Monday, February 21, 2011

Today just some more evidence of my love of rocks...
My son Kevin and I scoured Nauset Beach on Cape Cod for all these stones. They have to meet several criteria in order to be a keeper. It can't be too big, it must be an interesting shape, a pretty color or a different texture. We brought many home but not all made the cut. The above stones made it. They're actually Kevin's, we collected them for him to put in a glass container in his apartment in NYC to remind him of family and vacation. But guess what? They were too heavy to take on the plane without putting his luggage over the weight limit. So they're mine now. Hee hee. Yes, that's my dog Cody checking things out. He's got his nose in everything.
Years ago my dad found an almost perfect heart shaped stone on a beach in North Truro on Cape Cod. He gave it to my mother and she still has it. It's got my name on it; some day I will get custody of it. But not for a long time I hope. The above hearts were collected by my hubby, Kevin and me. No Cape Cod for me this summer and I'm sad about that so I guess I'll just look at my beach stones and remember.


And now for a completely different topic but one close to my heart; my backyard birds.

Waiting his turn...
The bird feeder was very busy yesterday. Stopping in for a little pick me up snack was this red bellied woodpecker.

Our one sets of male and female cardinals. There are at least three different couples that dine at our feeder. The male almost always lets the female eat first while he keeps watch in our weeping cherry tree. After she's done she sometimes waits for him to eat but most of the time flies off. We also had chickadees, tufted titmouse, nut hatches and a little downy woodpecker at the feeder while I was watching.
Of course I can't leave out our neighborhood pest, good old Mr. Squirrel, actually at one time yesterday I counted 9 squirrels running around the yard. I can't say this too loud, I don't want them to hear, we've pretty much conquered our bird feeder squirrel problem. The black thing on the pole is a baffle and they can't get over it. The tree branches aren't strong enough for them to get down near the feeder and if they do somehow manage to make it to the feeder there's a door like thing that comes down and closes off the seed when it senses too much weight on the perch. They try hard but have resigned themselves to eating seed that falls on the ground. Kevin got me a great Christmas gift this year; a combination bird and flower book as well as a magazine subscription to Birds and Blooms. More of my favorite things.
I wish I had a better camera, I can never get an in focus shot of the birds. If you want to see some lovely pictures taken by my friend Sandi head over here.

I'm off from school this week and home alone for February recess so maybe I'll post more often, I think I might get bored.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Rock

I love rocks, they're one of my favorite things. I collect them from different places and love to look for them on the beaches of Cape Cod. I have rocks in every room of my house and in all the landscaping and gardens around my yard. I did see on one episode of My Strange Addiction a woman who is obsessed about rocks. I'm far from that. And have you ever seen that show? Wow, there are some strange people in this world. Back to rocks...
Our Earth is made up of three types of rocks: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic and this post is about sedimentary rock; in a round about way. I'll give you the abbreviated version.

Sedimentary rock is formed when the surfaces of the Earth have been eroded over millions of years by wind and water. These bits and pieces of rocks and sand wash down stream and settle on the bottom of rivers, lakes and oceans. Over time more piles on top pressing down on the lower layers. Eventually these layers turn to rock. Most areas of sedimentary rock were once covered with water. The different layers of the rocks gives us information about the geological time period when they were formed. Contained in the rock layers are fossils of plants and animals. Almost all fossils are found in sedimentary rock.

Grand Canyon photo by Reiner Stenzel

One of the most famous examples of sedimentary rock formation would be the Grand Canyon. You can really see the layers.

As I said almost all fossils are found in sedimentary rock including dinosaurs. Above is the mighty carnivore Tyrannosaurus Rex that lived during the late Cretaceous period. Sorry but Jurassic Park got it wrong.
Triceratops an herbivore (or as one of my kindergartners say, whorebivore) lived during the late Cretaceous period with his buddy T-Rex.

Stegosaurus, also a plant eater roamed the Earth during the late Jurassic period. I took these pictures on a trip to the Museum of Natural History in NYC in the Dinosaur Hall. I'm not really one for museums but have always wanted to see these dinosaur fossils. A wonderful surprise exhibit was the Meteor Hall. Perfect for a rock lover like me; where else can you touch a rock that came from outer space!

Just look at this hunk of space rock!
All this leads me to the gist of my post. We were driving down a street the other day when I noticed this snow bank. Sedimentary snow was the first thought in my mind! Look how you can see the different layers from different snow falls.

Is the winter getting to me or what??

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Are you ready for some bowl games?

So there's this big football game today. I don't really follow football excepts the sorry ass Buffalo Bills and it's been 20 years since they've been in the Superbowl. I do watch the Superbowl every year but mostly for the commercials. I was at a Superbowl party several years back when Janet Jackson flashed her nipple. In a room full of people only myself and another guy saw it, everyone else was eating. I wasn't sure at first what I saw but then realized that Justin Timberlake ripped the bodice of her outfit and hello, there it was. Any way I'll watch the game and while I really don't care who wins I'm going to cheer for this team...

The Packards!
I'll also watch the Puppy Bowl. How cute are they? Cuddlier than big sweaty guys in tight pants.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I can't wait for spring

I lucked out today with a snow day off from school. Some school districts closed their schools last night already. Mine waited until 5:30 this morning. This is the only phone call I want to get that early. In my opinion I think maybe the weather prognosticators didn't get this one quite right. Every channel I checked said we'd get significant snowfall over night with freezing rain and sleet to the south of us. We ended up getting a wintry cocktail of all of the above. Could we have gone to school? Maybe. We've gone to school on worse mornings than today but the day off was nice, I'm not complaining.

I love my birds in the backyard. There's something about seeing a red cardinal on a bland, colorless winter's day. Here he's keeping watch while his female counterpart is eating along side a downy woodpecker.

I wish I had a better camera, it focused on the hydrangea stalks instead of my little friend.
I call these poor little sparrows pig birds because they will eat at the feeder until they can hardly fly away.
Puffing up to stay warm I think.

Oh and on a postscript to this story, go here.

Friday, January 28, 2011


At the elementary school I work in one of the things we try and impress upon the students is a sense of community, working together and helping the less fortunate; those in our neighborhood and the world. One of the projects that we've been working on the last three years is Building Futures in Kenya. A man named Jim Nowak, a local neighborhood resident visited our school three years ago to tell us about students in Kenya and his efforts. He helps to build schools in Kenya. He has since returned four times to give us updates. His friends in Kenya call him Jemo and we could call him that too.

Our friend Jemo

Jemo retired from a 30+ teaching career and began his organization Buliding Furtures with a friend. He spends 5 months per year in Kenya helping with construction and other details and the other 7 months here in Rochester spreading his message and fund raising for the Kenya school. He's been to Kenya 13 times. He tells us he doesn't do this alone. His organization has many people that help in many ways from construction to financials.

Jemo introduced us to his friends in Africa though a slide show and words. These students didn't have a school, when they were able to come to school it was held outside or in rundown shacks. He explained how getting an education is important and how our school can help their "school". Our school decided to help and we got into raising money for Kenya. Our biggest fund raiser is our Run for Kenya where students would collect pledges and then over a period of two weeks during PE class as well as before school students run laps in the gym. Our goal was to raise 5,000 dollars, the cost of a new classroom. Jemo would visit us and regale the students with stories of children in Africa. He taught them some words in Kiswahili and we exchanged letters with students in Kenya. It was a great learning experience. The first year we surpassed our goal, not only did we raise enough money for one classroom but for three!! We raised over 15,000! Of course we aren't the only school he visits and I have no idea what they raise but we did great. For two years we raised money for the buildings and had a building named after our school. We have pictures in our hallway of the school and children and they have pictures of us and our school. Eventually they had classrooms for 600 students as well as kitchens and bathrooms. Together all of his fund raising efforts raised enough to build the Mbaka Oromo Primary as well as a secondary school. Our third year fundraiser went towards something they don't have in their community, a medical clinic. Again the students put their hearts into it and raised a lot of money to help with this project. Fourteen months later the clinic was completed. We are gearing up for our fundraiser this year, another Run for Kenya. Our students look forward to it, its become a tradition.

We received some sad news at the end of the day today. The vibrant, generous, kind, selfless man, Jim Jemo Nowak was killed in a car accident this morning in Africa. He'd been in Kenya since October and was scheduled to return to the states in February and kick off our fundraiser.

It makes my heart ache to know that someone as giving and enthusiastic is gone from this Earth. Why? I know there's a reason for it and sometimes you never know what the reason is. I just can't believe this man is gone.

Monday, January 24, 2011


In this country, the good old U. S. of A many people were in an uproar about the new searches and scans done by the TSA in our nation's airports. As for me, I was not upset. I welcome any technology that will stop people from terrorizing travellers. Go ahead and scan me, maybe my image will end up on line somewhere but I don't care. I've got nothing that no other female has and what I do have, well, who wants to see it? Do I care if I get felt up during a search? I'm sure it won't be comfortable but I'll never see that person again and if it somehow prevents something then grope away. People will argue that the TSA has never thwarted a terrorist attack before, if someone wants to get something through they will. I don't buy that. Can they be 100% accurate? I don't think so but they do collect knives, box cutters and guns.

I write this today because for all that believe these regulations are bull shit I'm betting at the innocent people at the Domodedovea Airport in Moscow wish they were in place at their airport. A suicide bomber has killed at least 30 people inside the terminal. These are eye witness quotes from this article. The explosion had "coated the terminal in blood." The airport was, "engulfed by smoke and spattered with body parts." I'd say those are pretty graphic descriptions. Ones that I would never want to witness or be a part of.

I will never understand how some groups of people feel that they must terrorize others who don't agree with their beliefs. I don't know what group is responsible for this or the reason behind it. I hate that the world is becoming so violent and I worry for future generations.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jim Alesi, Schmuck

This is my esteemed New York senator Jim Alesi who represents me in the 55th district of the United States Congress. Take it for what it's worth, he's a republican.

There is a very interesting story in the news about him right now. Click here or here to read about it. If you'd rather not I'll summarize it for you.

In January of the year 2008 Alesi wanted to check out a home that was under construction, went to the front door which he found locked. Looking for another entry point he went around the back where he found a door without a lock. Upon entering he noticed that there was no staircase to the upper level installed yet. In place of the future staircase was a ladder which he proceeded to climb and subsequently fall off of. Unfortunately for the trespassing United States Senator he broke his leg. This home was already sold to a couple and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office gave the homeowners the option to press charges against Alesi for this trespassing. They declined to do so stating they didn't want to make it worse for the Senator and add insult to injury. Senator Alesi never contacted the owners to apologize for trespassing or to thank them for not pressing charges.

The statute of limitations for either party to sue is three years. On January 18 2011, the last day of the statute, guess what happened? If you guessed that United States Senator Jim Alesi
filed a lawsuit against the homeowner and builder Louis DiRisio you'd be right. By choosing this date it left no time for either party to counter sue. I find that so calculating and disgusting by this man.

In the lawsuit papers Sen. Alesi maintains that "the Trolley Brooks Estates was advertised as a new housing development open to the public. The homeowner and builder should have foreseen that prospective home buyers would enter open houses. The house should have been kept in a reasonably safe condition. It was the negligence of the defendants and not his fault."

According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper the builder has responded that "there was nothing indicating the house was a model available for viewing. That was private property that he entered into. A stairwell was still unfinished and the ladder was the contractor's access from a basement to the first floor. Why would anyone else other than the house's owner or builder think they had a right to scale a ladder within a structure? I guess anybody can sue anybody" said DiRisio. Louis DiRisio has also stated that he will not settle.

Some people may think he's brilliant for lawyering (not a word according to spell check but I like it) up and using the strategy to sue at the last minute. I find it reprehensible and frivolous. Now the homeowners who by the way happen to be some of his constituents and builder will have to pony up for lawyer fees to protect themselves from trespassing United States Senator Jim Alesi. I can see his foe's political commercials now when he's up for re-election. The title of this post says it all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's Your Sign?

Do you believe in astrology? I can't say that I believe in the whole horoscope thing. I very seldom read my daily or monthly horoscope because they're so broad in their predictions and open to interpretation.One day many, many years ago, I don't know what made me do it but I purposely looked it up in our daily newspaper. It said that "some very important papers would be signed today". Pretty specific eh? At the time I had been waiting months for my soon to be ex husband to sign divorce papers which he'd been dogging. My lawyer called the next day to tell me he'd signed them yesterday! I dug the paper out of the garbage, cut out the horoscope and still have it today. While I don't subscribe to the telling of the future by the stars I do believe in zodiac traits.

Last week when the Star Tribune in Minneapolis published a story regarding Parke Kunkle, a teacher at Minneapolis Community and Technical college who stated that the astrological signs are wrong and off by a month. I was horrified.
I am a Leo through and through and proud of it. The new star chart says I am a Cancer! I don't want to be that sign, the name alone, Cancer, is awful. The reason for this Kunkle says is due to a "wobble" in the Earth's axis that created a one month hic cup in the alignment of the stars. Well holy shit, I'm not changing my sign because of this.
Astronomers and Astrologers don't often agree with each other but on this point they do. While the ancient Babylonians established the zodiac periods, astronomers have known since 130BC when Hipparchus ascertained that this "wobble" would happen. He realized that over thousands of years the gravitational pull of the moon over the Earth would cause the Earth to tilt a little on its axis, changing the placement of the stars in the sky. The wobble also has a name, it's a process called precession. So it turns out this is old news. Both astronomers and astrologers have known the stars and signs have not matched up but it's no big deal. Susan Miller, a popular astrologist said this, "We've known about this for ages. The constellations don't suggest what's coming up , it's the planets! The constellations are a measuring device."
Phew, I feel so much better.
Now as I said I'm pretty much a Leo. I don't fit every trait but who does? I've had the Leo traits since birth in both the good way and bad. Leos have the following traits, if there's a Y= that's me, N=No, S=sometimes.

Good traits:
Generous Y
Warm hearted Y
Creative Y
Enthusiastic S
Broad minded Y
Expansive N
Faithful Y
Loyal Y
Loving Y
Dominant Y
Extroverted N
Ambitious S
Courageous Y
Strong willed Y
Independent Y
Born leaders Y
Strongly idealistic S
Humane Y

Not so good traits:
Pompous N
Patronizing S
Bossy Y
Interfering S
Dogmatic N
Intolerant (of stupid people)
Dominant y

Strong Likes:
Speculative ventures N
Lavish living S
Pageantry and grandeur N
Children YY
Drama N

Doing things safely N
Ordinary day to day living S
Small minded people Y
Penny pinching Y
Mean spiritedness Y

In the long run a person can justify any traits they want and these traits fit many zodiac signs but as for me; I am a LEO. There was a reason I was called Queenie when I was younger. I thought I should be Queen of the Jungle.

What's your sign?
Do you fit the profile?
Would you want to be a different one?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here comes the...


Cody loves the snow and there was no shortage of it today.
We've gotten about a foot since yesterday. Luckily it's the light, fluffy kind.
He enjoys bounding through the deep stuff and sometimes sticks his entire head in it. The only problem is he comes in with tons of little snowballs stuck to him plus he'll limp later. I hope it keeps snowing, I want a snow day tomorrow. Must wear pajamas inside out tonight. For those of you who live in a snow free zone that's supposed to help the cause according to all school students from elementary through high school.

Stay tuned...

Friday, January 07, 2011

There's a First Time for Everything...

It was a cold and dreary day when I pulled in the driveway to find my youngest standing outside. Oh, he saw me coming down the road and wanted to give me a hug before he left to pick up two friends. Then I thought again; uh oh, he's locked out of the house. Turns out not only was he locked out the house but out of his running car also. He had started it up and got out to brush the snow off. When he closed the door the locks must have cycled. He called AAA about 20 minutes before I got home and he was cold. But his car was warm inside :-)

Pacing, where is AAA?
"I can't believe this happened."
Better in the driveway than in some dimly lit parking lot.
He's here! Get that door open!
Actually I think he got the window down because
he had a hard time with the lock.
Where's a criminal when you want one?
He does have a spare key for the car but it's at his apartment out by his school.

Don't forget your snow brush on the hood...