Tuesday

Book Review; Some Politics; A Guest Post & Intriguing Miscellany

Book Review:-"Everything She Ever Wanted" by Ann Rule. Pat Taylor Allanson liked to cook for folks but she had a heavy hand with the arsenic. Her story is shocking, a story of a woman who wanted so much that she'd kill with no compunction to get it. A riveting read.

Guest Writer Michelle still working on that aquarium and the conversion from salt water to fresh is a tale of success and failure.

Some miscellaneous stuff this week that defied classification. First, a Delaware political race which affects every one of yon readers.

Some monarch caterpillars pay a visit, daughter gets a huge haircut, how to get rid of all your joint pain and America's Top Ten Pet Names.

Pic of the Day

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The Delaware O’Donnell/Castle Race

A most recent update to my little rant below is this American Spectator Article on the danger of Mike Castle and a lameduck congress. Hand to God this article came out today though it repeats much of my concern below.

Just so you know it’s not just me.

Mike Castle is Delaware’s only Representative in America’s House, Delaware being one of the few states with more Senators than Representatives for its small size.

Mike Castle was Governor of Delaware for two terms and has been a Representative in the House for about forever.

He is a RINO…a Republican in Name Only.

Now some would say that Delaware is a purple state, not solidly red or solidly blue and that Mike Castle represents that dynamic.

Perhaps.

He voted for the so-called stimulus, against the Iraq surge, for federal financing of fetal stem cell research, the recent free speech impeding DISCLOSE act…in other words, DEMOCRAT legislative agendas. The last straw was his vote, along with only one other Republican in the House, in favor of Cap and Tax.

Nothing wrong with a legislator voting for this stuff. Except, ahem, Mike Castle is a REPUBLICAN!

I am a Conservative. Which is not necessarily the same thing as a Republican but for now, Republicans are all we have.

All across the fruited plains Conservatives are sick of so-called Republicans voting like Democrats. If they’re going to vote Democrat, damn them, BECOME A DEMOCRAT!

There’s many Conservatives in Delaware that are very mad at Mike Castle and want him to go away.

Well Mike Castle is not only NOT going to go away, he is now running for the position of Delaware’s Senator. Remember Joe Biden? Yeah, our Vice-President. The Governor of Delaware appointed a place-holder for Biden and now Delaware is going to fill Biden’s seat.

It was widely believed that Beau Biden…yeah, son of Joe, would be running to fill that seat. Only Delaware AG Beau Biden’s got a big child-molesting case going on now and the poor guy, a young man, just recently suffered a small stroke. He really wasn’t ready for the job those who would be honest would tell you.

Mike Castle was scheduled to retire at the end of this congressional term but somebody got the big idea he should run to fill Biden’s seat.

He’s like a big cancer to me at this point. He votes like a Democrat. I thought it was his last term. I did vote for Castle last time on the recommendation that this would be the LAST time we’d have to hold our nose and pull the lever. Now we are going to give this guy MORE power by electing him to a position where he’ll only have to face the voters once every six years and he’ll now be one out of 100 as opposed to one out of 430 or so?

Even more important, whoever is elected to replace Joe Biden would be seated in the senate right away. While other senatorial races would not have the winners seated until January, the Delaware senator would be seated during the upcoming infamous lame-duck session when it is rumored the Democrats will pass cap and Tax, provisions that everyone must get a divorce and marry a homosexual, taxes will be raised to take ALL of our salaries and anything else they can get in because they likely won’t get another chance for about forever.

And we are not to assume that Mike Castle will be right in the thick of this Lameduck session and goodness knows what damage he can then do?

Sussex County Delaware is a bastion of conservatism. They like to make fun of us, calling us the Taliban, labeling us as “teabaggers” and the like. We are mostly older type folk, many retirees from the surrounding states such as New Jersey and Merryland where the debilitating property taxes drove us off.

We obey the laws, watch American Idol, go to church on Sunday, and, I add as point of perspective, one of the largest gay communities in America is located within Sussex county. We hire these folk for our businesses, we shop with them, we bathe with them on our beaches. We get along just fine, our provincial, racist, queer-hating selves.

There is absolutely no justification for the Sussex county GOP to have nominated Mike Castle for Senator, none at all. I could understand infamous and very liberal New Castle county, site of mighty Wilmington, a Baltimore-wannabe city but a big nothing burger suburb of New Jersey and Philadelphia. I could maybe understand mid-state Kent county. But no way would the citizens of Sussex county, at least the Republican ones but probably the Democrat ones as well, have condoned the nomination of Mike Castle in Sussex county.

And yet didn’t they go and nominate that man, the Sussex GOP, many of them friends and colleagues of my association through the years here in Delaware?

I don’t know how they can sleep at night, the traitors.

Backbones….they have none.

Christine O’Donnell is a woman who has run for elected office before here in Delaware. Back in 2006 she ran as an Independent for Governor and in 2008 the Delaware GOP did nominate her as candidate to oppose Joe Biden in his run for Senator. The GOP hates Christine O’Donnell. She is an avowed conservative. They only gave her the nod in 2008 because they knew that no one would beat favorite son Joe Biden, who was simultaneously running for Vice-President that year.

Even at that, O’Donnell didn’t do half bad against Biden.

So now the Delaware GOP has nominated that godawful Mike Castle to run for Senator to officially replace Joe Biden. Christine O’Donnell is running against Mike Castle and it’s an uphill battle.

For Mike Castle has power and money like few have. You don’t stride that congressional aisle for so many years without making lots of friends everywhere and, indeed, Mike Castle has done so.

The Delaware GOP loves to make fun of O’Donnell, calling her, gasp…POOR….dag, imagine that- a poor person running for an elective office. They mock and joke about her, calling her supporteers “pathetic”.

It gets so I despise the Delaware Republican party.

Try and get in the way of the perfectly-coiffed, superbly suntanned, professionally nail-polished GOP country club set and watch them turn vicious.

Anyway, I will vote for Christine in the upcoming Delaware primary on 9/14/10. If Castle wins the GOP nomination despite how reviled he is in most of Delaware save the leeches in Wilmington, I will NOT vote for him.

No, I will not vote for the Democratic candidate, a little midget nothing burger like most Democrats. I will not vote for anyone for Senator from my state to replace Joe Biden.

Thus the Delaware GOP has denied me any voice in my state’s senatorial election.

Because we have TWO Democrats running against each other.

Below, a compilation of pics I took from a recent party I attended where Christine O’Donnell showed up to my complete delight.

The Caterpillar Babies Return

There were only two or three of the handsome fellows left when husband spotted the beautiful monarch caterpillars on our Butterfly Weed plant. A couple of pics of these beauties below.

Last year we had a bush filled with these caterpillars and were excited beyond compare. It was the first year we had seen such a thing and we were proud as if we were the parents of those black, yellow and white striped beauties feasting on our plant.

We did some research and discovered several things. First, this so-called “Butterfly Weed” thhat I’d purchased from a garden catalogue for its ability to, ahem, lure butterflies was not quite what I thought.

Turns out it is a common milkweed plant, the “host” plant of the monarch butterfly. It was a pretty plant and grew happily in the place I chose it to grow. It had pretty orange flowers but I lamented how I saw few butterflies hanging around the thing.

A host plant is the plant a butterfly species will use to lay its eggs for hatching. The eggs hatch and the caterpillars then eat the plant on which its parents put it. The caterpillars grow until one day, from a signal from a gene somewhere deep, the caterpillars crawl off and wrap themselves in something called a chrysalis. The chrysalis hangs, usually underneath a protective leaf on a big plant, and over the course of about a week the caterpillar within turns into a beautiful butterfly.

Last year we did find a couple of the caterpillars’ chrysalis’, hanging on, of all things, a houseplant summering outdoors.

Husband and I are in dispute over the timing of last years versus this years monarch caterpillar hatching. I could swear that last year we didn’t have the caterpillars until close to Halloween. This year the pretty things hatched closer to the 4th of July.

We only spotted a couple of them this year and we’re not all sure if there had been many more of them. Whatever the case, they were only with us, eating and pooping on the Milkweed for only a few days. We never found a single chrysalis.

But yes, I am quite proud of my little monarch butterfly nursery although there was no plan for same.

Top Ten Pet Names

Some of these names are clever beyond all clever.

Joint Pain

When my knee first began bothering me I was convinced I’d somehow sprained it.

For it was only one knee causing me grief and the concept of deteriorating joints had never occurred to me.

The knee pain got worse until at one terrible point, even standing on it caused me so much pain I wanted to scream.

Couple of things here: First, I get no younger. I never felt old at all, or even anywhere near approaching old, during the decade of my 50’s. This year I hailed age 60 and, well, now I feel like I’m getting old.

Further, I did have, two years ago, a heart bypass. My coronary arteries were clogged bejeesus but at age 57 I was fairly young and bounced back quick.

In fact, it was because of this operation that I may have hastened the decline of my knee joint although I knew nothing about anything concerning all this.

Finally, I am what might be considered, a person of…ahem, “wide body mass”. That’s what the medicos call fat people who put more pressure on such as knee and hip joints than the thinner amongst us.

I’m not all that huge but I am a big-boned woman who some would say kindly carries her weight well but make no mistake, no matter how well you carry that weight, the knees still feel every ounce.

One of the best ways to stay healthy as we age is regular exercise. Ask any medico. Exercise helps the blood burn up excess sugar, cholesterol, lipids and all kinds of stuff that gets into blood and settles where it shouldn’t oughta.

Walking is one of the best exercises around and most all of us can walk a little bit. So I walk around my own backyard every day. I enjoy it, I play with the dog, my blood sugar, lipids and cholesterol, helped by medicine let’s not kid around here, are way down.

The walking was making my knee joint weary.

ELATIONS!

Just a little container of this Kool Aid type of drink and all your joint pain shall be gone.

Well the stuff wasn’t cheap, around $12.00 for eight of the little things. But my knee hurt and I was getting worried about the possibility that I might have to stop my exercise routine which had proved so beneficial for me and the dog.

The instructions warned that it might take a while for any relief to come so I kept drinking the stuff, groaning about the cost and more important, wondering if it was doing any good.

Around May of this year husband was hospitalized for surgery. It was supposed to be way more of a routine thing than it turned out to be but, amazingly, my knee suddenly became just fine. Which was indeed a blessing in that every day I had to traipse to the hospital, climbing parking lot berms, walking long hospital hallways, and keeping up with the daily exercises for both my health and hey, the dog needed tending to.

Husband ended up being in the hospital for a whole month and for that month I was totally free from joint pain. I stopped taking the Elations, convinced that it was bogus, that I only had a sprain of some kind.

Within two weeks the pain came back with a vengeance. While I felt like I was starting to get old, I did not think I was old enough to require knee replacement. And in fact, I stopped the morning walk routine for a week for the pain and it did disappear.

So I didn’t have severely damaged joints but they were not up to snuff for my rather rigorous morning exercise routine.

It was not hopeless, or course. There was no requirement that I had to WALK, only that I MOVE. I came up with a daily exercise routine that had me exercising in place, even sitting down, maybe dancing in place and far fewer walks.

The pain was gone.

What I also did was to find some of that joint stuff that had glucosomine and chondroitin in it. You don’t need Elations. There’s a million of these joint meds around and in fact I found a generic brand carried by Walmart. I have no idea what the hell glucosomine and chondroitin but I had, by now, ascertained that the Elations, which included those two elements, did, indeed, help my aching knee and by stopping it the pain came back.

It took almost 45 days but indeed my joint pain is all gone.

Amazing.

Glucosomine, as I understand it, is the stuff that creates the gel that helps to cushion joints. Chondroitin helps the body create new ligaments.

This is the layman’s interpretation of it all so don’t believe me. Look it up.

I get a big bottle of horse pills from Walmart for around eight bucks for 60…about a month’s worth. No need to pay for fancy Elations or even some of this same thing advertised on TV as the miracle of all.

It is a sort of miracle. You don’t know how much you miss having painless joints until every movement brings agony.

Daughter Give Hair to Cancer Patients

She really needed her hair cut. It was long and lovely but daughter has such a pretty face that she would be better served by a hairstyle that framed her heart-shaped face, emphasizing her beautiful eyes and pretty skin.

Well that’s how I saw it but daughter never listened to me.

But when she told me she was off to get her waist length hair cut and was donating it all to make wigs for cancer patients I was very proud.

Below a pic of daughter with new, shorter hair. Also, her cut hair on the table, braided and ready to make a wig for a cancer patient.

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”Everything She Ever Wanted” by Ann Rule

I held the impressive tome in my hand at the local yokel library and marveled.

The cover looked brand new. Indeed the entire book looked brand new. I thought I’d read every book written by Ann Rule but here was a book copyrighted in 1992 and further, I felt pretty sure I’d watched a movie with the same title on Lifetime.

I put the big book in my bag and pondered that I’ll probably read a few chapters when I will realize that I’d already read the thing. This would be nothing new, especially with Ann Rule books.

The saga of Pat Taylor captured my imagination immediately. Indeed her crimes, those that she got officially charged with plus those the reader will rightly suspect, took place in the early 80’s on through the early 90’s.

Pat Taylor was a piece of work.

And no, I had not read this Rule book before and over the next couple of days I enjoyed that curious but satisfying joy that comes when I’m reading a book that I enjoy so much that I look at the thickness of the pages I have left to read and get excited the thicker it is and get a kind of sad as the “read” thickness begins to build up while the “unread” thickness gradually decreases.

Well, maybe you hadda be there.

Rule provides a background like no other True Crime author I’ve read, such as the following gem:

"The white marble Fulton county Courthouse took up the entire block and was constantly being refurbished and expanded, so that its bulk hunkered over sidewalks and seemed about to burst into lanes of traffic. There were six huge columns on the Pryor Street side and wide steps leading to three double doors. Bronze pedestals supported a profusion of round white lights, and sheriff's cars and vans nudged the curb in front.

Ann Rule told the story as only Ann Rule can. Pat Taylor was a beautiful woman who wanted things in life. And if she didn’t get those things, she had no compunction about killing to get them.

Yet to all the world she would seem a most ordinary genteel southern bell.

Indeed Pat’s parents, and likely the sources of the reason Pat Taylor was so spoiled and with no concept of deeds and prices to be paid, were law-abiding, well-respected folks of Georgia. Margureitte and Colonel Radcliffe of Georgia only broke the law when it came to daughter Pat.

Most of the book dwells on the strange marriage of Pat Taylor and Tom Allanson. Tom Allanson was a man so smitten with his manipulative wife that before he knew it, this normally big galut of a genuinely nice guy done shot and killed his father AND his mother.

How the hand of Pat Taylor played into this horrific event (and trust that via a complicated series of actions she likely brought the tragedy about) is never resolved. Tom Allanson went to jail for the crimes and while he was in jail Pat went on a mission to kill Tom’s grandparents!

Only this time Pat got caught and went to jail. She was not successful in her quest. They found arsenic in both Walter and Carolyn Allanson’s hair and fingernails.

Both Pat and Tom eventually get out of jail but they divorce. It was never an intent for Tom to survive that shootout in the basement of his parents at any rate and Pat moved on to other elderly prey.

In due course, and in the strange ways of a bureaucracy, after Pat was released from jail she was assigned a job taking care of elderly patients. And Pat found some elderly patients with some money. She was charged again with attempted murder and was again sent to jail.

This is a convoluted story of strange events, possible murder attempts-some on Pat’s own daughters!

I do remember watching a movie on Lifetime. The Lifetime movie concentrated more on the attempted arsenic murder of Pat’s husband’s grandparents as he was in jail for the murder of his parents.

Pat Allanson wanted, you understand, to inherit all of the Allanson wealth. But first she had to get rid of the grandparents, the parents and, of course, her husband Tom.

And she did try to kill them all.

The Lifetime movie didn’t move on to Pat’s second attempted murder or did it deal with the many other strange events that seemed to happen to all involved with Pat Taylor Allanson.

This is one of those cases where only a book will do.

And a great book it is. An Ann Rule masterpiece and I’ll never know how this book came out of nowhere to sit brand new on my library’s shelf but it was a great read.

Pat Taylor is still alive, might even be out of jail by now.

Should you come across her in your travels, do not eat any food she may prepare for you.

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Drivel: The Struggle

So first, the good news: the pet shop did indeed find that last missing saltwater fish, and rescued it. Yay for that.

The struggle for survival goes on in our renovated saltwater-to-freshwater tank. The first thing we had to do was modify the protein skimmer. If you've ever seen the skim of ick on top of ocean waves at the beach, you've seen protein skimming nature's way. In the aquarium, a gadget with a tube, a catch tray and a pump does the work. The function of it is to "froth" the tank's saltwater which makes the garbage in it come to the surface, and then catch that crap in the catch tray.

Except the thing doesn't like fresh water at all. We didn't expect it to actually *function* but we hoped it would act as an aerator. You know that cute little column of bubbles in most freshwater aquariums? We don't want one of those. (And no, no slowly rising and falling divers or bubbling volcanoes, either.) We want our bubbles to happen in the sump, which sits in the aquarium stand, invisible to someone watching the fish. The protein skimmer wasn't aware of our desire or simply didn't care. It stopped working. Harry restarted it. It stopped working again. So Harry modified it. (You know that's one of his major skills, right?)

Now it has no tube or catch tray, and the pump is merrily shooting bubbles into the sump. One for our side!

Once the air supply was stable, and the tank had been up and running for awhile (and the die-off rate of the plants had slowed to almost none), we added a bunch of tetras, two plecostomus (plecostomi?), and two corydoras. For those of you who aren't fish-savvy, that's a bunch of nice little swimming fish, two algae eaters, and two small catfish as cleanup crew.

We lost fish immediately.

Well, yeah, sometimes you do; transport and shock and stress always weeds out the weak ones. I didn't worry about it too much at first.

But when it didn't stop, I worried. And tested. Water tests revealed excellent levels of ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, hardness, and salinity. No, normally you don't test for salinity in a freshwater aquarium, but since it's a conversion, it was a good thing to test.

The culprit was the pH level.

The pH test goes like this: you take 5ml of water in a little tube, add 5 drops of the pH test solution, cap and shake the tube, then match the color of your results against the nice pH test card included in the kit.

I mixed, shook, and saw the water turn

Michelle

The Desk Drawer writer's exercise list

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