Thursday, February 28, 2013

One More Day...

I have a couple things for Week 9 of the 52s, though am going to wait until the weekend to post about them.  I feel like Gulliver trying to write on a Lilliputian keyboard with my tablet--just can't do it.  

Tomorrow I will get my laptop, with (fingers crossed) all my retrieved stuff, though at the moment I'm not even thinking about that as I grin like a canary-eatin' cat over something that just totally made my day this morning.  And no, I'm not telling. 

Stay tuned.  Week 9 coming up...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tiny Keyboards

Here's a novelty:  I'm typing this post on my tablet.

Why, you ask?

Because the hard drive on my laptop has imploded.  It was a grisly demise too, with lots of moans, groans and agonized frothing--and that was just on my part.  I was in the market for a new laptop, though had planned to wait another month or two, but last night the poor ol' thing just breathed its last and no matter what tricks I used, or resuscitations I employed, it was to no avail.  Course, I'm blaming the hacker from last week, though the tech folks at the computer store this morning merely shrugged and said, "it's an electronic machine, they die."  (These are the same cold-hearted people who no doubt flush goldfish down the toilet).

My main concern--and it's a BIG one--is the loss of my writing, documents and photographs.  The techs won't know until the autopsy if my stuff can even be recovered.  It makes my stomach hurt to think I've lost any of my photos, let alone my writings.

So, new machine ordered, data recovery scheduled, new Windows 8 to learn (ugh), and a long wait until Friday when I pick up the new laptop and find out if my stuff could be retrieved off the old one.

In the meantime, I'm wearing out my thumbs and getting cramps in my fingers on this tiny little keyboard.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Week 8 of the 52s...Limoncello

I first met Alan at an Italian restaurant on my last night in Edinburgh.  On a week-long business trip, I'd been told that Bar Roma was a great place to eat; better still, it was within walking distance of my hotel.

Truly, the food was amazing, the atmosphere lively and welcoming, the waiters so Italian they could only speak very broken English, but could flirt like Casanova.  I had a wonderful little table in a cozy corner, perfect for watching people, especially the large group of men at a long table in front of me, obviously co-workers out for some kind of office celebration.

After an amusing chat with my waiter as I ordered, one of the guys in that group turned in his chair and started a conversation with me.  My American accent, you see.  He had been to the States many times, so we compared notes about cities and landmarks.  Very charming, really funny, by the end of the evening, Alan had joined me at my table, and over a nice bottle of Lambrusco, we exchanged email addresses and agreed to keep in touch.

A year and a half later we were married. 

Because of that fateful meeting, we returned to Bar Roma on every anniversary.  We always had delicious food, laughed and joked with the manager, Alan put up with the flirtatious waiters, and we finished the evening with a small glass of Limoncello, fresh from Italy, served in beautiful little pottery cups.

Time goes by. 

Alan and I are in southern Italy.  I am on a quest for those little cups, handmade on the Isle of Capri, where the best Limoncello is also made.

A small Italian market stall, and see those huge lemons in the middle there?  Those are the lemons used for Limoncello.  The ones to the left are the average-sized lemon...

And, at long last, I found the very glasses I was looking for.  We had wandered down a narrow little back alley whilst meandering on Capri and by accident and sheer luck, we found this tiny shop run by a local family of potters who made the perfect Limoncello cups.  Each one is just a bit different, hand painted and so, so cool.

They're equal to a shot glass.  Limoncello is very potent, so this is just the right size...

I had a recipe from Capri for making Limoncello, though I've never attempted it.  Stashed in a box where I keep my treasured recipes, I was looking for something whilst idly wondering what I was going to do for Week 8 of the 52s, when I happened upon the forgotten concoction.  I knew this was to be my new adventure.

So.  First, the ten lemons required.  Because I wanted this to taste as close to real as possible, I bought organic, beautiful lemons, though sadly, not the gigantors of Capri...

Only the outer rind is used, so after carefully peeling each one to avoid any pith, they went in a pitcher with a bottle of vodka--a good brand since again, I'm trying to make the best batch I can.

Covered with plastic wrap and stashed for four days in a corner of the kitchen...

Yesterday, I removed the wrap and nearly got a contact high just off the fumes!  And--happy dance--it smelled just like it was supposed to!

Next I made the elixir that gets poured over the four-day fermentation.  Thankfully, the pitcher was just big enough to hold the whole solution, right to the brim.  More plastic wrap, tucked in a corner of the kitchen to meld flavors overnight...

Earlier today, the peels were strained out, the liqueur was decanted into two very beautiful bottles and sealed for the next month in the back of my fridge.

My very first bottle of Limoncello...

And naturally, I can't just bottle it all up without a taste, can I?  I filled a little glass--about three sips' worth, or one quick down the hatch...

Holy Thunder Road, Batman!!!!!!!!
I took a wee sip, just to make sure it was palatable, then knocked it back.  And whoa.  Potent is too tame a word.  Seriously strong, it's also lemony to the nth degree, and absolutely, astoundingly delicious. 
I think I got a buzz before it even hit my stomach because, eyes closed as I savored the heat, all I could think about was sitting with Alan on the terrace of a quiet little ristorante on the Amalfi Coast, sipping Limoncello on a lazy afternoon...

Nope, potent doesn't even come close...

Friday, February 22, 2013


What a week.  Loads of angst, lots of extra work--both computer and regular life stuff--and a nuclear brain bomb. Goes without saying, I'm very glad it's Friday.

Still had some hacker issues to sort yesterday, so that's two days buggered by the sleazeball, though hopefully it's over.  Unfortunately I now have so many new passwords, I'll probably end up having to hack my own system just to get online!


At one point in the late afternoon yesterday, I was walking through the living area and noticed Max all sprawled and cozy in the Reading Chair--and yes, deliberate caps; it's the best chair in the world for reading and deserves the recognition.  I grabbed the camera, though with his unrelenting fears, I expected him to fly off the chair and run into the bedroom before I'd even snapped the photo.

But no.

I was stunned.  Two years, and at last we've finally made some real progress.  Look at my wee boy.  Not a sign of his usual terror.  Maybe because his ever-faithful bunny is close at

It's huge that he didn't move when I took these photos.  It often takes a long time for rescue dogs to find their way in a new home, and also to realize they don't need to cower or run away in fear.  It made me very happy to get these pictures.


When was the last time--if ever--you went to your town's Visitor's Center?  These are very cool and interesting places to find out more about where you live, have new adventures exploring, or wander about gathering brochures and magazines, postcards and tourist souvenirs.

This morning, after walking the boys, I went to the Visitor's Center to find a brochure about the Big Blast that Alan's/my nephew in Scotland had emailed me about a week or so ago.  The very kind woman who was working there today found me the exact thing I was looking for, then took me around the room, adding more and more to my pile.  With each brochure, she gave me a little history, a local anecdote or story; it was so entertaining, and enlightening.  By the time I left, I had an armful of itineraries, mags and future adventures to plan for in the coming Weeks of the 52s.


And speaking of the 52s.  I got a bit sidetracked by the turkey hacker, but still managed to carry on with my project for this week.  If all goes well, I will post about it on Sunday.  It's been a fun endeavor, and no doubt the end result will be a necessary additive to either fuel my fire, or dampen it.

We'll just have to see on Sunday...


On my way home, I stopped at my favorite coffee drive-thru place for my Friday treat.  In the change I received another Where's George dollar bill.  I couldn't wait to get online and see how long it had been traveling, and from what distance.

Ah well.  Every journey begins with a single step.  The bill has only gone 52 miles, in 175 days.  Just 52 crummy little miles south of where I am right this minute. 

So now the next step is up to me.  I'm planning a trip up north to visit my sister in a month or two.  I think I'll take the dollar with me and find a busy place to send it on its way.  At least that would be better than taking months to go 52 miles...


N.B.  Oops.  I had the wrong link for the Big Blast.  If anyone's interested, I have fixed it so the real story can be read, with some photos, too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Let's see.  How mad am I?  On a scale of 1 to 10, one being mildly irritated, ten being in an enraged red haze...I would be around twenty, like the bomb in the photo above.

The alarm goes off this morning, I lay there for a few minutes before it goes off again and work through what I have to do today.  I've been really busy for the last few days, but today I plan to forge ahead with an idea I have for Week 8 of the 52s.  In my mind, I fiddle with details until the alarm wails, which is the cue for the boys to cuddle in for their puppy loves, then we all get up to start the day.

Clueless to what's ahead, I turn on the laptop, get the boys squared away, make my cuppa, and sit down to see what's been happening in the world since last night.

**BOOM**   ==Pow==   ##Banggggg## 

Feel the earth shake?  That would be me, exploding into a nuclear cloud of outrage.

My email inbox is overflowing with spam, plus returned undeliverable spam (the weird mailer-daemon thing), and guess what?  It was all supposedly sent by ME!  It honestly took me a few moments for the shock to wear off before I got the drift that my email had been hacked. 

After some digging, burrowing deeper into my system, I discovered the asshat who hacked me came from Turkey.  Seriously.  Turkey.  They got into my computer at 5:12am this morning.  Three hours have gone by.  Many of my email contacts are in Europe, which means they will have already opened the spam--the spam sent from my email address, in my name.

Immediately I change my passwords, then send a quick note to everyone, apologizing for this disgusting invasion of privacy.  I have now spent nearly the entire damned day going through all my accounts, changing passwords, information and any relevant details.

The funny thing is (and yeah, I'm really laughing...), I had every intention of changing the passwords on my blog, email and a couple other sites at the first of the year, but I kept putting it off.  It takes a lot of time and energy to come up with new words, go through all the hoops at each site, blah blah.  Well, this was a lesson learned, wasn't it?

While walking the boys this morning, stewing about this situation and all the computer work ahead of me when I get home, I suddenly remembered getting a couple of weird anonymous emails last week.  They were attached to two separate blog posts, but when I went to the posts, Anonymous wasn't listed.  I thought it was odd at the time, but just deleted the bizarre, made-no-sense comments and moved on.  I truly wish Blogger would come up with a way to block anonymous emails.  It's either-or with them, unfortunately.

Whatever.  My point here is this:  Somehow the frigging hacker came through my blog and wormed his/her evil slimy self into my email account.   I am forced to change the settings for my Comments, which I didn't want to do, so now there are hurdles involved in leaving one.  I'm sorry about that, but compared to nuclear brain meltdown and compromising my system?  I had no choice.

So thanks, you flaming turkey, for not only ruining my day, but screwing with my system.  I firmly believe that what goes around, comes around.  Hope that wheel hits you good and hard...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sundays In My City...Statue of Hebe

I wrote earlier--last week sometime, I think--that I couldn't do the Sundays In My City thing because there were only so many hours in a day.

Okay. Changed my mind a bit on that.  Because, this morning, for instance...

I took my camera with me as I was on a mission to find the controversial statue of Hebe, standing somewhere in the middle of the downtown area.  I'd read an article recently and just had to see what all the fuss was about.

So, after walking the boys, we drove around town until I finally stumbled upon her in a little park...

Hebe, the goddess of youth and thirst.  (And doesn't that seem like a very odd combination?  Thirsty youths?  Youthful thirsts?)

The story goes that the original Hebe Fountain was placed on a corner of Main Street in 1908 by the Women's Christian Temperance Union to provide water for horses, dogs and humans. The hope being that it would deter men from going to the many saloons in the downtown area.  (Yeah, like that was going to happen).

The statue shows the goddess in a gown with one of her breasts exposed, holding a cup in one hand and a jug in the other.  This same statue was one of many erected across the country at about the same time--again to convince men to drink water instead of demon rum, though I'm not too clear on what the Janet Jackson boob flash is supposed to convey...

Anyway.  The original statue was knocked down in 1912, when a runaway team of horses pulling a wagon reportedly toppled it.  Sent away to be repaired, it disappeared and for nine decades there was no statue downtown until a group of community folks decided it was time to bring a new Hebe back to the area.

And so it begins.

This is where I usually yank my hair in disbelief, gnash my teeth, despair for the mental processes of my fellow human beings.

It was determined by several groups that Hebe was a pagan, most likely a Wiccan, and therefore anti-christian.  Fervent, heated debate raged for years.  No, really.  Years.  The poor girl was accused of, among many other things, being a bad influence on the local youth because of that outrageously exposed breast--like there isn't a teenage boy in the world who can't get his hands on a magazine or website that shows far more than a pert wee boob.

Long story short.  The statue was finally replaced in 2007 and now stands in a small park at the edge of downtown, dispensing water for human and animals.  She's beautiful, and so far, has yet to drive the local male populace into wretched excess...

After reading the article I knew I'd better get a photo because guess what?  Another movement has begun to knock her right off that pedestal.  No need to say who is behind it, nor why they should feel so threatened by a lovely bronze statue from Greek myth.  (And am I the only one struck by the total irony that the statue was originally placed by the Women's Christian Temperance Union?)

With luck, cooler heads will prevail, the furor will die down and Hebe will be left in peace.

Because it's just too much to hope people will actually come to their senses...

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Friday turned out to be so funny.  Truly, I couldn't stop laughing just thinking about some of the blog posts I'd read earlier in the day...


I started out with Robbie, over at Tales From Beyond, who was writing a Valentine post but NOT about it being a love story.  He likes to think he's unromantic and jaded.  Very far from the truth when you read his stories because he is the most hopelessly romantic guy ever.  Which I guess is what makes his protestations even more funny.  His valentine post was an historical glimpse into the relationship he has with his woman.  One sentence totally cracked me up.  Towards the end of the post, he's having a conversation with said woman and refers to an incident involving his "white-hot, love-truncheon." 

OMG, I'm cracking up again!  So, so funny.

(I'm also very sorry, Rob, but you will never convince anyone that you're not romantic.  Not the way you write, or tell stories, but believe me, that's a good thing...)


Next I read Angy's post on her site, Tied Up With String.  She lives in Oz and it's hot, hot Summer there right now.  Because she doesn't want to write it out, she posted a link to an Aussie-ism that she says is used often, by many, for this kind of heat.  I clicked the link, then nearly choked on my morning coffee when I burst out laughing.  I told her in Comments that when Summer got to my part of the world, I was totally going to say this.  Throughout the day, I kept thinking of it and couldn't stop the laughter. 

I also couldn't wait for months, so here is the typical comment, made by Australians, on the heat of a Summer's day:  "It's as dry as a dead dingo's donger."

Ah  jeez...again, laughing laughing laughing.


Then I'm off to the Netherlands to visit with Stu at Invading Holland.  His post was about an addiction he has to a peanut butter/Nutella-like spread called Speculoos.  These are biscuits (cookies), but also a caramelized gingerbread spread made from the biscuits.  And I have to say, that sounds really tasty to me, so no wonder Stu was hooked on the stuff, though he did manage to "get clean" a few years back.


They've recently come out with a chocolate version!  The post was really funny, and it made me want to find some Speculoos and try it for myself. 

Best of luck kicking the habit, again, Stu.  Hopefully it won't require an intervention...


Another Angie, this one in Toronto.  She took a brief hiatus from her blog, Best Part of My Day but thankfully, she's back with some great photos relating to Valentine's Day.  I laughed at the photo of the chalkboard and hoped the words really weren't true!  

(I hope this really means you're back, Angie...)


Pearl, Why You Little... is one of the funniest blogs out there.  Pearl really should be doing stand-up comedy in her home town of Minneapolis, though then she wouldn't have time to write on the blog.  Her stories are wonderful observations about life, friends, family and--the most hilarious--her adventures riding the bus.


So thanks to you guys, I laughed my way through Friday--and again writing this post.  If I could, I'd invite you down to the pub and buy y'all a pint.  You totally made my day...


N.B.  One other thing happened yesterday that I forgot to mention...

This card arrived in the afternoon post from my BFF.  It made me laugh all over again because a) it's something she would say to me, and b) it's so, so true.


See?  It was just a funny, funny day...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Week 7 of the 52s...The Wait

Whilst at the Arts Center last week for my latest adventure, I picked up a prospectus for an upcoming photography event.  It got sucked into the black hole I call my purse, and wasn't discovered again until earlier this week.

The exhibit is sponsored  by ArtWorks NW out of Seattle, and is juried.  That always makes me nervous as art is so subjective.  Back in the day when Jan (BFF) and I had our business, almost everything we did was juried.  Fortunately, we never got rejected, but it's still nerve-wracking while waiting for the decision.  This show is also open to everyone on the planet; in other words, fierce competition and no doubt some truly brilliant photographers.  It's probably a good thing I can't see their work ahead of time.

And too bad for me, the photos must have been taken within the last two years.  That rules out most of my best stuff: Scotland, Italy, England, Ireland.  Then I notice the deadline.  Crap.  I have to get everything figured out within a week.

I almost crumpled the paper and tossed it in the bin.

Then I thought about the 52s, and the adventure, and doing new things.

So, I sat down at the laptop and went through the photographs I've taken over the past year.  Honestly, I wasn't too impressed, but here are the three I settled on:

Pure of Heart:

Gone South:

                                                                   Red tailed Hawk:

Once I picked the photos, next I had to print them in the size required, go to the frame place--which was having a big sale, yippee!!--get frames, matts and miscellaneous stuff, then assemble everything, which I just finished doing late yesterday afternoon.

(I'm still having fun...right??)

So.  Here are the three, framed:

Closer view...

These look so much better in person, in case anyone's thinking I've lost the plot.  It's a bit hard to see the bevel in the matting, especially around the white Bleeding Heart, and the frame isn't quite as dark as it appears in the photo.  I think my favorite is the red birdhouse with the red matt, and I like how the grayish fog-colored frame matches the snowy dark background. 

Today I'm submitting the stuff, then I'll have to wait until the end of March to see if any are chosen.  The exhibit runs from May 10th to July 5th, and though it would be really fun to have a photo in the show, I'm calling it good that I didn't toss the prospectus without even trying.

And if I don't make it through to the show?  Well then, I guess I'll be way ahead on my Christmas shopping...


N.B.  I ended up emailing my deets, the entry fee and the three jpg files.  The finished work isn't delivered until after the jury decision is made, so depending on that outcome, for now they're hanging in my hallway where they don't look half bad. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hearts and Hugs...

I took this photo outside my grocery store.  Tina Sawyer, the florist, was just creating this lovely display of Primroses when I pulled into a parking spot right in front of the flower stand.  I actually had my camera with me, a miracle considering I usually don't when I'm just out running errands.  So, I took this shot, went shopping, and by the time I came out, half the display was gone.  Timing is everything.

I'm posting my Valentine's wishes to all of you a day early, dear readers, because tomorrow I will be too busy feeling sorry for myself.  Just kidding.  Okay, maybe I'm not kidding.  It's damn hard when love is in the air but it's blowing way, way over your head.  Without sounding totally pathetic, I could really do with a hug.  A great bear hug of a hug.  An Alan hug to be specific.

But, rather than wail and whinge--which would change nothing except give me a headache--for Valentine's Day, I'm going to finish the book I'm reading, do some writing on the Scribbles story, and complete a project that's going to be my Week 7 of the 52s.  I'll post about it on Friday.

So.  Have a great day!  Give lots of hugs and kisses, smile at everyone you meet, be grateful for the love in your lives.  And for the rest of us, who by choice or circumstance are singletons, well hey, there's always chocolate...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Oh C'mon...Really?

Ozzy had me up most of the night, outside he wandered around, sniffing every blade of grass in the backyard, staring at the frigging moon, acting like it was High Noon and why wasn't everyone awake. 

Of course, once the day started he's suddenly all I'm-so-tired-and-could-you-keep-it-down-please, spending the better part of the day having nice long naps--even snoring!!  And too bad for me, this was a busy day, with loads of things to do--which seemed twice as hard and time-consuming because I'm so frigging tired.  Buggers.


Then, I read this article on the internet whilst drinking my lunch (no, not whiskey--though that would have been good--no, just my usual smoothie, more's the pity). 

Get this.  And honestly, even if I'd had a wonderful night's sleep, this would piss me off...

There's this woman.  30 years old.  Lived in New Zealand, though now she'd dead.  Why is she dead?  Because she drank 9 quarts (almost 18 pints) of Coca-Cola every single day.  Every. Single. Day.  Even after all her teeth rotted out of her head.  Even after several of her 8 children were born with no enamel on their teeth.  Every day, she ingested almost 1000 mgs of caffeine (twice the amount a normal body should take in).  She drank over 2 lbs of sugar per day in those Cokes, (11 times the amount for a normal body).

She died of a heart attack.

Her family is blaming Coca-Cola.


When do people take responsibility for their own bloody behavior?  Did someone stand over that woman and force her to drink lethal amounts of soda?  No, they didn't.  Did she give a thought to her babies, born with no enamel in their teeth?  No, she didn't. 

Why is this Coca-Cola's fault?  The company has had to defend themselves in court over this.  They have to put additional labeling on their bottles to be more clear about the contents of their drinks.  Are you kidding me?

Some days, I just can't stand it.


Oh, and just to clarify:  I don't have any affiliation with Coca-Cola.  I don't drink any brand of soda because I know none of them are good for my body, or my teeth.  It's not rocket science.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Magpie Tales 155...Embrace

artwork by Joseph Lorusso

Passion consumes
mindless of time and place
as kisses burn
in hot surrender
Tight arms enfold
hearts in thrall
bodies catch fire
in molten rapture
If you're lucky 

The prompt for Magpie Tales this week.  Apropos for Valentine's Day, of course.  Sigh...there really isn't anything quite so amazing as being in a torrid embrace, is there?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Haiku Heights 208...Red

St Columba's-by-the-Castle, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

The red door beckons

All are welcome to enter

Faith so colorful

The prompt this week from Haiku Heights immediately reminded me of this photograph I took awhile back.  St Columba's is at the top of the Royal Mile, which ends at Edinburgh Castle.  I've always loved this red door; the larger front door, around the corner to the left, is bright turquoise.  Click on the picture to read the signage posted on either side.  You've just gotta smile at a church with such a sense of humor...

* * * * * * * *

If you can't read the signs...

Left: Many folks want to serve God but only as advisors
Right:  When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there

Friday, February 8, 2013

Week 6 of the 52s...The Arts Center

After walking the boys, I decided it was the perfect morning to check out the Arts Center, especially since I was parked mere feet from the entrance.  I was sorry to miss the reception a few weeks ago because of Max's surgery, so no time like the present.

Before I took any photos, I asked the Gallery Manager if it would be okay.  I've been in a few places in Europe where your camera can get you into major trouble--been there, done that, barely talked my way out it--however, that is not the case here, in my little town.
Aleta, the manager, couldn't have been nicer, nor the other woman who happened to be in her office, Diana, an artist and calligrapher.  (Last fall, Diana actually met and worked with the President's Calligrapher.  How cool is that?)
After I blathered on explaining the 52s, my blog, and how I ended up living in the area, it must have been pretty clear that I don't get out much, though they were both very kind to listen.  Aleta told me about another reception in March, which I will pencil in since I missed the last one, and thanks to two very friendly and interesting women, I won't be walking into a room full of strangers.  That works for me.
So, onward to the Gallery:
It's a beautiful building, very bright and welcoming.  Looking to the right down the hall... I stood in the middle with this part of the gallery directly in front of me:
And to my left, down the other direction of the hallway...
There were wonderful little niches, and smaller rooms, with every kind of artistic works imaginable from textural to oil and watercolor, pottery and jewelry.  I had a great time wandering...
In one small room, an artist named Jim Lockwood, had this amazing piece that I just loved.  It was a metal structure covered with bits and bobs of everything under the sun.  My photos aren't great as the piece was right near the window and the sun was just blazing in...
Magic Potion:

In the large, main gallery, I spotted another of his works, this one a horse made with horseshoes and the nails that attach them to a hoof.  I really like his artistry...
Blind Ringer: 
This fabric creation was just stunning in person.  The material used for the skin actually looked and felt like scales. Wonderful textures and incredible sewing skills.  I would have taken this one home in a heartbeat, though it wasn't for sale.
Huracon-Winged Serpent, by Karla Roady:
And here is Diana's watercolor/calligraphy.  I truly want this one.  It's so...I don't know, happy and cheerful...empowering.  Again, the sun was just brilliantly lighting the room, so my camera over-compensated, plus there's back glare on the glass; still, the calligraphy is incredible, the flower so bright and simple, and the message just speaks to me:  "In my wildest dreams, I am fearless"
It's A Dream, by Diana J Brown:

And speaking of dreams.  This was a huge painting, and really cool.  I'm not sure what the story is behind it, but maybe that doesn't even matter.  Make up your own story.  Isn't that what art is all about?
Dreams Can Come True, by Michael William Ousley:
Raku Rainbow, by Laurie Lee.  Beautiful, shimmery piece...
These were for sale in the gift shop, with many different faces and colors.  Garden Goddess Masks, pagan and earthy and lovely.
Gloria Vi, Victoria Carnate:

I totally loved these!  What great gifts they would make, so clever and artistic, funny and whimsical.
Walrus, by Peter Alsen:

There were several different creatures in the gift shop, each one uniquely adorable...

At the end of one long hallway, there was this room, where the artists were students from the local high school...

I really liked the creativity here.  There wasn't a title, but it was done by a student in the 11th grade:

Another 11th grader.  This watercolor was propped against the wall, on the floor, so unfortunately the angle wasn't great for my shot, which is too bad; there were so many things to see: mermaids and windmills and sailing ships.  It was really good.  And painted by a kid not even out of school...

For My Sister:

This is just a small portion of the works in the Arts Center, and I have to say, I think Week 6 of the 52s has been one of my favorite adventures so far.  Not only did I get to wander in a beautiful setting, surrounded by art and creativity, but I met two very kind women who brightened my Friday.

And since I've been looking around the house for a place to hang it, I really think I have to go back to the gallery for Diana's picture.

What better way to celebrate the 52s and wild dreams than to have a reminder to be fearless...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bedlam and Brown Envelopes...

Yesterday afternoon I was going to do some accounting chores--sadly neglected since the end of 2012.  I have a wire basket where I toss all the stuff that needs to be filed, and once it reaches overflow, I figure it's time to sit down and sort through things. 

And yeah, I know that's a pile of paperwork there in that basket...

So naturally, just when I'm sitting down to get to it, the boys wanted to take a walk.  Fine, whatever, I don't really mind procrastinating a bit.  It was one of those innocent little moments where I'm enjoying the hike to the mail box, clueless that when I open that little door--**cue the Psycho shower scene sound effects**--I will find the infamous, gut-clenching Brown Envelopes of Doom, otherwise known as Her Majesty's Revenue.

The IRS is like preschool compared to HM Revenue.  There was a reason we fought the British over taxation back in the day; and we can't discount the centuries they've had to perfect the system, refine the confusion, mire the paperwork in language no one can comprehend, then tax the crap out of their citizens who will pay anything just to make them go away.

It took me months after Alan was gone to get things straightened out with the tax people.  One of my meetings when I went back to Edinburgh last year was with my solicitor to go over the contents of several Brown Envelopes.  We got everything sorted and I sighed with relief that I had survived the convoluted machinations of the British government.

A few months ago I got a little refund check based on last year's taxes; I sent it to my bank in Scotland, as of course the check was in pounds, not dollars.  Go figure.  Apparently HM Revenue hates parting with that dosh, making it as difficult as possible when they have to refund.

So, yesterday.  It's bad enough when I get one brown envelope, but I stare in horror at two of them, laying like vipers in my mail box.  I honestly don't even want to touch them--my experience with HM Revenue has not been easy or pleasant.

The first one says I owe £608.00 on last year's taxes (remember that I've already received a refund for that tax period?)  I read the letter, and the calculation form that supposedly explains why I have this tax repayment (yeah, right).  My head spins and my stomach tightens.  How could I owe that kind of money when nothing about my income or circumstance has changed? 

The second envelope is a refund check for £608.00 on last year's taxes.

I am convinced HM Revenue does this to people so they will go insane, have to be committed to Bedlam, allowing the government to swoop in and take everything.  Nothing else makes sense.

So, long story short:  I didn't do my accounting work yesterday after all.  I stewed about the two letters, then poured myself a very, very large glass of wine and walked away from the table.

Today I must try to make sense of this, which will require digging out two years' worth of paperwork, peruse several old emails from my solicitor, and reread these two letters, searching for hidden encryption to understand what this all means. 

I'm thinking Bedlam might be a better option...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sure, I'll Have A Bud...

Each year I can hardly wait to see the best commercials that play during the Super Bowl.  I could care less about the game, but the day after I always watch the Top Ten ads.  There were a few good ones this year, some were pretty funny, but this one--the video of a man raising a Clydesdale colt for Budweiser--killed me.  Totally. Killed. Me.  I was tearing up halfway through and reaching for the Kleenex box by the end. 

This is the best commerical ever.  The scenery, the music, the story...

Now, sorry, but I've gotta go.  I really need to blow my nose again...


N.B.  I just read this evening that the little colt pictured in this video has been named Hope.  Just so perfect....

Monday, February 4, 2013

Magpie Tales 154...Reverence

Central Library, Manchester, U.K., by Robin Gosnall

Within stone

 Pages turn

 Words aloft
Book perfume

 Dreams fly
Magpie Tales prompt for this week.  I could write all day about books, libraries--my favorite things in all the world.  Libraries should be revered, worshipped, protected.  They encompass all that we are.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Slow Sunday...

I removed the Sundays In My City badge, and won't be adding it to my writing and/or photography endeavors after all.  I realized it's sort of competing with the 52s, and those are ever so much more important to me.  I really like doing Magpie Tales--when the photo/picture prompt speaks to me--and Haiku Heights is just plain fun, but between those two, the 52s, the blog, my photography, working on the Scribbles serial and taking care of the other parts of my life...well, cripes.  There just aren't enough hours in the day, are there?

And now, having just got off the phone after my weekly Sunday chat to Jan (BFF), I am sorely behind on my day...which will shortly become my night if I don't get a move on.  I'm in the throes of the next installment on the serial and really want to get it posted today.  Too bad, just as I'm ready to sit down and finish writing it, the boys now want to go on our usual afternoon walk, no matter I keep telling them there is no mail on Sundays. 

Ah well, the fresh air will clear my mind. 

Or, hmmm, maybe I can buy them off with cookies...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Week 5 of the 52s...A Little Road Trip

So this morning whilst having breakfast, I realize that once again it's nearing the end of the week and I haven't done my new thing for the 52s.  I had sort of planned to hit the art gallery yesterday--one of the adventures on my list--but with the garage fiasco and other stuff I had to do, I just couldn't pull it off.

I spend a minute or two considering if I want to search for one of the covered bridges (also on my list), but the weather's foggy and crappy, not such a good day for photographs.  I glance at the map, then decide to save that trip for another day.

The dogs and I head down the mountain for our walk, and as we're going along the trails through the VA complex, the fog lifts and it starts to look like a pretty good morning for a drive after all.  Except I don't have the map.  We get back to the car, and at the intersection where I either turn for home or turn for adventure, I make a snap decision.  Telling the boys to fasten their seat belts, off we go: clueless into the unknown.

Actually, I remembered most of the route, though there's always the possibility of making a mistake, getting lost, and at one point I did think I'd gone the wrong way.  Luckily, just as I was looking for a place to turn around, there it was.

Oregon has the most covered bridges in the West, and almost the most in America.  Once upon a time there were more than 400, though today there's barely 50, and only six in my part of the state.  Sad, really.  They're such wonderful little pieces of history.

The Cavitt Creek Bridge, built in 1943, is 70ft long and spans the Little River.

Going through it was really cool.  You have to keep to the center, driving on the large planks while the wood creaks and groans around you...I loved  it.

Once I drove through to the other side, I parked along the river embankment and walked inside the bridge to take some interior shots.  A few of the locals passed by, very friendly, lots of smiles and waves, and careful driving so I didn't have to leap into the river.

The far side of the bridge--the car is just out of view to my right--as I'm heading inside...

The interior was very cool.  Huge support beams on each side that had to easily be 50ft long (if the bridge is 70ft), then the buttresses, equally as thick.  Imagine the size of the trees...

An interesting thing were the six large openings (three per side) like windows without glass (visible in the second photo above).  Here's the view down river from the middle opening...

Looking out the other side, up river...

It was such an adventure, not knowing if I would truly be able to find the place, especially without the map, then the fun and satifaction when I did.  And it was a perfect drive: quiet, not much traffic, and the further I got into the wilderness, the better the weather.

After leaving the bridge and retracing my steps the eight miles back to the main highway, I noticed a sign across the road that said Colliding Rivers Viewpoint.  Well hey, I'm that I'm channeling Sacajawea.

At this confluence, the Little River collides with the North Umpqua River, where chaos ensues.  The waters were really turbulent and wild, though the viewpoint didn't lend itself to good photographs.  I stood on the stone wall, wrapping my foot around a post in the handrail as I tried to shoot between the trees.  This is the best I was able to do...

The Little River is coming from the left...

...and colliding with the North Umpqua coming from the right.  They merge tumultuously in the middle, to eventually become the main Umpqua River that runs to the Pacific Ocean.

It was a great morning.  I loved the adventure, the drive, the doing of something unexpected and fun.  It sure wasn't on my agenda for Saturday, but that's the whole point of the 52s, isn't it?