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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Adventures in Dining–Week 2.5

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Sleeping with Style

DAILY PROMPT    New Sensation

Ah, sweet youth. No matter whether you grew up sporting a fedora, penny loafers, poodle skirts, bell-bottoms, leg-warmers, skinny jeans, Madonna-inspired net shirts and rosaries, goth garb, a spikey mohawk, or even a wave that would put the Bieber to shame, you made a fashion statement, unique to you. Describe your favorite fashions from days of yore or current trends you think are stylin’.

They say sleep is wasted on the young.  While I don’t know who “They” are, it certainly seems from my experience, the young are better able to ignore sleep than I am.  I shudder at the thought of a red-eye flight followed by a day at work.  Or Going to that New Years eve party that began at 10 pm and ended at midnight (at least theoretiically, I know better than ask details).  

But two younger members of my household refuse to ignore this fashion trend.  Yep, Charlie and Elly know how to sleep in style.  And I have the pictures to prove it.  They are my heros.  I need to learn and emulate them.  


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A Trio of soups with help from Charlie

Let’s start with a fact – I hate wasting food. Yet a household of people visiting inevitably means excess food. It is the natural result of holidays, family, and deciding not to cook dinner because going out is more fun than cooking. However, a couple days ago the entire family trooped up to northern California. Even the dog went. Leaving me with three cats, two fish, a youngest daughter housesitting somewhere else and busy with her important things, and a mother-in-law living across town. I am not going to be able to eat the last pound or two of ham, the 5 pounds of leftover turkey, 3 pounds of green beans, a whole head of cauliflower, a butternut squash, several pounds of bell peppers, and more. Time for soup.

Charlie thought that all this working with food was fantastic. Making a broth involves stripping all the meat off the turkey or ham bones. Those bones are thrown in a pot, covered with water, and then boiled for an hour or two. You’re done cooking when the small pieces of remaining meat literally fall off the bone. Use a calendar to separate meat and bones from the broth. If you let the broth sit for a couple hours and get cold, then it is easy to skim the fat off the top. I like to use all those already boiled leftover pieces of meat to make cat food. Chop finely, add a little bit of salt and some of the broth—voila. High quality food they adore.

Charlie was his ever-helpful self. He was willing to try a taste of everything. Stripping the turkey, he managed to snag several pieces of meat. I locked him in the bedroom, he got out, bounded into the kitchen, and onto the counters. Tossed him outside, he ran around the house and found an open door. If I left anything on the counter, he checked it out. He dumped the trash several times looking for bones and other pieces. The worst theft was the ham. Bob called me just as I was starting on the leftover ham. I thought Charlie was locked outside, so I didn’t worry about leaving it on the kitchen counter. Never fear, the trash-dumping cat was here. He had pushed open the kitchen door screen door. I came back to the kitchen to find Charlie with a 2 pound chunk of spiral cut ham on the floor. He saw me, managed to rip off a big slice and dashed for freedom. That rascal of a cat.

Robine’s Butternut Squash soup with no cream

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 onion
  • 4 teaspoons of chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper as needed

Split the squash in half; rub with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour. The squash will be very soft and you can let it cool for a few minutes. Sauté chopped onion and garlic in some more olive oil. Put squash, onion, and broth into a blender and blend until smooth. It will probably take several batches. Put all the blended soup into a single pot and stir. The soup is done, ready to be heated up and served. Makes about 6-8 cups of soup depending on squash size. Feel free to add spices to taste.

You can change the entire character of this soup (and all the others) by adding salt, pepper, ginger, curry, cardamom, cumin, thyme, or other herbs. Pick one or two of your favorites and add a ½ teaspoon. Check the taste and continue adding small amounts of seasoning until you have the perfect flavor.

Note—The squash makes a big sticky mess on the baking sheet. I have not yet figured out a way of making this easy to clean. Perhaps next time, I’ll try using tin foil. If someone has a good suggestion, please let me know.

Roasted cauliflower and bell pepper soup.

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2-3 pounds of bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
  • 1 onion — chopped
  • 4 cups of broth
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt, pepper, and Olive oil as needed
  • Spices to taste

Break the cauliflower into smaller pieces. Chop the bell peppers into chunks with no seeds. Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on roasting pan and bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. The vegetables are done when they start sticking to the bottom of the pan and are very soft to touch.

Saute the chopped onion in olive oil. Using the blender, mix all the ingredients into a blended soup. Place into soup kettle and heat slowly. Add spices to taste.

The peppers add a fair amount of spice to the soup. It might be good with chopped tomatoes. It also can be an excellent base for a curry where you add lots of chickpeas and other items. If you come up with any good variations, let me know.

Ham, Green Bean, and Legume Stew

  • 8-10 cups of water and broth
  • 2 cups ham
  • 2-4 cups green beans
  • 1 large rutabaga
  • 1 pound of carrots
  • ½ head of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cans of beans
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil, and herbs as needed

Chop all the vegetables and ham into bite-sized pieces. Keep the onion separate and sauté with a bit of olive oil. Place all the vegetables and ham into a soup pot. Cover with broth. Don’t worry about using water if you don’t have enough broth. Cook for 30 minutes. Add spices, salt, and pepper to taste. Good spices are rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, and bay leaves. Makes about 12-15 cups of soup.

You will find many variations of ham, green bean, and potato soup. Right now, I am not allowed to eat potato’s since all carbs and starches are forbidden. So I substituted pinto, black, and garbanzo beans for the potatoes. Kidney are better than pinto because they hold their shape and look prettier. However, that is my personal preference. But any combination of beans will do.

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Getting older sucks and yet….

Daily Prompt: Young At Heart–What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?

Daily Prompt: Fearless Fantasies–How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?

One of the great things about being young is that nothing seems impossible.  As I get older, that is no longer the truth.  My body keeps betraying me by wearing out.  Until a couple weeks ago, my biggest fear about aging was ending up on crutches with knee issues.  But two weeks ago I got the diagnosis of diabetes and my life got changed.   I went to the doctor to get a note authorizing a humidifier at work and have a physical.  Was totally not expecting this diagnosis a week before Christmas.  And it’s changed my life although it might actually just save my life and let me stay young at heart.

The first thing to change was my diet.  Per doctor’s recommendations — no carbohydrates, no sugars, and no fruits.  Sugar and fruit are fairly easy, but no carbs is hard.  That means no bread, no rice, no potatoes, no tortillas, and no popcorn.  Doesn’t sound too bad until you realize there are no sandwiches, no burritos, no pizza, no lasagna, no pasties, no stuffing from a turkey.  All my favorite foods, gone in an instant.   But luckily, wine does not have sugar since it is all turned to alcohol.  So I can least still have a glass of wine in the evening.

Getting scared by a health diagnosis made it easier to give up all those foods.  I did cheat and eat a bite of lasagna on Christmas eve, a bit of stuffing on Christmas day.   It’s hard to redevelop a relationship with food in your fifties, almost as hard as relearning how to walk after an injury as an adult.  And the food is difficult, everything requires preparation.  It’s sobering to walk into a movie theater and realize that you cannot eat anything they sell.  Go to an Italian restaurant and your only choice is salad with a side of meatballs.  No quick bowl of cereal or toast for breakfast; but you can have a handful nuts to stave off the hunger.  Soups will save me, there are many great filling meat and bean soups that even work for breakfast. This is not the time for me to be a vegetarian.

But a week plus into the diet and I am feeling fine.  Lots of energy and hope here.  In two months, I go back to the doctor for another blood test.  And with luck, I will both have lost weight and gotten the diabetes under control.  There is the possibility that the next blood test could show no diabetes at all, meaning I can control this with only diet and exercise.  It’s a good goal, especially since I could stand to lose weight.

My mom asks me why I refuse to get on a scale at home.  For years, the scale has been my enemy along with my monthly period. Just when I thought things were under control, hormones would act up, I’d bloat, and voila, put on 10 pounds in a couple of days.  Terribly depressing even when I knew that was water weight, loose track of the diet for a week or so and actually put on a pound or two.  Repeat month after month; eventually I gave up on scales.  Truth will be learned in the doctor’s office in two months.

So my new years resolutions were chosen by my body.  I didn’t know that I wanted a new diet and a new lifestyle.  It’s happening and like a kid, I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Fear can be a wonderful thing, it causes changes.  In the meantime, I get to daydream and possibly plan some exotic vacations.  I get to do lots of different art projects.  I got to spend a fabulous week with my family.  And with these dreams and hope, I can stay young at heart.  But being older, I might actually be able to come up with the resources to make some of the dreams happen.  And being older, I know that I can’t wait forever or even much longer.  My life is good now and I hope it gets better next year.

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Light as Art for the Holidays

One of my long term goals has been to incorporate LED lights into my artwork. And for the holiday season, I have managed to finish a couple small projects that work as table decorations.  Instructions below.


The luminaries are a perfect project for beginning art students.   Using watercolor pictures, quality not important, and fold them into cubes.  

  1. Lay your picture face down on the table.  
  2. Make a fold about 1/3 of width, bring part of the picture face-up.  
  3. Repeat on the other side, making sure that the folded picture covers about 1/2 an inch over the first fold.  
  4. Glue the two pieces together.
  5. Once dry, open the tube and squash flat a second time, creating a retangular tube.
  6. Insert one of the small LED Candle lights. 

Voila, Finished Luminaria.  It may seem confusing, but after you play with a couple sheets of paper, creating a cube will seem like second nature.   Five minutes and you turn all those practice paintings into lovely decorations.

The little elephant is a harder project.  I took one of those lunimanries and pulled off the plastic flame.  Glued rocks around the plastic base.  And then put a little glass figurine on top of the light source.  Since it is a colored led,  the elephant appears green.  The complex crystal figurines are beautiful, the light reflects through all the facets of the animal.  Museum wax helps hold the figure in place without any glue.

Happy holidays to all.

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Light as Art for the Holidays

One of my long term goals has been to incorporate LED lights into my artwork. And for the holiday season, I have managed to finish a couple small projects that work as table decorations.  Instructions below.


The luminaries are a perfect project for beginning art students.   Using watercolor pictures, quality not important, and fold them into cubes.  

  1. Lay your picture face down on the table.  
  2. Make a fold about 1/3 of width, bring part of the picture face-up.  
  3. Repeat on the other side, making sure that the folded picture covers about 1/2 an inch over the first fold.  
  4. Glue the two pieces together.
  5. Once dry, open the tube and squash flat a second time, creating a retangular tube.
  6. Insert one of the small LED Candle lights. 

Voila, Finished Luminaria.  It may seem confusing, but after you play with a couple sheets of paper, creating a cube will seem like second nature.   Five minutes and you turn all those practice paintings into lovely decorations.

The little elephant is a harder project.  I took one of those lunimanries and pulled off the plastic flame.  Glued rocks around the plastic base.  And then put a little glass figurine on top of the light source.  Since it is a colored led,  the elephant appears green.  The complex crystal figurines are beautiful, the light reflects through all the facets of the animal.

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Terribly Cute Cat — Charlie

Charlie may think of Elly as one his best friends.  But that does not extend to thinking Elly Pictures are the da’bomb of good taste.  That dog just does not understand how to relax.  So as an alternative, Charlie offers this picture of naptime.  One does not need a stuffed dog comfort item.  Some nice blankets and sun provide all the comforts any animal should need during a good nap.  

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Terribly Cute Elly

There has been lots going on lately.  Work has been interesting.  In fact one day I commented to Bob “Time to go see what horrific new development there is today”.  Short summary, I am on call this holiday period, but it is starting to look like I may not have to actually work.  Keeping my fingers crossed and not answering either the phone or my email is probably the best course of action.  Kids are home, it seems strange to call adults kids; but that’s life.   Other things go on as well, but I don’t want to think about any of the bad things — bills, medical issues, cold weather and heating costs, or even present wrapping logistics.  So Today we talk about Elly.  Terribly Cute Elly.

While cleaning out the bedrooms in honor of returning Kids, Elly found Liz’s old dog Misty.  A big giant stuffed dog, for years this animal has been off limits to Elly.  She lusted over this.  Liz, who has been out of the house for almost 5 years now, kept saying keep the dog.  Well, she won earlier this december and got herself a new toy.  Like a little kid, she finds great comfort in her stuffed animal.  Dragging it around everywhere and sleeping curled up around the stuffed dog, Elly looks adorable.  This stuffed animal won’t last long, I will have to restuff it with towels one day soon.  But it’s cute to see her.  And lucky for you, I can share some pictures.  Have fun viewing and have a great day.


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Unexpected Selfie

Generally I don’t take selfies.  But today is different, it was unexpected. On my way to the doctors for a physical (all is well by the way); was taken by the sun shining on long grass stems.  Very Beautiful.  Hope you enjoy the picture.


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At this time of the year, its a good time revisit some older things.  In this case, it’s pictures from Grass Valley from last march.  Had one wonderful day where I saw dragons.  Now these were make believe dragons in a Chinese new years parade but still impressive.  Especially for a parade that lasted about 5 minutes.dragon3 dragon2 dragon1

We got to eat lunch at great outside restaurant, complete with cherry blossoms above.

momdad cherryblosom branch_pink

Many of the buildings are very old in Grass Valley, old by California standards — 100 to 150 years old.  And that leads to some very interesting views of trees.

tree_house1 tree_house2

Back at the ranch, there were many signs of string.  Lots of flowers, cats, and even tractors eager to work.

flower_small wrangler cats daffy

Overall a great trip.  I had fun and will be returning soon.

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Having Fun

This week has been full of cheer and fun projects.  My creative club has been working overtime to provide worktime relief in the form of arts and crafts.  So we had an earring class at lunch and painting class last night.  Next week are the bow tying classes along with requisite politics. But more on that later. First I want to talk about my painting.

Last night we went to a wine and paint place.  That’s become a very popular craze.  Basically adult paint by numbers along with some wine.  Last night I went to store that does nothing but wine and sip parties.  I don’t  understand the economics.  Is there that much demand for painting parties.  12 people, 35 dollars each pluas another 5 each for a glass of wine.  Is there more than one party a day?  They do offer a service to create a paint by numbers canvas of your pet, that seems popular.  But rent must be at least 2000 a month in downtown Escondido.  Perhaps they own the building and don’t have to worry about money.

Anyway, last night we were supposed to paint the peace dove carrying a christmas ornament.  But I didn’t want a painting that was only supposed to be displayed for a few days and then put away for another year.  And I didn’t want a religious picture.  So, instead I have a dragon bird flying towards a snow covered tree.  Tell me what you think.



Now the bow tying class has been an interesting exercise in politics.  Northrop supports its recreation clubs with a limited amount of funding.  It’s enough money to have a lot of fun if you are careful with the funds and willing to do paperwork.  But recently, the local chapter president seemed to think we were giving away too much stuff by buying supplies for classes.  Next week it is a bow tying class — two sessions.  We provide 10 feet of ribbon and 6 inches of 24 or 26 gauge wire; teaching people how to tie those 10 dollar custom bows found at micheals and high end department stores.

The president decided that giving people this bow which does have commercial value was too much to bear.  And so I was supposed to charge for the class.  But rules are very tight about how money should be handled and I didn’t want to do anything that might be even percieved as making money.  The thing that really stuck in his throat is that we invited everyone to come.  And if they wanted help making a special package — bring your own box and paper.  We will help you make the bow and show you how to use it.  We have about 50 people signed up for a class that will cost 90+ dollars and a lot of extra work on several peoples part.  A very good return on company funds — fun, creativity training, and a very low cost.

Now there have been complaints from other clubs also being censored.  No riembursement checks.  Funds being arbitrarily reallocated to approved events.  Eventually the rancor rose to a level and corporate became involved.  And I am promised riembursement on several outsanding bills.  Hope I get a check before the holidays.  It’s always nice to get some unexpected money.


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Happy Birthday Katherine (Belated Of Course)

Well following the tradition of belatedly recognizing major birthdays, I have to acknowledge Kate.  She turned 18 during the month where I was playing novelist.  Unsuccessful with the writing, she was successful for the birthday.  So now my youngest daughter is now an adult.  Welcome to the world of bills, hardwork, and no more constant coddling of a person.  You have made it.

And following the tradition well established in this blog–it is time for some pictures.  Here’s a collection from my work computer.  Enjoy the pictures and stories.

2004 Christmas day.  We stopped at a park near gmom’s house to play with new flying toys.

Raytheon — take your daughter to work day, probably about 2007.

Next few pictures are from 7th grade when we took an October trip to Hawaii.  Lots of fun with Kate, Bob and I.  We did one of those time share presentations and got one free helicopoter ride with one paid ride.  Bob and Kate went up.  Because she was the smallest, she had the best seat — in the middle in the front.  The two married couples got stuffed into the back seat.

Sailing in San Diego Bay — A good day about 5 years ago sailing with her dad.

Del Mar Dog Beach — one of the few times Mitzi visited.  She’s not enamored of the ocean.  I love this picture, it shows so much life.

Rambuton — one of the speecial local fruits found in Hawaii.  I actually bought them at the COSTCO newly opened on Kawaii.  We forgot a camera and needed a new one.  Katie and Bob hated them.  This is her opinion captured by the new camera.

Miscellaneous pictures of Kate with different people.  I love her attitude when painting.

Kate, It’s been a wonderful 18 years with you in my life.   I love your spirit, vitality, and way of making a house seem full of life.  You are a wonderful strong, intelligent, and beautiful woman.  Happy Birthday.  May this year and the following years be good to you.  Love Mom.


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Fantasy Land

DAILY PROMPT: Everything Changes
Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.

So we are traveling to La La Land.  The kinds of paper I can imagine changing my life are not very good.  The pink slip with the words “Your Fired”, the parking ticket with the 10,000 dollar fine.  The piece of paper that causes you to fall over into the street and get hit by a car.  The envelope with drug money that causes you to get arrested and sent to jail for drug dealing.

Good news doesn’t happen with a note in the street.  But if it did, I would like to see something about almost all of the congressional leadership in Washington being replaced by people who know what life of an average person is like; understand what living a couple paychecks from the edge means in terms of security; and think that most people are smart enough to make good decisions for themselves with a little bit of social support.

I know stories abound with good things happening.  But I don’t feel like good things this morning.  After all, the news doesn’t help.  Bob just read me a comment from the NY times about climate change.  “where would we be now if God had approaced the GOP about the coming flood, and not Noah”.    It is actually a funny picture to imagine.  I mean who knows if God looks like a human or a rat from the sewer?  Why can’t he be a big blue ball that floats in front of a person and speaks through claps of thunder?

But let’s say our congress had listened to the big blue ball.  We might have a vibrant industry making boats and developing plans for moving millions of people to higher ground.  Like 200 feet above the current sea level. We might be supporting birth control and sensible population growth in an effort to manage small land masses in the next couple hundred years.  We might be funding research in sciences like geology, meterology, and social science on how to deal with the changing landscape.  We would have public health that focused on the basics and put research into the new diseases that can’t even be imagined at this time.  We might be funding libraries and schools instead of guns.

Unfortunately most in the congress are not that forward looking.  Of the 246 republican congressment, only 8 or 9 of them have even admitted to the possiblity of human caused climate change.  The rest deny that, leaving us in the same place we are now, waiting for the Antarctic and Greenland icesheets to melt.   Noah was actually willing to listen unlike our great cast of characters.  Our politicians make me ashamed to be an american.  They want a theocracy with laws almost as bad as Sharia.  They want women to go back in time and be the lovely little ladies that defer all decisions to the big strong men.  No thank you.  I like being a strong independent woman with a good partner.

Another great headline from NY times “Controversial experiment sees no evidence that the Universe is a hologram”.  Don’t even know what that means.  But if that means we get to visit the Star Trek holograms – I want to be part of that universe.  A letter letting me go play in any imaginable universe while traveling on a spaceship with great companions and lots of fascinating new things to learn.  That would be fun.

Charlie says enough writing.  He’s got more important things to do like writing a response to Sophia.  “Sophia, I’m not threatened by your claims of wimpiness.  You don’t know how to enjoy yourself.  It’s good to relax.  Bob’s arms are warm.  He scratches under my chin.  And he feeds me all kinds of great snacks.  You just need to learn to chill out.”


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Never enough

DAILY PROMPT: The Guilt that Haunts Me
Share a time when you were overcome with guilt. What were the circumstances? How did you overcome your guilt.

Isn’t guilt a constant state of mind.  I never do enough — not enough work, not enough around the house, not enough writing, not enough bloggging, not enough this, too much that.    That doubt of uncertainty is probably both the bain and the gift of being human.  We have a drive to learn, do new things, and succeed.  Unfortunately this combined with an internet that can always show perfection, machines that can make anything perfectly, and a society that expects excellence at every turn can make any one person feel inadequate.

For example, during the last month I took a break from blogging to participate in NANOWRIMO — national novel writers month.  My goal was 50,000 words of the dragon cat novel.  Did I succeed–NO.  But I did manage to get a tremendous amount of work done.  And do take pride in the work.  Final statistics

  • Dragon Cat Novel — 18,000 words.  Have a very strong outline and it looks like a natural trilogy.  Need to write a couple short stories with this material with good dialog before finishing.
  • Travels in France — a travel book about my adventures with Kate in Brittany last year.  About 20,000 words.  More fun and probably will be finished before Dragon CAt.
  • Sew What?  You Want a Machine?  — 7000 words, mostly complete small essay on how to buy a sewing machine.  Since this is almost complete, I can use this to learn how to self publish as a free book.

So Overall, I did well.  And learned that getting up an hour earlier every morning is a good way to write.  In a good morning, I can write a 1000 words.  On a bad morning, nothing.  On those mornings, I wanted to come blog and felt guilty about not writing a novel.  So my new goal is to split my time–one morning writing novels and books, one morning writing a blog post. Happy blogging ahead.

Sophie wants to add a final word.  “What I love about my human writing is sitting on her keyboard.  It always gets me attention. But a heating pad next to the computer is a good second best.    A cat’s job is never done–always need to be watching those humans.  Don’t I look lovely on that table Bob made.  But that cat Charlie, it’s disgusting how he caves into the whole good cat thing.  He looks way too happy laying on his back in Bob’s arms.  No self-respecting cat should ever do that.”

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No Blog posts During November 2015. 

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

Genre: Science Fiction

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

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


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

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

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


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The $16.28 Fix is my last post for a month

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

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

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

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

image image

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

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

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

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A party for me…By the Dots….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to the next phase in my life.

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A New Roof

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

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

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

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

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

image image image image image image

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FAQ EL Nino Planning based on ADs

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

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


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


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


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Thor’s hammer

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

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

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

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

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

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A Perfect Egg Sandwich

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

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

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

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

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

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Scenes from Brindejon

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

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

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

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

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Music for diets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Building a Table

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

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


prepping slab


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



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


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

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

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

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Doggy Paradise can be exhausting

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

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

rough1 rough2 rough3 rough4 rough5 tugOfWar tugofwar2 tug_og_war3

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Not a candy store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 years ago

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


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Reforming Furniture

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


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Modern Hunk drinking coffee

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

Some of the  things that make my house a home include

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

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

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

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

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

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


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I have not become my parents, but….

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

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

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

1.  No Scales.

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

2.  Cheating

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

3.  Measuring progress.

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

4.  Terminology

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

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

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I am an Idiot (Other Incident) Sailing Adventures

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

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

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

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

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

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I am an idiot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hot Dogs and Happy Cats

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

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

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


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Its hot here

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

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

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Getting Old Sucks

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

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

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


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The two grandmothers and more

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

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

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

“Hi Dad, how is everything going?”

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

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



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


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

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

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Charlie and the Cone

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

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

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

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


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


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A new sled for Bob

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

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

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


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Back to School Shopping, So Cal Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Welcome Bella

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

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

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



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No dishwasher soap…

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

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

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