When a Paragraph Becomes a Short Story and Other Thoughts

You know how sometimes you make plans, carefully laid out plans, and nothing goes according to those plans? You know how sometimes it seems there is an evil troll who spends all of his time just messing up your plans? Yep. They do exist, those evil trolls.

A little more than a month ago, I decided it was time to replace my dishwasher. So I Googled, I researched, I made my choice. Then I went to the store I almost always go to for appliances and such, and requested they order the machine of my choice for me. They accommodated my request and a little more than a week later they delivered said machine to my house. Two days later my installer came to remove the old machine
which, by the way, I was not unhappy to see go. It was the machine that came with the house and dishes had to be thoroughly rinsed before they were put into it or they would not come out clean. But at least they’d been washed in very hot water. Anyway, this machine was successfully removed and deposited on the apron of the garage for future disposal. Then the process of installing the new machine – two hours later, we could not get the new machine into the space, no matter what we did, yet the measurements said it should go in. Further inspection detected damage not easily seen – the front frame was bent. Call to the store, who promptly stated they would order a new one and pick this one up. Thank you, I appreciate that. That left me with this space
and the need to hand wash dishes – horrors!

Another week passed, and I got a call from the store. Yes, the replacement dishwasher had arrived, but alas, it was also damaged. This time it was the back legs that were bent. Methinks the warehouses these machines spend time in need to examine the capabilities of their employees. At least the damage was detected before it was delivered, and a replacement for the replacement was ordered. The space remained. Dishes were washed by hand – not an insurmountable task, certainly, but I firmly believe that takes more water because they’re done once or twice a day rather than every three or four days, and the water is not as hot as in the dishwasher. Don’t argue with me, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Finally, the third call – this time an undamaged machine was at the store and would be delivered to me. Did I want it Saturday or Monday? Well, Saturday I said I’d be at Train Mountain for a few hours, so I think Monday would be best. And delivered it was, with no detectable problems. The door opened and closed, the racks slid out, we saw no dents, bends or bangs on the frame.

Now at least I had a dishwasher in the kitchen – and happiness! the installer was able to come Tuesday morning. This time, there was no drama, no fanfare. It slid in as needed, got hooked up as needed, was properly attached to the counter as needed, ran though a proper rinse cycle as a test, showing a leak that was readily stopped. Success! Success is sweet!

And so ended what should have been a paragraph but became a short story.

In other thoughts, as I watch the news, I wonder. Gay marriage was upheld by the Supreme Court – and protests immediately begin, or continue, as the case may be. A county clerk refuses to perform a ceremony because of his/her religious beliefs. I wonder – whose rights are being trampled here? When a paid employee holds beliefs that interfere with the performance of the job, who needs to give? It’s my belief that no matter how I feel, what I believe, if my job requires certain actions from me, I should either perform them or find another job.

And vaccinations for kids – I remember that before I could attend school as a very young child, one hundred years ago, my parents had to provide evidence of vaccinations or I would not be allowed in that school. So why now the hullabaloo because California has passed a law requiring vaccinations prior to attendance in a school? Whose rights are being trampled here? The right of the parent who does not believe in vaccines, or the rights of the other people who attend or work at the school?

Maybe we all need to just cool it a little – step back and relax, think about what harm is really being done to us, after all? Perhaps we do not agree with gay marriage, but truly, does it have any affect whatsoever on our lives? And how accurate are those so-called studies that link childhood vaccines to autism? Which risk is greater, which risk could cause serious illness and even death? Step back, use common sense, research, think. Relax!

On a less serious note, we have had some spectacular sunsets this week

and Sammy or Sarah Squirrel has been visiting the feeder in the bird tree

eating until his/her appetite has been sated, which leads to nap time.

Despite the paragraph that became a short story, life really is good, life really does hold enough. We are having more heat than we need, with each day being a little hotter than the day before. Mid to upper 90s is more than I need or want, but I guess I should take this heat as an affirmation of my earlier suspicions that, following a warmer than normal winter and spring, we could have a hot summer. I could do without that affirmation, thank you. It seems we need to come up with a way to spread things around – you know, things like rain (so half the country isn’t drowning while the other half burns up), things like heat (so half the country isn’t needing a jacket while the other half wishes it could take just a few more clothing items off), things like wealth, so more than half the world is not struggling while the other less-than-half luxuriates in comfort. Just sayin’.

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Share Your World – 2015 Week 26

It is a sunny morning with a promise of another hot day – which means I will mostly stay inside where it is cooler. What better thing to do when staying inside then do a blog post, right? And Cee has offered the chance to share a bit more of my world.

1. In a car would you rather drive or be a passenger? That would depend on who I’m in the car with. Husband always made me tense because I felt he followed other cars too closely. I’m a bit of a control freak, so generally I’d rather drive, but with any of the neighborhood girls I’m fine as a passenger.

2. If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them? Why? I would go. I think. Because I’ve never been, and everyone should experience as many things as possible in a life. Good things, that is. Having gone once, I could make an informed decision as to whether I would go again.

3. Describe your own outlook on life in seven words or less. (NOTE: does not necessarily have to be a sentence.) Oh. Testing me, are you? I guess it would be “Make the most of it”. I could add “Live everyday as if it could be your last”, but I don’t do that myself, being the queen of procrastination. Besides, that would take me over the seven words. Or I could say, “laugh, love, see, hear, smell, feel”. Be with it, be aware of it. This could grow into a very long paragraph, so I’ll stop now.

4. Which would you prefer: a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure–intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or a contented bordering on happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood? I think I would go for the “contented bordering on (or really being) happy, secure, predictable. . .” . It could have some swings of fortune and mood, since you just said “without such wide swings”, which would break things up a bit but not cause too much drama. Don’t need drama.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I am grateful for my friends returning to our neighborhood from their travels. I am grateful for the chance to go out to dinner with a friend the other night and have some good conversation and food. I am looking forward to life being as it is in the coming week, to the quiet, the time on the deck, just being.

As you know, I cannot do a post without photos, so here’s what’s blooming in my yard this week.

I love when lots of flowers come to the party.

The mutant white bunch of flowers amongst the red in the Ninebark.

It is the week of the oranges.



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Share Your World – 2015 Week 25

Since it’s almost time for Week 26, I thought I’d better sit down long enough to take care of Cee’s Week 25 of sharing. I’ve been volunteering at the Train Mountain office a few hours a day during their Triennial Meet (with over 1000 people and 370 one-eighth scale trains in attendance) and there’s something about leaving the house that makes me feel I need to do nothing when I return. What is that, anyway? So today, before I leave, here goes.

1. What did you or did not like about the first apartment you ever rented? I was so excited to have my own apartment I thought it was pure heaven. I have only vague memories of it now – it was a small basement apartment.

2. What kind of art is your favorite? Why? Hard question to answer. In photography, I’m really drawn by portraits showing a lot of character, with strong contrast. My son took a lot of photos of the people in Honduras and Africa when he was there, and some of those pictures of little kids with huge, luminous eyes are irresistible. Photographs of nature, landscapes, seascapes, mountainscapes. In paintings – my interest varies. I’ve always been into more realism, but lately I’ve purchased some more abstract prints with strong lines and colors. I guess you could say my favorites are dependent upon the moment and the mood. Kind of the story of my life.

3. How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order? I am the oldest, with two younger brothers, the oldest of which is nine years younger than I. My youngest brother died several years ago from a blood clot.

4. Complete this sentence: I’m dreaming of a white …. (and no you can’t use Christmas as your answer) I’m dreaming of a white dove with a fairy dressed in white riding on his back, flying around our world sprinkling common sense and love in her fairy dust on all the peoples and the governments of the world. They will be known as the dove and fairy of peace, intelligence and fairness.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I am grateful for the opportunity to see many of my old friends from the days I worked at Train Mountain and the opportunity to break out of my routine for a little while. I am looking forward to my neighborhood friends returning from their various trips and for the opportunity to get back into my regular routine. I am also looking forward to my new, hopefully undamaged, dishwasher being delivered and installed next week.

Now I’d like to share a few photos of what was blooming in my garden last week, and to wish you all a week filled with enough.

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One Four Challenge – June Week 4 – Girl on the Beach

It’s now week 4 of Robyn’s One Four Challenge. My Girl on The Beach this week is a pastel version:
After I opened and cropped the original in Photoshop Elements, I lightened shadows, duplicated that original layer, then applied the paint daubs filter, setting the blend mode to soft light at 66% opacity. I duplicated that paint daubs layer, applied the rough pastels filter on sandstone, and set the blending mode to hard light. I then repeated the last steps (duplicated, rough pastels, etc.) and this version emerged.

To summarize, since this is week 4, following are the original photo as well as each week’s versions:


Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:
smudge wk 3

and Week 4:

Which one do you prefer?

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Sadness prevails in our country. I think the real sadness is that we seem to never learn. We repeat the same mistakes, over and over, generation after generation. We rail against the mindless violence that is reported to us in graphic detail, some new horrendous act seeming to occur on a daily basis. There are the senseless killings – the uproar about the availability of guns after each episode, but nothing happens. I think the guns are not the cause of these acts, however. They make it easier for humans to act out their anger, their insanity, and yes, something should be done to make the distribution of guns more controlled. But I do not think they are the cause.

There is great variety in the kinds of acts that take loved ones away, that destroy families and lives. There are the deaths on the highways, too many the result of drivers falling asleep – a fight that Dawn supports energetically, but that our congress seems incapable of recognizing and passing laws to at last reduce the destruction. There are the insane acts of children – children too young to be suffering as they seem to, too young to have access to guns, to weapons they take to schools and use on their peers. There are the acts of desperate people, people that seem to feel no love, who fail to understand tolerance and humanity, who are living damaged lives. Why?

I wonder – are there really more acts of violence in our times than have been over the generations, the centuries? Or do we simply have more access to what is going on in the country, in the world? Is it the presence of the media, the ability to spread the stories instantly – or are we truly a more insane, dangerous society? Remember the Crusades, Wyatt Earp and Jesse James? I would hope it is that we know more about what is going on in the world. But that hope is not a happy hope – it is pervaded with the sadness that we never seem to learn. We never seem to come up with a solution to reduce the carnage. We never seem to become a better people. A more forgiving, loving society. Why?

We declare wars rather than work at resolving our problems in a peaceful way. We insist the world live the way we think is right, failing to recognize that each culture is different and that no one culture is the “right” way to live for all of us. We have no tolerance for the right of others to march to the beat of their own drummer, and we try to force our way of living on others. This is not peculiar to the the United States, it seems to be the way of mankind. It is what we see in holy wars that have gone on for as long as this world has existed. It’s what we see with ISIS, with extremism in all forms. It is what we saw on 9/11, in Columbine, in Sandy Hook, now in Charleston – in far too many places. Why?

When sadness overtakes as it has once again this week, I need to walk about my yard, look in my gardens, breathe in the beauty that nature provides. She gives us flowers and fruits with many colors and scents. Despite the stupidity of man, nature restores.

This evening I will sit on my deck with a glass of wine. I will listen to the birdsong, take in the freshness and colors and scents around me. I will breathe in hope, because without hope, I am nothing.

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Share Your World – 2015 Week 24

Cee has shared the poll results and posted her questions for this week.

1. What’s your favorite charitable cause and why? Anything for research into children’s cancer. I set up my Amazon Smile account for St. Jude’s figuring every little bit helps. My second favorite would be research into Alzheimer’s Disease – that is one scary thing! Then there’s my depleted travel fund . . .

2. What color do you feel most comfortable wearing? Oh gosh, another of those “it depends” questions. It does – depend – you know. On my mood, mostly. I wear almost every color, but I think blues of all shades to purples of all shades are my favorites – although I seem to have an awful lot of fuchsia in the closet now. Maybe that’s because that’s one of the colors most prevalent in the stores I go to. Or has been when I’ve been shopping.

3. If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? (guest can be dead, alive, famous or someone you just know) First Anna Quindlen I think. I used to love her Newsweek column and I’ve read every book she’s read as far as I know. Can I invite the whole house of Congress, so I can ask them what the heck they’re thinking – or maybe I should ask if they are thinking. My mother, so she can tell me more about her life as a young girl, as a woman, wife, mother – was her life what she wanted? Give me a list – because I’m certain later I will think of people who are not coming to mind now.

List: What are at least five places you’ve enjoyed visiting? That would probably be most of the places I’ve visited. There are few places I’ve been that I didn’t enjoy to some extent. New York City was exciting but I wouldn’t want to live there. Poland was very interesting. The Oregon coast is one of my most favorite places to visit. Portland, Oregon, is a fascinating city and one in which I could probably live if I were to live in a city although I don’t care for that much rain. Seoul and Beijing were interesting. Costa Rica – I could go see more of that country. Then again, I could go see more of lots of the places I’ve visited.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I am grateful for my human friends, my furry girls, the fact that both Gep and Kat landed on U.S. soil safely, food in my fridge and a roof over my head, birds that share their songs with me, the jack rabbit that drives Shasta crazy and that I find entertaining, each breath I take. I’m looking forward to more birdsong, more furry girl kisses, sitting on my front deck late afternoon with a cold beer, waking each morning. Is this all just too Pollyanna? Getting my new dishwasher delivered – one that is not damaged this time – and installed.

This week some prickly situations for you:
2012 07 03_3079

2012 07 03_3081




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One Four Challenge – Girl on the Beach, Week 3

This week I played a bit more, messing with filters, blending modes, back and forth with what I wanted to do. I ended up with this version of my photo:
smudge wk 3

First I duplicated the original image, then used the Pen and Ink filter with adjustments to the settings. This layer was blended to the original using the Dissolve setting. Then I duplicated the original layer, used the Smudge Stick filter, again with adjustments, using the normal blend mode on this one. Next, I duplicated the Pen and Ink layer, pulled it up to the top and used the Ink Outlines filter, blending with soft light mode. My final step was duplicating the Ink Outlines layer and again used the soft light mode. What you would call the result, I have no idea, but the process was fun.

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