Ready to Go

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


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Sports Bra Advice and other matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nightmare Scenarios

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

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

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

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

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These pictures made me smile

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

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Can you guess what these objects are?  

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

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Liz’s fantastic mac & cheese

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

Liz’s Mac and Cheese Recipe.


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


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

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


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Bluebird Updates

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

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The forces of chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A couple more cute cat pictures

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


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Two Cats

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

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A pager, roll up windows, or ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Big Bad Cat

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

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Celebration Aftermath — Elly Eats a Thong

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Bob’s Birthday Game

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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Bob’s Birthday — Part 1

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

And in the meantime


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Misadventures at home

So today several interesting misadventures happened at home.  First was the fire.  While Bob was cutting wood with our table saw, smoke and flames began coming from inside under the blade.  OH NO.  Bob got scared, turned off the saw and the vacuum collecting all the dust.  That stopped the fire in the table and he worked on cleaning up the mess.  But then smoke and flames began rising from the shop vac.  Oh No.  A very scary moment.

Bob dragged the vacuum outside and drowned it with water.  Fire all gone.  Total damage, one shop vac.  It looks like a piece of wood fell into the table saw and got stuck.  That prevented the sawdust from exiting creating a fire hazard.  Then the fast rotating blade created a friction fire in the sawdust.  And when he turned off the saw first, the vacuum sucked embers inside where the sawdust burst into flame.

But that wasn’t all that happened today.  Charlie ate my dinner–turkey mole–which sounds like it would have been delicious.  Instead I came home and had a sandwich for a late dinner.  And Elly got the turkey carcas, dragged it into our bedroom, and then pretended to be a little lady with her paws tucked over the bones when Bob walked into the room.  She didn’t want to come out for a walk.  But when Bob insisted she come, out trotted one dog with turkey carcas in mouth.  And just now, my family is pigging out on brownies that need to be eaten in bowls while Kate shrieks about PMS and a need for chocolate.  At least my life is not dull 


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More Bluebird News

Lots has happened in Bluebird Land over the last few weeks.  Several weeks ago, those parents looked haggard feeding all the baby chicks.  Back and forth all day long, a parent would find a bug or worm, fly to the apple tree and look for hazards before flying to the top of the box.  A chorus of crys would erupt “Feed Me, Feed Me, I am the hungriest baby bluebird EVER”.

Then one day, the parents stopped feeding those chicks.  They just disapeared.  By mid afternoon there was only one chick left.  Bob watched it leave the nest.  It fell out of the hole and wobbled as it sort of flew to the apple tree 10 feet away.  There on the high branches, the bird sat for a couple of minutes before leaving the tree.  It flew over the neighbors yard.  By the time it got half way across, the bird was flying fairly well.  No more bluebirds.

Or so we thought.  There were a lot of bluebirds in the area.  And we saw the male sitting on the pole as if he was looking for his mate.  Are bluebirds monogamous or do they change partners?  We don’t know.  But a few days ago, Bob went to check out the bluebird box in preperation for putting in a bird cam.  To his surprise, he was too late, there was a female bluebird sitting on more eggs inside this box.  More babies–YEAH!!!!!!   But no camera inside since we do not want to distrub the birds.


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Kate Graduates!!!!!!

Kate graduated from high school last week.  It was a great ceremony.  As always, I am impressed by the VHS ability to read over 600 names in less than 45 minutes.  All kids get their 15 seconds of fame as they walk up the steps and shake the hand of dignitaries on the stage.  Congratulations Kate.  I am proud of you.  And I look forward to seeing what you choose to do over the next couple of years.  You are a wonderful, smart, funny, warm hearted,  highly talented, and beautiful young woman.   You will succeed in the job of becoming an independent, self-sufficient and happy woman.


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Graduation Dinner

Between Kates and Olivia’s graduations (they went to different high schools) we had a celebration dinner.  Four graduates at the table (Mags, LIz, Kat, and Olivia).  Went to Sorrento’s in San Marcos.  A great Italian Restuarant, my family has been going there for celebrations for over 30 years.  It is a real family tradition.  We had 10 people and I ordered family style: 4 spaghetti dinners, 4 lasagna dinners, 2 extra salads (dinners came with a salad), and two large pizza’s.  The portions were so large that everyone had leftovers for days afterwards.    It was a good decision to order family style because we got to the restaurant late (8 pm) after Kate’s ceremony.  Theoretically Sorrento’s closed at 8 pm, but we didn’t get out of there until almost 10 pm.  It would have taken at least another half hour if everyone had to look at a menu and select their own dinner.   Got some great photos from this party. We had fun.


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Congratulations Olivia on Graduating from High School

Last week, there were two more graduations–Olivia and Katherine.  Olivia has been friends with Kate since kindergarten (or was it before?).  It doesn’t matter how long, all I know is that she has spent many many days and hours with my family.  She’s like another daughter.  And last week, she graduated.  I am proud of her.  Here are a some photos from her ceremony. 

Well Done Olivia.  


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One year later

It has been a year since David, Bob’s Dad, died.  He is still in our thoughts and reminders of his presence are found everywhere in our homes and lives.  In fact, the lizard he bought Bob several years ago from the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park sits in Bob’s new car.  He has a window seat, spending his days as a plastic lizard watching the world from his perch on the dashboard.   Rest in peace David.


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3 cats at dinner

Over the last week, Bob and I have been hosting a couple of ladies from New Zealand.  For seniors these ladies have much energy, vim, and vigor for seeing new things.  We’ve been busy and you will hear about it in future blog posts.  However, during down periods, they took on the persona of a teenager, glued to their electronic devices.  In preparation for their 2.5 month visit to the united states (18 one-way flights internally to US); both bought an IPAD, cellphones, and other electronics.  Then in the evenings or other down periods, they were busy checking email, writing in diaries, cataloging photos, playing solitare, and generally playing with electronic devices.  Reminded me of my teenager, always glued to her electronic media.  So it was amusing to play the game of one-upmanship with them.  Took a picture of the three cats at dinner, edited it, and then sent it to them via email in less than five minutes.  They were impressed.

Original Photo   

Cropped and enhanced photo.


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No box too small

Cats can find the most amazing places to sleep.  This doesn’t look comfortable to me, but Charlie seems happy.  

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Accidental Beauty — Oil Painting continued

Last week, I started and sort of finished an oil painting in two hours.  I did not have good control over my materials — too much turpentine in my oil paints meant that everything kept running.  Colors got blurred and I worked frantically to restore the painting.  But even in what seems disaster, great beauty can arise.  My teacher and classmates said “Stop.  It’s beautiful right now”.  And they were right.  I have a beautiful impressionistic nature scene in which everyone seems to see a different landscape.  All it needs to be complete is a nice wooden frame that Bob says he will help me make.


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Dispair at a broken toy

My Whee-Lo broke.  Remembert that strange piece of red plastic that traveled up and down a wire frame.  One flick of th wrist and it moved.  Two flicks and it kept moving—up and town.  Well I have had one of the original whee-lo’s on my desk at work for most of the lastt 20+ years.  Well yesterday, IT BROKE.  And I cannot even get a replacement.   Total dispair–what am I going to do while waiting for a computer to boot up at work?


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Trying to be selfish–Oil Paint Lessons continued

Daily Prompt: Blogger With a Cause
If your day to responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?

My girls have always said that I would be the busiest stay at home mom if that had been a possibilities.  And they didn’t mean doing housework.  Probably true since I am always throwing myself into new causes and new projects.  So this year, I have been trying to be selfish and only focus on my artwork.  Well, not quite true.  I am also learning to sail, running a craft club at work, holding down a full time job, and enjoying the selfish lovely joy of Bob treating me like a queen.  And I just started a competition with a friend at work to write five pages of our respective novels every week.  By the end of the year, I should have a good solid draft of “Dragon Cat Lives” finished.

So as you can see, there is no time for causes.  No time to take up the offers of teaching electronics to artists.  All my energy is going into being SELFISH and LEARNING.  As discussed in a post a couple days ago on “catching up on oil painting“.  Those paintings were not very good–student quality work. But great learning exercises.  Then I started in on a difficult painting, spending weeks on a work called “Portrait of Kate’s Hands” based on the photo from the kate show.  What I like is how these photos illustrate the process of getting a picture correct. In the beginning, the proportions were not correct.  And the colors needed work.  After getting the cup looking good, I worked on the table, book, and hands.  Finally had to work on the knife and fork — removing them since I am not yet skilled enough to include them in the picture.

Because these photos demonstrate my progress in oil painting, I am working to remain selfish and spend this year learning new art skills.  NO, NO, NO–I don’t want any new causes.  I want time to be a student.

First Session — Laying in the basic elements

First DayHands

Second Session–Refining the table and shadows

Second Day Hands

Third day–working on correcting shapes and proportions

Third Day Hands

Fourth Session — A new blue in an effort to get the colors better balanced

4th Day Hands

Fifth Session — Finally getting the cup into more appropriate proportions  

Firfth Day Hands

Session 6 — Adding detail –hands and book

6th Day Hands

Last Session — removing the fork and knife


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Good Job Kate

Tonight was scholarship night at Vista High School.  And thus for the third time in my life, I got to watch one of my girls getting a scholarship.  Way to go Kate.  I am proud of you.


P1040251 P1040253

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Catching up on oil painting

For the last few months, I’ve continued taking oil painting lessons.  But since the photos were on my camera instead of the IPAD, it’s taken months before I got the pictures processed enough to show off the progress.  After doing a number of chiaroscuro paintings (links below); I finally got to play with color.  First picture is a still life with white light on it.  Goal of that painting was to try and see colors in the white.  Second still life had a blue light shining on the white box.  Neither was finished, but both were a good exercise in learning how to mix colors.

Seeing Color

blue light


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Sometimes cats can be TOO Helpful.  Especially with a new macrame project.  All that lovely string that needs to be tested and re-arranged.  Lets unravel everything–YEAH!  Go Team Cat!  It even gets the humans excited and they yell as well.


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Beyond Comfort Zones

A few weeks ago, a co-worker said he admired that I was fearless and willing to try anything.  Not true.  I am scared of heights. I am scared of waves.  I am scared of swells in the ocean.  I am scared about going fast.  I am scared about hurting my ankle or knee again.   I am scared about looing stupid.  And on Sunday, I had a sailing lesson that challenged many of those fears.  Yes, another sailing lesson, well beyond my comfort zone.

Lou was my instructor for this lesson.  Unlike Bob who only had lessons from Lou, I have been blessed or cursed as the case may be with many different instructcors.  Lou is a stickler for doing things the correct way.  And as an ex-army Lawyer, he’s good at making one face up to their deficiencies.  And for sailing, I have lots of those.  We went over terminology.  I failed at holding onto the running rigging (what is the correct term for those little cliups again?).  I failed at not letting the sail get into the water.  I fail at moving from side to side.  And I am terrified when the sail boat leans into the wind.

Sailboats are designed to lean into the wind.  You go faster if when the sails are full and not as much boat is in the water.  But that is scary.  We must have been sailing at a 45 degree or more angle.  Bob laughs, he3 says that 15 degrees is scary and 20 degrees of tilt is normal.   No way, my angles were bigger than that.  At least it felt really scary to me.  I did shriek from fear several times.  But Lou is a great instructor.  And he had me practice those maneuvers where the boat tilts on a side over and over again.  Let the sail out.  Let it loose when you are scared and haul it back in so we go fast.  Try again.  

LIke I said, the man is  a great instructor who makes you face what you don’t want to do.  I learned alot.  But I am not ready for checkout.  There is at least one more lesson in my future.  Someday I want to try sailing where it is fun,  not scary work.   Perhaps later this summer, that day might even occur.  After I pass checkout.

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Three people walk into a bar….

DAILY PROMPTFill In the Blank
Three people walk into a bar . . .

slip on the spilled beers, fall down and hit their heads.  The bar explodes in laughter.

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Bluebirds–Update and a new low with cats.

We have bluebird babies.  No pictures yet.  But we  have observed the parents very busily working to feed all those babies.  They spend hours looking for bugs and taking them back to the nest.  When they arrive at the box, there is lots of commotion as the babies proclaim “Me, Me, Me.  I am the hungriest!” with thier loud chirping.  You can hear it from outside the box.  It seems to take a lot of work to feed all those hungry mouths based on the number of trips both parents are making with bugs.

Charlie wants nothing more than to visit the ground near that box.  IF he gets outside, that is where he dashes and then stands.  The male bluebird hates to see  him there and starts divebombing the cat. Charlie loves it.  He hunkers down and waits for the male to attack.  Then a power impressive leap into the air after that male bird.  Lots of testosterone games in one short encounter.  Since we worry about the baby chicks and how they need their dad to help provide food, it is imperative that we keep Charlie inside.  Not always easy.  Yesterday, he fell out of a second story window as part of his “go outside” efforts.  Since he is actively marking everything as part of his displeasure at inside life, we want him to go outside after the baby chicks have left home.  Until then, there seems to be lots of laundry and cleaning in our future.

Charlie like the other cats has been well trained in the concept of food when you come inside.  When I call he comes.  And every night, I reward the cats with their dinner after calling “Sally, Sophie, Charrrlllieee” several times.  Tonight we were out of all cat treats.  So they got an egg.  A raw egg.  One raw egg split between three cats.  A bit disgusted at first, competition  meant that all three cats did eat their small portion of egg.  Elly as usual checked that the cats had done a good job cleaning their plates and took care of any scraps that might remain.

Elly highly approves of the new car.  Stepping into her area is so easy and it is so comfortable for a dog to lay down on the big floor space.  The hump in the middle provides a perfect pillow for her while resting on route to her next adventure.  That dog is spoiled, although Bob says no.  And he is still worrying about dirt and hair in the new car.  We probably will be buying a special painter’s canvas to cover the back seats and floor.  That’s OK.  If we ever need some more painting drop cloths, I know ere at least one will be stored–on the floor of Bob’s car.

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Bob’s New Car

Several weeks ago, Kate’s VW car died.  Since that had been a long lingering death, we were not surprised.  Only disappointed it had not lasted another month or two.  Transmission problems, there is hardware hanging down in the front.   We are not fixing it.  But as is always the way with these things, couldn’t find the pink slip, so we couldn’t even give it away.  And of course since the registration was almost due, we had to register the car before we could get a new pink slip.  Lucky for us, there was the non-operational option which only cost 20 dollars and another 20 dollars for a replacement pink slip.  It arrived earlier this week and so the green VW will get ignomously towed away to the bad car junk lot.

At my house, we all expect the luxury of having a car for transportation.  Me, I like to drive to work.  It takes 30 minutes instead of 2 hours each way.  Bob, he likes taking the dog out for long walks in pretty places and being able to buy groceries or lumber or other stuff with ease.  Kate much prefers driving instead of walking 5 miles to school or riding a bike over steep hills.  That means one car per preson.  Extravagent but hey that’s the American way.  So we decided to get a new car with Kate sort of inheriting Bob’s truck.  I of course have a nice scion that should keep on going for many more years.  So Bob was the one to get a new car.

We rented a car for a month.  Bob said no way at first until he realized that meant he was stuck at home while everyonne else was out doing stuff.    First rental was a ford focus.  Awful car, the headrests are extremely uncomfortable.  And when you look online for instructions on adapting headrest positions, the first step is to get a vise.  Second step is to bend the metal.  Not a car for us. Since I was such a nag, Hertz was able to get me another rental car and thus we were free to start car shopping. 

At first Bob wanted a new toyota tacoma truck.  However because the gas prices have been stable and even gone down a bit, the old small truck isn’t being made anymore.  The newer bigger truck is expensive, lousy gas mileage, and not what he wanted.  Amazingly, the older trucks like Bob’s cost more than the new truck.  It was time to consider other cars.  Bob decided he wanted a Honda Fit, manual transmission bcause it had a great space for Elly in the back.  You see the back seats fold up creating a cave for her.

So here are some pictures of Bob, Elly, and the new car.   In the last picture, Bob is picking Elly Hair off the back carpeting.  But we will enjoy this car and have already put blankets down in the Elly designated space.


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Bring Back House Bill No 246

Sorry for confusion, somehow an incomplete draft got posted instead of the final version.  Here is an updated post.

Daily Prompt:Placebo Effect
If you could create a painless, inexpensive cure for a single ailment, what would you cure and why?

A co-worker introduced me to the book “The Simpsoms and Their Mathematical Secrets”.  A fantastic read, I learned about so many new things–like House Bill No 246 which defined a NEW MATHEMETICAL TRUTH.  The ratio between a diameter of a circle and it’s circumfrence is 4/5 / 4.  In other words PI = 3.2.  Furthermore this illustrius fact was offered to the state of Illinois free of charge although other states would need to pay royalties for using 3.2 as a value for PI.  This bill is still sitting in the Illinois Senate Docket waiting approval.  We need to resurrect it!!!!!

You don’t believe me, where here is a link to the original bill

which starts as

A Bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897. ……

Yeah for mathematical and scientific stupidity!!!!! 

A couple of the great points from this bill include:

…. It is impossible to compute the area of a circle on the diameter as the linear unit without trespassing upon the area outside of the circle to the extent of including one-fifth more area than is contained within the circle’s circumference, because the square on the diameter produces the side of a square which equals nine when the arc of ninety degrees equals eight. ….

Why does 8 matter?  Anyway, here is the crux of the equation:

……Furthermore, it has revealed the ratio of the chord and arc of ninety degrees, which is as seven to eight, and also the ratio of the diagonal and one side of a square which is as ten to seven, disclosing the fourth important fact, that the ratio of the diameter and circumference is as five-fourths to four; and because of these facts and the further fact that the rule in present use fails to work both ways mathematically, it should be discarded as wholly wanting and misleading in its practical applications. 

If only teachers, scientists, and engineers were the best paid people in society.  So what I propose is that we get this bill up and running.  Make it THE CAUSE for republicans and fox news, and then skewer them with mathematical facts.  And then science wins in the 2016 presidential election.

If that can’t happen, then I want a pill to eliminate stupidity.  

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More Gamer Misdeeds

Daily Prompt: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Sleep is one-third of our lives: write a post about it. Do you love naps? Have trouble falling alseep? Wish you could remember your dreams? Remember something especially vivid? Snuggle under a blanket, or throw the windows wide open? Meditate on sleep.

Who needs dreams when reality is even funnier.  Following up from Maggie’s contribution (thanks for the laugh post a couple weeks ago), I now have something to top her find.  Did you ever think about taking a vacation from video games?  But it seems that over 100,000 people are doing just that in the world of warcraft.  Involuntarily.

Yep, it turns out that everyon seems to be a cheater using bots instead of playing themselves.  It turns out that to win in the World of Warcraft (a game for which you pay big monthly fees) people try to gain honor (aka points) by having their robots fight.  And thus this person managed to view a battle where he was the only one actually participating.
The only thing that could make this better would be John Oliver doing a segment on his show.

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Roadtrip aftermath

It has been a long week.  Last  weekend, Bob and I drove out to Albuquerque, New Mexico for LIz’s graduation ceremony.  Got there on a Friday night, Ceremony on Saturday, started for home on Sunday.  Bob and Liz had a short vacation in her car — visiting sites like the UFO museum in Roswell, NM; the Alamo and San Antonio in Texas.  Me, I had work.  And I wanted to save vacation time for visitors in June.  So I drove back almost 1000 miles by myself.

Driving back alone wasn’t bad.  Got to listen to some great music, see some sites, and even visited a few rock shops.   Spent hours listening to my favorite podcast, Druidcast.  Downloaded from Itunes, this monthly show features a huge collection of great pagan music and some wonderful lectures.  I listend to music ranging from harp concertos to heavy metal to chant to spoken stories and poetry.  Had forgotten how much I like Omnia with thier version of “The Three Witches” from macbeth.  And the poems by Liv including one about a flower desperately wanting to be visited by the bees.   Its fun to hear the history of dragons in England or how a discussion about using magic.  One of my stops was at the Petrified Forest at the border of Arizona and New Mexico.  Even got some good pictures.  One nice one from  my IPAD is shown below.  The other really good pictures require work to view–getting out my computer and looking at hig resolution images. 

But one of the side effects from a long drive is exhaustion.  Add in unexpected deadlines at work and those photos are still waiting to be viewed.  I love road trips and wish I had more time and money to do them.  How long until I can retire?   

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Graduation number 2– Congratulations Maggie

On Sunday, Maggie had her graduation.  Yep, that is one day after Liz’s.  Maggie earned her masters in Biology with a specialzation in bugology from Penn State.  Bugology is my term, something designed to drive Maggie wild.      It works.  But she made it through and got hooded.  

Maggie, I am very proud of you.  It is wonderful to see how happy you look.  Watching you grow up and become this strong competent young woman able to do anything has been an amazing journey.  I can’t wait to see what you will do next.  Keep up the blog wars, that way I know what is going on in your life.  Look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.  I’ll take a couple of days of your company any time.  Love you with all my heart.  Mom

Since we had two graduations on the same weekend in different states, my parents represented the family.  Horrible trip there– traffic in San Francisco and a missed plane connection in Charlote, NC that led to an unxpected stay in the airport overnight.  Yuck, sounds hard.  Thank you Mom and Dad for making this trip.  And for sending the pictures.  


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Congratulations Liz

Today was a very special day.  Liz graduated from the school of engineering cum laude, chemical engineering.  I felt honored and proud as I watched her walk across that stage.  It was a lovely ceremony where each department recognized their own students.  After the ceremony, we went over to the  duck pond at UNM for pictures.  The last photo was taken at dinner.  I think that one could be a great oil painting.

Liz Congratulations.  Thank you for being such a great kid.  I am proud of you.  It is exciting to see you blossom into a strong, intelligent, beautiful young woman with lots of possibilities to explore.  I know you will succeed at whatever you want.  And I am excited that you will be sharing a summer with us before heading off to start a Ph.D. program in chemical engineering at Ohio State next fall.  Love you.  Mom




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thanks mags for the laugh

My daughter and I have been doing blog wars for the last couple of years.  In fact she is the reason I got started blogging.  And it turns out this is a great way of keeping in touch with her.  We both talk about events in our lives and things that make us laugh.  Well this week Maggie found the most outrageous article I have seen in a while.

You might have heard about gamergate, a huge misogynistic response to women in the world of video games.  Ugly and vicious, the goal had been to chase womn out of on-line multiplayer video games.  Well it turns out these trolls and troglodytes harras other players as well.  And in this article, the players got their revenge.

Thanks Mags for the laugh. 

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Happy Birthday Dog

Yesterday was Mary, my mom-in-law, birthday.  We had the usual silly family birthday party.  That includes a  nice dinner– a birthday cake, candles, and presents.  And as usual, something silly.  This time it was princess hats.  And even Elly agreed to wear one.  Although I do think some of her agreement was based on the possibilty of getting a couple ham scraps as treats.  She was adorable, don’t you agree?  Thanks go to Kate for the picture.


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Art Project Finished!

For the last few months, I have been building various sculptures with led lights.  There is a giant tree made with coat hangers that will become the mouse house.  There is a macrame wall hanging that will demonstrate light mosaics.  There is the mad hatters hat stand  where I ruined the LED wires.  Each project is smaller and smaller.  So this morning before work, I actually finished a working LED sculpture–The Crystal Tree.  

Made from bronze colored wire, lots of glass crystals and a beautiful piece of scrap fir wood, this sculpture contains a single hacked LED lamp.  On top is a crystal bunny that at night shines in different colors.  The tree sparkles with life in the morning when the sun shines on it.  And during the day, the plants guard a small birds nest with real pearls inside.  The rock was made from oven bake clay covered in spray paint and standard acrylic paints.  This is truly a mixed media piece — wire wrapping and jewlery, ceramics, wodworking, electronics, and a little bit of making do with available materials.  Add in a few living air plants and the piece is done.  It’s gorgeous, everyone thinks it looks beautiful.  I am pleased with the work.  

Bob helped a lot with this task.  He showed me how to use the electric sander, how to stain wood, how to use a drill press, how to chisel wood, and how to drill screws into wood at funny angles.   He did the electronics hacking and placed the bunny with museum sticky wax.  Without  his help, this project would not have been possible.   Thank you Bob for the teaching.

Below are some photos.  Next task is learning how to learn how to take pictures of this sculpture.


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Some interesting articles and sad commentaries on our society

Daily Prompt: Flip Flop
Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?

Flip Flop or more liberal than ever.  If you look at my life style, I would be declared republican.  Middle class family that traditionally voted republican.  I work in defense industry where most people vote republican.  I live in a very conservative community where most declare themselves christian and rebuplican with pride.  Raised three kids in a middle class neighborhood.  But I am very liberal in viewpoint.  As a woman working in a traditionally male field, I have seen and felt the effects of discrmination.  As  a student, I learned how fragile our safety net is and how close anyone person can come to being homeless.    

There is a strong element of luck in our circumstances.  The myth that we make our own way ony works if you have a strong support structure that does not demand being acknowledges.  Good schools paid with taxes so  one does not have to take out massive amounts of debt.  Jobs that are plentifyl and pay well.  Famly that can help you during the dark ties.  Everyone has a bad spot in their lives.  It’s the help you get to overcome those hard times  which makes all the difference. That help might be direct like aid payments, a job from a friend, or moving into family homes.  It can be indirect, the help of a teacher lighing up a summer job where you don’t even know that person spoke up for you.  

So in terms of politics I am not flip flopping and in fact my liberal views are becoming stronger over time.  All it takes are a few more articles like these in the news:

This morning I was reading the New York Times.  One statitics popped out at me.  A summer jobs program in Chicago for at risk teens — those at the cusp of dropping out and / or already in trouble either with the law or becoming teenage parents — saw a 43% reduction in violent crimes in the following 16 months.  That’s huge.  An investment of 2-3 thousand dollars per kid saved our society hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs, jail, and police costs.  Plus the very significant positive impact on many lives.®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region
It turns out that these jobs helped the kids learn how to connect with society at a crucial point in their development.   Something that is contrary to the common belief system — once bad, always bad.  And that those kids were born bad.  It is no useful helping them.  Well I don’t believe those statements.  I wonder how we can help them.  Something to ponder and research.  Any good ideas on how to help, please let me know.
Second article was from my daughter, Maggie, on her blog.
Lets play a game. Real news story or an article from the Onion?

Read it and let me know what you think.  That is pretty wild and credible.  Not only is NPR a reputable news source, but it’s all over reputible places — cnn, forbes, cbs, and more.  Evidently there are a large number of people in Texas who believe the federal government, through the department of defense military exercises, is gong to take over Texas..  WOW, wackos do rule the world or at least Texas.  I always knew that was a state where I could not survive the politics.   I learned that during the Rick Perry regime. 

Finaly news brief inolves women’s boodies.  Being overweight, I am well aware of what fat shaming is and how much pressure there is on women to be “attrive and thin”.  A very trim fitness instructor writes a blog about fitness.  And she has been getting lots of nasty comments about her weight, her shape, and her ability as a woman to be iintelligent when she is so unfit.

Fed up with these comments, she made a video and photo-shopped her body into the blospace ideal.  One of the beter articles about this viedo can be found at:

The really sad commentary was that many of those who posted the nasty comments thought the photoshoped cartoon figure was the correct way for a woman to look.  

It may seem there are no positive messages for women and their body shapes.  But there are some.   Cassey Ho has been overwhelmed by the positive response to her video.  I am glad she deserves udos for speaking up against trolls who wwant to slap women down into nothingness.

An interesting experiment done several years ago by Dove produced some very moving videos about women and their self perception.   I still enjoy watching these videos where a forensic artist shows women their true selves.

Watching these videos gives me a boost.  And I can always play one of my favorite songs by Helen Ready  “I  am Woman”   That has been one of my theme songs for most of my life.

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman


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Bluebird Update — alas no new pictures

We are expecting!!!!!!!!!    Yep, there are five little eggs in the bluebird box.  Bob peeked.  

But getting there was exciting.  There were a couple of weeks where we did not see the female bird around at all. Occassionaly the male would come around, sit on the top of the pole, and look inside the house.  Bob checked during that time — a lovely little nest with no eggs.

Then this last week, the box slid down the pole.  Why we don’t know — perhaps the wind caused vibrations or a crow sat on top of the box.  No matter, Bob looked inside and saw five perfect little eggs.  So he put the box back up on the pole and waited to see if the parents wold come back.  They did, it seems like a miracle.  Now the female is spending a great deal of time inside and the male sits on the pole.

No great new pictures, so I will repost a couple old ones here.  But if we are lucky in a few weeks there will be pictures of baby chicks.  And next year, we plan on having a bluebird cam.


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An eye for cupcakes

Kate makes the best cupcakes and she defends them vigoursly.  Hence the scouting eye.


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Easy going happiness

Last night we took Elly down to Mother Earth.  It has been months sinc we have visited that bar, but it is as pleasant and crowded as ever.  Elly was wonderfully happy.  The wind brought great smellls.  The rain made puddles that splashed as she walked.  And the bar was great fun.  She got a lick of pizza essence of the floor, a chance to nibble on a few pieces of popcorn, and some pets from strangers who thought she was the “IT GIRL”.  Leaving she even got to meet a couple other dogs.  I am always amazed at how such little stuff can make a dog so happy.   We should take lessons from her.

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Wire Wrap Inspiration

At work, I have club “Creative Collections” where a batch of like minded people (usually women) get together for arts and crafts.  My employer, a large defense contractor, supports clubs with money.  And we spend that money on art supplies and art classes.  Mostly we teach each other new skills, call it professional development, and buy the supplies for the class.  It is amazing how many people are happy to teach a small class.  Everyone has fun; it is a great break from the workday.

Last week, there was a class on tying headpins for jewelry.  Basically you create a loop in wire and then wrap the end around the bottom of the loop.  Picture below illustrates this.  My part in the class was finding the teacher (easy because there are so many volunteers), making sure that person can get the supplies, help them do the paperwork of getting riembursed, get an attendance sheet, find a conference room, and send out a notice.  Probably 30 minutes of work total spread over a several week period.  Not a big deal. 

But a lot of people seem to think this is a big deal.  Probably because it is fun, it is nice to go home from a class with a new pair of earings or two, and the company is really good.  We laugh.  But I feel I get more out of the classes than I put into them.  Not just a pair of earrings and friendship; I get inspiration for new projects.  For example, at this class I started playing with wire and beads.  Two days later, I have 10 new pairs of earrings, ideas on how to make many more earings, and even some bigger projects. The inspiration was realizing that I can use the wire as a focal point, not just as a support structure.  While the first few earings are not perfectly matched, they are good enough to wear with pride.  And the possibilities with different color, weight, and shape of the wire  offer many great artistic challenges. Was talking with Liz last night.  She’s getting almost done with school.  Onnly two more weeks and she graduates  from college.  Only 1.5 weeks and she’s done with classes.  Only 1.5 weeks and I get to go on a roadtrip to New Mexico.  Hurray.  As part of our conversation, Liz said “I’ll help you find home for those earrings.”  And she will gladly take more of my jewelery.   Thank goodness.  I can make jewelery faster than I can wear it.  So Liz, tell me which ones you want.  And if someone else wants a pair, let me know.  I’ll be glad to give you a pair or two also.  Would enjoy swapping earings for postcards.

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Ah, the beauty of the to-do list

Daily Prompt: The Satisfaction of a List
Who doesn’t love a list? So write one! Top five slices of pizza in your town, ten reasons disco will never die, the three secrets to happiness — go silly or go deep, just go list-y.

Ah, the beauty of a list.  what kind shall I write?  A fun one about vacations and places to go.  Or how about a list of presents others can buy for me.  A list of art supplies I want.  A list of my projects?  Or….Or….A TO-DO list.  That’s the thing.  All the stuff I need to do.  A list of work and chores and ugly tasks.  No, doesn’t sound like fun.

Well then, there is only one thing left to list and thats the joy in my life.  My family.  My friends.  My art.  My pets.  Even my job (although not all the time especially when I have to leave for work in the morning).  A wonderful breakfast with great coffee made with love by my husband.  The jackalope magnet on the refriderator because it makes me laugh.  A fire outside with family.  An upcoming roadtrip.

The problem is that there are so many things which give me love and happiness, I cannot list them all.  So instead of trying, I’ll stop writing and enjoy the breakfast Bob just put in front of me.  Have a happy day.

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Mad Hatters Hat Stand

Daily Prompt: Roy G. Biv
Write about anything you’d like, but make sure that all seven colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet — make an appearance in the post, either through word or image.

For the last month, I have been obsessively working on an art project called the Mad Hatters Hat Stand.  Now it didn’t start with that title nor was it expected to be as complex a project.  I thought this would be a simple lets put together a structure and show how LEDs can be used in sculptures.   Along the way, I have met with some very interesting problems–challenges that have to be answered artistically.  First attempt was to use commercial LED’s within a tree structure.  No problem except I ruined the LED wiring by bending it too much.  The fact I had a flawed approach to masking, spray paint, and then removing the masking might also had something to do with ruining a set of cheap chinese LED’s.

Second round, different approach.  Create the structure and then add in lights.  Ok, can do.  A piece of old fir scrap lumber became a base.  Two cheap candy jars from the dollar store, sprayed with mirror paint became the structure for holding the lights.  An unfinished box from Bob’s projects added interest.  And a structure created with popsicle sticks, masking tape, bamboo skewers, cardboard and left over rope pieces became the led structure. 

Added paper mache and voila, I had a hat.  Not originally planned as a hat, but that’s OK.  I can use it.  But the hat was large, heavy, and not balanced well.  Also the LED lights were too bright to look at, they needed to be masked.  Plus some holes had to be drilled  into the glass (new skill here) for power cords and other electronic stuff.  Had some ribbon that look beautiful against the dark gold spray paint, but not enough.  So Ibegged a friend to give me the remainder of her very expensive ribbon rolls.  Notice how different the hat looks with paper mache, spray paint, and ribbon.

Also began looking at adding in some other pieces so LED lights could sparkle.  The black glass cat didn’t work although Charlie thought it might be a fine addition.  The glass mouse my dad brought back from Sweden sometime during the 1970’s will be gorgeous with LED’s and gold ribbon.

At this point, was hopeful I could get the sculpture donein time  for submission to the del mar faire, fine art competition.  Deadline for photos is April 24th.  So I took a day off work which turned out to be a kind of shitty day.  First, Sophia disapeared.  That dammed cat did not come home for 24 hours.  And we knew when she disapeeared–sometime between 5:30 and7:00 pm on tuesday night.  Kate saw her outside waiting for me.  Sophia has been doing that for the last 12 years of my life, waiting outside under a bush in almost all kinds of weather except pouring rain  for me to come home.  But last tuesday she was not there.  Wednesday morning she was not there.  And I was kind of depressed about her being gone.  

During the day, I ruined another set of electronics  by breaking the cheap chinese wiring in the power supply.  Eventually went to Frys with the intention of buying very expensive LED light strips for this project.  But that packagge had no instructions and some mysterious parts.  It got returned and now I plan on ordering more expensive lights elsewhere.  Also on this day off , Bob had to visit the doctor.   More antibiotics for his infection which besides being worrisome, put hims in a bad mood.  And it takes hours to get all these things done.  But the good news at the end of hte day was that Sophia did come home. Which made me happy.  And by the end of the day, it was obvious I was not going to finish in time for submission to the fair, so a deadline disapeared.  Less pressure although I WANT to get this sculpture finished.  I am very eager to see the finished piece.

On Sunday, began working on a new base for the lamp.  Since the hat is heavy, I need to add weight at the bottom.  Otherwise the lamp will fall over.  In the scrap box, there was a piece of really heavy dark rough wood.  Perhaps walnut.  The piece cost 12 dollars 25 or 39 years ago, would hate to buy it now.  It is so hard, I will have trouble getting it sanded down to perfect smoothness.  And as we clean up the wood, Bob is thinking it might also make a great table.  Who knows, I will figure it out over the next couple of weeks.

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Finally turned in my tax forms yesterday.  Got a refund from the state (Hurrah) and owed a little bit of money to feds (boohoo).  Now I know that’s opposite of what every financial advice column recommends which is “owing money to the IRS is good”.  But they don’t take account of the emotional issues such as my absolute hatred of writing a tax check or the joy of getting a refund. Fine, call me a bad money manager. We have enough money to pay our bills, do some saving, and even have a little bit left over at the end of the month if all goes well.  And if I miss out on a couple dollars interest (at 0.25% for the small amount of my refunds), who cares.  I don’t.  And speaking of taxes, why can’t the IRS put an online system on their site like the California tax software?  It took me less than 15 minutes to do my taxes, cost noth8ing, and I had the same n umber as the manual calculations I had done earlier.  Fantastic sofware.  It must be that Turbo Tax has paid someone to keep software like this off the IRS website.

I did have some fun with taxes.  My girls and I had a competition — last one done buys drinks.   The conversation, mostlly via email, follows 


“Hello  Girls,
     Gentle reminder that Taxes have to be done this weekend.  Of course, I’m sure you all are on top of it—especially Maggie whose W2 I just found in the bottom drawer while looking for mine. Unfortunately, I haven’t even started mine.  So let’s have a race.  Last one done with taxes buys drinks at Art Beat or Mother Earth this June.
    And Mags—if you want me to scan and send your W2; I’ll do it tonight.
 Love Mom.”

Liz responded:

“Hah, I beat you all. I did my taxes last month! Someone owes me a drink!”

 Mags responded:

“Eh, doing taxes last minute is cool. But game on!  
     Also, Mom, what is the W2 for? I have one for Penn State and one for the Northrup Grumman Federal Credit Union, and thought that was it for this year? But yes, if you could scan me a copy, that would be very much appreciated.”

Both girls responded within minutes of my initial email.  A very fast response.    And yet it actually took a couple of days before I did scan and send the W2’s to Maggie.  I don’t know if she needed them or not.  So now e come to Sunday afternoon.

Well it actually took a couple of days before I did scan and send the W2’s to Maggie.  And in that time I did have a conversation with both girls.  Liz 


“Done.  OK almost done.  Figured out that I owe the federal government and have a big refund from the state. Still need to fill out the forms.
   So does this mean I win the contest and Maggie owes everyone a drink?”


“Not valid until they are actually filed”

Mags didn’t see Liz’s email.  So on Tuesday, we had the following exchange:


“Aw crap. A couple of possible interpretations. One – I was a lazy bum who finished her taxes the night before they are due. OR Two – I love you guys so much I couldn’t wait to buy you all beer and waited until the last minute on purpose
   Happy Tuesday!
   Love  M


“Well I haven’t yet filled out the forms or sent the check to the IRS.  So it is still game on.” 

Mags (on april 14th):

“Wow. This must be how Tom Hanks felt when his character was found floating in the ocean in Castaway. But I’m clocking out. Official end time 9:43pm (PA time).”

Guess I owe everone drinks since I didn’t finish unitl April 15th.  That will be fun.  So some good did come from the exercise of doing taxes.  And Mags owes her sister a thank you for speaking up about what “being done” realy means.  But I had fun doing taxes and not every one can say that.  So I also win.

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Holy Moly, Alfred came to visit

Last night while Bob was doing the dishes, he suddenly stopped.  “Holy Moly, Robine come look.  No wait, let me get the camera.”  I sat at the kitchen table wondering what was going on with my husband.  After much commotion, Bob found his camera and came back to tell me there was a lizard crawling out of the dish washer. 

Now how often does a lizard crawl out of a dishwasher?  Not often in my experience.  So this was a big event in the household.  Meanwhile Charlie, the great bug hunter and defender of all  that happens in the kitchen, was calmy eating food only a foot away from this Lizard.  Charlie loves hunting lizards.  And if only he had known what was sitting right below him, calm cat food crunching would have stopped.  Charlie has twice in his life (at least to my knowledge) caught a lizard.  One of those occasions, Bob took one away before it got killed and Charlie spent weeks hissing at us in anger.  

Posing for a photograph session, Alfred the lizard, remained still until we finished taking snapshots.  Several are below for your viewing pleasure.  Bob then opened the dishwasher and pulled out one very lively lizard.  Alfred immediately climbed onto his back.  Elly began barking.  Charlie began leaping.  Sophia began hissing at Elly who bothered her.  Bob shouted “Help me, open the door, where is the lizard”.  I opened the door to let him out.  And then in my confusion, immediately began turning off the lights.  Big Help I was, not.  Bob got outside and the lizard leaped to the garage floor.  The cats were screeching, the dog barking, and I was trying to be helpful.  Alfred, the lizard was scurrying around on the floor of the garage.  “Not the shovel” Bob yelped.  “We don’t want to kill the poor thing.”  “I only want to pick up the lizard and help him get outside” I yelled.  But Bob was right, so I put the shovel down and went in the house.  We left the lizard alone as it scurried under the woodpile.  I hope he finds his way to safety and food.

And now for the photos.  Enjoy both the lizard and the great view of Bob’s Hands.  I like them.

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