Saturday, January 31, 2009

Self examination

The week just kept getting better. By yesterday afternoon I realized that those of you who have called me a geek in the last little while are probably right. Tuesday the new computer arrived a week early and it is still working. Thursday a new flash attachment for my camera arrived. Yesterday the lens that I broke during the holidays came back from being repaired two weeks early! And then today I actually installed the new monitor/TV in my lair that has been waiting in the box for a few weeks! Last night during the basketball game I read manuals and played with the new flash attachment.

Today I re-entered the downstairs area that has been recently abandoned. After cleaning up the debris that I've tossed down here and finally making the beds (you can come back now, Muriel!) it was time to play with my toys. I think I have now crossed over to geekdom, or at least put my big toe in there. The last few hours have been spent testing lighting systems, learning new menus, changing backdrops, downloading trials and going back for more testing. Darn, this is fun!
After taking nearly 100 photos and studying them to see how the lighting affects the subject, which in this case was me, I have come to some obvious conclusions.
1. I have my father's smile.
2. I have my mother's eyes.
3. Never put the background light behind your ear.
4. My gray hair shows more when it is short (cut yesterday).
5. It is time to wax again.
6. Thank you Adobe for Photoshop Elements.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Dresses

Eris finally posted photos of the Little and Littlest Ms. in their Inauguration Dresses. Also, Jodi came to visit this afternoon and posted some cute photos of Little Man. Thanks to both of you!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Forward this

Every single one of you is sitting in front of a computer monitor right now. Unless you have one of those Blackberry Thingies or a fancy phone that receives your email. But my guess is that most of you are sitting back in a comfy chair at your desktop or on the bed (Athena and Eris!) with your laptop.

I love email as much as I dislike the telephone. Right now I'm sitting in my kitchen where I should be fixing dinner. But I'm not. (My girls were all over for lunch this afternoon and I try to keep my cooking down to one meal a day.) Zeus is about 50 feet away in his den, also looking at his monitor. In the last 20 minutes I have received two emails from him. Sometimes he will send me reminders to do something that I keep forgetting to do. Often I will send him an "I love you".

Most people know that I rarely open forwards. Especially those feel-good, lovey-dovey, sappy, send to everyone on your contact list, etc. forwards. Usually they are quickly glanced at and then sent to my beloved recycle bin. Last year I even had to take the drastic step of blocking an old friend because my delete button was wearing out. For some reason she felt the responsibility to send me all kinds of pro-Republican and anti-Obama stuff. Aacckkk!!! Delete, delete, delete, BLOCK!!! Ahhh, that felt good...

A little while ago I got the best forward ever. EVER. It came from my next door neighbor, Kari. With her permission I will now forward it to all of you.

Thanks Kari for making me laugh!

Going to warm up some leftovers now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

From a Vega to a Chevette?

In 1982, give or take a year or two, I purchased a 1978 Chevette. After my experience with the Chevrolet Vega you would think that a Ford or Datsun would be higher on the list of preferred cars. The little Chevette had 80,000 miles and that alone should have put huge red flags on it.

This silver jewel got me through six years of single-parenthood before it was passed down to Athena. Are you crying yet, Athena? Then she drove it through high school. By the time the little car left our family it had over 200,000 miles and was in pretty tough shape. So many gallons of Diet Coke had been spilled on the passenger side that the floorboard had rotted away. Any lucky person riding on that side faced the real possibility of being splashed if the driver ran over a puddle. My dad finally gave her (or me, can't remember) a piece of plywood to cover that hole. The Chevette saw lots of action and Athena and I both grieved when it was sold to a loving family up north.

This is what my kitchen island looks like tonight. Computers, external drives, cameras and phones everywhere. And don't try to walk around the island because there are cords all over the place. A brand new HP laptop arrived at my doorstep this afternoon.

After the old one (on the right) came back from the HP hospital two weeks ago it still wasn't working properly and the service technician told me it had to go back for the fourth time. Uh- uh..... no. no. no. After a nice visit with a customer service manager she agreed it was a lemon and that a completely new laptop would be built for me, complete with many upgrades that I was considering purchasing anyway. Yippeee!

The reason my little Chevette has been on my mind today is that I keep wondering if my replacement computer will give me the same kind of service that the Silver Bullet did, or will it be another Vega? Wish me luck.

Now back to reinstalling programs and transferring data for the thousandth time...

$.07 (aarrgghh, snow...)

Update: For those interested, Zeus is doing very well. The next two weeks are for resting up before round two.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The signs of aging

This afternoon I had to make a quick run to our local WalMart for some unanticipated necessities. I turned down an aisle go find some one inch band aids (surprisingly difficult to find) when I noticed an older gentleman standing in front of a display of adult sanitary supplies. Apparently he was running a little late because he was peeing all over the floor. Not inside his pants, either. Nope, the goods were available for inspection and he was taking care of business right there in front of the packages of Depends. When he saw my astonished look he just tucked it back in, zipped up and walked off.
On the way home I didn't know whether to laugh or cry for the man. At the same time it made me wonder what kind of things I will do to make the lives of my daughters hell. Will I one day forget to wear my swimming suit to the pool? Will my "filters" become so dysfunctional that I say things to hurt others, even more than I have a tendency to do already? Will I use my age as an excuse for bad behavior? Will I become so increasingly tightfisted that I refuse to pay for electricity? (Hmm, probably not because that would eliminate the computer.) Will I go out for a run one day and mysteriously end up on Antelope Island? (Probably not... too far.) Or will I just smell fish and forget to come back?
In some ways I have already graduated to adult incompetence. (Note: that did not say incontinence.) I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on most electronics. Then I try to watch a DVD. *SFDPH*. They just never seem to work for me. Oh, by the way, thanks to Muriel for working over the downstairs system again and leaving a cheat sheet for me. I think Mr. Eris and D-Rock worked on the system in the den. We now can watch movies without calling the Little Erises for help.
I drive too slowly. No speeding tickets or warnings since 2002.
I eat four prunes every night before I go to bed.
Oh my, it's started already.
(It's nice to be home and in our own bed, another sign of aging?)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

That was one great movie!

Greetings from the resort/spa where we are enjoying our relaxing "vacation". The food is good here, the accommodations are wonderful and the service staff is great. The acupuncture is going well.

Tonight we had a chance to relax and enjoy a movie. You should all watch it sometime. It was called Love Actually.
Love ya all!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Awesome. Not a dry eye in this house.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Untie the Ribbons

There is a restaurant in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, MX that was a favorite of ours for many years. For anyone who came to visit us in Why, AZ there was almost always a trip to this small fishing village on the Sea of Cortez and that included a dinner at Del Capitan. It is located high on a hillside, up a very steep dirt road adjacent to a lighthouse. From the dining patio you could enjoy beautiful sunsets and then after sundown see the lights of the Baja peninsula which were visible across the gulf.

The first time we went to the Del Capitan I noticed a print on the wall in the Senora's bano with the words
Every new day offers many gifts.
Untie the ribbons.
For some reason this quote moved me. I took out my checkbook and wrote it down in the back of the register. For many years whenever I changed registers I would always write it down in the new one.
Last week while in The Big City to the South I found the exact same framed print in my favorite treasure store. The words on the print still have the same effect on me thirteen years after the first time I saw it. For now I'm not sure where I will hang it but I know that it needs to be somewhere that I see it every day to remind me that I have many gifts and should be untying those ribbons every day.

The greatest gift I have is my family. Last night there were twenty of those gifts all crowded in my kitchen and great room eating our favorite meatballs and funeral potatoes. It was total chaos. And I loved it. The squeals of the kids and the laughter of the adults was everywhere. I untied a hug from each one of them.

As we head into the next few weeks of challenges it is comforting to know that we have lots of support from everyone around us. These gifts are priceless.

Thank you all.


P.S. Yes, Jubee, this is the restaurant where the mariachis sang Feliz Cumpleanos to a surprised you while the other "little girl with dark hair" at the next table looked on with disbelief.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Diamonds in the Sky

After five years I'm sure my neighbors have decided that I'm a little wacky sometimes. And it is a title that I probably deserve, especially after the last week.

In my ongoing attempts to conquer f-stops and apertures I headed outside three different times in the late afternoons to play in snowbanks. With our warming temps (sorry about that, FN) the ice crystals were melting, resulting in some interesting formations. A macro lens is one that allows for very closeup shots and can produce interesting images. By kneeling or laying down in the snowbanks and shooting upwards using a very wide aperture (!!!!) I was able to produce a few interesting shots and finally get a good handle on some more techie stuff. And each time I came home soaked to my waist. By the way,can I state again how much I love my new camera?

This shot was taken on my first day out. What you see in the image was actually only about two inches across, a very tiny hole in the top of a large snowbank. Macro is usually not my favorite technique but I must admit that this one was fun to get. It took a first place in our small camera club competition tonight. The bison by the river image from Yellowstone earned a second.

We need more snow. White snow. With our current inversion it is all dirty and gray, not very pretty for photographing.

Come on, think snow....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's a five-letter word for....

About four years and a half years ago I rediscovered the pleasures of physical exercise. I started out innocently enough with walking a local track, usually about two miles a day. One afternoon while I was strolling along a wonderful lady jogged past me. Wow, I can do that! After all, she was probably around the age of my mother and she wasn't even sweating.

I was up for the challenge. Feeling rather cocky, after all, I had been walking for quite a few months, I made it halfway around the track before becoming totally winded. And embarrassed. With the purchase of some quality running shoes and a good sturdy running bra I was eventually able to make it around that track many times and grew to love the resulting release of endorphins (mmm, endorphins). Soon that track became excruciatingly boring (almost as bad as an evil treadmill) and I escaped its confines for the excitement and shiny objects on the streets.

At about that same time I went to Nevada with Jan to visit her mother Phyllis. This was an incredible woman with an amazing outlook on life. In her late 80s her mind was still sharp as a tack with a wonderful sense of humor. I watched in awe as she did the LA Times crossword puzzle each morning, IN INK!!! For the few days that I was there she left me some easy blanks to fill in. Oh, she was clever, too. I was hooked.

Our local newspaper has a daily puzzle and after returning home I was doing it every day. Last year I graduated to the harder puzzles that come in the Sunday paper out of the Big City to the South. Each night when I go to bed I work on them for awhile, sometimes finishing, sometimes not. Occasionally at the end of the week if I am really stumped I will resort to Google for some answers.

A few of you have accused me of cheating but I don't see it that way. These crossword puzzles are my form of mental exercise. If I have exhausted my brainpower and am stuck, why not search out the clues rather than just turn to the answer page?

Zeus has now taken up the challenge and is doing the local puzzle each day. I love it.

Now if you will excuse me, it's time for my exercise. But before I go, can anyone name the painter of "Knight, Death and the Devil"? I'll give you a hint. Five letters, starts with "d". And no cheating.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Something is "off"

It all started at the pool this morning when my Mom told me that Mr. Eris, Jr. and Little Ms. were coming to her house on Monday afternoons. Hmmm. That just didn't sit well with me. In fact, I was damn irritated by it.

Weird. All day I have felt like something is just not right. Something was missing. I checked my calendar, nothing significant going on this week. Zeus has a number of appointments coming up, a busy week for him, but mine was strangely absent of carefully marked obligations.

Well, okay, I thought. That will give me a chance to get caught up on a few more things. But that uneasy feeling just didn't let up.

Went down to the lair to put some honest effort into those Inauguration Dresses that need to be finished by Sunday (more about those later). After making some nice progress on them I realized what is wrong. Seriously wrong. SERIOUSLY.

There are no children scheduled. None. Nada. There is a big void in my calendar. No Grandma Tuesdays or Grandma Wednesdays to plan. Oh my.

Ever since I quit working about nine years ago there have been regularly scheduled days when I have looked forward to a little one (or two) (or three) who would come running in my door in the mornings. At the end of the day I would just as eagerly watch the clock to see when Moms or Dads would come through the door to pick them up after our days of adventures, art projects and cookie making.

Now before you all jump on this train and kindly offer the services of your darling children, please be assured that I will survive this. The situation is temporary and therefore manageable.

You better hope that I don't get to like it too much.


Friday, January 9, 2009


Why am I smiling today?

1. I just cleaned out my refrigerator and freezer and realized that I don't have to cook or go to the grocery store for two months!

2. All cupboards and cabinets in my house have been cleaned and washed out. Purging of useless junk is nearly finished.

3. My laptop is already at the HP Hospital in Tennessee. Overnight shipping amazes me.

4. The sun is shining outside and it was very warm this morning when I went out, 28 degrees!

5. While working in Zeus' room I found a DVD of Love Actually. Not sure whose it is or if I've seen it. Maybe I've had it since the night I watched Brokeback Mountain a few years ago. Also found another DVD of The Point. You can't have too many of those!

6. I am listening to Nilsson's All Time Greatest Hits. (singing: put de lime in the coconut, drink em' bot up, etc. etc)
That's why.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is HP the new Vega?

In 1974 I became the proud driver of a Chevrolet Vega. This revolutionary car was touted as the beginning of a new generation of cars due to it's great little aluminum engine block. The car was silver and kind of cute. However, I believe that these cars were programmed to self-destruct at 98,000 miles. That was the magic number where it required more oil than gasoline to move on down the road. It has carried the label of the Worst Detroit Car Ever Made since then.

It's 2009. For almost two years I have been the owner of an HP laptop. I am now designating it as the Worst Laptop Ever Made. This post is being typed on our old reliable IBM desktop that is mainly used by the grandkids while the HP laptop sits on my desk awaiting the by-now-too-familiar box to arrive at my doorstep for the shipment back to the HP factory. This is three times, folks. Three new mother boards have been installed. And failed. The super-deluxe battery that we purchased with it quit working after a year. And now the damn thing won't boot up at all after the wacky technician from Missouri (who I believe was eating Cheetos while talking to me) tried to do a system recovery, which failed miserably. It now just stares at me, a blue screen with an error message, something about bootmsg system missing. Two different HP technicians have told me that my model has been a lemon from the start. Gee thanks. I think I know that by now.

Last year after the second repair we decided to purchase the extended warranty. So luckily this problem will be covered. After March I will be on my own for repairs. They tell me that this one just might get me a totally new laptop. One can only hope, right? I have tried to be kind to this HP, being careful not to overtax it with silly programs like Excel Spreadsheets and Zeus' favorite Quicken. Nope, for me it is simply Photoshop and Microsoft Office. Not even any games. If there is one thing I have learned in the past 22 months it is to keep good backups on external hard drives.

You know what the abbreviation stand for: SFDPH!!! Now if you will all excuse me it is time to go Buddhize for awhile and remind myself that I must be thankful for old reliable computers.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Rockman comes to Utah

"Say, what's happenin' wi' choo boys? Ya been goofin wi' da bees?"

Sorry, I know most of you won't understand this one, but a few will. I found these guys this afternoon just down the street from the Duchess. I had to back up to get a photo and then laughed all the way home! For an explanation, click here.

"Ya see whatcha want ta see and ya hear whatcha want ta hear".

$1.85 (and I froze my butt off to get that! It was only SEVEN degrees out this morning!)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Around the corner

If you walk through the front door of our home everything looks nice and neat. Lights and decorations have disappeared and we are back to our basic color scheme of beige, ecru, tan, ivory and light brown. No more holly berry red or Christmas green. The Festivus Pole has been moved into the garage and the neighbors can quit clucking until next December. (I miss that pole more than anything else.) It's always a bit of a shock at first but we quickly get used to the nakedness and settle back into the comfort of the rooms that have changed little since we moved here five years ago.

But go down the stairs and it is a different story. You can't see this mess from the stairwell. I am careful to keep it pushed to one side so that you actually have to walk down the stairs and turn the corner before you encounter the piles of decor and boxes waiting to be filled. It will only take a couple of hours to box it all up and put it back in the storage room, so why do I keep putting it off?

Mostly because it is only the start of a much bigger project that is looming ahead. January is the time that I start in on my spring cleaning. For the last month each time I looked in a cupboard or cabinet I knew that it was time to bite the bullet and get down and dirty. Empty, wash down, rearrange, toss unused or outdated items in a bin for DI or garbage, etc. Usually I start in the kitchen and work my way around the house doing one or two rooms a week.

Just yesterday I noticed that the mysterious (?) smudge lines have reappeared on the walls in the hallway and down the stairs. These dark areas are about 24 inches off the floor. A wet, soapy cloth will take these dark marks off but I know that they will magically come back within a few months.

A few weeks ago as I was getting ready to put something in the oven Zeus looked at me with a puzzled expression. He had caught a glimpse at the inside of the door. "Don't we have a self-cleaning oven?" Oh yeah, but that would require that I actually lock the door and turn it on.

So now I will put this computer to sleep and go get that family room back in order.


(A $5 and $1 bill plus change really started my year out right on the 1st. Hopefully that is an indication of what a great year this will be!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Prospero Ano Nuevo 2009!

Last year I posted my resolutions and goals for the year 2008. They were simple. Did I accomplish them? Well, not totally, but here's the accounting.

Quilting: Not accomplished, probably due to burnout from the successful year of 2007. I think I finished four quilts and about 20 neonatal quilts.

Photography: I haven't totally conquered f-stops and apertures but I now understand them and know how to use them. Also, the new toy is proving to be well worth it. The scrapbooking is basically up-to-date, with exception of the month of December. Big stack of photos waiting.

Running: The Duchess and I didn't run the 5k in the spring but Eris talked me into one in the fall. These are not my favorite things to do but it was for a good cause.

Health: I did manage to lose ten pounds during December but unfortunately that was after I gained some during the previous 11 months. Sorry, no link to this one.

Reading trashy novels: Yup, I did that. FIVE OF THEM! Please don't throw apple cores at me. You all know what I'm talking about. Okay, they weren't trashy, in fact they were downright boring in the trash department (no sex and too many sparkles). Worse than that, we detoured to the setting of the books on one of our trips. And to top it off I went to see the movie (yes, that was fun, but still no trashiness). On the plus side, I had a chance to read the last Harry Potter book and a couple of Chronicles of Narnia books with Eris and Mr. Eris, Jr. Now that was some quality reading time.

The resolutions for 2009 are as follows:

Quilting: Try for one per month and get going again on those neonatal quilts. Also, after having no new babies born in our family in 2008 we are looking forward to four, and hopefully five little ones in the next year! Hurray!

Photography: Play with green screen technology and have fun with it. Also, get the dropped lens fixed and don't do anything that stupid again!

Health: Lose that last ten pounds and then head to the islands. Thanks to Les for the inspiration!

Summary: The year 2008 was a great year. Zeus and I were able to do some fun traveling and are making plans for more in the coming year. The family is all doing very well and are happy. Although we have some big challenges facing us in the next few months we are optimistic and looking forward to what comes afterwards. Thanks to all of you for being part of my life!

Bring it on, 2009!


Above photo taken on New Years Eve 2003 in Ensenada, Mexico.