16 April 2014

Is it worth it to show the dogs?


I love my dogs, and this collage is just one moment in so many joyful times I spend with the dogs. In addition to loving spending time with them, I like to show them too. The dogs enjoy going to shows too, but is it worth it?

In January 2014, Minnow earned his AKC Rally Obedience RN title and that was a great weekend. Now I am trying to decide if I want to show the dogs in conformation shows this year. (It may seem late to some folks, but we have crappy weather and very few shows after the big January show.)

So here are the questions
  1. Is it worth showing if these dogs will likely never earn a championship? There just aren't enough dogs out there showing and I don't have the right mix to create my own major points at an AKC dog show. 
  2. Do I really need more ribbons? When we were moving, and moving, and moving, I finally decided that most of the ribbons could go, and there is really no reason to have more ribbons. I did keep the Best in Show and High in Trial rosettes, but have no plan on keeping anything less than that unless I need them as proof of titles (see #1). 
  3. Is my expendable income best spent showing Chinooks? Let's imagine a two-day show where I would enter all three dogs. Entry fees roughly $75-90/day, $150-180 per weekend. Next show I'm looking at is in Minnesota and if gas doesn't increase too much it will cost me about $75 in fuel. Weekend of collecting ribbons = $225-255. Hmm. 
Would love your thoughts. 

15 April 2014

From the manor-born to sugar slavery


Imagine yourself on a hot, tropical island working sugar cane fields in the blazing sun with only this wee woolen cap to protect you from the sun. My 8th-great-grandfather would likely have been wearing one of these -- if he were that fortunate -- as he toiled away in the cane fields of Barbados.

How did this Lord of the Manor end up being sold into slavery in Barbados? Well, there was that pesky business of not liking how the royals were lining up...

John Chilcote II participated in the 1685 Monmouth Rebellion in England against King James II. The Duke of Monmouth was an illegitimate son of English King Charles II and soon after his birth both Monmouth and his mother were banished from England. Later the Duke returned and became a prominent Protestant political figure--some believed he might inherit the English crown after his fathers' death. On July 6, 1685 Monmouth's Army was completely defeated on the Plain of Sedgemoor, Somerset. The Duke fled but was soon caught and beheaded. 

As a Monmouth follower, Chilcote was captured and his property confiscated. From there he went to Bridgewater Prison. Several hundred prisoners were executed and about eight hundred were deported to the West Indies to be sold as servants for a period of 10 years, more than twice the normal time period,  (mostly to work in the sugar plantations).

John Chilcote II was consigned to Sir William Booth on 25 Sep 1685 after being held in Bridgewater Prison. He was delivered to Captain William Stokes of the ship John Friggot of Bristol on 24 Oct 1685. Chilcote arrived at Barbados on 28 Jan. 1685. (Julian calender) Of the one hundred prisoners on this ship, only seventy-five survived the voyage.

Most likely, John Chilcote II, would have been auctioned in exchange for sugar as soon as he got off the ship, and was committed to the services of a windowed planter named Ann Gallop.

More to come as research continues to progress. Maybe there's a movie in there somewhere...

11 April 2014

Purge - 7 steps to reduce stress when moving

I was reading through my e-mails today and in there was this  article 7 Ways To Reduce Stress During A Move | Trulia Tips and I thought how do these things apply to me even if I'm not (hopefully) moving for a while. (P.S. the 7-steps are on the linked article, not here, we'll just be talking about how less is more and purging.)

One of the biggest things I have learned from the various moves over the years is how having less makes life much simpler. I've been subscribing to the sell, toss (or recycle), donate, keep theory for years, and keep trying to protect my skills. Now that we have been in the small house for 6-months, I am comfortable tackling some of the unpacked boxes from the move -- confident that we will be here at least 6 more months.

I'm finding it a little daunting to actually unpack some of the boxes because they contain things from my parent's house, and I'm having a harder time deciding what to do with those items than any other things I have gone through since 2008. Obviously they are only things, but it is challenging to let them go.

I've also got boxes and boxes and boxes of photos that should be sorted and scanned. Many to add to genealogy / family history information. As a history buff, I will now implore you to write the names of people and places in pencil on your images while someone still recalls the people. Here a tidbit from the National Archives Captioning Photographs Take a look at the links to the left on the page to see more preservation techniques.

Thank you for stopping past and taking a look at my blog, I really appreciate it and hope you are at least entertained.

09 April 2014

Book Review: Mash-up!: How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be Happier by Ian Sanders

Mash-up!: How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be HappierMash-up!: How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be Happier by Ian Sanders
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this book, but it fell a little short. Lots of name dropping used to bring their mash-up, plural living thoughts into the pages, but really light on the actual implementation.

The authors attempt to give readers an understanding of what drives them, and how to use that information to create their story and present marketable skills to the world... again, they attempt this, but it falls short. The "interviews" are predictable and when the skills "communicating ideas" and "inspiring change" are pretty generic.

I write a fair amount about careers and how to brand yourself in the marketplace, and this book would not make it onto the recommended reading list.

View all my reviews

07 April 2014

Nothing but the best is really less

When I was in college, studying business, I had an image of how my life might look as I got older... boy was that off! Proof that life happens while we are busy making plans.

The vision was the BIG house and all the toys that go along with that lifestyle. Now we live in a small house that my sister owns, and are applying for a grant from the City of Champlin to plant native plants and reduce our upkeep efforts outside too.

I'm enjoying looking at the image with something other than piles of snow, and then piles of melting dirty snow. Did you notice my snazzy addition of gutters and downspouts and also some trim on the garage door?

One really important piece that I have come to appreciate is that I no longer need to get other people's approval, and I am able to enjoy life a lot more after embracing that.

What were your dreams in your early 20s versus what they are now?

Frank Sinatra - Nothing but the best

05 April 2014

Kathleen Riley Photo Full Session Giveaway!

Time for a special photo session giveaway!

Not only am I giving away a session, but I'm adding up to twenty five digital images as well.

How hard is it? Not very! Once you win, all you have to do is show up and then get ready to enjoy yourself!

This giveaway is going to be using a plug in called Rafflecopter, and all you have to do is follow the instructions below to enter, right in the Rafflecopter plug in. If you can’t see the widget here, try refreshing your web browser or enter or you may enter on Facebook too.

Rules: Not too many rules -- that works best for everyone! For the FREE session, you'll need to be in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota metro area, or willing to travel here. Additional options include dog or horse events that I am attending -- see, pretty easy. I can come to you too, but you'll be covering the cost for me to travel outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area. (Yes, I'm planning on being at AKC-Eukanuba Dog Show in December.)

The giveaway starts at 12:00 AM Saturday 5 April 2014 and run until Saturday 19 April 2014 at 12:00 AM. This giveaway is run by Rafflecopter and you must sign in with your personal Facebook to complete the mandatory steps -- it's how the Rafflecopter will know you have entered. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Keep Yourself In Stitches Sewing Vintage 1940s Hats, Wraps, Skirts And AccessoriesKeep Yourself In Stitches Sewing Vintage 1940s Hats, Wraps, Skirts And Accessories by Dolores Boland

Keep Yourself In Stitches    Sewing Vintage 1940s Hats, Wraps, Skirts And AccessoriesKeep Yourself In Stitches Sewing Vintage 1940s Hats, Wraps, Skirts And Accessories by Dolores Boland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was part of the research I was using to get the right styles for a 1940s transformation photo shoot.

There were lots of illustrations, however I was challenged on the hat portion much more than the wraps, skirts and accessories. There is one wrap that could easily be used in modern setting and it was quite lovely. We even discussed how it could be used to show dogs -- retro where everything old is new again...

We had fun going through the book and then heading to a fabric warehouse to buy some textiles to fit the shoot. From there the fun began and the subsequent images will be on my web site http://rileyphoto.zenfolio.com/ so you can see if the information was helpful to us.

Worth looking through and happy to have it easily accessible at the local library.

View all my reviews

03 April 2014

Beers you might like to try

I've had fun touring some breweries over the years, although I am not a big beer drinker by any stretch. I did the New Glarus Brewery tour solo when I was on the road selling church directories... that's a whole 'nother story! Anywho, the tour opened early so I went and wandered around, then bought some brewery logo items and some beer to bring home and it was fun -- never be afraid to try something new, even if you are on your own. Now off to some beers you might want to try. (Prices are what these cost in Minnesota.)

Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout is a traditional Irish Stout brewed without the addition of nitrogen.  A great looking pitch black pour with a nice tan head, this beer tastes of chocolate and coffee followed by a malty sweetness, and finishing with a chocolaty-molasses treat. With an ABV of 4.7%, Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout would pair well with Corned Beef and Cabbage or any traditional Irish fare. Type: Irish Dry Stout. Cost: $7.99 / 6-pack

Great Lakes Conway’s IrishAle is a malty Irish Red Ale with notably toasty flavor from lightly roasted malt.  It has an ABV of 6.5% and would pair nicely with traditional Irish fare, or a savory pot roast dinner.  Irish Red Ale is second only in popularity to Ireland’s dry stout.  When you drink this beer, expect a big caramel introduction that is nicely balanced with hops and a hint of lemon. This beer feels creamy in the mouth and is not overly carbonated. The finish is clean, sweet and caramely and your taste buds will enjoy the experience. Type: Irish Red Ale. Cost: $8.99 / 6-pack.

Founders Imperial Stout is brewed with a variety of barley, creating a smooth, complex beverage.  It has an ABV of 10.5% and is a solid stand-alone beer. This stout offered an enjoyable pouring experience too, with a dark black body, a creamy, dark tan head and lacing and trailing as it settled into the glass. Type: Russian Imperial Stout.  Cost:  $12.99 / 4-pack

Dead Guy Ale is a deep reddish honey amber beer that is lovely to look at. It offered up toasty and malty aromas and the hops helped give a rich, well-balanced finish. This is a moderately full-bodied beer created in the style of a German Maibock. With fruity accents and a long spicy hop finish, this beer was almost bitter, but in an oddly pleasant way.  This would be a good beer to pair up with pork, spicy foods or even better, spicy pork.  Type: Maibock/Helles Bock. Cost: $12.49 / 6-pack.

Are there beers you would suggest people try? 

German beer drinking song - Zigge zagge zigge zagge hoi hoi hoi

29 March 2014

Book Review: 1940s Hairstyles by Daniela Turudich

1940s Hairstyles1940s Hairstyles by Daniela Turudich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Found this book while researching for a 1940s transformation photo shoot and found the information helpful.

There were plenty of photos and illustrations to show how to create the various styles. The make-up-artists (MUA) that came to the shoot liked the information and used some of the tips while creating the styles.

The results from the 1940s transformation shoot will be up on my photography site http://rileyphoto.zenfolio.com/ take a look and see how the information helped.

A good reference, and happy the local library carries it.

View all my reviews

Swing - Best of The Big Bands


27 March 2014

Flat surface disease

Small house kitchen via iPhone

Eighty-three inches. Just a wee bit under 7-feet. That is the total space allocated to counter tops at the new pad. 

As you can see from the image taken while we were moving in, the kitchen here is small, really small. Add to that, the door goes to the backyard and the Chinooks go through the area to get outside and it becomes ever smaller.

If you have been burdened with flat surface disease, this is a fairly quick cure to that -- at least in the kitchen. I'm discovering that everything in the kitchen space needs to have multi-purposes and it has made me better (not perfect) at putting things away and reducing paper and stuff in the living area.

How do you know if you have flat surface disease? Well, if lots of flat surfaces in your house are covered with piles of paperwork, mail, and other items, you probably have flat surface disease. You know you've got it bad when any new flat surface immediately starts getting things put on it.

A huge downside of flat surface disease is putting things onto flat surfaces and then thinking that you know where they are a moment's notice. When you put the item onto the surface, you think you'll recall where it is, but when you really need it, you'll end up going through an entire process to track it down. Remember when company came and it went into a bag, then a box, then a bigger box, then into the guest room where you stacked it on top of some others boxes...

I've got a room of boxes from the move that need to be addressed, and yes, there are some with copious amount of papers in them... that is the blessing and the curse of genealogy. Some boxes are full of photographs that need to be sorted and scanned. Who are those people that are 50-yards away from the camera lens? One of my goals is to update the family histories and put them into PDF format for family members. We'll see how that goes.

Do you have flat surface disease or have tips to share on conquering it? Let me know.

Gavin DeGraw - I Don't Want to Be

25 March 2014

Favorite words

I've been doing birthday quotes for Facebook friends for a couple of years now. I try to find something quotable and something interesting about the person being quoted -- this is sometimes harder than one might imagine. Most people being quoted have the same birthday as the person getting the "Happy Birthday!" greeting from me too and I like that. Today I got to use Kate DiCamillo and she has lots of good quotes. This is one of my favorites, and this happens to be her birthday so here's that little bit too.

Happy 50th birthday, Kate DiCamillo! The author of Because of Winn-Dixie is currently the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a biannual honor from the Library of Congress that was established in 2008.

“My favorite six letter word is
because it promises
so much.

My favorite five letter word is
because it insists on contradicting
the promise.

My favorite four letter word is
because it says it
happened then.

My favorite three letter word is
because I’m just now learning
to say it
to my heart.

My favorite two letter word is
because it makes
all things possible
like this:

If not always
If not never
Then once.

Kate DiCamillo

Sleepy Man Banjo Boys

22 March 2014

Downwardly mobile

I'm good with where we are at -- I know that really goes against the grain of bigger, better, newer and more expensive, but I'm okay with that. I've never been a big one for following the herd, but I had no idea how much our downsizing would offer in terms of appreciating every lovely day. Yes, some are not as lovely as others, but I accept it day as it comes and appreciate being able to be here to experience them.

As I look at the reduction of opportunities, it strikes me how lucky we are to be in a smaller place that takes less money to maintain. Our household is part of what Forbes refers to as the "yeoman class — the small business owners, the suburban homeowners, the family farmers and skilled construction tradespeople — is increasingly endangered."

Of the four yeoman classes. we have all four in the family, looks like we are in real trouble on the endangered scale. . .

That being said, I am hopeful that our creativity and entrepreneurial skills will allow us to have a lifestyle where we aren't struggling to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table.

Bill Withers - Lovely Day

19 March 2014

Less stuff equals more meaningful life

I was reading Life Edited blog today and they were talking about less is more living and how it really is beneficial.

Things that made me think:
  1. Has any thing actually make us happier? Not for me. There was that momentary happy after acquiring it, but then I just wanted more. I could really see my former self in that statement, and that same person still tries to buy more stuff every once in a while... 
  2. Live in he present moment. My dogs remind me of this every day, and I appreciate it even though I may not be very good at it. People really aren't that great at multi-tasking so having less to pay attention to helps get us into the present moment.
  3. Easier to manage. Having less material things opens up much more time for meaningful experiences -- we've really been working hard on that in our lives and I like it. I especially like not cleaning so much stuff! 
  4. Be more interesting. With less stuff to take care of, you open yourself up to opportunities for meaningful experiences. This is really starting to become more true in my world. More stuff out the door = more wonderful experiences coming to me. 
  5. Discover what is important. Having less has really shown me what is important and what things I really can't live without. You'll start seeing what is important as you start shedding the excess in your world.
Where are you at with the stuff in your life? How about the meaningful experiences?

Bill Withers - Use Me

17 March 2014

Spring cleaning challenge one-a-day

I wish this was a photo of the front of the house right now, but in fact there is still snow piled up all over outside. Even so, I want to start cleaning and getting ready for spring.

While we were at brunch on Sunday, we covered lots and lots of topics, one of which was divesting of things and shooting for more memories. We all realized that most of us just have too much stuff, and that a lot of that stuff never gets looked at or used. Of course thinking about divesting yourself of those things is often really challenging.

Sometimes letting go of those things can be really difficult, but if we shoot for one things a day it might make it simpler -- and if you get more things out the door, even better! I found a site that has a one-month plan to a more organized home. You may learn more about that here: 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home Challenge! - Money Saving Mom® There is a free download booklet too if you want to have the whole shebang.

If you aren't able to find 7 thing a day to move on, shoot for 1 thing to get rid of today. Toss it, donate it, give it away, or list it on Craigslist or eBay. Start small and work your way up.

Thanks for stopping past and let me know how your declutter and organizing is going.

Supertramp - Take the Long Way Home (Wish it wasn't a live version, but what can you do...)

08 March 2014

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

Lately I've been trying to figure out how to make a living and a life with my entrepreneurial spirit. I know that may sound wonderful, and I do love working for myself, but I got here because life happened while I was busy making plans.

On LinkedIn, I am part of a group that has been discussing how the over 50 crowd (still am amazed I'm in that group) has become more entrepreneurial. For many, it hasn't been a choice, but a necessity. We are being aging out and there are a pile of us that aren't old enough for social security so in order to pay the bills without resorting to the oldest profession folks are finding themselves becoming entrepreneurs.

When I was out there working for the man, I was successful and we lived a life of consumption as DINKS. Then we both lost our jobs, lost everything material in our lives, learned about taking care of dying parents and siblings, fought with the "banksters" as they said one thing and did quite another, sold the family home (lovingly referred to by many as The Riley Hotel), lived as sofa-homeless people for two years. We are working our way back, but are still the working poor -- we've come a long way baby!

So here I am reinventing myself and learning more than one might ever imagine as I travel along the road. I've started taking photos in earnest, writing about places to see and travel tips, obsessively researching and loving genealogy, and of course enjoying every minute with the dogs, horses, farm animals and all the people connected to all those things. Want to see my photos and support my comeback, take a look at the images on Riley Photo.

Thanks for stopping past and be sure to share your stories with me too.

07 March 2014

Book Review: American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon

American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman RockwellAmerican Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've always loved the work of Norman Rockwell and enjoyed this look into his life.

The book tells the story of Rockwell which is much sadder than most people would imagine by looking at his art. This book offers a new look at Rockwell that is both entertaining and a little disturbing. The book tells Rockwell's story in a way that seemed new and offered up a lot of facts told in an easily read narrative. The book revealed a lot of things I had not known about Rockwell and I appreciate the insight.

I'm not certain that I had heard about the darker side of Rockwell that included anxiety, depression and loneliness, with feelings of failure, neglect and inadequacy. The images I saw of Rockwell reminded me of many of the Vermonsters I have known over the years, but again this was an educational read so I was open to learning. Remember all those doctors he had in his images? It turns out he was a hypochondriac.

Rockwell married three times and had three sons. The marriages are described as alternating between unhappiness, being dysfunctional or not sexual -- would that be asexual? The book shares that he liked the company of schoolboys as models and younger male artists as friends. One later exception was a friendship with the folk painter Grandma Moses, was an exception to that rule, likely due to her age.

When I saw Deborah Solomon interviewed, she mentioned the homoerotic undertones in early paintings like “Sailor Dreaming of a Girlfriend” (1919), as well as two from 1958, “Before the Shot,” with its bare behind of an innocent young boy at the doctor’s office, and “The Runaway,” showing a beefy policeman seated next to a boy at a cafeteria counter.

The book was a good insight into how different his actual life was to his artistic renderings. It is a fairly long, but interesting read.

View all my reviews

05 March 2014

Book Review: Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley

Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand WordsChaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again I am amazed by the brilliance of the Border Collies. Now add into the mix a retired educator and you've got a dog that can differentiate over 1,000 words, knows some basic grammar, and is able to categorize her toys by function and shape. Chaser has intelligence on par with chimpanzees and dolphins. Like I said, amazing.

The man behind Chaser is John Pilley (a professor emeritus of psychology at Wofford University) whom Chaser knows as “Pop-Pop”, is amazing in his own right. Nudging 80 when he started the 4-5 hours a day of Chaser’s enrichment lessons, Pilley and co-researcher Dr. Alliston Reid later published their findings in the journal Behavioural Processes. As you might imagine, this research brought a lot of media coverage, which is where I first learned of Chaser via PBS.

To learn more about the details, and for enjoying how much dogs are capable of, read this book. Upside, it provides tips on how to tap into your own dog’s genius -- or at least encourage some of that genius to develop.

Contrary to popular belief, Pilley believes dogs are not merely conditioned to respond to rewards or avoid punishment, but “can feel and express emotions and can reason.”

This book is a wonderful memoir that will challenge what people believe about dogs and inspire us to do more with our dogs. I highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews

03 March 2014

Book Review: Ambassador Dogs by Lisa Loeb

Ambassador DogsAmbassador Dogs by Lisa Loeb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love reading about dogs -- probably because I LOVE dogs and everything about them. I had a special interest in this book because I know how important dogs are to the people that love and rely on them.

This is a well written book that shows how dogs have helped people on a number of levels. It is amazing to me how much dogs contribute to the emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual well-being. The heart-warming stories are wonderful examples of how animals impact our lives.

The author traveled to gather the stories and exposes the readers to the connections with dogs through rescue, therapy, protection, and education. The book shows how important dogs are to the social fabric of our lives. I also liked how the book showed dogs helping people work through challenging times in their lives -- we all can appreciate the unconditional love our dogs offer us.

I enjoyed looking at the photos of the dogs in this book too, happy dogs sharing their lives with people and making them happy too. This was a nice, easy read and I enjoyed it.

Fine Print: This book was provided to me by the publisher, but that did not influence my review.

View all my reviews

02 March 2014

Book Review: Review of My Cat by Tanner Rengerud and Jack Shepherd

Review of My CatReview of My Cat by Tanner Ringerud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like most cat lovers, I have seen the funny, sweet and entertaining posts about cats, a website that features things I can't stop sharing with my friends...

Now Tanner Ringerud and Jack Shepherd, two of the founders of the Buzzfeed site, have have created Review of My Cat, based on their popular Tumblr blog

Although I am more of a dog person, I can appreciate cats and enjoy capturing their personalities by making images of them, so I'm more of an appreciator than a devotee.

The book is divided into The Good, The Bad, The Really Bad, The Ugly, and the Useless. If this weren't a humorous book, those categories might have been a bit too much, but in this instance they play well for the book.

I laughed at some of the bad reviews and no matter what the grades, it is clear that all the participants love their cats. I enjoyed the photos and funny drawings too -- it was amusing.

The book features a handful of celebrity cats, like Lil’ Bub (the first cat featured in the “Good” section), and Colonel Meow (not in the “Good” section), but most of the cats are just regular cats in all their variety and beauty. I really like the average cats better than celebrity cats, but that is just me.

This is a cute little book that will make you smile, and occasionally nod in recognition as you "see" things you know about your cats and cats you have met. Guess what, your cat isn't the only one that does that!

The fine print: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

View all my reviews

01 March 2014

Book review: The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown

The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think DifferentlyThe Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently by Sunni Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always been a doodler, and I love that this book brings the art of the doodle to the forefront of thinking.

When people tell me they can't draw (or doodle) I always thought that was probably not an accurate reflection, and in this book there are sections that will help even the least drawing-skilled person to get doodling and releasing their inner creativity and thought process.

The book reminds us that even the most ugly drawing can still offer better creative thinking than a long string of words.

No matter what your skill level, this book will help you open your mind to thinking differently.

View all my reviews

28 February 2014

Riley's travel guides - taking photos

Who could resist traveling with Queen Kathleen the Road Warrior, her furry companions, a bag full of cameras and a penchant for obsessively researching genealogy and local history? 

Let's start with a little language lesson. I've learned that taking photos of people that aren't English speakers is simpler if I can at least handle a few phrases.

  • Hello
  • How are you
  • What is your name
  • My name is 
  • May I take your photograph
  • Thank you
  • Goodbye 
Not enough to get you into any trouble, but enough to get you started. You can translate the words and thanks to modern technology you are able to play how they sound too. I would like to take this moment to thank my students over the years that have taught me these and other phrases, it has come in really handy.

Lately I've noticed that the same items end up in my gear bag and pockets when I am shooting. In case you wonder what those are, here's a list -- which of course is subject to adjustment and editing at any given moment.

  • Microfiber for wiping off and drying my gear. (Notice I didn't say lenses...)
  • Bottled water (I bring it in rather than buy it, more cost effective.) 
  • Swiss Army Knife that looks like something from Get Smart
  • 2 Spare 8GB cards -- I've only filled all the cards once, but that was one time too many. 
  • Spare battery for each camera. (Best to not forget those in the hotel room...) 
  • My neato-frito elephant zipper coin purse that is the right size for holding folding paper money, an ID and a hotel key card. Plus it is bright lemon yellow so I can easily locate it too.
  • Smart phone -- usually smarter than me -- with a flashlight app. You'll be surprised how often that comes in handy! 
  • Duct tape 
  • VetWrap
  • Out of the USA, I add these
    • Passport
    • Local money 
    • Smart phone with compass app and local SIM card)
    • Blistex lip balm -- I like how the liquidy consistency feels better than the sticks. 
    • Address and phone number of places I am staying (on paper and in the phone) 
 Frank Sinatra - The Coffee Song 

27 February 2014

May I buy back my introduction from you?

Today I unpacked a box that contained my Road Warrior date book and all the address books one could imagine needing and then some. There were books of mine and some from my parent's house too. Yes, I realize it is time to take care of some of those pressing items.

So I asked on Facebook what people were doing to manage their paper address books and most of us don't have a clue. I thought about doing a spreadsheet database, but then realized that I really don't want to put that much effort into the project. I decided to add people into my phone and look up some of the folks I hadn't heard from in years.

Between searching the inter webs, LinkedIn and Facebook, I have had an enlightening if not frightening day. I've said for years without knowing where the quote originated, "Times change people and people change times." This has never been more apparent than this recent foray into address book searching...

As I looked through the folks on-line, there were some significant shifts in some and some are basically the same as they ever were. While neither of those things are good or bad, it is interesting that aging has brought me to a point of less people rather than more. I recall college days (which still seem like yesterday...) and thinking that I'll have so many friends as I age. Well, I'm here to tell you that is not the case. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel badly about it, it is just interesting.

Some of the missing people have been gone for years, and good riddance to many of those folks. Some have vanished since our life circumstances changed -- losing everything can be cathartic and will likely show you what is really important.   

My experience of looking through the book and getting the memory jog was interesting I am grateful that so many people have fallen by the wayside regardless of why that happened.

What is your address book looking like?

Garth Brooks - Friends in Low Places

25 February 2014

The good, the bad and the hairy - Review: bathtub mats

Bath tub mat with grassy texture

I'm sure you are here because who wouldn't want to know about bath tub mats! When we moved to the new pad, we needed a bath tun mat so neither of us would slip and fall in the tub. Remember we only have one bathroom and it is a full bath so you must step into a bathtub to get clean... Neither of us ever take an actual bath so this is a weird set up for us.

When I saw a bath tub mat with a grassy surface I thought about how wonderful that would feel on the feet and that a clear mat would be an easy accessory. I'm happy to report the grassy bits do feel good on your feet when you are standing on them, and if you were so inclined you could probably use it to scrub your feet too.

We've been in the house since October and the mat has gotten to a discolored state that is almost impossible to gaze upon -- is there such a thing as a Medusa Mat? To make it even more wonderful, the grassy bits capture everything to drops down onto them... yes, anything that gets into the bathroom whether it is in the shower or just dog hair floating around gets into that grassy mat. If it had anymore hair and fabric fibers on it, it could become a rug...

So yes, I am disappointed in the performance of the grassy rug. Is it weird that I want to keep typing grassy knoll or is that a by-product of my age? Anywho, I decided that we should trade out old yeller and get something less hairy. I looked around and found one that made me laugh and it arrived today.


Oh yeah, that is more like it! This baby came to the front door and I was excited to open it and have a whale of a good time in the shower. No real whales were used to make this mat, and that is a good thing. I will share that when I opened the container, I was transported back in time... I know, weird!

You too may be transported if these remind you of anything.


Ah, good times, good times indeed.

Thanks for stopping past.

Oak Ridge Boys - Elvira

18 February 2014

Sugar slavery and the Lord of the Manor


You may be expecting to read something about my family owning slaves and being involved in "white gold" in the islands of the Caribbean, but my political dissident ancestor actually was imprisoned and then sent to work in the cane fields. More will be coming on how my ancestor went from the house pictured above to prison to Barbados to Baltimore, Maryland.

The Chilcoat Family History The spellings of the surnames Chilcote, Chilcott, Chilcutt, Chilcot, and Chilcoat all are variations of the name Chilcot or Chilcote. It comes from Devonshire and Somersetshire in England and means literally "cold little house." A meaning akin to "cottage of the retainers" might be assumed. This is not a French name as some believe, but is English. While the various families scattered over the United States now use the spelling they like best, or the one they are used to, a researcher in the early records has to watch constantly for variations. Other spellings are Shilcott, Silket, Silcott, and Chillcott, and perhaps the oldest spelling is Childeecote. There is more on the not to be trusted Chilcoat history.

Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and EmpireSugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book while doing family research. I enjoyed the combination of genealogical research, sources and imaginative speculation.

This book is filled with wonderful characters and I found some information about people like my ancestor that went from Lord of the Manor to imprisoned political dissenter to being shipped from prison to work on the sugar plantations of Barbados. I loved learning where my family fit into the islands with the pirates, buccaneers, reprobates, criminals and the dissolute, depraved, discarded refuse of the motherland. Of particular interest to me was the day-to-day living that was part of the experience.

I found the book easy to read and didn't feel like I need to pass up boring pages, mostly because there didn't seem to be any. Even if I didn't have an interest in the book from a genealogical perspective,I would have enjoyed it.

View all my reviews