Friday, September 19, 2014

In a Fog.

Leaving on our trip tomorrow.  Checking out the webcam to see the "ocean view" we might have on our second day "there."  I am hoping this is not accurate but all other webcams that I checked out in the country are either live or black if they are down.  Now you have a pretty good idea of where we are going?  And, yes, I am bringing a raincoat.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Up in the Air

I am getting ready for a trip (yes ANOTHER travel opportunity) and I am doing a little jig about it.  I just read somewhere that some rental car companies in other countries will not rent to someone 70 years of age.  So I only have a few years left to get around on my (our) own!  Then the only opportunities are more expensive.

Yet, the plans for this trip are in the hands of someone else (my son's in-laws), and I am sure we will be glad with whatever transpires and wherever we stop---hotel, a few bed and breakfasts and then a hotel.  I will tell you where when I return and bore you with at least a few photos.  (My biggest issue is how much camera gear to take!)  I am determined to take only one small suitcase.

To bring me down to earth, I have been juggling doctor's appointments as I have had a chronic cough this summer that will not go away.  The next step on the path of health discovery is that I have asked for an MRI since an X-ray ("probably underlying COPD"--whatever in the hell that means) showed nothing of significance.  But the cough is annoying everyone around me as well as myself.  Thus, I now have to take it on the trip with me and I am sure with the Ebola scare I am going to be taken aside and given a temperature reading and lots of space from passengers while others are being scanned for weapons.

This life is such an adventure, isn't it?  Makes you stronger.

I do not mean to leave readers up in the air...maybe I can blog more from there?

Stay safe from fires, floods, volcanoes and loud people until I return.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Night Out and A Mellow Out

My husband an I too rarely take advantage of the many activities in nearby Washington, DC.  It is over an hour's drive and we have to stay at one of the kid's houses in the suburbs and sometimes these activities are expensive.  But this past weekend we decided to take advantage of a Pink Martini pops concert at the Kennedy Center.  The Kennedy Center has several stages and presents all types of musical and dramatic events.  Some are free and some are very expensive.  When I had first moved to this area decades ago and first went to the Center I asked my neighbor if I had to dress up.  She laughed and said unless it was an "opening" I would see everything from nice dresses and suits to students with back-packs and in jeans.

This last weekend I saw the same.  Although some of these folks looked familiar and clearly were a celebrity of some type.  Nothing I could place in my limited cultural background.

Pink Martini is an international cultural band and now are based out of Portland, Oregon.  This particular evening they also showcased the talents of four of the great grandchildren of Maria and Captain Georg von Trapp.  These young ones are also now working out of Portland, Oregon, moving recently from a lovely little town in Montana.

It was a great experience because it was supported by National Public Radio, one of my favorite stations.  Ari Shapiro, one of their international correspondents, sang TWO solos and one duet.  Who knew?  What a talented and entertaining young man.  The very next day he flew back to Scotland to report on the independence vote in that country!  Also making a special appearance was Scott Simon from NPR, who cannot sing, but was most entertaining with his attempt at yodels.

I brought my small point and shoot camera and captured a few throw away shots.  My mind was not really focused and thus the camera had the same problem.  But I thought I would share the elegance of this concert venue for those who cannot visit it.

Just past the Hall of Nations into the North Grand Foyer where President Kennedy's bust towers over everything else.

Outside on the terrace where stunning weather allowed ticket holders to sip their wine or eat their candy while having quiet conversations before the opening curtain.

This view from the terrace looks across the Potomac river toward Georgetown.  (Maybe you will remember we ate dinner from that side and I posted a nighttime view of the Kennedy Center across the river?)

We were blessed with a stunning sunset looking toward the Virginia side.  This photo is most of these and it "might" have been that great "Pink Cherry Cosmo" that I had with dinner at P.F.Changs in Arlington that increased the sloppiness of my photography.

But this last photo below turned out really fun...sort of like one of those rainy day impressionist paintings from a French painter.  Even mistakes can be rewarding.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Redisovering Cooking

Most of us get a lot of landfill in our mailboxes. If you contribute to even one charity or political action group you get on the mailing lists of hundreds of others.  I am in that demographic group (upper middle class old farts) that would get the type of mailing the Great Courses group sends out.  They offer courses on history, music, and science.  These courses come with textbooks and DVD's (downloads if you wish) and usually run well over $200 for a complete course.  Thus, I usually throw the catalogs away figuring there are enough free courses on the internet for most of my needs.  (  - - -  Some of these need Apple interfaces but most can work on any computer.)

Anyway, when I received the recent catalog I noticed that the usual courses had substantial discounts.  The course titled "The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking" which had been priced at $269.95 was reduced to $39.95!  This includes 4 DVDs and a book.  This course comes out of the CIA (the one at Greystone, New York) ...not the spy agency but The Culinary Institute of America.  (I know, you were wondering just what type of meals they taught!)  This CIA is a premier institution and I actually ate at one of the school's restaurants after a conference a long time ago.

So envisioning long winter months ahead, I opted to purchase this course.  Yes, I know it is dated and that is why they reduced the value, but it meets my needs.  There are 24 lessons at 30 minutes each taught by Chef Bill Briwa.  They are designed for home cooking and not commercial venues.  Thus far I have gone through lesson one which is an overview of ingredient, techniques and flavor, and I did learn a few things.  The second lesson was about essential knives and I learned even more.  Next I listen to the lesson on more essential kitchen tools---from pots to shears.

The lessons are a little dumbed down for my tastes, but I like the fact that they are short and to the point.  The book that comes with it follows exactly.   Oddly enough the chapters come with a list of ingredients to shop for but no recipes.  I will have to see how that works out as I move forward!  I guess if you have to know how much of something to add, you shouldn't be cooking???  Anyway, I am looking for an improvement in techniques and not new recipes!

I will keep you posted on how my spatchcocked chicken turns out.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Our Heroes

I just finished reading the autobiography titled My Beloved World (2013) by Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor.  As the 111th appointment and only the third woman and the first of Hispanic heritage to the Supreme Court she is one of the most interesting and groundbreaking women (people) in the justice system.  Her biography left me much more comfortable about our Supreme Court than I have been in ages with those old white dudes that sit next to her in their robes and their parochial minds and their lack of insight into how this world is changing.

Her life is rich and her own exploration of her life was marvelous.  She has such insight and is so willing to admit her errors and review her philosophy as she lives her life.  She is both an everywoman and a genius at the same time.  She is that woman you wanted for a sister or best friend.  She dances between poverty in Puerto Rico and touring with the Fendis in Italy and does not miss a step.

Lest you think I admire her because she is a liberal justice, please note, Sotomayor's circuit court rulings led to her being considered a political centrist by the ABA Journal.  Also A Congressional Research Service analysis found that "Sotomayor's rulings defied easy ideological categorization, but did show an adherence to precedent and an avoidance of overstepping the circuit court's judicial role."  Yet, when you read her biography you wonder at her ability to not get an ulcer when the Supreme Court ruled recently against affirmative action because we not longer need it!!  I am looking forward to her role on this court in the coming decade.

I recommend this biography to anyone who is interested in learning who makes up our citizens and who loves this crazy quilt of different cultures that makes us the nation we are today.

I understand there is a new biography on her and I will have to research that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Leaking Color

Mage challenged me to black and white...more sophisticated and more artistic and something I rarely if ever do because I am a color freak.  I took a walk around my garage to see what had the texture and structure for B & W.  But as you can see I kept letting the color seep into these photos through the leaks of my brain.

Monday, September 08, 2014


Passions come and go and some of them come and never go.  The wonderful thing about retirement (if your family is amenable) you can indulge to your heart's content those things that light your fire if they do not require large amounts of money that you do not have.  You DO have time!  Lately photo manipulation has been my addiction.  I go out and take a bunch of photos and if the lighting or focus is particularly good I can manipulate it until the cows come home or my back screams for me to get up and get moving and just have fun with the creations that appear.

Below is a butterfly I found sitting on my deck this past spring taken with a Canon point and shoot that I rested on the railing.

He is perhaps not exceptional, but the white background lent itself to manipulation.

First I cropped him, changed the photo light levels and contrast and then gave him super cool edges.

Then I decided to really turn him into a work of art.

I found in a coffee shop the poster below that seems to say it all when it comes to my approach to photographic art.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

David Simon's Dangerous Ideas

This HBO writer "The Wire" puts succinctly and with great clarity the argument that should reach a much larger audience.  Please take the time to listen to the entire speech.  (Please be aware it includes all the correct places.)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Two Sides

Two sides of the same coin.  One side is smooth and peaceful and the other is detailed and interesting.   One finds days without tasks a dangerous passage of endless time where one can see one's mortality looming ahead.  The other finds days unscheduled with meetings, errands, duties, appointments, or social obligations important days to be filled with nothing but pondering the beauty of a rich life.

One of us can nourish the soul on tufts of time between hours of busy accomplishments and discussions with others and the other finds it needs huge pillows of time as the only way to survive in the cacophony of living. 

One of us sees time as something to manage and the other sees it as a rich amorphous fragrance.

And yet, we do manage to walk this road hand in hand.

Monday, September 01, 2014

A Review: Movies and Holidays

We had those 4 young people Friday and Saturday.  The first day was quiet with wine on the dock and good conversation.  A crab and salmon and freshly harvested oyster dinner went off without a hitch on the deck and the mosquitoes held off until late evening.  Since one of the young men was from Hong Kong, he fully appreciated the fresh seafood even though it was not prepared as he was used to.  The next day was full of loud and busy boating.  Everyone was out on the water from noisy ski-doos with teenage boys hanging on to drooping swimsuits to those super fast useless speed boats filled with bikini-glad dyed blondes and the guy who owns the boat.  Little guys were driving(?) small flat-bottomed fish boats and others were pulling floats behind with small brothers.  We cruised to a nearby pocket beach and snacked on cheeses, deli meats, olives, dried fruits, etc..  The heat was a bit much, but we survived well, except for one small accident by me which I will save for another  post.

The couple that is friends of my son and his wife admitted to us they were thinking wedding plans!  It is not an easy road for the following reasons:  her parents are traditional, southern, and very conservative and somewhat religious, his parents are a big noisy Chinese family from Hong Kong with that Asian energy the Chinese bring to any celebration which can be somewhat overwhelming and demanding.  They are also not Christian.  I did not ask what religion or if they belonged to any religion at all, but the young couple were clear it was NOT going to be a church wedding.  They are not wealthy so having to keep all decisions frugal or give in and then let the families fight over who pays for what and thus runs the show...not a good scenario.  (I will let you in on a little secret in that they were thinking and we encouraged that they go ahead and get married secretly by a "Justice of the Peace" so that the future husband he can get on the bride's health insurance plan and they "plan" another wedding in a few more months when they have saved more money and had time to create a strategy.) The young man from Hong Kong has become bored with his job, and because they have no mortgage, no children, and are in their early 30's, he has decided to leave this job to join a start-up with greater risk but far greater potential but with no health insurance.  I am excited and hopeful for both of them and want to help them in any way without adding to their stress.

At the end of the second day this couple left on their way to do other things and son and daughter-in-law stayed on through the evening and next day.  We talked and talked (DIL was drinking wine so I did not ask about their plans for children...although I do know from another source that she is trying to get pregnant.)   Son helped us with our wi-fi and set up a password which I have been trying to do for months.  He also fixed some hardware on a window which had boggled my mind.  We have a great relationship with both of them.  Years ago we were not as close to our son who wanted to be on his own and not keep us in the loop of his merry-go-round life, but he has matured and she has also influenced a change in him.  Our times together are fun, peaceful, and rewarding.  I feel very, very, very blessed.  I am not the easiest person to hang out with if I care about you, so we all have adjusted I am guessing.

We did all watch the movie "Noah" on TV one night and may I warn you that it is the biggest waste of time.  The acting is the only thing of any merit.  The script is terrible, the plot is weird, the character development non-existent, special effects do not waste your money.

Well, I am now off to do 7 (yes SEVEN) loads of laundry.