Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Smuggling Silkworms...!

Often in ancient times, monopolies were held by certain countries in the growing and trading of many things, such as spices. One of the monopolies was, of all things, silkworms. Here is the story from Listverse.

Monks Smuggled Silkworms Across Asia In Hollowed-Out Walking Canes

Before the sixth century, the production and trading of silk was controlled by two monopolies. One was held by China, who possessed the only way of breeding the silkworms necessary to manufacture the silk. The other was held by Persia, who controlled the only trade route that passed through Asia to Europe.

In A.D. 552, two monks volunteered to travel to China and smuggle back silkworm eggs and larvae to Justinian I, the Byzantine Emperor. However, as silkworms are extremely fragile creatures which needed to be kept at a constant low temperature, the monks had to smuggle the silkworms back inside hollowed-out walking canes which also allowed them to escape with the creatures unhindered. Additionally, in order to feed the silkworms, the monks also had to carry potted mulberry shrubs with them, which they would have had to water with their own drinking water if required.

This adventure took two years, after which the Byzantines were able to create production bases around the country, which broke the previously lucrative monopolies of China and Persia.

It seems to me that if someone has a monopoly on a product, be it nutmeg or silkworms, there will always be folks who will find a way to smuggle the product out and break the monopoly. It may not be fair, but not much about business monopolies ever is.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Donnie Decker For Monday Mysteries...!

Sometimes in this life, there are such strange things that happen around us we just can't explain! Such is the case with little Donnie Decker.

Donnie Decker

Dubbed the Rain Boy in 1983, Donnie Decker was visiting his friend’s house when he abruptly went into a trance-like state. Immediately after, the ceiling began to drip water and a mist filled the room. His friends immediately called on the landlord who was alarmed by what he was seeing. Some time later, Donnie was at a restaurant with other companions when rain started pouring down their heads. The restaurant owner immediately forced him out. Years later, due to a petty crime, Donnie was put into jail where he caused chaos when rain started to pour down in his cell. After angry inmates complained, Donnie explained that he could make it rain when he wanted to, and proved his point by dumping rain on the jailor on duty. Eventually, he was released from jail and found a job as a cook at a local restaurant. His present whereabouts is unknown – as is the cause of the mysterious rain.

There are so many things in this ol' world that we will likely never know the truth about. Maybe we should stop looking for the answers and just enjoy the mystery, ya reckon?

Coffee out on the patio once again. Our fickle February weather has turned back to Spring!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday's Food For Thought...!

Here are some things for us to ponder this morning. I figured you and I could use them, ya know?

Now just one more, I think.

I reckon the last one is my personal favorite!

Coffee inside one more time. How about some fresh gingerbread?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Irony Of The Fiery Star...

Certain events in maritime history can only be classified as irony, or maybe just Karma. You decide...

Fiery Star

Photo via Wikimedia

The name Fiery Star is irony at its best, considering that the ship met its end in a fury of fire. Having left Brisbane for London, the Fiery Star sailed for nearly two weeks without incident until April 20, 1865, when it inexplicably caught fire roughly 640 kilometers (400 mi) from land. Seeing that flames were quickly gaining ground, 80 passengers—including the captain—took to the four lifeboats onboard. Regrettably, 17 passengers remained on the burning ship, as there was no room for them on the boats.

As the captain and 79 others sailed away, those left behind controlled the flames for 22 days until it was apparent that their efforts were futile. In what would have been the crew’s final hours on Earth, the Dauntless appeared in the distance and ultimately rescued all 17 onboard. Hours later, the Fiery Star sank to the bottom of the ocean. As for the 80 passengers who were thought to have escaped death in the lifeboats weeks earlier, they were never heard from again.

Like I said, maybe irony was the right word in this case. It would have been a well earned case of Karma otherwise, don't you think?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Cooler weather moving back end, but I have some fresh peach pie to share!

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Many Faces Of Listerine...

Some well known products got started as something totally different than intended. Take Listerine for instance.


Listerine is a well-known mouthwash brand, but it didn’t begin life as such. Listerine was originally a surgical disinfectant. It was made by the Johnson brothers, who were looking for a way to make surgeries safer and were inspired by English surgeon Sir Joseph Lister. In 1879, they came up with an antiseptic liquid which they called Listerine after Sir Lister. Listerine was advertised and sold as a surgical disinfectant that could also be used to treat wounds, dandruff, athlete’s foot, and even insect bites. In one instance, it was even sold as a deodorant.

The Johnson brothers later teamed up with pharmacist Jordan Wheat Lambert and began selling Listerine to dentists for use as an oral antiseptic. Lambert’s children are responsible for making Listerine into the mouthwash we know today after they asked the company’s chemist to tell them all the things Listerine could be used for. The chemist included bad breath (also called halitosis), and the company began advertising it as such.

I reckon that somethings are worth more than they appear at first. From medicine to mouthwash, Listerine has had a long and colorful run so far. More power to them!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. That OK?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Smart Phone Zombies...!

It's hard to believe that so many people just turn off their common sense when it comes to having a smart phone glued to your face. Simple things like walking can become dangerous if you don't pay attention to whats going on around you.

Dutch Pavement Lights

Photo credit: theverge.com

In February 2016, a Dutch town announced the introduction of pavement lights at pedestrian crossings to guide “smartphone zombies” safely across. The lights have been installed on a trial basis in Bodegraven at a busy intersection near a school.

The light strips are designed to be seen by people who have their eyes glued to devices. The colors correspond to traffic signals—green for go, red for stop. Town council member Kees Oskam revealed that smartphone distraction has come “at the expense of attention to traffic.” Something needed to be done.

VVN, a Dutch traffic safety group, thinks that installing these lights “rewards bad behavior.” Spokesman Jose de Jong warned, “People must always look around them to check if cars are actually stopping at the red signals.”

The company that developed the “smartphone zombie” lights hopes that a successful trial run in Bodegraven will bring in new orders. With similar lights being introduced elsewhere, this is likely.

I'd like to say that I'm surprised at the steps being taken to protect folks from themselves, but this type of behaviour seems to be world wide. Like the old saying goes..."you can't fix stupid!"

Coffee out on the patio again. Please...no "smart phone zombies", OK?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Billy Brooks For Western Wednesday...!

Often in the old west, it wasn't unusual to find an outlaw or gunfighter switching sides and becoming a lawman. However, Mr. Brooks got it backwards. Here is his story.

Billy Brooks

Gunfighters were a unique Western frontier product and a breed of their own—neither outlaw nor lawman but often either or both during their lifetime. This photo of Billy Brooks depicts a typical gunfighter of the 1870s, and he fit the mold: he was a lawman in Newton and Ellsworth, Kansas, a gunfighter in Dodge City—before any of those towns became “cowtowns”—and he died at the end of a rope in 1874 as a horse thief. This photo was probably taken circa 1872.

Guess moving from lawman to gunfighter to horse thief wasn't such a good career move. Brooks should have stopped while he was ahead!

Coffee back out on the patio, where the temps are going back to the 80s.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Taking Tuesday Off...

Sorry, folks. I'm taking today off. I really don't have a good reason, but I just want to take off for a day.

You all know where the coffee is, right?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Mysteries Provided By Nature...!

Instead of something like a murder mystery today, let's look at some of the natural mysteries provided by Mother Nature herself. Boy, can She provide some great ones!

That was a little different, don't you think? Pretty amazing stuff!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's gonna rain again today!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Strange Cartoons For Sunday...!

Here is something a little different for you today. I don't think you have seen most of these...I know I hadn't!

And maybe one more...!

Hope you enjoyed these today. I know I did.

Coffee back out on the patio this morning again!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Invasion Of The Crows...!

I may have mentioned this before, but I like crows. I find them very interesting and extremely smart.

From time to time though, they can be a bother...like when they decide to take over a town. Here's that story for ya.

California, Pennsylvania

In 2012, the small college town of California, Pennsylvania, was invaded from the air by thousands of crows. According to the town’s residents, the sound of the crows was unbearable. One compared their sound to raindrops while another said they were louder than an alarm clock.

Besides being a general nuisance, mass numbers of birds taking over an area can be harmful because of the illnesses they spread and their effects on infrastructure. Most bird invasions like the one in California, Pennsylvania, occur in the winter because the birds are attracted to the lights of urban areas along with the heat generated.

To try to get the crows to leave the town, authorities used grape extract smoke, which works like pepper spray for crows and is neither harmful to plants nor other species of birds. Within moments of use, the crows will leave areas where grape extract has been sprayed.

First of all, let me say that I never heard of this town before. Seems like a strange name to me, but what do I know? Secongly, I had no idea that grape extract was like pepper spray to a crow. I know that when I worked in the produce section of a grocery store (long time ago) and we had fruit flies, we would make them go away by spraying peppermint extract around. Seemed to work for us.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Temps are going back to the 80s again.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Missing Skull For Freaky Friday...!

This isn't a case of just anyone's skull going missing, but someone you may be familiar with. This is a truly creepy story, but one I can easily believe.

Shakespeare’s Skull

Photo via Wikimedia

William Shakespeare’s remains haven’t always been treated with respect. Being one of the most revered writers in existence seems to have turned him into a target for fans craving bits of Shakespeare as mementos. In 1879, such a desecration was reported in the UK’s Argosy magazine. The story claimed that the Bard’s head had been removed by trophy hunters during the previous century.

To find out if this was true, the Stratford-upon-Avon church where Shakespeare was buried gave permission for the 400-year-old grave to be scanned in 2016. Using ground-penetrating radar, it soon became obvious that not all was peachy. Buried beneath the church floor, next to his wife, Shakespeare’s nameless tomb wasn’t uniform when the results came back. The head area looked different, almost interfered with, while the rest of his body had no such signatures.

Shakespeare’s grave isn’t allowed to be opened, but researchers believe the radar images back up the story that his skull was stolen.

I can't imagine what in the world someone would want to steal his skull for. What possible use would it be to anyone other than a morbid collector? Strange !

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. However, I do have freshly baked peanut butter cookies!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Another Thursday Spider Story...

Imagine that a spider couldn't bite you, so he simply crushed you instead. Gruesome, right?

Either way it's not a pretty picture, at least to me. If I had to choose, I don't know which I would go for. But lucky for me, I'm not an insect and hopefully won't be faced with that choice any time soon!


Spiders are soup eaters. Once a bug gets tangled in a web, the itsy bitsy spider will come along and inject it with venom, both to kill it and to begin the digestion process by turning its insides into a smoothie. However, uloborid spiders are unique in that they don’t have venom glands. That should mean that they’d have to wait for their victims to die of starvation or boredom before it’s safe to get close to them (you don’t want to risk getting stung by a bee while you’re trying to drool digestive juices over it). But spiders aren’t really known for their patience. Since uloborid spiders can’t intoxicate their prey, they use other, less humane ways to deal out death. They repeatedly wrap a captured insect in webbing, over and over and over, sometimes for as long as an hour. After, oh, around 28,000 loops and 400 feet of silk the bug is dead, either through suffocation or because it’s been crushed to death in the ever-tightening cocoon. Uloborids use their webbing to create a straitjacket of death. They’re like the pythons of the arachnid world.

Seems like a horrible way to go, if you ask me. I may have trouble sleeping tonight just thinking about this. Did I mention that I hate spiders?

Coffee in the kitchenm again this morning. It's chilly out on the patio.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wild West Shows For Western Wednesday...

Sometimes we forget how entertaining our Wild West was to other countries. I seems they did quite well when they traveled abroad, where they made quite a hit!

Australians Loved Them

Photo credit: Siegel Cooper & Co.

While the Wild West shows originated in the United States, Australians flocked to the shows when they came to their country. In 1891, Wirth’s Wild West Show was flooded with people in Sydney. The show boasted about having a Sioux chief, American Bear, who was set to race a New Zealand race horse around the track.

Skuthorp’s Wild West Show visited Adelaide in 1911 and drew in country visitors from all around to see the show. The show’s claim to fame was “the riding of a cow bareback by a lady.” It was stated that the event was sure to “prove a great draw.” Another Wild West show in 1911, run by a Lieutenant Colonel Stacey, promised the people of Australia three Native American chiefs, a medicine man, 26 “full-blooded Indians,” and a single Native American girl.

By 1947, Australians were giving their own Wild West shows, featuring real Australian outlaws and a Maori entertainer.

I always thought that early Australia was wild enough without having to see the shows from our wild west. Guess I was wrong.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. How about some hot gingerbread?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Treasure Story Tuesday...

This could getr to be a habit...having a day set aside for stories about treasure.

The thing is, there is so many cases of treasure hidden and never found yet, where would anyone start to cover them all? However, in this case the treasure we are talking about was found. Guess we are too late on that one, huh.

Sea God Offering

Photo credit: Wikimedia

In February 1896, Thomas Nicholl and James Morrow unearthed the Broighter Hoard while plowing fields in Limavady, Northern Ireland. They took the treasure home and washed it—but had no idea they were holding gold from the first century BC. J.L. Gibson, who had hired Nicholl and Morrow, sold half the haul to a local antiquarian. Morrow’s sister sold another portion to a jeweler.

The most renowned piece in the hoard was a golden boat. The 7.5″ by 3″ boat contains two rows of nine oars, oarlocks, a paddle rudder, and benches. Initially, it did not receive much attention. However, archaeologists now believe it is the key to understanding the hoard. Some believe the gold was an offering to Manannan mac Lir—god of the sea. The presence of non-Irish loop-in-loop torcs—or necklaces—suggests that merchants with foreign interests likely made this offering to the “son of the sea.

Well, today might be a good day to invest in some gold or jewels for your loved one. After all, it is Valentines Day, right? Nice thing ( or bad thing) about living alone and being older is that I don't have to remember special days like Valentines any longer.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. The temps are a bit cooler than they have been, but that's OK.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Another Monday Mystery Video...!

I'm sure getting spoiled in doing these video presentations. Maybe it's time to take a vacation, ya reckon?

Strange how some of these mysteries stay unsolved after all these years, isn't it?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. I baked some fresh cookies I'll share!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Country Sunday...

Nothing like a few country songs to start of a good Sunday.

How about this one?

Here's one you may have never heard!

How about one more to end this morning?

There are just so many songs I could put on here, but I don't have the room for them all. Thank goodness for YouTube!

Coffee out once more on the patio, OK?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Musical Saturday...!

When I say music, I don't mean the stuff they play today. To me, most of what I hear isn't music.

I want to go back to some of the sounds of the older bands and the song they did. Now that is real music in my opinion! It's a crying shame that there isn't more of that sound around any more...know what I mean?

And I only have one more for ya this morning...you may remember it!

OK...I'll admit that list one was for me. I just love that song!

Coffee out on the slightly wet patio this morning!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Snake In The Toilet...!

No, don't panic! This isn't a snake in my toilet this time. Just a little story to show how crazy things can get around here from time to time!

Texas Rattlesnake Infestation

Photo credit: Big Country Snake Removal

Earlier this month, a Texas family discovered a rattlesnake in the toilet of their Aberdeen home. When young Isaac McFadden ventured into the bathroom in the morning, he discovered a “big clump”—he knew it was a snake. The boy told his mother, who returned with a shovel to slaughter the serpentine invader. Big Country Snake Removal’s Nathan Hawkins found the dead snake in the toilet “very unusual” but nothing outside his wheelhouse.

During a routine sweep, Hawkins discovered 23 other rattlesnakes around the home. The first place Hawkins looked was in the old storm cellar. He discovered 13 rattlers huddled in a corner. In the crawl space, he found old sheet metal housing a den. He removed 10 adults and five babies from the den. Hawkins receives 50 to 75 calls a day. 90 percent of snakebites he’s encountered occur when someone is trying to harm the snake.

I'll bet that if the young man in the story didn't need to go before finding that snake, he REALLY had to go after! Not sure I would trust my toilet after that5 find, though. I've never found a snake, but I have had a 'possum make its way into the house through the toilet. I think I told you that story, remember?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, but you may need a sweater. Just saying...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Young Curly -The Last Witness...

Here is a short story about the young man who witnessed the battle of the Little Big Horn.


Curly was the 17-year-old young man who witnessed the fall of Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Curly was known as the “only survivor” even though he denied that he was in the fight. He lived until 1923.

I wonder how he was treated later in life...with scorn or amazement.

Coffee out on the patio once again. It was another record high today!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bob Lemmons for Western Wednesday...

Very few cowboys lived as long as ol' Bob did, that much is certain

Bob Lemmons had a very interesting life. He made quite a name for himself, both in his ranching and in his later generosity toward the less fortunate. Here is a bit of his story.

Bob Lemmons

Bob Lemmons was known for his extraordinary skill at capturing wild mustangs. After growing up a slave, he gained his freedom and moved to an area of West Texas overrun with the wild horses. He became a cowboy for a local rancher named Duncan Lammons, who gave Bob his surname, which changed spelling slightly over the years. Bob farmed and herded cattle for Duncan. Most importantly, he learned about horses from the experienced rancher.

At the time, mustangs were highly prized steeds and no one could equal Bob’s skill at capturing them. His unique approach involved gaining the herd’s trust over a period of time. Whereas a large group of people might have spooked the herd, Bob always worked alone, until he was able to infiltrate the herd without alarming the horses. Then he would mount and break the leading horse. Once the leader was conquered, the rest of the herd would follow it back to the ranch.

This was lucrative work and Bob was able to save up a significant amount of money. He eventually bought his own ranch and built up large herds of horses and cattle. He and his wife Barbara later became known for their generosity during the hard times of the Great Depression. He died in 1947, just one year short of his 100th birthday.

It's always nice to hear that someone from the old west lived a good life after giving up the wild times of the early days. For them to be remembered as generous is just icing on the cake, so to speak.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Gotta just love this weather!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Our Never Ending Fascination With Mars...

As far back as man can remember, he has always been fascinated with the planets, especially Mars.

During the 1900s, that interest almost became obsessive. Speculation with the so-called canals, the creatures living there, the proper way to communicate with them...the discussions went on and on.

The Martian Message

In December 1900, a beam of light was seen coming from the planet Mars. The light was observed by the Lowell Observatory in the US, and newspapers around the world began to report on the possibility of Martian contact.Nikola Tesla himself believed that communication with Martians was possible and dedicated 50 years of his life to the endeavor. As far as he was concerned, this particular beam of light proved that there was indeed life on Mars. Furthermore, many people felt that the beam was an invitation to join in on some “interplanetary telegraphy.”

If you want to read some other interesting facts about Mars and our interest in it, you can find it here at Listverse.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning, where the tems are climbing to the high of 78.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mysterious Spiders For Monday...

Today I wanted to do something a bit different for ya, so I figured a short video from YouTube about strange spiders would get your attention. I think it's pretty interesting.

There ya go. That was a bit spooky, but it shows some of the many strange spiders we share this planet with. Takes all kinds, I guess!

Coffee outside again. Man, it's almost like Spring out there!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Mystery Of Dead Birds...!

Sometimes animals do things that far surpass our understanding, like this mass suicide.

Jatinga Village

Photo credit: hututoo.com

The village of Jatinga is located in Assam within northeastern India. It is a beautiful place surrounded by greenery and mountains. However, something awful happens here every year, and scientists are completely baffled as to the reason. Each year between September and November, just after sunset, hundreds of birds dive down from the sky mid-flight and deliberately crash into trees and buildings.

Theories range from the birds being disoriented by the monsoon fog (the scientists’ theory) to evil spirits being at work in the little village (the villagers’ theory). It has been discovered that the migrating birds, which include kingfishers, tiger bitterns, and pond herons, lose their natural habitat during monsoon season because of flooding, causing them to migrate. Unfortunately, some villagers have taken to shining torches during this time to further confuse the birds and then kill them. Conservation groups are working to curb this problem.

It remains unclear why these birds travel at night and why so many are in flight during that time when they should be asleep. The first “mass bird suicide,” as it is commonly known, was observed in the 1900s. Scientific study into the phenomenon continues.

This phenomenon is seen more and more all over the world, even here in the states. Mostly it's birds, but sometimes it happens to whales that beach themselves for no apparent reason. Can't help but wonder why, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Gotta take advantage of this great weather!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

King Tut's Iron Dagger...!

No one can truly say what surprises can be fond when you know where to look.

I reckon that even a king should be allowed to have a few secrets buried with him. Unfortunately, those kind are eventually dug up and made public, especially in Tut's case.

King Tut’s Dagger

Photo credit: nydailynews.com

The boy pharaoh King Tut and his untouched burial site has drawn people’s attention and imagination since its discovery in 1922. Three years after his discovery, Tut still had a few secrets hidden up his sleeves. Scientists studying the mummy found two daggers within the young king’s wraps. A gold dagger was found near his abdomen and an iron one near his hip. It was the latter that drew historians’ attention, as iron was extremely rare during the Bronze Age in which King Tut lived, died, and was mummified.

Further studies into the blade’s nickel, iron, and cobalt composition lead most scientists to agree that the blade is of extraterrestrial origin, being crafted from one of 11 meteorites discovered in the Egyptian Kingdom during the time of Tut’s rule. The rarity and value of such a dagger meant that it would most likely have been used ceremonially rather than practically.

Not everyone is rich enough to have a dagger made from a metal from outer space. Of course, from what I hear the kid was loaded!

Coffee out on the patio once again. Looks like good weather is here for the Super Bowl!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Unsolved Murder Of Belle Starr...

Sometimes even the bad guys get a taste of justice or something akin to it. That was the case with Belle Starr.

Belle Starr murdered in Oklahoma

The outlaw Belle Starr is killed when an unknown assailant fatally wounds the famous “Bandit Queen” with two shotgun blasts from behind.

As with the lives of other famous outlaws like Billy the Kid and Jesse James, fanciful accounts printed in newspapers and dime novels made Belle Starr’s harsh and violent life appear far more romantic than it actually was. Born Myra Belle Shirley on a small farm near Carthage, Missouri, in 1848, she received an education in the classics and became a competent pianist. Seemingly headed for an unexciting but respectable middle-class life, her fate was changed by the outbreak of the Civil War, which ruined her father’s business as a Carthage innkeeper and claimed the life of her brother Edwin. Devastated, the Shirley family abandoned Missouri to try to make a fresh start in Texas.

In Texas, Belle began her life-long pattern of associating with men of questionable character. In 1866, she met Cole Younger, a member of the James-Younger gang that was gaining notoriety for a series of daring bank and train robberies. Rumor had it that Younger fathered Belle’s first child, Pearl, though the father might have actually been another outlaw, Jim Reed. Regardless, Belle’s relationship with Younger was short-lived, and in 1866 she became Reed’s wife. Belle was apparently untroubled by her new husband’s reputation and she had become his partner in crime by 1869. She joined him in stealing cattle, horses, and money in the Dallas area. Riding her mare, Venus, and sporting velvet skirts and plumed hats, Belle played the role of a “bandit queen” for several years.

In 1874, a member of his own gang killed Reed, and Belle was suddenly on her own. Pursued by the law, she drifted into Oklahoma Indian Territory, where she led a band of cattle and horse thieves. There she met a handsome young Cherokee named Sam Starr, who eventually became her common-law husband and new criminal partner. The Starrs managed to elude capture for nearly a decade, but in 1883 they were arrested for horse theft and both served five months in the Detroit federal prison.

Freed from prison, the couple immediately resumed their criminal careers. In 1886, Belle again lost a husband to violent death when Sam Starr was killed in a gunfight with an old enemy. Belle wasted no time in finding a third companion, a Creek Indian named Jim July, an outlaw who was 15 years her junior. In 1889, July was arrested for robbery and summoned to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to face charges. Belle accompanied her young lover for part of the journey but turned back before reaching Fort Smith. On her way home, someone ambushed and fatally wounded her with two shotgun blasts to her back. Jim July believed the murderer was a neighbor with whom the couple had been feuding, but no one was ever convicted of the crime.

I wonder if they actually looked very hard to find Belle's killer, or was it considered a waste of time. Guess we'll never know for sure.

Coffee out on the patio one more time before the cold weather sets in again.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How About Some Found Gold...?

We can always find stories of folks looking for buried treasure, but what about the people that actually find some ?

Here is a story about a man who was down on his luck, but soon after he started hunting for some spare coins turned bad luck into good!

Staffordshire Hoard

Photo credit: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert was down on his luck. He asked a farmer friend if he could scan his field to find a few coins. Within days, he had discovered more than 10 pounds of treasure. This piqued the interest of local archaeologists, who decided to investigate the field themselves. They discovered more than 4,000 fragments of seventh-century artifacts.

After archaeologists pieced together all of the fragments, they saw that they had hundreds of completed items. Most of the treasure was warlike: sword decorations and helmets. The only non-martial pieces were three religious objects: two crosses and an engraved Bible verse.

Archaeologists were unsure why the hoard was buried. Some believed that the artifacts were booty captured during battles; the victors would have buried the loot for safe keeping. Others believed that the hoard represented an offering to the gods. Many of the objects were bent or broken before they were buried. This was a custom of Germanic tribes: They would break or “kill” the weapons before they buried them so that they would be sent to the gods in the spirit world.

This was the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. Local museums purchased the treasure for £3,285,000 ($5.3 million).

I'd say this man's luck had become much, much better! I wouldn't mind a bit of that myself.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. I'm loving this weather!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Zane Grey And The Old West...

Very few authors have done more to tell the story of the old west as Zane Grey. Today let's look at this man a bit closer.

Author Zane Grey is born

Zane Grey, author of Riders of the Purple Sage, is born in Zanesville, Ohio.

The son of a successful dentist, Grey enjoyed a happy and solid upper-middle-class childhood, marred only by occasional fistfights with boys who teased him about his unusual first name, Pearl. (Grey later replaced it with his mother’s maiden name, Zane.) A talented baseball player as teen, Grey caught the eye of a scout for the University of Pennsylvania college team, who convinced him to study there. In 1886, he graduated with a degree in dentistry and moved to New York to begin his practice.

Grey’s interest in dentistry was half-hearted at best, and he did not relish the idea of replicating his father’s safe but unexciting career path. Searching for an alternative, Grey decided to try his hand at writing; his first attempt was an uninspiring historical novel about a family ancestress. At that point, Grey might well have been doomed to a life of dentistry, had he not met Colonel C. J. “Buffalo” Jones in 1908, who convinced Grey to write Jones’ biography. More importantly, Jones took him out West to gather material for the book, and Grey became deeply fascinated with the people and landscape of the region.

Grey’s biography of Jones debuted in 1908 as The Last of the Plainsmen to little attention, but he was inspired to concentrate his efforts on writing historical romances of the West. In 1912, he published the novel that earned him lasting fame, Riders of the Purple Sage. Like the equally popular Owen Wister novel, The Virginian (1902), the basic theme of Riders revolves around the transformation of a weak and effeminate easterner into a man of character and strength through his exposure to the culture and land of the American West. Grey’s protagonist, the Ohio-born Bern Venters, spends several weeks being tested by the rugged canyon country of southern Utah before finding his way back to civilization. Venters, Grey writes, “had gone away a boy-he had returned a man.”

Though Riders of the Purple Sage was Grey’s most popular novel, he wrote 78 other books during his prolific career, most of them Westerns. He died in 1939, but Grey’s work continued to be extraordinarily popular for decades to come, and by 1955, his books had sold more than 31 millions copies around the world. With the possible exception of Riders, today Grey’s books are little read, and most modern readers find them insufferably pompous, moralizing, and sentimental. Nonetheless, Grey played a pivotal role in creating the Western genre that, in the hands of more recent authors like Louis L’Amour, continues to charm many dedicated fans.

While my dad was alive he was a big Zane Grey fan In fact, at one time he had all of his books. I wonder what happened to all those books?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, where the temps are supposed to be around 78.