Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Salvation Army - facts and fiction

This article was started by a posting on Facebook that the Salvation Army denied housing to gay couples and that religious involvement was mandated. That got my attention and for a brief period of time I was hesitant to donate to any of the bell ringers found in all our areas at this time.  Like any statement on social media, you must come to your own conclusion, so I decided to check it out on a personal level.

I made arrangements to meet with the manager of our local shelter and tour the facility.  I've been to parts of this building in the past dropping off bedding and food as needs are made known, but had no first hand experience with the sleeping areas. And I thank my lucky stars for that.

I learned a lot about this facility in my one hour tour and discussion. It's more than just a bed for the night, although I'm sure that is a welcome sight for anyone faced with the prospect of sleeping under the bridge.  It is a hand up, not a hand out, and designed to help people get back on track.  There are many services provided as needed.

Nursing students from Viterbo go to the shelter to administer health screening and medical services within their scope as part of their training.  This is a definite plus for the homeless population staying there who would not have access to even rudimentary medical care. 

A child care room has been set up by a former resident and is run by volunteers to care for children while the parent goes to job interviews, looks for housing, attends to their medical needs or any other host of reasons.  If not for this brief respite, the parent(s) are with their children 24-7 with no break at all, in shared space with many others.  I know personally that I would become certifiably insane in a short period of time under these circumstances!  It's hard enough to keep kids entertained within your own comfortable home and having the means to attend a movie or outing.

The large open area off the kitchen has tables and benches set up during the day where three meals are provided to residents and anyone in the community who needs a questions asked.  At night the tables are folded up and the cots stored in the lockers on the side of the wall come out and are set up bedtime.  This area is for the men to sleep in.  There is another area for women and children that is separate.  Couples (married or not) coming in with children must be split up with the men sleeping in the general area and the mother and the children in their area.  

All sounding pretty normal at this point?  Here is where the kicker comes in.  Our shelter can house 95 people.  They are experiencing a much larger amount of children and families than ever before.  This creates some challenges for where they sleep.

There is a small area available for handicapped persons as well as "odd couples" that can't be housed in the general areas.  This may be a man coming in with a small daughter.  You really can't comfortably separate them, but neither can go into the others area.  The same situation applies with a woman coming in with a teenage son.  These situations cause some difficult choices.  Add to that the issue of someone who is transgender.  If they are not far enough in the process to have actually become the opposite sex, where do you safely house them?

In some situations such as these, they may be sent to a hotel with a voucher for a one night stay or longer.  This obviously puts a great strain on an already strained budget.

There is very limited storage for possessions, which doesn't cause too much of a concern as most have only a few meager items with them.  As I was asked by the lady providing the tour, "How many coats do you have?"   I flinched to think of the spring coats, and dress coats and long wool dress coat, etc that are in my closet.  "How many do you absolutely need?" she added.  One.  I made a mental note to go through the closets again and weed out items that people could use now as the weather gets colder.

There are showers provided as well as washing machines and cleanliness is stressed not only out of necessity but to raise morale.

There are psychiatrists available for mentally ill residents, another growing population.  There is spiritual guidance provided for those who want this.  Sometimes this is the missing piece to someone putting their life back together during a very dark time.  But NEVER is it mandated to attend the church services or bible study.  This was further enforced by reviewing both the Staff Intake forms and the Resident Orientation booklet with the policies and procedures.  On page three of the orientation packed it states (and I quote) "I understand that I am not required to participate in any of the religious activities offered by the La Crosse Salvation Army, and my stay at the shelter or eligibility for other social service programs is not determined by or contingent upon my participation in these activities".  This would of course be the case as they receive government funded grants.

When I asked specifically about the statement of gay couples being denied housing I was told it was nothing ever asked on any form and was not an issue.

Do they have strict rules there?  You bet.  They have to in order to provide safety and comfort for a general population that is in a tight space.  Some of these are obvious - no smoking in the building, you must be 25' away from the entry to smoke.  No drugs or alcohol - that's a no-brainer.  This is enforced by giving a nightly breathalyzer in the evening.  No inappropriate materials such as pornography.  No abusive behavior of any kind, physical, mental, emotional, sexual, or verbal.  No cursing or profane language.  No weapons.
There are many mundane lesser rules I won't go into such as use of the TV, telephone, food, etc.  No short shorts or revealing tank tops. T-shirts with inappropriate wording such as swear words, gang sayings or references to drugs or alcohol are unacceptable attire.

No fraternization with other residents or staff members.  This means no relationships, no public displays of affection, and no pairing off among residents.  Unmarried couples won't be assigned to the same dorm room.  Certainly anyone with common sense can see the logic here.  Everyone must pull together to serve a great good for the community.  This is something I fear we are losing as we become more and more focused on our rights without remembering our responsibilities. 

It may sound strict and perhaps harsh, but they really do try to create a safe and welcoming area to those in a desperate situation.  If clothing is needed a voucher is provided to go to the Salvation Army Thrift Store to pick out what is needed.

Just think about the season we are at right now and the family we may have staying overnight or for a few days...maybe longer in some situations.  You can "get through" a short visit, but if you knew they were going to be staying with you for an extended length of time you'd need to set up some rules so everyone knows what is expected to help each other stay sane.

I count myself blessed to have never needed the haven this shelter provides.  I have personally received help earlier in my life when my grandmother purchased work clothes for me from the Thrift Shop when I returned home after my divorce.  I was able to do job interviews and get back on track.  With our economy the way it is these days these people are not just deadbeats and ne'er-do-wells...they are families who had one too many things go wrong, a medical emergency, a car breaking down, downsized out of a job...the list goes on.  Many people today are just one step from losing everything.  It can happen to anyone.

It felt good to have checked into this false statement and be able to know for myself what the truth is.  It also felt good to hand them the check for my donation towards the good they are doing and I will resume putting change in each and every kettle I pass by.

I apologize for the length of this post - I generally try to keep my funny little blogs short and sweet, but this was an important topic to me and I had to get it all out there.

Long Live the Queen of her own castle

Busy busy busy

I have been remiss in blogging lately - not that there's been any shortage of things to talk about...just a lack of time in which to do so.

One of the new things lately is starting classes in Photoshop Elements at the Technical college.  It's only four sessions...but what sessions they are!  It's amazing how much I've learned in just two classes and I promise I will post some photos soon of before and after to demonstrate the techniques learned.

The other activity involved a Facebook post about the Salvation Army that bothered me.  It stated that they denied gay couples access to their shelter and forced Muslims to attend bible study as a requirement for staying there.  At first I took this at face value being it was out there for everyone to see and must be true..right?  Then I decided to check into it further.  This is where the Queen Jester became Lois Lane and went directly to the source for the scoop.  But that's a subject for an entire blog that will be coming in the next day or two.

I've been creating nonstop and designing a new pattern for a smaller version of my dolls, as well as some flying fairies and angels.  One was inspired by a request for a custom designed fairy to give as a Christmas gift and it was so much fun I've started a new line of them.  I love the designing aspect of my art, but it does soak up a ton of time.  It's kind of like playing computer games and finding after "just one more" that it's 3:00 in the morning.

All this activity, plus recovering from family and friends over for Thanksgiving has made me a bit distracted.  I've gathered up a pile of items left by my family to mail back to them.  So far we have one book, a bag of knitting, a wishbone and one white sock.

It must have been during this distraction that I made my error last night.  I was watching TV, playing computer games and reading...yes, all at the same time - I don't know why but when I get tired I imagine I can take multitasking to extreme levels.  I can't...but I imagine I can.'s my little fantasy world and who are you to shoot it down!  Anyway...I digress.  This was where I reached for my little container of oven roasted almonds.  I love munching on nuts while I read.  I noticed they tasted a bit funny, almost fishy but figured it must be some kickback from all the fish oil tablets the eye doctor has me on.  Although I've never noticed that effect before.

After the second handfull I decided they must have gone bad, they just didn't taste right.  Any why is She Devil dancing around like that?  Then I looked at the container.  Same height as my almond.  Same blue lid.  Only this one says Whisker Lickin's.  Yup.  I was eating She Devils crunch lover tuna flavored kitty treats.  They really aren't all that bad...but I think I'll stick to the almonds from now on.

Love Live the Queen of the Crunch Lovers

Saturday, November 26, 2011

So many little time!

It's been like Christmas lately with all the UPS deliveries.  My new camera has arrived and I've got the batteries charged up and ready to go.  My electric pressure cooker is here and has been washed and is ready for service.  The new HDR software has arrived but has not yet been downloaded.  I'm still dealing with the newness of the Photoshop Elements 10 that I have on my PC.

With my frenzy of trying to finish projects before family arrived for Thanksgiving, not to mention the cleaning and preparing of food for that holiday, I just haven't had time to play with anything new.

My last shipment arrived and will be put to immediate tiny turners for those smaller fingers.

The Chef doll was shipped out today to her new home and the fairy for a young girls Christmas gift is done.  So I'm down to just the traditional German kitchen witch and then I can explore new venues.

After visiting the Holiday Fair right here in my area it was clear in my mind that I need to get into this show in 2012.

Now I need to recover from the Thanksgiving visit and start to play!

Long Live the Queen of Too Much Going On

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

After cleaning and cooking all day I'm sitting down to post my blog and check out Facebook.  To me Facebook is like the old party line when I was a kid ... you can listen in on conversations without anyone knowing you're there.

I guess I'm feeling nostalgic today as while remembering some past Thanksgivings, both good and bad.

When my grandmother was alive and in command we had lovely dinners, with everyone getting along and playing cards during the day.  After her death, things deteriorated as booze became the prime ingredient and the food didn't always materialize.  I had come to associate holidays with bowling alleys and movie theaters because that's where my cousins and I would escape to when things got too rough.

Now that that's behind me I feel as if I'm back in those "good old days" of my memory and my heart is filled with joy as I prepare for the gathering of my family and friends.  I'm thankful for not having to wonder which way the day will go and being free to just enjoy it.

I used my new Cuisinart electric pressure cooker for the first time to cook the potatoes.  Even though it doesn't make the same sounds as Grandma's, I still felt a connection.  And I don't have to worry about the new improved models blowing up.

Much of my efforts today were achieved with a small red helicopter buzzing my head.  Left Brain likes to do some fly-by's while I work. When I threatened to snap it out the air with my kitchen towel it made a quick landing in the other room.

Have a great day tomorrow and enjoy those around you!

Long live the Queen of the Kitchen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cat in the box

This is a series of cat antics that I just adore called Simon's cat.  
Since I've been cleaning and preparing for Thanksgiving and haven't  been posting regularly...I had to just share this with you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Long Live the Queen of Cats

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Container Store

It was a day of shopping with friends at a location I did not know existed.  We traveled to the cities to explore The Container Store.  This is a large store that sells containers for, well...everything.

There were items I had never heard of and didn't realize I needed until seeing them.  Some truly innovative tools and some gadgets that have no need to have been developed.  Many had some comic least in my tiny mind.

Take for instance the tiny acrylic boxes, with a lid to store your golf ball.  Yup.  Ball.  Not plural.  One golf ball.  After laughing about this product and commenting on what kind of nut would buy a box for one golf ball I noticed my friend, Ms M, had one in her cart.  She is deaf in that ear and my mockery went unnoticed. So, of course, I had to repeat it for her benefit.

She explained that her husband had hit a hole in one and she wanted to put the ball in a little display case.  This led to a series of jokes about her storing her husband's balls in boxes and that she has taken her anal organizational habits to a new level.

My other friend, who is also an artist, admired several items that could be used to store her broken glass.  Most people throw out broken glass, but she breaks it on purpose.  And then she reassembles the glass into incredible masterpieces for the window.  We both kept finding items that would work as display options in our booths.

But my favorite item was a set of cutlery (in a box, naturally) that had a handle and attachments to screw on to create a fork, spoon, knife....and chopsticks.

There were many containers with displays showing possible uses and some that just bewildered the imagination as to what in the devil would you do with that.

It was an interesting experience and we had a great lunch followed by some more shopping until all three of us stopped dead in the middle of the hallway and we all pronounced we were too tired to continue.

So we packed back into the car and started home.  There was an emergency stop at Cold Stone Creamery on the way home to renew our energy.  I do believe ice cream improves my night vision, so I blew off my Weight Watcher regime for the day in the interest of safety for my friends.

Long Live Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Veggie Dolls

I've been having too much fun with potato mashers lately.  First I created a bunch of angels for the upcoming holiday shows and then I went into a vegetative to speak.

I had all these artificial veggies sitting around and just had to do something with them.  They looked like perfect heads to me, so off I went!

They have lots of spunk and attitude, just like their creator.

It was really fun decorating the faces with all kinds of odds and ends and trying to see how silly I could be...and I've got lots of practice with that.

The arms and abnormally long fingers are wired so they can be fully posed.  

I hate to just have something sitting around the kitchen and not being busy with their hands.  Why does Left Brain come to mind right now...hmmmm?

This one is a really hot tomato!

They really make the perfect dolls as they stand up on their own and well...I don't know.  I just like them.  It's part of that constant "what could I do with that?" that runs through my head.

This one has a potato for a head and an old potato chip bag for her clothes.  Oh the things I must do for my art...eating potato chips to get their clothes!

Her hat is a wire scrubby for those hard to clean pots and pans.  I wasn't using it because, well...I don't dirty a lot of pots and pans.  When you don't cook the kitchen stays pretty clean.

Well, that's enough for now.  I need to see what She Devil is's too quiet in there.

Long Live the Queen of Potato Mashers

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I did not know that!
Part of my clean up for winter is to remove the pump and filters, clean them for storage and put in the water heater to keep the ice from closing off the pond.

The fish winter over just fine in the pond provided they have an open hole to release the gases from their waste.  The same reason you never  keep the covers over your head if you pass gas in bed.  I apologize for that mental image.

Anyway, I digress.  When I tried to plug in the said heater there were a few sparks and a zap sound and the clicking of the reset button.  Hmmm.  Perhaps the plug was a bit wet I wondered as I stood there in my slippers and towel having just gotten out of the hot tub.  Maybe doing this while still wet was not the smartest thing, but I've never been accused of being a brainiac.

I tried it again four or five more times.  I am nothing if not determined.  Harumpf.  I give up.  Left Brain can deal with this I muttered as I shuffled into the house.

He dutifully went out and assessed the problem and came in to tell me what I did wrong.  He seems to take great joy in that and I give him no end of things to comment on.  This is where I learned you can't have the end of the plug that connects with the heater IN the water.

But it's an outdoor cord I argued, and then he pointed out that's not the same as being under water.  I suppose he has a point there.

I'm so glad we have a ground fault circuit for these kinds of situations or there'd be lots of goldfish floating on the top of the well as a towel clad Queen Jester laid out on the patio.

Long Live the Queen of Underwater Electricity

Monday, November 14, 2011


Left Brain and I went out to lunch recently at the Hungry Peddler and enjoyed great fish and scallops - yum.  I had set this up to meet with a friend who asked me for a donation for a charity event coming up soon.  As we were leaving the restaurant we ran into Santa Claus.  He consented to having his photo taken with me and I was as thrilled as any Jewish kid could be.

I wanted to create something larger and in a holiday season theme for this and came up with Mrs Tannenbaum. 

She is about 20" tall and rests on a square base with holiday decorations and gifts at her feet.

I hope she helps to bring in some money at the event.

After passing off the doll we headed over to the movie theater and watched "Tower Heist".  Very fun movie - lots of action and humor with a great cast.

Long Live the Queen 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photoshop fun

I've started to get familiar with my new software, Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.

The first thing I did was use a photo of Left Brain from our Arizona trip in 2010 and alter it.

It was pretty funny to start with, but with the use of the distort tool I was able to alter his facial features a good deal.

Then I changed his big beautiful brown eyes to blue.  Sing along with me now....don't it make my brown eyes blue....

Then I added some hair with the brush tool and used a smudge tool to make it look more normal and applied a posterization filter.  Maybe it's just me but he looks a little like Alfred E Neuman from MAD magazine.

Here is what the photo looked like before any retouching at all.  

It wasn't a great photo to start with, but when he puts himself in these kind of compromising situations, well...I just have to use it somehow.

Long Live the Queen of Distortions...and her loyal subject, Left Brain

Friday, November 11, 2011


I've never understood the ad for ED products.  First I can't understand WHY they are so popular.  It bothers me that people run to a pill to fix everything when maybe what they need to do is change their lifestyle or diet to achieve the results on a more natural level.

The ad with two seniors sitting in matching bathtubs as they gaze out on their lovely surroundings is the strangest to me.  Isn't the idea of this product to bring you together?  It's like ending a very romantic evening by slipping into twin beds and saying good night.  What's the point?

So you can understand my amusement when I saw this take off of that add with a gingerbread couple sitting in coffee cups of cocoa...I'm not sure.  And then there's the caption of Make Merry to go with it.  Yikes.

Long Live the Queen of Confusion

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Camera club results

Once a month we have a competition in the local camera club and sometimes I do better than others.

This photo of the old house in the rain was entered in our challenge of "rural decay" and took second place.

I loved the comments of how impressed people were that I captured both the sun and the rain at the same time.  Those who know me understand that I am a fair weather photographer who doesn't do early mornings or inclement weather.  The rain was strictly compliments of Photoshop.

The barred owl was my entry in Open - I couldn't place it in Nature as it was taken in a captive setting and not in the natural elements required for that category.  Some were impressed that I was able to get so close to it and how difficult it was.  The main difficulty was in  blurring the chain link fencing in front of it.

My entry into the People category was this lovely young girl in Alaska in all her beautiful costuming.  

She was stunning as well as the outfit but I could have used a little more light in her eyes.

I didn't place but did receive an Honorable Mention from the judges.

And lastly, this image of a rusty old wheel was entered in N4C competition which is on a national level in the contemporary category.

I believe I added a posterization effect to this of my favorites.

We do this once a month in our club and I enjoy it very much as I feel it pushes me to find new and creative ways to see things.

I've just installed Photoshop Elements 10 on my laptop and ordered the Nik HDR Efex Pro software to add all kinds of creativity to my work.  I'm ready to order the camera I desire to finally use up my prize money as I'd like to have it before Thanksgiving so I can shoot the family and be able to have some video capability.

Long Live the Queen of the Camera

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Angel dolls

To prepare for the Bling art show at the Pump House the first weekend of December I have come up with several new creations.

I was determined to make "angels" this year....but not the kind you might think of.

This is my line of "Angels We Have Heard Were High" created from antique potato mashers.

They come in a variety of colors and all are sporting nice big wings.

The arms are wired and can be posed to show some "attitude", which my dolls never seem to have a shortage of.

Some are holding harps, gifts or pine cones.

Who ever knew potato mashers could be so much fun!

Long Live the Queen of Old Stuff

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I absolutely love this little clip!  Anyone who has a cat will relate to this at once.
Long Live the Queen of Demanding Cats

Cat Wakeup Cartoon - watch more funny videos      

Monday, November 7, 2011

A timely subject

Time.  There never seems to be enough of it....or to others, too much of it.  It all depends on your perspective.

I was feeling antsy Sunday, as I generally do when the house is overcome with football noises, including Left Brain shouting strategy plays to the team from his chair. So I decided to go to a movie.

We had just turned the clocks back and there's always that uncertainty as to whether or not I'll be on time, not being sure for a day or so what time it really is.

I had no expectations for this movie - it was just a diversion to get out of the house and eat massive amounts of popcorn.  As usual I was running late and barely made it in time to see "In Time". It was much more interesting than I could have imagined.

Without giving away too much of the movie in case you haven't yet seen it, it deals with a futuristic view of time being the capital used for commerce.  Instead of paying for goods and services, a meter is used to extract actual time from your life.  This is actually what takes place in the real world when you think about it.

I've always used this thought process when purchasing items, it was much easier to see it that way when I was working and earning a paycheck.  When debating whether or not to buy that new pair of shoes or jeans or whatever, it helped to equate it to the fact I had worked for two or three hours of my day to earn it.  Time I would never get back.

In the movie it clearly equates the current situation of the small number of "haves" and the increasingly larger number of "have nots" and how the power holders control the masses.  Those with the most "time" in the movie could set the rates for rent, goods, interest, etc, leaving those with limited time scrambling to survive and trying to live fully each day as if it were their last, which it might be.

It was very thought provoking and interesting and I really recommend seeing it...if nothing else for the popcorn.

Long Live Queen of the Popcorn

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Getting going is the hardest part

I was wondering if others have the same syndrome I have, I'm not sure what to call it.  It's when you have things to do, some more important than others, but just can't get rolling.

Then I jump up and run about frantically trying to get it done or get there on time or what ever the situation is.  I can't use the excuse of not having enough time, that's generally not a problem.

Maybe I'll call it NUTS - Not Usually Timely Started.

Long Live the Queen of NUTS

Friday, November 4, 2011

Last survivor in the garden

The temperatures are dipping down and with each new frost more plants succumb to the weather.

This is one long survivor from the roses.  She made it into November, but I'm not sure how long she'll continue to hang on.

I'll miss my floral friends.

Long Live the Queen of the Roses  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good bye Broom hilda

We hardly get any tricksters at Halloween, but this year I was ready for them.  My neighbor had just given me a mannequin on a stand and the timing was perfect.  I dressed her up in a quasi-witch costume and set her in front of the garage.

This way when the motion lights kick on she'd suddenly appear.  I also like to dress up during the holidays, including shopping.  Let's just say that before Halloween and on that day it's fun and people smile.  

When you're retired and kind of lose track of what day it is and just put on your glittery witch hat without thinking....well, let's just say people still smile but with a bit of nervousness.

Long Live the Queen of One Day Late

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Continued hearing problems

Yesterday I admitted to my misunderstanding at the theater and today it was Left Brain's turn.  Oh what fun two old half deaf people can have!

He was telling me about his day and said "hold out your hand".  This always makes me nervous but I did as asked and took hold of his nuts.  Well, not HIS nuts per say, but a handful of hickory nuts.  It appears that the mice had built a nest and stockpiled these for the winter in the garage....under the seat of his motorcycle. 

Later on that afternoon he said he had taken the last motorcycle ride of the year and I asked "with the mice?".  He replied that yes, it was nice but a little bit cold.  Maybe it's just old age - his medicare coverage does start this month.  I just let it pass.

Long Live the Queen of Hearing Aids

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hearing VS Listening

I learned an important lesson recently, there is a major difference between hearing and listening.

This sign is up on my kitchen wall and I'm thinking it needs a gender correction.

We attended the performance of Le Cage aux Folles at the State Theater in Minneapolis starring George Hamilton with the garden club group.  I'm not sure why we claim to be a garden club we actually spend more time attending theater and fine dining than digging in the dirt.  Oh works for me.

Anyway, I the performance they had a lovely blonde transvestite heckling the crowd as they came in.  S(h)e was asking all kinds of outrageous questions and being quite crude.  In other was great fun.  I was so glad I remembered to wear my hearing aids tonight, I don't want to miss anything.

I should have picked up on the gay theme (duh!) based on the subject matter of the performance but didn't.  So when s(h)e asked if there were any Jewish lesbians I stood up and shouted "right here!". 

Left Brain was appalled.  "What are you doing?" he hissed as he not so gently took my elbow and placed me back into my seat.  "Well", I explained,"I know I'll be on stage someday, so it's not a total lie"

His face showed total bewilderment, but then again it's kind of a normal look during our conversations.  Then he asked me when I became a lesbian...quite a shock to him 28 years into the marriage.

Lesbian?  OMG.  Now I get it.  I thought s(h)e was asking for Jewish thesbians.  My bad.

I thought that was just a minor blip until the Marvelous Miss M announced we were going across the street to a topless bar for supper.  WHAT!  She may do that kind of thing on the beach at St Martin...but I'm NOT that kind of girl!

It was a tapas bar.  I think I really need to get these things checked out and make sure they're working.

Long Live the Queen (aka Miss Communication)