Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Those Girls

I took friend pictures yesterday of my granddaughter and pal.  They are 15 and ready to begin exploring the world.  They have loads of energy, they love to stand out in a crowd, and they are willing to try just about anything.  Scares me.

They totally love what they call the Punk Wall. (See? I used 'totally' in a teenager post!)   It is actually two walls that have been graffitied.  They are at an old quick stop type store that has been closed up for years.

It kind of reminds me of when I was 15.  That would have been 1967 -- do the math.  I met my first hippies that year. They were heading through on their way to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.  They were much older than I was, but they were very friendly.  They were the epitome of the hippy culture in the beginnings.  Aztec and I exchanged letters for the whole summer.

Aztec and his friends would have been blown away by this picture.  They would have thought it was groovy.  If Aztec is still alive, he is either a lawyer at the top of his profession or a dumpster diver burned out on acid.  Perhaps a lawyer burned out on acid?

 At any rate, these girls are getting ready to take on the world.  They spend hours on hair and makeup, they giggle over boys, and their fingers and phones are in permanent text mode.  They swoon over those pale boys on the vampire movies, mini-lust over rock stars, and plan their activities for the best exposure.

Then they come home and rearrange their Bratz dolls.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah

The garlic contest is done for another year, and Hubby took third place.  That's perfect for us.  Of all the entrants, only Arnold, Jerry, or Clint take first place -- ever.  They are getting about half tired of it.

It was an understated party this year, and that was also perfect for us.  Pa is getting on and only came out into the back yard because they made him.  He stayed for about half an hour, then had the good sense to go back inside to the swamp cooler and his book.

We visited a little and headed for Appleby's to eat.

Getting started.

The winner and still champeen - - - Jerry!

Third place is still in the money.

Pa enjoyed bits of the party at least.

I had to throw this in.  If I'd waited a 100th of a second, I could have captured an excellent smile. The light was metered the way I wanted it, so it was good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harry Redoux

When our little man was two years old, Santa brought him a Nimbus 2000 broom, a wand, a golden nitch, and Harry Potter glasses.  His daddy was a Marine far away in Japan on deployment at the time, so we made movies to send to him so he could share Christmas with his family.

Last week Mommy found the CDs and they watched home movies for hours.  Bigger Little Man took some convincing that the little usurper in the movie was him.  The broom is still around to play with three years and more than a lifetime later, but the snitch, glasses, and wand have gone the way of all heavily used toys.  

Since then, there has been a heavy resurgence of Harry Potter playing around this house. The bigger kids have real wands, but they are collector type items, and the little plastic wand bit the big one years ago.  Mr. Wilson's rose bushes produced beautiful long stemmed roses this year that were turning into rose hips, so I went over and clipped four or five of them.  With the leaves and thorns removed from the stems, they made ideal wands.

The kids and Harry Potter have progressed in the three years that have passed.  They have more spells to cast now than 'Eat slugs!'.  Did you ever wonder what an invisibility cloak looks like?

 Wonder no longer.  This small person that you do not see coming through the front room doorway is wearing his sister's newly converted invisibility cloak.  It also does service for a dementor, but leave us not be fussy.

This is a closer view of an invisible guy taken to test spot metering.  I can see how it would have possibilities in different applications.  Can't see Little Man, can you?

Ronald Weasley needs a bigger cloak if he's going to be invisible.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


When I was a kid, a long, LONG, time ago, I liked to watch my mom do the laundry.  Laundry was different in those days, and especially because there were nine of us some of the time, and eight most of the time.

We didn't have huge wardrobes then.  It seems like we each had two school dresses and a couple of changes of play clothes, and our Sunday Go to Meetings.  That makes it sound like easy duty, until you realize that all those, for everyone, had to be ironed.  Mom also ironed the pillow cases and hankies.  That's what I learned to iron first.

The wash was done Monday, weather permitting. We hung it out even if it was cloudy, because there were enough of us to run out and grab it back in if the raindrops started to fall.  Shirts and dresses were starched before they were hung out.  

In the winter the clothes would freeze.  We'd bring it all in, stiff as a board.  Some we would hang on the rack and wherever to finish drying, and some would thaw enough to be rolled up in the ironing bag for the following day.  In the summer they had to be sprinkled and rolled.

Tuesday was ironing day, and it did take all day.  Mom used the high stool, a little metal chair that did double duty as a high chair for whichever baby was on hand at the time.  It had no tray or belts.  The baby was tied in with a dish towel.  Mom would prop one cheek on the seat, one foot on the floor, and the other foot on the stretcher between the chair legs and iron for eight hours or so.  The finished ironing was on hangers on the wooden clothes horse until it was all done, then everyone put their own away.

I loved the smell of Monday and of Tuesday. Fels Naptha had a wonderful petroleum smell.  No bleach or detergent touched Mom's laundry, and we had the cleanest clothes in the neighborhood.  The warm smell of the ironing was homey and comforting.

The first time I did my own laundry was over 40 years ago.  I was 18, and I did the ironing.  Mom taught us to iron, so I did a good job.  I didn't have a wooden clothes horse to hang my ironed clothing on, so I hung it on on the kitchen door.  The shirts hung for days, because I adored seeing them there.

I still hang my clothes to dry whenever I can.  I usually leave them on the line overnight, and bring them in the following afternoon after work.  Now I can bring them in the next morning before the sun even hits that area.  

My friend made me the clothesline poles and my brothers-in-law put them up for me.  I wouldn't give them up for the world.  I only iron shirts and summer shorts now, but Hubby goes to work looking like someone cares.

Nobody looks like a bum in this family -- except me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Garlic Contest

It all began some years back.  All the Lowe boys and their wives would get together at their parents' house to play horseshoes, drink beer, talk big, barbecue, and admire Pa's huge elephant garlic.  

The Lowe boys, and some of their wives, are a highly competitive group.  Over time, they took it upon themselves to challenge Pa's authority as Garlic King, and began to grow and strut their own elephant garlics.  It got bad enough at one point that a tape measure (mine, since I was always knitting) was produced to measure exactly which was the largest, making its owner the garlic king for that year.

This progressed to an annual activity that was a full year in the making.  Ma held the bet money (I told you they were competitive) for the year and we had a feed to honor the day, usually in mid-July.  That's when the garlic is ready to harvest.

The trick is to dig the garlic a few hours before the contest.  They shrink up as they dry, so fresh is best.

This is our offering from last year.  We've never won in all these years, but he did place 3rd once.  The contest has evolved over the years and kind of grown out of control, but it continues.

 The garlic is dug, washed, and compared to find the biggest one.  A mere fraction of an inch could make all the difference.

 The rest is tied into bundles and  hung around the patio to dry.  I can't pass up Hubby's concentration face as he ties the bundles.  His mouth goes to one side, then to the other side, then back again for as long as the operation lasts.  

As I said, the garlic contest has evolved over the years.  Ma has been gone these 10 years, Pa is 91 and hasn't had a garden since Ma passed away.  The sisters have joined the competition (welcome sisters) as have children, and now grandchildren.

The winner gets the bulk of the money and the honor of owning for a year and signing the traveling trophy, a garlic hat.  The winner is also obligated to host the 35 to 40 guests at the following year's garlic contest.  

I hope Hubby never wins.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Camera Training

I've been studying my camera manual.  It's high time that I found out just what it will do and how to do it.  There was a time when I could read and absorb and retain instructions without a second thought, but that time is long gone.

Pioneer Woman and Miz Booshay have taught me all I know about photography, and it ain't much.  This is not for lack of trying on their parts, but more for brain blockage on mine. Their cameras of choice are Nikon, and mine is Canon.  They are all amazingly generous with information on their web sites, giving full details on their photos.  Under each instructional photo they list f numbers and ISO numbers and exposure, and all that other stuff that doesn't mean a thing to me.  

I have a camera that does everything a camera should do and I use it as a point and shoot.  Now I have more time on my hands and my memory banks are emptying out, I'm determined to give learning my camera another try. 

Yesterday my little book told me how to go about changing all the stuff the ladies talk about on their web sites.  Today I need to find out what the settings do and try a few out.  That's the beauty of digital photography - thousands of photos don't cost a red cent.  Scroll through, choose the ones that look good, trash the rest.  

 These are more testers of AEB (automatic exposure bracketing) and they all have something in common.  Look closely and you will figure it out.  They were all taken from my regular vantage point, on my arse in my chair!  No one who knows me would doubt that.  

AEB is down pat, and I need to move on to something else.  I also need to get my arse out of the chair.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Written Word

I love words. I like long ones and short ones, easy speaks and tongue twisters, blunt or flowery.  Words are an author's artistic medium and I have the highest regard for anyone who can call the right combination at a moment's notice.  I think of the right thing to say the day after it was needed.

Oscar Wilde was a genius and assembled his words into masterpieces, comic and otherwise.  Ogden Nash was also a master.  Who can forget "A panther is like a leopard / except it hasn't been peppered. / If you ever see a panther crouch / prepare to say ouch" ?  

The true premier of words was Edgar Allen Poe.  The drunken, drug addicted sot had a working vocabulary of 80,000 words.  The master of the macabre made $20 words dance a complicated ballet across the page, leaving the reader with nightmares for a week.

Then there are the hubbies.  Sisters and I married able, intelligent men.  My brothers-in-law can do anything, fix anything, build anything. My hubby has a rapier wit.  None of them can get words right to save them, but they all try.  

My guy was going to put a gazebo in my crazy pills to see if I would be able to tell, gets phlagm in his throat in the winter and likes to watch Katherine Hefburn and Earl Flynn movies on tv.

Sister's husband said things 'leak like a fizz', other sister's husband gets his colostopies regularly for his health. 

Of course, there are many more examples, but I can only remember a few at any given time.  They are a constant source of giggles for us.  It's fair though, because we have given them plenty to laugh at as well.  It goes both ways.

My hands-down favorite is Calvin and Hobbes.  Bully approaches Calvin and said, "Gimme a quarter, Twinky."  Calvin looks up at said bully and responds, "Your simian countenance denotes a heritage rich in species diversity."  Bully says, "Huh?"  Calvin flips him the quarter and said, "It was worth it."

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Second Monday of My Exile

This place is really undergoing a reorganization.  It's great.  The kids cleaned the garage, got rid of a lot of garbage, added shelves, hooks, and other sorts of hangey-uppey things.  That made it possible to move the mops and such outside into the garage, opening another area for more shelves, quadrupling our closet storage.

THEN, Shawn moved the water softener to the other side of the water heater, using an empty and generally inaccessible 16 square feet-ish and freeing up more area in the main part of the room for - - - shelves!  Moving the water softener was a Herculean effort accomplished mainly by Shawn and burly grandson Chris, while Sarah and I got in the way. 

Now my front room is marvelously clean, the kitchen sparkles, the bathroom walls are clean, the garage is shining and organized, the laundry room looks great, and life is good.

I changed laundry day from Sunday to Monday so the weekends can be free when Rex goes back to work.  It will also help avoid conflict with Sunday barbecues.  Besides, my mom washed on Mondays and ironed on Tuesdays. 

I have projects stacked up for the last 20 years or so that I have just been waiting for when I have the necessary time to devote to them.  It would seem that time could be now, if I wanted it to be.  I'll have to take an inventory and prioritize.

Right now I have a pair of socks, three shawls, and at least two cross stitches in various stages of completion ranging from at least 10 years ago.  

It's time to get off my arse and accomplish something productive.  Hmph. Like that's going to happen! 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Best Planned Lays of Mice and Men . . .

We've been doing a lot more running around than I am used to doing. I think it's affecting me mentally.  (Twitch, twitch)  It has been my sacrifice to the alter of family sanity.  Having Honey off work for four-plus weeks, bored to tears, with a cast on his arm severely limiting any activity, has made for a real challenge.  

Don't get me wrong, spending time with Honey isn't any sacrifice, but spending time with him away from home is. I like to be home.  I prefer to be home.  I love my home, so why would I want to be anywhere else?

Yesterday, my plan was to go no farther away than the patio.  The best planned lays, etc. etc.  Then we wound up borrowing Sister's pickup truck to make a trip to the landfill.  Cleaning the garage produced more garbage than a little bit.  

Sarah was under the impression that the landfill was still down at the edge of our small town, approximately a mile and a half from here.  No such luck.  The old boneyard closed up around five years ago.  The new landfill is clear out at Little Mountain, by Thiokol.

Sarah gets car sick, so Shawn and I took a road trip.  Neither of us saw any signs making reference to landfill, so we wound up almost to Promontory.  You know, meeting of the railroads, Golden Spike, and all that rot?

I still have connections, so I called Garbage Driver Mike.  He told us how to get there.  He also told me that things have gone to hell since I've been gone.  I don't care if he was lying through his teeth, I'm taking him at his word.

Long and short, we were in the truck, on the road for well over an hour.  Understand this:  it was farther than my patio! 

This is a token picture.  I've been playing with my photo editing software again.  It keeps me off the streets and out of landfills.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Many years ago, I had a friend who owned her very own teeter totter. It was in her back yard by a tree.  The paint never chipped or peeled on the sturdy board, and the pipes it was mounted on were substantial and cemented into the ground.  This was a quality teeter totter.  I couldn't figure out why it never had handles.  We had to hold on to the board itself, and although this wasn't a problem, it was a curiosity.

One summer when we were older, almost teenagers, we figured it out.  We would sit on the board backwards and lie with our heads toward the middle, going up and down for hours.  

We watched the clouds and solved all the world problems right there in her back yard in the old neighborhood.  Summer clouds are the best.  They change constantly, and on a hot summer afternoon they get huge and white and billowy. That's when you can find ships and animals and about any old thing in them.  It was a great summer.

 I'm really old now, but not as old as I hope to become.  During the span of years between then and now, there were times when things looked very different to me than they did when I was almost a teenager.  There were times when what I saw wasn't necessarily what was before my face.  I saw what I wanted to see, but it could get pretty distorted.  

Being almost a teenager was better.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On the Other Hand

This is going to be another fun-filled day.  We have to go to Logan to get a tool box this morning, then to the doctor to get Honey's cast off, then to Layton to drop off old tv/internet equipment and eat at Red Lobster.  This is not my idea of retired bliss.  

On the other hand, it's still cool in the morning, and if I have to be in the car, the canyon is one of my two favorite drives.  The other one is out through Honeyville.   We don't have to go all the way IN to Logan, just on the canyon side.  That's a plus, because Logan traffic is as bad as Layton traffic, which is a nightmare.  We won't think about Layton at this time.

Our canyon isn't like Oregon or Washington, or even Wyoming canyons.  We have very few pines and only some brush and trees, but it's still very nice to look at.  These mountains tell me I am home.

I especially like them in the spring.  Everything is new and green and fresh.  We may not have forty shades of green, but we have lots.  Driving through the canyon is a trip into 150 years ago.  

On the other hand,  I sure like the mountains in the summer.  It is always cooler in the canyon than it is in town.  The poppies bloom in the field, and rodent critters run all over the place.  Nut cakes are out on the reservoir water skiing, and fisher persons are fishing.

On the other hand, my very favorite time to go through the canyon is in the fall.  The fall colors are fabulous.  Warm days and cold nights make it a joy to be alive.

On the other hand, you can forget about the canyon in winter.  The roads are slick, people drive too fast and kill each other, and it's 120 below.  

I'm glad, since we have to go, that we are still kind of spring-ish, with summer and fall yet to come.  I could do them over and over again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


There are two things about me that anyone who has spent more than a day with me recognizesThe first thing is that I am stubborn.  We aren't talking about a delicate reluctance that will occasionally rear its dainty head, but a full-on, bullheaded, heels in the dirt, obstinacy.  

The second thing is that I hate change.  If you can imagine change in any form, whether it be good or bad, keep it away from me. The two things fit hand in glove, and each feeds the monster of the other.

When affronted with the inevitable, change, there is only one course of action to be taken and that is to go to sleep.  It is the only logical conclusion.

I didn't want UTOPIA.  Big deal if it's a fiber optic network.  My internet worked just fine.  The City torked me off when they agreed to support the stupid thing, putting future generations in debt.  Our tv/phone/internet bundle was just fine, and we'd had it for years.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it!  I didn't want to support UTOPIA, and I didn't want to switch providers.  Period.  Full stop.

Honey wanted UTOPIA. Since he gives me my own way on 98% of issues in our marriage, we have UTOPIA.  

They came to hook us up yesterday, so I went to sleep.  Although I'm a marathon sleeper, they still weren't done when I got up.  That ticked me off too.  

The end of the story is:  we have UTOPIA, we have a new provider, and now we need to figure out how to do everything all over again.  I'm going back to sleep.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Johnson Brain Trust

We always said that between us, we sisters had a brain.  It's God's honest truth.  I've noticed over the years that sometimes we share, and sometimes one or more of us go without and the other(s) pick up the slack.

Such is the case with my camera dilemma.  Remember?  I was trying to follow simple directions to set up my camera to do the three exposures in a triple burst thing?  Well, Betty read the book, just like I did, and figured it out.  It must have taken all of 30 seconds.  After that, they figured out how to do the same thing on Missy's camera. I say "they" because I'm evidently not firing on all cylinders lately.

The object of the game is to take this:

and turn it into this:


 Into this:
And this:

Into this:

I realize it begs the question, "Why?!" But they say art is for its own sake.  (That was pitiful, wasn't it?)  I particularly liked the one of the baby that turned out looking like he'd done the breast stroke in the coal bin.

Sisters and their troops had come over for a picnic/bubba q that went pretty well yesterday.  The kids made pulled pork and some brought salads, some deserts.  The little ones played, the big ones laughed, and a good time was had by all.  The main plan of the party didn't have anything to do with the 4th of July, as such.  It was to help Betty get through her first anniversary without her husband.  She said it helped.

Grandpa and I went to bed early, as usual, and the kids did their fireworks.  My little guy came into the bedroom part way through the show to get me to hold his hand while he went potty.  He's had visions recently of a slimy monster coming out of the bathtub drain to get him while he's in there alone.  It's only common sense, under those conditions, not to be alone in the bathroom. 

It's good to have one's family close.  It makes it possible to share a pleasant Sunday afternoon, to know someone cares, and to have safe receptacles for the community brain cells.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lesson #1

Yesterday was a big day for me.  Hubby is gone from Friday night until Sunday morning, the house is clean, and I don't have to do laundry until Monday.  Little Sister's husband worked yesterday, and Big Sister is an at-will woman.  It only seemed logical that we should do something together.

I felt like I was being naughty by leaving home.  My brain said, "Hey! You've been naughty by losing your job, so you just stay home and make do. Twit."  Luckily, and with some effort, my mouth told Brain to eat rocks.

We had a good time, as we always do when we are together. Except we tried to out-tough each other by walking the biggest part of around the reservoir.  I estimate we went a good four miles.  

Before you say anything about running five miles before breakfast, on one leg, uphill with your eyes shut, keep something in mind.  We are old broads.  We range from 51 to 61 and we two older gals have lived very sedentary lives.  Knitting is our most vigorous exercise. 

That is one of the things I want most to change in my new circumstances. I used to see people out walking each morning as I drove to work, rain or shine.  As I drove past them, I would think that someday I'd do that. (Don't talk to me about the treadmill in the basement.  I'll use it someday.)

Honey said I could be retired, unless we get into dire straits.  I'm in! I'm in! 

How can you pass up a good dragonfly picture.  There were zallions of them and other creepy crawlies, but this guy was almost the only one who would cooperated for a photo op.

 Unless you count the dirty dancers, but I think they were just really tired and had to land for a few minutes.  Tee hee.

Anyway, I learned a lesson yesterday.  It is all right for me to leave the house and yard, as long as my chores are done.  Mom would never believe it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Now That's Just Boring

I have a fancy, expensive camera.  I've taken over 6,000 pictures with it and have been generally pleased with them, but I could have had the same results with a $150 point-and-shoot from WalMart.

It came with an instruction manual.  I started reading it when the camera was new, but discovered that my brain does not process information the way it did 20 years ago.  By that, I mean 20 years ago Brain absorbed information like the proverbial sponge.  Brain seems to be saturated now and only drips random information by mistake.  Like any old memory, capacity is insufficient to run more complex equipment.  I can still walk and chew gum at the same time, but I miss hair appointments.

Sisters joined a camera club and invited me along to the monthly meeting.  We attended both the photo shoot at Smut & Eddy's and the club meeting and I enjoyed both.  The other members are concert musicians while I'm tooting away on a kazoo, but they seemed friendly enough.  Some were a little too friendly, but that's not my story.

This seems to be going the long way around, doesn't it?  I'm going to connect it now, so don't give up on me.  The photo editing software that is the program de jour for these masters makes some really funky things happen to their pictures.  Sisters and I pooled our money and got the program and we've been playing with it.  The object of the game is to have over, regular, and under exposed photos of a place or object and combine them into one.  There the magic begins.

I have been taking a photo I already have, changing the exposures, and working with it that way, but it ain't the same.  At the photo shoot, the masters had their tripods and fiddled away like doctors in surgery taking their pictures.

Back to the drawing board for me.  I got out the manual and found the part about changing exposures.  My camera is supposed to be able to set a range of exposures and take three pictures, one right after the other, with the three different exposures.  After following three sentences of instruction, written in clear English, about a zallion times, I still haven't figured it out.

See? Memory full, next level!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Surreality

Today is the third day of the rest of my life. Each day has been a little less real than the day before, so it would be a good idea to start setting up some kind of schedule.  Schedules are critical for handicapped brains. 

The cleaning plan went well again yesterday. Thanks, Sarah!  You see, Sarah cleaned while I wandered in a fog.  OK, I shampooed the front room carpet before losing focus, so I wasn't a complete waste of skin.

(Insert Twilight Zone music here.) My dreams have been as crazy as my thoughts during the day.  You know how some dreams are disjointed with everything out of time and place?

It's hard not to think of reports that are due, how will they know how to retrieve this or that information, and all the other things I'm accustomed to thinking about every day.  I give myself a shake, and I'm good with it. 

Do you know how many people in the world have suffered losses that make the loss of this job look like nothing?  There are more than a few.  The kindest thing to do is to move on and not make everyone around me cut their feet walking on eggshells.  Git 'er done!

(Shake, shake, shake)

Well, that feels better.  I've had my coffee and my shower, my morning computer and whine. I'll make a list of what I have to accomplish today, then I'm going to play.

Oooh! I could take some pictures!  I could go to Sister's or Sister's, or perhaps even both! Each. One at a time. I could play with picture editing, find more old pictures to scan, or organize the ones I already have.  I could knit or cross-stitch. I could hem Mom's dish towels. 

Hell! The world is my oyster!