Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Game of Fire and Ice


Fire_And_Ice2


Fire and ice. That is what George R. R. Martin has been trying to reconcile for a few years now. I agree with spikesleman that Martin has been procrastinating not because he's  been gallivanting around the world, going to cons, and spending time filling his theater in Santa Fe with famous guests and great movies, not to mention bits of commentary on all things football and censorship, but because he doesn't know how to get to the end. He's stuck on a path between so many possibilities, many of which he created himself, and can't figure out how to tie it all together in a final book that solves all the problems, ties up all the loose ends, and ends the war he began. 
 
Maybe he intends to live another 150 years or more and wants to spin this out into a hundred years war like the one in Europe that claimed so many lives. He would have the benefit of a whole new generation or three of readers beginning the journey at Game of Thrones and follows it through to the end -- whatever that will be. Many, many fans would die in the interim years, not gifted with long life and endless patience, but there it is. What else is one to do with more than 200 years of life but live it to the fullest, if not only in books. This is why I am more and more reluctant to begin a series. The writer may never end it or I will get bored with the increasingly hackneyed writing and quit before I get to the end. That has happened with some really great series in film and books.

That is not why I'm here today. Martin does figure in this post, but only because he wrote the story (has almost written the story) and because I have been ruminating on spikesleman's contention that Lyanna Stark's reputation was sullied in A Dance With Dragons.

I spent a great deal of time today searching ADWD to find out what she meant about Lyanna's reputation being maligned, and also to ruminate a bit on what others have speculated regarding Jon Snow's birth. On that point, I have never had a single doubt that Jon's parents were Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. Not a single doubt from book 1 on. Ned tells Jon that he is a Stark, and not Ned's bastard by way of a romance on the wrong side of the blanket during the war against the Targaryens, and there are the many comments and memories from Ned that he promised Lyanna to lie beside her brother and father in the family crypt. There is a hint in that promise that Ned not only bury her body in the crypt, but also her secret, that Jon is Rhaegar Targaryen's son. Robert Baratheon would not have let Jon Snow live, so Ned protected Jon by letting people thing he had blacked his honor and betrayed his marriage to Cat.

I've no doubt that Lyanna loved Robert Baratheon, but she was a wise woman. She knew Robert would never be true only to her, no matter his love for he. Robert was a lusty man who couldn't pass up a comely wench or a well turned ankle, full breasts, lovely arse, and feminine parts. His love for Lyanna has made him forget that any other woman existed, but Lyanna was no fool, except where Rhaegar was concerned. She may have loved Robert like a brother, and even as a woman loves a man, but she fell hard for Rheagar when he laid the winter roses in her lap at the tourney, making her the queen of love and beauty. He was already married to a Dornish princess, Elia, which Ser Barristan thought was not a patch on Ashara Dayne, her handmaiden.

Rhaegar's marriage was a political one and he did his duty as all royalty must and do. When he saw the wild northern girl, Lyanna Stark, his heart was lost -- and so was hers. Robert may have believed Rheagar kidnapped Lyanna, but the truth is that she went willingly with him, forsaking family honor to be with the man she loved. Her decision set the war horns sounding and ended with the death of the Targaryens and their rule over Westeros, thus opening the door between Westeros and the far north, setting the White Walkers free from their imprisonment by the Targaryeans and their fire dragons. That set the stage for what Rheagar had been desperate to achieve, the coming of Azor Ahai.

The Red Woman, Melisandre,  believes that Azor Ahai is Stannis Baratheon, but it is more likely that Daenerys Targaryen is Azor Ahai, the Lightbringer, reborn. Dany brought dragons back into the world and with it came magic. Dany is also impervious to fire where her brother, Viserys, was not, as evidenced by his death by molten gold, the crown that he bargined for when he sold Dany to Khal Drogo to enlist his hordes to cross the bitter water and take back the throne of Westeros. Dany is the only Targaryen able to withstand the fire and command dragons again.

There has been speculation that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai. He does after all have Targaryen blood, but if he was impervious to fire he would nto have burned his hand when he saved Commander Mormont from the wight when he set it on fire. No, Jon is the blue winter rose Dany saw growing out of the wall of ice in her vision. He is her kin, her equal and opposite. He is the embodiment of his Stark blood through Lyanna and thus the mating of fire and ice in the flesh. He is the bridge between the worlds of the White Walkers and the Dragons, but how he will be that bridge is yet to be revealed. He is important and there is no doubt about that.

While Stannis has some Targaryen blood, he is not Azor Ahai, but at least he came to the aid of the Watchers on the Wall, the brothers of Castle Black and the defenders of the wall. He is not the king nor will he be the king in the end, though I do believe the leeches he fed to the fires took out his main opponents: Joffrey Baratheon (Cersei and Jaime's bastard), Rob Stark, and Balon Greyjoy. He'd already killed his brother, Renly, so he wasn't a problem. Stannis is just one more left over king, but not THE king of Westeros however Melisandre may deceive him, and has obviously misread the prophecies and deceived herself.

There it is in a nutshell. Daenerys is Azor Ahai (no one said the Lightbringer had to be a man) and Jon Snow is the winter king that his half-brother Rob was not. Being a man of the Night's Watch will not affect that since I do believe there will be  no more need for them after the final battle and the marraige of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen when the fire and ice dragons come together. There is also the possibility that Dany will give up the throne and go be with her unborn son and Khal Drogo, but inevitably it will be Lyanna and Rhaegar's son, Jon, who will end up ruling, and maybe not from the iron throne. One never knows with these things.

So, to recap, Lyanna was not really kidnapped and Robert started a war over being cuckolded before he was wed, but, as with most situations, his actions set the necessary gears in motion to bring about the end of the war between fire and ice and the dawn of a new age when the north and south (winter and summer) at last come together and end the war that has raged for 1000 years. As with all else in life, everything ends and from those endings new beginning spring.

By the by, Lyanna was not a wanton woman, but she was a woman in love. Love is not always wise, but it is always, as the Chinese say, the motive force that brings interesting times.
Btw, spikesleman, this information comes not from ADWD but from the boards. There was no mention in any of the books, or even a hint, that Lyanna was not as dutiful as was believed by Roberth Baratheon. I will, however, concede the point that she knew Robert could not be faithful to her or to any woman. She loved Robert like a brother and she would not have married him family or no, Rhaegar just happened to complicate matters. No, Lyanna was not kidnapped nor was she raped, but you know how rumors get started and how one's point of view changes what one sees when one sees and does not merely look.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, February 20, 2015

No Joy From the Left

Let me begin by writing that I know how important it is to blog more often than I do, but so is reading and working. Housework obviously does not take a front seat in my world as I prefer to work or even occasionally make dense yeasty bread than clean house. The bags full of drywall dust damped my enthusiasm for getting all that gunk out of the carpets, mostly because no matter how much I vacuum, it is still there.  There will be an end, but I'm not sure I shall live to see it happen. I'd rather read . . .

or listen to a book on computer/Kindle/Fire, and listen I did last weekend to Jason L. Riley's Please Stop Helping Us.  

I was discussing the book and Riley's excellent research, style, and facts with a good friend of the Republican persuasion when he rained all over my parade. Riley contends, and rightly so, that liberals have it bass ackwards (as my mother used to say). They are not being oppressed by whites and are in fact, as Dr. Bill Cosby suggested, at fault for their own problems. No, whitey is not keeping you down nor are blacks who have made a success of their life in the business world selling their fellow blacks down the river to be Uncle Toms, Oreos, etc. These successful black men, from scientist George Washington Carver to Dr. Ben Carson, and, yes, even Bill Cosby, have been and are successful not by bowing to white supremacy but to realizing education, proper diction, and respect for the way the world works best is the only real and honest path to success.

Riley lays out in solid prose with facts and figures that cannot be disputed that by playing victim blacks who have embraced the ghetto mentality and raised thugs, criminals, and ne'er do wells on pedestals is not healthy nor is it wise.

I was surprised to find out that George Washington Carver was denounced by the black community at large for his successes and his work ethics and political beliefs. The prevailing belief was that Carver was an Uncle Tom and did not have his people's best interests at heart. The only path to equality was through political activism of the likes of Rev. Wright, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton variety. If you can't beat them, don't join them, beat them down with hellfire and brimstone and demand recognition and equality by making whitey feel guilty for keeping the black man, and woman, down. Make them pay.

Thought Riley did not mention it, Frederick Douglass was also denounced by the black community and would have been the first black vice president, and eventually president, had his own people not joined against him and Victoria Woodhull in pulling them down and forcing Ms. Woodull into bankruptcy to keep them from winning, and even campaigning for, the presidential nomination. What a travesty and a shame.

Riley discussed everything from welfare to prisons to the ghetto mindset that keeps black Americans from being taken seriously. He also discusses the impact of gangsta rap and the higher incidence of unwed mothers and its effect on the nuclear family. I was impressed by his style and by the facts. They are very similar to my own beliefs and knowledge of what is really going on.

I did not, however, know that Asians comprised such a huge percentage of admissions to charter schools, colleges, and universities, and how liberal and black insistence on maintaining quotas of blacks in all areas of education, business, and politics have seriously harmed Asians and other immigrants. Neither blacks nor liberals are actually interested in maintaining equal opportunity, unless it is heavily weighted towards blacks at the expense of Asians and other immigrants. That is not what equal opportunity means and it is not what Dr. King and Robert Kennedy and the men and women who fought for civil rights intended.

As I passionately went on, Jeff stopped me dead in my tracks with a heart stopping dousing with icy water. "None of it matters because they aren't going to pay attention or even read his book." He was right. Liberals and militant blacks have no interest in facts and research and data. All they want to see and hear is more white bashing and more guilt and more fiery rhetoric that does more to divide the nation and the people. Facts and figures have a way of making their opponents' eyes glaze over and yawn. What do all the facts and figures in the world mean if the opposition (militant blacks and liberals) never takes the time to read, listen, and see the truth. Their views of equality have nothing to do with truth or equality and everything to do with beating every nay-saying educated opponent down with yelling, screaming, misrepresentation (lies), heightened emotions, and violence.

He's right. And I am right in reminding myself and others that this is just more evidence that George Orwell's view of socialism is as obvious as the pigs in Animal Farm. Socialism is a good idea, and so is Utopia, if only there were no people involved.

I highly recommend Jason L. Riley's Please Stop Helping Us for a dose of facts and truth . . . even if you are a liberal or black blinded by the ghetto mindset and sold on being a victim.

For the record, Mr. President, yes, integrity, honor, and character do matter. 

Btw, there is a reason the word for out of fashion and not classy is gauche.  In English, gauche means left.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

For Ruthie


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I've been discussing various cross stitch designs from Lanarte's Cultures collection to Benway's NKF cross stitch design I've been trying not to start, the Oriental Beauty. Benway is a company I've not stitched before so we will see how it goes.  I found her on Amazon and was immediately entranced by the style and grace of the piece.

All full stitches and the pattern is color coded. Should be interesting when I get to it. It's been tugging at me since it arrived and I'm fighting the urge to start it NOW before I've finished what I am already stitching.  I might even get busy and photograph the other 3 pieces.

In other news, I finally found a kit for a geisha I wanted that goes with the 12 x 12 geisha I've already worked from Dimensions Gold. Unfortunately, Dimensions doesn't have it in stock any more and finding her has been difficult -- until this afternoon when I was looking for the Oriental Beauty.

The DG piece is called Enchanting Geisha, and she is quite enchanting.  I of course ordered her right away so I can have the pair I originally intended. I don't know why Dimensions decided to stop making that kit because they still have patterns I've seen everywhere for years, even decades (at least 2 decades). It doesn't make sense to me. There are dozens of lovely geishas everywhere and I managed to snag Kihaku after much waffling and counting pennies. I haven't started her either since there were projects that needed to be done first, like my grandchildren's Xmas stockings.

I've even decided, and chosen the patterns for, 2 more Xmas stockings. These are for my estranged sons boys, Aidan and Ian. I'll send them to my ex-husband and let he and his wife decide whether or not to tell the boys and their father where they came from. The decision has more to do with what I want and how I feel than with whatever problem it may cause my ex and his wife or my son. I don't need the credit, but I do need to do this for my own peace of mind. I hate leaving the boys out when I made stockings for all the other grandchildren even if they don't know who I am. I'm strange that way.

Besides, I like making the stockings. Maybe I should make stockings and sell them to whomever wants them for themselves or their children. Considering all the work and time I put into them, the stockings would not be cheap, and I should recoup my expenses and time. After all, the stockings are heirlooms and will last for decades. Shouldn't the price be commensurate with that? Artisans in every field expect to be paid for their expertise and time and materials.


I don't like pink, but Kihaku isn't something I'm going to wear, so pink isn't a problem. I was struck by the soft colors and pose of the graceful geisha and counted enough pennies to buy her a couple of years ago. I've decided that the Jack bedroom will feature geishas and other Asian entertainers (entertainer is what geisha means) and the Jill bedroom will feature fairy tales and the kinds of pieces that children would love. I hope my granddaughters will spend their summers and at least a Xmas or two in the Jill bedroom, unless I can coax their mother into moving up here with the girls and bringing their furniture, clothes, and things. I think this would be a lovely place for the girls to grow up and Megan can help me around the house. I'll cook and she can clean. We'll work it out somehow.

The girls can also help me plant and nurture a garden or two and figure out what to do with the hangar size garage and the 2 outbuildings that house nothing but spiders and possibilities.

Well this post turned out to be much longer than I intended. Maybe it's time for me to get back into the swing of things and begin posting more regularly.

In other news, just while I'm here and typing, I actually like my new job. I've already soared past the pittance of a rate that BTS paid me for 3 years and I also have 3 accounts so I won't be without work all the time while the doctors goof off and wait to inundate us with dictations they should have done all along. I've gone 3 cents a line and it's only the 4th week. Not too shabby. There's no one hounding me all the time to switch programs and do a stat report and I spend less time looking at the clock and more time typing, which also adds considerably to my bank account. It is also a change being paid every other week instead of the 4th and 20th, as long as they don't fall on the weekend or a holiday or the payroll department doesn't screw up and forget to get the payroll processing done on time and then prevaricating about why we aren't being paid on time. I just love when that happens. Don't you? /snark

Well, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I could go on much longer, but I will stop here. I want to get some stitching done and maybe even take photos of the other pieces I'm working on. One word of advice. Just because a cross stitch project is 5 x 7 inches finished does not mean it will be done any quicker than one that is 24 x 24 or even 24 x 36. I learned that one the hard way. Smaller means more work and much frustration, even if it is worth it.

That is all.  Disperse.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The WiFi That Wasn't

I lost 2 days of work last week because of the wonky WiFi cutting in and out, taking forever to stream a video (talk about broken cataracts of streaming), and losing packets. I called Skybeam to complain and see if there was an area-wide outage only to find out the antenna was working fine and my router, now 7-1/2 months old, would have to be replaced. They offered me a fix. Send a tech out on Monday to realign the antenna and installed a Skybeam router for $6.99 a month ($83.88 a year) added to my bill, which would ensure me that my service would always be up.

Monday dawned bright and clear after my car accident of the afternoon before and I waited and wiated and waited and waited until well into the afternoon when it would be past the time for a service call. To my surprise while I waited, the broadband signal was strong and the videos were actually streaming. Music downloaded at a proper pace and web pages did not take forever and a half day to show up on my computer. I could enjoy the net in peace. My peace was to be short-lived as I soon found out the truth behind the wonky web and WiFi buffeting over the cataracts of the stream.

I didn't need a new router. The Linksys I bought in July 2014 was perfectly fine. The antenna did not need to be aligned, showing up on the tech's small Asus computer as 12 x 12. That as true as it gets in the radio business; 12 vertical and 12 horizontal. That is true. He would be happy to install the router he brought with him, and which came with a hefty yearly rental cost, but it would not solve the problem. I had put my trust in Linksys which is the workhorse of routers, and indeed of electronic equipment, as I had believed prior to Saturday's call to Tech Support at Skybeam. The problem wasn't what I had been told. The real problem was the tower.

Skybeam does a lot of business, but their equipment is outdated and overloaded. The equipment providing my signal is brand new, top of the line, and the latest word in WiFi technology. It is supposed to service 60 households and therein lay the problem. It was servicing 90 households, exceeding the bandwidth and slowing down when all 90 households were using the WiFi broadband at the same time. Think of 90 mice and their families clamoring to get through a hole made for 60 mice and children at the same time. The hole gets filled up and only a mouse or two will be able to squeeze through to the warehouse of cheese on the other side.

I chose not to add the router rental to my bill and will be forced to wait while Skybeam takes down the older tech on the tower and moves 30 customers off my node on the tower so the 20 Mbps I have been paying for will finally stream over smooth broadband waves.

Since the problem is a fairly recent one, I can be assured the addition of the 30 extra customers on a filled node happened quite recently -- about the time my stream began rushing headlong over the cataracts like Bogey and Hepburn in The African Queen. Bogey and Hepburn were separated, but eventually found one another, just as I have been separated from my smooth WiFi stream and fast download times. Since Skybeam is the only line of sight service in the area, I'm stuck, but not for long. Since I won't be writing a negative review for my Linksys router, I will in exchange bombard Skybeam with negative reviews and spread the word that they need to get the tech on the towers updated and the rocks and white water out of my broadband stream.

In the meantime, I'm keeping relaxed the best way I know how . . . by cross stitching and reading. I've been switched back and forth between one of Lanarte's Cultures Collection pieces (all of which are stunning), Dimensions Gold 5 x 7 geisha, another Lanarte -- Arabian Woman 5 x 7), and Joadoor's Swan, taking breaks by reading Isaak Walton's The Compleat Angler and various and sundry other books (some on Kindle and some, like Walton's, in hardback form with a ribbon bookmark included.

I can't show you the books, but I did snap a photo of the Eastern Beauty from Lanarte, which is nearly done. I am quite pleased with the progress and can't wait to get her matted, framed, and hung on the wall. So what if most of my cross stitch pieces are of the female variety? Joadoor's Swan could be a male. Show me a male who looks as beautiful, intriguing, and stitchable and I shall stitch him and add him to the collection.  As much as I like male bodybuilders, I am looking more for grace and style than muscles. Give me a male dancer in a high jete or, as in a couple of patterns I own, silhouettes of dancers doing the tango or jazz, and I'll add them to the list. Most of the time, I stitch what appeals to me and the mystery and mystique of women all over the world and across the ages appeal most to me, like the lady below.


Arab beauty

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Knock, Knock, Knock

This weekend I tried to get back into a more normal sleeping rhythm as mine was disrupted by working back to back full time jobs last week, without sleep for 3 days, and cranky as a wet hen, and just about as aggressive, though there is no one here to benefit from it or be hurt by it. UPS doesn't deliver on weekends and I didn't have any visitors.  At least not so you'd notice, though I could swear...

When I lived in the cottage in Colorado Springs I had several instances where I would be deeply asleep, heavy into the REM/NREM phase, and I'd hear someone knocking on the door, waking me abruptly from sleep. I got out of bed and went to the door and there was no one there and no sign anyone had been there. The same thing happened this morning, or rather very late last night. At 2:30 AM to be exact. 

I was deep into the REM/NREM sleep and 3 loud knocks on the glass front door woke me immediately, dragging me from whatever dream I was enjoying at that moment. (And that seems to be the only similarity; I'm always dreaming something really good.) I woke to darkness and listened for another knock. Nothing. No sounds outside of the furnace and the lack of wind howling outside. No shuffling. No sound of the suet cage banging on the back door -- because all the birds were asleep and not feeding for a change. Nothing. Even the usual stirrings, creakings, rumblings, and crackings were silent. I got up in darkness, leaving the light off, and walked boldly down the hallway. The front door glowed with light from the big pole light in the driveway, a blue glow that lit the way adequately. I peered through the front door glass and there was no sign of anyone have been there since yesterday afternoon when UPS dropped off a small package in a plastic bag. His footprints were nearly filled in from the snow that had since fallen. Nothing new. No sign of new tracks in the driveway and the old tracks were also covered with newly fallen snow. I went to the back door and there were no signs of anyone have been there either. The bird tracks were covered with new snow and there were no tire tracks in the driveway in any direction.  I went back to bed.

When I was fully awake this afternoon I got online and searched the Net for answers, as I had done the first couple of times it happened and I decided I had not missed anyone at the door. The explanations ranged from dream interpretation (important news or financial collapse) to UFO visitations (3 knocks akin to a hypnotist snapping his fingers to wake the hypnotized from sleep) to awaken the abducted from their drugged trance to some sort of neurologic disorder. 

It wasn't sleep apnea or even obstructive sleep apnea because there has been no snorting, gasping, feeling of being hag-ridden, someone sitting on my chest (cats stealing breath) or other signs of choking or loss of oxygen. I do tend towards sinus and nasal congestion, but that has more to do with changes in atmospheric pressure (better than arthritis and bunions for telling the weather) than with sleep apnea. And there were no signs of other physiologic disturbances. 

I suppose I could go with some apparition or spirit trying to get my attention because Kevin had stopped by some time this morning, about 8 AM, but I thought that was my imagination at the time. How do I know it was Kevin? The prints of his heavy duty snow boots outside my front door and new tracks in the driveway going in an out when I got up. Kevin didn't knock and he didn't say anything, but I did hear noises at the door, probably Kevin trying the knob and finding it locked. He knows I don't lock the back door, but it was evidently not important or he would have come into the house across the brand new welcome mat I put out to keep his wet and muddy boots off my living room carpet.   None of that had anything to do with the 3 knocks on the door.

When I lived at the cottage in the Springs the knocks sounded on a wooden door. I have only 1 wooden door here; all the others are glass. The knocks I heard this morning were 3 knocks on a glass door. I know my mind keeps working when I am asleep (it has to keep the body running [digesting, breathing, pumping blood, etc.] even though I'm resting). I do think my mind is sufficiently advanced to be able to differentiate the sounds of knocking on wood and on glass, but that would take a level of sophistication that seems like shooting fish in a barrel with a Howitzer. Too much effort for too little return. Something else is definitely going on. 

Being me, the first thing I imagine is a warning that someone is coming to force me out of my house or tell me someone is dead. Neither is the case, but my default setting is always trouble and always my fault or related to me. Yes, me living in a me-centric universe. It has to mean something, but for the life of me I cannot imagine what. 

Knowing what I do about alien abductions (yes, I've read Whitley Streiber's books and watched the X-Files. Like Mulder, I sort of believe, but not for the reasons you might think), believing that there is something in my brain or DNA to interest an alien to abduct me many times over the past 7 or so years, and probably the reason for my wanderlust and constant moving about for the better part of my life, even if I have to discount that my father was in the Army and we were deployed to various bases around Europe and Central America as well as the United States since I was 10 months old. Maybe that is where the books and stories I've written in my head have disappeared to. That's another story for another ride into the depths of the abyss that is my mind. 

Or maybe it is my clairvoyance, specifically my precognitive abilities, surfacing to let me know something or someone is coming. And it had better not be who I think it is because he will not get a better answer from me now -- or ever. 

Whatever is going on, if anyone has any suggestions, other than the ones touched on above, let me know. I'd like to know. You know what I always say: Knowledge is wasted when it isn't shared. 

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Twenty Below and Falling

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Yesterday was an exercise in waiting. In the freezing cold. Without a furnace for hours. In subzero temperatures. While the birds attacked the feeder and suet cake (I hung out a brand new one yesterday afternoon). Did you know birds look much bigger when their feathers are all fluffed out and they need to eat about 10x their weight in food to keep their racing metabolisms racing?

It was cold yesterday. It's colder this morning: -11 degrees when I got up and walked around. The high today will be -4 and the low was -19. So far. It's cold. Very cold. Witches broomsticks turn to ice and any exposed (or covered) fleshy parts stick to the stick. Did I mention it was cold? It IS cold.

At any rate, yesterday wasn't a total loss since, after 3 trips to Colorado Springs on icy roads littered with cars that didn't make it, Ron, the furnace guy, figured  out all the problems, fixed all the broken parts of my 3-year-old furnace (we figured that out yesterday when I called Goodman Mfg.) and at 8:30 PM the furnace began to give out with heat. Warm, glorious heat that for the first time since I moved in made the freezing tile floors warm and welcoming to bare toes and feet. I didn't need to keep the space heaters on and I didn't need a mound of blankets on the bed or to wear the 5 layers of clothes I was swathed in while waiting from 7 AM until 8:30 PM to get the furnace fixed. The really good thing is that the furnace is still under warranty and the owner of Heat Depot, Mike, currently vacationing in Arizona for the rest of this year and into the new year, waived the labor charges. Considering he must refund me nearly $900 in parts charges because of the parts warranty still in effect, he should waive the labor charges. However, since I now have an almost completely rebuilt Goodman furnace, I doubt he will be able to continue waiving labor charges when there is no more labor to charge for. He'll have to refund actual cash.

Bad news: Furnace broke yesterday.
Good news: Furnace fixed last night and I spent a warm (sometimes too warm with the thermostat at 60 degrees) night and didn't feel the constantly running furnace sucking the moisture out of my mouth, nose, and other moist mucous membranes. It was a pleasant night and I slept well.

But life goes on and this morning bright and early Steve from Nuance called to remind me I had more paperwork to fill out and that I needed to get that done today. I also needed to send in my I-9 forms TODAY with witnessed signature to prove I am who I say I am. Then there are more forms to read and sign off on, forms which I already read and signed off on last week, but which did not take, and I needed to uninstall Office 365 and install MS Word 2013 (stand-alone) because 365 will not work with their programs and Word 2013 will. Good thing Microsoft was willing to give my money back (in 5-7 days) while allowing me to install MS Word 2013, which I bought last week and installed on the old computer, but now must install on the new computer that arrived 2 weeks early yesterday. No rest for the wicked -- or for those coming off a week's vacation into a frozen hell. Oh well.

The other good news yesterday is that the computer that wasn't supposed to arrive until January 12, arrived 2 weeks early and is almost ready to go. I still need some programs from Nuance, but as soon as I scan and email the I-9 forms, I might be able to get that done today. The there's the training, for which I will be paid, but must be completed before I start working on January 6. Details, details, details. It seems I will be bogged down in details.

At least I won't have to deal with BTS much longer and, because of my new start time, I won't have to work 8 hours during my last week with them (next week). I'll tell them today that the best I can give them will be 6 hours during my last week, which should be fine with Payroll since they still have me listed as part time anyway. Besides, I'm doing them a favor by working an extra week until they can get someone trained and ready to take my place since I'm leaving. And I will give them 8 hours of makeup time because I couldn't work yesterday due to the freezing cold. My hands are not as dextrous when they are frozen and the nails have turned blue. Give a little, get a little. And I have gotten very little outside of paychecks from BTS for the past 3 years. Goodbye, good luck, and good riddance.

If you're in need of a job, I wouldn't suggest working for BTS. There are no benefits to speak of (or to use) and pay will be frozen at your entry rate for the foreseeable future (the rest of your enslavement). If you must work for them, keep looking while you're employed and jump ship at the first opportunity -- or when gainfully employed by a company that offers and makes sure you have benefits. Good benefits. No sense being a slave forever. Emancipate yourself. No one else will do it for you.

So, on this frozen morning as I finish my once hot and now cold chai, I wish you warmth, a good working furnace (which would not be a Goodman), and plenty of hot water for baths, dishes, laundry, and tea -- or hot chai.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Of snow, subzero temps, and furnaces

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Well, my morning began before the crack of dawn. I had been unable to sleep most of the night tossing and turning and generally feeling something was missing. What was missing was the sound of the furnace going on and off. As my room began to get colder, I realize that the furnace wasn't working. The temperature outside was fast approaching -5°, and so was the inside. At 7 o'clock this morning, I called the furnace people and said my furnace wasn't working. The owner and Kyle, the only two who promised to work on my furnace with their problems, we're both in Arizona. There would be a delay in them getting here in time to fix my furnace, and get me back some warmth.

 The owner promised to send Ron, one of the two men who came to clean out my furnace last summer, and who told me that my propane tank was empty. My propane tank was empty and he didn't realize he hit the cut off switch for the propane to the furnace. So Ron would be here and about an hour and a half, and he was on time. Of course, he drove past the house once and had to come back but he did arrive on time. He came to the door, said hello, and said he was headed down underneath the house to work on the furnace.

 After some tinkering noisily, the furnace came on and there was heat. And then there wasn't heat because the furnace was off again. The furnace was off. This furnace was on. The furnace was off again. And then clouds of smoke wafted through the blowing snow outside. The furnace was on again. Slowly the heat began to creep up as the furnace stayed on -- briefly. Ron came back upstairs and told me that it was either the pressure switch or one of the many chimney flues on top of the roof had become clogged with snow and ice. We decided to replace the for the pressure switch anyway just in case. Better be safe than sorry. Ron is off down the mountain to find out if they have a pressure switch in house or so have to order it, and he'll call back or come back to let me know. In the meantime, it's good I have space heaters. At least my water won't freeze up and my pipes will stay unfrozen as well.

 That was my morning. How was yours?

 Despite what the guy who built this house told me, the furnace, a Goodman, is builder grade and cheap. I already knew it was 85% efficient, which is not sufficient. So, before we finalize the sale of this house, there will be one of two things happening. I will either get a very large cut in price equal to the cost of installation and purchase of a brand-new furnace. Anything less than a new furnace is not going to fly. The other option is to have the builder /owner by and install a brand-new furnace. I will except nothing other than these two options. Come summer, I will have a new furnace to go into the 2015 winter. Okay, the late 2015 winter.

 I love this house, but I will not live in a house where the furnace is iffy at best. I will have heat even at 10,000 feet above sea level. In the Rocky Mountains. In the midst of winter. While it's snowing. And at -5°. Or colder.

 Good thing I'm not shy about asking and getting what I want . Into every life a little, well, snow, must fall, and it's a good thing I know how to use a shovel. And if I can't do the work, I know how to hire the people who can. This is a very unusual and to a very restful week of vacation before I begin my new job in January. Best to get these kinks out of the way ahead of time. No matter how kinky.

 That is all. Disperse. I hope you're having a lovely warm winter.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Diamonds and Toads

twins

I have walked, eyes wide open, back into the political arena where the Clintons and the Obamas circle and call each other names. Bill called Barack an amateur and Obama called Clinton a scene stealer. Both are right. That's what you get with twins, even the political kind.

As I read Dereliction of Duty, I was not surprised to find Slick Willy's trademarks still alive and slithering from between Obama's lips, reminding me once again of an old fairy talk about sisters who were touched by a witch and given exactly what they deserved. Some sources called the story by Charles Perrault Diamonds and Toads (or Toads and Diamonds) because of the gift each girl was given. The eldest girl, proud and disagreeable at the best of times, and her mother's favorite, was lazy and rude and disinclined to help anyone out, no matter what was at stake. The younger daughter, biddable, sweet, and courteous, was generous with her time and her mother's least favorite child.  Had there been 10 daughters, the mother would still have disliked the third child because she was kind and sweet, a real doormat in her mother's eyes. No one got anywhere good by being kind and thoughtful. The way to get up in the world is to show the world that everyone else is beneath you and you deserve to be treated as royalty.

The younger daughter gave a poor woman a drink at the well, drawing the water herself, and was rewarded with every word she spoke as diamonds, pearls, and roses dropped from her lips. Mama was ecstatic and vowed her eldest daughter, her favorite, would also be rewarded. I can still see the glitter in mama's eyes while she waited for her reluctant eldest offspring to come back from the well.

The eldest daughter waited at the well and found no poor old hag waiting for her. Along came a stately woman of style and wealth who asked the eldest daughter to draw a cup of water for her. The eldest daughter was not to be so put upon when she had only come to be rewarded by the old hag. She sniffed and tossed her hair and told the beautiful woman she could use her own two hands to get her own water. Alas, the wealthy woman was the old hag and the eldest daughter received her gift in due course. When she returned home, toads and vipers dropped from her lips with each word.

So what do diamonds and toads have to do with Bill Clinton, the president who gave us 8 years of a balanced budget, and Barack Obama, who has given us the longest and deepest depression in American history? Diamonds and toads.

Clinton and Obama (when Obama has time to prepare and can read from a teleprompter) are great communicators, pearls of political maneuvering and double-speak falling from their lips. Both have the power to sway the people, as Bill demonstrated at the 2012 Democratic Convention when he painted Obama as a centrist who wants only what is best for the people and the economy of this less than great country that has fallen on hard times. Gone were the petulant and snide comments to Congress ("I won.") and the video clips where Obama said he would use any means necessary to go around Congress since they (Republican controlled House) would not bow to his will on immigration, taxation, and health care. Gone was the smirking Obama who voted present during his 3 terms in office in the Illinois senate and the one unfinished term in the U.S. Senate. Gone was the lie that Obama opposed the Iraq war, the same man who promised to have all U.S. troops out of Iran within 18 months and Afghanistan in 2 years. Gone was the man who blamed George W. Bush and the Republicans every time one of his policies failed and his promises never materialized. In his place stood a man who was no longer an amateur but a great statesman willing to compromise and put the will of the American people first, who worked tirelessly to create jobs, and who was a wizard of foreign diplomacy. Bill's diamonds and pearls and roses fell like rain as he praised and reimagined Barack Obama, lionizing the clueless and petulant child who handed off all the hard work to advisors and allowed himself to be bullied by Michelle and masterfully manipulated by Valerie Jarrett just so he could play golf, appear on television, and raise money for the DNC war chest.

The whole point of the illusion Bill created was a trade-off. Bill was banking points with Obama so Obama would in turn back Hillary for her second run for the Oval Office in 2016. Bill didn't realize that Obama would renege on his part of the deal, though Bill and Hillary were aware of the strong possibility Obama would shut them out once he had what he wanted -- a second term in the White House, to be closely followed by Michelle's turn in the Oval Office under Valerie Jarrett's guidance.

Yes, the Clintons want another 8 years to party hearty and fleece the people of the United States while they groom Chelsea for her turn in the Oval Office. The Clintons want their legacy preserved -- even if it means making nice with the Obamas and Jarrett.

Here we are 2 years later still struggling economically while our military is gutted and living on food stamps, a legacy we have the Clintons to thank. Bill and Hillary and all the Clintonistas continue to point to the economic prosperity of the 1990s and the balanced budgets, but the average person has no idea how all that came about.

The Obamas, like the Clintons, detest the military and have in their turns gutted the military infrastructure and the morale of the men and women who serve and have served. Our military presence at the beginning of the Clinton administration was the envy of the world, but not for long as Clinton balanced his budgets by cutting the materiel, supplies, and hardware (ships, planes, tanks, etc.) while freezing military pay until it dropped below the poverty level and into the arms of government for food stamps and WIC for their families. As far as the Clintons were concerned, the military were glorified valets and servants and they treated their military aides and the Joints Chiefs of Staff as lackeys, often forbidding aides working in the White House to wear their uniforms. Clinton closed bases during his tenure, several of which he deeded to the Chinese on American soil, thus creating a Chinese presence on American soil with the same immunity as the Chinese embassy as the land is owned and thus protected by immunity. China in North America, a strong foothold in some of the counry's prime real estate from a military standpoint. And let us not forget how much of American military technology and hardware Clinton sold to the Chinese while making room for them on American soil. That was Clinton's bow to the enemy as deep and as complete as Obama's bow to the Saudis during his Apology Tour in his first year in office.

Obama in his turn does the same thing, gutting the military budget while Michelle lambasted communities around military bases to step up and support the military and their families financially and emotionally. After all, the government can only do so much to support the military complex that protects this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Clintons had their noses bloodied in Mogadishu in the same way that Obama did in Benghazi, and basically for the same reasons. Clinton left bin Laden due to his lack of action and unwillingness to stop schmoozing and golfing when bin Laden was cornered and could be taken out without too much fuss or efforts. The military assets were in place, but Clinton could not be bothered to take the call or give the order. Obama took out bin Laden, so we are told, and shown in a grainy, barely visible video, and his body buried at sea.

Neither Clinton nor Obama know much about foreign policy as evidenced by the 40 military events/skirmishes, the constant deployment and redeployment of soldiers overseas tour after tour, and the misreading of military intelligence. Say what you will about Bush the younger, at least he did his best to build the military back up to strength, only to have Obama tear it down and cede the high ground to Russia time and time again while doing nothing to avenge or support U.S. military forces. Clinton's claims of shock and outrage during every single international faux pas is echoed by Obama's chock and outrage and neither man did anything to back it up, Obama going to so far as to draw a line in the sand.

Clinton ceded control of U.S. armed forces to the United Nations and Obama takes full advantage of that little wrinkle in U.S. military readiness. In other words, U.S. forces are controlled and deployed under UN generals and colonels. Mercenaries for lease by anyone and everyone.

Clinton ran from the many scandals during his tenure in office by going out and creating incidents on the international stage, like the bombings during Ramadan, while Obama dithers, cries foul, and goes off to a fund raiser or to play golf while leaving Iranian marching for democracy, Egyptians struggling to throw off the Islamic yoke, and Israel stands alone against enemies on all fronts.

The list goes on. Clinton and Obama are cut from the same cloth, except that Clinton is much savvier where politics are concerned and Obama plays where Jarrett allows him to.  Both are narcissists greedy for power and prestige who will use and abuse everyone to get their way. Obama uses illegal immigrants to swell his ranks while Clinton charms them and changes faces and costumes whenever it fits his -- and Hillary's -- agenda, both men dropping toads and vipers among the diamonds and pearls with each and every word.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, December 19, 2014

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

bye

This morning I wrote my resignation for BTS. After 3 years I have decided to cut my losses and move on. The fact that I am moving on to the company that gobbled up a previous employer and has pioneered voice recognition is somewhat important, especially since it means I get to keep the 9 years of seniority I built up before being laid off in 2003 and won't have to go through all that again. Three weeks of vacation time at the start of a new job is nothing to sneeze at.

I am leaving BTS with only one week of work to go since I had already scheduled next week off. I did not make this move without due consideration. I gave BTS a chance to meet the new offer of 10-1/5 cents per line and they flatly refused just has they have refused for 3 years to raise my pay. I also asked for a shift change and they hemmed and hawed and said it would take time to replace me since I am the lead on the 2nd shift, a fact that was unknown to me prior to this, and a fact that should have earned me a raise in pay when it happened 2 years ago. Even though they are moving off voice recognition reports and back to typing reports on accounts I already know very well, it's not enough of a draw to keep me there. If they think it will take "a good dea of time" to find someone to replace me on 2nd shift in order for me to transition to a different shift, they will have to rethink their position since they have exactly 2 weeks now.

With this change in employers I will get paid holidays whether I work them or not, health benefits (vision, dental, and health) that do not cost the price of my mortgage ($60 a month), keeping previous seniority, 3 weeks of vacation, sick time, the removal of the permanent knot between my shoulder blades, and the return of my peace of mind. There is a downside of course. I will have to learn the way the new doctors speak and the new hospital is a teaching hospital with residents dictating, which means long dictations that will end with not many lines typed and saved, but I can hope that the new hospital doesn't let the residents dictate all the time and, working the shift that I will be on, very few residents dictating at all. I will have to work Tuesday through Saturday, but that means I will also have a week day off so I can run into town and do errands without running back home to work. I might even take the time to stop at a restaurant, get out of the car, and sit down for a leisurely meal.

And 3 weeks of vacation from the start.

I am not completely happy about having to learn a new hospital and new software or having to deal with yet more crapy voice recognition generated files, but I am happy that most of my needs will be met and my income will be double what it is now every single month. That is to be preferred to the static slave wages I've had with BTS. So I cast my fears and trepidations aside, accepted the job with Nuance, sent the resignation letter to BTS, and will now move into a brighter future. It's not all perfect, but what is any more? It's a conditional happily ever after for now. I'm still looking forward to national and international best selling author with millions in the bank and an end to wage slavery. THAT is my real happily ever after.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Many Faces of Evil

When I decided to watch Disney's new Maleficent with Angelina Jolie I was surprised that so many people were opposed to changing the story of Sleeping Beauty and focusing on a very different Maleficent. To add Angelina Jolie as Maleficent was tantamount to heresy. How dare Disney make Maleficent a heroine! It went against the grain. What was next, a sympathetic Lady Tremaine as Cinderella's stepmother? Horrors! Heresy!

Jolie

I enjoyed Maleficent and was not too disturbed by Jolie's portrayal. She was sympathetic, but tended to try to mimic the original actress who voiced the animated version of Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Eleanor Audley, Audley also voiced Lady Tremaine. Her style was high class with a hint of British pronunciation at times, but definitely a deep, rich, malevolent voice where Jolie's is certainly not any of those things. Jolie has a mid-range voice and should have stuck to her own recognizable voice instead of the parody that ended up on the screen at times and distracted from her otherwise interesting performance.

Disney's change in tone and focus in taking Maleficent out of her previously strictly villainous portrayal is in line with the theme that runs throughout Once Upon A Time: villains are not born; they are made.  That theme informs all of the villainous characters in Disney's retool of the beloved fairy tales that get their twist from Kitsis and Horowitz's version of fairy tale life.

In their version of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, Kristen Bauer van Straten, is blonde and, although evil, has a strong sense of justice running through her character, if giving a thief a chance to return what he stole from her castle horde without immediately incinerating him can be termed justice. Van Straten's Maleficent in the end is no match for the Evil Queen, Regina, played by Lana Parilla, but that is another story. 
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What Disney's remake of Sleeping Beauty does do is what has been done before by fan fiction writers and writers during the heyday of Paris's great salons, write their own versions of fairy tales. The same twist has happened before and will continue to happen as long as there are different writers with different views of stories, characters, and plots. How many Cinderella's have graced the screens (small and large) and will continue to find new ways of getting a young girl abused and misused by her blended family out of the ashes and into the arms of a prince to take her away from the drudgery that her life has become? Drew Barrymore portrayed a strong and intelligent Cinderella raised on the books of Plato and Thomas More to believe that the world could be a better place and then proceeds to take down the prince who has just stolen their only horse. She didn't know he was a prince, but she did not hesitate to drop him with an apple and get her horse back while chastising the prince for his theft. She continues to chastise him throughout their budding relationship as she challenges him to be a better man than he has been. Where was the outcry then? Could it be because Angelica Huston's portray of her evil stepmother was right on target and as dissipated, spoiled, and villainous as Cinderella's stepmothers have always been? Nothing was changed, not really. Cinderella was abused and she took her life -- and the prince -- in her own arms and marched boldly into the future while her stepmother and one of her stepsisters were served justice in the castle's laundry.

The original story of Cinderella has changed many times and were much bloodier and vicious. In order to prove they could wear Cinderella's glass slipper one stepsister cut off her heel and the other her great toe. Both were ratted out by the tree that grew over Cinderella's mother's grave, calling out to the blood on the slipper that shouldn't be there. The stepmother and stepsisters were dragged through the streets of the royal city in metal boxes, presumably to their deaths. Bloodier stories for bloodier times and quite unlike Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. Where was the outcry then when the stepsisters were actually as abused as Cinderella in Amsterdam when the coin of the realm and the basis of fortunes came from the growing and sale of tulips?

It seems the outcry is because Maleficent is a monster made by anger, pain, and the need for revenge and not a monster born whole cloth out of the depths of Hell. Please, people, get a grip. I can tell you that sympathetic characters are better received than one-dimensional villains, except in fairy tales told to children without the discernment necessary to understand that evil wears many faces and does not spring out of the darkest abyss of Hell ready to wreak havoc and destroy happy endings.
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Jolie didn't turn into a dragon as her predecessors have, and as Audley did in the 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty certainly did to face off against Prince Phillip, or as van Straten did when she was trapped beneath Storybrooke for 28 years in her dragon form. Jolie turned her crow/raven into a very convincing dragon and fought King Stefan and his troops on her own until Aurora set free the wings Stefan had severed from her back while she slept, having been drugged by a man she thought truly loved her. How many of us can say the same -- about the drugging, not having our wings severed?

The point is that Jolie's performance, flawed by her affectation and mimicry of Audley's Maleficent, was still the heart of a more nuanced and many-faceted fairy tale with a happy ending. Aurora became queen and very likely married Prince Phillip and Maleficent gave up her desire for vengeance at being wronged by the first man she loved to embrace forgiveness and breaking the curse she cast on baby Aurora. Maleficent, while not an Oscar worthy movie, is certainly a laudable addition to the fairy tale canon and a story that adds much to the fairy tale genre and villainous deeds. Bravo!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Don't Count on the Weather

Today was supposed to be an ordinary day. Temps in the 50s and 60s. Mild weather for these  Rocky Mountain heights, but fairly comfortable overall.

I woke in darkness thanks to my new insulated drapes, went to the bathroom, and decided to go out into the living room to check out the weather. It was still snowing, a granular fine salt snow blowing sideways and buffeting the birds flocking to the feeder and suet cake on the back deck. The blinds were still drawn over the window to the front deck so I had no idea of what was going on at the bigger feeder out there. The numbers of birds have increased substantially as western wood peewees, fluffed up like brown and gray puff balls with tiny yellow beaks, pecked at fallen seeds and nuts on the deck. The only activity visible was around the door where the seeds speckled the ground beneath the feeder. Some of the little peewees sheltered under the folding chairs on the deck and one or two sought refuge beneath my car, still in the driveway from Monday's trip down the mountain to pick up mail, some of which is still in the front seat (not enough hands and too close to time to start work to bother about them). The super fine snow still falling sideways and carried by the wind buffeted the little birds here and there as they bravely fought their way to the deck for food. Nuthatches and peewees fought the winds from all sides to land on the deck, the feeder, and the suet cake or to shelter beneath the chairs for a few moments safe from the winds. Now that's what I call a moderately balmy day. /sarcasm.

The winds gust every few moments, knocking peewees and nuthatches here and there on their journey to the food and the female hairy woodpecker has decided to peck a hole in the metal facing around the doors and side window on the back porch -- without much success. Just another day in the mountains here at Cabin Cornwell.

Yeah, I need to think up a better name.

Maybe the rest of the week will not be covered by snow and I can finally clear the deck of all the snow that humps up on the railings and deck floor. Or not. Right now, it's a crap shoot, a big snowy cutting wind howling crap shoot.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

First Snow Fall

Well, actually it's not the very first snowfall, but the first major snowfall I woke up to this morning. About 3-4 inches and more still falling at noon.  The birds flocked to the feeder and keep attacking the suet cake I hung out last weekend, which was originally for the woodpecker, but the nuthatches seem to prefer it, while the hairy woodpecker, and his mate, have been making themselves free with the little feeder I have on the back deck. I have a much bigger, made for woodpeckers and Steller's Jays, on the front porch but so far only one nuthatch has found it and doesn't seem interested in telling the rest of the flock, sitting like a maharajah among the feed and taking one piece of food and flying off to take it home and then flying back in for one more piece, and so on. None of the other birds have figured out there is also plenty of food on the front deck. Just the one nuthatch.

The snow is already melting on the track into my yard and elsewhere the ground is too warm for the powder snow to stick for long. It's still pretty like fairy glitter swirling and drifting on the wnds, the sun glinting off the wind tossed flakes. It's beautiful.

Earlier this morning, just after dawn a doe strolled past and in the distance now the neighbor's German Shepherd and black terrier are frolicking in the snow like children off school for the day. Yes, I know it's a holiday and the kids don't have to go to school, but the metaphor still applies.

One good thing is that kevin was here yesterday and installed the light fixture in the living room closet (it works) and the weather stripping around the laundry room door so that I can no longer see outside around the door. It's cozier now. It's just as cozy in my bedroom now that the insulated drapes are up and the first comforter I've bought in a couple of decades is on the bed. Snug as a bug and all that, except there are no bugs, other than a few arachnids which might find the cold a bit too much for them and they go somewhere else to live.

It's a very good day in this neighborhood and full of the magic of first real snowfall.


11-11-14 snow day 007

You can almost see the birds at the feeder on the back deck. Almost.

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Those round suction cups hold up the big feeder on the front deck.

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Still hard to see, but the brown mound on the window is 2 cups of bird seeds. Isn't the view beautiful?

That is all. Disperse. Go play in the snow.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting the Rhythm

For the past few months I have been immersed in my home. Buying furniture (best to check it out first when it doesn't hold up), buying accessories and cookware, paying bills, getting a feel for the the rhythm of the bills and when they are paid., and generally settling in. I have been a little open-handed in buying what I need -- or at least what I think I need -- but I'm not going into debt or anything like that.

One of the rhythms I've been getting into is mornings (sometimes afternoons) eating breakfast and looking out the back door at the activity outside. Most of the time there are birds, lots of birds, making a mess throwing the seeds they don't like out of the feeder. There are birds landing and crowded into the feeder, usually 4 white-breasted nuthatches, and 4 or 5 nuthatches swooping, diving, and dog fighting just outside the feeder waiting for their chance to land. Sometimes the birds quarrel, diving at the birds inside the feeder, and quarreling with them to get out so they can get in.  I see the nuthatches the most and there must be quite a few of nests nearby. They are beautiful little birds, about 4-4-1/2 inches long. Don't let their small size fool you. They are scrappers.


white-breasted

I thought I had a pileated woodpecker, but it turns out it was a hairy woodpecker. He started the bird carnival out there when he began excavating holes in the bird wreath I put out there last month. I've not seen his mate, but he must have one somewhere nearby. The male is easy to spot with the little bit of red on his head. He's not shy at all. In fact, though he is about 9 inches long, he clings to the railing on the feeder, sometimes upside down, and will peck up what he wants of the nuts and seeds in the feeder. He can't fit in there. He's too big, but he's also quite tenacious.
hairy

There are murders of crows and quite a few ravens that land on the back deck, but they prefer carrion and corn to the little bits of nuts and seeds in the feeder. Besides, they would not fit and the whole thing would come tumbling down. The only other big bird is the gorgeous Steller's Jay that still cannot figure out how he can get at the seeds and nuts in the feeder. He's about 9-10 inches long and not quite as daring as the hairy woodpecker. The Steller's Jay, which I have mistakenly called a Stellar Jay, looks like the blue jay, which is definitely kin, except he is black from the upstanding crest on his head down past his shoulders. The rest of his is a beautiful vibrant blue and he has stark white eyebrows, or at least markings where his eyebrows would be if he had them.

The poor thing flies up to the railing near the window where the feeder is attached, going back and forth figuring out his approach. He hops down to a chair under the feeder and then down to the deck where he pecks up food fallen from the feeder, or usually flung out by the nuthatches, and eats his fill before flying up to the small overhanging eave to look down at the feeder then back down to the railing, the chair, and the deck to peck up more food. He just cannot figure out how to get his big body into the feeder and he doesn't seem to hang down as well as the hairy woodpecker does. I'm going to have to install a larger feeder for him -- and for the larger birds, although I will not stock dead mice and roadkill or catch grasshoppers and insects for the crows. That's is where I draw the line.

No, the white lines that look like eyes are not eyes, but the eyebrows I mentioned. His eye is the dark glittery orb beneath the stark white slash. He's my favorite of all the birds.
jay


I have had some trouble identifying another of my daily visitors, a small brown/dark grey bird that prefers to get his food from the deck. I thought it was a pygmy nuthatch, but he didn't have the white breast. It turns out he is very likely a western wood peewee. Peewee is the sound he makes. There are only two and they are likely mates.
Western_Wood_Pewee

They may look drab in the photo above, but they are not at all drab. A slim, dark arrow of feathers hopping around on the deck inent on gathering food is what I see every day. They are so dark they seem like shadow arrows, a graceful slash of darkness, animated and intent on their task. They are also favorites.

It's always busy around here, and not just with the birds. The next neighbor's black cat is always slinking out in the weeds at the fenceline stalking the birds. She is smart enough to know that a horde of birds that gathers at my feeder is more dangerous to her than they seem, even for their small size. I've no doubt the horde would descend and peck out the cat's greedy eyes. She prowls the deck of a morning before the birds descend, but she doesn't stay long. If she is marking her territory and claiming the space, she doesn't stick around for long as her padding prowl turns to a slow rout when the air fills with the calls of descending nuthatches. She slinks into the weeds to watch, crouched low against the ground, eventually turning tail and heading back to the neighbor's property where she is greeted by the confused black squirrel that is intent on wooing and winning her.
The little tar ball scurries down the tree and leaps to land in front of her. She doesn't give him the time of day and just brushes by him, leaving the bushy-tailed Romeo standing alone. He sometimes scurries after her, leaping onto a tree ahead of her and scampering down to land in front of her again and again. I worry for the little fella. One day she might be just cranky enough to give him a good swipe of her unsheathed claws. I doubt it would deter him. He is determined to get this particular female to give in to his determined advances.

Usually at dusk, the mule deer does appear in the yard, a whole harem of does, young and old, even late season fawns. They particularly enjoy the patch of moss and flowers below the deck where they browse and graze every day. One day just past noon, 9 does caught my attention and I went out on the deck to watch them and snap a few photos with my Kindle Fire. Around the northwest end of the house came two more does and one doe hopped the wire fence between my land and the neighbors as gracefully and as airy as a ballet dancer en pointe. Light as a feather as if the 4-foot fence were no more than a speed bump or fallen log.

The deer are getting ready for rut the end of November and beginning of December and I have seen harems up and down the road when I drive down to get the mail or into town. I saw a small herd of stags among one of the harems near the llamas grazing down on county road 1. They were the first stags I had seen since the 3 stage I saw at the hunting club where two hunters dressed in camouflage gathered their rifles and gear from the back of their trucks to take their prizes. I do have a problem with gathering deer or antelope or even buffalo in a hunt club to kill for sport. It's not the same as hiding in a tree blind or stalking the deer in the wild. That I can understand and even approve, but not captive prey. Doesn't sit well with me.

At any rate, I got a few not great photos of the does. Next time I snap some pictures, I'll use my camera. The Kindle Fire is not made for quality pictures. (Click on the pictures to see them better.)

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This last photo is one I shot for a friend who sold me the pyramidal paperweight on the table. I have been trying to decide between the geometric black and white lamp or the red lamp on the floor next to the table. What do you think? Yes, that's my camera on the lower shelf next to the door ready for the does to come back later when I have the time to stop and take some more pictures.


IMG_20141021_104610_kindlephoto-8334784


I bought a book about Colorado birds. After all, I enjoy the views from my windows and doors and decks and watching the animals interact and feed. It's all part of what makes my home peaceful and beautiful and . . . well, home. The views and the animals and the peace are what I look forward to in the coming years as my roots plunge deeper into the rocky earth. This every changing world is just what I need to feed my soul. It's all part of getting into a new rhythm.
 
That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What To Get?


 Two people I know recently bought houses and I've been casting around for just the right housewarming gift. It's so much easier when the people live close by, but they live on the other side of the country, on the east coast. That is what makes buying the right gift more difficult.

I have an idea about their tastes. If I lived closer the ingredients for Cosmos and some tasty tidbits would be the perfect gift. Not so when the gift must be shipped across the country. What to do?

I've considered stitching something for their homes, something that would be tasteful and creative and something they won't have to hide in the attic or the basement or an unused closet until (and unless) I come to visit so they can trot it out just to prove they appreciate the gift. I do have better taste than an old aunt still living in her glory days at the turn of the century or stuck in the 1960s with  pink or avocado appliances in a kitchen where the linoleum was put down while still tripping on LSD. I do have better taste than that. I would venture to say that few of my gifts have ever been returned or hidden in the basement or tossed out with the trash or given to the church rummage sale to be passed from hand to hand to hand or left on an enemy's door step as a warning to get out of town.  Those kinds of gifts I save for people I don't like, usually the people who gave them to me in the first place because they have no idea who I am or what kinds of things I like (my family mostly, which is why I started giving out lists).

The dilemma is to give a gift that will be welcome and not cost me an arm and a leg, which is usually what I end up finding when I go looking for furniture and accessories for my own home. I can gauge the price by how much I like it at first glance. My approbation cools quickly when I check out the price. Even at clearance sale prices, my taste far exceeds my budget. Always has. What can I say? I have caviar taste on a fish bait budget.

I think I have finally settled on a couple of gifts, which will require a considerable amount of my time stitching them, but will result in gifts that will be welcome when they arrive. I'll save the reveal until after the projects are finished, framed, and have reached their final destination. I'm pretty sure both people are art lovers and would appreciate beautiful and thoughtful gifts.

If not, I still have a few of those really awful gifts to leave on their door steps to ensure they get out of town without delay. I'd even be willing to throw in a poltergeist or voodoo spell for good measure.

That is all. Disperse.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bread, Underwear, and Jodorowsky

The sun is shining right now but the clouds are mobbed by flying fat men in goggles and pillowy piles of cumulus overwhelming the wispy mares' tails that have devolved into seahorses and earthworms humping their cirrus ways across the skies. The view reminds a bit of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

I rented a documentary about his making of Frank Herbert's Dune and how the movie was only made as a storyboard book to get a studio to back it. American studios passed on the movie and David Lynch was chosen by the De Laurentiis production machine to make Dune. Jodorowsky was devastated by the choice, but the team he assembled to make his vision reality individually went on to do great things in cinema, art, and special effects. Jodorowsky's visions for his Dune were borrowed and used in many other science fiction and fantasy movies, and continue to used the seeds he planted in modern movies, like Prometheus, which is the prequel for Alien and its sequels.

I've seen worlds and beings in clouds since I was a child looking up at the sky and dancing in the rain, but the worlds I saw through Jodorowsky's eyes have also seeded my imagination. His vision of a universal consciousness connected through the creative and spiritual death of Paul Atreides lives on. Jodorowsky wanted his vision of Dune to live and, although it didn't live in the movie he wanted to create, the images and the consciousness of his Dune live on. At the end of his movie as Paul dies from Feyd Rautha's blade slicing through his throat, everyone says, "I am Paul," so that everyone becomes Paul whose blood seeds the world and spread throughout the universe. In the real world of Hollywood, Jodorowsky's movie died before being made, but the blood of that movie, his vision and his images, the blood of his Dune spread like seeds throughout the industry to become part of the science fiction landscape. Jodorowsky got what he wanted -- to change the movie business -- and he did it image by image through the artists he changed and the vision he offered Hollywood, a vision that clung to their minds and their souls to become part of them and part of the future.
 Back deck 083014

Okay, so the photo doesn't show the clouds, but the Kindle Fire was charging and the cord didn't reach that far. That is, however, a picture of the view from my chair as I write.

There will be rain again later as there was yesterday and last night. There is always rain here, at least for now, and it keeps the temperatures cooler than normal for the end of August when the dog days should be in full force. I've had to turn on the heat and sometimes use a space heater in my bedroom when the nights dip toward the 40s.

This week has been busy with unpacking more boxes and sorting things as they arrive. I still need to put together the Strathmore chairs I bought for the back deck. The plastic fold chairs were here when I moved in, as was the sun faded piece of carpet that remains on the deck. Kevin still has not come over to measure for the ramp for the back deck or to stain all the decks, which was supposed to have been done before I moved in. Well, He did go to pieces over Forrest being stolen and spirited away to Iowa, only to be returned in the dead of night and left on the doorstep when the thief's neighbors and various friends in Iowa let the thief know they were watching. It doesn't pay to steal a man's dog in this age of technology and Internet connectivity. It just doesn't.

tedwords posted a photo of Corb's underwear drawer and it is artful and creative. All the briefs and boxers are folded neatly and placed in order according to material, color, boxer, or brief. It's the underwear drawer of either a budding serial killer or someone who lines up his toiletries so the labels are easily read. Corb is an exacting kind of person with a creative streak, the kind of person that will either make a tyrant of a director or direct orderly mayhem when the end is near. I can just see him calming people and sorting them by age, height, and useful skills as they board the great ark that will take them out of harm's way, or protect them when the big deluge comes again. He's a good person to know when you're planning a party because everything will be beautiful and organized.

At any rate, here is a photo snapped this morning of my underwear drawer.

UW drawer

I have a fondness for lace and fripperies when I wear underwear. It's mostly for me. I like the feel of silk and lace.

I decided, since I already bought quite a bit of baking and cooking equipment, and had some yeast in the freezer that was about 3 years old, that it was time to see if the yeast was still good. The freezer did an excellent job of keeping the yeast dormant, but active when dissolved in liquid, even cold liquid in the manner of French bakers. I read recently that French bread is so good because the bakers do not rush the process, allowing the flavors to develop. I also wanted to try the semolina flour and a recipe from one of my cookbooks, so semolina bread must be made.

Two days ago, I made the starter. It's like making sourdough bread, but without the white sourdough bread that results. I let the starter sit for 24 hours and, yesterday afternoon before it was time for work, I began making the bread, sifting together unbleached flour, semolina, olive oil, salt, more yeast sprinkled over water, and the starter. The dough was very sticky; I still managed to knead the dough and put it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise, not for the 1-1/2 to 2 hours listed in the recipe, but for 8 hours while I worked. I chafed the dough and let it rest, after punching it down, cut it in half, made 2 rounds, and waited for the next rise while heating the oven. A few hours later, I had 2 perfectly baked rounds of semolina bread. It sounded hollow when I tapped on the bottom and it did not feel like a brick or fall apart, so I hadn't added too much flour while kneading. I could barely wait for the bread to be cool enough to try, so I tore off a hunk, slathered it with butter, and added some marmalade from one of the jars I bought in order to taste test for the perfect marmalade.

Just as a side note, Rose's orange fine cut marmalade is more orange jelly with a few hair fine slivers of orange zest rather than a real marmalade. The zest is barely there and scattered widely through a small jar and is quite unremarkable as far as jellies, and especially marmalades, are concerned. I have 4 other jars to test, but I will use this jelly because I hate wasting money and food, even if it is just barely adequate food.

semolina bread

The above is my remaining loaf beneath the book with the photo of what the bread should look like (and it does) and the Victorinox bread knife I bought that cuts through the crusty crust without damaging the tight, soft crumb inside. The knife does a marvelous job. I cannot understand how I lived without it before now.

Since I know how readers love pictures to go with the writing, I have decided to provide some of my own, taken with my Kindle Fire. I'm actually proud of the photos. Well, except for the photo of the clouds you cannot see because the light is wrong. I'll do better next time. For now,

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Big Ape


I'm a fan of fantasy and science fiction stories, like King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. I've seen the Fay Wray version and the Jessica Lange version and even the Jack Black version of the great Kong and the only version of Mighty Joe Young that was ever produced several times. Well, only once for the Jack Black version. As much as I enjoy Naomi Watts's work, let's face it, Jack Black was the star of that show.

One thing I find perplexing is how every time they show Kong in his native habitat, there are other monsters from the dinosaur age, but the trees and plants are the versions we see all the time. If the world in which Kong and his Triassic or Jurassic pals have been cut off from the rest of the world, the plant life would not be sufficient to sustain vegetarians of such massive size, which may also explain why Kong has lived for hundreds of years without skeletal signs of parents or a tribe of gorillas just like him. I suppose some alien visitors took all the prehistoric animals and transplanted them to their fog-shrouded island where time had moved on after injecting the animals with some immortality serum so that living forever wouldn't be a problem even though insufficient plant life to sustain them would be.

I know. I'm forgetting to suspend my disbelief and seeing things in a rational manner which is definitely not a good idea when faced with a fantasy/science fiction movie where scientific fact has been left out in order to further the story. After all, what difference does scientific fact have to do with science fiction? Pure flights of fancy should never have to face such hard realities as how the monsters got to their world forgotten by time and how they could possibly survive without sufficient food. That's a problem for mere mortals like me. And don't get me started on monster manure and what happens to all the urine they excrete. After all, no one goes to the bathroom in movies or books, at least not for anything as mundane as voiding and excretion. (That is urinating and defecating for the low information crowd.) That just muddies up the waters -- or yellows them to be more exact.

That is the main problem I have with hidden worlds cut off from the flow of time that happens everywhere else on this planet. The plant life does not get cut off as well. The plants get smaller and yet the dinosaurs and big apes keep getting bigger. I suppose the plants could supply more nutrition than their gigantic ancestors did to support such a diverse population of monsters, but there still should be evidence of the monsters' forebears to make it easier to swallow that the current crop came from somewhere other than some source of deus ex machina or aliens with a natural habitat-zoo fetish. I doubt gods or aliens work in quite that way.

One thing we now know is that even the vegetarian dinosaurs were likely mammals as the meat eaters certainly were. So much for the terrible lizards since they were all hot blooded. Natural selection, destruction by comet, and the usual sources that killed off the dinosaurs as did dwindling food supplies as the Earth cooled and the greenhouse effect that nourished giant plants and trees gave way to a much cooler environment north and south of the equator. For all we know, the Earth's axial tilt could also have changed. All we have left are the birds, which are the evolutionary cousins of dinosaurs, which by the way, showed evidence of feathers in fossil form. Hard to imagine a chicken or an ostrich coming from dinosaurs, but that is what happened. I wonder why the adaptation for hollow bones came about, other than to make sure the birds could fly. Dinosaur bones were certainly not hollow and were much heavier to support the massive weight of their flesh -- even when they held their tails up and didn't drag them on the ground as scientists once thought. How far we have come in our understanding of the ancient world, even if in the modern world we still can't get the habitats right, or at least right enough for movies like King Kong and The Land That Time Forgot, among other lost world books and movies.

Yes, I still can't shake the part of me that insists on accuracy and something approaching reality. It's a flaw. I admit it.

Basically, the story of King Kong and Mighty Joe Young is the story of Beauty and the Beast. Instead of the fairy tale version where Beauty saves the beast because she realizes she loves him and has treated him badly, Beauty is the reason the Beast dies. His love for his diminutive blonde mate signals his end of life. As Jack said in the 1976 version starring a fresh-faced, scantily clad Jessica Lange, when Charles Grodin took Kong from his hidden island, he took the mystery, terror, and magic from the people who worshiped and sacrificed their virgins to their god. Modern man destroyed their religion and their god. I agree with Jack, but I still wonder how a black race of people got the idea that a blonde virgin would satisfy their god when they had likely never seen a blonde woman -- or a white one -- even though their rituals prominently featured blonde, white skinned virgins. I guess there is some genetic memory of goddesses with white skin and blonde hair even among a people lost from the natural flow of time, but that touches too closely on the theory that the people that created the black races (or brought them from the Pleiades as slaves) were white skinned and likely blonde. Seems to me the fossil records from the American shores show giants with red hair, and then there are those red-haired, fair-skinned giants of legend among the Asian people in Outer Mongolia. Now we're getting back to facts and reality and that is no good for fantasy. Best stick to the story and not think too much or use the dormant side of the human brain. Such mental exercises might increase the use of that 10% and edge into Einstein territory.

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy the evolving special effects and men in gorilla suits, and eventually the computerized special effects of the King Kong of 2005, not to mention the acting styles of the Beauty that fascinates and brings down the only living specimen of a giant gorilla as much as the next person. I love to be entertained, and all versions are entertaining in their own special way, even if Jack Black outshines Naomi Watts in the 2005 version despite Miss Watts's considerable acting abilities. I guess I'll have to be content with the fantasy and the blonde beauties as they turn a fond eyes toward the monster that first terrified them and eventually brought them to tears.

It was different for Might Joe Young since he was brought up by  white family in Africa and, through love and nurturing, and one would expect a massive quantity of fruits and vegetables, the little gorilla became a giant among gorillas and as protective of Jill Young (played by Terry Moore in the 1949 version and Charlize Theron in the 1998 Disney version) as Kong was of his aspiring starlets. The Disney version of Mighty Joe Young edited out the heart of the 1949 version in favor of a less obvious morality play and more schmaltz and pretty vistas. I don't have as clear a picture of the 1998 version as I do of the 1949 version. The earlier version remains as clear as the first time I saw it on late night TV. It often seems like harsh realities and the clear black and white of earlier days has given way to technology and a movie that tests well with audiences that are not favorably disposed toward the real grit and dirt of getting down to the nitty gritty. Such is life and, one supposes, and the art of story telling in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I am in the minority with my insistence on facts and reality, but then I have no problem with talking (and singing) chipmunks and anthropomorphized ducks, dogs, mice, and various other animals. Go figure.

That is all. Disperse.