Friday, September 29, 2006

State Fair, 2006 (and other news worth mentioning)...

Let yourself go...again!
So, the State Fair of Texas starts today. They are frying Coca Cola this year (um, ew). Next year, they should just cut to the chase and fry sugar, lard and butter, because – really – what ARE they waiting for?! They are already frying everything else, it just seems like a natural progression…

Hmmmm…I feel like there was something else I was going to tell you guys.

What was it?...What was it?...Think, think…

Oh, right!! :

I’m leaving tomorrow to go on...


Yeah, THAT was it!

Just, you know, FYI...

I’ll be out in the “bush”, so there will probably not be a whole lot of opportunities (if any) for me to connect to the Land ‘o’ Blogger. I hope you all will forgive my temporary silence. I will try to make it up to everyone by taking lots and lots of pictures.

In the meantime, I offer the following (quick - what movie?!):

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama

Siyo Nqoba
Ingonyama nengw' enamabala

(Did I mention how excited I am??!!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Random animal facts (for no reason at all)...

Did you know:

  • It takes twelve months for a donkey to gestate, but only eleven months for a horse.

  • Cows (like people) gestate in nine months time.

  • You can get a sheep or goat in five months, but have to wait eight months for a baby deer (fawn).

  • You only have to wait 30 days for a litter of kits (rabbits).

  • In October through December, some rabbits go into what is called moulting. At this period, many do not conceive. This is because rabbits are like chickens in the sense that lay eggs only if there is enough light.

  • Yes, I know that bunnies do not lay eggs (except, of course, at Easter)...

  • Rabbits are not rodents. They are lagomorphs. Other lagamorphs include hares and pikas.

  • It can take anywhere between 59 and 72 days to produce a baby guinea pig (cavies). Longer gestation times tend towards smaller litters, whereas shorter times tend towards large litters (this seems backwards to me), and a female goes back into “season” within an hour of giving birth.

  • Some guinea pig sows are actually terrified of their own litter, even if they have partially cleaned the babies. In these cases, the mother will shriek wildly and run away from the babies, who will of course, try to follow her around the cage to be nursed and frighten her more. From what I gather, this is rare, but not THAT rare.

  • A “mule” is the offspring of a Donkey daddy (Jack) and a horse mom (mare).

  • A “hinny” is the offspring of a horse dad (stallion) and donkey mom (Jennet). (Do you think the "hinnies" of the world get upset if people mistakenly call them a mule? Furthermore, is it possible to tell - just by looking at the animal - whether or not it is a "mule" or a "hinny"? Do the "hinnies" get upset if someone implies that their father was an ass? Just curious...)
  • Thursday, September 21, 2006

    New Harmony, Indiana...

    “The smarter you become,
    the more you will fall in love with New Harmony.”

    – Jane (6/1/06)

    Back in early June, I traveled to New Harmony, Indiana to do an oral history of a relative. I had not been to New Harmony in over fifteen years, but it was exactly as I remembered it: Wonderful. Peaceful. Relaxing.

    Here are some of my photographs from the trip. Enjoy:

    New Harmony, Indiana…
    Photo by Deals

    WTC Fountain…
    Photo by Deals

    WTC Fountain…
    Photo by Deals

    WTC Fountain…
    Photo by Deals

    OUT looking IN…
    Photo by Deals

    IN looking OUT…
    Photo by Deals

    St. Francis de Assisi:  Tiny, wonderful chapel…
    Photo by Deals

    Inside St. Francis de Assisi Chapel…
    Photo by Deals

    Sculpture outside the chapel facing the pond…
    Photo by Deals

    Carol's Garden:  Most peaceful place on the planet…
    Photo by Deals

    Most peaceful place on the planet…
    Photo by Deals

    There was a wedding reception held here that night…
    Photo by Deals

    View from the second floor of the Brewery…
    Photo by Deals

    Light, dark and shadows…
    Photo by Deals

    Light, dark and shadows…
    Photo by Deals

    Sculptures in Nature…
    Photo by Deals

    Art in Nature…
    Photo by Deals

    Nature in Art…
    Photo by Deals

    Sweet Jane:  The Heart of New Harmony…
    Photo by Deals

    Only way to see New Harmony…
    Photo by Deals

    See Jane.  See Jane walking.  See Jane walking away from her golf cart.  Jane?…Is it time for dinner at the Red Geranium?
    Photo by Deals

    Photo by Deals


    - Robert Owen

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Cake, please...

    Love from WW to Pest…
    Photo by Deals

    So, my grandmother “Moo” has been in and out of hospice for years now. In fact, there have been several times in the last year and a half where Moo has almost died. Not actually died, mind you. Just almost.

    On these occasions of “almost death” (of which there have been three or four), I’ve gotten The Phone Call at work informing me that my grandmother had just been rushed to the hospital. Her blood pressure being either dangerously high or terrifyingly low (sometimes both in the span of just a few hours), I’m told that she might not make it to dinnertime. On all of these occasions, I’ve immediately grabbed my purse, informed those who needed to know at work that I have a family emergency, and left for the hospital.

    Last August (August 11th, 2005 to be exact), I got one of these phone calls from my father (Moo is his mother). My dad was in tears and he assured me that this time was “IT”. Could I come to the hospital? Yes…of course. And I was there in a flash.

    Upon arriving at the ER, I was ushered into a series of hospital corridors by a nurse in light blue scrubs. Winding through the hallways behind her, I was finally led to a dark room where I found my dad and sister. Both were standing over my grandmother’s hospital bed and weeping. At that moment, I remember thinking that I was too late. That she was already gone. Tears immediately welled-up in my eyes and my dad – sobbing – turned to embrace me. My sister, not wanting to be left out, also wedged herself into the middle of the impromptu family hug.

    It was about that time that we all heard a voice coming from the hospital bed:

    Well, aren’t you all a sorry-looking crowd.”

    The three of us slowly turned our red, tear-stained faces toward the sound of the voice to find Moo looking up at us.

    Mother,” cried my dad, “you’re dying!”

    Not yet, I’m not!”

    And that, as they say, was that. Not five minutes later, Moo was brutally pinching all nurses that dared to stray too close to her hospital bed.

    Anyway, that was just over a year ago. Moo’s condition hasn’t really changed all that much. Like others her age, she has her good days and her bad days. And we are all very lucky that she is still with us (both physically and mentally).

    However, we’ve all been informed that – come October – Moo will be kicked out of hospice...


    Why, you ask?

    Well, it really quite simple: Moo hasn’t died yet.

    It’s really rather odd, if you stop and think about it. The only way you can get in to hospice is by being on your death bed, and the only ways out are:

    1) By dying.
    2) By not dying.

    It is like a bizarre betting game. Hospice keeps going double-or-nothing that Moo will die this time, and Moo keeps defying the odds. I can almost hear her saying (in a similar fashion to Eddie Izzard’s "CAKE or DEATH" sketch), “So, what you’re saying is that my choices are ‘death’ and ‘not death’? Hmmmm…I’ll take ‘not death’, please.”

    When I was born, Moo announced that – at age 70 – she was officially, “Too old to be a grandmother.” Now, at 96, she is my only remaining grandparent, and as feisty as ever.

    Granted, no one can live forever. One day, Moo’s time on this planet will be up. In the meantime, though, she just keeps on surprising us all. And that – when it comes to feisty, old grandmothers – is hardly ever a bad thing.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    History Lesson…

    Yes, Katie. The following are ALL from my super-wonderful US history "Quote of the Day" calendar. Stop judging me! I am a self-described “dork”, and have a bizarre fascination with the past. Tattoo a scarlet “D” on my forehead. It is appropriate! Dorks of the world unite! Victory on Jeopardy is assured by virtue of my seemingly uSEless (thank you, Katie) knowledge of historic trivia!

    Pop the cork!
    Here comes Deals-the-dork!

    (Wow. THAT was stupid.)


    “When opinions are free, either in matters of government or religion, truth will finally and powerfully prevail.”

    - Thomas Paine, “The Age of Reason,” 1796

    “It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others.”
    - Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21st, 1803

    “A monarchy is a merchantman which sails well, but will sometimes strike a rock, and go to the bottom; whilst a republic is a raft which would never sink, but then your feet are always in the water.”
    - Fisher Ames, U.S. politician, 1795

    “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free…it expects what never was and never will be…Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.”
    - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, 1816

    “Sir, [the American colonists] are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.”
    - Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    “When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.”
    - Marquis de Lafayette

    “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves…The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; this is all we can expect. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.”
    - General George Washington addressing the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island, August, 27th, 1776


    “One of the best sources of Revolutionary War statistics is provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). According to DAR, the last surviving veteran of the Revolutionary War was a man named George Fruits, who died in 1876 at the age of 114.”

    “The first president, George Washington, was the only president in America’s history to win a unanimous victory in the Electoral College.”

    “Revolutionary soldiers were outfitted with many standard clothing items – when they were available, that is. To keep things simple, the soldiers were issued ‘common shoes,’ shoes that were interchangeable between the right and left feet.”

    “Soldiers [during the Revolutionary War] expected to receive a standard ration each day, which included a pound of bread, a pound of meat, a gill (about four ounces) of dry beans or peas, and a gill of rum. The bread was so hard that it had to be soaked in water for a day to soften it up.”

    “[In 1776] The first submarine, made of six-inch oak timbers coated with tar, was invented by David Bushnell of Connecticut and aptly named the ‘Turtle’.”

    Okay, I'm done now...
    (does everyone feel edu-maH-cated?)

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    You learn something new everyday (whether you like it or not)...

    Did you know that dogs can get yeast infections... their EARS?!

    Because I didn’t.
    (Until yesterday, that is.)

    I swimmin'!  I swimmin'!

    Gypsy Kitty has one.

    In her right ear.

    Poor baby.

    And the best part is that she didn’t get it from swimming or bathing.

    Oh, no, no. Not MY dog.
    Her yeast infection is a direct result of her allergies
    (which, apparently, are really, really, REALLY bad this time of the year).

    That’s right. My dog has allergies.

    Bad allergies.

    Exceptionally needy animals are drawn to me.

    No judge Wypsie.  Me no help it.  Me needy!
    Stop judging us…

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    No wonder my head hurts…

    Last week my boss compared working for a nonprofit with the game WHACK-A-MOLE…

    Oh, the joys of working for a museum...

    Monday, September 11, 2006


    Where was I, you ask?

    I was a senior in college, and I had just stepped out of the shower at my second floor apartment on Ackerman Avenue.

    As was my routine, I had turned on the Today Show in my room, gotten out of bed and headed to the shower. I remember listening to someone interview someone else about tax cuts on the TV.

    Everything was normal.

    Fifteen minutes later, that was not the case.

    I walked back into my room, and knew something was wrong. Matt Lauer was in “news mode” and they were talking about unconfirmed reports of an airplane hitting one of the twin towers in New York City. I was still watching when the second plane hit.

    I remember that Matt Lauer kept insisting that a news helicopter had hit the second tower – not another plane. He was in shock. He didn’t want to believe that it could happen twice. If it were another plane, that meant that America was under attack. We all were.

    I called my mother. I was on the East Coast, she was in Dallas. I woke her up, and told her to turn on the TV. Two planes had just hit the Twin Towers. She didn’t believe me at first, but then she turned on her TV and saw the footage. I remember her telling me that she loved me.

    Then, I listened to the audio feed as a third plane hit the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

    I remember standing there in shock. I was still wrapped in a towel.  My long hair dripping all over the blue rug in my bedroom.

    There were other planes out there, too, that were unaccounted for. How many of those had been hijacked? It was chaos. Utter chaos.

    Then, still watching, listening and wondering, I got dressed. I don’t remember doing so, but I did. I don’t even think I brushed my hair. All my roommates were on campus, and I was all alone at the apartment. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I didn’t want to be by myself. So, I walked to my 10 AM class in a daze. I remember seeing many other people doing the same thing. It was like we were all shadows. Walking shadows.

    Could this all really be happening?  

    I got to class…suddenly. That is the only way I can describe it. The class was held in a building that was easily a mile+ from my apartment, but I was there before I knew it. The professor, not knowing what to do, showed us a film. The classroom had no windows, so the room was completely dark except for the light from the screen. I have no memory of what the movie was about, but I do remember being incredibly grateful for the “normalcy” that it provided. It was like being in a womb. I recall being warm and thankful for all the other breathing bodies in the dark room.  The illusion of safety.

    When the movie was over, the professor turned on the lights (but dimly) and walked up front. At first, his back was to us, so we couldn’t see his face. He then turned to us and – with tears streaming down his face - told everyone that both towers had collapsed and that a fourth plane had crashed somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.

    I remember holding my breath at this news. I held it in until my lungs hurt. It was like I temporarily forgot how to breathe.

    I left the classroom and walked into the lobby of the building. Everywhere I looked, people were sobbing and frantically dialing on their cell phones. See, I went to Syracuse University in central New York. Granted, the University isn’t in The City, but a significant number of the student body was from or had strong connections to the New York city area. Because of the influx of people trying to reach their loved ones, all the cell towers were overloaded. It would be almost two days before I could dial out on mine again.

    I walked outside and was shocked at how beautiful the day was. I hadn’t noticed when I had walked to class earlier that morning. The sun was warm, and there was a cool breeze. It seemed terribly ironic somehow.

    That was when I saw Carole. We played rugby together. She was completely pale, with tears dripping – absentmindedly – from her eyes. I went up to her, and she just stared at me and said, “They work there, and I can’t find them. Why won’t they answer their phones”? I didn’t know what to say, but it didn’t really matter because Carole just kept walking. To this day, I do not believe that she actually saw me that morning. She was in shock. I thought about going after her, but then I saw her turn and walk inside the School of Management building. In her daze, she appeared to be going to class. Not knowing what else to do, I decided that was the best place for her.

    Technically, the University had closed that morning. But with the high number of students from both NYC and DC, Syracuse reopened. So many students, not knowing what else to do, were going to class, and the University wanted to be there for them. After all, this wasn’t the first time the school had dealt with deadly acts of terrorism before. On December 21, 1988, 35 Syracuse University students were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. Those students were all returning home for the holidays after participating in a study abroad program in London that fall. I partook in the same program 11 years later.

    Walking through campus that morning was incredibly eerie. Almost surreal. Everywhere you looked, there were people crying and holding each other. Everyone knew someone personally affected by the attacks. My creative writing professor lost his best friend, and a girl in my English class lost her aunt when the two towers collapsed. The mother of one of my best friends in high school worked in the Pentagon (luckily, Jacquette’s mom was running late that morning).

    The worst, though, was in all the not-knowing. Watching people dial and redial numbers of loved ones, and being unable to get through. It was horrible to watch them suffer while being so completely powerless to do anything to help ease their pain. All you could do was…sit there…next to them…letting them know that you were there…that you were there for them.

    Early that afternoon, I heard that they were Medi-vacing people, those stable enough to travel, from New York City to the hospitals in Syracuse, New York. The helicopters were landing on our quad. All this was in preparation for the second wave of wounded from the towers. A second wave that never came.

    And, then, there was my roommate, Karen. September 11th, 2001 was her 21st birthday. All week long, we had been planning to take her out to celebrate the milestone birthday in style, but our plans were, of course, cancelled. Instead, we opted to take her to the liquor store where the other roommates and I pooled our cash so she could make her first legal purchase of alcohol. She opted for a bottle of red wine, and she shared it with all of us in plastic cups later that evening as we sat around watching the horror continue to unfold on TV.

    (The man at the liquor store didn't even card us.  I guess, in light of that morning's events, there were far worse things to worry about than whether or not the four young, college-aged girls standing at his checkout counter with a singular bottle of red wine were of age or not.)

    Several days later, a Muslim woman was attacked at the local Syracuse mall. We were all horrified by the assault, and found ourselves increasingly protective of our friends who were either from the Middle East or of the Muslim faith. A friend of mine, who lived on the same floor as me freshman year, was so upset about the racial/religious profiling going on that she was afraid to leave her room. She was from Dubai, a practicing Muslim and absolutely terrified for her safety. It wasn’t right. After all, not all terrorists are Muslim and not all Muslims are terrorists. Saying the opposite is like stating that all Mormons are polygamists or that all Christians share identical views with David Koresh. It simply isn’t so. I was very concerned (and in many ways, I still am) that we, as Americans, were nearing a line – driven by fear and the aftermath of 9-11 – where we’d actually consider interning Muslims and/or people from the Middle East just like we did to the Japanese during World War II. Of all the things that could potentially rise out of the ashes, I continue to hope and pray that this kind of religious-based hate and distrust is not among them.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Just the facts, folks. Just the facts…

    I’ve been doing a lot of research on cattle brands for an event we had at the park over the weekend. My main resource for this project was a book in the museum’s collection that was written back in 1936. The author of the book traveled around Texas and collected oral histories from ranchers who still ran the brands during the days, months and years leading up to the Texas Centennial.

    The following is an excerpt from the book in question, Texas Cattle Brands: A Catalog of the Texas Centennial Exposition Exhibit, 1936. I dare you to tell me why I find it so funny:

    The Apple Brand
    "'Apple' 'Started about 1880 by R.G. Head and M. Halff as a road brand. The brand was made up in Mason County at the Widow Martin’s place on Hedwick’s Hill on the Llano River. A herd of about 3,000 head of mixed cattle were driven to Ogallah, Nebraska, in 1880. Giles Fenner was trail boss. R.G. Head, known as Dick Head, was one of the most prominent men during trail driving days. He began working with Col. J.J. Meyers of Caldwell County about 1866 and was a prominent man in the cattle business and in trail driving through the 80’s.' (J.W. Wilson, Robstown, Texas.)"

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Confessions and matters of the heart hair...

    I have a confession to make.

    I have Alopecia.

    What is Alopecia, you ask?

    Well, according to the Wikipedia free online encyclopedia, it is:

    “An autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly treats its hair follicles as foreign tissue and suppresses or stops hair growth. It is not contagious but may be hereditary. Stress has not been proven to be a crucial factor, although this is still disputed.

    First symptoms are small, soft, bald patches which can take just about any shape but are most usually round. Initial presentation most commonly occurs in the late teenage years but can happen with people of all ages. It most often affects the scalp but may occur on any hair-bearing part of the body. There may be different skin areas with hair loss and regrowth in the same body at the same time. It may go into remission for a time or permanently. The longer the hair loss persists, the smaller the chance that it will grow back.”

    Now, to clarify, I do not have Alopecia Areata Totalis or Universalis. I still have the hair on top of my head, and over most of my body. I, however, do not have much when it comes to eyebrows, eyelashes and – surprisingly enough – nasal hair.

    Like many people, my symptoms developed in my teens. They were easy enough to ignore at first. I had giant, bushy eyebrows originally, and I initially thought that their obvious thinning was a good thing. This, however, turned into a bit of a trauma when I realized that I would have to start filling them in regularly. I’ve always been a tomboy, so the idea of having to use any form of make-up on a daily basis seemed incredibly horrible somehow. And it only got worse. Today there is less “filling in” and more “painting on” of eyebrows each and every morning. The only good thing is that with time come acceptance, and I am finally learning to “accept” the fact that this is a reality for me (as is the constant threat that the hair loss can spread).

    You know, it’s really silly if you stop to think about it. Hair is so cosmetic. You don’t need it to survive. Only the nose hairs serve an actual purpose (i.e. air filtration). Yet, when it is gone, it’s very distressing - especially psychologically. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over lost facial hair, or because I cannot “draw” my eyebrows on straight in the morning. If it rains, or if I’m sweating at the gym, I worry constantly that I’ll have eyebrow pencil running down my face. When I fall asleep on the couch watching TV or a movie, the first thing I do when I wake up is check to see if, A) my eyebrows are still on; and B) that I didn’t leave any “eyebrow” on the couch by accident. It totally changes the way you think about normally mundane activities – like trying on a pull over shirt at the mall, getting a hair cut or kissing your boyfriend if he’s wearing a baseball cap.

    Plus, it’s not a necessarily a pleasant process when my body decides that my eye brow/lash and/or nose hair needs to go. First, I notice a faint itching under the skin. Then, there is generally a tiny, red bump that appears where my immune system is attacking the hair follicle. Finally, all the hairs on or near the bump fall out; leaving a fun gap or bald spot in its place. Good times, let me tell you.

    Before I was “officially” diagnosed by my dermatologist, I’d exacerbate the issue by scratching my eyebrows or rubbing my eyes when the “itching” began. Now, I try to leave it alone, which is much, much easier said than done. It’s kind of like trying to not scratch an annoying bug bite, or not wiggle a baby tooth when it came loose back when you were a kid.

    There was a time when I thought I was somehow causing my facial hair to fall out because I was itching at it so – like I had some sort of stress disorder (I had a friend in high school that had a habit of twirling her hair until it would fall out). It was almost a relief the first time I realized that the hairs where going to fall out regardless of whether or not I rubbed at them. What was happening was being caused on the inside, and I was powerless to stop it.

    Anyway, why am I confessing this and – more importantly – why am I doing it now?

    Well, on Wednesday, I donated my hair to Locks of Love. I had over 15 inches cut off, and 13 of that was put in a padded envelope and mailed to the non-profit organization. My thought process: I’m lucky. I still have the hair on my head. It is thick and grows quickly. I should use it to benefit those who aren’t so lucky. Those who’s hair is falling out or completely gone. Those with whom I can relate to, if only on a very small scale.

    In case you aren’t familiar with Locks of Love, they provide wigs to children that have either lost their hair due to chemotherapy or alopecia. A very worthy cause, at least in my opinion. It takes, generally, 8 to 10 donated ponytails to create one wig for one child, and the wigs shed at a similar rate to the human head so they only last approximately a year before needing to be replaced. But these wigs – finite though they are – provide a sense of normalcy to children who have watched their own locks fall out. After all, hair may be considered “cosmetic”, but people notice when it is gone. And, if it is your hair, you notice it all the more.

    I would like to encourage everyone who can to consider growing their hair out for Locks of Love as well. It is a great feeling to know that your hair will go and do something great for someone else, instead of being swept up off the barber’s floor and lumped in with the rest of the day’s garbage. Plus, you get a completely new hairdo in the process (my own aunt didn’t recognize me at first)! It is one of the few truly win-win situations out there, and I’ve never been happier…

    My hair had gotten soooooo long…

    Thirteen inches of hair…

    Hair soooo bouncy (and short)…
    Photo by Deals