Sunday, July 31

the blogger returneth......

So I did! Just got back from L.I. Long, boring trip. But the baby shower was pretty nice; I'm glad I went, for the sake of my as-yet-unborn niece. *insert smile here* And we had a nice visit with some old friends, and I got to go to the BEACH!!!! 

Anyway, I just wanted to inform my readers of the aforementioned fact, and of an interesting idea, at least for the eccentric amongst us. Notice that I mean a REAL eccentric, who chooses not to follow the herd, not a pseudo-eccentric who follows the eccentric herd. It seems being weird/eccentric/odd/nerdy/geeky/you-get-the-idea is the *cool* thing now.
 On Facebook you regularly see things like "Im insane and proud of it!". (Note the incorrect spelling) You shouldn't be proud of being insane....and if they really were insane, why would they be on FB? Oh. That brought up another train of thought....

Rather than being proud of being eccentric, I suppose we should strive to be "normal" in God's eyes: doing what is right and living the way we believe instead of taking the easy route and following the herd, like sheep. Except for sheep, following the herd is life or death. For us, it is also life or death; but the other way round!

Alright, time for a quote break!!!!!!! [An excess of exclamation points: sure sign of an enthusiastic young female humanoid!!!!!!!!!!!] 

"Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."

~ W. S. Gilbert
"But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head."
                        ~ Psalms 3:3

[Side note: I have an incurable tendency to spell Psalms "Pslams!" Very annoying word to spell!]

"If you were me, then I'd be you. And if I were you, then I'd hide somewhere far, far, away."
                       ~Artemis Fowl 

[Yet another Side note: only one of the above quotes is meant to be taken seriously!]

What?!?! No photos?!?!? 

The above is Fire Island, NY. I've been there myriad times. I do like lighthouses!
I've also been to this one:

My gracious, that was very random.
So, auf weidersehn, my dear readers, I must depart. 

~ Diana

Thursday, July 28

toodle-oo for now...

I will be away for the weekend, returning on Sunday, so please don't expect me to post before then. 
Going to attend a baby shower for my as-yet-unborn niece, due in September. Very excited--who wouldn't be?:celebrateI have never been an aunt before! My sister-in-law doesn't want any pink, so it took some ingenuity to make some baby items for her. I used an absolutely gorgeous brown, lavender, red and white. 

We like babies here. And children. They can be *extremely* annoying but also keep life from becoming do teenagers. I know that from first-person experience. LOL.

Just, as is my wont when inspiration fails me, I will post a lovely painting and a not-so-lovely painting.

"Shepherdess with her Flock" by Jean-Francois Millet. 1863.
(I'm assuming "millay" rather than "millett" as it is French, but feel free to pronounce as you see fit!)

A lovely realistic painting of a French peasant girl. The girl is quite young, and the heathered tones of the painting are beautiful. And as a shepherdess myself, I can appreciate its realism. 
*Click on photo/s to make them larger*
Side note: When my mom was this painting she said "Oh look! She's knitting!" If you look closely you can see that the young shepherdess is indeed knitting: a sock in the round, on four needles. This made my mother, an inveterate sock knitter, overjoyed. 

Now contrast it to this truly horrifying painting by Jean-Honore Fragonard. Notice the dreamy looking sheep, whose face resembles a child, and who possesses a fleece of impossible whiteness. A real sheep would never consent to be away from the rest of the flock (in the right-hand bottom corner). It would be baa-ing it's silly head off, rather than dreamily admiring the basket of flowers. (Unless it was sedated?)
 And the shepherdess, with her plump white hands, goofy silk dress, and snowy bosom, looks like she never did a lick of work in her whole life. Seriously. I hate that shepherding was so romanticized  by those out-of-it romantics  This type of painting was extremely popular at one time (early 1800s) , and was enjoyed probably by the same ilk as Marie Antoinette, who was playing on a be-ribboned hobby farm while the real peasants were starving. 
Real shepherds are like the top painting. Shepherding, or indeed any type of farming, isn't for the faint of heart. It is a dirty, complicated job which requires are patient constitution and a love for the animals, in this case sheep. It is not the kind of job where you can sit whispering words of love to your male companion while wearing an extremely tight dress and while petting a (sedated?) sheep.....
Rant finis.

What paintings do you like? LMK in a comment! Also LMK how you liked the new format. I like it. 

Anyway.....that is it for now!

Auf weidersehn, das Leser.

~ Diana, another sock-knitting shepherdess

Tuesday, July 26

punctuation lesson: apostrophe + sermon!!!

*Sometimes I wonder.....why do I even bother with this?  It seems like everyone (well, almost everyone!) doesn't care about spelling, and is vapid, silly, worried over things which don't matter,and foolish. Why bother?
Two points to make. (It helps me organize my thoughts to put them in points)
[Yeah, yeah. I know. Super-corny....a spear, point no. 1. Hey, we're into corny here!]

Point number 1. Not everyone is foolish/vapid/swept along by the demoralizing influences of our time. Notice I'm not saying every modern influence is demoralizing....we have so much wonderful technology, live healthier lives, still have freedom in this country at least, and maybe not *gasp, gurgle* of the *gasp* popular *gurgle* music is awful. Wow, that was hard for me to say. I can't stand most popular music.

Yet, in spite of all the bad influences, and evil that goes on, there are still good people. Kind, helpful people. Smart people who aren't borne away in the herd. People who stand up for what is right, good, and pure. People who through moral struggles still do the right thing no matter what the cost. Are you one of those people? I'm trying to be.

Point number 2. Even if people do do wrong, evil, and are vapid and silly, as a culture, have we really any right to abandon them because we are so much *better* than they? [Pride rears it's ugly head...dun dun dun....]
How much *better* are we, really? Even if we don't do evil on the outside, we think it inside. We're all sinners. Even if you aren't a Christian, you have to admit it's the truth. 

God didn't abandon us, even though our hearts were black with sin. Hey, this is starting to sounds like like a sermon......Anyway, I hope you can take something from my lecture. And I didn't start this blog to chat vapidly about myself....I want to discuss serious topics as well, providing they're PG rated. 


Have a seat, please, ladies, and any stray gentlemen who may be lurking around. Side note: I don't want this to be a purely feminine-targeted blog, but one that any intelligent person, M or F, can read, enjoy, and will make them think. Hopefully. 

Today's lesson will be on the most fascinating subject of...Apostrophes. 
This is a apostrophe: ' . Strange how such a little mark can be the cause of so much heartbreak. Okay, maybe it is only heartbreak to me, since I hate to see the innocent little apostrophe abused. How sad.

Correct uses of apostrophes:
Example A.  "Kerry's bananas were the bane of Maud's existence."
                 "No, those aren't Artemis's arrows; they are Apollo's spears."
                 "Bill's cats are fat."
                 "The 1990s' were a great decade."

Incorrect use of apostrophes:
                "Kerry's banana's were the bane of Mauds' existence."
                "How many chocolate's do you want?"
                "Bills' cat's are fat."
                "I love the 1960's!"

Why are they incorrect? Because apostrophes are meant to show possession. Thus, Kerry's bananas. (We're assuming she owns the bananas and didn't shoplift them) Not banana's Kerry. And Maud's existence. 
So, I am assuming you are have absorbed that information.....on to a particular peeve of mine. YOUR. 
If the it is YOURS, it should be YOUR. If it is referring to someone else, i.e. "You're invited to a vandalism party!" it should be YOU'RE. Why? I don't pretend to know; refer to here for a more in-depth explanation of the finicky rules of grammar.

Lesson dismissed.  BTW, if you find a mistake, spelling error, or something similar on this 'ere blog, please let me know in a comment. 

Here is a Monet painting: click on it to make it larger, please.

I do like sailboats, and I'm also a fan of Impressionist paintings.

Auf Weidersehn, das Leser.

~ Diana

Monday, July 25

grammar lesson: commas

For once here is a nice, ladylike, flowery heading for this post. Speaking of ladylike-ness, I would like to say that my five oldest hens (Mary Lou, a Barred Rock, at left) aren't very ladylike. Oh, sure, I can hear them protesting loudly, but the way they steal food from the little ones and bother/annoy/steal from the roosters is definitely not very ladylike. My hens are more the loud, obnoxious, feminist, lazy, and bossy female type rather than the sweet, unassuming,  gentle, smart and ladylike female type.
Ah, chicken personalities. I love them! I have sweet docile little pullets, fire-brand little hens, a gentlemanly-chivalrous (yet not exactly the brightest bulb!) Silkie rooster, a gangly cockerel, a dumb yet lovable blonde Polish hen, a paranoid Leghorn hen, and a slew of other personalities in my coop.

I have been brainstorming, trying to think of a topic to post about, but have come up blank.....

I believe I will post a short lesson in punctuation, namely, the correct use of the comma, for the benefit of all.

Commas are used to separate thoughts or ideas. 
Example A:
"Because I am going away, you need not bother delivering the milk."

If the sentence can be divided into two sentences, such as this:

"I really need to blow my nose, it's dripping all over the floor!"

Chances are you shouldn't put a comma there, it would be wrong. As demonstrated by my last sentence! This is an unfortunately extremely common mistake I have noticed often in different books and periodicals. It irked me to see the much-loved little comma abused in this way.

 You can either a) place a semi-colon [;] there, or divide it into two sentences.
Example B:

"I really need to blow my nose; it's dripping all over the floor!"
Example C:
"I really need to blow my nose. It's dripping all over the floor!"
 (You can tell I made up the examples!)

Example  D: 
"Andromeda decided to buy the orange blue purple green black yellow socks."

That is wrong. It looks wrong, doesn't it? That, my friends, is why we need commas!
Example E:
"Andromeda decided to buy the orange, blue, purple, green, black, and yellow socks." 

Too many commas:
"Andromeda decided to buy the orange, blue, purple, green, black, and yellow, socks."
That one extra comma can make a difference!

~ Finis. Enough punctuation for now. Next lesson will be on that infamous apostrophe, plurals, and why Bill's cats were fat. 

A handy chart from the New Yorker.

"How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath
To say to me that thou art out of breath? "  ~ Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, the only witty thing Juliet EVER says!

"O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, 
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! 
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times." ~ Julius Caesar 

Speaking of Caesars, I have two things to say. A) I love ancient Roman history. B) You should try making this Caesar salad; it is delicious, easy to make, and delicious.

"...Parting is such sweet sorrow!" 

~ Diana

Thursday, July 21

duck naming contest...weirdness...

If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work on brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust.
But if we work on immortal minds, if we impress on them high principles, the just fear of God, and love for their fellow-men, we engrave on those tablets something which no time can efface, and which will brighten and brighten to all Eternity.    
~Daniel Webster

.....And now, for the Official DUCK Update. *theme music starts*

....*theme music ends* 
And there you have it, folks. A display in irrational cuteness as illustrated by a a Muscovy duckling. 
Who STILL doesn't have a name!!! 

If you can think of a good name for this duckie, please LMK in a comment. I'd like a cute, sophisticated, not too sweet, and special name for the only duck in the flock. Preferably female, as I am 75% sure s/he is a ducklet. (Ducklet=young female. Drakelet=young male)

Andromeda? Ducky? Miss Covy? 
Person to suggest the name I pick will win.....something. Once I decide what that is. A prize!!!!
:ya :weee

I'm still reading AF. I've found I like the third, fifth, and sixth books best. 
It is much to hot to write deep thinking or relevant cogitations, so...

Auf Wiedersehen! :frow ~ D

Monday, July 18

shakespeare! whee!

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?"
                ~ Hamlet

Is it better to die and end all the misery or to live and "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"? 
Good question!
Now for a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan wittiness:

BUNTHORNE: "Did you ever yearn?"
                                   PATIENCE: "I yearn my living, sir."

Yeah. So, that is life.........I wish I knew how to surf, man! 

"Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, His wondrous works in the deep. For He commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea."
Psalm 107:23-25 

A quick pet peeve: Bible versions which don't capitalize the He and His. If it is pertaining to God it should be capitalized. Period. It just shows respect, even if you aren't a believer. I personally prefer the Thee and Thou, because it is more beautiful. However, I do think newer, more accessible versions of the Word do have their places, mainly for helping less-literate people understand it, and read it. Jesus didn't come to help the well-read people (only)--he came for the illiterate, the slobs, the poor, the destitute. 

Adios, my dear readers, for now! I trust all of you are having at least a reasonably tolerably fun summer 2011.....

~ Diana

Saturday, July 16


"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." 
~T. Jefferson
< Get it? A shoe=foothold

You may have guess by now that I'm quite fond of quoting at all/any occasions. 
And I'm well read enough that I can do that....if I remember the quote.

I am also fully aware that the title of this post is extremely unimaginative and 
lame. So be it. Inspiration failed me.

This afternoon I am attempting to make Lamingtons, a small cake dipped in chocolate and coconut, which I am told is an extremely popular baked good in Australia.  Sounded good to me! They should be good. No photos today, unfortunately. *fans throw rotten tomatoes at me*

Enough about the cooking. Personally, I prefer eating to cooking, even though the latter certainly is a good skill and can be exhilarating ! Mostly, it is the cleaning up part I object to.

"I accept refreshment at any hands, however lowly." ~ W.S. Gilbert

Adios! Now go off the computer and go outside!

Thursday, July 14

two thoughts.....

Thought number one:

"I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee."

~ Hymn by Annie S. Hawks 

Y'know, we really do need God. We literally cannot exist apart from him. As His creations, we can try to escape all we want, but when you pray to God and know in your heart and mind you belong to Him, it feels perfect. Because it is. We are His children. 

Thought number two:

~ If the youth and civilians of America don't care enough, as a whole, to preserve our culture, traditions, history and civilizations, who will?

Who will?  Who will reverse the moral decay in Western Civilization in general, and stand up for our beliefs, if we don't? It will disappear, just as Rome did, and the world will sink back into barbarism. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Okay!!! Enough seriousness for this very fine evening!!!!

I enjoyed the other Artemis Fowl book(s); I've read the third book so far. Much more interesting than the second, and an exasperating ending. 

And this week I'm taking a crew rowing camp is so much fun! I am terrible at it, improving but still at the exasperation-to-the-coxswain stage. Crew is basically the only truly amateur sport, meaning you usually don't get paid to do it anywhere. It is done because it is the funnest way to get exercise you can imagine! 
And it has a whole glossary of words unknown to those who aren't/weren't boat people.
Starboard, right, port, left, "way enough" means stop and many more......

What? No photos? Fie upon me, shame, shame. So here is a beautiful clownfish, nice and bright and summery.
And lastly an old photo of one of Artemis's Fowl, as edited by a BYC member (thanks!). Bottom picture is of two more of Artemis's fowl, Mary Lou and Ophelia, looking coy:

I love summer. 

Wednesday, July 13

music, life, and other ramblings....

Two very different songs:
1957- Julie Andrews sings "The Lass with the Delicate Air", an old English folksong I sang in June for my recital. Perfect diction, as always.

And you are going to hate me for this--Julian Smiths absolute WORST song ever! It is so irritating, not funny, and obnoxious, that I think you should have it stuck inside your head too! I'm an extremely compassionate blogger. ;-)

So, on to less jovial subjects...or not. Joviality does indeed have its place.

Last night the other females members of our household and me went to see H.M.S. Pinafore as performed, in a simplified concert form, by the Cornell Savoyards of Ithaca, NY. They did a fantastic job! We really enjoyed it. I was in the chorus of this operetta in 2009. Lots of fun!
I performed with the Summer Savoyards, which is an amateur group which performs a different G + S each July. They're doing Patience this year, if anyone wants to go see it. We're going!

Gilbert and Sullivan is amazing! W.A. Gilbert wrote the witty and gently satirical lyrics and dialogue in the 1880s. It goes perfectly with the sparklings music composed by Arthur Sullivan, who also composed a "real" opera and the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers. For a sampling of G + S just go onto Youtube. 

From Pinafore's dialogue:

"I am poor in the essence of happiness, lady --— rich only in never-ending unrest. In me there meet a combination of antithetical elements which are at eternal war with one another. Driven hither by objective influences — thither by subjective emotions — wafted one moment into blazing day, by mocking hope — plunged the next into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair, I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms. I hope I make myself clear, lady?"

I love that line: "I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms." i can even pronounce it!  Ah, the joys of using and learning really long words, even if half the time no one can make out what you're saying....

Finally, as a suitable ending to a completely raggletaggle assortment of blatherings, a photo of a toucan. NOT MY PHOTO.

Friday, July 8

lambs & poems!

The lambs say hi!  The goat, of course, being Nubian, prefers to stick his nose in the other direction. 

After, much deliberation, fumbling, and devoted thinking on the subject, I've decided to post a poem, then my thoughts on some books. 

"DEATH, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.

From Rest and Sleep, which but thy picture be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go--
Rest of their bones and souls' delivery!

Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swell'st thou then?
   One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
   And Death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die!"
                          ~ Death by John Donne

I found this in my poetry book and found it rather beautiful, obviously written by man who had done some serious thinking upon the subject. This author, John Done, (15th century) was known for his love poems but also wrote some inspirational and moving religious poetry later in life. I know you are probably asking "Why so serious, Diana?" as you despairingly read comedic literature, but hey, life IS serious! "Life is real, life is earnest.." (Longfellow) Okay, I will stop now....

Finally, my $0.02 on some books I got from the library today.
I read Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident  by Eoin Colfer (awesome sounding first name by the way!) first, and frankly, I was disappointed. From reading the previews on my Kindle I'd expected it to be a lot more interesting, or as we say here, interestinger. The book was all action, nothing else, and I couldn't keep track of what was going on three-quarters of the time! It was life one of the those movies where they keep going back and forth between characters in different places. Confusing! I did think Artemis Fowl was an interesting character but you never even got to know him in this book. I guess I will try the other books in the series, but hopefully they will make more sense.
See this for a synopsis of the series (thank you, Wikipedia!).
Artemis Fowl: I wish I'd thunk up that name first!  I'm waaaaayyyy cooler than am Irish twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Yes, I am! I'm also not quite as conceited and stuck up as those last three sentences may have led you to believe.

Book 2: I interlibrary loaned The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse after reading several other Jeeves stories. What can I say......all of the Jeeves stories are hilarious. English humor at its best. I suggest you give it a try!

Oh, and I'm starting Life of Fred math next week. I read part of the textbook, and it looked pretty funny. Is it even humanly possible to make algebra fun? We shall see!

Fred, the brilliant 5-year-old professor at KITTENS university.

Goodnight for now!

Starry Night by Van Gogh

Tuesday, July 5


Happy Fourth of July, everyone-who-is-reading-this-page!
God Bless America!
And enthusiastic if insufficient gratitude to all of our troops and veterans who put their lives on the line that our way of living could be preserved. Thank you.
Not that our way of life is perfect, but it is much better than most/many countries on this earth today. It is our duty to preserve this culture, our heritage, and keep it from crumbling. Please pray for our country, that we can fulfill this duty. 

A RANT- You have been forewarned.....
Another thing: why is it that city/suburban dwellers tend to look down on farm animals and farmings in general? Not all of them (I'd prefer not to stereotype them all, as I am a former suburban dweller myself!); this is slowly changing due to the local food movement and such. (BTW: while eating locally produced food is good,  better, and delicious, I'd like to inform my readers that commerce and imported foods are not a bad thing. Walmart, Oreos, and supermarket vegetables do have their place too. Also, without industrialized farming we wouldn't be able to feed all the people we can feed!) 

Farming is important. To quote a bumper sticker popular amongst organic farmers, environmentalists, and suchlike:
 And, as the illustrious T. Jefferson wrote:
Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands. 

 In other words, farming connects you to this beautiful earth. A farmer's job is to steward the earth's resources, converting poorer land into grass into beef, lamb or chicken; growing vegetables and the very important cereals such as oats, wheat, and corn.
But not to romanticize it: farming is hard, sometimes heartbreaking, dangerous and dirty work. The advent of modern machinery has lifted much of the hand labor off the farmer's back, but running the dangerous  machinery can still  result in accidents. The reality, and if you raise any kind of animal you'll soon see this, is that things die. The weather fails the crops dependent on it. Many things can happen.  
...But my point is that farmers deserve more respect. Their job is hard, but someone has to do it. We all have to eat. Meat doesn't grow on Styrofoam trays.
....And my second point is that so do the animals they take care of! (deserve respect) We all love our dogs, cats, and assorted pets. They provide companionship and love, a beautiful gift from God in the form of pets. But do our dogs or cats actually produce anything real? 
Hey, those cattle died to make that cheeseburger. The milk cows produce many gallons of milk every day which goes into ice cream, cheese, or yogurt. (or whatever!)
And so do the smaller animals. Chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, ducks and many others are killed every day that you can eat. They may not be fun, may not be the smartest knives in the drawer, or even attractive, but these animals and their husbandry is one thing the world depends on for daily protein intake. It's a symbiotic relationship: we take care of the animals, and they provide us meat, milk, eggs, fur, or whatnot which we need.
So, next time you see a cow, say "Hi. Thanks, buddy!"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Rant finis.
*whew* Writing is hard work. I think I'll eat some lunch now. 

DISCLAIMER: I'd also like to say that worse problems than prejudices against farmers are threatening our country...lest I sound like an environmentalist! 

Saturday, July 2

addition to the farm.....

It's a DUCK!  This little duckling was abandoned by his mother after a fox ravaged his or her siblings. He is one week old, and doesn't have a name yet.

 This duckling is a Muscovy duck, which means he/her will hiss rather than quack, and be able to fly quite well if I don't take precautionary measures in the form of wing trimming. Muscovies are also a distinct species separate from the other duck breeds which are descended from Mallard ducks. These ducks were domesticated from the wild Muscovy, an elusive tree-nesting duck from South/Central America's jungles. 

 This photo is rated PG-13 for extreme cuteness overload. Just kidding!
Muscovies, or as they are affectionately known as, 'Scovies, like most ducks possess webbed feet. But their claws are bigger and their legs stronger than Mallard-derived breeds because of their tree-nesting tendencies. This also means they can scratch you, so care should be taken when handling these fascinating ducks.

I'll write more tomorrow. I didn't feel like writing something particularly witty, deep, or philosophical so I decided to inform my readers about the DUCK!