Looking at the Camera Flash

Flash of light revives
Old evil resurrected
Jealousy revealed

I was minding my own business when there was a blinding flash from a camera. Immediately I was on alert looking for the source. Usually it is Sparky trying to take a “candid” photo of his favorite photographic subject – moi. Sure enough Sparky was snapping a picture. I personally do not like to have my picture taken. Probably harkens back to school picture days when I would be coiffed with dippity-doo curls. Those curls were achieved by hours of interrupted slumber as the bobby pins dug into my tender scalp. The photos never resembled the everyday face I presented to the world. It seemed that I needed to be remade for the photos – that my normal state was not sufficiently acceptable to be captured for posterity. Anyway, I ended up going through some photos that I had in an album (yeah, the old fashioned photos printed on paper and inserted into books to hold those memories). Some of the pictures were from BC (before children). There was a series of photos that had been taken at a get together with a large number of friends. The photos were very revealing. Not much of a surprise among the people posing, but the camera caught several expressions of the folks in the background. Some were laughing and some were frowning. One had a look of surprise and another glared at the back of one of the others with a look of jealousy and dislike. Of course I couldn’t recall any reasons for the background drama that the camera captured. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there as a subtle undercurrent. In fact, the subjects in that series of vignettes have all played out the dramas of their lives in the public view and not all to a “happily ever after” conclusion….

Looking at a New Favorite

I don’t know about you, but I have several favorite kitchen implements. There is my big spoon that is a cross between a spoon and a ladle. It is a harder plastic, an ugly brown and I’ve had it since my wedding shower in 1983. I have a grater that was my grandma Tena’s. It is an odd affair made of a heavy chrome metal frame with a jagged wire lattice woven over it. It isn’t good for cheese or really hard vegetables like carrots but put a potato to its surface and BOOM! shredded potato perfect for latkes. I have a favorite bottle opener, a favorite pie server, a favorite Tupperware mixing bowl, and a favorite mug for hot chocolate. But there is a new favorite in town.

I was at Goodwill on half price day 2 months ago. I found an odd kitchen item. It is sort of a cross between a spoon and a whisk. I bought it for a whopping $0.19. It is made of cast aluminum and is very light. I tried to look up the manufacturer without success.
Seems the item is considered an antique and the company probably didn’t survive WWI. I had purchased it but hadn’t used it. But that has all changed. I was making a bread pudding for Christmas and my wooden spoon just wasn’t getting the job done. My hand fell on the odd utensil and now I can’t imagine life without this thing! It beat my eggs better than a fork and made them frothy like a whisk (and is much easier to store and clean than a whisk). It folds in bread cubes like a dream. It mixes instant pudding into light and fluffy near-mousse consistency! I used it to make pancake batter and waffle batter – and it made the batter better! The most surprising use was making instant mashed potatoes. I try to avoid the instant because they are either a soupy mess or a stiff and tasteless blob. This puppy whipped those instant potatoes into a heavenly fluff. I never knew that box potatoes could taste so good!

Here are a couple photos of my new favorite kitchen utensil. If you ever find one, do yourself a favor and buy it!!

Looking Warmed

There is much to be said for having a suspicious nature. I am (despite being from Indiana where the population tends toward blindly following the loudest voice) skeptical about many things. I doubt the supposed fun in bungee jumping and sky diving. I am a tad suspicious when government makes sweeping declarations. I manifest some feelings of doubt when a statement is made without supporting documentation. I want to find the truth and not rely on someone else’s interpretation. Perhaps I have a nature that tends to consider most statements as dubious unless facts (from reputable sources) are available. Or it could be that I have spent the majority of my career on the cutting edge of biomedical research. Either way I like to have facts. Which leads me to the current state of affairs. Our planet is heating up. It has gotten so hot that the records have been smashed across the US and the world. There are places where it has always (since they started keeping records) been hot. But the records for hottest day are being broken regularly. Places where it hasn’t been considered hot are heating up. I liked to think that people are willing to admit when they are wrong, when evidence points out that their point of view was off the mark. Seems that once someone commits to a particular opinion they will not abandon it even when faced with facts that completely refute their stance. Therefore we have the ongoing beliefs that the moon landing was faked, that former President Obama was not a US citizen, that former President Trump was denied re-election due to widespread voter fraud, and that global warming is not happening. I could understand if the debate was ongoing on how to best address the issue but it isn’t. The politicos are arguing on whether or not global warming really is happening. We are in a dire situation people!!

When the polar vortex froze our hands
And in my chest an icy lump
The anti-global warming group were smug
Nestled in the pocket of Ex-Pres. Trump

In a heatwave fiery hot
Once rare but now every year
Ice water is the drink of choice
But its in short supply and dear

And as the temperature rises higher
People faint with parched throats cry
Watching the ice caps melt away
This is global warming you can’t deny

Posted just in case we have forgotten in the dumpster fire of 2020 and the Trumpian treason of 2021…

Looking Sluggish

Daylight Savings has done a number on my circadian rhythm. I usually can leap out of bed and start the day without much more than a short beep from the alarm. Sparky is an early riser and he lets me sleep in until about 6:30 or 7:00 AM. But with the falling back – where we turn the clock back an hour – the extra daylight only works for a few short weeks. After that we rise in darkness and eat dinner after sundown. I feel as if I live in the Arctic Circle with perpetual night.

Winter has always made me sluggish but the time change has intensified the effect. What is a girl to do? I can remember a time when I adjusted to this time change with the help of caffeine. My once a day Dr. Pepper helped me stay awake when my body said it was time to nap. Now that I’m decaffeinated, that isn’t an option. Actually taking a nap is a possibility but it only increases the sloth that creeps into my bones about 2:00 PM. I tried going to bed earlier. There was no reset of my body clock. The same with sleeping later or getting up earlier.

I resorted to vitamins. The B-12 vitamins seem to give me an energy boost and the extra iron and Vit D are also helping. I’ve been doing a little aroma therapy using cinnamon, grapefruit and rosemary essential oils. I’m not sure they are making a difference but they do smell good. I’ve been trying to play a “mind game” for about 30 minutes a day. I’ve always been mentally alert so that’s not the issue. It is this body that just doesn’t want to move!

All my reading indicates that exercise might be a good antidote. Due to the university’s exercise facilities being closed (and remaining that way for the foreseeable future) my exercise has fallen by the wayside. My current exercise options are either walking outdoors, joining Planet Fitness where Sparky exercises when he doesn’t play pickleball, taking up pickleball, or doing exercise in front of the TV (there is a yoga channel along with a couple exercise DVDs). None of those appeal to me. Walking is fine when the weather is decent but that hasn’t been the case. I do not like Planet Fitness – the idea of sweating with strangers who are haphazard with their masks makes me uncomfortable. Pickleball sounds fun but I know that my shoulders can’t handle it. I’d end up having rotator cuff repair for sure. As for the TV yoga and the exercise videos, well I’ve tried and after a few weeks I get bored. Maybe I’ll just have to breakdown and invest in a treadmill.

Looking Sworn

We wander in a fog
No soldiers deploy
Say a humble prayer
Do not let us sink
Pry him from his throne

Don’t the dead horse flog
Ignore the decoy
Avoid hidden snare
Take the time to think
Dodge the hurled stone

Lead away the dog
Hidden threats destroy
Take truth over dare
Pull us from the brink
For past years atone

I promise I’m not going to swear. But it has crossed my mind on several occasions. Today democracy works. At least that is the plan. Our nation is in trouble. We have lost standing in the world. The only countries that like us are the ones that benefitted from the policies of last 4 years. We are still in a pandemic crisis. Racism is out of the closet and strutting down the street. Our economy is shaky. President Biden will have lots of hard work to do in the next 6 months. It will take time, herculean effort, and all the talent President Biden has to be able to rebuild the bridges that Trump burned down. There is lots of work to do to bring this country back to a shining example of what a democratic republic should and could be. There are still those who, in a cult of personality, would follow Donald Trump into fascism. They would willingly destroy the constitution and burn this democracy to the ground. Why? Because they think that they would share in whatever new world riches would be gained. It frightens me to think that there are neighbors who believe that Trump is looking out for them and their interests. I am terrified that so many are “one position” voters. They are willing to embrace a man who has flaunted and defiled all the ethics and morals they claim to hold dear because he spoke at a Right to Life rally. They support him because he has tried to restrict access to birth control, prenatal care, and safe abortions. They turn a blind eye to the families ripped apart at the border, the children in cages, the children now missing, the destruction of the educational system, the deaths and permanent disabilities due to COVID. They are willing to overlook his adultery, his multiple divorces, his litigious nature, the misogyny, even his prostitutes. But the moderates in the GOP have gone silent. Possibly they are now embarrassed by the violence, sedition, and betrayal of the rules of law that they so recently pointed to as separating “them from us”. Now they are trying to back-pedal away from their positions as Trump supporters. We are not a perfect nation and we are not a perfect people. But the people have spoken and it was not in favor of Trump’s America. As this posts, I am holding my breath. There have been threats, rumors, rumblings, and warnings from the FBI that violent protests are scheduled to interrupt the inauguration. There have been suggestions that assassination plots are brewing. This is the most uncivilized and treasonous course of action. I pray that the day will unfold in safety and calm. I pray for the incoming President and Vice President. I pray that the security forces are prepared to defend against any and all assaults. I just pray.

As a note the above poem is a Rima Dissolutas. It is French troubadouric verse popular in the 12- 13th centuries. There is no end rhyme within a stanza but each stanza has the same end rhyme for each corresponding line. There is no required meter but the number of syllables in each line should be equal. The stanza lengths should be uniform…

Looking Iconic

Calmkate asked on her Friday Fun about icons. This was niggling at my brain for a few hours and then I slept on it. Don’t you know my subconscious went into overdrive. Here’s what I came up with:

I tend to think in symbols, at least when I’m considering doing art. It then is no surprise that when rendering things related to my father I head to the acorn. It is a barely edible nut yet is a valuable part of the food supply for many animals in North America – everything from chipmunks to deer. The acorn is the precursor to the oak tree. Which if you are not familiar, is a very large hard wood tree that has a long life. It holds onto its dried leaves well into the winter. To characterize it as tenacious would be a slight understatement. Once the acorn germinates it puts out a tap root that goes deep. Very deep and very quickly. These trees once the tap root has embedded itself into the soil are nearly impossible to pull out by hand.

But how does this relate to my father? He was tenacious. He had an iron will. He was stoic and weathered many storms. He didn’t complain when jobs evaporated. He didn’t complain when he became ill. He endured dialysis for 10 years. He was diabetic and didn’t cheat on his diet, followed all the doctor’s orders, and never whined or complained. Even when he was dying he was thankful and kind to the nurses and doctors. His faith was where he drew courage and strength. And the acorns he dropped? We are the acorns that have grown into smaller versions. We have a strength that is not always apparent and iron wills too. We have deep roots that tap into faith that doesn’t waver…

So this post is to provide that icon that symbolizes my father. I also was able to put the acorn detail into the post from the back of the book of poetry I made for my mother. She sent me the photos she took of the book. The front and back are just as I had posted but she included a couple photos of the book opened… so here they are:

Looking Under the Bed

Things that lurk
Hide beneath the bed
Stealing socks
Grabbing toys
Breeds dust bunnies with spiders
Waiting for nighttime

Things are lost
Never seen again
When they fall
Off the bed
Held hostage by the monsters
No ransom note sent

Unseen things
Frighten grown ups too
Silent threats
Poison gas
The death of democracy
Don’t turn off the light

I know you all want an explanation. So I will oblige. This is a Shadorma which is a Spanish poetry form consisting of at least one stanza of 6 unrhymed lines. The syllable count is 3/5/3/3/7/5.
What? You want a little commentary? Okay. As a child I had a fear of the dark. I was especially afraid of spiders and the dark space under the bed. As an adult I am also afraid but not so much of the dark but the darkness that seems to fill so many hearts. So I was reading a blog of someone I followed on Xanga. It was one of those innocuous posts that are the earmark of this blogger. But sandwiched between the photos of children and animals was a remark that made my head spin. “God is making a way and shining His light on us, as evil is being exposed. I would really recommend Parler for truth in news.” Parler has recently been in the news as one of the social media outlets that has been removed from the Google App Store. I was not familiar with Parler but learned plenty about it. It is nothing more that a FB wannabe except they pander to the alt-right, neo-nazi, KKK/Proud Boys, and their ilk. It is rife with conspiracy theorists especially those who have been banned from other platforms. But most importantly they pointedly DO NOT fact check or vet any of the news content. Most of what is posted is opinion and ramblings of some very disturbed people. I was surprised but not shocked. This person is a rabid Trump supporter and has been for the last 4 years. It just made me feel very afraid that so many seemingly “good” people have bought into the nonsense. One should never underestimate crazy. Crazy is now on the loose. Although Trump maintains he will leave (and not attend the inauguration- typical for a pouting baby), I’m not so sure that the 45th President won’t require an eviction by force from the White House!

Looking Bound

This is not about bondage so just cool your jets. I compiled a book of poetry for my mother for Christmas. It was a labor of love. Now to be fair I had started a different compilation in 2019. It was part of my goals for last year but it was destroyed in the great flash drive crash of 2020. The rebuilding of the poetry compilation commenced but with a different focus. I was winnowing through decades of poetry and in a flash (not unlike that of a stun grenade aka flashbang) hit upon the title for my book.

Because my mother is 88 and her eyesight is not what it was, I had it printed in a very large font. That resulted in the number of poems per page to drop to one. In turn that made the number of pages increase to 58. The limit for free printing through the library is 25 pages of paper. I probably could have printed it in 2 sessions but I decided that I wanted it done as double sided copies. Because I have an inside source, I was able to get all 29 pages printed at one go.

After watching about 6 hours of DIY tutorials on book binding, I decided to give it a try. I rigged up a book press using 2 wooden boards and 4 giant C-clamps that Sparky had laying around in the garage. A trip to the craft store netted some special glue. With all the confidence of a DIY newbie, I lined up, clipped together and then pressed the pages between the boards. I applied the clamps. Then I applied 3 layers of glue waiting 8 hours between glue applications. I was getting impatient (not like me but I was anxious to get it done and in the mail so that it would arrive by Christmas). While the glue dried, I began making the cover. Let me just say that none of our legal pads currently have cardboard backs. It took multiple tries to achieve success. I had attempted to use a beautiful floral fabric for the cover. It was a disaster. The fabric was too thin and the glue seeped all the way through and stuck it to my craft table. Which wouldn’t have happened except I needed to weigh the cover down so that it would dry flat (all that glue was making the cardboard warp). Anyway after additional failures, I was down to the last 2 pieces of cardboard. I made it work!

There were a few issues that were nearly the end of the project but I rescued the last cover. I had always planned to have a fabric cover that didn’t need any additional embellishment so I was not prepared for the final step. You see I had to use a plain tan fabric and it had a few spots from the binding/gluing process that were marring the front and back. I decided that my best bet would be to cover the imperfections with a little art. I was smart enough to try out my ideas on the little extra fabric that remained. First water color was NOT going to work. Second, acrylics were also a no go. The fabric paint was likewise nixed. I resorted to Sharpie® markers. Their invention is without a doubt one of the finest examples of human brilliance.

The back cover (with an acorn covering a nasty spot) and the front cover (can you guess where the big boo-boo is located?) showing the gnarly old tree.

Any additional book binding attempts will more than likely be much easier since I am “in the know” for all the pitfalls – having fallen into all those pits!

Looking at Snowflakes

It is winter and we have snow. We will get more snow. I used to think of snow as singular. Logically I know that it is plural. Snow is made of a multitude of individual and unique water crystals. I know that a snowflake by itself is a beautiful creation. Yet when accumulating as a group it loses the individual beauty. Many people relish snow. They enjoy skiing and making snow sculptures. Some take advantage of the cold to skate on frozen lakes and ponds. Others look forward to ice fishing. The one thing I enjoy about a good heavy snow is the silence. Snow muffles the noise of this modern society. When I wake up and there is silence, I know we are covered in a deep layer of snow. That muted world appears calmer, slower, more introspective. In my mind we are snowflakes. We are unique or at least with enough variation to consider ourselves as such, yet we are all the same in essence. Whether you think of yourself as male or female or something entirely outside those parameters, regardless of your race, color, creed, or nationality, we all hurt. Tears are clear despite our outer appearance. And like snow when we come together we are a force to be reckoned with. A singular force. A single snowflake. Bound with others that can quiet the sounds of derision, bigotry, division, racism, hatred, violence. Snow just is. By its presence it blankets and cleanses. Let’s be snowflakes. Let’s come together and be snow.

Looking at a Train Wreck

Have you ever seen something so horrifying that you wanted to look away and couldn’t? Have you ever covered your eyes but still looked between your fingers? Yeah, me too. I knew it wouldn’t be a smooth transition from this Presidency to the next. I expected the petulance and whining (or whinging as the UK bloggers would say) from the 45th President. I knew Trump wouldn’t make it easy. Yet I wanted to believe that decency and honor would come to the fore. Never would I have thought he would stoop to acts of treason! I was mistaken. I admit it. I was wrong. That a mob would storm the capital and actually gain entry to the building is beyond comprehension. I don’t know about you but the last time I was in D.C. you couldn’t even get near the White House fence! The fence – to take a photo! The security was tight. When there were protests in D.C. the military deployed and surrounded the capitol building. They were armed and they meant business. And when I say armed, I don’t mean guns with rubber bullets. They had lethal rounds and were prepared to shoot, shoot to kill, AMERICAN CITIZENS who were protesting as is their right.

However, when Trump called for his base to rise up and protest and disrupt the proceedings to accept the electoral votes, the military was conspicuously absent. Trump announced that the National Guard would be deployed but that turned out to be only for traffic control! Security of our Nation’s capitol was left to a municipal police force (no doubt they are trained and competent to handle city issues). Fortunately the Mayor of Washington, D.C. had the presence and forethought to call states bordering on the city and request assistance from their police and state guard. Thought it was a help, it didn’t arrive quite in time. The D.C. police tried unsuccessfully to halt an organized and militarized mob from going into the capitol building. The security forces within the building were not able to withstand the onslaught. The doors to the senate were barred. The security officers within the chamber had their guns drawn and were the last line of defense for those persons still in the room. It was horrific. It was sedition. It was unamerican. Where was the show of force to maintain “order” that was deployed for Black Lives Matter protests?

In my head I think that the persons who illegally entered with guns and bombs intent on harming US lawmakers should have been apprehended and tossed into jail. They should be charged with acts of treason. The full weight of the law should be brought to bear. In my heart I want justice, and mercy, and forgiveness, and righteous retribution and I figure that should come from God. But right now, my brain is saying that if our government agencies can figure out who sent a threatening letter to the president based on the postmark, the DNA from the envelope flap and using a handwriting expert, then by golly they had better be able to figure out who the guy was that posed with a gun and a Trump flag in the Rotunda and posted his photo on social media!

I’m outraged. I’m saddened. I’m flabbergasted. And I’m tired of all this stupidity! January 20th can’t get here soon enough. Also I apologize for the rant. There are a few things that get me riled and this level of insurrection is one of them. (Gah! I am my Mother’s daughter!)