Monday, June 25, 2012

Savvy Bargain Hunting Granny

It pays to shop for bargains.  In fact, sometimes the best bargains can be found at a garage sale.  I know, I know. Why should you spend time going from one garage to another, sifting through the junk of strangers? I had given up on garage sales years ago, except if I needed paperbacks.

I read fast and so I would go to garage sales to find paperbacks.  Not anymore though.  Now that I have my kindle, I am so in love with reading on it that I never read an actual book anymore. It is just so much easier to carry and lighter to hold.  I can prop it up at a table and pages don't turn.  Awesome.

When I got my kindle I assumed I would never go to a garage sale again.  Then I remembered that I am now a grandma.  Gideon will be taken care of by me five afternoons a week this fall so that I can write in the mornings.  And guess what?  Gideon is going to need toys.  Lots of toys.  I remember how I hated to go to someones home when they had one or two toys. ZZZZZZZZZZZ.  No doubt about it.  I did not want to be Gamma Boring.

One day in Target I stood gazing at a very cool keyboard for young kids.  Itwas in the shape of a cat head, and had several drumbeats it could play while operating the keyboard.  Not only that, you could press buttons to make it sound like a piano, organ, banjo, bells, or a kitty (yeah, God help me, songs come out as meows). It had a microphone that really worked! It also could play it's own music or have singing cats.

How I wanted that for Gideon!  You see, his parents both teach music and voice.  He LOVES to play on one of their keyboards.  This would be perfect for him.  The only problem was we are on one income.  And the cat head keyboards was $28.69.  When we had two incomes I would not have thought twice.  I have to think twice now.  Reluctantly, I left without it.

Later that week I went garage sale-ing.  Gideon's mom gave me money for some toys and I have also bought some out of our money.  I started out in the morning, and you know how it goes with garage sales.  It seems for every ten sales you find one with decent stuff at it.  The same was true that day.  I was getting frustrated with the dirty junk some people think others will pay money for.
Then, magic happened.  I walked into the next sale and there it was.  The same exact cat head keyboard!  It was in pristine condition and worked perfect.  I grabbed it and quickly paid.  I found other things that day and later, but nothing made me as happy.

What do you think I paid for that $28.69 keyboard?  Five dollars.  Yep.  Five green dollars.  That got this granny dancing a jig.  Heck, I'm even gonna dance when he plays the kitty sounds.  It will be music to my ears...because this granny really LOVES a true bargain!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Birthday or Happy Hatchday?

Today is my Congo African Grey Parrot's  ( please visit link to learn about this wonderful bird)17th birthday. Melanie has been with us since she was 3 1/2 months old. I am not sure if "birthday" is the correct term because birds are not "birthed".  They are hatched.  So should we sing "Happy Hatchday to You" when we sign to her later? Yes, we do sign to both of our parrots when it is their birthdays and then have a seed party. They get very excited about it and my Pionus Parrot (Kazoo) sings in his own language with us.  Melly usually whistles (why, I don't know, because she can sing words when she wants to...).

Anyway, seed parties are a big deal. Most people erroneously believe that parrots live on sunflower seeds, other seed, and nuts.  They don't.  In fact, when in captivity that is downright harmful.  These foods are high in fat and can cause liver damage when not burned off. Most pet birds have flight feathers trimmed, so they can't fly off the excess fat. Therefore, seeds are candy and given rarely.  Some owners give a few a day, some weekly, etc. But main diet is NOT seeds.  It is healthy greens, veggies, fruits, grains, much like you and me. There are some organic pelleted bird foods that incorporate all of this in the pellets, and that is very handy.  We use a brand of those, but also give some veggies and fruit.  And, of course, at least weekly seed treats.

Anyway, back to Melly.  She was not even supposed to live this long! African Greys can live 75 years but when we got her we found out she was carrying a fatal disease called Beak and Feather Disease.  We were told that it was not yet active, but to put her down.  Well, we couldn't, so we didn't, and we worked with Dr. Richie (a leading bird disease researcher in Atlanta) to see if we could make her have as happy of a life as possible.

We placed her in a warm incubator at night. We prayed and sang with her daily and used organic pellets (mentioned above).  We used echinacia and goldenseal drops.  Faithfully.  Every day.  After a year, she was tested again. (She had been tested 8 times the first time she was positive to make sure it was not false).  When my vet called to give me the news I could hear the surprise in her voice.  She asked me if I was sitting down.  I was, thankfully.  She told me that Melly tested negative to Beak and Feather!  She no longer carried the disease in her.  This was almost unheard of.  I called Dr. Richie and he said she was the first African Grey he knew of to fight it off. 

That year we sent Christmas cards that said "Faith is the bird that sees the light, and sings while the dawn is still dark." We enclosed the story of her recovery.  Was it the herbal drops?  The organic food?  Prayer? Our love and faith? Who knows.  I am willing to bet it was a combination of everything.

The one thing I do know is that Melly was supposed to be "put down" that first year and we chose to give her a fighting chance.  Because of that, she is alive to celebrate her 17th birthday, or hatchday, today. 

Sing to her? You better believe it.  I hope I get to sing Happy Hatchday to her until I am 100 years old.  And after that, my will will state that whoever gets her must do the same. Her middle name is "Miracle" for good reasaon.  Melanie Miracle Rowland.

Happy Birthday, My Beautiful Girl.
"Beautiful Girl"
By Caddy Rowland

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guys Week At The Rained Out Lake

Every year my husband and his brothers go back to their hometown and stay at the lake for five days.  No spouses are invited.  This is a time to just be together as brothers and have fun. The youngest brother, Lee, still lives in that little hometown and owns a place on the lake. The other four brothers make the sojourn, gifts of food and liquor in hand.

They have been doing this for decades.  So far, only one time did they get totally rained out.  It was so bad that they even cut it short by a day. Something tells me that this year might be rain out number two.The weather forecast does not sound good.

Is there anything worse than days of rain while out at a lake? It wouldn't be so bad for them if all of the guys played cards, but not all of them do. Their pass times of choice out there include pontooning while listening to old rock music (enjoying several beverages I am sure), throwing in lines off the dock, playing lawn golf, and more of the same.  Seriously, the whole five days revolve around those three things.  Like I said, they are male...and they are brothers. God forbid they try something new!

Note that all of those things count on decent weather. Yes, they can do into town. Still, they are old enough and smart enough to know that they can't party and then drive back to the lake, so that option is not the greatest.  Not too exciting sitting in a municipal liquor store sipping a coke while your brothers get snockered.

The town is celebrating their 125th this year (125th what, I am not sure.  Day it has rained this spring? Year in existence? Beer drank by the mayor this week? Time they wished
this week that there was somewhere decent to eat late at night?) I hope the celebration does not get ruined by rain, but it does not look promising. So, even coming into town for that may not be much fun.

On the bright side, people all along the lake can thank the good Lord above for small favors.  This Fathers Day week they may get a break from hearing the loud 60's and 70's music from a certain pontoon and seeing a bunch of late 50 and early 60 year olds "cruising" along the water (up and down, up and blaring) and pretending they are 18 again.  Ah, the blessing of mind altering beverages!

Truly, I hope the weather surprises the forecasters and the guys get to celebrate in all their glory. Not because I am such a kind and generous spirit.  It is mostly because I don't want to have to listen to that old music when we vacation in July here at home! I have my "new" music ready at the helm.  You know.  The underground 70's stuff that only us in the know are familiar with. Ummm.  Okay.  Maybe that was decades ago, too, but that doesn't mean I am out of it. It simply means I am cutting edge with slightly duller scissors.  Doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A MUST See Movie: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Last night my husband and I went to the movies.  We saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Not sure if we would like it, we nonetheless dove into our popcorn and waited for the lights to dim. I am so glad we went.  This movie is a priceless jewel of a film.

I am not sure if this movie can be appreciated by young people.  Age forty and up will benefit from it, though.  I would think some deeper thinking below forties would also enjoy it. The premise is that several retired people (who don't know each other) decide to retire at a beautiful hotel in India, for various reasons. The brochure paints it as luxurious and pampering.

However, when they get there, it is anything but. The young owner has dreams for it and hastens to assure them that things will be improving daily. They all stay. Each of them are disappointed, but it is not the biggest disappointment in any of their lives.  Those previous disappointments have shaped them into the people they are today.  Some bitter, some hopeful. Some looking for happiness, some living in the past.  Some ready to embrace new ideas, some unwilling to let go of long held prejudices.

It is not supposed to be a sad movie.  It is uplifting and enlightening. Nevertheless, I had tears running down my face halfway through it.  Puzzled, Dave asked me what was so sad.  I simply shook my head and whispered, "Nothing."
Afterward, I explained to him that my tears were not tears of sadness.  The movie was so poignantly beautiful that my heart was filled to overflowing. If you were really paying attention, each character had so many sub stories under the surface; so many life lessons they were offering to the viewer.

This movie touched me and made me a more appreciative person.  Ah, the beauty of life in all of its lessons, disappointments, and pleasures. Where else but India, in all of its awful glory could this story be better told? The country is filthy but full of bright color, noisy but full of life, poverty stricken but full of smiles. It is stunningly wonderful and hopelessly terrible. Just like life. 

If life wasn't that way, we would be much smaller people for it. Just go see the movie. You won't regret that you did.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lessons of Life From My Annual Flowers

Every year I get as excited as a child at Christmas when it is time to buy annuals for my yard. In fact, it IS my Christmas; in more ways than one. The first way is material.  My husband and I don't exchange gifts at Christmastime. We are childless by choice and so we usually have had spendable income to buy what we want anyway. Sometimes we go together during the season and buy things we each want on sale after the holidays. Other times we pick out one big thing or nothing at all.

But the second, and more important way, that it is like Christmas is spiritual for me. Working with my plants brings me back to nature and to the creative force that makes us all. The feelings I get when pruning, preening, fertilizing, and watering are primal and nourishing. I am connected with something higher than me and I can feel healing.

My mind is renewed and refreshed. I can forgive others more easily.  And, best of all, I see the simple beauty in the circle of life.  Things come to be, grow, bloom, and eventually die. The process is eternal and non- discriminatory. Nothing is more or less important than another. Everything responds and sings it's creation tune. Most of all, nothing (and no one) gets out of here alive.

I am reminded how important it is to "bloom" myself. To allow myself to be happy and satisfied, instead of worried and looking past the now toward tomorrow.  Today is here. Bloom now. Open my leaves and absorb the love of friends and family. Accept the flowers I have been given and make them thrive.  Gracefully give them up when the time comes.

Annuals teach me all of these things. Perennials are nice, but annuals are the ones that really speak to me. They show me, once again, the circle of life in one short season. Breathing slows and a sense of wonder and content envelopes me.  They are beautiful.  I am beautiful. We are eternal, yet individually all of us are "annuals". What breathtaking beauty each of us has during our short time here! All is well with the world. All is well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Really Tired of Self Appointed Sheriffs of Life

What is it with all of the self-appointed sheriffs of life the past couple of years? Is it just me, or are too many people deciding that they have the right to police the actions of everyone else? Nor do they do it in a polite or kind way.  Give someone the benefit of the doubt? Oh, hell, no! These sheriffs seem to assume that just because "they" have all the answers and "know" all of the right things to do (in their book anyway) they are free to insult, demand, or aggressively spout off to anyone they please.

News flash to Mr. and Ms. Know-it-all: When you see someone committing  "sin" according to your book, it is possible (I know you need to stretch your mind a lot here) that they simply don't know they are doing something wrong.  OR, in some instances, YOU might be wrong.  And, lastly, sometimes NEITHER of you is wrong and it is none of your damn business! Ever hear "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"? That is a cliche for a reason.  It reeks of common sense.

So, put away that taser of a tongue and try to treat people with some respect. You want to point out their faults, mistakes or inadequacies? Fine. Don't allow one of yours to show by being rude about it. You, after all, are obviously the smarter of the two.  Surely because of that you should have the capability of giving the benefit of the doubt and at least starting our your "correction" by being pleasant. The whole world is not waiting to be "fixed" by you.

See, we generally get along fine in our everyday life without some sanctimonious "corrections" officer, who is a stranger, deciding to snap on the handcuffs verbally and give us a lashing. How you treat others is as big of a part of "being right" as making sure people follow the rules. Snapping at people or automatically assuming that they know they did something wrong is arrogant and short sighted. Either lighten up or shut up. You aren't God.  I am willing to bet you even make some mistakes.  I am also willing to bet you don't like being aggressively chastised when you make them.

Don't get me wrong.  When people do something wrong, they should sometimes be told. Maybe, though, it does not always have to be you telling the whole world off. If you have decided that you should be the one to tell them, please do it respectfully and kindly.  Don't assume the worst about every person you think does wrong.  And remember, just to throw another cliche in the mix, when you point a finger, three fingers are pointing back at you.

I try to do the right thing.  Sometimes I fail. I appreciate being told when I do something wrong.  But I don't appreciate "the sheriff" accusing me of knowingly doing it when I didn't know, and I don't imagine those "sheriffs" like it when it happens to them either.

There are just too many sheriffs around nowadays and not enough deputies of kindness and consideration. Can't we all try to be a little nicer to each other? Maybe we could round up a posse and drive some of these "sheriffs" to some island where they could all police each other. Then the rest of us can live in peace, kindly pointing out mistakes when we have to; forgiving and looking the other way when we don't. Good God, just imagine. People allowing each other to be human. What a concept.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Great Site/Page for Kindle Bargains

Many readers are familiar with The Cheap, a  website and facebook page that has been promoting e-books for Nook under $5.00 for quite some time.  Did you know that they have many site, including the newer KotC (Kindle on the Cheap)?

Here is their website: and here is their facebook page:  I suggest that you check them both out, become a member, and pop in frequently. You will not only find out about a lot of great books, but you will make some new friends.  Don't be shy, either.  Comments are welcome there and you will find it a lot more fun if you don't just sit in silence!

April is the administrator and she works hard to make sure that readers have a great choice of books coming their way every day. She is also very kind and fair to authors.  Check out their author site:!/AontheC to talk with authors about their books and find more great reading suggestions.

Since I have a kindle, I was really happy to see the addition of KotC.  Another great way that April has come up with to help readers and authors alike.

Thank you April and thank you Cheap, regardless of if you are NOOK or Kindle. And, thank you readers!