Fairy Godmothers can exist

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

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

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

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

It’s fun to be a fairy godmother.

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Charlie, a disaster waiting to happen

Daily Promt: Disaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Suitcase, Headcase, Cone

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

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

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

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

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Call me a bad person.

Today in the New York Times, there was an article titled “Dad, the Ant Killer”.  This article is the story of a dad trying to protect his son from the world.  Today the problem is ants.  But the story really is a universal tale of love and power and helplessness all at the same time.  It moved me.  And I loved the phrases…so many great starting lines.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/12/opinion/dad-the-ant-killer.html.

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

Op Ed: Dad the Ant Killer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am a father, my superhero power is worry

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

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

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

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

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

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bedtime/

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

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A Happy Find

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

   
 

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Price is not the word of the day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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729

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

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

And this wonderful website Numbergossip calls the number

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

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

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

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

Daily Prompt: IncompleteResources used

  

  

      

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Free Flowing Food

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

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Daily Prompt: Flow

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Still life with cat

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

 

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

daily prompt: Sentimental

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Sun, bring me the sun

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

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

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

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

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Daily Prompt: Longing

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Charlie’s Secret

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

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

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

  

  

  

   
   
Daily Prompt: Secret

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Gorilla

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0lpiXAHuyA

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

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The pace of writing

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

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

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

My instructor had several good pieces of advice.

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

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

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

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

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

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/02/25/why-roboticists-are-raving-about-googles-new-robot/

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

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My daughter knows me well

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

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

  

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Basic Bag Pattern

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

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

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

Here’s the first set of doggy pictures.

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

 

 

 

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The power of software

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

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

  

  
 

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A beautiful heart and other stuff

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

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

image

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

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

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

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Hot Rod Mary

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

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

  

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It’s all about Bella

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

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

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

  
  
 

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Visiting Brendijon (AKA My Parents Farm)

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

     

 

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Werepigeons and other thoughts

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

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

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

 

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Happy Belated Birthday Maggie

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

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Bucket Lists are for wimps

DAILY PROMPT: Kick It
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.

image.jpg

 

 

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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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Memories

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.

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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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NaNoWriMo

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

Abstract

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

http://www.cnet.com/news/engineer-builds-working-thors-hammer-only-he-can-lift/

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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

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prepping slab

routing

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

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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.

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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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