Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Home Project! Painting the Sun Porch

This summer because temperatures have been in the 90s through most of July and almost ALL of August, we haven't really been able to enjoy sitting out in the sun porch (the ceiling fan pushing around 100 degree Heat Index temperatures is not pleasant). However, since we do look outside through the sun porch, we decided to change the color.
   Tom picked out the color because I (Rob) am colorblind. It's now a uniform beige (well, it looks that way to me). We didn't paint it. We hired someone who could stay in the lines and not drip paint all over the place as I usually do. I like the new color. What do you think?
Before - white with grey ceiling

Before - White with a grey ceiling

After- Beige

After - Beige

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fascinating Book: "The Other Tudors: Henry VIII's Mistresses and Bastards" by Philippa Jones

I (Tom)  finished reading the book "The Other Tudors: Henry VIII's Mistresses and Bastards," by Philippa Jones. 
  By piecing together the historical record through transcripts and letters, land grants, bestowed titles and other gifts, the author documents what happened to the illegitimate children of Henry VIII. It reads a bit like a text book and assumes that the reader is well versed in English history (which I am not), but it's still a very good read. 
   Of particular interest is how well the 3 royals got on with their 5 half siblings even to the point of paying their debts, attending their weddings, standing in as godparents to their children, bailing them out of trouble, and turning a blind eye when their religious pursuits strayed from the official religion.
   If you enjoy Tudor history, this is a fascinating book that covers something not found in other history books. 
  (NOTE: I call Tom a "quiet historian" on the Tudor period. He has read so much about the period and the people that he can cite anything from memory. We also got to investigate many of the Tudor castles and places in England and Scotland, so he's also got the "on-site" knowledge. If you have questions about Medieval England's Tudor period, he's the guy who can answer them- Rob)

Italy Blog #44 Siena Part 4: Sign of the Wolf, Family Name Meaning and a Hidden Bathroom!

In this Italy blog, you'll learn the important meaning of the "Sign of the Wolf and 2 babies" that was all around the city of Siena. We also discovered what my (Rob) mom's maiden name meant!  We'll conclude with a couple of long distance pictures of this amazing city on a hill.

Capitoline Wolf at Siena Duomo. According to a legend Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus.
SIGN OF THE WOLF- Throughout Siena were symbols of a wolf with 2 babies. We were told that it signifies roman origins of a place. Traditional scholarship says the wolf-figure is Etruscan, 5th century BC, with figures of Romulus and Remus added in the 15th century AD. The Capitoline Wolf  is a bronze sculpture of a she-wolf suckling twin human infants, inspired by the legend of the founding of Rome. According to the legend, when Numitor, grandfather of the twins Romulus and Remus, was overthrown by his brother Amulius, the usurper ordered the twins to be cast into the Tiber River. They were rescued by a she-wolf who cared for them until a herdsman, Faustulus, found and raised them.
This sign we saw in a convenient store!

Rob at the hidden bathroom door!
ROB'S MOM'S MAIDEN NAME MEANING FOUND! - My (Rob) mom's maiden name is Tutela. I never knew that it had a meaning until we went into a convenient store in Siena for a bottle of water and saw a sign with "Tutela" on it!
  I asked about it, and was told that "Tutela" means someone that cares for young children.

A HIDDEN BATHROOM!  - We stopped for tea and a snack and had to use the restroom, but couldn't find it, although 2 people pointed to a certain part of the combination cafe/store. It turned out that the Doorway to the restroom was actually a false front and an active shelf with goods for sale on it.
Siena from a distance

NEXT: Visiting the city of Monteriggioni

Maryellen and Tom on a side street

Town hall tower from a distance

Looking out from the top of the hill

Monday, August 29, 2016

Italy Blog #43 Siena Part 3: Oldest Surviving European Hospital & Medieval Fountain

One of Europe's Oldest Surviving Hospitals
In today's Italy blog, the last in our stop in the Medieval city on a hill called Siena, you'll experience a hospital, fountain, "the wolf" and Rob's discovery about what his mother's maiden name means.  

ONE OF WORLD'S OLDEST SURVIVING HOSPITALS - Santa Maria della Scala (Siena) now a museum, was once an important civic hospital dedicated to caring for abandoned children, the poor, the sick, and pilgrims.
  It was one of Europe's first hospitals and is one of the oldest hospitals still surviving in the world. From at least as far back as 1193 up to the 18th century, the Hospital took on many philanthropic endeavors:

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HOSPITAL'S ABANDONED CHILDREN? -Babies were often left at the hospital. Meticulous records were kept of the details relating to each child, in order that the original parents may later be able to find them. Infants were given to wet nurses then later weaned and educated. At age 8, they were taught a trade and any profits they made were kept for them. When they reached 18, the children had the option of leaving. Those that chose to leave were given all their saved earnings, plus more, a set of clothing, and furnishings for a house. Girls were given an additional 50 lire as a dowry.

A COOL MEDIEVAL FOUNTAIN - While walking around the city with our tour guide Maryellen, we came across a 13th century fountain. The fountain, which was carved out of the side of a hill was the end of underground channels that brought fresh water into the city. It was carved out and constructed in the 1240s. Water was still coming out of the fountain (although we were cautioned not to drink it!).
   If you look at the photo we took (left) you'll see 2 pools of water in the fountain. High above the archway and the wall above led to the street above. In order to get to this fountain, there is a 45 degree angle-sloped street that runs to the right of it and comes to the fountain base.

The Psychiatric hospital

NEXT: In Siena Part 4: You'll learn about the "Sign of the Wolf" and Rob's mom's  maiden name's meaning revealed!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reminder! Wash your dog's toys and nylabones

Weekends make for good days to wash all of your dog's nylabones and toys. After all, who wants to keep putting stuff in your mouth that has been on the floor a lot? 
  Stuffed toys can go in the washing machine and nylabones can either go in the dishwasher or just hand wash them.

Wow... Hawaii - where Political Attacks Hit a New Low

If you think the political climate of the entire U.S. is somewhat hostile, you haven't seen anything until you look at a political race in Hawaii. In Hawaii political attacks hit a New Low
Even the leadership from the Republican Party is outraged over the hateful things one of their own party has put out against a challenger who is Hindu. Just look at the vicious advertisement put out by the hateful candidate.
 Below is the article from the Honolulu Hawaii Civil Beat news.

Hawaii GOP Chair Denounces His Own Party’s US House Nominee

The chair of the Hawaii Republican Party is urging party members to disavow the candidacy of the GOP nominee for the 2nd Congressional District, which represents the neighbor islands and rural Oahu.

“I want it understood by the general public and the media that the recent inflammatory comments made by candidate for Congress (CD2) Angela Kaaihue do not represent the views, values, or the sentiments of our Party and its members,” Fritz Rohlfing said in a statement issued late Friday. “Her vulgar, racially-bigoted, and religiously-intolerant descriptions of Democratic Party candidates are offensive, shameful, and unacceptable in public discourse.”

Rohlfing added, “I unconditionally denounce her despicable statements.”

On Tuesday, Kaaihue issued a press release from her campaign directly attacking the religion of her Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and that of former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.
Kaaihue also called Hawaii a “Devil Democratic State,” condemned a “local dumb mentality” and said that if “my neighbor Gov. Ige and his Japanese constituents” would settle a legal dispute over land that she said she is involved with, she would drop out of the race.

Then Hawaii, YOU can have YOUR so-called ‘perfect’ pathetic Hindu 1000 GODS leader along with YOUR pathetic ‘career politician’ Buddhist Hanabusa, and your pathetic American Traitor, And my family and I will go our merrily way,” Kaaihue said. She also ridiculed Gabbard’s “moon-crater cheeks.”

Gabbard is Hindu, Hanabusa is Buddhist and Ige is Japanese-American. Kaaihue is a Christian running on a platform based on instilling religion in government.

The hateful ad Kaaihue issued against Gabbard
Kaaihue supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has come under fire for comments about banning Muslims from entering the country, implying Filipinos belonged to a “terrorist nation” and wanting to build a wall to keep Mexican “rapists” and “drug dealers” from entering the country.

Kaaihue initially pulled papers for several Hawaii races this year, ultimately settling on the CD2 contest. She won the GOP primary with 7,449 votes to Eric Hafner’s 5,874, though 6,314 ballots were left bank.
Gabbard easily defeated Shay Chan Hodges in the Democratic primary, 80,024 votes to 14,643.
On Kaaihue’s campaign website and Facebook page, Gabbard, Hanabusa and Kirk Caldwell (the Honolulu mayor she considered running against) are described as non-Christians who “worship the Devil.”

Kaaihue has a years-long arrest record, including family abuse in 2005 and a history of violating restraining orders that police officers and others filed against her for harassment.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Meet The Woman Reuniting Vets With Their Retired Service Dogs | NBC Nightly News

Watch this NBC news story about an amazing retired flight attendant who flies service dogs home to reunite them with the soldiers they served with in battle. This will warm your heart.

Meet The Woman Reuniting Vets With Their Retired Service Dogs | NBC Nightly News 

Published on Jun 21, 2016
Retired military dogs that are being put up for adoption are getting a second life alongside the soldiers they served with — thanks to Molli Oliver.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Italy Blog #42: Siena- Part 2: Horses and Banks

Tom, Maryellen (our guide), Rob in Siena
In today's blog, we'll continue to explore some of the interesting things you'll find in Siena, a medieval city on a hill located between Florence and Rome. Today we'll learn about banks and horses!

Our tour guide, Maryellen was a college professor from the U.S. and now lives in Siena as a tour guide. She knew a million facts!
Torre del Mangia 
ON THE TOWN - The Plaza or "Piazza" del Campo is a shell-shaped town square before the Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) with its tall Torre del Mangia  (a tower built in 1338-1348). The Palazzo Pubblico, itself a great work of architecture is where the famous "Palio" race is held. In addition to the race, there's a famous museum with Ambrogio Lorenzetti's frescoes depicting the Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government.

photo of the Palio in action from Aug 2015
HORSING AROUND THE RACETRACK -This is part of the site for the Palio horse race. The Palio is a horse race that is held twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August, in Siena, Italy. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colors, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards.
Piazza del Campo
**We DIDN'T see it since we were there in May, 2016**

Piazza del Campo
HISTORY OF THE PALIO- The Palio is run to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary near the old houses that belonged to Provenzano Salvani. The first Palio was run on August 16, 1656. The Palio was run for the first time in 1701 in honor of the "Madonna dell'Assunta." 

BANK ON IT -The Palazzo Salimbeni is located in a piazza of the same name. It's is the oldest surviving bank in the world and the Italian third largest commercial and retail bank by total assets.

Palazzo Salimbeni
NEXT: Siena Part 3: Oldest Hospital, a Medieval Fountain, and the meaning of Rob's mom's maiden name

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Italy Blog #41:City of Siena: Unfinished Cathedral Mystery & Color! - Part 1

Rob in Tom in Siena - City on a Hill
We're back to our Italy Blogs and in #41 today, we'll walk you through the Medieval city of Siena, built on hill (like Montepulciano in the last blog) which has quite a few interesting tidbits, from horses to colors, hospitals and banks.  Here in part 1 of Siena, we'll explain the color and check out the "unfinished Cathedral" and learn why it wasn't completed.

Outside the striped cathedral
WHERE IS IT? Siena is a city in Italy’s central Tuscany, is distinguished by its medieval brick buildings. It is the capital of the province of Siena, south of Florence and north of Rome.

HOW FAR BACK DOES IT GO? The area where Siena is today was actually first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c. 900–400 BC) when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina. The Etruscans were an advanced people who changed the face of central Italy through their use of irrigation to reclaim previously unfarmable land, and their custom of building their settlements in well-defended hill forts. A Roman town called Saena Julia was founded at the site in the time of the Emperor Augustus. The first document mentioning it dates from AD 70.

inside the cathedral
WHAT WAS AND IS THE CITY KNOWN FOR? Siena prospered as a trading post, and the constant streams of pilgrims passing to and from Rome to Florence provided a valuable source of income over centuries. Today, it's famous for crystal, agriculture and tourism. 

THE UNFINISHED CATHEDRAL- The Siena Cathedral began construction in the 12th century but it was unfinished.
Green and white marble inside the church
    It is said to be a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Its main fa├žade was completed in 1380. It was originally supposed to be a huge basilica, the largest then in the world, with an east to west nave but with lack of funds and plague deaths, the project was truncated.In fact, today, the abandoned east wall of a nave still stands. 
The unfinished wall

THE "UNFINISHED MYSTERY" SOLVED - The Black Death plague killed so many people during the time of construction that there was no one to complete it. In fact, about two-thirds of the population of Siena died from the plague.

STRIPES ON THE CATHEDRAL?  The bricks that were used to build the Cathedral were covered by marble, which had a green stripe in it. It was "moorish style." 

INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL - It contained more white and green striped marble. There were also depictions of all the heads of the popes (172 of them). There were 12th century marble slabs on the floor with drawings and carvings in them. 

FAST FACT: COLOR! - The color Siena, which is a red-brown color is actually named for this city. It's because that's the color of the soil. You'll recognize the color mostly because it's a crayon color usually called "Burnt Sienna" from Crayola crayons (and spelled with 2 letter "n"s. 

NEXT: Siena Part 2: Banks and Horses  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Italy Blog #40: San Gimignano a Quaint Medieval Town

One of the towers

We're back to our Italy Blogs and in #40 where we will take you to San Gimignano a Quaint Medieval Town!  Allessandro was our driver for the day, and he brought us to one side of this town and dropped us off. The town is actually built entirely on a hill, and has 1 main road, so you walk from one side of the town to the other, entirely up and down hill! 

NICKNAME- The town is known as the "Tuscan Manhattan" - because it's in Tuscany, and because there are several towers that stand in the city that were built in the middle ages that can be seen from a distance (looking like skyscrapers of Manhattan. There are actually about 12 to 14 of these towers left.
San Gimignano towers-  city on a hill

WHAT IS SAN GIMIGNANO? - San Gimignano is an Italian hill town in Tuscany, southwest of Florence. Encircled by 13th-century walls, its old town centers on Piazza della Cisterna, a triangular square lined with medieval houses. Other medieval features include fountains and towers, such as the stone Torre Grossa. The Duomo di San Gimignano is a 12th-century church with frescoes by Ghirlandaio in its Santa Fina Chapel.

CITY HISTORY  - This is a beautiful ancient city. It started as a village 2,000 years ago by Estruscan people. It was founded as an actual town about 1,000 years ago. 
Porta Romana

An alleyway
PORTO ROMANA - This is the name of a 7th century passageway that leads from San Gimignao to Rome. It had wooden doors that were about 60 feet tall!  

WHAT IS THE CITY FAMOUS FOR? White Wine! Dry, bitter wine.  

Rob in the main square
WHATS IN THE CITY? All of the ancient medieval buildings were inhabited by shops and amazing bakeries. - where I had a sugary orange cookie and and amazing chocolate cookie, and Tom had a salty bread. 
a wine shop

COBBLESTONE STREETS- were the only streets throughout the entire town.
Here is a collection of pictures to give you an idea of what it's like to walk through the town >>> 

 NEXT: On to the town of Siena!

the busy main street


BELOW- A  SHORT VIDEO WE TOOK OF THE TOWN - we stopped at the top of the town and took a quick look around in a short video (30 seconds) to give you an idea of what the town looked like.

View of the town from a distance

A view from the town looking over the valley
An impressive alley way

Another view looking out from the top of the town

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Laugh for Tuesday: Randy Rainbow Interviews the Donald -Part 2

One of our favorite comedians/You Tube stars, Randy Rainbow is at it again with laughs.  In this video,Randy sits down with Donald to discuss foreign policy and boys.
Published on Aug 2, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

In the news: Found! A Squirrel-like Mammal as old as the Dinosaurs

As a kid, I (Rob) have always been fascinated by dinosaurs and the prehistoric mammals of the Ice Age. Recently, scientists
found a squirrel-like creature that lived during the time of the dinosaurs! Here's the article from the Washington Post:

Scientists finally found Zenkerella, the world’s most mysterious mammal

By Sarah Kaplan
   The specimen sat in alcohol at the bottom of an opaque plastic container. Its luxuriant black fur was dark and matted, its characteristic tail curled. David Fernandez peered at the odd-looking critter, which he'd spent the better part of the past year trying to track down, and hoped it was the real thing.
The second male specimen of Zenkerella insignis was found near the village of Ureca on Bioko, an island off the west coast of Africa. (Steven Heritage)
  Fernandez had worked on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea for 14 years, but he'd never seen one of these animals in its entirety before. No scientist ever had.
just for fun...
  He lifted the specimen out of its container and snapped a photo with his phone. Then he texted the image to his colleague Erik Seiffert, one of the few people in the world who would recognize the creature.
Seiffert immediately texted back: That's Zenkerella.
"I think he was even more excited than I was," Fernandez recalled. "It was amazing, the first entire specimen available for us, and for science basically."
  Zenkerella insignis, the critter caught on Bioko, is one of the world's most ancient and mysterious mammals. Until now, it was known only by its fossils and 11 scattered specimens, many of which had been languishing in natural history collections for over 100 years. Researchers who were interested in the species (and there aren't many) had little to go on aside from a hind limb here, a few teeth there. No scientist in history has ever seen it alive.
   But, in a study published Tuesday in the journal PeerJ, Fernandez, Seiffert and their colleagues describe the capture of three freshly killed Z. insignis specimens. The discovery means that, for the first time, scientists were able to examine the genome of one of the bizarre mammals, and finally figure out where Zenkerella fits in our evolutionary family tree.
   Members of the Zenkerella genus are creatures of another world, "living fossils" that have evolved very little over the past 49 million years. For context, they're only about 15 million years younger than the dinosaurs, and some 35 million years older than the oldest great apes. When they first arose, Australia was still connected to Antarctica, and the Himalayas didn't even exist yet.
An illustration of a Zenkerella skeleton and map of Bioko Island are superimposed against an image of the rain forest where the Zenkerella specimens were found. (Erik Seiffert)
  "It's a long lineage that stretches all the way back 50 million years, and we only have one species left that we don’t know anything about," Seiffert said. "We don't know when it is active, or what it eats, or if it spends all of its time in the trees or on the ground."   That's pretty much unprecedented for mammals, which are among the best-researched taxonomic classes of creatures.
  Zenkerella is the ultimate survivor. Of the 5,400 mammal species known to science, only it and five others are the sole surviving members of ancient lineages. Even among that select group, Zenkerella's living fossil status makes it almost unique. But it is the least studied of all these ancient creatures.




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Remember this ad? 1974 Equal Pay PSA with Batgirl!

Remember this ad from 1974? It's an Equal Pay PSA with Batgirl! 

Imagine this - In 2016 we're STILL fighting to get equal pay for women. Back in 1974, the Federal Department of Labor asked the original Batman cast to reprise their roles for a Public Service Announcement about the Federal Equal Pay Act. The Act, which requires businesses to pay men and women the same amount of money for the same job, was passed ten years earlier but hadn't been heavily enforced.

Burt Ward returned as Robin, Yvonne Craig returned as Batgirl, and Dick Gautier filled Adam West's shoes to portray Batman. The ad features Batman and Robin tied up, with only Batgirl to save them. However, before she helps her friends, she demands that she get paid the same as Robin because they do the same job.

Here's the video:


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Wonder Woman Film Trailer (2017) and her History

As a big superhero fan, I've always loved Wonder Woman. Of course in the late 1970s, Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman. Now, Gail Gadot takes on the role that she started in Batman Vs. Superman this past January and she's in her own film that comes out in 2017. Actor Chris Pine co-stars as Wonder Woman's love interest from the comics, Col. Steve Trevor.
  For those who don't know, Wonder Woman was created by Dr. Charles Moulston in the early 1940s. She's from the race of Amazons, immortal women of Greek descent who lived in a society of only women on Paradise Island.
  When Col. Trevor crash landed on Paradise Island, she had to bring him back to the U.S. There she wound up helping fight against Germany during World War 2 in the comics. In this movie, the producers make it World War 1... and yes, as the "daughter" of the god Zeus, Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) is immortal. (Yes, that's all from memory). :)
  Now, onto the movie trailer:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Our Weimaraner Dolly's Scary Health Adventure

Rob and Dolly at the Vet waiting to get a CAT Scan
Several weeks ago I (Rob) noticed that our 11 year old Weimaraner, Dolly was breathing very heavily after 1 to 2 minutes into a morning walk. Being a worrying dad, we took her for X-rays and found a big black spot on her lung.

FIRST THOUGHTS - At first we thought the weather and high morning humidity may have been the reason for the very, very heavy panting at the walk onset- The weather here in the Mid-Atlantic in late July and all throughout August has been abysmally scorching. In fact, last week heat indices ran up to 100 and over most of the week, so only morning walks were the activity of the day.

So, a week ago Monday, Aug. 8th, our vet did x-rays on Dolly and found a large black spot on her right lung. Of course, it sent me into full worry mode.We made a consult appointment with Dogs and Cats Emergency Vet Hospital near us (they did a fantastic job on our Dachshund, Franklin's back surgery).If it was cancerous we wanted it out... now.

CONSULTATION REVEALS A BULLA -The internist and surgeon looked at the X-rays and said that may be a "Bulla" but a CAT SCAN was needed to confirm.

So, on Thursday, Aug. 18th, Dolly went under anesthesia and had a CAT Scan. She also had 4 growths on her skin checked for cancer.

WHAT IS A BULLA? -  it appeared to be an air-filled membrane in the lung called a Bulla. It's something dogs get and luckily it's NOT cancerous. **People get them on their skin. For some reason, dogs get them in their lungs.  The internist who looked at the CAT Scan said it IS a "Bulla." He also said  it can stay there forever unless it ruptures (and there's a low chance of it- which would me an emergency visit) . WHEW.

Dolly says "Dad, it's just hot air in a bubble. Chill out."
4 GROWTHS BIOPSIED - Dolly also had 4 growths tested, and all were benign, thankfully. Again,

SO WHAT'S CAUSING THE PANTING FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WALK? - The doctor said she may have arthritis. SO, we gave the okay for another X-ray of her back legs (that we noticed she favored and can't jump on the bed as well anymore). 
ARTHRITIS IT IS-  The X-ray found of her back legs found advanced arthritis. About a month ago I started her on Dasequin for that very reason (I suspected). And she's also on pain killers and anti-inflammatories for a week or so to help.

So it was  much better news than we expected and we are grateful. So, Dolly will now be on joint supplements (she has been) , pain killers, and a diet!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Saw the film "Florence Foster Jenkins" - Who Was She?

movie poster
Tom has a CD from the 1940s singer "Florence Foster Jenkins" and was anxious to see the movie, so to get out of the house and not in the heat we saw the film by the same name on Sunday. Tom loved it. I thought it was good. Although I wasn't really interested in it, I enjoyed it and you will, too.

This is based on a  true story, starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg, and directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena). One of the highlights for me (Rob) was the funny performance and facial expressions of the pianist, who is played by :"Howard" (Simon Helberg) on the Big Bang Theory. He was hysterical.

WHAT IS THE MOVIE ABOUT? -  It tells the inspirational true story of the eponymous New York heiress who obsessively pursued her dream of becoming a great singer even though she couldn't hold a tune!  The promoters said "the film celebrates the human spirit, the power of music and the passion of amateurs everywhere."

WHO WAS FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS? - Here's an article from the Los Angeles times that explains who she is (see below the video)


Los Angeles Times
In the new biopic, “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Meryl Streep plays the title role of a wealthy philanthropist with the desire — but not the talent — to be a singer. The Stephen Frears film is based on the real-life character who was a prominent figure in New York arts scene for almost half a century.

Born into a wealthy Wilkes-Barre, Penn., family, Nascina Florence Foster took piano lessons up until the age of 15, when she married 30-year-old Dr. Frank Jenkins, who most likely gave her syphilis, a then-incurable disease. When the pair separated after three years, she kept the doctor’s name and returned to music, attending the Philadelphia Academy of Music.

Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944), who will be played by Meryl Streep in the biopic "Florence Foster Jenkins," was a singing socialite who was unaware of her poor singing ability. (Getty)
She moved to New York City and with the help of her father’s inheritance started programming musical recitals, often for women’s groups. During one performance in 1909, she met St. Clair Bayfield — played by Hugh Grant in the biopic — an accomplished English actor who became her partner and later her manager.

Jenkins still dreamed of being an opera singer and she started giving performances for some of the groups she supported such as the Verdi Club. Her singing, which was by all accounts awful, was greeted with enthusiasm by club members no doubt grateful for her sizable contributions. She continued to do live performances for decades.

Though she received generally terrible reviews from critics after releasing her first record, Jenkins remained convinced of her vocal talent. She considered the critics ignorant and held private performances to which they were not invited.

When performing, Jenkins would dress in extravagant homemade costumes and throw flowers into the audience. The highlight of her career came on Oct. 24, 1944, when she performed at Carnegie Hall where tickets were for once available to the general public (and music critics).
Two days after the performance, the blissfully oblivious singer suffered a heart attack, and one month later she died in her Manhattan home at the age of 76. During her last days, Jenkins reportedly said, “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fun with Ruthie - Puppy Love and Margaritas

Dolly, Tyler, Franklin and Ruthie
Here are a couple of fun pictures we took during Ruthie's three day visit. Of course, our kids all loved having her back (she visited a couple of times over the years). 

One of the things we like to do is take everyone to our favorite Mexican restaurant - that has the most powerful jumbo frozen margaritas. - Tom loves them (I (Rob) don't drink so I'm  the designated driver) .

  We took Ruthie there and she and Tom both got jumbo margaritas, and by the end of the dinner there was a lot of laughing, and I could tell that it was affecting both of them! 
Rob and his iced water
 So next time you visit us, be prepared for Mexican food and a jumbo margarita... and don't worry, I'll drive. 


Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next