Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Wrong St. Anthony

Growing up I was exposed to many saints and their miracles. Between my Mother and Grandmother I heard plenty of stories. One of my favorites is the story of St. Anthony and how he helps find lost items or persons.
One time, while in high school I asked my mother if I would ever find a boyfriend.  Her answer was, "Pray to St. Anthony!" She then told me this story:

"Once there lived a young girl who wanted to find a young man.  It seems that none of the men in her village seemed interested in her.  She lamented that she would never find anyone and was told by her mother to pray to St. Anthony, who was known to find lost things.  The young girl prayed and prayed but after a year of praying she said, "I am wasting my time praying to this statue."  She threw the large statue out of her second story window. 

When she heard a commotion she looked out the window and realized that the statue had struck someone walking past her home.  She ran out and asked the people gathered around the inert body to bring the person into the house.  The man who had been hit was in a coma and she, feeling guilty for having caused his illness, began nursing him back to health.

One day the man awoke and opened his eyes. Seeing the lovely girl taking care of him, he fell in love. She looked at him and realized that he was a very handsome young man with long, dark eyelashes.  Their love blossomed and when he was fully recovered, they ended up getting married.

She then knew that her prayers to St. Anthony had been answered!"

I know that when I lose something, the first thought is to pray to St. Anthony. Today, January 17,  I see on the calendar that it is St. Anthony's feast day and thought I would do my blog on him.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that there are two St. Anthony's.  The one I am familiar with has a feast day on June 13 and is known as St. Anthony of Padua.   Today's St. Anthony is from Egypt and is from the 3rd century. He is known as the first abbot of monks. Live and learn!

Snow Art

Ice sculptures advertising the event.
About fifteen years ago I drove to Breckenridge, Colorado, to see some snow sculptures.  Since that time, every year I think about returning to see artists carving art into blocks of snow but for one reason or another I miss the show.  This year, the Apex Recreational Center had a trip going to the 23rd Annual International Snow Sculpture Championships on Friday, January 25, 2013.
Block of Snow

The small "bus" left at 8:40 a.m. and we arrived at Breckenridge around 11:00 a.m. The whirring of chain saws and the scraping of snow could be heard as artists and their teams worked on a block of snow. Sixteen blocks of ice are placed along Riverwalk Center and the different countries begin carving the snow. When I arrived at the viewing area, already many of the blocks had taken shape and form.

Argentina:  Caracola
Australia:    Emu Egg
Canada/Yukon: An Inuit Moral Tale
Spain/Catalonia: Homage to Picasso
China:  Happy Winter
Ecuador: Fossils
Estonia: Koit from an old fairy tale.
Germany: Shooting Star
Great Britain/Wales: The Seven Deadly Sins
Iceland: Lopapeysa: Snow house with windows representing the pattern of the traditional Icelandic sweater.
Mexico: A mechanical whale
Mongolia: Warriors
Singapore: Love, balance and community represented by Merlion and dolphins.
Alaska: Raven Myth
Breckenridge: Bull rider

7 Deadly Sins
Some of the tools used by artist
I was surprised to find out that each block of snow weighs about 40,000 pounds which equals around 320 tons. The snow is carted from the ski slopes (man made snow) in dump trucks and placed in wooden molds measuring 10x10x12 feet. Volunteer "snow-stompers" climb into the block and stomp the snow to help pack it down. In the 65 hours given to the artists to complete the sculpture they use vegetables peelers, awls, wire, saws and paint scrapers.  Power tools can not be used.

Mexico's beginning of a mechanical whale.
Mongolian Warriors
Interactive train for kids
The beginning of the Budweiser Wagon

After wandering around the many clever snow designs, we ate lunch at Downstairs at Eric's, shopped at Shirt Off My Back, had hot tea at a cozy place with soft couches, easy chairs, and small round tables called Crown Cafe and Tavern. The winners of the sculptures would be announced over the weekend and awards distributed on Sunday. The interesting thing is that the talented artists are awarded ribbons and no money is won!

The tourist office let us know about a free shuttle to the gondola for a free ride to the top of the mountain. The horse and buggy ride cost around $25 for a ten minute ride. I am sure there was plenty more to do but it was  2:15 and we were ready to return home.

Me with a boy Induit

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Remember Charm Bracelets?

 Before I began collecting key chains from different places I would visit, I used to collect silver charms.  There was a time when charm bracelets were the in thing and one could hear a woman nearing by the jangling of her bracelet. When I look at my charms I am transported to places I have been, who I was with, and what I was doing.

A coin from Guatemala

On my visit to Guatemala I could not find a charm and I ended up finding a silver Quetzal that I planned to have made into a charm but I never got around to doing it.

Reno, Echo Lake, Germany, Sand Dunes and Black Hills, SD
 In Reno I attended a conference for work, have fond memories of Germany, Sand Dunes I returned with my grandchildren so they could enjoy the huge mounds of sand, and on the South Dakota trip I saw Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and Bad Lands.

Switzerland, Estes Park, Mexico, and Grand Canyon

 In Switzerland I saw a smaller version of Notre Dame, elk in Estes, spent many wonderful times on my visits to Mexico-- from one coast to the other, saw Lake Powell and Grand Canyon in our Lindy camper.

Many memories

As I look at my bracelet I see a typewriter representing the time I worked, the Canadian maple leaf on my visit to far northern edge of the United States and Canada, a camera because it is my hobby, an airplane for all my travels, a lei from Hawaii, when I became Ms. instead of Mrs., a road runner from Arizona, a balloon for the many times I attended the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, a jeep for the one I won and for my frightening 4Wheeling experience, St. Francis of Assisi when I visited Assisi, an Inca from my visit to Peru, a slot machine for my gambling in Blackhawk and Las Vegas, map of the state of New York, San Francisco trolley, skis that remind me of my experience on the slopes and taking my children to the mountains, map of Kauai when we stayed at Princeville and saw three or more rainbows at a time every day, a bride/bridesmaid, and grandchildren.

Grandchildren Charms

Each silver piece brings back wonderful memories and if I had continued picking up a charm every time I traveled, or every event I wanted to remember, I would not be able to lift my arm!

"A piece of silver
intertwined with
my heart."
E Moscoso

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cellular Phone Dilemma

When I expect to pay a certain amount for my cell phone and then every bill I receive is different, it bothers me.  It seems that every month I had to call T-Mobile to find out why the amounts they were charging were always higher than the original agreed amount.  Because I am a good customer, I was told, as a one time favor, they would deduct the overage. As soon as my two year contract was over, I decided to cancel with T-Mobile. Even though I was not using the T-Mobile phone, they would not cancel my service until the end of their billing cycle which gave them two more weeks to charge me!

AAA was offering  a very inexpensive monthly plan and trusting AAA I purchased a phone from them for $29.95 and my monthly bill would be $30.00 giving me the same coverage that T-Mobile had given me for half the price!  I also decided to cancel my land line and just have my cellular since some of my friends seemed to function quite well with just a cellular. I wanted my land line number to be transferred to my new cellular which is called  "porting." When I received the $29.95 phone I was surprised at how small it was, how it didn't look new, and how it kept dropping calls.  I was not happy.  When I called Affinity, (the company I was now with) I always got a foreign sounding person who seemed to have as many  problems understanding me as I had him!  I was on the phone with Affinity daily with one problem or another and trying to find out if my number had been ported. The only phone number I could use was a number Affinity had assigned to me. Since no one knew that number, I was technically without a phone for a month! I will have to admit that it was peaceful without calls but I did wonder if I was missing an important call. One morning, as I was charging the phone, I pulled the plug out of the electrical socket and one prong stayed in the socket.  After contacting AAA (Affinity) they sent me another one but not before I purchased a universal charger from Radio Shack for $22.00. As I pulled the prong out of the socket with needle-nose pliers, I feared I would electrocute myself.

I continued looking for a cell phone because I knew I would not be keeping the AAA one.  The old adage of "you get what you pay for" is so true! What I wanted was a phone with a "Qwerty" keyboard. I did not want a smart phone because they do not come with a sliding keyboard. I was allowed to practice on an Apple and realized it was too fast for me and in trying to send a text message I could never hit the right keys. The I-Phone seemed to have more features than I wanted or needed.  I found a cell phone that I liked but thanks to the Internet I read horrible reviews for the phone. My search continued.  Finally, I found one with a Qwerty (some salesmen had never heard the term) and even though it was a smart phone I liked the slide out board. The phone would cost me $129.95 and my monthly plan with Verizon would be $90. Waiting at the Verizon store was about 40 minutes so I left without purchasing the phone I liked.

I stopped at Costco and found the same phone, the Samsung Galaxy II, and it was free plus I would get a $35 rebate. Then began the frustrating time of trying to port the number from AAA. I was told it would take 24 hours or possibly 48 hours. It took a week with many visits to the Verizon store and many phone calls. From one Verizon store to another I was given different information. At one store I was told I needed to change the Sim card when the number was ported. At another store I was told I could keep the same Sim card.  One store was able to put the cover on with no trouble while another store could not get the cover off and had to ask for help. Putting the cover back on was a struggle for the clerk and it worried me she would damage my phone!  It seems to me that the left hand of the cellular companies does not know what the right hand is doing. Yesterday, I received a letter from Century Link that my Internet will be $19.95 for the next five years, instead of the the $40 I was told it would be, if I return to a land line with them.  What to do is the question.  I figure that in trying to save money I may end paying more.

It has been a frustrating and expensive journey and now for the next two years I will be with Verizon.  I do have 45 days to decide if I will keep the phone, whether I like it, and whether I will be billed what I have been told my bill will be!  Without trying, I have become a collector of cell phones!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Difference Between a Play and a Movie

In December I went to the Buell Theater in downtown Denver to see the play White Christmas by Irving Berlin. Listening and watching actors perform on stage to me is a warmer experience than watching a movie. Those actors have to be on the ball so that they don't goof up, plus they have to memorize all their lines! The play was funny and nostalgic. A spectacular Christmas tree, the audience joining in to sing White Christmas and "snow" falling from the ceiling ended the play. It looked as if the play was a hit because everyone leaving the theater seemed to be smiling!

I had never seen the movie of White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye so through Netflix I ordered it.  This evening I watched White Christmas and liked it better than the play.  The movie version was a bit different than the play and the story line seemed to flow smoother.  Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney played the roles of the Haynes sisters, Judy and Betty. 

It was clear that when Danny Kaye (Phil) saves Bing Crosby's (Bob) life, Bob goes along with Phil's wishes in appreciation, yet in the play that fact is never mentioned. I noticed that the wall falling, Phil saving Bob's life, the phony engagement between Phil and Betty, Phil claiming an injury to keep the General from watching television, and the gift of a white knight on the horse were left out of the play.  The movie had a better love story with not as much bickering as in the play. The play added the General's granddaughter singing and dancing, and much more arguing between Bob and Judy.  Due to space and time constraints, I understand why there weren't as many song and dance acts in the play as in the movie.

It always amazes me how sets can be so realistic in a play and how they can be moved to change a scene.  I realize that in the movie there are more chances to expand the area where the acting is taking place while in a play there is only so much space for all the action to take place. In a play, no performance is alike while in a movie nothing will ever change!

Now that I have enjoyed both, the play and the movie, I understand why Irving Berlin came up with a great story for the Christmas holiday and why White Christmas is a classic.

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Read My Pins"

 The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California had an exhibition of Madeleine Albright's pin collection that my daughter and I went to see. What I remembered about Madeleine Albright was a plain, unattractive older lady traveling the world as Secretary of State. I would see pictures of her with heads of state but never noticed any pins. When I saw her pin collection, on my recent trip to California, I learned more about her and now I admire and respect her! In 1997 she became the first female Secretary of State and the highest ranking women in politics in the United States.

I thought we would be looking at a few pins and my surprise came when I saw over 200 pins on display! The pins ranged from animals, flowers, flags, insects, boats, shoes, boots, hats, turtles, angels, fruits, vegetables, buildings and musical instruments. Her collection began after Saddam Hussein referred to her as "a serpent." She decided to wear a gold snake pin on her suit on her visit to Iraq. The antique serpent's tail from 1860 is a gold and diamond snake curled around a branch. This pin was the beginning of her "making a statement" with her jewelry.

One pin I found interesting was her Liberty brooch.  It is the head of the Statue of Liberty with two time pieces; one upside down so she could look to see the time and the other for anyone looking at the pin to also be able to see the time.

Some pins were costume jewelry, some were antiques, and others were very expensive with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and gold. 

A grouping of musical instrument pins showed her love of jazz.
She had a sense of humor and I thought this photo of Defense Secretary William Cohen, President Clinton and Madeline Albright expressed her fun side along with the three monkey pins. As my daughter and I looked at all the cases with the many pins, in the background we could hear a video of her story. We had to laugh when we heard that she was called "Madame Cojones." (In Spanish it refers to "having balls!"

Madeleine Albright's book entitled Read My Pins: Stories from a     Diplomat's Jewel Box has photographs and stories about when and why she wore certain pins. I liked the zebra over the shoulder pin when she met with South African Nelson Mandela.  Her explanation of wearing pins to convey her mood is in the book. "If I had a ladybug or a butterfly, they knew I was in a good mood. If I wore my angel pin they could expect me to be gentle. But if it was a spider or a wasp, they had fair warning to watch out." Who would have guessed that looking at pins would also give me a history lesson?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A First on New Year's Eve!

Horned melon, Pepino melon and a Persimmon.

What does a kumquat, horned fruit, Pepino melon, persimmon, and a Bosc pear have in common? These are fruits that my granddaughters and I had never tasted.  On New Year's Eve we decided to pick out fruit we had never eaten and to celebrate by having a tasting party.

My favorite was a persimmon. It looks like an orange tomato or an orange with smooth skin.
It is sweet and moist.

A Kumquat is a pale orange-yellow, olive shaped, and the whole thing can be popped into the mouth and eaten.  The outside is sweet but the pulp has a tart taste.  It can be described as sweet and tangy.

Horned melon fruit comes from Africa and it is an orange color with thorns or spikes. The inside has seeds in a green pulp. It has its own unique taste but we did not like it very much!

Pepino Melon is white or cream colored with purple lines and larger than an egg.  It tasted like a mild cucumber.  I should have figured it out because pepino means cucumber or pickle in Spanish.

I have eaten Bartlett and D'Anjou pears but had never tasted a Bosc pear. It is a brownish color and the meat is firmer and not as grainy as other pears. It is very sweet.  The girls and I liked the taste of this pear and it was a toss up between the pear and the persimmon.
Fruit we had never tasted!
Most people probably celebrated by drinking champagne or apple juice to bring in the new year of 2013 but my two granddaughters and I celebrated by tasting exotic food!