Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ho Ho Ho!

Living Room Nearly Done!

This morning I put the finishing touches on the Christmas tree.  Then I had to clean up!  There was glitter over everything!  I vacuumed (again), and dusted (again), and put away unused ornaments.  I practiced a bit of restraint this year, darlings :)  I did, however, add a few wine and maroon colored ornaments to the tree, to fill in some perceived "bare" spots.  They add just a wee touch of color. 

I took a new photograph of the hand-made (I made it myself!) ornament wreath, too, in the natural daylight:

You can see peeks of color where I used "filler" ornaments when I ran out of the Family Dollar ornaments (60 of them!) to make the wreath.  It looks pretty good in the daylight, I must say, and right now, in the soft glow of the lights from the Christmas tree and candle light, it looks downright decadently delicious!

Then I puttered around doing this and that and - where the hell does the time go?  About 3 p.m. I realized that I had totally FORGOT (how???) that I have to produce a breakfast casserole, bacon and sausages for tomorrow's investment club Christmas get-together and gift exchange!  EEK!  But it was too cold and windy for me to go anywhere today, and I was in the middle of putting together the branch arrangement for the top of the mantle.

That means I'll be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to get to the Pick 'n' Save for the necessary fixings and get everything ready to go.  As long as I have it all ready, I'll be fine, as the other ladies are each bringing something to share, including a coffee pot and coffee.  Since on regular days I only have one cup of coffee first thing in the morning, I use Taster's Choice instant.  After my last coffee maker broke I didn't replace it.  So, we'll have fresh-brewed coffee for the ladies who drink coffee like I drink wine.  Ahem.  Tonight I'm finishing up cleaning downstairs.  I don't know how it happens -- I think it breeds while I'm at the office -- the dinette table is loaded with papers, magazines, unopened mail and receipts, also Christmas cards.  Oy!  So, that has to be cleaned up, the floor mopped, Christmas decorations hung from the light fixture over the table, Christmas table cloth put on, etc. etc. 

I confess I've been dinking around the past 4 hours, puttering doing this and that. The local PBS stations are in fund-raising mode right now and so there have been excellent shows on all day - like "One Pot Cooking" -- love it!  And then not one, but two films about that man who moved up to remote Alaska in 1968 and lived there for 30 years -- all by himself.  Incredible scenery and incredibly compelling.  And now, a Celtic Woman special is on.  Well, slowly things are getting done, but what I wouldn't give for a concerted burst of energy right now like the White Tornado to get the kitchen and dinette done in 30 minutes instead of 3 hours! 

And, guess what!  Oh, you'll never guess so I'll tell you.  I have hired a cleaning person!  Yes, and I can't believe I did it.  But I was thinking the other day during lunch with an old friend that I've been living in this house 21 years now and I've never cleaned the kitchen cabinets in all that time.


She's the ex-sister-in-law of my friend and she's coming Tuesday and will spend the entire day ticking off a long list of "Things To Be Cleaned" while I'm at the office.  Oh, the joy, the joy!  She actually enjoys cleaning out kitchen cabinets.  Imagine!  And she uses only totally green products (besides a vacuum cleaner, that is) -- baking soda and vinegar are her tools-in-trade! 

Naturally I have to clean the house before she gets here Tuesday morning...  This first round of cleaning will be limited to the downstairs.  There's probably a month's worth of work to be done, wonder how much she'll get done in eight hours...

I have to say that I was very pleased with how to oh-so-easy branch "centerpiece" I added to the mantle turned out.  This afternoon I ran outside and clipped some branches, and had the happy thought to cut a branch from the barberry out front - still with some red berries clinging to it!  Then I added some icicles and it's beautiful.  And so simple!  I love simple when it comes to decorating.  What's best is that it isn't overtly "Christmasy" and I'll be able to leave it in place all season. 

I have only to hang the two stockings I bought (one for me and one for Mr. Don) -- although I tore my junk drawers apart today I could not locate two screw-in cup hooks, so unless I remember to buy some tomorrow morning at the Pick 'n' Save the ladies of the Investment Club won't see those stocking hung by the mantle with care. 

All in all, I am very happy with how things turned out this year with these new adventures in holiday decorating.  Some other images from the living room:

The tree by daylight.  I know, the French ribbon looks a little funky right now but in person, it looks much prettier with the light shining through it, and right now, in the dark, with the tree lit, it's magical.

A view toward the fireplace - before the new branch arrangement was in place.  I am amazed at the difference putting it on the mantle in place of my "red lady" made.

The corner table.  The decorative plate with the cardinal is new ($3.99 at TJMaxx), everything else was already owned or free:  cardinal greeting card (saved from last year because I thought it was so pretty) is inserted into an old frame; my mom sent me a greeting card a few days ago with a pair of cardinals on it - now sitting on the table.  Cranberry votive holder from Avon is OLD, baby!  For the holidays a red light bulb holds down this corner - I've had that light bulb (along with the green and blue bulbs I also use in the room) for at least 10 years!

Tree close-up.

Another tree close-up.

1st SportAccord Mind Games

Under the auspices of FIDE, in Beijing, China between the 8th of December and 17th December 2011. Thirty-two players by invitation are competing: 16 players (open) and 16 women players.

Official website. 
The minimum rating for the Open is 2700. For the Women’s events, the minimum rating is 2450.

Here's the schedule of events:
9th – 11th December, Rapid Events (Open and Women – 16 players each)
12th – 13th December, Blitz Events (Open and Women – 16 players each)
14th – 16th December, Blindfold Event (Open and Women – 8 players each) and Pairs Event (8 teams of two players)


‘Mind Games huge step towards Olympic recognition of chess’
December 10, 2011

Russian Chess World Champion Aleksandra Kostenyuk believes that the World Mind Games could become a platform for her sport to gain more exposure and maybe even become an Olympic discipline.
­“I love chess very much,” Kostenyuk said. “And I’ve been playing chess for the biggest part of my life, since the age of five. And I’ve been dreaming of seeing chess as a big part of the Olympic movement.” 

Beijing – the city which hosted the 2008 Olympics – is trading brawn for brains this time around with the SportAccord World Mind Games opening ceremony taking place there on Friday. Chess, Go, bridge, draughts and Xiangqi are the five disciplines being pursued, with the Games to be televised, which will certainly add to the pressure.

Note: I want to clarify that GM Alexandra Kosteniuk is the 12th Women's World Chess Champion.  She held the title 2008 - 2010.  The caption under the video in this article refers to GM Kosteniuk as the "current" women's world chess champion.  That is incorrect.  The current Womens' World Chess Champion is GM Hou Yifan, who first won the title in 2010 and successfully defended her title in a match against GM Koneru Humpy last month. 

Current world chess champion Aleksandra Kostenyuk (L)
giving a simultaneous exhibition. (RIA Novosti / Valeriy Melnikov)

Here is the official list of female players (quite a line-up, but missing GM Koneru Humpy):

1Hou, YifanGMCHN25781994
2Muzychuk, AnnaIMSLO25621990
3Lahno, KaterynaGMUKR25491998
4Ju, WenjunwgmCHN25431991
5Stefanova, AntoanetaGMBUL25311979
6Dzagnidze, NanaGMGEO25161997
7Harika, DronavalliIMIND25131991
8Zatonskih, AnnaIMUSA25061978
9Cmilyte, ViktorijaGMLTU25031983
10Danielian, ElinaGMARM24971978
11Cramling, PiaGMSWE24951963
12Socko, MonikaGMPOL24791978
13Dembo, YelenaIMGRE24681983
14Skripchenko, AlmiraIMFRA24681976
15Paehtz, ElisabethIMGER24571985
16Kosteniuk, AlexandraGMRUS24391984

Standings in the Rapid Chess event after R4 (completion of rounds tomorrow) - this information from

Sportaccord World Mind Games Rapid – Women
Round 4 standings:

1. GM Kosteniuk Alexandra RUS 2439 – 3.5
2. GM Lahno Kateryna UKR 2549 – 3
3. WGM Ju Wenjun CHN 2543 – 3
4. IM Paehtz Elisabeth GER 2457 – 2.5
5. GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2516 – 2.5
6. GM Hou Yifan CHN 2578 – 2.5
7. IM Skripchenko Almira FRA 2468 – 2
8. GM Socko Monika POL 2479 – 2
9. GM Cramling Pia SWE 2495 – 2
10. IM Muzychuk Anna SLO 2562 – 2
11. GM Harika Dronavalli IND 2512 – 1.5
12. IM Dembo Yelena GRE 2468 – 1.5
13. GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2531 – 1.5
14. GM Danielian Elina ARM 2497 – 1.5
15. GM Cmilyte Viktorija LTU 2503 – 0.5
16. IM Zatonskih Anna USA 2506 – 0.5

Friday, December 9, 2011

Is the Lion a Lioness After All???

Thank you, Der Spiegel, so much, for this article!  I can't believe how blind these researchers are!


Is the Lion Man a Woman?

Solving the Mystery of a 35,000-Year-Old Statue

By Matthias Schulz
Using a hand hoe and working in dim light, geologist Otto Völzing burrowed into the earth deep inside the Stadel cave in the Schwäbische Alb mountains of southwestern Germany. His finds were interesting to be sure, but nothing world-shaking: flints and the remnants of food eaten by prehistoric human beings.

Suddenly he struck a hard object -- and splintered a small statuette.

It was 1939 and Völzing didn't have much time. He had just been called up to serve in the military and World War II was about to begin. He quickly packed the pieces into a box and the excavation, which was being financed by the SS, was terminated on the same day.

The Lion Man found in the Stadel cave. The Paleolithic figurine, carved out of mammoth ivory, was found on the eve of World War I. Archeologists have been puzzling over its meaning ever since. Indeed, they haven't even decided on its gender. But new pieces found recently may help researchers solve the mystery.

For the next 30 years, little heed was paid to the pieces. But then, they were reassembled to create one of the most impressive sculptures of the Paleolithic Age.

Called the Lion Man, it is fashioned from the tusk of a mammoth and stands about 30 centimeters (12 inches) tall. Its creator polished it with saliva and leather -- and an experiment showed that it likely took the sculptor about 320 hours to carve the figure.

Copies of the famous ice age treasure are now on display in New York and Tokyo. The original, however, is heavily damaged -- and no one knows exactly what it looks like. Many fragments were overlooked in the cave when the prewar dig was so abruptly terminated. The figure achieved its current form in 1988. It consists of 220 parts, but about 30 percent of the body is still missing. Large segments of the surface have broken off.

The poor condition of the figurine has only made it more mysterious. Is it meant to represent a mythical creature, or a shaman hiding under an animal hide? Are the six stripes on the left upper arm meant to depict scarification marks or something else? And what was on the right arm, which is missing?

The genitalia are also unrecognizable. German archeologist and Upper Paleolithic expert Joachim Hahn has interpreted the small plate on the abdomen as a "penis in a hanging position." Elisabeth Schmid, a paleontologist, classified it as a pubic triangle.

It was the beginning of a bitter dispute over the gender of the small idol that erupted in the 1980s and continues to this day. The statue has been made into an "icon of the women's movement," says Kurt Wehrberger of the Ulm Museum, the owner of the precious object.

Those who believe that the Lion Man is in fact a woman are convinced that primitive societies were matriarchal. They contend that women of the period, instead of standing obediently by the cooking fire and watching over the children, hunted mammoths and set the tone when it came to rituals and the priesthood. But is this true?

The debate remains undecided today. But that could soon change, now that new fragments of the Lion Man have turned up.

The new discoveries came after archeologists once again turned their attention to the Stadel cave. They sifted through all of the rubble from 1939, explains excavator Claus-Joachim Kind -- and the results were sensational. "We found about 1,000 pieces, which presumably belong to the statue," Kind says.

Some of the fragments are tiny, only a few square millimeters in size, but the cache also includes pieces as long as a finger.

The figurine will be taken to the State Conservation Office in Esslingen, near Stuttgart, where it will be completely taken apart. The old glue joints will be dissolved and the filler made of beeswax and chalk, which was used as a placeholder, will be removed.

Then the statue will be reassembled piece by piece, a task that those involved await with great anticipation. "We will soon be able to view the most mysterious work of art from (the southwestern German state of) Baden-Württemberg in its original form," Kind hopes.

Already it is clear that the figurine will become a few centimeters taller due to new neck pieces that have been found. Furthermore, the gaping hole in the back can now be plugged, and the right arm has been found in its entirety. Additional decorations, including raised dots and strange-looking lines, have come to light.

These new revelations offer a greater insight into the mind of the prehistoric sculptor, who created the figure about 35,000 years ago. His ancestors had migrated to Europe, which had been controlled by the Neanderthals, shortly before.

The statue was found near traces of a fire site in a niche 27 meters (89 feet) from the mouth of the cave. When Kind was working at the site, he also found a decorated deer's tooth, the incisors of an arctic fox and ivory beads. The items could have been pieces from a decorative robe. Perhaps the niche served as a shaman's changing room.

It is considered likely that prehistoric sorcerers wore furs as costumes when they celebrated rituals around the campfire. Hybrid creatures -- half-man, half-beast -- also appear in cave drawings in France.

It would seem that the shamans' preferred costumes were the hides of the more dangerous representatives of Ice Age fauna. The cave lion weighed more than 250 kilograms (550 lbs.); one swipe of its giant paw would have been enough. A human being holding what looks like a musical instrument is depicted in a cave in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The figure is wearing the hide of a bison, an 800-kilogram colossus that was not to be trifled with. Perhaps hunters hoped to acquire the animal's strength and even take possession of its soul through masquerade and dance.

Studies about primitive peoples in Siberia suggest how these rites might have proceeded. Even into the modern age, their shamans wore antlers on their heads. There are similar accounts involving the Blackfeet Indians in North America. Their healers hopped around under bearskins to the sound of drums.

The Lion Man is standing on tiptoes. He, too, seems to be dancing.

But who is hidden underneath the robe? From time immemorial, the lion has been viewed as a symbol of the masculine virtues of courage and strength. Shamans still exist today in the Amazon region and Australia. Most are men.

On the other hand, the statuette has some perplexing features. The navel, a symbol of childbirth, is especially pronounced. A horizontal crease runs across the lower abdomen, a feature that is typically female.

Paleontologist Schmid believes that the figure once had breasts, which eventually broke off. According to Schmid, the transition from the thighs to the buttocks is also indicative of a female body. She made a model out of modeling clay, which is now in a safe in Ulm. It depicts the Lion Man with an ample bosom.

Many scholars dismissed the jarring replica as nonsense at the time. Nevertheless, there is at least one piece of evidence to support Schmid's theory. An image of a 14,000-year-old human body with an animal head discovered in the Las Caldas cave in Spain is obviously female. The head looks like that of an ibex, while the lower part of the body features female genitalia.

Does this mean that female shamans did exist? Were women in charge of the religion of our ancestors? The new finds could solve the mystery once and for all. Hundreds of tiny ivory fragments will have to be pieced together to create a statue that experts estimate will contain 20 percent more of its original material.

According to one of the excavators, there is also sufficient fragmentary material to reconstruct the genitalia. "We'll figure out the gender," he says.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.


Oh please!  This is a lioness.  If it was a male LION, where the hell is the mane?

Yes, it is probably meant to represent a shaman's robe and yes, there were plenty of female shamans "back in the day." Those female shamans didn't spring out of nowhere!  There is archaeological evidence for female shamans and either the author of this article was unaware of that evidence or was being deliberately "coy" - which totally sucks if that's the case.

If you accept current archaeological theory about how so-called "modern human" population spread out of Africa, one of the major "arrow" of movement was across Asia from the west to the east, where people eventually ended up against the Pacific Ocean.  As those people moved, they took along with them their beliefs and customs.  Duh!  I know there is archeological evidence for female shamans in Sibera, along the western coast of Russia, northeastern China and I think in Korea and Japan, too -- I've posted about these discoveries at this blog. 

As for the article's emphasis on the figurine's "genetalia," honestly, are we so penis-focused today that we can't see a Delta for the trees?  Geez Louise! 

There are two "configurations" the experts interviewed in the Der Spiegel article did not consider:

(1)  A female shaman wearing a lioness' skin and a "jock strap" in the shape of an enlarged "delta" to signifiy both a vagina and a penis - you know - the sacred union.

(2)  A male shaman wearing a lioness' skin and a delta-shaped "jock strap" in the shape of an enlarged "delta" over his penis to signify both a vagina and a penis - you know - the sacred union. 

Come on, people, this is Archaeology 101.  Throw out your preconceptions, open up your mind, think outside the box! 

Christmas Decoration Update - Work in Progress

Pant, pant, pant...

Still hard at it.  Tonight I stopped procrastinating and dived in, starting putting ornaments on the innermost part of the tree.  That got me going.  Then I placed my gold pointsettias, then my pearl ornaments.  I love those four pearl starbursts and four large beaded drops -- haven't been able to find anything online even close since I bought them in 2006 in Chicago at Marshall Fields/Macy's (it will forever be Marshall Fields to me).  I added a few more ornaments, and then started applying the French ribbon.  Buying the sheer patterned French ribbon was a smart move! 

Here's a pic:

A looonnnggg way to go yet, but I feel now that I've sort of got things under control.  And now I'm going to apply the second five yards of French ribbon :)

Update 9:30 p.m.:

Already applied the second roll of French ribbon; since I was doing the lower part of the tree it didn't take as many turns around the tree to use up the entire roll, plus I think I've got the hang of twisting the ribbon this way and that to make the ribbon lay just so.  I am loving it right now!  Now I've just got a ton of ornaments to apply...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Awonder Liang Celebrated His Gold Medal By Taking A Nap!

Interview with Awonder Liang and his dad, Yingming (Will) Liang, with National Public Radio:

December 8, 2011
Lynn Neary speaks with Awonder Liang and his father Yingming "Will" Liang. Awonder recently won the under-8 division at the Youth World Chess Championships, which were held this year in Brazil. Awonder says he used to play with his older brothers, but now he's too good for them and they hate to lose.

Copyright © 2011 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

And I'm Lynn Neary. And now, an impressive little boy named Awonder - Awonder Liang. The eight year old from Wisconsin is, for his age group, the best chess player in the world. He recently took gold in the under-eight division at the World Youth Chess Championships in Brazil and he joins us with his father, Will Liang.

Good to have you with us.



NEARY: Let me start by talking with you, Awonder. How long have you been playing chess and what got you interested in it in the first place?

LIANG: I have been playing chess for about three and a half years and I just liked it because - just seemed to work with my brain and just seemed like a good game for me.

NEARY: Does your dad play chess? Is that how you first started seeing it?

LIANG: Uh-huh. My dad taught me how to play chess.

NEARY: Oh, Mr. Liang, so you've been training him, so to speak?

LIANG: Coaching, so to speak. His brother's the first one. And they learned it in a library in Madison, Wisconsin.

NEARY: And do you play with your brothers?

LIANG: Well, not really.

NEARY: Why? Because they're not very good anymore, compared to you?

LIANG: Well, my older brother is the best besides me and he doesn't really like to play, so...
NEARY: I think maybe you surpassed them. Is that right, Mr. Liang?

LIANG: Yeah, that's the case. Yeah. In the beginning they played a little bit with each other. And then when Awonder get better, you know, his elder brother, Jim, does not want to lose to Awonder, so...

NEARY: So, Awonder, do you like being able to beat your brothers?

LIANG: Yeah. But he gets a little bit mad.

NEARY: How did it feel when you won the championship?

LIANG: I was pretty happy.

NEARY: I understand you won in a tie-breaker. That must have been pretty hard.

LIANG: Yeah, kind of.

NEARY: Did that make you more nervous than usual, the fact that you had to win that tie-breaker in order to win the championship?

LIANG: Yeah.

NEARY: So when you get nervous like that, what do you do? How do you get yourself calmed down so that you can really concentrate on the game?

LIANG: I just kind of took a nap and stuff.

NEARY: You just took a nap. You rested. That's good. What did you do when you finally won? How did you celebrate?

LIANG: Well, there wasn't much to do in Brazil, so I just took a nap, too.

NEARY: I think a lot of adults out there are going to be surprised to hear you say there wasn't much to do in Brazil. But was there anything that you really wanted to do that you weren't able to do?

LIANG: Yeah. I wanted to go to the water park. It was a huge one. But, unfortunately, it was raining there.

NEARY: Oh, that's too bad. Well, Awonder, now, the next time I play chess, do you have any advice for me? Any tips? What should I do?

LIANG: Well, I'm not sure. Like, maybe practice on the general stuff, like castling and, like, getting your pieces out, control the center.

NEARY: All right. I'll work on that. That's Awonder Liang and his father, Will Liang. Awonder took gold in the under-eight division at the World Youth Chess Championships in Brazil. It was great talking with you.

LIANG: Thank you.

LIANG: Thanks.

Copyright © 2011 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Fossil Whales in the Atacama Desert, Chili

Absolutely fascinating.  By way of hmmm, random pondering, I posit this photo for comparison:
Photo, Japan tsunami, 2011.  What would archaeologist think if they came
across this 5 million years from now?

From National Geographic News
Pictures: Prehistoric Whale "Graveyard" Found in Desert
Published December 6, 2011

Stone in Cast
Photograph from Museo Paleontologico de Caldera via AP
Scientists preserve a prehistoric adult whale skeleton's rib cage and tail in plaster in Chile's Atacama Desert in 2010.  The fossil is 1 of 20 roughly five-million-year-old whales found in a roadside "graveyard" more than a half a mile (a kilometer) from the Pacific coast, experts announced late last month.

It's unknown why the whales were found together, said the Smithsonian Institution's Nicholas Pyenson, lead paleontologist on the excavation.

But possible reasons include a storm pushing them abruptly to shore, a red tide—a proliferation of microscopic organisms that release toxins in the water—poisoning them, and the whales beaching themselves in a group, said Pyenson, a grantee of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. (The Society owns National Geographic News.)

Getting to the bottom of the mystery requires careful preservation and examination, beginning with encasing the fossils in protective plaster "jackets" (as pictured) for the trip to the lab—a skill the team hadn't quite mastered by the time this picture was taken, Pyenson explained.

Above, he said, "you can see the block containing the rib cage and the thinner segments capping the tail."

—Angela Botzer

Roadside Attraction

Photograph from Museo Paleontologico de Caldera via AP
Pictured facing the camera, this relatively complete fossil baleen whale was excavated from the Cerro Ballena site in 2010.
The orientation of the whales' bodies in relation to the prehistoric coastline—which is, for now, a mystery—may someday tell us a bit about how they all ended up in one place, according to Pyenson.
If the skeletons are essentially parallel to what was then the shoreline, the whales may have died offshore and floated in on the tide. But if the whales are randomly oriented, he added, their deaths may have been due a storm or other event, and they might not have died at the same time.
(See whale-fossil pictures from National Geographic magazine.)
Published December 6, 2011

To Quote Billy Joel...

You may be right, I may be crazy...

I am soooo glad tomorrow is Friday!  I have a ton of work to do around here, and I just haven't been getting it done when I get home from the office at night.  Well, last night, I did get one project nearly finished -- I made an ornament wreath of my very own!!!  Here are two photographs of my final results.  To fully appreciate this wreath, please read my partial account of my construction trials and tribulations below:

My ornament wreath.  Lopsided, really really bad bow(s) and beads
that are not actually covering up any of its flaws -- but, what the hell.

I am not a craftsy person.  While I have developed a pretty good eye over the years for color coordination, furniture arrangements, styling, and decorating in general, that 'talent' (if it is a talent) doesn't extend to doing crafts or furniture rehab projects (you known, turn a $10 Goodwill broken down table into a priceless antique kind of thing)!  But lately - I must be going through a second menopause or something, like a roosting chicken? - I've been obsessed first with visiting sewing blogs and now with visiting decorating blogs by regular people.  Regular in the sense that they are not, for the most part, trained interior designers, but are women (haven't come across this type of blog by a dude, yet) who have families and are working with limited budgets.  Some of the things they come up with are ingenious, and I just love reading their stories about and looking at their photographs of how they have turned drab blah rooms into comfortable inviting spaces that anyone would love to be in. 

For the past few weeks I've been visiting blog after blog looking for inexpensive Christmas decorating ideas.  I blogged about the ornament wreath last night.

So - I started constructing it last night after I got home.  Drat - wouldn't you know it.  First, I couldn't get the damn hanger untwisted!  Then, once I attacked the thing with plyers and my fangs (okay, kidding about the fangs) and finally got it untwisted, I couldn't get a satisfactory bend to form a reasonable circle to save my life.  So, my resultant wreath is lopsided.  Argggghhhhh!

And then, I ran out of ornaments!  Yes, I had 60 ornaments; I broke one silver one, and the other 59 went on that not quite round-shape metal clothes hanger!  How could I possibly have run out?  Every set of instructions I read said I would use 40 to 50 ornaments, at the most!  Yeah, right.  What size ornaments were those women using?  Three inchers? 

Since I do not want to buy another box or ornaments (I've spent more than enough over the past week!), this evening when I settled in for another bought of decoratitis,  I closed the gap with some larger size multi-colored ornaments that I normally use to "fill in" the inside of my tree - they're not very pretty ornaments so I put them where they fulfill a vital function of filling in "holes' in the interior of the tree but aren't really "seen."

Fortunately, because of the way the ornament wreath is constructed, these filler ornaments are tucked away at the very top of the wreath and are now mostly hidden by my "bows" - more on that fiasco below.  I used three red, two green, and two gold that blend with the other gold and silver ornaments used to construct the other 98% of the wreath.  When I declared myself satisfied (I was tired of putzing around with the damn thing), I closed the hanger circle with the plyers and brute strength and measured ribbon to hang the wreath on the empty wall of the lower staircase that overlooks the living room. 

I got that done.  I cut the French ribbon long enough!  It is holding the wreath up and the "bow" holding the two pieces of ribbon together around the bottom of the ballister from which the wreath is slung on the wall directly below is holding fast!  Goody! 

But, staring at me was an ugly top of the hanger that has the hanging ribbon through it!  It's not covered up by the ornaments.  I could probably add 50 more ornaments and that sucker wouldn't be covered and in any event that hanger won't hold 50 more ornaments, it would explode for sure and I would probably die from a million cuts from exploding ornaments.  So, time to make a bow.

Now, darlings, I have to tell you.  I have never been any good at bow-making.  My sister, Debbie, she is a wiz at making any kind of bow you'd ever want.  She also has an absolute talent for turning out beautifully wrapped and decorated presents, so pretty you don't even want to open then -- now that's pretty!  But me - nah.  I make bows like I play chess - and that's not very funny, come to think about it...

Well, I tried.  A few days ago I actually watched a You-Tube tutorial on how to make bows with French ribbon.  I'm not kidding.  I actually did that.  Now, granted, I did NOT pile up three different kinds of sheer French ribbon to make my bow, so I didn't have to alternate them back to back and then face up again.  I didn't understand why that was necessary until after I pinched my bow together in the middle, twisted it tight with a twisty tie, and started to "fluff" out the bow.  Half the bow is on the "wrong" side of the ribbon.  For ordinary ribbon it probably wouldn't make much difference, but for this particular bow I used a French ribbon that is not sheer and only had glitter heavily pasted on ONE SIDE. 

Duh.  The result is a right side of the bow that is gorgeously glittery, and the left side of the bow is dull. All the glitter is on the inside curves of that portion of the bow, and can't really be seen!

To add insult to injury, once I got the bow fluffed out as best I could (which isn't very good), I had a hell of a time getting it tied to the hanger with a twist tie, and it ended up crooked.  The story of my life :)  And, unfortunately, while my bow did start out with two equal length "tails", I ended up wrapping one tail sort of behind the bow to cover the rest of the hanger.  While successfully covering the hanger, it added even more to the lopsided effect of the bow, that has a short but gracefully curved "tail" on its right side and NOTHING on the left side.

What to do?  I do not have a second 30 feet of that particular style of French ribbon and I don't particularly want to dish out another $5.99 at TJMaxx for a second spool of the ribbon, even assuming they still have some of it in stock.  They only had a few rolls of that ribbon when I purchased it on Monday. 

I thought about redoing the bow and getting yet more glitter all over me and my living room (everthing in the room and my teeth  are sort of gleaming right now, it's rather eery).  Okay, I won't go on and on any further, darlings - I opened up a different spool of French ribbon that I had bought specifically to tuck into the tree.  I gut about two feet of it, twisted and turned it around and just sort of stuffed it on the left side of the ornament wreath.  It doesn't match.  Not that I'm a stickler for matchy-matchy but the stuff I added is sheer, whereas the original bow is quite opaque.  Sigh.

Regardless, after having two ornaments "pop" off their hangers no matter how gently I was putzing aorund with the wreath, I decided to give it a rest.  It's not perfect, but it's 100% me.  TA DA!  Just to make it even more in your face I twisted a couple ropes of gold plastic beads around it.  Added bling.  All that's missing is some neon lights and the kitchen sink.

That sucker is DEEP!  At least five inches!  It's amazing, absolutely amazing.  And now I understand the instructions in a few of the blogs I read that advised (wisely, it turns out) to hot glue the ornaments to their hangers before beginning construction of the wreath!

Well, live and learn.  Live and learn.  All tolled, I am rather proud of my lopsided, crooked creation :) And from the angle at which I'm viewing it from my desk from below, it certainly is glittery and lush looking with the silly mis-matched "bows" and those after-thought beads in the light from the Christmas tree and the green light (for the Packers) cast by the green bulb in my desk lamp. 

I sure do hope I'm not awakened at 4 a.m. by a loud crashing noise as the ribbon holding the entire contraption up decides to give way...

Does it look any better from this angle?  LOL!  Maybe it needs
fifty more strands of beads...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Getting Ready For Christmas

Me and everybody else, it seems.  Reporting from my usual archaeological sources is down right now, hmmmm, wonder why...

My house is torn apart, busy decorating, cleaning, 10,000 things that have to be done!  No time to get them all done, of course!  And what do I do, I'm taking on more projects.  I was thinking today, out of the blue, about years ago (and I do mean years, darlings) when I was in Girl Scouts and we made toilet paper "carnation" wreaths on hangers! 

Well, I actually found a website that shows how to make those toilet paper carnations (I couldn't remember, it was like 50 years ago!), but nothing about making wreaths out of them.  However, I got another idea for a wreath, and so instead of spending $19.99 to get a pre-lit battery operated artificial greenery wreath from Boston Store (on sale), I am going to try my hand at making an ornament wreath!  I saw them at lots of decorating blogs over the past few days -- I've been spending some time looking at how various clever women are decorating the interiors of their homes this holiday season and it's just overwhelming how many creative, talented and ENERGETIC women are out there! 

A dollar store ornament wreath.  I won't be adding ribbon to this model -
but I have another idea for another type of wreath that I can also
make with materials on hand...
So, tonight I stopped at the Family Dollar and picked up 40 shiny gold and 20 shiny silver ornaments (total cost: $10.00) and am going to try my hand at "crafting."  LOL! 

Meanwhile, I also picked up a great idea for a knock-out (I hope) centerpiece for the mantle -- I just have to have daylight to scooch around the backyard cutting some bare branches; tonight at the Family Dollar I picked up a box of mini-ornaments to hang from the branches, all I've got to do is artfully arrange them in a tall glass vase or hurricane lamp  and stick the ornaments on.

Sooo, mantle is not quite done.  I have a great spot for the ornament wreath - the bare wall by the stairs!  And another idea for a different style of wreath entirely...  But, here's another ornament wreath that was for offered at $81.00.  Hmmmm, $10.00 versus $81.00...

This fun wreath measures 16" in diameter. It is made with about 100 ball ornaments covered in silver glitter. The balls are reproductions of vintage glass ornaments. They are actually plastic, so they are less breakable. The balls measure 3/4" - 1 1/2".  mfg:  Cody Foster & Co.  $90.00 -- on sale $81.00

Queen's Diamond Jubilee Chess Set

Not impressed.  Meh.

Hull firm's chess set for Queen's Jubilee a hit with top London retailers
Wednesday, December 07, 2011

MAJESTIC: Michael Lee, of Studio Anne Carlton, with the Diamond Jubilee chess set. Picture: Jerome Ellerby
IT HAS already received the royal seal of approval.

And now, Studio Anne Carlton's official Diamond Jubilee chess set is proving a hit with the top London retailers.

The Goulton Street-based games manufacturer was licensed by St George's Chapel at Windsor and the Lord Chamberlain's office to produce the official set.

Each chess piece is individually sculpted in England and marked with the Queen's Cypher.
London's most prestigious destination stores, including Hamleys in Regent Street, Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly and Harrods in Knightsbridge, are all stocking the set, which went into production on October 1.
It is just one of a number of commemorative items being produced for the Diamond Jubilee next year, which marks 60 years of the Queen's reign.

"The feedback so far has been very positive," said Michael Lee, managing director of Studio Anne Carlton.

"Everybody loves the detail of the pieces and they see the set as a prestigious Diamond Jubilee souvenir."

Online outlets for the set include the official Royal Collection website and numerous retailers that specialise in high-class gifts.

The chess pieces include the Queen and the Prince Philip in their Garter Ceremony robes. The bishop is the Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, and the rook is the Round Tower at Windsor Castle.

The knights are based on the Military Knights of Windsor and the pawns are represented as choristers.

The set is available in full colour or in an antiqued finish and the figures of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh can be purchased individually.

As part of the official Diamond Jubilee gift range, the items will only be on sale for one year, so production will cease on September 30.

"It is a limited edition in terms of time," said Michael.

"We have been working hard to make sure the retailers are aware of that, and the result is that the set is generating a lot of interest among chess enthusiasts and among collectors.

"The mainstream Diamond Jubilee souvenirs will emerge in the new year, but the more prestigious products are available now.

"We expect to benefit from Christmas sales. Maybe people will play with our set while they listen to Her Majesty's speech.

"There are also signs of interest in the corporate gift market. A Diamond Jubilee chess set looks terrific in the boardroom."

Studio Anne Carlton has a tradition, dating back to the 1960s, of making high-quality traditional games and commemorative chess sets.

The company's products include a set based on the Tower of London under licence from Historic Royal Palaces, as well as a set to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, a project licensed by the National Maritime Museum.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Are These Symbols? Are They Symbols?

Jerusalem stone carvings baffle archaeologists
Wed, 07 Dec 2011 11:53a.m.
Archaeologists have discovered mysterious stone carvings at an excavation site in Jerusalem. The carvings - which were engraved thousands of years ago - have baffled experts.

The carvings in the The City of David
Israeli archaeologists excavating in the oldest part of the city discovered a complex of rooms with three "V" shapes carved into the floor. Yet there were no other clues as to their purpose and nothing to identity the people who made them.

Some experts believe the markings were made at least 2,800 years ago and may have helped hold up some kind of wooden structure. Others say an ancient people may have held ritual functions there.
The purpose of the complex is another aspect of the mystery.

There are straight lines on the walls and floors - something archaeologists see as evidence of careful engineering. The markings are also located close to the city's only natural water source - the Gihon spring - suggesting they may have had an important role.

Eli Shukron, a co-director of the project that found the markings, said they were a "little bit" mysterious.  "It's something that is here on the floor in this room from the First Temple period and we don't know yet what it means," he added. The First Temple period refers to a period in the ancient city beginning in the 10th century before the Christian era.

With experts unable to come up with a theory about the markings, the archaeologists posted a photo on Facebook and asked for suggestions. Opinions ranged from the thought-provoking - "moulds into which molten metal could have been poured" - to the generic - "ancient Hebrew or Egyptian characters".

The archaeological dig is known as The City of David, a politically-sensitive project funded by the Israeli government and Jewish nationalists.  Palestinians and some Israeli archaeologists have criticised the dig for what they say is an excessive focus on Jewish remains. The participants deny that charge.

World U-8 Chess Champ Awonder Liang Competes in Illinois This Weekend

Great press for Awonder Liang!  Awonder and his family live in the Madison, Wisconsin area and the Liang children are often found playing at the Hales Corners Chess Challenges, in which Goddesschess sponsors prizes for female players. 

December 3, 2011
Awonder Liang Makes The New York Times!
(contains a list of prior Goddesschess posts about Awonder Liang)

From Trib Local - Orlando Park, IL

Chess prodigy to compete in Orland Park this weekend
By Jeff Vorva Tribune reporter Today at 2:15 p.m.

Orland Park will host 8-year-old world champion Awonder Liang, who will compete against adults in the 2011 Illinois Class Chess Championships.

The two-day event starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Village of Orland Park Cultural Center, 14760 Park Lane.

Event organizer Mikhail Korenman said between 70-80 players of various ages will participate. Liang, who resides in Madison, Wis., will be one of the featured participants.

“This little kid is a genius,” Korenman said. “He’s the highest rated boy in the United States. He is very close to being a Master in the United States, which is a major, major achievement.”

Liang also won the 8-under division of the World Youth Chess Championship in Brazil in late November.

According to the United States Chess Federation website, his father, Will, is a strong Class A player and his brother, Adream and Able, also play competitive chess.

Chicago’s Angelo Young, an International Master, is the defending Illinois Class Chess Championship, which last year was held in Skokie.

Art Daily Feature on the Dean Collection

Cool!  I was fortunate to be able to see the displayed sets at the World Chess Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis when 'Sis and I visited in September.

At Susan Polgar's blog:
Inaugural Lecture at World Chess Hall of Fame
October 4, 2011

In the News: World Chess Hall of Fame
September 7, 2011

Some Sets from the Vivian and George Dean Collection
September 11, 2011
(my own photos - not very good, unfortunately)

World Chess Hall of Fame presents highlights from the Dr. George and Vivian Dean Collection
December 7, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO.- The World Chess Hall of Fame presents Chess Masterpieces: Highlights from the Dr. George and Vivian Dean Collection as one of its inaugural exhibitions. This magnificent show celebrates the Deans’ 50th year of collecting together and uses outstanding selected works to trace the development of the game of chess and the design of fine chess sets from the tenth to the early twentieth century. Sets come from Austria, Cambodia, China, England, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kashmir, Morocco, Persia, Russia, Syria, and Turkey. Among the works on display are ones owned or commissioned by Catherine the Great, Napoleon, Czar Nicolas II, and the British royal family. And most importantly, this is the first time that the only two Fabergé sets in existence have been exhibited together in public.

The Deans purchased their first chess set in the Middle East and thereafter acquired a set in each country they visited. As they studied chess history, they expanded their collection more systematically. Now they travel to new countries for the sole purpose of acquiring new sets to make their collection more complete. Their collection includes over 1,000 chess sets and related objects from over 100 countries. The Deans have generously shared their collection with the public for study, research, and education. Pieces from the collection have been shown at The Royal Academy of Art and The Somerset House, London; the Musée d’Orsay and Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; The Maryhill Museum of Art; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The 1990 Kasparov vs. Karpov World Chess Championship at Hotel Macklowe, New York City; and The Detroit Institute of Art. The book Chess Masterpieces: One Thousand Years of Extraordinary Chess Sets, (Abrams) by George Dean with Maxine Brady, which accompanies this exhibition has received The 2011 Cramer Award for Excellence in Chess Journalism.

"As a curator, this was a unique opportunity to trace the evolution of chess using singular works from one of the finest private collections in the world,” said Larry List. For many years independent curator List has researched the intersections between chess-play, chess set design, and their rich interrelations with visual arts and music. He organized The Imagery of Chess Revisited exhibition and book for the Noguchi Museum, New York, and the Menil Collection, Houston. He has researched and replicated estate-authorized versions of lost chess sets and art works by Isamu Noguchi, Yves Tanguy, Andre Breton, Xanti Schawinsky, Xenia Cage, Man Ray, and others. List co-curated 32 Pieces: The Art of Chess, for the Reykjavik Art Museum and DOX Center for Art, Prague and contributed the major essay, “New Forms for a New Era,” to the catalogue. He contributed the essay “Chess As Art” to the catalogue of the Duchamp/Man Ray/Picabia exhibition at The Tate Modern, London and an essay on the chess-related performance work of Glenn Kaino for The Warhol Museum’s exhibition catalogue, “Transformer: The Work of Glenn Kaino.”

The WCHOF relocated from Miami to Saint Louis, opening in its new home on September 9, 2011. The institution presents exhibitions of artistic and historical significance from collectors and nationally and internationally recognized artists. It also offers interpretive programs in areas such as dance, music and art that lend context and meaning to chess. Its exhibitions feature diverse items of historical and artistic significance and help visitors understand the game of chess as well as how it has impacted global culture.

“It is such an honor to have what is arguably the most important chess set collection in the world on display at the World Chess Hall of Fame. This show continues to be a favorite of our visitors as it supports our mission of preserving and interpreting the game of chess and its continuing cultural and artistic significance” says Susan Barrett, director, WCHOF.

The WCHOF also displays rotating exhibitions featuring items from its permanent collection, which comprises more than 3,000 pieces, as well as four temporary exhibitions per year.

For more information, visit and follow the WCHOF on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have...

attempted to decorate the fireplace mantle for the first time since the fireplace was installed in - 2002???  Whenever...

I intend to add strands of draped gold beads but I need to purchase some removable clippy-things to hold them up.  Not sure how it will turn out, and I will remove them if I don't like how the beads look.

I like the candles, I added gold pinecones and ornaments to the plant to dress it up a little (there was no other suitable window to move it to for the holiday season so it stays, too).  I'm not sure about the French ribbon, I sort of like the ornaments hanging from the ribbon. 

This is a working mantle - the television and aerial will not be moved!  A day or two before Christmas I'll cut some juniper boughs from my gigantic juniper in the backyard to add some natural greenery and fresh scent.

The room is a mess right now - boxes of ornaments all over the place.  I used one of my already-owned hurricane glass columns to build an ornament stack with already-owned ornaments and I like how it looks!  Got the idea from a decorating blog I came across while looking for instructions of how to add French ribbon to a Christmas tree!  Not sure I'll keep it caged inside the candlabra (center of table in photo, below).  You can't see them very well, but the topiaries have also been pulled out of storage and are on either side of the hearth, dressed with their own special red ribbons (not matching). 

These photos were taken only with the ambient light from the Christmas tree!  I told you itm throws off a lot of light!  No flash used.   I took several photos but because of the long exposure delay most of them turned out too blurred to use.  My hands shake after a limited period of time, no way around that, I'm not a tripod person!  On the other hand, I do like the slightly blurred effect and glow that the light gives to the room...

I have special looks planned for the dinette table too, using currently owned ornaments and a couple of tall aluminum candlesticks and candle shades long stashed away in one of the kitchen cabinets, but I have to get the right size candles tomorrow to fit tightly in the candlesticks, else it won't work!

I've already broken my vow not to buy a single thing for Christmas add-ons this year - oh, foolish me:

(1)  Gold frosted pinecone picks tonight after work - they were added to the plant on the mantle
(2)  Roll of gold French ribbon from TJMaxx today during lunch hour
(3)  Gold ruffled tree skirt from TJMaxx today during lunch hour.  I've been shopping for a tree skirt forever, darlings, and this was the very first time that I not only found a skirt I really like, it was also at a price that I liked!  I just had to buy it
(4)  Decorative Christmas design plate with greenery and cardinal (not yet displayed) from TJMaxx today during lunch hour
(5)  Box of four large white and gold ornaments from TJMax today during lunch hour.  Actually, I am thinking I'm going to need more ornaments, a lot more ornaments...
(6)  Christmas PJs (they were so cute, and so soft and cuddly, I couldn't resist - from TJMaxx today during lunch hour
(7)  Set of three wax flameless candles (cha ching) - purchased from one of the honorary Crazy Cougars Rock during some sort of candle party she held (definitely not Walgreens candles), and a package of mulberry-scented tea lights
(8)  Two rolls of gold patterned French ribbon from Walgreens
(9)  Two large gold stars to form a "tree topper" from Walgreens

Well, I have to say -- even though I haven't started decorating the tree, with its bright white lights off for the night and the red, blue and green bulbs turned on in my three living room lamps, with the flameless candles flickering on the mantle, I am loving the look of my living room right now.  Way past my bedtime and I've just started cooking a casserole.  No wonder people are so stressed out during the holiday season - they don't get enought sleep!  Got to wash up, casserole is calling my name...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Polgar Sisters at Aquaprofit Chess Day

Aquaprofit has put on splendid programs featuring the famous Polgar sisters for some years now.  This year's gala looked to be the biggest and best yet, judging by the photographs and article provided at

5th Aquaprofit - Polgar Chess Day
28.11.2011– For the fifth straight year, Aquaprofit sponsored the Polgar Chess Day, a giant chess bonanza designed to promote chess through many activities, with a focus on children, celebrity presences and massive media coverage. The event is spearheaded by Judit Polgar herself, with the collaboration of her sisters Susan and Sofia. With pictures and videos here is the report by Diana Mihajlova.

You can also find coverage at Susan Polgar's blogVideo from the 5th Aquaprofit Chess Day. 

Some lovely photos of the three famous chessplaying women:

Sofia Polgar, right, and Clara Polgar, mother of the three sisters (left).

"Chocolate" chess - Judit eats a piece she won from sister Sofia!

Susan Polgar explaining a game move.

Were 'Neanderthal' Builders Too?

I find the references in the article to so-called Neanderthal man as "man's extinct cousin" disgustingly prejudicial and smacks of desperation in attempting to reinforce the old and largely discredited notions of "evolution" and the "missing link." So-called 'modern' humans and so-called 'Neanderthal' interbred and produced viable offspring.  So-called 'Neanderthal' DNA exists in people today.  What more evidence does one need that we were more than kissing cousins?  Other than that, the article is fascinating!  Could this possibly be the oldest known circle in existence?  Most were made out of bone, some of wood.  This is the first I've heard of a "ring" made out of mammoth bones.

From Science News
Neandertals’ mammoth building project
Extinct hominids may have been first to build with bones
Web edition : Friday, December 2nd, 2011
Neandertals are stumping for bragging rights as the first builders of mammoth-bone structures, an accomplishment usually attributed to Stone Age people.

Humanity’s extinct cousins constructed a large, ring-shaped enclosure out of 116 mammoth bones and tusks at least 44,000 years ago in West Asia, say archaeologist Laëtitia Demay of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and her colleagues. The bone edifice, which encircles a 40-square-meter area in which mammoths and other animals were butchered, cooked and eaten, served either to keep out cold winds or as a base for a wooden building, the scientists propose in a paper published online November 26 in Quaternary International.

Mammoth-bone huts previously discovered at Homo sapiens sites in West Asia date to between 27,500 and 15,000 years ago. The new discovery comes from Molodova, a Ukrainian site first excavated in the 1950s. There, Neandertals erected a mammoth-bone structure that’s unlike later mammoth-bone huts, suggesting that the two Homo species developed these practices independently, says study coauthor Stéphane Péan, also of France’s National Museum of Natural History.

Researchers have argued for decades about whether Molodova Neandertals left mammoth bones scattered about or built something out of them.

“My own inclination is to assume that some type of mammoth-bone structure, maybe a wind break, was present at Molodova,” remarks archaeologist John Hoffecker of the University of Colorado Boulder. A Czech Republic site of comparable age contains a similar circle of mammoth bones, Hoffecker says.

It’s hard to know whether Neandertals or modern humans occupied Molodova, he cautions. African Homo sapiens reached Europe by 45,000 years ago (SN Online: 11/2/11), and discoveries in the last few years indicate that those early migrants made stone tools much like those found at Molodova and traditionally attributed to Neandertals, Hoffecker says. No fossils have been unearthed at the Ukrainian site, leaving the identity of its occupants uncertain, in his view.

Demay’s team regards Molodova stone tools as typical of Neandertals that lived in Europe and West Asia before modern humans showed up.

Neandertals assembled the circular Molodova structure out of the largest and strongest parts of mammoth skeletons — mainly tusks, shoulders, ribs and hips, the scientists say. Weathering and water damage on the bones indicate that they were placed in a shallow trench.

Remains of at least 15 mammoths, all bearing stone-tool marks but few signs of chewing by nonhuman animals, were uncovered inside the bone enclosure. Excavations also produced bones of red deer, bison and other animals that contained butchery marks. Meat from these animals was cooked in 15 fire pits arrayed throughout the site.

Neandertal groups consisting of no more than around 30 individuals, Péan proposes, periodically camped at Molodova while cutting up and consuming mammoth and other prey.

The Packers Are Winning and the Tree Is Up!

Hoorah!  I wish the Packers would just put this game away; but the Giants are tough.  I'm trying to distract myself from heart-attacks by looking online at photographs of beautifully decorated Christmas trees.  Oh my!  Now if I could afford it, I'd hire a decorator to do it up all wiz bang with glitter gold fruit, birds, angels and flowers galore!  Icles, ornaments of all sizes, and tons of mesh ribbon.

Bare naked tree (eek!) except for the star topper.  I took this photo without the flash!
When it's all decorated the curtains are pulled up and back to open up the windows
so the tree can be enjoyed from the street. 
I forgot how much light my relatively modest tree throws off!  It's 6.5 feet tall and about 4 feet wide at the bottom.  I had taken it apart last year (it's pre-lit) to make it easier to move into the garage and wrap up to keep the spiders and bugs out, and it took me forever to figure out where and how to plug the lights back into each other.  Whew!  Then, I putzed around for a good 30 minutes standing on a chair just securing the newly-purchased gold glitter punched stars to the tree top.  I used twist ties to mold them together and secure them to the top tree branch.  I like how they look up there but there still seems to be something missing.  Perhaps I will invest in some gold floral sprays -- but that will entail a trip to Joann's or Michael's.  I'll try the TJMaxx in the mall downtown tomorrow during lunch just in case.  You never know what TJMaxx might have. 

Okay, it's the start of the 4th quarter and Packers lead 28-24.  Not a comfortable lead, looks like I'll have to keep my defibulator close to hand...  Oh crap.  Giants just hit a 50 yard field goal and have moved to within 1 point.  But, Packers get the ball now.  Still 11.27 to go, and Charles Woodson just left the game with a possible concussion.  OHMYGODDESS, NO NO NO!

Update 8:02 p.m.

The Giants scored a TD and successfully made a 2-point conversion near the end of regulation play to tie the score 35-35.  This description of what happened with under a minute to play in regulation is from the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Online:

Turning point: After the Giants tied things up at 35-35, Green Bay took over at its own 20 with 58 seconds left. Rodgers hit Jermichael Finley for 24 yards, Jordy Nelson for 27, Greg Jennings for 18 and Crosby drilled the game-winner. It was easily the offense’s best drive of the season.

I believe the game-winning field goal was a 30 yard field goal by kicker Mason Crosby to win the game by 3 points.

Is it just a coincidence that the Wisconsin Badgers won the Big 10 title game game last night by 3 points? 

Look at the body control by veteran receiver Donald Driver (age 37 and I assume will retire at the end of this season), scoring a much-needed TD late in the 4th quarter:

It's vital for a receiver to get both "feet" down within bounds in order for a pass
to be deemed caught within bounds.  Driver, who seconds before catching this
pass from QB Aaron Rodgers was shoved nearly out of bounds by 23 Giants,
caught the ball and got both of his feet (by the tippy toes) on the ground within
bounds to score the go-ahead TD!  This was his second catch - and second TD - of the day.
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