In with the new

Kate plans to move back home sometime in August.  Money, school, the usual litany of reasons–it’s good.  She can concentrate on her school and we save 15,000 dollars per year on living expenses.  Hurrah!  To ease the transition of being an adult at home, Kate was told she could remodel the two “kids” rooms into whatever would work for her.   Out with the old became the new mantra.

First thing that went was all the furniture and stuff from her sisters’ bedroom.  I came home last week to bunkbeds in pieces in my living room.  Clearly they needed a new home. Luckily the old chant “free plus delivery worked”.  My notice in the coffee room at work found a taker. A good friend wanted everything–the beds, the mattresses, and even the sheets.  Her son had been sleeping on a trampoline for the last few years.  When it started, it was supposed to be temporary. She had moved into the a new house, and money was tight.  So the trampoline was set up in his room as a temporary measure.  And the boy loved it.  He could jump on this 8 foot wide trampoline before going to bed.  Well a few years later, the boy is still sleeping on the trampoline.  Now he is 15 and when he stands on the trampoline his head brushes the ceiling.  And when his friends come over to spend the night, they are sleeping on a a hard wooden floor.  The beds went to a good home, one young man is delighted to have real beds.

So now for the new.  Over the last week, Kate has painted the room and put in a new laminate wood floor.  And the room is shaping into a lovely space.   Here’s Kate after a hard days work.    Now Bob helped just a little bit. He did perhaps 80% of the work, but we don’t talk about that.  Instead notice that Elly seems to approve of Kate’s efforts.  

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All about Charlie

Charlie has been a busy cat.  Early mornings are fantastic for him.  He has learned how to catch humming birds, something that drives me crazy.  I love those little birds, zipping all over the place.  After 4 in one week, two in one morning, Charlie got banned from going outside in the early morning.  He hates the new rules, inside until 8 am when it is too hot to go hunting.  8 aM is perfect time for bigging the beginning daily snooze on a day with high temperatures and high humidity.  

And then in the evenings he becomes lively again.  One of his favorite tricks is escaping outside after dinner.  If he gets out, then he waits our of reach for the cry “Sally, Sophie, Charrrrlieeeeeeee.  Dinner Time”.   Then everyone races to the kitchen for a second round of dinner. 

Here’s how Charlie looks when he realizes that he is being trapped, yes cruelly trapped inside, while the birds are waiting for him outside.

Here’s some shots of the daily sleep routine.

And here is everyone waiting for the second round of dinner.  Elly has the best manners, she actually waits while I take the picture.

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Drawing Boards

So I brought back some boards from Brindejon.  Pretty pieces of wood suitable for either a cutting board or drawing board (for my art).  Up north, there is a board called blue pine which has the most incredible lines. Found a couple pieces in the scarp bin of a sawmill my dad showed me.  It was a great place, the one shown in the movie “A Chriistmas Story” produced by the Hallmark channel.  My mom says these lines are caused by a fungus in the wood.  Whatever, the lines and colors are gorgeous.  So I took the boards, sanded and stained them, creating gorgeous pieces of artwork in the boards themselves.  My artist friends now want boards for themselves.

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Wood Working Projects

Both Bob and I have been busy with woodworking proects.  We get raw materials from Brindejon and then spend many happy hours working at home.  Bob has been working on a table for months.  We started it last October.
Well, more accurately, Bob and my dad started it.  I provide the moral support.  We took some logs back from our last trip and Bob made legs.  The table is fantastic, I love how it looks.  Bob thinks it still needs more work.

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Got a great picture from Brindejon of the kids racing around on the mule.  Lots of fun and as always, accompanied by Dogs. Now Elly is a city dog and she knows that you always ride in the vehicles, you don’t run beside it.  And you sit in the front seat if at all possible.  Bella on the other hand is a farm dog and she knows that it’s more fun to run alongside or ahead of the mule.  Both dogs got just what they wanted.

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Niagara Falls

So Kate has spent the summer on vacation.  First up at Brindejon and then going back east to visit Nate’s family.  Sounds like a great trip, she’s been to Toronto, Niagra Falls, and Lake Huron.  Plus a few other towns, but what I’ve been hearing about are the fun events.  I’m jealous–I’ve visited Niagara Falls twice and have never seen them.  Both time the weather was too bad…fog, ice, and more fog.  But Kate, she saw them in all their glory and even got a good picture to prove it. She’s been tubing on River and gone out in a catamaran. Skipped the waterskiing, got intimidated by the excellent skills of everyone else.   But her picture of Lake Huron is excellent, looks like a great summer day.

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Maggie and Josh

So Josh spent his birthday, home alone on the 4th of July working.  Meanwhile Maggie was out west having a great vacation.  But we did think about him and did get a present which hopefully gives both Josh and Maggie hours of fun.  Fishing rods, including the ever popular “LadyFish” which is a hot pink rod.  It has a bonus feature that turning the reel turns on bright pink and green lights. Lurid colors that shocked Josh.  We know because Maggie sent a video with the infamous words “What the Fuck?”.  Bob had so many laughs about this rod and reel.  And he give Josh a starting kit which by tradition has to include at least one unusable old lure.  We’ve heard the rods work, but the fisherman and fisherwoman need practice on convincing fish to bite.

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Gone to fast

The month of July has flown by, I don’t where the time went.  Actually that is false.  Went on Vacation at Brindejon.  Had the girls around for another week.  Went to work.  Took Art Lessons.  Taught several art classes at work.  Played with the dog.  Swore at the Cat, and in general have been very busy doing summer type things.  And now I’m behind on many other things including this blog.  But now I have lots of fun pictures to share.  So this morning, I’m going to write a to of posts and set them up for one a day.

So today, we welcome a new family member.  Liz got a cat named Roman.  He looks really cute and playful.  I think it’s time to paint “In The Sink 2”.  Keep sending the pictures, perhaps you might get a painting or two in return.

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Back at beautiful Brindejon

Back at my parents farm for a long holiday weekend.   It’s beautiful, the sweet peas and lupin are in bloom.  Birds, dogs, and kids are all bursting with life.  Elly and Bella are together as mush as possible, they are good friends.  And I look forward to getting some good stories and pictures.  But first some coffee.

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Beer, Bluebirds, Cats, and Crows

I used to love smorgasbords.  The possibilities are endless, too many foods to try.  But the stomach and the eyes were always willing to try.  Now that I am on a restricted low carb diet, they don’t have the same appear. I can’t eat half or most of the foods. I can’t even drink much beer.  Luckily wine and whiskey are still on the approved list.

So today I finally got Bob’s Beer.  Yes, BEER with capital letters.  It’s been a process to retrieve. Multiple Cale’s to UPS, notices, missing signatures, and eventually a trip to the UPS warehouse.  Sothis is special beer — a birthday present from his three daughters.  Every month for the next six months, he gets a special delivery of 12 beers — 4 new types — every month.  And since he’s gone on vacation, the text message said “I got your beers and drank them all.  They were delicious.  Sorry, should have saved one for you.”

It’s only fair, he abandoned me and left for a camping trip with Kate, Nate, and Crystal.  I stay home, clean the kitchen, and feed the bluebirds.  Yep, we have our second bluebird family for the season right outside in a great bluebird box.  So earlier this spring, we had a bluebird couple that moved into the neighborhood and had a set of kids.  4 baby birds survived, there may have been a fifth that got caught by one of the cats.  Or it was some other kind of bird.  The babies grew up and the parents decided to have a second family.  YEAH.

Now Bob is feeding these birds mealworms on a daily basis.  And the male seems to know that hopping around on a branch in front of Bob means food.  Then THE SHOW BEGINS.  It’s fun to watch.  All four babies, mom, and dad, are feeding the second set of kidlets.   They all know that Tall Man means food, especially when he puts a new bowl on top of the bird box.  The little birds cheep loudly “Me, ME, MEEEEEE!”  I love watching them get food as the six other birds ferry food from the bowl to the hole in the box.

So what does feeding bluebirds have to do with cats you might ask?  Well, those cats of mine are prodigious hunters and would love nothing more than catching a bluebird doing cleanup from an evening feed.  Clean up is where the birds go down to the ground and pick up all those lovely dried mealworms dropped during the feeding frenzy.  Charlie and Sophie have been having a great hunting season.  Rats, gophers, mice, lizards and birds; they probably have changed the local ecosystem with their successful hunts.  So we try to keep them inside while the blue birds are eating.

Speaking of hunting, Charlie sort of got a baby crow a few weeks ago.  Bob went outside because he hard low cawing cawing cawing from the driveway.  Went outside to see Charlie had caught a baby crow.  And all the other crows came to help.  Charlie was holding on to this crow while being pinned under a bush. Every time Charlie moved the other crows would dive bomb at him.  Ouch. Charlie retreated, one hand hooked onto the baby crow.  Bob came, rescued the baby, and brought an indignant Charlie inside.  But at least he still had his hair.  And every time Charlie went outside for the next few days, he got attacked by the elder crows protecting the baby.  I am pleased to say the baby probably survived and has left the immediate area.

Well dishes await.  Bob was not up to his usual standards of a home beautiful this morning when he left.  Dishes in the sink — horrors.  Floors needing to be swept — awful.  Extra bags left in the hall — yuck.  And even a birthday present for Josh on the counter that needs to be wrapped and sent off to him.  So I guess I had better start the dishwasher before going to be. image

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Getting ready for vacation

Next week the extended family will be descending upon my parents at Brindejon, including Elly.  ONe planned activities is swimming in the Yuba River, home of fantastic huge swimming holes.  And of course, the youngest member of our family will be going along and swimming.  Yep, Elly will be exposed to River swimming.  And since she’s only 4, she needs a life vest.  Did you know that such things exist, complete with handles on the back?  I didn’t until recently.  And new we are the proud owners of an extra large dog vest.  Here’s Elly modeling her new outfit.  I’m not sure how much she likes it, but she will tolerate it for a cookie.

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ALE, ALU, ANN, and Charlie

ALE — Annualized Loss Expectancy

ALU — Arithmetic Logic Unit

ANN — Artificial Neural networks

What do those three words have to do with Charlie.  Nothing.  Except the fact I am trying to memorize 3 pages of those terms per day and Charlie is being his usual helpful self.  It’s time to pick up my playtoys AKA ART SUPPLIES, very important stuff to be written about in capital letters.  And Charlie has decided to take a nap in my bag.  Even Mitzi’s nose doesn’t deter him from a nap.  The only thing that makes him move is me getting another cup of coffe.  And I need the coffee before I start working on the three pages of torturous words.  What Charlie WANTS is his milk.  Every morning there is milk for the cat, milk for the cat.  A teaspoon of milk in a saucer.  

Now the three pages of words are a small part of the 1500 terms I need to memorize by July 16th.  If lucky, I’ll be spending that day taking a six hour multiple choice test.  Sounds like fun–NOT.  But needed for my job.  The luck part comes from getting an unexpected opportunity to attend a boot camp class the week before.  Sometime in the next few days, I’ll find out if management is willing to pay for the class.  One of my weakest skills is the ability to memorize terminology and remember acronyms.  After all that’s what books and the Internet are for–the ability to easily look that stuff up.  But this test is call the mile wide, 6 inch deep overview of the cyber security world.  And that CISSP certification is needed to provide that one is an expert.  So I’m being proactive and started early on memorization. 

So we have a new game around my house.  Anyone who wants to play can.  It’s easy.  Pick up my big wad of terminology papers and start asking me for definitions.  Then have fun watching me squirm as I stammer and don’t know them.  Some are easy….Acount Lockout —  I’ve done that before when I’ve forgotten my password.  And then I  had to track down the system administrator and beg them to unlock the computer account.  But ALE.  That’s hard.  I want to say a very good beer. But it’s not.  ALE is the annualized loss expectancy, the cost of loss due to risk over a year.  And please don’t ask me about the differences between 802.11a 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.118, 802.11n, or 802.1x.  ARGHHHHHH, can I just become a pirate instead of memorizing the different frequency modes?  Going to work actually sounds like more fun than these words.  Wish me luck.

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Post Fathers Day Blues

Breakfast this morning matched the quality of Father’s Day this year.  Last night, Bob cooked his own dinner because I was too hot to care about food.  Today, I cooked him some really ugly oats.  Inedible, I’ve been banned from the kitchen this morning and am being “forced” to go to work.  Bob says it’s a better place for me.  I don’t know, he probably could have picked off a few good bites of oats from the burned bottom of the pan.

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Displays and Naps and More

Wednesday night, Dragon Cats and Doggie Bags–my small business–had another event.  We excelled at the Art of no sales.  But it was a lot of fun, I am learning, and my booth looks much better.  There were people who came and asked if we were at all the downtown events.  Since Art Beat on Main Street is happy to let me display outside their store for a percentage of the sales, it’s affordable.  Any percent of zero is free.  But every time I go, I learn more about what it will take to sell doggie bags and dragon cat bags.  People love their pets and don’t mind spending money.  Just need to perfect the message and earn trust by showing up at a few more events.   And last Wednesday night was lovely with a band right in front of the stand.  So I had three hours of great music, good conversation, and beautiful weather.  

Very peaceful and highly deserted sales booth.  A different view of peaceful is Bob’s afternoon nap.  He’s not feeling well with a mild case of congestion.  It’s a nice warm afternoon, perfect for relaxing.  And the two dogs are more than willing to keep him company.  Mitzi is visiting for a long weekend while Bob’s mom is back east visiting our daughter.  She love’s the dog bed.

The last picture today shows off some of my latest art projects.   I’be been enjoying the art of macrame, making simple tree’s of life.  Simple and satisfying, I can make a nice one in just couple hours.   No thinking needed.  All I need to do is  figure out where to hang them.   Perhaps in Charlie’s Shack, the oak tree outside, or in the kitchen.  Whatever bugs Bob the most…or at least what I can tease him about…..

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Charlie Again

Of the last couple of weeks, I have been building a display stand.  The cats are so helpful.  Here’s Charlie and Sophie both helping.

And here’s the display stand, not yet perfect.  Haven’t figured a good system except the fabric solution of tieing the panels together.  Tomorrow night this stand has a debut holding art for my new small business Dragon Cats and Doggie Bags.  But does anyone recognize the artwork used for demoing this stand in the garage?  I never want to get rid of Larry or Bill.

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Coming In

During the day, Charlie and the other cats come and go inside and outside.  Often we leave a door open while at home.  But sometimes, the screen door does get closed.  And that impeedes cat entry or departure.  Oh My.  Well Charlie has developed a unique way of telling us he wants to come inside.  Instead of just meowing, he climbs the screen door.  We now have a special screen door with industrial grade metal mesh just because of Charlie.  Sound unbelievable, well here is the proof.

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Desperation Dinners

For Mother’s Day, Maggie sent me a lovely handmade card.  Inside she talked about desperation dinners, know she understands them.  What is a desperation dinner you ask.  Well that is a night where you are so tired, the idea of cooking dinner is overwhelmingly awful.  It happened a few times when I would pick up three girls after work, we were all hungry wretches.  Well those few nights, I would stop at the grocery store and let the girls pick out dinner.  Maggie being 8 years older than her sisters was in charge of getting the dinners cooked.  They couple pick out anything they wanted as long as there was a dinner entree.    And there was only one dessert item per kid.  Off the girls went, happily choosing something to microwave and very seriously discussing what kinds of desserts they wanted.  I happily picked out a burrito or something for myself and went home to no work.  Hurrah!  And now Maggie does the same thing.  I wonder if she gets a dessert in addition to the easy dinner?

Now a days, I don’t have to cook dinner most nights.  Bob does a wonderful job of taking care of me.  And so when I get home after a long day, he has dinner ready most nights.  Occasionally we go out for dinner or I pick up somethinforto-go food on his desperation dinners.    

And on those days where I am too tired to do anything after work, I watch movies or tv shows on Netflix.  Saw a really fun gentle movie the other night”The Magie of Belle Isle”.  One of the main characters is a9 year old girl who got in trouble.  Her mom was creative on the punishment.  

“And your punishment is to memorize three new words and their definition by Friday dinner,  I expect to be impressed”

That is such a cool punishment, more creative than my baskets of laundry.  Wish I had thought of that.  It’s fun to look up unknown words in the dictionary.  Of course now that everything is online, are there still dictionaries?  I haven’t looked at one in years.  What a shame.  So perhaps my punishment for that is just that–find the dictionary and memorize three new words for the next blog post along with a discussion of laundry baskets.

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Pushing Boundaries

Elly, the dog, loves sleeping on our bed and lying on the couch.  I hate it, but she’s persistent and often does it when I can’t see her.  Well a few weeks ago, she pushed the boundaries and got onto a public couch at Oceanside ale works.  When I was going to protest, the brewmaster reassured me it was OK, the couch was for dogs.  Evidently his dog, the brewery mascot always was sleeping on the couch.  And the only one protesting would be Coco himself.  So Elly had a grand adventure and I got a couple of good photos — references for some painting in the future.

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How do dogs walk?

Have you ever wondered how a dog walks?  Or a cat?  Both legs on one side at a time?  Cris-cross or diagonal?  How many different gaits do these animals have?  Are cats and dogs the same?  You may never have wondered about these things, but they are important when making sculptures of cats and gods.

So, I asked THE GOOGLE and got some fascinating answers.

  • First–it turns out that over half of the toys made of dogs and other animals have incorrect gaits.  Same for cartoons.
  • Second–cats, camels, and giraffes may have a different gait from all other 4 legged animals.  But more research is needed before I can confirm that fact.
  • Third–in general, dogs do leave 3 legs on the ground at a time when walking.  

So check out these videos.

For a cat walking:  Cat Walking Video

For a dog walking (and other gaits):  Dog Gaits Video

And more information about dog gaits:   Science Daily Article about Dog Gaits

Now that you are educated on cat and dog movement,  I leave you with two questions to ponder:

  • how would a six legged animal walk?
  • Do wings count as legs when considering dragon cat movement?
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Catching Up — Busy Lives

The last few weeks have been intense stress filled days.  Good Days, but even good things come with stress.  Big thing, I am now in my third job of the year.  This one it totally different type of engineering.  So over the course of the last few months, I went from being the queen of SHALLS under the worst boss ever to being a coder and then joining a cyber security team.  Same company, different bosses, different buildings, different tasks, different teams.  It turns out I don’t blog well with that kind of stress. But now that life is calming down, the blog should resume with more stories about the cats, the dog, and life about vista.  

It was easy to move from the first job to the second job.  I was bored and hated working for a miromanaging bully who’s goal in life was making me cry.  Plus I didn’t get much choice, management offered me up to the new team.  But there I hadto change tasks.  I hadn’t coded professionally for over 20+ years and these were new languages.  Scary stuff. But it turned out to be a great team, good management, and I got the chance to work with some fun women (first time in my career).  I think the job tasking could have evolved into something I would enjoy.

But a few weeks into the new job, another job offer appeared.  Somewhat unexpected, it was something I had been trying to break into for a couple years.  Every month or two, I would call this guy (now my new boss) and ask if there were any possible job’s for me.  “Hi, this is your friendly nag notice.  Do you have anything coming up?”  So when the opportunity to interview came up, I took it.  And got the job.  But that meant leaving a great team and possible new job for something unknown.  Plus leaving behind my women friends….now I’m only working with a lot of older men.

It was surprising to me how stressful that decision was.  Leaving a bad job with little choice about the move is scary.  It’s hard to walk into a job not knowing anyone or even what you are going to do.  But it is much harder when you leave a good job with great co-workers and move to something totally unknown.  Every day, the indecision would arise “Am I doing the right thing?”.  Now one week on the job, the answer is yes.  I am excited by the work, pleased by the challenge of a new career.  This is something I can do for the next few years.  I get to learn lots of new things.  Yeah!  And plus in a year or two, I’ll be portable again–able to get a job almost anywhere.

The omens are good for this job, just like they were for the other job. With both new jobs this year, opportunities arose unexpectedly for the small business the same week I started a new job.  So with the coding job, two days after I started working for the new boss, I had to take off an afternoon and then work a long lunch the following day at a craft show.  Made the assumption that if it had been OK the week before, then it had to be OK in the new position.

Then last weekend (one day after starting my new job), I went to art class on Saturday. Art Beat on Main Street ( offered me the chance to have a booth at the strawberry festival on Sunday.  100,000 people were estimated to attend this one day event in downtown Vista.  Well, my partner and I were successful, we got our business “Dragon Cats and Doggie Bags” launched.  Hosted a booth all day with a only a couple of sales.  One of the I think was a mercy sale, someone from the shop being nice.  But I’ll take it as a vote of confidence.  And I get the opportunity to repeat this at any other downtown event in Vista.  HURRAHHH!!!!!!

One other thing happened over the last couple weeks–I got a piece accepted into a professional juried show.  Not a big one, but the quality of accepted works is high.  I feel like a winner just having my piece displayed on the wall.  I was told that the subject matter was interesting to many people, something different.  And the frame came out very nice.  It was an old one that needed loving restoration.  Sanding, new stain, and polyurethane can make all the difference.  You let me know.  Here is “In the Sink” immortalizing Charlie’s love of recycled food (AKA scraps) by Robine Lewis.


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Got a painting accepted into a real art show.  Yep, I have a painting being professionally judged and then going up for sale.  “In the Sink” featuring our own Charlie.  So now I have a week to get it framed and ready for display.  Then it will hang for a month at Vista City Hall.   Hurrah!!!!!


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A Quest

For years, I’ve been on a quest to photograph the Jacaranda Trees when blooming.  Huge beautiful purple blossoms that are extremely tricky to photograph.  Lighting, shadows, and color saturation make it almost impossible to get a good photo.   Add in the typical weather pattern of May Gray and June Gloom–the fog from the Catalina Eddy that envelopes San Diego like a blanket protecting us from the Sunny Skys.

However, this year the Jacaranda Trees bloomed early.  They used be in full color during June, but this year they started in April.  Now, early May and the purple trees are in full bloom.   So there is a chance of getting a tree highlighted by the long rays of the mrning or evening sun.  Now the challenge is finding a tree not obscured by power lines or other unsightly urban views.  And I finally am getting a half decent photo.  Still not perfect, but there are those three’s in Brengle Terrace (a local park) that might be perfect this week if the weather cooperates (I.e. No fog in the evening).

The first photo shows the raw data–the first good picture.  Then I cropped and played with the image to make something that looks like an oil painting.

The third photo only has a bit of cropping and brightness contrast.  Not quite raw, but close to it.


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More pictures from Brindejon

As always, Brindejon provides the opportunity to get some great photos.  And then, I played with colors, cropping, and clarity to make them art objects.  Enjoy.

image image image image image

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Get Out You Bastards

“Get Out You Bastards, Out of the Water”.  Technically that statement was not correct, the two dogs were bitches and we know their heritage.  But there was great emotion as Bob tried to rescue a toy from the mud pond, aka future swimming hole, at my parents farm.

We had gone to Brindejon to visit for Mother’s Day, taking Elly along for doggy holiday with Bella, my parent’s dog.  Both dogs were about the same size and both dogs loved to play.  Bob got out a tug-of-war toy.  The  two dogs tugged and played until Bella won.  Off she dashed, toy in mouth, for the mud pond.

So now the toy is sitting at the bottom, embedded in mud.  Perhaps later this year, it will emerge, something Bella can dig out from the ground.  She is an active 8 month old puppy.  Strong and full of curiousity about life.  Busy all the time.  Loves to dig.  Getting that toy will be a good activity for her.

I was lucky enough to capture the whole sequence on film.  So there are pictures memorialize get this amusing incident.  The two dogs playing tug of war; Bob (rake in hand) heading down to the water; Dogs leaping in the pond; Bella leaping like a gazelle over mud; and a frustrated Bob giving up on the idea of finding this toy.


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Fairy Godmothers can exist

And for the last few days, I’ve had the pleasure of being a Fairy Godmother. 

Tuesday, it was for a nine year old girl and her mom.  While I have never met this girl, I’ve known her mom for the last 7 years.  The mother of three, she’s divorced and struggling.  The dad in not very good about being either with children or paying child support.  So last weekend when her dad didn’t show up, she had a major temper tantrum.  Her mother was upset about this on Monday, wondering if she or her daughter should apologize for the bad behavior.  They had just moved into a fantastic place – a quiet house in a nice neighborhood with friendly neighbors.  Well it turns out that her daughter loves to draw.  And thus I became a fairy godmother by getting her some good quality art supplies.  Included a nice book on how to draw fairies and dragons along with paints, pencils, and good paper.  In the worst case, I made a girl and her mom happy.  In the best case, her mom might be able to teach her to take out aggressions in art instead of temper tantrums and then I might have changed a life. 

At work, I run an arts and craft club.  Great arrangement, I or other employees teach an art class and my aerospace company pays for art supplies.  “Engagement” they call it.  A chance to play with really cool stuff using other people’s money is what I call it.  Anyway, yesterday there was lunchtime fair hosted by all the clubs.  The surfing club had a balance board.  The 3D Printing club had a pancake bot which draws greyscale pictures using pancake batter.  But we beat everyone with our art projects.  Over 75 people (mostly engineers and other technical people) happily spent lunchtime painting a wine glass or tile trivet.  Lots of laughter and joy, brought about by our activity.

And then today, I get the joy of telling my manager how to find money for computers.  He’s new to the division, the site, and our way of doing business building autonomous aircraft.  He had been told there was no money, suck it up.  Well that means I have to crawl under my desk several times a day to change computer hookups instead of getting a 300 dollar switch box or disable my ergonomic workstation.  Both are no-go options for me.  So I volunteered to find the money people and have.  Hurrah. Again, I get to be the bearer of happiness and joy.

It’s fun to be a fairy godmother.

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Charlie, a disaster waiting to happen

Daily Promt: Disaster

Charlie’s eye is healing well.  He even got his cone off yesterday.  But that does not make him a good patient.  Like some young men I know, he refuses to believe there is anything he cannot do.  Even while injured.

Bob called me one afternoon last week to complain about loosing 2 hours of his life chasing Charlie around the yard.   He got out while wearing his cone and proceeded to do his rounds.  There were gophers to check, bushes to mark, and birds to chase.  He did all of those activites about 20 feet in front of Bob, constantly moving.  He stopped to dig at the gopher, grinding his cone of shame into the ground.  That did two things for him.  First it coated the cone with a great collection of dirt.  And second it made it open up so there were wings on either side of his head.  Great strategy to use for then chasing birds.  Bob swore the birds were hopping in front of Charlie, laughing at the cat with plastic earwings on his head.  As a final chapter, Charlie ran through a patch of fox tails, the same ugly weed that caused his eye injury in the first place.

Charlie hated getting any medicine, but he did enjoy the effect of pain killers.  Swaggering around like a big bold man on the town, he would get in big trouble for about 30 minutes.  Trash dumping was the first activity.  Take a look at the photos below.  He looks so innocent and yet there he is–head and cone stuck into the trashcan.



But worse than the trashcan was him chasing a bug.  Not so bad, you say.  Well what do you think about that activity while on top of a refridgerator wearing a cone and at the tail end of a30 minute “I feel good from drugs” moment which gets followed by a crash and hours of sleep?  Probably then, the bu chasing activity is not so good.  The story is told with pictures.

Here he is getting ready to leap on the fridge.  He’s the blur in the middle of photo.


And there is the offending bug, upper left hand corner.


And there he is about leap at the bug from a height of over 5 feet.  Mind you this is with an injured eye and a cone.  Stupid cat.  I took him down and he leaped back up onto the refridgerator.


But  luckily the second time he leaped to the top, the medicine crashed occurred and instead of bug hunting, he went sleeping.


And when I moved him onto a bed, he didn’t even wake up.


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Suitcase, Headcase, Cone

Poor Charlie…….he always seems to have problems.   This time it was a foxtail in the eye; requiring a trip to the 24 emergency vet, California Veterinary Specialists.  Charlie’s eye will survive albeit with interesting times for all over the next two weeks while he wears the cone of shame.  The little bastard is an expert at unhinging the cone and slipping out of it.  He gets the pain medication and walks round for about 30 minutes feeling fantastic. Swaggering with exaggerated head movements  because of the cone, Charlie acts like the big tough guy.  And then he crashes and sleeps for the next 8 to 12 hours.


As a result of this adventure, I learned a lot about the emergency vet business.  They are not all created equal.  The late night,  not all night vet had too many clients, so they sent me to a different 24 hour hospital.  That hospital couldn’t see him because they didn’t have an opthamalogist on staff.  So they referred me to a hospital down in San Diego, 50 miles away.  Thankfully we have the Google God who can answer any questions.  Google came up with a 24 animal hospital about 10 miles away.

This 24 emergency service in CArlsbasd was worlds better than the competition. When I called them, they actually told me about the competition 5 miles from my home.  That was the service that had referred me to San Diego.  Second win for this hospital was the appearance — very clean, neat, and professional looking.  Not extravagent: but well done.  They were waiting for us since I had called, the opthamalogist on call had been warned he or she might need to come in.  They took our cat back first for examination and then had us do paperwork.  Good point number 3, they took care of the animals.  Point 4, the vet was good.  She got the foxtail out and then checked carefully for other possible wounds or problems.  Point 5, the service was not unreasonably priced and they were upfront on the costs.  Final point in their favor, they knew the local vets including ours.  And they expected us to go back to this vet after our emergency was over.

That animal hospital was a hopping place last night.  All kinds of animals (mostly dogs)  were brought into the hospital with all kinds of injuries.  One dog had been struck by a car and had a displaced hip.  They sent an emergency attendant out to the car to help carefully move the dog inside.  Another dog came in with a seizure, the humans had barely walked into the car before that dog got whisked into the back.  It was a tough place to work, as emotional as a human emergency room.  But our Charlie got good care.  I hope to never visit it again.  But if needed, we will go back and know that we are in good hands.

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Call me a bad person.

Today in the New York Times, there was an article titled “Dad, the Ant Killer”.  This article is the story of a dad trying to protect his son from the world.  Today the problem is ants.  But the story really is a universal tale of love and power and helplessness all at the same time.  It moved me.  And I loved the phrases…so many great starting lines.

For Example the tag line on the front page of the NY times is:

Op Ed: Dad the Ant Killer.

These words bring up so many images….Dad in a super hero suit, armed with a large bottle of ant poison. Dad, bigger than life, holding his son up above the massed of large killer ants. And the line has so many other story starts. You can use those words in many ways.  Dad the cat chaser.  Mom the dog catcher.  Mom, she who must be obeyed.  Grandmother, the supreme cookie commander. It’s a phrase that has rythem and power.  I’ll have to remember it for my stories.

Call me a bad person if you want.  I can’t help it.  I’m a father.

This reminds me of the classic line. “Call me Ishmael”.  But with enough power and flexibility, that I can reuse this line again…

Call me a bad person if you want.  I can’t help it.  I’m the dragon cat lady.  

And I am  the dragon cat lady in my new business Dragon Cats and Doggie Bags.  It got launched a couple weeks ago at the worlds most unsuccessful and yet wonderful craft show.  My friend and I are selling kits to make shopping bags with original artwork — dragon cats from me and doggies from Carolyn. We took a couple of other people out for dinner on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, to learn how they were successful in terms small craft businesses.  And we got challenged to participate in a craft show the following week.  It was rough, writting patterns and getting kits ready for sale in less than a week.

We did it  I am proud to say.  We had a great booth.  Lots of great products, lots of interest from the other vendors.  But no customers show up for the show.  So no sales.  Did make  some connections for future craft shows.  But that was a challenging week for both of us.   The show was on Thursday at lunchtime.  On Tuesday, I started a new job.  Same company as before, but a new boss, new tasks, and new expectations.  It’s not a great start when you meet your boss on Tuesday and tell him that you need Wednesday afternoon off followed by a long lunch on Thursday and that you will be making up hours on Friday (your off day).  But he was good and rolled with my schedule.

Carolyn had similar issues with a boss that decided to change the rules about what hours were acceptable for working without any notice.  In general, core hours are 9-3 with an hour lunch.  As long as you are there for the core hours and get your nine hours of work in the day, who cares if you get in a 7 am or 9 am.  Well he decided that everyone had to be in at 7 am.  Of course that person isn’t driving in traffic, so he has no idea how bad the impact is on everyone else’s life.  Have to hate people that are that selfish.

But I digress from my story today, the great lines that can start an entire story like:

I am a father, my superhero power is worry

I’ve been using this line for years.  I’m a mom, I can think up any number of worst case scenarios.  You bet I can think of the worst case and usually I plan for it.   But he put the line so succinctly that I will reuse it in many ways.  I’m an engineer,  my superhero power is writing the worlds most boring documentation.  I’m an artist,  my superhero power is buying to many pretty colored pencils.  I’m Robine, my superhero power is bringing chaos to the kitchen table.

Does that make me a bad person? You tell me.

No, chaos is not a bad thing.  It shakes up everything and allows me quick access to my toys–the books, puzzles, pencils, iPad, earrings off the tree, or dragons guarding the tree.    But chaos can also mean trouble, bad feelings, and uncertainty.  Something the dad covers in the main body of the story.  His conclusion is very precise.  He ends with a long description of how he kills ants, and then summarizes with the line “I’m a father.  So I try.”   I like that ending and hope I can write one as moving for my novel.

No matter how much poison I pour, I know it’s no use. A lifetime of threats against my son — bullies, drug abuse, disease, violence — are still breeding down there in the dark, waiting to spill out from the earth, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them. But I’m a father. So I try.

Now contrast this with the new daily prompts — single words only.  No evocative phrase that is difficult to adapt, no challenge in defining a new word, no need for the daily blog editors to do any thinking.  Take for example today’s word “bedtime”; who cares about the word.  It’s the end of the day, the time I don’t like on a Sunday because that means the work week is starting.  But there is no story.  No passion.  No inspiration.  And that’s why I am not writing as many daily prompts.

Of course, there might be other explanations.  Starting two new jobs in the same week is emotionally exhausting.  Various small events that take lots of time and some amount of emotional energy.  Forgetting how to say the word no and thus end up spending a weekend day volunteering.  Working on a large number of art projects simultaneously.  Movies to see, places to go, work that has to be done.  It all adds up to no time but lots of fun.  And speaking of time, “I am a wage slave, so I have to go.”  The open road, hopefully not filled with other wage slaves going to their jobs, awaits.  My desk and computer at work await.  And the dreaded daily 9 am status meeting awaits.  So I go.

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A Happy Find

The last few weeks have been overwhelming and very busy.  Started a new job and launched a new business in the same week.  Interviewed for yet another job.  Avoided doing taxes for the last month.  Should do jury duty next week, but I probably will postpone it.  And yet what made me happy last night was a simple bag of chips.  Yep, I found Parsnip Chips at Trader Joes.  No Carb chips, so I can eat all I want.   Hurrah!!!!!!   So dinner last night was chips and dip.  Yum. Yum.


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Price is not the word of the day

Chaotic, Overwhelming, Incomprehnsible are more likely word’s of the day than price.  It feels like a day and a half although it’s only been 15 hours since I got up.  What didn’t happen today?  Lots.  But there were lots of small annoyances that overall make a day extraordinarily overwhelming.  And today was that day.

Well today was monumental.  I started a new job with a new group doing unknown tasks with an unknown manager, albeit within the same company where I have been working for the last 11 years.  That’s a big deal, changing your life like that.  But I am happy, it can’t be worse than manager I’ve had for the last six months.  We don’t even want to go into what was wrong although the words micromanage and bully go a long way into describing the situation.

Getting to this new job was exhausting.  Bob is on vacation with Kate.  They both went back east to visit the other two daughters who actually managed to escape from Southern California.  Some has to work and pay the bills.  Unfortunately that someone is me.  Oh well, at least I get paid a good salary or at least a half way decent salary for my work.  And usually, if given half decent assignments, I actually like the work.

But today was scary and overwhelming.  I had to be at work at 9 am.  Not hard on a typical day.  But today, I barely made that schedule.  First, I got up to find the coffee had gone on and off, leaving me with a pot of cold black coffee.  Yuck.  I obviously don’t have the auto-on feature under my control.  OK, fine, I can reheat the cold coffee.  But while doing that, the damned dog managed to escape from her backyard.  I still don’t know how although I think she pushed the garage door barrier and slid underneath.  No matter what, her escape meant that I had to capture a dog bored beyond belief by the absence of her beloved master.  Once captured, I shoved her into the car as preparation for visiting Doggie Day Care, AKA grandma.

Gathered up everything and got into the car.  Half a mile from home, realized I had left a pot with coffee on the still-turned-on-stove.  Yeah!  Who want’s to go back home and turn off the stove.  Me, of course.  I did and finally got to Grandma’s house where I could dump the dog for the day.   Let’s not talk about her behavior, but it is bad.  Elly is trying to bully grandmother into giving her treats by threatening to jump on her.  Not good.  She needs more long walks which I have not had the chance to give her.  Luckily grandmothers house does offer a couple of attractions.  First there is Mitzi, the dog who has been bossing Elly around since she was a pup.  They are friends.  And there are rabbits.

It is rabbit season.  That means everywhere in Grandmother’s neighborhood you can find baby rabbits.  And they are great fun to chase.  Elly loves it.  She goes on the hill on the backyard (not allowed by Gmom), roots in the Rosemary bush roots (not allowed by Gmom), and on at least one occasion has flushed flushed a bunny.  Then Elly chases said bunny all around the yard, something very much discouraged by Gmom.

Got to work, barely on time. Thank someone for the blessing of spring break that allowed me enough time to go home, turn off the stove, dump Elly, and still make it to work on time.  Even with a wander through a huge building (probably 1/2 mile in length) to find said meeting since my map was upside down.  There I found out about a new job for which I had known nothing.  Not what I was I doing, what program, what building or site, who the boss was, or even how long said program would last.

Best news of all–the boss is 1000% better than my old boss.  Bad news–they want me to write code.  But I haven’t professionally written code in 20 years.  My skills here are a bit weak.  It’s going to be an interesting learning curve.  No phones, limited email access, and it’s going to take me a few weeks to get settled.  But the program wants me 100% focused on task today.   I can do this, it’s going to be an interesting challenge.  And I like challenges.  What’s the problem.

Well one small wrinkle is that I am ALSO launching a small business this week. Dragon Cats and Doggie Bags — We’ll sell you kits to make grocery shopping bags that feature original art.  Yeah.  Lots of fun.  I am responsible fore the sewing pattern and kits.  MY partner is taking care of all the business type stuff — pictures, display cases, product bags, labels, business cards, and more.  Thanks to whatever God or Goddess you want for that. All I have to do is create a few bags and write up a simple pattern.  Initial task done weeks ago when we got ready for a focus group testing my pattern.

So I have photos, notes and redlined to incorporate into this basic pattern. Plus a couple of simple variation that shouldn’t complicate life much.  Except of course, the work is not yet done.  I should be doing it either early in the morning before work or after work.  And neither is happening.  Life is too busy.

Tonight when I came home, the dog needed dinner.  The cats needed dinner.  The fish needed dinner.  The fish wanted food.  The cat litter boxes had to be cleaned.  And plants needed watering. Trash and recycles really wanted to be put into their blue bins.  We won’t even discuss house cleaning, laundry, or dishes as things that need to be considered.  The plants needed me to bring a 40 pound, 5 gallon water bottle downstairs and infuse said water with nutrients after doing appropriate water quality testing.  Answering machines were begging for attention.  And the house already is a disaster area.  Finally about 8 pm, I got to cook my self dinner.  Hurray, it’s been a long day started with my leaving the house at 7 am.

Well while I was starting dinner, Charlie had gotten outside. That meant he and the other cats got a second dinner.  Charlie loves food and comes very well for my call “Sally, Sophie, Charliiiiiiiieeeeeeeee”.  He always gets a treat when he does come.  And that’s good because the coyotes come out at night and they love fresh cat for dinner.  I want my cat’s inside and away from those coyotes.  Even if it means a second dinner for the cats. So tonight, a can of catfood was on the menu for second dinner. Sophie was excited. And she managed to dump an entire can of stinky catfood onto the silverware drawer.

Silverware drawer–the location where I keep spoons, knives, and forks.  It has a lovely bamboo organizer that fits extremely snugly into the drawer. So when Sophia dumped the can of catfood into said drawer, lots of work had to be done.  I emptied the drawer, put it on the counter for cleaning, and now am ignoring it.  And instead of doing the washing, I cooked an extra big serving of popcorn.  With extra amounts of butter.  Elly was delighted.

Actually all the animals were happy, they all like popcorn with butter.  And with those extra calories, I had the strength to write this blog post.  So we should all celebrate a full moon with an extra serving of popcorn with lots butter.  And another glass of wine.  Have a great evening.

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Today is a milestone, 729 Blog Posts.  Wow, when I started writing this blog four years ago, never dreamed I would write so many stories.  And to celebrate, let’s talk about the number 729.  It’s a really wonderful number.  And I am a nerd who loves this kind of trivia.

729 = 1011011001 base 2 = 2D9 base 16 = 1331 base 8 = 9**3 = 27**2 = 3**6

And this wonderful website Numbergossip calls the number

  • Composite — can be expressed as the product of integers greater than one
  • Cube  — equals nine times nine times nine
  • Deficient — sum of all the Edison’s is than the 729
  • Evil — there are an even number of divisors in the binary version of 729
  • Lucky — part of a lucky number sequence.  See for the rules
  • Odd — last digit cannot be divided by two
  • Powerful — can be expressed as a**2 x b**3
  • Smith — a joke sequence, see rules at Numbergossip
  • Square — can be expressed as a**2 or 27*27

And going to Wikipedia we learn lots about this year in history

  • Chopsticks were introduced in Japan about this time period
  • Year 729 AD is Year 178 in the Armenian Calendar and 5479 in the Assyrian calendar.
  • “King Osric of Northumbria nominates Ceolwulf, a distant cousin and brother of Coenred as his successor. After Osric’s death Ceolwulf takes the throne.”

Of course no post is complete these days without. Dragon cat reference.  Why Dragon Cats you might ask?  Because I am trying to write above  and screenplay about dragon cats.  So I obsess.  Talk about them, think about them, write about them, and draw them.  Even plan on sculpting them in the near future.   So for your viewing pleasure, here’s the picture from this weekend. I am finally starting to get the muscles needed to support wings into correct proportion.  No picture is ever complete, especially if image processing software is available.   So you get several versions — the original, a glamour glow version, and the retro version of the same drawing.  I am not sure which I like best.  So you get to choose.

Daily Prompt: IncompleteResources used




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Free Flowing Food

Short post today.  Went for a walk this morning and came back to see Charlie, sprawled by the empty food bowl.  Just waiting for his free flowing food, up high, away from the dog.  After all there was no trash available for his dumpster diving pleasure.


Daily Prompt: Flow

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Still life with cat

Like most weekends, this last one was way too short.  Already I am sentimental and nostalgic for the freedom of two days with no work responsibilities.  Especially when we were lucky like last weekend to enjoy a rain storm.  Rain storms in San Diego are a treat to be savored.  Today we get another one, probably timed to arrive when we are out driving on the freeways.  There is nothing like celebrating a rain storm while driving on the freeway.  Woohoo!!!


Instead I leave a few minutes for a fun filled day working at the speed of molasses for a wonderful boss, a guy excellent at finding all errors in draft work.  Can’t I stay home and paint still life with cat?  Wish me luck at surviving another week at work.image

daily prompt: Sentimental

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Sun, bring me the sun

Sally is the old lady at my house.  She loves to sleep and spends most of the day moving from bed to kitchen to outside for an hour in the sun and back to bed.  Often she sleeps in a special cat bed — a laundry basket with an electric blanket.  And when it gets below 70 degrees F, often someone takes pity on the cat, turning on that blanket.

Sometimes in the morning, Sally sits in the hall by the kitchen, soaking up sun rays.  A black cat, the sun soaks into her fur and creates stark shadows on the white wall behind.  On this particular morning, Sally was happily grooming, unaware of the impending danger.  Usually mornings are terror free with the dreaded dragon cats attacking in the evenings over dinner.  Closer and closer the enemy crept.  Sally contented licked her paws.


Slowly, Charlie crept around the corner.  Pounce.  Whap.  Caterwauling ensues as fur flies.  Sophie hears the commotion and leaps in to protect her friend. To Sophie, it doesn’t matter what is going on or who is at fault, Charlie is to be protected.  And under the forces of two dragon cats, Sally retreats to the bedroom, hiding under the dresser.  Bob and I leap to our feet, tossing the two offenders outside.

Now you might be asking, what is a dragon cat.  Well imagine a house cat infected by nanobots from an Nth dimensional being visiting our region.  Still a cat, but now it has wings like a dragon.  Breathes fire.  Has opposable claws.  And is somewhat telepathic, able to communicate whims to their designated human.  But seemingly unable hear any commands from said human.  Trouble on four legs, that’s a dragon cat.  A problem  for Sally simply longing for a quiet moment in a sunny spot.



Daily Prompt: Longing

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Charlie’s Secret

Every morning Charlie haunts the kitchen waiting for me.  He knows the routine well, get up, take my blood sugar reading, and then get a cup of coffee.  Charlie loves this routine because he has a secret passion for milk in the morning.  Milk the cat, Milk for the cat.  Not quite the line from “In the NIght Kitchen” where Mikey fell out bed, out of his clothes and into the night kitchen.  But like that kitchen, there is milk every morning for me and the cat.

When I get up, he’s lurking by the coffee pot.  When I come out to the kitchen, he starts meowing.  Tail up, he rubs against me asking “Where’s MY milk?”  Normally, I give him a teaspoon in a saucer and all is good.  But this morning, Sophie decided to check out the milk.  The results are hilarious.  Charlie is good at sharing.  He doesn’t like it, but he was well trained as a kitten.  Sharing means that you can stick your head into anyone else’s plate of food and eat.  He does that frequently.  And when someone else sticks their head into your plate, Charlie just eats faster.  Lucky for you all, I got some great pictures. 

I’ll never forget the time when Mitzi was visiting.  Mitzi, my mother-in-law’s dog, is a small cocker spaniel a bit bigger than Charlie.  Mitzi dominates her world.  She keeps Elly in line or at least tries.  Every time Elly goes to visit, she does check out Mitzi’s dinner bowl and if Mizti ever leaves a treat on the floor, Elly will eat it.  But Mitzi has every expectation that she can and will eat her dinner without any interruptions.  Even if she is visiting my house.  But Charlie didn’t know that rule, so he went over to her bowl and had a bite.  Mitzi was horrified and ANGRY.  She issued the ugliest growl and raced through her food at Charlie.  He had his “Come to Jesus” moment as he raced for safety.  Since then, Mitzi is the only animal in our house that does NOT share food.




Daily Prompt: Secret

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Not much news today, so here is a great video.  I laughed and laughed.  Only one minute, so click and enjoy.

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The pace of writing

Daily Prompt: Pace Oddity
If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why?

Pace is more than just slow or fast.  It’s the beat behind the actions, a combination of fast and slow, a rhythm for the activity.  Sometimes when I am having trouble writing, I put on the earphones and start the music for “phantom of the opera”  By the time the gavel bangs with the cry “SOLD”, I’m oblivious to the world.  My fingers are typing keys in time with the music.  Works almost every time.  Quality of the writing, now that’s always questionable, but at least characters are appearing on the page.

I went to a screenplay writing class on last Saturday.  Fantastic experience, I came out of there ready to write screen plays.  Hadn’t been my intention at all, I was looking for guidance on how to craft a story for my novel.  But dragon cats was conceived as a series of pictures in my mind and hence easy to write as a script.  It helps that there is a structure.  OPening scene and ending scene need to be related.  Page 5, incident that leads into a decision on page 12 where the characters life is irrevocably changed.  All major characters introduced in the first 10 pages, love interest at a certain point.  And there are not many words.  120 pages, lots of white space, with descriptions of the scenes and a little bit of dialog.  Now that I can write.

My instructor had several good pieces of advice.

1.  Find the beat of your work and stick to it except when you add some florishes.

2.  Stick to the formula and make sure your work is in a recognizable genre.

3.  Always stop with a scene unfinished. It makes it easier to pick up the writing the next day.

All three pieces of advice are very sound, and I’m busily writing.  Have to write the damned grocery bag instructions–tomorrow is my focus group and I’m not yet done.  But writing a script is fun. So Saturday I get to write a few more pages.  Hurrah.

Getting back to paces, you should watch this robots video from the Washington post.  Researchers have managed to make a robot that can walk on ice and snow, pick up boxes, even when bullied, and still walk out the door at the end of the scene, leaving you with a cliff hanger.

Enjoy the day.  I’m off to work to write more of the worlds most boring documentation  in the form of “The software shall do a specific action when this event occurs.”  Luckily someone else has to read that documentation, not me.

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My daughter knows me well

Got an email from my middle daughter.  You know, the drop dead gorgeous, super smart, and generous one.  She sent me a photo showing the ideal car color for me.  And she was right.  If that pink car had been a small station wagon it would have been the perfect car.  Pink is far better than green.  Perhaps it is time to think about a custom paint job.  But I am too cheap–can’t imagine spending 1000 dollars or more on a car paint job.   

Just think of all the things one can do with a thousand dollars.  I can and probably will start my new business “Doggie Bags and Dragon Cats” for less than 1000 dollars total.  I could spend a week in Portland, shopping at Powell’s books and having beer at all the wine bars.  How about an extravagant long weekend in Catalina.  Or plane tickets to Europe.  Or getting a new front yard by having 10 cubic yards of compost delivered onto our driveway.  A new garage door opener to replace the broken not-working opener.  150 bottles of wine.  Or very boring, about one third of the property tax bill.  Sigh….guess it is time to buy that lottery ticket.


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Basic Bag Pattern

Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled
Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

First words of a new venture “Basic Bag Pattern”.  At just that moment, Bob came over and told me I had to get typing.  Reason — I am planning on a focus group session for some new Doggie Bags next Friday.  The idea is to provide kits at a sewing class (which I am teaching) and get feedback about the commercial value of said bags.  Part of a new venture called Doggie Bags and Dragon Cats.  We plan on selling fancy grocery bag kits with original Dog or Dragon Cat artwork.    The problem is that I have not yet created the pattern, nor created a single kit.  Time to get working…..

So here is one possible alternative future: setting up a wildly successful business selling kits to Walmart or Micheals.  Yeah.  And all this started because  Elly has ruined the quilt on my bed.  Her long doggy claws have put holes in the quilt I made for Bob years ago.  I was looking for some custom fabric to cover those holes — slap a big 36″ by 52″ patch on the top of those holes.  Talked about getting custom fabric with a friend who paints dog pictures.  An hour later we’ve ordered fabric and set up a new business. or at least we are trying to.  So here’s to my life changing based on the decision to talk with a friend about patching a quilt.  May it be successful.  At least writing this prompt got me in the mood for writing up patterns.

Here’s the first set of doggy pictures.

imageAnd here are a couple of the bags created so far:




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The power of software

This year I am determined to learn how to draw and paint a dragon cat.  What is a dragon cat you ask?  Well, imagine a standard house cat infected with n-th dimensional nanobots.  This incredibly small robots are able to change the shape of that cat at a cellular level.  The cats grow larger, about the size of a golden retriever.  Add some wings, opposable claws, the ability to breathe fire, and the mental capacity of a five year old kid.  But don’t change the basic selfish character of a cat, always watching out for something that moves, able to open cupboards, and now able to fly.  That’s a dragon cat.

So last Saturday, I did my first acrylic painting on two hours.  It needs work.  The cat on the log is too small and the wings are wrong. I am not happy with the drawing.  But using software, I can add a lot more drama to the picture.  If I had painted the second one, I would be much happier.  Back to the easel I have to go.  If you have suggestions on how to improve the picture, please speak up.  I need advice on how to make it better.



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A beautiful heart and other stuff

DAILY PROMPT: World’s Best Widget
You’ve been granted magical engineering skills, but you can only use them to build one gadget or machine. What do you build?

It is not what I would build, but what I did create last week — a perfect heart.  Had an incredible weekend of day tripping.  Last Thursday evening, four other women and myself went to Stone and Glass for a glass blowing class.  Hot molten glass, pretty colors, lots of uncertainty about the final outcome–in other words the almost perfect art form.  Bronze is better, but harder to do.  And it costs more; so of course that makes it the most perfect art form.  Anyway, back to the glass.  My heart was amazing.  The instructor commented on a small ding on one side.  That only makes it even better — a unique one of a kind heart.


Fun didn’t stop on Friday.  Instead of working, I spend a vacation day with Bob.  Went for a walk in the morning followed by an afternoon sailing.  Dinner afterwards completed a wonderful day of day tripping.  Saturday and Sunday were equally hedonistic.  Went to art class where I painted a dragon cat.  Spent Saturday afternoon rearranging my art studio which used to be known as the TV room for kids.  Now it’s 600 square feet of space for myself, hosting areas for painting, sewing, beading, and electronics gear.  Even have a special corner for writing and computers.  Sunday was more of the same, spent sewing and writing up patterns.

And on Saturday, we went out for Pizza.  Real Pizza.  Something I haven’t eaten in months because of diabetes.  Unfortunately it did play havoc with my blood sugar, so I can’t eat it again without some careful planning.  The good news is if I control my diet, blood sugar numbers are way down in the pre diabetes range.  And I’m loosing weight or at least think I am since my clothes are getting bigger. Maybe next year, I’ll be half the woman I am now.  That would be a miracle.

Having so much fun combined with real misery during the week makes it difficult to write a blog post, hence the reliance on daily prompts.  Work still exists and my boss who can’t share work still exists.  There are some possible changes that can happen, more about those later.  And in the meantime, I have a wonderful heart to keep on my desk.  And because of this class, Bob and I now have a new Valentine’s Day tradition.  Every year, we are going to try something new together.  Last year it was sailing.  This year we are going back to Stone and Glass to take a class in glassblowing.  I want to make glow in the dark beer glasses.  Next year, who knows.  Bob is talking about hang gliding.  I’m shuddering.

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Hot Rod Mary

One of the favorite activities at my parents farm is hot rodding on the mule. The M.U.L.E. Aka a small all purpose cart has a top speed of 10 or 15 miles per hour.  My kids grew up driving this cart years before they could legally drive.  It was always the highlight of their visits.  In one memorable incident, one of them (name unsaid), knocked over a tree and got banned from driving for at least that trip.  And of course the shame has never left, her sisters or dad will never let her forget.  Anyway, Mary has been up visiting with me.  And egged on by her grand-daughters (remotely), she tried the Mule. Did well at that after learning to just drive over branches and through mud holes.  Did pretty good for a first-timer.

Almost as good at driving it as my dad.  Although with all those years of practice, he’s a bit smoother and cooler behind the wheel.


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It’s all about Bella

My parents have a young dog, Bella, aged 8 months.  Like any almost teenager, she gets into all kinds of trouble, constantly pushing the boundaries.  And that leads to some good photo opportunities.  Here she is watching the cats with their food.  Last week, Bella was standing up with her paws on the keyboard while the cats attempt to eat.  A couple days latter, her back feet were on the keyboard as she watched the cats eat.  A day later, the dog comes limping out of the barn.  And she no longer plays the piano while the cats eat.

Even though Bella won’t disturb the cats, she still likes to check out the kitchen counters.  My mom says that she was terrible, eating anything she could find on the counters.  That included whole cubes of butter.  So my mom prepared a special cube filled with cayenne pepper in the center.  Cube disappeared and now Bella leaves all the food untouched on the counter.  

And of course, Bella loves to dig.  Right outside the front door, she created a giant hole.  Doesn’t she look guilty getting up from the dirt.


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Visiting Brendijon (AKA My Parents Farm)

Lots has been happening over the last few weeks, hence no posts.  And today won’t be much better, no time for gossip.  Am up visiting my parents.  It is gorgeous up here, Spring is starting to make herself known.  Lots of daffodils starting to poke their heads out of the ground.  And after a couple weeks of rain, the streams and ponds have water.  Everything is green and lovely.  I even get beautiful sunny days.  Here’s a picture from my parents yard.  A little bit of enhancement (brightness, contrast, and saturation) plus cropping makes a scene that looks like a paradise.  And Then I turned that into a black and white photo.  It’s interesting how different the scene looks between color and BW.



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Werepigeons and other thoughts

DAILY PROMPT: Life After Blogs
Your life without a computer: what does it look like?

Today a new novel arrived via the computer.  And it has great visual images.  Take the lines: “John and Susie Q Public were lucky to get to work without being pecked to death.  Of course, that was during the last were pigeon outbreak in 2003.” (The Brimstone Deception: A SPI Files Novel by Lisa Shearin)  Doesn’t that line bring all kinds of pictures into your head?  Imagine having to confess to your family, friends, or co-workers that you were a Werepigeon and therefore needed 3 days off every month around the full moon?  That’s just plain embarrassing and yet if you were afflicted with that disease, how could you lie about it?  Every month at the full moon, you were incapacitated for 3 days.  I suppose you could lie about being something more sexy–like a coyote or a rat.  But still, it’s not something that probably ever will be considered a good thing. Being a were of any type would lead to discrimination that makes the current gay, lesbian, and other types of discrimination seem mild.

So no, I don’t want to imagine a world without a computer.  After all, I have made a life based on computers.  Daytime — requirements engineer extraordinar, nighttime wannabe novelist who loves playing on a computer or iPad.  If you take my computer away, there is nothing left of me.  I am not defined by mere ordinary life things like cooking dinner or cleaning the cat litter box. Instead, I am SUPERWOMAN.  Able to stand long hours staring at a blank screen.  Able to find joy in a white page filled with nothing but the word shall.  Able to protect keyboards from the worst cat infestations you could ever imagine.  And occasionally even able to do a little bit of work, at least enough to keep the bosses happy.  As for keeping my significant other happy (AKA Bob), that doesn’t require a computer.  What it does require is not up for discussion, use your imagination.


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Happy Belated Birthday Maggie

Still catching up on past birthdays. Maggie turned 26 this year. Am I really old enough to have a 26 year old daughter. Guess so, the pictures prove it. So here’s a collection of old photos, what I have managed to transfer to work over the years. Happy belated birthday Mags. Some of these photos may seem weird. But I have an entire collection of photos titles “Maggie’s foot” “Maggie’s knee”. The only thing missing are the Lola files. Or the videos from IKEA and other stores.  So if someone has those files; please share.

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Bucket Lists are for wimps

What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?

Bucket lists are for wimps.  It is a good excuse to avoid doing something while you wait for the perfect time that probably never will arrive.  My alternative is to live as fully as possible NOW.  Charlie has the right attitude.  Everyday is filled with purpose and selfish abandonment to whatever he wants.  Morning, time to go outside, but first lets beg for the morning milk.  Check the boundaries, make sure no birds or mice are carelessly transgressing into his zone.  Midday, let’s check the sink and trash cans for some food.  Nothing, oh well, Kibble will do.  Afternoon, time for a nap.  The best naps are when he can take over Elly’s bed.  If you asked Charlie about a bucket list it might go like this

  • Tuna
  • Hot Blanket
  • Hot dog rescued from the sink
  • Catching a bird, a mouse, a lizard, anything
  • Chicken rescued from the dog
  • Clean Litter box
  • Nap in the sun
  • Catching a fish from the tank

So you might say that today, Charlie did accomplish a bucket list item.  Afternoon nap  on the dog bed.  You have to agree he looks happy.




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Happy Belated (by months) Birthday Liz

It’s become a bit of a tradition in the family to post a few old photos in honor of someones birthday.  And of course life got busy, time passed, and I did not honor a couple of birthdays.  So to recognize Liz’s long pat 22 year birthday (December 2); here are some photos that might make her smile.  Happy belated birthday Liz.

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New Years Challenge 2.5

Daily Prompt: Learning Style
What’s your learning style? Do you prefer learning in a group and in an interactive setting? Or one-on-one? Do you retain information best through lectures, or visuals, or simply by reading books?

Dragon cats are an obsesssion with me.  I think, draw, dream, and write about them.  And I live with the two original models — charlie and sophie.   And so this years challenge is to learn how to make a dragon cat in all it’s glory.  Part 1 — drawing.  Part 2–sculpture.  New years resolutions 2.5 and 2.5 since I not sure which comes first.  The drawing models come from a cat a day calendar plus some rather disturbing dragon toys.  The challenge, draw a dragon cat every day.  Only a few minutes are allowed, these are quick sketches with a different one to be done every day.  Or if I forget, I have to play catch up by doing several in a day.

And then with these pictures, I plan on making a large photo mosaic.  The subject, charlie laying outside on his back, totally happy with a perfect day.  Tiles from this mosaic are created from photos of the daily cats, the original drawings, and snapseed versions of the cats.  Snapseed, while limited in the image processing tools, is a great app on my ipad.  easy to use, I can do the processing in a few minutes.   So I guess you might say I learn by doing.



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Sunshine in the dark

Daily Prompt: Morphing
Language evolves. The meaning of a word can shift over time as we use it differently — think of “cool,” “heavy,” or even “literally.”
Today, give a word an evolutionary push: give a common word a new meaning, explain it to us, and use it in the title of your post.

The last week has been dark, depressing, and terrifying.  At work, I’ve had a new boss with a very different work style.  This boss wants everything done slowly and deliberately.  One task at a time, finished before a new task is assigned.  And of course, there is only one smart one and that’s this boss.  So anything good work has been pulled into his basket, leaving a few little crumbs for me.

Now I work very different–throw the work at me; the harder the better.  I am an engineer, I love solving tough problems.  And I’m one of those people who can’t stay still, doing one thing.  I am chaotic, needing to juggle multiple tasks at the same time.  That way if one is too hard, I can put it aside for a while, do something else, and then come back later to finish it.  And I usually can get a lot of good work done in a short period of time.  I take pride in being productive.  So having single tasks that only take a day or two to finish has been hard.

Last week, I went back to work after two weeks of glorious holiday and was back at making a 2 hour task last 2 days.  I hate having to beg for work on a daily basis.  The final straw was when a task that should had been mine was taken away and done by the pointy haired boss from Dilbert Fame.  But this individual couldn’t stay for the entire meeting, so he summoned me and I had to attend the meeting representing the boss when it should have been my task.

So last friday I went to another one of my bosses and said I had to have a new job.  I couldn’t work for this boss.  I was going bonkers not having any work to do.  And there is a lot of it waiting to be done.  It is scary to almost quit a job without having something lined up.  I am calling favors from everyone trying to find a better engineering position.  But nothing happens fast in aerospace and I have probably burned a few bridges.

It is unclear what will happend or where I will end up at work.  It might work out great with a fantastic new job.  I might stay where I am continuing to do the same work although probably not for the same boss.  Or who knows what. If I hadn’t said anything I probably would have gotten a terrible review for not doing enough work and missing deadlines.   Plus I don’t need all that extra stress just when I am learning how to deal with diabetes.

But its amazing how a few small kind words can make a great difference in how I feel.  Someone at work offing to slip me work and bypass the formal process.  Another person pointing out that I have been gathering lots of great scenes for my novel.  That individual had me laughing as he sent me  home to write off my frustrations.  And then just today, I got a very kind comment from one of my readers.  It made me smile. So thank you everyone in the family and outside for all your support.  I appreciate it.  It brings back the sunshine in my life, reminds me of all the wonderful things in life.

And really, life has been very good.  Bob and I have been learning how to eat on a no carb diet.  He’s been cooking great dinners every night and only having things like spaghetti or sandwiches when I am not around.  I learned that there is a cauliflower shortage, with a single head costig 5 to 10 dollars if you can find it anywhere.  That’s because there are so many no carb recipes that substitute cauliflower for flour.  But I am not convinced that it really can be a good substitute for pizza crust. Food tastes more vivid.  And I am loosing weight or at least inches that make all my clothes feel loose.  And this is after only a few weeks on the low carb diet.

As a thank you, I am going to share a couple great pictures.  First one is Charlie in hist food hunting mode.   The ultimate dumpster diver, Charlie monitors everything that goes into the sink.  Here he is licking a pan which I had thought was full of butternut squash soup.  Yes he would eat that, but the enthusiams was surprsing.  Well the joke was on me, I had pulled out cheese sauce instead of soup.  So I had some of my 5 dollar head of cauliflower with cheese sauce instead of soup.


And the second picture shows the other two cats in their custom heated beds.  Now we keep our house cold in the winter.  I don’t like high heating bills.  And I love sleeping at night with the windows wide open, even if the temperature is dropping into the low 40’s.  (yes, we are spoiled with good weather in san diego).  The poor cats don’t like houses that are kept at temperatures ranging from 45 degrees to a high of 65 degrees fairenheit.  They keep going inside and outside looking for a warm spot.  At night, they all crawl under the blankets.  And they all squable over the best heater spot.  So last night we tried making a cat nursery.  Three laundry baskets with one heater blanket.  Have not yet seen all three cats in the baskets at once, but certainly have seen two of them enjoying the heat at any giiven time.

So what word am I redefining — Sunshine.  A brightness and lightening of one’s spirit based on the kind words and deeds of others.

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