book is about a little rat named Dilly. I live in one very strange world!
Friday, October 17, 2008
- Emphatical Piratical
- Don't Drink Sea Water
- Port Side
- Treading the Seas for Pirate Gold
- Frogg Island
- Purple Tiki
- The Plank Walker
- Sea Monster II
- Never Smile at a Crocodile
- Waltz on the Waves
- Who's at Captain's Table?
I'd recommend this CD to anyone who likes pirates, both young and old. The songs are catchy and fun. My favorite is Port Side which tells you what the parts of a ship are called. Captain Bogg & Salty have ties to other pirate rock bands called Pirate Jenny and Hucklescary Finn. Both of those bands can be found on iTunes as well. This be one rockin' CD, mate!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Two years ago we moved to northwestern Montana, to the small community of Bigfork. In some ways, it's a lot like Ojai is, with it's art galleries, small cafes and tourists. Even my neighbor across from me has an aunt who lives in Ojai. The only thing missing here are oak trees. Instead, we have all sorts of pine trees, birch, aspen and cottonwoods. The picture of Nathan playing in the leaves here was taken right when we got to Montana. We had about 4 days before we could move into our house, so we stayed in our travel trailer for awhile. It was our kid's first experience playing in autumn leaves. Watching them was like seeing something out of a movie for me. It was one of those surreal moments, seeing something that other kids got to do each year. Now of course, we have plenty of leaves to rake up and play in. One of my favorite trees are the Western Larches. They're pine trees, but oddly their needles turn bright yellow in the fall and eventually fall off. With our cooler temps, they're just starting to turn a little yellow. Soon, we'll have yellow pine needles everywhere. Beautiful trees, but messy!
Where I live, everyone is required to dispose of brush by burning on designated days. Most homes here have slash piles where they burn their brush. I don't know why, but it's fun standing outside on a cool, crisp autumn day by a huge bonfire. A lot of our fallen branches gets put into bins that I use in my wood stove, but most of the rotten stuff gets put in the slash pile. Our backyard goes up a hill and it's all forest, so we always have fallen branches and trees. Firewood really isn't a problem for us. It's a matter of having the time and strength to get the wood down the hill and get it cut up. In the spring and summer, the hill is so green and overgrown that it's impossible to get to anything. Right now is the only time we can get up there and collect the wood before everything is covered in snow. I spend most of my time outdoors in the fall, collecting sticks for my bins and burning stuff we can't use inside. It's odd, but it's a fun time of year for me.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Rencently, I posted a review for a children's picture book by Holly Jahangiri called Trockle. In the story, Trockle finds a wrapper from a Choco Taco under the bed. It's only a brief mention, but the power of advertising works for me. Since reading that book, I've been craving a Choco Taco. I hadn't had one of those in years. In fact, I didn't think they were still made. When I mentioned it to my husband he told me Taco John's restaurant sells them. I couldn't believe it. So, of course, the other day we were driving home and I saw Taco John's and had to stop. Sure enough, they sold them and I was able to satisfy my craving. Then Rick tells me he doesn't know what the big deal is because he sees them in stores all the time. I honestly can't recall seeing them, but he said he sees them. And of course, the store we went to yesterday didn't have them. I guess I'll have to keep looking. But what's so funny is that I got this craving from a picture book. It was so powerful that we made a special stop to buy one. And if that wasn't bad enough, last night I had a dream I was at a store looking for them. Of course, I couldn't find them at first, so I was chewing Rick out about it. Then after he walked away, I found some boxes in this huge walk in freezer, but I was getting frustrated because they weren't the right flavor. So, as you might guess, now it's a quest to find Choco Tacos in the stores.
Do things like this happen to other people -- or am I the only weirdo?
Friday, October 10, 2008
Is there something you wish you had? Would you like great big ears so you could hear what people were saying? Would you want wings to fly around so you didn't have to sit in traffic? If you could pick just ONE thing, what would it be? Wings to fly would be the obvious choice for me, but if I had to pick something else, I'd pick one of those light-up dingle-hopper things on fish. You know the really ugly fish that live at the very bottom of the ocean? I think it would be cool to go down there and check things out. I'd just want it for a day because I imagine being an ugly fish wouldn't be much fun.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
When we got Belle, we had several other cats. None of them got along well. It was pure hell for the cats and for us. Belle would pick on our cat Abby, and Nica would pick on Belle and Abby. Things were really ugly for awhile. Belle used to lash out at the girls for no reason. She was the first on the list to go bye-bye because we couldn't take it anymore. We even had a home all lined up for her. I don't know what happened, but Abby and Nica got so rotten they left first. Once they were gone, Belle's personality changed drastically. She began sleeping on my bed and decided she was MY cat all of a sudden. She's still mean and the farthest thing from a sweet cat, but she's more tolerable with me than anyone else. She follows me all over the house. As soon as I sit down, she's either next to me or on me. If I try to hold her, forget it -- it's her way, or no way.
Say goodnight, Gracie!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Teddy bears have a unique story behind them too, especially how they were originally named after Theodore Roosevelt. Wikipedia, though not always accurate, has some interesting information on them if you click here. Rick & I are huge fans of M*A*S*H and I always love seeing Radar's teddy bear in the shows. It looks a lot like my Ted-Ted, except Radar's bear has more of a plastic face. The other night we were watching an episode where Radar was up late writing a report and was drinking coffee to stay awake. He gives his teddy a sip of coffee and then wipes his mouth afterwards. I also love the one where Frank Burns comes in looking for Radar's tools and sees the teddy bear. Radar pats his teddy on the tummy and says, "It's okay, bad man go away now." The real tear jerker is at the end of the series when they put Radar's teddy bear in the time capsule. I hated that part and always wished they took it home and gave it to him. I read how someone found the teddy bear on the set and they started using it as Radar's. On July 29, 2005, Radar's teddy bear was sold at an auction for $11,900. Wow. Then on Sesame Street, Big Bird has a teddy bear named Radar, which is named after the character in M*A*S*H. Interesting stuff -- at least I think so.
So, do you still have your teddy bear? I'd love to hear about it ...
Monday, October 6, 2008
Goodbye old friend -- you served us well and will be missed! :'-(
Sunday, October 5, 2008
- 3 cans premade biscuits
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 stick butter or margarine
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut biscuits into quarters. Combine 1 cup sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add biscuit pieces, a few at a time, and coat thoroughly. Put coated biscuits into greased bundt pan. Melt butter and 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar and pour mixture over biscuits. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Please note -- This is also known as Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread, and no, it doesn't taste like monkeys. ;)
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
This song sums up what it's like being a writer for me. Well, at least most of the lyrics. We all know how frustrating writing can be with the long waits. If it's not waiting to get your manuscript just right, then it's waiting to hear back from a publisher or agent. There is another type of waiting and that's where I am with my first picture book, A New Job for Dilly. I'm waiting for the illustrator to finish the pictures. I'm waiting for my story to be an actual book someday. I'm waiting to be able to share this story with family, friends and anyone who's willing to pick it up and look at it. There are different types of waiting and not all waiting is a bad thing. So, if I had to pick song lyrics, "The Waiting" sums up the writing process for me ...
- The waiting is the hardest part
- Every day you see one more card
- You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
- The waiting is the hardest part
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Nathan, Neil and I enjoyed reading this book tonight and I know we will read it over and over again. I think most of us can relate to the fear of thinking there is a monster under our bed at some point. I had that fear when I was little. I used to imagine the most horrible things -- like hands reaching from under the bed and grabbing me. Holly and Jordon have created a wonderful story that turns a childhood fear into something that's not so scary -- not even a one-eyed monster. Trockle is published by 4RV Publishing, LLC and can be ordered here. Between October 5th and October 13th, there is a special Trockle Trick-or-Treat Tour with some great prizes. Click here for more information. This is one monster of a cute story!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
So, what about you -- do you have a favorite comic strip?