Saturday, January 30, 2016

A week or two later, part ll

I've been busy putting together the art show that I have next month. I have to take it all in the gallery next weekend and then the curator will determine which of my paintings will be seen. He told me to bring 'around 30' and I have 32 of them. I think they are representative of my best work. They go from 4"x4" to 3'x4' and everything in between. I have some paintings that are quite linear. Lines and angles. Then I have others that are clouds and swirls of color on top of color.
     


This is one that shows you what I mean when I say 'linear'.






Here's some color exploding. They are both 2'x2' and acrylic. One is painted on canvas and the other on birch plywood.


 












I am expected to give a 1-2 minute talk about my art at the reception. That is going to be hard to do!
With my other ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, I don't do well at receptions or public speaking.

With all my canvases finished and cataloged I am suddenly bored. I've been able to go out to my studio and paint almost every day as I made sure I had enough of my work ready to show. I don't have any more large canvases and that is what I desire...I guess I better get used to painting small for awhile, I have half a dozen blank 16x20 canvases, just waiting for some paint.




A week or two later.

It's been a while since my surgery and I'm pretty much recovered from that trauma. I do have two new scars decorating my back now. The scars are not quite as ugly as they were. When I see how far he had to cut down my spine to release the cable I want to say 'ouch'.

With the surgery out of the way I am back to the same old pain that I had before the surgery. That was expected. I will meet with my surgeon next week and he will order an MRI for me and then discuss the plans for going forward to obtain the pain relief. And with the same pain I end up with the pain relief problems that I had. More Norco and more Dilaudid. The pain comes and goes as usual. Yesterday was a zero Norco day while the day before I needed 4 of them plus 2 Dilaudid. Today it's 2 Norco and it's not quite noon.

I'm really interested in what my surgeon will recommend for pain relief once the diagnosis of ASD is confirmed. (ASD is Adjacent Segment Disease or Deterioration) Googling ASD gives me a lot of information.

Here's one that will give me a lot more metal to deal with; though I do admire the high tech look of it.
 This is all too familiar...been there, done that.














This one looks like the simplest. But I have to wonder about the life of the springs?













I hope these images don't bother anyone. I'm very much used to seeing things like this. Back in the day, when I was a Navy Hospital Corpsman, I worked for Cmdr Rolf Noer, a Navy neurosurgeon as well as an orthopedic surgeon. Back in those days a surgeon could have both boards. Anyway, we were all quite familiar with the contents of his black bag; saws, chisels, files, screws, nails and etc. His tools would fit right in to a carpenters tool box.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

(un)comfortable

The 15th has come and gone and gone is the battery and cable that goes with a spinal cord stimulator; it didn't go easily. The surgeon, Dr. Mimbs, told my wife that the cable had gone through the foramen and that it had become embedded in the spinal structure. The 15 minute surgery turned into a 1 hour one. The outcome was the same except for the added after surgery pain because he had to cut and saw and chisel the cable loose. The surgery that was going to let me go home directly afterwards now hit a snag. I was told that I could go home as soon as I peed. My body doesn't do well with demands and and after a couple of hours went by it was obvious it wasn't going to comply and so I was admitted to the hospital and I no longer had a voice in what was to happen. It did happen, painlessly, and I was soon anchored to the bed.

Nice hospital. Great nursing care. the food was blander than bland. All in all, I could not complain at all. I have Medicare and supplemental insurance and so I did not have to worry. Back in the 60's and 70's all the medical needs were met by affordable insurance. I was in the Carpenter's Union and we had negotiated a contract with our employers that included health insurance. I had Blue Cross and the hospital charge for my wife's pregnancy was $0.00.  I was also a contractor during this time and I included the cost for the insurance in my bid for a job. The system worked.

Now, for some reason, unions are portrayed as being greedy and evil, usually by people who have never been in a union. Health insurance costs have gone through the roof and no one wants to pay for them or try to rein them in. We're just lucky that we are living at this time and have the ability to pay. We'll be gone soon, but for those that have a generation or two to stay here on earth, these costs are killing them and our nation. Don't we all deserve medical care?

Anyway, the catheter came out on Sunday and  I complied with their request to pee this time and was allowed to go home; where the pain of the surgery is very uncomfortable but I have more drugs to take care of that. In the meantime, I wander about, cane in hand, as I try to remember why it is that I am wandering... could it be the drugs? Ya think!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Updates and etceteras

I've been to see my surgeon and signed off on the work he is going to do on the 15th. Then, he sat down and smiled, saying "I know what's wrong with you!" I must have looked confused, so he repeated it, adding "I know what's been causing this pain. You have ASD; Adjacent Segment Disease (or Degeneration)." He then told us all about ASD and as he did, I saw it clearly. Yes, that is what has been causing this. He was happy because he had identified the problem and I was happy because I now knew what the problem was. We didn't talk about 'cures' or what the course of action will be. That is for after the surgery because after the surgery he can use an MRI to see the problem in detail. The metal in my back has precluded the use of the MRI. I really like this surgeon; after telling us all about ASD, he sat there for another ten minutes while he told us funny stories of things he had been asked to do when he was a resident. We were all laughing.

That same day, I had been to see my neurologist and told him about the surgery to remove the offending metal trash from my back. He was delighted because he could now have an MRI brain scan, (of my brain) with and without contrast. He ordered one for early March. If he's happy, I'm happy.

The art world is waiting with bated breath for the opening of my art show. I wish. Truth is, the opening day is creeping closer all of the time and I continue to paint large. I now have paint on three 30"x48" canvases. None are complete but they are close. I now have 32 paintings ready to show and 4 that are just a few days away from completion. I just need to stay away from Aaron Bros. Art store and the one cent sales or their 'three for the price of one' sales. After this show is over, I will then look forward to a 'three for the price of one' sale. I am now over my fear of larger canvas. I want some canvas such as 40"x60".  That's almost four feet by five feet. I don't know what I will do three canvases that size, really I don't. But I need to paint some! There is one place in our house that will take a canvas that size, just one. I could swap the paintings in and out every four months.  Good idea!

I think I will post photos of the show paintings on our Tuesday Painters web site.

Back to my back. I did look up some of the fixes for ASD and they all require surgery. That doesn't bother me. Dr. Mimbs is the very best! Most of the fixes install a hinge of some sort just above the fused vertebra. I really need to get rid of the pain as I'm getting very tired of the side effects of the morphine and morphine Norco mix. I talk to myself. I drop things. I space out and my memory can't get much worse.

I realized the other day that I have ASD twice. I have one for my back and one for myself as I have Autism Spectrum Disorder and that defines me. Between the surgery and the art show, my autism is being challenged to stay in the background. I don't use the telephone so that is a challenge. My telephone is really my camera and photo file mover. I don't like being touched and I had a pre-surgery exam the other day that wasn't pleasant. I'll get through it; I always do.




Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Gong

I just came away from a conversation about 'The British'. I was telling my wife that it looked as if the return of Downton Abbey was all over the internet. And she noted that it was odd that there was such an interest in all things British these days. (We've been watching Broadchurch and a host of others like it on Netflix) Then I told her that, growing up, I saw lots of British films. She was amazed. I explained that my mother had been the reason for that interest, as she was a real fan of Sir Alec Guinness, he of the Lavender Hill Mob. She would take me to see all of his films. And all other British films. Or, I should say, all of the films that made a rare appearance at an out of the way and tiny theater, like the LaMar, in Manhattan Beach.  I also explained to her that as a 9 or 10 year old, I was awed by the gong(er) at the beginning of all J. Arthur Rank films. She had never heard of such a thing. Then, I remembered, she was not the only one that gave me a blank look when I mentioned the 'Gong'. Friends of mine, over the years, had said they had never heard of J. Arthur Rank. So, for all who've never heard or seen the "Gong', I found it on YouTube (of course) and embedded it here for you to play it as many times, or not, as you want. Enjoy!  




Thursday, December 31, 2015

You never know

        I'm sure that I have mentioned the fact that I paint, and I paint with seven other artists on Tuesday mornings. If you haven't heard it, you will now.
        Being a friendly group, we thought that we should share our art with the community, so we applied for a group showing at the Art Center. The same art Center where we paint every Tuesday. After a short time we were told that our application was scuttled. We were not upset. It was a long shot to begin with.
       Weeks went by and then, this past Tuesday, the Art Director came into our work space and said that he was sorry about our failed attempt, but, if we were to give him some samples of our work, he would present them, individually, to the board for inclusion the Discovery Series. That's a three week long show where one unknown artist has hers or his work shown with the works of two well known and established artists. The artist is given about 45 feet of wall.
        The only hitch in this offer was the fact that he needed the photos within the next two hours as he was presenting all of the candidates to the board, that afternoon.I was thinking of looking for some images on my laptop and I started to do that...then a friend came to talk to me and then my wife came to pick me up. Just before I closed the laptop, I said, "Just give me a minute..." and I gathered up four or five photos that may or may not have represented my work and I attached them to an email and sent them off.
        On Wednesday I had not even looked at my email. It had been a bad day for pain and I had taken a lot of Norco. A lot. But, Thursday morning was different and I opened an email from the Art Center and learned that I had been selected! I had many, many emotions right then. Joy. Despair. Excitement. Despair. You can see where this is going. To be recognized for your work in the art community is an honor...well, it is for me. And then there is the problem of the Reception. Maybe three or 4 hours of standing around with a smile on your face while overhearing all of the comments about your work. "My 3 year can do better than that!" Since I have ASD, the reception is very disturbing to me. I have been in similar situations and I had walked simply away from them. I'm certain that I shouldn't do that here.
       Okay, I will cogitate on that problem...and in the meantime, I will go out to the garage and get some more paintings done.

Monday, December 28, 2015

We have a date

A surgery date. It will be on January 15th and all we need now is a time. Once again we wait. Not that it matters much. Speaking from experience, the hospital will change the time, every time, and at the last moment. Sometimes earlier in the day and sometimes later. Whatever. I'm looking forward to it.

I have found that most people are not happy to have surgery of any kind and so they think my attitude of gratitude is a bit odd. I have also told people that I don't expect this surgery to 'fix' my pain problems. They don't understand this and wonder why it won't work. I have to explain that this is just a step toward eventual pain relief and that pain relief is certainly not guaranteed, no matter how many times I have surgery. Again, these friends are mystified as to why I don't have some sort of guarantee from the doctor. These are the same people that are unhappy with every outcome they experience from the doctors they visit. They also wonder why I don't drive off to  a distant medical center; 200 miles plus. There, to talk to a doctor that has the same chance of 'fixing me' as my local surgeon. (He moved here from that same distant city because he wanted to have his children grow up in a more rural setting)

The new pain drug regimen is unsettling. The Morphine ER 3 times a day plus Norco has me seeing some things that are not there and talking out loud whenever I feel so moved. I don't drive any more so I'm relatively harmless. The goal is to stop or reduce the use of Norco for break-out pain...or stop the break-out pain altogether. Which it has. It's cut it in half and I'm happy with that, even though today happens to be a bad day and promises to be worse.

Bad pain days will quite often result in good painting days. It's as if the brain (me) needs to focus on anything other than the pain. Some of my better paintings have been created when I was in pain. Speaking of better paintings; I had a chance to view some of Ellsworth Kelly's earlier works and I realized that one of my paintings, one from a year ago, is very much like one of his. I'm happy about it because I hadn't seen any of his works in years, yet his style shone right through! There's nothing wrong with that, all artists 'steal'. Mr. Kelly admits that when he went to Paris for the first time, he copied Picasso.  I guess I shouldn't use the words 'steal' or 'copied'. Let's say he was influenced by Picasso, as were thousands of other young artists. I know that I've been influenced by many artists. Starting with Virginia Cobb and followed by so many more; Gaudi, Basquiat, DeKooning, Pollock, Krasner, Richter, Anna Barne, Nolde, Hyams, Mehretu, Heilman, Diebenkorn, Freud, Hockney and many others. The ones that I think were a greater influence I have typed them in Bold.

I must get to painting. The promise of more pain has been fulfilled.

Late breaking news...the surgery will start at noon which means that I must be there at 10:30. News of this is of no interest to anyone; except to me and the lovely lady that will drive me there.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Just read

         I just read the December 14th posting on Time Goes By. The subject was dementia and the fear of it. That's something that was really bothering me six months ago. The number of times I would wander around the kitchen looking for the right place to put something or to find something was out of control, or so I thought. I realize now that it was all quite normal for someone my age (75). Yes, I still try to put the ice cream in the bread drawer and try to use the toaster to heat my coffee, but I was lucky enough to have had some balance problems. I say lucky because I told my doctor (my PA-C) and he referred me to a neurologist, as well as a balance specialist at the local rehab center. The neurologist noted my minor complaint "I keep forgetting things" and he then introduced me to his clinical psychologist. She took me into her office and we spent half an hour testing for dementia and Alzheimer's. All quite painless, of course. I was then told that I was just fine and my memory problems were the ones that were to be expected at my age. There was an immediate feeling of relief, as if a weight had been lifted from me. I know that I would never have gone to the neurologist on my own. I should have. Years of needless worry could have been avoided. 
         
         Of course I received a new worry in place of the one I lost. The doctor had ordered a brain scan to make sure he covered all the possibilities of things that might make me lose my balance. He had to order a CAT scan because I couldn't have an MRI. I can't have MRI's because of the metal cable and battery that is implanted in my back to combat intractable back pain. It doesn't work but it is there anyway. He told me that the brain scan showed a possible enlargement of the ventricles in my brain. Possible is the key word. CAT scans are not as reliable as an MRI. If there is enlargement of the ventricles, then further testing is needed to rule out any possibility of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. That testing would involve a spinal tap, or Lumbar Puncture. That's not high on my list of favored medical procedures. As a Navy Hospital Corpsman, I worked for a neurosurgeon and had to assist in many Lumbar Punctures. My job was to hold the patient still while the doctor pushed a long 14 gauge needle into his spine. In the position I had to use to keep him still, I was just inches away from the injection site. Once the needle was in place I was asked to remove the inner cannula and begin to measure the spinal fluid as it slowly dropped out of the needle... enough of that!

       That brings me to today. I'm anxiously waiting for a phone call from the neurosurgeons office. Neurosurgeon and not neurologist. I have lots of doctors! This neurosurgeon is going to remove all of the metal from my back. The reason for the removal is three fold. One is to remove a useless piece of medical hardware. Two is to remove the hardware so that my pain specialist doctor can safely do some epidural injections to quiet the back pain that has become my constant companion. And three is to allow my neurologist to order new brain scans using MRI technology. Both the doctor and I want to know what's really happening to my ventricles. Because, if it's not Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, it may be Parkinson's or ???

I'm just back from a checkup visit to my main doctor, Stuart the PA-C. We decided to increase the amount of morphine extended release that I'm taking. I will take it 3 times a day instead of twice. It will be wonderful to get rid of the wires and have the epidurals. Maybe then the pain will finally be gone and I will be taking no drugs! I won't be holding my breath though...  



   





Friday, December 11, 2015

Polls

The Polls have spoken! And the Polls say that Americans are terrified of Dâ'ish! Well, if they weren't before the polls, they are are more likely to be so now.

The poll I saw was the Times/CBS poll and it was a telephone poll, conducted on both cell and landlines. There were approximately 800 respondents and weighted slightly toward the Republican side of things. These 800 people now represent the heart and soul of America. What a farce!

If you have a landline, you are certainly more likely to be over the age of 60. Not certainly over the age of 60 but more likely. If you have a landline OR a cellphone and you answer phone calls when you don't know the identity of the caller? You are most likely to be desperate for a conversation. Very desperate. We have caller ID for just this reason...screening out salespeople and pollsters! There are millions of people that are not interested in polls. And, as we know, millions more that aren't even interested in voting. Of any kind.

I can see that the 800 respondents are not at all like me or most of the people I know. I am over 60 but I don't answer the phone, landline or cell, when I don't know the caller. I have voicemail...leave me a message.

If the pollsters had told me what the question was going to be and how they intended to conduct the poll, I could have saved them time and money and given them the same result. Just give me half the money budgeted for the poll and we would both be happy.

I'm not bringing up something new. I read an article, in the Economist? not long ago, about this problem. Pollsters are finding it increasingly difficult to find a method of polling that will be close to accurate. Their reputations are at stake and after the polling failures during the last election, they are desperate to find a method that will work for them. I don't think this one will do it. But, in the meantime, the gullible among us, and there are far too many, will be hiding under the covers.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

recollections

What an odd word; recollect? Isn't that a word that grizzled old prospectors would say to the Lone Ranger? "I recollect y'r right, masked man." Do we use this word anymore? And why did it pop into my head just now, as I was searching for a word to title this post? There are three questions that I can probably postpone answering for quite awhile.

My head is full of odd thoughts this morning. Memories, actually. I've been seeing that happen quite a bit recently and I think it's because of the change in pain meds. There's nothing unpleasant about it so it's a side effect that I can put up with.

I remember my mother doing the washing down in the basement of our house on Center Street and right above her, in the kitchen, was a pantry door and when you opened the door, you could look down, through the screened in bottom of the pantry and watch my mother at work. I loved to watch the clothes going through the wringer and coming out flat and stiff as they emerged from being squeezed. That was in 1948 so she was lucky to have a washing machine. I remember that there was a 1937 Chevy coupe sitting in the driveway of that house. New cars were also hard to find. I should say 'inexpensive' new cars. It was also in 1948 that my dad got a new job and a 1947 Oldsmobile two-door fastback sedan. The Chevy was retired to Chevrolet heaven...

That same year I was sent to Colton, California; To live with the family of a long time family friend. I had asthma and the doctor had suggested that a change in climate might help me. There was certainly a climate change between Manhattan Beach and Colton. I had spent some weekends there before and I remember just how hot it could be. Remember; it was the 1940's and central heat and AC for the average residences didn't exist. No AC in the cars either.

The drive to Colton in the 40's could take close to six hours as there were no freeways. It might take you four hours today....during rush hour. Ninety minutes if you drove it at 1 in the morning. Since it did take so long, I spent some time on the train. My 'host' family would put me on the train on a Friday afternoon and my dad would drive me back to Colton on a Sunday afternoon.

I was fascinated by Union Station in Los Angeles. It was (and is) an architectural marvel; in my eyes. And it was only nine years old when I first saw it. Sometimes my dad would have mom and my sisters with him when he picked me up at the station and we would go over to nearby Phillipe's for a French Dip sandwich. Phillipe, The Original, exists today.

That memory contains memories of the porters that worked on the trains and at the station. They all were black. I had never seen a black person before. No African Americans lived in Manhattan Beach. And it was about seven years later that I saw another African American. That was Jesse and he worked for my dad as a Hod Carrier. For some years before I met Jesse, I heard stories about him during dinner time. My dad respected Jesse and would tell us about how hard Jesse had worked and what he done that week. When a job finished up, dad would keep Jesse working on odd jobs as long as he could or until another job started up. All this time, I never knew that Jesse was an African American.

My dad wanted to buy a car for the two of us to work on and one that I could then drive, I was fifteen then. Jesse had a Model A that he drove to work every day and he sold it to my dad for $10. Jesse brought the car out to our house on a Saturday. I remember meeting Jesse and after getting over the shock of seeing a black man, a Negro, an African American, in our driveway and then shaking his hand, I was fascinated by him. Very tall and slender. Soft spoken. He took his tools out of the back seat of the Model A and put them in dad's car. We shook hands again and then dad drove him home.

Four years later, 1959,  and I was in the Navy, stationed in North Carolina. Civil Rights did not exist. I saw how African Americans were treated there and was shaken by it. It still bothers me when I think about it.

Memories...

As I read and re-read what I've just written, I wonder if I have written this before? It seems familiar. And if I did write this once before, are the facts still the same? These kinds of doubts only occur after the age of seventy. I think?

Another memory was of one of my favorite haunts. The automobile junkyard, on Rosecrans Blvd, owned by Mr. Jones. I had a Model A and so a junkyard was an appropriate place for me to be. This was in pre-OSHA days and to enter into the junkyard you only had to show up in Mr. Jone's office at the front of the lot with some tools in your hand and a declaration of what it was that you were looking for. That's all. You were then free to wander through the immense property. After a few trips I knew where most things were and could locate what I needed in minutes. But, I was interested in everything else that was in that yard. Amazing stuff! I remember a 1936 Cadillac limousine that had barely been touched. It was immense, black of course, and had twin fender mounted spare tires. I would often sit in it and wonder if I could come up with the $200 that Mr. Jones wanted for it.  

Even more amazing was the fact that no one that I knew of had ever hurt themselves while salvaging auto parts there...the good old days.

Gotta go...I'm having one of those side effect dreams and I don't want to miss it.




 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Good news

I had an endoscopy and a biopsy of the tissue involved in my Barrette's Syndrome, all on the day before Thanksgiving, and I received the results a few minute ago; all is well. That's two years in a row so I will be taken off the 'once a year endoscopy' list and will just have to see the doctor in his office. I also have to take Prilosec from now until? Let's just say forever. Just another drug in the arsenal I take.

I had a great day yesterday, with little pain, and I only needed two Norco. Today started out differently and I needed pain relief just a few minutes after having the first cup of coffee. I'm still painting, I just come in and sit for awhile after I feel the nerves complaining. Which I'm doing right now. I'm sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop handy while I read the latest copy of ArtNews. I read a lot of the current art magazines; ArtNews, American Art Collector, American Artist and one other, whose name escapes me. That's all well and good, but, they cover the modern art scene, from New York to Los Angeles and Miami and Santa Fe and the Arab Emirates and Berlin and...nowhere near where I live. The type of art they feature is almost exclusively Abstract and all the various offshoots from that description; Abstract. That's the kind of art I love; the art that moves me. Unfortunately, there are very few abstract artists in Butte County. Part of that problem lies in the fact that this county is 'Red' and I've never met a Republican abstract artist.

I'm starting to fall asleep as I type; a side effect of MS Contin. It's time for me to get and go back to my paintings....I just wondered, where would I put this new painting? I started painting seriously about five years ago and I've accumulated a lot of paintings in that time. Some are good and most are not. I have plans to cover the bad ones with gesso and start anew. But, what I should do is what John Baldessari did when faced with an overflow of paintings that he deemed to be trash. He hired a crematorium for the time needed to dispose of his painting by reducing them to ashes. He invited his friends and I understand that they had a wake right there, champagne included. I don't have that kind of spare cash so I might have to just send them off to the dump, and without ceremony.

The lack of space for my paintings really is a problem. I'm going to rearrange the five paintings that are on the living room wall that has the most space. I'm going to try and put fifteen paintings, of varied size, in that same space. With careful planning and design I think it can be done. I've seen it before! All the other rooms, including the bathrooms and laundry room, are filled with art.

Gotta go...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It's too early to shop for Christmas...

I don't want to do it. I actually enjoy most shopping. I like to go grocery shopping as long as it's Trader Joe's or Raley's. I like shopping at Kohl's for my clothes. I don't mind Target for my cat food and paper plates. But Christmas shopping is something I avoid at all costs. I will probably wait until December 15th and then, later at night, I will log on to the Amazon store and do it all in half an hour. And I don't want anything at all. Nothing. Nada. Give to your favorite charity. Don't know which one? I will be glad to give you suggestions. Imagine if we all did that! What a great present for the world that would be!

The act of not wanting a present is something I see among most elders. If we have reached an age where we are retired and are able to live comfortably. Comfortably meaning that we have enough money for rent or house payment, for food, for clothing, for medical insurance and co-pays... we really don't need any more than that. I have a cupboard out in the garage where I store all those kitchen appliances that we no longer need. We give them away whenever the cupboard seems a bit crowded. It's the same with clothes and shoes.

If you still need to give me a present, give me a tube of acrylic paint. Any color. I'm an artist and paint is always needed. The color you give me may be just the inspiration I need. I tend to paint on any kind of surface, so I don't need any paper or canvas. At this time of year I can always find plenty of cardboard. Cardboard gives a painting a great texture.

Speaking of painting, I finished hanging my latest piece in the living room. I tried to take a photo of it in its final position but the lighting was all wrong this morning.  Trust me, it looks good there. The photo on the right was taken in the garage.
















Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Late last month

November is gone and the month continuous 'commercial excess' is upon us. We finished up the month of November with the usual holiday event; a family Thanksgiving feast. This time was a little different as we met at a lakeshore cabin in the woods. Our son in law's family has had this cabin for close to forty years; purchased when property like this was not near as dear as it is today. It's located on the shore of Lake Almanor and close to the village of Prattville. This is the second time around for Prattville as the original Prattville is under the waters of the lake. The lake itself is a creation of Great Western Power. PG&E, the north states major power provider, is now the owner. The lake was once a meadow, named quite aptly, Big Meadows. There was a 'huge' hotel spa/resort here in the late 1800's and early 1900's with excursion trains bringing customers from the San Francisco area up the Feather river canyon and then by stage to the towns of Chester and Prattville and to the hotel.

Enough history. We were there for a family gathering and although we didn't have all of the family there, we did have a crowd. As the most senior members of the family, we didn't have to do anything. We were only allowed to watch as the children and grandchildren put the feast together. The temperature outside was in the low teen's, so no one was playing outside, even though the sun was out and it looked beautiful... except for the winds that were 10 to 20 mph range, bending the tall pines and creating white caps on the lake.    

The road up was clear and ice free. We had been worried about the drive as a storm had been through here just two days ago.














Here's the cabin. One bedroom downstairs (ours for the weekend) and numerous cubicles with bunkbeds on the upper floor for all the rest of the family. The photographer (me) is standing about 20 yards away from the lake.












Early morning view of Mount Lassen, our own volcano! It's dormant now, having blown its top off about 100 years ago. It's wonderful to see snow on it once again.








The first turkey is gone. Our son in law had a second, smaller, turkey to cook for the next day when most of the family had left. That second turkey provided a lot more in the way of 'left overs'.






We had a wonderful time, seeing so many of our family here. It was especially nice to not have to worry about the cooking. In our 52 years of marriage, Laurae has cooked countless Thanksgiving dinners. She certainly deserved this day of rest.    

On Saturday morning we packed up and said goodbye to the lake before making a leisurely drive back down the hill to town; 90 minutes away.




























Friday, November 20, 2015

Shopping

It’s later in the day but earlier we were at the great bastion of Excess, the Costco store. It was very crowded and the fact that it was Friday may have had something to do with that. We were there just as they opened and the rush was on. I detoured as quickly as possible and pushed the cart down a side aisle. We did need some more printer paper and I picked up a ream while we were back there. Sticking to the back and side aisles much as possible, we made our way down to the ‘Deli’ section. It’s far too large to be called a deli but I can’t think of anything else to call it. The ‘Butcher Shop’ portion is right across the aisle from the ‘Deli’ but I was looking for the hams and that’s where we found the kind we wanted, Kirkland Applewood Smoked Master Carve ham. It’s the ugliest looking thing you have ever seen when it comes to hams. But is it ever tasty! And super easy to cook and carve. We had some at a friends house last year and vowed that we would buy one this year. We have. A 20 pound one. It will be ready and waiting for Christmas.

After pulling into a safe space, we looked at our list and decided on our next move. We made our way across a stream of determined cart pushers to the paper goods. TP, napkins, and paper plates. That’s all. Normally we go back and forth, looking on each aisle and on both sides of the aisles. It’s good exercise. The walking is good physical exercise and we also get a chance to exercise our willpower as we attempt to avoid most of the offerings. To help us do that, we always get in early, before the vendor ladies set up their tables. Those ladies and their offerings cause a terrible and continuous traffic jam once they are set up. Today, we went to a few selected aisles and took what we needed; M&M’s were a bargain, really, so we bought two packages. Then a two-pack of cough drops. That was it, we were through and headed to the checkout. We were out the door in record time and had no problem getting out of the parking lot.   

Despite premonitions of a terrible shopping experience, it turned out quite nicely. It was our attitude that did it. I couldn’t have done this ten years ago. I hated shopping! Now I enjoy it and I m surprisingly mellow before, during, and after shopping. That being so, I decided to take the slow way home and enjoy the fall colors on the magnificent trees that line the Esplanade. And they were magnificent. All in all, a great morning. Here’s a link to a short video of the fall colors in Chico. The four lane road you see in the video is the Esplanade and it's lined with trees. The tall brick structure is Bidwell Presbyterian church and that is where we can be found on Sunday mornings. The Esplanade runs N/S and immediately west of the church is the Cal State University at Chico. Diagonally across the street, S/E, is Colliers Hardware, an institution here. Just West of the church is a restaurant, Tres Hombres, and the aroma that drifts across the street can sometimes lead your mind away from God and you will find yourself wondering if they will have an empty table for you once the service is over. A personal note; my oldest daughter was once a server here.   

A new entry has been made on the Tuesday Painters blog.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

War...again?

I've been reading some of the responses from the Republican candidates for President when asked what their response would be to this crisis in Syria/Iraq. It made me wonder about their level of sanity. And made me afraid for the future of my children and grandchildren, plus one great grandchild. And for the citizens of this country to vote one of these people into the office of the President would be an act of insanity.

Not one of these people knows what the President knows. They don't get the daily security briefing that Mr. Obama sees. They don't get the messages from around the world. Messages from Embassies and heads of State. They don't get the phone calls that he does. Yet they presume to know what the best course of action is.

Mr. Trump wants to bomb the oilfields of Iraq. He wants to reduce the oilfields to rubble. Hasn't he thought of the obvious? He would have to rebuild those refineries after he 'wins' his war.

I believe it was Jeb that said that we shouldn't allow any but Christian refugees into this country. Jeb said he was a Christian. He lied. There's dozens of quotes in the Bible that say he's dead wrong. And, those verses at the base of the Statue of Liberty? They were written by a Jewish refugee.

I forget which of the candidates wants to put troops on the battlefield. I heard 10,000 troops. They really should stop calling them 'troops'. They want to put 10,000 of our children on the battlefield is far more truthful. These are humans and not troops. I was a Hospital Corpsman, luckily not during war time, but I did work at the hospital on the Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. And, yes, these 'troops' bleed. Some die.

If we as a nation are serious about starting another war, we need to bring back the draft. A fair and equal draft. A draft where a Senator's child could be one of the 'troops. How can we say we are serious about war if we aren't willing to risk our best and brightest in this effort to win? Right now we pay them to be 'troops'. Just like we pay the gardner to mow and blow. If the war isn't going well; we just buy some more 'troops'.

We haven't finished paying the $3 trillion dollars that it's estimated to cost us for just the war in Iraq. I have no idea as to the cost of the war in Afghanistan. Our longest - 10 years- war in our short history as a nation. Yet, these candidates want to start another. Just like that. Just say the words and send the 'troops'. That's right after you have bombed and blasted all that you can see and not see. Call it collateral damage and it doesn't count that way. By the way, how many wars have we won when we were the aggressors; in their country?

I give. I need to take a nap and not think about these horrors that would ensue if someone wants to start another war in the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not very wet

We had some rain last week and some snow is now on the mountains. Mt. Lassen looks much better with a snowy cap. But it's not the El Nino that we have been promised. They say it's coming, have patience they say. Like all Northern Californians, we are quickly running out of patience...but what can do?

More and more lawns have succumbed to the drought and more are being landscaped with drought tolerant native plants. It's Fall and the trees are losing their leaves. That's a very good thing this year as pretty soon you won't be able to tell the difference between the dormant trees and the dead ones. But Spring will reveal the truth.

We're going up to Lake Almanor for Thanksgiving at my son-in-law's family cabin. It's right on the shore, though the shore line is getting farther and farther away as the water recedes. The power company owns this lake they haven't drained it; a bonus for homeowners here. But, they do use the water for power generation just below the dam. The homeowners here are used to seeing a variable shoreline over the years. This year the water didn't recede till mid-summer.

I had an endoscopy last year around August and I have to have them yearly now after they discovered that I had Barrette's Syndrome. The appointment is for the day before Thanksgiving and the same day we planned on driving to the lake; an hour and a half drive. From experience I know that there is no pain after the scoping. But they don't recommend driving! The anesthesia they use is great as I am asleep for the full 15 minutes they take and then an injection of a 'waker upper drug' into my IV line has my eyes open and I'm good to go.

As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman I find it slightly embarrassing that I don't know the names of those drugs. In the Navy, I had to know the names of a wide range of drugs and know what they did.
Since I'm taking a lot of drugs, I make sure I know what each one does and what precautions I should observe. I have talked to my doctor about my drugs and he knows now that I'm very much aware of the effects and side effects of them. He also told me that very few patients know anything about the drugs they take. "I take 2 orange ones and great big blue one" is their usual response when the nurse asks about their prescriptions. The same thing happens at he pharmacy. I don't know how you can open your mouth and swallow something that you know nothing about. Ae they crazy??? And these people vote.

Yes, they vote and we end up with low intelligence wackos in both House and Senate. Ted Cruz is one with high intelligence yet he's still a wacko. He's probably driving the #RepublicanClownCar as he's the only one that has a good chance of getting a drivers license on the first try.

Shame on me. I should know better than to show my frustration like that. I'm frustrated because of my age. I remember how politics used to be played and it certainly wasn't like it is today. Respect for the President used to be the norm with occasional sharp criticism, of course. Today, it is like a high school gym class where everyone piled on the selected victim. And it's ugly.

I'm not a Republican or Democrat. If I had to join a party it would be torn between the Socialist or the I.W.W. The 'Wobblies' of The One Big Union. Yes, they still exist. I think we have the finest President during the past 50 years. He's intelligent and wise. I disagree with him sharply on many issues. But they certainly aren't issues that would make me utter threats and disparage his work.  So, the Republicans are wackos. Sorry I said it but it's true.


 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why not?

I think I will post some more Farmer's Market photos. We were downtown at 7:30 and found the perfect parking space; right next to the market. Most of the photos don't need to be captioned. I took quite a few as I didn't buy my coffee till I had a good sampling of photos safely captured. Cane, coffee and camera make for a clumsy time.



































It seems that Blogger is telling me that I've posted enough pictures. That is probably a good thing. I take a lot of pain medication and when I am trying to clamp down on that pain I take the most of the morphine and Norco that the doctor recommends. And I've done that, about an hour ago.  Now I'm making all sorts of spellings and grammatical errors. I apologize for all of those errors that I've made during the past six months. Those drugs also make me very alert and social...so here's a blog posting.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Memories, far and wide

We were enjoying our usual Thursday morning coffee with our middle child, our daughter, Alicia. We've been doing this for years and we're not tired of it yet. Our conversation usually ranges a wide spectrum and it was no different this morning. We were talking about something that made me remember my grandfather. That's the grandfather on my mother's side; the grandfather on the other side was a scoundrel and we never spoke of him! Grandpa Ray was a very nice man and although he lived far away, I was always eager to make the trip to see him. A trip in those days meant about ten hours driving up the Central Valley of California, on our way to Sacramento, in a car with no air conditioning. I'm not sure that my dad shared my enthusiasm for the trip. He later moved to Bakersfield, making the trip closer to five hours.

Grandpa Ray was a quiet man, an introvert, as was his daughter and his grandson. I loved spending time with him as it was always 'calm' around him. Now thinking about Grandpa Ray brought to mind his father, Louis Riley Fifer. My great grandfather was not a quiet man. Quite the opposite; he was a 'joiner' and, apparently, the life of any party. I can't help but wonder as to how the two of them got along?

L.R was an early member of The International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo. Yes, that's the name of this ancient fraternal order. Wikipedia has a history of the order that's close enough to be good. Click here to learn some more. L.R. was a lumber dealer in Seattle and Hoo Hoo membership was limited to those associated with the lumber industry. And they still are. Moss Lumber used to have offices all around the country and their logo had the arched black cat  found on the Hoo Hoo logo. I think there are still some Moss Lumber offices still open. It appears that the Hoo Hoo's are still active in half a dozen states, plus Canada and Australia.

I have a couple of documents regarding L.R. and one is his obituary. At the time of his death, he was a Vice-Regent Snark, a position he had held before. At one time he was a member of The Supreme Nine, the governors of the Hoo Hoo's.


 It's quite obvious the L.R. was an extrovert. With Extrovert all in bold and underlined.
I'm pretty sure that my introversion or ASD didn't come from this man!
On another note, this man and his son, Grandpa Ray, had me worried for a full year. It seems that they both died at the age of 65. I had my fingers crossed for a year...about ten years ago.




Saturday, November 7, 2015

Farmers Market

We went to the market this morning right around 7. It was still chilly; in the low 40's. With an early start it's easy to find a parking space near the market and we scored one right across the street. It was a sunny day and the colors were fantastic! Lots of flowers and bright colored fruit and vegetables. I always start with a cup of freshly brewed coffee from a older couple (our age) that have been selling coffee here for all the years we have been shopping here. Beans of Paradise is the name and the cup was good...though not heavenly. With a cup in one hand and my walking stick in the other, taking photos is problematic, but I was able to pass the cup off to my wife when needed or I put the stick between my knees. Here are some photos of what was happening at the market this morning.

The purple onions here are spectacular in the sunlight. Some shoppers were in my way and I couldn't get the best shot.


 Love those cauliflower colors!



Tomatoes were $2 a pound...all organic and pesticide free



Some carrots that we liked. The purple ones are for their looks...and expensive at $2 a bunch or 50 cents each

 Here are the two heirloom tomatoes that I bought for pleasure...taste and looks. And they were pricey at $2 each
After shopping here we headed over to Raley's, one of our preferred markets. Always clean and always friendly. They are more expensive than Safeway but I will never shop at Safeway again.

There were more than a few complaints with Safeway before we said 'never again', but one stuck in my mind. We asked the pharmacy clerk why she was shivering and had a heavy coat on; 'Can't you turn the thermostat up?' She said, "No. It's controlled at the corporate offices." What?

Enough of that. After getting some staples at Raley's, we drove over to Trader Joe's to get the rest of the things on our list. Trader Joe's; what a great store. Low prices and great values. Eggs, for instance, are half the price of the ones at Safeway. The same with butter and with milk. Safeway hammers you on the staples. Alvey, the corporation behind Trader Joe's is a German company and Trader Joe's are employee owned. You never wait for them to open another register when needed and they are always cheerful. I'm always happy as I walk out to my car after shopping here.

Now I am recuperating from the pain after the all the walking. I stopped the Nucynta drug trial on Thursday, calling it a failure. Now I'm using Morphine Sulfate Extended Release twice a day. The first day was great; just a little confusion. I snapped right out of it. This morning; no confusion but not as effective. I'll give it time. And it's a little over a month before I see the neurosurgeon and arrange for this useless gadgetry  to be removed from my spine. Can't happen soon enough!








Friday, November 6, 2015

Career choices

At the age of 18 I wanted to be an industrial designer...whatever that was. In my mind it was all very vague. I only knew that it could be done with paper, pen and ink and imagination. I'm sure I was wrong. I attended the local JC and took some design classes that I hoped would get me into the Art Institute. I soon found out that dream would have to be put on hold as I thought that the Design 101 instructor was an idiot and I left the class before finishing it. An Incomplete won't get you very far in the world of design.

So, what to do? I lived at the beach so I spent a lot of time there. I had a job as night manager at a Texaco station and a job being a delivery 'boy' for a liquor store. I wasn't lazy. Then, at the age of 19 I decided, with the help of two friends, to join the Navy. I did and I enjoyed it. After boot camp I went to Hospital Corps school and after graduating I was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I worked at the base hospital and at the end of my normal enlistment I was offered a bonus of $$ and the school of my choice. I decided to go for Aviation Medicine school...and then found out that they wouldn't guarantee that I could leave Lejeune right away and might have to do a complete enlistment of two more years. So I was discharged to civilian life and reserve duty.

After another failed attempt at college I had to get a job. I lived at home but I had to pay rent. I didn't resent that, I assumed that was what you did when you were an adult. I found a job driving a forklift for a new tech company, Space Technology Laboratories, or STL. After a month I knew that I needed to find something else to do or I would go crazy. The work wasn't hard and the pay was fine, but it was deadly boring.

My sister had a friend that worked at STL and I was talking to her one day and told her of my frustration. A few weeks later there was a knock at the door one evening and when I opened it, a stranger introduced himself as the father of that girl. He told me that he had heard I was unhappy with my job and would I be interested in a job in construction? Of course I was and he told me to come and see him the next day and we would talk. He lived right down the street and the next day I was listening to him explain that he was offering me a job in the drywall industry. I would have to join the Carpenters union and become an apprentice. After a little while of doing that work, he wanted to train me to be an estimator. He was the owner and estimator of his new business and hoped to expand quickly. How much money would I make? I was told $2.50 an hour with raises every 6 months for 24 months and then the journeyman's pay was $5.00 an hour. I was making $1.75 in the warehouse and few chances for a raise. Two days later I was an apprentice.

That knock on the door was the pivotal moment in my life. In 2004 I retired from a wonderful career in construction. I had been a journeyman, a foreman, superintendent, project manager, estimator, owned a construction company, left that and moved, where I worked in Reno and started the process all over.  then I had a chance to move to Sacramento and become a superintendent, then estimator, then an IT guy and programmer, software developer and finally an instructor to teach estimators how to use our software. I flew all over the US as we were an international construction company. People now ask me what did I do before retirement and I have to ask them, "Which year?"  

   

Growing old

I was reading the Time Goes By blog about conservatism being a normal part of aging.  I commented, writing that I was firmly a Liberal, despite my age of 75. In fact, attaining the age of 75 marked a time of change in my attitude about a lot of things. I'm free now, free to express my opinion on anything I darn well please. And I frequently do. And since I am 75, I am forgiven. Usually for the wrong reason...which is exasperating!

Living where I do, Chico CA, saying that I'm a liberal is an act of bravery or foolishness; take your pick. Chico is a 'purple' City in a 'red' county in a 'red' valley' in a 'blue' state. The City Council has been taken over by the conservatives of the Tea Party stripe. It's a 4 to 3 majority for them and they use it viciously. They hate the homeless and enact laws that will send them to jail or out of the city. They don't really care that 75% of the homeless are home grown...Chico has always been their home. They still want to get them on a bus out of here. Too many of the homeless are veterans as well. That doesn't cut them any slack with the council. They have enacted a sit-lie ordinance, making it illegal to sit or lie upon any public property. Want to take a nap on the inviting green lawn at the park? Go to jail!

If there was some way to engage the students at the University here, the liberals could take the council back in the next election. But the students are notorious for their record of not voting in any election. The conservatives are afraid of the students and have attempted many times to curtail their rights to vote. Twice now, they have tried to pass an amendment that would change the date for the primaries to a time in the summer, when students are absent.

I could go on and on but I won't. Time for a nap...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

That's smart...

As I mentioned earlier, we were selected to receive a 'Smart' thermostat from our power company and it was going to be free. Well, it's been installed and we really like it. It's an Ecobee3 and according to the installer, the best of the three types of thermostats they are installing in this survey to find the best. It's controllable from my phone, laptop, and even my Kindle. It has a remote sensor so that the thermostat knows the temperature in the living room...where we live. We don't live in the hallway where the thermostat is located. If the thermostat cannot detect movement after so many hours, it will shut off the planned comfort levels and go to the levels you set for away/vacation. If we go the lake this month for Thanksgiving. we can use our phone to turn the heat back up and since the lake is about an hour and a half away, the house will be at a comfortable temperature when we arrive.

The thermostat itself is the black object you see. It has a white ring around it is because it had to go where the old thermostat was located. The house has been painted twice in its life time. The white ring conceals the old coat of paint.

This is the remote sensor for the thermostat. It sits on a table in our living room.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A good day

It's Tuesday and that's always good. That's the day I get together at the Chico Art Center with my fellow artists. A morning of good conversation and some time to paint with helpful critics all around. I didn't get a lot of painting done as my acrylics weren't drying as fast as I needed. 

This post will be my 7,227th one here on Blogger. I started this blog on  March 6th of 2004; a Saturday. That's a little more than 136 months ago. That is also a little over 4,000 days and that's 11+ years and I've had 92,211 page views in that time. Those are not accurate numbers, just close enough for me. Also, it shows me that I used to post more than once a day. A lot more! I had just retired and didn't have much to occupy my time. I'm also embarrassed by some of those posts. In some ways I've changed over the years. And I'm glad that I have. One change I made over eleven years ago was my voter registration; I became an independent voter. The Democratic Party had left me. I was and still am a liberal. The Democratic Party had moved to the center, abandoning all of the liberals. 

Regarding all of the posts, I am very embarrassed by all of the errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling. I was reading them from long ago as well as some closer to this date. I rarely found a post without an error. Okay, I'm human and I'm simply proving it...

Recently, I started taking a new drug, Nusynta. It's an extended release narcotic that is meant to enhance the Norco I take for pain. About four years ago I was using Fentanyl for severe pain. It was delivered via an adhesive patch on my shoulder and changed out every five days. It was powerful stuff. And one of the weird side effects of the drug was this; as I was reading a book, my mind would wander and I would start making up my own story as I read. I didn't know I was doing this until some time had passed and my mind would come back to the present and I was shocked to see what was on the page in front of me. It wasn't at all like 'my story'. I would start turning pages, looking for a clue as to where my story was. Well, the same thing happened a few minutes ago and I can only assume that it was the Nucynta that caused it. I'm taking it on a trial basis for two weeks and since it's not a life threatening side effect, I think I will continue. Who knows, some of these stories might be very good. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

A new day

Things are looking up. I've been put on a new pain medication and it seems to be working. Because of the hip and back pain I was up to using six or seven Norco each day; about twice what I had been before. This drug, Nucynta (tapentadol) is a very strong opioid unfortunately, but it is a timed release one, taken just twice a day. I started taking it last Thursday and until this morning, it hadn't done a thing for me. I was still taking Norco. It's noon on Monday and no Norco yet and the pain is at a manageable Level 3. I was even able to get into the pool at the gym...for twenty minutes. I used to spend an hour exercising; today it was simply floating.

This enforced sitting around the house has me frustrated. We were out for an hour last Thursday to have coffee with my daughter...she didn't show so we managed all by ourselves. It's a great little coffee shop and I get to indulge on a weekly basis because they have apple fritters. On Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market for 45 minutes. All very enjoyable minutes. I love the energy you can find here. Sunday found us at church (historic Bidwell Presbyterian) for an hour and that was the end of our outdoor adventures. Three hours.

I guess I forgot to mention Tuesday's. That's my day for art and I go to the Art Center here in Chico. Or my wife drives me if I have had too many Norco. There are seven other painters here and I'm the keeper of the key. I open and close ur classroom space. We don't meet as a class for instruction, we meet to paint and talk. Any medium is welcome as long as it isn't oils. The small room can't hide the smell of oil paints. The group has been meeting for over a dozen years and I've been coming for about six years. I'm also the only male and the only abstract expressionist among them. Some have started playing around with abstract painting and have been quick to blame me for it. I got the group interested in opening a Facebook page and then a few weeks ago were were asked if we wanted to put ourselves in the running to have a show of our own at the gallery next year. We did and we filled out the application quickly as they were deciding the lineup the next day. 

I noticed that the application asked us to fill the name of our website in two or three place. That gave me an idea and I went home and went to the Blogger website. I designed a blog and asked for the name Tuesday Painters as that was are Facebook page name. Strangely, tuesdaypainters dot com was available. I say strangely because Google told me that there are quite a few groups with that name. We're quite happy with the name and I'm doing the editing and posting right now. The design is a work in progress and when I can I will add some things to it. I can only sit for so long and stand for so long, so the editing has to take place during the sitting. Obvious, I know.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Winners!

We never win anything. I play the lottery a dozen times a year and never win. ( if I played more often I am sure I would be a winner!) I have always participated in the yearly raffle that the high school puts on and have never won the new car; donated by a local dealer. You name it and I've never won it.

But yesterday my luck has changed. I had entered our name with the power company for a chance to win a new 'Smart Thermostat'. It will be a 'Nest' or something similar. Our old thermostat is 14 years old and was new when the house was built. It's supposedly very simple to operate. I've never been able to master it and so I go to it quite often to change it...or, lately, I've found it easier to set it to one temperature and leave it 24/7. Bad! But when your hip hurts and you sometimes need a cane, getting up to change is not all that easy.

PG&E's Smart Thermostat Study

Thank you for your interest in participating in the Smart Thermostat Study. This 12-month study—only open to a small group of participants—will help us evaluate the innovative technology of smart thermostats.
Smart thermostats are considered “smart” because they automatically monitor and adjust themselves to better manage energy used for heating and cooling. Customers can control them remotely via Wi-Fi-connected devices such as smartphones, tablets and personal computers.
The goal of this study is to test new thermostat features and measure potential energy savings so we can gather information that will help us determine incentives we may offer in the future.

What to Expect

Study participants will need to sign our Participation Agreement at the time of installation. The agreement outlines all the obligations participants must fulfill including the following:
  • Completion of up to four online surveys about their home, energy usage and thermostat during the 12-month study period.
  • Maintenance of a fully operational central heating and cooling system as well as Wi-Fi service.

I'm really looking forward to the day, the 31st of this month, when I will be able to simply turn on my iPhone and change the temperature. I can do it when I'm far away or from the couch. Imagine; I'm at my sister's house in AZ and I wonder if we forgot to turn the system down before we drove to the airport? I open the app and verify or change the temperature. The thermostat will also be learning our habits and the times we want heat or cold and which season we want these temperatures. After a time of learning, the thermostat will automatically change the the temps for us. This is going to save some money! 

I wonder if they (the power company) realize that we recently became solar power users and they already owe us $16.72 for the past two months where we were selling our excess power to them?

Friday, October 16, 2015

It was time

for me to visit "Time Goes By" once again. I have gotten out of the habit of reading this venerable blog. A long time ago I was even featured as a substitute writer for the blog (one post) while the author (Ronni Bennet) was away. I suppose I stopped reading because of the changes, health/medical, that were happening to me. Still are happening, for that matter. When I looked at her list of blogs that she shares, this blog of mine was still there. She does cull that list from time to time and I seem to have survived the cullings.

 Ronni writes well and has many good postings to read. You should try it.

My life seems somewhat boring these days. I'm still waiting for December 10th to roll around and then I visit the neurosurgeon to find out about removing the Spinal Cord Stimulator. After that happens I can have some pain killing epidural injections. I could use some today. I never know how my day will play out, as the pain level varies greatly, depending on...who knows? I wish I did!

I have been painting recently and I had a breakthrough on a piece that I had been agonizing over for a month or more.
 
Strange, but when the inspiration came, it was like a sudden storm and I just kept painting and painting until it was finished. Abstract Expressionism is like that.

I have three other paintings on the sideboard. Rough paintings that I have just finished laying some color on them. I will put them on the easel, one at a time, and look for the storm of inspiration. Now that I have a proper easel I find it's much easier to paint. I can step away and see the whole painting. Painting on the flat, as I used to do with all paintings, can't give you the proper perspective when you step back to view them. Unless...it's a smaller painting. The one on the right is 24" x 36". If the painting is smaller than 24" x 24" then I prefer to paint on the flat.

The local alternate press here in Chico has a yearly "Best of Chico" contest where readers name their favorites in different services, such as Best Mexican restaurant, or Best Thrift store. There are 3 places to award; Best, Second and Third. Today was the day for the awards and my daughter's nursery and gift store came in second for the third year in a row. It's an honor for her, though she really wants Best. But, her nursery is out in the country and on a side road, 1/4 mile from the highway. The winner for the past few years has their business right on a main road and right across the street from a shopping center. I tell her that she really is the Best because all of her customers have to seek her out...and they do!

Our family doctor, a PA-C, is the best! And once again, the rest of Chico agrees. His boss, an MD, came in third. Truth is, that MD is the authority behind our PA and they are both in the Best Medical Service. All winners. And we chose them from the phone book. Argyll Medical was right there under the A's in the book.






Saturday, October 3, 2015

All the news that's fit to print

...maybe it's a lot of news and maybe it's only some odds and ends. Probably the latter.

I finally have an appointment, with our local neurosurgery group, to have the implanted spinal cord stimulator removed. I need it removed so that I can have some epidural injections in some pain causing troublesome spots on my spine. The implant has never worked as hoped for and since it is metallic it has kept me from having any MRI's. The appointment is with my favorite surgeon (do people really have favorite surgeons?) so I'm very happy about that. The troublesome part of the story is that the appointment is for December 10th.  There are just 3 neurosurgeons in this city of 80,000 and that's not enough. It looks like there will be a lot of Norco used between now and then...

We went to the Farmer's Market this morning. It's becoming a regular Saturday activity and although it's somewhat painful to shop this way, with my hobbling up and down the aisles using my cane, it's still my favorite thing to do on the weekend. I get to see all sorts of people; some I even know. And it's ethnically varied with a couple from Spain that sells churros and other Spanish breakfast foods, a family that sells Indian food, 2 or 3 families selling hot tamales, and some native Americans selling fry bread. Everything is colorful and everything is fresh. Different languages are heard. There is an air of excitement at the market!

We didn't buy a lot. I started with a cup of freshly brewed coffee at a stand operated by a friendly couple from Paradise. They have been selling freshly/individually brewed coffee here for years and I make it a habit to buy a cup from them every week. Now I can sip as we move slowly around the market. Slowly, because I'm not that skilled with my cane yet. I don't want to trip some poor stranger.

We have a lot of Hmong farmers in this area and they have some of the best looking produce. I bought some zucchini and some green beans from the Yang's. The elder Mr. Yang died a few years ago and his family continues to sell here. Mr. Yang was a very interesting guy and knew a lot about farming. His family had originally been settled in Minnesota and there he had taken many ag classes at the local JC. Armed with knowledge, he moved the family to a warmer climate. I learned all of this when I asked him one time about the taste qualities of a certain strawberry I had been looking at. 15 minutes later I had the answer and then some.

I have talked about my cane a few times but I don't think I have shown you a photo of it/them. I think I can show you 3 photos. I have two canes and a walking stick.

This is the latest one that I bought from Brazos Walking Stick Co. from Brazos, TX. It's made from hickory and is crafted by a local artisan. Local to Brazos. That's a heavy brass knob at the end. Very flashy.

The next one is also from the Brazos Walking Stick Co. and once more is made by someone local. This one is made from a hardwood root. It was a discount sale and was only $25 including shipping. It's very lightweight and the wood is beautiful. A favorite!

The last one is a walking stick that was hand made by my sister's brother-in-law. I had given him some Black Walnut and he had made this personally for me. The cap at the top has the pin I received at the end of my 3rd Portland marathon and last of 5 marathons. The pin, coincidentally, has 5 stars on it. It hasn't been used. I hope that there will be a time when I can use it.

If you ever need a walking stick or cane, I heartily endorse the Brazos Walking Stick Company.

Sad news is the killing of 19 workers at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan. 6 of those killed were doctors. I am furious at the fact that the Pentagon refers to them as 'collateral damage'. Why can't they tell the truth? They killed 19 PEOPLE. 19 human beings. Each and every one of them had value. The pilots, the ground support staff and the officers involved should have to be there on the ground and help them pick up the parts that were once human. The parts that they call collateral damage. I suppose Jeb and The Donald will just say that 'stuff happens' once again.

enough...I'm mad all over again.








Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Art

Today is the day that I meet with our painting group, down at the Art Center. It's a 9 to 12 meeting and once a week. We have said that we would do it 5 days a week if circumstances permitted it...but they don't. It's a nice sized room for the 8 of us and there are tables and even some easels if you wish to use them. A small number of us (only 3) met today as the others had medical issues or real estate problems. Did I mention that I'm the only male in the group? There used to be another, but he died recently. He was the one that opened the room each Tuesday and locked up afterwards. I now have that job. Should I be worried? The pay and the retirement plan stink!

One of our members was going through her old paintings and putting them in the trash. She pointed to one as the kind of paintings she was tired of because they weren't worth the trouble to frame. I looked; I liked it and asked her to give it to me. But, I told her that she had to sign it first! Reluctantly, she did. I found a mat for it when I got home and I will look around for simple frame.

Sure, it's just a pleasant and well crafted watercolor and really not what excites my soul. But it reminds me of the artist and that's important.

This Tuesday found me painting something from a far different school of painting; Abstract Expressionism was my choice for the day. Joan Mitchell (1925 - 1992) is one of the artists I admire. Jackson Pollock speaks to me. Franz Kline's works are exciting to me. Emil Nolde and Mary Heilman are not always Expressionists and do some wonderful work as Abstract Impressionists. I could go on...but I won't.

I have 3 paintings in my 'studio' that are close to being finished. This morning, just before I left to meet with my friends, I grabbed a paintbrush and added something to one of the paintings. It was something I visualized while having my coffee a few hours earlier.

Here is a snapshot of my work from today. I will be doing something with them later. I always set a painting here on the hearth and just let it 'be' in the room for awhile.

You can't see the richness of the colors in the painting on the left. It's there...trust me. The one on the right reminds me of Joan Mitchell's work. That wasn't my intention, it just came out that way. The one on the left reminds me of Emil Nolde's paintings. His darkest paintings always contained a light that I would like to duplicate. No, this is not a duplicate. I wasn't thinking of his paintings while I was working. Perhaps I was 'channeling' him? And I may be comfortable with this one without doing much more to it. The one on the right needs blue. That's all I know so far...


Monday, September 28, 2015

A Good Book

I have just finished reading a very good book. It's title is Being Mortal and it's written by Dr. Atul Gawande, a most wise surgeon. I recommend it highly if you are an elder or even more importantly, a member of the generation with living parents and their own adult children. (I know there is a name for this generation but I can't remember it)

I think it's important that, if possible, all three generations read this book. It's about dying. But it's also about living to the end and being in control till that time. It's about ending with joy. Oliver Sacks, himself recently dying, praised the book. I think quite highly of Dr. Sacks and his books are always worth reading.

Look up the title of the book, Being Mortal, on Google and read some of the descriptive reviews for a 'feel' of the book. I think you will find it to be a book for your library. Mine is; as soon as my family finishes reading it.