Skeet Shares
stuff I find interesting
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Jewish Singles
I've done a lot of joking about online dating sites lately (y'all knew I was kidding, right?) but the fact is that they serve a good purpose. I know a number of couples involved in long-term relationships who first met as online matches. I even know a few who have made successful marriages after meeting on a dating site. Not everyone has the good fortune to just happen upon the right person in the course of their daily lives. This can be even more problematic for those who have very specific criteria in mind. What I'm thinking of in particular is ethnic and religious considerations. People can live a life completely free of bias and still feel that their best match for romance is with someone who shares historical, religious or cultural ties. If being Jewish is more than just a lable to you, you might want to see what this Jewish Dating Site has to offer. Membership is free, so it won't cost you a thing to wander around the site and see if it's a comfortable fit for you. In addition to possible matches for your love life, you'll also see some well-written articles that you may find relevant to your situation. sponsored this post so you would know.

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The other shoe dropped
I survived.

A while back I spent a little too much money on my home remodel project and found myself unable to meet my tax obligation at the end of the year. I tried very hard to get caught up, but the real estate market took a dive, which means I was getting much less business than in the past. Last week I got a letter from Uncle Sam saying time was running out and they wanted to take my house. As you know from a previous post, I succeeded in finding a lender who agreed to help me refinance my home. Uncle Sam will be paid off tomorrow.

Big siiiiiiiiiiigh of relief here! Mahalo for all of your kind thoughts when you knew I was facing a problem.


Vacation getaways
A lot of the properties that I inspect are condominiums that are used as vacation rentals. Many people are choosing condominiums these days for Vacation Rentals instead of having to put up with the hustle and bustle of a hotel. Condominiums offer more privacy and full kitchens, and many of them are more spacious than a typical hotel room. If you're planning a vacation, look into an experienced management team that can help you find just the right accommodations for your needs. Whether you're taking the entire family to a theme park or want a romantic getaway on the ocean, a qualified affiliation of condominium owners will only offer properties that they have screened and that they know will give you a wonderful vacation experience. sponsored this post so you could know there's an alternative to high-priced, plain vanilla hotels for your next vacation.

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Thirty-six years

I remember being terrified. Not of the pain so much, though that certainly frightened me. The terror, though, came from my feelings of total inadequacy. I wasn't old enough to do this. I wasn't mature enough to know where to start. What if I didn't love it enough? What if I didn't know how to meet its needs? What if I dropped it? I was so unprepared. We didn't have parenting classes in those days. I knew how to change diapers and prepare bottles. I had done enough babysitting to know I could handle bathing and dressing and cuddling, but this? This was so much more. This responsibility was so awesomely huge, so much bigger than my clumsy skills could handle.

Sonograms and scans were not the norm at that time. I didn't know the gender of the child I carried. Everyone in the family had an opinion. I wanted a girl. I didn't want a little image of me. I wasn't looking for a pretty little doll to dress up in frilly clothes, or a daughter with whom I could one day share makeup and wardrobe. I wasn't biased towards girls or against boys. My feelings rested on something much more fundamental. A girl would be easier to raise without a father to help. What did I know of little boys? I didn't know how they felt or what they wanted or needed or thought. Yes, a girl would definitely be better. I had some experience with being a girl.

Then I met you. What I had thougth I wanted was forgotten. I knew that this was perfection. This was what was supposed to be. This was as right as anything has ever been from the beginning of time. This was the part of me that I had never known was missing. My beautiful and amazing son.

There are gaps in my memories of my own life. Time periods that I just don't recall in any detail. But I remember your teachers and your friends, and what places they filled in your life. I remember which ones you genuinely cared for and which ones you merely tolerated. I remember the few years of Cub Scouts and the many of Little League. Zoom and Speed Racer and The Fonz. The years that rushed by too quickly and that one that was so terribly slow. The coaches and friends and Brother Rowden and Alan who stepped in for those things that a boy needs a man to share. Woven through it all, the love of sports. The endless statistics, the rosters, the jersey numbers, the trading cards. Of course it was a sports biography that finally convinced you that reading was something more than an assignment to be completed by Monday. My favorite portrait is still the one above. You sit relaxed, confident, groomed and neatly dressed, LSU laces clearly visible in your shoes. The epitome of you-ness.

The miles between us now seem so vast and cause an ache in my heart. But the ache is a small thing because I know that gap is easily bridged. It is heavily outweighed by my pride in the man you have become and the joy I have in knowing that you've built a happy life for yourself. I love the boldness you've shown in making your own way and choosing your own path. I've forgiven the girl who broke your heart and I hope that you have, too. Grudges are too heavy and ugly a burden. I love the "best friend" woman who now shares so much of your life. I'm touched that you worry about me being way over here alone. Those are choices we've both made, so don't allow yourself to regret them. I love the card, inscribed in your hand, reminding me that I will always be your first Valentine. You are mine, my son, because I never really knew what love was until the day that I met you. The day I knew I would never drop you. I think we've managed it all pretty well.

Happy Birthday, my son. I wish you love and happiness and fullness of life.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Consolidate your student loans

I have a friend who graduated a couple of years ago with a very prestigious degree. She's carrying three student loans and living like a pauper, having to sqeeze her budget for the basic neccessities of life. I know that a quality education costs, but it bothers me greatly that it costs so much that folks who get one can't make enough money to pay their debt and live decently. One solution that can help lower the debt is Student Loan Consolidation, which will shrink her three mothly payments into one lower payment. I'll be passing this info on to her because I think it's possible that Student Loan Debt Consolidation can make her life a lot easier. She's young and independent. This is the time for her to be enjoying her life and the rewards that she's worked so hard for. I'd like to help her do that by pointing her in the right direction. A big thank you to for sponsoring this post.

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Monday, January 29, 2007
Compare savings accounts

Wouldn't you just love it if you could go to one place to comparison shop for rates before you open up your next savings account? I just found a site where you can do exactly that. Instead of going to the yellow pages or tramping around town, now one easy click will take you to a guide to finding your new high yield savings account without all the hassles! We're not talking little no-name banks, either. Bank of America, Chase, Capital One and ING Direct are just a few of the financial institutions you can select from. You won't have to click on each one and try to remember what you saw on the last page either, because they're all right there on one list so you can do a true comparison.
sponsored this post and just made it easier for you to find the savings plan that's right for you!

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I would not have thought it possible to post anything on this site that combines the beauty and wonders of Hawaii with matters relelvant to my working life. Well, except silly anecdotes like my gecko-in-the-bra story. Today I feel privileged to share with you some news about a man-made wonder and how my industry came to her aid.

Hokulea has been called the pride of Hawaii. She is a double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe, built and navigated in the ancient ways. Her path is calculated by the stars; no modern navigational aids are used. Her accomodations are rudimentary; there are no luxurious cabins, no breakfast buffets and no bathroom facilities to speak of. Hokulea has traveled throughout the Pacific since 1974. Her story provides proof to the old oral traditions, handed down through many generations, of Hawaii being settled by Polynesians traveling in great canoes. Thor Heyerdahl proved in 1947 that such journeys were possible when he sailed Kon Tiki from Peru to Raroia atoll. Holulea continues to fill in the blanks in Polynesian history. She is currently out to sea. You can stay abreast of her progress via the Polynesian Voyaging Society weblog. Do go to there and look around. You can spend hours viewing photos, reading the crew's logs and tracking Hokulea's progress. Her journey is being used as an educational experience for school kids throughtout Hawaii, but in truth, almost every man, woman and child in the state is following along in facination. She is at the top of our headline news almost daily. I guess the broadcasters are wise enough to know that all of our hearts are with her.

So what does this have to do with my work? Well, way back in the '80s I took my first pest control licensing exam, and I have had the privilege of renewing about every four years since then. When I've transferred, first from Louisiana to California and later to Hawaii, I had to take the exams in my new home state. I've always worried to the point of making myself physically ill in the days leading up to exams. In California and Hawaii the test is mostly fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice, with a lot of math to keep me on my toes. In Louisiana, where I was first licensed, a good portion of the test was in the form of questions to be answered with essays. Having worked myself up into a frenzy in the days preceding that first exam, I was relieved to find that most of the answers rolled smoothly off of my pen. Then I got to the last question and drew a total blank. You see, while it is necessary for me to understand all of the available remedies for a given pest control problem, I have never carried the separate license required for fumigation. I know the basics, but the question posed a problem I'd never even heard of, much less performed corrections for. After excusing myself to upchuck my breakfast into a toilet, I returned to my seat and felt my doom descend upon me. The essay required that I describe every aspect of how one would fumigate a boat in water. Treatment materials to be used, procedures to be followed, safety equipment needed, precautions to be exercised ... everything. After much time spent in fruitless thought, an answer came to me. "To fumigate a boat in water, I would call the Department of Agriculture (licensing agency) and request that they provide advice and direct supervision." This was not, of course, the answer that was sought. It was, however, deemed appropriate in the end, with a few points subtracted for lack of detail. I should have rememberd that fumigant gasses, being lighter than air, will not penetrate water. No contamination can occur. The proper procedure requires that tarps be affixed to the structure (a ship or boat) to contain the gas, and that they extended into the water. Well, duh! Of course it does.

I got my most recent online edition of Pest Control Magazine today. Memories of that horrible first exam came flooding back when I saw that it featured an article entitled Historic Hawaiian Ship Rescued By Fumigation With Vikane. I was disappointed that I somehow had not known that Hokulea had had a drywood termite infestation (for what other ship could it be?) I would have known how to handle the problem, having had about twenty-five years to correct my past ignorance. Irrelevant, of course, since I still choose not to be involved in fumigations, but, by golly, why had no one shared this worthy news with me? Anyway, while the article makes me proud of my industry, it didn't actually relate all that well to my exam dilemma. Those wimps waited until she was in drydock to fumigate Hokulea. HA! If they'd only called me first ...

Still, it gave me a springboard to tell you a story that combines two of my passions, so I guess it's all good.

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I gave teapots to both of my closest friends last year for their birthdays. I selected three teas that I thought each would enjoy and added some pretty but rather bland cookies that wouldn't interfer with the taste and aroma of the teas. Their little gourmet baskets were lovely, even if I do say so myself. For Grace's basket, I had to buy the tea and cookies twice. I was sick the week of her birthday and had to postpone our lunch. I drank her teas that week, and bought fresh ones for her when I knew we would be getting together. Stale tea would have been a terrible insult.

We've been going to the theatre and having lunches together on a regular basis for quite a while. When we go to the theatre, we always try to make a day of it. We have lunch and then stroll through Chinatown. Sometimes we buy little trinkets or pricey imports, but our favorite stops are in the tea shops and herbalists. We buy tiny little packets of different teas. When one of us finds one we especially like, we buy it again and again. When we see something unusual, we have to buy that and sample, of course. It's become almost a ritual with us. The only problem is finding a favorite when we go for a return trip. The varieties available are always limited and some make only one appearance in the shops. I've never trusted buying teas online because of the freshness factor.

We won't be giving up Chinatown strolls, but I've found a new source for the teas we enjoy. Grand Tea Stand ships all of their teas in air-tight metal containers. If it weren't for that I would not have given their site a scond look, because stale, dried-out teas are not worth bothering with.

Shopping with them will also solve the problem of finding favorite varieties on a consistent basis, and their wide selection means I can taste and sample to my heart's delight. My own preference is for flavored teas, with subtle hints of fruitiness that don't overpower the taste of the tea itself. I'm especially looking forward to trying their Forest Berries and almond blends. I know that Grace enjoys the more traditional Green Teas, and Grand Tea Stand has a number of varieties to choose from. Jane, the third member of our group, prefers tisane, herbal teas that can be completely caffeine-free. Finding the perfect gifts won't be a problem this year, because I know now where I can find their favorite teas, fresh and at very reasonable prices.

I was really pleased when Grand Tea Stand offered to sponsor this post and I discovered that it is possible to get fresh teas in many varieties online. I'm looking forward to my first order!

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Sunday, January 28, 2007
Keeping your pets safe
A couple of months ago one of my dogs ate a whole bottle of antacid tablets. We love our pets and try so hard to take good care of them, but stupid things happen. Today I was surfing around and landed on the ASPCA site, which I remember visiting when I was trying to find out if Tums are poison to dogs. The first thing I found today was an article about how dangerous potpourri can be. Who knew? Who thinks about these things? I've got little pots of the dried stuff sitting in every room in the house. I have several of the little potpourrri burners that are mentioned in the article and I use them frequently. I need to patrol my house yet again and make sure I'm not putting the furkids in danger.

As I was reading about how dangerous it is to make my house smell nice I noticed what appeared to be a flash game. I was killing time while waiting for the laundry to finish & I'm all about games, so of course I checked it out after I finished reading. I wouldn't exactly call it a game, but it's a very nice flash presentation about dangerous or poisonous substances that many of us have in our homes. Look for the little pup image above while you're still on the potpourri page & take a tour of your home.

Oh, and one more thing while you're there. You'll see a donation icon. You're an animal lover right? Worthy cause? You bet. You know what to do!

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Memorial bracelets

My high school years were a time of great turmoil. The war in Viet Nam was raging. We underclassmen watched as, one by one, the older boys who graduated went away to do their military training and then ship out to Viet Nam. When I was a junior and senior I belonged to a fraternity/sorority circle that partied together every weekend. The parties ended as, one-by-one, the boys went away. Most waited to graduate. A few were eager to serve their country and dropped out of school so they could enlist as soon as they were eligible. We were so very fortunate in that all of our particular group returned relatively intact. Still, the losses were high as several of my friends lost fathers, brothers and cousins.

I was pregnant when I graduated. I had met a wonderful man with the bluest eyes and a mysterious charisma about him. When I told him I was pregnant, he disappeared from my life. He came back a few months later, apologizing, saying that he had been overcome by panic at the thought of having a baby. He loved me, wanted to spend his life with me and our child. We happily set about the business of arranging to be married. A few days before the big event, he vanished again. We did eventually marry, but the same pattern repeated yet again. I was incredibly naive at such a young age. I know now that his problems are all too common among Viet Nam Vets. He enlisted and went over prouldly to do his duty. That terrible war left him and so many others with deep emotional scars that made it impossible to live a "normal" civilian life.

My entire generation was devastated by the Viet Nam War. We will never forget. So many fallen, so many maimed, so many still missing to this day. That is why I've chosen a name from Memorial Bracelets and ordered my own bracelet to wear as reminder that so many were lost and so many are still unaccounted for. The name I have chosen is SGT JOHN H. BAILEY, USMC, from Alabama, who died in Viet Nam on May 1, 1967. His body was never recovered to be returned to his loved ones. After I get my bracelet I will update you on whether I've been able to learn anything else about Sgt. Bailey, on why I chose him, and on the reaction people (including myself) have to the bracelet and his memory. I hope you'll go to and consider choosing one for yourself. I thank them for sponsoring this post and making this opportunity availabe to all who know that we must never forget those who have served so honorably. You can make your own selection based on whatever criteria are foremost in your mind.

The bracelets memorialize victims of the wars that have affected you, including the current War on Terrorism. You may choose a victim of the attacks of 9/11 if that is the event that resonates most deeply for you. Let the person you select be a symbol to you, and to all who see your bracelet, that we all are indebted to so many who have paid the ultimate price for us.

Do check back with me in a few weeks to see my update.

Update - 2/20/07: I've only had my bracelet for about a week. I've had two reactions. A young woman who was checking my groceries asked if it was one of those "bracelets for a cause," because she'd never seen one like it. I explained to her that the cause was to honor the memory of a young man who gave his life for all of us in Viet Nam. Her eyes glazed over. I guess the younger generation considers that ancient history, best forgotten once final history exams are over.

The other reaction was more intriguing. My dearest friend waxed eloqent about what "Our War" did to our generation. Her experience was much like mine, watching all of the young men go away, fearful for each of them, watching in horror the reception they received when they returned, more horrified still at the emotional anguish that ovewhelmed so many of them. She also gave me her perspective on the role that fate played. One of her dearest friends in those days was a young man who went over as a med-evac copter pilot when he was nineteen. He would have seen the full horror of that war as he hauled out mangled bodies, listened to the screams, tired his best to comfort and save each one ... and watched so many die, despite his best efforts. Yet he returned, not only uninjured, but apparently emotionally intact. He is now a professional med-evac copter pilot for a private company, thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, living a full life with a family he loves. His story continues.

My Marine, Sgt. John H. Bailey, died at nineteen when the helicopter that was evacuating him crashed. His life story ends there. Fate had played her hand in his life. Click that last link on his name to learn more.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007
Postie Carnival!

The Posties Carnival will publish on Monday, January 29th at my friend Marcus's blog, My thoughts. To submit your blog go to Blog Carnival and get yourself registered. There's still time to post your blog if you hurry.

Remember that this carnival is only open to posties - that's the folks who get paid to blog about the things they love at PayPerPost. If you're not a postie and you'd like to join the fun (and make some bucks while you're at it!) go jiggle the PPP affiliate icon over there at the top of my sidebar & it'll take you where it all happens. If you have questions about how it all works, you can post them here or send me an email & I'll fill you in.

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A success story!

I rarely watch the news or read the newspaper just lately. There’s so much bad news that I prefer to catch the headline or lead itmes and just let it go. Much too depressing. Give me some feel-good news & I’ll be your fan forever. Here’s a good news story that’s so great it seems like you ought to look it up on, but I think you’ll agree with me that it’s a real success story.

We all know how tough life can be for college students on a budget. The fortunate ones are able to scrape up financing for all of their needs. Some can’t afford university housing or rent, like the young man I’m thinking of. He also couldn’t afford a college meal plan and his diet consisted mainly of ramen noodles while he spent his nights sleeping in the library. His time there was not wasted though. Having exhausted him self searching for his needed textbooks across campus and all around town, he decided to use his adversity to help solve all of these problems. Working from the university library, he set up The World's Largest College Classifieds Network, Student’s can log in to list or find the books required for their classes, to search for housing or even to find a hot party for the weekend. I don’t know if he’s making a living off of his network, but I certainly hope he is. Such creative entrepreneurship deserves that kind of recompense. Check out for your college needs. They’ll ship your books for free and, hey, if you hurry you might even get a free tee shirt!

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Posties rock!
The more I hang around PPP, the more wonderful people I find to enrich my life. Here's some of my new friends.

Homeschoolzoo is in the spotlight today. She's an Arkansas woman and jill-of-all-trades, who grows much of the food her family consumes, preserving it herself. She’s currently growing herbs and dehydrating what she can’t use fresh. She bakes bread, and grinds her own wheat for it! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This Christian home-schooling mom also crochets, sews and does crafts. We’re not talking the sloppy little projects that I frequently start and abandon. Take a look at her Painted Glass. I’m telling you, this lady is a pro at all she does. I can’t pick one of her blogs to send you to, so here are several: Homeschool Zoo was the first of her blogs that I read and has a great family bio on the opening page. In Zoo Talk she talks about “God, life, job, politics, opinions, cooking, journal, and more.” Plain Book of Homeschooling focuses on Christian Homeschooling, and Homeschool Zoo Annex offers more homeschooling advice plus some great bargain-shopping tips. Check her out at any of her sites, but be forewarnd: you’ll be there a long, long time. Wonderful links on evey page will suck you into a marathon session at your computer!

My friend blm03 has just started a new blog to replace her old one. Go visit her at My Thoughts, Ideas and Ramblings. She’s going through a stressful time right now, so show her a little love while you’re there.

Scorpy is another of my postie friends. She and I have a place in our hearts for pit bulls and we’ve talked together a few times about them. Go see her at Marisa’s Danelion Patch, and see what she has to say about legal intervention in the parent/child realtionship, too.

Tess Jones has recently been thinking about the way her relationship with her dad has changed over the years. Go on over to Musings from Me to see what else is on her mind. Her recent thoughts about bathrooms stirred up some memories for me.

Amy Jo hangs out at Bellclapper’s Garden. She’s crowing and happy these days because she’s gotten her own domain! Since I’m bracing for the same move, I’ll have to pick her brains about how to do that. She's got one of those funny blogs that won't let you link to specific entries, but they're all good, so go get to know her. Make sure you read Where I'm From. I'm sure there's a story about each of the places she's from, but I kind of like not knowing what all of them are, because her phrasing makes my imagination soar!

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Spiritual Tools

My dearest friend is one of the most spiritual people I know. She spends at least a half an hour, but ususally closer to an hour, in meditation and spiritual study at the start of each day. This habit allows her to enter the day in a peaceful and thoughtful frame of mind. She is Catholic, but such habits can feed the spiritual side of all of us, whether we follow the path of Christianity, The Eastern faiths or some other road towards enlightenment. Encinitas Imports has Spiritual books, gifts and CD’s to assist those seeking to live a spiritual life. They sponsored this post to help you find the tools you can use on your own journey of faith and exploration.

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Friday, January 26, 2007
So everyone who has read my blog lately knows that I've been thinking about taking out a loan, right? I've finally taken the leap. I found a great loan broker (no, this isn't a paid post) and he hit the ground running. My original mortgage has a high interest rate, so we've decided that re-financing is the way to go. Dealing with money (especially big money) makes me nervous. When he asked when I wanted all of this to happen I said I'd like to just do it and get it over with. That was this afternoon. This guy is some kind of a miracle worker, because he opened escrow for me already, and I just got a call from the appraiser who wants to come tomorrow. Wow! I'm impressed, but when I said "do it now" I thought I'd have at least the weekend to get ready. You know the clutter problem that I've gone on and on about? I'd like to crawl in a hole right about now. I guess I'll just do what I can between now and ten-thirty tomorrow and then put on some bronzer so he won't see me blushing in embarrassment. What else can I do?

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Have you ever had to help put together a fundraiser? I was "volunteered" to do it several times when my son was young. Little League uniforms and equipment don't come cheap, and schools have ligitimate needs that aren't always figured into the budget. It's a fun thing to do, but it can be a real headache finding just the right project. Next time you're called on, check out the charity fundraising tips on this site. You'll find lots of interesting and easy-to-promote items, and a great prize program to get the kids motivated.

Make sure you check out their unusual options, from window clings to scratch cards to healthy snacks and more. Candy, scented candles and cookies practically sell themselves, and you'll find them here. Keep in mind and make them your first stop next time you need to organize a charity fundraiser. They sponsored this post so you'd know where to turn.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007
Southern Fried Carnival

It's Southern Fried Carnival time again! Get on over there and pick up on some tasty recipes from down home! Last week's inaugural issue hit a home run. Can this week top it? Well, get on over there & see for yourself! Napkin and drool-bib recommended!

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Weird dude, but ...
I admire eccentrics. People who live their lives differntly and don't apologize for the little quirks that make them stand out from the crowd. Not everyone can wear the title "eccentric" well. If you insist that your pet duck serve as interpreter in every conversation, you're not eccentric, you're a little (or a lot!) undone. But if you channel your weirdness creatively and make it work for you, you can claim to be eccentric. Have you heard about the weird dude who created a huge buzz when he convinced the town of Halfway, Oregon to rename itself Now that's eccentric, crafty and, incidentally, helped him make a lot of money. He did it to publicize eBay's, and it shot from zero to 8 millionm registered users before being sold for 300 million bucks. I'm pretty sure someone like him ebraces the title "eccentric." I would if I were him.

He's still creating buzz while sharing the method to his madness. He wrote a book about that and other phenomenal business experiences and is now a professional speaker. I won't knock the keynote speaker at the last convention I attended, but I sure would like the opportunity to hear Mark Hughes next time around, talking about his book, Buzzmarketing, and his unusual take on business. We pest control professionals have a natural inclination towards eccentricity ourselves. I'm thinking he could teach us a thing or two about how to use it to our best advantage.

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A little nostalgia
A while back I posted an old Cosby Show episode, the one where the family performs the Ray Charles classic, Night and Day. I'm not one of those folks who moans about TV programming these days. There's some mighty good stuff out there, regardless of what genre tickles your fancy. I'm not ready to retire all the oldies, though, because that was pretty fine, too, and now comes with a bucket-load of nostalgia when watched. The Cosby Show aired from September of 1984 through April of 1992. There was never a bad episode, and with 201 of them, that's saying a lot. I was going to school at night for much of that time, and holding down one, two or three jobs at any given time. Still, I managed to watch most of the episodes that aired, and my son watched a lot of them with me. We didn't have to worry quite as much back then about what our kids were exposed to on television, but The Cosby Show was the best of the bunch where family programming was concerned.

I dip into YouTube every now and then looking for various things, and almost always look for Cosby clips while I'm there. This one was posted in August of last year and is still being viewed regulary, based on the comments that continue to flow in. If you need reminding that Bill Cosby is one of the funniest men alive, and that Raven started off cute and just kept getting better, here it is. Enjoy!

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Belisi, Belisi, Bellissimo!
Fashion has never been a huge item on my agenda. I told you recenly that my wardrobe is built around classic pieces. My efforts in the past to add variety and flexibility to my basics have centered around accessories or multi-purpose pieces. A jacket and sassy shoes can take a very low-key daytime outfit into the evening hours. An outfit for shopping is classy enough for doing lunch with friends when I add a scarf and hat.

Fashion as a hobby was never my thing until a few years ago. The sudden upsurge in televison programming on the subject has changed that somewhat. I'm addicted now to a couple of shows in particular. I'm slowly learning what I shouldn't wear, and I love seeing fashion novices vie for their own design houses. I've recently added another resource to my own personal fashion-watch. Have you checked out the Belisi blog yet? First of all, he's incredibly good looking and makes my little heart go pitty-pat. Is it scandalous for an old gal like me to admit that? Well, so be it, but Peter Belisi is not just another pretty face. He, too, understands that "just right" accessories are a must for every wardrobe.

His scarves are soft and feminine and totally elegant. I love his handbags because they're so classy. I really want design 21 red, because my look sometimes need something hot and spicey to wake it up!

What's most interesting to me about Belisi is the heart and soul that permeates his blog. I told you recently about his What's Beautiful to You? campaign. He makes his living in fashion, but he knows that the clothes you wear are not the most important thing in your life (or his.) He also used his blog as a platform to publicize charitable events worthy of support.

Peter Belisi is an all-round guy who has his priorities straight. I like that about him, and I like tht he sponsored this post so I could introduce you to him, too.

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Dirty Rice

By popular demand, I present one of my favorite recipes. I was about seven or eight years old the first time I made this. Mom was insistent that all four of us had to learn self-sufficency, starting at an early age. She stood over my shoulder the first few times I tried a new dish, of course.

I've never had a "real" recipe. I pinch & dab a lot in the kitchen. I'm not a pro at translating what I do, but here's my best try!


giblets from 3 or 4 chickens, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 or 3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves
2 cups rice
water or broth as needed (1 - 2 cups)

Chop the pepper, onion and celery. I like mine fine-chopped, but chunky is good if you prefer. This was called the Holy Trinity of the Louisiana kitchen long before Emeril came along.

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat and add the giblets. Cook until brown but not done, stirring frequently. Remove the giblets from the pot, using a slotted spoon. (When I make this for myself, I like it "meaty" so I ususally puchase a package of chicken liver to add in. "Normal" people use what they've saved and frozen from the last few whole chickens they've purchased.)

Stir the chopped seasoning vegetables and garlic into the pot. Stir and cook until onions are translucent and the vegetables are beginning to brown. Add the meat back into the pan and add the rice.

Cook for another ten minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is brown. Add the remainder of the seasoning.

Drizzle a small amount (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) of liquid into the pot (less its better!) Stir, turn burner to low and cover the pot. Allow it to cook until the liquid is absorbed, about eight to ten minutes. Add another small measure of liquid and repeat the last step. Continue in this manner until the rice is done, about half an hour. Stir throughout the process, but not so often or so vigorously that you break down the rice.

The last step is the hard part. If you add too much liquid too quickly you'll end up with mush. Take your time & add the liquid gradually to achieve perfection.

That was my Easter dinner last year. The flash and the blue plate did terrible things to the color of the carrot salad. What can I say? I'm no pro when it comes to photography. The pile of goodness at the lower left is a sauteed mushroom concoction. At lower right is a garlic chicken breast.

I used to make this much spicier. If you've got a cast iron stomach (mine's worn out!) add additional pepper & Tabasco to hit your perfect spot on the "hot" scale!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007
My son is coming to visit next month. His visits are always a good time for me. He lives in California, you see, and I'm out here on a little dot in the middle of the Pacific called Oahu, Hawaii. Neither of us can hop in the car and dash over for a visit on four-day weekends. It takes advanced planning and more than a few bucks for us to get together. It's been about a year since I've seen him, so I'm really anticipating his visit. When I pick him up at the airport and bring him home, he'll see something like this stretched across the driveway:

Don't recognize it? It's a Trade Show Display, and I've handled plenty of them in my time. In a past life I was employed by a large, national corporation that did trade shows almost monthly. I didn't go to all of them, but I usually did three or four a year. Our Trade Show Booth would start off looking like much like the one above. Then we'd install panels that pictured our services.

Part of my job was to arrange our displays and set up samples and brochures on a table . Then I'd spend two or three days meeting and greeting the public. It was a fun and very effect way to get our message out to a widespread audience. I don't work for that employer anymore, but my son's impending visit got me to thinking about how an attractive display can be a very effective way to catch someone's attention and have a big impact on their thought process. They see the display and realize that they just have to have whatever is being offered, even though they had never before given it a thought.

So here's my plan: I'll start with a twenty foot Trade Show Display. That will fill the entire driveway from gatepost to gatepost. In the middle I will have a much-enlarged photo of sonny boy and his girlfriend. I have just the right picture, but I'll have to doctor it a little. I'll fix it up so they can see how wonderful they'd look as a bride and groom. All around them I'll put pictures of the wonderful future they'll share: a lovely home, romantic dinners and such. My primary goal with this campaign will be featured also, of course. Lot's of pictures of kids. Chubby little babies, beautiful miniature beauty queens, kids in baseball and soccer uniforms, maybe a few pictures of moms and dads beaming in great joy at their newborns. The piece de resistance will be features right over the heads of the bride and groom: A collection of condom and oyher birth control packages with that universally recognized "NO" emblem placed over it.

I'm so sure it's going to work that I've already got the rocking chair, and a room full of children's books, toys and videos. I even have a great nursery design in mind. I'm so glad that Smash Hit Designs sponsored this post and ispired my daydream. Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much!) for supporting my campaign.

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