Friday, December 26, 2014

How About That Grumpy Cat ?

     One of the most darling Christmas television movies I've ever seen has to be Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. It premiered back at the beginning of this month on the Lifetime Channel and was shown quite a few times. I don't know about you but I've about had my fill of animated shows for Christmas no matter whether the message is humanist, animist, cubist, Buddhist, nonesuch or just plain old commercial. Charlie Brown keeps buying that same Christmas tree, the Grinch keeps trying to steal Christmas and gets thwarted and every year it's always Rudolph that comes through with his nose oh-so-bright.

     It was time for something new and something real. Grumpy Cat can talk so that gets the Christmas miracle out of the way but beyond the obvious this first movie is a cute romp for Grumpy and her new owner, Crystal (humanity's last hope on a dying planet according to Grumpy). Apparently, Grumpy doesn't have any church affiliation but she sure has a lot of opinions and they're about as honest as any cat can be given the circumstances which keep changing in this adventurous romp. Grumpy's talk is mostly along the lines of what Garfield would say but the viewpoint is definitely feminist. Are you surprised? Cute brunette Aubrey Plaza gets to be the voice of Grumpy and the feminine sound along with dry humor is absolutely refreshing.
     The plot ( and we're given various possible plot twists, one being incredibly short and sweet with Grumpy narrating the versions!) unravels rather slowly but once it gains momentum you really start to enjoy the cat quips from Grumpy which run throughout the two hour long show centering around a pet store in rent arrears and an animal cast of characters. The dastardly robbers aren't nefarious-looking which hooks the teenage viewing factor. If you watch every bit of this show you could wind up being young again. Ahem!

     Definitely check it out if it's still running on the Lifetime channel- kick back, drink some egg nog and try to bone up on all the new merchandise surrounding the Grumpy phenomenon. She's definitely irresistible and there may even be an Easter Grumpy special. Can you stand the wait ? I didn't think so. If you can take extreme cuteness, it's worth taking two hours to lounge around stretching, eating and enjoying being happy and not grumpy. Just don't fall asleep or you might miss something. Raowr !
 I wonder if Friskies would let me have Grumpy's BMW X5 since
it's been determined that she has not been properly licensed to own it ?
I can deal with the cat hair-
have dirt devil will travel, I always say !

Friday, December 19, 2014


I believe you are your work.
Don't trade the stuff of your life and time for nothing more than dollars.
That's a rotten bargain.
- Rita Mae Brown
     Thinking back to days when I could take income for granted, I marvel at how well I did in personal commerce without becoming overly ambitious or greedy. Enjoyment of what I was doing was every bit as important to me as the revenue. As a strong consumer I don't look back on any regrets in spending money, either. I'm more thrifty now than I've ever been but the amount of books, music, recordings and collections I own speaks of what I've treasured most through the years. It's money well spent in my estimation, particularly considering the content of those books. My non-fiction outnumbers the fiction three to one! Learning and teaching is a way of life for me even in the professional realm of nail technology. My mission was to educate consumers in my profession- not to keep aspects of my trade a secret as if that was my only stock in trade. To me, an educated client is happier by being well-informed and unlikely to fall for the pitches of unlicensed, uneducated upstarts. 
     Meanwhile, everyone is caught up in the money, money, money game no matter what they do or where they work. I once heard someone say that money is a great servant but a bad taskmaster yet it is the favorite subject for most of the world. I'd like to make it less important or even irrelevant, perhaps. The richness of life is in the quality of it, not the quantity of money to be made or even the specific content of our days. Peace of mind trumps a piece of silver. A good conversation beats a gambling table by miles. A sunset cannot be purchased but one must take the time to savor the changing landscape of its beauty to understand its value. Enjoying life is a core value for me and it is the priceless aspects of life  which I center on most of the time.
     Call me a romantic or a dreamer but my opinion is that this is the way life ought to be. When we focus on such things as acquisition, competitiveness or how much money we have in the bank we impoverish all the areas of our life that make it worth living. You'll never see me off to the races trying to get ahead of everybody else. If I ever did that I certainly don't now and it's best behind me. That's the way it should be for everyone. Most of the world suffers from the greedy mentality to one degree or another, however. It manifests itself in a myriad of ailments- passing or serious- which the drug ads on T.V. expound on with a repetitiveness that will jangle your nerves before an hour has passed. If you actually take any of that crud you can bet that you might find yet another side effect that they didn't mention. It's called futility.
     The best of life resides in our priorities and true desires. When the day is done what do you do ? A lot of single people will head to the pubs, bars or hangouts but if they were honest with themselves they probably just want someone to come home to and relax. Married people get comfortable at home or they get ambitious and the priorities they pursue outside the home either unite the couple or drive them apart. The modern mentality is nearly always in the future. I've personally spent a lot of time constructing a life that most people envy. I have achieved many of the goals I've set for myself and I continue to do so. To be honest, however, no one can do it all. Most recently I've wondered when it was that I stopped trying to do all the things in a day that would normally require ten people to accomplish. This year I pushed myself way past my limits and paid for it, believe me ! I've learned to really focus on being one person and it keeps me humble and happy. I'm one woman doing her best and that's enough for me.
     I have written in the past about becoming a millionaire but that is not one of my priorities- just one of my ideas of embracing possibilities. They are endless you know. Prioritizing requires discipline, however, and being realistic. Also, it's easier than you might think if you are true to yourself. Doesn't everybody know the difference between their needs and their desires? If they don't then prioritizing in their life will be a challenge and they are most often one of the victims of the money, money, money mentality that is epidemic in our country. Money won't bring back your health. It won't mend a marriage or stop divorce. Although many people think otherwise, money won't give you peace of mind. You'll never hear George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Andrew Jackson saying "I love you" from your wallet ! 
     Living the life you want will be more attainable if you stop looking over the fence at what is going on (or what is sitting) in your neighbor's yard and simply focus on what you really want out of life. My goals always center around prioritizing and simplifying. It's best to set goals that are attainable and then if you decide you want to challenge yourself and go a bit higher you'll have the confidence to continue up another level. Small successes always lead to bigger and better things even if it's only coming home to a suitable atmosphere or spending time with the people you love the most. Priorities center on you and no one else. Take stock and then plan- you'll get there.
     By the way, if you don't hear from me again before- have a wonderful Christmas, okay ?  


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Three Months in a Time Warp

     I really cannot tell you how three months zinged past me while I was trying to finish Sudeley Castle's entry. It's almost like I woke up two weeks ago and remembered that I've been nearly done with Sudeley for more than three months. Did I get caught in a time warp? I cannot really say. All I can convey at this point is that it's good to be back in the chair with the P.C. in front of me and surrounded by my books in what is now my office and not my bedroom. I'm not done with all my changes and moving yet but all the pertinent books needed for my castle projects are close at hand and there'll be no more running all the way down to my nearly empty underground studio ( bka the catacombs) to look up something in a book. I suppose it would all be worth it if I was actually finished with this constant state of flux called 2014. By the way, 2015 will probably bring more surprises than I can handle but at least it won't be boring. (Not that my life ever is but it sounded like the right word to lay down.) 
     To explain this big time gap, I can tell you exactly what I've been doing but I can't explain why it amounts to so much time loss. There are so many things to do in a day it almost seems impossible to get to time for writing. I know that's usually just an excuse but I'm not one for sitting around and making excuses for the reason why something didn't get done or executed in a timely fashion. I have one piece of advice before I really get into this: Don't ever hire or recruit a volunteer who is known to procrastinate as a regular profession. Mr. Tom Orrow never knows what day or time it is or how he ended up in the current predicament he believes he's stumbled in on. He's full of stories but not an ounce of energy and he'll waste your time like no other. You save time when you do it yourself unless you happen to be me. I get caught up in details.
     If you've been tapping your toes and drumming your fingers wondering when my next installment on Gloucestershire is going to arrive online you have been sated for now. I'm always working on the castles but my time per day on the work has been greatly reduced due to the 1,001 things I have to do in a day just to keep life and limb going in a healthy manner. Did I say details?    
     Most of this year I have been planning and organizing a Garage/Moving/Estate Sale and on nearly every weekend in September I finally ran it. I did make some money on the sale but all the key beauty salon items remain which is a shame because those are the true bargain items. It did occur to me that I needed to alert the beauty shop stylists and/or beauty school students but somehow I didn't reach my target demographic for the bulk of the items for sale. I'm going to have to get strategic with this particular liquidation and I have a few ideas which I hope won't encroach on all my other duties on a daily or imperative basis. Determination didn't win this round so I'm going to have to work smarter on this particular problem. Know anyone that is planning to start a hair salon ? I've got a great deal for them !
     All through the month of October and clear into November I have been dealing with the grape harvest in my backyard which produced about 300 lbs of grapes this year and I picked nearly all of it by myself. Where is a migrant farm worker when you need one ? I have two gallons of grape juice in my refrigerator. Before I started reaping, the insidious invasion of inexplicable trees, little to medium, all over my property took my full attention and in October, on the 4th I managed to find someone to take most of the medium-size trees out. It was a relief to have that done. Now it looks like someone owns the property once again. All summer long and into Indian Summer and autumn I had yard work problems. Grass knee high to a giant, trees growing everywhere I wouldn't want them, beautiful rose bushes that were starting to look like wild roses and an unprecedented problem involving the butchering of my Russian Olive tree in my front yard...sigh. The list is endless and I don't think I ever want to carry another tree limb anywhere.  
     I saved the grapes too, Ma ! I gave a lot of grapes away to friends in my neighborhood but I suppose I really should start finding some winemakers and make money off these bumper crop harvests. I do sell some but not nearly as much as I could to say nothing of the fact that I could use the money! I lost about 100 lbs of grapes due to overripe fallout, insect and bee robberies (!) and underripe grapes because of paltry irrigation even though we had quite a few rainstorms this past summer. If I had gotten all the grapes and sold them I would have made about $400 to $500!
     All year long, all the way back from March, I have been dealing with moving a great deal of my possessions into other areas of my house. I turned what used to be my bedroom into a library/office/media room. My living room is now more like an entertainment/ rumpus room. I moved my entire bedroom into the room across the hall and my former studio that once housed all my worldly possessions will be turned into a spare bedroom shortly. The beauty salon is very, very slowly being turned into a nail salon. Except for moving heavy furniture I have been doing this all by myself. The reorganization alone is a really tough job. You must understand that I own about 10,000 books which I tried to weed out and it may be around 9,500 now. Don't laugh. I have tried to move them from a 12 X 12 foot space into a room that is more like 10 X 10. The entire project would have been better put into the hands of an interior decorator but I'm pleased with the results thus far.
     I'm sure other things suffered besides my writing this year. Mostly it was me. You have to understand that suffering doesn't come easy for me. I'm basically a happy person and I do well with what I have. I'm grateful for many things but mostly I'm just grateful to be alive and have something to work with and I'm content when I have done my best without complaining. To be completely honest, however, I hit my lowest exhaustion level since the beginning of the second half of this year and I'm only recently starting to feel like my normal self. Without entirely knowing what 2015 will bring I'll try to bring you the  rest of England's castles in a more timely fashion- as is possible. If it's any consolation, I'm always working at it- no matter the pace or stride and I'll always love writing about and finding new castles whether they be intact or just a motte covered with trees. Bulldozer anyone ?
This slope will do nicely,