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


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.