Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween !!

Pumpkins, sitting on my front porch
Edinburgh, Scotland, 2009
I love carving pumpkins, though haven't done it for the past few years.  It seems kind of silly, when I live on top of a mountain by myself, and somehow I can't see the dogs getting too excited about the whole thing.  But still, it's fun.  Maybe next year...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Magpie Tales 141...Knowing

Photograph from Tess at Magpie Tales

Umbrella dips, forgotten
Head tilts, anticipation

Rain falls, soaking
Lips meet, seeking

His kiss, soft
Her taste, sweet

One word, understood
 Passion whispers, Mine
I don't know where the photo was taken, or who the couple are; there was no explanation for the prompt at Magpie Tales this week.  It's a nice black&white shot regardless...

Morning Walk

I actually had my camera with me this morning on the walk with the boys.  We strolled around the outskirts of the huge park in the center of town, the dogs sniffing every bush and shrub while I took some photos.  There are so many trees--young and old--with such vibrant colors, it was hard to limit myself to just a few.

During the Summer months I park on the other side of the community buildings because there's shade, but now that it's cooler, and today was cloudy, I went to a spot directly opposite my usual.  After parking, we began our walk by heading toward the complex of buildings.

These darkly red trees, contrasting against the soft, green and yellow background of the hills, seemed to add a glow to a dreary morning...

Walking along the dirt road that edges one side of the ginormous soccer field.  This is where there used to be a long stretch of lovely trees down the center of the road--trees recently chopped down for some unfathomable reason...

At the end of the road, this golden beauty stands, near the bank with the river behind those green trees...

Great reflections in the stillness of the day...

Turning from the river, looking across a portion of the field.  The brick building in the trees is the Community Center, off to the right is the theatre, and...

...the pottery studio with the tall column where the Chimney Swifts spend the Summer months.  They're gone now, off to warmer climes in South America.  And wow, just imagine that journey...

This is a really great place to walk the boys, with all the beautiful trees, the quietly winding river, and some days there's even a soccer game to watch as we meander along.

You wouldn't think a girl born in the middle of Summer would prefer Fall, but I do.  It's such a magical, colorful time of year, far more captivating and interesting than the blistering heat and dog days of Summer. 

Maybe I'm really a changeling.  That would explain much...

Monday, October 29, 2012

On Weather and Writing

I've been intermittently watching the newscasts about Sandy, the scary and unpredictable super storm hitting the eastern seaboard even as I write this. 

It's amazing that three separate weather systems have converged to birth such a storm.  According to the news I've heard, never in recorded history has a nor'easter, a tropical storm, and a hurricane come together to form one immense weather event.  In a way that's so frightening, I can hardly stand it, but on the other hand, it's also very compelling to watch Nature at her most powerful.  Comparatively, we're just wee little humans at the end of the day, aren't we?

Stay safe, people.  I hope you all have a place to hunker down...


In between storm updates, I've been working on research and chapter outlines for the start of NaNo on Thursday.  I'm trying a new writing thing this year; at this point it's fifty-fifty how I feel about it.  I'm doing a story outline, a chapter synopsis, then an outline of each scene within the chapter.  And holy crap, I feel like I've already written half the bloody book before I've even started!  I don't know how far I will take this--so far I've spent the whole afternoon outlining the basics of four chapters.  Frankly, being a true **pantser, this is way more work than I'm interested in doing, but I'll persevere just to see if it makes any difference in the long run.

A particular defect I see to doing this outline business is I fear the sudden bursts of illumination that I usually get **writing by the seat of my pants, will get buried under outline details or lost in the forethoughts.  Time will tell.

There's one cool thing I've done in this preparation process that has been really helpful: I went on a quest to find pictures of my main characters.  I spent some time last week searching the internet to score the perfect face for each one.  I have now attached the photo to the character back story files, and honestly, that little trick has already done wonders in getting to know my "people."  (Huh.  Either I'm having a deja vu moment, or I've already written about this.  It seems familiar...and isn't that a weird sensation?)


Here is my main man, Daniel Valentine...I looked at dozens and dozens of faces and couldn't find him.  Almost giving up, I decided to go one more round.  And there he was...

This is my main woman, Lily Chareau...and this is totally, exactly, how I imagined her...

Lily's best friend, and a key player in the story, Katy Montgomery...I knew she had a long, thick braid, but I didn't know she was so incredibly cute...
And Wink, another main guy to the story, and someone who could mean much to Katy... 

...assuming she survives Jude, the very, very bad boy with his personal and deadly agenda...
And there you go, the faces I have put on my characters.  Seeing them in real life--so to speak--has really helped me get inside their heads, know them better.  So, regardless how the outline experiment goes, I will definitely be using this character photo technique again, for sure.
Besides, if nothing else, I can drool.  A lot.  While I'm working, of course...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Ball

I'm off in a few minutes, heading east to attend the 5th Annual Willow Manor Ball. Having missed the previous four, I am not about to miss this one.

My dress--design reproduced for Penelope Anne Miller's scene in the movie, The Shadow--will look beautiful as I dance, or sip a slender glass of Absinthe chatting with the other guests. Course, that pesky Truman Capote, no doubt standing at the front door acting like it's his party, will be catty and jealous, wishing he could look so stunning in white satin....

And yes, that brings to mind that lovely old song by the Moody Blues.  It will inevitably fill me with longing for a moment or two, reminding me of that night in--well, that's a story best kept in my dark and mysterious past, though the lyrics explain much if one listens.

I had every intention of going to the Ball without a date.  Why?  Because there is much to be said for flying solo to a star-studded event such as this one.  After all, you never know what may happen, or who you might bump into.  It's best to be unencumbered and ready for anything.

But then, JD got wind of my plans, and said he just had to accompany me, for two reasons: one, he has never been to Willow Manor; and secondly, he felt like taking me to a party.  Since he's still getting over the demise of his relationship, I thought it would do him good to get out and enjoy himself.  Besides, I never quite know what he'll do next, which adds an edge to any adventure when he's around.  Who knows where I'll end up...and isn't that part of the fun?

Since we're traveling from the West Coast in my private jet, I told JD we would make our way to the Manor by limousine, but he said having just purchased a 1936 Mercedes Benz 500K, he's eager to give it a good test drive, plus he can't help wanting to make a Grand Entrance.  We laughed, then discussed how to get the car stowed properly on the plane.

So, I must stop writing as it's time to leave for the airport to rendezvous with my dear friend Johnny, then we'll be winging our way to Willow Manor and the Event of the Year. 

Oh, I'm so excited!  Must go!  And hey, maybe I'll see you there.  Ta ta for now...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vacations and Naps

Isn't it funny that after a holiday, we get home all exhausted and worn out and need a vacation to recover from the vacation?  Or, is that just me?

I had a great time at my sister's, with lots of shopping in the big city, as opposed to the meager shopping I can do in the small town where I'm stuck living.  Even spent a few hours at Barnes & Noble, browsing and wandering and filling my arms with books for the Winter months ahead.  I also stocked up on food items, and other stuff I can't get in the barren wastelands of southern Oregon.  It was a very fun week, not just for the shopping and the energy, but also to visit with my mother, my sister and her husband.

Planning to take lots of photos of the changing leaves, scenery, and whatever struck my fancy on the road trip, I was very unhappy to discover, after only taking a few shots, that my camera battery was dead.  It's the rechargeable kind, not the just-go-to-the-store-and-get-more-batteries kind I am used to from my previous camera.  Because I had no idea the battery was soon to expire, I didn't even think to bring my battery charger (lesson learned...too late). 

Honestly, we are truly living in strange times:  I brought my charger for the phone, my charger for my Kindle, and yet still needed another one.  If there's ever an EMP, we're all doomed.  So.  No pictures, and natch, I saw a hundred things I wanted to photograph.

Yesterday, home again, I spent the day putting my stuff away, doing laundry, walking the dogs, and trying to get back into my normal routine, but I was tired, totally unmotivated and had to force myself to do what little I managed; didn't even turn on the laptop to catch up with my usual blog reads, or write one of my own.

And today I'm not terribly inspired either, but I think that's mainly due to the dark and gloomy weather and pouring rain.  (That is not a complaint!  I've been waiting months for this perfectly dreadful crap weather.)  So, I've got a big batch of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove, and will shortly sit down to finish one of the books I bought in the big city while the rain pounds on the roof and streams down the windows.

It was a good road trip, great to hang with the family for a bit, get away for a few days and refresh my mind. 

Though I still think a nap is in order...yawn...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Here, Come Sit on the Floor...

My mother is coming on Saturday to spend the night, then I'm driving us both up north to spend a few days at my sister's.  This will be the last time the three of us get together until Spring due to mountain passes, snowstorms and whatever the weather brings.  It can get very dangerous and gnarly deep in the throes of Winter here, with people getting stranded in the sudden, unexpected mountain storms.

So, what joyful things have I been doing today, in light of my mother's visit?  Cleaning.  No joy, just cleaning.  At least the kitchen doesn't have to be done, considering how much had to be washed and scrubbed after Tomato Paste Sunday.  Unfortunately, there's still the rest of the house.

You would think, since she's only spending the night and we're leaving early Sunday morning, that I wouldn't bother.  But you don't know my mother.  Unless you perhaps have a mother just like her.  My grandmother raised her daughters to wash floors on hands and knees, scrub toilets wearing bright marigold-yellow gloves, dust and vacuum until a person could eat off the floor.  Mom tried to instill that same housework ethic into her daughters.  I can't speak for my sister, but for myself?  I can think of a million and one things to do besides clean.  Just imagine instead how many stories I could write, how many books I could be reading... 

But no.  Not today.  My mother is coming. 

It wouldn't matter if she were just dropping in for an afternoon, the house would still need to be sorted.  Last night, talking on the phone, making our plans, she said, casual and off-hand (I wasn't fooled), "And don't bother with straightening up, we'll just be leaving early on Sunday after all."  Translation:  "Of course your house will be spotless because it would reflect badly on my mothering skills, and imply that I didn't teach you properly."

So far I've cleaned both bathrooms--my least favorite chore, though easier without a man in the house (no offense guys, but it's truth).  I've washed floors...with a mop, thank you very much.  I draw the line at hands and knees.  Changed the bedding in the guest room, even though it was clean.  I'm going for that freshly washed effect--plus, okay, I'm hoping to divert Mom so she won't notice the Venetian blinds need to be cleaned.  I've sorted through piles of magazines, put away books, organized the file basket that sits next to the phone in the kitchen.

Tomorrow is vacuuming and dusting, then cleaning out the Blazer since I'm driving.  Then I'll be done.  And in an odd way, it's good that I've been forced into giving the house a good scrub.  When I put my feet up tomorrow evening, drink in hand, I'll be smiling with the thought that if I wanted, I could eat off the floor; my Mom will sleep on fresh-out-of-the-dryer bed linens; and Mr Clean can't compete with the sparkle in my toilet bowl.


Maybe I'm my mother's daughter after all...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not So Wistful Now...

I had a bunch of errands to run today and was all over town getting stuff done, from hair cuts to grocery shopping, filling the car with liquid, I mean gas, to stopping at the pet store to buy a birthday present for my sister's Jack Russell, Cooper.

The pet store is right by Pier 1, so naturally I was compelled to stop in because I can't be that close without wanting to see their cool new stuff.  And wow, was I amazed when I walked in the front door and found myself knee-deep in Christmas.  My mind is barely ready to acknowledge Halloween, let alone Christmas.  And isn't Thanksgiving in there somewhere between the two?

I wandered the aisles, admiring this trinket and that decorative trifle, slightly wistful that I won't have a tree again this year.  I wasn't bemoaning...just feeling a bit, well, wistful.

Then I saw this, tucked out of the way on a bottom shelf, somehow still managing to glimmer and sparkle, even in the meager light...

I know it looks like a scrawny wee thing in my photos, but in real life it's about 24 inches tall, 16 inches wide, and has a very lacy appearance, with gold disk ornaments that twinkle and move in the barest hint of air.  I love how fanciful it is.

So, when Christmas gets near, I'll find some fabric for a tree skirt, put the dogs Christmas toys underneath, maybe even fashion a few tiny ornaments from my beads and baubles box.  And just as simple as that, I'll have myself a Merry Christmas tree.

It doesn't really matter what it looks like, or what size it is.  After all, it's the thought that counts...right?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Italian Gold

Three and a half pounds of my Italian San Marzano tomatoes, nurtured all Summer, simmered for most of Sunday...and reduced down to this:

Yes.  Three squatty pint jars of ambrosia.  A rich, intense red paste with a hearty flavor--manly if you will, voice deep and robust.  It won't take much, added to any kind of Italian sauce, to have an undeniably strong and savory dish.

Course, I made the biggest mess ever in the kitchen, with tomato bits splashed on counters, cabinets, my favorite tee shirt and the floor.  The transfer between the dutch oven to the food processor and back again--twice--over the eight hours of cooking yesterday, was a spectacular display of what not to do, and it took most of the night to clean the kitchen.  This afternoon I did the canning portion of the adventure and hey, only burned myself once with the scalding water! 

While cleaning, scrubbing and washing the floor, I tried not to think about how easy it is to just go to the store and buy a very decent tomato paste, direct from Italy even.  I will continue to think it was worth the effort to grow the tomatoes for months, cook them for hours, to ultimately have these three jars. 

Because I didn't just end up with three jars.  I ended up with three pint-sized treasures of Italian gold...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Magpie Tales 139...It's A Jungle Out There

Midnight Snack, 1984, by Curtis Wilson Cost

Crouched in darkness
He sees them through glass
Hears the murmur of voices
Scents the food

 They eat
He waits

 Silent in the tall grass
Watching small shadows
skirt the house
Brave in their ignorance

 Patient fox
Tasty mice
Magpie Tales 139.  This picture--a house aglow in a dark night--made me think of the creatures that roam outside while we have the comfort of light, and imagine ourselves safe behind walls.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Realism in a Brownie

 April Daffodils and Edinburgh Castle
On this date last year I was in New York, waiting at the airport for my connecting flight to Edinburgh. It was a poignant first without Alan. I was eager to see the family, friends, the city I love above all others, although I was also scared and grieving.
And then I landed at Edinburgh Airport and my world suddenly made sense again.  I was home.  Everything was familiar and comfortable, normal and reassuring.  I was hugged and loved and cared for; cried and laughed with people who had known Alan all his life and shared in my grief.  There were also long hours by myself as I wandered the city, retracing the years, the places, the memories.
Though it was a most painful journey, it was also the best thing I could have done.  I was able to be with people who meant something to me, to Alan...and we meant something to them.  I was no longer alone on top of a mountain, in a strange town where I didn't know a soul, in an America that was more foreign to me than the moon.
When I returned from Scotland last October, I expected to have the house sold in the Spring and be long gone from this lonely little town--with any luck at all, I'd be back in Edinburgh, where I belong.  I can't believe a whole year has gone by and I'm still here, stuck in limbo, while time just continues on...inexorably.  I guess what I'm saying here is, I'm feeling sorry for myself today.
I'll get over it.  I'm nothing if not a realist.  I can't change the economy, kick start the real estate market, drag someone off the street to buy the house.  Hopefully, at some point, this inertia will make sense, there will be some meaning to the wait, some purpose behind the holding pattern, and the time will come to move forward.
But until then, in a concerted effort to cheer myself up, get out of the doldrums, keep calm and carry on--I'm going now to make brownies.  Really.  It's the only thing today that makes sense...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Walking the dogs along the river this morning, peaceful and quiet.  I was mulling and musing on some details of the NaNo novel, though had one eye on the dogs, who were off-leash, sniffing every nook and cranny.  We haven't been on this side of the river in weeks, so there's a vast storehouse of information they need to catch up on.

With my back to the riverbank, gazing up into the boughs of a tree for writerly inspiration, I realize the boys have stopped investigating and are intently focused on something behind me.  I look over my shoulder to see a little girl, maybe six years old, scrambling up the bank with a small bucket and shovel.  Within a moment a guy follows, though he isn't nearly as agile.  Giggling, she says, "Daddy, you don't climb very well."

He grumbled, then slipped a few feet backwards.  I quickly resumed my contemplation of the tree branches because there's nothing worse than flailing or falling and having some stranger see you do it.  When I figured the man was on solid ground, I turned around.

The girl is tiny, dressed in perfect pinks and purples from her tennis shoes to the ribbons in her shiny blond hair.  Big blue eyes, dimple in one cheek, happy smile.  Seriously.  She couldn't have been more adorable.

[And what is it about bad boys? Is it a normal girl/woman/female thing? Or is it just me that can't resist them?]

Her dad.  About six-four or -five, handsome, big and no doubt bad, with long dark hair tied back, leather jacket, black jeans, motorcycle boots with silver chains, and when he smiles at his daughter, there's the matching dimple in his cheek.

Reserved, watching me from the corner of his eye as his little girl spots the dogs and asks me softly if she can pet them.  Well, Max has already figured she's fair game and has dashed over to claim all the pets before Ozzy gets any.  Max has yet to realize--even after living with us for two years--that Ozzy doesn't like being petted by strangers and is hanging back.

The girl asks me their names, which I tell her as she kneels down to pet Max, who is wiggling like an eel with the attention, making her laugh.  I glance at the dad, who is looking at her as if the sun and moon rise and set on this child.  I fall a little bit in love with the guy just for that look alone.

She spies Ozzy, who is standing off to the side of the action, and asks if she can pet him, too.  I tell her he doesn't like being petted.  "Can I scratch behind his ears then?" she asks.  Now I've fallen a little bit in love with the kid!  How cute is she?  I explain that he doesn't like to be touched by strangers. 

Studying Ozzy, she cocks her head.  "Why?"

"I don't know," I say, "he's just always been like that."

She looks up at me, trying to fathom why a dog would not like to be petted.  Her dad still hasn't said a word, just stands quietly taking it all in.  

"Do you know what the word snooty means?" I ask her.

"I'm not sure."  She looks at her dad.  "Do I?"

I want to adopt her. 

Smiling, I say, "It means stuck up, or thinking you're better than someone else."  I make the gesture, tipping my head back with my nose in the air.  "Ozzy is kind of snooty."

Again, she cocks her head, little wheels turning while she thinks about what I've said.  Then, voice soft and deep, her father says, "Like your cousin Rhonda."

I glance at him, see the half-smile as he gazes at his baby girl, and we both see it when she suddenly makes the connection between the meaning of the word, and her cousin Rhonda.  She grins, understanding.  It was a perfect moment.

Her dad and I share a look, smile at each other, then he gives me a nod, takes his daughter's hand and they carry on up the path; the dogs and I return to our meander along the river.

For a brief moment in time this morning, I fell in love with the look in a father's eye, and the sweetness in a little girl's smile...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Anywhere It Wants To...

Back from walking the dogs this morning, I noticed the bird bath--which I had just filled last night--was nearly out of water. I know there isn't a leak, so was pondering the situation as I dragged the hose up the embankment and refilled the bath.  It's another sunny day, giving the water a sky-blue reflection, fresh and clean.

After winding up the hose, I dinked in the garden for a few minutes, picking some tomatoes, deciding where to plant the daffodil bulbs.  I happened to glance up the slope, and see this gathering of tiny birds perched around the bath rim, chattering away for all the world like office workers reviewing the weekend at the water cooler.

I dash in the house for the camera, then sneak out the back door to the deck that overlooks the bath, hoping the wee birds are still gossiping. They were, but just as I brought the camera to my eye, this large shape came out of nowhere, diving at the crowd.  With all kinds of chirps and shrieks, the little birds scattered, and this big ol' bully boy landed right in the middle of the water like he owned it--(reminding me of that joke about the 800-lb gorilla)...

He didn't hesitate a second, immediately sticking his face right in the water, shaking it like a maniac...

I had to struggle not to laugh out loud at how he looked once the head dunking was over...

Then he really got into it, and with wings flailing and flapping, his tail slapping the water, he took a bath that was truly impressive...

When all the flurry had died down, and I got a good look at him, I did start to laugh.  It was just too funny, with water dripping off his beak, splashed all over the landing, his feathers all wild and disheveled.  And I swear, I could see a look of satisfaction in his eyes...
I guess it doesn't matter who or what you are, there's just nothing like a good bath, even if you are an 800-lb gorilla...

[In case anyone is wondering:  This big boy is a Western Scrub-Jay]

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Magpie Tales 138...The Words

Sick Woman, 1665, by Jan Steen

She had been ill for many days, weak and listless, unable to keep anything in her stomach.  There were so many ways to die: Black Death, Influenza, Cholera; she knew one of them had come to claim her.  Anxious and worried, her husband had finally called in the doctor.

When he had given them his diagnosis, she had swooned, the rapid beats of her heart following her down into the peaceful, soothing darkness.

Drifting slowly up from the warm, soft layers of oblivion, she first became aware of her head resting on a pillow, the doctor gently holding her wrist, then she recognized the quick footsteps of her husband, saw his hand tightly clutching a small tankard of water as he rushed into the room.

The doctor's announcement echoed in her mind.  She felt half in this world of disappointment and dismay, and half in another of hope and prayers answered.  Hardly daring to believe, she looked to her husband, watched his lips as he whispered the doctor's words again:

"Madam, you are with child."

Magpie Tales 138.  I like the little smile on the woman's face, the look of wonder, almost disbelief.  I didn't see her with an illness, but perhaps with a secret hope realized.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sigh of Relief...

I had lunch with my realtor the other day to discuss the house.  There's every probability that I'll have to lower the price again--penance for living in a very small town with limited potential.  If I lower the price and leave it on the market through the real estate dead months (Oct-Feb), I'll be in a major pickle come Spring as I most definitely won't be willing to lower it yet again. 

So, rather than paint myself into a corner, I took it off the market until early next year and will most likely re-list it at the lower price.  And I have to say, it was a relief to make the decision, to take a break from the aggro and the cleaning and the always being available.  I'm still working under the things will shake out as they're meant to ethos, though lately I've begun to have a doubt or two about the truth in that.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to some time off.  There's NaNo next month which will totally occupy me for 30 days, then it's December and the hols; January is always Hunker Down month, then before we know it, it will be February with Spring just a few months away.  I plan on writing, and reading, making big Sunday pots of soup and spaghetti and stew and chili; bundling up to walk the dogs; snuggling in the warm and toasty house while Winter rants and raves outside.

Taking a break sounds good to me...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Colors in a Kiss...

They met in the middle of the large backyard.  She turned off the leaf blower as he leaned against the rake, running his forearm over a sweaty brow.

“We need to chop down all these trees," she groaned, dropping the blower wearily to the ground.

“You don't mean that.”

“Maybe not,” she sighed, “but I can definitely think of better ways to spend a beautiful weekend.”

“But now the real fun begins,” he smiled.

“What fun would that be?  The part where we spend hours stuffing all these leaves into garden bags?”

Tossing down his rake, he walked around the huge mound, took her hand and pulled her across the yard.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

He didn’t answer, just threw her over his shoulder and ran like a madman toward the pile of leaves as she squealed in protest.  At the last moment he tossed her, then dove in himself.  They bounced once into the soft cushion before the explosion of leaves settled, burying them in a kaleidoscope of colors.

Laughing, he pulled her against him, giving her a warm, lingering kiss, the smell of earth and autumn and sweat and sweetness wafting around them.

“We should plant more trees,” she murmured, drawing him closer.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How Much Loft...??

So last week I get this email from Microsoft telling me I need to upgrade to Internet Explorer 9.  Huh.  Thought I already had 9, but okay.  I download, carry on, things seem fine for a day or so, then suddenly every single bloody time I want to look at a website, I get a message that tells me Internet Explorer isn't responding and I need to close the program.  Every. Single. Bloody. Time.  And the menu bar has disappeared, taking my File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools and Help functions.  Nothing I do can find and/or restore these features.  Buggers and damnation.

I put up with this aggravating turn of events for a few irritating days, thinking any minute the problems will self-correct and I can get back to my usual ease of surfing with all my menu items intact.  Apparently, I seem to think I live in an alternate Universe where things magically work themselves out, as opposed to the actual one where I get so frigging frustrated, by yesterday afternoon I'm considering flinging the laptop off the mountain--and there's no question that I'm fully capable of doing just that; the Great American Printer Toss of 2012, is a shining example of my degree of tolerance.

But.  Sanity prevails.  I find a Microsoft site that says if you're tired of the Beta version of IE9, and want to return to IE8, follow these simple instructions.  When IE9 is removed, and your computer restarts, it will automatically default back to IE8.  Oh hooray!  I make myself a cup of tea whilst waiting, hopeful that all has now been corrected and I'm back in the game.  I settle in front of the laptop, ready to roll...

There is no Internet Explorer.  Nothing.  It's been completely, totally obliterated.  There is no IE8, 9 or any other damn number.  I have no browser whatsoever.  Searching, digging deep, using every trick I know, delving into the bowels of my system, I still find nothing.  Internet Explorer has been wiped.

I lose the plot for a few minutes, the air scorched with my curses and threats to hire a hit on Bill Gates and his crap simple instructions and worthless IE9.  Then I call the local computer place, thinking they can tell me how to reload a browser, any browser.  After a convoluted fifteen minutes, I end up going down the mountain to the shop.  The techie guys are amazed that I was correct:  there is no IE anywhere on the entire system.

The solution?  For $30 they reinstall it for me.  And yeah, they reinstall IE9 because that's the latest version, Beta or not.  Two hours of aggro, and I'm right back where I started.  Well, except for that $30 that Gates owes me.  One good thing that happened though is the techie showed me how to restore my menu bar and reconfigure some other missing stuff.

All is good then.  Things have been fixed, the system seems to be working, I have no complaints, so maybe it was worth the $30.  And I downloaded another browser as soon as I got home for backup.  Just in case.

This morning I'm eating my breakfast, reading one of my Daily Fix blogs; when I finish reading, I click on the next one...and a message pops up telling me Internet Explorer is not responding and I have to close the program.

I'm wondering.  Would I get better loft if I frisbee the laptop off the back deck, or the front...?????

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Yesterday morning, when I opened the blinds in the living room, the moon was full and bright across the valley as it headed toward the mountains.  It's beautiful when that happens: the sun coming up, the moon going down, like star-crossed lovers forever destined to remain apart.  (Okay, okay, I'll admit to watching Ladyhawke a multitude of times over the sue me).


I got out my camera and took a few shots.  And I know I say this a lot, but damn.  Do I have a great camera, or what?  The amazing thing about the telephoto is that most of the time I don't use my tripod, just shoot hand-held, and still the images are clear.

So, this morning, after downloading the pictures to my photo program, I was dinking with some special effects, just for fun.  I discovered one that I really like called Holga, named after the toy camera first made in Hong Kong in the early 1980s.  Now the picture looks kind of 1950s to me...faded B&W and slightly blurry around the edges.

I truly have to start taking my camera with me everywhere I go.  The boys and I went out to the county park for our walk today.  It was quiet, cool and sunny, perfect for a walk in the wilderness.  I watched a hawk glide across the surface of the river and snag a fish out of the water with a lightning strike; saw a raccoon wash its hands on the opposite bank between two boulders as a couple of fishermen drifted past in their aluminum boat, totally oblivious; smiled at a woman picking wild blackberries in a dense thicket, her fingers stained dark blue.

Ah well.  I might have missed the chance to photograph these moments, but at least I was able to file them away in my memory bank.  And that's almost as good... 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bars of a Different Stripe...

The dogs' walk this morning.  I can't find a space to park at the Community Center because nearly every spot is taken by the monthly meeting of the Quilters Guild.  It's a large lot; there must be many, many quilters.  I manage to squeeze into a little place next to the dumpster and though it's not in the shade--again a scorching day--at least we're parked.

Across the wide expanse of the soccer field there is a small road divided by a center island of trees that shade part of the old Veterans Cemetery.  Last week, for reasons known only to the city council morons idiots members, all the trees in the long, green island were cut down.

Now, every time we walk along this road toward the path that follows the river, it makes me mad--and sad--to see the trees in big broken piles, allowing the blasted sun free rein to burn everything in sight with the trees gone.

Just as I'm getting ready to open my car door, I see some activity along the trunks and branches of the downed trees.  I squint, trying my best to see clearly, because surely I'm not really seeing a guy in black-and-white striped prison pajamas climbing out of the tangled tree limbs.  That's the kind of clothing they wore in the old days, and in the movies.  Prisoners don't wear stripes now, in the 21st century.  Do they?

Well.  Yes, as it turns out.  They do.

I sit for several minutes--the dogs puzzled and losing patience at the delay in their walk--as I watch the scene unfolding in front of me:  Four guys are cutting the trees into manageable chunks with axe and chainsaw, while six more load a big dump truck with the cut pieces.  There are two armed gunbulls, nasty looking bludgeons in hand, lounging against the side of the truck talking to the driver.
At first, all I can think about is O, Brother Where Art Thou--one of the funniest movies ever--main characters wearing the same black-and-white prison garb.  Then I wonder how hard it would be for ten guys to overpower two guys.  Two guys that are so overweight and out of shape, if they had to run, the heart attack would take them down before anything else did.

I get the boys out of the car, but instead of walking straight across the field and along the road as usual, I cut diagonally to stay clear of the whole movie set.  Once I'm close enough to actually see things, I get a good look at the two gunbulls, and just like you would expect, they both wear that superior sneer--no matter they're both so fat it's appalling.  And not ten feet away, there's two prisoners, each with a chainsaw buzzin' and another two with big ol' axes.  Near the dump truck is a small prison bus.

As I get further away, let the dogs off-leash and start walking along the river, I can't help but wonder.  In a matter of seconds the Stripers could have taken out the two guards, jumped in the van, and been in California before anyone was the wiser. Or taken me as their hostage.  And yeah, I've got a vivid imagination and have watched too many movies, but still.  It's a public park, with kids and moms, dog walkers and joggers.  It seems slightly risky to have ten bad guys, holding really scary tools, being monitored by only two men, and pretty inept men at that.

But maybe they weren't hardened crimimals.  Maybe they were just pot smokers, or boosters, or petty thieves.  Something minor.  Small-timers.  Not bad guys at all, just misunderstood perhaps.

Tomorrow I'm going to a different park.