Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Last evening as we were driving the Snake River Canyon we were treated to some of the best clouds.

The clouds were the harbinger of a huge lightning storm a few hours later!

iPhone Apps

Today starts the first of my recommendations for iPhone (and possibly Android) Apps. As the owner of both an iPad and an iPhone, I like to be up to date with some of the best apps (short for applications) out there. Here are few that I find helpful. I hope you agree.

Do you have a score or more of those loyalty cards that supermarkets and pharmacies and airlines give out? Until recently, I had a keychain filled with these little cards for stores such as Albertson’s, Smith’s, and CVS, as well as cards for United, Continental, and/or American airlines. Now I have all my loyalty cards listed on a convenient iPhone app called CardStar. The app lets you take a picture of the loyalty card bar code so you don’t have to enter the pesky numbers. Then when you get to the store, just click on the CardStar app find the name of the store (which is nicely alphabetized) and you’re done. Since I have my iPhone with me all the time, it’s a great way to access all those cards and I don’t have the wad of cards to deal with in my pocket! Because the app is connected to a location map, the right loyalty card will appear on your screen when you “tell” it to!

The other day I told you about Words With Friends. This is a fun way to stay in touch with friends, keep your mind active, and if you are in a long line, you can always pull out your smartphone and play a round or two.

One of my favorite news apps is Fluent News! It’s a compiler of on a headline you want to read, and the article appears. It has variable print, so you can make letters larger in order to read them on a small screen.

If you are a camper there are 2 apps to find campgrounds in the USA. Instead of carrying the huge campground directories around, get one or both of these apps and let your smartphone do the work. You can search for nearby campgrounds; call or email the campground; and look at the maps for detailed directions. In addition, you can save your favorite campgrounds so you can find them again and again. and RVPark Finder are both free and useful.

Lastly, there’s DocScan. Just the other day a check was mailed to me and I needed to tell the person who sent it to me, that I had received it. I clicked on DocScan and it took a perfect picture of the check and placed it in an email. Of course you can do the same thing with the camera function on an iPhone, but it’s hard to crop the resulting picture and oftentimes, small print appears fuzzy. Not with DocScan. It’s made to focus on small print and it’s really easy to crop a document.

BTW, I usually “buy” free apps and if I like them, I upgrade to the paid version. Sometimes, the free app works so well, it does not need upgrading.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Flower Eater

We live in a forest. There are hundreds of aspens. There are lots of wildflowers.  There are deer. The deer eat the aspen leaves. The deer munch on the wildflowers and the wild berries; AND, they chow down on the “domesticated” flowers that I have scattered around the house.

Here’s one of our “blossom browsers.” She’s so pretty it’s hard to get angry at her. This year her twins are chomping on the flowers. The young buck is too.  I’m beginning to wonder if the young buck is her fawn from last year?

Notice the flowers are gone!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


For those who know, WWF is an acronym for a smartphone game called Words With Friends. It’s a type of Scrabble that is played with other folks who have the game on their smartphone. I’ve been playing the game on my iPhone and iPad.

I became hooked on the game at Christmastime, when my niece was on disability and a lot of us were trying to keep her occupied as she recovered. I guess it worked, as she recovered...but by then I was addicted to the game. At any given time I have several games going at the same time with friends and family from east coast to west coast!

As with Scrabble, it’s a vocabulary/strategy game. The goal is to score the most points while blocking your opponent from getting more points. It can become a “cut-throat” game if you let it get out of hand!

The most points I’ve ever scored with one word is 179! The word was THIMBLES (can you find it above). THIMBLES was a 7 letter word that went through a double word space, a triple word space AND a triple letter space on the board. Seven letter words automatically score an additional 35 points, and they are the hardest words to make.

Recently, playing a game with my sister, I scored 3 seven letter words in a row...ANGRIER, PILLOWS and OCTANES. I’ve never had that happen before.

When we went to the Adriatic in May, I discovered I could play the game wherever there was a I played with my WWF friends while I was in Corfu, Croatia, Albania, Greece and Slovenia!

I play a “non-cut-throat" version of the game with 2 of my WWF friends...we are not looking for point value as much as we are looking for word length!  I believe this version of the game is more fun and really stretches our vocabulary!

If you would like to play a game of WWF with me, just ask. It’s great fun and it’s a good way to keep your mind working! If you look at the boards above, you can see my handle is cruztalker.

PS: I play a pretty mean game! I’ve been doing crossword puzzles for years, I read a lot and I’ve always had a great vocabulary...three assets when playing WWF.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Young Buck

This past week a young buck has been hanging out at our house. He’s quite pretty and very camera shy! So far all I’ve been able to capture are the tops of his new antlers ,
 his backside! 
 and him running away!
If he is going to survive, he needs to have these qualities! 

End of an Era?

17 years ago I wrote a book that became a best seller...and had 4 different editions. From that book, I did a lot of consulting nationwide and wrote 72 more books and launched a university class. Today that class ended! Lack of enrollment! It’s a sign of the times. For the first time since I was 17 I am not gainfully employed!

Life goes on...and a new era is beginning. I don’t know what that era will bring, but I’m excited to see what it has to offer!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I love looking at the huge puffballs that are rampant this time of year. 
 This morning I caught one that still had dew on it! 

...look at the tiny droplets clinging to the plant.
Mother Nature (captured on a iPhone no less)!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Puzzle from H#$%$##@

About 4 weeks ago four of us started a puzzle. It was supposed to be a fun puzzle of the Grand Tetons. We bought it at the visitor center in Moose and we were excited about the prospect of doing the puzzle together while talking about the wonderful time we had just had in the two parks.

WELL...that was then, and this is now.

Generally speaking, we tackle a puzzle from the edge pieces to the inside pieces. Generally speaking there is a lot of information on the edge pieces, so all we needed to do was match the design and put the pieces together. This puzzle however was different! Instead of a design, all of the edge pieces were the same color! Not fun, but we thought we could do it! Look at the shape too...they are all the same!

Following the same tactic, we then divided the inside pieces into color groups and started to put them together based on the design. We divided the pieces into 8 color groups and discovered there was not much definition in the color groups:  blue where all the pieces were the exact same color; beige with the same problem as the blue;  mountain made up of beige, blue and light gray that was impossible to sort; two-tone with a definite line to follow; trees with jagged marks; water with a shoreline to follow; and  two different lettering groups. Of the 8 groups, only 4 had some clues to use. After several days (and long after my guests left) we were able to put together the two groups of lettering! We felt a small surge of success because we were not having any putting together the beige border, the blue, beige or mountain groups.
We tackled the tree and water groups and found some small success, although it was difficult. Again, the puzzle pieces were all the same size and most were the same shape! While we had lines to follow we discovered that many of the pieces looked like they fit into “space A" but really belonged in “space B."

This is when we decided to work on the two tone group. There was definite line to follow and the outer edge was beige (because it was going to fit into the beige border). We put these pieces together with relative ease and the puzzle now had a rectangular shape, albeit unfinished.

All that was left was the beige, blue and mountain groups. I used “brute”force to get some of the beige pieces together. In fact, you can see where there are beige pieces left inside the puzzle because who knows where they go.  To get that far,  I picked up each beige piece and tried to put each “outie” into each “innie” and I actually got about a dozen pieces to stick together! However, when I tried to place the beige pieces within the finished parts of the puzzle I was not able to find where they all went.

Then came the blue of the sky and the mountain group. We tried. I mean we really tried...but there was no way we could put the pieces together. We finally admitted that the puzzle defeated us! We are not used to quitting, but we needed to quit and get the table back! Afterall, the blanket-y-blank puzzle had been hogging the table for 4 weeks!

The “Puzzle from H#$%##" is now back in the box and I’m going to donate it to the puzzle room at the community center. Maybe someone with more stamina can finish it! In the meantime, if you should see this puzzle, please avoid it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Traffic Circle

Traffic circles are common in the UK and now they are cropping up in the US. I’ve never liked them in the UK because all my driving reactions are based on the “wrong” side of the road. In this country, I don’t have that problem...I’m not used to them so I find  them a bit of a nuisance.

Given that...Idaho Falls has decided to install a number of traffic circles along some key routes. Most of the circles are ordinary looking...then there is the one on S. Utah! It’s a bit over the top!

This traffic circle is decorated with a pair of larger than life eagles, a mountain lion (about normal size) and waterfalls. The traffic circle completely dominates the street. Forget about seeing oncoming traffic, all you see are the huge eagles coming in for a landing. (double click on the photo to see the details)

Judge for it good or bad? I’m still undecided!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Finding Bone

Several years ago we heard of a hamlet called Bone, Idaho...and today we went there! When I say hamlet, picture teeny tiny. I think we saw exactly one building in “central” Bone, and only a few ranches in “greater” Bone. Bone does not even have a town sign telling you the population or the elevation. What it does have is a well maintained dirt road named guess what -- “Bone Road.” The folks out here are creative when it comes to naming streets?!

While trying to find Bone, we came across some sandhill cranes.

We drove through miles of empty telephone poles, no electric wires, and no traffic! It was something else.

We saw pretty barns,

and tired cabins
and a fence style we had not seen before...not a buck and rail fence, but a buck and barbed wire fence...when the ground is too hard to dig holes for fence posts, crossed beams are raised...and normally between the crossed beams are wooden rails. This fence had the crossed beams, but that’s where the similarity ended.

The land is mainly used for grazing, and we saw some cow-calf operations. Once in a while a cow would look at us, but mainly they sat in the meadows and ignored us.

There were not a lot of flowers in bloom as this is the season when the flowers are going to seed. We did some some magnificent plants, including this one. I have no idea what it is, but it’s evil looking. I sure would hate to see this guy growing in my yard.

About a mile from Bone, we saw an old white schoolhouse sitting by the Flying Hearts Ranch. On the front of the building, was a sign exclaiming it as Glennore School, 1916-1939,

Then the road changed. The dirt was replaced with pavement! Civilization was encroaching upon this lonely and lovely place. There was a turbine farm of all things!

Huge, white turbines with 3-bladed propellers were planted in the fields. Then came more houses...and finally the “city” of Ammon, ID a few miles from Idaho Falls.

The last building we saw harked back to earlier times. It was a Pillsbury grain elevator, very similar to the grain elevators that are common in Canada.

Once in Idaho Falls, we went about our business--as though we had not traveled about 65 miles on a dirt road that went through some mighty pretty country!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lupines in the Pod

A lupine is a member of the legume family. 

To prove that fact, take a look at the pods that grow from the flower. 

Just like pea pods. When you open one of the pods you see small beans, which I’m told are edible! The lupine flowers are gone, but we do have the lupine pods.

Of course there are asters in the garden...lots and lots of asters! There seem to be more this year than in the past! I wonder why?
There are few other flowers in the garden, but the most impressive are the huge puffballs. When the salsify goes to seed, we get the enormous puffballs. Mother Nature had a good time designing these creations.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I have a series of riddles for you. Don’t worry, they are easy...I think you will get them quickly!

Do you know the difference between a working and a non-working refrigerator?  It’s really quite simple...the working refrigerator is cold on the inside. The broken refrigerator is hot and sitting in a puddle. On Sunday morning we awoke to a puddle in the kitchen, thawed food and a broken refrigerator.

Have you ever tried to get service for a refrigerator on a Sunday? The “broken” fridge is a Kenmore from Sears, so I called Sears. The nice man who finally answered the phone said he might be able to make it to my house by Friday! This is not workable. What are we supposed to do in the meantime? Needless to say, Sears did not have an answer to that riddle.

That’s when we called a refrigerator repair man we had used 16 years ago. He answered the phone, remembered us no less, and then asked if 9 AM on Monday would work? The answer to that riddle was YES!

He walked into the kitchen, listened to the fridge for a couple of seconds, immediately diagnosed the problem as a broken relay. He gave us a choice of relays. Do you want the $65 relay from Sears that just failed? Or, do you want the $15 after market part that has never failed me in all the years I’ve been in business? The answer to that riddle was easy too...we’ll take the $15 part.

The new relay was installed in less than 30 minutes. The fridge was repaired!  Then we spent the next hour talking about what we had each been up to during the intervening years.

For my last riddle: who would you rather repair your fridge...a cold impersonal company on a tight schedule or a local fellow who remembers you from years past and does an excellent job for half the price?

That riddle is just too easy to answer.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Late Summer Garden

The summer garden of wild flowers is coming to an end! The asters came out on the 17th of July...and they are the harbinger that says summer will end in 6 weeks!
 Now the other flowers are catching on. The salsify has bloomed and is starting to disperse seeds.

 The “susan’s" are becoming their prettiest. I happen to like them the best when they are just over the hill.
Lastly, the berries are starting to appear.  I see the telltale signs that say the deer have been munching away. Yesterday I had a wild strawberry, today it’s gone! BTW a wild strawberry is about 3/8 of an inch long and filled with sugar....the deer love them!

County Fair--Part 4

Today was the auction! After months of caring for an animal, the kids took one last official walk in the arena with their critter. The Grand Champions were the first to go on the block. The prize beef sold for over $4000!  Next came Grand Champs for the sheep, pigs and goats. After the Grands were sold, the “ordinary” critters were sold. While these might not have won Grand or First in Class, they were all cared for by their person.

Folks were free to bid in the auction, or they could buy “add-ons” to support their favorite 4H club, or person or animal. We chose not to buy animal, but we did buy some add-ons to support the cause.

 Once again, 4H did well. The kids were smiling on the outside, knowing full well that their animal was going to the slaughter house and provide many good meals for the highest bidder. That takes a special type of bravery for a youngster! Congrats to the kids!