Fireflies, in March?

Today I spent a little time pulling out some dead daylillies, to allow the new growth to push through.  And what to my wondering eyes did appear…but two fireflies.  Ummmm. That’s right, those cute little bugs with a light on their rear-ends that generally show up sometime in June???  What gives?  Yes, the weather is beautiful here, and I’m not complaining about that.  But even I know that something is just not right with that.  Look fast, because our early spring just might push into summer before you know it!


Getting my Ham license

Do you know what a Ham is?

A.  a ham is something that many people eat for the holidays
B.  a ham is a person who really likes the limelight and gets it through acting, telling jokes, etc.
C.  a ham is another name for an amateur radio operator
D. all of the above

Think it over….I’ll wait.  And the answer is…D!  But the answer that I’m most interested in is C: a ham is another name for an amateur radio operator.  My husband Tony has had his Ham license since 1993.  He’s recently gotten back into the hobby, and he’s bringing me with him into the exciting world of Ham radio. 🙂

I’m working on my Technician Class license.  When I achieve that, I’ll get my own call sign (sort of like a name…Tony’s is N9VVO) and I’ll be able to get on the air. Cool, huh? And when I get my General Class license, which is what Tony is working on now, I’ll be able to talk with people all over the world!  The most exciting part is that once I make a contact with someone in a different country, I can exchange QSL cards with them.  A QSL card is a postcard on which you record the results of your contact: the time, what frequency you were on, etc.  Sometimes people have beautiful pictures of their country on their QSL cards. I can’t wait!  But, I’ll have to wait until I get my next license, to be able to do that officially.

So what I have to do now, is study (I’m using Ham Radio for Dummies by Ward Silver, and Technician Class 2010-2014 by Gordon West) and keep taking practice tests.  Once I get a consistently high school on the practice tests, I’ll take the actual test at a local Ham radio club.  I’ll keep you posted.

Spring is in the air

The weather is warming up! Hurrah! Today, the thermometer on Tony’s Jeep was recording 70 degrees. Not bad, not bad at all. 🙂 The daffodils on the side of the house look like they are about ready to pop, and the ones that I planted in the Fall are just starting to poke their heads through the ground. Spring is here!

Success at the thrift store

So, today at the thrift store everything was half price.  Woohoo!  So of course, that meant the store was packed, but I just took a deep breath and plunged right in.  And here’s what I got:

*  Lime green cardigan sweater

* Lime green winter scarf

* Lime green coupon holder (are you sensing a theme?)

* Spirit of Christmas CD of Amy Grant and Vince Gill (still in shrink wrap)

* forks (to add to our community drawer at work)

* a suede green blazer

* a burgundy Kenneth Cole raincoat

*a pair of Gap brown stretch jeans

* a Disney golf shirt for Tony

* two fun fur scarves to go with..

* a pair of leopard print pjs (can we say Halloween costume?)

* a “genuine-leather” coat, purchased for the hood to go with the Halloween costume

* and a long sleeve light green (of course) “Many Moods of Tinkerbell” shirt


For a grand total of: $36

I think that is probably my best haul yet.  I’m guessing that the Kenneth Cole raincoat alone was probably $80 or so new.  I’ll post pictures soon. 🙂

P.S. I might post some pictures to my Facebook account later.

2010 Star Trek Convention in Chicago

Yesterday was quite fun!  Tony and I attend a Star Trek Convention in Chicago.  At first we were a bit disappointed because Leonard Nimoy was supposed to attend (he had minor benign abdonimal surgery according to the convention website, and he is doing well.) he was unable to.  Still, we enjoyed ourselves.  We attended Armin Shimerman’s (Quark from Star Trek Deep Space 9) session, which also included Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun from DS9 and Shran from Star Trek Enterprise, which is where I saw him) and Casey Biggs (Damar from DS9).

We also attended an auction of Star Trek memorabilia.  It was so fast paced, and amazing!  I think the most expensive item went for around $400. Wow!

We walked around the vendor area a bit, bought some Vulcan ears, a few books, and some great, small action figures of characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation (the series we’re currently watching the DVDs of).  We contemplated buying t-shirts so we could fit in a bit with the folks who were dressed up (not many, but enough to add some color!) but didn’t see any we really liked.

Our final fun thing we attended for the day was  a cabaret type show described here: “Super-talented MAX GRODENCHIK has written a hilarious and fun evening music and comedy show done in the style of the classic Vegas “Rat Pack” and featuring himself and fellow Trek celebrities VAUGHN ARMSTRONG, JEFFREY COMBS, CASEY BIGGS and ARMIN SHIMERMAN. This show was a smash hit at our Vegas Star Trek Convention and we knew we had to bring this performance to our fellow fans in CHICAGO.”  What fun!  And the guys really could sing pretty well!  Vaughn Armstrong (I know him best from Star Trek Enterprise but he also was on DS9) can play a pretty mean harmonica, while Casey Biggs has a great voice!  Max Grondenchik’s songs were incredible, and Jeffrey Combs and Armin Shimerman were great too.  I was smiling and laughing the whole way through!  Some members of the group perform in the Enterprise Blues Band, and they have released a few CDs that I think are in our future.  Great fun!

Because I am working today I will be unable to attend most of today’s events, but I will probably be going back tomorrow, especially to play the Star Trek trivia game.  Think I have what it takes? I would bet many of the questions would be about STar Trek Deep Space 9 though, and I have only seen a few episodes of that show.  We are working our way through the Star Trek dvds (we’ve watched The Original Series, Enterprise, and we’re on Season 5 (or 6?) of The Next Generation) and haven’t come to the DS0 episodes yet.  Regardless, it would be fun to watch!  Well, I have to go to work now, so the convention reminiscing has to be over for now.  I really enjoyed myself and see us going next year as well!  We’ve talked about going to the Las Vegas convention which attracts even more Star Trek big names, but the attendance fee is so expensive I’m not sure about that yet.  We’ll see!  Thanks Star Trek Convention, Chicago for a great time!

How to be Happy – reprint

How to Be Happy

Find joy in the people and places around you!

Last night, I had dinner with a friend who has everything I
want: a beautiful brownstone house filled with expensive
furniture, a smart and funny husband, an adorable baby girl and
a published novel.

She just told me that she’s miserable.

“I know it’s terrible,” she said. “I have nothing to complain
about. But I’ve always been miserable. I get it from my mother
— she was a real grump.”

I was surprised; I had always thought she was happy. Not that I
ever asked her. Of course she’s happy, I figured, she has all
the toys. This deduction is a common mistake, says David Niven,
Ph.D., author of “The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People.”

“One thing that continually shocks people is that the events of
a person’s life have little to do with how happy he or she is,”
says Dr. Niven.

Rather, as my friend suspected, genetics is about 50 percent
responsible for our level of happiness, says Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., author of the groundbreaking book
“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.” Fortunately, we
have a significant amount of control over the other half.

Here are some ways to tend to your mental health and happiness

Appreciate the moment:
Many of us view happiness as a future state: something we’ll
achieve when we get that great job, beautiful home or handsome
husband. And while we do often feel quite elated when we attain
these goals, the bliss is usually short-lived — and quickly
followed by a desire for something else, whether it’s more
money, a renovated kitchen or flowers on Valentine’s Day.
“That’s why winning the lottery or getting a promotion doesn’t

You’re always looking toward the next step,” explains Dr.
Csikszentmihalyi. To break that looking-ahead cycle, you need
to cultivate an appreciation of your life as it is now —
dissatisfying job and all.

Csikszentmihalyi says people have a natural tendency to think
about what’s not working in their lives and ignore the good
stuff. So make a list of everything that you love about your
life — Thursday-night Chardonnays with the girls, the nature
trail nearby, the way your two-year-old looks in her Halloween
costume — and then remind yourself to really savor them.

Give yourself a higher calling:
Csikszentmihalyi says that people are happy when they feel that
they are contributing to something greater than themselves,
whether through their job, family or community. “Happy people
don’t ruminate about themselves and their problems. They say,
Life is short. I’d better do something useful.” But you don’t
have to have a large family or a job vaccinating orphans in
order to lead a fulfilling life.

Take the real-estate agent I know. Truly invested in helping
people find the right home, he will often steer prospective
tenants away from listings he considers subpar, depending upon
their needs and desires. If he was strictly out for his
commission, he wouldn’t get nearly the same job satisfaction
(and, in the long run, he probably wouldn’t make as much money,
either). So think about the ways you can transform your
perspective of your daily tasks.

Build small acts of kindness into your day:
You can always build small acts of kindness into your day, such
as giving up your seat on the bus, putting a quarter in a
stranger’s ready-to-expire parking meter or clicking on The
Breast Cancer Site (, where you can
help fund mammograms for poor women. These things do make a
difference in others’ lives. You flow, girl (or guy).

Find your flow:
We’ve all had those moments when things feel completely right in
our world. Perhaps you were cross-country skiing through a
beautiful ice-coated forest or creating a scrapbook of snapshots
and ticket stubs from your trip to Los Angeles. You spent the
day completely immersed in the activity, and when you finally
looked at your watch, you were startled to realize how much time
had passed.

Csikszentmihalyi says these moments of complete absorption are
when people are happiest, a state he calls “flow.” “These are
the moments people treasure in their lives, and the more of them
you get, the better off you are,” he says.

To find your flow, first get a hobby — an activity you do for
pure enjoyment. Think about the stuff you loved to do as a kid
— ballet lessons, pottery, pickup basketball — and then just go
with it.

Examine your options:
One crucial difference between happy people and unhappy people
is that the former believe they have choices. Two workers could
be toiling away at the same understimulating job with the same
impossible-to-please boss but have completely different
experiences: one feeling that the situation is hopeless, the
other seeing a way out, either through moving up in the company
or dusting off her resume.

So even if the happy person stays on the job, she still feels
she is doing so by choice.

Cultivate friends and activities that will increase your sense
of options:
Anything from taking night classes to joining an Internet dating
service to sitting down with a good friend and brainstorming
about your dreams for the future.

Actually, you’re already doing one of those things. Studies
show that people who use computers tend to be happier than
people who don’t. “People feel a sense of possibilities when
they use their computer,” says Niven. “It gives you access to
information and to connections. If you have an interest in an
obscure hobby, there may not be anyone in your town who shares
it, but you can probably find at least 100 people online who

Nurture your relationships:
Having a strong connection to others — be they family or friends
— is a crucial part of mental health; but unfortunately, many of
us simply focus on what our relationships are or aren’t giving
us rather than asking ourselves what we can do to bolster the
people in our lives.

But Csikszentmihalyi says the key to having fulfilling
relationships is to invest in others without expecting anything
back. “It can’t be quid pro quo,” he says. Paradoxically,
those who expect the least from loved ones, usually get the
most. “That’s the interesting thing,” says Csikszentmihalyi.
“The less you try, the more you succeed.”

By Sara Eckel
Reprinted from
© 2001 Microsoft Corporation

Lot and lots of rain!

We’ve been pretty lucky here in Chicago. We’ve had lots of rain recently so I haven’t had to water in days. My flowers and fruit and veggies are loving it! I’ve

I’ve been watching (in spurts) Julie and Julia and loving it! A movie about cooking…nice! I’m at the point where Julie had problems making aspic (yum! not!) and trussing a chicken with some sort of cream cheese filling.  And just when she seems to have hit her low point, she finds out that a reporter wants to write a report about her experience.  I should be able to finish it tonight.

Our summer reading club starts Sunday.  I am responsible for six weeks of daily crafts to give kids another thing to do at the library while they are here.  First craft?  Making cowboy and cowgirl stick puppets! Should be fun. Get ready for a busy summer!