Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Musings (On Memorial Day)

On this Memorial Day, the US flag is flying outside our home.  Skipping the holiday parades and commercial sales events, I prefer to spend the time in contemplation of war and the myriad implications of it.  This is my Uncle, Dee Tilley, and that's all I know about the photo.  A proud Irish Catholic man who would go on to have a very large number of children, he was one of many who served in the armed forces.  Unlike many, he did not perish in battle.  He ended up with a good, long life.

Last year I posted this, and will again, now.  Peter Turnley has seen his share of mortal combat and has this to say:

On this day of memory, Memorial Day, I wish to remember and honor our human family, and every human being on this earth that had less good fortune than myself. I would like this day to be one where we remember not only those that have served and suffered in war, and my heart does go out to anyone that has had to be one way or the other impacted by the cruelty of war, but to also remember that a world that is truly one to be proud of, is one where every child has access to healthcare, education, and equal opportunity for a creative productive life. I'd like to remember that a world to be proud of is not one that offers opportunity to only a few that have the material power to afford opportunity, but a world where the human rights of all are our first priority-that the basis for examining what is truly a rich civilization is not one where a small percentage of people can boast of a good life, but rather a world where one could wake up knowing that it is a world where we all care as much about our weakest and least fortunate members of our society, as much as our most wealthy and powerful. I would like to remember that the most beautiful and rich aspect of our world is its' glorious diversity, and it is within the embrace of this beautiful diversity that all hope for reaching our collective potential exists.
© Peter Turnley, Somalia, 1992.

In remembrance of all those affected by war.   And thank you to our US soldiers who have died in countless wars, including our very own home-grown civil war. 

Friday, May 27, 2016


Yesterday was the birthday of remarkable photographer Dorothea Lange.  Born in 1895, she entered a profession with very few women, and excelled at it.  Just look at her!  She is rocking the whole artist thang.

The crash of the stock market in 1929 propelled her into a whole new area of photography, and she documented the hard pressed, the down and out, the tossed aside.  Beautiful images of a people in trouble.  Though heartbreaking, I can only image the sense of purpose Ms. Lange experienced in her work.  The joy of doing the work you were meant to do.  Mastering the photographic process, in the field

I'm still reading Sally Mann's memoir, Hold Still.  She worked on a project in the south, traveling around in her station wagon, highly explosive photo chemicals sloshing around in their bottles in the rear of the car.  A woman alone.  Intrepid.  Doing her work.  A white woman, photographing black men in the south, exploring the pain and terror of slavery and the legacy of the southern slave trade.

If you love good books, I highly recommend hers.  You don't need to be a visual artist to appreciate it.  She writes exquisitely.

As we enter this Memorial Day weekend, I think about all the men and women who have died in war, across our nation.  This holiday isn't about shopping or 40 percent off sales.  It's about reflection.  It's about respect and honor.  No matter the stupid or righteous reasons for their deaths, they died.  Often horribly.  We owe them. 


Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Musings

A good weekend was had by all.  Especially the grandson -- he loved the hot tub (his first experience with the bubbling cauldron) and spent a long time underwater, after he figured out that he could do it.

I derive inexplicable joy from my kids and grandchild.  Any visit from them is a good one. 

Randy and her two young men got our little plot cleared and prepped for the next stage.  Now that I see it all cleared and cleaned up, I wonder if it's a good spot for a pea gravel sitting area?  Or should I go with the original plan and make a succulent garden/herb bed?  I don't know, but I've got 2 weeks to figure it out.  Can I do both?  Hmmmm. 

We also had Randy and her wife over for dinner and to watch Game of Thrones.  I was embarrassed to admit that I did not remember how the last episode ended.  I just figured out why -- I had fallen asleep and missed it.  So I re-watched it today and now understand my friends' incredulousness that I couldn't remember it.  It was spectacular.  Fire and destruction and new life and woman/goddess power.  Whooooeeeee.

Go Kalisee, Mother of Dragons.

Friday, May 20, 2016


Other than my tendonitis flare in my right arm, I'm glad it's Friday.  Glad, because the kids are visiting over the weekend, and we're having friends for dinner on Sunday night.  My favorite kind of fun.

My right arm is so messed up, I dropped two different things I was holding today.  The worst was the bottle of beer on the garage floor.  I was grabbing some beer to stick in the frig for my son in law.  The bottle in my right hand went crashing to the concrete and exploded.  The neck and cap were found in the driveway.  I cannot sustain a grip to hold a freakin' bottle of beer. I should not even been on the computer.  I should be completely resting my arm.  I will, soon, I promise.

The other great thing this weekend, my friend Randy is going to start work on my new garden project: a succulent bed in a shady part of the yard that I originally attempted to grow veggies in.

Now that we have a hot tub on the patio, I see this patch regularly.  And it bugs me.  Really.  Very much.  My husbands suggests I just turn my back to it.  If only.  I know it's there.  And my body just can't manage to do the work to get it done.  So, I've hired a pro, and a friend.  Can't wait to show you the finished product!  It will be transformed, I tell you.

Okay, so, I'm going to rest my arm.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday Musings

We ventured out to the Yolo Bypass last evening for some long shadows and bird song.  The red wing blackbirds were plentiful, with a few egrets, ducks and sparrows.  Oh, and some curlews.  I don't know my birds particularly well, but I sure enjoy them.

The bypass was used well this winter to catch a torrent of run off from the rains.  The place was flooded like we've never seen before.  Now, however, most of the water is gone from the fields and the wet marshes are now more grassland than marsh.  A completely transformed landscape.  Beautiful, and yet I miss the abundance of water. 

I think this area is at its best when there are big puffers in the sky.  Not so last evening.  The land is so vast and flat, it needs some drama in the sky to make a good photograph.  This is a favorite haunt of several local photographers, and I always expect to see them out there, but I never do.  A ranger came by to remind us the gates lock at 8:10 and we agreed we'd be out of there.  And then we began to wonder: how many people actually get locked in here at night?  And what the heck would you do if you did?  I don't expect the rangers to go looking for you -- they don't get paid enough to babysit.  So, I guess you'd just hunker down and keep the engine running to stay warm.  Maybe we should bring provisions and a couple of sleeping bags when we make our trips here.  The dogs will wonder where the hell we are, and probably howl their concern all night.

Maybe this is a "Google this" situation, but somehow I just don't care that much.

Friday, May 13, 2016


We are a crazy lot.  Trump has locked up the GOP nomination for President.  Need I say more?

Since today is a Friday falling on the 13th, I did a little research on the whole "bad luck" thing.  According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. It has been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because we are a crazy lot"Bat shit crazy." according to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

More proof?  Supreme Asshole George Zimmerman is selling the gun he used to murder a boy.  Making money off his crime.  Oh wait, he wasn't found guilty, was he?  Well, okay then.  Never mind the family of Trayvon Martin and their feelings.  This is Amerika.  George can do what he wants.  More?  You say more?  Big Pharma and doctors have hooked us on opiates, which can block one's ability to - uh - poop.  So now they have a brand new drug to help with that.  Nothing about getting off the opiates.  And, people get so hooked on these things that when their doc finally gets a clue and cuts them off, they turn to heroin.  They turn to heroin.  

Putting things in perspective, I know there are many, many good people in our country.  You just don't hear about them in the news.  You do, however, hear about all the kooks, murderers, kidnappers, thieves (unless they are corporate), accidents and doomsday scenarios.  No wonder we're crazy.  We watch wayyyyy to much garbage that passes for "news."  We are probably some of the least informed people on the planet.

So.  Stop.  Look.  Listen.  Smell the roses.  Take a walk.  Read a book. Hug somebody.  Stroke an animal.  Kick up your heels.  Have a good weekend.  Remember to laugh whenever and wherever.

Barcelona, Spain.  2016 Festival.

Friday, May 6, 2016


It is good to be home.

It was good to be away.  It was all so so good.  Except the air travel.  Oh, the hours stuck in a small metal tube! There are parts of my body that I hardly ever gave a thought to that are still aching, days after.  Did you know you have a tail bone?  Well, the vestiges of a tail anyway.  Did you know that 17 hours on a plane makes one acutely aware of this small but important spot on the body?  When I rise - ouch.  When I sit - OUCH.  But enough of that.

It really was a wonderful adventure.  From Paris, to Provence, to Barcelona.  Each had its own treasures.  Le Pick Clops in Paris, around the corner from our apartment, was our morning coffee and croissant place.  The 'kids' who ran it were fun, spoke petite Anglais, were hip and cool.  The sound tracks they played - all American music from the 1950s.  They soon learned that Steve loves his chocolate.  On the first day, our waitress made a special trip to a boulongerie to get pain du chocolate for him.  For the rest of the week, they had it on hand.

It is a neighborhood thing.  All the regulars come by.  They sit at the bar, drink their beverages (sometimes beer for the night workers) and have great gab fests that elicits much laughter.  They are young and old. Elites and street sweepers. 

There are dogs in these places!  YES!  You can bring your beloved animal in with you.  We saw some cuties.

Dogs are everywhere in Paris.  Big and small.  Many, many dachshunds.  Seems to be the dog of choice.  It's great to watch them trot furiously on their stubby legs.  They've got to work to keep up, and there was not a fat dachshund to be found.

Le Pick opened earlier than all the other cafes in our neighborhood.  That's what first got our attention.  But within 2 days we realized that there were just so many things to love about this place.  The people there embodied joie de vivre.  Just watching them at work and at play was instructive.

We found the French people to be friendly and kind.  In Paris.  Steve noticed a remarkable shift in their demeanor towards tourists and travelers.  We can't account for it, but it is welcomed.

The mister and I will be editing images for months to come.  The urban scenes of an ancient, great city.  The pastoral pastels of the southern countryside.  The old city of Barcelona, boasting the oldest Synagogue in all of Europe.

My, it is good to be home.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Monday Musings

Today is our last full day of vacation in Europe. Two weeks in France with 3 nights in Spain. Barcelona has captured our imagination, much to our surprise. The food is spectacular and very modestly priced. A full on 3 course meal with cocktails and a split of wine comes to 35.00 per person. Crazy!

We are weary of living out of a suitcase, but we are exceedingly happy with our experiences in this two fine countries.  People have been generous and kind. We've seen amazing sights like the ancient Jewish quarter in Paris, the 11th century hill town of Gorde in the south, and the oldest of Roman ruins at Pont du Garde aqueduct. In Barcelona we have been to the oldest Synagogue in Europe as well as schools that were bombed in WW II and ancient plaza walls that still bear the bullet scars from firing squads

  Through it all, we see people just being people. Young women celebrating an upcoming wedding, children and teen daredevils leaping over stone walls on skateboards, young adults out for a night of fun, and old women clutching each other and their shopping bags on their way home.

It's truly a smaller world than I've realized. I've much to contemplate. I've much to be greatful for. Tomorrow we fly home. We are excited to see our doggies. We've missed them.

Monday. You gotta love it.

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...