Friday, April 30, 2010

Survey: Adult death rates lowest in Iceland, Cyprus

ICELAND: (Parc national de Skaftafell )

-2 This amazing 'blue' picture was taken on the longest day (21 June, 2009) in Iceland at 1:00 A.M. The person who took the pic said that it's is funny having light 24/7 but that they get used to it.

-3 Bathers soak in the mineral rich water of Iceland's Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik

-4 I've included a map of Cyprus - it's under Turkey. (Click to enlarge.)

-5 Cyprus view

Some of us have talked about how much we're looking forward to traveling in our retirement years, and this may seem like an odd way to lead into the idea of checking out other possible places to visit, or at least find out more about different places, but that's what happened to me after I read this article that I'm going to link. I decided to find out a little more about the countries the article refers to.

The article is about adult death rates (15-60 yrs. old) and where they are the lowest worldwide - which turns out to be in both Iceland and Cyprus. After reading it, I was curious about those two countries, which I didn't know much about, and looked up a little information on both.

I came across some stunning pictures, especially of Iceland, but actually found myself fantasizing more about visiting Cyprus some day (Ha! Probably because of the weather). I wasn't even sure where Cypress is, so I've included a map of the Mediterranean Sea, showing all the islands, including Cypress on the east side of the map, below Turkey.

Here's the story that researched adult death rates over a 40 year time frame: "In a survey from 1970 to 2010, researchers found a widening gap between countries with the highest and lowest premature death rates in adults aged 15 to 60. The study was published Friday in the medical journal, Lancet.

The findings are in contrast to the trends in child and maternal mortality, where rates are mostly dropping worldwide. Health officials have long thought if child deaths were decreasing and health systems were improving, adult deaths would similarly decline. But that's not what researchers found.

Only a few countries have cut death rates by more than 2% in the last 40 years: Australia, Italy, South Korea, Chile, Tunisia and Algeria. The U.S. lagged significantly behind, dropping to 49th in the rankings for women and 45th for men. That puts it behind all of Western Europe as well as countries including Peru, Chile and Libya.

...... some countries — like Australia and South Korea — were particularly successful in reducing death rates, ...... guessed better policies on things like tobacco control and road accidents might be responsible." 40-year world survey: Adult death rates lowest in Iceland, Cyprus

..... I didn't find out why these countries came out on top in reducing death rates, but I sure am struck by their beauty. It may be healthy there because they are both islands, and therefore more isolated from the rest of the world. It can't be climate that connects them in their similarities (at least not temperature), because one of them is a 'lot' colder than the other.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Full Pink Moon tonight!

The overflow, until someone has a better idea

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cherry blossoms and Mallards arrive in Connecticut

Spring has truly arrived here in Connecticut....The last week or so, I was able to capture the beauty of cherry blossom trees that bloomed in my neighborhood....This is St. Theresa's catholic church in Trumbull & some of the streets I travel on the way to my office....

Before the cherry blossoms, there were the snow mountain and weeping cherry trees and.... the mallards came back to Connecticut...each spring, they arrive in April and hang around the wetlands for awhile...

The mallards seem to know that it is dinnertime
at Coreen's place.....and they are always welcome, along with squirrels, and any other furry or feathered friends that stop by....if you look close you can see our Woody the Woodpecker on the weeping cherry tree & in the grass alongside of the mallards....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Around the World, We celebrate EARTH DAY

Just found out it's Earth Day - So Happy Earth Day everyone!

10 Things to do on Earth Day / 40 ways to wish Earth Day a happy 40th

"You buy the stamps - Halo buys the food for 1 million shelter pets."

... hope Ellen doesn't mind being our guest star for a day - read that she introduced these stamps on her show (actually, the real stars are the animals).

The U.S. Post Office is featuring Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet commemorative postage stamps to raise awareness about the millions of homeless animals waiting for their forever homes in animal shelters across our nation.

You can preview or preorder the stamps featuring adopted pets from New Milford, Connecticut, photographed by Sally Anderson-Bruce at If you mouse over the stamps, you can read a paragraph profile about each pet.

"Stamps of past years have helped to raise social awareness for worthy issues such as literacy, breast cancer awareness, organ and tissue donation, philanthropy, Alzheimer’s awareness, children’s health, and now in 2010, stamps are focusing public awareness on our homeless animal companions." Stamps to the Rescue! Adopt a Shelter Pet Stamps Revealed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy trails Mr. Mallard

I lost a good friend yesterday. Mr. Mallard and his Ms. came by several times a day to visit and eat the corn I threw out for them. He was a dedicated and faithful duck husband. That wing he has hanging down by his side was the result of his fighting off these two young punk ducks trying to screw with his hen. He was healing up pretty well before his little life was snuffed out. Heard tell it was some dogs or a car that did him in. Around these part, if you are wildlife and you taste good baked, roasted, or BBQed, your days are numbered.

I'll miss you Mr. Mallard.

PS. No one has seen Ms. Mallard. She may have left town with the bad boy punk ducks. She even deserted her eggs. Grief can do that to a girl.
Houseboat Brenda, one of my new friends in the Hood, had to rescue these baby ducks. A hen laid these eggs in some woman's planter down the road. They just hatched yesterday and the lady who had the planter didn't want the duck do do around her place so Houseboat Brenda had to take these younguns to raise. They are only one day old so I hope they make it. She said she's raised lot of different birds and ducks before. She going to try to catch the mama duck tomorrow.

UPDATE: Went down the road to check on the baby ducks this afternoon. There are 13 fine babies and all are alive and pecking. While I was down visiting, Houseboat Brenda left the picnic table we were visiting at and came back and said that Gimpy was back. I said Gimpy? Yep, she said, Gimpy, his hen and the two punk ducks. Gimpy is AKA Mr. Mallard. I went over to look and sure enough, Mr. Mallard is still with us. He must have been out catting around, or ducking around, or somethin that rhymes with ducking.
So please disregard the memorial service. Mr. Mallard has returned from the dead!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thanks to Coreen for linking the yoga article from the N.Y. Times last week - I've been checking out a few of the online videos it listed, and read that you can feel the benefits after the first session - that beginners needn't be able to get into the exact position they are trying to do, until after some practice. So the pics I've used are more realistic (except for one, and therefore somewhat humorous).

Immediate benefits of yoga include: relaxation of body and mind (which in turn revitalizes your nervous system), a feeling of peace and stability, posture improvement, becoming acquainted with muscles you didn't know you had (which is the first step in toning them up), a feeling of being more energized (if not immediately, then the next day).

Yoga benefits that come about after more longer term practice include: Greater self-discipline, increased self determination, greater ability to concentrate, vastly improved flexibility, a greater sense of well being. improved strength in our back and stomach, less stiffness in our joints slowing down the effects of aging on our bodies.

A few videos from Coreen's article:
Beginner Yoga with Shiva Rea

GAIAM Yoga PM Stretch
Shiva Rea Yoga Sun Salutation
Shiva Rea Yoga Shakti
text you're link from
A sheet of poses

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 15 Tax Day

Someone once said, the only sure thing is Death and Taxes (excuse the grammar - but that is the way I remember it). On April 15, each of us in the good old U.S.of A. will be required to submit tax returns. Many of us will be paying taxes on that day. Here is some information on the origins of the IRS.

The roots of IRS go back to the Civil War when President Lincoln and Congress, in 1862, created the position of commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to pay war expenses. The income tax was repealed 10 years later. Congress revived the income tax in 1894, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the following year.

In 1913, Wyoming ratified the 16th Amendment, providing the three-quarter majority of states necessary to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax. That same year, the first Form 1040 appeared after Congress levied a 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with a 6 percent surtax on incomes of more than $500,000.

In 1918, during World War I, the top rate of the income tax rose to 77 percent to help finance the war effort. It dropped sharply in the post-war years, down to 24 percent in 1929, and rose again during the Depression. During World War II, Congress introduced payroll withholding and quarterly tax payments.
In the 50s, the agency was reorganized to replace a patronage system with career, professional employees. The Bureau of Internal Revenue name was changed to the Internal Revenue Service. Only the IRS commissioner and chief counsel are selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 prompted the most comprehensive reorganization and modernization of IRS in nearly half a century. The IRS reorganized itself to closely resemble the private sector model of organizing around customers with similar needs.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Jan!

We all wish you a wonderful birthday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Who, who, in the hell are you?

Yesterday, a baby owl, that I have been anticipating seeing for a month, fell out of it's tree. Every Spring my barred owls make a nest in the huge Cypress tree. I wait each year, around April, for the babies to come out and sun on the branch right outside their nesting hole.

Yesterday morning, I saw mama owl up in the tree. I know she's been up there working on something but it wasn't easy to catch her. She has been sneaking in and out. She probably didn't think I have noticed. I looked over by the nesting hole and, sure enough, I caught a little glimace of a baby owl. My trees have grown so much that it is difficult for me to see the area by the owl nest, from my viewing perch. All day, mama owl was sitting up in the tree. I figured she was keeping her eye on a baby or babies, on their first trip outside there nesting hole.

In the afternoon, while I was watering my plants I heard something fall out of the owl tree. I looked and it was one of the owl babies. I have watched those babies every year, this time, for 4 years now and never knew of one to fall from the tree. Mom was still up on one of the branches but she didn't seem disturbed. I didn't know anyone to call for help but remembered my secretary's husband works for animal control. I called her. She gave me the name of a lady who has a wildlife rehab center in our town. I called her.

She told me that the best thing to do was to find a basket, to put the baby in, and hoist it up in a tree. The best bet for that baby was to let the mama owl fledge it.
I looked all over outside and couldn't find anything like that around. Then I went in the house and found a magazine basket stuffed with the throws I use on the couch. I emptied it and took it outside. I found one of my boat ropes and attached it to the basket. Now it was time to go get baby. What will mama do? I noticed she wasn't around. I got some of my heavy duty work gloves on and went and picked up the baby. It was light as a feather, pardon the pun. Big beak, big feet, attached to a large cotton ball. It looked at me as if to say, who, who, in the hell are you?

I put baby in the basket and then looked for a tree with a branch that I could throw the rope up over. I found a tree but it wasn't the owl tree. The owl tree is too tall and has no low branches. The tree I found was close by.

I attached a large screwdriver to the end of the rope and tried to pitch it up to a branch. I couldn't throw when I was young, and that saying, you're not getting older, you're getting better, didn't turn out so well for me. It took about 10 tries to get it up over a branch. I hoisted the basket up and tied it off.

After a short while, baby climbed up on the edge of the basket. It looked quite at home there. Mama came over and lit on a branch, a ways up, above the basket. I never saw her go over to the basket and I don't know if she will. Only time will tell. Anyone interested in our discussion of little Vertigo can check the comments on the last blog post.
I turned on the porch light this morning and little Vertigo is looking right at me. It's standing on the edge of it's basket. I don't know if mama fed it during the night and I have to go to work this morning. The expression on little Vertigo's face seems to yell, you saved me, you own me. It is still dark out there so I could be wrong...

A warm Easter in Houston

I'm not sure you guys remember how very young (and uncooperative) babies are at 14 months - I know I had forgotten. They don't really understand holidays and celebrations that much yet (ha!... we treat Emma like every day is a holiday), and they don't understand that many words yet either, so you can forget explaining things to them (as if they'd listen - but by two, they start talking and understanding a 'lot' more). They're like little time bombs (I mean that in a good way though - everything is on a DNA schedule). Now that Emma is walking, I just know that running will come next, and then there's going to be no stopping her. My job will to keep up with her - here's hoping I can do it!

Emma is walking all over the house, (with the exception of getting upstairs which we've gated off), pushing doors open (me worrying about smashed fingers) , opening cupboards..... well, you get the picture: doing a good job of tearing the place apart - and I'm sure it'll get worse before it gets easier. But she's lots of fun, we love her to death, and we're up to the task.

Carol, I'm including a picture of some of the flowers on our property that we were told were fuchsias when we bought the house. Let me know if they're not. As you can see, the foliage is already getting very thick here - Spring got here fast, and everything filled in quickly once it arrived. Our dogwoods (white) are all blooming now too (but they won't last long).

By the way, we had a good Easter down here in Houston. Over ate, enjoyed some beautiful weather and took it easy. Hope everyone else had a great Easter too !

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter To All

It is Easter Sunday...and Christians worldwide are celebrating the holiest of all days, the Resurrection of Christ.....A blessed and Happy Easter to all....

Easter Sunday commemorates the day when Mary Magdalene discovers the empty tomb
and Jesus first appears after his death....

Easter is also the
time we enjoy the beginning of Spring, a rebirth, a time for new beginnings....and with that celebration we anxiously wait for those adorable Easter bunnies to arrive with baskets full of colored eggs and lots of candy....

The annual Easter Parade in Manhattan gives those brave enough, a day to strut their stuff with those fabulous, crazy Easter bonnets....

And we can't forget our fur family members, who also enjoy celebrating's Maggie with her friend purple bunny......

And to give you all a little chuckle today, here's yours truly, a long time ago delivering an Easter basket full of goodies.....(a basket created by yours truly as well)

And even longer ago, being hugged by that giant Easter bunny......(& just so you know, yours truly rarely smiles for pictures...)

Everyone, have a joyous, Happy Easter, with your family and friends...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Where should Chloe plant her Wisteria??

Decisions, decisions. Where to plant the Wisteria.

You have the option of letting it grow up a tree.

It can be used to dress up the hurricane damage.

It can hide a fence.

Or it can just stand alone in the yard.
I added a pic of Maggie and her Easter bunny. Happy Easter. Tag, your it Chloe, Coreen, Ivy, Jan or Solar for the Easter post.