The Plumber Saves the Day

Do you know who saves more lives than doctors?Plumber-Protects

The plumber has one of the most important jobs in our society and is someone we couldn’t do without. At some point in our lives we will all have to call on the help of a plumber. Their skills are varied and vital in the running of our homes and businesses. There has been a stigma attached to being a plumber lately and many people now see the plumber as the new lawyer or doctor, in terms of their salary and general importance in society. However, what makes a good plumber hasn’t changed over the years. It’s not in the desire to be rich* but the desire to use their hands to do their job well.

Professor Kotlikoff, president of Economic Security Planning Incorporated states, “Yes, doctors have a bigger salary.  But, doctors have to endure nearly a decade of expensive education before making any real salary, after which the doctor is hit by a very high progressive tax rate.  Because of all the costs the doctor incurs, the taxes and the lost wages, plumbers make more, and have almost the same spending power over their lifetime as general practitioners.”

Here’s my hubby, workin’ for a livin’!



  • Believe me, if he was making that much money, I’d be a “stay-at-home-dog-mom!!”

Common Starling – Sturnus vulgaris


European Starlings were intentionally released by the American Acclimatization Society in 1890 because they wanted America to have all the birds that Shakespeare ever mentioned among other European birds. Every European Starling is a descent of the original 100 birds set loose in New York’s Central Park. Genetically, those from Virginia are practically indistinguishable from starlings in California. Today, more than 200 million European Starlings range from Alaska to Mexico, and many people consider them pests.

Starlings are related to the mynah bird and thus are great vocal mimics. Many can learn the calls of up to twenty different species. Birds whose songs starlings often copy include the American Robin, meadowlarks, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Killdeer, Northern Bobwhite, Wood Thrush, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Flicker, and many others.

Starlings often participate in what is called a murmuration, where a huge flock shape-shifts in the sky as if it were one swirling mass. This is often caused by the presence of a predator and the flock’s movement is based on evasive maneuvers. There is safety in numbers, so starlings do not scatter, they move as an intelligent cloud, maneuvering from the hungry raptor, thousands of birds changing direction almost simultaneously. Scientists have been stumped as to how a bird, tens or hundreds of birds away from those nearest danger, sense the shift and move in unison?

Giorgio Parisi, a theoretical physicist with the University of Rome, published a paper about starling murmurations in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.

“The change in the behavioral state of one animal affects and is affected by that of all other animals in the group, no matter how large the group is. Scale-free correlations provide each animal with an effective perception range much larger than the direct interindividual interaction range, thus enhancing global response to perturbations.”

In 2012, Dr. Parisi published additional research showing that each bird is actually reacting to the birds nearest to it, that the movement is the result of a series of short-range reactions. With the 2010 study, the team looked at velocity; this time they studied orientation. Measuring how a change in direction by one bird affects those around it, the team discovered that one bird’s movement only affects its seven closest neighbors. So one bird influences its seven closest neighbors and each of those neighbors’ movements affect their closest seven neighbors and so on and so on. This is how the flock is able to look like a twisting, changing cloud with some parts moving in one direction at one speed and other parts moving completely opposite.

Phriday Photo Phavorites

Winter is upon me and my post materials are starting to dry-up a bit. =-( I’ve got my ‘brain hamster’ running on high to think of something interesting to post for my loyal followers… I haven’t done any RaNDoM PhOtO PoStS the whole season! I think I will take the opportunity to search my media folder and share some of my phavorite photos phrom the past!!

Butterfly magnolia – I’m so getting one next spring.

Here’s my Calamondin (miniature orange). I think I was trying to mimick an eclipse….

We built this while camping at Illinois State Beach Park. This was inspired by other rock stacking artists with much more talent and time on their hands!!

Bleeding Hearts are in my top ten fav perennials. This shot was almost my home page photo, however it wasn’t fitting in there just right.

This gardenia is probably the best, quality photo I’ve ever taken, IMO. I’ll say that even to this day. It is so perfect on it’s own and I just got lucky to capture it.

These Douglas Fir cones are so unique. The Indian legend about this tree is equally interesting.

Aaaaand here is my avatar, full view. Again, this blanket flower is in my top 10 fav flowers.

Bernies fountain
My husband made this fountain for a friend of ours. I love the reuse of the copper pots in this piece.

I awoke one morning and this is what my cantaloupe plant looked like. I’ve not seen it do this since.

Not sure exactly what the fascination was with this one. . I think it is because of where this is located. This is in a forest preserve near my home. I walk here often and see this during my hike. I think it is just the familiarity of the area that draws my attention. Sadly, there is purple loosestrife in the photo, which is a very invasive plant here

My Handmade ‘Thundershirt’ Dog Coat

When I was younger, my mother used to make all of our clothes. I was styling plaid pants and my classmates were sporting bell-bottom jeans. Thank goodness I had the bully attitude to be able to wear these pants and not get beat-up.

I first started sewing with a child machine that actually dropped a spot of glue on the fabric instead of using dangerous needles. What a mess! Mom soon got me my own needled machine and I started making clothes for my stuffed animals. I wasn’t a girly-girl and had no dolls or Barbies, however my stuffed animal collection was vast… And well dressed!!

By the time I got to high school, my homemade clothes were a hit instead of a miss! I even made my own Homecoming dress. I started to get requests for puffy shirts, skinny pants, and legwarmers… It was the early 80’s, kind-of a scary fashion period ;-)

Since then I’ve not really kept up on my fashion pursuit. I had a good job and more money than time. It was much easier to go to the store than to make anything. Granted, if any alterations were needed, a rip in a new garment would warrant a discount or anything needed some extra bling, out came the sewing machine!

I do still have the Singer machine my mother gave me. I think it was her old one, circa 1965. Still hums like the day is was made. It gets pulled out a few months out of the year to make repairs, random Halloween costumes and sometimes (if its lucky) a cool project!

This was the latest project, a Thundershirt for my dog. These are supposed to lessen a dog’s anxiety level under the premise that it ‘applies pressure’ and makes them feel secure. Although they don’t make a reference to this on the site, I think they are mimicking the swaddling of babies.

I used my dog as a mannequin and just cut out a pattern I thought worked well for a dog coat. It is two-sided and uses Velcro closures.

Here’s Oreo sporting his new coat!


I’m not sure if he feels any calmer in this, however he looks uber cute!!


My Little Angels and The Neighboring Devils


Ryder and Buford

My neighbors are a pair of bloodhounds, Buford and Ryder. They are very large boys at about 150 pounds a piece. Buford is five, Ryder is two. Buford’s dad was the Guinness Book of World Records ‘Longest Ears on a Dog’ at almost 14″ or 34cm each!


Thank goodness they own the chew toy fence. Their daddy had to go aaaaall the around with an extra board and nail it to e v e r y board, as these guys have come through the fence a few times. We’ve even had to prop it up in a few spots.

They are diggers also!


Ready? Ready? GO!

Oreo and Buford go way back. They have some odd Hatfield–McCoy feud going on. Up and down the fence they race, barking and smashing their faces into the openings. I get it. Oreo is thinking, “This is my yard.There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life….”


That is a mug only a mother can love.


Breck doesn’t get the whole fascination of running the fence.

Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis

I think this was the first bird I was able to identify at a young age. Maybe because there is really nothing like these, at least not here in North America. They do not molt into a bland color for winter, like many finches and other birds. They keep their bright red plumage all winter. They are kind of like the “Cockatoo of the Americas” as its head feathers rise in the same fashion.

Cardinals tend to be ground feeding birds that generally hop around lower branches, although they tend to nest very high in trees.

Cardinals are very protective of their territories in the spring during breeding season and will defend their territory to the end! This is usually the time when they can be found attacking reflections of themselves in hubcaps, windows and metal roofing material.

When they do find a mate in the spring, the courtship is usually focused on the male feeding the female. I love watching the male grab a seed, fly to the female and give it to her.


Cardinals mainly eat seeds, fruit and insects (nestlings mostly get fed insects). Cardinals eat many kinds of birdseed, particularly black oil sunflower seed. They also eat many kinds of insects including beetles, crickets, leafhoppers, cicadas, flies, katydids, centipedes, spiders, and moths.


Female Cardinals are one of the few North American songbirds that sing and often do while sitting on the nest. It is thought she gives the male information about when to bring food to the nest. (Hey Honey, we need some food up here… Don’t go to McBirds either!) A mated pair often shares song phrases; however the female may sing a longer and a slightly more multipart song than the male.


In the winter, cardinals will flock with other birds for safety. It’s not uncommon to see them with sparrows, juncos, titmice and chickadees.

Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus – Happy Holiday Houseplants

Two of the favorite plants for the winter holiday season are Poinsettias & the Christmas Cactus. With a bit of knowledge, you can choose and care for either of these rather easy.
pointsettaChoosing Your Poinsettia:

      • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
      • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
      • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
      • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
      • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.


      • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Read the FULL post: How to Choose, Care For, and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

imageTo distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

To initiate flower buds on your holiday cactus, the plants need:

  • A bright location.
  • Fourteen hours or more of continuous darkness each 24 hour period is required
    before flower buds will occur. Long nights should be started about the middle of September and continued for at least 6 continuous weeks for complete bud set. Just like the poinsettia.
  • Fall growing temperatures should be between 60F and 68F, but as close to 68F as possible for maximum flower production. Plants grown with night temperatures between 50F and 59F will set flower buds regardless of day length, but growth will be slower.
  • Pinching at the end of September to remove any terminal phylloclades that are less than a half inch long, to make all stems approximately the same length. These short, immature stem segments will not make flower buds.

Read the FULL post: How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

Copyright Ilex Farrell