Monday, August 31, 2009

August 2009 craft update: hat & scarf

It's time for August 2009's craft update. :)

I haven't done much work on the clay dragon I've been working on, though I have managed to get it to the point where it just needs a few finishing touches to be finished. I'm planning on sorting it out this coming weekend, so should have a photo of it for September's craft update. All being well I should also get it - and the ducks - painted before the end of September too. Kelly's going to help me do that part. I'd like them painted, but that part is obviously quite difficult for me to do by myself.

Anyway... I finished knitting the scarf I was making just a few days in to the month - as I said I would - so here is a photo of it.

As I said, it's part of a set I'm making. I also said I would be making a start on the hat this month. As it turns out though, I've already finished the hat. So, here's a photo of that too.

I'm now working on the gloves for the set, and am actually quite pleased with how they're going. I've already almost finished one of the gloves. I'll be working on finishing the gloves over the next week or so, and am hoping to be well on the way with the next item before September is over.

I still have a small list of items I want/need to get done for people for Christmas, and when those are done I'll be starting the items for those of you who signed up for the handmade giveaway thing. So, it looks as though I have plenty of craft projects to keep me busy for some time. :)

I'm actually ahead of the schedule I set myself for craft projects though, since I didn't expect to even have the hat done yet, let alone be so far with the gloves. And the gloves are easier than I expected them to be. Going to have to get someone to take me to the library so I can get some audiobooks to listen to while I work on the items... I always seem to do more when I have something to listen to, and I'd like something new to listen to. There's nothing wrong with the audiobooks I have, but it would be nice to have something I haven't already listened to. I haven't had anything new to listen to for a couple of months, so I think I've been plenty patient.

Anyway, I'm starting to get off the topic this post is meant to be about, so I think it's time for me to end this post and hit that "publish" button. So... That's it for this month's craft update. :)


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Only me

I took these of myself when I had the camera out on a walk with Kero recently. I don't remember what day it was, but whenever it was I think it was the same day I took the couple of shots that were in his post on Friday. I'm also not entirely sure why I decided to take the photos... I think I just wanted to see if I could. *Shrugs* Anyway, just thought I'd share these photos.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend! :)


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Movies and mayhem (FD)

I've had a really, really busy week. I already mentioned on Monday that I was away for a couple of days this week, though I haven't yet said where I went. Don't worry, I'll tell you soon... Honest! ;)

Monday wasn't as busy as I expected it to be. I went shopping with Mam to make sure Kelly and Kero had everything they'd need while I was away (shopping day is usually Tuesday, but I wasn't going to be around to shop on Tuesday). I also had a few other things I needed and wanted to do before I went away for those couple of days. Like I said though, the day wasn't as busy as I'd expected it to be. It turned out I had a couple of hours extra to do stuff in, because my mobility lesson got cancelled. I doubt I'll have one this week either because it's a bank holiday, so I'm not expecting to have one. I know the office is shut, so it's extremely unlikely she's going to be showing up. They don't generally work on bank holidays. Very few people do.

Mam came for me really early on Tuesday, and we had a few hours in the car driving down to Devon. We were technically going to see my Grandad, though it was actually Wednesday before we actually saw him. Mam just didn't want to have to drive all the way there for just a couple of hours, only to turn around and drive straight home. So Tuesday we went and looked around some of the small towns near where Grandad lives, and ended up almost passing where one set of my Godparents lived when my Mam lived down there. So Mam asked if I was up for a trip to go and see if they still lived there, and I figured we might as well. To cut a long story short, they're seporated now, but my Godfather (Ernie) still lives there. I haven't seen him since I was about 3 or 4 years old. He hadn't forgotten about me though, so I guess that's a good thing. We stayed long enough for a cup of tea and a chat, and I met one of his daughters and her baby son. Then off we went again.

We spent Tuesday evening in the bedroom of the bed and breakfast we were staying at, and watched a movie. We watched "The Day After Tomorrow" - which I'm sure I've reviewed before - because that's what was on the movie channel they had there. It's a great movie though. Even Mam sat sort of still for it, which is impressive with her, because she doesn't stay still for long. LOL!

Wednesday morning we went over to Grandad's house, and we spent some time there with him, then we took him out for a meal. I don't remember what the place was called, but the food was very nice. I had a spinach and nutmeg tart with garlic roast potatoes (the best vegetarian option available, but it turned out to be a good choice), and my desert was apple and caramel crumble with custard. Mam and Grandad both had fish and chips with peas, but I don't remember what they had for desert. Well, actually, I do remember what Mam had for her desert, but I'm not even going to attempt to spell it. I can hardly say the word, let alone spell it. LOL!

We took a couple of photos, but I haven't had time to get them sorted yet. I'll post them separately once they're sorted. Until then you'll just have to wait patiently... Or impatiently, if you prefer. ;)

We didn't get home until about 7:00 pm Wednesday, so by the time I'd checked e-mails and such I was ready for bed. Didn't even bother to unpack properly until Thursday. Actually, a couple of things are still in the bag I took with me. You know? The things I don't need often. LOL!


Thursday I was out most of the day with Mam and Wayne. I needed to get some bits of food for myself, since I hadn't bothered on Monday when shopping for Kero and Kelly (didn't see the point when I wouldn't be home) and Wayne had a hospital appointment at a hospital near to an Asda, so I went with Mam and Wayne to Wayne's appointment so we could go straight to Asda from the hospital. Other than that, all I really had time to do on Thursday was write Thursday's post, make sure Kero's post was set up, and comment on a few blog posts. I didn't get many posts commented on though, because Mam and Dad came for a visit in the evening, and by the time they went home I was too tired to bother with anything that didn't involve preporations for bed.

Then, Friday (yesterday) Mam and I went to start preporations for getting the two of us and Kelly joined up at the local gym. Mam and I had memberships there before, but we stopped going so we had to renew our membership. I don't know why Mam stopped going, but I stopped because I didn't like how early we were having to go because of busses and such. Also, I was spending too much time with hospital appointments and such to have energy for stuff like that. Kelly didn't have a membership there before though, but he wants to go to the gym as well, so we're getting one sorted for him. Dad says he'll have Kero any time the three of us want to go to the gym together. He'll be having him Wednesday, because we have to all be there Wednesday morning for our "induction day" then it's up to us when we go and for how long. And Mam made the time more to my liking (10:00 am instead of 7:00 am).

We spent more time than we planned to sorting out the stuff for the gym, so by the time we had things sorted it was time for Mam and I to run the couple of errands we wanted to run. Or, more to the point, needed to run. And we had to do them by a set time, because we needed to catch the 4:40 pm showing of Ice Age 3. That's the last showing of the day, and we didn't want to miss it.

Yes, that's right, I actually got to see "Ice Age 3" at last! It was really good, though - in my opinion - not quite as good as the first two were. And I think Mam was of the same opinion. Still, like I said, it was good. I'm sure you all know what the movie is about - at least, roughly - so I wont bother to tell you. Though, if anyone doesn't know and wants me to explain, feel free to ask. :)


After the movie we came back home (to my place) where Kelly had cooked dinner. He'd already eaten his, since we were home later than we thought we'd be, and he didn't want his getting cold. Mam was staying down here the night, and Kelly was staying up at her place with Dad because they're going to some kind of gaming club together today. So Mam took Kelly to her place while I checked on a few more blog posts, then - when she got back - we had our dinners before watching "Spiderwick Chronicles" together. We figured we mightt as well wait until Mam had taken Kelly up to her place for our dinners, since then we knew we could sit down and take our time with them.

Anyway, Mam had seen "Spiderwick Chronicles" before... It was her DVD... But I hadn't. I've been asking to borrow it for several months, and am glad I finally got to see it. It's a really good movie, and - for anyone who doesn't know and is interested - it's about a boy who moves in to his great aunt's house and finds a book with a warning on it not to read it. Of course, he does read it - I mean, who pays attention to those warnings? - And ends up trying to protect the book, his new home, his family, and himself from an evil Ogre. And the only person who can help him was taken away by the fairies 80 years before.

After the movie we had some cocoa, then went to bed. We then spent this morning doing those bits of housework that people only do once or twice a month. You know? Moving things to actually hoover behind or under them, sorting through paperwork that needed to only be kept for a certain amount of time in order to throw out the ones you don't need any more, and that sort of thing.

Mam went home after lunch, so it's just me and Kero this afternoon, since Kelly's not due back until this evening some time. No walkies today though... I'm too tired, and Kero seems to be too tired to be bothered about going walkies too. Besides, it's not unusual for me not to bother on Saturdays and Sundays, because a lot of other people walk on the weekends, and it's often difficult for me to navigate safely around all the people pushing prrams, riding bikes, and walking dogs.

If I've promised you I'll post about something and you have yet to see that post, don't worry. I have several posts I'm working on, so the chances are that post will be among the ones I'm working on. Anyway, I'll let this do for now so I can go and sort those posts out. Besides, I think I've said everything I wanted to say today. And this post is probably plenty long enough.

Enjoy whatever's left of your day! :)


Friday, August 28, 2009

Kero's Korner: Out on walkies

Hi humans!

Mami took the camera with us when we went out on our walkies one day recently. I don't remember what day though. I had too much to sniff and look at to stay still for photos, but she did what she could without disturbing my inspection of the place where we go walkies.

The photo at the top of the post is just a bit of an idea of where we go walkies. The best photos - in my opinion - are the two below this text though... Those two have me in them!

Like I said, I didn't have time to pose. But any photo with me in it is a good photo.

Licks and sniffs,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Answer to Monday's question

As you may remember, I asked a question on Monday. The question was, "if darkness is what you get when the light goes away, what do you get if the light doesn't show up in the first place?" And the answer was - as a couple of you said - nothing. That's what you get... Nothing! You can't have one without the other, so if you don't have either, you have nothing. After all - as is often said - you can't miss something that wasn't there in the first place, which means you can't have an absence of light without having light to notice the absence of when it's gone. Darkness is what you get when the sun sets and there's no moon. It's what you get when the power goes out and you have no torch, or no candles. And it's what you get when you're half way down the stairs at night, and your little sister turns off the light and closes the door to the living room. But what you get when there's no light to notice the absence of is... Nothing!

So, now I have a task for you all.

Think of an object... Any object... Not something in front of you, just something you know or love. It can be the face of a loved one (as long as they aren't there for you to get a quick look again... And as long as you don't have photos you can quickly look at) or perhaps something that's at a place you love to visit, or a favourite item. Close your eyes so no other items around you can distract you, or help you with visualization of the object.

Now, tell me... How clearly could you remember the object? Could you remember the shade of colour it was? The details on it? The exact shape?


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Homemade giveaway

I saw this handmade giveaway on both Styxie's blog and Iggy's blog. I nearly didn't sign up for it, but luckily I changed my mind in time to get a spot with both of them. :)

The rules (lifted nearly straight from Iggy's blog):

The first five people to comment on this post will get something made by me. My choice. For you.

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
2- What I create will be just for you.
3- It'll be done within a year... Not by the end of this year, but within 12 months. This time frame is to give me time to complete current projects, create your item, and to allow for postage time (most of the time it only takes a few days to get stuff from the UK to the US or Canada, but it can sometimes take anything up to eight weeks... Though that length of time for delivery is rare).
4- You have no clue what it's going to be... It might be a poem. It might be a story. It might be something knitted. It might be something made out of clay. It may even be something completely different. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
5- I reserve the right to do something extremely creative.

But there's a catch! You must at least consider re-posting this on your own blog and offer the same deal to 5 of your own lucky blog readers (unless you've already done so, in which case I don't think you need to repost the offer... Unless you want to, I mean).

So, the first 5 people to leave a comment telling me they are in, win a homemade gift by me! Oh, and be sure to post a picture of what you win when you get it.

Any takers?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You're real gems

Iggy gave me this award some time last week. He insists he didn't deserve to get it in the first place, but I beg to differ. In fact - despite the fact this will mean he's had it three times that I'm aware of - Iggy is one of the people I want to pass it on to. After all, I can't list my favourite posts without including a post from Iggy. Especially this one where he took me on one of his walks with him.

I'm not sure how many people I'm meant to be passing this on to, but I've gone with five (including Iggy).

With the next three people I can't pick just one post, so I'm awarding it for their whole blogs. I don't know if I can do that or not, but I don't see a rule that says I can't - in fact, I don't see rules at all - so that's what I'm going to do, and if people don't like it... Tough!


The first of the three is Deanna. Yes, I know she's already had it too, but I love the passion with which she writes about her family, and how close they all seem. That's why I feel both Deanna and her daughter Jewelz deserve this award. Not for one spacific post, but for all their posts!

The final person of the three I can't pick a spacific post for is MarmiteToasty. What can I say about Toasty? I love how she tells it like it is. Some of her posts may be a little more detailed than some of us like at times (seriously, her whole blog needs a warning about avoiding food and drink when reading!) But you forget that when reading her blog, and get wrapped up with finding out what she got up to this time.

And the final recipient of this award is Matt for his Flashback Saturday posts, which were - while he was doing them - the highlight of my Saturday afternoons!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Random question: Absence of both light and dark

Darkness is the absence of light. It's what you get when there was light, but there isn't any more. That's logical enough. But here's a question for you to ponder... It's a question that's been below the title of my blog for a little while now... If darkness is what you get when the light goes away, what do you get if the light never shows up in the first place? It can't be darkness, because to have darkness you need to have light first. So, tell me, what do you think the answer is?

I'm away for a couple of days. I have blog posts scheduled for the next couple of days, so you'll have stuff to read. Anyway, I'll tell you what the answer to this question is when I get back.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reasons to celebrate in August

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate most months. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries... They're all good reasons to celebrate!

The following are the reasons why people have been celebrating during August:

2nd - Carl and Rachel's wedding anniversary
3rd - LadyStyx's birthday
21st - AliceKay and Terri's wedding anniversary (if I'm not mistaken)
26th - LadyStyx and Ranger's wedding anniversary

There may also be others I'm not aware of, or have forgotten about.

Happy birthday and happy anniversary to those listed above!

And, if you had a birthday - or celebrated an anniversary - this past month (or will before the month of August is over) then a very happy birthday - or a very happy anniversary - to you too! :)


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Highlights from the past week or so (FD)

The start of my week was busier than planned, and quite hot. The end of it was quieter than planned, and extremely wet. I hate when plans have to be cancelled - even if there's a very valid reason for it - because I always end up feeling bored and fed up on days when I should have had plans but end up having none. I could have tons of stuff to do, but still I feel borred. I think it's just the knowledge that I'm missing out on doing something I was almost going to do, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I ended up having a mobility lesson on Monday after all. Karen (my "rehabilitation officer" as they prefer to be called nowadays) phoned Monday morning to say she was back at work already, and to ask if I wanted a lesson. I had no plans - plus it was a lovely day... The kind of day where the weather just calls to you to come outside and enjoy it - so I told her to come on over. The lesson went really well. I remembered the part of the walk to town she'd shown me before our three week break, and she took me a bit further. Then I got us back with little to no help from her. She was very impressed, but - like I told her - the hardest part is yet to come. Not the hardest part of the walk, but the time when I have to start walking a little way ahead of her, knowing that soon she wont be following at all. That's the hard part... Doing the walk alone.

Tuesday I went shopping with Mam. We tried to do the shopping locally... We wanted to try and support local buisnesses and all that. We were very disappointed. The local health food shop seems to care more about selling herbal vitamins than anything, and the few items we did get from there were mostly disgusting, and the only items that weren't I know I can get for half the price in any other shop. The fruit and veg shop was poorly stocked, and most of what it did have should have been thrown out days before in my opinion. So we ended up going to the nearest Tescos. That Tescos is in town, but it's only a small shop, so itt doesn't stock half of what you'd find in the bigger Tescos or in Asda. We ended up getting substitutes for most items, and leaving some other items because we couldn't even find substitutes. I wanted so much to shop locally, but it looks like it's back to going to the big supermarkets. I mean, there is the market that comes to town on a Friday, but that still doesn't help much, because the only food stall you can guarantee will be there is the fruit and veg one, which still leaves other items we couldn't get. *Sigh*

When we were out on Tuesday we ran in to a family friend with her baby son. The baby is about 5 or 6 months old. I was letting him hold on to my finger while we talked, and he took some persuading to let go. This was the first time he'd seen me, but he seemed to really like me. When we finally got his little fist unclenched - it's harder to unclench a baby's fist when they don't want it unclenched than you might think - he reached out and almost got hold of my finger again before I had time to get my hand away. I hope any kids I have are that eager to stop me from going anywhere.

Anyway, Kero and I spent the day at my parents' place on Wednesday, because we figured it was easier. Someone was coming to do the anual check on the gas fire and heating system, and Kero has a habit of trying to "help" people like that. They generally don't appreciate his help, so Mam took me and Kero up to her place out of the way. She picked us up a little before 8:30 am, and we never came home until around 5:00 pm. That meant we stayed up there for dinner, and - since we were coming home around dinner time - we brought a dinner home for Kelly to save him cooking. Mam and I had steamed vegetables, but everyone else had toad in the hole, roasties and steamed vegetables.

Dad and I spent a lot of the day working on the Valhalla game together while Kero and Willow napped beside us. The rest of it was taken up with the several trips downstairs I had to make with the dogs. Dad did try to take them, but Kero was having none of it. He stood at the top of the stairs and refused to go down without me. First and only time he was downstairs without me was when my Mam got home from her appointment and he went to greet her (then made her bring him up to me). That dog knows what he wants. LOL! He really was a good boy though.

Mam and I had hoped to take the dogs for a walk together, but it was Wednesday the rain started, so that idea went right out the window. The dogs didn't seem all that bothered though. They were happy with just making regular trips out to the garden with me between showers, and having a good sniff about.

Mam, Chelsea and I were meant to have gone to see "Ice Age 3" on Thursday, but Mam's car started playing up Wednesday, and it had to go to a mechanic. Dad's car was already with a mechanic, which left them without a car, so we had no reliable way of getting to and from the cinema. The local cinema has stopped showing the film - and, besides, Chelsea's ticket is for the Odeon - so we have to go to the Odeon in Swansea to see the film. We know they're definately showing it until the end of the month, so we're still hoping we'll get to go and see it. Fingers crossed!

I ordered a new talking watch on Thursday, which came on Friday. Talk about fast delivery! If you're wondering, I ordered a new one rather than replacing the battery in the old one for two reasons. The first is that the new watch costs £5 ($10) and the new battery would cost £7 ($14) so buying a new watch is cheaper. The second is that the last time I did have the battery changed instead of buying a new watch the inside of it got damaged, so even with the new battery it wasn't talking properly within a day or so. Of course, since the new battery worked fine when it was leaving the shop, we weren't allowed a refund, so that meant I paid out £7 for nothing, and still ended up paying for a new watch. This time I decided to just skip the messing about and buy a new watch to start with. Now, if the watch was a lot more expensive I'd consider changing the battery on my old one instead. But since it's actually cheaper to buy a new watch anyway... *Shrugs*

Yesterday (Friday) we were meant to be having a bbq. It should have been Mam, Dad, Nan, Wayne, Jane, Louise (Jane's youngest daughter... Not the Louise who sometimes comes on the blogs), Chelsea, Kelly, Kero, Willow, and - of course - myself. But since we'd had storms since Wednesday evening we cancelled. Dad had his car back, but Mam's still wasn't fixed, so we would have had transport to get to my parents' place for the bbq in the evening, but we couldn't trust the weather. As luck would have it Mam and I had prepared for such a thing happening. As I've said several times before, you always need to prepare for rain in Wales... It rains a lot here. Anyway, we had some of the food down here, they had some up there. So, we just cooked our stuff in the oven... I'm assuming Mam and Dad did the same with theirs. It's a shame, because I'd been looking forward to that bbq. We sort of planned it before we even knew Carl and Rachel were moving, because originally they were going to be here for it. They couldn't come for their Summer visit though, because all their time and money is going in to moving at the moment.

I finished listening to "A Series Of Unfortunate Events" at the end of last week, and spent this past week listening to "The Chronicles Of Ancient Darkness" by Michelle Paver again. I know I reviewed this series before. I think it had it's very own post, so if you don't remember it - or if you weren't reading my blog back then - you may want to check that out. Just type "The Chronicles Of Ancient Darkness" or "Michelle Paver" in to the search box up the top there, and I'm sure it will take you to the post where I reviewed it. Of course, this post will probably come back up too... But you'll know to skip this one if you're looking for the review, since I already told you there isn't one in this post. ;)

I think that covers the interesting parts of this past week. I do have a post about a giveaway to post, another about an award, another to answer a question, and several half formed ones floating about in my head... I'll post those soon. I think this will do for now though. Enjoy your day! :)


Friday, August 21, 2009

Kero's Korner: Visiting Willow & my harness

Hi humans, it's Kero here!

Most of my week has been pretty quiet. The human who takes Mami out with that cane thing came back on Monday, Mami went away on Tuesday and came back with food, and - of course - there have been my walkies. But that's about it for most of the week. Except Wednesday. Wednesday was different, because on Wednesday Mami and I went to Willow's house for a visit that lasted all day.

Mamgu came and got us really early, and we went for a car ride up to their house. I played with Willow for a bit, and watched their cat, but mostly Willow and I just alternated between napping while the humans played a computer game, and doing the things we dogs need to do in the garden... Like making sure nobody had snuck in while we were napping. Dadci tried to take us for one of the garden inspections, but I wasn't having that. I couldn't take the chance Mami would slip away. So, I made her come. She said I was a very good boy though, because I sometimes have accidents when I get too involved in inspecting things at their house, but I didn't this time. I made sure to get outside in time. Plus, I didn't try and get the cat, I just watched her. And Willow was good too, because she didn't try and pounce me like she used to. She used to be all over me, but she doesn't do that as much now. That's because she's a big girl... She's nearly 4 paws and a tail. She has her birthday soon after Mami has hers, so it's coming up soon.

My harness broke Wednesday, so Dadi had to get me a new one before I could go for my walkies on Thursday. My new one is red, because Dadi couldn't get blue. Blue ones are hard to find most times. So Mami says she'll get me a new collar and lead so my stuff matches again. My coat for when the weather is really wet and/or cold is red anyway. And Mami and I both agreed it's more important for me to have the stuff than to make sure it's the colour I'm used to. I mean, as long as I get to go walkies, who cares? My stuff was only blue because it meant all of us dogs had different when we had the puppies. Willow's stuff is purple, mine was blue, Jayde's was red, and Lucy's was pink. It wasn't so much that we cared, but it made it easier for the humans to tell who's stuff was who's. It didn't matter much with the puppies, but imagine if they tried to put one of the puppies in my harness... That would have been funny! But now we don't have the puppies, so it doesn't matter if i have blue or red. And red stuff is easier to find anyway. I don't know why, it just is. Perhaps the pet shop humans think dogs like red best?

Licks and sniffs,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Helen Keller (LBE)

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.[1][2] The story of how Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become known worldwide through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker.

A prolific author, Keller was well traveled and was outspoken in her opposition to war. She campaigned for women's suffrage, workers' rights, and socialism, as well as many other progressive causes.

* 1 Early childhood and illness
* 2 Formal education
* 3 Companions
* 4 Political activities
* 5 Writings
* 6 Akita dog
* 7 Later life
* 8 Portrayals of Helen Keller
* 9 Posthumous honors
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 External links

Early childhood and illness
Helen Adams Keller was born at an estate called Ivy Green[3] in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880, to Captain Arthur H. Keller, a former officer of the Confederate Army, and Kate Adams Keller, a cousin of Robert E. Lee and daughter of Charles W. Adams, a former Confederate general.[4] The Keller family originates from Germany.[5] Helen Keller was not born blind and deaf; it was not until she was nineteen months old that she contracted an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain," which could possibly have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. At that time, her only communication partner was Martha Washington,[6] the six-year-old daughter of the family cook, who was able to create a sign language with her; by the age of seven, she had over sixty home signs to communicate with her family. According to Soviet blind-deaf psychologist A. Meshcheryakov, Martha's friendship and teaching was crucial for Helen's later developments.
Keller and Sullivan in 1898

In 1886, her mother, inspired by an account in Charles Dickens' American Notes of the successful education of another deaf and blind child, Laura Bridgman, dispatched young Helen, accompanied by her father, to seek out Dr. J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice.[7] He subsequently put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell, who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell advised the couple to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the school where Bridgman had been educated, which was then located in South Boston. Michael Anaganos, the school's director, asked former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and then only 20 years old, to become Keller's instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, eventually evolving into governess and then eventual companion.

Anne Sullivan arrived at Keller's house in March 1887, and immediately began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with d-o-l-l for the doll that she had brought Keller as a present. Keller's big breakthrough in communication came in April the same year, when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on the palm of her hand, while running cool water over her other hand, symbolized the idea of "water"; she then nearly exhausted Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world.

Formal education

Starting in May, 1888, Keller attended the Perkins Institute for the Blind. In 1894, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan moved to New York to attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf and Horace Mann School for the Deaf. In 1896, they returned to Massachusetts and Keller entered The Cambridge School for Young Ladies before gaining admittance, in 1900, to Radcliffe College. Her admirer, Mark Twain, had introduced her to Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers, who, with his wife, paid for her education. In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller graduated from Radcliffe, becoming the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.


Anne Sullivan stayed as a companion to Helen Keller long after she taught her. Anne married John Macy in 1905, and her health started failing around 1914. Polly Thompson was hired to keep house. She was a young woman from Scotland who didn't have experience with deaf or blind people. She progressed to working as a secretary as well, and eventually became a constant companion to Keller.[8]

Keller moved to Forest Hills, Queens together with Anne and John, and used the house as a base for her efforts on behalf of American Foundation for the Blind.[9] Their home there was robbed multiple times, and had been robbed four times by June 1921.[10]

After Anne died in 1936, Keller and Thompson moved to Connecticut. They travelled worldwide raising funding for the blind. Thompson had a stroke in 1957 from which she never fully recovered, and died in 1960.[1]

Winnie Corbally, a nurse who was originally brought in to care for Polly Thompson in 1957, stayed on after Thompson's death and was Keller's companion for the rest of her life.[1]

Political activities

Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes. She was a suffragist, a pacifist, a Wilson opposer, a radical Socialist, and a birth control supporter. In 1915, Helen Keller and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization. This organization is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920, she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Keller and Sullivan traveled to over 39 countries, making several trips to Japan and becoming a favorite of the Japanese people. Keller met every US President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson and was friends with many famous figures, including Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Twain.

Keller was a member of the Socialist Party and actively campaigned and wrote in support of the working classes from 1909 to 1921. She supported Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs in each of his campaigns for the presidency.

Keller and her friend Mark Twain were both considered radicals at the beginning of the 20th century, and as a consequence, their political views have been forgotten or glossed over in popular perception.[11] Newspaper columnists who had praised her courage and intelligence before she expressed her socialist views now called attention to her disabilities. The editor of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote that her "mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development." Keller responded to that editor, referring to having met him before he knew of her political views:
“ At that time the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him...Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent.[12] ”

Keller joined the Industrial Workers of the World (known as the IWW or the Wobblies) in 1912,[11] saying that parliamentary socialism was "sinking in the political bog." She wrote for the IWW between 1916 and 1918. In Why I Became an IWW,[13] Keller explained that her motivation for activism came in part from her concern about blindness and other disabilities:
“ I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness. ”

The last sentence refers to prostitution and syphilis, the latter a leading cause of blindness.


One of Keller's earliest pieces of writing, at the age of eleven, was The Frost King (1891). There were allegations that this story had been plagiarized from The Frost Fairies by Margaret Canby. An investigation into the matter revealed that Keller may have experienced a case of cryptomnesia, which was that she had Canby's story read to her but forgot about it, while the memory remained in her subconscious.[1]

At the age of 22, Keller published her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1903), with help from Sullivan and Sullivan's husband, John Macy. It includes words that Keller wrote and the story of her life up to age 21, and was written during her time in college.

Keller wrote The World I Live In in 1908 giving readers an insight into how she felt about the world.[14] Out of the Dark, a series of essays on Socialism, was published in 1913.

Her spiritual autobiography, My Religion, was published in 1927 and re-issued as Light in my Darkness. It advocates the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, the controversial mystic who gives a spiritual interpretation of the Last Judgment and second coming of Jesus Christ, and the movement named after him, Swedenborgianism.

Keller wrote a total of 12 published books and several articles.

Akita dog

When Keller visited Akita Prefecture in Japan in July 1937, she inquired about Hachikō, the famed Akita dog that had died in 1935. She told a Japanese person that she would like to have an Akita dog; one was given to her within a month, with the name of Kamikaze-go. When he died of canine distemper, his older brother, Kenzan-go, was presented to her as an official gift from the Japanese government in July 1938. Keller is credited with having introduced the Akita to the United States through these two dogs.

By 1939 a breed standard had been established and dog shows had been held, but such activities stopped after World War II began. Keller wrote in the Akita Journal:
“ If ever there was an angel in fur, it was Kamikaze. I know I shall never feel quite the same tenderness for any other pet. The Akita dog has all the qualities that appeal to me — he is gentle, companionable and trusty.[15][16] ”

Later life

Keller suffered a series of strokes in 1961 and spent the last years of her life at her home.[1]

On September 14, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Helen Keller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States' highest two civilian honors.[17] In 1965 she was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame at the New York World's Fair.[1]

Keller devoted much of her later life to raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1968 at her home, Arcan Ridge, located in Westport, Connecticut. A service was held in her honor at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and her ashes were placed there next to her constant companions, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson.

Portrayals of Helen Keller

Keller's life has been interpreted many times. She appeared in a silent film, Deliverance (1919), which told her story in a melodramatic, allegorical style.[18]

She was also the subject of the documentaries Helen Keller in Her Story, narrated by Katharine Cornell, and The Story of Helen Keller, part of the Famous Americans series produced by Hearst Entertainment.

The Miracle Worker is a cycle of dramatic works ultimately derived from her autobiography, The Story of My Life. The various dramas each describe the relationship between Keller and Sullivan, depicting how the teacher led her from a state of almost feral wildness into education, activism, and intellectual celebrity. The common title of the cycle echoes Mark Twain's description of Sullivan as a "miracle worker." Its first realization was the 1957 Playhouse 90 teleplay of that title by William Gibson. He adapted it for a Broadway production in 1959 and an Oscar-winning feature film in 1962. It was remade for television in 1969 and 2000.

In 1984, Helen Keller's life story was made into a TV movie called The Miracle Continues.[19] This film that entailed the semi-sequel to The Miracle Worker recounts her college years and her early adult life. None of the early movies hint at the social activism that would become the hallmark of Keller's later life, although The Walt Disney Company version produced in 2000 states in the credits that she became an activist for social equality.

The Bollywood movie Black (2005) was largely based on Keller's story, from her childhood to her graduation. A documentary called Shining Soul: Helen Keller's Spiritual Life and Legacy was produced by the Swedenborg Foundation in the same year. The film focuses on the role played by Emanuel Swedenborg's spiritual theology in her life and how it inspired Keller's triumph over her triple disabilities of blindness, deafness and a severe speech impediment.

On March 6, 2008, the New England Historic Genealogical Society announced that a staff member had discovered a rare 1888 photograph showing Helen and Anne, which, although previously published, had escaped widespread attention.[20] Depicting Helen holding one of her many dolls, it is believed to be the earliest surviving photograph of Anne.[21]

Posthumous honors
Helen Keller as depicted on the Alabama state quarter

In 1999, Keller was listed in Gallup's Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century.

In 2003, Alabama honored its native daughter on its state quarter.[22]

The Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama is dedicated to her.[23]

There are streets named after Helen Keller in Getafe, Spain and Lod, Israel. [24]

See also

* Helen Keller Services for the Blind


1. ^ a b c d e f "The life of Helen Keller". Royal National Institute of Blind People. 2008-11-20. Retrieved on 2009-01-22.
2. ^ "Helen Keller FAQ". Perkins School for the Blind. Retrieved on 2009-01-22.
3. ^ Virtual tour of Ivy Green, Helen Keller's birthplace and by the age of 2 keller got sick with a trachoma and became blind and deafOfficial site of Ivy Green, Helen Keller's birthplace
4. ^ "Charles W. Adams (1817 - 1878) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved on 2009-08-11.
5. ^ American Foundation for the Blind
6. ^ Martha Washington
7. ^ Worthington, W. Curtis. A Family Album: Men Who Made the Medical Center (Medical University of South Carolina ed.). ISBN 978-0871524447.
8. ^ The Life of Helen Keller
9. ^ The life of Helen Keller, Royal National Institute of Blind People, last updated November 20, 2008. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
10. ^ Staff. "THIEVES ROB HELEN KELLER; Loses $3,500 at Forest Hills Home in Fourth Burglary", The New York Times, June 25, 1921. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
11. ^ a b Loewen, James W. (1996) [1995]. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (Touchstone Edition ed.). New York, NY: Touchstone. pp. 20–22. ISBN 0-684-81886-8.
12. ^ Keller, Helen. "How I Became a Socialist". Retrieved on 2007-08-27.
13. ^ "Why I Became an IWW" in Helen Keller Reference Archive from An interview written by Barbara Bindley published in the New York Tribune, January 16, 1916
14. ^ Keller, Helen (2004) [1908]. The World I Live In (NYRB Classics 2004 ed.). New York: NYRB Classics. ISBN 978-1590170670.
15. ^ The Akita Inu: The Voice of Japan by Rick Beauchamp in Dog & Kennel
16. ^ Helen Keller: First Akitas in the USA
17. ^ Presidential Medal of Freedom, Helen Keller
18. ^ "Deliverance (1919)". Retrieved on June 15 2006.
19. ^ "Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues (1984) (TV)". Retrieved on June 15 2006.
20. ^ The Independent. "Picture of Helen Keller as a child revealed after 120 years".
21. ^ Newly Discovered Photograph Features Never Before Seen Image Of Young Helen Keller, New England Genealogical Society. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
22. ^ A likeness of Helen Keller is featured on Alabama's quarter
23. ^ Helen Keller Hospital website
24. ^ [1]

External links
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* The Story of My Life by Helen Keller at Project Gutenberg
* The Story of My Life with introduction to the text
* Helen Keller Reference Archive (Marxists Internet Archive)

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Louis Braille

Born January 4, 1809(1809-01-04)
Coupvray, France
Died January 6, 1852 (aged 43)
Paris, France
Resting place Panthéon, Paris

Louis Braille (English pronunciation: /ˈbreɪl/; French: [bʁɑj]; January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852) was the inventor of braille,[1] a world-wide system used by blind and visually impaired people for reading and writing. Braille is read by passing the fingers over characters made up of an arrangement of one to six embossed points. It has been adapted to almost every known language.


Louis Braille became blind at the age of 3, when he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with an awl, one of his father's workshop tools. Braille's other eye went blind because of sympathetic ophthalmia.

At the very young age of 10, Braille earned a scholarship to the National Institute for the Blind in Paris[2], one of the first of its kind in the world. However, the conditions in the school were not notably better. Louis was served stale bread and water, and students were sometimes abused or locked up as a form of punishment.

Braille, a bright and creative student, became a talented cellist and organist in his time at the school, playing the organ for churches all over France.

At the school, the children were taught basic craftsman skills and simple trades. They were also taught how to read by feeling raised letters (a system devised by the school's founder, Valentin Haüy). However, because the raised letters were made using paper pressed against copper wire, the students never learned to write. Another disadvantage was that the letters weighed a lot and whenever people published books using this system, they put together a book with multiple stories in one in order to save money. This made the books sometimes weigh over a hundred pounds. The school had just 14 books, all of which Louis had read.

In 1821, Charles Barbier, a Captain in the French Army, visited the school. Barbier shared his invention called "Night writing" a code of 12 raised dots and a number of dashes that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield without having to speak. The code was too difficult for Louis to understand and he later changed the number of raised dots to 6 to form what we today call Braille.

The same year, Louis Braille began inventing his raised-dot system with his father's stitching awl, the same implement with which he had blinded himself, finishing at age 15, in 1824. His system used only six dots and corresponded to letters, whereas Barbier's used 12 dots corresponding to sounds. The six-dot system allowed the recognition of letters with a single fingertip apprehending all the dots at once, requiring no movement or repositioning which slowed recognition in systems requiring more dots. These dots consisted of patterns in order to keep the system easy to learn. The Braille system also offered numerous benefits over Haüy's raised letter method, the most notable being the ability to both read and write an alphabet. Another very notable benefit is that because they were dots just slightly raised, there was a significant difference in make up.

Braille later extended his system to include notation for mathematics and music. The first book in braille was published in 1829 under the title Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them. In 1839 Braille published details of a method he had developed for communication with sighted people, using patterns of dots to approximate the shape of printed symbols. Braille and his friend Pierre Foucault went on to develop a machine to speed up the somewhat cumbersome system.

Braille became a well-respected teacher at the Institute. Although he was admired and respected by his pupils, his braille system was not taught at the Institute during his lifetime. The air at the institute was foul and he died in Paris of tuberculosis in 1852 at the age of 43; his body was disinterred in 1952 (the centenary of his death) and honored with re-interment in the Panthéon in Paris. His system was finally, officially recognized in France two years after his death, in 1854. [3]

On the occasion of bi-centenary of Louis Braille, India and the United States have issued special commemorative coins of INR 100, INR 2, and USD 1. The US coin includes the denomination written in braille and was introduced Spring 2009.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's it made of? LBE & FD)

Ever wondered what your favourite sweets are made of? Well, I've looked up some of them, and here's what I found...

Note: I've only grabbed the parts of the articles about the ingredients, so if you want to know other things (like the history behind the sweets) you'll need to use the links provided to visit the articles for yourself.


Aniseed ball

Aniseed balls are a type of hard round sweet sold in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. They are shiny and dark brownish red, and hard like Gobstoppers, but generally only 1cm across. They are generally sold by weight, for example by quarter pound (or the equivalent in metric, 113 grams, which is mandated by law), in traditional sweet shops in the UK and Ireland.

They are flavoured by aniseed oil, have a very strong aniseed flavor, and last for a long time in the mouth before dissolving. In the center of the ball is a whole rapeseed that can be crushed.

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Liquorice (confectionery)

Liquorice is a confectionery flavoured with the extract of the roots of the liquorice plant. A wide variety of liquorice sweets are produced around the world. In the U.S., licorice[1] is called black licorice, to distinguish it from similar candy varieties that are not flavoured with liquorice extract, and commonly manufactured in the form of chewy ropes or tubes. Most popular in the United Kingdom are liquorice allsorts. Dutch and Nordic liquorice characteristically contains ammonium chloride instead of sodium chloride, prominently so in salty liquorice.


The essential ingredients of liquorice candy are liquorice extract, sugar, and a binder. The binder is typically starch/flour, gum arabic, or gelatin, or a combination thereof. Additional ingredients are extra flavouring, beeswax for a shiny surface, ammonium chloride, and molasses to give the end product the familiar black colour.[2] Ammonium chloride is mainly used in salty liquorice candy, with concentrations up to about 8 percent. However, even regular liquorice candy can contain up to 2 percent ammonium chloride, the taste of which is less prominent due to the higher sugar concentration.[3]

Notable varieties of liquorice candy

* Black Jack
* Crows
* Good & Plenty
* Liquorice Allsorts
* Liquorice root
* London drops
* Nigroids
* Pontefract Cakes
* Red vines
* Salty liquorice
* Turkish Pepper
* Green Apple
* Twizzlers

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Chocolate most commonly comes in dark, milk, and white varieties, with cocoa solids contributing to the brown coloration.

Chocolate (pronounced En-us-chocolate.ogg /ˈtʃɒklət/ (help·info) or /-ˈələt/) comprises a number of raw and processed foods produced from the seed of the tropical cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America, with its earliest documented use around 1100 BC. The majority of the Mesoamerican peoples made chocolate beverages, including the Aztecs and the Maya, who made it into a beverage known as xocolātl, a Nahuatl word meaning "bitter water". The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor.

After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground and liquified, resulting in pure chocolate in fluid form: chocolate liquor. The liquor can be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Pure, unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining chocolate with sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. "White chocolate" contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids (and thus does not qualify to be considered true chocolate).

Chocolate contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have physiological effects on the body. It has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Scientists claim that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure.[1] Dark chocolate has recently been promoted for its health benefits, including a substantial amount of antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals, though the presence of theobromine renders it toxic to some animals,[2] such as dogs and cats.

Chocolate has become one of the most popular flavors in the world. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays: chocolate bunnies and eggs are popular on Easter, chocolate coins on Hanukkah, Santa Claus and other holiday symbols on Christmas, and hearts on Valentine's Day. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, to produce chocolate milk and hot chocolate.

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The marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, typically consists of sugar or corn syrup, water, gelatin that has been softened in hot water, dextrose, and flavorings, whipped to a spongy consistency. One commonly proposed theory about the origin of marshmallow holds that the traditional recipe used an extract from the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow plant, a shrubby herb (Althaea officinalis), instead of gelatin; the mucilage was used to soothe sore throats.[1][2] However, while concoctions of all parts of the plant have been used as medicine, a more likely origin for the modern sweet can be found in old recipes: Stems of marsh mallow were peeled to reveal the soft and spongy pith with a texture similar to manufactured marshmallow. This pith was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produced a soft, chewy confection.[3] Commercial marshmallows are a late-nineteenth-century innovation. Since Doumak's patented extrusion process of 1948, marshmallows are extruded as soft cylinders, cut in sections and rolled in a mix of finely powdered cornstarch and confectioner's sugar (icing sugar). Not all brands coat their marshmallows in confectioner's sugar.

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A lollipop, pop, lolly, sucker, or sticky-pop is a type of confectionery consisting mainly of hardened, flavored sucrose with corn syrup mounted on a stick and intended for sucking or licking.[1] They are available in many flavors and shapes.

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Fudge is a type of confectionery which is usually very sweet, extremely rich and sometimes flavoured with cocoa. It is made by mixing sugar, butter, and milk and heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240 °F (116 °C), and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. Chocolate can also be mixed in to make chocolate fudge. Fudge can also be used in brownies.

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Toffee is a confection made by boiling molasses or sugar (creating inverted sugar) along with butter, and occasionally flour. The mixture is heated until its temperature reaches the hard crack stage of 300 to 310 °F (150 to 160 °C). While being prepared, toffee is sometimes mixed with nuts or raisins.

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Jelly bean

Jelly beans are a type of confectionery that comes in many different (primarily fruit) flavors. They are small (the size of a red kidney bean or smaller) and generally have a hard candy shell and gummy interior. The confection is primarily made of sugar.

The basic ingredients of jelly beans include sugars, gelatin, corn syrup, and starch. Relatively minor amounts of the emulsifying agent lecithin, anti-foaming agents, an edible wax such as beeswax, salt, and confectioner's glaze are also included. The ingredients that give each bean its character are also relatively small in proportion and may vary depending on the flavor.

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Jelly Tots

Jelly Tots are soft, chewy fruit-flavoured sweets produced by Rowntrees. They are round, sugar-coated gumdrop-like confections about 7mm in diameter, and are advertised as containing 25% fruit juices and no artificial colours or flavours. According to the packaging, Jelly Tots are suitable for vegetarians or vegans as they contain no gelatin or animal-based ingredients.


A 168 gram tube of Jelly Tots contains: Sugar, Glucose syrup, Modified starch, Fruit juices 25% (Strawberry, Orange, Blackcurrant, Lime, Lemon), Acidity regulator (Trisodium citrate), Malic acid, Citric acid, Flavouring, Lactic acid, Colours (Anthocyanins, Copper complexes of chlorophyllins, Beta-carotene).

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Sherbet (powder)

Sherbet, Kali (Northern British), or Keli (Scottish) is a fizzy powder sweet, usually eaten by dipping a lollipop, or licking a finger.


Sherbet in the United Kingdom is a kind of fizzy powder made from bicarbonate of soda, tartaric acid, sugar etc and usually cream soda or fruit flavoured. The acid-carbonate reaction occurs upon presence of moisture (juice/saliva). It used to be stirred into various beverages to make effervescing drinks, in a similar way to making lemonade from lemonade powders, before canned carbonated drinks became ubiquitous. Sherbet is now used to mean this powder sold as a sweet. (In the United States and Australia, it would be somewhat comparable to the powder in Pixy Stix or Lik-M-Aid/Fun Dip, though having the fizzy quality of effervescing candy.)

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Beans (FD)

The runner bean plants in my garden have produced beans. I can't really call them "my" bean plants, after all, Mam and Kelly have done more with them than I have. But they're the plants that were mine originally, so they're sort of mine. But that doesn't matter. What's important is that they're producing beans. And some of the beans are even ready to be eaten, so have been picked.

Actually, they may already have been eaten, since we let Dad have the few that were ready to eat. My Dad's not a huge fan of vegetables, but there's one kind of vegetable he loves... Runner beans! So we let him have the few that were ready, since he enjoys them so much. I'm quite fond of Runner beans myself, but at least I enjoy most vegetables. Dad is picky about his vegetables. Anyway, I'll be able to grab a few for myself from the next lot that's ready. There are still a good few beans on the plant that aren't quite ready yet, but they shouldn't take much longer.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another giveaway at Wendy's place

There's another giveaway at Wendy's place. The productt this time is "Yoplet Whips" which sound interesting. To read more, go here where you can read the post Wendy did reviewing the product, and giving details of the giveaway.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vardo history

In Britain a traditional Gypsy home is thought to be a gaily decorated wooden caravan pulled along by a plodding horse. But in reality caravans have only been used by Gypsies for 150 years. Before then, they walked on foot, used carts to convey their possessions, and slept in tents called 'benders' made out of hazel twigs covered with canvas. Lacking tents, they would sleep beneath the tilt (cover) of the cart.

Waggons built to live in, not just to carry persons or goods, developed about 1810 in France. In England these were probably first used by showmen travelling between fairs and with circuses in the 1820s. Gypsies only began living in them about 1850.

The Gypsies' name for their waggon is a vardo (from the Iranian word vurdon). It was highly cherished, but they rarely built their own. Instead, newly married couples commissioned them for £50-150 from specialised non-Gypsy coach-builders. Building a vardo took between 6 to 12 months and used the wood of oak, ash, elm, walnut and pine. They were ornately painted, decorated with carvings, and often enriched with goldleaf.

The waggons can be divided into 6 main types: the Brush, Reading, Ledge, Bowtop, Openlot and Burton. They evolved over the decades, their names deriving from their home-owners (Brush), the style (Ledge, Bowtop and Openlot), or the towns whose builders were noted for making them (Reading and Burton).

The Brush waggon or "fen waggon" is the "Dodo" of the Gypsy caravan world - or so was thought, it's know known there is one hiding amongst the trees after all! The waggon had racks and cases fitted on the outside to carry the brushes, brooms and baskets in which its owners traded. These were quality waggons but lacked ornate wooden carvings. Doors and steps were at the rear, there were straight-sided walls and no mollicroft on top. It was a travelling "superstore" for mats, brushes, wicker chairs, etc, often with glass showcases on the sides to display its wares.

The Reading, Ledge and Bowtop were mainly used by Gypsies. They all had narrow floors encased between tall wheels so that they could trundle safely over fords and rough ground.

The Reading is a wooden van with windows at the sides and back. Characteristically, it has sloping walls (4" wider at the top), thus earning it the nickname "kite waggon". At both the front and back, porches with carved side brackets give a little shelter. Portable steps lead up to the front door, which opens separately at the top or bottom. At the back a cratch (hay rack for the horse) is fixed beneath the back window, and a kettle box swings between the wheels to carry ironware or even bantam hens. The front wheels are about 3'6" high, the back ones much bigger at 5'. Running along the centre top of the van is a raised roof with small side windows, called a mollicroft, which runs short of the porches. Lastly, a chimney pokes out of the main roof on the right, keeping clear of nearside trees and overhead bridges.

The Ledge is similar to the Reading in many respects. However, this time the walls only have a 2" slope. Also, there is an even narrower floor, so to gain elbow room both sidewalls widen out at knee-level via a ledge over the wheels. Outside, a spindle rack for keeping vegetables or bantams is tucked in between each ledge and front wheel.

The Bowtop - Like both the Reading and the Ledge, the Bowtop has a front door and a rear window, but it differs by not having side windows or wooden walls. Instead, a weatherproofed canvas is tightened over an arched wooden frame. Inside, the ceiling is richly patterned to add elegance, and any wood is cheerfully painted.

The Openlot developed from the pot waggon in the 1930s. It is a more basic version of the Bowtop and has a similar canvas top but is built on to an existing cart. It doesn't have a door, but the open front has one or two supporting pillars and is closed up with canvas.

The Burton - Showman. These were originally fairground travellers' waggons as showmen chose vans like the Burton. They were for wealthy travellers, who had them specially built to taste. They are often elegantly adorned, with angel lamps, elaborate carving, eye-catching cut glass, and heavy goldleaf. They nearly always have a mollicroft roof, and the wooden side-walls are usually straight. The wheels are tucked beneath the floor, enabling it to be broader. Historically, the Burton was driven on better roads over smaller circuits.

Lovely Reading wagon at Appleby

The interior of a waggon - In larger wooden waggons of special importance was a cast iron stove, usually a hostess type, for both cooking and heating. In lighter Bowtops a queenie stove was fitted but was only used by Gypsies for cooking in bad weather as a campfire was always preferred.

There is only one room really, but behind sliding doors at the back is a raised double berth for adults with a smaller berth for children to snuggle in below. Cupboard and storage space was designed in every conceivable location, some wagons even having a hidden safe hole.

The usual day's travel was about 15 miles.
Normally, a single horse of about 14 hands pulls the vardo, with a second horse being added for hills. After travelling the roads for about 10 years, Gypsy vans were returned to
the builders to be repaired and repainted. When their owners died, vardos were sometimes burned. This was because of a belief that the dead were bound to their belongings until their possessions were burnt, buried or sunk.

Vardos proliferated in the late 19th and early 20th century, when hundreds were built and travelled throughout Britain. Eventually, several factors contributed to a decline in the numbers of Gypsies living in waggons: the dominance of the motor car, the growth of cinema and television (which resulted in fewer large fairs and circuses), and less seasonal farmwork. Although the Openlot developed for Gypsies between the two World Wars, showmen had already swopped their Burtons for petrol vehicles. By the end of WW2 and the 1950s most of the specialist waggon-builders had died out anyway.

Monuments on Wheels - Sadly, today very few original vardos have survived the evolution of time: wear n tear, scrap-yard mentality, the great British woodworm, and the worst culprit of all, the weather, are mostly responsible for the vardos near-extinction. But it's not all doom and gloom - fortunately, there is a steady revival taking place in the UK, with an upturn in interest once more in Romani caravans. The few remaining original "lucky" waggons are safely in private collections or museums, either fully restored or under restoration.

Also, often working to original plans, a new generation of waggon builders and painters are up and coming, attempting to replicate the craftsmanship and construction of past masters. It's a challenge today for anyone trying to build a new waggon and get it right, especially using modern timbers which rarely have the robust character of yesteryear's seasoned wood. Will they last 100 years? We'll have to see! But to be fair, conditions of use and the UK climate has changed over the last 20 years. You could say the "missing ozone layer has upset the Gypsy cart", so the answer is more than likely an obvious one.


Taken from:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kero's Korner: Fresh from the groomer

Hi humans!

I recently went to the groomer.

OK, it was actually last week I went to the groomer, but I still had the photos of my day out to post, so Mami and I decided not to rush with sorting these photos. They were taken right after I got home though. Mami was worried I'd get dirty before they were taken if they didn't do the photos right away. So, the humans told me to sit on the sofa, and that's what I did. Good thing I mostly enjoy tphoto time (it's the attention I enjoy most... You can never have enough attention from the humans, any dog will tell you that!)

And here's a photo of me taking later that same day with a treat Dadi got me when he went up town while I was with the groomer. That's another thing I'm a firm believer in never being able to have too much of... Treats!

Anyway, my next grooming appointment is in October. October 15th, I think.

Licks and sniffs,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In my world recently

There hasn't been much going on in my world recently. Not much worth blogging about anyway. I mean, there are the changes I've made to the things I eat - most of which have happened over the past couple of months, though some happened near the start of the year - but you don't want to hear about that, do you?

There have also been shopping trips, but I wont bore you with the details of those. So, let's see...

Last Wednesday, Mam and Chelsea (Jane's eldest grandaughter) showed up shortly before dinner time and announced that they were going to McDonalds. They asked if I wanted to go with them, and I figured I might as well. After all, I wasn't doing anything at the time. So the three of us went to McDonalds, then I came home and Chelsea went and spent the evening with Mam. Chelsea got a free tchild's ticket to go and see the 3rd Ice Age film, which is at the pictures right now (the ticket was in her Happy Meal) so Mam and I might be taking her to see it soon. She does want to go, and Mam and I would like to see it. The ticket has to be used before the end of the month though. I suggested we go next week, but no plans have been made as yet. I don't really mind when we go, but I hope we do go. I'd like to watch that film, since I really enjoyed the first two.

I've been listening to Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events book series while working on my crafts. I've both read and heard it before, but I enjoy it, so figured I'd listen again. I'm already part way through book twelve... The Penultimate Peril. Which, as its name suggests, is the next to last book in the series. There are 13 books in the set. I reviewed each one as I read it before, so if you aren't familiar with the story then just search for "Lemony Snicket" in that search box thing up the top of the page there, and I'm sure it will bring up the reviews (along with the author's biography, and any other mentions of Lemony Snicket on my blog).

I wont update you on craft progress, because I'll be doing that in a couple of weeks anyway. Can you believe we're already almost half way through August? Seems like only yesterday I was being all shocked about us being in July, and now it's almost the middle of August! I swear someone's put the planet on fast forward or something... Where's the button to slow it back down? Does anyone know? Or, perhaps a pause button? Then we can all stop and catch our breath for a moment or two.

Anyway, I think that's about it. See, I told you not much had been going on. Mind you, with the world on fast forward there isn't really time for much to happen, is there? Maybe it will slow down enough for something of interest to happen soon? If it does, I'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime though... Stay safe, and all that other stuff that means I hope you're happy and healthy.

Enjoy whatever's left of your day! :)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Giveaway at Wendy's blog (FD)

On Sunday, August 9th 2009 Wendy posted a give-away on her blog. I wasn't sure if I could or should enter because of not being in the US, but I decided I would, and one of the ways to enter is to post about it on your own blog. So, this is what I'm doing now (in case you didn't figure that out).

I figure the easiest way to tell you about it is to just copy Wendy's post. So, here it is:

"Fiber One Yogurt Review + Giveaway

Thanks to MYBLOGSPARK, I got to try Yoplait's Fiber One 50 Calorie Yogurt! It is a good source of calcium and vitamins A and D, making this an all-around great choice for dieters and those watching their weights. Each cup includes the creamy, delicious taste you expect from Yoplait, and you don't have to feel guilty about enjoying it. It comes in Strawberry, Peach, Vanilla and Key Lime Pie!

Introducing the creamy Fiber One yogurt you already love, but now at 50 calories. This high-fiber yogurt in 4 delicious flavors is packed with real fruit and taste, making your day a bit sweeter. Plus, adding more fiber to your diet helps you feel satisfied. So celebrate geting a lot for just a little and you'll get 20 percent of the Daily Value of fiber. Dig IN!!

I picked the Strawberry to try and was quite pleased with the texture. I had been worried it would be gritty or something, to contain the fiber, but it had a smooth consistency. And with the low calories and sugar, this is definitely a good health snack alternative. Plus I got a good part of my fiber quota in, just by eating that small container.

Thanks to BlogSpark, I get to give away THREE Healthy & Fit Weight Management Gift packs!

You get a storage pack, and other storage items for you to carry your snacks and yogurt to work and other on-the-go activities!

I can even give you a $1 off online coupon! Click HERE.
To Enter:

Leave a comment on what your favorite snacking pleasure is - 1 entry
Follow my blog - 1 entry
Blog about the giveaway and leave me a link - 3 entries
(please leave a comment for each entry)

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on 8/12.That gives you 3 full days to sign up! I will pick and post the winners after midnight!! Be prepared to send your name and address! Good Luck everyone!
hat are your diet secrets?"

Note: The link in the post wont work because of how I posted it, but if you go here then you can get to the post on Wendy's blog and the link will work there.

I'm afraid I haven't left you much time to enter yourselves, but if you're quick you should have time to enter.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

20 things (FD)

Cate recently did this meme thing on her blog (and a few others I know might have too... It's hard to keep track of who's actually done which memes sometimes). So, I figured I'd do it, since I don't have anything better to post about today. Well, I do, but I haven't gotten around to sorting those posts out yet, so I'll post them another day. ;)

If you want to play, feel free to do so. Otherwise, don't play. Simple as that!

1. I don’t really think I can manage _______________ today.

I don't really think I can manage to do anything that takes much energy today.

2. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Some blueberries and some marmalade on toast

3. Share some recent good news.

Good news? Erm... About the only thing I can think of isn't exactly about me, but it is good news. Carl (my brother) and his wife (Rachel) have finally - after several years of being on a waiting list - got a new house. They're moving in on August 15th.

4. What was the last movie you saw? What did you think of it?

Harry Potter movie 6... Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. It was pretty good, but not as good as the book version. Still, a good movie in its own right, I guess.

5. If you had to, could you do commentary for a sporting event?

I could, but I don't want to, because I can think of plenty of things to do with my time that will be a lot more fun.

6. What makes you feel better when you're sick?

Sleep generally does the trick. Just leave me alone for a few days, and don't wake me up, and most of the time I'll be fine. Failing that, cuddling up with a blanket and a cup of tea, watching/listening to something I enjoy, and being brought a present of my favourite treats will do it.

7. What do you listen to in the car?

Whatever music my Mam has playing. It's her car, after all, so it's only fair she gets to choose the music. I will tell her if they're rubbish though, but most of the time she has taste.

8. What were the last five foods you ate?

A jam sandwich, marmalade on toast, blueberries, a yoghurt, and a baked potato with cheese and beans.

9. Who was your first prom date?

I didn't go to a prom. Mind you, none of the guys in my school would have been worth taking. They were all imature idiots. So I don't really feel I missed out on anything there.

10. What was your first grade teacher's name?

If first grade is the year I think it is in schooling then it was, Mrs Evans. She was also the headmistress of the school I was in at the time. She was a really nice teacher, and made a great headmistress.

11. How many weddings have you been in?

Three if you count my own. I was a bridesmaid for my Mam and Dad (they took their time getting married, so I was eight when it happened), then there was my own, then I was one of the witnesses for my brother (Carl)'s wedding last year. All other weddings I've been to I've only been a guest in.

12. Who is on your "List"?

I don't have a list. At least, not the kind this question seems to refer to judging by Cate's response.

13. I love you more than _____________.

Not sure who this is refering to, but I love most things more than beetroot/beets, so let's go with that.

14. Oranges or grapefruit?

Oranges... Grapefruit tastes awful!

15. What is the earliest memory you have of your first day of school?

I think it's the time - at the start of my first full day at school - when I told my Mam I couldn't go to school because she'd be lonely without me, and ran after her when her friend took her away, and the teacher had to physically carry me back inside the school. But it could be that I've been told about it so many times I only think I remember it.

16. Would you ever choose money over love?

No. I'd rather be poor than marry some jerk just because he's got a ton of money.

17. Four people who e-mail me regularly:

Iggy,, and Cate and Styxie

18. What were your favorite books as a child?

Pretty much any, especially if they involved animals. I was particularly fond of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton's books. But I'd read pretty much anything. Still will. I love books!

19. Never in my life:

Have I: gone on safari, written a best selling novel, gone sledding on real snow, or built a house from scratch.

20. Ever been given an engagement ring?

Twice. I only married the second guy who gave me one though.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Random question: could you give it up? (FD)

Think about the thing you're most addicted to. It could be a food item, a spacific drink, or a certain activity. It doesn't matter what it is... Blogging, chocolate, smoking, shopping, a certain type of biscuit, marmite, a certain flavour of juice... Like I said, it doesn't matter what you pick. Now tell me... Could you give it up if you had to? And - if you could - what do you think it would take to make that possible? If you don't think you could, why is that?


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Folly Farm: Part 6 - Donkeys & gift shops

It seems we did have a photo of the donkeys after all. So, meet Dillis the donkey, and her son, Donald the donkey. I'm told the photo is kind of blurry... Sorry about that. But, at least there is a donkey photo. :)

That photo is the reason I've made a sixth post about our trip to Folly Farm. I didn't want to put Dillis and Donald in the post I did yesterday about the fair, they didn't belong in the goat post, and the photo was only discovered after Wednesday's post had already been published. Yes, I could have gone in and added their photo, and then edited the bit of text about them. But I couldn't be bothered to fiddle (partly because it's so easy to lose bits of posts when you do that). So I decided to just do a sixth post, and post Dillis and Donald the donkeys in with the information about the very last place we visited before leaving Folly Farm... The gift shop.

We stopped at the gift shop on the way out. We both ended up getting teddies, since the t-shirts were only child sized, and most of what they had was teddies, stationary, or some little rather well detailed plastic animals, which - after my comment with the first one I picked up - Mam decided we weren't going to investigate any more. LOL! But I couldn't help it. I've never seen a little plastic horse with... Erm... Enough detail to tell it's meant to be male. So I commented on it. Not my fault Mam (and probably some other people in the shop) found this embarrassing. I was just pointing out that it was obvious it was male, and Mam asked how I knew, so I told her, and showed her. Is it my fault she didn't like my response? ;)

Anyway, this is what I ended up getting...

So, that was our trip to Folly Farm. It was a fun trip!


P.S. If you haven't already seen it, Mam did a post yesterday (Saturday) with the photos in it that I managed to get of her in the indoor funfair. So, if you haven't seen it you might want to go look.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Folly Farm: Part 5 - Funfair

Time for the next part of our trip to Folly Farm at the end of July.

This part isn't animal related, because it's all about the fair. Yes, that's right. There was a funfair there too! It was one of those indoor funfairs, and you needed to get tokens from a special machine to be able to play the games and go on the rides. This was one of the tokens.

Most of this section was more enjoyable to Mam than me, but you can read her blog to find out about that. I'm just going to deal with what I played on. Firstly this car thing. I was only just small enough to go in it, and getting back out was kinda interesting. But, hey, it was fun. :)

But my absolute favourite part of this section was something I hadn't been able to ride on since I was little. Something I absolutely love, but which most fairs over here only provide small versions of for little kids, meaning that - because I've never been the lightest of people - I've not been allowed to ride since I was about ten or so. I'm talking about a merry go round. So, I'm sure I don't need to tell you how thrilled I was to find one I was allowed to ride.

Mam didn't ride with me, because it went round really fast, and she was worried she'd get too dizzy and end up sick or something. That's one of the benifits of not having sight... Going round in circles really fast doesn't make you dizzy like it does for people with sight. ;)

Tomorrow (Sunday) there will be one last post about our trip to Folly Farm. Originally I planned just five posts, but it will be six posts instead. You'll see why when you read tomorrow's post.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Kero's Korner: Cubby's day out

Hi humans.

It's Kero here. And I'm finally going to share the photos and details from my day out on the last Saturday in July.

Mami had been telling me for a few days that I was going somewhere on Saturday.I was quite exited about this, because I knew it had to be somewhere good if I was being told in advance. If it was just normal walkies I wouldn't get told until the last minute. So when the day finally arrived, and Mami told me Mamgu was on her way to pick us up, I was the first one to be ready.

Of course, I had to go back for my harness and lead, but that's not my fault.

Anyway, first of all I had a ride in the car...

I thought at first we were going to visit Willow, but we only stopped at Mamgu's house long enough to drop Dadi off with his boxes of things I'm not allowed to sniff, because they're sharp and will hurt me.

I had to stay in the car for a long time. Not because we went far away, but because we stopped by a house and some people came out and talked with Mami and Mamgu for a long time. Then two human pups I've never seen before got in the car beside me, and off we went.

By this time I was starting to think I'd been giped, and that I was just going for a car ride to places the humans wanted to go. But it turned out I was wrong, and the humans not only realised we were near the big park where Mami and I used to walk lots, but they planned on taking me there. Either that, or they actually listened to me when I pointed the entrance to it out on our way past. I'm not sure which, and it doesn't matter. What matters is, they took me to the big park!

One of the human pups was walking me, but I didn't mind. I don't really care who walks me as long as we get to go, go, go! After all, you don't go to the big park to stand around, you go for long walkies, and sometimes picnics.

I was feeling a bit shy though.

And they didn't even let me get my fur right before they took my photo.

It was a fun outing, and after it was over I had a long nap while Mami and Mamgu made a huge mess in the kitchen.

Licks and sniffs,