Friday, October 30, 2015

TGIF

Peace reigns once again in my little queen-dome.  After some intense discussion, dad will be returning his handgun.  I am so very relieved, and grateful that he was willing to change his mind.  I had feared he would dig in his heels.  So, thank you, powers that be, for returning sanity to my dear old father.  And thank you, Dad, for listening to your children's concerns.

The winds are up, mightily, in our little burg. We tend to be a wind tunnel here, but today is simply beyond the pale.  The sounds of branches hitting the house and gusts rattling the denuded branches has been nearly constant.  Despite the atmospheric chaos, I got in a little hammock time with my book and chihuahua before surrendering to the elements.  I'm reading a memoir about the Paris neighborhood, the Marais.  We are staying there in a rented apartment next spring.  For an entire week.  Yes.

We've been eating Blue Apron meals for a week now.  Tonight was Catfish Piccata and Fettuccine.

The fish was super fresh -- no stink whatsoever, even while frying it.  That, my friends, is f-r-e-s-h.  The addition of a whole lemon, and capers, and red pepper, perked up this dish tremendously.

Next on the menu we have Korean BBQ chicken wings.  Yum.

I'm happy with the service, and will be happy to stick with it for awhile to get the full range of dishes.  The cool thing is, after trying the dish, you can shop for the ingredients yourself and just make the foods that you really liked.  A great way for me to get out of my food rut.

Tomorrow I'm off to visit 'the kids' for a couple of nights.  Our dog/house sitter cancelled on us, so dearest will be staying home with the beasts.  Not happy.  We. Are. Not. Happy.  First world problems, as they say.  It'll be fun to watch my grandson parade around in his Halloween costume.  Fun fact:  one-quarter of all the candy sold in the U.S. annually is for Halloween. 

Most years I hide on Halloween.  This year, not so much.  It's for the lil' kid, doncha know.  He's expecting his Bubbe to show, and show I will.

Happy Halloween!  Have a great weekend.   I'll leave you with this wonderful quote:


Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Musings


Last week a catalog arrived from the "Vermont Country Store."  What an eclectic bunch of stuff you get purchase there!  They stock a lot of retro 1950s toys, home furnishings and gadgets.  I found myself awash in nostalgia:  chenille bed spreads, spinning tops, tinker toys, pink princess telephones, flannel house dresses and corduroy jumpers.  I began to fantasize about turning the guest bedroom into a shrine to the 1950s.  I became oddly comforted by the idea. 

Then, a few days later,  I discovered that my dad has purchased a handgun. Screech!  Warm, fuzzy nostalgia be gone.

He has finally gone completely off the rails. He has swallowed the Kool Aid of Rush Limbaugh and FOX "News" and believes that this gun will protect him from the bad guys.  He gave a very cogent response when I asked him "why?"  He is doing everything right, from taking classes to keeping the gun in a lock box separate from the ammo. 

Why, then, am I so unglued?

Because I can see no scenario, none, zip, nada, where having a gun makes him safer.  Indeed, it only endangers his life and the life of my mother.

My weekend was spent on the Internet looking up statistics for gun accidents, and gun regulations in our state, and investigating legal avenues for removing the gun from his possession.  He is a mentally competent adult and in this foolish and dangerous country, is allowed to possess a firearm.

Let's explore the term "mentally competent," shall we?  Does it cover diminished sight, hearing or reflexes?  No, it does not.  Does it include Tea Party paranoia?  Nope.  Does it address the loss of power and control an elderly white man feels when sees the world changing dramatically around him?  Can it begin to take into account the idolatry of the military and the machismo of being a man with a gun?

I donate to several causes devoted to gun regulation in this country.  Have been for awhile.  I, personally, wish that all guns were completely illegal.  But I realize that is a tall order, and so I will settle for gun regulation that makes it more difficult for citizens to acquire firearms.  I know that after a mass shooting the sales of firearms increases.  I just never thought my own dad, paranoid as he is, would be one of those people.

It scares the hell out of me.

Friday, October 23, 2015

TGIF

What a week.  Momentous moments momentarily, but first, take a look at our first dinner made from Blue Apron recipes:


Shrimp Perloo.  I've never had this dish before, and with Blue Apron it's easy to do because they send ALL the ingredients (with the exception of the olive oil).  The ingredients are measured out and the recipe is printed on a 81/2 x 11" cardstock, along with photos.  The hardest part (if you can call it that) was dicing the garlic, onion, celery, green pepper, scallions and parsley.  The dish was a success, and made twice as much as we can eat, so we've got leftovers.  I'm going to buy more shrimp and some sausages to add to the leftovers.  And maybe a bit more rice to tone down the hot spice a bit.

All the packaging is fully recyclable, which is a relief because it is heavy on the packaging.  It has to be. They are shipping food that must remain refrigerated!

Now for the momentous:  2 friends made it through surgeries this week with flying colors.  Oddly enough, the one who had brain surgery is more comfortable and more mobile that the one who had sinus surgery.  I visited our shaved friend this morning, made her some coffee and tuna salad and brought her favorite chocolate pudding.  I'm impressed, to say the least, that docs were poking around inside her brain just a few days ago.  She has a wicked incision line, all neatly stapled.  And she is home.  Unbelieveable.

Now for the news that has us over the moon:  my daughter and her husband are expecting another baby next summer.  She called me, and from just her "hello, mom...." I knew and I blurted it out, "You're pregnant!"  I really rained on her surprise parade.   Can I just say that a mama knows?  My grandson is not sure he wants to be a big brother, but he's got time to work on that.

Here's to a grand weekend (not for the folks in western Mexico, sadly) and a news blackout (because I'm sick of those damned Bengazi hearings).  Hope you get to do exactly whatever it is you would like to do!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Musings

A lovely weekend with friends.  What a gift good friendship is!  We missed my husband at dinner Saturday night because he was ushering a concert of Handel and Hayden, but as the three of us were headed to bed, he came home and we all stayed up to hear about the wonderful evening he had.

A couple of rain sprinkles over the weekend.  Not of any consequence.  Just enough to get me to rush outside and bring in the hammock.  But the air smells good and wet, and we had some milder weather -- which will end soon with mid 80s temps yet again.  Sigh.  Indian Summer, be gone. (Or I could revert to old English and call it St. Martin's Summer.)

More friends arriving today, from the Napa Valley.  Just an hour and fifteen minute drive.  Just a quick visit overnight and I'm making a decidedly old-fashioned dinner of meatloaf, potatoes and peas.  Well, a few little tweaks and extras thrown in there, but I won't bore you with details.

We have decided to try the service Blue Apron.  We've heard rave reviews from friends who are using it.  All ingredients delivered to your home with instructions for preparation.  3 meals a week of chicken, fish and shellfish (the preference I chose).  We'll see how it goes.  Perhaps I'll post reviews here, yes?  I mainly pushed for the service because my taste buds are bored and my mind is tired of thinking up new things to make and eat.  I hope the Blue Apron folks can jump start my lackluster menu planning.

The final gift my friend Paul left me with this weekend was another session on using the photo processing software Lightroom.  I went through my catalog of photos to find something suitable to work on, and a particular image jumped out at him, so I pulled it up.  It was not an image I had considered at all.  I passed right over it.  But he liked the composition and to work we went.  It required a bit of fiddling around with shadows and light, and I learned some good short cuts.  I learn, over and over, not to dump images that don't wow me.  I often go back and look at them again, much later, and find gems that I had overlooked.  Luckily for me, Paul found this gem, taken a couple of months ago.  Enjoy.


Friday, October 16, 2015

TGIF

As planned, we met with our friend, A., to review his photographs.  What a great 2 hours we spent, looking at images, dissecting them, talking about what makes for a compelling shot.

His enthusiasm is infectious.  His sense of composition and placement on the page is innate.  He's off to a very good start, indeed.

He had great questions, most of which we could not answer except with another question:

How do you get better?  Keep making photos.
How do you make money to support the habit?  I dunno, kid, if you find the answer please let me know.  What makes for a good portrait?  S. suggested that including something in the background that is representative of the subject often works.  Something that gives the subject context.

The real kicker question for me was:  is it worth it if you can't make a living at it?  My answer went something like this:  What if your life's passion was sailing?  Would you buy a boat and take it out on the water as often as you could, for the sheer joy of it?  Would it matter that it was a financial investment that would see no financial return?  No.  You'd do it because you love it.

I came to the conclusion, years ago, that whether I was financially successful at photography or not, I wanted to keep doing it.  Because I love it.  It is the rare bird that parlays their photographic work into a viable financial enterprise.  I know many excellent artists, photographers, painters, musicians, ceramicists, writers and poets.  Very few make money at it.  All hope to be recognized some day in some way, but that is not why we do it.

We are looking forward to friends visiting this weekend, one of whom is a brilliant landscape photographer who is self-taught.  He took up the craft long after I did, and, in my estimation is technically light years beyond where I am.  That's his passion.  Much to his wife's chagrin,  S., P., and I can get really caught up in "photography talk."  We have to remember that there are other things to talk about.  Like food.  Like the best method for roasting a whole chicken.  Like reminiscing about favorite vacations and meals we ate while on vacation.  That sort of thing.  I'm going to sign off and make myself a pastrami sandwich.

Have a great weekend, whatever you talk about, whatever you nosh!



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Musings

Here's an earth shaking fact: people are weird.  We went to our monthly "antique fair" yesterday and I was wearing, proudly, my Bernie Sanders t-shirt.  I'm walking along, minding my own business, deep into the visuals of table after table piled with stuff, and I hear "socialist" uttered in a snarky voice, seemingly from nowhere.  It took me a minute to process.  Then I turned around and watched a guy walking away from me.  He looked normal enough.  I suppose he meant it to be a put-down, but to me it only bespoke his ignorance.  I laughed to myself and went about my business.

Later, I see this cute kid, about 10 years old, wandering with a large sweet treat in his hand.  He was having a bit of trouble eating and walking at the same time.  He was adorable, which translates to me as "photographable."  I hustled a few steps in front of him, turned around and SNAP!  When I took the camera away from my eye, I saw a terrified mom face sheilding the boy with her arms.  "Please! Please! Don't take pictures of my son!"  Really?  "But he's adorable."  "No.  Just. No."  What do I look like?  A scout for pedophiles or human traffickers? Being a mother myself, I dutifully deleted the image I took.  But I would have liked to have said, "Lady, don't take your kid out in public.  People will LOOK at him."

My husband, a friend of ours, and I have been taking photos at this fair for over a year.  We put together a book of our best and we hawk it now at the fair.

We chat with vendors and buyers, fortify ourselves with breakfast burritos and coffee under the freeway overpass, and sometimes get rained on.  We've made friends.  Mickey is there with his gorgeous stained glass.

Mickey is a talent.  He also is a great musician, hosting Friday night jam sessions with  his band, and all and sundry are welcomed to sit in, grab  a percussion instrument and join the fun.  He always has a great spread of food and drink.  In the warm weather, he rolls open the garage door and invites the neighborhood in.  Now that is hospitality, and human kindness.  No weird stuff.  No hidden agenda.  No judgement.  Just an open heart and a desire to connect with the human family.

Mickey and Marilyn



Friday, October 9, 2015

TGIF

Hello everybody.  I had hoped to have some parade photos for you -- our local High School's homecoming.  But we were late for the spectacle and, alas, what's done is done.  We did get to visit with our friends and drink cold beverages.  And A. cut some gorgeous Zinnia's from his garden.  Steve was eyeing the pepper crop as well, so A. harvest several for Steve.  I love peppers, my insides do not.

I have just begun to use our new Leica Q digital camera, and I have a lot to learn in terms of what it can do and what I can do with it.  So far, however, I love the incredible sharpness of the 28 mm lens.

Our protege is loving the Cannon Rebel XT with 15mm - 80mm lens we loaned him. Hope to get together with him soon to look at some of his work.  I'll probably end up giving him the camera, since I don't use it at all anymore and could hardly get anything for it if I sold it.  I'll pass it along to him with instructions to pass it along to someone else when he upgrades to a better camera (and I bet he will).  The Canon is not a bad camera, it was great for me for many years.  But as my work improved, I knew I needed better equipment to achieve my goals.

My daughter is upgrading to a better camera as well, and we're helping her buy a Fujifilm XE 1 body.  This is a mirror-less camera that delivers superior image quality.  Steve is giving her a lens to go with it, and she got teary eyed when we told her.  She's someone who also has a lot of talent, and will take it to the next level with better equipment.  I am so pleased that Steve and I are in a position to help 2 young photographers.  The art of it has brought us many years of extreme satisfaction, good friends along the way, and peak moments of inspiration and exhalation.  And, let's not forget, it was our love of photography that brought Steve and me together!

Every place we go offers new photographic experiences:  Cuba was a highlight.  Next month we go to Kauai.  In December we go to a (hopefully) snow covered Yosemite Valley.  And next year, France and Spain.  The travel in and of itself is exciting, and the prospect of capturing some lovely images is thrilling as well. 

Photographer Burk Uzzle, (1938) was the youngest documentary photographer to be hired by Life Magazine.  He said “Photography is a love affair with life.”


I couldn't agree more.

Have a great weekend! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday Musings

We're doing it all again.  A mass shooting.  Lots and lots of talking about it.  I'm practically losing my shit over this whole gun debate in the USA.  What is wrong with people?  The problem is not mental illness, the problem is, well, wait, let's look at the profile of the average mass shooter.  Young white male with rage issues.  The need to get revenge, to "show them."

We can (and do) debate, endlessly, gun control -- does it even exists in this country?  I remember when Bowling for Columbine was released in theaters.  I was incredulous at the statistics.  "No way!" I thought. "Those numbers are off the chart!"  Well, they were, and they are.  And still, as a nation we cannot pass gun legislation.  Personally, I advocate a strict NO GUN policy.  Don't pussy foot around with regulation.  Ban them.  All of them.  (Hear the objections mounting in your head?  They don't mean a thing to me anymore.)  If I were a gun owner, and I knew giving up guns would end the shooting of innocents to the tune of 30 THOUSAND people a year, I'd give up my gun in a hot minute.  Nothing is worth these lives.  Nothing is worth this pain.


My latest brain storm: talking with my husband last night I said, to my horror and surprise, "They should start showing photos of the crime scenes."  Ewww.  Gross, you say.  Horrible, you say.  Yes, I say.  And the only thing more horrible is the fact that these killings actually happened and will continue unless we do something about it.  I think we should get good and disgusted by an in-your-face campaign to show the real horrors of these crimes.  Then take these photos and picket outside gun shows, NRA sponsored events and stores that sell guns.

I'm pissed.  This is not rocket science.  We, as a nation, have accepted the mass killing of people, and particularly grade school students, as a by-product our of second amendment rights.  Rights that, I believe, are not guaranteed to the individual, but to a well regulated militia.  But I'll get all kinds of push back on that constitutional interpretation.

By the way, where is the Occupy movement people when you need them?  Are we at the point where we will occupy the streets, en masse,  and demand gun legislation?  I'm ready.

Friday, October 2, 2015

TGIF

We had rain on Wednesday.  Blessed rain.  Not much, only trace amounts here, but a promise of things to come this winter.  We turned on the house heat for the first time in months.  I'm wearing my big comfy sweater and fuzzy slippers.  Oh!  The rapture!

Steve has been working diligently on planning our trip to France and Spain in the spring.  It's hard for me to imagine we are really going.  I've not been to Europe, hell, I've not been to a lot of places!  We've secured an apartment in the heart of Paris by way of a friend of a friend.  It is gorgeous, and spacious, though the kitchen has little working space.  I hear this is fairly typical.  I suppose it's akin to the kitchens in Manhattan.  We're going in April, which may be more drizzly than May, but that is when the apartment is available.  Besides, photos in the rain are often magnificent. 

The GOP has further disgraced itself (as if were possible to sink any lower) by its witch hunt of Planned Parenthood and its President.  Congressman Cummings (Dem) called them out but good.  He called the hearings a pretext for denying women safe and legal abortions.  Planned Parenthood is responsible for the sharp DROP in abortions over the decades, through low cost contraception for women and men.  When I was a teenager and needed contraception and sex education, PP was the place I went.  When my own daughter needed health services, this is where she went.  I'm glad there are people like Mr. Cummings who can call out the rats when they attack.  It's a shame we need to be so vigilant to secure our right to health care, but alas, this is the crazy country we live in.

Speaking of health, did you read the study recently released about vitamin D3 and it's role in maintaining healthy brain function as well as immune system?  I found out a few months ago that I have low levels of this vitamin, and so the doc recommended 2,000 IU a day.  Shopping at Costco this week, I found a 5,000 IU capsule and so I bought it.  It's a tiny little thing, once a day, that can have a huge impact on bone health, mental cognitive health and a strong immune system.  We'll see what it does in the immediate future about my own situation.

And, so, anyway....I'll leave you with this from John Cleese's Facebook page. 


Laughter truly is the best medicine.


Moving Along

Well, hallelujah, it's only 71 degrees outside this morning.  We have been enduring hellish heat this summer, breaking records.  The air...