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When I started my blog in June of 2011, I was a total neophyte. I had no idea what I was doing, except that I wanted to connect with the world. How about you?

Over time my blog site has evolved to encompass the things that I love and that interest me, and things that I want to share with others. I had no idea that there were blog awards until I was nominated for my first award, which was the “Versatile Blogger Award.” I went to the blog site of the person who nominated me and looked for the voting.  There was nothing there.  So, over time one of the things that I have noticed about these blogger awards is that a site is “nominated.”

So now let’s look at the word nomination. It means that one has been declared a contestant for whatever category that might be, but it is a nomination, and nominations need to be voted on. And in the world of blogging, for the time that I have been a blogger, no one is voting. So while there is a nomination there is no voting. So nomination is not correct wording for what is going on here.

What is actually occurring is that one blogger is “bestowing” an award on another blogger…So, what I propose is that all of us in the blogging world say what it is that we are really doing: We are “bestowing” awards. Don’t get me wrong. Nominations are great and I appreciate every one that I have received!

What is common to each of these “nominations” is that we thank the person who nominates us (including a link back to their site), tell all this information about ourselves and that we have to “nominate” a whole list of sites, anywhere from 5 – 15, if I have the numbers right. The reason for the numbers is to attract traffic to our blogs.

My dear friend, Conor Bofin, wrote a blog about this very same topic. It was brilliant! He actually took the time to figure out the odds. And he suggested a new award, called “The Two Chances Award.” Two Chances Award Again, it was brilliant!

So, today, I formally announce, that I, Barbara W. Beacham, of Life in the Foothills, am asking for the blogging world to make a change. I have created a new award: one that is bestowed and is not a nomination. I came up with this as I was thinking about the Oscars, and that is what blogging awards should be too: The Oscars of Blogging. But that name is taken! So the true name of this award is “The Master Blogger Award,” or “The Masters,” for short. Here are the criteria for this award, and the rules as well.

The rules for bestowal of this award are simple. All of the following criteria must be met by the blog site receiving this award. The blog site must be:

1) Inspirational – The blogs must inspire one in some way
2) Informative – The blog overall, must in one way or another impart information in a creative and captivating way
3) Imaginative – The blog must titillate the imagination, making you see, hear or feel the message they are trying to impart.
4) Insightful – The blog should capture the inner nature of what is being written about, photographed, et al…and this includes seeing intuitively.

The Rules:

1) The blogger bestowing this award must tell why they are bestowing their award based on the four criteria. All the criteria have to be met.

2) The blogger bestowing the award must do so in a post on their blog site and include “The Masters” award emblem. They must also include in their post a link to the site that they are bestowing the award to.

3) The site who the award is bestowed upon must write a post of thanks, linking their post back to the site who bestowed the award upon them.

4) They must pass on the award based upon the criteria and they must follow these rules.

To the blogging community: Let us make an award that celebrates excellence! An award that 78,000 do not get after 7 posts…Let us do something different!

Are you with me? ARE YOU WITH ME? PEOPLE, LET’S GET EXCITED ABOUT DOING SOMETHING NEW! (Sorry for shouting, but I wanted to motivate you!)

Stay tuned…Tomorrow I will launch the first of “The Master Bloggers Award.”

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The Side Step


Yeah, it is Friday! This is the year where once again here in the U.S. we have not only the Presidential Election but, depending on where you live, Senator, and Legislators. The ads have ramped up in the last week. Every other commercial on TV for weeks now and for the next 4 weeks will be political ads, whether they be for or against a State proposition, or the candidates. And, I decided that today, we needed to have some fun with this!

This brought to mind a segment from a movie, in which the actor was actually nominated for an Oscar for his performance. The movie: “Best Little Whore House in Texas.” The performer: Charles Durning. The song: “The Side Step.”

And now, here is Charles Durning performing “The Side Step. Be sure to listen to the questions being asked of the politician. Let me know if this reminds you of the politico today!”

Charles Durning performing “The Side Step

Remember to go out and vote! And, remember the words to this song when you do!

Now go and have a great Friday!

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If you have not read my article on a recent experience with software giant Intuit, Inc., and I urge you to do so. Here is the link to the article I wrote relating what I experienced with this company:

Intuit, the Software Company

In recent times we have all seen customer service take a nose dive, and it certainly has at Intuit. I was to receive a follow up call from a supervisor to assist me with finding out what the final bill would be for the company that I work for. The call was to come in within 24-48 hours.

Did I receive the call from the supervisor? The answer is a big fat “NO!” How hard is it to call back a customer? What giants like Intuit forget, and I may be just a drop in the bucket, is that I am still their bread and butter! Companies like this seem to forget that it is all of those little drops in the bucket that have helped their companies grow to become what they are today. They are the ones who made it possible for the corporate officers all the way down to the customer service person be able to butter their bread!

When all that matters is the almighty dollar, not those who buy the products that give them the almighty dollar, it is no wonder that groups form like the “Occupy Wall Street” group! Enough ranting!

Enjoy your weekend!

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I just had to write this post because I am still scratching my head, wondering and in disbelief. Today I had an interaction with customer service at Intuit, Inc. I want to share with you what I experienced.

This company is the creator of the QuickBooks software. Have you heard of it? It is accounting software program that is geared towards small business. It does have its drawbacks. But for a down and dirty software, you can get by.

My issue that I dealt with today was the renewal of the licensing for the business where I work. You see, yesterday I received a notification from them by email that our contract was terminated. Before this termination, I received a phone call on June 29th indicating that our service contract and the licensing was due on July 9th. Having worked on Sunday July 1st, I returned the call that day to our account representative.

I worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and did I get a return call? No. The account representative waited to call back on Friday. Now granted she is not aware of my work schedule, but one would think that a call back within 24 hours after receiving a personal message would be returned. Is customer service lacking? In my mind the answer is yes.

Now let me tell you that Intuit will hold on to a credit card number and use it repeatedly without contacting you. I saw this 7 years ago when I started working for my employer, and being an accountant this is unacceptable.

Yesterday, once again getting the voice mail of the company’s account representative, I called back to get to someone I could speak to. I was connected to someone who could help me, I thought. I was told that their systems were down and no one would be able to help me with the renewal until the following day. I did receive a call back from the account rep too telling me something I was already aware of. So the question here would be if I was an investor in this company, why do they not keep records of what a customer has been told, and why are they wasting my money by having the other person call back?

So, I go off to work this morning, and around the beginning of my day the account rep calls me to tell me of the new enhancements to the upcoming release of the latest version of the software. Did I hear about any of this? No. All she wanted to get to was Intuit getting their money. I let her know how upset I was in getting the termination notice, and even more so that this could have been avoided had she had the courtesy to call me back before our service and licensing agreement terminated.

So rather than telling me about what we will be getting for our hard earned money, she goes right to collecting the money, by EFT check. And, she tells me the total amount that we will be dinged from the bank account. I had to ask for a breakdown of the costs, wanting to know the sales tax as Intuit does not take into account whether or not you are in the limits of a county that is incorporated or not. Yes the tax rates are different, and we are in an area where the tax rate is 1/2 of a percent less than the city proper.

Now due to Intuit running up charges on the company credit card, without providing you with the necessary documentation required for accounting records, I put a stop to their use of a credit card and I have been paying by check for the last 6 years. I was told today that Intuit has changed their policy regarding paper checks and they will no longer accept paper checks. What? It is money. They are turning down money? What is up with that?

The State of CA tax rate is 6 1/4%. The tax figure that the gal gave me was 3.5%. Their headquarters in located in CA, and I have to ask where did they get this rate from? Why is it that there this rate is an estimate? I also have to ask, why this software giant does not have a system that calculates the tax for where their customer is? I asked these questions and the wimpy answer that I received was that “the computer generates it and I cannot change it.” Why not? And there is a notation at the bottom of the email that I got that indicates that they will correct the tax rate at a later date. Intuit: Why can you not get it right the first time?

While the account rep is trying to get the billing amount correct, as I am sitting there on hold, I receive an order confirmation. What? We are not finished here and yet I am receiving this notification? What is with that? Did I mention that the billing was to me personally and not to the company who is buying this package? What is with that too?

So that I do not ramble on much more, this gal could not help me and put me through to another rep who told me the same thing that she did. When I asked for a supervisor, after being on the phone already for an hour, I was told that one would call me back within 24 to 48 hours. What? Where is customer service today? He also had to fix the billing and shipping. He indicated that I would receive a survey about his assistance and that he hoped I would be able to give him a good rating. I never got it!

We shall see if I get a call back. If I had my way, we would not be using this software, and I would not recommend them to others for not only what happened today, but for other reasons that I will not go into today due to the length of this post already.

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All day today I had a hankering for a really good Teriyaki. Have you had one of those days? And there is the age old question: Should I even try to make it, or should I just go out and buy a bottle? What kind of a dilemma is that? It is the war of the tastebuds! Who will win out? Home made? Store bought? Home made? Store bought? Home made? Store bought?

So, now you know the dilemma. And here are the internal responses to such a dilemma. Buy the bottle. How much does this cost? Around $5.00. So, what if I were to make it myself? Total cost of ingredients $2.50. How much time does it take to make the marinade? Oh, about 10 minutes.

So the question to you my readers: Should I go buy pre-made or make it myself?

The results, will be posted in 12 hours. It is now 10:08 p.m. by my clock.

OK – I will not keep you waiting!  I had to make it myself which everyone who voted thought too!

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The day started bright and early. I got my post out on the Super Moon, and I started Chipotle Ribs going in the crockpot. My friend Jorge arrived right on time: 8 a.m. One photo of the garden before we start so you have an idea of the area and get a feeling for the layout of it.

Vege garden before we start

We were starting with 4 bags of steer manure and 8 bags of peat moss. We had quite a bit of newspaper, and the leaf layer leaves came from the lower part of our yard. The compost has been brewing for quite a few years and is really good soil.  My layers will be as follows:

**Newspaper
**Peat moss
**Leaves
**Peat moss
**Steer Manure
**Peat moss
**Compost

We started out by loosening the ground around the raspberries, pulling a few weeds and removing some plants for later transplanting.

Breaking ground

We decided to use the rototiller to break the ground up before we start the layers.

Rototilling the bed

As Jorge was rototilling, I followed with the rake to sort out some of the weed clumps. I removed these while Jorge finished with the rototilling.

Rototilling is done and we are good to go

Before we start the ground gets leveled.

Leveling the ground

We start with the newspapers, and overlap the sheets. The newspaper will act as weed block.  We started at the back of the garden.

Starting the layers

Once the paper was down, we hosed it so that it was soaking wet.  Next we added about a one inch layer of peat moss.  This was followed by a layer of old leaves that I took from a non-weedy area of our garden.  We followed this with another layer of peat moss, followed by steer manure, and more peat moss.

6 layers are down

Here we are finishing up the area by topping it with compost.

Final layer of compost

Once we got into a rhythm, we moved along at a pretty good clip. There is quite a bit more area as we cleared more than I ever have before.  And, I did not calculate the are as well as I thought that I had, and we had to stop for they day.

Stopping here…

We had a lovely lunch made by my husband, and figured out what I needed to get for next weekend. Here is another view from above.

View from above

It might have looked like Jorge was doing all the work, but I did stop every now and then to take photos of our progress so that I could share this experience with you!

Next week when we finish up, if I have the energy, and I must say that I am pooped today and ache in places I didn’t know could ache like it does, we will start planting! Wahoo! Stay tuned!

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Today is the first of May. Many around the world celebrate the spring on this day. They celebrate the coming of summer. I wanted to share this day with you by celebrating art in nature.

The World of Lavender

Yellow Jacket Fusion

Bleeding Hearts

Fleabane

Up Close with Clover

Columbine

The California Poppy

Enjoy the day!

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The day was to be warm, and I was sitting on the couch watching the news, computer on my lap working on another post, when I heard a huge explosion, followed by what sounded like the rumbling of thunder, that rattled the house and was something I felt in my bones. I set the computer aside and ran outside looking for mushroom cloud of smoke. I scanned the skies and saw nothing.

I called one of the neighbors who said that they heard it too. Living with a restricted airport close by, I thought I should go and see if something happened at the airport so that I could lend my support. When I got there all was calm. Driving down the road I slowed and looked over the American Canyon thinking that I would maybe see something there. Sound has a tendency here to travel far. Nothing.

My cell phone rang, and I pulled over to answer it, and it was my neighbor Ethel. She had heard and felt the explosion too while working in her yard. She told me that the sound seemed to come from directly above her, and when she looked up she saw a jet, so she thought that it was a sonic boom caused by the jet. I returned home.

About an hour later the cause was on the news. A meteor entered the atmosphere and the velocity was so great that it caused a sonic boom. Here is a news report from KCRA. Meteor Shower Report

I discovered that it is rare that a meteor coming in is ever heard, but I heard and felt it! Did you see or hear it? Let me know!

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“God gave me a thumb and made it green, what happens from here remains to be seen!” B.W. Beacham, 2012

Burpless cucumbers have sprouted!

I love it when I put a seed in dirt, and then days later see the miracle of life spring forth! What an amazing thing life can be – don’t you think? Seeds are popping in my greenhouse and I wanted to share these with you! For another view of gardening be sure to check out: Aquaponic Family

Here are a few photos of what I discovered coming up in the greenhouse this afternoon. There were no indications yesterday of anything coming up…I am so excited about this! Take a look!

Six corn plants are up!

Wahoo!

Pickling cucumbers have sprouted!

Cucumbers rock!

Peas have sprouted!

Nothing could be sweeter than a fresh pea! In the greenhouse, nothing is more exciting than seeing dirt crack, and it is cracking on the green beans!

Green beans are popping the dirt!

See the potato sprouts?

This last one was not my best photo, but I just came home from work, and with the failing sunlight in the deep pot, this was a hard shot to take!

Stay tuned! No you will not see my vegetable garden dance, unless my husband captures me doing it! I am jazzed that what I have put into soil is working!

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Everyone has a favorite animal. Mine is the elephant. And they need our help.

A female elephant with her baby - Photo by ZooFari

My first memorable encounter with a baby elephant was in my late teens and it was at the San Diego Zoo. This zoo has a baby zoo where you can interact with all kinds of animals, at least it was that way in the 70’s. There was a baby elephant in one of the enclosures. The enclosure had a four foot wall, and the baby was right there in front of me. I had to touch her, which I saw in her eyes she wanted me to do. There was a caretaker in the enclosure with her and she gave me the OK.

The baby looked at me in the eyes.

Look into my eye said the elephant - Photo by Alexander Klink

Those big brown eyes looked into mine and I was hooked. I reached over and for the first time in my life I found myself touching and scratching the wiry hairs of a baby elephant. She raised her trunk to me and trumpeted, then ran off to the watering hole that the zoo provided for her. Then she came back and reached her trunk out to my hand. I scratched again. I had the feeling that she wanted to play with me, and asked if this was OK. I got the OK.

I started by scratching her forehead, and then I gently pushed. She raised her trunk, backed up and then lowered her head for me to scratch again. I did so, and I put one leg into the enclosure. Again this was OK with the gal in the enclosure. I scratched and I pushed. She was amazing. OK, you are thinking that I was nuts, and I was young. Yes I was both, but I had one of the best experiences of my life with this little one ton gal. For about a half hour I played with the baby elephant, scratching and pushing. She – running away, and then coming back for more with what I can only describe as a smile on her face.

I was getting ready to go on with my family. She noticed this, and came running back over. I scratched again and turned to leave when the little gal reached her trunk out to me, wrapped it around my leg and started to pull me in to the enclosure. Half in and half out I was surprised and pushed back while she pulled. Needless to say, she did let me go on her own, and I ended up on the ground flat on my back laughing at the joy this little gal gave to me! I said my goodbyes and she trumpeted loudly as we walked away.

This happened to me 38 years ago and it is still as fresh in my mind today as it was when it happened. I love elephants. To me they are incredible creatures are something to be cherished. Through a fellow blogger I discovered the brutality that is still occurring against this gentle giant. I was very disturbed to discover that in the month of January 2012 in the Bouba Njida National Park on the north-eastern border with Chad over 450 elephants were killed for the ivory. 450 elephants!

I would like to ask you if you saw the movie “Dances with Wolves.” If you have not, it was an incredible movie that dealt with the American Indian and the white man. There was a scene in the movie where Kevin Costner reached the top of a rolling hill and when he reached this summit he looked out over a field, not of rolling hay, but of thousands of buffalo carcasses. If you saw this movie, change the animal from a buffalo to an elephant. That is what Bouba Njida National Park looked like after this massive killing.

Please take a moment to read about and possibly do something to help these gentle creatures.  The website can be found here: http://elephantadvocacy.blogspot.com/2012/03/unprecedented-loss-in-cameroon-africa.html

Please boycott Ivory and help save this beautiful creature. Thank you for your time.

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