Saturday Surprise — Tidbits of Humour

I admit to being somewhat depleted tonight as I sit down to do this Saturday Surprise post, so I thought I’d go with a hodgepodge of humorous tidbits … I think we could all use a laugh right about now, yes?

Jeff Foxworthy, famous for his “You Might Be a Redneck If …” one-liners, often brings a chuckle.  I liked the first two best.foxworthy-jokes.png

I haven’t shared any of those funny signs for a few months … this first one caught my eye and since it made me laugh, I thought it would bring a chuckle from you also.


I always like a little quip … a short joke with a quick punch …


Q: What did one cannibal say to the other while they were eating a clown?

A: “Does this taste funny to you?”


Q: Why did the chewing gum cross the road?

A: He was stuck to the chicken’s foot.


Little girl: “Why does your son say, ‘Cluck, cluck, cluck?'”

Mother: “Because he thinks he’s a chicken.”

Little girl: “Why don’t you tell him he’s not a chicken?”

Mother: “We need the eggs.”

Of course there must be some funny animal memes, right?


A few ‘toons …


I’m sorry to cut this short, folks, but I truly am running on fumes, and anyway … it’s the WEEKEND, and a long, 3-day weekend at that!!!  I know you’ve got all sorts of fun planned, yes?  So do I!!!  I’m going to wrestle a chair from my upstairs bedroom to the downstairs living room, and vacuum the 15-step staircase!  Bet you’re jealous, huh?  You’re more than welcome to come help!  Have a wonderful holiday weekend and keep safe, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — A Celebration of A Grumpy Life

It is with great sadness in my heart that I must bring you the news:  Grumpy Cat has died.  😢


Now, I can hear you saying that Saturday Surprise is supposed to be fun, not sad, and that the death of the world’s best-known Grumpy Cat is not a happy thing.  I agree, but … this post is not about Grumpy’s death, but rather about her life … rather a tribute, a celebration of her life in pictures.grumpy-3.jpgGrumpy Cat was rather the ‘Maxine’ of the feline world. Grumpy’s real name was Tardar Sauce, and while I always thought Grumpy was a he, he was in fact a ‘she’.  I guess I just think of grumpy beings as male.  (No comment from the peanut gallery here!)  Grumpy’s perpetual scowl, that earned her the nickname Grumpy Cat by which the world knew her, was actually caused by a form of dwarfism.grumpy-4She first achieved some level of Internet celebrity in 2012, after pictures featuring her frowning face went viral on social media, then turned into a mean-mugging meme.  It wasn’t long before Grumpy Cat was everywhere. She appeared on TV, popping up in episodes of “American Idol,” “The Bachelorette” and WWE’s “Monday Night Raw.”grumpy-5.jpgIn 2013, Grumpy beat out “Gangnam Style” and the “Harlem Shake” to win Meme of the Year at the Webby Awards. The following year, she scored her own Lifetime holiday movie, “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever,” a two-hour spectacle featuring the voice talents of actress Aubrey Plaza as the title character. Two years later, she made her Broadway debut, a one-night only appearance in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, “Cats.” Of course she did.grumpy-6In 2016, her sculpture was added to Madame Tussauds Las Vegas — and the cat was invited to curl up alongside her own wax figure.grumpy-tussaud.jpg

Grumpy Cat had amassed nearly 4 million combined followers on Instagram and Twitter, with a Facebook page that boasts 8.5 million likes.

In 2013, Grumpy became the official “spokescat” for Friskies cat food.

There is even a Grumpy Cat online store,, where you can find hundreds of products available for purchase, from ugly Christmas sweaters and laptop sleeves to drink coasters and guitar straps — all of them, of course, bearing the cat’s famous frown, usually along with a similarly surly message.


grumpy-bookGrumpy wasn’t a huge fan of holidays …




Grumpy Cat’s death is indeed sad, but you know what?  She will live on forever in both our hearts and on the Internet, for there must be at least a million pictures and memes out there.  And I close with a short video of some of her finest moments …


Saturday Surprise — Sandfest!

Welcome to the weekend, my friends!  I suppose you all have big plans this weekend, for on this side of the pond, Sunday is Mother’s Day, though our friends in the UK already had Mother’s Day back in March.  I will be taking Miss Goose out later today to find something for her mom … and I am going to get Chris a Kohl’s gift card so she will buy herself some new work shirts, for I’m tired of seeing the same ones in the wash every week!

I’ve found a treat for you today!  Actually, Miss Goose found it and emailed it to me earlier this week, and I think you’re going to be amazed by some of these.  In late April, on the Gulf Coast of Texas, in Port Aransas, there is a celebration called Sandfest.  It is a three-day celebration with food, music, contests, and all sorts of fun.

The contest first began back in 1997 as a single-day event, but is now spread over three days and has expanded to include live music and much food.  But the highlight of Sandfest is the sculpting contest, and today I want to share with you some of the best sand sculptures you have ever likely seen!

First, the Solo Competitors …

Sand sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, covering his face with his hand

1st Place – Liberty Crumbling, Damon Langlois

Joris Kivits in front of his sculpture.

2nd Place – Keep it Together, Joris Kivits

Remy in front of a sculpture of a woman holding an owl

3rd Place & People’s Choice – Sofia, Remy Hoggard

Woman's face surrounded by tall buildings.

She’s a Little Bit City and a Little Bit Country, Delayne Corbett

Sculpture of a mother and baby elephant

Save the Elephants, Paul Hoggard

Then the Duo Competitors …

Opposites Attract, Laura and John Gowdy

1st Place – Opposites Attract, Laura Cimador-Gowdy & John Gowdy

Man looking into his plants with a magnifying glass, and seeing creatures partying in the plant.

2nd Place – Party in Your Plants, Morgan Rudluff & Abe Waterman

Man in Motion, Ted Siebert & Fred Dobbs.

3rd Place – Man in Motion, Ted Siebert & Fred Dobbs

Then there are the Semi-Pro Competitors …

Sculpture of an elephant holding a gun in one hand and a rose in the other.

1st Place – Guns and Roses, Andrew Daily

Achilles holding a sword and shield

2nd Place – Achilles, Amanda Bolduc

Sculpture of a WWII veteran holding a photo of himself as a young soldier.

3rd Place, Greatest Generation, Bruce Peck

Items from the 80s, including a dial phone, Atari, Rubick's Cube, and more.

People’s Choice – 80s Callin’, Dale Andrews

Sculpture of a lion

Braveheart, Albert Lucio, Sr.

I think these are awesome and I tried to find out how long, on average, it takes to build one, but could find nothing.  I’m guessing days, but … what if it were to rain during the building process?  Instant destruction!  I can’t imagine there was much sand left on the beach after this!

My own favourite was Save the Elephants by Paul Hoggard, and I learned that Mr. Hoggard is British and has created literally thousands of sculptures since his first in 1991.  In 2000, he was commissioned by the Royal Cornwall show to create a sand sculpture for Her Majesty, the Queen of England. He created a farm yard scene of pigs and piglets, which he presented in person to Her. It is said that she enjoyed it very much.  I hope you enjoyed the sand sculptures and that you have an awesome weekend!  And Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!

kids in sandbox

Saturday Surprise — Under, And Other Fun Stuff

Hello friends and welcome to theweekend

I went in search of fun things last night, and I found just a few that I think you might like.

Under …

First, I found the world’s largest underwater restaurant.  Now, I’m not sure how I’d feel about being underwater for that long … I never thought I would do well on a submarine, but this place is rather cool.

Under-2Under is the world’s largest underwater restaurant with a total seating capacity for 100 guests, it’s the first of its kind in Europe, and it also functions as a research center for marine life. The Snøhetta-designed dining experience only started operating on March 20th, but people are already adding it to their Norway destination lists. Under-3Half-sunken into the sea, the building’s 34-meter long monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest directly on the seabed five meters below. With the thick concrete walls lying against the craggy shoreline, the structure is built to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions.Under-1Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s massive window offers a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions.The restaurant seats 35-40 dinner guests every night, in a dining room protected by half a meter-thick concrete walls.Under-4Its culinary focus is to create a fine dining experience based on high quality, locally-sourced produce, with a special emphasis on sustainable wildlife capture.  Now, I may have mentioned before that I do not have a very adventurous palate, and frankly don’t think I would be brave enough to try any of these …

Um … do you think I could just order a …


For more, be sure to visit their website.

Hand-held …

There is a pedestrian bridge outside Da Nang in Vietnam that made me do a double take when I first saw the picture. golden-bridge-1Known as the Golden Bridge, it stands 1,400 meters above sea level above the Ba Na hills, offering majestic panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.  It appears that it is being held aloft by two giant stone hands.golden-bridge-2

The design for the footbridge came from a company called TA Landscape Architecture, and while the hands look like they are carved from stone, they are actually not.

“We designed the skeleton of the hands and covered them with steel meshes. Then we finished with fiberglass and added the theming on it. The entire construction of the bridge took about a year.”



Pretty cool, eh?

Inspiring ‘toon …

I came across this cartoon in my travels last night, and while it may not fit in with the ‘fun’ theme of today’s post, I liked it … liked the message.inspiring-comic


And lastly, before you head out for a weekend filled with fun (and likely the first mowing of the year), I bring you Simon’s Cat and a Guide to Spring!

Now, go forth and have a great weekend, my friends! 

Saturday Surprise — Puds and Cacti

If it’s Saturday morning, then it must be time for Saturday Surprise, yes?  Last night, I traveled ‘round the globe (without leaving my chair!) looking for something with which to regale you, and I found a couple!

The Pudding Club …

You know how sometimes you can go through life without ever having heard of something, and then all of a sudden twice in a period of days you hear of it?  Such a thing happened to me this week.  Our friend David mentioned something called ‘cheese-rolling’, and when I asked him what the heck that was, he sent me a link.  In a nutshell, somebody throws a big ball of cheese from the top of a very steep hill, and the contestants go chasing after it, most often tumbling down the hill, head-over-heels.  Okay, and then yesterday I got an email from Atlas Obscura about a restaurant, Three Ways House, famous for its puddings, and also in the Cotswold area noted for its cheese-rolling!  I’ve never heard of cheese-rolling until this very week, and now it’s been mentioned twice in a span of about 3 days!

Here … check out the cheese-rolling for yourself …

Now, about Three Ways House.  In 1985, fed up with the sad dessert trolleys so common in hotel restaurants at the time, the then-owners of Three Ways House eschewed the typical black forest cake and fruit salads. Instead, they got a group of friends together to eat inordinate amounts of pudding. These Friday night feasts became tradition, and so the Pudding Club was born.

Now, I have friends on both sides of the pond, but I have only recently discovered that North Americans and Brits do not mean the same thing when they say “pudding”.  To us on this side of the pond, pudding is a smooth, creamy, custard-like sweet dessert made with sugar, cornstarch, milk, and flavouring … most often chocolate, vanilla or butterscotch.


To the Brits, however, pudding can mean many things.

The Pudding Club has a self-proclaimed mission of preserving the “great British pudding.” In Britain, a pudding is a dish traditionally made with suet, or hardened animal fat, along with flour and fruit for sweetness. Then, it’s steamed for several hours. This type of pudding can be sweet or savory, but the word can also apply to dessert in general.  Confused yet?

Orange Christmas pudding (left) and Rhubarb Steamed pudding

These look more like a very moist cake to me, but the sweet ones definitely look worth a try.  I didn’t think a savory steamed pudding would be appealing, but the one on the right, at least, actually looks pretty good.  I do not have an adventurous palate, as the Japanese associates always told me when I worked at Honda.  Most things I will try at least once, unless they stink or are slimy.

Steak and Ale suet pudding (left) and Steak and Mushroom pudding

Lucy Williams is the assistant manager and Pudding Master of Three Ways House, seen here announcing the puddings of the night.Lucy-WilliamsIt’s Williams who decides which puddings are served every Friday. Positively obsessed by pudding, she’s protective of its place at the Three Ways House. She’s also a purist, often consulting the definitive tome on the subject, Regula Ysewjin’s Pride and Pudding: The History of British Puddings, Savoury and Sweet.  Who knew?

Recipe photography

Yorkshire pudding

The Three Ways House is a small hotel, and seven of the rooms are pudding-themed.  There’s the Spotted Dick room (I’m not even going to ask), the Summer Pudding room, and a Chocolate Suite, where everything from the bathroom tiles to the cushions on the bed look like chocolates.Three-Ways-HouseOn Friday nights, Pudding Club nights, there are seven different puddings presented, and at the end of the night, each guest fills out a score sheet, voting for the top dessert of the evening.  The Club has earned worldwide acclaim and has even been invited to bring their puddings to New York and Tokyo!  I don’t see how anybody could possibly eat all seven, but then I could only eat about half of one anyway.  Still, it sounds like fun, don’t you think?

More than you wanted to know about … Cactus!

Moving from puddings to cacti, I bet you didn’t know that they have their own fan club!  It’s called the Crested Saguaro Society, a group of amateur naturalists bound by one mission: to find and document all of Arizona’s fasciated saguaros.  Founded by Bob Cardell and Pat Hammes back in 2006, its members trek across the northern patch of the Sonoran Desert, where they’ve logged everything from specimens that split like a whale tail to ones that resemble gangly candelabras.candelabra-cactus.jpgOn a normal saguaro, accordion-like pleats run vertically up its base, tracing the ribs like mountain ranges. But on a cristate, things get funky. Its “growing tip”—the apical meristem, in technical terms—flattens and elongates. The saguaro’s pleats split chaotically, forcing them closer together until they crimp, at times warping the trunk so it spirals. As the pleats smush together, they cause the plant’s growing tip to fan. The final result is a rippled crest as unique as a fingerprint.

Saguaros, icons of the American Southwest, are protected by the Arizona government. But poachers still manage to snatch the cacti from public lands. The slow-growing plants—it takes upwards of 75 years for an arm to form—can go for about $100 per foot on the black market. Again, who knew? Crested saguaros, because of their alien-ness, are particularly enticing.

cactus.jpgThey are rather fascinating to look at, but I don’t think I would like to spend time trekking around the desert looking for them.


I like this last one, for it makes me think it’s flipping the bird at someone.

And on that note, I wrap up with a wish that you all have a safe and fun weekend, my friends!


Saturday Surprise — Artists Take On Notre-Dame

Welcome to the


I was not at a loss for this morning’s Saturday Surprise post, in fact was debating between taking you to either a turnip festival or a bread-arches festival.  But then an email popped up and when I saw it, I thought … hmmm 🤔 … maybe.  Monday’s fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame has prompted an outpouring of sadness from all around the globe.  It has also inspired artists to do some beautiful artwork that I thought I’d like to share with you today.  But first, I must share with you my embarrassingly funny story from this past week.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember last September when my dishwasher went kaplooie.  I contacted the rental office … day after day … for 8 bloomin’ weeks, then finally contacted the property owners, and it was fixed the following day!  The apartment manager was also terminated that week, but I’m not sure if there is any connection.  Anyway, just before Thanksgiving they did bring a new … brand new, still in the box … dishwasher, and all was well.

Then last week, I turned the dishwasher on Tuesday morning, but … nothing happened.  Nada.  Zilch.  Sigh.  So, I contacted them … actually, Miss Goose did, for I don’t think she liked seeing me getting ready to go to the rental office with my 18-inch rolling pin in my hand.  They said they would ‘try’ to get to it within two weeks.  Frustrated I was, but what can one do but … wait.  Well, this week on Tuesday, I had just gotten out of the shower and come downstairs, hair still wrapped in a towel, and there was a pounding on the door.  The maintenance dude!  Okay … I happily lead him to the kitchen where … there was a blob of cat puke right in the middle of the kitchen floor.  I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  But wait … it gets even better!

The maintenance man walks over to the dishwasher, looks at the wall above it, flips the switch on the wall, and … PRESTO! … the dishwasher springs to life.  Now I really, really wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.  Again, it didn’t.  Folks, I had checked the breaker, had inspected all around the switches and contacts for some food particles or grease, had tried everything short of taking the thing apart.  But I never even thought about the switch.  We never turn it off!  Best I can figure is it accidentally got turned off one time that one of us was turning off the switch next to it that controls the garbage disposer.  I felt about as stupid as I’ve ever felt, and I kept repeating, “I’m so sorry … I am so stupid …” until he finally patted my shoulder (I’m pretty sure he just wanted to get away from this crazy ol’ hag so he could go to his truck and have a good laugh) and assured me it could have happened to anybody.  Sigh.

And now, how about those pictures I promised?

On 15 April 2019 around 6:50 p.m., a fire broke out in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. One of the most famous historical buildings, it has a strong value to Parisian and French culture and is one of the most famous buildings in the world with around 13 million tourists every year. After the tragic news about the iconic cathedral burning went viral, many artists showed their respect to the monument by drawing it.



The construction of Notre-Dame started back in 1163 and it was finished almost 200 years later in 1345. It’s important to mention that the iconic spire was added only in the 19th century. Notre-Dame isn’t only known for its incredible architecture, it was also the cathedral in which Napoleon’s coronation by Pope Pius VII took place in 1804.




Since Notre-Dame was first built around 700 years ago, the building required constant renovation. During the last few years, it was in desperate need of reconstruction and that’s exactly what was happening before the fire broke out. The renovation was supposed to cost €6 million. Fires often break out during renovation so it is believed that this might have been the case with the Notre-Dame Cathedral.






Recent news declare that there have been €1 billion donated to the reconstruction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral which has caused some controversy online. Many people claim that during the past few years there have been many tragic losses around the world, with many people losing their home and their loved ones, yet nobody has ever donated this much money to any of the causes. Notre-Dame example shows how many of the world’s problems could be solved if the world’s richest people would donate to those in need.

These are only a few of the artists’ pictures inspired by this tragedy.  For more, check it out on Bored Panda. Have a great weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Who Knew?

toonGood morning, my friends, and welcome to the weekend!  I almost skipped out on Saturday Surprise today, for I’m afraid Jolly is very sick, and I wasn’t sure I could do it without him.  Oh no, don’t worry about disturbing him, for he is deep down in the rabbit hole at the moment.  Anyway,  then I came across a couple of things that had me shaking my head, saying “Who knew?”, and I thought I would see if I could do this post on my own, without Jolly’s help.

Drive it or eat it???

When you think of Volkswagon, what do you think of?


This, right?  Well, it turns out that Volkswagen sells more sausages than Beetles!  Yes, you heard me right … sausages! In fact, in 2015 and 2017, it sold more sausages than cars overall!  Who knew?  Some would say it makes sense, since sausages have both a lower overhead cost and a lower purchase price than the average car.

In 1973, the company started making the currywurst sausages, known as “item no. 199 398 500 A” in the Volkswagen factory, at the company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. Meant as a breakfast or lunch item in the company’s cafeteria, the sausages were served whole or chopped up and tossed with Volkswagen’s own factory-made curry-flavored ketchup. I guess they must have gone over well, for these days, 30 kitchen staffers, most of them trained butchers, are put solely on weiner duty, making 18,000 sausages every day. The pork is sourced from local farms, and the recipe, which includes curry powder, pepper, and ginger, is a company secret. The sausages come in two lengths, and are dried, smoked over beechwood, and then steamed at 350°F for 100 minutes. The finished product is shipped in packs of five to VW dealerships all over the country, who then gift it to customers after a successful sale.

vw sausagesIn 2017, Volkswagen sold nearly 7 million sausages, more than the number of VW-brand cars sold worldwide that year.  Given their role in the recent emissions scandal, perhaps they would be better off to stick to sausages?

Send it via pigeon …

I use a free greeting card service to send an occasional e-card for birthdays, get-well wishes, or sometimes just to let somebody know I’m thinking of them.  The one I use is 1-2-3 Greetings, for they are quick, simple, remember your contacts, and have a fairly decent selection.  And free … did I mention free?  So, a couple of days ago, I received this email from them …

123 pigeon

Back by popular demand:
Our messenger pigeons

Hi Jill!

Following the requests of many of our users, we are resuming our pigeon delivery service. Starting from April 8, it will again be possible to send real greeting cards by our top trained pigeons.

We are proud to announce that we had the top bird trainer in the country – Barbara Heidenreich – training pigeons for over a year to deliver your greeting all across USA. Currently we have over 20 pigeons available. This amazing service will start in United States only, but please be patient as more countries are to follow.

This extraordinary option will be available starting from $199 for each delivery and, due to limited availability, will have to depend on the geographical location of the sender.

More details here

Rather than a “who knew?” moment, this was more of a “Say WHAT???” moment.  Who in their right mind, using a free greeting card service, is going to pay upwards of $200 for a carrier pigeon to deliver a card???  I can mail a greeting card for 45 cents, for Pete’s sake!

Now, I saved this message because I was so incredulous.  Just last night, as I was cleaning out my email box that had gotten up to over 600 messages, I came across it again and notice the “More details here” at the end of the message.  I had not clicked on that when I first received the message, so I clicked this time to see what else they were trying to profit from … perhaps you could have a bottle of Dom Perignon delivered by carrier pigeon.  Well …

Embarrassed insecure emoticon

I now have a bit of a sheepish grin on my face, for … had I bothered to look at the date of the email … April 1st … April Fool’s Day … Oopsie.  Got me!

More Lego art — kitties!

Remember … was it last week or the week before … when I posted a bit about some magnificent Lego sculptures?  Well, last night I came across another … the sculptures are not huge like the ones from last time, but they are … well, take a look for yourself …Lego-cats-1Lego-cats-2Lego-cats-3Lego-cats-4Lego-cats-5Lego-cats-6Lego-cats-7Being a housemate to currently six, and at one time as many as ten of these furry critters, I thoroughly enjoyed these!

I saw this on a friend’s post on Facebook last night and found it humorous.  Might be an idea for some of you who are parents of teens!humour

Well, folks, without Jolly to help, I’m afraid that’s all I can come up with for this morning.  Let us hope that Jolly feels better by Monday!  But never mind, for it’s the beginning of the weekend, and you no doubt have better things to do anyway.  Take care and have a great weekend, my friends!  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday Surprise — Legos ‘n Squirrels ‘n A Town For Sale

Hey guys … it’s the weekend!!!  And better yet, spring is finally here … well, sort of.  My crocuses are in bloom, though there are only four of them, Maha’s daffodils are blooming, and I was outside for a few minutes today in a t-shirt and didn’t even feel cold!

Legos-2I am not an artistically talented person, as I’ve mentioned before, but I admire those who are.  I’ve concluded, though, that some people have entirely too much time on their hands.  Legos.  Remember building stuff with Lego bricks?  I could build a fence, or a small house (no windows, doors or roof, though).  But take a look at the artistic endeavours some have accomplished with those little plastic blocks …


Full-size Lego giraffe



Probably just as safe as a Boeing


The Beatles in Legoland

Lego-cruise-shipThis cruise ship is 8.44 meters long, 1.33 meters wide and 1.54 meters high, and is made from more than 2.5 million LEGOs. The weight of it is also quite stunning because it weighs around 2 tons, that is, about 6,100 pounds!Lego-wasp


They even re-create classical paintings and sculptures with Lego …


Escher’s Relativity


Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa


Mount Rushmore


Munch’s The Scream


Rodin’s The Thinker

Talented?  For sure, but I still have to ask … who has time to do these things?  There are plenty more if you’d like to check them out at Bored Panda!

Now, when you think of squirrel, what do you think of?  Grey, brown, muted colours, right?  But I bet you didn’ know about the Malabar giant squirrel, also known as Shekru.  These guys are native to India … take a look …squirrel-1

As the name suggests, they are huge. Stretching as long as 3 feet, they are much harder to miss than our own scurrilous buddies. Admittedly though, the brilliantly blue bushy tail accounts for much of the Malabar’s length.squirrel-2.jpg

However, they may be more difficult to find than their large size and bright coat suggest. The shades of black, brown and orange, as well as maroon and purple, can assist them in blending perfectly with the forest canopy, where they spend their time leaping from tree to tree. This is especially useful for escaping the attention of predators, such as various birds of prey and also leopards.squirrel-3.jpg


Did you know that there is an entire town for sale in Indiana?  No?  It’s the town of Story, Indiana, and there is a … wait for it … story to go with the town!Story-1.jpg

The town began in 1851, when a doctor named George P. Story received 173 acres of land from Millard Fillmore, 13th president of the United States. Over the years, the town then known as “Storyville” started to grow—farms, Story’s medical practice, and a school. In 1882, Story got its first dry goods store and post office. It never grew particularly large, but the story goes that the Great Depression cleared out what few families were left, threatening to end Story and turn it into a ghost town.Story-3More or less abandoned to the elements, Story saw a small resurgence in the early 1980s. Benjamin (who goes by just one name) encountered the town—on the edge of Brown County State Park and not far from Bloomington—for the first time in 1978. He saw the old general store, a house, a gristmill, a barn, and “an assortment of mostly dilapidated buildings,” on four and a half acres and for sale for $65,000. He and his wife Cyndi took a chance on the unique town and decided to set up shop in the form of a restaurant, housed in the old general store. [It] had no indoor plumbing when we moved there, only an outhouse in back,” he says. The second floor was one large room. “Many years previous, owners had obtained a Studebaker franchise and assembled buggies up there,” Benjamin says. “Parts were sent by rail from South Bend to Freetown, brought to Story on horse-drawn carts and first-generation pickup trucks, hauled upstairs, and assembled. The final products were let down on a ramp through a door in the back.” He remembers Story being very dark, and very quiet.


Benjamin’s restaurant

There are only six houses in Story. One of them, built in the Queen Anne style, is the Wheeler-Hedrick House, across the street from the store. Another, built in 1858, is known as the Story-Griffitt House. Benjamin and Cyndi bought them all, one at a time, and converted them into overnight accommodations—the Story Inn. “We also built a commercial kitchen in the back [and] the old general store became the dining room,” Benjamin says. “When we sold Story we had a 100-seat restaurant and 18 overnight rooms, all on 23 acres.”Story-2The town’s current owner, Rick Hofstetter, bought the town in 1999. Hofstetter put more effort into Story, and the 40 years of care has turned into a fairly popular—though out-of-the-way—tourist destination. While most of Story’s buildings have been renovated, the village has not lost its 19th-century charm. Because it was a relatively desolate (and poor) town for decades, its original historic wooden floors, globe lighting, and tin ceilings remain. Just last month, the town was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today all of Story can be yours, for only $3.8 million!  Hey, if all my readers kicked in a mere $1,396 each, we could go in together and have our own little town!

Well, folks, I know you have a weekend awaiting you … I hope you have a great one and do something fun!  Maxine.jpg

Saturday Surprise — Chindōgu

Welcome to the weekend, my friends.  I wasn’t sure there would be a Saturday Surprise this week, for I’m not in the best of humour, but I skipped Jolly Monday, and really didn’t want to let you down again this week.  Still, I was debating … cute animals?  A journey somewhere?  And then I hit on something totally unique and it fascinated me, so I’m hoping you will enjoy it.

It’s called Chindōgu, and it is the Japanese art of useless inventions!  Literally translated, chindōgu means unusual (珍 chin) tool (道具 dōgu).  Kenji Kawakami coined the term chindōgu. According to a 2001 article in Japan Times, Kawakami, now age 72, has made over 600 chindogu since he began inventing. Yet he doesn’t own any patents and has never made a single yen by selling his creations …

“I despise materialism and how everything is turned into a commodity. Things that should belong to everyone are patented and turned into private property. I’ve never registered a patent and I never will because the world of patents is dirty, full of greed and competition.”

Despite the seemingly universal appeal for his inventions and their purpose to amuse, Kawakami laments that sometimes he is not taken seriously.

“In Europe they treat me as an artist. In Australia and Canada, I’m called a scientist. In China and Hong they wonder why I don’t try to make money from my inventions. But in Japan and the US, they consider me a maker of party goods.”

There are ten commandments of chindōgu:

  1. A Chindōgu cannot be for real use — They must be, from a practical point of view, (almost) completely useless. “If you invent something which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time, then you have failed to make a Chindōgu,” it says.
  2. A Chindōgu must exist — A Chindōgu must be something that you can actually hold, even if you aren’t going to use it.
  3. There must be the spirit of anarchy — A chindōgu must be an object that have broken free from the chains of usefulness. They represent freedom of thought and action.
  4. Chindōgu are tools for everyday life — Chindōgu must be useful (or useless) to everyone around the world for everyday life.
  5. Chindōgu are not for sale — Chindōgu cannot be sold. “If you accept money for one, you surrender your purity,” it says.
  6. Humor must be the sole reason for creating a chindōgu — The creation of Chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving activity. Humor is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate or unconventional solution to a problem.
  7. Chindōgu is not propaganda — Chindōgu should be innocent. They should not be created as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.
  8. Chindōgu are never taboo — Chindōgu must adhere to society’s basic standards.
  9. Chindōgu cannot be patented — Chindōgu cannot be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned.
  10. Chindōgu are without prejudice — Everyone should have an equal chance to enjoy every Chindōgu.

Let’s take a look at some, shall we?


Baby mop

How convenient … let your baby clean the floor while he’s learning to crawl!  Put ‘em to work early!


Cat mop

Or, if you prefer, let the cat clean the floor.  That cat looks none too happy, though.


Chindōgu gloves

How cool!  Everything you need, literally right at your fingertips!


Noodle cooler

Now this one is really pretty clever, albeit perhaps a bit bulky … a small fan attached to chopsticks to cool the noodles on the way to your mouth!


Butter stick

Because you just never know when you’re going to run into a slice of unbuttered toast, right?  My luck, I would get it confused with my chapstick.


Finger toothbrush

And after you ate that slice of buttered toast, well of course you’ll be wanting to brush.


Toilet paper hat

For those times when just a few tissues stuffed into your pockets simply aren’t enough.


Camera umbrella

Awww, now isn’t that cute … a little umbrella for when that perfect photo op comes along on a rainy day!


Shoe umbrella

And since you wouldn’t want to get your feet wet while lining up that photo op …


Banana holder

Now who doesn’t need a case for their banana?


Bubble wrap keychain

For those times when either, a) you’re bored/stressed and need something to do with your hands, or b) you just want to annoy the heck out of someone.


Third hand

Now this is one I can see being useful!  More than once I have had to have a fingertip sewn back on because I took my eye off the ball … er, knife!


Sun lighter

Zippo ran out of fluid?  Bic just won’t flick?  No worries … this amazing sun-lighter will magnify the sun’s rays and presto, your smoke is lit.  Well, actually it may take a long time if it isn’t a particularly hot and sunny day.  Still …


Storage tie

What could be more convenient than having everything you need stored in the back of your ties?  Um … pockets?

Well, I hope you enjoyed some of these fun, un-useless inventions!  Now off with you … go have a wonderful, fun weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Here and There

Hi friends!  No, leave your jackets on, for I’ve had the Filomobile tuned up and we’re going on an adventure today!  We haven’t done this in so long, partly because of my cold and partly because of Mother Nature’s cold.  But today, I’m mostly better, the sun is shining and it’s relatively warm, so let’s go do some exploring, shall we?  Fasten your seat belts and we’ll be on our way to …

The Atacama Desert in Chile

No, don’t worry … the Filomobile is good on all manners of terrain … we won’t get stuck!  What I want to show you, though is a sculpture, right there in the middle of the desert. hand-1.pngIt is called Mano de Desierto (Hand of Desert) and is the creation of Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal.  Built in the early 1980s, it was financed by a local booster organization called Corporación Pro Antofagasta.hand-2.pngThe motion of hands rising from the ground is an obsession of Irarrázabal’s. His other famous works include another over-sized sculpture exploring the same idea: “Monument to the Drowned” is located on Parada 4 at Brava Beach in Punta del Este, a popular resort town in Uruguay.hand-3.pngThe hand rises about 11 meters, or 36 feet from the floor of the desert and is the only break in the deserted monotony.  Isn’t that cool?  Can’t you imagine Irarrázabal spending day after day out here in the desert, on a ladder, building this gigantic hand!  And can’t you imagine some less-than-sober person coming through on the Pan-American Highway and coming upon that?

And now, we move on to …

Krakow, Poland …

… where we will visit yet another sculpture, Wojtek the Soldier Bear Statue.  This one has quite an interesting backstory.

The story of Wojtek the bear is almost like a fairy tale. It begins with a group of Polish soldiers in 1943 who were released from the Soviet Gulags after the Nazis invaded the USSR. Stalin needed whoever he could get and allowed his prior enemies to rejoin the fight against the Axis.Wojtek-cubDuring this trip to freedom, the group stumbled across a lonely bear cub that they decided to adopt. This proved to be a good move as the bear became incredibly good for morale and helped the group through many hardships that way.Wojtek with his regimentOver the years the bear grew up into a fully fledged soldier. He could carry supplies, drank beer, and enjoyed cigarettes. He also enjoyed wrestling soldiers in a good-natured way. The soldiers were very attached to their furry friend, as was Wojtek to them. Because of this, they enlisted the bear into the army as a private, since the army forbade pets at the battlegrounds and it was the only way that Wojtek could come with them. He was so popular he became the mascot of his company, the Polish 22nd Transport Artillery Company.Wojtek with soldierAfter the war, Wojtek and his regiment moved to Scotland where they settled down and built up new lives. The men got jobs and houses and Wojtek got a new home at the Edinburgh zoo, where he lived until 1963. The bear was very popular in Scotland and there is even a statue of him there.

Wojtek statueIn Poland, he is also fondly remembered, and in 2014 this memorial statue of Wojtek was erected in Krakow. The statue was entirely funded by the locals who wished to commemorate the bear and the battles he fought in. The memorial was unveiled on the 70th anniversary of the battle and remains one of the more popular statues in Jordan Park today.

Now doesn’t that one just give you a warm, fuzzy feeling?  One more stop before we head back stateside …

East Java, Indonesia

volcano-1Kawah Ijen is one of several volcanoes located within the 20 km wide Ijen Caldera, but this one is special.  The caldera of Kawah Ijen harbors a kilometer-wide, turquoise colored, acidic crater lake that leaks sulphurous gases constantly. At night the hot gases burn to emit an eerie blue glow that is unique to Kawah Ijen. The gases emerge from the cracks in the volcano at high pressure and temperature, up to 600°C, and when they come in contact with the air, they ignite, sending flames up to 16 feet high. Some of the gases condense into liquid sulfur, and continues to burn as it flows down the slopes giving the feeling of blue lava flowing.

Pretty cool, yes?  Well, it’s almost time to head home, but one last stop in …

Skagway, Alaska …

Red-onion-1 … home of the Red Onion Saloon!  Established in 1898 as a bordello for lonely miners during the Klondike Gold Rush, the Red Onion Saloon preserves the town’s seamy history by operating a brothel museum on site. The ground floor saloon remains a bar and restaurant, but the establishment’s days of providing additional services are long gone.

red-onion-downstairsIn the 1900s, the Red Onion was a popular dance hall, and the space still hosts live music events and drag shows today. There are plenty of items on display throughout the restaurant. Racy, old-time portraits of alluring women adorn the walls and visitors can enjoy a glass of beer underneath a rather extensive display of bedpans.


Wall of bedpans

Upstairs, the museum showcases the 10 original rooms where the saloon’s madam and her girls would entertain their clients. Each room had several doors in case a quick exit was necessary. Customers chose women by picking from one of the 10 dolls placed at the bar, each representing one of the working ladies upstairs. When a doll was chosen, it was laid down on the bar, indicating the woman was at work. When her client came back downstairs, the doll would be seated upright, to let potential customers know she was available


The dolls

Legend has it that Lydia, a former madam at the saloon, haunts the place today. The smell of perfume down the hallways or particularly cold spots near the upstairs rooms are considered signs of her ghostly presence.

Time to head for home … I don’t know about you, but I’m tired now!  I hope you enjoyed our little jaunt this morning.  Have a great weekend, whatever you do, and keep safe!