Sunday, November 30, 2008

Comments on Comments

Sunday again and even though I am spending almost the entire weekend at work, I had to make time for Comments on Comments! Luckily for you, though, because I'm spending almost the entire weekend at work - my comments to your comments will be short or at least that's my intention as I sit down to write this when I really ought to be trying to get some sleep in between shifts.
Okay, enough whining - moving on ...!

Monday found me being a lot more prolific than I meant to be with three posts (though to be honest, one was a paid post but it generated a lot of comments which means I must be doing a pretty good job making my paid posts readable!).

The first post of the day was Caption That Photo! featuring the following picture of a squirrel that I took while at Mohegan Park a couple of weeks ago.

A Squirrel

You guys went totally nuts with your comments and there were a lot that really made me laugh right out loud! Amanda enjoyed them, too, and asked if she could pick out her favorite caption to which I said sure so she choose this one from my two favorite feline visitors -

Gandalf and Grayson said ...
I can haz pecans?
I loved all of the comments that people left; it's so much fun to read them and see what people come up with. My very favorite was this one from the Queen of Memes herself because it's so true for people as well as squirrels -

Mimi Lenox said ...
Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't.
My paid post for the day had to do with different types of bathtubs which was nice because I was able to use an honest-to-goodness story of when a friend and his family came over to dinner last winter and his daughter was enchanted with my claw-footed tub. My favorite comment from My Bathtub Has Feet!, came from a fellow Nutmegger -

Queen-Size funny bone said ...
Oh I love those old tubs. They are so nice and deep. You can't soak in these new tubs. If you're fat by time you get in there's no room for the water!
Boy has she ever got a point there! There may be a lot of things that I'm not enchanted about with the house I rent but the bathtub is definitely not one of them. It's actually one of the greatest things about living in an old Victorian style house - that and the front porch!

Finally, I wrapped up the day with my post Rambling aWAY ... in which I attempted to be clever by using the word WAY an awful lot! In the post I mentioned my upcoming work schedule and the WAY too many hours involved; the fact that I had to get Amanda to the airport for her Thanksgiving trip to New Jersey WAY too early the next morning; and that my youngest daughter, Jamie, would be coming home for Christmas after all which was WAY cool -
Dianne said ...
wow you are working a lot of hours!! enjoy the day - go back to sleep after the airport run :-)

Mags said...
Yay for Jamie being able to come for Christmas!! I know you were worried about not getting to see her. This is great news! I'm even more psyched that she gets to be an "only child" for a little bit too-alone time with Mom will be great for her...and you!!
My original plan was to go back to sleep after the airport run but unfortunately that didn't happen as I had lots to do on my one day off before Thanksgiving. I did, however, go to bed early that night for a change! Does that count? And Mags, you're absolutely right in that I think that being able to spend some one-on-one time with Jamie will be good for both of us. While Amanda is lounging on the beach in Puerto Rico, we can get in lots of Rock Band and Guitar Hero time!

For Tuesday I posted my entry for Roger's Creative Photography Contest, #15-4. For this week's entry I used a shot of a railroad bridge that I edited a tiny little bit just for effect. The entry prompted my friend from Germany, who is a totally awesome photographer herself, to leave the following comment -
Sanni @ Life... said ...
You outdid yourself, Linda! (Do you say so, too? I know it's a typical saying in Germany , but I'm not sure about the US ). Glad to see you're having so much fun with the D60 - and I'm glad there's water to jump into just in case the train comes along :-)
Thank you so very much, Sanni, and I believe we do say that here in the states! As for that water to jump into ... not a good idea as the railroad bridge is very close to the lower falls of the Yantic River that tumble into a very rocky gorge (a picture of which I posted on Saturday!). I'm not sure which would be worse - being flattened by a train or swept over the falls so I will try to avoid both!

On Wednesday I presented The Bookworm Award that I had received from Akelamalu to five other bloggers whom I thought were quite qualified as true bookworms. One of my choices was excited to do the award meme while the other ... not so much! Can you tell which one is which??
Jamie said ...
absolute proof I'm an unrepentant bookworm. The instant I saw sexy in the bad reading position, I mentally started chanting me me me waving hand pick me me me. So you did and I will. Thank you.

said ...
Okay, mine is up. And I don't get it up for just anyone, you know. Erk, I have a headache. And I am grumpified.
Good thing there's not a turkey around, I think I might rip its gizzard out. Gobbledy go!
Thank you to both Jamie and Mo and to the others whom I also gave the award tag to that played along - Rob, Lois, and Erik. Now there are several books I need to add to my "must read" list! Erik did his tag a little differently as there were no books readily available but if you get a chance, go check out Erik's post and you'll learn some fascinating firefighting information that was developed as a result of a fatal fire in Worcester, Massachusetts that claimed the lives of six firefighters in December of 1999. Sometimes good does come from bad - sometimes.

Naturally on Thursday I was experiencing some Thanksgiving Thoughts and mentioned that it was also the birthday of my best friend who likes to call me at odd hours of the night on occasion and throw questions at me when I'm sometimes half asleep! The post was about the things I was thankful for at Thanksgiving including that friend MizCyn! -
tegbird92 said ...
well said--and yes, there is a lot to be thankful for when having a great friend like Cyndi also. Happy Thanksgiving, Linda.

MightyMom said ...
I need your phone number so I can call you at all hours of the night and ask you off the wall questions!! no??
Bridget, you are absolutely right and ... uhm .. Sarah? No! I think having one friend calling me at odd hours with odd questions is enough for now; I will let you know should I ever be in need of another! In the meantime, feel free to email me with those questions!

After a nice Thanksgiving Day at my Mom's and getting to bed at a reasonable hour, Friday found me writing two posts before heading out to work for the evening. The first was my thoughts on the biggest retail day of the year; No Black Friday for Me inspired the following comment that I thought was very well written but unfortunately, I have no idea who actually wrote it! -
Anonymous said ...
I wish "Black Friday" sales would become extinct and a thing or(fad) of the not so recent past. Especially with the numerable tramplings and deaths caused by greedy unruly crowds hell bent on showing the world and society how callous and slothy they really are...animals. When people die because of shootings at Toys'R us and trampled (along with EMS and employees trying to help) to death to save $50. on a piece of plastic's time for us as society to say NO MORE.
NO MORE consumerism...
NO MORE greed....
NO MORE unkindness...
But sadly even in Eastern Connecticut a part of society (ones who camped out at the Box Stores) that bragged they got the one gift their "baby" wanted sadly missed the whole part of life that's free - God's (or whomever) love, along with your friends, family and yes, even bloggers like Linda.
There's truly no price on that.
Sorry about the long rant, the past 2 days stories about Black Fridays...really ticked me off.
Let's all end the race to the malls, huh?
thanks Linda
Anyone want to lay claim to that very true comment? If not, thank you whoever you are! I thought it was a great comment and long rants are always welcome!

My second post of the day was I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer in which I asked readers - "What's your favorite thing about the holidays?" There were some really great answers and I'd love to repost all of them here but settled instead for just a few. If you'd like to read the rest, head on down to the original post as there really are lots of fantastic answers!
MizCyn said ...
Either an overstuffed house full of the faces I love best or thinking hilarious Holiday thoughts of you trying to play Scrabble (or maybe it was Trivial Pursuit?) after you'd had a tad too much Yuletide cheer. No, I'm certain of it--it's the latter!
Yeah, yeah - it was Trivial Pursuit and leave it to you, my dear friend, to remember one of the few times I had a little extra to drink! In spite of that, I think I played pretty well, though!

Star8278 said ...
Giving gifts and taking pictures. I also like that it seems people are a bit nicer this time of year. I wish it was like that all the time.
Star - I almost said the same thing about people being nicer this time of year and, like yourself, I wish it wasn't just at Christmastime that people were that way.
Sandee (Comedy +) said ...
Family is the best. The getting together in good times and bad times, but being together and loving each other. Can't beat that in my book.
You can't beat that in my book either, Sandee!
Katherine said ...
I like the music, and the lights, and the smells. I like wrapping paper and bows.
But my favorite part comes about the 23rd/24th ....when I take the time to remember "the reason for the season" and all that it means to me and how I choose to live my life.
Katherine, this is so "spot on" as our British friends would say. Very well written and something we should all try to remember during this not only festive but very hectic and sometimes stressful holiday season.

Finally on Saturday I posted pictures of The Falls on the Yantic River - a rather scenic area here in Norwich that has a very interesting history that I have been trying to piece together for a future post. I guess you could call it a visual preview of coming attractions until I get all that research done! In the meantime,
crazy working mom said ...
is that what's behind you in your profile pic? It is beautiful!
Yes, Tisha - the lower falls are what I'm standing in front of in my new profile pic but I'm doing a darned good job of blocking them just as I hope the camera I'm holding is doing a darned good job of blocking me!
Jamie said...
Absolutely beautiful and so wild looking that you might almost have gone back a couple of hundred years.
Actually, Jamie, once I get that other post done I'm working on then I'll definitely be going back a couple of hundred years - back to about 1643 if I remember correctly!

Ah well, speaking of going back, it's time for me to go back to work again! I hope the rest of you have a fantastic Sunday no matter what you're doing and don't forget to come back and leave a comment or two during the week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Falls on the Yantic River

I'm doing some research on a little more Norwich history to share with you but I've got some more digging to do before that post is going to be ready so in the meantime, I thought I'd share a couple of pictures with you that I recently took of the Upper and Lower Falls along the Yantic River.

The Upper Falls 1a
The Upper Falls
The Lower Falls
The Lower Falls

There's a story here that I think you'll really like, I just need some more time to write it! In the meantime, I'll be at work for 16 very long hours both today and tomorrow. If I don't get around to visiting your blogs this weekend, I hope you'll understand and I promise to get around to everyone after work Monday evening - honest!

Everyone have a great weekend!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

Now that we've feasted on turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all the fixin's including several different kinds of pie it's officially the start of the holiday season (I'm sorry but I am just not going to rush it like retailers seem to want us to do these days). It's time for Christmas lights, Christmas music, and all of the other great stuff that goes along with the Christmas season which brings us directly to this post's question -

What's your favorite thing about the holidays?

For me one of my very favorite things is the smell of fresh pine boughs. I don't know what it is but that smell brings back such a flood of happy memories from Christmases gone by that it to me it's most definitely one of the best things about Christmas. That and a good version of O' Holy Night ... what about you??

Motor Vehicle Accidents Claim Three More Law Enforcement Lives

Shortly before 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, November 22nd, Hollywood Police Officer Alex Del Rio was on traffic enforcement duty in his Florida town when he was killed in a line of duty accident that happened when his cruiser slammed rear-first into a tree. Witnesses said he may have been following a speeder on the wide-open, six-lane divided road and swerved to avoid hitting a taxi cab when the accident occurred.

Officer Del Rio, 31, joined the Hollywood police force in 1996, at age 19, as a part-time community service officer. At 22, he became a sworn police officer. He wore badge number 2513, working patrol, special operations and -- his favorite -- traffic enforcement.

"He was a beautiful human being," Hollywood Police Chief Chadwick Wagner said. "And I am blessed and proud to have known him."

Officer Del Rio, who was born in Miami and lived in Hollywood, leaves behind his mother, Miriam Fernandez; his father, Alejandro Del Rio; and two sisters. His uncle Saul Fernandez, a Sweetwater police officer, recalled a nephew who even as an adult sat with the children, not the adults, at Thanksgiving dinner, "He always expressed how much he loved you -- a reflection of his mom and dad," Fernandez said.

"To know Alex is to love Alex," said his stepfather, Ron Koger. "You didn't have a choice."

Monroe County Traffic Enforcement Deputy Nick Pham died in a collision with a tractor-trailer while apparently making a U-turn to chase a vehicle violating a traffic law in the Florida Keys on Wednesday, November 26th.

The accident, which occurred at approximately 12:20 p.m. on the busiest traffic day of the year, happened when Deputy Pham u-turned directly in front of a 2007 Freightliner 18-wheeler which had no time to stop and slammed squarely into the driver's side of the 2008 Dodge Charger he was operating. Witnesses say the officer may have been pursuing a vehicle when he crashed with the tractor-trailer.

Sheriff Rick Roth said Pham was a ''great officer who was doing his job.'' Roth had recently given Pham an award for providing lifesaving CPR to another deputy who had suffered a seizure.

Capt. Bob Peryam, who was elected sheriff earlier this month to replace retiring Roth, said of Pham: "Boy, I will tell you he was one of the best. He had the highest regard for honesty, integrity and professionalism.''

Deputy Pham had worked for the sheriff’s office since September 15, 2004 where he was initially assigned to road patrol in the Upper Keys in Sector 7 — the Key Largo area. In July of 2006 he transferred to the Traffic Enforcement Division, working traffic enforcement countywide. He had previously worked for the Florida City Police Department and the Dade Correctional Institution. Deputy Jason Keith, a close friend of Deputy Pham, said that his friend was planning to transfer to the Miami-Dade Police Department to be able to work closer to his home.

The 38-year old native of Hawaii leaves behind his wife Jackey and several children.

An East Texas Sheriff was killed in the line of duty early Thanksgiving morning as he was pursuing a suspect involved in a disturbance. The accident occurred around 4:20 a.m. when Sheriff Brent Lee lost control of his 2006 Ford Crown Victoria which veered off a left hand turn and struck a power pole. Sheriff Lee was ejected from the burning vehicle and died on scene according to a spokesman with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sheriff Lee was elected for a term that begins January 1st, but he was sworn in this summer following the outgoing sheriff's resignation. Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said, "We have already seen some positive reflection of his action and his department. He has done an excellent job and we're truly gonna miss him."

Angelina County Sheriff Kent Henson reflected, "You couldn't ask for a nicer person. He always had a smile on his face and that's one thing I'll remember him by is that smile. He was always willing to go an extra mile to help everybody out."

The son of a former Trinity County sheriff, Sheriff Lee, age 58, was a former state corrections officer and former Livingston police officer for the last thirty years working for the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, retiring as a lieutenant out of the Lufkin office. He leaves behind his wife and three grown children.

No Black Friday for Me!

Black Friday - the day when merchants all across the country are holding their breath in anticipation of getting the accounts on their ledgers to finally be in the black rather than the red; the day when shoppers all across the country beat feet to the merchants in the wee hours of the morning to try to find the best values possible; the day when I don't even think about going anywhere close to a store because a) I hate crowds, b) I hate getting up early, and c) I'd don't even have any money to go shopping with!

I know that retailers across the country are holding their collective breaths today hoping that all of the predictions that have been made about the horrible economic season aren't as bad as they've heard but I don't know. It really has been a tough year for a lot of people and money is extremely tight.

Right now I'm holding my breath until next Thursday when my next paycheck comes in and not buying anything I don't positively need no matter how great those Black Friday sales might be! Happy shopping to everyone else!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts 2008

Every great once in awhile my bestest friend MizCyn (whose birthday it is today!) will come out of hiding and leave a comment or two - like she did yesterday - or call me at strange hours of the night to ask me random questions out of nowhere - like she did late Monday night just as I was falling asleep! I never mind when she does these things even though the alarm was set for 4:30 in order to get Amanda to the airport because she's Cyndi and I love her and because sometimes I do the same things to her!

Her question of great import the other night was "What are you thankful for this year?" and even though I had asked the same question of you, my readers, last week I hadn't answered the question myself so I had to think for a minute before I told her, "I'm happy to still be treading water." One of the best things about having a bestest friend that you've known for years and who sometimes knows you better than you know yourself is that this required no explanation at all as Cyndi knew exactly what I was talking about and said that's why she loved me and we were best friends even though we were so opposite in some ways as she was thankful for the very same thing. I knew she would understand.

Sometimes I think that's the best I'm going to do anymore - keep my head above water and not go down for the third time. When I look at the current economic situation that our country is in and see how many people are not keeping their heads above water I can't help but think that it could very easily be me in the same position - having a home in foreclosure, not having a car parked out front because it got towed away, unable to provide food and shelter for myself and my daughter ... sure, I work a lot of overtime in order to keep the lights turned on, the bills more or less paid, and Amanda in hair products but unlike a lot of other people, I have the opportunity to work that overtime at my primary job as well as pick up hours at my second job. I do know how lucky I am even when I'm working a crazy schedule that barely gives me 8 hours in between shifts to try to recharge.

I'm treading water - have been for years - and even though there are times when I'd like to just give it up and sink, I am thankful that I have the ability to stay afloat not just when it comes to finances but also with my back issues and my mental and emotional state. Maybe sometimes that's the best we can ask for because things could be so much worse and, sadly, they are for a lot of other people. And maybe ... just maybe ... sometimes it's easier to be thankful for what we don't have as opposed to what we do.
"... I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." - President Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3rd, 1863
The Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and a very Happy Birthday to Cyndi whom I am very thankful to still have as a friend after all these years and the distance that separates us. I love you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Bookworm Award

Emmie from Emmas Dilemmas & Great Expectations bestowed this award on my English friend, Akelamalu who, in turn, was kind enough to bestow it on me. Whereas I think this is a really cool award and I'm honored to have received it, I've got to say that looks like one extremely uncomfortable position to read a book in! Woman - get a comfy chair and put on a pair of sweats for crying out loud!

This award came along with a set of rules that I am apparently supposed to adhere to but they look pretty easy so I think I can handle them -

Rules: Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 46. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The closest book, not the coolest, or the one you think will sound the best. THE CLOSEST

Truth be told, I have two books sitting right next to me on the couch but in deference to keeping to the rule of opening the closest book I will grab the one on top which just happens to be Dark Lover by J.R. Ward. Now, let's see what page 46 has to offer, shall we?
"Calling the meeting in the daylight was also important, as it would ensure they weren't ambushed by the brotherhood. And he could easily pass it off to the academy's human employees as a seminar on martial-arts technique. They would hold the gathering in the large training room in the basement and lock the doors so they wouldn't be intruded upon.

Before he signed off, he posted an account of his elimination of Darius, because he wanted the slayers to have it in writing. He detailed the kind of bomb he'd used, the way to manufacture one from scratch, and the method for hardwiring the detonator into a car's ignition system."
At this point, you've probably read as much of the book as I have as I'm currently reading the book that was sitting under this one - The Eight by Katherine Neville which was recommended to me by our own Lois. Speaking of our own Lois, I'll be passing this award on to her along with four other bloggers who are very likely to have a book sitting close at hand - oh, and if you're a guy - don't be offended by this award, I bet you all look real cute in a jacked-up skirt and garters, too!

In addition to Lois of Lowdown from Lois I'm going to pass this award on to Rob of In Times & Out Goals as I'm sure he's got several books sitting close by; Morgen of It's a Blog Eat Blog World because even though I know he doesn't like tags, I'm having such a good time picturing him in that outfit that I couldn't resist!; Jamie of Duward Discussion as I'm sure she's got something really good close at hand; and Erik of The Fire Insider for pretty much the same reason I'm passing this on to Mo!

Now - go forth and have some fun!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Saweet Contest!

You guys have got to check this out and enter as Pea is having one of the sweetest Christmas contests ever! Just click on the picture below and that will take you directly to Pea's contest post where entering is as easy as leaving a comment saying "count me in!" If you want to tell Pea that I sent you that would be nice, too, but not absolutely necessary!

Good luck!

Creative Photography Contest, #15-4

Is it me or are the weeks just flying right on by? I know they tend to do that this time of the year but it seems to me that as soon as I've posted an entry for Roger's Creative Photography Contest that it's time to post another! Oh well, it's a good excuse to try to get out and take some pictures from time to time and I've got to say that there are some truly great photos in the contest every week and it's a real pleasure to not only enter a photo of my own but to see what everyone else has posted, too.

This week's picture comes courtesy of my photo-hunting trip around parts of Norwich last Monday when I was experimenting with the new D60 a little bit. This is a shot of the railroad bridge over the Yantic River between the upper and lower falls that is still in use today though I've never been lucky enough to have a train go by while I was out there. Maybe one of these days? Though I'd rather not be standing where I was when I took this picture if one comes along!

Light at the end of the tunnel

Now make tracks over to check out some of the other entries at the Creative Photography Contest #15 Week 4 - I'm sure you'll see something you just love!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rambling aWAY ...

Finally ... a day off tomorrow after working every day since last Wednesday! The only drawback is that I have to get up WAY too early in the morning to drive Amanda over to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island so that she can catch her too-darned-early-in-the-morning flight to Philadelphia. She's heading down to her friend Darci's house for the Thanksgiving holiday and will be leaving me to my own devices for the next week.

The only drawback to that is that "my own devices" will include WAY too many hours of work as I gear up for a double-shift on Wednesday, evening shift Friday, double-shifts Saturday and Sunday, and finally a day shift on Monday. Did I mention that I was having The Work Week from Hell this week??

All of the work hours are due to the fact that I am WAY too dedicated to my job it seems and always find myself being the one to say "Sure, I'll help fill those open shifts!" With 32 hours of overtime scheduled for this week and the 16 hours from last week all in the same pay period, Uncle Sam is going to be smiling from ear-to-ear.

The reason for that is that I am going to have WAY too much money taken out of my paycheck in the form of taxes. It would be really nice if the company I worked for would give out separate paychecks for regular time and overtime but alas, that would probably be too complicated and take up a lot more time to get payroll done. Still it would be nice ...

Speaking of nice ... I will be going to my Mom's house for Thanksgiving this year and sitting down to dinner with my three brothers and my two sisters-in-law.  Obviously Amanda will be out of town and because I'm covering a shift for one of my co-workers on Saturday, he's covering my shift on Thanksgiving Day. Nice, eh? Oh ...

... while I'm thinking of nice ... WAY nice! ... Jamie will be coming home for Christmas thanks once again to my Mom and the fact that I was able to get a pretty good deal on Southwest Airlines. She'll be flying in on the 18th of December and heading back down to Tampa on the 5th of January. Amanda will be off cavorting in Puerto Rico with the same friend she's spending Thanksgiving with so that means that Jamie and I will get some one-on-one time and she's already promised me at least a few sessions of "Rock Band". I was thinking that she might not get the chance to come up this Christmas season but I'm glad I was wrong and she is. Yay!

Ah well, I should wrap this up as, like I said, I have to get up WAY too early in the morning to get to the airport. Amanda's flight is leaving at 7:10 a.m. which means we need to be in Warwick not much later than 6:00 a.m. and it's just short of an hour drive.

Good night, all!

Caption That Photo!

A Squirrel

While I was over at Mohegan Park snapping pictures last week, I happened upon this little fella who seemed more than willing to pose for a picture. Just like the geese I took pictures of, he was probably hoping for a snack but alas, I had nothing but my car keys and lint in my pockets. I'll know better next time I stop by the park and then I'm sure I'll be more popular than the Good Humor man on a hot summer's day!

In the meantime, have fun and give this little guy some words and we'll see who emerges victorious later in the week! Have fun but don't go too squirrely on me!

My Bathtub Has Feet!

Right around Christmas a couple of years ago, I invited my favorite paramedic/dispatcher and his family over for dinner. Andrew had done a few things around the house for me that I wasn't able to do with my tricky back that has a tendency to go out at the worst possible time and I wanted to be able to express my thanks to not just Andrew and his strong back but also to Bethany, his fantastic wife who was kind enough to let me "borrow" her husband on several occasions. To that end, I invited over Andrew and Bethany and their two great kids - AJ and Lea.

We enjoyed a very nice dinner and then retired to the living room for the kids to watch a little TV while we adults visited. At the time, I believe that Lea was four years old or so and cute as a button. At one point, she told her parents that she needed to use the bathroom so Andrew accompanied her upstairs and when they came back downstairs Andrew was laughing as he told me that Lea was totally fascinated by my bathroom because "Miss Linda's bathtub has feet!"

Lea is quite right in that the bathtub that I have here in the house that I rent is one of those great old clawfoot bathtubs that Victorian houses sported back in the day. It's very deep and very high and most definitely has feet - rather big feet actually!

It's the type of bathtub that you could sink down into and have a good soak in except for the fact that it's so deep that I can't get a full tub of hot water due to a deficient hot water heater! Which is too bad as it would be great to be able to light a few candles, throw in some scented oil, and just lean back and relax after a stressful day at work. Perhaps it's not as great as some of the whirlpool tubs I've seen out there but it's a close second and definitely one of the best features of this house I've lived in for 8-1/2 years now.

The only other problem with this bathtub is that occasional bad back that I mentioned above. As great as a long, hot soak in this tub would be when my back hurts, there's that whole problem of getting in and out of it when I can barely walk to begin with! I think in cases like that, I would be much better off with one of those cool walk-in bathtubs that I've seen commercials for.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who wouldn't mind having one of these great tubs in their home - I can readily think of several other people like my former grandmother-in-law out in California who, bless her 85-year old heart, has some trouble getting around these days due to painful arthritis and even one of my brothers who has his own share of back troubles that are even worse than mine.

I tell ya, if I ever win that elusive lottery that we've got a pool for at work and can finally build a house of my own then I'm going to have all three kinds of the bathtubs I've mentioned above - claw-foot, whirlpool, and walk-in. That way, I'll be prepared for all occasions!

While I'm at it, I'm going to get one of those really nice multi-head showers that look like you'd walk into and never want to get out of! Ah ... bliss!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Comments on Comments

Sunday again already and less than a week away from Thanksgiving - hokey smoke, Bullwinkle, where has the time gone?!? Even if I don't have the answer to that one, I do have the answer to where the time is going to be going during this next week as I've got The Work Schedule From Hell coming up. With 32 hours of overtime scheduled over the course of this Sunday to next Sunday, I want to apologize in advance if I don't get the chance to leave too many comments on too many other blogs but I do hope you'll still come by and visit me here and leave the occasional comment. After all, if I don't have any comments then I don't have a Sunday post for next week!

Anyhow, enough making excuses for the upcoming week, let's look back at last week, shall we??

My post for Monday, On Books and Love, was more or less a short review of the Stephenie Meyer novel that has absolutely nothing to do with vampires called The Host. It was a book that I initially had a little trouble getting into but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it as it seems that Stephenie Meyer and I have a lot in common when it comes to the concept of love - and heartbreak. Apparently I wasn't the only one who liked The Host as evidenced by this comment from one of my friends in England -

Jean-Luc Picard said ... Linda, I've read this book and thought it was unforgettable. Every time I had to put the book down, I couldn't wait to get back to it. It was one of those rare novels in which the reader cared about the characters. Wanderer, Melanie and those around were great. I really enjoyed the ending. After reading the book, I am now savouring the unabridged audio book version.

Hmmm, audio books ... I don't have much of a commute to work and don't really do any sort of distance driving so it wouldn't do me any good to try to listen to an audio book in that capacity but maybe I should figure out how to blog and listen at the same time - imagine the books I could get through then!

On Monday morning I took the time to step away from the blog and get out of the house for a little while and pay A Visit to Mohegan Park, which then became my post for Tuesday! Mohegan Park is one of Norwich's more or less hidden treasures and a good place for someone with a new camera to visit in an attempt to figure out how to use the thing! It was a cold day but the sky was a beautiful blue and I thought I managed to get a few good shots like this one here which shows Spaulding Pond that is in the center of Mohegan Park.

Vines and Spaulding Pond

The pictures inspired former Norwich hometown boy, Erik, to leave the following comment:

Erik said ... Great pics Linda!! Having been born and raised in Norwich till I was 12, I've seen how much Mohegan Park has changed over the years. Some of the roads have been moved around, facilities were improved, but one thing I miss from when I was a kid, is the zoo!! I have many memories of hearing the coos and caws of the birds, seeing the other animals, including the monkey hut, and the old firetruck that they had at the playground. If I remember correctly, the firetruck was still there a few years ago when I took Hayleigh there.

I'm not sure whether the firetruck is still there or not, Boukie, but I would be willing to bet it is and I'll be sure to check that out next time I head back over there to take more pictures - which would be a lot sooner if it was to warm up a tiny bit!

Wednesday's post was my entry for Roger's Creative Photography Contest, #15-3 and for this week's entry I chose a picture of dark clouds above with a brightly lit Norwich landscape below. The shot was straight out of the camera with no touching up on my part and it was similar to this picture, though not this exact one ...


Bond said ... Wow ... before reading I had assumed you had darkened the sky ... that is some contrast ... nicely done ... good luck

Ralph said ... An Impressionist painter's take on the impending storm over Norwich. The photo as art. I've got to spend some time in the Rose City. You make it look beautiful!

Thanks guys, and Ralph, you're right, you should come spend some time in the Rose City just as I should go spend some time in Ansonia with you and Patti before the year ends!

Speaking of Patti, she left a great comment on my second post of Wednesday, A Birth Meme Followed by a Birthday!, where I finally got around to doing a great new meme that Jamie developed as well as wished my favorite CrAzY Working Mom a happy 31st birthday ...

Patti said ... I've always gotten along well with Virgos ~ but Capricorns are supposed to get along with fellow Earth signs Virgo and Taurus. "The earth signs indicate practicality, concern with concrete results, and usually an occupation with detailed financial, business and professional affairs." Well alrighty! Happy Birthday to Tisha ~ she is so young, and I feel so old! I saw this meme, looked up my birth date but didn't do a post. My bad.

Now, Patti, make my friend Jamie happy and do a post and then get Ralph to do one, too. I bet it would be interesting and Ralph does have to do that whole NaBloPoMo thing - what better way to take care of one day's post?!?

With just a week until Thanksgiving, on Thursday I did an I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer post and asked readers "What are you most thankful for this year?" I received some fantastic answers, a few of which I will share with you here ...

WillThink4Wine said ... I am thankful for God and Country, my entire family, all my friends, my beautiful cats, my home and I am very most recently grateful that my new business seems to have gotten off the ground sooner than I expected ... Translation, before I ran out of money! Now if Obama can just send me some of that affordable health insurance and free money ...

Jeni said ... So many things I am thankful for -family, friends, food, faith -for openers. And all the many things that accompany those "Four F's". Good fortune doesn't always mean high finance, just being fortunate to have enough. Sometimes just enough to scrape by, other times enough to splurge a little here and there, but enough to be able to enjoy still being here, able to share the good and the not-so-hot at times too with so many who mean a heck of a lot to me!

carol g said ... Jamie (Duward Discussion) pointed me in this direction ... I am thankful for that (come to think of it, I am thankful for her friendship and wisdom). I surely have enjoyed this blog as well as Jamie's. It has been a very difficult year. I am grateful that my husband's cancer is currently in remission. We married late in life (just celebrated #4), and still hold hands when we fall asleep at night - I am thankful for that love. I am sure I could think of more, but right now this is what comes to the front of the line.

Carol, that's so sweet and if you had a blog of your own, I'd be happy to come over and read; I'm sure that you and your husband have a wonderful love story of your own to tell. Speaking of love stories ...

On Friday I took the easy way out published A Post from the Past so that I could sneak off to the movies to catch the long-awaited release of Twilight, a love story that I was really looking forward to. I mentioned that it was my duty as a mom to pre-screen the movie to keep Amanda from being disappointed but apparently Claire didn't think that was the case and came out of lurking long enough to say so ...

Claire said ..."After all, it could be an absolutely horrible adaptation of the book and it's my duty as a good mom to make the sacrifice to be sure that it's not going to disappoint the girls." What a load of bollocks! Have fun you horny auld vampire loving devil. :)

Now, Claire, how rude! Of course I was performing my parental duties and not just going to drool over the hot teenage vampires who turned out not to be so hot anyway as I wrote about in Saturday's post, "Twilight" Fails to Glimmer for Me.

I think that in the long run, Twilight is going to be a major hit with the fans of the book but alas, perhaps I'm just too old and picky when it comes to translations from the printed page to the big screen. Personally I thought the movie was a bit of a let-down but Cate absolutely loved it and Amanda admitted that "it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be" though they both agreed with me that the character of Bella was awful. I guess I was just bummed that the love story that was told so well in the book, wasn't told so well by the actors ... Apparently I'm not the only one who often finds a book-to-movie disappointing ...

Lois Grebowski said ... I'm trying to remember the last time a movie was better than the book ... Can't remember. Hubby can't either ... Sorry you were disappointed.

Queen-Size funny bone said ... Books although they give you the story, you can still interpret them yourself visually in your mind. when you see a movie you can't do that because its THEIR vision not yours. kinda like do you see what i see?

Mr. Darcy Colin FirthNow that I think about it,though, the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice was actually quite good and did the book credit - especially in the casting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Rowrrrr ... Oh sorry ... that was me being shallow ... Ahem, anyway, I would have to say that sometimes the movie is a little bit better than the book - just not too often and just definitely not in the case of Twilight. Which is too bad, because I really, really wanted it to be really, really good. And it wasn't ...

Oh, and one thing I hadn't thought of was brought up by Last Minute Lynn who very practically stated ...

Last Minute Lyn said ... As much as movies cost these days it really sucks when you think it was a waste of money. It's especially painful when it doesn't live up to the book.

True, Lyn, true - it most definitely sucks when it takes a bite out of your wallet and the vampires weren't what you hoped they'd be! Oh well, I'm hoping for a better production in the sequel which Summit Entertainment is already planning on. One can dream, right?!?

So, that's it for this week's Comments on Comments ... please stop in again sometime during the next week and drop me a comment or two then be sure to come back next Sunday to see if you've made the weekly wrap-up. Everyone have a fantastic Sunday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Twilight" Fails to Glimmer For Me

So ... had I been in need of a reminder that I am 50 and not 15, going to see Twilight at the movies yesterday provided me with one. I guess it should go to figure that a vampire movie would ultimately suck but I've got to admit to being disappointed that it did. Were I a tween or a fan-girl, though, perhaps the bite of disappointment might not have been so bad.

I was late getting into all of the hype and hysteria of Stephenie Meyer's teenage vampire romance saga but upon the urging of the teenage girls in my life, I recently read the entire four-book series from cover to cover and, like millions of girls and their moms across the country, became quite enamored of Edward Cullen - the perfect man except for the fact that he's one of the undead. A minor detail, though, and easily forgivable when it comes to Edward; as a matter of fact, immortality makes him even more appealing in some strange and supernatural way.

After reading the books and falling in love with the whole love story (though there are times when I really wanted to strangle a couple of the characters), I was really looking forward to the film adaptation even though common sense and past history warned me that there was the very real possibility of the movie being bad. After all, how many Stephen King books have been wonderful reads and yet complete and total bombs at the box office? Yeah ... I rest my case.

Sadly, history has once again managed to repeat itself and the curse of Stephen King has apparently been passed on to Stephenie Meyer. Maybe it's that whole "Stephen ..." thing? Whatever it may be, it's just very, very sad that a movie that had such potential ended up being a complete and total let-down. At least for me.

I guess it's pretty hard to take a 500-page book and condense it into a 122-minute movie without combining scenes, cutting scenes, or adding in scenes that never occurred in the book; all of which Twilight is guilty of. When you're only about ten minutes into a movie and thinking "hey, hold on - that's not right" or "that never happened" or "wait a minute, that didn't occur until halfway through the book" then you know you're in trouble of actually liking the film. I kept thinking that maybe it would have been better to have not read the book prior to seeing the movie but then it dawned on me that if I hadn't read the book, I would be even more confused than I was having read all of the books.

A 15-year old would probably see it differently but the chemistry that existed between Bella and Edward in the book just wasn't there on the screen; Bella was even more annoying in the movie than she was in the book; and Edward ...ah, Edward, I hardly knew ye! Instead of being the perfect man that he was on the printed page, Edward on the big screen was just another brooding teenager with pale skin, too much hair gel, and a striking resemblance to the chicks in the Robert Palmer "Addicted to Love" video.

Addicted to Love Edward Cullen

The saddest thing, though, is that I really wanted this movie to be good; I really wanted it to live up to all of the hype; I really wanted it to be a movie that I would want to see over and over again; and I really wanted to see the beautiful love story between Bella and Edward come to life off of the pages and onto the screen. I love a good love story that makes me smile, makes me cry, makes me believe in the hope and power of true love. Twilight the book was a good love story that did all that - Twilight the movie was a lacking love story that didn't.

Amanda and Cate will be going to check out the movie themselves sometime this weekend and I'll be interested in hearing what their take on it is. I told Amanda that she should draw her own conclusions and not base them on my opinion of the movie but apparently a lot of her friends at school have the same opinion of the film that I do so she's quite skeptical that she's going to like it herself. Perhaps, though, she'll come home and tell me that I'm nuts and that it was great and how could I say all these awful things? After all, how often do teenagers agree with their parents?

Oh well, maybe the sequel will have a bigger budget and a better script ... there are, after all, three more books in the series and with the way the movie ended, there has to be a sequel as even though I found the movie to be sorely lacking and a let-down, millions of tweens won't think so and will make sure that Edward continues to live on.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Post from the Past

Before I have to head into work later this afternoon, I have decided to treat myself and sneak off minus any teenagers to see "Twilight", the long-awaited big screen version of Stefanie Meyer's teenage vampire romance novel of the same name. Yeah, yeah, I know ... I really should wait and go with Amanda and Cate but I think I need to go first to check it out and see whether or not they're going to like it! After all, it could be an absolutely horrible adaptation of the book and it's my duty as a good mom to make the sacrifice to be sure that it's not going to disappoint the girls.

Anyhow, because I'm heading out to an 11:00 a.m. show, I decided to pull my post from two years ago today and republish it for your Friday enjoyment. It's quick, it's easy, and most of you weren't reading my blog way back in 2006 so this will be all new to you!

Enjoy and I'll be sure to let you know how the movie is! By the way, Callie - did you finish the book yet??

Originally posted on November 21st, 2006

Amanda has a two-part Civics test this week and this morning as we were sitting on the couch watching bits and pieces of the news (and no, not Rachel Lutzker for all of her fans out there!) she decided to try quizzing me on some of the things that she was going to be tested on.

"What rights are Americans promised under the U.S. Constitution?"
"You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided to you free of charge."
"Who was James Madison?"
"He was the fourth President of the United States and was married to Dolly Madison who later went on to make wonderful snack cakes."
"What is the Preamble?"
"The short walk that you take to loosen up your legs before the real ambling begins."
"What is the New Jersey compromise?"
"A decision that is agreed upon by a bunch of guys talking with Jersey accents who generally say 'fuggedaboutit' to everything."
"What is the CT plan or the Great Compromise?"
"When the people from Connecticut decide to agree on something really good."
"What is the 3/5ths Compromise?"
"When 3/5ths of the people in the room agree on something then it's passed."
"Who was Thomas Jefferson?"
"The third President of the United States who lived at Monticello in Virginia and was the main author of the Declaration of Independence as well as a gifted inventor and player of the violin. He died on July 4th, 1809 - the exact same day as John Adams, second President of the United States" (Now this one I knew!)
Needless to say I was probably not a great deal of help to Amanda in studying for her test as most of this stuff totally escapes me despite the fact that I think I used to know it once upon a time. Even though I love history, and lament not having become a history teacher, I've never been a big fan of Civics which is more the study of comparative government or politics than it is actual history.

Whereas I can tell you quite a bit about what went on during the actual writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence, I can't tell you that much about the document itself. The same goes for the Constitution and any of the other lovely documents that our Founding Fathers decided to draft once they got the notion that we were going to be a nation independent of England. Ask me about George Washington as a General and I could bore you to tears but ask me about George Washington as a Statesman and I'll bore you to tears about George Washington as a General!

Knowing that I'm a history buff, Amanda was quite surprised that I couldn't answer most of the questions she threw out at me this morning (as a matter of fact, she kept smacking me in the head with her papers after every wrong answer!) but I was rather proud of the fact that she DID know the answers. Maybe she's paying more attention in class than I thought she was!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The FBI Loses an Agent in a Line of Duty Death in Pennsylvania

An agent with the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was shot and killed while executing a federal search warrant associated with "a violent drug distribution ring" on Wednesday, November 19th. The wife of an alleged drug dealer has been charged with the killing and is in custody while an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting is being conducted.

Special Agent Samuel Hicks was accompanied by other members of a multijurisdictional anti-drug task force that was rounding up suspected traffickers in the Pittsburgh area around 6 a.m. when the shooting occurred. The team announced itself as police before smashing in the front door at a home in Indian Township. A bullet was fired from the upstairs of the house striking Agent Hicks in the shoulder. Agents and officers pulled him out of the house and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation but he later died at an area hospital due to blood loss from the wound.

"This is the most tragic information you can relay to any spouse, child, parent or colleague," said Michael Rodriguez, special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh office. "He served with honor and bravery and will be greatly missed by his colleagues here in Pittsburgh and throughout the FBI."

Agent Hicks had been with the FBI since March of 2007 and was assigned to the Pittsburgh Office in July of that year. A native of western Pennsylvania, Agent Hicks taught school for a time in Maryland before joining the Baltimore Police Department in June of 2002. He served there until February of 2007 when he left to become an FBI agent.

Emily Hicks said that if there were any consolation to the tragedy, it was that her 33-year-old brother "died doing a job he loved."

Agent Hicks, who would have turned 34 on Thanksgiving Day, is survived by his wife, Brooke, with whom he just celebrated his 5th wedding anniversary two weeks ago, and his son Noah who turned two in August.

"The biggest tragedy in this is there is someone, she's 28 and she's a widow. She has got a son that is going to be heartbroken," said Angela Hohman, Agent Hicks' sister-in-law.

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

In just one week, we here in the United States will celebrate our country's 145th Thanksgiving Day since the last Thursday of the month was proclaimed to be a National Day of Thanksgiving by then President Abraham Lincoln in his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation which was issued on the 3rd day of October in 1863.

Even though Thanksgiving services had been held in Virginia as early as 1607, America's very first Thanksgiving Festival, and the one that we all associate the holiday with, was a three-day feast which began on December 13th, 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The feast gave the Pilgrims, who had much to be thankful for, an opportunity to praise God and to celebrate with their Indian friends after they had reaped a bountiful harvest following a very rough first winter and spring in their new land.

It wasn't until 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, that America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution and that the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, "unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities."

Most Thanksgiving services and observances still only occurred at the State level until many years later when Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, finally found a President who responded to her petitioning for an annual National Thanksgiving Day. For thirty years, Mrs. Hale promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting one President after another, until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a National Day of Thanksgiving.

Over the next seventy-five years, future Presidents followed Lincoln's precedent by annually declaring a National Thanksgiving Day until Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday in 1941 thus ending the need for an annual proclamation to be made.

Is it any wonder then that Abraham Lincoln is my very favorite President? Who else took the time to set aside one day out of the year when we not only take the time to remember that which we are most thankful for but can eat ourselves silly in the process? It's time to reflect upon the year that has almost passed, to perhaps gather with family and friends and share the bounty of love and friendship, and to maybe just slow down a little bit from life's regular hectic pace. Unless, of course, you happen to work for some heartless retailer who thinks it's necessary to stay open on a formerly "everything's closed" holiday and try to wring every last penny possible out of a struggling economy.

However, that's just my opinion which at long last brings me to the question of this post (I bet you thought I'd forgotten what the title of this post was, didn't ya?!) ...

What are you most thankful for this year?

Just because it's an American holiday that we'll be celebrating next week doesn't mean you need to be an American to answer this question; I don't think you have to have a designated National Day of Thanksgiving in order to be thankful. As a matter of fact, we should be thankful on a regular basis for all that we have in our lives. Sometimes, though, I think we just tend to forget the good as we get so overwhelmed with the bad but for now let's say we put the bad aside and concentrate on the good, shall we??

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Birth Meme Followed By A Birthday!

Last week, Jamie of Duward Discussion did a post about her birth year which she was inspired to write based on a feature called "Old School Friday" that Wayne Hicks does each week at Electronic Village. Jamie invented her own meme from this and challenged us all to the following:
"Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to go to The Birthday Calculator and This Day In History to find all sorts of interesting stuff about you and tell the world all about it."
Well, who am I to back away from a challenge? Especially one made by a woman whom I greatly admire as a fellow history buff and one who is much more knowledgeable than I! To that end, I hied myself on over to The Birthday Calculator and came up with the following for September 9th, 1958, the day my mother gave birth to her only daughter:

I was born on a Tuesday under the astrological sign Virgo.

My Life Path number is 5. As someone with a Life Path number of 5, I may be "one of the most compassionate of people as the 5 is surely the most freedom-loving and compassionate Life Path". This gives me something in common with my most favorite American President, Abraham Lincoln, who also had a Life Path number of 5! Pretty cool I'd say! I'm also supposed to be a good communicator and know how to motivate people around me which would give me something in common with President Ronald Reagan but I don't know what his Life Path number is!

My fortune cookie reads: It takes more than good memory to have good memories.

I was born in the Chinese year of the Dog.

My Native American Zodiac sign is Bear; my plant is Violets.

As of this writing I am 18,334 days old which makes 50 years sound not so bad after all!

I share my birthday with Michael Keaton, Adam Sandler, and Hugh Grant so guess who I'm inviting over for a party next year?!?

There were some truly odd songs at the Top of the Chart in 1958 including The Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley, Tequila by Champs, Volare by Domenico Modugno, and one of my very favorites as a kid ...

My lucky day is Wednesday and lucky me, I work 16-hour days on Wednesdays!

My lucky number is 5, which is even better if the 5th happens to be a Wednesday!

My ruling planet is Mercury.

In 1958 there were approximately 4.0 million births in the US and approximately 1,452,000 deaths (9.6 per 1000). Doesn't quite balance out, does it?

My birthstone is a Sapphire and my birth tree is a Weeping Willow (why am I not surprised by this part ... "suffers in love but sometimes finds an anchoring partner."?!?)

Meanwhile ... on this day in history ...

In 1776 - the Continental Congress renames the "United Colonies," "United States"

In 1850 - California becomes the 31st state in the Union.

In 1893 - Frances Folsom Cleveland, the wife of President Grover Cleveland, gives birth to a daughter, Esther, in the White House.

In 1956 - Elvis Presley sings "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" on Ed Sullivan's immensely popular show Toast of the Town.

In 1965 - Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax pitches the eighth perfect game in major league history, leading the Dodgers to a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.

In 1966 - John Lennon meets Yoko Ono at an avante-garde art exposition. And imagine that - he releases "Imagine" in 1971 five years later to the day!

In 1971 - Prisoners riot and seize control of the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York.

In 1976 - Mao Zedong, Chinese revolutionary and statesman, dies in Beijing at the age of 82.

Thanks, Jamie - that was actually kind of fun! Perhaps more of you would like to find out about your birthday and what exciting things happened in history then? If so, take up Jamie's challenge and then be sure to let me know so I can read about it and let Jamie know, too, as she'll be more than happy to link back to you!

Oh, and speaking of great days in history ... guess what happened on this date thirty-one years ago in 1977? Not only did Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat travel to Jerusalem to seek a permanent peace settlement with Israel after decades of conflict but it was also the birthday of the Blogosphere's very own CrAzY Working Mom! Talk about monumental!

Be sure to pop by Tisha's blog and wish her a very happy birthday as she celebrates the beginning of her 31st year on this planet! Oh - and here - have some cake before you go because what's a birthday without cake??

Happy Birthday, Tisha! Best wishes for many, many more!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creative Photography Contest, #15-3

Clouds Over Norwich

My entry into Roger's Creative Photography Contest this week isn't really very creative as it's a straight-out-of-the-camera shot but I still thought it was pretty darned cool as I simply love the contrast between the dark clouds above and the bright landscape below.

One of the advantages of working in "The Ivory Tower" of dispatch at American Ambulance is that I get a great view of Norwich - or at least parts of it! This picture was taken this past Sunday afternoon when I happened to look outside and noticed that the sun was shining over the city but there were dark clouds - very dark clouds - coming in from the East. Luckily for me I had my camera with me and I was able to get a few pictures - this was one of my favorites.

Be sure to check out the other entries at the Creative Photography Contest and if you've got a picture that you'd like to enter yourself - what are you waiting for? The contest is open to everyone with submissions taken weekly and winners announced at the end of the month. It's a great way to see some great pictures and get some feedback on your photography - something that I always look forward to.

Photobuddyaward Oh, and speaking of blogs and winners ... I got this great award from Dianne at Forks Off the Moment yesterday and I've got to tell you that I am honored to pieces as Dianne is an excellent photographer and for little ole' me to get a photography award from her is just amazing and a true honor! I think that Dianne gave me the award because of my tendencies to skulk around dark places at night taking pictures as she wrote "I really want to go photo hunting with this lady. She roams around cemeteries at night and scans the skies. She is a photographic adventurer and a really good person." but either way, it's wicked awesome and I am wicked honored! Thank you again, Dianne!

Two More Line of Duty Deaths Claim Lives of Arkansas and Pennsylvania Officers

A helicopter crash on Sunday claimed the life of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Sergeant Monty Carmikle, a passenger in an AGFC helicopter that was searching for possible night-hunters.

The crash of the Vietnam-era helicopter, a Bell OH-58, occurred around 1:00 a.m. in Cleburne County as Sergeant Carmikle, age 45, and the contract pilot, Jerry Fryar of Ozark, attempted to head off violators who were 'jack-lighting' deer in a field. The pilot was taken to a hospital where his injuries were not considered life-threatening.

“It’s my understanding they (Carmikle and Fryar) actually saw some headlights, and they were going down to try to see where they could head these guys off before they got out of the woods,” AGFC Spokesman Keith Stephens said. The crash, which occurred in a cow pasture about 60 miles north of Little Rock, is under investigation by both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

AGFC wildlife officer Major Mike Knoedl, said that the entire agency is deeply saddened by the death. "Being a wildlife officer is a very dangerous job. We're trained for just about everything, but in this instance it was out of the officer's control," he said.

Segeant Carmikle, who is survived by his wife and son, had been with the state agency since the summer of 1985 working the Cleburne County area as a wildlife officer and on the AGFC Dive Team for many years. He was the first wildlife officer to die in the line of duty since two officers died in a plane crash in the 1970s.

The fourth Philadelphia police officer to die in the Line of Duty in 2008 was killed on Monday, November 17th, following a dramatic two-vehicle crash involving a suspected drunk driver. Sergeant Timothy Simpson died at Temple University Hospital at approximately 11:55 p.m., where he had been rushed in critical condition following the 10:30 p.m. collision in the Port Richmond section of the city.

Sergeant Simpson was responding to a robbery call when his police cruiser was slammed on the passenger's side by a Chevrolet Camaro driven by a convicted felon from Levittown with illegal drugs in his pockets. The suspect, who has a long arrest record, was being chased by another patrol car after running a red light before the crash which was so violent that it rocketed the cruiser into a nearby building and slammed the other car into a light stand. Both vehicles were demolished and it took furious efforts by rescuers to pull the officer from his squad car as well as two civilians from the other vehicle.

Only hours before he died, Sergeant Simpson had received an award for outstanding service as Superintendant of the Month from his commanding officer in the 24th District. Sergeant Simpson's other honors included a heroism award, four merit awards and a letter of commendation.

This past May, Sergeant Simpson's former partner, Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski, was gunned down following a bank robbery and Sergeant Simpson was briefly in the public eye following the five-day man hunt for the suspect when he formally arrested the accused bank robber wanted in connection with the death of his former partner and friend. Following police tradition, Sergeant Simpson placed Sergeant Liczbinski's handcuffs on the suspect, who later confessed to the bank robbery but denied shooting Sergeant Liczbinski, before leading him to a 24th district police wagon.

Following his death, Sergeant Simpson was named supervisor of Sergeant Liczbinski's unit. Captain Kevin Hodges of the 24th Police District told reporters, "I had to make the tough decision of who was going to go in Steve's position in 2 Squad. I chose Timmy Simpson because he was a strong leader, a great cop, and an excellent supervisor." Captain Hodges said Simpson belonged to an old school when it comes to policing. "We would have taken this job for 10 cents ... because we loved it. It wasn't a job or a career for us - it was truly a life's calling ... and Timmy embodied that."

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Simpson was "An excellent sergeant, excellent police officer. You can't say enough good things about him." Echoing Commissioner Ramsey's sentiments, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter said, "He was a good officer trying to do his duty."

A 20-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department who celebrated that milestone just this last Friday, Sergeant Simpson, age 46, is survived by his wife Cathy, their 11-year-old daughter, and 15-year-old twins - a son and daughter - as well as a brother who is also on the force.

A Visit to Mohegan Park

Spaudling Pond at Mohegan Park

For the first time in a long time on my day off I woke up to the sun shining brightly in the sky yesterday so I took full advantage of the gorgeous weather by grabbing my new toy (aka my Nikon D60) and heading out to Mohegan Park, a wooded recreation area that sits pretty much smack in the middle of Norwich. I knew that the foliage was long since gone but I thought there still might be the chance to get a few nice shots of the area as well as see what I could do with this new camera of mine.

It was a bit chilly when I left the house - a whooping 39 degrees as a matter of fact - but the sky couldn't have been bluer and I was just so happy that it wasn't raining for a change that I didn't mind the cooler weather at all! As you can see, when I got to the park the water looked like glass and even though there were definitely no leaves left on the trees, it was still very pretty.

In Memoriam

lovely body of water that you see in the first picture is Spaulding Pond - the centerpiece of Mohegan Park. As innocent as this pond looks in that picture at the top of this post, in 1963 six people died and more than $6 million in property damage resulted after the earthen dam that holds it back collapsed. The break caused the Great Flood of Norwich that sent a wall of water and debris hurtling through downtown swamping houses, streets, and cars and even collapsing a mill. The dam still runs along the southern end of Spaulding Pond and across the earthworks is a path bordered by pergulas and flowering plants. Though there obviously wasn't anything flowering on Monday it was still very pretty.

Pergula pathway

Mohegan Park is one of those places that I think those of us who live in Norwich tend to forget about for the most part and that's a shame as it really is a lovely area complete with hiking and biking trails, several nice playgrounds, a swimming area in the summer, grills and picnic tables, and other nice features. Granted, it's certainly not the Mohegan Park that I remember as a child when there was a zoo and skating rink and other things but it's still very nice and a lovely place to show off to visitors from California and England - when I have them!

Tree & Lamp

Should you happen to be in the area, we'll be celebrating Norwich's Semiseptcentennial in 2009 - that would be birthday number 350 - and if you want to come by, I'll be happy to give you a tour of Mohegan Park. I think you'd definitely like it! Just remember to pack some popcorn for the critters!

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Books and Love

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the library and have always enjoyed reading. I remember reading The Wizard of Oz way back when I was in second grade and it seems that it was then that I developed my love for good stories. I love a book whose pages you can lose yourself in, whose characters become real, whose final page you're sorry to turn, whose story you remember long after the book has been finished.

I had gotten away from doing a lot of reading over the past few years but I've been making more trips to the library lately and currently have five books lined up and ready to be read; books that have either been recommended to me or that I stumbled across on the Internet which sounded good. It's a joy to be reading again even though my eyesight isn't what it used to be and I either need the large print edition or a pair of reading glasses stuck on my nose in order to see the words before me. Come to think of it, I'm starting to need the same thing for the computer!

I recently finished reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer, a book that I wasn't entirely sure I was going to finish when I first picked it up. Stefanie is more famous for her four-book Twilight Series, books that I've written about myself on this blog and whose first book, Twilight, comes out in movie form at the end of this week. Twilight is the love story between a teenage vampire and a teenage mortal and it appealed to the hopeless romantic in me. Who knew that The Host would do the same thing?

The Host is a science fiction/romance novel and tells the story of an alien species called 'souls' who take over Earth because they believe humans are too violent to each other. Wanderer is one of those souls and this is her story as she finds Melanie, whose body she occupies, resistant to being taken over by an alien.

I had been warned by Darci, Amanda, and Cate that the book wasn't very good and that I probably wouldn't like it and, for the first ten chapters, I was afraid they were going to be right. It was pretty slow-going but somewhere along the way, the story finally took hold and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next and how things were going to resolve. I found myself immersed in the story of Wanderer, Melanie, Jared, Ian, and Jamie and I even found myself crying a time or two - a sure sign that I have been sucked into a story.

There was something about Stephenie Meyer's writing in New Moon, the second book of the Twilight Series, that really spoke to me, as if this woman and I shared a lot of the same thoughts on love and heartbreak and how it can completely and totally debilitate your entire life if you aren't careful and when I came across the following passage in The Host, I again marveled at Ms. Meyer's insight ...
"I knew the human exaggeration for sorrow - a broken heart. Melanie remembered speaking the phrase herself. But I'd always thought of it as a hyperbole, a traditional description for something that had no real physiological link, like a green thumb. So I wasn't expecting the pain in my chest. The nausea, yes, the swelling in my throat, yes, and yes, the tears burning in my eyes. But what was the ripping sensation just under my rib cage? It made no logical sense. And it wasn't just ripping but twisting and pulling in different directions."
Being a bit of a skeptic growing up, I had always scoffed at the idea of a "broken heart" myself because it just didn't seem to make much sense that you would feel the pain of an emotion anywhere near an organ that was designed to pump blood through your system. Sure, you might feel a broken heart in your head, which is where all thoughts and emotions originate but certainly not anywhere near your chest, right?

Then my own heart was broken and holy smokes, did I find out that I was wrong. I can still remember clutching at my chest in the spot where I knew without a doubt my heart was as I could feel the actual cracking and breaking as small pieces of it came loose and floated off, never to be found again. It was as much of a physical pain as any other I have ever had and I was totally shocked as, like Wanderer, I never expected it. It made no logical sense and yet there it was.

I've had my heart broken more than once over the course of my life - three times by the same guy who to this day would be capable of breaking it for a fourth time should he ever choose to do so - and I learned very well that a broken heart is not at all an extravagant exaggeration but a very real truth that can knock you to your knees and change the whole course of your life. Apparently Stephenie Meyer knows this, too, as she's written about my heart in not just one now, but several of her books.

Even though I had gotten up at 4:45 on Friday morning to be into work early, I stayed up after getting home from work at 11:00 p.m. that night and read until almost 3:30 in the morning so that I could finish The Host; so that it would end the way I hoped it would; so that I could once again have my faith in true love restored.

I wasn't disappointed. I went through a lot of tissues and was glad I was reading at home and not at work as I just couldn't seem to help the tears but I wasn't disappointed.

I wonder what Stephenie Meyer is going to write for me next?