Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Makes a Classic?


Above is my granddaughter sitting in the basement TV room of my daughter's house watching TV.  She has self-dressed this morning in a black velvet and red-silk Christmas dress with a "diamond" clipped waist bow.  Since it is winter, she has on leggings with orange stripes and her favorite pink-colored socks.  She reminds me of Pippi Longstalking in this funky outfit with a polka dot headband for some more bling.  She will not let anyone touch her hair and wears pigtails only to school.  The rest of the time it must flow with tangled abandon.  One of her favorite movies is Tangled...surprise, surprise.

Here she sits watching the 1930 movie version of A Christmas Carol with Reginald Owen.  I think she is enthralled because the ghost of Christmas past looks a little like the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz and she is also very much into that tale right now.  She was Dorothy from Oz at Halloween.  She followed this entire movie without break.

I am fascinated that such a classic in black and white and without special effects can hold the interest of a three-year-old in 2010.  It seems a clean story told simply and with universal themes to an un-jaded mind can hold its own and becomes a classic!  What do you think?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gifting

These are two silver ornaments that are part of the centerpiece on my dining table.
Last year at this time I opened a virtual trunk filled with presents for my bloggers to add to their winter holiday celebrations.  I tried to keep it diverse and filled with love.  I think that some may have enjoyed that because the sizes were correct and the colors were perfect and the style...well, I always have style, don't I?  One of my gifts was not 'just right' for a certain someone and I miss him every single blogging day.  But I cannot help but think he can read blogs without restraint now, and while mine may not be the first blog he reads each day, I know he will get around to it eventually.  I am hoping that whatever holiday you celebrate or honor with holy remembrance in December, it is filled with memories of loved ones now and forever and that you have some wonderful seasonal music to enjoy along with those memories and some delicious seasonal food.  (Like many of you I will be away for the weekend...missing blogging...but loving the time with loved ones.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Shortest Day


(Been here and done this...so please be patient with me.)

I grab my down coat and pull it over my pajamas and then slip into my plastic clogs still wearing my woolly slipper socks.  The sun is up but it is having a tough time burning through the heavy cold winter fog although the morning is well underway.  There is no wind, so my coat will be perfect in protecting me from winter's breath.

Grabbing my ever-present camera, I plod down to the dock being careful that I do not slip on the thin coating of frost that covers everything on this early morning turning all surfaces to slippery diamond dust.  Snow is predicted, but this is lovely enough for me right now.

Winter is here and while I still marvel at its stark beauty, I also know that I prefer the other three seasons more as I age.  Winter means I have to move more carefully, I have to dress in layers before I go outside, and the dark of night comes before the dinner hour and lasts well after I get up in the morning.  I am a Mediterranean baby.

Today is my birthday and I used to wonder with resentment why I was born on the shortest day of the year...but now I think it is because my birth is the harbinger of longer days to come and the beginning of the return of spring.  I now view my birthday as sign of good things to come!  I am the bearer of good news.

And look what Gaia brought me as a present early on my day of celebration...an eclipse of the moon!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Update

A follow up to the post below I took Hilary's advice (she is an angel as well as punny and an excellent photographer) and while the *.jpg search did not reveal them it did lead me to another of Windows processes called Recovery (I had used a free restore software without success) and lo and behold I think I got about 80% of them in the two corrupted folders.  I am missing some interesting photos on people and their dogs...a new series I am compiling for myself.  Still don't know where some of them went.  My neighbor lost his Windows PC in a lightning storm and now swears by Linux after he built his new PC...if I only was a little smarter.  OK...if only I was a LOT smarter.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The National Tree

I could not resist posting this photo of the National Tree in front of the White House with the Washington Monument in the background.  The star on top of the tree is being backlit by the winter morning sun.  It was somewhat breathtaking in the cold morning air.  The workers were around on all sides busily taking down fences, collapsing cold metal chairs and removing about an acre of snap-together flooring that had been installed for the tree lighting ceremony just a few days before.  The state trees standing in a circle around the big tree, which were fenced off at the time I was there, seemed smaller then when I saw them years ago.  They were only 3 feet high!  Such is recession I am guessing or maybe it is because we are trying to be green?  I know it is not because I have grown taller!  The National Tree greenery is almost hidden and weighted down by the strings of decorations and lighting.  It is sort of an instant decoration kind of thing.

There is a sad postscript to this photo above.  I had just lost all the photos I took in December.  None of my photos are publishable or worth turning into artwork, but they are mine and hold all my December memories and I am sick about this.  This photo and about 500 others are gone, gone, gone.  I did not delete them.  Something very similar to this happened last September when I was working with about 1,000 photos from my Canada trip and tagging them in my software and 100 from the first file disappeared.  A file recovery did not work.

I use PhotoShop Elements 8 which allows me to index photos by adding subject tags, people tags and even GEO/place tags.  I spent several hours going through bird photos tagging them by species and when I was all done, I checked my email and when I came back the entire December folder and most of the Bird folder were missing their files! Nothing was in my recycle bin and I couldn't find them using Windows Explorer.  Therefore, they were not just disconnected from the photo catalog in PSE8...they were gone!  I have tried to find the solution on the web but mostly Adobe just tells people they must have done something wrong because the software does not delete files by itself...!

I have been reasonably good about backing up photos either on CDs or another hard drive I have...but I only do that once a month, so missed that opportunity by a few days as I was still reviewing and weeding files.  I will get over this.  It is not someone's wedding or birthday photos...just my crap...my precious crap!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Legs



It is said that one goal in life is to grow old gracefully...

On short stubby legs the goal in life was to learn to walk and not fall, to cover as much of the huge world's surface before nap-time and then the next day to learn to run.
On longer, coordinated, energetic legs the goal was to make the goal, to beat the boys, to win the races, to get there first.
On shapely legs the goal was to walk on red stilted shoes without twisting an ankle and with studied grace, and to ignore the cold drafts as the skirts were kept short and the legs were kept bare throughout the long winter.
On efficient nylon-covered legs and librarian style heels the goal was to meet the deadlines and hurry home to feed the short stubby legs without a stumble in the same day.
On varicose and freckled and not-yet-shaved legs the goal was to keep them hidden from critical eyes and be thankful you didn't need a walker or cane like your Aunt.
On arthritic legs the goal was to push through the pain and stiffness and to dance every single dance on through the long wedding evening.
Now the goal is to rise out of bed each morning and learn to walk once again and cover as much of the huge world's surface before nap-time and to be thankful you don't want to run.


Those were the days...!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reflecting On A 'Reasonable' Request



Years ago when I was in my twenties and thirties I was a big American football fan. I started my interest while in college watching various college football games and then male friends spurred (?...in oh so many ways?) my interest in professional football.  I knew the players and the team rankings.  I think it was after my children were all potty-trained that I realized I had outgrown this sport. The talking heads talked way too much, the replays from every angle possible went on too long and the drugs and money were too mind boggling for me to look at these guys as athletes anymore. I began to see that a 10 second play took more than three minutes to review/discuss/repeat.  (This was not the fall of the Berlin Wall, after all.)  Football is now the absolutely SLOWEST game on the planet in a culture that encourages video games with numerous explosions and demolition derbies.  In America there are homes where games can be on back to back for 9 hours on a weekend day!  When get-togethers were just the blood relatives I would busy myself with cleaning up dishes after Thanksgiving or watching something else somewhere else while the gang watched their games.

Today if there is a game (and puleeze when isn't there a game?) I retreat to read in the bedroom or hubby heads to our TV downstairs while I watch something I had previously recorded.  If the game becomes a bore, he re-joins me in a short time.  A few weekends ago I had planned a nice dinner for my daughter, who with two little ones and a pending child, rarely gets a break.  I selected several CD's for nice casual dining atmosphere and had them playing.  When they all arrived I was outside on the deck handling a small emergency for my husband involving a deer, a gun and the neighbors.  I was greeted on the deck by daughter and kids but after 10 minutes wondered where S.I.L. was.  I went back inside to find he had turned off the music and turned on the football game.  He was standing watching it even before he had greeted his host or hostess!  I let him know in no uncertain terms that I at least expected a hug and greeting BEFORE football took his total attention!  This real issue, which a mother-in-law will bravely admit, is that I do not get a chance to visit with my daughter as I would like because she is the one babysitting while her husband is watching the game.  There are some men that can do two things at one time...but I do not know many of them.

My son's 'new' girlfriend recently turned 33.  She had planned a birthday party at her house with the theme on threes.  She set up her Ipod for her favorite music.  She had cooked various meals with three ingredients or three in the name but was dismayed to find when she emerged with snacks from her kitchen the guys had turned off her Ipod speakers and turned on the TV for their Alma Mater game!  Their argument was that it was THEIR college and they really wanted to see this.  Her argument was that it was HER birthday and she wanted conversation and music!  She, being the hostess and knowing her mind, won.

Does anyone else find football addiction as rude and intrusive as I do?  Shouldn't the hostess be the one to determine if she wants a pseudo tail-gate party or an actual get-together where you play games or talk with friends and family or break-up into sports and mind groups?  If someone says lets get together and eat before the game...that is different.  But does every weekend get-together have to be a game day?  Am I being hopelessly narrow-minded or very naive or heading down a path of no return?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thursday Thoughts 13... #30: Blogging Along

Doesn't this look so neat and clean   ;-)

  1. According to my Blogger statistics readers have searched and found my blog with the phrase "i think too far ahead" and "bad karma stories."  Is that flattering or scary and should I be concerned?
  2. I used to have 58 followers here.  I know that is not many for those of you in the solid 3 and even 4 figures, but I lost one follower the other day.  Was it something I wrote?  That hurts because while I love my followers I am not very good at cultivating them. A 'princess' has joined my entourage since I wrote this...so I am back to 58...no back to 57!  Did I lose another one?
  3. I am currently using '50.7%' of my Picasa photo storage for Blogger.  As a person who took almost 900 photos just last month and deleted only 400, the fear of the eventual need to upgrade storage in my blog photos stalks my every post.
  4. I am trying to wean myself from checking Blogger a half dozen times a day (or more!) when I am home alone.  I need to enrich my life, I guess.  I am so addicted to your comments and to the fact that you read what I say and I even do not mind criticism (polite suggestions on viewing things a little differently) although most bloggers are too polite.  Maybe I could be Fran Lebowitz and not care what people think.
  5. I also am dismayed by the bloggers that I link to that have quit posting...I just can't seem to find the courage to remove those links from my list.  I also feel the same way about FB.  People befriend me and then NEVER post anything!  I wish I had the courage to defriend them as they have become stalkers in my mind...but they KNOW me, so it is not as easy to do as it might be in my blogging network.
  6. I actually am trying to consciously keep my blogger reader demographics broad.  I know that I have much in common with those my age and with my interests, but for the same reason I will never live in a retirement community, I am trying to proactively add younger readers and readers with different views to my lists.
  7. If you think you have been blogging a long time, the first blog (daily online journal) was published electronically in 1994 by a young man named Justin Hall and the link to that blog is still ongoing and here.
  8. In 2004, "blog" was the word of the year...I didn't know they had a word-of-the-year.  I am so stupid sometimes.
  9. The precursor in naming a blogger or online journalist was escribitionist.  Maybe that should be a word of the year.  (Colleen, see if you can work that into your next Scrabble game.)
  10. I look at blogging as chapters of a diary of someone's life and Facebook as the footnotes (which are sometimes more like anecdotes or my   daily boring life activity notes).
  11. Is it true that a new blog is created every second around the world?  How many die every second?
  12. Perhaps the most important change blogging has made is allowing social activism from the smallest 'end of the tail' and not just from the large and 'popular' opinions.  Information is powerful, especially when we find others thinking like us.
  13. The most important change for me is learning that you do not have to meet someone face to face to get to know them and sometimes there is a little magic that happens in blogland and we become very good friends.  I can remember how shy and intimidated I was about blogging when I first started.  

Sunday, December 05, 2010

One-liners.

Working on Thursday Thoughts... and since, perhaps, some of you are stopping at the blogger bar on the way home hoping to find some lovin' comfort here is all I could dredge up between now and then.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Happy Shopping Day



In the 'Western' world during the months of November and December we go through an amazing transformational panic to try and buy things for gifts that can show our loved ones, our enemies and our bosses (with which have that love/hate thing going) that we are smart, efficient, rich and worthwhile as human beings.  Each gift purchase opens us to years of angst and cringing if we get it wrong.  We have a religious holiday called Black Friday which follows the Thursday of Thanksgiving and devout pilgrims of this procurement ceremony Friday wait in long lines outside malls and stores in the dark of earliest morning drinking hot drinks and chatting amiably only to be seriously maimed or even trampled to death by their greedy fellow shoppers when the store opens before the sun rises.  This is followed by a recent acquisition holiday called Cyber Monday where the rest of the rich sit on their fat butts in front of computer screens checking their emails and tweets and perusing the web sites of their favorite stores for that deal of deals...sometimes forgetting they are buying for others and find something that they will buy for their greedy selves.

Well, I have an idea.  Now that both of those important signpost days have passed, and if you still have empty places on your list of gifts for loved ones and un-loved ones, you might consider these socially conscious shopping sites for a change:

CharityGiftCertificates.org

GiftsThatGive.com

Globalexchangestore.org

Globalgirlfriend.com

Goodshop.com

Teesforchange.com

WorldofGood.com

I have gotten these links from reliable sources but I have not actually used them...yet...and, if you really want to get into the spirit, go to your local big box store and buy a few cases of non-perishable food items (some of your favorite stuff AND something healthy) and drop it off at your local food bank.

Happy Shopping.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Ship of Life


(My prior post was about shipwrecks...so I will continue the theme.)

Life is something that has its own energy and schedule and pace even though we think we can control this ship of state fate.  We are here only as passengers on this ride, and while we try to steer the ship as best as possible, we are not aware of hidden shoals or unpredictable zephyrs that will delay our progress or throw us way way off course.

The stylish lady in the photo above was my mother-in-law.  The gentle beauty on her face reveals what a good and generous person she was.  She grew up in a small town in Michigan.  Her parents ran a sometimes successful photography shop with her father giving his work away and her mother holding customers strictly to paying their bills.  This dance between the two of them provided a reasonable income for the family and respect in the community.  She also had a younger brother.  As a teenager she probably had the best start in life that anyone could ask for.  Her life was like a Mickey Rooney movie.

But her ship was destined to go through a number of perfect storms. After high school she used her lovely singing voice and sang for several large mid-west orchestras before she went on the vaudeville road.  While in vaudeville she met and married another singer whose love of alcohol destroyed the marriage.  This was a terrible embarrassment during that time as divorce was something discussed only in whispers.  Then another hidden shoal, a goiter, brought her singing career to an abrupt halt.  She returned home broken but unbowed to help her father in his shop.  Her second husband (my husband's father) fell in love with her photograph when dropping off some film and pursued her until she married him.

He had been married before and had three children.  His first marriage broke up violently and his drinking probably contributed to that.  My mother-in-law was not going to give up on another marriage and stuck by his violent outbursts and his frequent job changes and many moves, and in her late thirties gave birth to my husband.  My husband was the golden child doted on by both parents and probably very much the reason the marriage held together.  She also became a binge drinker when life got too stressful and after her son moved to college which contributed to bringing fog to the years as she aged.

During this time her only brother, who had married and had a daughter, was badly beaten in a robbery in California and his brain was so damaged that he never returned to full mental capacity leaving his family to struggle through poverty.  There were rumors that he had been visiting a prostitute at the time.  It broke my M.I.L.'s heart.

A decade later after her mother's death (the stronger soldier in the parental unit) my mother-in-law had to put her father in a rest home in Virginia because her husband could not bear to see him aging and would not let him live with them.  She was very close to her father and this must have been almost unbearable for her to drop him off among strangers so far from what both of them knew as home.

Years past and I met her as the single daughter-in-law.  I knew my own mind and my independence was probably a little strange to her.  Within weeks after the birth of my first child I watched her go through some serious heart surgery and then a few years later watched her manage the 24-hour care of her husband who had emphysema from his years of smoking.  She survived in spite of our fear that she would pass first.  After she was widowed she came to live near us, and then eventually moved in with us, as her dementia set in.  I am of the opinion that dementia can bring blissful routine when yesterday's tragedies are pretty much forgotten.

The last years of her life as she stayed with us, she was sure she was visiting with her brother and his wife and going home as soon as she felt better.  We went along with the painful charade because she was a very special person and it was easier that way.  Perhaps her life would have been much different if just one of those storms went off-track.  But, then again, perhaps not.