Monday, January 30, 2012

Because some of you asked...!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In Denial?

Now that I have made my readers (the handful that keep coming back for more of this pap) all anticipatory, I am feeling a little guilty.  But it is the writer's goal to get readers hooked on the next post ...right? 

My purchase, that expensive foot covering, designed in Switzerland, comes in the following styles:  Safari Plus, Rocky Plus, and Rocky High. From these names you might assume that it is an 'active wear' item.  Mountain climbing or desert hiking, perhaps?  Mine also comes with an accessory to make sure I have a custom and comfort fit, indicating I can wear such style for a long time with no fatigue.  One of the reasons for the expense.

The Safari Plus is a perfect fit for me because I like to walk like an Egyptian and most people who know me will tell you that I am frequently in De Nile.  Ooops.  Sorry.  I know.  Pretty painful.  And, no I have not had several glasses of wine...just my second cup of coffee this morning.  I can write stupid quite well without alcohol, thank you.

(Quit stalling, Tabor, and post the damned photo, already!)

Notice the solid construction, the sleek lines and the fancy accessories and stitching.  Needless to say I only bought one and actually Medicare paid for it...after waiting for 15 minutes for my doctor to call the powers that be and get permission.  Last year my insurance would have covered it without incident, but now that Medicare must be my primary insurance I must be more suppliant.

This is the air pump that makes the boot customizable.  Now, since I actually own this piece of crap stunning hardware/software, I am thinking of going to the store for glitter paint and flower stickers to customize it even more.  I have to wear it for (at least) the next six weeks.  I am soooo excited.  Imagine all the small talk conversation starters I now have!  Imagine how many times I get to tell the same story over and over and over!  And even better, wait until my children see this and begin the lecture of "I told you so!"  I am not telling them.  Although my ever so honest husband will delight in sharing the news.

Okay...enough complaining.  At least I have avoided any surgery and/or the worse-case-cast.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Oh my goodness.  Went shopping and got shoes.  $600.00 a pair.  Photo to follow if you want to see them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It Is Complicated

While cleaning out my closet after the painting fiasco I came across my soapbox.  It was a little dusty, so I cleaned it off and now that it looks so shiny and sharp I must stand on it for a bit.  Go get something hearty to drink as I would like you to be polite and listen through to the end... I am waiting... Go on, I won't fall off this thing.  I do have a lot to say.  (If you do not live in the U.S. you can go finish your laundry now and come back another day.)

Liberals are happy that we have a president who is cool and intellectual and who will not start a war if he can negotiate or spy his way out of a situation.  Conservatives want a president who has their back 24/7 and is not afraid to say so.  They like the fact that Rick Perry carries a loaded gun when he jogs.  You can never be too ready to kill something.  It would be so easy if we could always tell the good guys from the bad guys and if all we needed was a Sheriff.

The problem is that this is not the issue that will get us out of our mess today.  There is not a president that we would elect from either party or even an independent who would not go to war and protect us if necessary.  The defense department is ready to defend us at any cost and reminds the leader of the free world of that everyday.  Of course, I believe that starting some of these wars at any cost could lead to the destruction of the planet since a lot of hot heads are waiting for an excuse to defend their country against the "Imperialist America" and they now have the means to do so.  War is never a solution only a regret.  It is complicated.

But what about our internal enemies?  The real battle is that between the haves and have nots.  And I wish it was just the simple picture that the 1% versus the 99% argument seems to try to make.  It is not.  Jobs cannot grow without substantial compromise to the environment,  to workers health, and to reduction in regulations.  There are just as many CEO's (percentage wise) who care not one bit about their workers safety, job security and health, and who cheat each day as there are workers who put out the minimum at work, game the system, steal from the job and scream discrimination when they are fired. There are those in the 99% who will only take the job they were educated for and there are those who are so lazy they live off their relatives and what welfare they get ( I am related to someone who does this.)  Mitt Romney, whom Newt Gingrich  Perry called a "vulture capitalist," was doing the job he was paid for and doing it very well and it appears legally.  He worked for the stock-holders and he made them money.  It was not his job to create jobs.  It was his job to reduce costs, labor being a big one.  And we could argue all night about how patriotic it is to game the system and keep your money off-shore to avoid paying your full taxes.  But he played by the capitalist rules.  It is complicated.

All the rest of us who are in the majority in both classes have to decide if we will trade a little more polluted air and water for warmer or cooler homes, cheaper food, cheaper clothing and products and the ability to keep one more job in the families of the 99%.  This decision is very hard, because those of us who make it will probably not see or be affected by the increased pollution.  It will most directly impact those we do not know, and our unborn. 

We have to decide if we will pay more (in taxes or direct makes no difference) so that everyone can get health care in the wealthiest country in the world.  Or we could lobby our Congressperson to pass a law that says hospitals do not have to take in accident victims or dying people if they have no health insurance.  I wonder if those who took the Hippocratic oath would turn the dying away if it wasn't against the law?  I wonder if we could sleep at night with people lying hopelessly at the doorsteps of hospitals as happens in many third world countries currently?  Or we could compromise our freedoms and require everyone who can afford it, to buy health insurance, so at least we do not have to pay for them!  It is complicated.

I believe that anyone who is financially secure should not take social security, but I am only financially secure as long as Wall Street does not allow their greed to bring the stock market to it knees once again.  This can only happen with strict regulation of financial markets by government bureaucrats.   I will be dependent on Social Security if these regulations are not held, but I am among the 99% when it comes to having a voice in lobbying Congress about the banking and investment industry.  My voice is tiny until we have financial election reform and EVERYONE gets an equal voice.  If you think anyone, including the Koch Brothers or Greenpeace, lobbies just for your interests, boy are you so very wrong.  I also believe that the age should be raised on Social Security to keep it solvent as our life length has changed since it was created, but I did not perform heavy lifting, work at furnaces, or perform other hard physical labor into my late 60's and I have no injuries from that.  So this also is complicated.  I do not think Social Security should be abolished.  It works.  It has kept society secure.

With a nod to that crazy old anti-Semitic running for office, I believe that foreign aide should be reviewed, but as public television reported recently, 94% of money put out by USAID comes directly back to American companies and contractors. Thus, it seems we also game this system, and reducing foreign aide could reduce jobs in this country.  Much of our foreign aide is hidden through Defense spending and dare we review that?  There is a reason that the Washington, DC area and surrounding suburbs are more recession proof and it is not because they house government workers.  They house lobbyists and those contractors they work for who get paid in Federal dollars. 

And, of course, we cannot forget the call for smaller government.  County? State? Federal?  I was a bureaucrat for many years and through much more than a decade we created smaller government by attrition.  It is not the best way to reduce labor, but as people left or retired no one took their place, and if the job was important, it just went on the back of someone else who did it half as well, overburdened as they were by the prior year's attrition.  This is why no one answers your phone call, or if they do, they seem inattentive.  When we finally got down to a skeleton crew and it began to impact service we were allowed to hire contractors.  Mine was not the rich Defense Department, and therefore, our contractors were somewhat like slaves.  The money went to the lowest bidder which meant the contractors made less money, got far fewer benefits, were laid off at will and we slowly developed a culture of them and us.  Not the best atmosphere for service to the taxpayer.  There is a better way to reduce government.  The Department of Commerce, the one of the three(?) that Perry wants to abolish, claims that its job is to improve the economy and help create jobs.  Ironic that we would cut that department, is it not?  Actually, this is one of the few areas that I agreed with Perry.  Commerce has grown into a mess and could certainly be reviewed and re-organized under other departments, although I am betting that Perry and I would probably disagree substantially on the details.  And Perry is not really a detail man anyway!

I believe that the majority of us, rich and poor and in the shrinking middle, do want pretty much the same thing and we care about our brothers and sisters when we see them as the human beings they are; so we better tread very carefully in this finger pointing and name calling.   Neither skin color, religious affiliation, nor the size of the house you live in tells us about your honesty, willingness to work hard, or moral character.  Only how you have lived your life and how you now live it everyday tells us that.  (And if you claim that your God thinks you are special and tells you things clearly and directly, like who or if you should run for office, you are a very scary person to me.)

(P.S.  Yes, I know that Perry is no longer running for office.  But with all the 'colorful' GOP candidates this year, I could not exclude him from this one post.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Watching Paint Dry

My recent weekend consisted of bringing home paint chips from the hardware store, putting them against the wall of my master bedroom and agaisnt the oriental rug on the floor, deciding on a hue, purchasing a gallon of the best quality paint they had and painting the bedroom.  (Cannot get in to see the ankle Doc for another ankle be damned...and it was.)

My house is five years old.  It has settled somewhat on the bedroom side.  There is a slight chance it would settle further down into the ravine...but I am optimistic that won't happen while I live here.  But settling does create hair-line cracks around window frames and doors, and last year, my husband, who became frustrated with my putting off the painting project, proceeded to patch the cracks with Spackle.  Then he went to the basement to get the then 4-year-old paint that we had used when the bedroom was initially painted and covered all those nice white patches he had created.  The paint had changed, of course.  It looked like he had painted over with a color that resembled old poo instead of soft mushroom.   We lived with that ugliness for a year and finally this past week went through the process I described above.

We guessed that painting the bedroom would take about 4 hours.  Ha!  The bedroom has 6 windows, three doors, AND most significantly a tray ceiling.  The painting took almost seven hours and I am not counting the day before when we moved furniture, covered what we could not move, rallied the various painting tools that we had left from our prior life of painting various rooms in homes, removed electrical and phone plates, and taped every single piece of wood framing with that blue stuff.  That prep wore us out and we retreated to the living room for dinner and movie.

The next morning fresh and energetic we began what is referred to in painting circles as 'cutting in.'  It was a cloudy day making it very hard to tell what we painted and what we didn't since the old hue and the new hue were pretty close in color.  I am also old, and do not see as well as I used to.  But the most significant issue with this project is that this new paint would dry to touch within a minute making it so much harder so see where I painted and where I had left off in the gray shadows from the window.  The only clue was that I had purchased a slightly shinier finish of paint this time and if one stood at an angle to the wall, one could see the difference.  Thus we painted, and then re-painted, and ate dinner and then went back in and touched up a few more places as the lamp light revealed a few more areas of incomplete coverage.

Finally we felt we had finished, cleared the room, washed the brushes, put everything away and fell exhausted and with stiff joints into bed.  The next morning as I sat in bed greeting the new day (you KNOW what I am going to write here) I saw two more small areas at the base of the side wall that needed touch up!  Fast drying paint is not all it is cracked up to be.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So WHAT Is It, Really?

A photo of a nearby shoreline tweaked with filters and tone and lighting manipulation.

Yes, in answer to some questions, the photo in the prior post was my lovely granddaughter.  I captured her in the middle of a hide and seek game where she was hiding under a ladder in a playground and her innocent childhood personality was revealed like shining silver in such a photo.  I tweaked it somewhat...making it more of a "work of art" than a snapshot and putting more light on her face.

Friko, one of my favorite bloggers and a real artist in her own right with her writing, commented on Downton Abbey, which both she and I like to watch.  She felt it was not really art because it did not make you think.  I am so glad she stimulated some discussion with this comment because her comment "made me think!"  She felt that the TV series lulled the viewer into a false sense of security.  I disagree because the change that war brings and the events that happen in this next season take away the security of constancy for all of the characters.  I also think that writing about this time in England with rose colored glasses instead of raw reality glasses is more enjoyable for viewers and those poor souls who think this is an accurate representation of the time may also think Picasso's horses reflect a reality.

I then went on a hunt to find definitions for art, because there are almost as many definitions and quotes as there are works of art and this will fill up the rest of this post nicely!  And if you are good and read to the end...that is where I put the funny one.

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man's emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.  Leo Tolstoy.

 Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics, whereas disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and psychology analyze its relationship with humans and generations.  Wikipedia

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.  ~Pablo Picasso 

Science is out of the reach of morals, for her eyes are fixed upon eternal truths.  Art is out of the reach of morals, for her eyes are fixed upon things beautiful and immortal and ever-changing.  To morals belong the lower and less intellectual spheres.  ~Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist, 1891

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.  ~William Faulkner  (I particularly like this definition.)

We all know that Art is not truth.  Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.  The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.  ~Pablo Picasso

And, of course, from my favorite cynic...I so glad she does not live next door as I would almost immediately quit blogging and taking photos:   

Very few people possess true artistic ability.  It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort.  If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.  ~Fran Lebowitz

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Art Is a Three Letter Word

Photography, painting, music, and writing all fall under the domain of creative art, and therefore, are covered by the term "artistic license."  According to Wikipedia (not exactly recognized as the final or most accurate word on such discussions) artistic license is:
  • Entirely at the artist's discretion
  • Intended to be tolerated by the viewer (cf. "willing suspension of disbelief)
  • Useful for filling in gaps, whether they be factual, compositional, historical or other gaps
  • Used consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally or in tandem
I have been thinking of this as I take more photographs and tweak them away from accuracy in what I actually saw and as I continue to struggle at writing my tome about an archeologist in Australia.  (I have made it to Chapter 4, but since I am just now writing a chapter outline...who know what number this chapter is?)

This question also came to my mind when I read a scathing review in one of the national news sources about how pathetic the currently popular British television series Downton Abbey was as a fictional series.  The reviewer felt it was not historically accurate enough to portray the time period and the dangers of such a class system.  I view it as a wonderful soap opera and do not need all the realism of that time to enjoy the series.  Yes, there was more disease, dying, poverty and cruelty during that era,  but I just want a good story with interesting and stable characters.  Let the writers take their artistic license.

After all, art is in the eyes and ears of the beholder.  The result being that I am amazed at what passes for art these days and how people compete to spend money on it.  But as was discussed in a New York Times article, the satisfaction of being the highest bidder gives more credence to the artwork than the actual enjoyment of the artwork.

Is Damien Hurst really an artist?
Or is this collaborative project actually a form of art at this museum ?
What about Isaac Layman and his photography?
Or  this, the worlds most expensive photograph?

All of the above brings me to the big sigh about those artists who were never recognized by any marketing machine and are lost in time.  Street artists whose art appears and disappears daily, women artists who worked as nannies and died in poverty with their photographic art destroyed, soldiers whose writing was lost in the dust of battle.  Does it have to have an appreciative eye or ear to be art?  I do not believe that it does.  It just has to have the passion and soul of the artist.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Good News but Mostly Bad

Well, I have gotten the results of my X-ray and MRI.  My ankle was healing as I was taking long walks, but there were days when it felt stiff or a sudden movement would create deep pain.  I wanted to have the option to get back into yoga, aerobics and other exercise.  I am not a lean mean exercise machine, but I go through phases of loving or needing it before I become a slug at intervals.  This interval has been WAY to long.

The results are that there is a small piece of bone that has broken from some part of my ankle, one of my ligaments is torn and I have some bone edema (swelling...maybe due to another tiny microscopic fracture.)  After hearing the report (via the phone and read in total technical terms by my idiot doctor with little sympathy in his voice).  He seemed relieved to have to make a referral.  I have been referred to a podiatrist who will look at the X-ray and MRI results and tell me what has to be done.  I currently have no idea what he will say and I am sure that it will take more than a week to get an answer.

I do know that my GP said to hold off on any exercise until I talk to the podiatrist.  Egaw!

It amazes me how in this time of my life I am thinking impatiently of all the time I will lose if they have to operate or do something invasive.  I do not fear the pain, but I hate the thought of mobility loss during what time I have in this life.  I hate thinking of having to wait for a healing process as I sit in a chair or on a bed.  Clearly I have no patience for this and that is why I tried to avoid the situation in the beginning by avoiding the doctor.  Please don't lecture me.  I know that I am stupid and stubborn, but for many people (like some of our GOP candidates) these are good traits.

Well, got that off my chest.  I feel guilty in saying this to anyone close to me, and my blog readers are a great sump for stuff like this. 

Please note that I get around very easily and can do most things I have done in the past before the injury.  This could be much worse, and I am fully aware that I have so much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taking the Plunge

As some of you geek types may know I have been having some difficulty with the dwindling storage space in my free account on Pica$a (adding characters rather than real letters to the words in this post following another bloggers wisdom to avoid search engines) that G00gle has allowed for my blog.  I blog anonymously and therefore do not really care if these blog photos are preserved in large format or various formats or able to be batch downloaded later.  That type of storage requires more research.  I do currently back up photos on a separate hard drive and on DVDs before deleting them from my current PC.  But maybe I should think about storing them somewhere on the "cloud" as the third location.  I just want to keep on blogging and sharing for now.  Therefore I am paying Pica$a $5 annually for up to 20 GB storage.  This should hold me for quite a while and continue my ability to link to photos without having to start some new process that my aging brain will find difficult to grasp.  (I many times feel like Tom Cruise clinging to the front of a rapidly speeding freight train in that movie of his with the technology changes that happen even as I post!)

I have to consider, as Butler and Bagman did, whether printing out various posts on good old archiving paper is worth it.  That is a lot of ink and paper and a lot more money than $5.  But there are also posts that perhaps should make it into a paper archive journal in the event that those who follow in my blood line wonder how and why they got so strange!  Also, my grandchildren may be amused by events that we shared that they had long forgotten.

At any rate, $5 annually seems a small price to pay to continue to share my "marvelous photography."

Heading out for my ankle MRI late this afternoon.  Please wish that they find very little scar tissue or current tears in my ligaments so that I have no more excuse to just sit and not exercise.  I need very little reason to keep my on my bum these days, and we gave ourselves an X-box for Christmas to be a better motivator to go downstairs to the basement.

By the way, my new passion is the British TV series Downton Abbey.  Just re-watched the entire first season and going to watch the new episode this evening if I get back early enough.  It is a bodice ripper for the thinking generation and actually has a cast with some older than 35.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

My List

I am one of those obnoxious people that makes one or two major New Year's resolutions and usually keeps least for the year.  Thus I will list some big and small plans I have finally gotten around to formalizing this year.

  1. Get a pass on my ankle so that I can start exercising again.  (Already started this with an x-ray this past week and and getting MRI next.  My ankle really is mostly healed, but I still get stiffness and pain so want an okay to push it.)
  2. Continue to work on my Australia writing project...even when I think it is going nowhere.  Just look at it as an exercise for something better in the future!
  3. Learn how to process RAW files and use them!
  4. Re-learn all the features of my camera.
  5. Increase my efforts at volunteer work on a more regular basis instead of just when I want.
  6. Clean out at least one set of shelves in the basement while hubby is on a trip in February.
  7. Make those d*** drapes for the kitchen window before the fabric rots!
  8. Get everybody's birthdays written down in my calendar...I havestarted on this...I have a big family.
  9. Find money to finish the decorating in the master bedroom.
  10. PAINT the master bedroom.
OK.  Ten challenges are enough.  They are probably subconsciously in the order in which I will probably succeed or fail.  They are all fairly practical.  Nothing here on trying to be more patient, a better person, doing something nice anonymously for someone each day.  That sort of goes without saying...doesn't it?  As for losing weight, my goal is just to get more exercise and feel more energetic.  If the pounds decide to leave, that is OK, but I am not counting on it and it won't stop me from beginning an exercise routine if my ankle allows.

Finally, I want to thank each and every one of you who commented on my blog this past year.  If you are a lurker, please add your two cents, I will not bite.  All the rest of you have become special friends, and are closer to my heart than many people I actually know.  You are funnier, wiser and more honest and I will continue to read your posts.  I know this might say more about me and my ability to relate to real people than you...but!  (Special kudos to Hilary who is the blog hostess with the mostess as she sends readers here, there, and everywhere and added some readers to my blog this year.)  

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Cannot Keep Up

This is crazy.  No wonder everyone is sick, at least almost everyone I know including my doctor.  I have had a nice fire going most evenings and afternoons as temperatures outside hovered just over 30F.  The birds are loving the heated water and eating all the fattest seeds first.  I have gone through a pound of peanuts, not for me for them!  I also put on my nice warm fleece tops as I bring wood inside from the porch.

I only ventured out once for a Doctor's appointment and hurried inside office and home with the speed of a much younger woman. 

Then suddenly this afternoon the weather turns again breaking 45C F!  I am roasting in my fleece and the birds are singing as if spring were just around the corner.  Clouds are warm and golden in the late afternoon.  I can't keep up!

( And to make the month weirder my daughter has already emailed me with the tentative summer schedule for her children wondering if we can work in some childsitting time.)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A Post Script

I blogged rather disparately about my birthday a few days ago which did eventually go off without a hitch.  As proof, below are a series of photos on the cake making and eating.  The mix and candles had been found and the little girl learned to bake a cake.

She had to taste the batter (health officials please look the other way) and give it her blessing before it went into the oven.

And dressed for the party she gets to taste the fruits of her labors after frosting and writing have been added.  Yummm!

And since you are all so terribly curious and I just love the shocked look on your face when you see THIS photo of me in my birthday gift.  Yes, it was a request!  How in the heck can you get close to wildlife to photograph when you are in a white bathrobe or red winter jacket?  Now at last I am one with mother nature.  Needless to add, granddaughter and I are on very different wave lengths at this time in our lives.