Are Outdoor Patio Heaters Worth the Investment?

The first thing you need to know before discussing patio heaters are the basic functions. Many people enjoy sitting on an outside patio and enjoying the outdoors, which is why weather is an enormous factor to be considered. Obviously, during warmer months many people like to spend time outdoors; however, when the weather becomes colder families tend to stay inside and wait for warmer months to come. To make the most of your patio, no matter the temperature, considering a patio heater is crucial.

There are several design options in patio heaters but the bottom line is they are created to provide enough warmth for you to enjoy your patio year round, watching the changing seasons in comfort. There are directional heaters which will provide heat in one space or radiant heaters designed to heat up the space all around them.

You also have options in the type of energy you are going to use with patio heaters, each has their pros and cons. There are basically two popular types of patio heaters electric and propane. Electric heaters have no odor and many come with weather-proofed cords, however they may take some time to reach optimal temperature. Propane heaters on the other hand are completely safe and very fuel-efficient.

Patio heaters also differ in size, style and price. Many of these can fit easily onto an outdoor table and are decorative as well as affordable. For instance, the Coral Coast Deluxe Cast Iron Tabletop Patio Heater is made with a solid cast aluminum base with decorative lattice design.

It has a 100% safety shut off burner system, safety tilt switch that will turn the unit off if tipped, and comes with and electronic ignition. This propane patio heater heats an area up to 9 feet in diameter, and while its listing price ranges from $199.99-$229.99, you can pick this unit up on sale for under $130 at some online outlets.

Do you have a nice patio umbrella? There are patio heaters for use under your umbrella. You can easily attach the Dimples Patio Umbrella Heater to any kind of umbrella. This unit is a triple quartz radiant type heater that will fold away when not in use. The heater operates with whisper quiet efficiency, as there are no moving parts. It comes complete with an 8 ft weather proof cord and will provide you 1500 watts of constant electric heat. You can find this heater from many retailers at around $200 but you may find it on sale for about $150.

Are there benefits to owning patio heaters? Well if you enjoy sitting on the patio in any weather then the answer is a resounding yes! Even when the weather is questionable outside with a patio heater, you can enjoy the changing of the seasons, or even stargazing on a cool night.

You and your spouse or partner can enjoy an intimate moment together without freezing your tush off, or you can have a nice hot drink on the patio, even on a brisk morning. There are many benefits to owning a patio heater.

What are the Differences Between Window Treatments and Window Coverings?

All I want is a little clarity. I am the type of person who gets bothered by imprecise language, especially when it is within my own industry. You see, it’s my job to write about window blinds and shades and the terms, window treatments and coverings are bantered about all the time with little regard to their real meaning.

I decided to do some research and get a definitive answer, which I would share with the public. I am not expecting to create some kind of revolution just want to shed some light on a couple of pretty nebulous words.

First, I went to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary and found nothing, no definition for either word. How could that be? These are fairly common terms. This is confusing to me. I use an online tool in my work that tells me how many times per day the internet searching public uses keywords. The word window treatments gets used about 2,600 per day and the word window coverings gets used about 625 per day. And yet, these words are not clearly defined. I sense a conspiracy – just kidding.

My next resource was Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia with descriptions and explanations written by everyday people. I found the following entries:

A window covering is material used to cover a window to reduce sunlight, to provide additional weatherproofing, or to ensure privacy. Window Coverings are usually on the interior side of windows, but can be on the exterior in some situations. Types of coverings include: drapes, curtains, window blinds, including: Venetian blinds, mini blinds, window shutters, various types of boarding, nailed or screwed to the window casing, can be used as temporary window covering.

In interior decorating, a window treatment may refer to any of the following items placed over or around a window: curtains or drapery, including sheers, window blinds, including Venetian blinds, a valance, tiebacks used to hold curtains. It may also include treatments applied to directly to the glass, including: frosted glass (through acid, etching, sandblasting, or plastic films or panels), distorted optics, such as wavy glass, stained glass panels or ornaments.

It seems to me, based on these two entries that there is little difference between their meanings. Both include window blinds, drapes, curtains and Venetian blinds (an old term for what is now commonly referred to as mini blinds). Where they seem to depart, at least according to these descriptions is that window coverings includes shutters (in this case plantation shutters) and window treatments can include treatments to the glass itself.

Both have the basic meaning of something to decorate or cover a window for privacy and light-control (room darkening) and to accentuate the décor of a room. So, essentially what we have here are two poorly defined words that have virtually the same meaning. So, I would like to make a personal ruling on this issue and say that window treatments should be any treatment: drapes, blinds and shades on the interior (inside) portion of a window, whereas window coverings should be any treatment: shutters, storm shutters, and awnings to the outside portion of a window. That seems clearer to me. Doesn’t mean that everyone is suddenly going to jump on my definition bandwagon, but I can hope.

Cleaning Pavers – Tips for Cleaning Algae

Pavements serve as a habitat for various types of organisms. Cleaning pavers becomes difficult when algae take shelter. Special cleaning methods have to be adopted to ensure that the existing algae are eliminated and new ones do not crop up again.

Pavements made of certain materials like Indian sandstone and limestone tend to have greater algal growth compared to others. Algae tend to grow and thrive in places where the weather is damp and pavements retain lot of moisture. The first step therefore is to keep the pavements clean and mop them dry at regular intervals.

An inferior variety of household bleach is ideal for cleaning pavers infested with algae. There are different kinds of bleach available in the market. Never choose the thick gelatinous bleach for cleaning pavers as it is very strong and might damage the appearance of the pavement.

Dilute the sodium hypochlorite solution (bleach) by mixing clean water and then pour it on to the pavement. Always keep a bucket of clean water ready to dilute the bleach if it happens to spill over to the adjacent lawn or other plants nearby.

Never use the thick jellylike bleach as it does not spread evenly and tends to stagnate at a particular place. As a result certain portions of the pavement get excessively bleached while the other portions remain unclean. This gives a very unseemly appearance.

It would also be better to avoid using bleach that has strength above eight percent and also that with lot of anionic surfactants. Cleaning pavers infested with algae has to be done two to three times for optimum results.

Stronger bleach has a greater cleaning effect but it is worthwhile to remember that a product with such potency might also affect the surrounding lawns, cultivated plants, and trees.

Algae float around in the air as spores and make home on any surface that has moisture. They settle down in the empty joints of pavements and thrive by absorbing minerals from the surface and water from the soil. The greenish discoloration that is seen on pavements is algae.

Algae seldom stay in isolation. They live as a colony. It is relatively easy to remove the small algal colonies while large colonies require more aggressive and frequent cleaning. In addition to bleach copper sulphate is also used to clean algae-infested pavements.

Copper sulphate crystals are added to a prescribed quantity of clean water. This solution can be swiveled or sprayed on to the pavement. It is advisable to spread the solution evenly all over the pavement and not just over the place that is affected with algae.

Always wear protective gloves over the hands while handling either bleach or copper sulphate solution. The copper sulphate solution should be left to dry for about seven days. After a week the area can be cleaned by swiveling water with a bucket or using a hose pipe. It should later be cleaned using a stiff brush to remove any remnants left.

You might do the job of cleaning pavers yourself or hire the services of professional cleaning firms in your city.

Grand Canyon Skywalk – Why You Can’t Use Your Camera

The Skywalk’s 10-foot deck is made up of six layers of Saint-Gobain Diamant low iron glass and DuPont SentryGlas. Dropping your camera will damage the glass. The rule also extends to camcorder and cell phones. Additionally, you will be asked to wear fabric shoe covers prior to stepping onto the Skywalk, which makes sense considering the surrounding terrain is dirt and rock.

This is not ordinary glass. The 46-glass floor panels are reported to have a production cost reaching $250,000 each, and can be scratched or damaged by falling metal objects. This glass is also used for the Bridge’s 5-foot, 2-inch wind-resistant glass railings.

So how do you get a picture of you on the Skywalk? Two ways: 1) Cameras affixed to the bridge; and 2) authorized photographers. Pictures taken by the stationary cameras can be purchased and picked up in the gift shop.

COSTS

You can purchase tickets to the Skywalk on site or have them included in your tour package. Current admission prices are: Adult – $29.95 Child – 3-11 years: $22.46 Senior & Military – $26.96 You can stay on the Bridge as long as you want.

PACKAGE TOURS

Most Las Vegas-based tour operators are able to include tickets to the Skywalk in your tour package. This specifically applies to West Rim bus tours and helicopter flights. Discounts might be available if you purchase online.

GETTING THERE

The Skywalk is located in Grand Canyon West, also known as Grand Canyon West, which is located 120 miles east of Las Vegas. Drive time takes 2.5 hours. Typical routes follow Highway 93 South, passing Lake Mead, the nation’s largest man-made lake, and Hoover Dam, before detouring down a 10-mile dirt road to the Canyon’s edge.

BACKGROUND

Grand Canyon Skywalk, elevation 4,770, is owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe and opened in 2007. The horseshoe-shaped glass walkway stands 3,600 feet above the Canyon’s floor – a height that exceeds that of the world’s highest skyscrapers. The Skywalk extends over a side canyon that offers unparalleled views of Granite Gorge, the main canyon that contains the Colorado River. The Skywalk can support 100 pounds per square foot, as well as seismic shocks and strong winds. The walkway could carry 822 people that weigh 200 pounds each without overstressing the structure. However, maximum occupancy at one time of 120 people.

CONCLUSION

Don’t let the ban on cameras stop you from seeing the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The attraction is still one of the most breathtaking ways to get experience the canyon. To prove this, I’ve posted this Skywalk video. Give it a look, then decide if the West Rim is for you. I think after 10 seconds you’ll agree that the Skywalk is definitely a must-do adventure.

How to Build a Home Sauna – Planning a DIY Sauna

Building a home sauna need not be an arduous or difficult task. In fact it is within the reach of most do-it-yourself home improvers and, just like any project, the key is good planning and a methodical approach to the location, design and build of the sauna.

1. Location

The first thing to decide is where to locate your sauna. This will determine its maximum size and the availability of energy sources and ventilation. With electric, gas and wood burning stoves, plus new infra red heaters, there is plenty of choice. These options make the locating of a home sauna possible in an unused bedroom, study, bathroom, loft, cellar, garage or separate outbuilding or cabin.

2. Size

Sauna size may affect the choice of location. Unused bedrooms are often selected and these can usually meet most home sauna requirements. If however the sauna is only intended for one or two users at a time it may be possible to partition off a section of a bathroom.

3. Cost

It is important to have a budget in mind. Materials like the timber wall and ceiling linings, plus bench seating, can be estimated by the square yard (metre), so the bigger the more expensive. Additionally, a large sauna will require a more powerful heater, or multiple heaters/stoves.

4. Heat source

Decide on the kind of heater required. All fossil fuel burning stoves require a flue, so saunas situated within the home can be fitted more easily if they use an electric stove, or an infra red heater. In the case of a stove, an electric unit will simulate the hot stone effect of a conventional wood or gas stove, but without fumes, gases and toxins. Infra red heaters use safe radiation to warm the surface of the skin (similar to sunshine) and do not increase air temperature.

5. Materials and kit type

Obtain all of the sauna materials required. This can most easily, cheaply and effectively be done by buying a sauna home fabrication kit. These kits can be purchased based on sauna size, desired heater type (and power output) and room fitting requirements. Sauna kits come in two forms.

    5.1 The first is a package of lining materials, benches, a door and a heater and it is ideal for converting a room within a house into an integral sauna. The kit materials use the existing walls, ceiling and floor as the surrounding structure and the sauna lining is assembled directly on to these structural elements. Some cutting, drilling and gluing is required, but everything necessary to build the sauna is included in the kit.
    5.2 The second option is a prefabricated sauna kit which is a more pre-assembled version of the basic kit and which requires only minimal assembly. This type of sauna kit is self supporting and does not require walls or a ceiling to attach to. Furthermore, a prefabricated sauna kit can include weatherproof walls, a pitched roof, a solid floor and windows, making it ideal as a free standing cabin or annex in the garden or yard. This kind of kit is more expensive and less of a project for the “home makeover expert”, but it is fast and easy to erect and provides an operational sauna in a matter of hours.

Glass Shelf Brackets – Floating On Air

Glass shelves seem to defy gravity, allowing whatever is on them to appear to float in mid-air. While glass shelves can’t hold a lot, they beautifully enhance everything that you display on them.

Glass shelving is often associated with bathrooms, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but why not consider them for other rooms in your home as well? Glass shelves in the kitchen with jars of beans or candied fruit are a great way to spruce up an unused corner or area above the door. Likewise, a set of glass shelves with family pictures in the den gives you added display space without making the room feel too enclosed.

In order to maximize the beauty of glass shelves, make sure you use appropriate supports for them. Glass shelf brackets are specifically designed for the purpose, enhancing the elegance of the shelves themselves. Don’t use glass shelf brackets for other types of shelves unless their use is clearly specified in the mounting instructions.

Brackets approved for glass shelving tend to be lighter, more delicate and, in some cases, purposely smaller than other types of brackets. A large metal bracket may completely overshadow and weigh down a glass shelf, causing it to look unbalanced and unnecessarily heavy. It is also wasted on a glass shelf, since larger brackets are designed to hold more weight, which usually isn’t an issue with shelves designed for display rather than storage.

The smallest glass shelf brackets are rails or clips. These brackets barely stick out from the wall, and many of them are made from chrome, so that they shine like glass and naturally blend with the shelf that they are supporting. First they are mounted on the wall, and then the shelves are fitted onto them. Instead of screws that go through the glass shelf in order to hold it in place, they have specially designed screws with a blunt end that pushes down and grips the shelf in place. They are also rated for weight as well as the thickness of the glass that they are designed for. Rails and clips are really only good for glass shelves holding the lightest of items. They are not designed to support any type of serious weight.

There are complete pages dedicated to the subject of brackets, shelving accessories, shelves of all sorts and more at The Home Shelving Guide. Come over and take a look at all the informations that we’ve gathered for you.

If you’re interested in putting heavier objects on glass shelves and you’re worried about sagging, you would be better off with standard glass brackets. These are more traditionally designed brackets that extend out fully from the wall to support the shelf. They differ from regular wood shelf brackets in that they are usually longer than the shelf’s width. They are built with a raised foot on the end or an extended lip that holds the glass shelf in place. Since glass slides on metal easily this is important so that the shelf won’t slide off.

The variety of glass shelf brackets available in the market is extensive. Pick brackets that match your décor, your budget, and most importantly, the support needs of your glass shelves.

Tree Stand – Prevent Legs From Sinking Into the Ground

Never again experience a ladder tree stand sinking into the ground. There are numerous brands of ladder tree stands for deer hunting. Many of them are constructed of hollow square tubing with no cap on the bottom section to prevent legs from sinking into the ground.

If the ladder stand is erected and put into use, the legs will progressively sink deeper into the ground with each use. When this occurs, it becomes necessary to re-secure it to the tree since the sinking has caused the seat to develop a slant that is very uncomfortable.

There are a number of ways to prevent the legs from sinking into the ground. One approach is to sink both legs into the ground to the depth of the first ladder rung which will provide adequate support to prevent further sinking. This can be difficult due to tree roots or rocks. However, if this approach is successful, you have lost some height of the ladder stand. Another disadvantage, the legs will tend to rust off while in the moist soil, creating a safety hazard.

A simple effective way to prevent the tree stand legs from sinking into the ground is by installing a support base by inserting a flattened length of metal pipe into each leg. This is accomplished as follows:

Cut two 6 inch lengths of 3/4 inch galvanized EMT metal conduit, one for each leg.

Use a hammer or vice to completely flatten five inches of each piece of pipe.

Place the flattened section of pipe in the vice. Using a rigid screw driver or other metal tool, bend the pipe to a 90 degree bend.

Insert the short round end of the metal pipe into the hollow square legs of the ladder tree stand. The flattened section of metal pipe provides a support base for each leg of the ladder.

In the event the round end of the pipe does not fit into the legs of the tree stand, it can be squared up with a few taps of a hammer for an easy fit.

An alternative method to preventing your ladder stand from sinking into the ground. This is accomplished by bolting a 3/4″ EMT metal conduit to each leg of the stand approximately one inch above the ground. This will require drilling of holes in each leg of the ladder stand and each end of the metal conduit. This will allow for well anchored legs and will not allow sinking beyond the pipe.

Each of the above techniques requires approximately the same amount of time and effort. Either technique can be used with confidence while deer hunting from your favorite ladder tree stand. The only sinking feeling you will get is after shooting your deer and realizing you missed.

The Golden Greeks – The Romance of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis

MARIA CALLAS AND ARISTOTLE ONASSIS

The career of Maria Callas had already begun its downward slide when she was introduced to Aristotle Onassis. It was 1957 and she was 35 years old. She had been married to the elderly, short, squat Giovanni Battista Meneghini for ten years.

Maria found some comfort for her diminishing artistic success in high society. Elsa Maxwell gave an elegant party for Maria in Venice. Before she knew it, Aristotle Onassis had managed to inveigle the seat next to hers at the dinner table. For the next seven days, wherever she was he appeared next to her as if by magic. She found it flattering and pleasant, but for the time being, nothing more.

Then the morning before a gala charity concert for a Legion d’Honneur in 1958, Maria received a huge bunch of red roses, with good wishes in Greek, signed Aristotle Onassis. Another huge bunch of red roses arrived at lunch, also with good wishes in Greek, signed Aristotle. And just as she was about to leave for the opera house came another bunch of roses, also with good wishes in Greek. This time there was no signature on it. Maria knew who had sent it…

On June 17, after a performance of MEDEA at Covent Garden, Maria and her husband attended a reception at the Dorchester where they met Aristotle Onassis again. This time Maria was ready….

Next he organized a party for her which literally left her gasping. The Meneghinis were millionaires, but compared to Onassis, they felt like a poor relatives. He invited forty people to come as his guests to the opera and then one hundred and sixty to a party at the Dorchester. It was more lavish than any ever given for Maria before, even by Elsa Maxwell. The ballroom was decorated entirely in orchid pink and overflowing with matching roses. She had often heard the expression, “Your wish is my command,” but this was the first time in her life she had seen it in action. Aristotle never left her side and no request of hers was too small for him to grant. When she casually mentioned she liked tangos, he rushed up to the bandleader with fifty pounds in his hand. After that nothing but tangos were played all evening. They didn’t leave the Dorchester until after 3 o’clock in the morning. In the foyer, the Meneghinis and Onassis were photographed in a hug, Aristotle on one side of Maria and Meneghini on the other. The shot turned out to be prophetic.

Ari kept inviting her all evening to come and cruise with him and Tina on the Christina. He was hard to resist and poor Meneghini didn’t offer much competition. For a little girl from a lower middle class neighborhood in Washington Heights, it was a fairy tale, a dream come true. In spite of Meneghini’s impassioned protests, they were going cruising on the Christina.

Maria went shopping in Milan, where she spent millions of lire on bathing suits, vacation outfits, and lingerie. A sophisticated friend later told Maria that a woman always buys new lingerie when she is about to have an affair. She was right, but Maria didn’t know it yet; she told herself she just wanted to look nice on the trip.

On board the three million dollar sea palace as large as a football field were Winston Churchill and his wife and daughter, Gianni Agnelli and his wife, and many other well known Greek, American, and English personalities. Maria ran about the ship like a school girl, exclaiming at each new discovery, now the solid gold fixtures shaped like dolphins in each bathroom, now her enormous, beautifully decorated cabin and marble bathroom with adjoining boudoir and limitless closet space for all her beautiful new clothes (a suite, incidentally, which she never used later unless Ari and she had a fight), now the real El Greco in Ari’s study, the fabulous jeweled Buddha, the swimming pool decorated with a mosaic reproduction of a fresco from the Palace of Knossos, the huge oak paneled lounge with a majestic grand piano at one end and a lapis lazuli fireplace at the other, and Ari’s private bathroom that looked like a temple, and the bath, inlaid with flying fish and dolphins, which was an exact copy of the one in King Minos’s lost Palace of Knossos in Crete. Ari, who had fussed like a housewife over every detail, was in raptures over each of Maria’s enthusiastic outbursts. The ship boasted a crew of sixty, including two chefs, one French, one Greek. The guests were given a choice of menus, but Maria, who had lost a great deal of weight, was still eating mostly raw meat and salads. But since she had a habit of sneaking bits of food from everyone else’s plates, she got at least a sampling of the fine cuisine.

The trip was literally an eye opener for her, a staid Italian matron who believed in fidelity and monogamy. She was shocked to see many of the guests sunbathing without any clothes on, and some of them openly playing around with other people’s mates on deck. Aristotle was one of those walking around naked. He was very hairy, like a gorilla, Battista said. Maria’s reaction to his nudity was the second sign that she was becoming another person. She had always been a bit of a prude. She wouldn’t sing the Dance of the Seven Veils in Richard Strauss’s SALOME because she had to take off her clothes. But when she saw Ari walking around like that, she giggled like a school girl. She had never seen a nude man besides Battista.

For Maria, it was a magnificent three week voyage. Their plans were to stop first at Portofino, a toy port on the coast of Italy, and then go on to Capri for sight-seeing. Then they would sail from the Mediterranean through the Aegean Sea to the Gulf of Corinth. From there they planned a sight seeing trip of Delphi, sailing on to Izmir, the Turkish name for Ari’s boyhood home, and then on up to the Dardanelles to Istanbul and home again.

Maria’s enthusiasm was not shared by Meneghini. He got crabbier and crabbier the further along they got on their voyage. He was interested in neither the ship nor the other guests, and spent his time whining about the way they were slighting him. Maria found his griping and endless criticism of Aristo increasingly irritating. She kept comparing his sluggish demeanor with Ari’s vigor and passion for life, and Battista fell far short. He was only nine years older than Ari, but Maria felt but he acted like his grandfather.

Maria was drunk with the fresh sea air, the cloudless blue skies, and the company of Onassis. By the time they reached Piraeus, the weather became so stormy Meneghini and most of the other guests took to their staterooms, leaving Aristo and Maria practically alone. They sat in the deserted games room basking before the fire in the lapis lazuli fireplace. The sparkle of the flames lit up the deep blue of the lapis, and was reflected in his eyes, which were black and round as Greek olives. The room was dimly lit, and once in a while it was brilliantly illuminated by a flash of lightening. Once during such a flash Maria saw her own eyes mirrored in his. She took it as an omen. His eyes, her eyes, it was all the same to Maria.

The motion of the ship on the stormy seas rocked them back and forth, so she was almost in a trance as they sat there talking all night long. They talked mostly in Greek, or, rather, Ari did. He told her all about his boyhood, where he came into the world seventeen years before Maria in Smyrna near the coast of Turkey. Later he had the captain stop the ship there so he could show her the house where he was born. He spoke about the Greek quarters where he was brought up, and of his father and uncle, who were flourishing merchants of cotton, tobacco, and anything else that would grow in the Anatalyan area. Then without making a play for sympathy, he described his mother’s death during a kidney operation when he was only six. He told her of his father’s subsequent remarriage to his aunt, and of his beloved grandmother. He also said he had been a choirboy and boasted with a beguiling smile that he, too, had a good voice. She found him enchanting, and knew other women did, too. He had been a ladies’ man from the time he pinched his English teacher’s bottom and was suspended from school. He was incorrigible from the beginning, and made love for the first time when he was only thirteen. When Maria thought she was twice that age when she had her first sexual experience, she was embarrassed!

He also told her of the horrors in his life that surpassed Maria’s experiences during the Second World War. He had lived through the Turkish attack on Smyrna and had seen thousands of Greeks tortured and killed. At age sixteen he rescued his father from the cruel Turks, who massacred one million Greeks in Turkish Asia Minor between 1918 and 1923. Then he told Maria of crossing the sea in a filthy boat crammed with a thousand immigrants in steerage until his arrival at Buenos Aires on September 21, 1923. It amazed Maria that six weeks before she was born, Ari was already an experienced man on his way to success. He soon started his career with the telephone company and, by the time he was twenty-four, had become Greek vice-consul general in Argentina. Shortly after he found the two Canadian ships with which he began his stunning career.

On August 4 they dropped anchor at the foot of Mount Athos, where an incident happened that was to change Maria’s life forever. They were received by the Patriarch Athenagoras, and knelt side by side to receive his blessing. Speaking in Greek, he called them “the world’s greatest singer and the greatest seaman of the modern world, the new Ulysses.” When he thanked them for the honors they had brought to the Greek world, Maria’s eyes filled with tears. It was as if he were performing a solemn marriage ceremony. Somehow she felt he brought her God’s permission to be together with Ari, and her last resistance crumbled. After that they were man and wife in their minds, and a few hours later, in their bodies.

That night there was a party at the Istanbul Hilton for the guests of the Christina. Meneghini said he felt too tired and weak to attend and remained on board the ship. When Maria returned at five in the morning, he was waiting up for her and demanded to know why she was so late. Maria knew she couldn’t keep up the farce any longer. “I am in love with Ari,” she said.

A week after the Christina had docked in Istanbul, the Meneghinis left the ship on one of Onassis’ private planes and flew to Milan, and then promptly left for Sirmione. Maria wore a bracelet with the initials TMWL (To Maria With Love) engraved on it.

Parting from Ari left a hole in Maria’s heart, which she filled by fantasizing the whole night long he would come get her. To her great surprise, to say nothing of Battista’s, at nine o’clock the next morning they heard a voice outside her window singing, “Maria, Maria!” It was Aristo. He told Battista, “I’ve come to marry your wife.”

At four o’clock in the morning, she left with Aristo for Milan. He then flew to Venice to discuss divorce with Tina.

For the first time in her life, Maria was madly in love with a man in love with her. It was too much to take in all at once. She was flooded with so much feeling she felt she couldn’t bear it. Then she would remind herself that despite the blessing of the Patriarch Athenagoras, she was having an affair with a married man, and this would calm her down a bit. Then she appeased her conscience with the knowledge that she and Ari would try to get divorces and marry as soon as possible.

People said Callas’ whole personality changed, that her sharp edges had melted and she had become a softer, gentler person. Even poor Battista said she was a different woman. For the first time in her life she was happy. She had the feeling of being kept in a cage so long that when she met Aristo, bursting with vigor and zest for life, she became another woman. Even Antonio Ghiringhelli, the taciturn and enigmatic manager of La Scala, succumbed to her new temperament. The iceman actually smiled with his whole face when he asked Maria to return to La Scala on her own terms and to sing anything she wanted. She arrived in Milan on September 2 in wonderful spirits to begin rehearsals for the new recording.

Her happiness was somewhat flawed by the press and photographers, who persecuted her mercilessly. The throngs were so numerous and unruly she needed physical protection to keep from being mauled. On one occasion they caught Ari and Maria dining tete-a-tete at the Rendez-vous in Milan, and at three o’clock that morning they were photographed going into the Hotel Principe e Savoia arm in arm. In order to increase Maria’s chances of getting a divorce by mutual consent, her lawyers insisted she issue a statement to the press saying: “I confirm that the break between my husband and myself is complete and final. It has been in the air for some time, and the cruise on the Christina was only coincidental….I am now my own manager. I ask for understanding in this painful personal situation,” she said sweetly. “Between Signor Onassis and myself there exists a profound friendship that dates back some time. I am also in a business connection with him. When I have further things to say, I shall do so at the opportune moment.”

Maria despised living a lie, which she knew no one believed anyhow. Aristo was also attacked by reporters, but he was more honest than Maria. “Of course,” he said, “how could I help but be flattered if a woman with the class of Maria Callas fell in love with someone like me? Who wouldn’t?”

On September 10, as soon as the GIOCONDA recording was finished, Maria rushed to the Milan airport to board the private plane Ari had sent for her. From there she flew to Venice, where she excitedly boarded the Christina. Aristo was exuberant and triumphantly marked her arrival by setting off the loud, blasting siren announcing the departure of the Christina. Only two other guests were along this time, Ari’s sister, Artemis and her husband Theodore Garoufalidis.

Tina was not on board. She had taken her children a few days before and fled to Paris to the home of her father, the respected Greek shipowner, Stavros Livanos. Aristo, who was upset about the children, followed her in his private plane to make a half-hearted gesture of reconciliation. But Tina was not about to forgive him for the public humiliation to which he had subjected her. This left Ari free to do what he really wanted, to sail on the Christina with Maria Callas.

What a dream voyage it was, with both of them relaxed and at peace with themselves! Their love was just what the Good Doctor ordered. They soaked up the sun all day long, swam for hours in the sun drenched Mediterranean, and were free to make love all night.

Luxuriating in her new happiness left Maria unwilling to give up one moment of it. She was so immersed in the timelessness of the present she paid no attention to her career. She was sick and tired of being a sexless nun, and was relieved to leave it behind her. Nevertheless, she was shocked when a newspaper compared the number of appearances she had made pre and post-Ari. In 1958, she gave twenty-eight performances of seven operas in six cities all over the world. In 1960 she gave only seven performances of two operas in two cities, and in 1961 her schedule showed just five performances, all of MEDEA at Epidaurus and La Scala. The decline continued even more rapidly in 1962, when she sang MEDEA twice at La Scala. And in 1963 she gave no performances at all. In 1964, sadly enough, Maria Callas made the last stage appearance of her life.

But like most heavenly sojourns on earth, Maria’s utopia was short lived. Or perhaps it would be nearer correct to say it became sporadic, as a new phase of their relationship began. Like many men, once Ari had Maria for his own, he became much more difficult. Now he played the one hard to get. Gone were the days of the Dorchester when every wish of hers was his command. Now his pleasure became primary to both of them. To Maria’s despair, he spent time with his wife, trying to woo her back. He began to date other women. He behaved like a typical Greek man and Maria a typical Greek woman, whose philosophy is that a man cannot really change himself, but a woman must be able transform herself to suit her man.

Now he became withdrawn and difficult, now staying away for as much as a week, not even phoning when he didn’t feel like it. Nor would he answer her calls. She would be in a panic for days at a time. He had all the power in the relationship: She could only sit and wait for his call.

Then suddenly, for no reason she could understand, he would begin to phone again every day and send her flowers. Or he would show up unexpectedly or send for her. She was so happy to see him she overlooked being hurt and angry. Each return was like another honeymoon.

They talked a lot about getting married. When Ari said once more he would marry her, Maria made an announcement to the press. Ari told reporters it was just a childish prank and purely Maria’s fantasy! She was a good little girl again and said nothing. How she had changed from the Xanthippe who was married to Meneghini!

Ari behaved like a pasha, and when he didn’t want Maria along on the voyages of the Christina, he had no compunctions about kicking her off. No excuse was necessary.

Meanwhile, Tina was going about getting her divorce, in spite of Aristotle’s pleas for a reconciliation. Maria was overjoyed when he agreed to look at a chateau with her in Eure-et-Loire. The divorce came through a month later. The chateau never did.

Maria had agreed to give two performances of NORMA in August in Greece. It had almost a religious significance for Ari that his mistress score a triumph at historic Epidaurus. He put everything else aside for her those weeks, and they were deliriously happy again as they spent almost all their time together. When he loved her everything seemed possible. And, indeed, the performance on August 24 turned out to be one of the peak experiences of her life. Maria loved Ari as he was and accepted all his weaknesses along with the qualities she admired in him. He, on the other hand, was constantly trying to change her. He didn’t like the way she dressed, and actually phoned Biki, one of Milan’s most important fashion designers, during Maria’s fittings to make sure her new clothes would be to his taste. He said she looked plain in her glasses. Since Maria was unable to tolerate contacts, she walked about the ship half blind, holding her glasses in her hand. He didn’t like her long hair either, which had always been her glory. So he sent her to Alexandre in Paris, who cut her hair while she kept her hands over her eyes. To her surprise, she loved the short, bouncy hairstyle he created, and thought it made her look younger and more sophisticated.

Thus the years passed, with Maria ever hopeful and Onassis ever more brutal. In 1963, Lee Radziwell, Jackie Kennedy’s sister, who was on board the Christina, left to fly to her sister’s bedside, where she had just given birth to Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who died two days later. When Lee returned to Athens, she told Ari and Maria how desolate and distraught her sister was. Ari immediately offered Mrs. Kennedy the use of the Christina for her convalescence. She eagerly accepted, although neither the president nor Maria shared her enthusiasm. President Kennedy objected to his wife’s cruise because Onassis had been indicted during the Eisenhower administration for conspiring to defraud the American government of taxes on surplus American ships. He had to pay the government seven million dollars to get off the hook. And Maria – she had vague anxieties she didn’t understand. She only knew she felt desolate and lonely at the thought of Mrs. Kennedy’s presence on board, and strangely enough, found herself trembling with fear.

Her voice continued to go down hill. Just when she needed him the most, Aristo became impossible, and in 1967 they had their worst summer together yet. Ingse Dedichen, his lover during World War Two, told a friend Ari had beaten her up until she looked “like a boxer who has lost a fight.” He told her afterward every Greek without exception beats up his wife. “It is good for them,” he said. “It keeps them in line.”

He never beat Maria physically – he probably knew that was the one thing he couldn’t get away with – but his treatment of her was almost as brutal. No curse was too vile to hurl at her, no words of abuse too insulting. She was told to shut up because she was only a stupid dame whose nose was too big, with glasses that made her look ugly and legs that were too fat. He was not above saying she was just a cunt with a whistle in her throat who was good only for fucking. And always in front of people, to make her humiliation that much more painful.

Aristo was having his own difficulties, both with his old friend Vergottis, who later sued him and lost, and with Prince Ranier, who was trying to unseat Ari as the person with the controlling interest in the State of Monaco. Ari loved his power over the principality, and gloried every time he took a step into Monaco. For him, it was the crowning jewel of his life. In a brilliant move, the prince created 600,000 shares in the company, and offered to buy out any shares of the existing shareholders at the market rate, thus giving him and his stockholders complete power over the destiny of his country. Ari appealed to the courts and lost. A defeated man, he left Monaco, not to return until shortly before he died.

Of all the possible times of her life it could have happened, Maria picked the moment when their relationship was at its lowest point to become pregnant. She couldn’t wait to tell Ari about it. She wanted to have a baby more than she ever wanted anything in my life besides him, and the thought of bearing the child of the man she loved filled her with tenderness. But Ari had other ideas.

“Why should I want another child?” he said. “I already have two.”

“But Aristo,” Maria pleaded, “I have always wanted a child. It is a miracle I’m pregnant at all at the age of forty-three. If I don’t have this baby, I will never have another.”

“Have it then,” he said, “and it will be the end of our relationship.”

Maria had the abortion. But it marked the end of their love affair, even though they stayed together for a few years longer.

Maria didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t live with him and she couldn’t live without him. She was forty-three years old and had never had a place of her own. So she compromised and got her own apartment in Paris.

The turning point came when Ari’s servants, George and Helen, told a friend they had been ordered to spend an entire evening in their rooms while Ari entertained and cooked for a “special guest” himself. Maria knew Aristo had been having affairs all along. But she knew intuitively that this incident was different. She remained agitated and anxious and began to find it impossible to sleep without taking pills.

She soon found out who the “special guest” was. The newspapers reported seeing Ari and Jackie Kennedy dining together at El Morocco, 21, Dionysis, and at Mykonos with Christina, Nureyev, and Margot Fonteyn. Gossips were already listing him among Jackie’s possible suitors.

The crisis occurred when Maria returned to the Christina and Ari instructed her to go back to Paris and wait for him there.

“Go to Paris?” she said. “Nobody stays in Paris in August. You must be mad.”

“You have to go,” he insisted.

“I have to? What are you talking about?”

“I’m having a special guest aboard and you can’t be here.”

“Who could be so special that I can’t be aboard?”

He didn’t answer, but it didn’t matter. Maria already knew the answer.

“Then I’m leaving you,” she said.

“Don’t be silly. I’ll see you after the cruise is over in September,” he said.

“No, Ari. You don’t understand. I said I’m leaving you. You will never see me again.” And she left, never to return.

Then on October 20, 1968, Maria got the news she had prayed she would never hear. Ari’s butler called to tell her Aristotle and Kennedy were going to be married.

Maria did what she could to pass the time. She attended the opera next to Ghiringhelli, made a movie, taught a master class at Jiulliard. In the meantime, Ari was becoming disillusioned with Jackie’s lavish buying sprees of jewelry and clothing and he was beginning to realize she was taking him for a fool. He kept calling and sending Maria flowers, but for a long time her pride was too hurt and she refused to talk with him. Finally in 1969 they met at a party and little by little, began to see each other again.

The climax came after they had spent four nights together when he took her to dine at Maxim’s for the whole world to see. Maria was ecstatic, and believed Jackie was just another paramour to be forgotten. But the lady had other ideas. When she saw the newspaper photos of her husband and Maria dining together with blissful smiles, she was furious and flew immediately to his side. She insisted he repeat the drama of the day before at Maxim’s with her in Maria’s place. The next day Maria was admitted to the American Hospital at Neuilly with the diagnosis of “overdose of barbiturates.”

For the first time since Ari’s marriage, Maria returned to Greece, this time as the guest of Perry Embiricos on his private island of Tragonisi in the Aegean. Perry was a friend of Onassis, who had introduced Maria to him. To her surprise who should show up on the island but Aristo! He greeted Maria with a kiss, and from then on they resumed their relationship.

Thus, surviving his marriage, Maria was able to hang on by the tips of her fingernails until March, 1975, when Onassis became critically ill with incurable myasthenia gravis.

Maria had been getting daily reports about his progress from the American Hospital in Paris, where he had gone for surgery. He never recovered consciousness, and was kept alive for five weeks by a respirator and intravenous feedings. Maria knew he was dying and she was not allowed to be by his side. The doctors said it could go on for weeks or even months. Her suffering was unendurable.

On March 12, she received her last report from the American Hospital. Aristo was dead.

Maria was slowly dying from the loss of her career. He had flashed into her life like a bolt of lightning across a dark summer sky; where there’d been nothing suddenly there was Aristo. Her friends and staff were considerate, thoughtful, and loving. But it meant nothing, nothing. He was her core, her life. How could she live without him?

On September 16, 1977, at the age of 53, Maria Callas was found dead in her bed. The official story was that she died of a heart attack. But no autopsy was permitted, and her cremation took place almost immediately. Heart attack? Perhaps. But there are those of us who believe Maria when she said, “I’ve played heroines who die for love – and that’s something I can understand.”

Painting on Fabric With Acrylic Fabric Paints – A Beginner’s Guide

Painting on fabric is easy and inexpensive, and it opens up exciting new creative horizons for sewers and quilters, fine arts painters, scrapbookers, and mixed-media artists..

If you’ve never tried painting on fabric before, you may have questions about how to get started. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about fabric painting.

What kinds of paint can I use to paint on fabric?

Oil paints and acrylic paints can both be used for fabric painting, but acrylic fabric paints are much easier for a beginner to use than oils. They are inexpensive, they don’t require any chemical solvents for cleanup (unlike oil paints), and they are easy to find at art stores, large craft stores, or even quilt shops.

What’s in an acrylic fabric paint?

Acrylic paints consist of colors mixed into an acrylic fluid that is designed for use on fabric. Some acrylic paints are stiff enough to create 3-D brush stroke effects on the fabric. Others are thin and have a watery consistency, like watercolor paints. Acrylic paints can be thinned with water, but that makes the color paler. You can also thin or thicken your paint without changing its color by mixing it with a fluid called fabric medium or gel medium.

What types of fabric can I paint?

Really, you can paint just about any woven, knitted, or nonwoven fabric. The list includes cotton, linen, rayon, wool, silk, most synthetics, terry cloth, and velvet or velveteen. You can also paint with fabric paints on many interfacings, quilt batting, leather, or suede. When in doubt, test the surface before you start a full-scale project.

Can I wash painted fabric? How long will it last?

As long as you follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions for drying and curing the paint, most painted fabrics can be washed. The paints will typically last as long as the fabric does. The more gently you wash (hand washing and drip drying instead of machine washing, for instance) the better the paint should wear. For most fabrics, the paint can be machine washed or dry cleaned. To iron acrylic painted fabrics, use a low heat setting.

Do I need other equipment or supplies to paint on fabric?

A set of good acrylic paint brushes, a sponge or two, and whatever stamps, stencils, and other applicators you have around the house (Q-tips, pens, scrunched-up plastic wrap, you name it!) will come in handy. If you want to blend colors, a painter’s palette might be useful, although you can also use a china plate for that. You really don’t need anything more to get started.

How should I get the fabric ready for painting?

If the fabric is new, always prewash it to remove any sizing, which can keep the paint from adhering properly to the fabric. You may also want to protect your work surface with newspaper or cardboard to keep paint from getting on things you don’t want to paint.

What’s a good first project for me to try?

How about adding some pizzazz to a pair of canvas sneakers, a silk scarf (you may want to try a paint specially formulated for use on silk,) a t-shirt or sweatshirt, a canvas tote bag, a baseball cap, or a small wall quilt? The possibilities are endless. Start with something small and inexpensive, so you can experiment without fear.

Pros and Cons of Hiring an Interior Designer

Do you watch HGTV? If so, you have seen many TV shows depicting homeowners and so called interior designers working magic in very short periods of time, with very small budgets. The reality of these TV shows is that very often the so called designers are actors with no formal interior design training. The depictions of what can be done with $1,000 and a day are not at all realistic.

In the ‘real world’ what can a professional interior designer do for you? Some believe that an interior designer is a luxury for the super wealthy. Many are surprised to discover that designers can work within small budget and assist with projects as small as choosing the optimal paint color for a powder room. The ASID North Chapter (American Society of Interior Designers, Phoenix) states it well;

“Your home. Your ideas. Your lifestyle. Our job is to understand.”

Most people who are thinking about changing their interior environments aren’t lacking in taste or style. In fact, they usually have fantastic ideas about what they want. What they don’t have is the expertise to make the vision into a reality. They lack the know how to pull it together, and are overwhelmed by the myriad of options to choose from.

Some Pros of Hiring a Design Consultant:

  • Will help you see the ‘big picture’ and suggest ideas that you may not have thought of, in other words, bring a different dimension to the design,
  • Has relationships with professional craftspeople and vendors to refer to you (i.e., painters, cabinetry makers, fabric workrooms),
  • During a remodel/new build, will work with the architect/builder to insure the lighting plan is suited to the overall furniture space plan and the desired functionality of the spaces,
  • Uses an analytical problem-solving approach to the project that identifies your needs both aesthetically and functionally.
  • Some Cons of Hiring a Design Consultant:

    • You didn’t have the necessary dialogue up-front with the designer, and now she/he has created a room that doesn’t reflect your needs or personality,
    • Fails to prepare and present a detailed letter of agreement to you and doesn’t understand the scope of the project,
    • The designer is too busy and isn’t giving your project the level of attention you need her/him to.
    • The chemistry between you and the designer is just not working well.

      There is a difference between a decorator and a designer.

      Decorators are unaccredited and can be anyone from salespeople at furniture stores to someone who simply figures that he or she has a flair for color and design. Registered interior designers, in contrast, have graduated from an accredited program at a college, and most often are members of ASID which has education and professional experience requirements for its’ members.

      If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you should consider hiring a professional Interior Designer to move your project along.

      1. Is every minute of every day filled with work, kids, and volunteer obligations? Do you feel as though you just can’t add one more thing to your busy life?
      2. When you look at fabrics and paint, are there so many choices that you just don’t know where to start?
      3. Did you start to redecorate your room and buy a few nice pieces, but just don’t know what to do with them?
      4. Are you and your spouse/partner having trouble agreeing on what to do?
      5. Do you want your home to be “one-of-a-kind,” unlike anything you’ve seen before?

        If you do decide to hire a professional designer, speak with 2-3 qualified designers before you make your final decision. Don’t forget, one of the best ways to find a designer to work with is to ask your friends and family for referrals.

Why The Dentist In Finding Nemo Is Not a Villain

When watching the famous and family friendly film Finding Nemo, you may not have paid much attention to P. Sherman the dentist who provided his office as the fish tank home. This is a mistake, because without him and his office, the movie could have never played out in the way it did, and Nemo would have never found his way home. While traditionally considered a villain, P. Sherman is actually shown as a caring pet owner, loving uncle and an accomplished dentist.

In the earlier part of the film, the fish plot an escape plan for when P. Sherman cleans their filthy tank. When P. Sherman sees the terrible state of the fish tank, he makes sure, before seeing any patients, to address the issue and give the fish a sparkling clean tank. The AquaScum 3000 is the latest in fish tank cleaning technology and provides regular pH and temperature checks. Of course this thwarts any plans the fish had made for escape, but it demonstrates P. Sherman’s dedication to the care of his office pets. If fish had teeth, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to think he’d take excellent care of them too.

Most importantly, P. Sherman (with his tools and spit fountain) provides the only way for Nemo’s eventual escape back to the ocean, through the pipes. In the rising action of the film, Nemo plays dead in order to get flushed down the toilet, but it ends up being the spit fountain that he is flushed down as a method to escape. No other profession would offer Nemo this route of escape, which makes dentistry key in this film.

Not only does his office provide a safe and comfortable environment for the fish, they are also gaining a valuable education in watching him practice. In the start of the film the fish remark on an in-progress root canal and display their knowledge of the tools as they discuss. There’s no doubt that any dentist student would jump at such a marvelous chance to observe a true professional at work and absorb so much information about the practice.

Though it’s tough to see without pausing and zooming in certain screen shots, P. Sherman has been awarded a number of awards and certificates. These include, The Toothless Grin of the Society of Denture Wearers, a diploma from the Pixar School of Dentistry and the Gums Most Likely to Recede Award. It’s clear that he’s no hack and takes his work very seriously.

A loving uncle, reputable dental professional and great pet owner, P. Sherman is definitely not any sort of villain. In an animated world designed for kids, it’s important to display the adult characters with strong moral values and positive attitudes. Finding Nemo does this in spades and might even convince some kids to not be so afraid of the dentist in the future. If this film has taught us one thing, it’s that dentists aren’t so bad.

How to Plant Tomato Plants Without Tilling Your Soil

It’s springtime and you, like many people, find yourself wanting to raise some homegrown tomatoes at home. There are two primary ways to do this. One way is to plant your plants directly into the ground. Another way is to plant your tomato plants in any of various types of containers designed for that purpose.

In this article, I will be looking specifically at the option of planting your plants directly into the ground and whether or not you should have to till your ground with a machine tiller or not.

Most people tend to think that if you are going to have a garden of any type that it is best to purchase or rent or borrow a tiller and till up the soil in the area that is to be your garden. Many people have taken this approach over the years, but recently it has become the subject of controversy. There are some agriculturalists that are now saying that tilling your soil right before planting is not a good idea and that it actually does damage to the structure of the soil.

Many of us don’t have the time or the money to get a tiller and till up a part of our yard. So how do we deal with this situation if we don’t want to till, but have very hard, dense, and compacted soil?

The answer to this is relatively simple and is one that I have used with successful results. What you can do is dig a hole in the ground with a shovel where you want to plant your tomato plant. Make the hole approximately 15 inches around and anywhere from 18 to 24 inches deep. This hole in the ground essentially becomes your “pot” for your plant.

Next what you should do is fill the hole with a planting mix that you create. What I have done is used a mixture of potting mix, peat moss, organic humus, and vermiculite. All of these items can be purchased at your local home store. You can add some of the original soil back into your mix if you want, but make sure that the original soil content in your mix is less than 50 percent. If you prefer, it is perfectly acceptable to put all of your original soil elsewhere in your landscape and fill the hole completely with your new mix.

Fill the hole up with the mix flush to the ground and plant your tomato plant or seedling in the middle. At this point, it is helpful to put some mulch around the plant that will cover all of your planting mix. I prefer to use a black colored mulch purchased from my local home store. The reason for this is because tomato plant roots like to be in warm soil, and the black colored mulch will absorb the sun and help your new planting mix to warm up quicker. When your soil is warm, your tomato plant will grow at a more rapid rate than when the soil is cold.

So that is how to plant your tomato plants in the ground without tilling and still retain the greatest results of a beneficial loose soil for your tomato plant.

Top 5 Types of Activity Books For Young Children

Activity books are a great way to make reading fun. There are lots of different types of activity books available to suit different age groups. Here we have selected our top 5.

1.Texture Books

Texture, also known as touch and feel books, are very popular with babies and very young children. These are books where part of the picture is made out of different fabrics and materials. Babies like the tactile aspect of the pages and love to touch the pictures while the story is being read to them. This type of book will also help develop the childs sensory awareness.

2. Lift the Flap Books

These are story books which usually have flaps to lift on every page It is a classic book format that children love. Lifting the flaps adds to the fun of the story and will make story time a more interactive event. These books are usually aimed at younger children from babies up to the age of about 4 or 5. When choosing a lift the flap book look for books with a sturdy feel and strong flaps. The flaps will get pulled and tugged at and if they are not attached securely or are not made out of thick cardboard, they wont last long.

3. Sound Books

Sound books are popular with pre-school children. They usually have one or more buttons to press which made noises or sounds appropriate to the story. The more elaborate sound books will have different sounds that need to played at the correct part of the story. Like the lift the flap books, they add an interactive element to reading your child a story.

4. Pop-up Books

Pop-up baby books are books that have been designed where part of the page leaps out as a 3D picture. The surprise of the 3D picture will intrigue babies and delight older children. The only downside is that pop-up books tend to be delicate so you will have to be careful as young children do love to touch. You can choose quite simple pop-up books for young children but there are plenty of more intricate and even interactive pop-up books which will be suitable for much older children.

5. Sticker Books

Sticker books come in a variety of formats. Some tell a story which can be decorated or added to by a selection of stickers. Others tell a story with specific places where each sticker should be place. Which book will appeal to your child will depend on their personality. some children will love the challenge of finding the right places to stick the stickers. Other children will want to be more creative and place stickers where they want. There is no right or wrong and both ways are good for a child’s development and enjoyment.

Why Most People Don’t Really Want to Heal (Part 2)

The story so far…

At a metaphysical lecture facilitated by Guy Williams, Guy made the

comment that most people don’t really want to heal. What most people want,

according to Guy, is to stop hurting. In Part 1, we met the ego, and discovered that

the most effective way of letting go of our limiting and outmoded beliefs is to

accept that there is no need to change these beliefs because they’re actually

working just fine. What we have, on the other hand, is the option to upgrade our beliefs and to make more elegant choices.

For most of us, healing is a big, scary, and uncomfortable prospect. Healing

requires that we do two very simple, yet incredibly unappealing tasks. First, we must

accept that we are responsible for creating our own illness: Our thoughts, beliefs,

choices and actions are directly responsible for the imbalance and dis-ease we are

experiencing in our physical bodies. Second, we must be willing to change our lives

and eliminate the thoughts, beliefs, choices and actions that created and supported

the imbalance and dis-ease, replacing them with new choices that support balance

and health.

Taking Responsibility For Our Illnesses

The first step to healing is to accept that we created our illnesses in the first place.

This can be a difficult concept to swallow. So many of us are invested in the

prevailing Western scientific medical view of reality that we can’t quite understand

how we created our illnesses.

Most illnesses are caused by viruses or bacteria. If we catch a cold, or get the flu,

how is that our responsibility? Someone sneezed on us in an elevator, and now

we’re laid up in bed for a week. We’re so helpless against the various flu strains that

there’s even an annual cold and flu season every year. Every ad for cough

medication, every news report on flu vaccinations only serves to reinforce the belief

that we’re helpless victims of forces beyond our control. The only way to avoid

getting sick is to avoid human contact for six months of the year.

But what about the people who don’t bother with flu shots, and don’t avoid human

contact and yet they also don’t get sick? Are they just lucky? They’re being exposed

to the same bacteria and viruses that we are. How is that that they stay healthy?

Could it be that their thoughts support perfect health and a strong and functioning

immune system, while ours somehow invite illness?

What about hereditary or genetic disorders? How can we be responsible for these?

Or is it just possible that our belief in heredity is what creates hereditary diseases? If

we believe that because heart disease “runs” in our family that we are “at risk” for a

heart attack, how does that belief become our reality?

Of course, in the case of heart disease, there are so many other contributing factors,

such as diet and exercise that have as much, or more to do with the health of our

hearts than heredity does. It may just be possible that what we inherit is not a

genetic predisposition to heart disease, but the nutritional and lifestyle habits that

actually result in heart disease. We inherit behaviors from our families as well. We’re

responsible for our choices, and we’re responsible for any dis-ease that results

from our choices.

I have a friend who “inherited” a degenerative neurological disorder that affects her

feet and makes it difficult for her to walk. Every doctor she saw told her that she

would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 40, and there was nothing she could

do about it. She knew how her relatives had lived out their lives with this disease,

and decided that this was not an acceptable life for her. She refused to accept the

diagnosis, and began to explore alternative therapies. She made radical changes to

her diet and lifestyle, and very quickly noticed a radical improvement in this chronic,

progressive, degenerative condition. According to the best medical experts, she

shouldn’t be able to walk today. However, because she took responsibility for her

illness and changed the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that created her illness,

she has been able to reverse it.

Many conditions result from negative thinking and limiting beliefs. Unexpressed

anger, regret, grief, and other painful emotions can manifest as chronic, painful,

and sometimes terminal illness. In order to heal these conditions, we must identify

the negative thought or belief that is at the core. The challenge, however, is to

identify and release the negative thought without triggering the ego. All too often,

we punish ourselves for having negative thoughts in the first place–we beat

ourselves up for beating ourselves up. This only reinforces the negative thought and

destructive patterns.

We must accept that every belief we hold, no matter how negative or limiting, serves

us in some way. This goes for our illnesses and dis-eases as well. Before we can

heal, we must become aware of what benefits we get from our illnesses.

Discovering And Accepting That Our Illness Serves Us

Every choice we make, we make because it meets a need. We created our illness

because it gives us something that we believe that we want. What is the payoff we

get for being ill? What are we getting out of this situation?

No matter how painful or debilitating the illness, there is always a benefit.

Objectively, we may have made a rather unskillful bargain, of course. We may feel

that we’re paying much too high a price for the benefits we receive. But until we

identify the benefit–until we become aware of what it is that we get out of being ill,

we can never truly heal.

Healing requires that we identify what it is that we get out of being ill, and then

become aware of our beliefs surrounding this need. We must be willing to give up

these benefits, or recognize that we can meet these needs in less debilitating ways.

When it comes to minor illnesses such as the cold or flu, often we get sick because

we haven’t been listening to our bodies. We’ve been working too hard, and under

too much stress. We haven’t been taking care of our physical, emotional, or spiritual

needs. The only way that we will take any time for ourselves is if we’re too weak to

get out of bed, so that’s what we create.

I have a friend who has a rather intense family history, with enough drama and

intrigue to fill a prime-time soap opera. A number of years ago, she experienced a

rather significant identity crisis. An inheritance set her up financially so that she

could do whatever she wanted to do with her life. The fact that she could do

whatever she wanted with her life meant that she had to actually choose what she

wanted to do with her life, and this created a great deal of stress. She began to have

anxiety attacks, and soon developed acute agoraphobia, finding it very difficult to

leave her house. She’s struggled with this condition for many years. The payoff of

this condition is that she has an iron-clad excuse not to face her fears and do

something with her life. All of her time and attention is focused on her condition

and her anxiety.

We may find it difficult to accept responsibility for having created our illnesses

because we created our illnesses to avoid having to take responsibility in the first

place. Illnesses and injuries are often cries for attention and validation. When we’re

ill, injured or otherwise in pain, we’re entitled–and even expected to think only of

ourselves. We are excused from our responsibilities to others. We don’t have to go

anywhere we don’t want to go, we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do.

And we can expect other people to do things for us and we’re under no obligation

to return the favor. We can cancel plans at the last minute, or even simply not show

up, because we were in too much pain to fulfill our social obligations–and we don’t

even have to call to apologize.

Within reason, we’re able to complain to others about how we feel, or put on a brave

face, enduring the pain (but also making certain that everyone knows that we’re a

martyr to our pain and we don’t want to ruin everyone else’s good time). Either way,

our illness is making us the center of attention, and this makes deposits in our

Validation Accounts. Granted, the deposits are very small, and the cost is extremely

high, but for many of us, this is the only way we believe that we can receive

validation and attention from others.

Healing means that we will have to give up our “special” status. We will no longer be

entitled to be the center of attention at all times. We will no longer be able to

demand that other people notice us and pay us special attention. We will be

expected to do things that we may not particularly enjoy, in order to meet our

personal and social obligations to others.

If our illness is a chronic disability, healing means that we will once again have to

work to earn a living. If we believe that the only way that we can earn a living is

doing work that we find repugnant and draining, where is the incentive to heal? And,

could this belief be one of the primary reasons we created our disability in the first

place?

Sometimes it’s more important to keep our handicapped parking privileges than it is

to heal and have to (or even be able to) walk an extra block to the

supermarket.

Please know that there is nothing at all wrong with that choice. We are free to

choose to keep our illnesses and our dis-eases. These conditions meet very

important needs for us, albeit at a considerable cost. We may not really want to

heal, and that’s a perfectly acceptable choice.

Of course, once we accept responsibility for having created our illness, and become

completely aware of the costs and benefits, we may realize that we can, in fact,

meet those needs more effectively in other ways. When we realize this, we are truly

ready to heal.

The Courage to Heal

Healing is a very threatening process because it requires that we make significant,

often dramatic changes in our lives, and change is always threatening. On the most

fundamental level, safe equals familiar. When our most basic, physiological needs

are being met, we’re often able to overcome minor concerns about the unknown

and embrace change without feeling threatened. When we’re in pain because of dis-

ease, however, our most basic needs are not being met.

When our Physiological Need account is overdrawn, all of our need accounts are put

on red alert. When we’re in pain, we’re most definitely not feeling safe, and

any change will be a threat. To make matters worse, the behaviors that we

will have to change–often eating, drinking, and/or smoking–seem to be the few

reliable ways that we can make deposits in our Safety Accounts.

On an intellectual level, we may understand that the only way to truly heal and be

free of the pain of our dis-ease is to alter our behavior. However, when our safety

needs aren’t being met, we act on instinct. The very thought that we have to give up

the few things that give us pleasure makes us feel even less safe.

What happens next is that we often retreat into victim consciousness. We long for

the magic wand that will miraculously make the pain go away and let us continue

with our lives exactly as they are, because that’s the only option we can imagine

that lets us feel reasonably safe. When we escape into fantasy, of course, we avoid

any personal responsibility. We also give up all personal power, and lose the ability

to heal.

In order to truly heal, we must accept each healing crisis as a call to awareness.

When we’re in pain, all we can do is find some way to alleviate the pain. This is an

essential first step. Healing requires that we address our safety needs, and we can’t

do this until our physiological needs are being met. Healing isn’t about stopping the

pain; healing is about what we choose to do once the pain has stopped.

Healing is not about pain management; it’s about safety management. In order to

change our behaviors and allow our bodies to heal, we must learn how to manage

our Safety Accounts.

For example, we might have an emotional attachment to sugar. Anytime we feel

stressed, unhappy, or otherwise unsafe, we can always rely on a candy bar or some

ice cream to make us feel a little better. If we are at risk for diabetes, however,

eating sugar poses serious health risks. Of course, the thought of having to give up

sugar makes us feel unsafe, and in order to replenish the balance in our Safety

Account, we dive into a pound of Godiva chocolates.

The only way to break this pattern is to learn to manage our Safety Account. We

must discover other behaviors that help us to feel safe that do not involve eating

sugar. We can use the “Present Moment Awareness Safety Exercise” (see The

Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your

Life, page 48) to manage our general stress levels so that we’re less likely to

give in to our cravings. We experience the truth that we can meet our needs in many

different ways, and so we do not feel threatened and unsafe by the thought of

limiting or excluding sugar from our diet. And, of course, we apply AWARENESS,

OWNERSHIP and CHOICE to create new behaviors that support our health.

Now, anyone who has struggled with attachments or addictions will tell you that

while the theory is very simple, simple isn’t the same thing as easy! Throughout the

process, we also have to be careful not to trigger our egos (as we covered in Part 1).

We must take small steps, validating and rewarding ourselves for each elegant

choice, no matter how small, and avoid punishing ourselves for not being able to

change our behavior patterns instantly.

We did not create our dis-eases overnight, and we won’t be able to heal them

overnight, either. We must accept that healing is a gradual process, and in this

acceptance is one of the keys to healing. We generally do not need to make drastic,

immediate changes in order to heal. We can make gradual changes in our behavior

and our beliefs, and the more gentle we are with ourselves during the process, the

more successful it will be.

Healing does not have to be difficult. It’s just that for most of us, as soon as we stop

hurting, we lose interest in actually healing.

The Causes and Consequences Of Earthquakes

Earthquakes are caused by sudden movement of rock along broken surfaces. Thousands of earthquakes occur in the world every year and a number of these are not even noticed by most people. Some earthquakes are slight while others are strong and have damaging impact on buildings and the lives of people. Earthquakes are the most unexpected natural disasters and when these happen people do not even get time to save their lives. Many buildings collapse as a result of earthquakes and many people get buried under the rubble.

Earthquakes have become a fear for many people and to accommodate this many construction companies are building structures which can withstand earthquakes to a certain degree. For this purpose, it is essential to seek advice from a geotechnical engineer. Geotechnical engineering experts have vast knowledge of plate tectonics and are able to analyze rocks and soil. Their advice could be helpful in constructing structures which will lessen the effect of natural disasters like earthquake.

In a single year, earthquakes ruin thousands of homes and kill millions of people. They occur naturally on the earth’s surface due to the movement of plates which are located below the earth’s crust. The vibrations arise at the epicenter and that is where the maximum destruction occurs. The vibrations caused by the earthquake have the potential to cause massive destruction and even ruin entire cities.

Earthquakes occur due to two reasons. Firstly, it occurs when a volcano erupts suddenly and secondly due to the movement of plates which can happen due to cracks in the plate or crust waves. Moreover, earthquakes can also arise on the ocean floor and produce ground movements. In the recent years, majority of the earthquakes have occurred at the boundary of the continental plates of North and South America, South Asia and Pacific Ocean. It is believed that stress on the boundary of the plates creates pressure towards the middle and leads to movement of the Earth.

The major consequences of such natural disasters are the loss of human life. The location and magnitude of the earthquake is a major factor which determines the number of lives that will be lost and the number of structures that will be damaged. A huge number of deaths can be caused by collapse of structures which were constructed from heavy and weak materials. Other economic and social consequences include trauma, cost of damage, loss of jobs, loss of housing, business interruption, waste of energy and material.

However, companies and agencies nowadays are implementing strategies as to limit the effect of such natural disasters to some extent. These planning include minimizing the use of land that has already gone through ground damages, shaking, landslides and fault rupture. Their basic aim is to reduce the number of lives that are lost each year due to earthquakes and disasters related to earthquakes and to reduce the damage done to structures and the natural environment. To achieve these goals, many countries are building structures which can withstand the devastating effects of earthquakes.