Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review of a telescoping corner broom

How to clean high ceilings and corners

I don't care what kind of structure you live in (be it a house, apartment or cave) you surely have places like the ceiling that need a good cleaning every once in a while. It is just high enough that you can't easily reach it to wipe away the cobwebs that accumulate on a regular basis. Let me tell you what I use for those jobs. A telescoping corner broom is my tool of choice. 

Your ceilings might be 7 or 8 feet high and in my case I have areas that are much higher (those cathedral ceilings look awesome but can be a bear to keep clean!). It seems that the spiders never stop in their quest to spin webs to catch their next meal. Now, I don't begrudge them their food but those webs get unsightly pretty danged quick. I appreciate that the spiders trap mosquitoes, flies and other creepy crawlies that I don't want in my home but do they have to be so darned industrious? 

There was a time that I would do all sorts of acrobatic feats in trying to remove said spider webs from the high places in my home. Many would be good candidates for "don't try this at home, boys and girls". That is until I got my telescoping corner broom, now that clean-up is a breeze! 

I can carry one tool and adjust it to the height I need and I can swivel the head to meet the angle I am aiming for. For most of my ceilings and high corners I can keep the broom at its minimum height of 33 inches (almost 3 feet) and I can quickly brush away the cobwebs. When I get to the family room or the stairwell, all I have to do is adjust the length of the broom and voila I can quickly wipe away the spider family's dinner table. Yes, I actually have areas where I need to extend the broom to its maximum length of 54 1/2 inches (almost 5 feet) to reach the top but it is so easy to do that I don't mind it. The broom is lightweight, too. I can stand on the floor and reach all of the high places without having to worry about falling off of a chair or ladder. 

My corner broom is a few years old now so it is a different color than the ones available now but the color doesn't matter, it is the ease and efficiency that this cleaning tool provides that is important. 


It is so simple to adjust the head to the angle you want and lock it in place. There is a knob that you loosen, angle the broom head and then tighten the knob back. I love the angled bristles because that really does take care of the corners nicely. Adjusting the length is easy, too. All you do is loosen the pole at the joint and pull it up to the height you want (or down) and tighten it back up. Easy peasy!

Honestly, I can't believe that I waited so long to find one of these brooms. It makes cleaning so much easier and even if we were to move to a smaller home with no cathedral ceilings, I would still use my telescoping corner broom.

Oh and it isn't difficult to clean the broom head once you have your ceilings done. You can take it outside and swipe through the bristles a few times to remove the webs and dust that was once on your ceiling or you can do like I do and just run the vacuum wand over it a couple of times.

If you don't have one of these corner brooms as a part of your cleaning routine, you really should consider getting one. They are typically under $10 and one of the most useful tools I have besides my vacuum and mop.



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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review of Novels that Take You Behind the Scenes in Book Publishing Houses

Two Novels Let You Peek into the World Of Book Publishing


Have you ever wondered how the authors of best selling books get to the top? I just discovered two authors new to me whose novels provide a peek into the offices of publishers and their agents, as well as insight into book marketing and the publishing industry. I will review these novels here.  


Spider Web with Scott Quote, photo from Pixabay


Marsha Grimes offers a humorous look at the competition between publishers, editors, and agents for popular authors . Just to make it interesting, a few hired killers with scruples are added to the mix.

 Writer Steve Martini's thriller, The List, shows another aspect of the publishing industry that focuses on the marketing of an author persona. In this book, an author's idea for promoting her new book involves a bit of deception that almost gets her killed in the end.


Martha Grimes Novels about Publishing


Buy Foul Matter at Amazon
The two books I read by Martha Grimes are Foul Matter, my favorite, and The Way of All Fish, which bored me. Many of the same characters populate both books. We meet the first of those characters, Paul Giverney, in Foul Matter. He is trying to choose a new publisher who will meet his conditions – a publisher who would do whatever it takes to get whatever he wants. He decides that Bobby Mackenzie of Mackenzie-Haack is his man. 

Mackenzie wants Paul badly because Paul writes best-selling books that would carry the costs of marketing them and make money for Bobby, but Paul will only come on board if he can have Tom Kidd, who doesn't like to edit the kind of commercial fiction Paul writes, as his editor. Tom Kidd only likes to edit literary fiction, especially that of Ned Isaly.

Paul is now a free agent and the big publishers are competing to sign him. Mackenzie wants Paul's book, but Paul has one condition that is blocking the deal. Paul insists Mackenzie drop Isaly. Paul wants Kidd to edit his books, but almost everyone knows that if Ned Isaly is dropped, Kidd will also go and he would take Mackenzie's best literary authors with him, including Isaly, who has won a lot of awards for his fiction. Besides that, Isaly is still under contract for one more book. Breaking the contract isn't legal. Paul insists the legal team could find a way if they really wanted to. 

Clive Esterhaus is second in command to Mackenzie, and handles acquisitions along with some editing. His job is to get Paul Giverney under contract. He just doesn't see how he can get rid of Isaly without breaking the contract and also losing Kidd and his literary authors. 

Mackenzie puts a book written by Danny Zito, an ex-mob contract killer who is now in the Witness Protection Program, on Clive's desk, and hints that maybe Danny would like to write another book. Clive knows the real hint is that Danny still knows people who might be able to solve their Isaly problem for them. Danny refers Clive to hit men Candy and Karl, and Clive contacts them. Bobby Mackenzie hires them to get rid of Isaly.

Candy and Karl are unlike any hit men you've ever seen and have their own conditions. They don't want to “do” anyone they don't think deserves it. They take the advance money and study the potential “project” for a couple of weeks until they decide whether they want to take the job. If they decide they don't, they return the advance. Candy and Karl ask Bobby and Clive why they want Isaly eliminated and they can't believe the answer  they get. Karl would actually like to write a book himself, and is fascinated by what he's learning about book publishers. 

As the book progresses, we often see Ned and his friends Saul, Jamie, and Sally, at Swill's bar, where many literary folks hang out. The friends also run into each other in the park, another place they frequent.  Saul, like Ned, is a literary author. Sally is a wannabe writer who is an assistant to Tom Kidd. Jamie is a romance writer. Saul sometimes takes them for dinner at the Old Hotel, which is known for including and excluding dinner guests, and even some who only want a drink at its lobby bar. No one knows what criteria determines who gets in and who doesn't. Clive is one of the anointed but neither Bobby nor Paul can get in on their own. No matter where they get together, Saul, Ned, Sally, and Jamie often discuss their books and the writing process. There's a lot of shop talk.  


Novels that Take You Behind the Scenes in Book Publishing Houses
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


Ned is at the very end of the process of completing a book.  He's been struggling over what to do with his character Nathalie in the final scene. He has left her in a park after her lover has ended their affair, and he keeps "hearing" her entreaties not to leave her there like that. On one such occasion his thoughts are distracted by his realization that he can't remember what Pittsburgh, the town he grow up in, looks like. This bothers him, and he decides its time to visit his hometown. He thinks that might help him figure out how to end his book. He tells everyone he's going to Pittsburgh. 

Naturally, Candy and Karl follow him so they can observe him and decide whether to take him on as a project. Sally, who had overheard part of a meeting between Bobby and Clive discussing how to end Ned's contract, senses something is up that's not good. She has mentioned this to Saul. Each of  them separately decides to go to Pittsburgh when Ned does without telling Ned or each other. In the meantime, Clive is afraid Candy and Karl might really kill Ned and he might get blamed. So he hires someone to follow Ned and protect him. Her name is Blaze. Clive decides to go to Pittsburgh himself, as well, just to keep and eye on things.   

Paul, although he stays home, is worried at what his demands may have set in motion. He has nothing personal against Ned, so he hires Arthur Mordred to protect Ned. Ned himself is oblivious to all of this. He only vaguely senses someone may be following him.  He does wonder why Candy and Karl seem to be turning up everywhere he goes. 


Arthur Mordred, Candy and Karl know each other and wonder why they are seeing each other on the same turf. It seems like the whole gang is in Pittsburgh, though Saul and Sally don't let Ned or each other know they are there at first. The Pittsburgh chapters are fun for the reader, with Ned mostly just looking around while all the others follow him as inconspicuously as possible, often in disguise. The last day the disguises come off and everyone acknowledges everyone else, but not why they are there. Then everyone goes home and they all manage to get back to New York safely, including Ned Isaly, so the problem of what to do with him remains.  You will have to read the book to see how the situation is resolved, and only at the end is it revealed why Paul wanted Mackenzie to break Isaly's contract. 

The best parts of the book are the conversations between Candy and Karl as they “research the project” and interact with everyone. They provide a lot of comic relief. It was, in fact, this humor and the spoof on the publishing industry that made the book interesting. The characters were not very well-developed, but the dialogue was great. The whole scene (several chapters) in Pittsburgh is hilarious. Some readers may find Ned's mental interactions with Nathalie a bit tedious. though. 

A reader might pick up the idea that in spite of having written the popular Richard Jury novels, which I've not yet read, Grimes is not especially fond of how the publishing industry operates and that would also apply to the way books are marketed and get to the best seller lists. Steve Martini picks up some of these same themes in his legal thriller, The List.

Review of The List by Steve Martini


The title refers to the  New York Times Bestseller List that every author wants their book to be on. I'm classifying this as a legal thriller because two of the main characters are lawyers. The book is much different in tone and style than Martha Grimes Foul Matter. In the Grimes books, there were plenty of opportunities to laugh and the fun was in seeing the characters interact and learning what they really thought of each other. In The List, you will find yourself holding your breath and unable to put the book down. It is full of action and suspense. 

Book Review of The List
Buy The List at Amazon
 The List begins with a Prologue in which Abby Chandlis is running for her life on an old docked ship. She is trying to reach Morgan Spencer, her lawyer, whom she is sure is aboard. She is fleeing two men on the dock, whom you will meet later in the book. Then the book moves to Chapter One and we discover Abby is a lawyer who works with Morgan Spencer. It's obvious the two are very good friends, but not lovers. Abby wants to keep it that way. Morgan doesn't.

Abby has written a book, but since she has written previous books, which although published never got very far, she is reluctant to publish her new book under her own name. She has chosen the pen name of Gable Cooper. She is afraid that if she submits the book under her own name she will get less for it because she's a woman and it wouldn't be marketed well because her other books weren't best sellers. She knows her new book is blockbuster material.

We next meet Carla Owens, who is looking for Gable Cooper. Carla is a powerful literary agent, and she tells Abby that she must get hold of Cooper because a major publisher wants the book and expects it to be very successful. Abby says Cooper is in South America researching another book and cannot be reached. The truth is that Abby hasn't found anyone to play the part of Cooper for the book jacket, interviews, and book signings. She promises to try to find Cooper. She is his legal representative in the negotiations. 

The scene then shifts to Jack Jermaine, a frustrated writer who is currently at home in Coffin Point, South Carolina, using his rejection slips for target practice. He is handsome, rugged, and very good at shooting.

Meanwhile, back at Abby's office, she explains her problem to Morgan, to whom she tells everything. He's upset because they have a new boss, Cutler, whom he doesn't like. It appears Cutler wants to downsize, and that means both Abby and Morgan could lose their jobs. Abby asks Morgan to file a copyright for her on the new book so she can prove, if there's ever a problem with the person she gets to lay the part of Cooper, that she herself wrote the book. The only other person who knows about her authorship is is her best friend Theresa, who is divorced because her husband Joey has abused and almost killed her. Abby had acted as Theresa's divorce lawyer, and Theresa is currently living with Abby.

Morgan, as Abby's lawyer, wants all the details of how Abby intends to pull off letting someone play her part without the publisher and agent finding out who really wrote the book. They discuss all the details of how Gable Cooper will sign papers and contracts that deposit Cooper's advances, signed over to Abby, in Abby's account. Then she will pay Cooper his share. Morgan wants to be sure only he, Abby, Theresa, and whomever turns out to be Cooper, are the only ones who know Abby really wrote the book. Because he doesn't trust Cutler, he tells Abby he will keep all the documents safely at his home.

Abby, realizing she has to come up with a Gable Cooper soon, goes with Thersa to L.A. to hire someone to play the part. She settles on the handsome Jess Jermaine. Theresa is staying with friends. Abby stays in L.A. to continue briefing Jess on his part. After that her plan is to fly to New York, meet Carla alone, and then after the two of them have worked out the details, they would meet Jess at the airport together.

Meanwhile, back in Seattle, Joey has broken into Abby's home and torn it up, waiting for Theresa to appear so he can abuse or kill her. While he's there, the people trying to get the movie rights to the book appear looking for Cooper. Joey answers the door, plays along, pretends he is Cooper, and agrees to sell them the rights for only $25,000.

Abby gets into New York at 2 AM and after only a few hours sleep prepares to go meet Carla. Under her hotel door she finds a handwritten note from Jess saying he can't be Cooper after all, but not to worry, he's made arrangements. She imagines her entire book deal flying away and is furious, but when she calls Carla's office about the change in plans for picking up Cooper, Carla very happily tells her that she has been chatting in her office with Cooper and he's wonderful. Jess had arranged for his brother Jack, older and just as handsome, whom we met earlier in Coffin Point shooting up rejection slips, to substitute for him. Abby is extremely angry that Jack got to Carla before she did, but she's in a bind and finally has to accept the situation in order not to blow her own deal.

Since this is a review, not a synopsis, I won't tell you about all the dead bodies, romance, and double-crossing that follow or even introduce all the players in this drama. The plot is too intricate for me to do that here. I did not pay careful enough attention to all the details on my first reading, and so I was more surprised than I should have been at the end. What I could not do is put this book down. As I'm rereading parts of the book today, I find myself laughing at some parts I'd forgotten about. There is touch of humor because of who the people are and how they interact, even though the mood of most of the book is tense.

Novels that Take You Behind the Scenes in Book Publishing Houses


My Recommendations 


I would recommend either Foul Matter or The List to writers or anyone else interested in the publishing industry. Foul Matter is a light book with a lot of comic relief. Most of the action is intellectual, and most battles take place with words. The “goons,” Karl and Candy, have their own version of justice. They tend to find an appropriate punishment to fit whatever is crime in their eyes. 

Although The List has a bit of humor, it has much more violence and suspense than Grimes' books. It, too, has some vigilante justice, but it's more violent than in that in Foul Matter.  You will find language and behavior in both books you would not want your grandchildren to imitate, but nothing worse than they would see in a PG-17 rated movie or much of today's television, or overhear in conversations. The F-word is used often by some characters because it fits their personas. There aren't any sex scenes in Foul Matter that I can remember, but The List has a few that would be rated R if they were in a movie. Forewarned is forearmed. I didn't see anything that seemed inappropriate in its context, and I enjoyed both books, different as they were from each other.

Which of these books do you think you'd want to read first?



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Monday, September 28, 2015

Autumn Leaves, Sweet, Sweet Autumn Leaves




The heat of Summer has passed and while the days are still nice and warm, there is one thing that is sure, the leaves will be turning their beautiful colors within the next few weeks.

It's a glorious time of year, that has many people enjoying not only the cooler weather, but also the fantastic shades of orange, red, burgundy and yellows that you can ever find. Seeing these beautiful colors in the trees is breathtaking!   Everyone's children will be busy searching for the most perfect leaf to add to their school projects or artwork.

It's only after a few weeks when the beauty of the leaves has faded and they are everywhere but on the trees, that people start to be annoyed.

With a few great tools, this annoyance will soon be dealt with.  Gathering up those leaves is a task that can be made fun and easy.  You just need the right tools.......


Don't you know  that what has fallen from the trees is pure gold?  Not the kind that you can make jewelry from, but the kind that when it's put back into the garden, will make everything next year grow that much better, stronger and keep your soil in top condition.  And it is FREE!

Let me help you turn your annoyance into happiness by showing you how to make your gardens the happiest ever and get rid of your leaves at the same time.

If you are a gardener, you will be eyeing everyone's big brown bags of leaves, with thoughts of stealing them right off of the front stoop.  If theft is not in your character, I'm sure you could ask for those bags of leaves and the owners will happily give them to you.

Now what do you do with all those leaves?


With one of these tools, you shred the leaves that you have gathered, or the ones you got from your neighbors and turn those leaves into small particles of green matter.

Because they are organic and now shredded into small bits, they will break down a lot faster than if you leave (no pun intended) them just as they fell off the trees.

Dig around all your shrubs and bushes and turn this garden gold into the soil around all those shrubs. replace the soil that you lifted.    Do this in your flower gardens too! If you have a vegetable patch, dig a trench, fill the trench with the shredded leaves and replace the soil.  Dig another trench and fill it with shredded leaves.  Keep doing this until you have used all the garden gold you have produced and see what happens next year!

You won't be disappointed and Mother Nature will applaud you for doing a really good thing for your garden.


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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Limitless, The Movie - Now a TV Series

Limitless, The Movie
Have you ever seen this movie? Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro are the stars.

The movie has now morphed into a TV Series carrying the same title as the movie 'Limitless'.

Perhaps you managed to catch the TV Season opener this past week (September 2015)? It was entertaining, and I'll be including this one on 'my fave new fall shows' list. 

Although the stars of the TV Series are Jake McDorman and Jennifer Carpenter, fans of Bradley Cooper will still see him in several episodes playing the character he becomes in the Movie, 'Senator Edward Mora' ... enough of a reason to watch!

In the movie, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, who's a struggling artist with a case of writers block that essentially spirals him into a less than stellar life.  

He runs into the brother of his ex-girlfriend who introduces him to a drug that is designed to take the human brain from 20% usage to essentially 100% usage. The movie offers a lot of twists and turns and certainly keeps your interest all the way to the end. 

I've always been fascinated by the untapped power and mystery of the human mind and wondered what society would be like if our brains worked at 100% capacity. If every living soul operated at maximum potential, would that generate more good, more evil, or both?
In the movie, Eddie Morra is learning at light speed, working at maximum capacity - he learns to play the piano in three hours, he learns new languages almost instantly and he becomes a financial genius. 

Here's the 2011 Movie Trailer for Limitless:



Can you imagine having that kind of brain power?






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Friday, September 25, 2015

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Movie Review

A Halloween Tradition


One of the best traditions on Halloween is to watch, "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."  Everybody loves the Peanuts gang, and when you couple them with Halloween, it is bound to be a smash hit!

We usually gather around the tv as a family to support Linus as he waits for the visit from the Great Pumpkin and to cheer Snoopy as he battles the Red Baron.  Yes, by now, we can recite sections of the show ourselves, but that is part of the fun of our Halloween tradition.

It makes for a fun and very entertaining evening, especially when we break out the popcorn, hot dogs and cokes!


The Great Fall


 Fathead Wall Decal, Real Big,One very memorable moment in "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," is the "agreement" between Lucy and Charlie Brown.

Lucy agrees to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick.  She even gives him a signed document that states that she will not pull the football away. Trusting and believing Lucy will honor her signed agreement, Charlie Brown falls for her trick which subsequently ends in him falling on his back when she pulls the football away.

While I know some people would view this as being rather mean, I always laugh.  It actually reminds me of growing up with 5 siblings.  Granted, Lucy is not related to Charlie Brown, but they still act like brother and sister.  To be completely honest here, I could easily see myself holding the football while one of my own brothers advanced for the kick.  Of course, you all know I would only pull away for fear of being accidentally kicked myself, right? 


A Great Charlie Brown T-Shirt


Isn't it funny how Charlie Brown has a simple t-shirt that that we ALL recognize as belonging to Charlie Brown?

Click Shirt to Check Price & Availability


I think that is one of the things that makes us all love the Peanuts Gang.  The are just regular kids, living regular lives, with everyday activities.  In some base way, we identify with them and it is awesome to realize that things will be okay and most of the time, they will turn out alright.  We just pick ourselves up from our "great falls" to try again another day.  Children need that reassurance.  Actually, we all need that reassurance.

Of course, it is pretty cool to be able to read a dog's mind like we are allowed to do with Snoopy.


The Great Wait for the Great Pumpkin


Every year as I watch Linus' anticipation of seeing the Great Pumpkin, I wish the show would change and the Great Pumpkin would appear for Linus.  He is so believing and devoted.  Year after year when he is disappointed, I am disappointed.

Not only is Linus ridiculed by his "friends" for believing in the Great Pumpkin, but he is maligned by Sally when she realizes that she missed trick or treating to wait with him for the Great Pumpkin who never materializes.  Again, my heart goes out to Linus as he patiently endures her tirade.


But you know what is pretty cool!  Linus goes right on caring about Sally and being her friend. 


The Great Sister

 Peanuts by Jim Shore Lucy in Witch Costume Collectible Figurine
The biggest surprise on that Halloween evening, is Lucy's uncharacteristic kindness toward Linus.  Even though she grumbles and complains about it, she does ask for extra candy for her little brother while she is trick or treating.

Another kindhearted scene that is actually part of the video clip above, is when Lucy wakes in the middle of the night and discovers that Linus is not in his bed, she ventures out to the pumpkin patch to find him.

Lucy walks him home, takes his shoes off, covers him with his blanket and allows Linus to promptly falls back to sleep.

No unkind words or criticism.  Simply an act of love and care.  Something we could all learn from for sure.


The Great Battle


After over 40 years of seeing Snoopy dressed as a World War I Flying Ace and fighting the Red Baron while "flying" his Sopwith Camel dog house, most of us don't even remember that this is the episode where that little "sorte" took place.

Yes, it was Halloween that inspired Snoopy to don his now legendary red scarf and take to the air in search of the infamous Red Baron.



It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown DVD 


Every family should have a copy, or two, of this brilliant classic.  Not only is it entertaining, but it reinforces the importance of love, caring for one another, sticking together, getting mad and getting over it and not forgetting what is most important in this life.  The value of a friend and family.

Buy it today because you will want to have it on hand for Halloween viewing!


 

See More Great Movie Reviews on ReviewThisMovies.com!




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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Autumn Art

Colorful Autumn Art

Fall Leaves

popular autumn scene

Fall leaves are a popular subject for autumn photography. 

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves
The photo below was taken at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit Missouri.  I was on a hike there during a photography class early one  morning.  The sun had just risen and I was able to capture these fall leaves in the early  morning light.

Fall Leaves
Fall Leaves by mbgphoto
View other Fall Cards at Zazzle.com


  • Photographer Tip--Try moving in close for photos of fall leaves.

Fall Reflections

Autumn scenes with water always seem to catch my eye.  I love the way the colors reflect against the quiet water. 
In the photo below, I captured a deserted boat at the edge of a pond in Busch Wildlife Area near my home.


Autumn Morning at the Lake
Autumn Morning at the Lake by mbgphoto
Create a full color post card on Zazzle
Here is another of my favorite relection photos.  These brightly colored leaves are reflected in the pond at my friend's pond.

  • Photographers Tip--Although I use a polarizing filter for most autumn photograhy, reflections come out better without the filter.

My Zazzle Store Collection


I have many of my fall photographs on products in my Zazzle store.  The collection below shows you several of the items that are featured in the store.




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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reviewing Zinsser An Excellent Primer For DIY Paint Jobs

Before Painting You Should Use A Primer

Around our house we do a lot of  DIY projects which includes paint jobs around the house among other things. We have painted walls, furniture and in our latest project the sub-flooring before we laid adhesive tiles on the bathroom floor. I highly recommend Zinsser when you need to use a primer.

When it comes to painting either inside or outside it is always a good practice to use a primer first. I know, there are a lot of paints on the market that boast that a primer is already in the paint but honestly, I don't trust that fully. It just isn't as effective as using a product like Zinsser.

One of the reasons that I prefer to go a little old school and use that primer first is that Zinsser has some added protection. It seals the area that I will be painting, it covers up any stains that might be visible and it adds a coat of film that resists mold and mildew. That is particularly handy in bathrooms and on furniture that may be outdoors. It will even inhibit rust from beginning on anything metal.

You might be thinking that if you prepare your surface with a primer like Zinsser that it will add hours to your painting project, but let me assure you that you don't need to worry about that. This product dries fast. I've been able to go to the next step, whether that be adding a coat of paint or applying tiles, in about 1 hour. Yes, it dries that quickly!

I just love this stuff! In the past, I have used other primers but none of them had the added bonuses of the rust and mildew/mold protection. That is important to me and once I found this product I have never considered using anything else.

Clean-up is a breeze, too. Since it is water based all you have to do is wash out your brushes or rollers in warm water. No smelling petroleum based solvents are needed.

I have used it on bare wood, painted wood and metal and the application works well on all of those surfaces. I am, currently,  in the process of painting the exterior trim of our home and am applying Zinsser before I paint. Most of our trim was treated with a stain instead of paint and I did not want to go with stain again. No problem! I can apply the Zinsser primer on top of that stain and then safely cover it with my new fresh paint.

You can find this primer on line by following the link above or you can go to your local home improvement store like Lowe's, Home Depot or Menards. It is pretty easy to find besides being easy to use. So, the next time you have a paint job to tackle, consider using a good primer before you paint. I promise, you will not be disappointed.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review of Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Cover Image, Life of Pi
I stumbled on The Life of Pi at the library, knowing it was a bestseller, so I decided to see what it was all about. It was hard at first to believe it was fiction. It read very much like an autobiography, except that it wasn't real. Pi (actually Piscine) Patel, the protagonist, grew up in India, the son of a zoo keeper.

Most of his story is told in the first person. He spent a good part of his free time at his father's zoo in Pondicherry (a zoo which never existed), and I personally enjoyed most the beginning of the book where Pi talks about how he got his name and the characteristics of the zoo animals. He also tells the story of how his father taught him and his brother to respect the animals as the wild beasts they were so they would not be tempted to treat them like tame animals, no matter how cute they seemed. It was a terrifying lesson even to read about.

One of the most interesting parts of the book to me was Pi's unique take on religion. He had interacted with local Christian, Hindu, and Moslem teachers, and he joined and practiced each faith. He tired to keep each religion separate in his life, and none of the teachers knew he had joined any faith but their own. His own parents didn't care much about any religion, and they didn't think much of Pi's religious life. Everything seemed to work for Pi until one Sunday afternoon when he was sixteen, when he happened to be with his parents on the Goubert Salai seaside esplanade. It seemed the whole town was out for a stroll, and that included the three clerics.

They approached Pi's family at the same time, and each began to brag about him as their star pupil. The priest remarked on what a good Christian boy Piscine was. The imam claimed him as a good Muslim boy. The pandit declared them both wrong, since Piscine was obviously a pious Hindu. The clerics argued religion with each other, and seemed in agreement that Pi must choose just one of their religions. I will leave it to you to read the book to see how this was resolved.

Pi's parents finally decide that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's policies are disappointing. They had hoped for a more tolerant “new” India, and when they believed they would never get it, they made the decision to close the zoo, sell off the animals, and emigrate to Canada. Pi and his brother Ravi did not want to go, but they did not really have a choice. After the endless paperwork was done, the family left Madras in 1977 on a Japanese cargo ship.

Life of Pi Audiobook Image
The ship sank. He is in a lifeboat. He sees the tiger, Richard Parker, in the ocean and starts to rescue him before he realizes how foolish that is. At the last moment as he is pulling the tiger into the boat he suddenly wakes up to what the two of them together on the lifeboat would mean, but by then it's too late, the tiger is too close, and pulls himself into the boat. Hear this scene read aloud.  Get the complete Life of Pi audiobook here.

Through most of the rest of the book Pi is stranded on a boat. At the beginning there are three animals and no other humans. There was a zebra with a broken leg, a spotted hyena, and the 440-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. They were all animals that had been on the Japanese ship. Pi had to use all he had observed at the zoo and all he had learned about the animals, especially tigers, to survive. For most of that long journey in the lifeboat, his only companion was the tiger, and he had seen what a tiger was capable of.

Although I'm glad I read the book, I don't really enjoy survival stories very much, and I really got tired of the constant battle of wits on that boat. I just wanted Pi to be rescued. But the monotony of life on the boat reflected the monotony of life for Pi, tired, thirsty, having to fish to feed himself and the tiger, and just watching day and night go by.

I recommend this to those who are interested in religion, philosophy, wild animals, zoos, and / or survival stories. The philosophy is not tedious, and the Pi's search for the right religion often borders on humor while offering a glimpse into each of the three faiths presented. For those who would like more background on the book, I suggest this interview with the author, Yann Martel.

This exciting book has also been made into a movie.



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Monday, September 21, 2015

The Great Christmas Countdown Is ON!

If you are a parent, grand parent or even an only Child, this time of year brings with it countdowns in all manner of speaking.

Everywhere we go, we are bombarded by the signs of the season,  Buy this, save now, Best Deals right here and the shopping mantras seem to be everywhere.

When I was young, (just a few short years ago), we marked the countdown to Christmas with an Advent Calendar, or an Advent Wreath.
Photo credit: Pixabay.com


Advent Calendars marked down the days in December, from 1 to 24, with a token candy or treat in each of the little packages associated with the day.  For us kids, this was a countdown to all the good things that would be in the house over the holiday season.

You can make your own Advent Calendars, or there are ones that are pre-made just for your little ones.  If they love Lego, there are several different sets that can be purchased and by the time Christmas Eve comes, they have put together a special Lego Treat.
Lego Advent Calendar

The Advent Wreath was more religious in nature. Each Sunday after mass, when the family was together for Sunday Lunch, we would read a passage from the Bible and light one candle the first weekend.    Two candles, were lit for the next weekend and then three and four.  Finally, Christmas arrives and the candle in the middle is lit with all 4 candles around lit as well.  The significance was the brightness of the light on Christmas morning: The coming of the Saviour, the Infant Child Jesus.

Once everyone was awake and had their cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or drink of choice, the opening of the presents would begin....

The expectations of the last month or six weeks was not a done deal.  It's amazing to me that so much thought and excitement is unwrapped in less than 1/100 of the time it took to get ready for the event.
In any case, the pictures taken at the undoing last a long time and memories are made in the time we get to spend together.


Photo credit:liebesbotschaft-international.blogspot.de






 Hope you have the time to sit back, enjoy the sights and the sounds of the season, and that you take lots of pictures to enjoy the memories for many years to come. Happy Holidays Everyone.


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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The 1989 Movie 'Always' - A Must See!

Always
Have you ever seen the 1989 movie “Always” written by Steven Spielberg starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman and Audrey Hepburn?

It’s one of my all-time favorites! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll laugh some more and in the end you'll be left with a feeling of hopefulness.

Richard Dreyfuss plays a risk taking Aerial Firefighter named Pete while Holly Hunter plays his love interest, also a pilot and dispatcher, named Durinda. They’re very much in love. John Goodman, also an Aerial Firefighter, plays the part of the best friend.

Pete (Dreyfuss) takes one risk too many while trying to put out a forest fire and Durinda is completely devastated and cannot get past losing the love of her life.

Although Pete dies, he suddenly finds himself in a field getting his hair cut by a spiritual guide played by Audrey Hepburn, named ‘Hap’. She explains to Pete (after he realizes he’s died) that it’s his job to provide “Spirit” or some call it the divine breath, also referred to as Intuition, to a living soul, since his time is done.

Hap explains to Pete that “they'll hear you inside their own minds as if it were their own thoughts.”

His tough assignment is to inspire a young handsome, almost incompetent, Aerial Firefighter. However, this young man finds his path crossing with Durinda (Pete’s love), and Pete has difficulty letting go enough to aid this new relationship along.

Even though it was made in 1989, it still has a current feel to it. By the way, the theme song for this movie is the beautiful “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”.


Here's a trailer for the movie, rent this one, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


There's a line from the movie I'll frequently quote around the house (I'm sure most of you have movie lines you toss about): John Goodman is trying to convince Holly Hunter to date the new tall good looking hot trainee and with typical sass, Holly Hunter states:
'He's too much twisted steel and sex appeal. I can't be with a guy that looks like I won him in a raffle' - LOL!  



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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Elephant Appreciation Day Gift Review

Elephant Appreciation Day is September 22


Tubbie Wubbie Plush Elephant by Aurora
Available on Amazon

Elephant Appreciation Day became a National holiday in 1996. It was created by Wayne Hepburn after he received the gift of a paperweight with elephants on parade from his daughter. That gift began an elephant fascination for Wayne and he began collecting elephant books and objects.  Having a day to appreciate elephants is a fun reminder for all of us.  Celebrate by visiting a zoo or wildlife center to enjoy this huge beast in person, or read a book or watch a movie about elephants. 

There are also elephant books and toys which make great gifts and Elephant Appreciation Day is the perfect day to browse through a few of these gift ideas.



Horton Hears a Who!



An elephant well-known to children comes alive on the pages of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who where Horton promises the people of a tiny world called 'Whoville' that he will protect them.  

Written in 1954, this charming story has a special message, that of "a person’s a person, no matter how small." 










Elmer the Patchwork Elephant



Available on Amazon



In a delightful children's book series by British author David McKee, kids learn about a colorful patchworked pachyderm and the importance of being unique and why it's okay to be different.
 

Pink Elephants on Parade 


The 'seeing of' Pink elephants  was originally used as a description for what one who 'imbibes-too-much' sees.  Today, the term 'Pink elephant' is used for many things. 







Pink Elephants on Parade is a song from the Disney animated film “Dumbo”.  Remember when Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse become intoxicated when their drinking water is spiked with champagne and they see pink elephants singing, dancing and playing marching band instruments? 



Pink Plush Pachyderm



pink elephant
Plush Pink Elephant Available on Etsy
A pink plush elephant handmade in crochet makes a delightful cuddly toy for a little girl or a darling new baby gift. 

Created by a coastal Georgia crochet crafter, this pink elephant can be found in her Etsy Shop Coastal Crochet Crafts.

 




 Pink Elephants for the Garden?

Pink Elephant Watering Can on Amazon



Why not! What fun to liven up your gardening with a whimsical pink elephant watering can!  Handy in the garden and, since it holds 2 quarts of water, it is the perfect size for your window box flowers or house plants.








Fun Elephant Facts



 
  • The elephant is largest land animal in existence.
  • Elephants are intelligent animals and thought to be very wise.
  • Elephants love pumpkins and watermelon!
  • Elephants are considered a good luck symbol. They say that having an elephant symbol face the door will bring good luck into the house. 


Enjoy Elephant Appreciation Day




So, circle September 22 on your calendar and get ready to celebrate and appreciate this unique animal on Elephant Appreciation Day.


(c) Wednesday Elf 9/19/2015. Updated 8/13/2018




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