Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dogs are like potato chips, you can’t have just one…

 

I have a dog who is part Jack
She really is sharp as a tack

So here is her rhyme
I know it’s past time

Now please won’t you cut me some slack.

 

IMG_3563 (2)

 

 

I have a smart dog named Zoe
she’s cool and refined, not showy

IMG_3915 IMG_3874

It’s said she could be Jack
but she’s tall and all black

IMG_2989  IMG_3905

So Russell she cannot be wholly

IMG_3842

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bulldogs are proof God has a sense of humor…

 

There once was a bulldog so cute

IMG_0599 (2)

to watch her relax was a hoot

IMG_3147 IMG_4348

She looked like a mutt
when she sat on her butt


IMG_3942 IMG_4018

To her charm, I give a salute!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There is nothing quite like a fall day…

Oh, yes! Autumn has finally made it’s way to central Texas. For the first time since March, I’ve had the windows open all night. The air is so crisp and clean. There is a hint of yellow in the turning leaves. Well, the one tree that I have whose leaves actually turn.

I’ve changed the candles in the house to more fall scents, like pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon. I’ve even sprinkled some autumn colored leaves in the china cabinet, to further enjoy the season. I don’t really decorate for Halloween, except for maybe a pumpkin carved with the Ohio State symbol (I know...scary, right?) But I do like to put a little color in the house during this season.

As soon as the first crisp morning rolls in, and that one tree starts to turn, I throw open the windows and give the house a good cleaning. I become energized! I start getting crafty and the ideas start flowing through my head. I find this to be the best time of the year!

It is also this time of year… 

 

I’m dusting off the cookie files and thinking about new ones to make this year. Oh, happy days!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday slobber love…

Sending you into the weekend with a smile…

 

IMG_0693

IMG_4098

IMG_3662

IMG_3881

IMG_3904

IMG_0441

 IMG_0225

IMG_0231

IMG_0400

 

 

It’s going to be a long weekend…

 

rainy day

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I thought urban survival meant learning to hail a cab…

Apparently, there is more to urban survival than learning to ride the subway or getting a reservation at a trendy restaurant. It also means how to survive in the event of something catastrophic, like having your city flooded and then frozen. Or if a meteor hits the earth and wreaks havoc with all mankind. Don’t even get me started on killer viruses that leave good people like me out there to fend for myself. You should also learn what to do if aliens from outer space (not Mexico) took over and relegated our species to be their pets.

According to the movies, and the homeless guy on the corner, the world’s end is near. The only survival skills I have are, how to substitute real milk for buttermilk or how to make cake flour with regular flour (add cornstarch). So I am pleased there are shows like “Survivor” and “Man vs. Wild” to teach us how to get by without all the modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and sauté pans.

I have only watched the shows a couple times, but the one thing I have learned is that you can eat bugs to survive. As I’m flicking through the channels, every time I pause on either of these shows, they are always eating some kind of bug or another. From that, I’m gathering that is the most important survival skill there is, otherwise why would they show it so much?

Because who would want to eat bugs for pleasure?

 

IMG_0418 IMG_0415 

IMG_0417

Yes, this is the same store with the scorpion lollypops. If it weren’t for the vodka, I wouldn’t shop there at all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ball and chains…it’s not just for marriage

On our last day of the vacation by the lake, we drove to Huntsville, Texas to see the Texas Prison Museum. I know, I find the best museums. Going to Louvre would be wasted on me, I’m afraid. Unless they have a hall of works by Sammy, Buddy, Pinto and Koopa. Now that I would pay money to see.

So here we are the at the Texas Prison Museum.

IMG_4262

Inside were the usual stories of escapes and escape attempts. Bonnie and Clyde were featured as well. The head of the prison system at the time, Lee Simmons, hired Texas Ranger Fred Hamer to find and put an end to Bonnie and Clyde after their raid on Eastham Unit killed one of his guards. Just in case you were curious, we drove through the whole state of Louisiana a few years ago, just to see the Bonnie and Clyde museum. The things we do for fun.

It was interesting to walk around and see how things were different so many years ago and how a lot of things are the same.

IMG_4277  IMG_4265  

Mr. Simmons was the first to make positive changes for both the prisoners and the guards. He started the first prison rodeo. It began in 1931 and ran every Sunday until 1986. It generated revenue for the prison and became known throughout the States as well as overseas as the Wildest Show Behind Bars. We had to ask why it ended, because it seemed like such a good thing. The lady working the counter told us that the stands and fields fell into disrepair and monies couldn’t be put toward bringing the stands up to code, so they just stopped the rodeo. I think it’s too bad.

I found this very interesting:

 IMG_4267 IMG_4270

This is a stump of a black walnut tree from the Ellis Unit. When the tree died, it was cut for lumber. An inmate asked if he could have the stump to “piddle on”. In his spare time he carved animals and faces on it. The inmate paroled before completing it; however, he eventually violated parole and was returned to the Ellis Unit. He began carving on it once again, creating over 20 different faces and animals.

A lot of inmates were excellent craftsmen, making furniture and toys.

IMG_4271 IMG_4272 

I’ve always known I didn’t have the proper mind to be a criminal. I just cannot think up the things they do. I am not a rule breaker. Looking into the case showing various types of contraband, I realized I could never be anything but a law abiding suburbanite. It would never occur to me to make a shank out of a spoon, or a t-bone. Down on the bottom left is a still. A still! I can barely find my way to the liquor store, much less think up a way to make my own booze!

IMG_4283

 

As you know, I do not use my blog to voice my political or religious opinions. Only my notions on husbands and dogs and why the hell they do the things they do. (more on that in another post) Anyway, I preface with that because there was a section on capital punishment.

Texas leads the nation with executions, even though California and Florida have more inmates on death row. From 1923 to 1964, the electric chair was used as the primary form of execution. In those years, Texas electrocuted 361 inmates. In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled capital punishment “cruel and unusual punishment”. All 45 men on death row and the 7 in county jails who had death sentences, were all commuted to life without parole and death row was clear by 1973. In 1973, a revision to the Penal Code once again allowed assessment of the death penalty and allowed executions to resume 1/1/1974. The State of Texas adopted the use of lethal injection as a means of execution in 1977 and used this means for the first time in 1982.

IMG_4282

I will admit it was rather creepy, and very somber, to stand there and see the actual electric chair, named “Old Sparky”. I have seen the movie The Green Mile and that is what I see when I look at this chair.

Today, lethal injection is used as the primary means of execution.

On a lighter note, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Patriot PAWS entered into partnership to have prisoners train service dogs for disabled American Veterans in 2008. The partnership is intended not only to provide help for disabled Veterans, but opportunities for inmates to have a job while serving their sentence, learning a career trade and helping the community. It’s a win-win for everybody.

IMG_4274

Personally, I think that is very cool. There is also another program at the women’s prison in Lockhart, called Paws in Prison where shelter and rescue dogs are trained to be good citizens and then are offered for adoption to the public. You can find more information on both programs by clicking on their names.

We had a great time on our vacation. I hope I have proved that you don’t always have to go somewhere exotic to have fun. You just have to go somewhere! It’s all an adventure!

If you are interested in learning more about the prison museum, go here. If you would like more information on the Texas Criminal Justice Department, Death Row, click here. I used the information from these sites for my summarizations.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Watching the clock is not the same as watching a sunrise…

We did absolutely nothing yesterday. It was a good day to relax and unwind next to the lake.
Because I have no stories to tell, I will share one of my sunrise pictures.
As you might imagine, sunrises are a favorite part of my day.

 

Dawn

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Till death do us part…

Since yesterday was our anniversary and we’re out of town, I got to pick the day’s amusements. In situations like this, I go straight to my computer and one of my favorite websites, Roadside America. They know the absolute best places to see! It was through that website (I also have the book) that I learned of Ralph the diving pig. I had to send them an email giving them the sad news that Ralph dives no more.

So there I was, looking at things to do around Houston and lo and behold, what do I find? This hidden little gem!

 

IMG_4224

Now don’t get all wiggy on me! It’s actually very interesting. Come on, I’ll show you…

There was a display showing how the first pine caskets were made.

IMG_4254

These were master craftsmen who took much pride in their work. The business was passed down through the family.
There was quite an interesting array of caskets, from the historical to the whimsical. As I was looking though my pictures, I realized I didn’t take any pictures of the early caskets. I don’t know why, they were really enlightening. I will say this, people were much smaller a hundred years ago.

Here are a few of the whimsical ones:

IMG_4244 IMG_4247 IMG_4248

These caskets are made in Ghana, where the people believe that death is not a termination of life, but a transition to the realm of the ancestral spirits. The Ga people believe the transportation to the next realm should reflect who they were in life. For instance, chiefs, hunters and priests prefer coffins that reflect their considerable power over the community: leopard, eagle, antelope or sword.

This next casket was made in the 70s when shellacking was popular. It has over $670 worth of uncirculated money on it. It used to have more, but it was robbed. True story.

IMG_4249 

 

Every culture, the world over, has its own mourning rituals. This museum focuses on 19th and 20th century funerary history in the United States.  I am very interested in the funeral rituals of all cultures and would love to visit a museum dedicated to that.

Here is a typical scene of a funeral in the 1800s.

IMG_4235

In the early 19th century, when a person died, the funeral director would come to the house and prepare the body. It would then lie in state until the family gathered for burial. A widow would follow strict guidelines on proper mourning attire for a full two years after the death of her husband. Some families had pictures taken of their deceased family member and wear it as a pin on their mourning clothes.

Another example of mourning practices is hair jewelry and hair wreaths. Locks of hair were tatted to make lace-like bracelets and watch fobs for family members. Hair wreaths are intricate works with pearls and other jewels woven together to form a piece of art.

IMG_4234    IMG_4234

The second one had a bit of glare on it, so I cropped it off so you could see better. These were often displayed with a picture of the deceased.

There was a section on the history of embalming. It became popular during the civil war as a way for families to have their loved ones, killed on the battlefields, shipped home for a proper burial. The techniques were quite primitive compared to today’s methods. Embalming became a necessary tool as families started to spread out across the country. It give families time to gather together and mourn the loss of a loved one.

IMG_0921 IMG_0919 IMG_0920

This museum has a fabulous collection of funeral coaches. From very early, horse driven carriages…

IMG_4239 IMG_4230IMG_4238IMG_0925 IMG_0918IMG_0924

 

…to the modern day hearse.

IMG_4227 IMG_4226IMG_4256 

The last one is the actual hearse used to transport President Reagan and President Ford during their funerals in California.

Speaking of presidents, there was a complete section on the deaths of presidents, including memorial memorabilia from their funerals. The museum has the original eternal flame housing from President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington. President Lincoln was the first to be embalmed. He was fascinated with the procedure and had made his wishes known before his death, that he should be embalmed. This is what his casket looked like, lying in state:

 IMG_4255

The casket is 6 feet 10 inches long, as Lincoln was 6’4”, which was extremely tall for that era. His funeral train was the longest funeral in history as it moved from Washington DC to his hometown in Springfield, Ill making stops along the way so the public could mourn his passing.

The museum also had a corner dedicated to the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington, and the men who guard it. I have seen the changing of the guards and it never fails to move me.

The museum is now the permanent host of the exhibit, Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes.  This exhibit is a product of three years of intense collaboration between the Vatican and the Museum of Funeral History. It gives great detail to the preparations and symbolism of a Pope’s funeral.

IMG_4240   IMG_4241 

We are not Catholic, but were amazed and touched by all that is involved when a Pope passes on. There were life sized depictions of the Pope laying in state, as well as funeral preparations. While the displays were phenomenal, it seemed a bit disrespectful to take pictures of them, so I didn’t. You will just have to go see for yourself. At the end of the 10,000 sq. foot display are three exact replicas of the caskets that are made especially for the Popes. They were made and donated by a casket company that wanted the world to see the craftsmanship that goes into the simple, yet elegant final resting place of a Pope.

Oh, they do have the original Pope-Mobile!

IMG_4242

This is the world’s only casket built for three:

IMG_0916   IMG_4252 

A couple in the 1930’s lost their small child. They were so despondent, they made a plan to commit suicide to be with their child. The couple went to a mortuary in the Western states and explained to the mortician what they had in mind. They wanted a special casket built large enough for the man, wife and child. Once the casket was completed, and the suicides committed, their remains were to be placed in the special casket and shipped back East to where their child was buried. The child was to be disinterred and placed in the special casket with the parents and then buried together as a family.

The couple later changed their minds and moved to another state. Twenty years later, the wife sent a letter to the mortuary, stating that her husband had died and asked for her money to be refunded for the triple casket. The owner of the mortuary let her know that the place had changed hands twice over the intervening years and he was unable to refund her money for the casket and let her know the casket would have to be moved. No further word has been received regarding the disposition of the casket since the 1050s.

IMG_4225

I really enjoyed this museum! It was chock full of interesting historical information about one of our most important cultural rituals. I thought it was a great way to spend out anniversary. Nothing says “I love you forever” like looking at death together.

When we first walked in, CGMan said to me, “This is really creeping me out, I just want you to know” but as we left, he said he enjoyed it a lot more than he thought he would. He even bought a T-shirt!

IMG_4261

We finished out our anniversary by having dinner at a local steak and seafood house. We set aside our diet for one night and enjoyed all they had to offer. I had the most wonderful bacon wrapped, jalapeño cheese stuffed shrimp. For dessert, we shared a homemade crème brulee cheesecake. Or waiter, who was young and obviously very new, ran back to get dessert forks for us, since he had taken away our dinner forks. You just have to love a kid who tries.

IMG_4259  IMG_4257   

We had a great anniversary and thank you all for your warm wishes. Next year, we hope to make it to Italy for our 15th anniversary. I’m sure I can find some interesting things there, too!

 

For more information on the Funeral History Museum and additional pictures of some of the displays, go here.