By The Editors of

Get rich slowly
Blanche Vavra didn’t have a get-rich-quick scheme. She didn’t need one. Vavra, who never married, had no immediate family, and worked for 32 years in civil service for the U.S. government, died in April at age 90, willing her nest egg-$2.8 million-to 11 different nonprofit groups that received the first checks from Vavra’s trust on Dec. 8. According to neighbors and a bank official who helped Vavra with the paperwork over the years, the Minnesota native scrimped and saved her way to her minor fortune-and apparently never spent it on herself. According to the Billings Gazette, neighbor Jerry Dobesh recalled when he had to force the elderly woman to turn on the furnace on a particularly blustery Montana night. Dobesh said she learned during her depression-era childhood to save every penny and reuse everything. Instead of buying a spade for her garden, Vavra sharpened the end of a broomstick with a knife. “All she knew about finance was be conservative,” Dobesh told the Gazette. “She lived very plain and very sparsely.”

parakeetsFowl play
Authorities in Berlin
encountered a scene that could have passed as a part of an Alfred
Hitchcock horror flick: a two-room apartment stuffed with approximately
1,500 live parakeets. Prompted by the complaints of neighbors, local
authorities raided the tiny apartment only to find a home “littered
with feces, feathers and leftover food,” said city veterinarian Margit
Platzer. And birds. According to the city vet, animal control workers
took nearly seven hours to net all the parakeets. Moreover, the huge
bounty of birds left authorities looking for shelter space in the
suburbs when they had exhausted city resources.

Catching flak
There is no official blimp season in West Sussex, United Kingdom, but Britons are grabbing for their shotguns anyway. Villagers in Ditchling angered by a giant blimp advertisement floating above their otherwise picturesque hamlet are trying to shoot down the huge inflatable. “This is a picturesque area, and looking over the country park is a delight all year round-but when that balloon is up, your eye is automatically drawn to it and it really spoils the scene,” said local resident Martin Harris. Earlier in December, a local shot a hole in the blimp, temporarily grounding it until owners of Big Box Self Storage could patch it up and launch the 30-foot floating ad again.

Rock in a hard place
Officials with the American Museum of Natural History last month discovered a $15,000 diamond lodged in a vacuum cleaner bag. The gem belonged to Catherine Hart, who lost the stone when it became dislodged from her ring during a “Night at the Museum” overnight event earlier in December. On a hunch, museum officials had the cleaning crew check four dusty vacuum bags used to clean up after the event.