Welcome to My Home

My Place


(Photo101, first assignment, 2015 March 3]


{The beautiful Bleeding Heart is from last year.   It is safe and sound under the clump of snow seen to the right  in the photo below.]

This scene is the one that I enjoy the most when I return from traveling.  The barn and the greenhouses are across the road, the maple trees along the road an in the next door neighbor’s yard.   These are good sized shrubs, nestled along the path through the snow covered walk.  I am standing at my front door, shooting outward, toward the southwest.    The beautiful wind-chime is a bell made of metal, the clapper is shaped like a Ginko leaf. 




If I could clone myself…well, I’d be outta here!

This and That

The  prompt for blogging101 today asks what I would do if I could clone myself into several of Me, how would I assign responsibilities.   So this is my answer to that good question.   I am creating  five copies, or clones, of myself.  (I suppose it is too much to ask that one or more of the clones get a complete make-over…make-up and new wardrobe and all that …)

Clone 1 — The Housekeeper.   Her job is to clean the house, bake cookies and make grand meals like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, etc.   (She may or may not be the Nutritionist, that’s up to her individual job description.)  Her uniform will include an apron at all times, and decent shoes.  This Clone will also be The Gardener, but she will have the option of hiring laborers.

Clone 2 —  The Care-giver.  This Clone will do any administrative duties, make doctor appointments, and run interference when needed.  She is the Mother, party-planner, grocery-shopper, and must be prepared to handle ANY situation.   She will wear a shirt that says “Let Me Put Aside What I am Doing and Tend to Your Needs.”

Clone 3 — The Business  Manager.  She will run the online bookstore, the ebay store,  and anything to do with bill collectors, payment due dates, and the bank.   On her door the business manager will have a sign that says KEEP OUT, APPOINTMENTS NECESSARY, CLOSED ON WEEKENDS.

Clone 4 — The Technician will deal with the camera, tablet, computer, printer…and all interaction with the Geek Squad, any and all Customer Service or Support people.   The Tech will have the right to be left alone when unpacking, setting up, studying instruction manuals, or speaking on the phone.  She will at no time be required to reply to questions like: “are you sure its plugged in? ” or “maybe YOU did something wrong?”

Clone 5 — The Trouble-shooter will be responsible for anything that goes wrong at any time, with any appliance, machine, car, tractor, snow-blower, toaster…this is an open-ended job.  There is one exclusion here…the computer room equipment, which should NOT come under the jurisdiction of Clone 5.

OK…that takes care of the Clones.

As for ME, the original model….I’m moving to Tucson.

Quoting Lines from the Silver Screen–Will Smith

Hollywood & TV

One of my favorite movie quotes is from INDEPENDENCE DAY, which has several comments worth quoting. In the scene when the heroes have just taken off to destroy the alien mother-ship, watching a super fast alien fighter plane doing impossible maneuvers, Will Smith says: “I have GOT to get me one of THESE!”

Yeah, I know, this movie was the one that had the TV advertisers declaring that “THIS IS THE MOVIE THAT WILL MAKE YOU PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.” I was skeptical at first, and that advertising line really had nothing to do with anything except to point out that if and when the world is called upon to fight aliens from outer space and save Earth, it will of course be Americans who lead the charge, as all nations of the world (especially real current enemy nations…such as Russia and Iraq) rally around at the battle cry of the American President.

Did they save the Earth? With Will Smith flying the space craft? On the outside chance that readers never saw INDEPENDENCE DAY, I don’t want to ruin the surprise ending. 🙂

What would I do with 90% more brain efficiency?


The Daily Prompt for today inspired me to break my bad case of writer’s block and get to work commenting on the question: what would I do if I could unlock the 90% of my brain that is closed, according to experts in the field that claim we humans only use about 10% of our brain capacity.

This is a thought that I have actually spent a lot of time thinking about. Half-joking, I maintain that my forgetfulness and absent-mindedness in recent months or years has been due to my brain becoming “full,” and making room by ejecting extraneous information out of my 80-year-old brain. My doctor assures me that my brain is fine, and in no danger of serious brain malfunctions any time soon. But truth be known, certain occurrences worry my writer’s brain.

The thing that bothers me the most is when I cannot think of a word, or a precise word, in the middle of a sentence. I am a fast typist, and have always been a writer, and often the words that I needed just seemed to flow from my fingers through my keyboard. Often I have found that in reading or proof-reading my own words, at times the product has seemed foreign to me–as if written by someone else.

This feeling of detachment from my work, a news article or university student paper, has flowed from somewhere in the brain reservoir. A couple of years I tackled the NaNoWriMo project November Novel Writing Month, in which participants spend the month of November writing a 60,000 word novel. The rules are fairly flexible, except that it is supposed to be an original piece of work that is not a work in progress.

I did not complete the novel that I was working on. However, I did follow the rules of sitting down at my keyboard and writing…no plot, no characters, not even an outline. Although those were not specifically forbidden. My goal was to see if I could do it. In a long stream of consciousness, in which there was no stopping for correcting typos or looking up information or spelling…or even reading it over for cohesive continuity and fact-checking. The thing is to just try to allow the novel to unfold–completely without a plan.

The amazing thing is that the free-form writing system actually saw characters walking onto the copy paper canvas, with story lines developing along the way. As the work proceeded the idea came to me that my novel could be based on my unfinished doctoral dissertation, which did in fact provide a framework of a plot.

The point of all this is that my half-finished novel grew out of information that had been stored in my brain. When it came to a blank-out when it was needed to name a new character, or a town, I used a series of place-holding dots or dashes, parentheses and little notes to self: “…is this location desert or island?” filled gaps both in the story that was unfolding and the breaks of continuity. The point of the “notes” is to provide clues for rewriting the piece later–such as remembering a character’s name.

In the event that suddenly a flash of insight or mechanical breakthrough opened the doors to the vast empty space of unused brain matter, what would I do with it?

Assuming that material such as that which surfaced during the free-writing exercise was stored in the active ten percent of brain capacity–and the consideration of the other 90% which presumeably was blocked off to my consciousness, I would move chunks of information out of the Active storage and into shiny new areas with plenty of room. This theoretical new space in my mind’s eye appears like a well-lit library of rows and rows of filing cabinets-crammed with folders of information.

Wow! Such a scenario would certainly require one heck of a comprehensive zip file!

Kicking the Habit…take that Candy Crush!

This and That


I am a compulsive obsessive creature that tip-taps tattoos with my fingernails on any surface.  I count the holes in my Crocs (there are 13,)   I like having ten of anything, be it beads, cookies, peas…and always try to sort anything that comes in multiple numbers into groups of five.   Actually groups of three and seven  are also satisfying, and nine…not so much.  I like having a central object in a group, with even numbers on each side…such as five candles, one in the center, two on each side.   The thing about the nine is that there is a central with four on each side, but the best arrangement would be a group of three in the center and three on each side.

By now readers, if any, are either be nodding  in understanding…or shaking their heads and saying “what a nut!”

Now a word or so about Noise.  Aside from the tip-taps of fingernails, and occasional drum solos from a pen tip, noise can be produced by rocking a wine glass or coffee cup back and forth.  Sound effects can be comforting, soothing, annoying–even maddening, depending on the situation.  Some people like having a steady beat of time rhythm, and others, well…don’t.


The point to this writing is to discuss the problem of  addiction to electronic games.

It occurs to me that games such as Candy Crush, and the numerous varieties of Bubble Busting games, are designed to invade the human mind in order to replace creative thinking with mindless repetitive preoccupations that have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

That may be harsh.  I admit that my bubble-shooting skills have greatly improved.   The goal, which is apparently to build up to a rush of excitement and sense of achievement when the next highest level is reached.  Or, a more probable goal is to cause such frustration that players are so committed that the purchase of more bubbles or more coins becomes a pressing need, born out of desperation to get to the next level.

Here comes the point! 🙂

It is not only unhealthy to sit around playing games for hours, it is,  for lack of a better word–stupid.  Spending three or four hours shooting bubbles–even if watching CNN at the same time–is unproductive.  If I had spent as much time crocheting scarves for holiday gifts, or beading bracelets, or even surfing the net in pursuit of higher education, as playing games, I would at least have something to show for the time.

The single most convincing nudge for me was when I started seeing racks of bubbles arranged in various patterns and colors IN MY DREAMS, it became obvious that it was time to stop it.  Do something else with my Kindle Fire like reading the Washington Post, and working on my blog.

So, with this declaration of stopping wasting time on computer games I’ll go back to my other pursuits.  I intend to delete all of the games from my tablet–today.

It won’t be the first time I’ve made a resolution that I’m proud of–I quit smoking cigarettes on my fortieth birthday after twenty-one years of lighting up.   All my friends still smoked at the time, but believe it or not it was not all that difficult to quite cold turkey.   I had three or four FULL PACKS of Salems in the downstairs fridge when I quit..  That was forty years ago.

Ah yes, there was a down-side: I gained thirty pounds within a year or two.  Sigh, I still never regretted that I stopped smoking.

All or Nothing… which is the quest?

This and That

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All or Nothing?.”

This is an easy prompt for me.   I prefer to be wanting everything rather than nothing.

Wanting everything is often meant critically…when I say I want to study everything, grouchy stern people say “that isn’t possible.  You can’t study everything.”  Well, that’s true of course, but I like to think of it as an infinite list of topics, ranging from all kinds of art work to zillions of obscure tid-bits of information.

At age 50 I decided to go to college.  I had not done so earlier in life, as I either didn’t think of it–or lacked funding.

The reaction I got from many people, when I told them that I had gone back to school, was– “why?”

No reason–except that knowledge is its own reward.  It isn’t necessary to actually do anything with that education, except to invest the thoughts and ideas of the ages in a deeper understanding of life.  There is always a cause and effect, and a logical, if hidden, reason for everything.

The  rewards of wanting everything are such that one learns that aspiring to a goal is fuel for the soul, the reach that tries to grasp meaning and satisfaction.

On the other hand, wanting Nothing is not only unfulfilling, but also stultifying.  The person who does not have a goal–no matter how unlikely that goal may be–has nothing to reach for or strive toward.  There are levels involved in the concept of Everything, and although total achievement of everything to be had in life is unlikely–wanting Nothing is a self-fulfilled void.

Spinning Yarns, part 2–Me, Myself, and I


Speaking of writing in the first person, I have struggled with this for years. It is really annoying to have to re-write when composing an email to a friend. The I-did-this, and I-did that, gets old and needs to be repaired grammatically. However…that might get pretty boring and contrived.

Sorry to be the grammar police, but that is my nature. It has always pained me to find a glaring error in a serious piece of work–NOT to say a typo, although too many typing mistakes (i.e. hitting the wrong key) questions one’s ability) –but a word that is misused or misspelled out of ignorance. A painful misuse of the language is not necessarily due to ignorance…I myself spelled “receive” with the i and e reversed, until a copywriter sent me a kind reminder (“hey-dummy, it’s I before E except after C…) and yes, I was there the day the teacher taught the rule. So now I always pause in my typing (keyboarding) and recite the rule in my brain…. I before E except after C. I before E except after C….

I was well along in grad school when someone corrected my pronounciation of “amphitheater” and my son and daughter-in-law informed me of how to say “Pythagoras” the right way. Well, in my defense, those old Greeks had a lot of names that defied pronounciation in English.

Another thing, althought I once aspired to be a linguist, I became a Historian instead. Linguistics has always fascinated me, though. Back in my freshman year of high school I studied Latin, and that one-semester course has proven to be one of the most valuable sources of background knowledge for me in my future (actually, past) endeavors of life. To this day I can recite from the text: “Britain est insula.” Pretty good, huh?

Using the right word at the right time is part of fluency in any language. English is a bad example, to me, because it is nearly impossible to master without a lot of memorization. Spanish has been relatively easy for me although it is very hard for an advanced adult to learn a second language. I can read fairly well, but speaking is another sotry. Now French–yikes! I needed a second foreign language credit, so chose French For Reading Proficiency. My Spanish helped greatly, as did the semester of basic Latin long ago. But when it came to the final exam, I was lucky to eke out a C. The instructor told me that my translations were beautiful, but I was too slow and did not do enough in the allotted time. I can explain that: French is packed with nuances and specific meanings, and I admit to taking an inordinate amount of test time to browse the dictionary (which was allowed.) So my translation was good, but I wasn’t fast enough…or to put it another way, the goal was a rough translation, not necessarily accuracy.

The only other C on my transcript was in Geology. They tricked me on identifying the rocks. (Another story.)

So anyway, it would have been cumbersome and awkward to try to write the foregoing piece without resorting to the first person…. me, myself, and I.

I did edit this yarn…and there were some really dumb mistakes. Not in the typing, but in using the wrong word, being vague, and getting carried away with aside comments. The grammar police really need to be careful of how they word things!

It did give me some blog ideas for another time though… 🙂

Spinning Yarns…wonderful double entrendre…


Ah ha! I just got it…”spinning yarns” has a double meaning: a literal definition in which a spinner spins yarns, on a spinning wheel, creating something substantial from something entirely different: producing a strong workable thread of wool or acrylic fibres. Actually something of a misnomer, as what the spinner actually spins are fibres, to produce yarn with which to make sweaters or blankets, etc.

“Spinning yarns” in the context of literary writing, means a writer takes a thought or idea, and turns it into a more or less complicated work of telling a story (or yarn.) To compare or contrast the two definitions are similar in that someone creates something useful and interesting of something that is nothing like the original. A dab of sheep’s wool, dirty and tangled, is spun into a fibre–and a writer’s insight becomes a story that comes of an idea. It can be said that something is made out of nothing: a fibre becomes a hank of yarn, which becomes a sweater; an idea becomes a series of thoughts, which becomes a coherent story.

Spinning a yarn is a metaphor for creating a story.

My current favorite author is Philippa Gregory. The single most important feature of her writing is that it is so well-written, and her prose so riveting, that it keeps me reading into the night and it is difficult for me to put the book down. As a Historian myself, I enjoy the combination of well-researched details of life in medieval times, and the convincing background information and believable characters, both fictional and biographical. Even when the plot twists are predictable, or factual history in nature, Gregory’s writing always rings true and fascinating.

The larger-than-life character of King Henry VIII, and his life and times (and wives and significant others) is always captivating. This is historical fiction at its best, and while dialogue and details of activities are not always necessarily verifiable in fact, there is enough biographical and historical information to be convincing.

Two other authors that I can always count on to satisfy the thirst for fiction are John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline. Both write what I call “lawyer fiction” and involve realistic incidents and convincing dialogue. The courtroom scenes are exciting, and the characters are always entertaining and believable. These writers are indeed “yarn spinners,” spinning/creating tales/yarns that always hold my attention, and are always my first choice of fiction to read at airport or doctors’ office waiting rooms. They never disappoint in holding interest, and guarantee moving plots that skip along without bogging down.

There is nothing like really “getting into” an excellent work of fiction, and experiencing a jolt of realization of return to consciousness in the reality in which the reader is sitting…outside of the book. This is the kind of writing that I love–yarns spun out of the ability to weave a spell.

Why Auntie Buzz is the life of the party…

This and That


November 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Eccentric people are my favorite kind. What is the opposite of eccentric?
Plain, Conforming, Ordinary?

I wonder who set up the rule book for behavior? Who decided how we all should act, and set the standards for our respective cultures? Picture a committee of faceless, uninteresting, boring people sitting around making up rules…all the same…not a healthy eccentric among them.

Who were these people? I’ll bet they were drab as mud. They would not have liked me much.

Non-eccentrics brings to mind a bunch of neatly and conservatively dressed people sitting around a dinner table eating nicely, napkin in use, proper placement of utensils. They all have nicely groomed hair, in a proper do. They sit up straight and don’t kick their chairs, don’t drop morsels of terrible food in their laps and onto the floor under the table. If they dislike a dish they eat it anyway without comment. They use good proper English or German, Farsi, Portuguese, Mandarin, whatever the appropriate language happens to be. No slang.
What this family needs is an eccentric, character, individual thinker, outrageous cut-up….well, whatever he or she is called. Let’s call her Auntie Buzz (her real name is Hermione, but she likes to go by “Buzz.”

Auntie Buzz wears huge tie-shoes with reinforced toes. If it is winter she wears shorts…she may sport her winter parka in July. She buys her clothing at the discount bin at the thrift store. Sometimes she wears make-up and tries to look like Cleopatra. She speaks fourteen languages…if she wants to…otherwise she just asks for things with a single word or calls an item by the wrong name. She talks to animals, and believes in ghosts.

The children love Auntie Buzz, and want to be like her when they grow up. The plain…boring…proper relatives disdain her eccentricities — they wanted to be just like her when THEY were growing up, but conformed to the “norm” instead.