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...