Hoping for Bluebird Chicks

One of the things I really love about Bob is he has so many interesting projects and ideas.  The latest one is creating a box for bluebirds.  The hope is they find this box and make a nest.  We have several bluebirds that visit our garden, so yesterday Bob built a box based on the following specifications”

  1. 5 inches high
  2. 1.125 inch hole
  3. 3/4 inch plywood
  4. vents at top for hot areas
  5. designed to mount on a pole
  6. for a really smooth bottom — score it up to give purchase to baby birds
  7. 6 feet off the grond

Since he wants to make sure they have afternoon shade, thus ensuring proper temperatures, Bob is going to put this box under the apple tree.  The only thing left to acquire is a camera so we can see into the box.  If we get lucky and have baby bluebirds, will be sure to share the pictures.  Notice the hinge at the top.  Per the internet–source of always true information–it is ok to lift up the lid and check on things.  The Western Blue Bird Parents don’t get spooked by this.  But if we have camera inside, then it won’t be neccessary to test that hypothesis.



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For Kate, Liz, and Maggie

Girls, 

Ran across this ad which you should watch.  Not appropriate for breakfast; but hysterically funny.  I’ve never seen such a good promotion for tampons.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-pauline-lowry/hello-flos-camp-gyno-best_b_3673990.html

Let me know if you want one of these care packages.

Love Mom

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That damned cat

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

What’s your ideal Saturday morning? Are you doing those things this morning? Why not?

The plan was for an ideal or almost ideal day.  Breakfast in the morning at curbside.  Art class — oilpainting where I get to use color, a friend coming over in the afternoon for power tools extravaganza, and an evening at home with my husband.  And then the damned cat strikes.

Brought home flowers for Bob last night.  We both like them and it was easy since I was at the grocery store anyway.  Since Bob has been feeling a bit under the weather for the last few weeks I’ve gotten in the habit of bringing home something to cook for dinner, then cooking it, and doing the dishes for him.  Flowers are just a nice touch.  I like being able to spoil him occasionaly since he does such a good job taking care of me.

Beautiful not quite blooming flowers looked wonderful on the table last night.  But this morning came out to find that Charlie had been at work.  Knocked over the vase and ate the unopened flowers.  So we won’t get to see them open.   Spilled the water all over my laptop computer.  Hope it is OK.  I’ll find in a couple of days after we let it dry out.  Right now it’s sitting on the table sideways, dripping water from the insides.  That DAMNED CAT.

The day will go on as planned.  Breakfast, Art, Friend over for Tool Making, and a date with Bob tonight.  So a perfect hedonistic day of joy.  Only slightly marred with worry about the computer.  I don’t have a good backup of my stuff and I should since as a software database engineer I know better.  But on the optimistic side, no more water is coming out from the vents, so it will probably be OK.


 

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The Kate Show

Isn’t this a fun shot.  Might try painting it just because I like it.



Here’s the real scene–Kate at Allans Alley



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Why I want to paint

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Three Perfect Shots.”

Have you ever been at the playground that still has the old fashioned very tall old metal slide, complete with the steep narrow ladder for stairs?  Someday I want to paint that slide covered in kids.  This picture has to be painted.  I am not sure there are even eny slides like this remaining in southern california.  Plus kids are never given the freedom to just swarm all over a big dangerous toy like the metal slide.  They might fall.  And even if I found this scene, probably could not capture all  be able to capture the emotions in a single photo.  Might not even happen with three photos, but I might get closer.

First shot, one kid is climbing up the ladder.  This little boy is terrified, but there is one kid ahead who is excited and several more behind on the ladder.  The little boy cannot go down.  He doesn’t want to go up, but the pressure of more kids behind him forces him to climb.  He knows everyone else can do it and that he should also be able to do it.  He wants to slide, but also doesn’t.  The picture would clearly capture all these clearly conflicting emotions.

Second shot shows one kid sitting on the top about to be pushed down by yet another kid.  This little girl holds tightly onto her stuffed animal which is perched between her legs.  She’s preteding it’s her baby brother or sister that she’s teaching how to slide.  On the slide, there is another little girl shrieking with delight as she flies downward.

The final shot shows kids grouped around the bottom of the slide, picking up a kid who fell on his but.  The kid sitting on the grown has a huge goofy grin on his face.  He survived the slide and it was FUN.  He wants to do it yet again.   And again.  Life is good.

These photos are why I am taking oil lessons.  Not this year, but maybe in another year or two I can paint this picture.   Plus the picture of the two old surfer dudes. Two older guys going to the beach in wetsuits holding thier boards.  But they have the same excited look of a younger men going surfing.  It’s going to be a great afternoon.  Who knows, theose older men may just get the perfect wave which leads to scroing the perfect girl and that might lead to the perfect evenings entertainment.  Wouldn’t it be great to paint those scenes.

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Playing with pictures–A Guessing Game

The other morning I was having fun with the IPAD photo booth and got a great picture that looks like butterflies.  Can you figure out what this was originally?



The second picture might give you a better idea



Still having trouble figuring out where that picture came from?   Well this might help.

And here is the source object.



Perha

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Art Purge

Last minute update — Liz wants me to keep the quilting stuff for her. So I am pleased, a nice starting selection of dreams will be put into a box for her. One box only plus a sewing machine when she is ready! Anyone else want anything? Speak up today.

Original Post
Over the last few couple of weeks, I began an art purge. That means I am cleaning out all the old projects and supplies that have not been touched in years. I haven’t made a new quilt in over 10 years. I have not even considered doing fabric dyeing in that same time. The girls no longer fit into patterns for little girl dresses and even if I made adult versions, they wouldn’t want them. I don’t need kits from old building nerds days and someone else may enjoy them. I don’t think I will ever get into spinning wool and then knitting sweaters from that yarn. For one thing, it is way too warm in southern California to even wear those sweaters. But I won’t get rid of the half finished green sweater I started for Bob several years ago. Perhaps it may get finished.

But the biggest heartbreak and biggest purge are the quilt tops. I am never going to finish those quilts. So why am I keeping them. Someone else may very well create a beautiful art piece and enjoy the work. Five quilt tops are going — Kitty’s in the garden quilt; the crazy quilt; the international dolls, signature squares, and Y2K children’s square exchange quilt; a light summer duvet cover; and the octopus’s garden quilt. Heartbreaking and yet freeing at the same time. There are hundreds of hours needed to finish those projects in the way I want them. By giving them away, I can make a statement about my art. It has changed and now I am focusing on painting and sculpture.

But I have decided to pull the large piece of beautiful plaid material out of the pile. That piece came from a shop that specialized in Guatamalain fabrics in the early 1980’s. Bob’s Dad and Mom took us to see San Diego State University as treat before we were married. I remember even then that Mary was surprised about my buying fabric because it was pretty. She only got fabric when she needed something specific for a project at that moment. But buying fabric was always buying dreams for me. Perhaps I
will make a beautiful full plaid skirt from that lovely soft material.

And most importantly, what am I going to do with all the purged art stuff. GIVE IT AWAY. On Monday at work, we are having an UFO exchange. Unfinished Objects. Bag them, tag them, and bring them to work. Those who bring stuff get first pick. Then anyone who wants can take the rest. Left over stuff will go to charity. Any charity. If I end up taking them, then it
is probably good will. But maybe someone has a church group or school that would like all the resources. Yeah to them, they get to haul the remainders away.

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Charlies Grand Adventure, Oh My! And Friends.

Last Monday night, I woke up to the yowl of a cat. Sophia, who was tucked in my arms was frantic. She climbed out, checked all the windows and even went outside into the cat cage. Then back into the house, racing around checking all the windows. Now sophia is a thin coated siamese who gets cold easily, she does not normally even consider going outside at night. So her actions caught my attention. But there had been only one yowl, so we both went back to sleep. Later, the cat yowl repeated along with a couple of meow’s and other such noises. Again, sophia repeated her check of all windows and the cat cages. And then we both went back to sleep.

Tuesday morning, I was really tired. Had gone to bed way too late and had not slept well. Coffee was the most important first step and I took my cup outside. To my surprise, Charlie was outside. I must have let him out about eleven when I took the trash outside. He came in an exhausted wretch, not even carrying about breakfast. Went to sleep and didn’t move until 3:30 in the afternoon

It had been him howling in the night. No wonder Sophia was upset, she recognized the cry. And she knew he belonged in the house. Were they friends or not, I don’t know. But obviously she keeps track of him. They often sleep close to each other. And don’t mind being together most of the time. In fact, all the animals keep track of each other. The family pack is a dynamic fluid grouping of cats and a dog; all of whom want to be as close to as many humans as possible. Or touching their favorite human.

On Tuesday morning, I was feeling blue. Tired and slightly down, I felt like I had no friends and a purposeless life. I am always trying to do too much and when I don’t get it all done, feel bad about that fact. Most of that was exhaustion and overwork. Add in what seems like constant illness and bronchitis to exaggerate all feelings. But yesterday proved my fears about friendship are all wrong in multiple ways.

First I wrote a post and got back a very nice comment from a good friend. Thanks Marianne, I love hearing from you. It’s a wonderful moral boost. We need to get together soon, it’s been too long.

Later in the day, I was still not doing great. But my two “Arnold Time” companions came by. These two guys go to the gym twice a week and they let me tag along. Not only tag along, but when I said I was tired and didn’t want to go, they both reminded me that there was no art class if I didn’t get at least three exercise sessions. And they don’t consider a classroom experience on sailing as an exercise session. Of course with that kind of nagging, I went to the gym and did my 30+ minutes of the stationary bike and other exercises. Finished before the two guys and went out to the lobby of my work building where the gym was to wait.

There I ran into several women friends–all of whom were delighted to see me and all of whom said we need to make time to get together. Carolyn might go to the Saturday art class. We see each other at our creative collections club at work — an excuse to get together and do some kind of craft with Northrop paying for materials. It is training and professional development, various people take turns teaching a new art skill. Next week, we make birds nest pendants with wire and fresh water pearls. I will see Bonita and Leila there. I was happy to see these ladies.

And I also heard from Suzie and she wants me to go out for lunch with her on Sunday. Of course she has an ulterior motive, she wants to pick up a custom dress from a vendor at the Encinitas Sunday fair and can’t walk there yet with her broken foot. But really, its an excuse to get together with one of my oldest friends in San Diego. We met at BAE Systems when I was 9 months pregnant with Elizabeth. She came in for an interview and we both got along well. After a brief maternity leave, she became my lunch buddy. You know its a good friendship when going to home depot at lunch to buy a toilet repair kit is fun.

By the end of the day, there had been so many reminders of the love and friendship in my life. It ended at dinner with Bob and Kate and too many animals. We had as always the procession of the cats–various cats getting picked up in the kitchen, walked into my bedroom, and locked in there because of their bad manners. Cats do not belong on the table, especially during dinner. Elly barked and got sent to her bed in the kitchen. Life was normal and full of love. And I was happy.

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Two more sailing lessons

Sailing lessons are going well. Last night I passed my written test, barely. Bob on the other hand got a perfect score. At least I passed and am now done with the classroom portion. But it rankles, my score while passing was barely passing. It should have been higher. Guess I didn’t study enough. I would have failed if I had not gotten into an on-the water class last Sunday.

The water portion of these lessons are really fun. You put your name on the list, indicate available times, and then wait for an instructor. Bob got his name on the list first, but I was the one who got contacted first–hurrah! Lessons are about four hours. In the convair sailing club, you–the sailor–have to rig the boat. That means put up the sails, check all the lines, determine weather and tide conditions, and verify equipment on the boat. And when you return, take down the saiils, stow everything away in just the right manner, and then clean the boat. And don’t even think about damaging the boat. If you do, then you have to help fix it. Everything on the boats is done by club members.

Sailing was beautiful. There are going to be many great photographs. In fact on Sunday evening, I got the chance to take a picture of a great blue heron in flight. The photo was terrible, but perhaps next time I will get lucky. We practiced man overboard drills, tacking, and other sailing techniques. Did OK for my first time and am looking forward to the next class. Both Bob and I will finish this course and have fun doing it. I am glad we decided to take sailing lessons.

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Laid low by the flue

I’ll have a case of the flue with a side of bronchitis. Lets add some codeine cough syrup and tamaflue as sides.
Sounds like a fast food order, but not as fun. Went home over a week ago feeling rotten. Went to the doctor who confirmed I had the flue and bronchitis at the same time. It wiped me out for a few days. But the interesting thing was that a number of my co-workers all got the same flue on the same day. And we all went to our doctors and got prescribed tamaflue. And it worked! Everyone who took the tamaflue feels it cut the fever down by several days. While we were all out of work for several days, it wasn’t the three weeks that other people have been reporting. I’m glad. I don’t have enough sick leave or vacation time to be sick.
But now I am better and off for a weekend of classes and activities. Today it’s oil painting. And then this afternoon either Bob and I will have a picnic at the park or we will take Elly down to the ocean for swimming. She loves that activity. Then tomorrow I have a sailing lesson. So look for some more interesting posts coming over the next few days. It’s good to have energy for that.

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A couple great comics

Yesterday Tom Bautik had two great gags–one in crankshaft and one in funky winkerbean. I laughed like crazy at both them. Enjoy.

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Getting Lost for sailing lesson one

Yesterday was the day of weird including getting lost. It started in the morning ..warning this is a long post.

Yesterday was a lost cause, everything came with an extra twist or unexpected outcome. And yes, I did have my first sailing lesson last night; but there were many things that happened before. First weird event was buying gas. Normally it is n easy process, you hand the attendant money and then put gas into the car. Only this time she handed back a card and insisted I swipe it through a machine. “What is this card?” I asked. “It’s money, we are giving you money.” “What?” “It’s money, take it” said the girl. “Read this”. Well it turns out the local gas station has a new incentive program. And I could game the system by adding tons of cash, pumping gas, and then return for the change. Spend enough and this card becomes a prepaid gas card.

Work also was surreal. IT strikes again. Theoretically IT for information technology, I like the concept of “IT” from the book A Wrinkle in Time. IT, the all knowing, all controlling evil entity.

Came in to find that our IT had indeed disabled much functionality on the XP workstations. Now our customer wants us to develop software that works on an XP machine. They have not yet made the switch to a window’s 7 machine. But we have too. And so last fall, we started ordering second computers for everyone — two computers per very small desk.

My second windows 7 machine was ordered last september. It arrived at the beginning of January. But it was not satisfactory, it cannot handle two monitors. Evidently my XP computer and its monitors are so old (8 years) that IT cannot figure out how to hook my two monitors to the new machine. Can’t order a new video card. Can’t use an adaptor to make two monitors work well. INstead, I have one monitor and feel crippled in my work skills. But at least I have a computer that has email, web access, timecards, and various software packages not yet working correctly. Half of my team doesn’t even have that. Nice going IT–half of the team can’t do their job.

It gets even better. One boss changed the values on my peer review (he didn’t like them) after I left work for the weekend last week. And when this person came in late to work, he asked why I hadn’t finished the job. Well DUHH, my computers were not working. Talk about being set up to fail.

Yet we are not through with work yet. At the end of last year, my division sent out a video message box to everyone’s home as a year end present. Whoopeeee….it was kind of neat. Think of a super fancy musical birthday card, but instead of happy birthday we have a Vice President talking to us about how great the company is. 10 seconds of the message was great. And then what?

Well being a good engineer, I immediately started hacking this box. And it turns out there was a community of people at work who also wondered what else we could do with the video boxes. Mine are going into art projects if I can get another power source and movie put onto the card. And I have extras from employees who didn’t throw it out. One guy offered to let me have his and sent over some new interns (high school students) to deliver this box. They asked why I wanted it and I explained my goal was dismantle the thing and reuse the components. Interested, I tasked the two kids with doing the same job on the box they had brought. At first they looked at me as if I were insane, but when I started pulling apart the cardboard and explained what they would find, one kid was happy to hold onto the box.

Their mentor has also instructed them to ask for a tour. “Of what?” I thought. “No one had a working computer.” But being game, I took them for a walk through the building. We looked at the display case with models of planes and I talked about the different programs. We looked at the lockers where people can lock up phones before going into labs. They tried putting their phones into these small cubicles and noticed that the new iphones won’t fit. We went upstairs and talked with some new hires including one woman who had been a college intern. She told them the money was really good, especially if she worked on Sundays where she got double pay. Both young men now know to start looking for a paid college engineering internship starting next December.

Continued on with the tour. Had another engineer show off a GUI (graphical user interface) with lots of yellow, green and no red buttons. Explained that pilots looked at these gui’s while flying the plane. Walked them into another room and showed them pictures on the wall of planes being built. We talked about drones for a while. And I concluded the tour by showing them all the vending machines. Thought I did well for an impromptu tour. Those kids learned all the important things about money and food.

Finally the work day ended and I left early for our first sailing class. Now I had arranged to leave early so I could pick up Bob from the downtown train station. But at the last minute he decided to drive and I decided to NOT tell anyone I had extra time. Good thing, because getting to the class was an exercise in getting lost.

Went downtown just fine. Took the 15 to the 63 to the 8 and then forgot to get off at the correct street. First chance to get lost, driving around mission bay. Eventually ended up on Harbor Island downtown in time to watch the sunset and moon for a few minutes. Called Bob who wasn’t to be seen and he was shocked. “Why aren’t you in La Jolla?” he asked. “La Jolla, I thought we were meeting at Harbor Island across from the airport” I replied. “No, it’s in La Jolla next to the AMC Movie theater. I am looking at the mormon chapel across the freeway.

Good thing he told me to look for the mormon church since that is a very easy to see landmark. Because I took that drive as an opportunity to get lost several times and see more of our city. Missed the freeway onramp from Rosecrans and had to do some interesting turns. Got off at the wrong place and had to get back onto the freeway. Eventually I made it to the shopping center and we had a long conversation before realizing Bob was talking about landmarks from inside the shopping center while I was in a car outside the center.

Fate wasn’t done with me. The trip home offered yet more opportunities to see unusual streets as I struggled to find the north bound freeway on-ramp. But the class was good. Bob admitted to some sailing experience and I admitted I had been on the boat while he sailed. Did well at the knots, really rocked with my square knot. Next week we have class number two. I am looking forward to it.

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Oil Painting Lesson Number 3

On saturday, had lesson number 3 in oil painting. Still doing the single color paintings, today a green still life focusing on a glass vase and an orange. Clear glass and water are very hard. There are so many shadows and brights.

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But next week, I get to start using colors. That is, if I get my three exercise sessions done. But that will probably happen, there is a lot of support at home and at work. Everyone knows that I am rewarding myself with art lessons for exercise. Twice a week, I go to the gym with a couple co-workers. Bob goes on walks with me. And monday, Bob and I begin sailing lessons which will also count. Yep, even the classroom portion counts since I am learning something that can be used for exercise. Lets hear it for 2015 — the year where I try to balance fun, work, and exercise at the same time.

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Missed the money shot

Today Bob and I are going to watch the Super Bowl. First time ever we decided if most of America is watching the game, we should see what it is all about. I hear the commercials are great. And of course that means snack foods; not only for us, but for our pet companions as well. Elly and Mitzy have frozen beef bones. And the cats get sardines and catnip. Which leads to the money shot. A new trader joes double wide cat scratching box, complete with fresh dried catnip. What could be better…at least to my cats. So for a moment we had all three cats and the dog sniffing the new catnip. Missed that photo op AKA the money shot since Sally quickly chased everyone away. For an old lady; she can be quite forceful when she wants. And fresh catnip is something she wants. Instead, I got a shot of her after the first roll, she is a filthy mess.

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Chocattly

DAILY PROMPT: Play Lexicographer
Create a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.

Chocattly: the process of allowing cats to make choices about what they eat for dinner

3 cats, 3 courses, 3 different choices about what to eat first. AKA: leftovers, affectionally known as refrigerator review. With Chocattly, each cat chooses something different to gobble down first. And then they all took a look at the other cats to see what was left, decided something looked better on another plate and thus began the cat plate swapping game. Interesting how these animals have very different personalities and tastes.

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The power of pictures

Over the last few days, I have been graced with a couple of great photos. One of the wonders of this modern technology is how easy it is to share a story, a moment, or a sight that inspires awe. One of the first great photos came from my mom. She used her cell phone to capture a moment from Maggie and Josh’s last visit. The composition and color are great showing off the glory of a beautiful day at brindejon farm. The shadows and the barn roof direct your eye down the action in the center; where the story is being told. In a glance, you can see that my Dad, Maggie, and Josh have been joyriding, driving around the farm for the sheer joy of movement. Of course there is the added benefit of being in a beautiful place, on vacation, and with people you enjoy, but the main attraction is illicit feeling of freedom on their mule. Everyone in the picture looks happy and it obvious there was lots of laughter.

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The second photo is very different–no people. The image of a single Joshua Tree standing proudly in a stark landscape with a beautiful blue sky. A perfect day in the desert, a photo taken by a visiting frenchman. Charles sent us this photo as an expression of his awe and appreciation for the beauty of this national park. A friend of a friend of a distant cousin (by marriage) he ended up at our house as part of three month trip to the United States. After spending a few days with us, he rented a car and went to see the desert, something not found in France. And he was impressed. As he should be, Joshua Tree is one of nicer national parks we have. Fantastic scenery, I want to go back there.

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The next picture is simple snap, taken this morning. Elly is relaxing with her paw resting on a bone. This bone was a treat we bought her last night. Instead of taking the kids to the icecream shop, we take Elly to the pet food store and buy her a bone. When she got it last night, her attitude was almost reverential. Very gently, no chance of screwing up this treat. She took it outside and spent a very happy hour chewing it while laying on cold concrete in the dark. Elly likes lying on cold concrete, she didn’t want to come inside. We took the treat from her at the end of the evening, I draw the line at dogs bringing bones into my bed. And we returned the bone to her this morning. Result–the photo you see. Elly doesn’t want to let that bone go.

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Each of these photos tells a story that makes me happy. And its so easy and quick to see these pictures. I remember the days when we would take a picture, save up some money, and then go get the pictures printed. Each copy of a picture was precious, costing money and time to create. Now, I can a take a picture, edit it, and share it with many people in less than five minutes. Sometimes technology is truly amazing.

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Clothing Emergency

It has been an interesting afternoon. This Friday, I am attending a traditional japanese hawaiian american funeral; whatever that means. Rumor says there is a ceremony, a lunch, a wake, and more. It will be an adventure. And it starts early with me picking up my parents at LAX at 8 am. So until about 3 pm this afternoon, I thought that meant dressing in all black and formal. I had a black skirt, blouse, and jacket all picked out. But no, about 3 pm my Mom calls with new instructions — Hawaiian Clothes. What, yep, that is right; no black allowed. They want bright colorful hawaiian shirts or dresses. OH NO! I don’t have anything to wear.

Luckily there is a great hawaiian shop in Escondido. But no one answered the phone, so I declared a clothing emergency at work and left early. The website for the Wave Shoppe indicated they didn’t have much in stock and it was accurate. But they will have a great selection of dresses in early march. And they did have fabric, so I bought enough to make two skirts. Considered a co-worker’s suggestion to check out the second hand stores, but decided it was quicker to sew up a skirt. Second stop at the local fabric store to buy elastic and thread; ended up with a lot more fabric for skirts and dresses.

Came home to total chaos. Cats, dogs, kids, and dinner preparations were big distractions. Put my pile of fabric on the table and considered what to sew. Too many options and I was tired. Decided to check out the closet once more. Three possible dresses, only one was even somewhat suitable. And Kate pointed out that it was so old it was literally falling apart. Checked out the one extant hawaiian dress in my closet–giant white paint spot on the front and several other paint spots. I had worn it one day doing art and as always ended up a mess. Not suitable but yet the only really good option unless I spent the night sewing. Kate had the best suggestion “Use a sharpie”. It worked. I spent the next half hour coloring spots on my dress. Clothing emergency resolved! Now it is sitting very carefully in a drawer. Don’t want to get any water on this dress until after the funeral.

Then Bob fed me dinner. Amazing how a good meal and the opportunity to spend some time writing makes for a relaxing evening. And then later this weekend, perhaps I will sew up some of the skirts with material purchased today. In the end, this was a great evening.
http://www.waveshoppe.com/

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Playing with pictures

DAILY PROMPTA Moment in Time
What was the last picture you took? Tell us the story behind it. (No story behind the photo? Make one up, or choose the last picture you took that had one.)

For the last few days we had a visitor from Paris, France. Charles is a friend of a friend of a cousin’s wife who got three months off work to practice his english. He’s doing that by immersion–coming to America and finding people with whom he can practice conversations. On his last evening here; Bob, Charles, Elly, and myself tried Oceanside Ale Works brew pub. Lots of fun including the discovery that Charles had never played much with any kind of image processing software or cameras that add effects to the photos. He played and we got some great pictures. Enjoy.

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Agree to Disagree

DAILY PROMPT: Agree to Disagree
Do you have a good friend or close relative with whom you disagree on a major issue (political, personal, cultural)? What’s the issue, and how do you make the relationship work?

My stomach and me have been disagreeing the last few days.  This is big deal stuff, because when your stomach is upset, the whole body reacts and it doesn’t matter what you the person want.  I don’t think the relationship is working.  Not sure if it was food poisoning or the 24 hour stomach flue,   but both are unwelcome guests.  There were a few benefits–a great start on a new diet with immediate weight loss, an new appreciation for very bland foods, and a chance to relearn the joys of hot water instead of coffee.  But thats not enough to make this relationship work.  So the sooner I can kick this unwanted guest out the better.

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One happy cat

Since Sophia has very short hair as a siamese cat, she is always cold. You can trust she will find the best spot in front of the heater. This is one happy cat.

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Old Technology

Watching the movie Patriot Games, I was struck by the changes in technology. When was the last time you saw car phones this big and clunky?

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Or a cordless phone in house that looked like this?

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Do you remember when this computer was the best available? Small screen, orange or green text only, limited processing, floppy disks, and very limited file sizes.

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One nice thing in the past, computers were a tool we used, not something that we spent 10 hours a day staring at. Even though I now have two big flat screens on my desk at work, I liked engineering better when we didn’t have such great computers. The problems seemed more fun to solve

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Oil Painting Class Number 2

Oil painting classes continued last weekend. I made a bargain with myself, three exercise sessions and I get an art class. Then made the mistake of telling people about this bargain. Its a good incentive. Many experts recommend trying something for three months…if you can keep up a new habit for three months, then it might become a permanent lifestyle change. And I want to be healthy. And I want to learn to paint with oils.

Why oil painting? Several reasons. I love the way oil paintings look and the fact you have time to work on the picture. Acrylic paints dry very fast. But they are cheap compared to Oils which is why most people use them. I got lucky and was given all my oil paints. Years ago, my mother in law bought an entire kit — brushes, paints, books, canvas’s, and other accessories as a present from an estate sale. I have used everything except the oil paints. Those scared me, they seem so complex. But then last December, I went to an art demo at my sort-of-local good art store, Blick, in San Diego. And I won the drawing for new high quality artist oil paints. And when I learned about drop in art lessons at my local art gallery, Art Beat on Main Street, it seemed a good time to learn.

Which leads to lesson number 2 where I continued studying chiaroscuro — using only one color and creating tones with quantity of paint. My teacher, Maggie Chiaro, says this is a good way to begin understanding how to use oils effectively. And if I create a good underdrawing with a single tone, then I can paint in layers on top of this, adding color later. Yesterday I did a still life, two vases and an apple. Since the drawing looked unbalanced, I also added in the light source.

Here’s the classroom and my set up. Also including the original still life, not quite from the same angle as the painting.

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And here are two versions of the picture. First was after class. Second was after I went home and worked more on the picture. The second picture does have better shading. But there are some details that suffered such as the shape of the pitcher and the lighting on the left hand side of the vase. Also I need some help getting the total ambient lighting correct. It should be dark behind the lamp with light coming down onto the still life. Guess more practice is needed.

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Trying to maintain good posture while slumping gracefully

After an evening of adventures, Bob and I relaxed at home with a fire. Totally dysfunctional, we both had our own movies on separate devices. The togetherness was in the activity, not what we were watching. Every so often, one or other of us would make a comment. And every so often, I would take photos just because. Actually got a couple of great ones that Bob described as “trying to maintain good posture while slumping gracefully”. So what do you think, are Elly and Bob maintaining good posture?

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No more selfies and other stuff

Last night I learned from Kate why there would be no more selfies. She recently got a new galaxay s4 samsung smart phone. And since the camera is too good, Kate can’t take any selfies unless the make-up is packed on and perfect.

The older kids are gone. On Sunday, Bob and I dropped Liz off at the airport. On Wednesday, I dropped Maggie off at the airport. Now its back to the half daughter with Kate spending half her time at our house and half her time at Grandmothers house. So Bob and I are feeling a bit lonely. To counter that we are going take sailing lessons starting at the beginning of February. I am looking forward to this new activity.

I started oil painting lessons last week. Made the mistake of telling Bob that I planned on taking lessons any week where I have three exercise sessions. Now I will have to be honest. Oh well, was successful in meeting my goal, so will have another art lesson on saturday.

Kate has a 4 day weekend next week. I am jealous. And on top of that, she had the gaul to say “What, you just had two weeks of vacation, wasn’t that enough”. No it was not enough and it was not two full weeks and that’s not even the point. She gets a break after less than two weeks of work. I don’t get a break until May. And this year, I don’t even get a holiday for the 4th of July since it falls on a weekend. Oh well, someday she will understand.

This morning Charlie was sleeping in the middle of Elly’s bed. A big giant dog bed with a warm blanket, one small cat curled in the middle. So Elly responded by sleeping on my bed. There is nothing she loves more than using my pillows and curling under the blankets.

We nailed it on birthday presents for Maggie. A portable battery charger. A power strip with a couple of USB ports. A set of rgb led lights. And a spirograph with colored pens. Perfect presents for turning 25. It’s hard to believe that I have a daughter who is a quarter century old. I don’t feel old enough to have a daughter that old. But she’s turned out great and we had lots of fun with her and her friend Josh over the last couple of weeks. We also had a lot of fun with Liz. Liz had turned 21 last december. She got almost the same set of birthday presents as Maggie. And so while the kids were visiting, we got the chance to take them out to Mother Earth and Fifty Barrels. It’s nice to be able to take kids out for fun and NOT have to be the meany.

Since all three girls were together, they obeyed their mothers mandate and had a picture taken of all three of them. It was one of my best christmas presents. The only better present were the new earbuds from Bob which gives me music again with my IPOD. Anyway, the animals helped make this picture special.

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Mountain Lion Reported in Vista

Don’t ever say that we are missing a wild life here in vista. A couple days ago, there were reports of an actual mountain lion in Vista, only a mile or so from my house. Wow, what fun despite the reports of missing and presumably eaten small dogs. I am pleased to hear that they are adapting to our suburban life and hopefully will once again become part of the normal landscape. Probably not, there are too many people scared by them.

But here’s the news report.
http://www.10news.com/news/mountain-lion-spotted-in-vista-neighborhood-01032015

It has a picture of the lion in a tree. Hard to see, so I played with snapseed. You can see something is in that tree from the second photo, but I cannot tell if it is a cougar or mountain lion. Big difference in size between the two and both used to live in this area before humans.

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Why have a dog?

This photo from the bbc news is great. It shows why one wants to have dogs — because they have so much joy in life and are happy to share their joy with us. Those dogs are having a blast in the snow.
http://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-30680435

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Fall Colors, a simple photograph

This is a simple composition–a leg, some leaves, and bits of hands. But I love the colors and contrast, they remind me of the winter season colors. Took this picture at the Empire State Mine during Thanksgiving weekend. We had gone to visit my parents, Liz had flown in for two days from New Mexico. Flying on Thanksgiving and Saturday following turned out to be OK experiences, those days were not as crowded. Now it is the Sunday after New Years Eve and we are about to again take her to airport and she again will be departing for New Mexico. I don’t want her to leave, that means vacation is over. We had lots of fun as a family.

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Being able to take your kids out is one of the joys of getting older. Since they are adults, I don’t have to be a big meanie and say no to everything. In fact I can corrupt the kids with bad habits. Last night we corrupted Liz and took her out for a glass of wine before a family dinner at Grandma’s house. Yes they carded her at 50 barrels in downtown Vista; but that is part of the fun when you have been a legal drinker for only one month. And thus I was able to get a nice photo of Liz, her dad, and Elly. The picture of the old pepper tree was a bonus, the lighting is good.

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So what does this have to do with the daily prompt: First!

Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.

Everything. It is the last day of vacation and that means the first day of work for the new year begins tomorrow. So I have an obligation to smile, wish Liz best of luck on beginning her new year of life and work, and then go on to do the same. Think we will visit the Zoo as a celebration of the last day of vacation. Might even get a chance to see the parrots flying since we will be there early.
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/first/

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My first Oil Painting

Painted my first oil painting today — an apple still life in a single color. Don’t remember what this is called, but it is a classical technique similar to using charcoal. Cover the entire page with a medium shade and then remove paint for highlights / add more paint for dark colors. Used Burnt Seina which is a lovely brown color. Really great class, I am lucky to have a resource called Art Beat on Main Street available here in Vista. An art gallery that also offers classes and has a wine bar. This shop is an up an coming place. And they have a great teacher named Maggie Chiaro. The class is a drop in class, only 20 dollars per session. Bring your own project and Maggie helps you. Today there were only two students, so I got lots of help. Here’s my paintings

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The website for Maggie Chiaro classes is: http://www.margaretchiaro.com/links.php?348297

and the address for artbeat on Main Street is
http://artbeatonmainstreet.com/

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ive happy, laugh often, love deeply

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Be the Change.”

This year, my coffee cup says it all – Live happy, laugh often, love deeply. What a great set of goals. I plan to enjoy what I do, both at work and at home. I want to eat less, but savor every bite and enjoy every sip. I want to dance or at least relearn how to dance. I want go out at least once a month on a date with my beloved husband. I also want go out with friends. I want to learn how to use oil paints and continue studying art. I want to see all three of my daughters graduate from their respective programs and start a new lives; probably in new cities with new jobs or schools. Spend time with my parent. Enjoy my animals. Write more. Finally I want to share that passion, love, and joy in life with my family, friends, and others. Here’s wishing the best for a new year.

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WABI-SABI

Today I want to introduce you to a couple of great words–Wabi-Sabi and Mangata. Good words to add into our vocabulary. They come from a book that has been added to my wish list. The book “Lost in Translation” was reviewed by the BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20141216-ten-untranslatable-words
The Article starts with the word Mangata.

In the introduction to her book Lost in Translation, Ella Frances Sanders writes: “There may be some small essential gaps in your mother tongue, but never fear: you can look to other languages to define what you’re feeling”. The British designer has illustrated 50 words that have specific meanings in cultures around the world, including Mangata, Swedish for ‘the road-like reflection of the moon in the water’. (All images reprinted with permission from Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC)

I’ve seen that effect many times but never even thought there would be a word describing the scene.

Another favorite word in the article is Wabi-Sabi, which is defined as:

“The Japanese expression Wabi-sabi means “finding beauty in the imperfections, an acceptance of the cycle of life and death”; according to Sanders it is derived from Buddhism, which teaches that understanding “our transience and the asymmetry within our lives can lead us to a more fulfilling yet modest existence”.”

I like the idea of finding beauty in our imperfections. And the idea of accepting a cycle of life and death. Bob says it means “suck it up and shut up”.

This book of words reminds me of a book (now long gone from my library alas) about animal sounds from around the world. I think it was the book “Who says the Dog Goes Bow Wow”. There I learned that turkey can sound like “gobble gobble” or “bobalu, bobalu” depending on where you grew up.
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Says-Dog-Goes-Bow-Wow/dp/0385306598

But one interesting fact I learned years ago in grad school is that no matter where you grow up–If your mom called you by the full formal name, you were in big trouble.

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I am a blessed woman

I am an incredibly lucky and blessed woman and this picture proves it. In this picture, gifts given with love can be seen everywhere. Some of the presents from family and friends include:

Earrings
Wine Glass
Beer in the wine glass
Books on Painting
Silverware
A handmade table runner
Candlesticks
Candlestick holders
Paintings
A fish tank complete with fish
A scarf
The puzzle vase
A wooden statue

However, the best presents can’t be seen but are demonstrated in a hundred different ways.  Kate cooking Christmas dinner. Bob maintains the fish tank and not expecting me to do the work.  The girls setting the table.  Mary buying the silverware six months ago on sale because she knew I would like it.  The cat sitting on my lap and the dog under the chair.

blessed
Thank you everyone for bringing so much love and joy into my life.

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My Hero, Elly

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

The one person who is always glad to see me is the Family Dog, Elly, AKA the Family Dog or FD for short.  When I come home from work, she gets so excited.  Runs and picks up her bone before wiggle waggling her way to me.  As she runs, she makes the cutest orrrowwww sounds.  Homecomings can be a bit overwhelming.

But she is my hero for what she does with the family.  She brings joy to everyone.   Its fun to visit the dog parks.  The happy energy felt at the Del Mar Dog beach is amazing and inspiring. It is hard to not feel that joy watching her run with the other animals.  When we go down to that beach, everyone laughs.  What could ever be better than that.

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No more twinkles, no more photos

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

All week I have been waiting for the meaty comment, the thought provoking idea, or the statement that could force me out of a writing funk. But no, no help from the daily post. Instead there are endless sugarry sweet pictures of lights. ARGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

There is only one thing to be done and that is go to work. Yep, spend the day looking at my computer and counting the minutes and seconds until the plant has a holiday shutdown. Only a few more days until the kids get home. Although they are not kids, but young adults. As mom, I always get to call them kids. And this year we have a bonus with one of the girls bringing home a friend. It is so much fun to have a full house.

But bring back the witty comments and pithy challenges. I miss my friend the daily post.

Twinkle

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Photos from December 2013 at Brindejon

Can’t believe this didn’t get posted earlier. It has been sitting in my draft box for months. But given that the pictures were taken in December 2013, this seems a fitting time to post it. Enjoy the photos
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Cleaning up my photo stash and came across these great pictures. There were a couple of good days at my parents farm. First was a silly little toy that shot a helicopter up into the sky. Everyone had fun trying it out.

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And then we had fun searching for snow. That took some work, most of it had already melted. But my girls are always resourceful and managed to find a 4 foot hill for sledding. As you can see in the photos, the dogs had a wonderful time.

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And then there was the group lamp painting session

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that was a good trip. everyone had fun.

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Mitzi looks adorable and other things

Yesterday, Bob and I visited his mother Mary  Nothing exotic, he does that frequently and I do it occasionally depending on work.  What made the visit notable was Mitzi who actually said hello to me.  Last time I visited, she would not even look at me.  I was hurt since while visiting on the farm, Mitzi was my shadow.  And then when she got home, I was abandoned until yesterday.  And I was able to get a few good pictures of the dog.  First is slightly arty black and white photo with good lighting on the dog.

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The next photo shows off her new Christmas suit provided by Katie.  Mitzi was a good sport and let me put it on.  The first thing Elly wanted to do was tear off the little pom pom on the back.  Wonder how long it will be before Kate remembers Mitzi’s Santa Suit.  And I think we might have a costume for Elly.  Wouldn’t a Mitzi Santa love to have a big bumble bee pulling her sled.

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The final Mitzi picture is the classic dog at rest on the floor.  No matter how nice a bed one provides for a dog, they always seem to prefer the floor or better yet a mud puddle for resting.  Elly in particular specializes in mud puddle sleeping.

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The final picture was from Macy’s department store restaurant.  Yep, we went out for lunch and ate at a department store.  It was never something I did much, but I am told it used to be the “in-thing” for women to do.  Actually the food was good and I got a good picture of Bob and his mom.

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Bug Brain Power

Sometimes you can read something that just makes you laugh. That was Maggie with her fourth post of the week. It started with the line:

At this point, I’d say 90% of my available brain power is going to bugs. Trivial is all I got left

It is such an absurd statement and yet very true. Now she meant this literally since she is compiling 200 bug collection for her graduate level class. But I think the statement has much more power. It could become a proverb along the lines of
a bird in hand is worth two in the bush
or
a stitch in time saves nine
or
90% of my brain power is going to bugs, trivial is all I got.

What do you think? That is certainly how I feel in the morning before a cup of coffee.

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Bubba the Barker

Long noisy night last night. Bubba, AKA our family dog, AKA Elly, gets excited with all the exciting smells and noises outside. Recently it has been the possums eating persimmons. They climb up into that old tree, right next to my bedroom window and begin chittering. I can see three or four of them, climbing in the moonlight to the tallest branches after the sweetest fruit. Or it’s the coyotes howling outside or the dog network barking. Last night was the wind. Whatever, the result is Bubba the Barker. Middle of the night stealth barking where she gets up in the middle night, races out of the bedroom and starts barking. IT IS HORRIBLE. Because someone has to get up, chase the dog, and get her to shut up. Until recently that someone has been ME. But now I have a new tactic — telling Bob to go get the love of his life. And that meant two trips in the middle of the night to retrieve a barking dog. She needs doggy lessons.

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Maggie is winning the blog wars this week

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ready, Set, Done!.”

Yep, that’s correct; Maggie has won.  3 Posts in 24 hours all well written and interesting on the subject of bugs.  ARGGHHHHH!!!!!!  I can  not keep up.  Essays about identifying flies and working on bug deals.  Could be a great addition to my novel set in a future dystopic society where bugs have become delicacy as well as a collectors item.  Ant farms are passe.  What everyone wants is their own preying mantis pet like Frankie or even more exotic.  Big time deals   similar to the ones we have now for orchids.  Crocodille Dundee (will she even know who this is) characters setting out on expediitions to find the next hot bug.  And hot it might be; everyone will want the fire breathing dragon scorpin at thier house.  2 Feet long, a scorpin enhanced by nano bots to have wings, opposable claws and fire breathing.  Great protection for the house, better than those Great Danes or other attack dogs.  Of course if these critters got free, look out since they have both poison and fire as weapons.  And with oposable claws, they might be able to open the front door.

Link to Maggie’s Blog

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Happy Very Belated 21 Birthday Liz

Maggie again put me to shame with her birthday post. Dang. It’s been a busy week. But motherly duty calls and I enjoy writing a birthday post for my daughters. So here it is.

Liz–Happy 21st birthday. Welcome to the real adult world where you can engage in almost every activity. And since you graduate from college next fall, you even get emancipated with the FAFSA form. Yep, that is correct, my income will no longer determine if you are eligible for assistance from college. But that’s only because you will be graduating. Otherwise you would still be shackled to your dad and I according to the rules made by congress. And in honor of your birthday, I have a collection of photos and stories for you.

The first picture shows you reading in our kitchen from last summer. I am including this picture because I like the composition. Someday if I get skilled enough and if I get enough time, I might do this as a painting.

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The second photo was a good day at your grandparents house. We all were laughing. Your dad can be such a ham at times, but it does make for great photos. Sometimes I wish I could be as loose as him.

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Dog beach in Del Mar. What is there to not like about this. Wonderful beautiful beach surroundings, great sand, hundreds of happy dogs, water, and dirt. Elly comes home a complete mess. After this trip where she learned to swim, we stopped at a taco shop in Encinitas. Elly barfed on the ground outside the shop — the result of drinking too much salt water.

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The next two pictures were from a magical trip to Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument. Bittersweet trip, we were taking you down to the airport and left early because we were worried about traffic. Turns out that we had no problems and thus had several hours to wait. Decided to visit the national monument where the guy was really nice and let us into the park for free. We got there for the last 15 minutes of the gift shop and in time for a wonderful sunset. More than wonderful, it was one of the best sunsets I have ever seen in my life, the colors were intense. After watching the sun go down, we went and had bad chinese or mexican food from a shopping center on rosecrans. I Hremember how cold it was, we were both bundled up in scarves and hungry.

Work calls,I am running out of time so the stories for the last few photos will have to come later.   Basically these photos make me smile..  Happy Belated Birthday.  I love you.

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Lewis Kitchen at Night

Daily Post: Wronged Objects
If your furniture, appliances, and other inanimate objects at home had feelings and emotions, to which item would you owe the biggest apology?
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Last night was one of those ugly not satisfying sleeping nights. No special reason except I was in a not great mood and have not been sleeping well. We are back from vacation at my mom’s house. Mitzi has returned home from her dog adventure. And we are back to the ordinary life of work, chores, bills, and making ugly decisions about all kinds of things. Kate is sending out her college apps and I am fretting about the not yet known bills.

On the other hand, the animals are glad to have us home. Sally goes with Kate, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not. But that is her spot, sleeping in Kate’s room and she misses the routine. Bob and I were up late talking about all kinds of things. That left Sophie, Charlie, and Elly to compete for position in our kitchen.

Sophia the terror took over Elly’s bed. It is amazing to watch this small 10 pound cat cause a 65 pound dog to cower. But she does. Elly will not go anywhere near Sophia. She won’t even walk within 5 feet of that cat at times. And since the bed was right next to me, Sophia took it.

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That left Charlie and Elly to compete for space close to Bob. Since Elly is a 65 pound goofball, she got the floor. And Charlie got the table. But most amazing of all, those animals are sneaky. They all got into position without us even being away of them. I guess we are well trained.

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One final note. The animals stayed close to us all night long. Sophie loves to perch on me and protect her hoard. The original dragon cat. Charlie sleeps in the middle near Bob somewhere. And at one point I woke up to find Elly had stolen my pillow. She carefully arranged it and was sleeping on the floor next to my bed with her head on My Pillow. Bad dog. She definitely owes my pillow (and me) an apology.

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/wronged-objects/">Wronged Objects</a>

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playing with photos

Today is a very short post showing a couple of photos where I have been experimenting with photo effects. What do you think about them? I like the reflection in the window. There is a lot of room for possibilities in this technique.

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This could be a fantastic background for something. Not sure what yet. And it could be a lot of fun to paint, swirling precisely placed drops of paints into the swirl.

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Here’s the original

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The final picture shows a style that could be fun to try with watercolor pencils. It is a snapshot of another artists picture, one my mom likes very much, especially for the colors. She wants to do a room in her house with blue, green, and camel color. This artist, Lee Ann, from Nevada City, likes to do giant canvas’s–four feet by six feet. Bob says he would be willing to make me some big canvas’s.

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The joy of blogging almost daily

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

Winning Streak
What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?

I have been blogging for the last few years — usually one post every day or two.  Photos, short stories, links, whatever seems interesting to me gets posted.  And I have found joy in the very process of writing.  By blogging, I get to practice telling stories in short small segments.  Fun little things that allow me to conneect with my daughters.  The best response is when one of the kids away at college makes a comment about the blog post; I know I succeded as a writer.

And now even more amazing, I find that other people like writing these blog posts.  Wow!  I never thought of myself as a write while growing up.  And I never had to write while in school.  Being a math/science nerdy geek meant that writing was given a pass at school.  Biggest essay in college was 3 pages about John Muir and I got an A for that paper.  Plus an “excellent” comment from the teacher.

Then I got into grad school.  First class, the teacher said he was going easy on us–2 ten page essays and 1 twenty page paper.  And per other students that was easy.  But I couldn’t do it.  I remember being in tears at the professors office the day before it was due explaining I didn’t know how to write the paper.  He gave me a couple more days.  And another student showed me some tricks, basically breaking a techincal paper into parts.  Introduction, background, research  plan, results, conculsions were needed, each part at least 1 paragraph.  Those three papers got written and I passed the class.  More classes, more writing, and we jump ahead 25 years.

Now I write for a living.   Technically my job title is “Software Engineer Level 5″ tasked with software requirements.  Basically my job is translating pretty picture diagrams of things like engine drawings into something a coder (that is someone who writes code) can understand.  For example: ” When the driver of a car pushes the gas pedal, the car shall move faster” or ” The software shall turn on heaters based on the figure XYZ showing altitude versus temperature bars”

But there is a lot more writing than just those statements.  Descriptive text.  How-to instructions of other co-workers.  Technical descriptions on how the system should work.  Process documentation.  Justifications for decisions made.  Endless amount of writing on things that must be accurate.  Very boring writing, thank goodness someone else has to read my stuff.  I find it a lot more fun to do the writing.

But the writing bug has taken hold and I find a need to write more.  Sewing books (unpublished), short stories (unpublished), novels (unfinished), and blog posts all fulfill an urge to write.  Blog posts have proven to be very rewarding.

Because I primarily write for family in a very broad sense, it makes me happy to post blogs.  And it lets me practice writing skills.  The discipline of writing fifteen minutes or an hour in the morning is very good for developing storying telling skills.  And that becomes a need after a while.

NABLOPOMO was a disappointment.  I don’t like the format for this forum.  Too many posts on one page plus a hard to use posting tool meant that I posted on my blog and occasionally do the daily prompts.  But I am not taking credit at that site.  It just did not seem worth the effort.

The Daily posts are lots of fun.  Small short problems or statements which are intellectually challenging.  A good focus for practicing writing skills.  And some great responses from other authors allow for growth as I compare their responses to mine.  I learn from these posts.  And they can help me break a non-writing streak by providing that focused challenge.

What makes me stop posting for a few days — Life.  Work, too much fun, exhaustion; you can name the excuse.  But what keeps me posting on a regular basis is family and friends.   I like knowing people get enjoyment from my posts. Thank you to everyone who reads my writing.

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Easy Answer

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Under the Snow.”

Under the Snow
You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

Family and Desire.  Taking care of my family–the best job ever for me.   And Desire to do so many things.  One day I will get free time to travel, paint, and try new jobs.

Heres a photo that captures family.  Mitzi curled up with my mom.   Extended Family at its best.

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Mitzi bagged a deer — sort of

So tonight at dinner, Mitzi starts barking at the windows like crazy. She never barks, but tonight she would not stop. So eventually we let her onto the back porch, a nice contained porch about 5 feet above the ground. She trotted outside and went to the far edge, not saying a word. Bob went with her and saw a big deer “Old One Horn” right beside the door and the porch. One horn because this fine male deer only has one antler with about 5 or 6 prongs on it. The other side of his head has nothing. And Mitzi walked right by this deer. My dad’s opinion is that she saw the deer and decided it was big, scary and that the best action was to walk right by the deer never noticing it existed. So did Mitzi bag a deer or not. I say yes, Bob says no.

Mitzi is a saint compared to Elly who spent the night in disgrace. Two big offenses. First she burned her tail. Elly is a lazy beast, she wants to ride in the mule cart. Not run along side the cart like most dogs. So Liz obliged her by taking the dog on a joy ride. But Elly, the swift brain that she is, managed to burn her tail on the exhaust manifold. Didn’t actually burn skin, but now has lost most of her tail feathers and presents a sorry excuse for a retriever dog tail. Bob thinks we are lucky, tail work is expensive. I don’t even want to think about vet bills for a burned tail. But she did enjoy the ride — see the photo of the Lewis Girls joy riding. Thank you Bob for sharing your photo.

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After the burnt tail crisis, we are over at my mom’s house preparing dinner when suddenly we notice everything is quiet. Elly had helped herself to a large serving of dessert. There were sweets all over the floor. Instant disgrace and banishment to the small cabin. Not a happy dog. Not a happy lord and master contemplating the effect of large dessert helping on his dogs digestive system. We will see how well massive sugar infusions suit Elly tonight and tomorrow. And since it is now raining, Elly is definitely Bob’s dog. And don’t feel bad about Elly spending lots of time in banishment, we let her back into my mom’s house after a short while. Only this time, she came on a leash. And for Elly, being leashed in the house is the ultimate punishment. But she deserved it.

Yesterday Liz arrived for a short 2 day visit from Albuquerque. She planned it so well that she didn’t even bring any textbooks or her computer. I’m the technology challenged person bring a full charging center, a computer, an ipad, 2 ipods, a large storage disk, and a set of RGB electronic LEDs. In contrast, Liz brought an NOOK for reading and that’s it. How does this fit with dog stories. Well it was obvious when we got home from the airport that both dogs recognized Liz and were excited. They were pleased to see her. They didn’t even say hello to me. Elly even ran into the cottage to see Liz and she hates coming inside.

This morning, I let the dogs outside. Elly did her usual “its wonderful cold weather” dance, sliding on her belly over the ice on the lawn. You can see her proudly standing outside surveying the domain. She likes snow, ice, and mud. I hate a dog that rolls in the mud. And yes, she did get bathed yesterday after rolling in the mud. Today we stayed away from those locations.

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In contrast, Mitzi did go out into the ice covered grass. It was necessary, she needed the relief. But she didn’t linger outside and was happy to come inside, especially with Liz as an added attraction.

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Those dogs are having a great doggy adventure. It has been lots of fun watching them enjoy a farm. No leashes except when in trouble. Lots of great smells. Mitzi was really excited when we walked through the spot in the meadow where deer had been sleeping. Tomorrow will be another day for them to explore. Tonight, they are both sleeping soundly.

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Mitzi adapts to doggy adventures

Mitzi is having a grand time up here at my parents farm. Yeah, she does stick close to us while in the cabin. But she will not miss a chance to walk outside with her companion, Elly. I am not sure if they are friends. But they definitely get along and do see a lot of each other. Their relationship is more like siblings. Anyway, here are some photos from yesterday. You can see the two dogs out in the field. And then you see them walking towards us on another path. Mitzi is constantly finding something new to smeel

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The colors are gorgeous up here. It is easy to find some beautiful trees to photograph.

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Even an old iron pipe displays the wonderful fall colors

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We arrived

We arrived at Brindejon about 9:30 pm last night. Beautiful, dark skies with lots of stars. We could see the Milky Way and hear the coyotes howling. Two dogs burst out of the car, ready after 11 hours of driving to do anything besides sit in the car. Elly knew where she was, Mitzi was a bit more timid. This is big time doggy adventures for a small dog who has never been more than an hours drive from home. Leashes only at night. Per mom, there is a family of skunks living under the barn who come out at night. We did not want any skunk encounters last night. And there is no way we can loose that small dog, Mary and Kate would never forgive us.

So this morning, Bob left me with dogs and went out. They had very different reactions. Mitzi curled up on the couch while Elly found a cat to harass outside. Since she was inside, the only way to harras was stand on the couch and bark at the cat.

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Final note, I am please to the barn is still standing and struts her age proudly in the morning sun. After 150 years, that old lady is in great shape.

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Another Old Picture

Shift forward a couple years and we have another great photo of my 3 daughters.    In the backyard; you can see the hint of that old turtle sandbox.  You all spent many great hours in that box, making huge messes with water and sand.3girls 001_edited

Short post today, we are about to leave for the farm with two dogs in the car.  12 hours driving, it will be an adventure.  Wish us luck.

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First picture

Found what I believe is the first photo of all three girls.  Taken from the hospital when Kate had just been born.  So your ages were, 1-2 days old, 3 years, 11 months, and 7 years 10 months.  Probably november 6th or 7th.  Hard to believe my three wonderful daughters were ever so small.

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What difference would hands make?

Daily Post: Cue the Violins
If your life were a movie, what would its soundtrack be like? What songs, instrumental pieces, and other sound effects would be featured on the official soundtrack album?
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Any soundtrack for my life would be eclectic; just like my music collection. 12th century chant, reggie, indie, classical, new age, and more, but not much if any heavy metal. Each scene would have it’s own theme and music. For example, playing with charlie would have that inspiring science fiction movie music where the scientists are suddenly learning about life. And in the movie, we would see me playing Charlie. Charlie is learning how to move a lazy susan. You know, that wooden circle where you put spices and food in the center of the table and spin it around. Well Charlie was amazed when I spun it around. He put his paw on it and the wood moved. He pushed the edge, and the wood spun. I spun it. He spun it. After a few times, he had learned. Well I wonder what he could learn to do with hands instead of paws, fingers instead of claws, opposable thumbs to pick up and hold things. What could the cat do? Fascinating question to think about. Any ideas? Would love to hear what you think.

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This scene would be followed by some relaxing New Age music, the kind where life is seen through rose tinted glasses. We are walking outside. Enya or Secret Garden or Omnia would be playing while we look at the sky, the trees, and water from rain in the parking lot. All is wonderful for the moment. Very lovely and actually true.

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then we cue the violins for a harsh jarring rock and roll sound as Bob and I march off into the car, ready to begin another day of work.

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Stillness while never staying still…..

Daily Prompt: Sparkling or Still
What’s your idea of a perfect day off: one during which you can quietly relax, doing nothing, or one with one fun activity lined up after the other? Tell us how you’d spend your time.
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Ahh….the thought of a day off. Working 10-11 hour days takes a tole on me. But that is the price I have to pay for spending every spare minute of paid time off on a vacation last summer. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Having a large chunk of time with no responsibilities was good for me. Even started a novel which starts as:

“Julie was devastated when her beloved cat, Sophia, disappeared. Presumed dead and eaten by coyotes, Julie declared the disappearance as the worst event of her life. She was wrong. The worst day was three weeks later when the cat came home. It took months for Julie to realize this.”

So I am a still person who never stays still. Given the gift of a day off, I want to play with my art supplies, start another project, cook a fancy dinner, perhaps go for a walk on the beach with Bob and the dog.

But not today. Today, I’ll pick up the 10 boxes of persimmons from my garage and take them to work. Have lots of fun giving them away while solving the worlds woes. If not the worlds woes, at least get one or two tasks done. Work way too many hours earning some time off next week. Come home late and have a good dinner (at least a hot homemade dinner) prepared with love by Bob. Go to bed. And then repeat without the fun of persimmons tomorrow. At least I have a good job.

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