Monday, July 22, 2013

An afinity to water

Do we know who this is?
At the Lake. Uncertain Date.
Bath day.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whining children get their way.


Mom lets everyone post on her blog but us and that’s unfair. So Kat and I complained. Mom says we whined. But we didn’t. We just complained a lot. We used our best begging voice. So mom said we could write for her blog one time. “Don’t tell family secrets, and don’t say rude things about your sisters,” she said. So we won’t.

Katerina is slow and misspells, so I’m writing this and she’s talking. She talks more than I do anyway. Now that we have permission to write something, we don’t know what to write.

You know that there are five of us. Mom numbers us here, but I personally don’t like being numbered. I don’t mind being called Annie, but my name is Anastasia Marie. No one calls me that except mom when she’s mad. Then we get the full name treatment.

Kat says to write about our trip. We went to Belgium and France and London and Scotland. We made a friend out of the girl who lives next to our aunt. She doesn’t speak much English, but she was fun. We email her. We write in English and she writes back in French and we use a translator. We wish she could come visit us.

We watched our aunt at her work. She’s a photographer. It’s a boring job, I think. Kat wants to be a doctor. I don’t want to touch icky stuff. So I don’t. I want to be a reader. I don’t know how to get paid for reading, but I’ll find a way.

We have a huge library in our city. It’s one of my favorite places. They have a big room with books they sell. These were donated or pulled from the shelf. I buy some sometimes. Kat’s favorite place is a consignment store with lots of clothes. Kat dresses frilly sometimes. I like jeans. I only wear a dress when we go to meeting with Arpita unless mom makes me.

We have best friends here. I don’t think everyone has a best friend. My best, best friend is my mom. But there’s a girl named Penny who lives two blocks from us and we’ve known each other since first grade. She’s my best friend my own age.

I met one of mom’s writer friends. He lives in Sacramento. That’s in California. He made me laugh and Kat blush. And he made Liz frown a lot. Liz is our sister. She’s funny but sometimes she’s way too serious. He sends us a to all of us email about twice a month.

Kat likes a boy named Hayden. I don’t like him at all. Boys don’t think right. I think they’re broken.

Kat says we should ask you if you like flavored coffee. That’s silly. But this is her post too and so I’m asking. I don’t like coffee. Mom does.

We’re done. Writing this was hard because we don’t know what to say.

Your friends,

Annie and Kat

PS: We like to make popcorn balls with our dad.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Click to Mix and Solve

I thought this would be easy, but I only beat the average time by four seconds. You try it.

Some new stamps for my collection

here's one of them:

Prussia - 1858
I only need two more to complete all the basic values, not counting minor types.
They are, of course, both expensive. But if I watch and wait I may end up with them for cheap.

Near my Uncle's House - 3 am

I know what you did this summer and I'm telling everyone ...

Guest Post from Harry

It has been busy times on the old homestead. After an indeterminable number of years I finally put in enough time to retire at the beginning of June. Of course at the same time my daughter got married and the 17 year cicadas arrived. None of these events were related in the least.

The cicadas were supposed to be a big deal. Millions of these little buggers were to rise up out of their nests around tree roots to eat, have happy bug sex, and die. They appeared as scheduled in late May, but not in the quantities I expected. I went through Tennessee a few years back when a different brood of cicadas appeared. They covered the ground. The drone of the chirping made it hard to sleep at night. Our brood was disappointing. Before school let out I could hear them in the woods across the road, but they never appeared through most of the county.

Kate and David got top billing.

My daughter's wedding was wonderful. She was married in one of Richmond's oldest theaters - The Byrd. Built in 1928, the theater is a national historical landmark. It was designed in the French Empire style and features an 18-foot, two-and-a-half ton Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier suspended over the auditorium contains over 5,000 crystals illuminated by 500 red, blue, green and amber lights. The theater's other remarkable feature is the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre organ which was designed as a "one man orchestra" to accompany silent movies. Surrounded by all this opulence my one job was to walk my 'pumpkin' down the aisle and hand her off to her husband-to-be. I managed that and the rest of the wedding went smoothly.

The twins were good during the service, but by the time we reached the reception hall they were getting a bit difficult. Actually one of the two babysitters swore she would never have children, while the other quit halfway through the reception. Fortunately there were plenty of aunts and uncles ready to step in, as well as several young nieces to chase them around.

I got to dance with my daughter and I danced with my wife. I was a happy and somewhat tipsy dad. I was not scheduled to make a toast, but since we were paying for the gig, I figured I could say my piece. I thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate Kate and David's big day and how happy we were that David's side of our new extended family was just as crazy as we were. There was a sigh of relief from my wife when I finished without embarrassing her, let alone the rest of the family. Everyone had a great time and I was hungover for the next two days.

Warning: Babysitting twins while hungover can be hazardous to your sanity. Kate and David flew out of Richmond on the Monday after the wedding leaving Jayne and I to care for our two angels in diapers. I laid on the sofa for most of the first day while my wife did all the fun stuff of cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and generally entertaining the twins. Corbin and Maggie had their own agenda. Corbin believes that there is no mountain that cannot be climbed. If Maggie is quiet, she is up to something. They often create distractions for each other to make a break for something forbidden.

Meal times with these two are fun. They mostly feed themselves now. Maggie is getting competent with a spoon. They love healthy organically grown foods - pasta, cheese, ham and chicken, peanut butter, and yogurt, just to name a few. They also love french fries (chips to our British friends) that Grandpa gives them when their mother is not around. If you give them something they don't want at the moment, it's no problem. Maggie will smile at me as she holds up a piece of raw carrot and then tosses it to the dogs, who are always close by at lunch time.

Well, that covers the first few of weeks of June. One wedding down and one to go. My son and his fiancee are getting married in August. Now daughters getting married is supposed to be complicated. The bride's family is responsible for most of the planning. My son doesn't understand the concept that women run the show, and that two words need to be burned into his subconscious. At any moment, day or night, even in his sleep, he needs to automatically say, "Yes Dear". That is how I have survived 39 years of marriage to his mother.

This marriage will take place in an Irish pub. After the ceremony the first round of drinks are free and dinner will be Fish 'n' chips or Shepard's pie. There may or may not be a band playing. There is some argument about how many free drinks each band member gets. After the 'formal' reception the plan is for the party to move back to our house where we spent the past weekend cleaning up the backyard, stringing lights, setting up a large outdoor pool, assembling new lawn furniture, and setting up a 11-year-old hot tub which apparently is in worse repair than anyone but me thought. This was demonstrated by water flowing from the pump unit to the ground after everything was connected. We also set up a nice fire pit and are about to start on a large-scale mosquito abatement program. With all the wet weather we have seen this year, these blood-sucking creatures from Hell have tormented us morning, noon, and night.

So that brings my summer more or less up-to-date. I am not in the best of shape, but I tried to do as much as I could in the heat and humidity of Central Virginia in July. Yesterday (Sunday) just a few minutes of work was bringing me to my knees and I was forced indoors to rest while others still worked. It finally occurred to me that the antibiotic I was recently prescribed has a warning about extended exposure to direct sunlight. But as you can see (circled) in the photo, I still had the strength to Twitter a certain pixie on my cell phone as my wife (in red) and our son's future in-laws relax in the shade after a hard days work.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

From O. Reader

Daydream Believer

When Davy Jones of the Monkees died, there was quite a moving tribute concert. They tried to keep it upbeat and a celebration, but Micky Dolenz noticeably got all choked up when singing Davy’s song Daydream Believer.

A similar event preserved on YouTube was the funeral of Liam Clancy of the Clancy Brothers. The family and friends all sang The Parting Glass at the graveside. This is a traditional song about death and goodbyes. Occasional once tried to sing it, but sort of welled up a bit, and wished he hadn’t. Sung properly it is a beautiful song. Back in the 60s, Bob Dylan ripped it off with adapted lyrics, and renamed it Restless Farewell.

But returning to Daydream Believer and the Monkees. I have a special interest because it was written by John Stewart, and anyone who has ever actually completed one of my posts will know I have a lasting interest in this late singer-songwriter, ex of the folk group The Kingston Trio.

It is a strange song – bouncy, really upbeat, and yet – if you actually listen to the words – it is a song all about disillusionment.

Susan Boyle (of the British X-Factor) sang it on her first album and it is one of the few versions to preserve the bitter-sweet intention of the song. OK – they don’t have her singing about the shaving razor being old, and they also keep the Monkees significant change of "now you know how funky I can be" to "now you know how happy I can be." But the mood is melancholy, and that is how the song was designed.

In one interview Stewart said that, on hearing the Monkees change "funky" to "happy", he phoned up the record’s producer, Chip Douglas – "Chip, the song doesn’t make any sense now!" Douglas replied it was all about image – for his 12 year old audience demographic Davy Jones couldn’t be allowed to sing "funky". Three weeks later it was a worldwide hit. Stewart phoned Douglas again – "Happy’s doing real fine now!!"

The song helped Stewart pay his bills – he used to introduce his version on stage at times by laconically thanking the Monkees and Anne Murray for singing this song – "It enabled me to buy this coat..."

But how easy it is for a song to change, and hardly anybody to notice.

As noted above, the original song is all about disillusionment. The "Daydream Believer" marries the "Homecoming Queen". The girl could have had anyone, but for better or worse, she’s chosen this dreamer. And now it is the morning after – "our good times start and end with our dollar one to spend" (the then cost of a marriage licence). They look at each other across the sheets – is this it? What on earth have we done? Where are we going? The romanticism of the dreamer is dented by the harsh realities of life as he tries to reassure the girl.

It was written as part of a trilogy – but the rest was never recorded, and so far has never surfaced anywhere.

When Stewart first knocked it out, he thought – well, that’s a waste of twenty minutes, and put it away. It was only serendipity that it ended up being sent to the Monkees’ producer along with other stuff. Yet today, even though Stewart wrote over six hundred songs, and could be viewed a "one hit wonder" in his own right with the atypical song Gold in 1981, this probably remains his lasting legacy.

Even if people persist in believing it was written by Neil Diamond (who wrote The Monkees I’m a Believer – a totally different song!)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

I dunno ...

I was thinkin' more of a collage backgroud. You know? Photos and snippets of newspaper articles and such. This seems flat.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The pixie did this in 5:22

Click to Mix and Solve

Solving a jigsaw puzzle isn’t as hard as it seems. The trick is to start with the borders and work inward. With the jigzone puzzles, I almost always pick 48 piece classic. These are low difficulty because you’re given under fifty pieces to join. It takes all of us several days to do a ten thousand piece real life puzzle.

So … as I said, start with the borders, making a frame for the rest of the puzzle. The Flat sides go out, of course, and the corners in … well … the corners.

After you’ve established the framework, the picture is your guide. If the sky is blue, the blue pieces go there. On this type of puzzle vertical and horizontal pieces alternate. The tab ends tell their own story. For example, if on your border there is an area where design elements meet at the indentation – maybe grass and sky meet right at the indentation – look for a tab end showing both sky and grass. Make design elements meet.

New puzzlers often look at shape. Shape is important but incidental. Similar colors go together; similar design elements go together. If there is a continuing line or curve, look for other pieces with the same elements.

Clear your work area. When you start move the non border pieces out of the area, and move the flat sided pieces in. As you do that, informally organize the other pieces. I mean this: If you move a dark purple piece out of your work area. Move it next to another piece of similar color. Sometimes as you do that, you’ll manage to join other pieces.

Also, follow the patterns. If there is a building, follow the roof line or the foundation line. Look for pieces with those elements.
There is a feature that auto-competes the puzzle. This doesn’t count as your time. But use it a time or two to get the feel of solving a jigsaw. Or, if the puzzle really frustrated you but you completed it (forget the time it took), solve it a second time. And maybe a third. This will give you practice recognizing shapes and patterns.

Be aware that a blue field isn’t always the same blue throughout. It might be lighter blue in one area and darker in another. Pay attention to shades too.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Dancing and "stuff"

Well, we’re roasting in the extreme heat. I’m all sweaty and gritty just from being outside for ten minutes. It’s 105 F and thirty percent humidity. That’s 40.6 C for you Celsius users. My gardens are suffering. This is nasty weather. 

Remember my lament about not being able to buy some books. I was able to buy two of them, and I can live without the third. It went for way too much money, and it isn’t rare, just scarce. So I’ll see it again.

So now, the two items I ended up with are a bound magazine and a book written by someone a Mr. Russell found important in his life. The book seems to have been written to refute some of Russell’s later beliefs and mentions him without naming him. I’m very happy to have this, especially since the only copy online is forty dollars or so. I paid nine dollars. No ice cream this week! Damn it!

This worked out better than I expected. I didn’t expect to get any of this. Only the book by the guy who knew Mr. Russell is immediately important. The bound magazines are for something future. We have to decide how far we’re taking the current series. My writing partner wants to stop at 1918. I’d like to go on to 1942. But … there is all this unexplored “stuff” between William Whiston and his associates and 1860 or so. And it is appealing research AND we’ve been accumulating material for some years. And we may want to write that instead. 

Personally, as I said, I’m attracted to the later years. Who wouldn’t be attracted to quack cures, voices from Mars, a cracked-pot who thought he was God’s high priest for the last days, and well “stuff” like that there “stuff”. 

I haven’t been able to get my aunt and uncle on the phone all day. I’m worried about them in this heat. They’re probably off in some air-conditioned coffee shop laughing at the emails I forwarded to them. Annie tells me that she can now say, “Don’t touch my nose” in French. I’m not certain why she acquired that skill. She didn’t say. 

In RE dancing: When the sun dies. For those who are disappointed by that answer, herewith is a substitute: 

Pixies Like to Dance to This ...