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July 2006
Letter From The Editor

Summer days bring lots of sunshine and outdoor recreational activities with them. Now is the time to get out and enjoy the warm weather. If you can't take the heat, try going outside early in the morning or late in the afternoon, while it is cooler.

America celebrates the anniversary of her independence from England on July 4th with mesmerizing fireworks of every kind. Freedom lovers everywhere welcome the opportunity to catch either a neighborhood firework displays or a large community display, where everyone gathers together to watch 1/2 hour of fireworks and then spend 2 hours trying to get home. The best part of the holiday is getting to spend time cooking out or just picnicing with family and friends.

Many families today are separated by too many miles. The family support system that was once taken for granted is absent for many young people who are struggling to establish themselves as independent adults. We are so busy just trying to keep up with everything that we sometimes forget to keep in touch with the people who were once our whole world.

That is why holidays are so important. They remind us to renew our connections, even if it is just a phone call to say "Hello" and "I'm doing fine". Holidays force us to stop and take a break in our busy lives. We tend to forget how much we need that and how much we need to stay connected.

We also tend to forget how much our loved ones need to hear our words of encouragement and caring. Try using humor to lighten the conversation when things become disagreeable and don't forget to take some time out for yourself. Having fun doing the things you enjoy is the best stress reduction technique there is.

This month's Artist of The Month is Thornton Utz. You can read his Artist's Profile below and you can view a number of fine examples of his work on our 'Children Art Plates' page.

We have also included a few humorous articles that you may enjoy reading. The first article is "Thank You For Your Patience", a look at being on hold and what to do while you are waiting. The second article is "Death To Fleas" written by someone who has never heard of Advantage Flea Drops. The third article is "Country Lawn Maintenance - 10 Tips to Know Before You Mow ", written by a woman who has moved to the country only to find that her grass grows back while she sleeps.

Have a wonderful summer and don't forget to have fun! Put it on your schedule.

Artist's Profile: Thornton Utz 1914-1999

Thornton Utz was born on November 15, 1914 in Memphis, Tennessee. He is best known for his portrait of Princess Grace of Monaco.

From an early age Thornton enjoyed drawing and when he was old enough he set his mind to earning enough money to attend the American Academy of Arts in Chicago, where he later taught.

His initial recognition came from his work as an illustrator. During the 1940s and the 1950s Thornton worked as a commercial artist. He designed illustrations for clients such as Coca-Cola, General Electric, Johnson S Wax, Shell Oil, and Ford Motor Co.

Thorton's work also appeared on book covers and more than fifty 'Saturday Evening Post' covers, as well as the covers of Cosmo, McCall, L.H.J. and Sports Afield. His illustrations were seen in most of the leading American magazines during that time and in many European ones as well.

To further his expertise, Thornton explored classic figurine painting, portraiture, sculpture, stained glass design and architecture. International fame was soon achieved and he became one of the country's leading contemporary painters.

Thornton painted portraits of many famous people including Princess Grace and President Jimmy Carter, with his wife Rosalynn and his daughter Amy. The portrait of Princess Grace hangs in the Monaco palace. He also painted lovely portraits of children.

His latter years were spent living on Siesta Key in Florida, where he became a member of the Ringling School of Art Board of Directors. He was a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Sarasota. He painted numerous portraits for local residents during the 50 years that he lived on Siesta Key.

One of Thornton's most serious undertakings was a 1987 commission to design stained-glass windows for the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Sarasota. The glass scenes were bold in color and reflected a contemporary interpretation. It took two years to design and complete the project. He also designed the crucifix, ceramic panels of the Stations of the Cross, and windows for the circular chapel as well as producing sculptures for the church.

Collections of Thornton Utz's work have been on display at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, the Pentagon, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Numerous examples of Thornton's work can also be found throughout the Sarasota area, in public buildings and in private homes.

He left behind countless memoirs of his artistic gift. The internationally known illustrator and painter died in 1999, at the age of 85.

Thank You For Your Patience
by Carol Dorman

Thank You For Your Patience (We’ll Be With You As Soon As Possible)

How many times have you heard that when you make a phone call? A phone call about something absolutely vital to your current state of mind? A matter of utmost importance to the nation’s welfare - nay - the WORLD’S!! (All right, that may be a bit exaggerated - but hey, I’m annoyed!)

It seems that every corporation, government department, odds and sods subsidiary - in fact any entity that has its own logo - these days is incapable of providing real live people to talk to on a “first contact” basis.

Of course there is the option of eventually talking to a real, live person. At least that’s what we’re told - by the machines. But can you really trust a machine that cannot feel your pain? Ah, I digress – yes a real human may become available as long as you have a good 20 minutes or so to spare. (a conservative figure)

Now there’s a lot one can do in 20 minutes while waiting for the real live person to materialise at the other end of the phone line. Wash some dishes, clean something, think about cleaning something. A fully qualified Domestic Engineer could even have a batch of scrumptious bikkies in the oven!

But then we’re faced with another dilemma. What if they turn up and I’m not there? They’ll hang up and, what’s worse, they’ll think I’m not the really nice person I am because I wasn’t there to show them what a really nice person I am and… #**#$#%%# BURNT BISCUITS!!

So you stay there, on the end of the phone, humming to the dulcet strains of “I Left My Soul in Some Elevator” played in D minor (hey, isn’t everything?) on something pretending to be a baby grand but is actually computer-generated by the same digital dolly apologising for your inconvenience and assuring you that your call is important to her...

And wait for your call to progress in the queue.

© Carol Dorman

About The Author
Carol Dorman is a Commercial Writer and owner of Quill Writing Services. Quill provides compelling content for websites, newsletters and can fulfil all your writing needs. When words count, count on Quill!

Death to Fleas
by: Mary Arnold

Summers here in Texas can be brutal! The intense heat, the humidity. Not a summer passes without hearing of at least one person collapsing from heat exhaustion. I am fortunate to possess what every Texan aspires to own: air conditioning. Now that might seem as mundane as, say owning an indoor toilet, but truth be told, there's still many people here in Texas today who do not have A/C. In fact, until I was thirteen, I also lived in a house with no A/C.

But I digress from the subject of this entry, which is FLEAS. I only mention that about the heat here in Texas as an example of however bad it may be, it does not even come within spitting distance of the horrors of FLEAS.

See, with the coming of summer, the heat and humidity, we also get, you guessed it, FLEAS. Humans might dislike excessive heat, but these blood-sucking creatures LOVE the heat. It's their breeding time. People may do most of their conceiving during the winter months, but not FLEAS! Oh no, they like it hot, apparently a fan of the movie.

Anyways, we have three cats, one inside cat and two outside cat. Now, dealing with these fleas every year, you'd think that we would have become smarter about it. But no, each June when the FLEAS start hatching, we do nothing to take any precautions until it's too late. What can I say? We've slept since last summer.

So, our outside cats pick up the fleas, and presents them to our inside cat. Yes, I know what you're thinking: Why don't you keep your outside cats outside? Like I said, the FLEAS only get bad in early summer. The rest of the year they are not a problem; so we forget their existence until, you guessed it, it's too late!

For the last two weeks, I have been cleaning my house much more than normal. I've been vacuuming my WHOLE house every day! Constantly shaking flea powder on the inside cat, Brat. I should just throw her fleabag butt out the door, but she's just too pretty! A holy terror for sure (hence the name) but beautiful nonetheless. Besides, she's just a baby still, and it's not her fault she has FLEAS. Poor thing, she runs and tries to hide whenever she sees me coming toward her now!

So, back to cleaning. My house SHINES, it SPARKLES! Not a dustbunny anywhere. Martha Stewart would be proud. But the FLEAS remain. I've spent at least fifty dollars on flea and ant death powder to put on carpets and floors. The darn things won't sit still long enough to be killed. They jump and jump and jump all over my SPARKLING house, evading the death powder. How inconsiderate is that? My daughter, complaining of killer dust clouds in the house, ran away to a friend's house last weekend where she could, presumably, breathe without gasping.

But still they're here.

I was tired. I was discouraged. I was just about to admit defeat and remove myself to another lodging and let the FLEAS take over this house.

THEN the fleas crossed the line. All the time I had been engaged in open warfare with the FLEAS, I had not felt any personal animosity towards them. They did their best to suck my blood; I did my best to stop them. Just the way of nature, right? I didn't hate them; not them personally. Of course, I hated it when they bit me, but I didn't hate them, even though I was doing my best to kill them.

But then, like I hinted at above, they crossed the line. They, in their arrogance and perceived superiority, committed an error they will soon regret. One of their bloodsucking soldiers, either ignorant of or completely disregarding the rules of warfare with humans, that is, to stay within the bounds of feet and ankles, decided to reconnaissance my son's ear. He quickly paid for his transgressions.

But it does not end with only the one transgressor dying a horrible death (being squashed between my fingernails). Oh no! Because now my blood is boiling! My hatred is rampaging! I will hunt down every single flea and make them ALL pay for the sins of the one!


About The Author

Mary Arnold holds a B.A. in literature and history. She is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers.

Her writing portfolio may be viewed at

Country Lawn Maintenance-10 Tips to Know Before You Mow
by Nola L. Kelsey

Practical survival skills should be fifty percent of what we study in school! Languishing twelve to sixteen years in the bowels of our education system should not leave American citizens unprepared to cope with perpetually running toilets. A burned out taillight should not knock our world off its axis. This chasm of neglected wisdom is not simply filled with the obvious auto and home maintenance issues. All the little stupidities reflect on our society.

Years ago, I was sitting in an I-5 traffic jam with my sister, August. Innocently I remarket, “I hate trying to tune in that radio station while I’m driving.” Without provocation August reached down and yanked the unsuspecting radio button straight out of its place. Metallic skeletal parts were revealed. Grey whales migrating off the coast heard my gasp. Then, get this; she shoved the hapless button back in – all the way! Even if the traffic had been moving, I was in no condition to drive.

This blatant assault on my automotive electronics was uncalled for. Worse was learning at age 28, I was the only person in America uninformed as to how radios were set. My thoughts, if you can call them that, seem silly now. I believed pushing the buttons placed the dial in the vicinity of various stations. Only lucky drivers and folks who listened to Christian music had buttons that coincidently landed on the exact preferred position. This knowledge graced me just before digital. Lord, how I hate tuning in digital.

All society has an obligation to pick up where floundering education systems go astray. Teach children the little things. Change vacuum belts as a family. Award prizes to offspring who can find the level of power steering fluid and above all else, instill in them the skill to read a ballot.
In keeping with a heartfelt desire to better Planet Earth, I’d like to pass along ten things nobody ever told me about lawn mowing, the country way. When I moved to the hinterland I was naive to the tribulations of rural landscaping. My massive country lawn looked innocent enough. Then the escrow closed. The following was learned via trial and error - mostly error.

One: Always carry wire cutters when mowing – While the majority of rusty old wire shot through your leg can be extracted with a few good tugs, a surprisingly large proportion entwine around ankle bones in a manner no physician or physicist can explain. With a handy set of wire cutters excess can be trimmed. Overage tends to snag on the gas pedal when diving to the Emergency Room.

Two: Recycle –Be sure to have the hospital staff return wires once they rinse your Achilles Tendon away. You can reuse it (the wire or the tendon) for fencing projects. No doubt this convenience was the reasoning behind 130 years of country landowners discarding litter in what otherwise would appear to be a careless manner.

Three: Remember the Choke - When the mower keeps coughing and sputtering to a stop, or any other time you want to choke the dam thing, push this lever. It does nothing. To get the sadistic contraption running you’ll need gasoline.

Four: Beware Safety Features – Modern mowers posses a handle lever that shuts mowers down every time the operator looks to the left. This quadruples the number of pull starts needed. The American Academia of Carpal Tunnel Physicians sponsor safety levers. Mowers also come with what is called a Plastic Do-Hickie. A Do-Hickie’s only function is to display a sticker reminding people not to shove their hands or feet inside a running lawn mower. Gardeners only do this to remove grass clogs. Ironically Do-Hickies cause 99.96% of grass clogs.

Five: Stay Hydrated – In the country, heat stoke is as much a right of spring passage as bat guano in the kitchen pantry. The ecstasy of eighty-degree temps after nine months of winter collides head on with an obsessive desire to get every last flippin’ grass blade perfectly level. Before golf course precision is ever achieved, ‘Type A’ mowers will be face down on the carpet. With ice packs strategically perched on major arterial lines, you’ll wonder, “Could the shag rug be trimmed just a tad more evenly?”

Six: Budget – Country folks can purchase their fashionable shit-beat trucks for less than a thousand dollars. This elevates you to the social status of a Ferrari driver in the city. However your lawn mower will cost you three times as much. Tractor mowers are a must out here. The lawns are too massive. Mowing with a push mower during spring would keep property owners circling 24/7. Only idiots and starving authors use push mowers.

Seven: Remember General Maintenance - A Clanking serenade resulting from the first start up of the morning is not unusual. What happened is this: Overnight grass builds up underneath your mower. Then, flakes have dried to the point where you could use tin snips to cut it into a disk and burn yourself a springtime fresh CD (Green Day?). To remove the offending mass grab an ice pick and go after the dehydrated flakes like Sharon Stone during mating season.

Eight: Electric Mowers: Don’t - Even if you could lug 300 yards of cord, it’s a spectacularly bad idea. When several dogs and a milk goat play ‘chase’ under the extension, all hell, and the cord, will break loose. Hopefully this will occur prior to overloading the freaky little round country fuses and setting your ancient electrical box ablaze. In a town like mine where there’s an all-volunteer Fire Department, the carnage could be unspeakable.

“Hey, Howard, I see that city gal’s home is ablaze over there. Got any marshmallows?”

“Sure Pap. Ya know I told her she should not buy that Rowski house just a few years after she did.”

The only saving grace is with all the unsoldered plumbing in this oasis of handyman dropouts, the houses themselves won’t burn below the second floor.

Nine: Use the Section Technique – The theory here is you divide your lawn into a section for each member of the household. Everyone contributes. Nobody gets overwhelmed by the workload. For example: assign your teenager to mow section 1 on Tuesdays - then you mow it. You assign your husband to mow section 2 on Wednesdays – then you mow it. Request your every-present brother-in-law mow section 3 on Thursday – and again, you do the work. Everyone takes a turn. Hell, if you have any other males around; people, bulls, aspen trees, give them a section. What do you have to loose?

Ten: Do Not Get Discouraged! - Never let grass win! During spring, folks can get discouraged. They wake up to note their freshly mowed lawn grew back while they slept. Fact is, by mowing barefoot you will feel the new grass poke up as you pass. It’s just the country way.

* Disclaimer: Computer hard drives vary. In the event you insert a lawn clipping diskette into your CD burner and your hard drive fails to function please do not file suit against the manufacturer or the author. We cannot be held accountable for the quality of your grass. Countersuits will request you promptly cease swimming in the gene pool.

About The Author: Nola L. Kelsey

Country Lawn Maintenance - 10 Tips to Know Before You Mow is a book excerpt from the satire Bitch Unleashed: The Harsh Realities of Goin’ Country by Nola L. Kelsey. A free e-book copy of Bitch Unleashed is available on Nola Kelsey’s web site at


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