Wednesday, November 30, 2011
So where did the waltz come from? No one actually invented the dance, it evolved from a German folk dance into the Walzer, which basically means a rotating movement. The dance became popular in Vienna and migrated to Paris via Napoleon’s soldiers. The waltz later glided across the channel to merry old England.
The three-quarter timing is one of the most distinguishing features of the waltz. Each measure of music has three beats rather than the more common four and this timing is pretty unique to the waltz. When dancing, you literally count 1-2-3, 1-2-3, with a heavy emphasis on the one. Graceful turns are essential for polished dancers.
The dance has endured for over two-hundred years. Pretty impressive. Even in today’s hip hop world, the waltz has been touted as being one of the world’s five most popular dances—with foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha, and swing being the other four. Don’t ask me who compiles these surveys, because I find the statistics a bit suspect. Still, no one can deny the staying power of this once “shocking” dance.
Now that you understand a bit of the waltz’s history and the scandal it created in ballrooms, how would you insert a head-spinning, hard-hitting crumper with low slung jeans into the Regency waltzing mix?
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
I wonder how much social media is contributing to this. Now that celebrities have Facebook, twitter, and the like, we might be even more tempted to think we know them personally. After all, we can now be privy to their thoughts in 140 characters or less. Of course, many of these celebrity twitter, Facebook, etc. pages are updated by personal assistants or other people who aren't the celebrities/famous people much of the time. Still, it makes us feel like we have another avenue into the lives of these people.
There are definite advantages to this on both sides. For example, politicians are using social media to reach voters they might not have otherwise reached. We get to learn new information about the people we admire for whatever reasons--whether those reasons be artistic, political, social, etc. There's also a downside. These things can be taken to excess. Also, impersonators can open accounts for celebrities. Of course, the social media sites are taking precautions against these things now, but it can still happen.
And there's always the question of, how much is too much? Just as taking anything printed in a tabloid with a grain of salt, we have to realize that what we're getting through these social media sites is going to be a carefully crafted persona. So it's probably not good to get too wrapped up in celebrity tweets and Facebook statuses and take them too seriously.
What do you think? Do you follow any celebrities online? Is there a saturation point when it comes to following the lives of celebrities?
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
The Bombay is an affectionate cat and usually enjoys the entire family instead of being attached to just one person as some cats are. If you have children, this is a good pet for your household. With their temperaments, they are also recommended for the elderly. These cats do well with other pets. Some of the kittens are shy, but they normally outgrow it.
This breed's color is pure black to the roots. Its medium in size with copper or gold eyes and is not a big shedder. The Bombay will weigh anywhere from six to eleven pounds. One of the terms used to describe Bombay's is heat-seekers. They love to be warm and often enjoy sleeping under the covers.
While not as vocal as Siamese they do enjoy talking with you.
The most common health issues for the Bombay is cranial deformities.
The average life expectancy of this kitty is thirteen to fifteen years.
This cat is still fairly rare outside the United States.
If you're thinking about adding one to your household, why not take a quick look see on www.petfinder.com and see if one's available for adoption in your area.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Since man first set aside land for plant production, the boundary for the war of the crops was set. Garden battle plans passed from old gardener to young by word of mouth until Gutenberg invented the press. Since then, tomes have been written on the subject. Even with all today's accumulated knowledge, chemical and technological deterrents, there are no victories, only continuing battles.
You can plant only the deer or rabbit resistant plants, but what if your gardener's soul cries for Hosta, otherwise known as deer candy? You can net your small fruits and mentally prepare yourself for when some beautiful songbird you fed all winter dies snagged in its mesh. Animal persistence diminishes fear, fences weather and break, chemicals wear away, and technology fails. And just about the time you think you have won the war with one adversary, another invades your sacred ground and a new fight begins.
This said, there are certain bragging rights that come with each wild visitor: the most, the rarest, the best war story. Nothing, however, had prepared me for pigs.
Several autumns ago, when most plants had already died back and dropped leaves covered everything, two pigs wandered into my garden, and never having been close to pigs, I wandered into the garden, too. They were about thirty inches tall, a naked, peachy color with ears flopping over their wary eyes. It was clear the way they stayed close together they were friends and not interested in making new ones. They avoided me. Old stories on the viciousness of wild pigs haunted the fringe of my thoughts, but neither of these two bore tusks, so I thought myself safe.
After seeing them in action, the thrill quickly wore off. I'd heard about rooting pigs, but never seen them in action. Those cute little snouts can dig deep and fast, pulling up whatever tasty porcine delicacies they come across. For a brief few minutes I envisioned a freezer full of bacon and pork chops. Good sense said these strays belonged to a neighbor, and I chased them around, shooing them away from favorite plant locations. Bill spoke with the owners at the small local grocery store, and when he asked if anyone had lost pigs, a voice was heard down one of the aisles, "We did!" How about that for luck? The owner came and fetched his escapees.
Actually, he led them away with a bucket of feed. After digesting my garden, I didn't think they could be that hungry, but I guess that's why they call them pigs. The owner asked us to the pig roast, but after meeting the guests of honor face to face, I didn't think I could eat them. On the bright side are the story rights: a hosta, twelve bucks, two wild ginger, seven fifty each; pig tales--priceless. Happy Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
1 Box Cake Mix (Pineapple, White, Yellow or Cherry)
1 Small Can Pineapple Rings
1 Small Jar Marichino Cherries
1/3 Cup Canoloa Oil
1 Cup Water
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Pour into ungreased bundt pan. Yes not floured or greased!
Slice pineapple rings in half. Arrange pineapple rings with enough cherries to be pretty in the bottom of the pan. Pour in pineapple juice from the can.
Mix cake mix, water, oil and eggs until thick and creamy. Pour into pan, covering fruit.
Bake in preheated 350 degree over for 37 to 43 minutes, testing doneness with a toothpick. Ovens vary. Leave it in until the toothpick comes out clean.
I had to throw the last piece of this cake away because I couldn't stop eating it! It is delicious!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Punctuation is one of the ways the modern writer uses to achieve clarity in their writing. But what if you didn't have punctuation? How do you indicate when one thought stops and another starts?
In the past, calligraphers used a variety of devices to separate their thoughts. First, they used large, elaborately decorated letters to separate their paragraphs. They didn't have capital letters back then so often--but not always--the letter was painted red or gold. Depending on the text and skill of the calligrapher it might be very elaborate (so much so it's difficult for the modern eye to discern exactly what the letter might be!)
In between sentences, other devices were used, again depending on the skill and fancy of the calligrapher. Small symbols done in knotwork, tiny flowers, stars, and other symbols were used to indicate when one sentence stopped and the next started.
Today, with our texting and tweeting, we seem to be going backwards. Do you suppose a couple hundred years from now people will be puzzling over our writing, wondering what all those little marks (periods, commas, apostrophes) really mean?
Saturday, November 19, 2011
A similar website is Edwardian Promenade, which focuses more on the Edwardian period (1900-1915) than the Victorian, but draws inspiration from both. Blogger Evangeline Holland, a romance writer herself, has posted a wealth of information about Edwardian history, customs, and social mores. This is a site to get lost in for hours!
Friday, November 18, 2011
“There's rosemary that’s for remembrance. Pray, you love, remember.” ~ Hamlet
Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, mostly just because. I rarely cook with it, but love its scent and the wealth of history behind it. Known as the herb of remembrance from the time of ancient Greece, it appears in that immoral verse by Shakespeare. My fascination with herbs plays a significant role in my historical/light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love, as does Hamlet, for that matter. I always wanted to write a murder mystery with a focus on herbs and parallels to a Shakespearean play, and so I did.
A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve, a wonderful source of herbal lore as well as practical information on the medicinal uses and growing requirements for a myriad of plants, is an invaluable guide. I have volumes one and two of Ms. Grieve’s work and can easily lose myself in their pages. She refers to her herbal as modern, and in comparison to the ancient herbalists it is, but A Modern Herbal is charmingly quaint and published in the early 20th century.Available at Amazon:
Regarding Rosemary, she says,
The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.
At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year‘s gift…
In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress ‘Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.’
The Treasury of Botany says: ‘There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is “master”; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.’
Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavour ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration.
“Down with the rosemary and so,
Down with the baies and mistletoe,
Down with the holly, ivie all
Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.”
Rosemary Christmas Trees
Although an herb, rosemary is often shaped into lovely miniature Christmas trees. The plant is well suited for this purpose as its essential oils produce a scent similar to pine trees and it has a natural evergreen shape and needle-like leaves.
If you purchase a rosemary plant whether as a Christmas tree or for your indoor herb garden, remember it needs good light and moderate watering. Allow the soil to dry before re-watering to avoid root rot. The most common cause of death for potted rosemary is over watering. In spring transfer your rosemary to a clay pot. The clay will help wick excess water out of the soil. Fertilize monthly to maintain health. To this advice I add that you can also kill them by allowing the plant to dry out, so don’t do that either.
Because rosemary is native to the hot, dry hills of the Mediterranean, growing it indoors can be a problem. You may find you get more dense vigorous growth if it is kept outside during most of the year. Trim the plant periodically to preserve the Christmas tree shape.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Here are some practices I use to help keep the invasion to a minimum.
First off is prevention or at least reduction. Several weeks before plants come indoors, they need to be cleaned on a weekly basis. Pick out debris that has accumulated in the pot, peel off dead foliage. Next I spray the upper and lower sides of the leaves with insecticidal soap. Not all plants tolerate this spray, so test it one week on one leaf before you use it on the whole plant. Most do fine. Before bringing plants indoors, spray with insecticidal soap one more time.
Soaps contain fatty acids that kill insects on contact, but have no residual effect to ward off new insects. They are not poisonous to animals or children, and don't remain in the environment. The soap can burn leaves if left to dry in the sun, or if the plant is sprayed when stressed from heat or drought, so be careful using it. There are good commercial brands of insecticidal soaps that come both in ready-to-spray premixes or in a concentrated form you mix yourself, but here are recipes for some homemade mixtures:
Soap-only Insecticidal Soap. 1-1/2 teaspoon soap (such as liquid Ivory) to 1 quart of water. Mix in a spray bottle. This recipe can be used as a general preventative. Use every two weeks, or once a month, spraying tops and bottoms of leaves, stems and soil surface.
Soap and Alcohol Mixture. Use this one on tough cases of scale.
Take above mix and add 1 cup of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl).
2 tablespoons of liquid dish detergent to 1 gallon of water.
Spray the plants in an area that won't be damaged by the soapy water, such as the bathroom tub, and let them dry. If the plant is infested with insects, spray once a week until they are gone. Then spray the plants on a monthly schedule. This not only kills the insects, it cleans the foliage of dust that collects on the leaves of indoor plants. Remember, plants react differently and soaps differ, so test spray a few leaves before covering the whole plant.
Some insects, such as scale, may still return. A cotton-swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol wiped on the insect kills it, or try the stronger spray recipe containing alcohol.
Don't bring in pests as you bring your houseplants inside.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Last time I told you about my trip to Las Vegas as a tourist. This time I want to mention a few fascinating places I have visited over the years.
91.9% of Nevada falls under one of any number of land management programs. Because it is so controlled, much of the natural beauty has been carefully preserved and remains in nearly pristine condition for us to visit. Because it’s so hot and the terrain often hostile, Nevada is sparsely populated. Much of it holds the mystique of the old west, of pioneers and cowboys and Indians, of gunfights and range wars and cattle drives. Other places hold the secrets of the very earth, with the upheavals of mountains and rivers clearly visible to the naked eye.
Only a half an hour from Vegas is Red Rock Canyon, an area splashed with, what else, red rocks, as well as layers of the earth plainly visible. As one of many state parks, it has a visitor center that describes the wonders you will find in the canyon.
The Valley of Fire, another state park, is the oldest and largest in Nevada. Many red sandstone formations are named for the things they resemble, like a crab, or an Indian or eagles. Caves contain 3000 year old petro glyphs left by early Paiute Indians.
Lake Mead provides all the recreation a boater could hope for. Formed by the damming of the Colorado River while building Hoover Dam, it sprawls for 112 miles into the desert, skirting the Valley of Fire and of course Hoover Dam. Visitors can rent all manner of boats, even house boats and spend as much time as they want cruising on the crystal blue waters.
Not to be missed is Hoover Dam. The history of the building of the dam is one part of the fascinating visit, the beauty of the area is awesome.
While crossing the Spring Mountains, due west of Las Vegas, you will pass Mt. Potesi where Clark Gable’s wife, Carol Lombard, was killed in a plane crash in 1942. On the other side of the mountains you will come to Pahrump Valley, the Paiute word for big water. Once the largest short staple cotton producer in the world, it now boast the beginnings of a big town, a major stop on the way to California, just as it was in the Gold Rush days. From the valley you can view Mt. Charleston, the eighth highest mountain in the contiguous US. Very often it is covered with snow year round. Continuing that direction, you will enter Death Valley, where temperatures soar in excess of 130 degrees in the summer. Quite a contrast in such a short distance! Death Valley is just that, a big desert valley, but is home to Scotty’s Castle, a unique sight in any setting. Well worth a visit.
I can’t possibly mention all the places you could visit, like the China Date Farm, or Rhyolite, a gold rush era ghost town, or Bonnie Springs, near an Indian reservation, and of course, one of our nation’s most beautiful natural splendors, The Grand Canyon. Most everywhere you go you will find the welcome mat out. All the places I’ve mentioned are an easy day trip from Las Vegas, but most have accommodations for longer visits. Even LA and Hollywood are a mere 6 hour trip.
More adventurous travelers can set out on their own and visit small towns and off the beaten path wonders. There are huge ranches, small Mexican stores, Café’s, gift shops, luxury restaurants, even a mall all by itself out in the desert. So, if you ever find yourself in Vegas, and have had enough of the strip rent a car and go exploring. It’s like taking a step back in time, or stepping into a western movie.