Friday’s Photos: Hershey Gardens and ‘Cheeky’ Chipmunks

Here are the last photos from Hershey Gardens. I enjoyed the Japanese Gardens very much and did not get to see enough of the Rock Gardens. Hershey Gardens is well worth the visit and so much fun.

Doesn’t this tree look like it’s holding a bouquet?

“To-Whit-To-Whoo”

Even with all the graffiti this tree is strangely beautiful in its own way.

The Fairy Queen is wearing a mask made from shadow and light while Princess Windflower kicks up her heels in farewell.

This last photo is probably tasteless beyond words. It’s also funny. Click ‘more’ only if you have an earthy sense of humor.

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In Memory of Spooky

First I have to give the official definition of spooky from dictionary.com:

World English Dictionary

spooky  (ˈspuːkɪ)
— adj  , spookier spookiest
1. ghostly or eerie: a spooky house
2. resembling or appropriate to a ghost
3. US ) easily frightened; highly strung
     Spooky passed unexpectedly on July 23, 2012. He was Holly’s cat so I didn’t know him that well but I what I did know, I liked. He was a sweetie. No, he wasn’t a black cat and yes, I’m going there.
     Holly got the six-year-old Spooky from the pound in N.C. long before Rex came into the picture. He had health problems. He wasn’t cute and cuddly. All strikes were against him when competing against healthy cats and darling kittens. But my daughter wasn’t looking for those things. She was looking for character. An animal that would get a long with her then boyfriend, soon to be husband, who never had a pet. Spooky turned out to be perfect.
     She posted this on Facebook:
My first kitty as an adult, Mr. Spookybutt passed away today. I remember when I went to the animal shelter to find a cat-he was laying on his back with his paw out the cage purring. I took him out of the cage and he nudged my cheek with his head and I fell in love. He kept me warm in bed when John was not home, he kept me entertained with his cuteness, he stayed off counter tops and loved being brushed. He was my first baby and I will miss him.
          However, please review the definition above, in particular number three. He was easily frightened and hid a lot in the first weeks, hence the name. I never saw the cat, except for once, even though I often took care of him while Holly and John were out-of-town. The one time I did see him was when Tracey saw the bump under the covers on their bed. I carefully lifted the covers and beheld Spooky for the first time in the months Holly had got him. It was also the last time for a long while. He hid every time I visited.
      Why the fuss over the name? It’s not my fuss but evidently others have taken a perfectly good word and used it with racist overtones. Holly had no clue and neither did I when she named him. I raised my kids to look at people’s hearts not their outsides. Sure, we know there are differences in culture, etc., but so what? I try to understand those differences and expect the same courtesy in return. I’ve tried to teach my kids this and I think I’ve succeeded.
     When Holly started talking about her new cat the soon to be inevitable question came. Is he black? Holly was bewildered so her friend Jill, who is black, explained to her the connotations. Well. To say we were surprised was putting it mildly.
     Holly was at a loss because she’d been calling her cat Spooky and had him registered at the vet with this name. She took to calling him Spookybutt or Mr. Kitty. Really? She had every right to name him Spooky but she also wanted to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. I’m not sure who I’m calling out here…the idiots who started using the word in a negative or racist way and maybe everyone else who lets the idiots dictate the use of a word in a way that was never intended.
     So here I’m taking the word ‘spooky’ back. It means what the dictionary says it does and nothing else as far as I’m concerned. I vote Spooky’s picture should be put beside the definition just to remind everyone spooky is a beautiful word that could quite possibly be a cat…a slightly ragged, grey cat. Who’s with me?
     Over the years Holly shared stories with me about her kitty. Once when I asked how John and Spooky were getting along she described John and Spooky sleeping together. John at the top of the bed and Spooky sleeping at the bottom. Both with their paws, er hands, er arms? over their faces and snoring in harmony. I love that story, it’s a great one.
     Since Faith was born I have been in Maryland quite a bit. I guess Spooky got resigned to my presence and started making his known. Although he was still easy to spook, he let me feed him chicken, pet him and even tolerated my Belle Amie. While I was cuddling Faith, he cuddled with his mama. When Faith was put down to sleep he curled up beside her on the rug in front of the crib.
     When he died Holly felt guilty because she hadn’t spent a lot of time with him since Faith’s birth. I told her not to feel guilty because he never felt neglected. Not once. All he cared about was that he had one more person to love.
     RIP, Spooky. You are missed. Spooky was fourteen when he passed.
Holly used a great poem on her Facebook page I want to share here:
The Gift of Animal
The animals that share our lives
enrich them beyond measure.
They show us that there is joy in
simplicity and that love can be
communicated without words.
They help us understand that life is to
be lived in the moment without regrets
over the past or worries about the future.
They teach us about companionship
and trust and about giving of ourselves:
our time, our attention, our affection.
Animals bring out our humanity and
help us become better people.
All we need do is open our hearts
to what we can learn from them.~ Mary Montgomery
Peace.

References used in this post:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spooky?s=t

Friday’s Photos on Monday: Ooookay and Hershey Gardens Part Deux

Holy Friday the Thirteenth! Somehow I missed an entire day. I had this post ready to go on Thursday and somehow, before I knew it, Saturday arrived.  I apologize for the delay. Let’s get to it.

Some more favorite photos. Hershey Gardens was actually broken up into different sections. The sections include a rose garden and groves of trees.  I really enjoyed my day here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this photo you can Hershey Amusement Park in the background.

 

 

 

 

I love this photo. It reminds me of an Ent from LOTR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you zoom in close you might see a lot of bumble bees. There were literally hundreds buzzing all around this area.

 

 

 

 

Holly and Faith say goodbye. Come again next week for more Hershey Gardens.

Peace.

Friday’s Photos: Hershey Gardens Part 1

I’d like to share some of my favorite photos from Hershey Gardens.

This shot of the roller coaster at Hershey Amusement Park across the road from the gardens is one I have to share. The sun was in my eyes (as it was most of the time) so I just pointed, prayed and took the shot (I did this a lot all day long).

 

 

Here’s a great shot taken by Holly.

 

 

Faith seems fascinated by the flowers, doesn’t she?

 

 

In the butterfly house:

 

 

Okay, I intended to take this picture because I loved the way the wings looked next to one another. It wasn’t until the kid next to me said, “Look Mommy, the butterfly is sitting on top of the other butterfly,” that I realized, well, they weren’t. Lol. But then it also hit me there was a third dead butterfly next to the mating pair. Does this photo have a deeper meaning such as life does indeed triumph over death? Is it beautiful in its own way or just plain tacky? You decide. Either way I loved the shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A mama bird with her babies.

 

 

Holly and Faith lounging around with the letter ‘S’

 

 

Carts of flowers were on every corner.

 

 

We intend to tell Faith we found her under a mushroom and we’ve got the photo to prove it.

 

 

Cows like gardens, too.

 

 

There were lots of these little guys everywhere.

 

 

Holly and Faith say bye for now but come back next week for part two.

Peace.

Fat Tuesday: Hello from Maryland

Yes, I made it here to Maryland last Thursday. Paul was awesome in helping me get ready to leave home. I’d been sick all week with what I thought was my sinuses but Tracey was sick with it this weekend. Since sinus problems aren’t something you can catch then I obviously had a virus or something. She’s doing better today but I feel bad I gave her something then left her at home to deal with it.

It was rough but I’ve made it for just over a week now without sugary items.  Yay! Holly and I went to the movies on Friday while Paul watched baby Faith. I did get popcorn, a lemonade icy (lemonade is on the ok list for now) and water. That was it! We saw Prometheus by the way. It was good. It is a prequel to the Alien movies. A bit vague on some points but Holly and I had fun debating what it all meant.

On Saturday we had popcorn again while we watched Predators (the new one). Holly ate Junior Mints on the sly. I didn’t know until I started to clean up. Bad Holly! I got back at her, without meaning to, Monday night by watching Cake Boss. She doesn’t feel like she can eat sugar because of me and complained the whole time. It seems watching other people eat cake without being able to eat some yourself is hard for some people. Who knew? I averted my eyes during those scenes and tried to distract myself by talking to Holly who advised me I was crazy. Lol.

Really, I’m not into self-torture although Holly thinks I am. I just enjoy watching flour and sugar being used to make incredible works of art. Buddy was on Cake Challenge several times and I sort of followed him from that show to Cake Boss. I don’t watch all the time but it’s fun to check in and see what’s happening with him and his family.

To celebrate my sugar-free ten days, I am making strawberry shortcake today. Normally I like to use a sugar-free strawberry glaze but I haven’t been able to find any this year. I’m not happy about that. I like to use it instead of syrup on my pancakes, too. But I’ve made do with regular strawberry glaze; the whipped cream is sugar-free and the biscuits are home-made with little sugar. It’s a tasty treat that doesn’t stir up all those cravings. I’m looking forward to it.

My friend Diane sent me an email last week and with her permission, here it is in part:

Diets do not work. It is a known fact. Your body will get confused with lack of food, then when you give in and eat more, your body reacts by storing more in case of the next starving time.

Me: I know and it sucks. I wish dieting works, it would be nice just to be able to go through the whole denial thing once and be skinny forever but that’s a pipe dream for sure. The whole diet industry is only around to make money, not because they have a genuine caring for the fat to obese people they are supposed to help.
You need a lifestyle change. Try only eating food that has no preservatives/additives in them. It means you have to cook them.
Me: Lol. She’s killing me here. Talking about changing your lifestyle and actually doing it are two different things. I’ve talked about for years. But actually doing it? It’s like I said, tomorrow never comes. I do like to cook, I just hate cleaning the mess up afterward.
I remove all processed foods from my life and added fibre, fresh fruit, vegs, red and white meats, oats, etc. I prepare them at home and cook and enjoy. 
Me: I don’t eat red meat. I stopped for a lot of reasons and I keep thinking poultry’s gotta go, too. Some day it probably will. I’m working on getting more of the fibre, fruits and veggies.
You can substitute coke/soda/purchased drinks with fruit juice/veg juice/herb teas you make at home. (Think juice extractor.)
Me: I stopped drinking sodas many years ago because of kidney stones. I love fruit juices but they can be abused so I try to limit them. Herb teas have recently been added to my diet. I do like them and they do help with cravings and um, cleaning the body out. As it were. I’ve always loved to drink water and I drink six to eight glasses every day.
I even make my own bread, chocolate, and ice cream (minus the preservatives/additives).
Me: Oh, man. Diane. I’m whining here and my mouth is watering.
I have days where I only eat fruit all day. As much as I want. It is convenient when I don’t feel like cooking or am busy writing. And really tasty in summer with our wide variety of fruits.
Me: This is a good suggestion. I’m just not sure how Paul and Tracey feel about it. Maybe a chef salad for them?
Diane’s email made me realize I needed to clarify some things which is why I posted it and made comments. I’m not dieting. I am trying to change my life. It will not be easy because I have a serious control problem where sugar is concerned. I can’t just eat a little and push it away; before it’s all over I eat the whole thing if I can. For me it’s like a siren’s call that can not be ignored.
I have no idea if I’ve lost weight this week since I don’t have access to my scale. Stay tuned.
This week’s reason to lose weight: I need to get new clothes and it would be nice to get them a size or two smaller.
My goal for the next week hasn’t changed: stay off the sugary items.
Sue Santore has a great post this week and a great recipe for a breakfast smoothie. Blueberry, yum.
Peace.

Tracey Graduated

Yaayyyy!

After much encouragement from big sister Holly, Tracey finally agreed to pay for her Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. Once she got that much of a concession Holly persuaded Tracey to also ‘walk’ for it. Thanks, Holly.

As you can see there was a large crowd.

This was the only picture I managed to get of Tracey accepting her degree. Thank goodness there will be professional shots available.

Paul, Tracey, Holly and niece Amanda.

Me, Tracey, Holly and Amanda.

Holly’s mother-in-law, Gail, babysat Faith while we were at the coliseum. Once the ceremony was complete we picked up some food then went to Gail’s to eat where she was kind enough to provide a delicious dessert. Then we cuddled with Faith for a while before going home.

I am very pleased and happy for my daughter.  Congratulations to Tracey!

Here’s some music to celebrate.

Peace.

Oh, Nurse? Nurse!

Announcing Ms. Holly, beloved eldest daughter, has been accepted into the master’s program at the University of Maryland School of Nursing program.

She will be in the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program. The program can last a year and a half  up to two years.

A Clinical Nurse coordinates all of the patients care with other professionals. Straight from the website:

The CNL oversees the care coordination of a distinct group of patients and provides direct patient care in complex situations. The CNL puts evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest care innovations. The CNL collects and evaluates patient outcomes, assesses cohort risk, and has the decision-making authority to change care plans when necessary. The CNL functions as part of an interdisciplinary team by communicating, planning, and implementing care directly with other health care professionals, including physicians, pharmacists, social workers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. The CNL role is not administrative or managerial. The CNL is a leader in the health care delivery system in all settings in which health care is delivered, not just the acute care setting. Implementation of this role will vary across settings.

This is a very serious job with a lot of responsibility and Holly is more than capable for the job. Not only is she smart but she has a sense of humor, too. When I asked for a quote for the blog this is what I got back:

“Thank you, thank you. Wow! I didn’t come prepared for a speech but I would like to thank my parents, sister, grandparents and my husband for giving me the support I needed…ummm, my dog and my cat for looking cute and God for not allowing the rapture to occur on May 21st, 2011.

Wow, I know Ieaving some people out but they are running me off the stage, so thank you to my fans and everyone around me…. thank you.”

I’m very proud of her. Congrats, sweetheart! 

Peace.

Curio’s Past, Shhh.