No Blog posts During November 2015. 

Novel: “What is that thing–a dragon cat?”

Genre: Science Fiction

No Blog posts During November 2015.  Will be participating in the NaNoWriMo — national novel writing month.  Goal–1400 words per day.  I’ll occasionally publish status here.  Look for lots of news and some noel excerpts in December 2015.

  • Date                          Number of words so far
  • 31 October 2015        0


What is that thing–a dragon cat?”. A science fiction commentary about society; the novel begins at 10 by 10 mile section of land within North San Diego County. No photos can be taken of the interior of this chunk of land, even from satellites. And any living creature over 10 pounds — human or otherwise — that steps over the line disappears forever, not even leaving bones on the ground.

Until one house cat crosses the line and comes back, transformed into a dragon cat thanks to nano-bots. Growing to the size of a golden retriever, sprouting large wings, breathings flames, developing opposable claws, and establishing a telepathic bond with his mistress; the cat causes total chaos. Imaging what your cat could do if it could open doors, fly around, breath fire, and catch small dogs as prey. When the cat and his mistress are summoned to cross the line into the forbidden zone; multiple commercial and government agencies want to control this young woman. They expect everything to go their way; after all movement from all citizens and every purchase is tracked in their databases. She just wants to finish her degree and get a great job, preferably with her boyfriend. You will have to wait a few months to find out what happens.

First drawing — needs corrections as shown with pencil lines   
Second drawing, needs color.


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The $16.28 Fix is my last post for a month

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Comedy of Errors (and bonus assignment!).”

One of the great mysteries of life are washing machines.  We have two of them–an old one that is 21 years old and a newish one from my parents.  The New one is bright, shiny and has the highly desireable front loading feature.  It also is a piece of junk, designed to break at seven years.   It met expectations and fell apart about the seven year mark–a broken moter that can’t be easily or cheaply fixed.  Now it sits in the garage, a useless piece of junk.  The motor isn’t even good enough to salvage for a potters wheel.  But we might get a couple dollars from a metal scavenger.

In contrast, Bob has been able to keep our old washing machine working.  Cost to fix–$16.28.  Add some paint to cover rust spots and a fancy orange band–Voila. One washer, solid as a rock, ready for another few years of service.  What a sad commentary on our disposable society.   A Tragedy!  Getting a new motor for the other washer would cost more than buying an entire new washing machine.  And I like the sporty new look of the original washing machine.  Not perfect and getting older.  But that describes me as well.  Perhaps I’ll try some vertical strips and new cinched belts to help my old sagging appearance.

I can’t help but think that old washer is feeling pretty good for itself.  After all, it is one of the oldest and most reliable appliances in my house.  It’s still standing side by side with it’s original companion clothes dryer.  We’ve had to replace stoves, refridgerators, dish washers, microwaves, toasters, and coffee makers.  But I don’t ever want to have to replace that washer or dryer.  May they keep running forever.

image image

As for the bonus assignment, that’s why there will be no posts for the next month.  Like that old washer, I’m going to do something above and beyond  the basic assignment.  Insanity rules as I’ve signed up for the national novel writing month.  Fifty thousand words in one month, hopefully coherently written.  That’s writing a 1000 words every morning and lots of extra words on the weekends in a month where my bosses are already asking what our thanksgiving plans are.  Working at this point, is not amoung mine as was the response from rest of the team.  I believe the words were not just no, but HELL NO, I am not working on thanskgiving.

This novel will be a tough assignment.  For example, this post is less than 500 words.  But I am excited at the possibility of actually writing my novel “What is that thing–a dragon cat?”.  A science fiction commentary on our society, it starts with a 10 mile by 10 mile section of north san diego county.  No photos can be taken of the interior of this chunk of land, even from satellites.  And any living creature — human or otherwise — that steps over the line disppears forever, not even leaving bones on the ground.

Until one house cat crosses the line and comes back, transformed into a dragon cat.  Growing to the size of a golden retriever, sprouting large wings, breathings flames, developing opposable claws, and establishing a telepathic bond with his owner, total chaos ensues.  Because the owner is being summened by an n-th dimensional being to cross the line.  And in a society where everyone and every purchase is monitored, multiple commercial and government agencies want to control this young woman.  She just wants to finish her degree and get a great job, perferably with her boyfriend.  You will have to wait a few months to find out what happens.

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A party for me…By the Dots….

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “By the Dots.”

We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!

Punctuation! Puncuation!….The Daily Prompt wants me to talk about Puncuation!!!!!!!!  What the ……..  It’s so grody.:>;  And the wordpress application has a non-functional spell check@##*&@!@#&^  To the max!!!  No punctionation here, I want to talk about is personality quirks!!!!!!  And Parties, great parties.  Like hit me with a spoon!!!!

I did have a party last weekend — a renaisance party.  Not a costume party like the annual faires one can attend all over the country or at least all over southern california.  Nope, one to recognize all the changes in my life.  Yep, I took care of my mid-lie crisis with a party.  It all started on a dark and lonely road, months ago………..Coming home from Liz’s graduation with plans to attend several more graduation ceremonies……

Having three girls graduate and move into totally new lifes without Mom hit me hard.  Yes, that’s what every parent wants, a kid successful enough to make choices, act on them, and live with the consequences.  Hopefully with excitement, joy, and passion: but at least competent enough to take care of themselves.  All three of my girls did that with great panache.  I am so proud of all of them.  Maggie has a new job, a great significant other, and all kinds of opportunities in Baltimore.  Liz just startedher PhD at Akron, Ohio; she seems to be thriving.  And Kate has mapped out a great plan for becoming a school teacher while working as a music teacher and living with Grandmother.  All three of them represent the best of life.  They have hope, optimism, and joy in thier futures.  And I’m left behind.

That’s not bad.  Bob and I have lots of time to do fun things with minimal responsibilities.  The hard work is done.  But the house seemed big and empty.  And there were lots of challenges — money with a new set of school bills and a new car; problem neighbors; changes in my work environment; climate change with the hot weather this summer; family; hobbies; and more –we chances to revaluate everything in our lives.  The common name for this is empty nest syndrome. I hate that name.  Because that implies an end with no future.  Renaisance is a much better name.  We have a new start as well.  The question is what is important to Bob and I?  What do we want to do with our time?  Over the last few months, we’ve been questioning lots of things.  Do we want to move and if yes, where to?  Do we have enough money for retirement?  What hobbies do we want to pursue?  How close do we want to live near family and what part of the family?

So I came up with the brainy idea of having a celebration for our changes in life.  Bob and I deserved a party just like the ones we (the whole family) pulled together for the all the graduation ceremonies last spring.  And the planning begun.  Bob decided he wanted a toy — a new IPAD — instead of a party for himself.  That was fine, but I wanted a party.  Which occured last Sunday.

Went to Artbeat with a few close women friends and family.  Food, wine or other beverages, music, and art–how can it get better.  Kate provided the music.  But since she is under 21, she had to play out on the sidewalk with a speaker piping the music into the art gallery.  Turned out great and she even got a lot of tips (plus the money I promised to pay her and will later this week).  Brought lots of food that no one touched, opened a tab at the bar, and we all settled down to painting wine glasses.  The party was great fun and I feel content.  A new life is starting, full of opportunity and possible joy.  It’s up to me to make something of if.

And I will.  What, is not yet clear.  But I am planning on couple more trips to Europe.  Have several good books to write.  Want to remodel my house into something good for multiple generations.  Will be taking lots more art classes and doing a lot more sailing with Bob.  And of course, a lot more posts to write on the blog.  Even about topics as boring as bad punctuation.  So lets make a toast for the future–may there be many adventures in our lives!  And may we all enjoy reading or writing about the good and bad of adventures afterwards!  May we look forward to tomorrow with optimism and hope!  And may the gods smile down on us with their blessings without getting too close and tangling us in their politics!

I look forward to the next phase in my life.

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A New Roof

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Right to Brag.”

We have a new roof.  A wonderful white new roof, just in time for the El Nino Preparations.  I have to brag about it.  New fascia was installed replacing the older boards filled with termites.  Got to get some pleasure before writing a heart stopping check.  The white roof looks good and is supposed to be cooler.  But we may never find out, the weather has gotten cooler on it’s own.  Temperatures are ranging now from a high of 84 down to a low of 72 with ongoing high humidity.  So it feels the same inside and outside.  Sleeping is best done a birthday suit.

Last night, I decide to sleep outside (with appropriate attire) after waking up about 1 am.  Lovely time, I got to lay outside and listen to the sounds of life diminish.  By 2 am, there were no dogs barking, no cars driving, no sounds of televisions.  Even the birds and crickets were silent.   It’s a wonderful peaceful time. Until two bad things happened.  First were the mosquitos.  Yuck.   I hid under a blanket, warm but not getting bitten.  And then a skunk infused animal of some kind walked by.  UGHHH…..I hate the smell of skunks.  So between the mosquitos and the skunk, back inside after only a half hour or so of lovely stillness.

My sleeping outside days are probably numbered.  Because there is a hot spot in the ocean west of us, weather predictions are for massive rainstorms enhanced by a hot water feedback loop.  We already had one storm that closed one of the main north-south routes (Highway 5)for a few days.  And a secondary highway (58) will probably be closed for months as they remove 20,000 truckloads of dirt.  Since an average truckload of dirt is 12 cubic yards, that is enough dirt to fill a building with a footprint the size of a football field twice as high as the empire state building.  That’s a lot of dirt.

And a lot more rain means we need rain gutters.  That’s promising to be an heart stopping check in an almost empty bank account.  But that’s a story for another day.  It’s time to brag about the new roof.  Below are several pictures of the process.  It was interesting to watch, at one time there were 9 guys at once working on our roof.    Elly is really glad they are gone, they made scary noises.  And now she’s doomed to a life of boredom since the nice new roof is inspiring a whole new hobby — house renovation.  The roof looks nice, so now the kitchen needs repainting.  The new blue paint on the kitchen walls means we need to fix up the furniture.  New chair covers means new floors are needed.  The list is endless.  So perhaps I shouldn’t be bragging about a new roof.  I can’t afford all the subsequent projects.

image image image image image image

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FAQ EL Nino Planning based on ADs

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “FAQ.”

Today is El Nino Ad day in the local paper.  Full of great advice on how to prepare for the storm events of the century.  Biggest rain event in 20 years.  “The best time to plant in Decades” screams the ad. Giant 4 page ad-we plant now and you pay later.  12 Months-No Interest.  Monster Back Yard Pack of Maximum Curb Appeal Pack.  For 9,999 plus another 8.5% in taxes, you can get 2 giant trees, 3 blockbuster trees, 12 huge trees, and 36 big shrubs of choice.  And another 100 dollars to have them delivered.  Sounds like a bargain.  Sign me up today.


Now like all FAQ’s the real questions are not answered.  How does the #1 Selling Indian Laurel actually do it’s work.  Is it a his or her?  How does one addrees a tree?  Obviously this tree has lots of helpers–a chauffer, extra sales staff.  I want to see this number 1 seller in action.  Do you think if I called, they would tell me when this tree is working or lie about hours.  Come on down, this tree is always there.


And then there are the difficulty of choosing.  If there are thousands of olive trees and each tree is a work of art, how does one choose?  Locally grown, is that like farm to table schemes.  Caan I get olives from this work of art?  So many  choices, so little time.  And the rains are coming.


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Thor’s hammer

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A True Saint.”

In 300 years, if you were to be named the patron saint of X, what would you like X to be? Places, activities, objects — all are fair game.

I don’t want to be a saint, Saints don’t have any fun.  Instead they have horrible trials while alive and usually have horrible deaths.  Often they are part of a war. I’ll take living well now instead, thank you very much.

Speaking of wars,, we win the weather wars.  Its only 72 degrees at 7 am; but it feels much hotter.  That’s because we have no rain, but 99 percent humidity.  It’s fantastically horrible–walk outside and get covered in water.  But no rain.  And we don’t have a roof on the house.  It was supposed to be replaced by the end of the week.  Such is life for the truly deserving.

Speaking of the truly deserving, someone in Venice Beach was able to recreate Thor’s Hammer. You know that giant block of magical metal, only those who are worthy can manage to pick it up.  And almost no one is worthy.  Check out the video.  It made me laugh.  Perhaps that guy should be considered the saint.

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A Perfect Egg Sandwich

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Saved by the Bell.”

Tell us about a time when you managed to extract yourself from a sticky situation at the very last minute.

It’s hot and sticky here, with no sign of the weather breaking into a more normal pattern.  Changing air pressure last night left me with a sinus headache, only partially beginning to clear up when I heard Bob making me breakfast.  It was that scrap, scrap, scrap of burnt toast that alerted me to the advent of a perfect egg sandwich. He’s learning to cook my style.

I can make an excellent soufflee, pull together a 20 course dinner for 12, and love cooking.  But I’ve never been able to make a simple grilled sandwich.  I always manage to burn them badly on side.  And thus, the sound of scrap, scrap, scrap is one well known in my house.  My girls will remember the mantra “always check the back side of your sandwich” in my house.  That’s because it usually had been burned and scraped.  Well now that Bob does most of the hard core cooking, it’s interesting to see he’s picking up a couple of my habits like burning the toast with the last of the bread.

Just today there was an article in the washington post about inequality.  Evidently the rich do get better breakfast sandwiches than normal.  Of course the price is 4 times the normal price, but if your rich who cares.  But the important thing is they don’t get the sandwiches made with love like mine.  Yes it got scrapped and I had to cut off the burnt edge, but it was delicious.  The perfect meal for a hot day.

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Scenes from Brindejon

Since Brindejon is a farm, there are many things  to see and do.  So those dogs did more than just rumble.  They also got to wander around and look at things, and generally got in trouble.  Anytime it got quiet; we had to go check.  Just like with a little kid. Below are a few scenes from this playground.

One funny picture shows Bella banished to the outside while we were eating dinner.   Our dog, Elly, also got banished to her own cabin. All that play made those dogs hungrier than ever.  We know our dog is not trustworthy and we suspect that Bella might be willing to learn a few tricks on how to steal Christmas roasts from the counter or bacon from the breakfast table.

And as an afterward: both dogs slept for two days straight after we came home.  Then the old lively Bella returned.  My mom asked if she could borrow Elly for two months.  The answer is no, but we will return and let them play.  Bob wants to make a new table.

bella_shadow curious dogs dogplayground dogsdrinking elly_shadow fallcolors fence flower banished barn barn2 barn3

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Music for diets

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Papa Loves Mambo.”

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?

Right now I need something livey,  Boom da Boom — lots of drums, some guitar or keyboard, a bit of brass, and a lot of jive.  It’s morning…early morning and I have little fun planned for the day.  Of course work is always fun, tons and tons of fun.  And then there is the diet challenge; have to get started on that and today is as good as any day.

My mom sent two books — the Martha Beck “The Four-Day Win” and Ian Smiths “Shred: Revolutionary Diet”.  Martha Beck’s first chapter has a depressing title “Why are you So Damn Fat?”  There are lots of  exercises and mental games.  Her first real exercise is to write down a daily goal, no snarkiness allowed.  It is supposed to be measurable.  Here’s mine “I want the red pants to fit more comfortably” as a long term goal and “To eat vegtables at dinner, even if I have been eating them all day long” as my short term goal.   Reading farther, it says take what I call a serving of vegtables, cut it in half and then cut it in half again.  Now I can easily achieve that goal and have to set a daily reward.  And a 4 day reward for making it four days in a row.  I’ll have to think about those rewards, something fun for the day.

It’s like the goal I set myself this year– do more exercise.  And every week where I have three exercise sessions, I get to have an art lesson.  This mantra is well known at work.  There I have a crew helping me get the exercise. It works.  I’ve been taking painting and drawing lessons all year long.  So perhaps this diet goal might work.  Perhaps a 4 day goal is playing with some different art supplies or getting some new music.  I have a huge wish list of music I want for my library.

Now Shred is a complex diet book.  Lots of basic small meals all day long, very strict guidelines about what can be in the meals.  They only allow 1 cup of coffee per day, I don’t know why.  But that makes it hard to make it past the first day.  So perhaps, I’ll leave Shred for tomorrow morning.   Today I want my second cup of coffee.  It helps me think.  And perhaps some good tunes although this morning, the natural sounds are wonderful.  I can hear birds singing.  The kids at the local elementary school are about to have the bell ring. But at the moment there are shreiks of joy and clanks from playground equipment.  Traffic sounds, might hear the train horns in 15 minutes.

How does all this diet stuff have to do with music from when I was a child.  Well my musical education really began when I became an adult and was able to start collecting my own music.  Being broke, my favorite place to buy CD’s was from the junk stores and garage sales.  Eclectic taste in music — Jazz, Rageea, Rock and Roll, Classical, Musicals, Stories, and more.  Joined a mail – order music club and found by waiting for sales and buying 20 CD’s at a time it cost the same as buying 5 single CD’s.  I sampled, experimented, and learned to love many different genres.  With the advent of podcasts and streaming music servers, my library has grown exponentially.   And with this diet, I can also experiement, sample, and learn some new skills.  Perhaps even loose some weight; but more importantly to me become healthier.   We will see how it goes.  I might even get the new Omnia album as a reward.

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Building a Table

One thing we came to do at Brindejon was work on making a table. Years ago, my parents had an enormous oak tree with a base about six feet in diameter or more. Huge old tree, it fell during a storm and destroyed part of their house. The house got repaired, the tree was not so lucky—it died and mostly got chopped up for firewood. But several big slabs of oak still remain. Bob and I have been lusting over those slabs for years. Several years later, Bob has taken up woodworking. He’s learned how to make sleds and use a router to flatten wood. Perfect skill for using one of those beautiful wooden slabs, so we came with tools for woodworking. During the last couple of days, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Bob and my Dad making table tops.

First step was grinding off the extra wood and making it flat. To do this, one builds a stand and a box surrounding the slab. The edge of the box provides a support for the “sled”—a special three sided U shaped box that supports a router. The router sits inside the U with a blade descending down through a slot. Moving slowly back and forth, the router chews up the wood, leaving a flat surface. It takes skill, practice, and patience to make this work. But the results are wonderful.  Below are a couple of pictures from the routing process


prepping slab


Sanding is going to take a long time.  This is very hard wood.



And of course, there is always clean up.  They managed to fill an entire trashcan with sawdust.  I think I’ll take a bag or two of this sawdust home for clay.  Add 2 cups of sawdust, 1 cup of flower, and water as needed to make a clay.  Make a sculpture, let it dry for a few days, sand, stain, and voila–a lovely wood sculpture.  Or at least that is what the sculpting forums say.  I haven’t actually tried this.


But the results are fantastic.  Here’s a piece of the bark from the edges.  oak bark

And here is the table top after some sanding and routing.  Notice how there were two trees that grew together.  We haven’t been able to count the rings, everyone gets lost and needs to use pencil marks.  We actually have a matched set of these two table tops.  One came from the burn pile, mistakenly put outside.oak detail

Next challenges: Sanding and Legs.  I’ll follow up with details sometime in the future.

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Doggy Paradise can be exhausting

After a hellacious week of which the less said the better, Bob and I are visiting doggy paradise. Also known as Brindejon, my parents farm has a new resident—Bella. A young labradoodle pup about 14 weeks old, it only took Elly and Bella about five minutes to decide they were fast friends. Now they are inseparable. First thing in the morning, Elly races over to my parent’s house to see this pup. And she comes looking for my dog.

When together, they rumble. Rough, knock the furniture and clamber on top of each other type tussles. Usually Bella is on top although Elly can and does roll her over as needed to keep the young pup in line. Can’t even keep the names straight anymore as we are constantly tracking these dogs, just like one keeps track of a young child.. Soon the cry goes out “Belly” “Ella” or “DOGS”. Just like my kids used to do, they ignore me until I get the right name. And like little kids, they have trouble sharing. Any toy the other has is favored and must be obtained at all costs. This leads to tug of war, chase, theft by sneakiness, and outright hoarding of desired objects by laying on top. The little wretches are exhausting; but we have many laughs at the same time.

rough1 rough2 rough3 rough4 rough5 tugOfWar tugofwar2 tug_og_war3

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Not a candy store

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Life’s a Candy Store.”

You get to be a 6-year-old kid again for one day and one day only — plan your perfect 24 hours. Where do you go, what do you do, and with whom?

Damn, wish I was a kid where the only concern was visiting the candy store.  Instead I’m at home listening to a police helicopter circle somewhere really close.  What they are saying is inintelligible except “call 911” the emergency number.  Don’t they have someone on the ground who can radio back that the helicopter message is unitelligible, give the mike to Barbara or Joe or whoever else is sitting in that helicopter?  The dog is barking, we brought her inside.  The garage door is closed.  There is nothing else we can do about this undefined terror circling the skys and presumably running around in the neighborhood.  Wish I was six years old.  It’s been a shitty day.

Over the last few days, I’ve learned some new torture techhniques.  Thought the worst thing was my co-worker would be sick and I have to do it’s (not his or her) work. And get blamed for being late.  Actually had some bets–a can of coke–on that very scenario. I lost the bet, my co-worker showed up to do it’s job.   But I’m on the hook waiting for results.  Friday (an off day), sunday, monday, and even this morning.  Did I mention the deadline was last week. Nope, that doesn’t matter when torture is the subject.  Although IT seems to consider that IT did a favor by giving me a couple extra days of unexpected work.  And unfortunately, IT is right, I am taking advantage of a flexable workspace to take a trip.  Guess that means an apology tomorrow.  Damn, I am not ready to apologize for losing my temper. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be in a better mood. If not, then definitely next week.

And I am getting an unexpected but welcome holiday from this exercise.  On Thursday, Bob and I are going to visit my parents.  Why–to make a new table with some huge oak slabs they have.  Sounds like fun.  Only this was a busy weekend, so we have social events, table making, a few more social events, a few more beautiful houses to visit, and even brunch one morning.  Sounds like a difficult schedule; I may have trouble adding in some art.  What a hardship, I can hear you all sighing with disapointment.  But my mom is promising social events, house beautiful tours, dinners, drinks, and brunches.  My dad talks about bits and routers, plywood, boxes, tables, and woodworking.  Both of them talk about cruises since we all are going to France next year for a cruise.  Hurrah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So that is my perfect 24 hours or even 12 months–daydreaming about a trip to France.  I am very lucky and happy.

Now this post was supposed to be from the viewpoint of a six year old kid.  That’s too far in the past for me.  Can’t do that.  But I am happy as an unexpected holiday from work and an unexpected visit to my parents.  Sort of like being in a candy store.  I’ll get to see those I love, do lots of fun things, and perhaps even get to do some art.  All that makes me happy, better than the candy store where the sweetness only lasts for as long as the candy.

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10 years ago

Ten years ago we took a big family vacation and spent a couple weeks in Massachusetts.  Some of those pictures made it onto my work computer as part of the slideshow backdrop.  Today a great picture of Kate in the Sand appeared on the screen.  What fun to see that.  So I went looking in that old folder and found a few more gems.  Enjoy them.  We all looked so young and beautiful in 2005.  Remeber — that was the trip where Kate learned to swim one armed while the broken wrist was held high above the water.  Now they have waterproof casts, a huge improvement over the plastic bags and painters tape.


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Reforming Furniture

In my house we revel in using and reusing old furniture.  One couch from Bob’s grandmother is about 100 years old and the coverings at least 50 years old.  My mom’s couch is probably about 40 years old.  But all fabric solutions eventually need refurbishing, that includes our couches.  So Bob hauled up one old chair and started pulling it apart.  Great wood, but obviously no pride in workmanship.  There is still bark on some of the pieces for an armchair.  Broken pieces of wood were nailed into place–a few more nails cover any problems.  Yet still, one doesn’t see nice thick pieces of wood like that in modern furniture.  So the question of the day is: What is Bob going to do with these pieces of furniture.  I want him to reshape and show off the wood.  He’s thinking about reupholstering the furniture.  He’s doing the work so it’s his art project and his choice.   What do you think?


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Modern Hunk drinking coffee

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Home Turf.” Name five things in your house that make it a home.

Some of the  things that make my house a home include

  • Modern Hunk sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee
  • more coffee for me
  • cats and dogs lying around
  • photos and momentos of kids, life, and vacations
  • books on almost any imaginable topic
  • An open garage door inviting the world into my kitchen
  • a bag of art supplies sitting on table next to me.

The list seems fairly self explanatory..a  home for me starts with the occupants,  good food and drink, and a chance to play.  Modern hunk is the mainstay of my life.  He’s everything good — love, companionship, and joy.  He makes me laugh.  Provides order in my world where chaos rules.  And that goes beyond clean and neat into making me focus on projects and remember the important things.  Of Hunkiness goes without question.  I’ve always thought he is the most attracttive man in any room.

And all the pets.  We get endless hours of amusement with the pets.  Cats and dogs and thier needs demanding attention.  Sophie is the worst.  Unless it’s time for her morning constitutional outside, she stays about 2 feet away from me at all times.  She even gets up and follows me around the house.  If at night, I am sleeping outside and decide to come inside, she comes too.  And then her first task is clearing the bed of all other pets.  “Charlie, get up and go sleep somewhere else.  Sally, what are you thinking, sleeping on this bed–I am here.  And Elly, don’t even think about getting near me.”  Amazingly enough, the other animals obey her.

And thene there is the stuff of life.  Right now, I am looking at an early picture of my three girls hanging on the front of the china cabinet.  Inside, you see the set of fancy dishes Bob got for me as a special present.  We use those once or twice a year for special occasions.  I did take them up to Los Angeles when we cooked a special dinner for my parents 50th wedding anniversary along with my silver set from Grandfather Lohmann, pots and pans, and a huge cake that Kate made.  Unfortunately the frosting started slipping so we bought a bunch of small roses and covered all the messy frosting.  YOu can also see a seal my dad brought me from Sweden when I was a little girl and he was doing business travel and a cat my parents brought me from Russia this summer.  That cat is beautiful, I want to put it on display.  Unfortunately the first time we put it out, Charlie thought that was a new toy and knocked it onto the counter.  Not damaged by it’s fall, we immediately put it into the cabinet of precious stuff to be used somewhere.

Precious is not a measure of financial value.  The hundred year goblets may have some monetary value, but they don’t have the memories of great afternoons the two clay and latte painted dragons hold.  Right now I use those dragons as centerpieces during fancy dinners.  And the glasses, I store for Kate who wants to use them in the future to make her own memories.  When they break, she knows to mourn their loss by remembering the joy they brought.  After all, the next big earthquake could come today; shattering everything in a matter of seconds.  Better to enjoy these objects while we can.

I could go on about all those other objects in the list, but you probably have an idea of what’s important in my life already.   But more importantly, it’s time for me to go to work.  Even thought I want one more cup of coffee enjoyed with modern hunk, duty calls.  And thus like a toddler, I go to work while having an internal temper tantrum “I don’t want to go, I want to stay and play”.  It is just like the days where I hated leaving my girls at day care.  I would stand and wait outside the front door of the daycare place and listened to my girls screams turn into laughter as they adjusted to the changes of the day.  It was the process of changing that upset them, not the daycare itself.  And so, I go off to work whinning and settle down to do a job that is reasonably interesting and pays enough for me to maintain our lifestyle while saving a little bit extra.


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I have not become my parents, but….

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I’ve Become My Parents.”

I have not become my parents, but I get along much better as an adult than as a teenager with them.  In fact, I even enjoy their company and look forward to our too few visits every year.  It has taken literally years to reach this state, but the rewards have been vast.  In fact, I just agreed to participate in a joint diet with my mom.   Don’t know anything about it, mom will send me the book this week and we can start next week.  Goal is to get fitter and slimmer for another european vacation next october.  Mom wants to go crusing in southern France and visit a truffle farm.  Of course I said yes.   Europe is fantastic, I’ll come visit anytime.  And if lucky someday, I might even get to live there for a while.

Anyway, back to the diet which includes lots of pyschological tricks, games, and other mental gryations.   It will be an interesting challenge.  But since I don’t really know the rules, want to propose a few ground rules of my own.

1.  No Scales.

The purpose of this diet is to make our selves healthier for a european vacation. So lets pick something that actually measures health.  First thing I suggest is finding a pair of pants that are bit tight.  Success is when these pants fit well.  Second is adding some exercise.  So we add a couple easy stretches, two pushups, five sit ups a day.  And then over time, we increase it.  Success can easily be measured by doubling the number of daily pushups or adding a new exercise.  Each of us gets to choose our own set of initial exercises.

2.  Cheating

It’s OK to cheat once a week.  And no one has to confess to cheating.   I don’t even want to define what cheating means, but I’ll know it when I do it.

3.  Measuring progress.

We measure progress on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  That means trying on those damned tight pants and seeing how they do.  Record how many push-ups or whatever one is doing.  Mom–do you think we have to share these figures?

4.  Terminology

I don’t to hear the word diet, deprivation, or denial.  Lets focus on the positive words like adjusting portions or adding in healthy behaviors.   Yeah, I know, it seems petty to worry about the words. but that makes me happy.  I can live in denial and focus on the positive.  It’s soft of like when I tell myself that reading 100’s of line of code is fun.  A challenge, a puzzle to figure out what that code is doing.  Or like the day the air conditioning broke at work and I kept reminding myself we were adopting the european fashions on airconditioning.  Although to be honest, I would really like a compromise between the two settings.  80 degrees in the office is hot.  But 68 or even 70 degrees is too cold.

And with these conditions….let the diet competition begin.

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I am an Idiot (Other Incident) Sailing Adventures

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mountaintops and Valleys.”

Describe a time when you quickly switched from feeling at the top of the world to sinking all the way down (or vice versa). Did you learn anything about yourself in the process?

Last week it was hot, so hot even the dogs and cats didn’t want to move.  Bob and I attempted to escape the heat by going sailing.  Got some lovely pictures that I’ll share below.  Intersting thing about the heat, when the sun would go behind a cloud, the wind stopped.  This made the bay really flat, perfect for paddling.  I did mention this was a sailboat, not a paddleboat.  But it turns out they are small enough that paddling is not too bad a chore.   In one harbor, there is a houseboat parked there.  I can’t imagine it’s see worthy.  On one trip we got to see an aircraft carrier returning to base.  We even got a personal visit from the escorting navy ships telling us which way to go–backwards because the carrier was much bigger.

Altought we both felt like ignorant sailors, I managed to earn the idiot award after returning to dock.  The Convair Sailing Club has a blue box on shore where members can check out dock keys.  These keys are essential for gettng down to the docks, checking out a boat, and then leaving the docks.  Only while Bob was washing the boat, I was busily locking the keys in the checkout box.  Yep, we got stuck on the docks.  And thus Bob had to go up, beg someone to let him out of the dock area, retrieve a new key, go back down to the boat area, and retrieve the locked key.  Yep, I won the idiot award.

Enjoy the photos.  Me, I’m going to enjoy a lovely breakfast at Allen’s Alley which just arrived.                                                                                                                                                                                            image image image image image image image image image image

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I am an idiot

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “These Horns Were Made for Tooting.”

Today, share something you love about yourself — don’t be shy, be confident! — but that few other people know about you or get to see very often.

And last night I won the Idiot Ale award.  Unfortunately we didn’t have an actual bottle of that beer around to celebrate my idiot status.  Learned something new…..What you ask was that?  Well let me tell you.

Yesterday,  I left my lights on all day long.  And as expected in the evening, my car would not start.  Of course, I had been hopeful that the car would start and hadn’t even realized that the lights had been on.  Yep, Idiot time for the second time in a week.  You’ll learn about the first case when I post the sailing pictures.  That’s another story so back to the car.  It wouldn’t start.  And that meant walking back to my desk on the second floor in the middle of a huge building.

First found a co-worker to look up the building address.  My computer was off and it takes about 30 minutes to get them started and ready for use, so using a co-worker for research was important.  He didn’t know how to find the building address on our company website, so he learned something.  Called AAA, they told me that someone could be there in 30 minutes.  Found another co-worker to look up security’s phone number.  He convinced me to cancel the Auto Club service call because he would give me a jump start.

Trotteed back outside in the rain.  Had I mentioned that it was raining during this entire experience.  Anyway, had to push my car into the middle of the parking lot driving lane so his jumper cables could reach both car batteries.  Guess what–it didn’t work.  Nope, my car wouldn’t start.  So I left the car with hood up blocking the road in the back parking lot and trooped back upstairs to my office.  Called AAA for the third time and said that they should bring a battery since the jump didn’t start my car.  Called Security and got told under no circumstances should I let the tow truck operator into the back parking lot.  Since I don’t want any security violations on my record, I agreed.  They promised to send someone over by 7:50 pm.  And I went outside to wait.  Did I mention that I did not have a cell phone, so there was no way for anyone to contact me or me to contat them without trooping back upstairs to the middle of a big building.

Waited 30 minutes in the rain before the auto club jump start service arrived.  Security person was a no-show. The auto club guy agreed to wait while I trooped back upstairs and called security.  He was happy, it gave him a chance to eat his lunch at 8 pm at night. And it turns out that security had walked to the back, missed seeing my car with the open hood in the middle of the driving lane and thought I had left. So he left.  Eventually all was sorted out and the AAA guy was able to come help start my car.

Last wrinkle.  Car starts, but my battery is no good.  Was told that my car would not start again, so don’t stop until I get home.  But I needed gas. However both the security guy and the Auto Club roadside service guy assured me it would be OK to put in gas with the car running.  I did it and nothing burned down.  And thus I learned something new.  And this morning, I get the joy of being a mechanic in about 10 minutes.  Time to take out the battery, troop down to the auto parts shop, and get a new one.  Thank goodness, Bob has a working car.

And that folks, is how I won the idiot award last night.

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Hot Dogs and Happy Cats

The big news is old news.  It’s still hot here, good weather for peeping toms since no blankets, sheets, or even clothes are wanted at night.  Those of us with no air conditioning sprawl in front of windows with no breezes or fight with the dog over the best spots in front of a fan.  Me, I like Ice Packs — those blue gel things one uses for sprained ankles.  Put one directly on top of my head–blissful coolness for a few minutes.  Today the projection is hot humid weather, perhaps a few sprinkles in the evening–just enough to make everything even more humid (is that possible), and then back to normal. 

The cats seem to cope best with this heat.  Sophia thinks of me as her personal cooling pad.  Sneak onto human when she is sleeping–AHHHH, nice cool skin to roll up against.  I wake up sweating.  Charlie monitors my macrame project.  Perhaps it is the strings underneath that give airflow, making him feel cooler.  And just for the record, while it doesn’t look like I am making much progress, I am.  Big changes happen this weekend when I pull the project off the board and put it into a frame.

And finally there is Elly.  She hates the heat.  Really, really hates it.  She flops wherever there might be an illusion of cold–the dirt, the garage floor, the spot right in front of the fan.  Last week, Bob took her to the dog beach in Del Mar and even that was hotter than home.  She did like the water, it was cool and as usual drank too much salt water and make herself sick.  One place she does like is Oceanside Ale Works.  Nice air-conditioned room with wonderfully cold concrete floors.  We will have to go back there, Ale makes it much easier to accept the heat.


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Its hot here

It’s been really hot here.  I mean soul sucking, engery sapping, sweat inducing heat.  Last night it was almost 90 degrees relative heat at 10 pm.  So hot and humid that charlie didn’t even care about his dinner.  All the cat could do was lie on the table, a limp damp sweaty thing and try to look miserable.  Most cats seem to love the heat, but not Charlie.  Poor Elly also does nothing but lie around.  She has figured out that in front of the fan is better than elsewhere and thus she becomes serious competition for the only spot with the illusion of a breeze.

My mother-in-law, Mary, was very mean yesterday.  She called and asked if she could come sleep at my house and enjoy the heat.  After all, we offer a free sauna experience, no need to do anything but lie around.  And then she commented “I am thinking about turning on my air condiitioning.  What do you think?”  Only another couple of days of heat, they promise us.  But those promises seem false when the local weather website has articles on preparing for the Santa Ana Winds.  At least that heat would be dry.

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Getting Old Sucks

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Doubters Alert.”

It’s horrible getting old. Most of the time, it’s not that bad, and then whammo, something big reminds me that I am not as strong, healthy, or nimble as a 30 year old.  Not even asking to be as nimble as a teenager, even reaching the early 40’s might be OK.  This weekend, I went and looked at a piece of property.  Fascinating four acres in Vista, it was an old bible camp in the 1930’s.  Three rental units, one was the parish hall and the other was a house divided into a duplex of 3 bedroom, 1 bath rentals.  Plus a stand along garage, an 800 square foot stand alone chapel, six 300 square feet cabins, a building pad, and a shared bathroom unit for the cabins at the top of a hill.  Lots of Oak trees, lovely old bridges, a dry stream bed, and incredible vegetation.  At the top of the hill, one could build a house with views of the pacific ocean and Palomar mountain.  Sounds wonderful except….

This piece of land is steep, really really steep.  It’s like going down to the Yuba river.  So you step off the 10 feet behind the house and descend about 50 feet on 60% slope.  Other side is a bit gentler, but not much.  And I can’t walk on the trails.  I am too old and my knees hurt too much.  It would be foolishness to buy the place.  And that’s why I choose this bottle of beer for tonight.  IDIOT IPA–the perfect drink for someone who wants to do something stupid.


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The two grandmothers and more

During our last trip up the Brindejon, my parents farm; Bob and I were joined by Mary (my mother in law) and two dogs, Elle and Mitzi.  It turned out to be a great weekend, the two grandmothers got along famously.  In fact, it was a little scary, it seemed like they got along too well becoming a force to be reckoned with.  I was wondering what kinds of stories they were exchanging since it was a good chance to learn about the exploits of the other’s kids i.e. Bob and I.   But we did lots and had a great time.  It was clear that Miitzi remembered the farm and likes free ranging (although not too far) with Elle.  And then she got the joy of sleeping with her beloved mistress–Mary at night in the mud room.

Bob took lots of great photos, some of which I am pleased to share with you.  First   photo was  taken at the North Star Mine where my mom volunteers on Saturdays.  Fasinating musem, they have all kinds of working machinery– giant water wheels, shakers, and more.  Noisy big pieces of metal that move.  I learnedthat there was petrified wood in Nevada County at that museum and even bought a couple slices.  Now I need to learn how to polish rocks. 

 The next set of pictures is all about the dogs.  You can see how hapyp they they look running across big fields.  Great smells and many interesting things to check. Perhaps there might even be a rabbit to chase although my parents haven’t ever seen a dog catch one.  Funny story, my parents have a new puppy named Bella.  SShe’s still very little and like any baby takeslots of work.  You can’t take your eyes off her for more  than a monent.. And if she is quiet, then  you have to find out what kind of trouble she has found.   Yeesterday, I was talking with my dad.  Any mom who has chatted with a friend while watching small kids will recognize the conversation.

“Hi Dad, how is everything going?”

“”Good to hear from you,, did you get….wait Bella, NO.  Bella we talked about not chewing the furniture…Did you get the article I sent..  Bella, where did you go..  Excuse me for a second. …. Now where were we?  “

It was funny,  I have never had a conversation like that with my Dad before; at least not where I am the one listening to the interuptions.



We got a chance to see the mountain my great great grandfather washed away at the Thomas Brady Mining Park in You Bet.  In the second picture, you can see what it looked like years ago.


And then there is the wildlife from the farm.  My folks have a fountain in the front of their house.  Deer come in the evenings and during the night to eat the fresh new flowering plants provided by my mom and drink the water.

But the real show at the fountain are the birds.  In the morning, birds line up in the tree above waiting for a chance to visit the fountain.  Hummingbirds always go first.  Finches and the bigger birds retreat when they come to play in the water.

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Charlie and the Cone

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Inside the Bubble.”

A contagious disease requires you to be put into quarantine for a whole month (don’t worry, you get well by the time you’re free to go!). How would you spend your time in isolation?

In cat years, Charlie spent about a month in isolation with that cone.  Although it was only one week the King of the macrame, Charlie, terrorized the house with the cone.  Of course, most of the terror was watching him bump into things as he learned to walk, jump, and eventually run with this cone.  It didn’t garner him any special status with the other cats; Sally still controlled the food bowl and Sophie bossed him around like normal.  Pills twice a day, hot compresses on the chin, and other indignities were suffered daily by both Charlie and Bob.  It turns out that coating a pill with butter makes it easier to shove it down a cats throat.  There was one benefit for Charlie, every time there were indignities he would get some extra special food.   Lovely mouse or rat sized  lumps of tuna, chicken, and other delicacies delighted our housebound cat.

Well I am pleased to announce that Charlie no longer has a cone.  Like a male stripper, Charlie is showing an inordinante amount of skin.  Setting a new fashion, Charlie is strutting the bare look neck which has a ruffle down along the collar line.  Not having the cone is useful for this trash digging cat, he can now stick his head and half his body into the kitchen trash without knocking it over.  Here he is, strutting his new skin look.


Now seeing that skin reminds me about my dragon cats.  The one in the long standing novel where the first 200 pages written were supremely boring.  Written like a technical manual with no dialog or character development, I am now starting over.  It means teaching myself how to write dialog and add human interest to the story.  And I am finally learning how to draw the dragon cat.  Here’s my first successful sketch.  All I need to do is change that bare skin of Charlies neck into some scales and he’s on his way to a new modeling career as the archtype of a dragon cat.  Think what fun a cat about the size of a golden retriever, with opposable claws, wings, and a bit more intelligence could do.  No door would stop them, so it’s free range time in the refridgerator.  And hunting became a lot easier when they can swoop down on unsuspecting prey.


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A new sled for Bob

One of the big activities in our house is woodworking.  And by big, I mean BIG.  Big powerful tools, Big pieces of Wood, Big Collections of Tools, and Huge amount of dust everywhere.  But that’s OK, Bob is making lots of nice things for me — Doors, picture frames, boxes, and perhaps even a new couch.  Plus lots of small wonderful bits perfect for all my art projects.  

So the last time we were up at my parents farm, Brindejon; Bob and I gathered wood.  I took an entire large suitcase and filled it with manzanita sticks plus a few nice oak logs.  Mary who came with me was aghast, filling a suitcase with sticks?  But my parents got into the wood gatherning project and gave us some very special pieces.  One is an old oak burl.  Bob wants to make that into a table.  And some very special pieces of 13 layer birch plywood.  These came from my dad’s woodworking club, leftovers from some other project.  Bob immediately got excited and made a new sled.  For those not familiar with woodworking terminology, a sled is provides a structure for holding wood in the right position while making precise cuts with a table saw.  This 13 layer plywood  is excellent, making a very smooth sled.   

But what I liked even better than Bob’s sled was what he does with them.  Here’s the latest box by Bob.  I love the colors and grains of these woods.  It’s a beautiful piece of work.  The next pictures a little bit, a sideways cut on the plywood.  What a beautiful set of lines on the one the scrap pieces Bob finished for a future art project.  Collect enough of these pieces and I can make some interesting sculptures.


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Back to School Shopping, So Cal Style

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Decisions, Decisions.”

How are you more likely to make an important decision — by reasoning through it, or by going with your gut?

Ah, the beginning a of a new school year and with it, the all important back to school shopping.  Must be in style, must not show fear, must have the essentials, must not be nervous at a new school.  The list goes on forever.  Against that backdrop of emotion, Kate and I went back to school shopping–after all she is now a college student; independent and free.

We started that adventure searching for a cell phone store.  One small bit of water, a bit of frantic drying, and the black screen of doom appeared on her samsung galaxy phone.  Smart phones are one of the essentials for a college student or any younger person (that is younger than 30 years old).  Shop one didn’t even know if they repaired smart phones.  Shop two, the phone is dead, can I sell you a new one.  Great deal, will only last until monday at prices never to be seen again.  Shop three, success, they fix smart phones.  Waterdamage treatment, 45 dollars if it works, 20 dollars if it doesnt.  Phone call an hour later, no water damage only a dead lcd screen.  130 dollars to fix.

Having finished with the first back to school essential, onward brave shoppers.  But first we need to stop for substance.  It’s hard work shopping in the high heat of San Diego.  We are wimps here, not used to 98 degrees with 80 percent humidity.  Give us back our perfect weather of 85 degrees with 45 percent humidity in the summer.  I want my nice cool summer days and lovely warm winter days.  The only cure is a burrito.  Two lovely rice and bean burritos, green salsa; eaten in the coolness of a local taco dive called Juanitas.

With full stomachs, on to the next shopping task, Shoes.  Head over to the birkenstock store, buy two pairs–one for mother and one for daughter.  Not matching, Kate’s don’t have backstraps.  Me, I have to have the backstraps.  Dress code at work demands all shoes have one.  Plus we have different colors.  Kate got dark brown, I got light brown.

So how do we make decisions here?…definetly with the gut.  Burritos were the most important  part of the So Cal Back To School Shopping process.


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Welcome Bella

I have a new niece, a doggy niece.  Bob says that it’s more my sister than my niece.  I disagree, it’s a doggie cousin to my daughters and thier doggy sibling Elle.  In any case, Welcome Bella.  We are delighted to have you become part of our family.  Yep, that’s right, my parents got a new dog.  Sister or cousin, it doesn’t matter.  We will have fun together.  I can’t wait to come visit.  Elle can’t wait come back to doggy wonderland and will probably be excited to find a new puppy at Brindejon.  Mitzi might even come and join them as well.  Here are some pictures of Bella sent via my mom.  She looks like a lively labradoodle pup; ready to provide lots of joy to my folks.  Bob says this one looks more like a poodle than Sadie, so hopefully she won’t shed.  But it won’t matter, we’ll come visit as soon as possible.  Even Mary wants to come see the new family member.

Evidently, like a new baby, she was active the first night at home.  At midnight, she had stayed enough hours in the new crate and wanted to do something.  That meant going outside and going potty, big deal stuff in Brindejon.  Scary as well, she got frightened in the dark and waited to get back inside before piddling in the hall.  What else do you expect from a baby dog.  So my folks spent the remainder of the night sitting outside watching the dog play on the porch.  I understand that the doggy equivalent of baby gates went up first thing the next morning.  No more slipping between posts on the porch.  

Girls don’t forget to say hello to your new sister.  GMOM and GDAD Lohmann will be delighted to hear from you.



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No dishwasher soap…

Bob and I have spent several days avoiding a needed task–purchase some more dishwasher soap.  There is a full load of dirty (but rinsed) dishes waiting for soap.  And since it is hot here, no one is volunteering to take on extra work by cleaning those dishes.  And as empty nesters, we have lots of dishes, we can wait a few days.  But there are only a limited number of small plates, washing will be needed soon. So tonight, I suggested putting in some hand dishwashing soap.  Bob said “go ahead, put in lots” and then he ruined the joke by asking if this would clean the floor.

It is a huge mistake to put dish soap in the dishwasher.  Lots of foam, oozing out the sides as an unstoppable monster results from making that mistake.  I made it once and will never do it again.  Maggie was a small child, probably about 4 or 4.5 years old.  Liz was a very small baby, but old enough to sleep at night. Maggie was amazed, bucket after bucket of suds went into the bathtub.  Eventually she got to take a suds only bath.  Very exciting.  I wonder if maggie remembers any of that event.

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King of the Macrame

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Only Sixteen.”
Tell us all about the person you were when you were sixteen. If you haven’t yet hit sixteen, tell us about the person you want to be at sixteen.

Well Charlie is about 3 years old which in Cat Years means he is about sixteen.  And like a teenager, he has unbridled enthusiasm and the ability to get into many interesting scenarios.  Not all of them are good.

We went away for the weekend, leaving three cats locked in the house under the care of a neighbor.  Three bored cats including one teenager who was mad he could not go outside and patrol the yard.  What do bored cats do–they squabble and fight.  And Charlie lost.  We came home to find  a cyst growing on his neck.  Anywhere else on his body and this cyst would have exploded. But it turns out cats have extra thick skin at the neck because they fight.  And his cyst did not explode.

Probably a good thing since it would have imploded inside, leading to an even bigger vet bill.  750 dollars for surgery was not in my budget for the month.  Ouch.  We will be watching expenses.  Anyway Charlie left in the morning, a cat with a big swollen lump on his neck and came home a cat with tube under his chin and a cone around his head.  But that doesn’t stop him from doing all the important things like begging for milk in the morning or ensuring my macrame strings are all tangled together.

A friend told me a story about his two cats.  The bigger one, Fluffy used to terrorize the smaller cat Plato.  Then Plato had surgery and came home with a cone.  Big terrifying cone, Fluffy was scared.  And from that day onwards, the balance of power had changed in my friends house.  Plato was in charge.  Now I don’t think that is going to happen in my house.  Sally has always been a big scary cat that takes no guff from anyone.  If she wants to be first for food, she gets first eating rights.  And Sophia is crazy.  Even the dog is terrified of her.  But Charlie, he is king of the macrame and he’s going to spend his day defending it and sleeping upon it.  Even I won’t be allowed to work with those strings.

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Who  would have guessed….S’mores

This last weekend was the grand finale of a summer filled with changes.  It began with 3 girls graduating and ended with a trip to my mom and dad’s farm.  Will talk all about those changes and events from the last few months later.  First, I need to get back into the routine of blogging.  Its a good way to keep in touch with family and friends.  My mom asked last weekend if I was going to keep blogging, she likes my stories.  And that makes me happy.

Anyway, it was my parents 55th wedding anniversary (minus a day or so) and we had a small party.  Always gifts, usually not lavish but something fun.  And this year, the fun present was a cookbook filled with national park restaurant recipes.  There was even a recipe for S’mores.  I learned that I’ve been making them all wrong for almost 50 years.   I never knew that two marshmallows were required; nor that order was important.     

There were many great things about last weekend, one event stands out because I don’t usually go out and do things with my dad.  This last weekend we went wine tasting.  Both of us had a glass of a really great primitivo from the Sierra Nevada Winery.  The wine I am drinking tonight, a primitivo from Trader Joes, is no where near as good as this wine.  Sitting on the back porch, the temperature must have been in the high eighties.  The misters had been replaced about 10 minutes before we sat outside, so we enjoyed both the warmth and the coolness of mist at the same time.  In the picture below, you can see my dad enjoying the great show.  The winery was crushing grapes to make more wine.  We got to try a copule of the pinot noir grapes, they had a great taste.  So the 2015 pinot noir from Sierra Nevada winery may turn into an exceptional taste.  Will have to try it the next time I am up there and the wine is ready.  And there will be a next time, hopefully in the near future.


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Even after 33 years of marriage; I still love the man

DAILY PROMPTDelayed ContactHow would you get along with your sibling(s), parent(s), or any other person you’ve known for a long time — if you only met them for the first time today?

Take a look at the picture below and tell me you wouldn’t notice or fall in love with the man holding a cat in his arms.  Obviously that cat adores him and trusts him completely.  Its a long standing relationship, the man is barely aware of the cat in his arms; the cat supremely content with life.  What you don’t see is the dog laying at his feet; also supremely happy.  

I married this man 33 years ago.  It was the best decision in my life.  Together we have built a good life for ourselvles–have a home, an income with enough money to pay the bills and if lucky a bit left over, strong family ties, and pets that give us much love and joy.  Last weekend was our aniversary.  We went camping and meteor hunting.  No electronics for an entire weekend.  And it was fun.  No pictures, no paints, no pets.  And even no tent poles.  But we did have cots, food, drink, and a great view of the sky.  Even saw some meteors.  Anytime you see more than one meteor, it’s a great night.  I saw dozens.  Bob arranged it all for me as a treat.  I enjoyed it.  

I mention the tent poles because on our honeymoon; we went camping for a month.  Made it as far north as Edmunton.  And it rained for several days while we camped at Lake Lousie.  Beautiful spot, but after a couple days of wet, decided to leave and go south hunting clear skys.  Stopped at a camping park right next to the main highway.  It was brand new, a big field next to the highway with scrawny small baby trees planted along the side. They had showers and we used them.
It turns out I left my wallet in the shower and didn’t discover the fact until several hundred miles later at the Canadian, US border.  No ID, we had to drive back to this campground where yes they did have the wallet.  But the drive turned out to be magical because we saw the northern lights.  And we only saw them becausee we turned around.

The story doesn’t end there.  The next morning we packed up the tent and drove over 500 miles to Yellowstone.  Got there late in the afternoon and started to set up the tent.  This was a brand new backpacking tent–a wedding present from my extended family.  And we had left the tent poles in Canada, leaned up against one of those baby trees.  Had just discovered that fact after laying the tent out flat on the ground.  The ranger came by to see if we wanted to pay.  I remember one of us telling him “Not at the moment, we are not sure we are staying.”  Wise man, he retreated from a moment of domestic discontent.  And after a few more moments, we calmed down, rolled out the sleeping bags, and then went to pay the ranger.  

Next morning, we went to town and ate pancakes.  They were so big, you could order 1, 2, or 3 cakes.  Each filled a 12 inch plate.  Many years later, Bob learned he was working with a man whose uncle owned that restaurant.  And we did buy some wood poles for the tent on our trip and later got new proper poles.  And if we had taken the poles for the tent last weekend, we might not have slept outside and seen so many meteors.  Thank you Bob. Here’s to the next 33 years.

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Charlie’s perfect day

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Lucky Star.”

Today is your lucky day. You get three wishes, granted to you by The Daily Post. What are your three wishes and why?

Today was my lucky day.  Can’t believe how great it was.  Early in the day, I caught a hummingbird.  Oh, that was fun.  Plus the bird tasted delicious, there is nothing like a freshly caught bird snack early in the day.

Then dinner arrived.  And Sally didn’t want her tuna.  Stupid cat, but all the more for me.  I love tuna.  Actually I love dinner.  Have not yet found a dinner that I don’t like.  But Tuna, now that is one of my favorite meals.

Time for a great nap outside.  All the humans are there eating dinner.  Maybe after my nap, they will share that delicious food.  Here’s to dreaming about it.


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Glass of Beer on a Sunday Afternoon

About a year and a half ago, Bob, Maggie, and I spent a wonderful afternoon at the bar enjoying a beer.  I took pictures of the hands and then played with some image processing software.

Now, summer of 2015; painting those hands are one of my current projects. This is going to be a huge painting, 30×36 inches.  Artistic challenges: using big brushes, a limited palate, painting glass and reflections, using texture and brush strokes to suggest depth.  The following photos show you the original photo, a gray scale done in green, two sessions on the sweater and arms, and one session working on the table with a little bit of beer thrown into the  mix.

After four lessons and 1.5 months, have not yet finished.  And now I am on  my own for finishing this painting until September.  In August, there is a special saturday class series “plein aire painting”.  Three saturdays in a row, three different scenes, paintings need to be finished within the 2 hour block of time.  That will be challenging and fun.  We will see if I can work on this painting without help or not.  In the meantime, I want to go get a beer.


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Happy Birthday Josh  — Only a little bit belated

It’s been a busy month.  One big event during the last month has been Maggie and Josh took a big step — they changed their status from boyfriend/girlfriend to significant others.  What marks this step; two events.  First and most important, Josh added Maggie to his cellphone plan.  So she has a new iphone and a new phone number.  Second big event, Maggie started a new job in a new city with a new apartment and a new roommate who happens to be Josh.  So now I have to acknowledge his birthday which does happen to fall in July.  Early july to be specific.u

Josh–over the last couple years, it’s started to become a tradition where I post (or others post) pictures that the birthday recipient may have never seen.  Welcome to the family and enjoy the photos..  Be forewarned, I have more, you get to see them next year.






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No Crutch, No Cane — Life is Great!

Today I went to work with No Crutches and No Cane.  Hurray!!!!!  I may be slow and careful walking; but I can even walk up and down the stairs with no pain.

It’s really bad when as an adult one needs to relearn how to walk.  After the first knee injury a couple years ago, I had to relearn how to stand.

  • Sit on the edge of a chair
  • Lean Forward
  • Push up with your knees.  Use a crutch or armrest or something if needed.
  • When you don’t stand up because of a fear of pain, repeat “stand up, you can do this”

Well this time, it was not nearly as bad.  Fear was the biggest problem.  Luckily I had the strength to overcome my fear.  So today I celebrate the simple task of walking and taking the stairs.   Its great to be able to walk.

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Helpful Charlie

Another great  weekend (thank you Bob for the time to play with art); lots of unfinished bad art. Did some jewelry design with Liz, played with watecolor pencils, and covered myself with wood stains.  Overall, a weekend dedicated to art and the pursuit for happiness.  Charlie was a big help with the art.  He guarded my colored pencils, ensuring that no one could touch them without his help.  I love the picture of him sleeping in the middle of  my art supplies.  Capturing this picture as a potential oil painting could be the best art I did over the last weekend.

So what did I manage to do with with almost unlimited free time.  Design a bit of jewelery, create a water color pencil painting of a tree that needs rework with regular colored pencils, add some color to a play with materials painting, and cover myself with stain.  Thank you Bob for making the time possible.  Without your support, I could not play at being an almost full time art student.

It is fascinating the difference between different brands of watercolor pencils. I have decided that a small set of pental pencils is better than a big set of derwents pencils because the colors are so much more vibrant..  The worm was made with shavings  from the small pental pencils.  The background was very heavy derwent..  The tree below failed in part because I tried to make the tree vibrant with pencils designed for subtle.  Well, truth be told, there were a few misdrawn lines as well and with watercolor pencils—one mistake and the drawing is ruined.  Even regular colored pencils could not help recover the picture.  Finally, the jewelry below.  Had lots of help with that.  Liz dessigned and made the earings for me.  The crow necklace is my designbut I used a new kind of wire and it has already broken.  The last necklace is holding, that was a gift from a friend where I added the rock.     



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Ready to Go

Elly, our dog, lives a charmed life.  She is always part of the family, treated like a princess, fed regular meals with the occasional treat, and goes out on adventures almost daily.  For her, a car ride is joyful.  Something fun that usually ends in an even better walk, places with good smells, and maybe even another dog to chase.  Kate sent me a great picture.  Elly looks so eager and excited–another adventure in store.  She’s ready to go.


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Sports Bra Advice and other matters

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Well I never…

Tell us about something you’ve done that you would advise a friend never to do.

First and most important piece of advice: If you sprain your ankle or knee and need to use crutches, don’t wear a sports bra during the first few days.

Your arms will hurt so much that you consider cutting the damm bra off instead of lifting it over your head.  In fact, don’t even bother with a bra, the crutches keep hitting the bands on the side of your chest and cause rubbing.  Instead go for double layers in shirts.

Yep, I’ve been using crutches again for the last few days.  Nothing too serious–slipped and fell on the kitchen floor, spraining my knee.  First day needed the crutches, the second day sort of needed them, and today, the third day, they are my stupid insurance.  You know, the thing that keeps me from doing something stupid like wobbling while walking and really hurting myself badly.

Which leads to the second important piece of advice:  When asked what happened, use only two words “Bar Fight”.

Great answer for everything.  Much better story than the truth, who wants to hear you slipped on a puddle of water in the kitchen.  Makes people laugh and you laugh with them.  And might just raise your street credibility, although in my case I am not sure about that.  People look at me and basically say or think “Right” with a very sarcastic tone.  I mean it could have happened.

Its been one of those weeks where things go askew in very different directions from the basic plans.  Oh well, blame it all  on hormones.  On monday at work, I almost burst into tears when the dammed computer system would not respond.  It was taking too long to find all the network drives.   On tuesday morning, I did break into tears when my pc at home would not find an storage drive.  Decided at that point to take the day off work and go out with my family.  I was not in fit shape to handle the woes of work.

Instead went to Balboa Park to visit museums.  It was free tuesday for the museum of man and the art museum.  Long lines to get into these institutes, but fun.  They are nice, small, and only take an hour to visit even with big crowds.  I can’t imagine paying 12-15 dollars per museum, its a lot of money per person for a small visit.  But the day was great a good restoretive.  I needed that because the rest of the week has been challenging.  First the knee injury and then my annual review at work.

I have defintely gone into dilbert land.  Last february, was told that I was not qualified for a new job that might open up because I didn’t have the title of Lead on my Resume.  Yesterday, I got told that the LEAD position was on grade below my engineering grade and that I didn’t want the job becausee I would have be downgraded.  Which applies–I don’t know.  Doesn’t matter because obviously one manager doesn’t want me in the job.

Plus I got a shitty mid year review.  It doesn’t matter if one is the most productive and doing lots of extra stuff beyond the basic job.  Since I did that last year, it is now expected and part of my job.  Therefore I am barely “meeting expectations”.  But if I had been doing nothing and then started doing something, then I could have the ranking of “exceeding expectations”.  Doesn’t matter anyway, we have a ranking system where everyone gets a 3 out 5 on the final review.  If I were to get a 4 or 5 (godlike or walks on water type review); the company would have to pay me a bonus.  No one has gotten a bonus over the last couple of years, even when they do fantastic things.  And if a person gets a 1 or 2 (totally screwing up or at least doing very badly) the managers get punished and have to do lots of paperwork.  So even those who deserve low scores get a 3.

And that gives me freedom to totally not worry about reviews and scores.  No matter what I do, as long as I do a half decent job, I get a three.  Hurrah.  And that gives me freedom to concentrate on sculptures, art, and writing.  Those are fun things that really make me happy.  The comic strip Luann expressed that perfectly.  So to end this post with a laugh, I give you “Luann”

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Nightmare Scenarios

If you want to read something scary, then this article is for you.

Very scary stuff hidden in technical language.  Basically, researchers have found a way to use bluetooth phone connections within your car to take control of many essential functions.  Brakes, acceleration, gas consumption, windshield wipers, lights, cruise control, and more are all hackable.  And they can pick up cars, identiify them by their vin, look up model specific information even while driving along on the interstate.  Now they cannot send a response back to the car unless it is moving under 6 miles an hour.  But that’s a technical problem that can and will be solved in the near future.  The problem is so bad that all 2013-2015 FIAT/JEEP cars for certain models have a fimware patch released last week for download.  Those car owners need to put code patches into their cars before driving it anywhere. 

A little subtler but also scary is the mention of data collection.  Imagine what the car manufactur’s and insurance companies might want for data–how fast you are traveling, the speed of accelleration, did you use the signals while moving into another lane, how much weight was sitting in each seat, and more.  Did you belt in those text books on the front seat or are you guilty of violating the seat belt laws?  

And what can we do about it?  I am not sure.  But fixing up old cars is beginning to sound like a good hobby.

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These pictures made me smile

Take a look at this article from the Washington post.  The photos of the macque monkeys in a hot pool made me laugh.

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Can you guess what these objects are?  

Yep two fancy new paint brushes and one mangled pair of glasses.  Who knew that reading glasses could become works of art when put through a wash and dry cycle.

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Liz’s fantastic mac & cheese

Today Liz learned how to make Mac and Cheese.  Started with the roux — butter and flour thickener and finished with homemade bread crumbs.  Fantastic flavor, Liz did a great job.  Looking forward to dinner.

Liz’s Mac and Cheese Recipe.


  • 8 table spoons butter
  • 8 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 6 oz montery jack cheese
  • 10 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • pepper
  • mustard
  • 2 lbs pasta — cooked and rinsed with cold water
  • Breadcrumbs


Create a Roux by melting the butter and stirring in the flour.  As it turns to thick lumps, add the milk slowly, stiring constantly to ensure no lumps.  Add cheese chunks slowly while stiring.  Add pepper and mustard to taste. When all cheese is melted, you are ready to create the cassorole.  Cover bottom of pan with cheese sauce.  Layer pasta and cheese sauce.  Put breadcrumbs on top and cover with more cheese sauce.  Cover with foil. Bake the casserole for 30-45 mintes at 375 degrees.  Remove foil for the last 15 minutes to brown the bread crumbs.

To make the bread crumbs, shred stale bread into small pieces.  Bake at 400 degrees between 5 and 10 minutes. Crumbs are ready when bread is dry and crispy.  Can use a rolling pin if needed to crush bread into finer crumbs. 


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Bluebird Updates

We have 3 chicks in the box.  And better yet, Bob actually got a picture of them in the box.  Fantastic sight, I have never seen a baby bluebird chick before.  Enjoy Bob’s photo.  

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The forces of chaos

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Clean Slate.”

Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?

Looking at my kitchen table, the following items can be seen

  • watercolor pencils, brushes, some half finished drawings
  • a package of wate color coloring post cards
  • a check on top of which are a pen and a paint brush
  • a small square bowl with pencil shavings
  • one pair of spiral wood earings
  • 2 boxes of earrings and jewelry
  • a strange wooden stand
  • a movie — the princess bride
  • bottles of cleaning supplies
  • reading glasses
  • paper towls
  • a bag of oregano
  • napkins
  • headphones
  • two tablets
  • two cups of coffe, now empty
  • two candle stick holders — one with a few small pieces of wax and another with a half burned candle.

As you continue looking around the room, the same eclectic collections of stuff can be seen.  Tools on the kitchen counter next to a small brass pipe and a potato, a jar of milk next to the coffee pot.  The kitchen is the center of our world, the place where everyone hangs out, talks, eats, does their projects.  Even the cats and dogs hang out here, the dog hopeful that a piece of breakfast bacon will fall on the floor.

And so, the table becomes a repository for half finished projects.  A snapshot into the clutter that is my life.  Bob tries to keep things clean and simple, but the forces of chaos are too strong.  And perhaps that’s the way it should be.  There is only a limited amount of time for play while the shoulds, coulds, and ought to’s constantly pile up screaming “I have to be done” and “Do me now”.  Instead, I pick up the earrings and put them on, the spirals and wood grounding me for a day a work.  I look a the wooden table base that needs sanding.  Saturday will be here in a couple of days and just maybe I can finish that table.  With help from Bob.

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A couple more cute cat pictures

Sophie sprained her front arm yesterday.  She came home with a decided limp and looked miserable.  Watched for an hour or so, didn’t get better so off to the vets.  Yep, second injured animal in our house within a week.  Vet diagnosed a sprain, gave her a cortisone shot, and sent me home with some pain pills for a couple of days.  24 hours later, Sophie is alreadly limping less.  And sleeping soundly like only a drugged cat can do.   She fell asleep with her head tucked into Charlies belly.  Which gave me the opportunity to get a couple cute cat pictures.


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Two Cats

Two cats sit on the kitchen table and stare at each other.  Occasionaly one takes a  swipe at the other.  They call this friendship.  I call it “keep hold of the wine glass, the cats might knock it over”.  

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A pager, roll up windows, or ?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Going Obsolete.”

Going Obsolete
Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?

A pager?  My life for a pager?  Never had one and they were gone before I knew it.  Of course, it was like a jail sentence for those who had one. So it must be something else that I miss.

Roll up windows with an actual handle?  Those were handy, if the windows were left down during a rainstorm, it was easy to roll them back up without the keys.  And they didn’t break in the same nasty way modern window controls do.  That’s a good candidate for missing the most. But there has to be something more.

Printed books.  Now that is a big thing.  I love printed books.  While it is nice to get a book instantly by downloading, there are many problems with our e-books.  Browsing is not much fun, the ability to find something totally different when you don’t even know what you want or whats available is lost.  No more visiting the bookstore on a Saturday afternoon looking for something new.  Search algorithms give you more of the same, over and over again.  Pages and Pages of crummy reccomendations.  And that old standby — a friend handing you a book with the words “I think you will like this one” doesn’t happen anymore.  So I stopped reading for pleasure.  But that’s good for the art projects.  More time to work on painting and sculptures.  So it must be something else I miss the most.

I think my choice for the technology I will miss the most is an IPOD classic.  That classic device which holds 120 or more gigabytes of music, stories, and italian love lingo lessons.  It was almost the perfect device and they killed it.  Not enough money.  Someday, I dream that a replacement will be made.  Pono I’m watching your reviews.  Perhaps you will grow up and become the replacement for my beloved IPOD classic when it dies.  Easy to use, preferably without ITUNES software, holds tons of music, and great quality sound.   A market that Apple abandoned when they killed the IPOD classic.

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Big Bad Cat

I don’t often watch cat videos.  But this one referenced on bbc news is worth watching.  Here a cat faces off with a mountain lion and wins. Now the dad narrating the video,  he probably was in big trouble for all the snarky remarks.

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Celebration Aftermath — Elly Eats a Thong

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Celebrate Good Times.”

You receive some wonderful, improbable, hoped-for good news. How do you celebrate?

Ok, we’ve done nothing but celebrate for the last 2 months.  4 Graduations, 3 Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Solstice, New Jobs, Vacations (for at least some in the family), Planetary Conjunctions, Juneteenth, and more general life.  I am all partied out.  It’s been exhausting, wonderful, and overwhelming.  Lots of Angst, Life Changes, and Drama.  But surprisingly very few tantrums, issues, or meltdowns.  So when the two youngest adults (AKA grown up kids) left on vacation today, it’s not surprising we have a meltdown.

This time it was Bob and Ellly.  He got worried over a hot spot.  And righty so, when the vet called it “Cellulitis, a Dog Bacteria  Skin Infection”; we both got scared.  After all, that was a disease that one year ago made me terribly sick.  Almost a month off work, all because of a baterial infection related to the skin eating diseases.  Evidently not that scary in dogs–steroid shot, antibiotics, a skin ointment, an elizabethan collar, and lots money later; the dog is home feeling miserable.   She hates the collar.  But the vet promises she will feel better tomorrow.

Now why the title you ask?  While waiting at the vets, Bob sent his daughters a text “We are at the vets.  Elly has apparently eaten a bright pink victoria’s secret thong.  They will have to operate to remove it”.  Several frantic texts later, the message to the girls was “Vet was able to remove thong with long tongs, no operation needed”.  Don’t know if the girls believed it or not, but there was some frantic texting over a couple hour period.  For the record, There was NO THONG and NO OPERATION.

So here are a few photos of Elly in her misery.  In the first photo, Bob holds Elly why the vet’s assistant checks her temperature.  Second photo, Bob has gone to check out some kittens in the lobby.  They are very cute, but Elly does not approve of him leaving.  She watches forlornly through the door.  In the last photo, Elly has come home and is laying in the living room with Bob. 



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Bob’s Birthday Game

And now for some historical pictures. The game is guess what happened and where. Answers below each picture.


Yep, that’s the Mark Twain Steamer from Disneyland in the background. Picture was taken on July 19th in 2008. Bob and Maggie went by themselves, so Maggie must have taken this picture. He looks very handsome with that shirt, I’ll have to look for a replacement. But I’m not going back to Disneyland anytime in the near future. The charm of the place has disappeared with increasing crowds, high prices, getting rid of all the musicians, and generally adopting “profits first” motto. Too bad, it was fun for many years.


This was probably taken in 2004. We stopped at the park next to Empressa Elementary school on the way to Christmas Dinner. Had a new big model airplane made from wire and cloth to fly. It actually flew although not well. The airplane might still be up in the shelves of our garage, it never worked well. But we had a lot of fun that day. Liz was wearing a skirt I made. Looks nice, I’ll have to try making a few more lace skirts like that one. DSC00690

In October 2010, Bob and I had a wonderful vacation courtesy of my parents. They took us to Rome as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. As part of the tour, there was a special tour of the Vatican followed by dinner in one of their large halls. Amazing artwork and statuary everywhere. One of the highlights of that evening was one of the dinner guests started singing afterwards in the hall. She had been an opera singer with a dream of singing someday in the Vatican. Her voice was fantastic and acoustics in this hall very good. DSCN23

Earlier in the day, I had a similar peak auditory adventure when Bob and I rested on benches in a park and listened to the birds sing in the oak trees. We also took pictures of ourselves posing as statues and in general had a wonderful walk in park.  Don’t remember the name of this park, but it’s the big one on top of a hill that eventually leads to the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Bob and I had 3 weeks in Italy—visiting Rome and Venice. October was a great month, no crowds and good weather. Rome is like an adult Disneyland. It’s hard to get from one place to another since every corner holds a new treasure. Venice was exotic, cold, expensive, and exhausting. I am glad to have visited but don’t want to go back unless I have tons of money. My favorite place in Italy was at Ostica. Old harbor city with lovely old vegetation. Umbrella trees are fantastic, one of my favorite memories was sitting in a field of wild thyme looking, 2000 year old buildings, and an airplane flying above those old tall trees. IMG_0125

From 2004 take your child to work day, Kate was only 7 years old. Yep, that was science at it’s best. She had a great day going to work at Raytheon with her dad. It was hard on me, I took time off the day before to bring her up to my parent’s house in Los Angeles. And then left at 4:30 am for my job in San Diego.


Picture of Man and Cat. Charlie loves to be around people and often wants to be held. He has a big powerful purr. A fairly recent picture, Bob is sitting in our kitchen after dinner.


After thanksgiving, 2013; Liz was heading back to school in New Mexico. We went early and stopped at Cabrillo National Monument. There was an incredible sunset, I love the light on their faces.


Summer of 2014, Oban, Scotland. Great ice cream shop; this photo of Liz and Bob will become part of a painting someday. After I learn how to draw / paint people. Called the Pokey Pony, it had lines out the door. While waiting for them, I saw a taxi cab driver pull up front, double park, run in past the line, pick up a cone, and walk out without paying. He must have been a regular with a tab at that shop.


Mother Earth, Vista, 2013. Probably a glass of Kismet IPA beer. Was playing around with my IPAD and got this great shot of Bob’s hands. It’s going to be one of my next paintings.


 This picture was taken last year at Del Mar Dog Beach. Lovely sunset, this photo is unique because there are NO dogs in it. The beach was covered in happy barking, racing dogs; ours included. Elly is always one of the dirtiest dogs at the beach. She loves to run into the water, get wet all over, and then go roll in dry sand. So every trip to the dog beach ends with a dog getting washed. IMG_6901

Long day. We arrived at Lewis Island in the outer Hebrides, Scotland earlier that day. Then lots of fussing around with getting a car followed by a tour around the local area by our landlord. It was after lunch and we were all hungry. So Kate, Bob, and I walked downtown to find something for lunch. Cold outside we took refuge in a lively restaurant. Great food although I can’t remember what I ate. IMG_6902

Not sure when this was taken although it was after I got my new camera in May 2014. Maybe June although I didn’t think we were doing anything fun that month. I was having trouble walking at that period, remember having issues with stairs. It was a Sunday morning, we got very lucky and snagged a parking spot right next to the catholic church. Since the Museum of Modern Art didn’t open for an hour, we had lunch at the restaurant next door. I had a carrot soup that was fantastic, need to try making some. Since it took so long for the lunch to arrive, the waiter gave Bob a free cup of soup. Enjoyed the exhibits, there were some interesting art pieces on loan from a museum in Mexico City, Mexico. IMG_6903

One of the early photos of Elly with Bob. I think it is part of Brengle Terrace, but am not certain. It is part of my Man and Dog Series. I have dozens of good pictures on this them and someday some of them will get painted.


Taken in 2012, Elly was just a puppy at the time. About 6 months old, she had not yet grown into her shaggy coat. IMG_6905

Bob flying an airplane at Brindejon. Taken during the great solar eclipse party in May 2012.


Going back a few years, this picture was taken in Hawaii in November 2008. We used my parents time share points to get a condo on Kauai for a wonderful week long holiday. For sitting through a time share lecture, we got one free ride on a helicopter. Bob and Kate went, I’m scared of heights. And because they were both slender and Kate was so small, both were seated in the front. Kate got the center seat. Evidently the ride was fantastic, one of the best parts of the trip. I want go back to Hawaii, but still don’t have any desire to ride in a helicopter. legoland

Even Older, this picture from Legoland was taken in June 2004. Maggie was 14 years old and still loved playing with legos. I think the procession of cows was her doing.

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Bob’s Birthday — Part 1

Following a long standing (ok at least once before) tradition; this post celebrates Bob’s birthday. By tradition, this post has to be done late—too busy celebrating life as it happens.  Stories and photos are essential.  So Happy Belated Birthday and enjoy.

Last week Bob and I went out sailing on his birthday. Lovely day, the San Diego Harbor was deserted. Of course there were some tense moments, such as when Bob asked me to do something and I replied “Do what?” or “I haven’t done that”. It doesn’t help that I’m scared when the sail boats tip on their sides. The first time we had sailed together, so the event was a learning process. Bob looks really happy after our sailing adventure.  Obviously we have to learn how to sail together.  And I have to study and remember parts of the boat and standard sailing commands.  Oh well, that’s part of the fun of learning how to sail.  Bob of course got finished in a few weeks.  I hope to get certified sooner than the guy who needed 17 lessons and eventually had his money refunded.


After sailing, we had dinner at Pizza Port in Carlsbad. Unbelievable crowds. At almost 9 pm on a Thursday Evening, the place was so crowded we had to share a table. Lines were long, 30 minutes to get a beer. Where are all the people coming from? Don’t they have to work? But it was fun. There were some very friendly people who sat next to us. I have almost no idea what they were saying because the place was so noisy; but they seemed very pleased to be talking with us. One lady even pulled out pictures of her children and grandchildren from her wallet.



Interesting fact about Bob’s birthday was that it coincided with a Grunion Run. Our first date was going grunion running. We were set up by a mutual friend named Kevin. He asked me if I wanted to go, said that Bob would be delighted to give me a ride since he didn’t live too far away. I said sure. He then went to Bob and asked him if he could give me a ride to the Grunion Expedition up in Malibu. Bob was living up in Mar Vista, Los Angeles. And I lived with my parents in Rolling Hills Estates. 25 miles from Bob’s place to my house. 35 miles to the grunion run. If I had known what the distances were, I would never have accepted the ride.

Our second date was going to the Los Angeles Zoo on Sunday. Lunch included fried grunions. Even at the time I recognized that cold fried grunion are a disgusting dish.  To Bob’s credit, he ate them. And I remember that going to the zoo was fun.  We had a great day.  I think that was his birthday or was that the third date.

Anyway, our romance almost got ended by his birthday celebration. I took him to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in ‘Redondo Beach. Didn’t know him well or would have realized this was a BIG mistake. Bob loves ice cream, but hates noisy birthday fusses. And Farrell’s was known for big fusses–Sirens, drums, processions, singing by the entire staff and other guests, huge candles on an ice cream Sunday. Later I learned that he almost stopped seeing me based on that event. Glad he didn’t—we’ve had a few great years together. More than a few since this happened in 1980.

Anyway, tradition (i.e. done at least once before) requires some historical photos and stories to celebrate a birthday.  Tonight, the whole computer / photo / story stuff is bad.  Nothing seems to be working.   So look tomorrow for the photo story game.  I present historical photos and you try to guess the story.  It’s not a hard game, stories come below the photos.

And in the meantime


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