Monday, December 5, 2016

Time Marches On

"Time Marches On". Where did that come from? Was it a newsreel I saw at the theater?

Well, time does march on and my granddaughter, the one with with Acute Flaccid Myelitis, is out of the hospital and home. Factoid; there have been 108 cases of AFM in the US, through November, and in 33 states. No one knows much about it. No cures. How did she contact the disease? No one knows. Why not her twin brother as well? No one knows. The number, 108, is more than in the year 2015 but not as many as in the year 2014. Why? How much research is being done? Well, with only 108 cases out of a population of 312M plus, you can imagine how many dollars are allocated for research into AFM.

Right in the middle of writing this post I decided to see if there was any research being done, so I Googled it and ran across transverse myelitis and it seems that AFM is a variant of transverse myelitis and they have a webpage! I sent this info onto my son...

I am glad I read the information they had as I read that the prognosis is a crap shoot. Instead of being condemned to sit in that chair, about a 1/3 recover completely. 1/3 are left with some disability while 1/3 are not going to recover. This is so much better than the bleak outlook I had. It is still correct to say that they have no cure; what they do have is therapy that is effective for some...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's Thanksgiving Day...

...and I should have a Thanksgiving story to tell; and I do. It's about our granddaughter that was struck by Acute Flaccid Myelitis and is now paralyzed from the umbilicus down. Or more easily, from the 'belly button' down. A lot has happened since she made that long ambulance ride from a small mountain town in a remote part of the north state. She was in UC Davis Medical Center (Sacramento) for a long time; long enough to stabilize her and to begin her recovery. Not a recovery to normal life, but a recovery that allows her some mobility; a wheelchair to be exact. There is no cure for AFM at this time so the wheelchair will be her legs for a long time.

UCD Med Center was a fantastic place. They cared for her and she responded magnificently. She was always smiling and trying her very best for the trials of physical therapy and all of the painful lab testing; spinal taps and more. In some cases her paralysis was a blessing as she couldn't feel the pain. She had to have 18 days of injections of an anticoagulant that would be painful. I knew this because I had to have 4 days of them when I broke my pelvis recently. They are given to you by pinching a fold of your skin over your stomach and injecting it right there. Lucky girl, she got to smile for those. But of course there were lots of painful things for her to endure. Still, she smiled and persevered. Her goal was always to come home.

About a week ago, UCD Med Center transferred her to Shriner's Hospital for Children. A fantastic hospital that has special programs just for children with spinal cord injuries. It was also 200 feet away from her bed at UCD. Once there, the physical therapy increased dramatically. Luckily, she is very strong from her years of soccer, volleyball and gymnastics. The PT didn't phase her. If you want to know about Shriner's in Sacramento, follow this link.

Yesterday she had an appointment with the wheelchair specialists to fit her with the best chair for her and her needs. It seems that her insurance only covers the most basic of chairs. The insurance company feels that going outside in a chair is a luxury for children. Well, Shriner's doesn't feel that way at all and will cover the cost of the best chair for her; one that goes outside! This was the main reason that UCD transferred her. Another is the care they give before she is allowed home. They will drive all of the way up to her home and do all the measuring of the house so that Dad knows what it will take to remodel for her. He had already started on a portion of it. I should say that their friends have begun the work; he has never left her side since the first day. Shriner's is also going to go to her school and with the help of the staff, they will talk to all of the students and staff about her condition. All of it. They said that there was no reason for her to endure the constant questioning that she would face when she arrived at school once more. If Abby wants to join the team  while they do this, that's fine too. It's all up to her. They are there to be her caretakers and protectors. And they are always available, even after she is home. I know where our year end charitable giving will go.        

I received a text from my son this morning and I want to share it...


Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃 we are taking a break for this Holiday. No PT, no OT, just time with family to reflect on all of our blessings. Thank you all for your support, and prayer. Abby is looking at getting home very soon. Still lots of work ahead, but because of her hard work and strength she has fast tracked her stay at Shriner's. 😊

Abby is enjoying her Thanksgiving with Dad, his fiance ((her most caring 'mom') and her twin brother who has missed her terribly.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

How very strange

Back in the late 1980's, maybe 1988, I was given a large set of plans. There were roll after roll of plan sheets, from structural steel to landscaping. Then there were the large books that contained the specifications for a new hospital to be built in Sacramento. There were half a dozen of those. All were for the Shriners Childrens Hospital. And I was going to construct a detailed bid from all of this. A winning bid, hopefully.

At this time I was an estimator for a large subcontracting firm and we were going to bid on the structural steel fireproofing, all of the plaster and synthetic plaster, all of the lath and structural framing for the lath & plaster. Then there was the interior where we were bidding on the structural steel framing for the drywall as well as the light gauge framing. We had to bid on all of the heavy gauge backing to be installed for the support of all medical equipment. We were bidding on all of the drywall. Of course we included the pricing for the taping and finishing of all the drywall. We had a separate bid to install all of the acoustical ceilings; the framing and the tile. There was a lot of work ahead of me.

So I laid out the plans in order on my plan table and shut the door to my office. I began by reading all of the spec books, highlighting all the important sections. After a few days I put the books aside and began to 'read' the plans. I created spreadsheets using the old Lotus 1,2,3 software. Then I .....

I know that I was in that office for a very long time. And I remember thinking that the Shriners were spending a lot of money on this hospital. More than I had ever seen before. Disclaimer: I had only bid on one hospital before this, a Kaiser 'cookie cutter' hospital that had been much smaller.

After many weeks it was time to bid. There was lots of tension in our office and especially in mine. This was going to be a big part of our volume for the next two years if we secured the job. As an estimator, I kept my job or I could lose it on a bid this big. Then we decided to cut our price substantially to increase the odds in our favor. We called in our price and then we waited.

It turned out that there were 3 bids, quite similar in price and scope and mine was among them. The owners, Shriners, and the architect wanted to interview all 3 of the firms to determine who would build the hospital. On the appointed day, 3 of us, my boss, the senior estimator and I, went to the meeting, armed with facts and figures and fancy pictures of similar sized projects that we had completed. It took us about an hour to answer all of the questions that Shriners had for us. We went back to the office to wait for a phone call. We didn't have to wait long; we received a call that afternoon with the news that we would be building the new Shriners Hospital in Sacramento. I took a deep breath;  I was now a hero and would be until the next big job came along.  But that would be a long time coming, as the estimator of a large project would normally be assigned the job of Project Manager. And on a job of this scale I would be the PM for close to 2 years.

But it was not to be. The branch manager and I were not the best of friends. And he had just received an opportunity to be rid of me without showing any signs of being vindictive. I was to be transferred to a department back in Kansas City, our headquarters. From the new job description they gave me; Strategic Development, I was intrigued, although I was sad to lose the opportunity to be part of the construction team on the hospital. I wouldn't have to move to Kansas City; I would be given an office in a building adjoining to the one I was currently in.

The years went by; the new job was wonderful, as was my new boss. The 'old boss' was let go after a few years and I felt vindicated. Then I retired in 2004. I should have let it go but I always felt a little sad that I hadn't been able to work on that hospital. It had been my last big job and I had been cheated out of something. Then this year comes along and then this month. My granddaughter now has a beautiful room in that very same hospital. She is being treated by the fantastic staff there. I couldn't have ever imagined something like this back in the day. My granddaughter hadn't been born. I know it doesn't make a lot of sense but today I feel a real attachment to the doctors and nurses that work there. They are working in a building that I had a small part in its construction. My granddaughter sleeps in a room that I once measured and counted.

When you work in the construction industry you soon learn that you are there to just build the buildings and then you move on. You may have had an emotional attachment to a building; I know I had plenty, but you learn to forget it and look forward to the next one to build. It's pretty rare that you have a chance to revisit a special one. Considering why I am revisiting this one, I would gladly give up all memories of all the work I have ever done. I would give up anything and everything to have my granddaughter asleep in her own room at home in Susanville. Dreaming of the basketball game she will be playing this afternoon.  

Here's a photo that my son took last night. This is the lobby, looking straight up to the skylights on the roof. There is a lot of sunlight coming down through those skylights during the day. You can see the curved glass railing on each floor.  It's a beautiful place and it's filled with happy people. Everyone smiles. No one is sad here. I think the Shriners spent their money wisely.















 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Our granddaughter

I last or first posted about our granddaughter on November 4th. A lot has happened since that date. On Tuesday evening she was moved by ambulance to Shriners Childrens Hospital in Sacramento. The trip took all of 90 seconds as the two hospitals are about 200' feet apart. I could go on and on about health care abuses and expenses, but, why bother? I'm not going to change it by myself.

Anyway, back to the important stuff; our granddaughter! No she is not cured and won't be in the foreseeable future. Life is what it is and she is ready to begin it as a young woman who happens to be a paraplegic. In October of this year she was a future gymnastics, soccer and volleyball star. Now? Different goals and she is busy working towards them. She is already very proficient in the use of her wheelchair; nothing slows her down! And she calls to encourage me as I recover from the pelvis fracture.

As I said, there is no cure, and much like polio, when the disease leaves, it leaves a crippled body behind,  In polio, some cases were able to regain a great deal of their strength. It takes lots of work and lots of physical therapy. I think she has a good chance of being one of the lucky ones.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Three Million?

I just read that Der Drumpf has decided to remove 3,000,000 undocumented workers. Well, it is 8 million shy of the undocumented that are supposed to be here. I suppose he had to start somewhere.

I decided to do some math, something I'm sure his team has already done. First, I estimated the cost of finding, holding and then deporting the 3 million. I estimated low but then I remembered it was government work and estimated higher. That number was astronomical so I came up with an estimate that was somewhere in the middle, $3,000 per head. That brings the total to $9 billion.

What I didn't figure in, and I'm sure the team didn't either, was the cost to business as sundry members of the manufacturing,  wholesale and retail businesses when some members of the workforce don't show up. The disappearance of these workers will open up job opportunities but I have a feeling that that they will go unfilled. Picking fruit and vegetables in the Southern San Joaquin valley is not for the faint of heart. Even the Drumpf Hotels may lose kitchen and cleaning workers. You only have to think of the nastiest job possible and that's where there will be a sudden rash of job openings.

I was an estimator for a construction company for about 12 years and I quickly learned that you double your price for government work. You won't make any money but you won't go bankrupt. I think it should apply here.

When?

I have been thinking about the election. (who doesn't?) And I wonder about the electorate that put this clown into the Oval Office. When will they realize that they have made a terrible mistake? Or, will they ever? If you look at the histories of the states that fell into the Trump camp, you will see that the majority of those states have been voting against their better interests for many years. And the majority of these states take more in federal aid money than they contribute. Yet they rail against the federal machine, as if it were the fault of that machine that they are poor and ignorant. Not surprising,  the majority of states that were Hillary's, are the states that gave more than the feds gave back to  them. What a shame; we financed our own downfall. And the corrupt, blatantly corrupt. politicians of those poor states were eager to take our money for their own purposes.  

I really don't see them, the poorer states, coming to their senses until the voters that are responsible for this Trump presidency, die off. It's going to be up to the youth to correct this terrible imbalance. It may be wishful thinking, after all, year after year, the youth in these states became clones of their parents. But...the internet in the 90's wasn't the power that it is now.

Something else that I don't hear much about is the power of the popular vote. Clinton won that. Der Dumpf does not want to mention it. In his version of real life, he fires people that are critical of him. He can't fire millions of Americans so he does what he does best when faced with a power greater than his; he ignores them. Yet, there is a strong power there and we need to learn how to use it. The news media is still concentrating on what they think will give them advertizing dollars and so they write about the terrible defeat suffered by the 'left' and not the disadvantage given to the Alt-Right Trump presidency by the fact that the majority of Americans don't like these people and a number of these Americans will do what they can to disrupt them and their plans.

With the official elevation of Steve Bannon to chief White House strategist, the Breitbart group now has a degree of legitimacy. Have you ever read anything written by the Breitbart group? Even conservative Republicans are sometimes shocked by what is seen on the Breitbart website. I believe that the majority of the Trump base will be shocked as well and realize that they have been conned. There is no room for Christianity in Breitbart News and the majority of the Trump base believe they are Christians.

It looks like Trump is reneging on a lot of campaign promises. As expected. But certainly not expected by his base. If there are any media powers in the majority of voters, now is the time to start using the power given to us to harass Der Dumpf at every misstep of his. He hates criticism and it makes him do things that his handlers are supposed to prevent. His handlers can't keep him in a glass bubble and so we will see plenty of missteps.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

I didn't vote for him

And I mean Bernie. When I first heard of his decision to run, I was excited. I've always liked him and I believed in 75% of his platform. Heck, make it 90%. Some time went by and when Trump became the candidate I had to change my mind. I started to see small cracks in that platform and ones that Trump would easily exploit. There was only one word needed to do it...socialism. Heck, I am a socialist. Though I do not belong to the party. I don't belong to any party and haven't for the past 11 years. I do belong to one organization, the IWW. Yes, I'm a Wobbly. Or is it with an IE? Wobblie? I'm old and I forget. It doesn't matter.

Trump would put Bernie through a wringer and it wouldn't be pretty. Sure that's just an opinion. But it is what changed my vote. I thought Hillary had a better chance of handling him and when it came to the debates, she mopped the floor with him! I didn't realize that the debates made no difference to the Trump base. They don't watch debates.

Since my vote was wasted anyway, would it have been better to waste it on Bernie? I don't know...

I did read an interesting piece this morning. If the dumpf goes through with his plan to find all the Muslims in the country and register them, then I will register myself. Apparently, muslim without a capital M simply means a believer in God. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were muslims. So was Jesus. There's no reason for me not to register as a muslim. I even have a Koran at home. (I'm about halfway through it and haven't found any terrorists yet) I'm also a Presbyterian muslim. Now if millions of us muslims will register, the registry will become bloated and useless. Let the dumpf chew on that for awhile.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mr. Blow is correct

If you have had a chance to read Mr. Blow's column on the bigoted President, I can only hope that you agree with most of what he wrote. I know I did.

I voted for President Obama twice.  Occasionally, I was disappointed in his decisions. But, since I was not able to know all of the factors that went into those decisions, I moved on. I know that a lot of his decisions were made for him by the obstinacy of Congress. He was a black President and they were not going to allow him any victory, no matter how small. Did I just use the 'race card'?  You bet I did. In my travels around the country I found racism alive and well. It still is. And we just saw it in action during the last election. Despite the Republican's attempts to slander him, history will show that Mr. Obama was one of this country's finest Presidents.

Now, for Mr. Trump. He is mentally ill and unfit for the office of the Presidency.  He is unable to tell the truth. The whole country had a chance to see him lie and lie again. He is a racist. His own words convict him of that. I could go on but I just realized that what I would say has been said by many others and nothing changed. Just read Mr. Blow's column again. He is writing about Mr. Trump. And he will never be my President.  Is that sedition? So be it...


This I believe

I have no words. But, what I read this morning in Charles Blow's column gave me the words I needed.



Friday, November 4, 2016

Trying Times

And it's not political at all. Just after my last post we received word that our youngest grandchild, 13 year old Abigayle, was being transported from Susanville to UC Davis Medical Center by ambulance, a 250 mile trip. Along with a lot of other symptoms, she had lost all feeling below her waist. To be exact; her belly button. My son was in the ambulance with her and had messaged us as they passed through town.

Of course we were frantic. I had a broken pelvis and I couldn't travel to Sacramento. Neither could my caregiver, her grandmother. And now communication became sporadic. My son had little time to sit  down and compose a letter, so we waited anxiously for news.

Finally, we learned that she was in ICU and the many medical teams at this hospital had swung into action for her care. They had installed a Port for the many injections she needed and they had also installed a PICC line to begin plasmapheresis, a procedure that removes antibodies in patients with autoimmune conditions. Another two days went by and it was very difficult to see photos of her trying to smile while under the influence of morphine for pain. They also had a possible diagnosis for her,  Acute flaccid myelitis, formerly described as "acute flaccid paralysis with anterior myelitis" or "polio-like syndrome", is an acute neurologic illness in children with focal limb weakness of unknown etiology.  This is now known as AFM and it is becoming far too common. There have been many new cases on the West coast. Samples of her spinal fluid and blood were sent to the State health department.

Finally, on Tuesday of this week, her grandmother and aunt made the trip down the valley to see her. And her condition was turning around! She was allowed to go outside.She was still in ICU so she had to wear a mask while outside. And an ICU nurse accompanied them, pushing the Super Wheelchair. This chair had a miniature ICU unit built into the back of it. When they first pushed through the door to outside, Abigayle burst into tears. The nurse bent down and asked "Are you crying because you're happy?" Abby shook her head up and down emphatically. With the patient having a smile on her face they took off on what was a one mile trek. Later that night Abigayle reported that she thought she had moved a toe. Progress!

On Wednesday she was given permission to eat a hamburger, which she did as soon as her dad returned from a quest to find the best burger around; not one from the hospital cafeteria. Now that her dad was slightly relaxed, we started to see more messages and more photos. She was (and is) still being given plasmapheresis every 4 hours. This procedure is painless and takes about 2 hours, so you can see that that there isn't much 'free time'. Since it is painless, she reads or watches TV.

Then, on Thursday, she called me! I know that she is 13 years old but she is the youngest and last of the grandchildren, an honor she shares with her twin brother. And since she is, I will always consider her my 'baby'. Due to family strife when she was an infant, I got to be the sole caretaker for her and her brother for about 2 weeks. Dad would come and help after work. So there is more than the usual bond between us.

Now she is on a waiting list to move to a regular room. And she has begun Physical Therapy. Wonderful progress is being made, though the diagnosis of AFM is not a final one and labs up and down the coast are trying to understand just what this disease is and what caused it. Meanwhile, we are simply happy as she gains strength each day.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Something different

Since I am unable to stand at my easel for more than a few minutes, I began using my digital software and a Wacom tablet to paint on. I've created dozens of paintings since then. And tonight I finished one that I've been working on for a couple of weeks. Not continuously working on it but off and on. With abstract expressionism, only the artist (me) can say when it is finished. I rarely say that a painting is complete. This one is. And I had better stop looking at it or I may change my mind.


This is titled Henry Ford in the Amazon. It's 24x16, although with it being digital I can make it just about any size I want. I saved it as a TIF file so it will remain quite sharp even after being enlarged to triple that size. 6'x4 1/2'.'






So sad

Such a sad little man. You know who I mean. And I am baffled by the hold he seems to have on so many people. Or so I have been told. That's part of my bewilderment; I don't know any of these people. And in our town I have seen only one Trump lawn sign; yet I am told that his supporters will rise up and demand justice if he loses the election. Maybe his supporters are waiting to see which way the wind is blowing before showing themselves?

When I read the stories about his supporters and read their quotes, I am baffled once again. They appear to be intelligent yet they are quite willing to believe in some vast conspiracy that will deprive them of their votes. It can't happen. The logistics of pulling it off are mind boggling. And pulling it off without someone spilling the beans? 50 states and thousands of independent polling places and thousands of county clerks to certify the results. How could anyone make that happen? I know the Trumpeteers love to talk about the 2m 'dead voters', yet no one can show us where or when any of those dead voters rose up and made it into the polling booth to pull a handle. The 2m were the number of voters that county clerks across the country had failed to purge from the rolls. Shame on them! Sloppy bookkeeping; that's all. Not a grand conspiracy.

Then there are these stories of how the people will rise up and shed their blood if necessary to reclaim the 'stolen' election. There are stories of seemingly intelligent people that have gun collections "I have north of 40 guns". Collecting most things is an innocent pleasure. But stamps are not the equivalent of M-16's. And there has to be a special place in Hell reserved for those Justices that did as their NRA masters asked them to and turned the 2nd Amendment over to them.    

It won't be long now and this seeming nightmare of an election will be over. Or will it just be a bad dream?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

on and on it goes

The pain continues. I had no idea that a broken pelvis would hurt so much. It's a Level 6 24/7 these days. I went to the ortho doc the other day and x-rays were taken. By the way, x-rays are the only medical diagnostic tool that has not changed, basically, since it was invented /discovered in 1895. Anyway, the x-rays confirmed what we already knew. It was fractured. A nice straight line across the widest part of the pelvis. After viewing the images I found myself feeling 'delicate'. Like a rare china plate...

The bad news was that it would take 6  to 12  months for my recovery. I guess I will take up knitting. Again. I tried knitting after my first spinal surgery and found that I was only good at casting on. Maybe I can learn to knit this time. There has to be a thousand or more YouTube videos to teach me.

The building activity behind us has reached a critical stage. They were pumping concrete at 6:30 this morning. Illegal. Now they are finishing the concrete with a very loud radio to help them. We do not appreciate the noise. If I had a portable radio I would set it up on the fence and give them some of the finer operas at max volume.

We picked up the mail today after a visit to the family doc and found it to be 99% political mailings. I can't help but think...can I write "return to sender" on this stuff and put it back in the box? I have voted. I did it yesterday and it's like a huge weight has been lifted off of my back. Of course I voted a straight Democratic ticket. Not because I am a Democrat; I am not. I left them a long time ago but this time around they seem to be the only sane ones. This weeks Economist has a good article on Hillary Clinton. This issue has a sinister cover featuring Putin. That's also worth reading.

The republicans and their base seem to believe in every wacky conspiracy theory.There are no conspiracies. All attempts at it fail because no one can be trusted to keep a secret. Conspiracies might last a month or even two, but then someone will always want to tell someone else. Then it's over.

I'm waiting for the Dilaudid to kick in and relieve me of some pain. I'm also waiting for my cat to get over her grumpiness and come and join me. She has been super throughout this painful episode in my life, jumping up on my lap and sleeping there for hours. A cat on the lap is great therapy!

I have spent the last few days working on my photo collection. These are photos I collect off of the internet, such as photos detailing the building of Grand Coulee Dam or the Los Angeles Aqueduct, logging and railroads. Plus my photos of family and friends. I'm up to 8,000 now and most are decently titled and filed. Using Apple Smart folders I can use keywords to place the photos anywhere I want. But then...just as I was humming along, the Mac lost the network. Just the Mac and neither one of the iPhones. My wife's iPad never lost a beat. After 72 plus hours the Mac came back to life. I checked online and apparently these interruptions have been going on since 2013 or earlier. Then I read that Steve Jobs, who was not a programmer or engineer, but was more interested in esthetics. His products had to look beautiful and in that he succeeded. How they worked was a problem for his engineers to work on, not himself. I bet that was why Wozniak left him. He probably didn't trust him.

I love my Mac but I hate flaws that no one seems to be interested in fixing. Well, I better go get the cat...we need each other.












Friday, October 21, 2016

End of the week or the beginning?

Back in the day when I had to work for a living, Friday was the end of the week. Monday was the beginning of the week and those two days between the beginning and the end were? Whatever you wanted to make of them.

These days, those two days have taken over the whole calendar and I have to come up with a reason for each day. I visit the family doctor this morning, a PA-C and a darn good one. He's the best "MD" I've have never had. Warm, caring and very thorough. This morning we have to debate the pro's and con's of my pain med, Dilaudid, and what do I do now that my supply is growing short. The prescription came from a hospitalist that I won't be seeing again. That prescription replaced the one for IV Dilaudid.

This morning's pain came close to making me cry and the Dilaudid brought it to an end within 30 minutes. What else will do that? I would rather move down to a less powerful drug but I'm also afraid of more pain. After all of these years of pain you would think I would be used to it, but I'm not. I'm actually more fearful.

The subject was 'days' and today I'm looking forward to the weekend. Not my weekend but the workers laboring right behind our house. I want them to leave this afternoon and never come back. They are building a 19 home tract of high end homes. High end price but low end quality. And they are noisy while they build. Of course they are. It's to be expected. But I'm old and cranky and so I mutter curses under my breath each and every day until 4 PM when they go home for the evening.

When we moved in there was nothing but 20 acres of pasture with sheep, horses, donkeys and a goat to see, with the Sierra foothills in the distance. It's all gone now. After all our years of wandering up and down the state we have seen it changing. We moved from Manhattan Beach to the 'Valley' and then to Ventura Co, (Newbury Park) followed by Orange Co. (Brea) which lead us to Lassen Co. (Janesville) then to Placer Co. (Roseville) followed by Glenn Co. (Orland) and now Butte County. (Chico) My dream was always for a secluded spot with acreage and we had that in Lassen. Eight acres of second growth pines in a small community in the remote northeast corner of the state. We lived there for 11 years before the state moved in nearby with max security prison. There was a small hill and 15 miles between us but when the prison turned on the lights (they were never off) the bright glow on the horizon killed the night time sky. The stars disappeared and after a while we were gone as well.

Change is the only constant and we came here for health care reasons so we can't fly away as we did in Lassen. So the change is happening like it or not.

I don't  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hard to believe

I tried to avoid the debate last night. But I can't move very far because of the fractured pelvis and my wife wanted to watch. When the debate began I was immediately put off by the intro music and high drama from the narrator; was this a Presidential debate or beginning credits for a Hollywood Roman Empire epic? There was nothing Presidential about it!

And why Las Vegas? I happen to know that there is a lot more to that city than the "The Strip". I've worked there many times. It's a nice place. But...it's not a city meant for Presidential debates. Maybe 50 years from now, but not now.

In my opinion the evening went downhill from there. Trump was outclassed from the beginning and should have surrendered to Hillary early on, promising to go back to his Tower quietly if she would just stop being so mean to him.

At the conclusion I was, I'm sorry to say, embarrassed. Embarrassed that I was an American. Embarrassed that America had fallen to this sorry state. As a country we had allowed this spoiled man-child to become a candidate for the highest office in the world. As a nation we had allowed our representatives to love power instead of the people they served. That dysfunction begat the Tea Party and the Tea Party begat Trump...despite their fierce denials.

No, Hillary is not the candidate I would have chosen. I don't even know who that candidate would have been. Perhaps we will see candidates far more worthy 4 years, 8 years from now. I can wait.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I should have checked

But I didn't. I understand why you can't read the text and I can fix that. But the photo? Why the strange symbol where my photo should be? I will investigate.


Later...I think I fixed it. I just put the photo back. I hope it stays...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Your pain level is?

Right now, mine is at 7. " Severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships.  Interferes with sleep."  Yes, it's a 7. I'm trying to type and it's a chore. I miss words or thoughts as I type. And sometimes, I just sit here and try to use my mind to fight it off. Meditate. I can't; not with every neuron firing and synapses overloading with signals from those neurons.  Impossible.

This being tuesday, I really wanted to go back to my group of friends that meet to paint on that day; every week. Our group, the Tuesday Painters, meets at the art center to paint...obvious! So I asked my wife to help and I got dressed. Then a short drive to the center where I use the handicapped parking. Now I'm faced with a real struggle and one I had not anticipated; the handicapped ramp. Up we go! That was hard work. And I even stopped midway to rest as we rose some 6'.

I met with everyone and I was very glad we had come. I also came to thank one and all for the special 'get well card', a painting by one and then all of them had signed it on the back. I had found a frame and had framed it and I wanted them all to see i
t framed before it went on my wall. Here you can see it if you double click the image.

Now you know why I was there. But, oh! the pain! The walk up the ramp had hit some spots that were now very irritated. We all talked for about twenty minutes and then my wife whispered in my ear "ready to go?" I nodded and then we finished up our conversation and headed back to the car.

The walk up the ramp was a piece of cake compared to the walk down. Now I was hold back the weight of my body with each step down the ramp. I was in agony when I reached the bottom. I recovered some on the drive home and I am now safely within the embrace of my recliner while I type.

Now here's a photo of my new walker...















That's it, I'm through for the day...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Are you kidding me?

I am hurting. It is very, very, very painful. It, in this case, being a fractured pelvis on my left side. Even with Dilaudid and morphine for pain, the pain is there; persistent! And you can only imagine what all of these drugs have done to my memory. Perhaps I should start at the beginning...

I am part of a church group that spends an occasional Sunday at church with a patrol of the church grounds. Bidwell Presbyterian Church. This morning I was by myself and had removed my badge in preparation for leaving. That was when I noticed that I had forgotten the magnetic bar that was part of the badge. I bent down to get it and and that was the time that I lost my balance and I fell forward, about 2'.  That was just right for my left pelvis to connect with a large pot. A hard pot. I hit it with enough force to break my pelvis. And that hurt!! I also broke the pot...

It is now 8 days later and relief is not in site. I saw the doctor a few days ago and he added to my pain relief by giving back the pain relief med I had asked him to delete from my drug list just a few weeks earlier. I can do some things with less pain than a week ago, such as standing upright with assistance. I can only dream about life without assistance.

I'm taking a very long time to type this; my brain and fingers have a communication problem. If I could find a way to 'speak' this blog post I certainly would. Apple has that feature in lots of places but I don't see it here. But, with my mind being fragmented by drugs, my speech has not been all that clear.

I guess I'm through for the day.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Bus Ride from Hell

It was last weekend when we boarded a bus that would take us to San Francisco and the Museum of Modern Art. We were supposed to be riding in a modern coach with all of the amenities, including a rest room. We were also supposed to be departing on time. 7:30 was the announced departure and we were all in the parking lot, eager to be on our way. 7:45 came and there was no bus in sight. It was around 8 AM when we learned that the bus had a flat tire and would be there soon. Some of us took a long walk to the far corner of the shopping center, for a Starbucks of some kind. Myself and others took the cheap route by walking down to Trader Joe's and getting a small sample coffee that is always available for free.

Finally, at 10 to 9, the bus arrived and we all were on board in record time. The driver put the bus in gear and off we went. In the wrong direction. There was hurried discussion with the driver and the leader at the stop sign and the bus then made a right turn and returned to the parking lot. Some more discussion went on and the driver took us out of the lot and we were on our way, in the right direction. It turned out that the driver didn't know how to get there and the bus had no GPS unit on it. Our leader assured us that she was giving the driver directions by using her cellphone. She had to yell to give us this information as the microphone/sound system wasn't working.

It was about that time that we heard, from the back of the bus, "The toilet won't flush." Great! A bus full of older citizens and no toilet. What was next?

Once we got over the 'new' Bay Bridge the driver said that she had been told that there was no place to park the bus to unload at the SFMOMA and we would be dropped off at the Jewish Museum, just a few blocks away. Everyone on board vetoed that plan immediately and told the driver that she HAD TO drop us off in front of SFMOMA. Okay. That was the new plan. And it worked. There was parking for busses right in front of the museum and we were all grateful to be off of the bus and on our way to a wonderful afternoon at the museum. And it was. But, before we left, we were told to return to this same spot at 4:45 to get back on the bus which would leave at 5 PM on the dot. The same time that the museum closed.

The museum was fantastic. I got to see original pieces by artists that I have revered. And there were 6 floors of exhibits. But, first we had to get some lunch, for energy. We chose the museum lunch room and found the prices were astronomical. I had a bagel with smoked salmon and a cup of squash soup for the bargain price of $21. But, all prices in the Bay area are shockingly high because of the influx of high-tech millionaires from San Jose/Silicon Valley. Rents have quadrupled.

At this point, I have already taken 2 Norco for the pain and I'm depending on my walking stick. But with all of this beautiful art to see, I'm ignoring it as best I can. I do take many opportunities to sit and simply look at my favorite paintings.

In the museum they have the Red elevators (4) and the Silver elevators (3). And they have stairs; long, long flights of stairs. It seemed as if we had to wait a long time for an elevator and then I stood back and watched the doors opening and closing. The Red elevators only had one working elevator. The Silver had 2 out of 3. So we spent a lot of time in the stairwells. Pretty soon I had taken another 2 Norco.

All good things must come to an end and at 4:45 we were eager to sit down in the luxurious seats on the bus. Except, there was no bus. And no place to sit. Phone calls were made and after 30 minutes or more, we learned that the driver was lost in downtown San Francisco. She wasn't sure where she was.
At this point I had run out of pain meds and the pain was overwhelming me. I sat down on the sidewalk with my back against a light pole. The pain had turned everything to black. I couldn't think beyond the pain. And time went on. And still no bus. And I was not the only one in pain. A bus load of citizens over the age of 65 will have a large number of them suffering from all kinds of pain producing ailments. We all needed to sit down!

Then, at 6 PM the bus rolled up and we all made it aboard. Gratefully. And it was a very quiet 3 and a half hour trip home.

Even though the bus ride was hellish, the museum was not and I'm very glad to have gone. I really want to see it again on a day when I am guaranteed a nice ride and when all of the elevators are working. I'll bring a sack lunch...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Summer is on its last legs

We spent the early morning hours...after 7 AM...walking through the Farmer's Market here in Chico. We try and do this every Saturday as it's good exercise and we can buy good food. Especially heirloom tomatoes! The market is quite large now, taking up a full 3 rows in the city parking lot. In December it will be down to just 2 rows as the summer vegetables and fruit disappear. This morning we found a small melon for just $1.25 and 2 tomatoes for $2.90. Yes, heirloom tomatoes are expensive but oh so worth it.

We walked the length and width of the market twice and it was obvious that fall was on it's way. A lot of the stands had noticeably meager offerings. The peaches and nectarines disappeared 2 weeks ago, much to our dismay. They made a great topping for oatmeal.

Since we will be taking a bus ride, next Saturday, to San Francisco to see the SF Museum of Modern Art, I thought we should do a little more walking in preparation for the 7 floors of exhibits in the new building. Well, it's obvious now that I will have to bring my pain medications with me. We hadn't even strolled a mile and the pain was becoming intense. Now I'm home; I've taken some pain meds and I contemplate my life. I've completed 5 marathons, half a dozen half marathons, numerous 5K and 10K races. I once mapped my mileage as if I were crossing the country and I did. Plus. I put a 26.2 and 13.1 decals on the back window of my car. Now I can't even go a mile without pain and the state just delivered my blue 'Handicapped' emblem to hang from the rear view mirror. Color me depressed!

The bus ride to SFMOMA was arranged by the Chico Art Center.  It will cost us $180 for the ride and admission. I think it's a bargain. Driving and parking in Baghdad by the Bay is perilous! This way we have a comfortable seat in a modern coach with a restroom. Even if we traveled there ourselves we would still have no more than 5 hours to visit. And 5 hours is not enough, or so I've been told. We have a map and we will visit what we really want to see and come back some other time.

I have plenty to do here while I wait for the pain to go away. I do the data input for new members of a local charity. The Blue Bag, or the Chico Food Project. Once every two months the members will put a blue bag filled with food (packaged) on their front porch. The Blue Bag volunteers will drive by and pick it up and leave a new and empty blue bag to be filled in two months time. The collected food is then given to local groups that need the food, such as the Jesus Center, Salvation Army, some churches, etc. It's usually close to 6 tons of food after all is done and counted. It's a very successful project and I have to input new members every two months as well. I have 16 this time; added to the 1,000+ that we already have. The small town of Paradise, just a few miles away, has been doing this for years now and they have 1,500 members. We have been doing it for just a few years.

I also have my own projects here. I am still trying to arrange my photo collection (26,000+) while I continue adding to it. There are no perfect systems for this. I'm using Apple's Photo and not their iPhoto. For some reason that I don't quite understand, I get lots of duplicates. I didn't store duplicates originally but after a few weeks, there they are. And Apple's system doesn't follow a file if it's moved. Lot of systems can do that. If I change the folder that a photo is stored in, my Photo system acts as if it's lost and puts a yellow tag on the photo. It does leave a copy of the original but it can't be modified in any way. The hard drive knows the location of every file on it. The path to it should be irrelevant. Oh, well, it keeps me busy and my ASD mind demands these kinds of collections. I would bet that I've seen all 26,000 photos twice and they never lose their appeal. Not so much the visual, but the order is what appeals to me. Now I'm double filing them by using Apple Smart Folders that look for the keywords attached to each photo. Of course, I'm the one that has to type in that keyword on each photo. All of this activity does wonders for my depression. I used to use alcohol for it, but this way is much healthier

Earlier this week I had planned to post something here, but, when it came time to do it, I had forgotten what it was. I tried to remember it for at least two days without success. Memory failure are my biggest headaches. I was going to get a soda from the usual place in the kitchen. I went to our bedroom and the attached bathroom and then the laundry room before I found the correct place to find my soda. I can tell stories like that every day. I get some good exercise by just allowing my brain to guide me in my searches.

Maybe I will remember that fascinating subject for the next time I post...or maybe not.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The days keep on coming.

When can we say the election is over? Will it be the day after we vote and the clear cut winner will take her place in the seat of power? Will it be a week or more after the vote and only after the Supreme Court decides our country's fate...once again? Or, best of all, a week or more before the vote, after which we can all relax because his lies have finally all come home to roost and not a day too soon?

I want the latter. It's already overdue. I read the NY Times and they are unabashed in their hatred for Trump. They reveal his lies for what they are and their opinions/truths are dismissed by the Republicans, but without evidence.

Trump has to fail and then what will the Republicans do? Their Party is shattered into many factions and all yelling that the vote was rigged. They seem not to understand just how difficult that would be to pull off. And without anyone leaking the details of such an action? Thousands of people would have to be complicit in the 'rigging' and to believe that no one will spill the beans? Now that is unbelievable.

Now, I didn't go to college, but I can see what the 'educated' Trumpeteers cannot. I suppose I should be happy that I didn't waste my money on the tuition. Okay, that's stretching things. But, I do find it difficult to understand how someone with a classical education fails to see that Trump is a phoney. He's a liar. The list of dishonest things that he is is far too long for me list here. There are a couple of things he isn't and one is Presidential. The other is christian. (I'm not using a capital C here because I've found that those that capitalize Christianity are usually using that honorific for personal gain.)

I've tried my best to keep this election out of my head. I know who I am voting for and Hillary would have to be a convicted murderer before I would vote for Trump. But every once in awhile Trump says something so outrageous that I have to say something.

The Trumpeteers and their ilk are constantly saying that Hillary is a liar and she is responsible for the deadly raid on Benghazi; yet, the Senate, the House, the FBI and Justice Department have all said that she is innocent in every case. Innocent. What's so hard to understand about that? Anything else you hear is rumor mongering and part of a very lengthy campaign to paste so many lies on her that maybe one will stick. So I guess that the Senate, the House, the FBI and Justice Department are all in on this white wash campaign arranged by Hillary. Really? She is a liar or she is not. If she is, present the evidence and move on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Just another day

A good day. Went down to the Art Center, early, and unlocked our class space where 8 of us meet weekly for 3 hours of conversation and painting. Not all of us were in attendance, two were close by the fire near Paradise. It's been growing in size damage and the smell of smoke was in the air this morning. They weren't in danger, but the smoke was pretty thick where they live. Another member had other commitments so we were down to just the 5 of us.

I didn't get a lot done. My digital painting skills are growing, but I feel clumsy and I erase a lot of the work. Or start over. A benefit of digital painting is the fact that you can erase anything you put on the canvas...I think I've saved close to $1,000 in paint and canvas in just the past 3 weeks.

Home now and listening to the almost constant low roar of the 'bombers' as they land at Chico airport, fill up with fire retardant and take off again. The fire is growing; it was at 840 acres and only 10% contained at 1:00 PM. I just checked the incident page of the Cal Fire website and there hasn't been an update. It's close to 4:30 and I expected to see some change in the status. A little closer to 100% containment would be nice but the flights I hear tell me that there is still a lot of work to do.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Once again

I woke up the other morning and I was 76 years old. That's a good thing. Waking up was the good thing. Now I can concentrate on making it to 77.
   
Regarding  the Ring doorbell; we have enjoyed the ability to speak to someone at our door when away. Yesterday, we were shopping at Trader Joe's when we heard the doorbell. It was a friend of ours with a newspaper for me. We talked for a minute, told him where we were, and he left the paper at the door before leaving. Last weekend we were at church when I spotted my granddaughter unlocking the front door (she comes over to clean every Sunday) and I greeted her. She was surprised of course but thought the doorbell was 'way cool!'

We have to change the location of the Ring as there are too many false alerts caused by the noise of the trash trucks coming by. And that's twice a week. I'm going to check the new location with a tape measure to be sure I have the distance set right.

My digital painting is getting better and better. That's if you enjoy abstract expressionism. If you don't, the quality of my painting will appear unchanged. Sorry about that. I've been sending them to Costco to be printed and I have a few dozen of them now. Costco has the right price but they darken all my reds. I will try and compensate. Here's one without a red in sight...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I see you

We have entered the age of 'fraidy cats'. We now have a Ring video doorbell installed. We will be notified, via our iPhones, whenever someone approaches the front porch. We will see live video and a live microphone will be working; "Hello. Can I help you?" when someone presses the Ring doorbell, the remote chime will sound. This bell plugs into a wall plug and can be moved to wherever you want it. My wife is unable to hear at all in her right ear and her hearing is hearing aid assisted in the other. This feature gives her the ability to hear the bell even when her phone is in another room.

My memories include my time growing up in Manhattan Beach and our doors were only locked when we were on vacation. When we married and lived in some apartments before buying our first home, we rarely locked the doors. Our first home, a brand new one,in Newbury Park, was on a cul-de sac with most homes occupied by young families like ours and once again the doors were rarely locked.

We moved to Brea and things changed. There were reports of daylight home break-ins and garage thefts. These became more frequent and we now locked all the doors. One night I forgot to lock my truck and in the morning my favorite jacket was gone. That, and other factors, convinced me to ask my wife to move. To move far away. I suggested that I would drive drive north of the Los Angeles basin on US 395. This is the highway that goes from Mexico to Canada but on the eastern side of the Sierra's. This had always been my favorite route and I loved the small towns that were targeted by this highway. Towns like Mojave, Lone Pine, Independence, Bishop, Bridgeport, Walker, Coleville, and then past Topaz Lake into Nevada. In Nevada there were more small towns; Minden, Gardnerville and then Reno. Reno wasn't a small town but it was a small city. I had never been past Reno on 395.

I packed my bag and a camera  and with the blessings of our family, I set out. Once I was past Ridgecrest, the traffic thinned out to almost zero. I already felt better about this project and I began to daydream about finding this perfect place to raise our family.

The miles and the towns went by without my being notified by some unknown 'inner sense'. It was a long day and then I was in Reno without a clue as to how far should I go. I found a motel and then, in the morning, I found 395 North again and began driving...shortening the story; I found a house in Janesville. I bought it and we moved. I bought it because I could let my children grow up as I did, without fear. The doors in the 'new' house were not locked and my truck keys were just where I could find them every morning...in the truck.

One by one the children grew, graduated and moved on with their lives. Sadly, we moved as well. To Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento and we knew immediately that we had to lock things up. Flash forward to 12 years ago and we moved to Orland, a rural community south of Redding by about an hour. It was rural but not enough to skip locking the doors. Five years ago we moved to Chico and since that time, the break-ins have increased. We live in a nice neighborhood but that's not a barrier to thieves. And we're in our 70's and aging typically increases the feelings of insecurity. I wish it wasn't so, but there it is...

We do feel a little safer now. And we can be out for dinner and still answer the door as if we were inside. No one knows. Being a nerd, I enjoy the geek factor that comes with owning such a thing.

On the pain side of things; the surgeon says there is nothing he can do. It was strange watching the fire in his eyes fade out as he looked at the x-ray and realized that he couldn't justify surgery. He dismissed us. We returned to the pain doc and I get to see her in about 5 1/2 weeks. For a consult. Who knows what will happen. In the meantime, I take what I need to put a dull edge on the pain.






 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pain and more pain

I'm really getting tired of this. I didn't intend for my blog to become a place for me moan and groan. But here I am. I'll be seeing the surgeon tomorrow and maybe I will get some answers as to my future. Maybe not pain free but less pain. I know that people are given new hips every day and if that will do the job for pain relief, let's do it!

I had spoken highly of the Slovakian digital art software in the last post and I have to revise that. The program stopped working the other day. I couldn't find any reason for it to stop like that; not after researching all the usual suspects. Now I'm waiting for the Slovakian help desk to call me back with a fix. I still like the program, but with reservations.

Our youngest, our son, and his girlfriend are visiting this weekend  and they brought our 'babies', the twin grandchildren, along with them. The twins are now 13 years old and 'babies' doesn't really describe them.  This is their last year of middle school and then they will be freshman in high school. I look at their baby pictures and then those when they were toddlers and find it hard to believe that they are growing up so fast. It's a typical lament of grandparents.

Since I started this post with pain, I'll end it that way as well...but differently. Whenever I grow tired of the pain I sometimes think of the plight of those that were born 150 years ago, in the 1800's. When they had spinal stenosis and compressed vertebra, what did they do for pain relief? It must have been terrible! I had the luxury of having those vertebra fused and the pain relieved. When they had arthritis and their hips were affected by it, creating a continuous pain; what did they do for it? Morphine? Alcohol? I don't know if I could have withstood the pain without going mad. Yes, the 21st century is pretty nice.





Sunday, August 7, 2016

But is it art?

I tried and then purchased a new digital painting software package. The price was good and it allowed me to use just about any image file extension I wanted. I played around with it last night and then again this morning. I decided to grab one of my old digital works (old = 36 hours) and see what could be done with it. It worked better than I thought it might. I believe it was a smart purchase.

The software is called Rebelle and it's a Slovakian companies product. Slovakia? Okay, I'm guilty of not paying enough attention to that part of the world. After the Serbs and the Croats and other began isolating themselves by creating borders where borders were last seen a 100 years ago. I'm not a big fan of borders; but that's neither here nor there. I assumed that Slovakia was somewhere near the spot where Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were located. Sort of close; it's a high income advanced economy small republic located between Hungary and Austria and Poland and Ukraine and Czechia. It's name is the Slovak Republic and the citizens are Slovak and their language is a Slavic one. It belongs to the EU and to NATO.

Enough geography; the software is what I like and I don't care where it came from. Odd, but Citibank seemed to have a problem with it's origination and refused the card because of possible fraud. U.S. Bank had no problem with it. I had checked the company out earlier because I hadn't heard of it. Since I'm new to digital art, I haven't heard about most of the software. The software company had many recommendations and awards. I think it's because Citibank doesn't trust that part of the globe.

During my research I ran across a blog that was meant for digital artists. On the blog was an email from a critic/troll who stated that digital art is just a toy for children and cannot be considered 'art'. He didn't let that subject go until he had bashed digital art into submission, or so he thought. I didn't get into the discussion. I have heard the same thing before, but very politely to my face. I don't know what they say after I'm gone. I know it's art and that is the final word. Watercolorists were subjected to this criticism through the ages. Acrylic artists are still treated with disdain by some; even by watercolorists who have forgotten their own history. I have created art, good art, with watercolors, acrylics, oil pastels, Crayola crayons and colored pencils. I have everything I need for oil painting but I'm afraid to start; yes, fear; fear of failure. I know that art is not easy and I'm finding digital art to be very difficult to produce. All art is difficult and oil painting looks to be the most difficult. I'll get there someday...in the meantime I practice with digital art.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A trip to the Farmers Market

Or should that be Farmer's Market, with an apostrophe? This has always confused me for some reason. Apostrophe or not, we went this morning and I was only able to make one circuit before my hip told me we were through. I like to do it twice so that I can be sure I've seen it all. We did get two heirloom tomatoes for my daily tomato sandwich. Then we stopped for 3 peaches and 2 nectarines. These are fantastic in salads or just plain eating. This is a small market compared to some in the larger cities, but I'm always there, when able, to soak up the energy! Customers and sellers are all happy and it shows in their faces, their voices and their motions. In more recent years; 21st century years, we went to our first one and that was in Hilo, Hawaii. Very small and very crowded but the energy was palpable. Exotic fruits and fantastic flowers. I can still see it! My memory hasn't failed me on this one. We are very much interested in shopping at the Farmer's Market and at Trader Joe's after reading about the drought stricken farmers in Kern County (south of us by about 300 miles) that are using the wastewater from fracking operation to water their crops.

Spell Check says that I need an apostrophe...okay.

My memory may be good but not so my balance. We were leaving the market and just as I was about to step over the curb near our car my foot caught the upraised concrete surrounding a tree and over I went. I hit my knee on the curb and I caught the hood of my car with my chest. Nothing was broken, which is the biggest fear a 75.9 year old man has as he feels himself falling. But I will have a good sized bruise there in a few days. There was some abrasion to the skin and that has been cleaned and bandaged. I was lucky. Walking around downtown is dangerous and I've said so for years. I'm not afraid of muggers but I am afraid of tripping on the upraised concrete that surrounds all the trees; in a city famed for its trees. The downtown merchants would have to pay for any remedy to the situation and that will never happen. You can't do any window shopping in Chico; not if you value your body.

My digital paintings have become better and better as I practice and practice. I may need to look around for a different software as this software is missing some brushes I would love to use. I really need to find software that produces images with the same file extension (tiff) so that I can move the image from one to the other. I do have a program that does have some great brushes but it generates a file that can't be read by any other program. Unfortunately,  good software comes with a price that reflects just how good it is.

From where I sit I can see the north wall of my living room and there are about 15 paintings visible. I have been trying to replicate some of them in an 8x10 format, so that I can print them for a future show. The results are mixed but I need to remember that they are abstract and accuracy is not needed in a copy. In fact, I might be able to make a better picture, digitally.

I have 9 days to wait before I see the orthopedic surgeon and the pain seems to increase almost daily. I already have an increase for the day as my fall seemed to add to the hip pain. And I'm still waiting for my 'handicapped' tag for the car to arrive so I can avoid those long walks through the market parking lots.

The Trump campaign continues to sicken me. I have a hard time trying to find the words to describe this campaign. I wonder at times, when will 'Big Business' step in and do something. The agenda that Trump describes should be terrifying in the Board Rooms...unless they see an opportunity in his presidency. How could they?

Those great tomatoes I bought were not ripe. I hadn't considered that and so I have to postpone my sandwich till Wednesday? Patience is a virtue they say...

















Thursday, July 28, 2016

104 and climbing

Another hot day in a long string of them. We won't see any drop out of the 100's until sometime next week. The AC is working non-stop and I'm thankful for the solar panels on the roof as they play a big part in reducing the power bill. At the end of June, the power company owed us about $16 for the year. Our final 'true up' bill in September will not be quite as generous as it will include a very hot July. Either way, it's so much better than it used to be.

We went downtown this morning for coffee with our middle daughter, a habit we like. And while we were there I was able to collect a bunch of pokemon's. Yes, I'm one of those people. I can't walk very far so my ability to hunt them down is limited. But, it is fun!...and it keeps me out of the pool halls.

Interesting...I have observed that most Pokestops, a reloading station, are located at a church. I have no idea as to why that is but it makes it easy to find one when you need it. And Pokemon is denominational!

I'm putting together a collection of my smaller art work and getting ready to print it. Once I see what they look like, framed, I will make the necessary corrections and then submit them for a show at the coffee shop.  Since all the artwork is digital, I will have a ready made portfolio for submission anywhere.      

We have watched a few episodes of Manor House on Amazon TV and find it oddly compelling. It's reality TV of another sort as there are no prizes at all. Hard to describe; it involves masters and servants living in a very old and beautiful English manor house, all set in 1906. And everyone must play their part as if it were 1906. For 3 months. Wood fired stoves in the kitchen and perishables are kept in the cold room where blocks of ice keep it cool. You want steaks for dinner, or maybe a roast? The cook must cut them from a side of beef. They have already gone through 2 scullery maids as that is the lowest position in the household staff. They simply went to their rooms, packed up and walked down the road and away from the job. I could hardly blame them.  The show gives you a whole new look at life in Edwardian England.

Well, back to my brush, palette and canvas...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Life goes on

Yes it does. Day after boring day. Still waiting for my appointment with the ortho surgeon. Some good news; a friend of mine, a retired RN, told me that the surgeon I will be seeing is one of the best. It's nice to hear that from a medical professional. I remember her comments about other doctors and she does not pull any punches.

Okay, I see the surgeon and he orders a few x-rays and an MRI. Then a final consult and a determination is made for the surgery. Then it's a waiting time, usually short, for a surgery date. I might be looking at mid September? Then a lot of PT. Probably 6 months at a minimum.

In the meantime, we have the election to think about. I try not to. The ignorance of the Trump fans is appalling. They are literally brain dead. Do they ever read anything at all? Anything longer than a paragraph? Critical thinking? You know, weighing the evidence?

Best way; assume you know nothing at all. Now search for the truth by looking at the evidence. Not hearsay; real evidence. Benghazi? A heavily partisan congressional committee searched for months to find evidence that Hillary Clinton was guilty in any way for the deaths of the ambassador and others. They could not, much to their chagrin and after spending millions of dollars. That's a fact and is recorded in the Congressional Budget Office. Another  truth is that congress was asked by the State Dept. for an increase in their budget so they might pay for an increase in security for the embassies. It was denied. This was before the attack in Benghazi. Now, who is more to blame? Clinton or Congress? Facts are in the Congressional Record. That's critical thinking.

I read an article in the New Yorker the other day, Trump's Boswell Tells All... you should read it. If you're a Trump fan, go ahead and challenge yourself; read it. I know it's more than a paragraph but you can do it! Then weigh the evidence...

Hillary is not my first choice nor was Bernie. My candidate hasn't shown up yet. And, unless the Democratic Party has a brain transplant, I doubt that candidate will come from there. The party of Roosevelt faded away a long time ago.; a shame. And Bill Clinton was right there, pushing the party away from the Left and over to the center. I expect his wife would continue that family tradition.

Bernie never had a solid plan as to how he was going to govern. If he did, it was never heard. I would have followed Bernie if I were 25 again. But I'm almost 76 and I've seen some things in the past 50 years that makes me wonder if Bernie isn't, somehow, stuck in the 70's, 80's or 90's? He doesn't relate to my view of the 21st century.

I've said too much...I need to retreat to my lair to await the results of all this noise from the arena.

Art is where I need to keep my head. I have been enjoying the pen and pad; digital, that is. I am trying to put together a show that I can submit to the local coffee shop. The wall space between the windows is small; less than 2'. I need to come up pictures that are close to 16" wide and I need about 24 of them. This coffee shop is located in an old Great Northern (Northern Pacific) railroad car. Most of the seats were taken out and some were relocated to provide for table space between them. It's a great venue and pulls in customers from the University, about 3 blocks away.    

I am being optimistic. I need to be selected for a show. And there is a waiting list.  Oh, well. I am enjoying the creative process as they say...



Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wacom World

Earlier this month I told you about my purchase of a Wacom pen/tablet. This has been a life changer. With this painful hip of mine I can't stand at the easel any more. Wacom has given me a virtual or digital easel to place a canvas of the size I want and then I can paint with any brush or any paint and color. The choice of brushes is limitless. You can tweak them in a million different combinations of length, width, pressure, paint load, how much paint to release in a stroke, opacity and on and on.That goes for the paint as well.

In the past week I have been painting five or six hours a day. (my hip limits my sitting as well, but not as much as standing does) The canvases have not been masterpieces but one or two have been worth saving in a file dedicated to my digital art.

After doing some Emil Nolde style works I have moved on to the works of Sir David Hockney. In his 80's now, he has become a digital artist,turning out work he did on his iPhone or iPad while making the long flights from his home in England to the one in Santa Monica. Here's a link to the next one I will attempt to emulate. Searching hockney digital on Google will show you just what an artist he has been and still is. His bio is lengthy and worth reading.

In the painting I am attempting I have printed out the image of this painting and I'm using it for reference. I already have about 9 hours into the work but I look at his and there is life, abundant! Mine is still flat and dead. But I have plenty of time to inject some life into it. I'll show it you then....

Another momentous occasion

Once again I have had a haircut. I hate haircuts. Always have hated haircuts. I remember being placed, kicking and screaming, on the padded plank that barbers would rest on the arms of their barbers chair,  just for little customers like me. When I was old enough to go to the barber by myself, that was probably when I was 7 or 8 years old. I would resist as long as I could. Finally, my mother would declare that I would go or she would take me there herself! Okay...I would go, but reluctantly. I would usually sit in that shop  for half an hour or more before it was my turn. Now this was time that I actually enjoyed because I could listen to a variety of adults in conversation with one or two of the barbers. Most customers didn't even notice me sitting there so I learned some new and interesting language. Also, they had copies of the 'National Police Gazette' to read along with Mechanics Illustrated or other how-to magazines. This must have been the final years for the National Police Gazette magazine. I have just learned that there is an archive on-line of the magazine and I may go see just what interested me so much in 1947. Even with the distraction of the magazines, I hated every minute of my time under the hands of the barber. And they were rough hands, pushing and pulling my head to suit him. Also, haircuts took a long time back then; at least half an hour or more.

This mother/son struggle with haircuts continued until I was 19 and I joined the Navy. There was no arguing about hair length anymore. It seemed like the Navy was more concerned about hair length than they were about guns and anchors. I soon abandoned all attempts to let my hair grow 'just' a little bit longer. That was for 6 years and then I found that the Navy had altered my brain in some way and I continued to have haircuts on a regular basis, though I still hated them. Not enough to kick and scream but it was hatred.none the less (I also learned that there had always been something a little 'off' in my brain and had been since birth. I have ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'm on the spectrum but I think it's minor because I had learned to cope with the societal distress in most cases)

Then I retired and I refused to go to the barber again. It was heaven! My hair grew long and luxurious. I gathered it up in a pony tail each morning and then let it fall open in the afternoon. I also found a dentist that would put me to 'sleep' for all procedures. No barbers and no dentists to irritate me by constantly touching my head! My ASD was in heaven...

That went on for a few years and then I started to see some disadvantages to having long hair. Disadvantages that every woman knows about. Hair in your face and hair in your food and hair everywhere. You would bend down to sign a document and there was your hair, right in the way. You would wake up in the morning with hair in your mouth. And long hair demanded constant attention. You had to wash and condition it constantly. So I made the decision to go to the polar opposite and I shaved it all off.

I looked in the mirror and I liked the look! And I could wash my non-hair with a wash cloth while taking a shower. The same for keeping it short; a few strokes with the razor while in the shower and my haircut was all over with.But of course there is a downside to being bald. Everything seems to have a downside. My head needed to be covered with a hat if I wanted to go outside. I hadn't thought about that and after a year I decided to let it grow out despite the fact that I was quite handsome; or my head was handsome.

Now with conventional length hair and an old fashioned style I have found Super Cuts. A haircut in 10 minutes. I can handle that. Even though an old family friend does hair cutting  not a 1/4 of a mile away, I prefer the 10 minute haircut. I've had lots of haircuts from this friend when we lived in Susanville and so did she. But her haircuts took about an hour; she was so interesting to talk to that I could usually forget my ASD for the first half. Plus she was the only 'barber' in town. Their were others but they reminded me too much of my boyhood barbers.

I've been tempted, at times, to do the long hair/no hair once again. But, at my age, just the thought of caring for all that hair makes me tired. So I go to Super Cuts once my wife tells me, in no uncertain terms, to get a haircut!
 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pokémon

Yes, I go Pokémon Go. My granddaughter came over this morning and I asked her about Pokémon Go. Of course, she had it on her phone. I had been reading about it here and there on the internet and was interested in finding out more about it. I loaded the app on my phone and she quickly found my first Pokémon for me and instructed me in the fine art of catching one. Well, that was easy. Now what do I do? I hope there isn't some limit of Pokemon's that can be caught in a day or do I have to catch a minimum number? Oh, the things you do to entertain your grandchildren. And yourself of course. Still, there are lots of Pokemon questions here...darn! there's one now! It turns out that there is a recharging station (to get more Pokemon Balls) at a close by park, near the 'Jungle Gym' apparatus.

I thought it was all harmless fun and then I read the news and found that someone in Florida (of course) had gone into his house to get a gun and then shot at some Pokemon players. My granddaughter told me that some players have been injured because they have walked into traffic while completely absorbed in the game.

The best thing about this game? I don't have to think about that other pain in my life (that convention)





       

61st Anniversary

Of Disneyland! I just ran across some photos of that 1955 event and was reminded of just what a momentous occasion that was; if you lived in Southern California. And we did. We had been listening to stories of its construction and of how great it was going to be. We had no idea that it would exceed our imagined reality. I was fourteen at the time and cynical as most teenagers; I didn't believe the hype. My wife was 11 and she was able to go to the park that year. She said it was an incredible feeling to see such a grand, fantastic, beautiful place. Bigger than life! I went in 1957 and my cynicism evaporated when I saw the Matterhorn. I went again in 1958 and then in 1962; Date Night at Disneyland with my girlfriend. I proposed that evening; not at the park but at the beach, closer to home. We went again in 1966 when the park used to be closed to the general public and groups could rent the park for a day. I went with my sheetrock hanging partner and his wife. His father, an L.A. County fireman supplied us with the tickets and we joined hundreds of firemen and their families enjoying a park where the rides were free and there were no lines. If you enjoyed a ride you would get off and get right back on it! Our first born was only 2 and left in the charge of a baby sitter that day. It wasn't till 1973 before we had a chance to return and that was very special as we took the whole family of 5. We stayed overnight at the new Disneyland Hotel just because it was a stop on the Disneyland Monorail. The train would roll right into the hotel at the second level of the lobby and we could go back to the room whenever our youngest needed a nap or? Our oldest was 9, the middle child was 6 and the youngest was 3.

We didn't see the park again until 1992. We had been away for 19 years?! Yet the park had only improved and not fallen into disrepair like so many 'amusement parks'.

With grandchildren we invented our own new family tradition where the grandparents would take the grandchild and parents to Disneyland when that grandchild reached the age of 8. We came up with that age through experience and some facts of the park. You had to be of a certain height to get on some of the rides. We didn't want them to be disappointed at the age of 6, so we came up with the age of 8 as the age where they were going to be tall enough and also more likely to remember their trip for some time.

It was 1992 and our first trip in the tradition and it  was with our 8 year old granddaughter. It was immediately memorable as she made her first ever airplane ride! Then we stayed at a nice hotel near the park and it had a shuttle back and forth to the park. We discovered that the monorail had been rerouted and would never go through the hotel lobby again. Sad. But, it was a great trip and I had a chance to impress my granddaughter even more by renting a Cadillac sedan for us. I didn't tell her that it only cost a few dollars more per day. We also spent a day at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Overall, a wonderful trip for all to remember. It  was also memorable as we were also celebrating her mothers (our daughter) graduation from the University of California, Chico campus with a bachelors degree in education. The first in our family with a degree and we were very proud of her. (this granddaughter also graduated from the same University with a pre-law degree)

Our second granddaughter turned 8 in 2002  and we gave her her first airplane ride as well. This time we stayed at the new Grand Californian  hotel as the 'back door' of the hotel was an entrance to the new California Adventure Park. It made for a quick exit to return to your room for whatever? you might need. Then a short walk with no waiting and you were back in the park. This was the time that my granddaughter asked me if I would go on the big rollercoaster with her? How did I say no? I hated rollercoasters! But this was my granddaughter...I had to say yes. I couldn't let her know I was scared to death. It turned out that I was afraid for no  reason at all. We immediately ran and got in line again! (I think I rode the coaster 8 times on that trip) The hotel was magnificent, especially the lobby, and the cost was not much more than a lot of the close by hotels. Our granddaughter was thrilled by the whole adventure; as were we. And we had 4 more grandchildren to go! (this granddaughter is currently a Junior at the University)

The next time we went, in 2007, we took a grandson and granddaughter as their birthdays were just 2 years apart. We had to wait till Kyle was tall enough to go on all the rides and that made Karlee 9 years old when we gave them their first airplane ride. Kyle caught the eye of the pilot as we were getting on and he was invited to come and sit with the pilots for a while. He was thrilled! Pictures were taken and then we took off. With Kyle back with in his seat of course. Once more we stayed at the Grand Californian and it was just as splendid as it was the first time. Plus we could quickly change our wet clothes with just a short walk. The water feature that has circular rafts? and lots of splashing was very close to the exit/entrance. Since we didn't mind getting wet now, we used that convenience more than once! Disneyland continued to thrill us even though I was now in my 60's. I was still in pretty good health at the time. Yes, Karlee and I rode the coaster. Kyle was not so ambitious. A wonderful trip and never to be forgotten! Now there were just two grandchildren left and they were twins; definitely 8 years old at the same time. In fact they were 9 in 2012. (Karlee is starting at Butte College, a local JC, in the fall)

Being 8 at the same time was a bonus but we had a new problem; Abigayle was the smaller of the two and by quite a bit. Would she be tall enough? Giving grandchildren their first air plane ride was becoming a habit as was staying at the Grand Californian. This time I was already in the lobby and was watching when the twins came through the front door. Their eyes opened so wide! They live in Susanville and go to Reno once in awhile. They had never seen anything like this! And the rest of the trip was much of the same. They loved it all and Abigayle was just tall enough for the rides; just tall enough! We did all of the rides including the rollercoasters. All of them. There were more experiences than I can write about. and it was sad for us, the grandparents, as this was more than likely our last trip to Disneyland and it all started in 1955 when pre-teen Laurae went to the park in its first year.




A digital world

All is normal here; or almost normal. The hammering and other assorted construction noises have started right on time; 6 AM. My hip kept waking me up last night...this hip pain drives me crazy! Unfortunately, that is the 'new normal'. But I have something to fight it now and that's my new Wacom digital pen/board. I've been painting with it every chance I get and I'm getting better at it. Nothing good enough to post here but I think it won't be long. I already have one abstract that was was worth printing and although the printer setting was wrong, I was able to piece it together from the 4 sheets that printed (like a jig saw puzzle) and I like it.

As I said before, a number of artists are giving the digital world a chance. Digital painting has been given a bad rap because of the proliferation of fantasy/science fiction type paintings that have emerged from the digital boards. Now, some big name and middle name artists have tried it and done well. I can see why a very good artist would welcome the chance to 'paint' with the pen as it takes away a lot of the drudgery; such as laying down the correct background. And when you make a mistake you only have to hit Control/Z and the mistake is gone without a trace left behind. I may have given this artist a mention once before, Randall David Tipton. His work is always worth looking at. He's not an abstract painter and he's not a hyper realist. I don't know what school you would put him in but he adventurous enough to have been experimenting with a digital pen as well as Yupo.

Right now I'm following the works of Emil Nolde. I can't forgive him his affection for the Nazi Party and it pleases me that they turned on him and destroyed/banned all of his works and forbade his painting of anything, even in private. But his paintings before that time have their own life and I love his palette of reds, yellows and gold combined with seascapes.

I think I have discovered another benefit from the use of a digital pen to paint with. The pad sits on my right hand side and I must watch the screen in front of me to see the cursor. My hand has to function out of sight. Glancing down won't reveal a thing. I have to turn my head slightly to see the pad and now I can't see the screen/cursor. It's a whole new experience for my brain. Try looking at your monitor while sketching on a notepad on your right. Besides the sketching, you also have to access the menu on your screen to change colors or brushes, all done without being able to easily coordinate the two; your hand and the screen image. I think this is going to do good things for my brain! (learning something new is better than a thousand crossword puzzles) *


* I made up that 'fact'. It's probably closer to a hundred...:-)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Something for everyone

We're just back from a walk. We walked all over the Farmers Markets and then over to Raley's Market followed by more walking in the aisles of Trader Joe's. On the drive home I was telling Laurae that this was the perfect way to go shopping; we started at 7:30 and we were finished by 9:30. Everyone we met was friendly, courteous and helpful. Everyone was smiling and it's contagious. Even more so at Trader Joe's; it is all smiles and laughter there.

I had to pay a price for all the walking. My hip pain afterwards required a double dose of the pain   medication. I saw our regular doc yesterday and he asked me which surgeon was I going to see? I told him Dr. Jones. Oops! It turns out that there are 3 Dr. Jones that do orthopedic surgery and they all work in the same medical group. It's a father and a son and...I don't know for sure what the relationship of the 3rd Jones is. Supposedly, it's the the first Dr. Jones that is the best. You really have to know your Jones's around here. Now I need to email my doc and tell him that all is well, I have an appointment with the preferred doctor.

I have been assured by many that hip replacement is a piece of cake. I also know one, a close artist friend, that has not had a successful replacement. As usual, there are no guarantees.

I've been working with my digital pen/board and I'm seeing some light. I've finished a few simple abstract pieces and I'm using the other software, Art Rage Light, to try out a different look. Now I can paint in the dining room while listening to the library of music on my Mac.







The tomatoes are everywhere and there is every kind of the fruit? vegetable? to see.


















The market always has a large supply of flowers. There seems to be more of them than usual this year. My daughter, the one that owns a large nursery/gifts/cut flowers company, told me that she will be doing a lot more of the cut flowers in the days to come.






Friday, July 15, 2016

Some other things in our life

Chico is an odd town. We have a major state university here and we have annual wage levels in the city that are far below the state average while we pay our police and firemen at the same level as Beverly Hills. The University is a predominantly 'Blue' institution while the City Council has a majority of  'Red' council members and the conservative citizens of the town believe that students shouldn't have the same rights as other citizens of the town because...well, they're students! I must admit that I do like this time of the year because the whole downtown area is calm and uncrowded; until the students return for the fall semester.

We are going through a major heat wave here and we're looking forward to the weekend when the temps are supposed to fall back into the 90's. We try and keep the doors and windows closed as well as the drapes. I'm opening the garage in the mornings to bring the temp down and then closing it all up as soon as the temps equalize. Boo, the Magical Cat likes to sleep there at night and I hate to see the temps in the garage climbing towards the high 80's. Even with a fur coat, the heat doesn't seem to bother her. We keep her well watered and that makes me feel better. No, we don't make her go into the garage; she leads me to the door every night.

We are getting used to life without cable or satellite. We keep our TV usage down to 2 shows a night. And those have been on Netflix and Amazon Prime. We've run across some good shows lately; Bleak House, the old Charles Dickens story, was given a great interpretation on a series that was run on Amazon. It's an 11 year old mini series that was new to us and we loved it! Also a good one was Dr. Thorne by Julian Fellowes. I think it was on Amazon as well. So far, we have found the British shows to have the better talent and stories. We just started watching Upstairs, Downstairs and the PBS show Indian Summers.

I do miss the Bleak House show; Mr. Goodweed, Inspector Bucket, Lady Dedlock,and Guppy! All brilliantly over acted by a cast that seemed to be having a great deal of fun with it. If I were an actor, I would love to have a part in this drama.