Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why I "Fight City Hall"

I fight city hall because I live in a democracy. As a citizen of our democracy, I feel I have the responsibility to report and try to eliminate injustice, inefficiency, illegalities, etc. to prevent our democracy from being destroyed. I don't have the luxury of picking my fights. I have to fight each fight that comes before me, no matter how large or small. If I don't, I am silently giving approval to that violation of democracy. Our government, in any form, is a fair target for my actions when it does not act honestly and appropriately. That is true even if it's only a substitute mail carrier who always appears to take shortcuts that violate his own rules and regulations when delivering the mail. If that sounds trivial, remember that the erosion of a mountain starts with only one grain of soil at a time.

I know, I know. In our country, it is embarrassing to talk about being a good citizen once you pass the age of thirteen. However, I think we all need to be reminded that being a good citizen means more that voting and paying taxes. It's not the big things that threaten our democracy. It is the ignoring of all the little things that add up to the colossal catastrophe that takes down a democratic government. Complaining and paying lip service to good citizenship is not enough. I must fight city hall.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The World's Best Christmas Cookie Recipe

A friend sent this recipe to me and I guarantee it will become a favorite. You don't even have to bake. Just reading it will warm the cockles of your heart.

1/2 Cup of Water
1 Cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Cup of Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup of Brwn. Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Juice
4 Large Eggs
1 Cup of Nuts
2 Cups of Dried Fruit
1 Bottle of Jose Cuervo Tequila

*Sample the Cuervo to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality, poor one cup and DRINK.
*Turn on the electric mixer...Beat one cup of butter in a large bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again
*At this point, it's best to make sure the Cuervo(Tequila) is still OK, try another cup...just in case.
*Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the friggin fruit off the floor...
*Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
*Sample the Cuervo again to check for tonsistinsee.
*Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or flour o! r something. Who giveshz a sheet..
*Check the Jose Cuervo. Now, shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts for pitz. What? You know what I meant....
*Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar. Greash the oven.
*Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
*Don't foget to beat off the turner
*Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bidz's Million Dollar Day

One of my recent discoveries on the internet (unfortunately to my pocketbook) is a site called Bidz is an online, live auction, primarily for jewelry, althought they are constantly expanding their product line. Even if you are not shopping, the site can be mesmerizing because you can watch the bidding action on each item as it happens.

The site has some great features that can spoil you and make it difficult to go back to Ebay. For example, floating your cursor over a product photo will immediately (and on the same screen) bring up an enlargement of that product photo complete with description. To bid, you make one click for each bid. In real time, you can react to other offers. If you win, payment is very easy. They ship USPS within a couple of days by Priority Mail. They prevent delivery disputes by requiring each shipment to be signed for. The shipping and handling charge is $10.95 on anything you buy. Compare that with some of the sellers on Ebay! As soon as they ship, you are given a tracking number.

The products are of quality and many come from well known companies. Descriptions are accurate and the great photos do not lie. Even in cases of severe bidding wars, you get the product for a fraction of its assessed value. I have made several purchases from them and have been very pleased with each one.

The reason I am writing this post is that I just read that Bidz had one million dollars in gross sales in one day, November 29th. That's a lot of money and, in my opinion, the result of a great concept, an outstanding website, the checks built in to prevent mistakes and dissatisfaction, quality products and presentation, and incredible customer service.

A word of caution, however. If you are an impulsive buyer, you should probably avoid this site. If you are tempted to sneak a peak, don't log in. You have to be logged in to be able to make a bid. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ugly Cats Continued

This poor little cross-eyed kitten appears to have a cleft palate. He could probably use a good hair stylist, too. It looks like he needs to wash his hands on a more regular basis also. And don't you want to pick him up and cuddle? I think he's a little sweetheart.

To see some other ugly cats, check my posts on September 18, 2006 and October 2, 2005.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

National Geographic on "Remember This"

This month's National Geographic magazine has a captivating article on Memory. It relates the background of two individuals who demonstrate the extremes of memory; a gentleman who remembers nothing and a woman who remembers everything. It discusses the brain functions in remembering. The history of how memory has been dealt with different cultures over the years is discussed. It hashes over several other debates but I can't remember what.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chair Follow-Up

I used the lead discovered in a magazine to do some research on my chairs. The internet is wonderful. The chairs are indeed reproductions from China's Ming Dynasty. They are still being made today and can be purchased in some stores around the world or on the internet. The photo above shows a chair exactly like mine, minus the cushions. Now I'm planning to purchase new cushions.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Identified Sitting Object

Last summer I was looking for smaller chairs to use in my tiny sitting room. At a nearby antique store I found a pair of the chairs that you see on the left. They were very unique---interesting curves and incredibly smooth wood. The dealer had purchased them at an auction and couldn't tell me anything about them. I couldn't resist the design, the wood, the workmanship, the unusual cushions and the medallion carved on the back slat. I brought them home without any idea of what they were.

Today as I was going through a magazine, I found a picture of a similar chair. It was identified as a Ming Dynasty reproduction and that is what I suspect I have. If any of you out there have any other information on these chairs, please let me know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WWII Hero: My Hero

He was a member of the US Army Air Force and while on a bombing mission, his plane was shot down. He parachuted and landed somewhere in Germany, was captured and spent the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war in Stalag 17B, Austria.

When the war was over, he returned home with the memories and a pile of medals. He lived life quietly as an honorable man. He spent the last few years of his life in a nursing home, disabled with Parkinson's disease. Still his mission was not over because he had to "take care" of his wife Erma. She passed away in July; he passed away this morning. His mission was finally completed.

His medals identified him as a US hero. His life, all of it, marked him as my hero. Off you go into the wild blue yonder, Uncle Ralph. Godspeed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One Way to Domestic Sanity

Years ago I discovered that I could cut time and effort by having the meat dish done ahead of time. I buy meats in bulk and then cook them all at once. Today I'm doing meatloaf, browned hamburg, parboiled Italian sausage, and oven-made "fried" chicken. I also have to get some pork chops to prepare.

Why browned hamburg? It is all ready to add to sauces, to use in dishes like Spanish rice, chili, or stuffed peppers. The parboiled sausages can be grilled or broiled very quickly. Also parboiling gets rid of a lot of the fat and in my opinion, enhances the flavor. The chicken, pork chops, and meat loaf can be popped in the microwave and be ready in less than five minutes.

I package the meats in meal sizes and store them in the freezer. At meal time all I have to do is make a couple of side dishes, nuke the meat, and call my husband to the table. The pressure of getting meals disappears and the insanity of figuring out a menu goes with it. I have the comfort of knowing all that meat is waiting in the freezer. It works for me.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Hills of Home

Yesterday I took a ride into my past. When growing up, my father worked for an oil company (drilling and pumping). The company owned three houses in a wilderness area and housed the families of the workers in them. When they closed the oil operation there, they burned the houses so they would not have to pay taxes on them. However, they could not destroy the magnificent setting.

The setting, as you can see, is a marshy area surrounded by forested hills. As children, we would sometimes find arrowheads left by Indian cultures long before we arrived on the scene. I used to imagine the Indian children who had played there before we did and wondered what their life was like.

When I explored yesterday, I realized that there were few traces of our lives there. We had passed the way the Indians had, silently, leaving the beautiful environment intact. May it always be so.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Forgiveness: My Thoughts

The anniversary of the tragedy in Pennsylvania and the discussions of the ability of the Amish to forgive has me thinking about forgiveness. The Bible tells us to forgive one another as we were forgiven by God through Jesus. Unfortunately, in my view, the ability to forgive was not an inherent gift from the Almighty. In fact, lack of forgiveness may be the greatest human flaw.
Think how differently human history would read if we could forgive one another: wars unfought, feuds forgotten, relationships unbroken. Iraq would be one united peaceful country. Israel and Palestine would quietly share their rich history. Divorce rates would drop. And on, and on, and on.
I think forgiveness must start with each individual. Ah ha! There's the rub. When I look at myself, I know I do not forgive. I can pay lip service to forgiving but deep in my being, I still harbor feelings of resentment and hurt. For me to truly forgive, I would also have to forget. And that part of my memory has not faded yet. I wish it would. Or that the Amish would share their secret with me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Unmeasurable Losses

This rural area is reeling from the loss of four young people over the weekend, including three high school students and a recent graduate of the Jasper-Troupsburg School District. The photo above was taken by Lynn Brennan of The Evening Tribune and printed in today's issue. I can relate to the event because when I was in high school, there were close bonds between J-T and my school.

The four were lost as the result of a one car accident. The search for them started Saturday when they did not return from a party Friday night. The site of the accident was not discovered until late Monday afternoon despite intense searching by several hundred volunteers. The effort was greatly aided by teenagers who were determined not to give up until their friends were found.

I cannot imagine the pain their families and friends are suffering now and hope that they gain some measure of relief from the expressions of genuine caring from other people in this area, symbolized in the photo above.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Segue Into Fall

Moving along from mid-summer to fall, here's a picture from nearby Letchworth State Park, taken by Andy Thompson, managing editor of the Evening Tribune, in 2006 and published in today's paper.

This area becomes inundated with leaf peepers in the fall each year. The leaves haven't reached their peak in Hornell yet.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Summer View

A cousin just reminded me of the hillside where I grew up. Perhaps that is the reason I so love the place we live now. This photo was taken earlier in the summer and down the street from our place. It's looking across the Canisteo Valley. Perhaps you can see how high up we are.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Local Storm

We live in a great part of the country where we tend to escape weather-related disasters so common in other parts of the USA. However, on Saturday a violent thunderstorm passed through. We suffered only scared cats but down the road about four miles away, the village of Canisteo was heavily damaged---downed trees that fell on power lines, houses, cars, streets, etc.

The picture above is a scene this morning of crews repairing power lines. The mayor said that every street had some kind of damage and that a state of emergency will probably remain in effect until Thursday. Quite a consequence for a storm that lasted about three minutes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My morning routine includes checking my e-mails, reading the important news stories, and then turning to a section of the news considered oddball. If you've never read the oddball news, you are missing something very entertaining. For example, here are the headlines for today:

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I've been thinking about Aunt Erma. We sat across from her at a family reunion last summer and watched as dozens of children came up to greet her. I remember saying to my husband, "That's the way we used to look at her, too."

For the children would gaze at her with wide-eyes filled with love and adoration, and a kind of expectancy, as if they thought she was about to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

And maybe she was. A magician, that is. She certainly made the rest of us greater than the sum total of our whole.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Another Erma Story

At my aunt's funeral yesterday, her pastor discussed the three things that best described her: fun, family and faith. It was a perfect summation of what made Aunt Erma so special.

He described a conversation he had with her the day before she died. They were talking about her family and he said, "Eight children. Erma, what were you thinking?" She laughed and replied that people had asked her if she was a strict Catholic. The pastor asked her what her reply was. She motioned for him to come close to her as if she was going to tell him a secret. As he leaned in close, she said, "I told them I wasn't a strict Catholic---I was a sexy Protestant! "

Family and friends will be telling "Erma stories" for decades to come.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Great Lady Is Gone

I am going to paste in a post I wrote in over two years ago:

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A Great Mother
During my lifetime, I have been blessed to know many great mothers, but today I want to pay tribute to one, Erma Allen, my aunt by marriage but my mother by nurturing. She says that she was delighted to discover there were many children in his family when she married my uncle. She came from a family where there weren't many offspring. She immediately opened her home and heart to all of us, my siblings and cousins. Her quiet and gentle guidance was always there, along with her steadfast love, no matter how large a load she carried. What a lady and what a mother! I love you, Aunt Erma.
Posted by Lillian at
8:14 AM 0 comments

Sadly, Aunt Erma passed away last night. Her great wit remained with her right up to the end. Two or three years ago, I went over to sit with my uncle so that Aunt Erma could go out with her dying sister. As I went up the steps leading to the kitchen, I fell flat on my face and acquired a spectacular black eye.

My sister was visiting her in the hospital a couple of days ago and told her that I wanted to be there but I couldn't walk that far in the hospital. She told Aunt Erma that she would pick me up Saturday and take her to her house (she was supposed to go home today). Aunt Erma said, "You tell Lillian she can fall into my kitchen anytime!"

I'm trying to remember those types of things about Aunt Erma. Otherwise, the grief will be overwhelming.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Yesterday's Sunset

Here's a shot of last night's sunset. I concentrated on getting the sun itself rather than the surrounding sky. My camera is a Sony DSC-H1 with a 12x optical zoom lense and it produces great photos.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Old Friends: Old Wine

Last night we had dinner with four of the people dearest in the world to us. Our friendship spans back several decades and even though we may not see each other for several months or several years, it survives. In fact, it seems like some wines; the older it gets, the better it is. We're so lucky.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Alec Baldwin: My Thoughts

I watched the Alec Baldwin interview on The View yesterday. I saw little regret and remorse but much rage and ego. Baldwin used that forum (and shame on Barbara Walters for letting it happen) to release another attack on his ex-wife, Kim Bassinger.

I know nothing about Bassinger. She may very well be a bad person and poor mother. I don't know. But I do know that Baldwin has lashed out in the past and directed rabid tirades at other people and in other situations. Unfortunately, his latest loss of control was directed at his own daughter.

He and Bassinger have made their daughter the bone of contention between them. Regretfully, the bone of contention in this case is a wishbone and they are both pulling it as hard as they can. Eventually, the bone will break and one of them will have the bigger piece. That really doesn't matter. The point is the bone is broken. That poor child.

On the program, Baldwin portrayed himself as a noble man capable of directing the rest of us in dealing with parental alienation. Step back, Baldwin, and look in the mirror! There you see the root cause of parental alienation. You'd better fix yourself before you try educating the rest of us.
P.S. Whadda I know?----I don't even know if his name is Alec or Alex.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Mary Celeste Type Mystery

Remember the tale of the Mary Celeste back in 1872, when a "ghost" ship was found off the coast of Spain. Everything seemed normal except the lack of any humans on board. Rueters has reported finding a catamaran a similar occurance off the coast of Australia. The sails were up, the engine running, food on the table, a laptop was on but the three missing sailors were gone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's Not Polite to Stare---At the Chimps!?

AP reports that the Antwerp Zoo is asking that visitors try to avoid making eye contact with the chimps who reside there. They explain that one chimp was raised by a human family and they are now trying to have him bond with his own kind. Sounds reasonable to me....I think.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Mixed Feelings

We share the disbelief and sorrow caused by yesterday's events in Blacksburg. At the same time, we are feeling relief and gratitude to learn that one of our friends, a professor of chemistry, is safe. His wife was one of my college roommates and matron of honor in our wedding. His e-mail this morning indicates his empathy for the parents.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Global Warning Exception

Here's a note from the National Weather Service local storm warning bulletin:


I just read this as I looked out the window to nearly bare ground and sort of gloated about the bad weather missing us. Uhm......I suppose I could be wrong.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

I hope everyone's Easter was as joyful as ours. We spent it with my sister Nancy's family in Pennsylvania. I love Pennsylvania's colorful place names. For example, Nancy lives is a town called Shinglehouse and on a road called Horse Run.

The star of the day was Ava, my great-niece and Nancy's granddaughter. She held her own in a crowd of adults.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Construction Day Three

Here we are on day three. It's not quite done. The screens have to be put in, railings added on the exterior and more hardware installed. It's great and closed in just in time for more low temperatures and possibly snow. The installers have added some of their tools to the mix on the porch so the cats have been very nervous about going out. They'll love it tomorrow when it's all done.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Construction Day Two

Here's the update after the second day of work. One wall is completed and work has begun on the other two. The door going to the ramp has been framed's wider than the one we had which will make it better for scooters, etc. Hopefully, the job will be completed tomorrow.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Under Construction

This is today's view of our front porch, soon to be a sunroom. It has been stripped down to the floor, roof supports and roof. The workers will return on Monday and add doors, windows and knee walls. The pile you see in the center is the stack of furniture moved out of the way for constuction. The cats are very upset because they have always claimed the porch as theirs and without barriers to prevent them from wandering off, we are keeping them in the house.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It Is Done

Our library is gone (or nearly gone). I just finished taking the last load of about 1100 books to the Salvation Army. This doesn't mean we'll stop reading. It just means we will stop accumulating books.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No Points for Deal Making

Yesterday I decided I couldn't swim in books any longer. We had a wall of floor to ceiling bookcases. All full. Even had a smaller bookcase in front of the bookcases. My computer desk was filled with books, the floor was stacked with books, one bathtub was filled with books, my husband's dresser was filled with books. In the living room,---well, you get the picture.

Anyway, I decided to start with the paperbacks. Because I need one hand free to support myself when walking, I packed the books in plastic bags. I packed and carried eighteen bags of books to the car---no small deal for me. My original intention was to take the books to our local Salvation Army. Some place along the way, my northern European roots came to the forefront and I wondered why I should just give the books away. With a quick phone call, I confirmed that a used bookstore in a town about 25 miles away would be glad to look at my books (meaning all eighteen bags would have to be carried into the store).

So with husband and books tucked in the car, we drove off to Wellsville. When we parked in front of the store, I noted with dismay the two-foot high mound of snow between the car and the sidewalk. Bravely, I attacked the snow only to discover I couldn't get through it without falling. So back to the car to get my cane. At this point, the shop owner came flying out of the store and announced that I shouldn't be doing anything and that she would unpack the books. We finally compromised. I stood on one side of the snow wall and she got the books out of the trunk and handed them across the barrier to me.

Then all eighteen bags were carried into the store and stacked by the owner's desk. One bag at a time, one book at a time, she selected the books she would buy. I carried the rejected books outside, waiting to go through the same dance to put them back in the car.

The owner selected 118 books and paid me------------eleven dollars and eighty cents. That's ten cents a book! When I told my husband, he dryly pointed out that would cover the cost of the gas. We went to McDonald's for lunch and that cost four dollars and change so lunch was covered too but the rest of my killing was too little for a bank deposit.

We drove back to Hornell and went straight to Salvation Army. I backed up to the Donations door and went inside to tell them that I had 100-200 books to be donated. A guy came out with a cart, loaded the rest of the books, thanked us and pushed the cart inside.

We went home where I decided to take the rest of books straight to the Salvation Army. By then it was pretty obvious that I had made no points for deal making.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ryder's Bed

On my other blog (, I just posted the same picture and the story of Ryder using this basket for his bed. He used it for years until I decided the sheepskin was too dirty and replaced it with a new piece. He never got in the basket after that. Now he sleeps on the floor or in a people's chair. And I feel guilty....

Forecast of Spring

Sounds like Panxsutawny Phil isn't any happier with his forecast that we are. And I'm always happy to comment on members of the current administration, even if I have to use a mouth piece.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Flower Power

I'm a so-so gardener, convinced that nature doesn't need a lot of help from me. I'm offering this photo as proof.
I have very small, easy upkeep flower beds that give us a lot of pleasure.
I'm looking for this year's blooms.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Reset Your Clocks

I hope everyone remembered to reset their clocks last night.
Speaking of clocks, the photo on the left is a picture I took of the display on a building across the street from our hotel in Paris a few years back.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Robin Sighting

I saw my first robins today. The photo is misleading because the robins were in a small grassy area surrounded by fields of snow left by the Valentine's Day storm.

We also saw flocks of wild turkeys and some deer. After all the snow, seeing anything else is exciting.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Good Winter Read

I read Beverly Lewis' series THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY that chronicles the young adulthood of a girl who grew up in an Amish family. While some might consider this a religious book, I found it to be good fiction---a strong plot, well-developed characters and a style of writing that kept me turning the pages. I look forward to reading more of her books.

Let's Pretend

Remember when you were a kid playing with a sibling or friend? You wanted to play a new game and would say so. "Let's pretend to play school." "Let's pretend that we're in the jungle.""Let's pretend that I'm a giant." And so on. Most kids are very aware of what's real and what's fantasy.

Flash forward to adults. Which adult says "Let's pretend that this credit card is really cash."?Or "Let's pretend I'm sick so I can stay home from work." "Let's pretend I stopped at that stop sign." Notice how the labels are removed and the line between reality and fantasy disappears.

Move onward to the federal government. When they shout "Support our troops!" do they add "Let's pretend Walter Reed and V.A. hospitals take care of those who were harmed in the line of duty"? Guess not.

Once again it is Kids 1 Adults 0.