Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Old Year's Journey

Looking back over time, for some of us, this year was an arduous mountain to climb with no promise of a better view at the top.  We were given the task of keeping one foot in front of the other with the only assurance that it could not go on forever.  For others of us, this year was a swamp to slog through with pockets of quicksand that were eager to pull us down and each effort was accompanied by biting gnats that gave us no peace.

The smart ones among us saw only a morning with a fresh start and they inhaled the breezes that crossed the mountain trail seeing the beauty of new beginnings.  Or perhaps, smiling through the parting swamp grass noticing the small birds that were being fed by those annoying gnats.

If you looked into the eyes of the smart ones you saw they offered you a hand and reminded you it is the journey itself that must be treasured, because the destination comes to us whether we stop and quit or go on and enjoy the trip.

(As an oddity, this is my 800th post today.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lifting Fog

The best time of the day for me is when I get up around 6:00 AM. The house is very quiet since hubby sleeps in until 7:30 or 8:00.  The house is also still dark because it is winter.  I make my coffee and open blogs as the sun slowly climbs up into the cold sky. In winter I hear the geese flapping and honking their way out of my side of the river into their bigger world of abandoned corn fields or sometimes escaping the hunters when I hear the pop of guns on the other side of the field. Today, I saw them high above the fog over my house looking as if they were ghosts of geese heading out to some mystical retreat.  I hear the crows distant cawing ordering the rest of the birds around.

Yet, it is still relatively quiet here in my little corner of the world. I am surprised that I still need a little corner of time in retirement that I treasure. Time to be alone with my waking thoughts and time to write and create with my photography. Time to think about what lies ahead in my non-activity filled day.  Time to hear my breath.  Time to wait for the fog to lift.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Important Holiday Thoughts

No matter how you feel about this current conflict, please keep all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in your thoughts this holiday season and throughout the year.  They have a big mission to accomplish under very difficult conditions and we want them all back home to reunite with their families as soon as possible!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


This past year my blog readers have been more than generous with their comments.  I am told by REALLY good writers that they enjoy what I write.  I am told by REALLY good photographers, that my photos are sometimes exceptional.  I have been told by warm-hearted and generous bloggers that they share my feelings and ideas and were sometimes inspired by what I wrote. What wonderful gifts I have been given in your comments.  I admit that my blogging is usually words thrown out on the screen without the care and thought that many of you give to your writing.  Some of you have 100's of blogger fans that read and/or comment on your blog and I am so surprised and humbled when you take time to visit and leave a comment on mine.  You cannot imagine how inspiring that is!

In my culture, land of abundance, this is the season of giving and I am so rich this year that I am going to provide a trunk full of gifts for my readers.  Yes, this is for you.

Wrapped in bright red paper with a green bow is this very large box.  Inside I give you tomorrow.  It comes both with clouds and sun and warmth and cold.  It only came in large sizes.  It is magical in its magnificence.  It is perfect in its wholeness.  It is filled with small surprises and big purpose.  Do not set it aside (back under the tree if you have one), but please use it all wasting no part when the morning kisses you awake tomorrow.

Wrapped in bright green paper with a red bow in a slightly smaller box, I give you the sounds and smells of spring.  No batteries are needed.  When you lift the lid and push aside the tissue paper, close your eyes and open your nose and your ears.  Can you smell the fragrance of those tiny white daffodils?  Can you smell the perfume of that purple trumpet flower?  Can you smell new rich earth and green grass?  And listen, don't you hear robins chattering and wrens scolding and chickadees trying to shush them all as spring rains tap against new lime-green leaves?  OK, now you have to replace the tissue and close the lid and wait until another gray day when you need this reminder of spring.  You don't want to use it all up before spring actually arrives! (Those of you in another climate can put this in the back of the closet as it will keep until your  gray or winter days arrive.)

Wrapped in paper covered in laughing Santas is this medium sized box, and I ask that you hold on tight.  This is because inside is a big red bowl full of rolling laughs.  Do not eat them all at once or your belly will shake too much.  Also, be sure to share them around the room as laughter is always better when enjoyed with others.

Next, wrapped in paper with golden glittering stars, I give you the gift of a child's smile.  What?  You say there are no children in your life.  Then you must open your eyes and watch closely because somewhere near you a child IS smiling or needs to smile.  Then again you can enjoy this gift sooner if you go out and help a child smile.

 At the bottom of the trunk, wrapped in white paper with silver icicles in a very small box, is the jeweled gift of eternal/internal peace.  Sometimes peace is so light that you cannot hold it; sometimes peace is so blinding that you cannot see it.  Therefore, you may think this tiny box is empty.  But it is not.  Lift the lid and close your eyes and breath in deeply and very gently.  There it is.  It has entered your soul.  It is gently filling all the nooks and crannies of your mind and heart with a soft warmth.  It is, perhaps, my best gift as one size fits all.

Oh, I almost forgot.  This last gift is for my bloggers that are fighting the bigger challenges in life these days.  Down in the bottom corner of this dusty trunk is a platinum pill box and inside are little nanobots that come with tiny platinum hammers.  Their job is to smash replicating cells inside bodies of those fighting difficult diseases.  They are like the energizer bunny in that they never quit so you need only take a few every once in a while when you think you can no longer find energy to fight the good fight.

Now as we sit surrounded by piles of bows and wrapping paper, I wish all the happiest of holidays.

Hmmm...excuse me...I think I smell cinnamon...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Dirty Seven

Lessons from a Windows 7 user (I know, I know...I promised>):

  1. The version of Freecell that comes with my PC  has lovelier graphics but is much harder to play.  I can't win most of the games like I used to. 
  2. USB ports sometimes recognize what you plug into them and sometimes Windows 7 is off polishing its mother board and ignores your hardware.  (Maybe computers are so snarly because they don't have a father board? Is he out running another background check on a virus?)  PS...Through training I think my PC is beginning to get the hang of my plug-ins at long last!
  3. The default on this new version of Windows does not change how your mouse looks (remember the hourglass) when it is thinking.  That means that sometimes you think 7 is done thinking and you move your mouse elsewhere...but nothing happens because it is still thinking!
  4. Windows 7 does not like anything 'old' and there are not enough Windows 7 users for software companies to make something 'new'.  Use your old software at your own risk and good luck finding compatible new versions on the Internet.
  5. Windows 7 gives you lots of 'helpful' little pop-up windows asking you questions when you are trying to move or upload something as it accesses various software "assistants" and it sometimes makes me a little dyslexic as to which one to choose.  Sometimes the windows hide behind each other and you don't even know it has been hanging until you close all the windows.
  6. A fancy new feature of Windows 7 that would only appeal to the designers or 14-year-0lds is that you can 'shake' the window in which you are working and it will automatically expand to the full screen.  This unfortunately also happens if you cannot see the mouse pointer and you are moving the mouse rapidly back and forth to see where the pointer is located and the screen jumps to full view.  Very annoying if you have several windows up at once.
  7. The last thing I noticed on this PC, although not a function of Windows 7, was that the flash drive port is a little tight.  My husbands X-rated response..."Well, of course.  It's a virgin port.  It should be a little tight."  You can see how much tech help I get from him!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Children of Children

The ancient ones never dreamed that we would have the power to travel back through time and pass the sun as we glide slickly into another time zone.  They never dreamed that we would be powerful enough to turn rivers around and even to tame them, or with breathtaking greed, use them all up.  They never thought about how, like ants with ugly tools, we would remove entire mountain tops turning them to dust and toxic water, and then, in our guilt, try to rebuild them.

They never dreamed that our thoughts would follow electrical pathways in the air and invade the day of those we know, or like, or love, in the flick of a second without imparting any thing of importance.  They could never envision that we would be powerful enough to place electronic eyes everywhere and see from the mountains to the beaches to the bedrooms, all from the comfort of our throne. 

They never could imagine that we would make new 'better' versions of living things and parts of living things to suit our tastes, both physical and mental.  

They would have been aghast at the weapons of mass destruction with which we play so eagerly every day. 

They never knew that we would become the false gods sitting on the mountain in huge temples of artificial gold growing ever so fat and complacent as we proselytize about truth and justice.  They would be so frightened for us, their children, if they could have seen this future.  They would be even more surprised that being so powerful we naively fear the strangest of things, such as the arrangement of numbers on a calendar.  We are like mind-compromised children, fascinated by every little thing but learning nothing as we poke and pry and tear things apart.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The world is full of stuff and this is very evident in the United States at this time of year.  Our primary economic goal it seems is to produce new stuff to replace the old stuff.   
We get so much stuff that we have to rent spaces outside our homes in which to hoard what we no longer need or use.  (Yes, I have harangued on this theme before.)  There are those that produce paper instead of stuff (not the authors or poets), but the others, and they are a bunch of crooks so I give them no space or comment here.

Stuff includes toys that break the day after Christmas, electronic devices that are old and dated within months, cars that lose their value once sold, new clothing that is too tight, too bright, and too sad to wear, the rarest of foods that cost more than would be spent on food for a year in a third world country, and those sparkles that say 'I make more money than you' and also outshine the person it was bought for.  (Unless you are thinking of that famous bra which is worth more than some countries' budgets.)

I do not need more stuff, but not because I am so pure or so rich or so zen, but because I have purchased lots of stuff and I now know its true value.  I have thrown away more stuff than can be gathered in an all day Christmas sale....perhaps an all week Christmas sale.  I need nothing.  (Except that new PC so that I can tell the world my thoughts, of course.  Although, truth be told, it is not really necessary to my life.)  I am old enough that everything I wear can last me until I die.  My house is so crowded with furniture that I could get rid of much of it.  The garage needs a real cleaning as does the basement in this NEW house. And I won't even begin to detail the kitchen with cupboards and drawers hiding every gadget known to cooks. So much for going through another holiday of being 'stuffed.'

Next year I am going to take the reins of this holiday giving in hand early and send out a list of what I really want.  More of their time.  That will fix them!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Joyful Music and Laughter Do Mix

As most readers know I am not a religious person, but do enjoy the lovely holiday music that has come about for Christmas.  Here is a tongue in cheek version of monks singing The Hallelujah Chorus---one of my favorites!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Reward

I guess I was somewhat powerful as I removed the sky of the gray...see prior post...and this was my reward!  Be sure to click on the photo for your reward.

Grayness Begone!

Today has been one of the grayest and wettest days thus far.  I am hoping that this will not be a consistent pattern for the winter months, because we have been having luscious weather and I have gotten used to that and this weather is beginning to get on my nerves.

I decided to post a few flowers photos to cheer myself (and you all) up.  I was cleaning out old folders downloaded to this new PC and loading some new photos off the camera.

These yellow strawflowers above  were still blooming yesterday on my deck in spite of weather dropping to the 20's C at night and barely breaking 40 C most days.  They do look a little bedraggled today.

This other flower below is one I took at the conservatory at Biltmore.  It is a lovely varigated hibiscus that I had never seen before.

OK, that cheered me up a little.

Last time...I promise

I am still fiddling with my PC and trying to get my photo software packages to work like well-behaved children instead of Monk. (If you don't watch TV you will not get that statement.)

said she had luck by calling support for her new laptop. Being old at this game, that thought never occurred to me!  That gave me visions of bathing in ice water.  I had the experience in past of waiting on hold for hours and then patiently waiting while the tech on the other end walked me through all the things I had already tried...again!

Two cute little bugs that I have never seen before and which I corrected by searching the web were:  my apostrophe key defaulting to the search box at the bottom of the screen and not typing the apostrophe in the text of the emails.  For several days I have avoid using contractions and possesives...but found  on the web a toggle fix using the numlock key.

The second interesting bug was my camera (Canon EOS) would not download photos...kind of REALLY REALLY annoying as you know how much I love diddling with my photography.  Well some geck online found that if you reset the camera menu to downloading to a printer instead of the PC this will work in Windows 7.  Don't you just love how Microsoft's mind works?

Now I must figure out why my microchip ports on the front of the PC are not lighting up or being recognized when I put memory chips in them.  They were working just fine a few days ago.

One thing Windows 7 has accomplished...fewer readers to my blog.  Who wants to read this stuff!  But my blog is where I get it off my chest...I was going to write a Bagman comment here about my chest...but I will refrain and go get another cup of coffee instead.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Grade School Style

I am all about saving trees, but this is the entire documentation I got for setting up my PC and monitor.  When I called the store and asked about the manuals, they said they were online.  Perfect to access if you have your PC up and running...BUT!

I was trying to figure out the numbers on the various ports in the back and the front and how to recognize them.  I even looked for an image online.  After trial and error I got the printers plugged into the best ports.

Why did I go with HP you might ask?  Well, my recent one lasted almost 10 years and actually it is still running, only very slowly.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not Invited

Since we are both retired and our holiday parties with former workers are such a drive in this weather, we are not going to them.  We do not belong to a church and so will not be attending any of those holiday activities.  Since we do not have children in school, we are no longer going to those events.  Our new neighbors used to have a holiday get together but that is no longer done.

Looks like we will just be heading out to our daughter's for the Christmas Eve and Christmas day family activities.

Yes, we could probably throw a get together for the few folks we know here, but my heart is not into that kind of work when the weather outside is frightful and many are traveling. 

I don't miss these parties in actuality.  They were nice and the food was nicely caloric and I was a master at the small talk.  But I am calmly happy doing not much these days.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

90% done

Things I  learned today (and which you probably have no interest in):

  • New PCs (with an II X 4 910 processor) are faster but not amazingly faster than my old one.
  • Windows 7 WILL lock up if you are trying to install some driver or software that is not compatible and then it will not let you get the CD out and then it WILL crash.  You know that commercial where the PC guy tries to one-up the laid back Apple guy?  Not so funny anymore, somewhat like a documentary in my view.  Good thing I know just enough about computers to get myself out of trouble.
  • The design of this new HP has the button on the top right corner where it is very easy to hit and turn off when all you are doing is checking a connection in the back of the PC.
  • It also has a very CHEESY CD eject button.  Something one would find on a much cheaper computer.
  • The new wider HD monitor that I got for almost free because I had a coupon from Best Buy is to die for.  Now I can watch all those important YOUTUBE productions of people's cats and babies in high resolution....!
  • After an entire day I have one printer up and running...the free one I got with my camera purchase years ago that uses tons of expensive ink.
  • I have not given up on the old workhorse HP932C printer because I just spent $30 on a cable for it!
  • I worked for about ten minutes clicking and restarting and by luck got both monitors to display!
  • I have not purchased any new software and am forcing the older software to work...for now.
  • The house has not been vacuumed in days nor laundry done because my husband had an old laptop repaired when I got my new one and we are glued to our separate PCs right now.
  • Interesting but the new monitor makes some of my photos look worse than I thought and others much better.  Go figure.  Must be my old eyesight. 
  • And as an aside I find the nerdy geeks that repair or adjust my PCs when I do call them in are really nice kids and homemade cookies go a long way.  It is the developers that are aliens from outer space!
  • This is both my birthday and Christmas gift I have been told, and I love it in spite of all the getting to know you dance (war). 

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I am struggling with all the changes that happen when one goes with a new computer.  Some things went easily such as ONE of the printer installs and getting the online to work.  The other printer my old workhorse a HP deskjet 932C has a Windows 7 driver some where out there.  I am dwnloading about 32 windows updates, maybe I'll get lucky.  I did get lucky with the dual monitor setup.  Didn't want to give up my old monitor and now have TWO for blogging and one for photos.

Others such as installing all my old 'licensed' software packages are not going so well.  Most have been stalled perhaps by this 64 bit Windows 7 system?  I have been told that many old software packages just will not work with 64 bit.

I have the choice of buying all new software or calling in a professional to fix all this.  Neither are going to be very cheap!

I will return, once I can get this stupid pre-installed cable from the back of my brand new monitor and install the HD cable I bought.  It appears that I need to get a pair of pliers.  Beware of PC workers carrying pliers or screwdrivers.

Other things I have noticed that are cramping my style is that new features do not easily let you change your home page to that old familiar one and this keyboard...they keep moving the delete key!!!  AND I HAD FORGOTTEN HOW NASTY these companies are forcing one to use Yahoo or AOL as the home page on install!

On ward and upward.

Open Wide

Retirement to a country life is deemed romantic by some and is usually a less expensive life style.  But it has some distinct disadvantages.  One of these is finding a reasonable selection of health care workers.  While we retained our connection with specialists an hour away such as my husbands prostate cancer doctor, we did change all of the others.  Our primary care physician is scattered, sort of nerdy, and reminds me of my uncle who was a 'momma's boy'.  He has correctly diagnosed a few illnesses we have had since moving here. We are continuing to use him, but really hope to find someone we connect with more.

Our optometrist is young and cute and female.  Hubby has fallen in love with her. He claims he likes her because she looks him in the eye (!).  She uses all the latest technology, and her office is nearby so we will keep her. 

The dentist was selected on a whim while driving by his office in a delightful building on a side road.  He is charming and his whole staff is pleasant and very good at what they do.  The only problem is that he is off network for our insurance.  This means our insurance will require us to pay 40% - 60% of all expenses.  Hubby does not want to give this dentist up and start the search for a new one.  In-network dentists are quite a drive from where we live.  Hubby also strongly feels that the health of ones teeth are more important to general good health as we age.  He is right of course.

We asked what insurance this dentist carried and we looked at getting that as a rider.  But it would cost about $900 a year for the two of us. At that rate, after three or four years it might be cheaper just to pay for dental care out of pocket!  I am looking at a filling replacement  and a small bite correction in the near future.  I have until the 15th to change my health insurance in any way.


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Style Maven, NOT

Among the many gifts brought home from my husband's recent trip to Indonesia was the silk batik fabric below.  It was a gift from the people he was assisting.  It is supposed to be used for making a shirt.  It is so lovely and since I no longer sew, we will have to find someone who can turn this into something usable and something to show off.  Maybe a blouse for me?

Below is a photo taken on the "short-sleeve shirt" side of my husband's closet.  You can tell from the aloha shirts and the multicolored shirts that he has Pacific and Asian tastes.  At first glance, one might think that he was gay.  Well, he is gay, very gay...but not that way.  He is a strong man, secure in his manhood to be able to wear this stuff.  He actually was once a hunter and lifts weights and does SCUBA.  I wonder what Queer Eye for the Straight Guy would say about THIS closet inventory?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Crystal Ball Gazing

There are moments when you are given the magical power to look into a crystal ball.  You can see into the future just as if you were there already.  You can see the images in the ball more clearly if your eyes are cloudy with age.  Taking this photo of my 2-year-old granddaughter was one of those moments.  Look out world, here she comes.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Between the Lines

Here I was, once again, on my way rushing to the dock.  Why I am always rushing is any-one's guess but I know that some day I will be too arthritic to rush anywhere and I will have to settle for a joggle.  Anyway, I was hurrying to help blow out the lines...the hose line that is used at the boat.  Hubby was in the house with an air compressor at the correct (we hoped) plumbing juncture in the basement.  The incorrect junture might blow the expensive 'ornaments' on the inside sinks.  My job was to turn on the hose water at the dock, watch it drain into the river and then let him know when it was empty so that he could turn off the water line from the house. 

As I carried cell phone in hand I skipped ever so dangerously over the slippery leaves that had since covered the path on the hill down to the dock trail (for the 4th time I might add--the leaves covering not me skipping),   As I maintained a tighter grip on the phone I saw with surprise that I was just getting ready to put my foot down on the back of our resident black snake!  There he lay in the path slightly covered by brown leaves and not moving his curving black line.  He was in slow mo due to the colder weather.  My frantic approach did not encourage him to move away and yet I knew he was alive.  I hesitated stepping over and, instead, scuffled some leaves toward him hoping it might encourage him to go on his way.  No such luck.  I finally got the courage to move around the back of him while straddling the tree roots on the side of the path.  I did this pretty rapidly, because, while I am an outdoor gal, I am always leery of snakes, even safe ones like our black resident.

He was still in the same place 15 minutes later when I returned after successfully emptying the hose line but his curving black line was more squiggly which is something they do when nervous.   This time he had formed a U as if wondering if he should return to whence he came, since this path which had not been used much recently due to colder weather seemed to be enduring some crazy rush hour human traffic.  I, once again, only on the other side of the trail away from his head, stepped on some fallen logs and made my way carefully around giving him plenty of room.

That afternoon I finished vacuuming and dusting the upstairs bedrooms to be ready for Thanksgiving company.  Then, as a reward, I went up to my upstairs nook to blog and read some blogs.  I was alone in the house because hubby was greasing the boat lift; boats are an endless source of fun and expensive time consuming maintenance.  The house was quiet except for the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard.  Behind me I heard a light tapping/slicing noise.  I stopped typing and 'opened' my ears and turned my head from side to side.  No noise.  I continued typing and the tut tut noise started again.  It was coming from behind my head.  I turned and the photo below is what I saw.

It was the line of my vacuum proceeding in snakelike fashion to move on down the stairway where the weighted head of the cleaner was pulling it with gravity.  The tapping was the ridges of the hose catching and then releasing against the corner of the file cabinet as it uncurled.  This silver snake like movement was just a little unnerving after my morning experience.