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 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 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


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.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 last

I've been wanting to drop off of Facebook for quite awhile but I always found some reason to continue. It's incredibly addicting! Even more so when so many people you know are using it to exchange news and videos.

It takes 2 weeks before the deletion is final and it's 2 weeks where they email you constantly, trying to lure you back. It is going to be a long 2 weeks. I really hope I can stay away from Facebook long enough for me to be rid of the attraction it holds for me. I know I can! I know I can!

My time with the compassionate pain doctor is over. She has referred me to an orthopedic surgeon and I will see him in about a months time. In the meantime, the pain continues to increase. I will be seeing my regular doctor that's not a doctor, my incredible PA tomorrow and I will be doing something I would never have thought I would do...I'm applying for a handicapped placard for the car and I need him to complete the form.

Since it's quite difficult to stand at the easel anymore, I have decided to try out something a lot of artists using these days; a pen tablet and some good software to create the size of paintings I want so badly, all done on my Mac. I bought the small and inexpensive model of tablets that Wacom makes and I'm 'renting' the software on a monthly basis. Autodesk, the creators of Autocad, have begun renting the software for most of their products. Their products are very pricey and sales were dropping so the rental program probably makes them a lot of money. SketchBook is the program I'm using and it is incredibly powerful. The live area of the Wacom tablet is probably 5"x 8" and with scaling you can print out a finished painting that 30"x 48", which is my favorite size. And I won't drop any paint on the living room carpet where I'm working.

Well, I'm off to paint...or whatever you want to call it.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Inside the mind of an artist

I can see already that I should have brought some candles. It's dark in here.

I was looking at my gallery wall this morning, hoping to be inspired by past successes. Yet, all I can see are the negatives. My palette was far too limited. I do have half a dozen paintings on the wall that I purchased or was given. These are the bright spots on the wall. All the rest, save a few, are beginning to bore me. There is one painting, one I purchased recently that makes me smile every time I see it. It's title is the '8 Legged Horse'. The artist had a small show at the coffee shop next to our Art Center and I was immediately drawn to this painting. I had to buy it. It was only $60 and I thought that was a steal.

The painting has been created with watercolors, crayons, pencil, pen and ink, stampings and other unidentifiable markings. All on watercolor paper. It reminds me of Basquiat's paintings but it's not a copy of that artists style. It has its own inimitable style.

I know...your six year old could paint one better than that. I've heard it all before and it doesn't bother me anymore. The fact is, in most cases, your six year old is probably twenty years away from painting this well. I say 'in most cases' because there are some six year olds that have not yet been burdened by the demands of their friends and parents to paint a 'pretty picture'. They are more than capable of painting what's in their imagination.

(I found some drafts and decided to post them as is. this is the last of the pair)

Cutting Loose!

We're almost there...we've had the son of a friend working on ridding us of DirectTV. He is a TV media techie and I've been buying all the parts necessary for the move, just as he directs me. He has been installing them ; a receiver, Qbox, iLink, Harmony multi function remote and an indoor antenna. Last night he was in the attic installing the antenna and it look like we have all the local broadcast channels except for CBS. We'll have to work on that one. We already have Amazon Prime TV and Netflix. Since we will be saving about $100 a month, we can afford to pick up some pay channels that are wireless. HBO and others have already left the grip of the cable/satellite providers. I expect others will soon join the ala carte TV business.

Yes, it cost us to buy the equipment, but it is ours and we're not paying rent for it. It also cost us to have it all installed. By the end of 6 months of this freedom we will have paid off all of those expenses simply by not paying DirectTV.

Our installer is coming over on Monday to give us a run through of all of the features of the new system; web browser, DVD, email, music and more.

Considering our age, 75 3/4, I think we're doing a good job of staying abreast of the times. We have solar power. We have a MacBook Pro and an iPad. We're removing our lawns and going all xeriscape.
We use Messaging... I think we're pretty comfortable in the 21st century.

Time does go by

It's already June 27th and it's successor is only 6 and half hours away. The past weeks have been terrible for me. My hip pain has taken over everything. It's all I can think of.

I've been to the pain doctor and had the corticosteroid shot at the first of the month and that one failed to stop the pain. Then another, directly into the 'ball and socket' of my hip. (surprisingly painless) That one has failed after I enjoyed 2.5 days without pain. I also had a MRI of the right hip which showed arthritic degeneration of the bone in the joint. I will be seeing the doctor in a week and I'm afraid she will give me a referral to an orthopedic doctor. I'm not afraid of what the doctor will say, as I'm eager to be rid of the pain. It's the other pain I don't like; the pain of adding another doctor to the long list of specialists I'm well acquainted with. The pain of filling out forms that are just like the hundreds of similar forms I've had to fill out over the past 8 years. I want to be 'chipped'. An injection that places a small microchip below my skin. An electronic device can read all the info on it and I can go back to reading the 2 year magazines in the waiting room.  

I have a feeling that a new hip is in my future...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mangos and more...

We went to Trader Joe's this morning (I love the Pickle Popcorn) and since it appears that the Trader has gone nuts over mangos this month, I picked up some Mango Salt Water Taffy. This is really good! No, I don't work for Trader Joe's but I am a devoted fan.

Back to the mangos. With Trader Joe's advertising of mango everything, a memory of Hawai'i came to me. It was 1999 and again I had to spend a week in our Honolulu office. As usual it was a great place to work. I was able to order manapua for lunch each day and I had a hotel room in the Ala Moana hotel, high above the city. Also, I had made plans to take my vacation starting right after my assignment here. My wife was coming over in a weeks time and we would then stay in the company condominium until it was time to fly to the Big Island. I had searched the web for a place to stay and since I wanted to avoid the tourists, I found a small residential area hotel in Hilo, the Dolphin Bay. I made reservations without noticing the fact that the hotel had no telephone or internet connections. While I worked the secretarial staff adopted my wife found things for her to do during the day and then invited us to dinner parties at night. All great memories. Then it was time to get on the inter island airline and fly to the Hilo airport. It was a small plane and there were few passengers, maybe 20 or so. There was a couple seated in the row across from us and I couldn't help but overhear their conversation and from what I heard, they were assuming that this plane was going to the Kona airport. Sure  enough, when the pilot announced that we were just 10 minutes away from landing at Hilo, the couple rang for the flight attendant. It was quickly determined that, yes, they were on the wrong plane. And, yes, the flight attendant had made a mistake by not noticing the incorrect tickets. What to do? The attendant said that they could rent a car (the airline would pay for it) and drive to Kona or they could stay on the plane and fly back to Oahu and then take the next flight to Kona and refund the cost of the ticket It was finally decided that the couple was going to fly back to Oahu. The whole situation was handled with smiles and laughter...the island way!

We found the Dolphin Bay hotel and it was in the middle of a residential area. It was just a two story hotel, much like a condo. There was a nice kitchen and the rooms were large. In back of the hotel was a small jungle area with a path through it. It was owned by the hotel and once you stepped into the 'jungle' you were removed from the local civilization.

With our suitcases unpacked I went to find a place to plug in my portable modem for my laptop. It was then that I discovered that I was cut off. Then I saw a note that said if you really need a telephone, there was one in the managers office but not after 9 PM or before 7 AM. I decided to do my best to enjoy this break from my 24 hour a day electronic leash. Another note told us that fresh mangoes and bananas for breakfast were available at the office. The next morning I walked down to the office and there was a large stalk of bananas hanging from the eaves and a basket filled with mangoes. I picked four of the bananas and took two mangoes. Back at our kitchen, I peeled the mangoes and sliced them. Bananas and mangoes were a real treat for breakfast. The bananas were the small tropical variety with a taste that you wish a a market banana had. Both items were so fresh and delicious that we looked forward to making the walk down to the managers office each day. Sometimes there was banana bread as well. And when the banana stalk was almost empty of its treasure, another one was put in its place.

More later  

(I see that the hotel now advertises that wifi is available. I guess they they had to give in. I would give the hotel 5 stars for people who are not looking for luxury but wish to enjoy the island without being insulated from real life on this beautiful island)

Thursday, June 9, 2016


As noted in my last post I had voted before election day. The results are pretty much as I had predicted (to myself). After the election here in California the Republicans are in wore shape than ever before. They took a beating because of the Hispanic voting bloc. The state is now 40% Hispanic and the Republican Party here hasn't figured that out yet. In the Red county that I live in the majority of voters are still Republican. But it is slipping and I can see this county becoming Purple in the next decade. The Central Valley of California has always been reliably Republican because it's economic base is agriculture. Some of the wealthiest people in California live in this hot and dusty valley. The hired help they all use is 99% Hispanic but they can be depended upon to not vote or not vote against the wishes of their employer. They want those jobs. The Democratic Party has mostly abandoned their efforts in the valley; they can use the money more profitably in the Democratic  coastline.

This city never saw Hillary. Bill Clinton came to Redding; an hour away. But Bernie came to Chico and held a rally at Chico State University. The Universities have been good to Bernie but that is not where the reliable voters are. And now it's over for him. I thing we can expect a concession in the day after the D.C. vote is counted. But Hillary would be foolish if she doesn't offer him an important position. If she doesn't, the students won't even bother to vote. They will have been convinced that all mainstream politicians are crooks and liars. She should think about the fact that Bernie has the power to hold on to a large segment of voters. Without him they will just go home and sit this one out.

On a different note; It looks as if the recent corticosteroid injection has failed to do the job. Two days after the injection and I had some fearsome pain and had to rely on my cane. It was the level of pain I used to have seven years ago and just before the second surgery that relieved me of the pain. I was hoping I would never experience that again. That kind of pain has come and gone during the past five days but it has never gone away. As usual, it is worse during the afternoon and evening hours.

It 's time to go play some Rummy and stop thinking for awhile...

Friday, June 3, 2016

I voted

Yes, I voted without anyone seeing my face or examining my birth certificate, passport or drivers license. I did have to put a stamp on the envelope so my DNA could be recovered from the stamp...if anyone was so inclined to pursue any case of voter fraud. There has never been any cases of voter fraud here, even though we have immigrants and Mexican nationals living right here among us...

I have to stop. This whole voter registration blockade just makes me furious! How dare they stop people from voting?

Well, we have made the news around here. Bernie Sanders was in town to speak at a rally. This was a real surprise as this is a deep red county. The city is probably purple. But where Bernie spoke, the university, the crowd was mostly blue. Thank goodness for the students. The combined rural and city population is close to 100,000 and they had to move the rally from the auditorium to an outside venue because of the size of the crowd.

You might think that I'm a Bernie supporter from my comments so far. But I am so divided on this election. I admire and dislike Hillary. The same for Bernie. But who can make their presidency a slam dunk? Who will be guaranteed a win over Trump? At this moment in time it looks like Trump is beating himself. He is his own worst enemy and he doesn't know it. And if any of his staff knows it , I'm certain they are afraid to tell him.  I keep looking for him to be caught in something that is unforgivable. I'm sure it's there to be found.

I was looking for someone with the class and intellect of Obama. Michelle would be my choice but she is wise enough to know not to go down that road. Oh well, it was a dream.

On another note; I had an injection of a corticosteroid into my left hip. It seems to have calmed things down. The pain is not completely gone and now that it is close to dinner time, the pain has increased. It has nothing to do with dinner, it's just the time of day I'm concerned with. I had the same injection last August and it only lasted a few months. Then, in October, the recurring pain was diagnosed as something different and I had more injections in different places and they didn't do anything for me. In the meantime, I was taking opiates on a regular basis. Not too many, but more than none is a cause for me to worry. And of course, over a period of time, the Norco became unable to block the pain. Now, I haven't had enough pain to warrant taking anything during the past 32 hours. Before this last injection the pain was nonstop and I was becoming more and more depressed. I haven't painted in a month or more. Perhaps this time the injection will work and work for more than a few months.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

No news

My last epidural injections were a failure. I will see the 'pain doc' again on the 1st with hopes that she can come up with something to remove this pain from my life. The pain just sucks the energy out of me. And I've had 8 years of it.

There's the complaining. Now for a mention of what I'm doing when I'm not complaining. It's not much; I'm still working on the family photographs. And when I'm not doing that I am tracing our family tree. Is it 'tracing'? That doesn't sound right. Let's say I'm finding out about our ancestors.

I need to find some photos of our time on the "Big Island'. That is my favorite among the three I've visited. We rented an apartment (weekly) in Hilo and I was smart enough to not rent a convertible that time. It rains quite a bit in Hilo...

I'll get to that as soon as I find the photos.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Back to square one...

I just finished re-registering to vote. I have been an Independent voter for a long time, having left the Democratic Party about ten years go. And before today, primary votes weren't all that important. The candidates were chosen long before the primary season ended. Not this year!

Luckily, I can register or re-register to vote by using the California web site for registration. It took me all of five minutes to become a Democrat again. And since it's so easy, I will become Independent after elections are over.

I left the Democrats because they were giving up their liberal roots and heading to the middle. Now I'm stuck for a choice among the Democrats. Hillary has been accused of everything from theft to murder. None of the charges have ever stuck and I see most of that as misogynistic mud flinging. I'm certainly not opposed to having a woman as President. Her gender doesn't enter into my decisions. But her cozy relations with big business is not to my liking. Now Bernie has a lot of truth in all that he says. And I would support him if he was not running against Trump. I don't think he has he 'political' strength to win against him. Right now I will be voting for Hillary though she is not my favorite. My favorite isn't even running, In fact, I don't even know my favorite's name yet. I hope to know it for the 2020 elections.

Back to the voter registration process...I think everyone would agree that voter registration is a mess all over the 50 states. I would like to see a law that mandates the states must use a federal standard for voter registration if the election is a federal one. If it's a state, county or city election, then they can use any old rules they want. But if it's federal, everyone should have a voice and in some states that voice has been taken away by registration laws meant to discourage voting by the poor. Republicans would re-instate poll taxes if they could...or go all the way back to colonial times when you had to own land if you wanted to vote. Yes, this has been suggested again.      

Some more tropical island stuff...

It's been awhile since my last post and in that time I've found out that the last epidural injections into various & sundry vertebra has been unsuccessful. This is the second failure. I will see the pain doc in a few weeks and we'll discuss our options. In the meantime, life goes on.

As I've stated many times before, I have a huge collection of images. And the range of subjects is from A to Z. I simply collect them. The favorites are images of historical objects or projects, such as building Boulder Dam, The building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the famous Denny Regrade of Seattle, building Grand Coulee Dam, the San Francisco earthquake and on and on...building railroad bridges in Alaska? Yes, I have those. Images of the early trolley system of San Francisco? Of course I have them. Billboards located in New Jersey? I've got them! 300 plus images of ash trays. True. I could go on and on as I have close to 17,000 images. I have ASD, or autism spectrum disorder and collecting is important to me. Not because of the subjects as much as it's about the collecting itself.

Anyway...I was looking through my collections this morning. (the images are located on the clouds of Amazon, Google and Flickr) I ran across some photos of our younger selves as we were vacationing on the island of Kauai. Two weeks ago, in this blog, I had talked about our getting on a plane in Oahu and departing for Kauai. I will continue...

We landed at the small airport in Lihue and found our way over to the Avis car rental counter. I began to order my usual business class vehicle, a 4 door cheap car. The salesman interrupted me and told me that I could have a Chrysler convertible for $5 a day cheaper than the one I was planning on. A convertible? A beautiful island and a convertible seemed to go together so I agreed. Did they have a red one? Yes, they did! Of course I ordered that one. When we went out to put our luggage in the car I noticed that the Avis lot was filled with Chrysler convertibles. They must must had 50 of them! No wonder it was such a bargain.

Now I had to find my way to our vacation hotel. I had ordered a room based on an ad in the Yellow pages. The ad stated that the hotel overlooked Nawiliwili Bay and that was not too far away from the airport.

The first order of business was to drop the top of the car so that we could really enjoy the tropical air. A quick look at the map and we left the airport. 15 minutes later we were pulling into the parking lot of the Garden Island Inn. If you click on the link above, you can see that it is a very nice hotel. We didn't know any of that when we went to check in. And as we were doing that, the manager wanted to know if we would be interested in renting their finest suite; the Lanai Suite? He described it and gave me a price that astonished me; just $90+ a day. That was just $10 more than the room I had reserved. I took it! The suite was located directly over the managers office and took up the whole upper floor of one wing. It had two bedrooms, a 'living' room, a kitchen and a lanai. When you opened the large sliding doors to the lanai, it felt as if the whole suite was open to the Pacific. It was magnificent. And we could see the Marriott across the way, where the guests had the same view as we did  and they were paying 3 times as tips. I had been in that particular Marriott before and knew just how sterile it felt.

For some reason, I've always had good luck when choosing the 'different' hotel when traveling. I have always tried to stay away from the big chain hotels like Marriott.

Here on Kauai we were quite free to wandering on the immaculate grounds of the Marriott and here's a photo of the harbor from the 9th hole of their golf course. No, I wasn't playing. In fact, no one was on the course and we were free to wander. The golfing guests must have been relaxing in their air conditioned rooms.

We had places to go and see but we had no guide. So we just drove and turned here and there as we felt moved to. If the road looked interesting, we turned onto it. And in this way, we found a small shopping center that had a restaurant that looked promising. And it was good! We had a wonderful brunch while sitting outside on their lanai. I can't tell you how to get there and I don't remember the name of the place.

After more exploration we decided to visit Waimea Canyon the next day; early. And so we did, driving up the twisting road ascending the mountain while in a tropical jungle. Then the vegetation seemed to thin out and change as climbed higher. I pulled over at an overlook and Laurae took this photo of me sitting in our red car.

By the way, we saw dozens upon dozens of these red cars. Avis was doing well here.

Below are more photos of the island and one of Laurae as we made our way to the top. And at the top we found fog and cold air. Up went the top of the car and we put the heater on. We found a small cafe selling coffee and we stopped there to check our map and decide on a route out of the cold.

Here Laurae is braving the cold air as we looked down on the beautiful island.  You can see the fog lurking right behind her.

Somewhere in my photo collection I have photos of Waimea canyon and it is very beautiful.

 We had four days on the island and then it was time to fly back to Oahu and then take our flight back to San Francisco and Sacramento. In those four days we ate well, slept well and relaxed while visiting all of the usual tourist spots. It's a beautiful island and we would love to come back But I would have to have the deluxe suite at the Garden Island Inn booked and waiting for us. Plus a red convertible!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In the past

I enjoy genealogy. I think I started back in 2004 with a visit to Ancestry dot com. Isn't that where everyone starts? Then it was an on again, off again, relationship with my dead ancestors. I may have mentioned this hobby of mine in an ancient post here. I don't think I'll go looking for it. Trust me. I did post something. I believe it was about 'Black Agnes', the Scottish noblewoman who defended the family castle successfully. She was an ancestor of mine; or so my amateur sleuthing tells me.

Last week I was looking up many of the 'Seymour' family trails (my paternal grandmother 'Nana' was a Seymour) and found that I had a very well known (at the time) ancestor that had started a war; all by himself. That was "King Phillip", a Sachem of the Wampanoag tribe, and the war was aptly named the King Phillip's War. My great uncle was Wamsutta, also known as Alexander Pokanoket, as he was called by New England colonists, was the eldest son of Massasoit Ousa Mequin of the Pokanoket Tribe and Wampanoag nation. King Phillip and the foolish colonists were responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 colonists and 6,000 Indians from various tribes. Their actions removed the Wampanoag people from memory until just a little over 100 years ago. 40% of the Wampanoags were killed and the remainder sold into slavery. But 'King Phillip' had a daughter, Ann Phillip, who was married to John Starkweather. They had a daughter, Mary Starkweather, who married John Stanton.  And they had a daughter, Lydia and on and on it went until I became the 9th great grandson of King Phillip.
If it hadn't been for the attitude of the colonists, (they didn't think they should pay for the land) the whole war could have been averted.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

More from the islands or Hawai'i lll

After I had been on Oahu for about a week I had completed most of my analysis of the costs involved in the contracts that the company had on the books. I only had a few more jobs to look at and I already knew that, ultimately, our company would purchase them. We had branch offices all around the country but to have one in Hawai'i was pretty exciting...for me. I would be the one to set up the estimating system on their computers and then train the estimator(s). And so that was what happened. I flew home after two weeks and then there was the normal grind of getting on an airplane every Monday morning and returning every Friday night as I went from one boring branch office to another. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but I did dream of returning to Oahu and made tentative plans to, somehow. make that trip into a vacation for my wife and I.

My oldest daughter had been to the island of Kauai once and had told us that she thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. Okay. I knew that what I had seen of the island during my 6 hour trip some month ago had made me want to explore that small piece of tropical paradise further. I made that part of my tentative plans.

A few more months went by and then I received the call I had been waiting for. The deal had gone through and the business on Oahu was now another branch office of ours. And I was needed there to begin training! I called them and made the arrangements to meet with the estimator. Then I called my wife and told her that it had happened and we were going to Hawai'i; Kauai to be exact. I was going to be in the Oahu office for a week and then she would fly over on a Friday. I would meet her at the airport and we would go the inter island airline and fly off to Kauai. I already had a return ticket and had just changed the departure time to coincide with my wife's round trip departure. Perfect!

Off to Oahu and this time I would stay at the Ala Moana Hotel as the small Japanese hotel had no vacancies. When I got off the plane I made my way, confidently, through the airport, over to the car rental and then to the office. I was not a tourist anymore. I was a businessman. Okay, that's not quite true. It's very hard to be 'all business' when you are in Hawai'i. Driving down Ala Moana Blvd. I smelled the sweet air from the trade winds and enjoyed the most temperate climate. No AC for me.

I renewed my friendship with the office staff. We were now equals as our company was all employee owned. Then I set up the computers with our system and prepared for the first day of training. Tomorrow. I had spent 5 hours sitting on a plane and I was not going to spend another 5 hours sitting in an office.

I decided to visit the world famous Ala Moana Shopping Center. It was close enough to my hotel for me to walk there and I did. And then I walked all over the shopping center. It was a fascinating place as all of the pricing was in Japanese Yen first with the dollar equivalent below that. I noticed that I towered over 90% of the customers. At this time, Hawai'i was the premier honeymoon destination for Japanese newlyweds. It was during this time that I noticed someone taller than I, and I'm 6'-2". This man was tall, bronzed and was wearing a dark green 'lavalava', which is a sarong for men from Polynesian or Oceanic societies. He was very impressive looking and obviously Polynesian. I began to wonder if I could pull that off? Could I wear a lavalava to the office the next day? I came to my senses and decided that it wasn't the look for me.

That evening I drove down to Waikiki to see the sights. I also wanted to see the sand from Manhattan Beach CA. Yes, the sand at Waikiki came from Manhattan Beach, my hometown. Monied interests had come to Manhattan in the 20's and made a deal for barge loads of sand to be delivered to Waikiki as the sand there was not of the quality and quantity needed for the frontage of the luxury hotels there. It's hard to imagine towing barges filled with sand across thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean.

The next day it was back to business and I began my training sessions. This was always hard work as I had to convince an estimator that the spreadsheet program they had used for years was going to be dumped and replaced by some unknown software. In my time as a trainer and part of a software development team I had learned that most estimators considered the PC to be an unnecessary desk ornament. Hawai'i was no different and I had to struggle all week to convince the estimator that the software would help him and not hinder him. We made plans to come back in 3 months time.

In the meantime, I had vacation plans! I made my way to the airport and dropped off my car. My wife's plane was on time and we were soon in the air again, on our way to Kauai, where I had made a reservation at a small hotel that I had found via the Yellow Pages...

More later...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Hawai'i Too

Here's an addition to the memories of Hawai'i that I began writing about a few posts back. When I put an end to that post I was sitting on the patio of a small hotel in the middle of Waikiki while enjoying breakfast.

It was time to go back to work. I went to the basement where it was parked. A hotel with parking is a rare luxury in Waikiki. Then I joined the stream of commuters on Ala Moana Blvd on their way to work. With all the slow moving traffic around me I could be in the middle of a Los Angeles freeway. I found my way back to the office and met the estimator and superintendent of the company we were thinking of acquiring. The plan was for me to accompany the superintendent to all the jobs in progress and we would start with a hotel remodel on the island of Kaua'i. I don't remember his name now so I will call him 'John'. John went to the files and pulled out a book of plane tickets. For inter-island flights, the airline sell books of tickets to frequent flyers. Quite a few Hawaiians treat the airlines as if they were a bus line. They may live on one island and work on another.

It was a 15 minute flight and we landed at Lihue and rented a car. The hotel was quite close by. We parked and we took the construction elevator up to the top. The crews were remodeling the hotel rooms to become condo's. The hotel had been hit hard by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Insurance settlements were tied up in court and all that time (5 years) the hotel had been closed up. Mold was growing everywhere, like black moss on all  the walls. All the hardware, like door knobs and hinges were corroded so badly that opening them was difficult.

I made my assessment of the work to be done and we found ourselves with 3 hours to spend before the next flight back to Honolulu. John, who was a native of Kaua'i offered to drive me around and show me some of beautiful sights on this small island. One of the first things of note were the blue tarps on the roof of quite a few houses. John said that the insurance money to replace the roofs was often spent on other things. Then we drove up the mountain to Waimea Canyon. It was an amazing place to visit; the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific". It didn't seem to take very long and it was time to get back to the airport. I knew that I wanted to come back sometime in the near future.

Another memory: John spoke with a Hawaiian accent and he spoke 'pidgin' as well. Oddly enough, I welcomed it. In 1978 I was fresh from L.A and looking for a job in Reno NV. A new MGM Grand Hotel and Casino was being built in Reno. Odd again, I knew the superintendent that was hiring. I had hired him about 10 years previous when I was in Reno to build a department store. Small world. Once we did all the handshaking and reminiscing, he hired me to be a foreman on the job. Also odd' we were working for a Hawaiian construction company, Oahu Interiors. I was going to be doing layout work on the hotel and the crew I would be working with were all from Hawai'i. And they all spoke pidgin. Within a few weeks I was speaking it as well. I tried speaking it at home but was quickly overruled by my wife. Also, it turned out that John and I knew a lot of the people I knew in Reno. Small world once again.

The next day I went out with John and we went to the Hawai'i State Capitol building. It was being remodeled from top to bottom and John had a crew working on it. It was a very impressive building and we toured it from top to bottom. I was struck by the use of Koa wood throughout. Every office had every desk and chair and table and cabinet and door made from the beautiful wood from the Acacia Koa tree. There must have been a million dollars worth of Koa in the building.

We left the building and stood in the inner courtyard of the building. The architecture was amazing! And then I noticed how hot it was becoming. I was sweating! John explained that since the walls of the building cut us off from the prevailing Trade Winds, we had lost the natural air conditioning that they brought with them. That is why the lanai was a vital part of the architecture here.  Then I remembered the airport at Kauai and the fact that none of the outer walls came up to the roof level. Air was free to come over the top of the walls and cool the airport. I imagine that they have blocked that air movement since 9/11.

We went back to the office just in time for lunch and I was introduced to Manapua, a steamed pork or  chicken bun. That's just a rough description. Truth is, they were heavenly! I ate Manapua every day for the 2 weeks that I was there. Someone in the office would volunteer to go to the box lunch place up the road and bring back our orders every day. I went a few times and was surprised to see that it just a joint in a strip mall. It may have been a joint but they sure could cook.

After lunch and until dark, I was stuck in my temporary office, calculating the projected costs versus the contract amounts for the projects I had reviewed. From my desk, if I leaned forward and turned my head to the right, I could see a small section of blue sky and the occasional cloud. My view of Paradise!

I should mention that on my second or third day in Hawai'i I left the office just before it was dark and drove up to the Pali. I had read about it and just had to see it. I pulled into the parking area and I was the only one there. I walked up the path to the overlook and was amazed at the view. I could see lights beginning to turn on in far off Kaneohe. What sun was left was being filtered through dark clouds on the horizon. The cliffs of the Pali had an other worldly look to them and I could easily imagine the slaughter that took place there, so many years ago. I stayed there until it was dark; enjoying every minute of my solitude.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Growing old

A large part of the growing old experience for me has been an increase in the stories I remember. Not fiction, but memories of the events that were important (at the time) in my life. I'm becoming one of those old men that can tell you a story at the drop of a hat. (drop of a hat? where does that old phrase come from?)

For instance; Mr. Blue, the proprietor of life on peach eater creek has been sharing photos of his recent trip to Hawai'i and the island of Oahu. As I viewed the photos and read the story I was transported back to the days when I was visiting the islands. I didn't have the usual tourist experience as I was there on 'business'.

At this juncture in my life I was in transition from being an estimator/project manager for a very large construction company to becoming a software developer/IT specialist/instructor/go'fer for the same company. I was leaving the estimating job behind...and leaving The Boss from Hell (TBH) behind as well.

I was working from home at the time and I received a phone call from the CFO of the company. We were friends because of our shared interest in computers and spreadsheets. Lotus 1-2-3 to be exact; the only spreadsheet around at that time. Out of the blue he asked me if I would be available to fly to Honolulu the next day. I was silent for a moment as I tried to process this request. So he explained that the company was thinking about buying a similar construction company that was for sale in Honolulu and he wanted someone (me) to visit some of the jobs they had contracts for and see if the jobs had any chance of being profitable. I would visit the jobs with their superintendent and then go over their estimates. Would I be interested? Sure!

He told me to go to the airport the next day, early, and pick up my tickets. They were one way tickets as we didn't know how long I was going to be needed. Now I had to pack a bag...and tell my wife when she came home from work. My going away to distant locations for jobs had always been part of our life; I wasn't worried about her reaction to the news. Well, maybe I was a little bit worried. After all, my destination was a tropical isle and not New Jersey or Bakersfield. She might have something to say about that...

The next day came and I found myself on a 747 flying over the water. Lots and lots of water. Hours of blue water.  Our travel department had secured me an exit row window seat and so I was quite comfortable and after 5 hours I was able to see the small speck in the ocean ahead of us that quickly grew to 'island size' as the pilot began turning and descending. I recognize Diamond Head from the pictures I had seen. I saw Pearl Harbor and then we were taxi'ing up to the gate. My friend had told me that it was faster to walk to baggage claim than to wait for the wiki wiki bus and so I did. This was when I first noticed that the air smelled 'sweet'. A wonderful smell that I later learned came from the Trade Winds that constantly blow across the islands. Those same winds bring beautiful white clouds that accent the tropical blue sky. I was simply amazed! 24 hours earlier I had been laboring over some spreadsheets and here I paradise!

I rented a car and followed the directions to the office located in an industrial area close to the airport. Here I met my friend and was introduced to all the management and office staff. All very friendly.  Then I was given a space to call my 'office' and a stack of plans and specifications. No time to waste; it was time to get busy and review these plans because I was going to have to go with their superintendent to some of these jobs tomorrow. Okay...

After some time, my friend came in and said to call it a day, it was 7 PM, and he gave me directions to my hotel. It was in Waikiki, about 15 minutes away without traffic and an hour away during rush hour. I finally found the hotel, a small 4 story hotel with very tall neighbors on each side. It was a hotel that catered to Japanese tourists and it was sized to fit right in to a hotel district in Tokyo. Everything about the hotel was diminutive. Very clean and very charming. Breakfast was free and served outside on a patio.

I remember sitting there, enjoying the calm of this secluded patio. There were Palm trees and other tropical plants around me. The air was the perfect temperature and it smelled sweet. I was hooked!

I will write some more about this time in another post.


Plus and minus.

      Time Goes By has an interesting subject this morning and I joined in with my comments. Below is an expanded version of what I said....    

       I retired at age 64 (I'm now 75) because I could not stand the thought of another week of flying to and from, here and there, and then sleeping in a motel for the week followed by another week just like the week before. Only the airports and motels changed and after awhile they all became the same. Even the Phoenix Inn in Lake Oswego (home of The Crabby Old Lady) became boring. They were also the first to call me by my first name when I walked through the door. I dreaded seeing the blue airport shuttle pull up in front of the house...
       I thought that retirement would be my salvation from a job I had come to hate, and retirement would deliver the perfect life I had dreamed of. Sure enough, the job I hated soon faded from memory. That was a good thing. I had begun race walking (the silly walk) before my retirement and now I could devote myself to the sport. I had completed one marathon and many half marathons, 5K's and 10k's. I planned and competed in 4 more marathons. 2 of them in Portland, one in the Redwoods of California and one in Anchorage Alaska. We were going to explore the USA by car and by marathon. Yes, I do know that I had to get on a plane to visit Anchorage. Then, at age 68, my body gave out. Before my office days, I had spent 30 years working in construction. I worked in steel framing and drywall (a job I loved) and because of that physical abuse I've now had 4 back surgeries and the pain is still with me. I take pain meds on a regular basis. I had epidural injections 3 weeks ago and they failed to stop the pain. I've now been taking pain meds for 8 years.
      But not all is negative. I returned to art and began to paint regularly. I sold a few paintings and then, 3 months ago, I was given a show and my art was seen by lots of people. I was interviewed for the University newspaper.  I paint even more now. That part of retirement has been fulfilling; creating something of value and something that is appreciated by others.
      Next week I will be having another round of epidural injections. So, I'm not giving up and I feel  the positives of retirement simply outweigh the negatives.