Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nashville, Day Three, Part Two

Back to Music City we go!

After my trip through the Ryman and on the Studio B Tour, I found myself back at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I was ready to meander through it. It carries a couple of special exhibits as well as its general ones. Specials included costumes and things from Carrie Underwood's Blown Away Tour as well as The Bakersfield Sound. The Hall of Fame and Museum is also constructing an addition which will include a Reba McEntire presentation.

That round part on the left is the actual Hall of Fame part.

Walking through was like a trip down memory lane, and I was re-introduced to artists I hadn't thought of or heard in years. The whole time I kept thinking how much my dad and my younger daughter would have enjoyed the whole thing.

The best part, of course, was the actual Hall of Fame the rotunda on the front left of the building. Round because no one is better or worse than any other. Three music staffs (the set of five lines on which notes are arranged) line the walls and the plaques are hung randomly. Most recent Hall of Famers includes Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare, and "Cowboy" Jack Clement.

After the museum, I crossed the street to the Music City Walk of Fame.

Go to my Shutterfly account for the pics of the stars...

And after that, I trudged back to the parking garage to go back to the hotel to get ready for my  anniversary dinner aboard the General Jackson Riverboat. I don't have too many pictures from the evening because it was my anniversary and I just wanted to enjoy the meal and the show and the view of downtown Nashville from the Cumberland River. The Heart of Tennessee, A Musical Journey was fantastic and I was familiar with just about every song they sang. It was fabulous. All pics are also on Shutterfly--use the link above.


And we're not through yet! But Saturday's trek is for another day. I hope I'm not boring you all too much. But it was such a neat trip, I can't help but share.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Other stuff...

My blog has been so full of Nashville, I haven't had a chance to talk about anything else. So let's see...

There's finally a new band director for Sonshine. It's late in the game, sadly. I don't know about other schools, but for us, band never really took a break it seemed like school was out, but within a few weeks, there section camps to attend once a week, then twice a week, until the few weeks before school started when everyone would come together and work as a full band. The guy is a former Marian, which I think is definitely going to help--if he uses that persona and doesn't take any guff from anyone. I haven't met him in person though he's called me on the phone. This year, however, I'm not going to be as charitable with my time. Sucks for him, but I have other fish to fry.

Like my new business. I finished a couple of projects and I'm waiting for a couple of proof jobs to come in. And I've been honing my skills at a few other tasks so I can expand my offerings. The goal is to make enough money so I can quit my day job. Right now I have to be careful not to ramp up too fast, because I do still have work to do at said day job. Especially at the beginning of the month (hello, August)--there's payroll, and invoices, and reminder packets, and reconciling all the bank statements. I also have to train the new guys to handle my biggest on-going project. We have one client that I provide the bulk of the support for. So until the newbies are up to speed, I can't leave. Everything else, I could do from home. Which is the first goal. Get out of the office and work from home.

I haven't talked about my weight loss effort for a while either. It's...coming along. Slowly. Very slowly, if at all, to be honest. I haven't really gained anything back, but nothing's coming off either. While in Nashville, I walked a lot. Everyday for three days. Hours and hours. I realize you can't really keep that up especially with a day job, but I figured since I'd started, I would keep going. The goal was to walk an hour a day in two 30-minute chunks. That's all well and good, but all that calorie burning makes me hungry and I haven't been doing a good job and monitoring calorie intake. Nor do I walk twice a day every day. Sometimes, yeah, but I'm still building strength and endurance. So I listen to my body and when it says it needs rest, I give it rest. So the next step is to get back to counting calories and find some exercise that burns more calories in the same amount of time and/or alternate walking with some other type of exercise.

 And on a final note, we're having an awesome summer. Read mild!! After the last who-knows-how-many HOT HOT HOT summers, this one's been fantastic. We've even had rain in July. Now that we're looking down the barrel at August, I'm sure it'll heat up, but hey it's August and it's supposed to heat up. But I guess we'll see how it goes.

So, dear friends--how are YOU??

Friday, July 26, 2013

Road Trip, Nashville, Day Three, Part One

So after tramping around downtown Nashville for five/six hours last Thursday and taking close to a hundred pictures, I needed to decide what was on the agenda for Friday.

As I mentioned Wednesday, my options included the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere and the Belle Meade Plantation right up the road from the hotel, among tons of other options. I mean, there were tons of Civil War markers all over the place and I'm a history buff too.

What I ultimately decided to do was go back downtown and tour the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. At first I hadn't planned to do either. But something just got in my head or my heart (I think it was my daddy.) and I realized that I couldn't visit Nashville for the very first time and *not* go see these places up close and personal. Even though I'd walked by them and taken pictures of the outsides just the day before. I had to go inside them. And I'm SOOOOO glad I did.

I credit my love of country music to both my parents. To my mom who just always had the radio on, exposing me to it. That's just what we listened to in the years when music becomes an important part of kid's life: junior high and high school. And to my dad who loved music so very much and exposed to me to real records and many different musical genres.

A few highlights of the Ryman:

Real wood. The whole place is made of wood. Some say its acoustics rival Carnegie Hall.

Yep, that's me on the stage!

The view from the Confederate Gallery.

After the Ryman, I headed over to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. But first--I took the Studio B Tour...

Oh my gosh! I'm so so so glad I did. Another wonderful treat. Our tour guide was rather cute, too!

Anyway, Music Row, contrary to my original belief is not in downtown. It's really a pair of residential side streets that look mostly like a regular neighborhood. Except, of course, for all the signs in the front yards.

Young Randy, the tour guide, shared a few anecdotes with the group that I'm going to share with you.

First: The hit song "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton is not your traditional love song. She wrote it for Porter Wagoner as a thank you for the opportunity he gave her to be on his show, which was the launching point of her career. Because she wanted to go out on her own, she was "fired" from his show. As a way to show no hard feelings, she wrote and performed this song for Porter.

Second: Don Gibson wrote his two biggest hits (Oh, Lonesome Me and I Can't Stop Loving You) after his wife up and left him. He continued to send her roses on their anniversary thanking her.

Third: Elvis Presley, who recorded over half his hits in Studio B, was A) responsible for making Studio B famous--he preferred it over Studio A, and B) requested or made arrangements for light fixtures that held four different colored light bulbs. He liked to set the mood while recording songs.

In fact, if you listen closely at the end of an original recording of Are You Lonesome Tonight? you can hear a thud.  To set the mood, the lights ended up being turned completely off and Elvis hit his head on the microphone.

For the rest of my pictures of the Ryman Auditorium and the Studio B Tour, visit my Shutterfly Share page.

And there's still more to come! I hope you'll stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Road Trip, Day Two

Back to Music City!

So you're going to Nashville--what do you see???

Once I decided to go, I needed to figure out what to do or see. Thank goodness for Google. After a few searches, I had all kinds of things to choose from. Of course, Nashville is the country music capital of the world, so no trip would be complete without a pass down Music Row or past the Ryman Auditorium or the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

I'd definitely decided on a self-guided walking tour, complete with a map and pictures and descriptions of the things I was supposed to see. A trip to the zoo was also a possibility, but I didn't want to schedule every minute of every day either just because I'd be exhausted and I don't really roll that way. DH goes there quarterly, so I can go back at some point.

And when we drove DH to the conference the first day, thank goodness we took the back road, because I saw some gorgeous homes and architecture (I'm a architecture nerd even though I know nothing about it.) *and* I discovered the Belle Meade Plantation was right up the road and open daily for tours. A live plantation?? Right up my alley. As for the zoo...well, an elephant is an elephant is elephant, right? But maybe. I still had time to fill.

Here are a few highlights from my walking tour. All my pictures can be found on my Shutterfly account, if you're so inclined.

 Above and below: the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Below: the guitar in front of the Hard Rock Cafe at the corner of Broadway and First Streets.

Below: the entrance to Printers Alley.

The Wildhorse Saloon

The Ryman Auditorium--home of the Grand Ol' Opry until 1974. Some say its acoustics rival Carnegie Hall.

The Tennessee capitol building.

Hope you'll come back on Friday for day three of my trip and more pictures!

Monday, July 22, 2013


Today, you get a two-fer! My Movie Monday post which I'd already postponed once should already be up, so scroll a little farther down for it. In addition you get the details of my trip to Nashville!!!

Road Trip, Day One

So DH had a conference in Nashville and invited me along, and I said YES!!! I hardly ever take time off work and show up when I'm sick, etc., etc., etc., so I thought this time I was gonna live a little. The travel and hotel is a business expense for him, so that part didn't really cost extra for me to go. Plus our anniversary was the 19th, so it seemed ordained for me to go.

It was approximately a 10 to 12 hour trip by car. We rented one as our employees needed ours for their client appointments. This is what we got:

 A Honda Civic. A nice little car, but not one I'd buy if in the market for a new car. First of all, not enough cup holders for the number of beverages I travel with!

I drove the first leg, from Fort Worth well into Arkansas. I enjoy driving through Texas and depending on which way you travel (north, south, east, or west) you're going to encounter a lot of different terrains. I wanted to get a picture of the "Leaving Texas" sign, but either I missed it, or there isn't one when when you head east on I-30 into Arkansas. Instead, DH took this:

And while driving along I-30/I-40 through Arkansas and into Tennessee was pretty because, almost the whole way, the highways are bordered by thick copses of trees, it quickly became monotonous because, well, the highways are bordered by thick copses of trees on both sides! I usually prefer wide open spaces like farm fields. Don't get me wrong--I like trees, but again the view quickly became tedious.

We did see a couple of cool things along the way however. Like a crop duster dusting a small field right along the highway:

And this... They're not the greatest pictures, but basically it's some sort of vine plant that's overtaken and overgrown the rest of the foliage. It looks like a huge slipcover or like topiary. I did learn that this vine is not native--it came from Japan or somewhere and takes over the other foliage. That's not so good, I guess, but it's very neat looking.

We hit Memphis shortly before rush hour and as this is a mini-vacation for me, I asked DH to stop for dinner. I mean we weren't visiting Memphis but the timing was fortuitous, so I figured we could at least eat there. So I did a quick search on the best places to eat in Memphis and decided upon:

It was just a little hole in the wall kind of place a couple blocks from the Mississippi River, but they had some awesome chicken and were voted the in ten best eats in Memphis at least in 2009 and 2011.

Rewinding just a bit...

Entering Tennessee means crossing the mighty Mississippi River!

We arrived at the hotel about 8:30 and got all settled in for the night. We're actually in Bell Meade rather than Nashville proper, but it's a very picturesque little suburb and I'm quite pleased with it.

I was a little worried about ten hours in the car with DH, but in light of my new-found life lesson on happiness it turned out fine. We talked about a lot of things, including said life lesson, and he was all for my decision to not let his irritation and grumpiness affect my moods--unless of course I'm responsible for his mood. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, I'm not, so...

It was a lovely day for a drive, with gorgeous blue skies and scattered clouds all the way from Fort Worth to Nashville.

More details and photos of my trip on Wednesday!

Have you ever been to Nashville??

Movie Monday

Ended up watching Lawless several weeks ago, a film based on the book The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant, which follows the lives of his forbears during the time of Prohibition in the United States.

The movie is dark and brutal, but compelling. For the whole story, go here.

I rate it seven movie reels out of ten.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fort Worth Friday

One of the (seemingly) fun ways to see downtown Fort Worth is by trolley! Our fair city has Molly the Trolly to ferry folks around a small area of downtown. I haven't ridden her myself, but it looks like fun and is definitely on my agenda. Best of all, it's a free ride.

We do also have a rapid transit system, which does cost money and can get you to all corners of Cowtown.

Here she is:

For more info on her schedule and route, click here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Life Lessons, continued, and other updates...

So Friday I shared a list of life lessons as learned by Regina Brett.

As I mentioned, a few of them really resonated with me. All of them were great, and while I agree with all of them, there are a few I can do nothing about.

Like the kids only getting one childhood. If I could go back and make some changes, I would. But I can't, so we deal with it.

Paying off credit cards every month--if I'd only had better sense back in the day. And now, as you know, I'm working a "second job" to earn extra money to help get those paid off a little sooner. Our profits from this fireworks season would have gone a long way toward eliminating some of that debt, we have to hold onto that money for the time being. We're being audited, so the likelihood of owing the IRS some money is 100%. How much is another story. We'll find out in a month or two.

So now, let's talk about those three...

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

I don't have a lot of "nice" packed away. We've never really been able to afford it. But that last part: Today is special... I'm trying to enjoy each day, celebrating the small pleasures. Squirrels enjoying the sprinkler. The gorgeous cardinal hopping around in the bird feeder bed. The resident tree lizard. And the fact that I didn't kill my miniature roses yet. Or, of course, my kids asking me if I want to play Rock Band with them, or telling me about what's going in their lives. Or the pure joy from getting a hug and kiss from Sonshine.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

I'm sure you've all heard "When I am old, I shall wear purple..." The line comes from a poem called Warning written by Jenny Joseph. The time to enjoy life is now--see above--enjoying life and finding pleasure in the small things. And even if my daughter thinks I'm nuts because I keep taking pictures of the squirrels, I will keep taking those pictures. I'll leave up my 4th of July decorations until Christmas. And I'll decorate my "office" with any kind of mish mash of stuff that tickles my fancy.

Or taking a picture of my laundry on the line because the scene evokes thoughts and feelings of the life I'm trying to create for myself. Country, slow, simple. And I do so enjoy the smell of line-dried linens.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

This one is especially meaningful to me. Mostly I am a happy person, happy in general, etc. But my moods are affected by those around me, most specifically, my husband. And most especially because we're together ALL THE TIME. If he's grouchy, I'm subdued.

But no more! I vow this very day that if his grouchiness has nothing to do with me, then I'm going to ignore him and not take his attitude to heart and let it wound me. I'm going to be a duck and let the water and the other stuff roll off my back.

I know asked Friday if any particular life lesson spoke to today I'm going to ask, if one did, are you going to do something about it? Follow through and live life differently?

A P.S. of sorts...the coroner's report on the the cause of death for Cory Montieth was an overdose involving a toxic mixture of alcohol and heroin. I had thought suicide perhaps, but there's been no news on that. So I guess just an accidental situation. I wasn't really surprised that drugs were involved, though. Hoping, of course, for some random medical cause or something, but not surprised. My daughter's drug of choice was heroin and it's a tough drug to quit. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My world is a little dimmer and a little sadder today...

Yesterday morning, I learned that Cory Montieth had died Saturday morning sometime. No reports on the cause, but most fans will have posited that it was suicide. Montieth was a recovering drug addict. He'd recently entered and completed a month-long stint in rehab.

I know Cory from the TV show Glee. It's one of my favorites and Cory's character, Finn, also my favorite male character.

I know the pain of having a loved one addicted to drugs. My oldest daughter is recovering (a forever state) and doing well, thank God. Her story could have ended just as tragically and I'm so thankful that she's still with us.

I'm going to share this video with you. From an episode of Glee where Finn sings a song to a fellow glee member. Santana is a lesbian and her status is being outed to the world. She pretty much a bitch all the time and Finn sings her this song to let her know how loved she is (despite her attitude) because he's afraid if things get too bad she'd hurt herself rather than just lashing out at those around her. Too poignant in light of his death. He tells her he loves her right after the video ends.

Anyway, this is one of my very favorite of his performances.

Friday, July 12, 2013

So Monday was a bad day...

Not for any discernible reason. I just felt meh. Then my friend sent me an e-mail. One of those forward things that you're supposed to keep forwarding. And it was just the thing I needed. You might have been the recipient of this same e-mail at one point or another....

The e-mail subject may be 7% or 45 Life Lessons--written by a purportedly ninety-year-old woman. I looked it up on Snopes for some reason and found that it was indeed written by the woman mentioned in the e-mail, only she's not ninety, she's only in her mid-fifties at this point. :)

But some of those life lessons hit home and so I thought I'd share them.

Written by Regina Brett, 50-something years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio ...

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written."

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's okay to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's okay to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Twenty one, twenty three, and twenty five spoke to me the most. I'm going to put out the nice stuff, what we have anyway, gonna be eccentric now, and be happy, despite what others say and do.

Care to share which one/s strike the deepest chord for you?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What was I going to blog about today?

Oh, yeah, I was going to talk about our 4th of July--it was super crazy busy. And when I say the 4th, I really mean the 3rd and the 4th as that's when I'm there helping out. The selling season begins June 24th and ends midnight on the 4th....

So DD and I went down to the store Wednesday, the 3rd. It was 2:30ish by the time we arrived and had to pretty much jump right into the fray. DH had hired five other workers bees and they were busy selling, selling, selling. DD and I brought two more helpers besides ourselves.

By three p.m. we were all in and we didn't slow down until close to midnight, when we lock the doors for the night.

Our biggest competition used to be another indoor store just up the block on the corner, and because of the placement of the exit ramp, people would blow right by our store and see that one first. Then they'd stop in on their way back by and say, "I wish I had stopped here first, your prices are cheaper." ARGH!!

Two things conspired in our favor, beginning last season.

One: they guy on the corner had to sell quite a few of his stores after the fireworks ban (as opposed to a burn ban, though those were in effect too) in 2010. He buys/bought his inventory straight from China. Because of the ban no one could sell, and subsequently he didn't make the money needed either to pay off what he owed for inventory or to buy more inventory for the next season. The chances of the ban were very high and we bought only what we could pay for out of pocket and we buy locally. The other guy, however, has to buy nine months in advance. No way to know about a ban that far out.

Now I'm not happy for his unfortunate circumstance, I'm really not, but I can't help be glad for our change of same.

Two: because of all the road construction around the state and the fact that I-35, right off of which our store is located, is being widened, the exit was moved a mile or so south from its original location.
This means potential customers are going much slower by the time they reach us and can actually see us.

Last Christmas was our first season without competition. In addition, DH rented the billboard space right above the exit *and* took out a half page ad in the Thrift Nickel. We doubled our best Christmas season. Fast forward to 4th of July where we generally do 2/3 more business than at Christmas. Yikes!

Okay, I'm getting tired of my topic now, and I bet you are too, so let me just say there were people in the store on the 4th from about 9am until midnight. We had (and I'm not exaggerating) a 30 to 45 SECOND respite at about 11:30ish (pm). The remaining customer walked out and I looked at someone and said, "Can you believe there's no one in the store." And not but a moment later another customer walked in, and we had at least one customer in the store until midnight.

HOLY SMOKES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best summer season ever. And last season we were able to pay off the person we bought the store from, so that huge expense is finally gone!

If only we could use our profits for getting out of debt, however, we're being audited, so we need to save it all in case we have to pay. Ugh! But watch out next season! We'll be well on our way to becoming debt free!!

Here are some of our helpers:

 Osama--this was his first job ever! Poor kid.

 Praise on the left and Avian on the right.

 Sean, who's in the Navy.

 Dustin, a police officer.

 Jerry, on the left, has helped us out the last two seasons. (This one makes three.)
This was Hunter's (on the right) first job, too.

And of course my Sonshine.

There was a nice lady, too, but the camera died right before I was able to snap her picture. Darn. 'Cause she was really sweet and a hard worker and said wonderful things about my son. I was bragging on him, and she has been a teacher/school administrator for fourteen years, so we were talking about kids, and parents, and learning styles, etc. And I know I'm biased, but it's nice when people compliment your kids and the job you're doing as a parent. And coming from someone with a lot of experience in those areas, that means something and helps a parent feel confident.
I know I mentioned I miss the days of being participants in the festivities, so I told DH he has five years to find & train someone he trusts to run the store. (Or maybe two someones to trade off.) I want to shoot fireworks again.

So how was your 4th of July???

Monday, July 8, 2013

My new toy...

Movie Monday is being postponed until next week. I had the movie watched and the post is all ready to go (I swear), but this weekend was so productive and I bought myself a new camera and got some awesome pics that I wanted to share!

So the new camera is a Canon Powershot SX160 IS with a really awesome zoom lens. Much much better than my previous little Kodak. It was a good little camera, but I've gotten to the point where I want closer pics of things that *I* can't get closer too. (pics to follow) And the battery would no longer charge properly. Yeah, sure, I could have bought a new battery, but...see reason above for buying a nicer new one. Got a good deal (I think so, anyway) at Office Depot.

So I finally finished edging the bird feeder bed:

It needs a bit of weed whacking, but all the little edging stones are there.

 On Mother's Day I received three miniature rose bushes, one from each of the kids:

Eventually I lost (okay, killed) one of them, but have managed to nurture the other two along. One bloomed a few days ago and the other has a bud... I was very excited to see these.

Several weeks ago, I'd bought a cool hanging planter for them. They've been doing pretty good hanging on the side of the house, and I do mean hanging on the side of the house. Sonshine hung it from a small little plastic bracket right up under the eave holding the coax cable to the house. So the planter has been resting against the brick.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I happened to be in Albertson's and found another mini-rose bush. So I bought it with the intent to transplant it into the bottom pot of the planter. And then I got a bee in my bonnet yesterday to dress up one of my trees. So now I have this:

I poured ceder mulch around the three huge rocks there at the base of my oak tree, then bought a shepherd's crook to hang the planter on. The crook needs to be embedded into the ground better, but I didn't have the weight to get it all the way in, nor did I have a mallet to help me... The roses are shaded through the hottest part of the day and should do great right there. Plus, I can see them from my kitchen window and my office.

And now for the *really* cool pictures that I took yesterday afternoon:

 A mama cardinal on the bird feeder, some forty feet or so from where I sat.

 This wood pecker in the branches above me.
I thought for sure he'd fly away before I found him with the lens and super zoom feature.
But find him I did! How cool is that???

Now, this here is our resident tree lizard. I've named him Handsome. He's been around a few years at least, and it's always fun to watch him scurry around the tree or across the yard.

And this here is Steffi, one of several squirrels that visit our yard. We're pretty sure she's the same one--none of the others seem to eat the squirrel corn. We'd been calling her Steve, but I finally realized she doesn't have boy parts.

And that, my friends, is that. I'll have a 4th of July update on Wednesday.