Cube Crazy

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My young friend Noah is into the hard stuff, and that’s a little surprising for a 10-year-old. To be clear, I’m referring to Rubik’s Cube puzzles, not the hard stuff that leaves you with a hangover the next day.

Some of these are really complicated!

rubiks-cube-1390088__340The regular cubes-

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those that leave me scratching my head are child’s play for Noah.

Would you care to try the Rubik’s Snake Cobra, or the Triple Two by Two?  Here’s a  guaranteed headache – there’s a  Chinese version that has a thousand cubes and they’re all the same color. What?? (They do have tiny braille-like designs on each square.)

Noah recently attended a Cube convention, and his fan club came along to cheer him on.

In case you hadn’t heard, there are Speed Clubs and Rubik’s competitions everywhere these days.  Some are casual, low-stress events, while others are high stakes tournaments where “speed cubers” are flown around the world. These celebrities of the puzzle world are so good it makes your eyes spin. Catch this video of a boy in China who can solve three puzzles at once. Two with his hands and another with his feet.

Prizes range from scholarships and sponsorship deals, to cold hard cash. Some cubers build social media followings that can also be parlayed into big bucks.

Are you good at solving Rubik’s cubes?  Are there dollar signs flashing in your eyes as you read this article? Who knows, maybe you could win big. You might even make enough to purchase a “Masterpiece Cube”. For a mere $2.5 million dollars you can own a Rubick’s Cube made from 18-karat gold and covered in gemstones. This purchase will not only make a hole in your wallet but will assure your entrance into to the CUBE CRAZY hall of fame.

The convention we attended was low key and stress-free, a fun competition with lots of awards and prizes. Noah didn’t win, but he didn’t lose either.  He ended up comfortably in the middle, with plenty of room to grow.

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And I think he had a great time.

Would you like to get involved in this brain-bending hobby?  It’s easy, google Rubik’s Cube Clubs and you’ll find plenty of local options.

 

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Night of the Tarantula or, The Spider Transport Theory


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Is it Charlotte?

My son believes all creatures have the right to a long and happy life, and that even spiders who have wandered into the house should be gently transported back to the yard or garden from whence they came.

While I don’t always agree with this theory, I’m not entirely hard-hearted either. Largely due to repeated readings of Charlotte’s Web as a child, I’m willing to do my part to for the insect world and am happy to alert my son if a spider needs rescuing. I don’t intentionally step on ants, and I’ve been known to hold the door open and shoe flying things outside rather than resorting to more violent methods of dispatch. But even I have my limits, and these were sorely tested on the night of the tarantula.

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Cutting Cable

 

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We recently cancelled our cable T.V. subscription, and now get a wide variety of local stations with our rabbit ears antenna. Our favorite, “Grit”, features old westerns and lots of infomercials. We love the westerns, the infomercials not so much, but have found them to be exceedingly funny.

“Hurry!” my husband called from down the hall. “They’re selling a flashlight that works even when it’s frozen in a block of ice. I bought two!”

Thankfully he was kidding, about the purchase, but not the product.

Remember Al Borland form the 90’s sitcom Tool Time? He’s hawking a hose that magically rewinds itself when not in use. Not only that but it won’t break, even when stretched between two large pickups pulling in the opposite direction!

There’s a cooler that folds down into a compact, easily portable form. In fact it’s so  lightweight that Grandma is shown dancing with one of these in each hand. Trucks are also featured here. This cooler won’t break even when RUN OVER by a large pickup.

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Gardener’s Remorse

 

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There’s a term for people who buy things then wish they hadn’t. It’s called buyer’s remorse. I believe there is a similar phenomenon associated with gardening. For want of a better term we’ll call it Gardener’s Remorse. This is the direct result of spending too many winter evenings drooling over sumptuous gardening books and technicolor seed catalogs.

The most basic manifestation of this malady is complete and utter loss of self-control upon entering a gardening store. All those frost-fueled dreams of picture perfect gardens rise up and rob you of common sense. Before you know it your arms are full of impulse-buy exotics, which while breathtaking in the South Pacific, instantly perish in their new home of say – Utah.

Alas, this is but one of the many symptoms of Gardener’s Remorse. Read on for cautionary tales which may prevent you from falling victim to:

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Women Dancing

music-594955_640 What brings people of different cultures together? How does a roomful of strangers from countries as diverse as India, England, Ghana, Spain, and the US form a bond? Would your first guess be, women dancing? Not mine, but let me tell you why it’s true.

International Cruise

I recently had the opportunity to go on an international cruise and was fascinated by the variety of dress, language, and culture on board. I’ve always been a people person, but while I love making new friends, I’m a little hesitant to reach out when the cultural differences are so strong. Thanks to the language barrier, conversation isn’t always an option and you never know how this person with completely different life experiences might react to your overtures of friendship. So I continued to enjoy the diversity from afar.

Then one morning as my friend and I were sitting in the lobby, one of the crew members put on some catchy dance music. I noticed one woman at a table in the corner start clapping and nodding her head to the beat and before long she stood and began to dance in her little space. Others applauded and, encouraged, she moved out to the main floor and began to dance in earnest.

A beautiful black woman, she wore robes that suggested Africa, and danced in a flowing, almost ballet style. When the music ended everyone cheered. She grinned and motioned for her elderly mother to join her. This lovely senior citizen rose and made her slow but dignified way towards the front. And, though somewhat bent and arthritic, when the music started . . . she  busted some moves! The crowd went wild and more women joined them on the dance floor.

The Congo Line

The clincher was the Congo line.  When that started most of the women in the room joined in, and you’ve never so many glowing faces and smiling eyes. As the line wove it’s way into a circle, people took turns dancing through the middle, encouraged by the applause and support of the entire group. Even those who would ordinarily never dream of dancing in public found themselves having the time of their lives. We laughed and cheered each other on for almost an hour, until exhaustion set in and the crowd finally began to disperse.

After that, whenever we’d see each other on the ship we’d high five and grin. No words were necessary. It was, as my friend so aptly put it, a magical experience. What brings people of different cultures together? I think I know – music, dance, smiles, a shared love of connection, and the fact that we have a lot more in common than we realize. My new motto? Get up and dance!

Great Dance Music! http://talkaboutpopmusic.net/2015/05/16/lets-get-the-party-started/

Good Samaritan @ Smith’s Pharmacy

thanksWell, I’m back from the twilight zone. I’m not sure if anyone will ever see this because my readership has tanked due to my self-imposed blog fast, but I hope someone does because this is a great story. It’ll make you happy!

My 24-year-old daughter Josie is a caretaker, she has a nurturing heart and has always been the listening ear/shoulder to cry on for her brothers and anyone else who‘s singing the blues. As of now she has a job taking care of Cindy, a handicapped individual, who though smart as a whip is sadly, paralyzed.

My daughter’s job is to care for Cindy’s needs and make her as comfortable as possible. They have a great time visiting museums and movie theaters, the zoo and the aquarium, but it’s not always fun and games. Jo also drives her to doctors appointments, takes her shopping, styles her hair and even feeds her. Needless to say, this is a very special relationship.

About a week ago my daughter and her charge were at a pharmacy waiting to pick up some medication. It had been a long day and Cindy was hungry. Josie bought some yogurt and proceeded to feed it to her. After a few minutes a nattily dressed older gentleman came over and seemed to be watching them.

“Is this a mother daughter relationship,” he said.

My daughter, not sure what to make of him said, “No.”

“Are you sisters?”

“We’re not. This is Cindy and I’m her caretaker.”

“Well,” he continued, “will you two do something for me?”

Radar on full alert now Josie hesitated, and watched as the man reached into his pocket.  He pulled out his wallet, and proceeded to hand them a $100 dollar bill.

“I’d like you two to have a day out on me.“

Mouth hanging open, my daughter tried to give it back to him and finally stuttered out a thank you. The man walked away before she could adequately express her appreciation or even get his name.The next day Jo and Cindy went out for a lovely lunch at Cheese Cake Factory, and got their nails done – on the Mystery man’s dime.

THANKS COOL AND CLASSY GENTLEMAN AT SMITHS PHARMACY!

If you’re reading this my daughter thinks the world of you and what you did. Also,you made everyone’s day!

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Learning To Fly

a young chipping sparrow fresh from the nest

The weather is so beautiful today, it puts me in mind of another spring day years ago . .

The sun dappled leaves of the Elm tree-shaded our patio swing as I swayed, happily immersed in the Sunday paper. My faithful hound Toby snored at my feet, and a warm breeze carried the scent of summer blossoms. It was a tranquil scene – until I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned just in time to see a scruffy-looking object plummet from the sky and land with a plop on the dog’s nose.

Too startled to move at first, we both just stared. It was a baby bird. As it hopped from its unfortunate landing pad, Toby came to her senses and did what any self-respecting dog would do – she lunged. So did I, and grabbed her collar just in the nick of time. Toby’s teeth snapped shut on empty air and I began dragging her towards the house. Claws raking furrows in the lawn, she struggled to get at the bird all the while yelping like a strangled hyena.

My husband stuck his head out the door. “What’s going on?” he said.
At that point the noise level in our backyard was roughly equivalent to a rock concert. In addition to the howling dog, we had acquired an entire flock of hysterical bird relatives chirping and shrieking and swooping through the air. All the while the young bird, apparently unconcerned by the uproar it had caused, sat calmly in the grass, bright eyes blinking in the sun.

After depositing our crazed pet in the house, my husband and I sat down to watch the drama unfold. Two of the birds, presumably Mom and Dad, landed near the baby and chirped with shrill disapproval.

We wondered what had happened. Was this a flying lesson gone awry? Had the youngster simply gotten tired of testing its new wings and checked out? The odds of it dropping from the sky and landing on the nose of a dog must have been astronomical, but as I’ve learned over the years, it’s best to expect the unexpected when dealing with children. The adult birds were clearly appalled by their offspring’s close call, and I could imagine the dialogue that must have been taking place.

Mother bird: “What were you thinking!”
Baby: “Nobody told me not to land on a dog’s nose.”
Father bird: “Why would we tell you that? Everyone knows better than that!”

Like any child caught in an embarrassing situation, this one appeared to ignore its elders. It fluffed its feathers with great dignity and at one point actually turned its back on the others. It made a couple of half-hearted attempts to fly, but though seemingly uninjured, just didn’t seem that interested.

Suspecting that our presence was adding stress to the situation, my husband and I retired to the house. I kept an eye on the scene lest a cat should appear, but it was clear that the bird family could easily take down a dinosaur if necessary. Before long the baby seemed to reconsider the merits of our lawn, and without fanfare, lifted itself into the sky, entourage in tow, and flew away. Quiet reigned in our yard once more.

I could relate to that bird family. I knew exactly how they felt. Eventually we all have to push our children out of the nest, yet in spite of our best efforts they often manage to get themselves into awe-inspiring trouble. In the end we simply have to shake our heads and accept the fact that we can’t protect them from everything. Sometimes all we can do is pray – namely that they’ll exercise caution with their new wings and ultimately,  find a safe place to land.

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