Cathy Donnelly

Cathy Donnelly's Blog 

This is really helpful and funny

This is a great article about a common problem, in fact I found it when I went on the net looking for, well, ways to use up the zucchini.
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And now ladies and gentlemen, the grand Finale.  Four pictures into one!! An additional two or three that I just took little bits from, and the earlier Tongue Affliction picture.  Of course MY camera decides not to work at all, so one of the residents took these pictures, and most of them were blurry.  There was a lot of blend-testing,  and it was minimally effective, but it was mainly cutting, pasting, and blurring. First we start with the happiest resident ever.  It was a “Trip to New York” [props to Brenda at Bonham Nursing in Stillwater, she’s a pistol, and smart as a whip], and so this resident has BOTH a “feather in her cap” and an American Flag. Then there was the rest of the audience, which had to be attached to the happy resident. Then there was Sal, bless him, he even got up and danced but of course we didn’t get a picture of that!  But we did get him clappin’ along.  You’ll notice I flipped him. The worst and most time consuming part of this was making the colors match.  It’s surprising how some pictures come out all in yellows and some pictures are all in blues.  Cold and warm colors, don’tcha know. Layer levels can be adjusted, it makes a new layer and adjusts the hue, saturation, luminosity, and any other attribute you can think of.  This required a lot of playing around and now that I’m getting more advanced there isn’t a lot on the web to help me.  You’ll be surprised to hear, there are many minimally gifted people who randomly post YouTube videos telling you nothing you really want to know.  Besides, as one of my fellow students who is a graphic design MAJOR told me, tutorials are fine but you really don’t learn until you fool around with it.  What she didn’t say is I would waste HOURS and DAYS on it!  One of the files I saved was called “feets” because that one lady with the red-striped socks, her feet took literally HOURS to position properly.  And if you look close, they really aren’t.  I also spent a lot of time on that 60’s era floor, since the colors didn’t always match.  I found out the danger of cutting and pasting ad infinitum, because every time you paste something it creates a layer.  I think 35 layers is too many, but I was afraid to “flatten” them all because then they’d be lost.  Guess it depends on how left-brain of a thinker you are! The only thing I took from this picture, to the left,  was the copier or whatever it is on the right. The main thing that is different from the old way of doing things [mainly with an exacto-knife] is that you CAN adjust the colors, hue, saturation, luminosity, darkness, brightness, contrast to make pictures look like they were taken at the same time. And what, exactly, did I learn?  That there are many, many hours in the day that the  youth of our nation can fritter away on the Internet.  That if you think our politicians have more ways than ever to “spin” themselves and their actions, you are right.  That we are all children of advertising and therefore don’t believe everything we see, even if it looks really, really good.
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More Hours Wasted with Photoshop

I still need 2 more pictures to complete my final project.  However the one that I already posted was the only, well, acceptable one.  But the solution is part and parcel of “Photoshop”…just get an image off the Internet, and stick yourself in!  I already knew how to do this from that aforementioned nice young man. Easier said than done.  There’s a finite amount of pictures of me, and it took a long long time to find one I would fit in to.  Even then I had to flip it horizontally (under the “Image” menu).  There were other pictures but they were the wrong color…and yes, you can change that…or taken at facilities in Japan.  I have been doing this performing at facilities thing for about 20 years and in all that time I have seen MAYBE two or three people of Asian descent.  So those pics were out, too.  This was the only one that even remotely fit, it's  from Florida but it couldn’t be helped. (How do I know it’s Florida?  Well I don’t, but I know damn well the elderly never EVER wear shoes like that, around here even if it’s 120 degrees).  I had to cut myself out of the picture, trim my horrible neck area, then insert myself into the now-horizontally flipped picture.  I actually succeeded in covering up dancer #2....dancer #1 just got cropped right out entirely. I am really not satisfed with this picture…try & guess why…but even the Internet could not help me here.  My friend Tyler says I should put someone, preferably creepy, at that window to provide the audience with a reason why they’re looking there, and not at me!  I did take a couple of audience members from behind me, since they were kinda looking in my direction, and placed them up front next to the guy with the powder blue shirt.  That's why that table looks so crowded. By the way if you’re going to flip a picture make sure there’s nothing written visible because it will appear backwards.  This will make your viewers think you live in Bizzaro world.  Which I assuredly do.
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Putting Myself into the Picture

Here is photoshop project number three. On Monday I played a gig at a facility in Wilkes Barre. I had my friend come and take pictures of me, and the audience. Unfortunately she was in a hurry, that has to be the only reason why there was no good picture of me with the audience. In fact there were only 3 pictures of me, each one was worse than the one before it. So I chose this one, with the tongue affliction. And I chose this audience picture, believing I could stick myself into the audience picture and make ‘em look like they were actually enjoying the performance. I needed to cut and paste myself out of this one, it’s actually pretty easy, like I did with the garlic heads. Resizing is the biggest pain about this, because at first I looked like the Giant 50 foot woman playing my keyboard. And speaking of my keyboard, that was really hard, because the right side of it got cut off in the Tongue Afflication picture, so I kind of had to create more keyboard with the lasso tool. I must have cut out 100 images, at first I couldn’t get it to copy right, then it did but it never fit in once I moved my little copy over to the side of the keyboard. You’ll note it doesn’t really look right even now, but it’ll do. And then I had to literally turn frowns upside down. That was another Youtube trip, and some nice young man in Australia or New Zealand revealed to me “transform” under the “edit” menu. Voila! Some of the frowns I literally turned upside down, but most of them I just took a sample of the corner and “rotated” ‘em a bit. Then the ubiquitous Blur tool, to make them fit in. I finally learned how to “Liquify”, it’s under “Filter” and gently pushes things in. I wish there was some kind of tool like this in Life (yeah, it’s called dieting) but it took me several days to learn how to use it. There’s some kind of mesh underneath the picture and it compresses just those tiny squares of pixels. Another nice young man (how come they’re always guys) on YouTube called it How To Make Fat People Skinny. Ha!
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Lookit What I Did

Hey folks!  I grew some garlic—planted it last October, dug it up this week—and I took some pictures of it hanging up to dry, to show you.  Then I got an idea, a terrible, awful idea.  And here it is.  How did I do this evil deed, you may ask? Simple.  I photoshopped the heads onto…the heads!!!  And yes, “photoshop” is a verb.  I tried the “clone stamp tool” since I figured that’s how you would copy something and paste it onto something else.  Not so.  I finally gave up after literally HOURS of trying to figure it out and put “how to photoshop someone into a picture” into the search engine, and voila!!  Youtube has a tutorial on every thing a human being can do, including this.  The nice sounding young man taught me how to copy and paste, resizing the photos as you go, and it couldn’t be simpler.  First you take the “lasso” tool and cut the thing out you want to put somewhere.  Then it will acquire what my professor calls the “marching ants” around just that part of the image you’ve drawn around.  Hit edit, then copy, and go to the garlic picture, and hit paste!  If it doesn’t fit, resize the original image, under “image size” and paste again. Stupid Dan had red-eye in his picture, because no picture exists of him taken anywhere else but a bar.  So THAT was another hour, because despite the fact that my version of photoshop, CS2, is supposed to have a “red eye tool”, it doesn’t.  Or, at least I couldn’t find it.  So I gave up and found another picture of him.  Notice how he’s kind of transparent while the rest of us are solid.  I used the “polygonal” lasso tool on him, and the regular lasso tool on all the rest.  Hm. Why is my head the biggest?  Because it’s my picture.  I call it "GarlicGuideHeads".
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The new improved picture

OK folks here’s the new improved picture.  I used the “Auto Levels” since I’m sure the computer knows better than I do what the picture should look like.  Used the “spot healing tool” on the neck, makes me look 15 years younger, don’tcha think?  Course if I WAS 15 years younger I'd be illegal. More pics next week.
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Learning New Technology

I’m taking a Media Technology class this summer, and my Final project is to learn Photoshop. Perfect for a woman of my…talents (and by talents I mean age}.  I had a mini-whirlwind introduction from the professor teaching the course…stupidly, I chose something he is GREAT at.  Memo to self…next time choose something he knows nothing about! Anyway YOU, dear reader, are going to learn along with me.  So here we go.  To the left of the actual working area is the TOOLBAR, this is your God.  Lookit all the stuff you can do!  OK, so I don't know what half of it means.  But I like the sound of "blur", "spot healing" and "slice."  Sounds more like plastic surgery!  I actually photoshopped this image--the words in that turquoise color are the ones I put in there.  I tried to make the words black but gave up out of annoyance.  I feel that this will happen often during my learning experience.  The tool thingies with no word next to them, means I really didn't understand what it does so I left it blank. Now here’s the first picture I’m gonna mess with.  Yes, yes, I know, never take a picture with someone 30 years younger than yourself.  Oh well.  First thing to do is get that neck taken care of.  Which tool, blur, stamp, spot healing?  Tried the clone stamp tool…that’s supposed to take something from somewhere else, copy it, and put it where you tell it to.  Didn’t work, neck still awful.  This is gonna take a long, long time.  I’ll post the results in ten years when I figure this thing out. By the way his name is Shane and he can really shred on guitar!  Come see us, Sept 18, it’ll be a Rock Mass at Gate of Heaven church in Dallas.  And staytooned for the new, improved pic, once I get finished with it!
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Garden picture time

Tomato on the right, with the stake.  Blue lake beans that were eaten by groundhogs, in the middle.  To the upper left, a castor bean plant, supposed to repel moles and....yes...groundhogs.  Does it work, who knows.  All the way in the back, tomatoes, squash, and lima beans. Different kind of beans, called Contender.  Open pollinated, which means I will save the seeds for next year.  Yea, you're supposed to save the EARLIEST and BIGGEST but I can't help it, when the tiny new ones first appear I just munch away.  Hell, that's what I GREW 'em for!!  These did way better than the Blue Lake, the groundhogs apparently either couldn't find them or didn't like them as much.  I've already caught 4 groundhogs by the way, with my Havaheart trap, and released them all into the wild The new secondary garden, for extra corn (Stowell's Evergreen and of course Silver Queen) and pumpkins, which you can't see, and canteloupes.  Have never had much luck with the winter squashes.  I think our season is just a leeeetle too short.  However, this is the first year I've seen squash bugs.  Even if the season is long enough, the squash bugs will probably get 'em, even though every morning I go out and pop all the eggs, and try & find the parents. Little b-words!! Ooops.  This isn't my garden, it's Gogol Bordello last month at Appel Farm in Elmer, NJ.  I really enjoyed 'em but the REAL fans said it was a rather subdued show.  I'll tellya, that Eugene Hutz is ka-ray-zee!!!  And awesome.
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Bruce has released the text of his eulogy for Clarence Clemons he delivered on June 21st at his funeral in West Palm Beach. Here's the link...
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RIGHT NOW!!! June 3-5  NEPA Bluegrass Fest, Tunkhannock Coal Town Rounders Larry Stephenson The String Band Hickory Project Larry Gillis Cabinet Remington Ryde Saturday June 18th Honesdale Roots & Rhythm Festival Dave Alvin (from the Blasters) Seth Walker Ryan Hartt and the Blue Hearts July 8 and 9 Briggs Farm Blues Fest Terry “Harmonica” Bean Lonnie Shields Jimmy “Duck” Holmes Alexis P. Suter Band Eli Cook Mark Armstrong Vandelay Industries July 30 and 31 Pennsylvania Blues Festival, Blue Mountain Ski Area Cyrill Neville Bettye Lavette Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials Magic Slim & the Teardrops Kenny Neal Shemekia Copeland August 5,6,7  Scranton Jazz Festival The Four Freshmen The Royal Scam The Marko Marcinko Latin Jazz Quintet War August 5-14 Musikfest in Bethlehem Stone Temple Pilots Maroon 5 Steve Miller Band Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas Steely Dan Straight No Chaser Buckcherry Nick Jonas Train with Gavin DeGraw August 18,19,20,21 Philadelphia Folk Festival Dan Bern Tom Paxton Tom Rush Jorma Kaukkonen David Bromberg Big Band Arlo Guthrie
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Forgot One

Below you will find a list of all the CSA  farms I could find.  But I forgot one and it really deserves your attention.  it's called the Dancing Hen Farm and is located in Stillwater...on Toy Factory Road no less!...just between Shickshinny and Benton along Route 239.  However they have regular deliveries to  Bloomsburg, Dallas, Danville, Drums, Forty Fort, and West Hazleton, and yes, these deliveries will continue even after the price of gas has reached $5 a gallon. They also have eggs.  And the share prices are quite reasonable.  In addition they  "share their harvest", with local churches and civic groups... If 10 CSA members pick up at your facility, we'll donate one full vegetable share to your orgnization. I have also found out through channels...well actually she emailed me...that they also start organic plants you can buy instead of getting them at the box store. Check out their guy is holding a hen for Gods sake!!
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Community Supported Agriculture ROCKS!!!!

OK so you may have heard my rant on the air about Community Supported Agriculture.  And you may wonder, what is it?  Community Supported Agriculture, also known as "subscription farming" is a food system in which people pay to become members of a farm.  In exchange for annual subscription fees (anywhere from $250 to $1,000, depending on how much you'll get and other factors) members get a weekly share of fresh, locally grown produce all season long.  Members share the rewards and the risks of their farmers.  If the eggplant crop is bounteous, you get a million eggplants.  If all the tomatoes die (remember 2 years ago?), you get no tomatoes.  Once a week from the beginning of June to the end of October, members come to pick up their share.  The closest one to me, Fertile Grounds, In Noxen, drops you share off at either the Lands at Hillside Farms in Shavertown, or in Downtown Wilkes Barre at the Farmers' Market on Thursday.  Every week, each share includes 5-8 different crops, which vary depending on what's in season. Why do this?  It’s SOOOO obvious.  You’re supporting your own community.  You’re buying locally grown, organically produced food.  It’s ultra fresh, often picked the day you receive it. The best part, in my opinion anyway, is that you get to know the person growing your food.  You can take the kids to visit “their” farm where “their” vegetables come from.  Maybe they’ll even eat ‘em! Here’s a list of the ones in our listening area…call the one near you IMMEDIATELY and sign up!  Some have animals, too Fertile Grounds  Noxen, Pa, or 903-8669 Maddie's Spring Maple Farms 7999 State Route 3001 Meshoppen, PA 18630 833-5998 Turtle Mountain Farm…536 Thurston Hollow Road Tunkhannock (which is just off Keelersburg Rd, which is between Rt. 29 and 292) 836-5798 or Chaos Acres 342 Carter Rd Laceyville , PA 18623  869-2631 Wild Lake Heirloom and Herb Co  16 Sechrist Ln Tunkhannock 18657 406-5931 Hopkins Farm River Road falls, PA 18615  388-2858 Skoloff Valley Farm 727.3046 1944 Stevens Point Rd Susquehanna, PA 18847, or they’ll bring it to The Essential Eating Farmers Market in Clarks Summit The Funny Farm  2479 Bennett Rd Hop Bottom, PA 18824 434-2367 Confluence Farm  596 State Route 167 Hop Bottom, PA 18824 The Ant Hill Farm 1114 Beech Grove Rd Honesdale, PA 18431 .  They’ll deliver for an extra $100…and the farmer’s name is Eusebius!  Really!  253 5985 Yatsonsky Farm Market   Owego turnpike Honesdale, 18431   488-5683 Broken Fiddle Hawley,, Paupack Blueberry Farm 108 Berkley Rd Paupack, 18451 226-9702 Reminiscent Gardens 99 Maple Ridge La. White Haven578-0170 or Five Mountain Farm (formerly Lent's Organics)  346 Baer Road Shickshinny, PA 18655 706-6887 Pine Cone Homestead, Long Pond, Pa 851-1582 Blue Bell Farm  54 Bell Rd Wapwallopen, PA 18660 379-2688 Mad Dog Farm 81-B Church Road Bloomsburg, PA 17815  394-3634 Greene Garden 546 W. Third St Bloomsburg, PA 17815 570-784-4172 I got most of this information from which lists, like, every CSA in the known universe.
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The Actual Process of Making Your Own Maple Syrup

It's a million hours of work for, like, a quart of maple syrup.  I mean, I knew this going in, that it took forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  But I didn't realize I would spend four entire weekends doing nothing but boiling sap, from sun up to well past sundown, all day Saturday, all day Sunday. The thing you see the pots of sap boiling on is something everyone in Wyoming County has, a burn barrel..except most of 'em are made of cinderblocks.  Perfect for keeping the sap boiling all day.  However you have to have a pile of wood the size of the Wyoming Valley mall to keep the fire hot enough to boil the sap.  Every FIVE MINUTES you have to throw in more wood.  I collected and broke up every scrap of wood on my property.  A lot were still wet so I had to dry 'em out on top, as  you can see behind the pots.   I had 2 friends give me literally TRUCKLOADS of scrap wood from construction.  Even one of the engineers here in the Mountain Cabin gave me an entire truck bed full of broken up pallets.  It was the most exhausting thing ever.  I can't wait to get back to the gym and rest!! However, it is very very delicious.  I'm going to freeze my 11 or 12 half-pints, and give 'em out at Christmastime.  But will I do this again?  Maybe, maybe not.  I mean, I really like the idea of being able to glean something from stuff already growing on my property, but dear sweet Lord A-mighty,  it's labor intensive!
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Yes you too can tap the sap from your maple trees.  It’s surprisingly easy.  There are a lot of good guides on the ‘net, but the first thing you gotta do is get spiles, which are the little spouts you pound into the maple tree to access the sap.  I did this all last Friday (the 18th) when it went up to 60 degrees. This is the spile, another closer-up pic is below.  You can see my high -tech maple sap gathering device (old milk jug).  I will have to boil it down on the trash burning thing in my backyard.  40 gallons of sap makes one gallon of syrup. See the sap just about to fall off the spile?  I took a cordless drill, with a 7/16th inch drill bit (kind of big), drilled about a 3 inch hole, tapped the spile in.  Because it was 60 degrees that day the sap came running out. It's kind of hard to make out the jug on the side of this tree...this one is big enough, I put another tap on the other side. I'll let you know how the boiling-down process goes.  I'm still trying to find out if you have to can this stuff or since the sugar content is so high, you can just stick it in a pretty bottle and give it out at Christmastime!
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Yes, it's ghetto. I'm not an engineer. It's a hot box.  Supposedly I will be able to plant spinach, broccoli, and other cold weather vegetables and grow 'em even when the rest of the ground is frozen. I trash picked both windows.  The wood is that pressed stuff, I have no idea how long it's going to last.  A while, I hope, since this took me a whole day to build.  I had also never used a circular saw...that turned out to be the easiest part!  The hardest part?  Digging the holes to put the wood in. I only posted it up here because I realized it is the first thing I have ever built entirely by myself. Impressed?  You should be.  You'll be even more impressed when I'm eating spinach I grew myself in FEBRUARY!!!
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My Favorite Movies

1.  Gone With the Wind 2.  West Side Story 3.  Donnie Darko 4.  The Princess Bride 5. Young Frankenstein 6.  Rocky Horror 7.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail After #1 and #2, the order is subject to change depending on the mood I'm in.  Right now I'm in a very Donnie Darko mood. In fact the order of #1 and #2 may be because I saw both of those movies at a very young age.  All the others were kind of during my so-called adulthood.
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My all-time favorite songs, in no particular order

Summer Fly by CherylWheeler (as sung by Maura O’Connell) Mad World (the Gary Jules version from Donnie Darko)

By Now by Richard Shindell

Calling You by Jevetta Steele

One Meatball by Ry Cooder

Sign Your Name by Terence Trent D'Arby

Kashmir by Led Zeppelin

Blender Blues by Bonnie Raitt

Metaphors by Seal

Mellow Down Easy by Little Walter (actually, any Willie Dixon song)

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Once upon a time I went on air and talked on and on about how great it would be to shoot my own deer. I even posted a picture of a rifle one time after the deer had been particularly hard on the broccoli in my garden. So I got a gun, a 30-06, and bought some ammunition. I had a guy friend of mine offer to teach me how to shoot, and some gun and hunter safety. We took off for the REAL country, for his friend's house halfway into Susquehanna county outside of Meshoppen. The guy has 90 acres and has a bench and target set up just for shooting. The guy's daughter, and her 2 foster sons, came with us too. My friend even paid for breakfast at Purkey's Pink Apple (the buffet was pretty awesome, actually). So we get to the site, and my friend took the first shot with my rifle. That was it for me. It was SOOOO loud! Like a nuclear explosion. I could see it had a hell of a kick, too. I had on swimmer's ear plugs AND those headphones you buy to cancel out noise. Wasn't enough. I simply COULD NOT shoot that gun. They all thought it was pretty funny (at least he wasn't mad!).  I walked up to the house and sat and watched THEM shoot for hours. In saying this I am telling y'all that never again will you hear me talking about shooting a deer. Unless I win the lottery or find a $500 dollar bill on the street, and go out and buy a crossbow. 'Cause that's the ONLY way it'll ever happen. Oh, and if YOU get a deer, I'd sure accept some venison!
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You know you're supposed to buy local and keep your purchases as close to home as you can. There are many obvious benefits to buying local'll be fresher, you know your neighbors have grown it, you'll help support family farms, keep farmers from leaving and selling the land to developers.. However there are many more fact most things...that you should buy locally. Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms -- this strengthens the economic base of the community. Locally owned businesses buy stuff locally, which requires less transportation. Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future. Local business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners. I don't need to demonize the huge "box" stores or tell you why you SHOULDN'T buy there. Horrible treatment of employees, shuttering and boarding up of small town downtowns, Importing goods made in sweat shops to keep prices down. And despite all that, sometimes you just gotta shop's hard to resist when something costs half as much. But try & minimize it. Even if you have to pay more, it's worth it in Karma dollars.
Local businesses I really try to patronize constantly:
Gay's True Value, Tunkhannock
House of Nutrition, Luzerne
Affordable Tree Cutting, Falls
Shapes Fitness (gym), Dallas
Dymond's Farm Market, Shavertown
Back Mountain Natural Heat (coal), Beaumont
Wayne's World Music, Dallas & Pittston
Power Chiropractic, Hanover Township
Hoof 'n Paw Feed, Shavertown
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More Bounty from the Garden, aren't you jealous

The most delicious raspberries ever known to man.  I put them in two years ago.  Got about a dozen last year about 2 quarts.  I also have tons of wild black raspberries all over the place, made lots of jam, pies, etc.  And just this year I discovered the Mother Lode of blackberries, these wild berries have been left to their own devices who knows HOW long and are huge. Here's my lima beans, and a shot of the expensive solar-powered electric fence that doesn't keep anything out.  That equipment to the left is the solar panel that keeps it charged, and it sure shocks ME if I touch it. Not so much the groundhogs or deer.  I have gotten out the Havaheart trap for the groundhogs.  The deer will just have to wait until hunting season to die! And here boys & girls, are the branches from actual trees that I cut while trimming the property last fall.  However we try to save EVERYTHING and now they're the trellis for the King of the Garden limas.   Just my way of keepin' it green!..and saving dough.
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Pics from the Garden

My tomatoes from the "Back forty".  This is a piece of ground right by the creek, so I always risk flooding...nothing this year, though. The soil is a lot less clay-y, and the tomatoes are doing...OK.  About 50 plants, there are lots of the paste kind for sauce, 8 or 10 beefsteak just for lunches during the summer, and I'm trying a new variety, Brandywine Red.  The first tomato was one of those, and it tasted pretty darn good. I started these pumpkins, squashes and melons pretty early but they didn't do well once they outgrew their pots...anyway they also didn't take well at all to being transplanted.  Next year I'm using those jiffy pots.  Hope to get SOMETHING, the large plant is a Big Max pumpkin (or Dill's Atlantic Giant, I can't remember which), the smaller one to the left is butternut squash.  I also have some melons... Look closely boys and girls, that may be the only melon I get.  it's a varitey called Minnesota Midget, developed for far nothern climes (which we seem to be in) and they are supposed to mature very rapidly.  Started these early, too.  Actually that particular melon isn't even big enough for me to determine whether it was fertilized. More pics next week!
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Why You Should Never Fly Virgin Atlantic Airlines

The Last, and worst, day of my London vacation…. So we arrive at Heathrow terminal 4 after mistakenly travelling to terminal 1, 2, and 3. Our boarding pass didn’t say which terminal we should go to. Our flight was due to depart at 4:20, we arrived at 3:24.  The ticket agent immediately tore up our boarding passes and said we couldn’t board the flight since it was less than an hour before departure.  I said I hoped I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel on our final car ride home, and she replied, “Even if I could let you board your original flight I wouldn’t, now.  You should have known which terminal you were flying out of since it was on your ticket” (although she said, “tickeet”).  Not interested that we had very limited internet access and never really saw our “tickeet”. We were then shuffled off to another ticket agent whose name tag read merely “Di”. She told us there was no other way for us to get home except to pay a $500 ticket change fee.  I told her I had already paid such a change fee once, back in April, when the kid’s passport didn’t arrive in time. I’ll admit it, I began to cry, that’s when Di stated she did not want to take such abuse and called over some supervisor type. She had the same annoyed and unhelpful attitude. We were then shuffled off to another ticket agent.  I decided I would let my son handle this transaction since my emotional state was apparently annoying to the staff.  No dice, I was required to stand before this agent, to identfy myself and hand over my credit card.  She told us we would now be flying into JFK, not Newark. I asked about flying standby, to which she replied, “Don’t take your bad day out on me” and said there was no possibility of standby and the change would cost me $572.  By this time I was so upset I couldn’t really speak, and I didn’t catch her name.  I went to sit down on a baggage scale. At this point she tells my son to please not swear.  He actually hadn’t….This slip actually made me aware, on further reflection, that these agents were actually trying to generate an emotional reaction that would justify their bad behavior. Another staff member named Shawna saw me crying and, seeming quite concerned, asked if I was OK.  I explained my problem, she went over to the ticket counter, and never spoke to me again.  However she did strike up a conversation with a nearby sky cap, about 4 feet away from me, that both of them found extremely hilarious. Yes, the airlines are hurting.  They will only have a $2.5 billion profit this year (that’s all of them, not just Virgin, but still…)  What a way to ruin what was a great vacation.
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Last Days in London

Sorry this took so long but my computer suddenly decided not to download pictures.  So I'm using the one in the Mountain cabin. Here's CJ and one million other tourists in front of the British Museum.  It was awesome but we didn't get there until, like, 2pm and they close at 5:30, which is not nearly enough time.  He's the one standing in between the pillars, in front of the steps, with that stupid Old Man hat on.  The British Museum really is a must-see, if only for that alone.  But I still wish we had taken the tube to St. John's Wood to see the crosswalk. These people have pitched TENTS and live in them opposite Parliament to protest taxation.  And you thought the Tea Partiers were crazy! We decided to go to Greenwich on the last day so we could stand on the Prime Meridian.  0', 0", you know.  Kinda cool.  Took a "Thames clipper" which is part of the public transit system, and even faster than the tube.  Took the tube back, and didn't make it to Heathrow until 55 minutes before our flight left.  THAT story next....
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Me and the 20-year old.  Arrived at our first destination, a charming medieval village called Lacock (pronouced Lay-cock), with an abbey originally built in the 1300's.  About an hour from Stonehenge, which, as one poster said, is a bunch of rocks in a field.  Sorry...I didn't get a vibe at all.  Maybe it was the fact that there were, like, a million tourists and highway on both sides.  Maybe it disrupts the electro magnetism. 2 nights there, then Cardiff.  Yes, we went because they film Dr. Who there.  Wanna make something of it?  Yes we toured the tiny little Dr. Who Exhibit which costs 6.50 pounds (like, 9 bucks) each.  Yes, we spent an obscene amount of money at the gift shop. But Cardiff was a great city, reminded me of Scranton since it's no-frills, except for Cardiff Bay, and very working class.  Wish we had more time there! First person to identify who (or what) I'm shaking hands with gets a free Cathy Donnelly CD!! London's next!
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Floyddance Contra Dancing is way, way cooler than Square Dancing, and way older as well.  Sometimes called New England Folk Dancing, you can show up to a dance with NO experience and NO partner and have a rollicking good time.  There are certain steps they'll teach you, but they're easy, and the tradition is to CHANGE partners each dance.  There's live music, and people usually bring munchies for the breaks.  There's usually no alcohol (something I appreciate, not being a drinker).  It runs about 2 1/2 - 3 hours, but you can certainly sit out a dance if need be, or leave early, or come late. Generally, a leader, known as a caller, will teach each individual dance just before the music for that dance begins. During this introductory "walk-through" period, participants learn the dance by walking through the steps and formations, doing what the caller says. At most dances, nobody dresses up, or down, but you'll see  "peasant skirts" or other full, lightweight skirts, even on men sometimes.  Low, broken-in, soft-soled, non-marking shoes, such as dance shoes, sneakers, or sandals, are recommended and, in some places, required. However, dancing barefoot is also common. There's a real sense of camaraderie without condescension here.  At least, the dances I've been to in NePa.  Everybody is extremely tolerant of newcomers; they know you don't know the steps and will call out encouragment and helpful tips (like the one about looking right into your partner's eyes when you spin, otherwise you'll get dizzy).  They also know you're going to LOVE the whole thing and will soon become part of the group. And I'm happy to report there's no correlation between the Iran-Contras and the Kingston Contra Dancers!! The ones in Kingston are the first Saturday of the month (mostly), sponsored by the Chicory House. The next one is February 6, at 7.30 pm, at the Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston, Sprague Ave, Kingston PA (that's where they usually are). Admission to the dance is $9 for adults and $24 for families.  Well worth it! What say we show up next Saturday with a whole bunch of newcomers!  See you there!! Information on the dance: Here's a video from a place I've actually danced at! The quality's awful but it'll show you what Contra dancing's all about   Contra dancing in Glenside, Pa
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