Saturday, February 28, 2015


Owning and using a car is a big responsibility.  A car is a useful tool for getting you places and transporting others who do not have a means of getting somewhere.  It can open doors to new worlds.  It is also dangerous if used carelessly.  You can kill or maim yourself or others.  Therefore substantial training, testing, and licensing of both you and the vehicle is required.  Cars can be stolen by others and thus we have gotten much better over the years in providing locks to prevent this.  That is not saying cars don't get stolen, but we have more complicated preventions, such as more complicated locking devices, silent alarms, cars that stall when stolen and GPS tracking devices so that we know where cars are at all times.  Not all types of vehicles can be used on public roads.  For instance, if you own a tank or one of those big wheelers, you must get a special permit to go from point A to point B and if you want to move a bus you have to have a specific license and testing in the majority of states.  Cars are not cheap to own and most states require insurance to protect the driver and others from tragic expenses and lawsuits.  Those that do not require insurance do require a vehicle fee paid to the state or the posting of bond. You cannot drive when under the influence of a drug and if caught can lose your license and/or car and must find other means of transportation if needed.  You may need to be re-tested for an understanding of the laws or even re-tested for eyesight and reflexes as you continue to drive. You are required to have your vehicle certified over time to make sure that it still has all the safety and other features working.  Law enforcement can check fairly easily any information on a vehicle by checking the license plate number in a database. 

All of these protections can be bypassed with effort, but that does not stop me from supporting the laws and technologies now in place even though it makes owning a vehicle an expensive privilege.

I feel the same way about guns and would like to have similar rules implemented.

( I should be home tomorrow...back into the polar express area of the world.  I saw the sign above and realized it was not something I would have seen years ago.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Is Your Hero?

I took one of those stupid Facebook quizzes the other day.  I usually avoid these because I think there is a Russian hacker behind each quiz who gathers your answers and uses them for data to steal your/my ID in some new way to be used in the future.  Maybe he will use the data to get ID on my grand children!   But, this time I was bored and took the quiz.  The results always make you sound better than you are, so most people like the reward they get for answering stupid questions.  Anyway, this is what I got.

You're an Idealist! Idealists are abstract and compassionate day dreamers, activists, writers, diplomats, counselors and healers. You're the magician or medicine man of all the personality types. You're a deeply emotional and abstract thinker with cooperative and communitarian goals. You long for deep, meaningful relationships and you constantly contemplate how you can help the common good. You're guided by strong personal ethics, and you often have an ideology, cause, or way of viewing the world that you take very seriously. You're easy going until someone challenges your values, at which point you can be the fiercest of opponents. At heart, you're a natural healer with a great depth of empathy for those around you. As an Idealist, you're in impressive company! Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Princess Diana, and Oprah are all famous examples of Idealists! Do you feel more like Gandhi or Oprah? Let us know!

Since Gandhi is one of my all time heroes, I guess they got it right this time.  Of course much of what is written above can apply to all of us.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Not Vexing

(Another post I pre-wrote before I left.)

Along the open area near the stairs on the third floor (I think it was third?) are the American Indian flags that were hung at the National Museum of the American Indian that I visited weeks ago.  The American state flags of Oklahoma and Massachusetts use American Indian symbolism.  They both have Indian symbols representing peace...ironic isn't it?  There are at least 200 tribal flags identified and about 30 are in this photo.  It is my understanding that some flag designs are still awaiting approval from the U.S. government to represent some smaller tribes.  There are over 500 American Indian tribes!

As you probably understand the use of flags is a new type of representation for the American Indian, mostly begun within the last 50 years.  Prior to this tribes were identified by costumes and totems.  But since the U.S. requires identification for sovereignty the tribes went the way of the Europeans and developed flags.

According to vexillologist, Donald T. Healy, "Another major inducement for Native American peoples to adopt flags has been their increasing involvement in the gaming industry. More than ninety-five tribes now offer gambling in one form or another on federally recognized reservations. This has brought millions of visitors to lands they would never have thought to visit. With this massive influx of visitors tribes now find themselves in need of a readily acceptable symbol of sovereignty. Replies to surveys and phone inquiries in at least a dozen cases have directly attributed the adoption of a flag to the opening of a casino or bingo parlor. The impact of gambling upon the adoption of flags within the Native American community may be a unique occurrence in vexillological history."  By the way, the study of flags is called vexillology.

In the above photo is the view that you get when you walk past all the flags and look down to the central lobby of the museum.  This open area below is where you see and hear demonstrations of songs, instruments, and other culture activities throughout the day.  And, I might mention that not all Indians are poor.  The Pequot Indians of Connecticut were sufficiently wealthy that they donated ten million dollars to the Smithsonian Institution toward the construction of a this museum.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Florida Notes--Thursday 13

  1. You will notice that there are lots of small dogs being walked.  They are dressed nicely.  I saw four little dogs with flowered sun-visors riding in a baby stroller.  I do wish I had gotten a picture!  It is as if you were in a circus, but then you are in some ways, aren't you?  They are small because the condos and apartments have a weight limit on pets that can live with you.  Although one afternoon I did see a standard poodle the size of a Shetland pony with fur like a big shag rug.
  2. The Central Gulf Coast of Florida is very white bread.  All rich old people.  Where do all the others hide?  If you see a minority person they are usually Latino and waiting on your table.
  3. Walking down the street in St. Petersburg toward the art museum you pass real estate office, jewelry store, coffee shop, real estate office, jewelry store, coffee shop, etc.  This is why I would not fit in here.  No hardware stores, used book shops, or coop grocery stores where they sell that chunky granola.  They did have a Chihuly art gallery, where you can buy something breakable for a small fortune.
  4. The few times I saw a child walking by I had to stop and stare as if it was some beautiful rare bird.
  5. Weather has been mostly jacket and sweater weather the days we have been here further south in Sarasota, but happily it was not the 8F degree weather with wind chill that we missed at home.  I kept everyone up north in my thoughts while I was unhappy I had not brought more turtlenecks.
  6. I am getting my fill of some of the water birds.  Dreading the photos to sort when I get home.
  7. I had dinner with my next door neighbors who happened to be staying near us.  They have purchased a beautiful condo on the ground floor downtown.  It has a postage stamp yard for their cat. Yes, they have lots of money.  We went to an art fair and dinner with them, something we never do at home where they live next door.
  8.  Some people do not know when to stop with the self-indulgence...see photo below.
 (Yes, now with the added photo the 13 numbering is off, but I cannot seem to fix the HTML coding.  It does add up to 13.)
  1.  I did see a gopher tortoise in the Florida shrubs sunning himself about 30 pounds and I was told that it was not common to see that.  I had never seen one before, but he headed down into his hole the minute he saw me raise my camera.
  2. I am beginning to think all the angry white people live in the Miami area, because everyone I have encountered here on the West Coast is friendly and laid back and I remember some rather nasty folks in the southeast years ago.
  3. We are half way into our vacation and I have not gotten a single good beach sunset.  Weather or other things do not cooperate, but I really had no photographic agenda anyway.
  4. A tri-colored heron perched on the side of the canoe we had tied to the dock here, and pooped into the boat, and I took that as a welcome to the tropics sign.  I will post on my other blog when we return.
  5. Yesterday was an all day canoe ride over some slightly choppy water between the mangrove islands with a rather cool wind.  At least the sun was shining and I think I got too much of that.   Doing the Ringling Brothers museums today.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It All Stops

That one time of the day when the voices stop their annoying whispering in my ear.  The shaking of the fingers scolding me for my wasted moments, the sad shaking of the head for my neglect of friends and family, the negative thoughts of what a waster of time I have become all stop while I say goodby to another precious and beautiful day.  Tomorrow I get a fresh start to be a better and more productive person.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dripping Rainbow

( Another post that I drafted before I left for Florida.)

You can never tell where you might find a surprise such as a lovely rainbow unless you stop looking down and look up, even inside a building.  Below is a rainbow that I came across in the National Museum of the American Indian whose architecture itself is the primary work of art.  This building had a construction and design team which, of course, included our native Americans and an architectural team as well as many others.  There are so many details from the selection of the stone and rocks that were used in the building to the symbolism both outside and inside that the structure of the museum is a work of art in and of itself.  Acrylic prisms were installed in the high south wall and catch the sun's rays creating this light spectrum on the opposite part of the ceiling in early to late afternoon every day that the sun shines.  This changing light show reminds us of the sun and light that was important to the native tribes as it is to you and me, and it makes for an interesting photo.

I think of a river of color dripping through the levels of the ceiling when I study this photo.  I think that I should do some prism shopping on this trip to hang a light catcher in my southern window.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Snow Birding

My husband holds off as long as he can before he becomes adamant that we will visit his homeland for at least a few weeks.  He squeezes in a few "meetings" on the trip but the rest of the time is canoeing and fishing down there.  I pull him away for a nice restaurant or two, maybe a museum and most certainly a nature preserve where we tiptoe among the alligators.  Are we not the boring old folks I swore I would never become?  We could fit nicely into one of those pharmaceutical ads...the ones about blood pressure or constipation, not the ones about sex.  Yes, it is Florida once again.  No, I am not excited.  I am jaded and our weather here has been mild enough that I do not have cabin fever.  Since we will be driving down with one of the canoes tied precariously to the top of his big car the drive must be carefully done.  We will stop at a few places along the way, where he allows me my photography jaunts.

I will be taking my laptop and maybe find time for posting.  Nothing creates a death knell for a tedious blog more than not posting fairly often!  I will try to find something more interesting to post about than beach sunsets and water birds and retirement living in the South, but there are no guarantees.  (I would rather be in the wild west, but that is just me.) I will also write some posts ahead to go live while we are on the road.

Please keep an eye on the house and house plants while we are gone.  These have been narrowed way down over the years.  No pets, with good reason, as we travel far too often for far too long for that kind of responsibility.

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Courtyard

Once again a series of photo edits since I am stuck indoors.  This is a photo of the courtyard of that Freer Gallery that I keep visiting this month.  I take photos of the architecture while I get inspired by the actual art inside.

It was a cold and rainy day and the doors to the interior courtyard were not open from the hallways of the gallery, so I took this misty and gloomy picture anyway through a rather muggy window.  When I got home I decided the photo needed some definition and contrast to catch the eye.

Then I decided that the photo needed more color and a warmer mood on such a cold day and changed to the photo below.

And at the very last I decided the photo needed to be more in the form of art due to its location.

Makes me wish I had followed those two art courses I took long ago and actually developed a real skill.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


I was going to post something about eating here, but then I found the context more appropriate to my other blog. So you can go there once you have taken your eyes from my most magnificent grandson studying his raspberry filled cookie.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Since You Asked

One (or more) of my blog friends was wondering why I could not post photos of works of art that I had seen in my museum tour on the last weekend.  I, perhaps, phrased this poorly.  It is a matter of not being able to render the actual beauty of any work of art by just taking a photo.  The art oozes its charm or shock or nostalgia with the surroundings of the room in which it was placed and with the specific lighting and even the atmosphere such as the quiet clean sound of a gallery.  I must also take the photo without flash, which sometimes works and sometimes does not, since I do not drag a tripod through the gallery, even if they would let me!

But below is a small example of my take on this room of over abundant stimuli-The Peacock Room.   It was painted by Whistler-the same man that painted that severe and austere portrait of his straight-laced mother-and you can see he has a much broader style and palette in his soul when he gets away from mama.  The colors rendered by this photo are NOT accurate, and that is why I hesitate trying to share works of art via blog.

This is the Western wall of the "dining" room and the painting for which the room is named.  Below is the controversial painting that hangs on the opposite wall.

The owner of the home became ill and was surprised at all the liberties that Whistler took with his elaborate painting and tours of his work to the public while the owner of the mansion was at his 'regular' home recuperating.  The painting above became controversial over time.  The Greek Anglo beauty above was in Japanese dress of popularity at the time and this was later considered too risque and too much like bedroom wear to be shown to guests.  I was truly surprised at this because Greek nude sculptures were accepted everywhere at the time.

Having written this, let me share in a better representation my tour of The Peacock Room owned by Leyland and painted by Whistler that you can take.  There is some good story behind the creation of this room and its final destination to the Freer Gallery.  You can go here for a beautiful tour of the room and here for more information.

This Freer museum is due for well needed renovation soon and this room will be taken apart and not seen for a number of years, so I was glad to be able to tour this winter!

Sunday, February 01, 2015


Got in last night about 10:00 which is late for us.  We had an exhausting, fulfilling, challenging, fun,  and loving time taking care of the grandchildren.  As they grow older our relationship with them changes more.  The 9-year-old wants more time to himself and is less willing to sit and share or play games.  The 7-year-old has gone from playing family with me to playing college.  I still am relegated to the role of the year younger sister and do not get to pick my name in this game...I barely get to talk.  She is going to be the "interesting" one to raise as she is so different in interests and personality than my daughter and I.  The littlest one at 3 is nicely balanced in terms of time with us and time with his siblings and time on his own.  Other than having to get up once each night for the youngest who still has nightmares several times a week, the time with them was nice.

Hubby and I took Friday off while grandchildren were at school and hit more museums at the mall.  Maybe I will share photos later, but much of this touring art is hard to share.  So lucky to live near so many (19) free museums.  I did a lot of people watching on this trip.

My daughter and I are SARS (Super Anal-Retentive Sisters) and I really wanted such a list from her as was shown in the prior post.  I try to follow as much as I can, but do not kill myself.  I posted this list because it is such a contrast to my regular days where I can sit and read blogs in my PJs until 10:00 A.M.  Daughter is a gem, and if we totally ignored huge parts of the list she would be OK with that.