“Blind Bag” Thorin Oakenshield

Mini Me had birthday money buring a hole in her pocket, so we were shopping today and look what she got:


A Thorin CHIBI

And just look at his gorgeous flowing locks!


I may need to bribe her with lip gloss to get my hands on him…she was watching like a hawk while I took his picture!



I wanted to take just a minute to thank the CCC (300) people who found something here that interested them enough to follow the blog.  I appreciate each and every person who has stopped by, and especially those who volunteered for more!   Have some celebration candy:


I promise that after I am done FREAKING OUT that my fall semester starts TOMORROW (!!!) there are some fun things on deck.  How could it be anything else when the frequent topic of discussion is this guy?

Richardus Arvinabarbus?

Richardus Arvinabarbus?

SpReAd the Love Challenge Four – Convoy of Hope

Keeping with the terms of SpReAd the Love Challenge Four, I’ve got one more fantastic aide organization to tell you about before time’s up.


and what better day to share it?!

Convoy of Hope is a humanitarian relief agency based in Springfield, Missouri.  They are involved both in the US and abroad in a variety of different types of humanitarian aid.  I first came into contact with them at one of their Community Events that was held locally a few years back.  Some friends of mine who are hairdressers were among hundreds of people who volunteered their services for the day to provide a “poverty free” day for local families in need.  The event was held at a local community college and was attended by thousands.

When I began researching a bit for this SpRead the Love challenge, specifically, where to donate the bottle water collected at MiniMe’s birthday party, I ran into Convoy of Hope again…I was saddened to find that the local event has not been held for the past two years for lack of a church to serve as an organizing agency…I’ve been planting a few seeds with some friends to see what we can do about getting an event set up for next summer.  With an eye toward convincing people to help undertake sponsoring this event, I began to do some research on Convoy of Hope, and it turns out that community outreach is really only the tip of the iceberg of what they do.

Convoy of Hope responds in Moore, Oklahoma 2013 Source

Convoy of Hope responds in Moore, Oklahoma 2013

Another major component of the relief provided by Convoy of Hope is their response to disasters.  Since 1998 their Disaster Services have provided food, water and emergency supplies to people all over the world, including the victims of the devastating tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri (2011) and Moore, Oklahoma (2013).  This past April,  they again sent trucks of relief supplies to tornado ravaged areas in  Arkansas and Kansas.  What has struck me is the emphasis that Convoy of Hope and many other agencies of this type,  put on the cooperation and assistance of local volunteers.  It really is a team effort to get the aid to people who desperately need it.

I don’t know that anyone can ever fully understand the importance that agencies like Convoy of Hope play in responding to people in crisis.  I truly hope no one reading this is ever in need of the services provided by a disaster relief agency, but that regardless, we each do what we can, whether through monetary donation or volunteer services to help them help others.


Happy Birthday Richard Armitage – It’s a HOT one!!

First, let me share my all time birthday song favorite:

Now then, on to the business of the day.  Armitageday that is.  I was going to talk about how the ancient Romans were among the first to celebrate the birthdays of the regular folk (of course only the regular male folk), but then I remembered that there are big things afoot on and around this day in Roman history.

The Romans were a thoroughly pagan, excessively polytheistic people for much of their history.  Their calendar was packed full of days that were sacred to one or another deity, days on which legal proceedings and economic transactions were suspended in favor of religious observance.  The month of Augustus (named after the 1st Emperor of Rome, the adopted son of Julius Caesar) was fairly typical, with festivals dedicated to various deities scattered throughout.

All work and no worship made for very pissy gods!

All work and no worship made for very pissy gods!

Among the most ancient and most important of the August festivals was the VULCANALIA…the festival dedicated to the god Vulcan.  Vulcan was the deity associated with fire…especially the destructive, devastating aspects of fire in the form of conflagration or volcanic eruption.  Fire was a profoundly important element to the ancients.  In a period before electricity, the presence of fire could mean the difference between life and death in both a positive and a negative sense.  Fire provided light and heat, but using it was an enormous potential hazard in cities built largely of timber frame structures.  The Romans believed that keeping Vulcan happy was the key to avoiding devastating fires.  The festival of Vulcan was celebrated in the hottest part of the summer, which was also harvest time, so prayers not only sought to protect the settlements, but also the fields and grain stores from Vulcan’s fire.  The Vulcanalia was celebrated by athletic competitions dedicated to the god and by building large bonfires onto which small animals were thrown as offerings.

The Romans also associated Vulcan with the destructive fire power of volcanoes.  Italy is littered with dozens of volcanoes…many of them dormant for thousands of years, but several of them, like Mt. Etna on Sicily regularly active.   Passages from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History illustrate that the Romans were quite familiar with the concept of volcanoes and other geothermal phenomena.  One volcano though, Mt. Vesuvius, near modern Naples was not mentioned by Pliny, suggesting that the Romans were completely unaware that this mountain, with it’s fertile slopes which produced some of the finest Roman vintages was only biding it’s time.   Apparently the Vulcanalia of 79AD didn’t do the trick, because the very next day…August 24th* Vulcan’s displeasure was evident when Vesuvius exploded, beginning a massive 25 hour eruption cycle.  This is the eruption that buried the now famous towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, along with a large part of the Bay of Naples area under a thick layer of ash and pyroclastic flow.


The devastation wrought by what many Romans interpreted as an unhappy Vulcan was enormous.  In an attempt to placate the god, the Emperor Domitian ordered the construction of a new altar to Vulcan in Rome and upped the ante on sacrifices from fish and small animals to a red calf and a red boar – nobody was messing around with Vulcan.

Soooo, since the day is conveniently blank on the Roman festival calendar, in honor of the Birthday Boy with the trademark incendiary smolder, and The Crucible which is “too hot to handle,” I hereby deem August 22 as ARMITAGALIA….any objections from the ancient Romans in the crowd?????


No?  Excellent!!  It’s official then!!!  ARMITAGALIA it is.  Now, what to do in celebration?

Finally!  A good use for those leftover marshmallow PEEPS!!

Finally! A good use for those leftover marshmallow PEEPS!!


PS…I’ll be offering up extra pink bunny PEEPS to stave off the Iceland volcano for all those flying to London to see The Crucible….can’t hurt right?!

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

It’s true, and not in a completely destroyed,heading off to an asylum, Blanche DuBois fashion.  (This of course is the iconic final line spoken by Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.)

No, I mean it in a completely literal sense.  Yesterday I was driving home when the battery light came on in my mommy-van.  Not good.  I hoped that I could nurse it to the side of the road, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, I was in the left turn lane and the engined stalled in the middle of the intersection.  Momentum carried me 3/4 of the way through, but she was definitely going to require some pushing to get out of the middle of the street and to the curb.  Crud!  Dropping it into neutral, I climbed out, pushing with one hand and steering with the other.  Mommy-vans are great for hauling kids and gear, but they are a b!$#h to get moving from a dead stop.


Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it alone since two separate gentlemen pulled over and jumped out to help me.  Before I could even thank them properly, they had returned to their cars and gone about their business, as if to say, “It was no trouble, happy to help.”



It’s just this kind of unexpected kindness that SpReAd the Love is looking to foster and multiply.  I could have pushed it myself, but my day was made a bit easier by two complete strangers who stopped what they were doing to help me.  (And also by my neighbor who came to fetch me when I needed a ride home.).  Kindness is out there, but if you can’t find it, just do it – you’ll be amazed how it comes back to you!  😉