Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I feel really old right now. Bad enough that I broke my ankle 10 weeks ago, but around 4 weeks ago I messed up my knee trying to manouver my cam boot and foot into the car when the car parked next to us made fully opening my door impossible. Yesterday I went to the ortho doc who checked my knee, and found arthritic changes. He gave me a cortisone and novocaine shot behind the knee, and it actually feels pretty good now. At least I haven't had to go to bed at night with an ice pack strapped to my knee. However, last night my right elbow began an aching/numbing thingy, I guess I must resign myself to slowly falling apart, one joint at a time.

The hub was been bitten by the golf bug recently when he worked at a charity golf tournament. I tried to get him interested in golf 30+ years ago when we lived in San Fran, and got him a gift certificate for lessons, but for whatever reason it didn't ring his bell then. I think he'll enjoy it now that he has time to spare. I, personally, would rather watch grass grow, but to each his own.

I think #1 son has actually gotten a job, full time with benefits, yeah!! It isn't the greatest pay in the world, but at least he's not flipping burgers. I thought, when he was in school, that with a degree in geology a job would be pretty easy to find, but no. There were as many as 300 applicants for one entry-level position he applied for, and although he got an interview, of course they picked someone with 10 years of experience. You hear all the time about the jobless rate falling, but my guess is that most of them are in the "service" area (burger flipping, et al.) and not in professional jobs, where I suppose a lot of the jobs are now outsourced to India or wherever. Both son and daughter can at least still live at home, because for sure you can't support yourself around here for $8 / hour.

I've been doing some knitting, and it hasn't helped with the joint problems, let me tell you. Plus, I think I would do much better if I could actually see; at no position in the graduated bifocals are my hands in focus. Sigh. I think it's ironic that now that I have the time to do leisurely hobbies, I lack the physical wherewithall to do them. If I want to feel like a total blob I'll have to try riding again, that will certainly send a message to my bones that Elvis has left the building.

Friday, May 11, 2007

It's a short trip...

The Newfoundland puppy is driving me crazy. Her latest thing is the swimming pool. We fully intend letting her swim, because she clearly enjoys water...a lot. But our pool isn't open yet; we typically open it around Memorial Day. So right now it has the winter cover on it, replete with puddled water and leaf debris. We have a deck all the way around it, and several days ago Raven launched herself off the deck and into the icky water on the cover. The cover is not intended to support a cavorting dog weighing 50 pounds (at 17 weeks), and if she were to go through the cover she would surely drown before we could tear the cover off, and find her in the mucky water. So we stretched that orange "warning" plastic fencing across the deck to block the pool, but still allow her to go from the back porch out to the fenced yard. The orange fencing is also upheld by two sawhorses, besides being attached to the deck railing. So what did she do? She just launched herself at the fence and trampled it underfoot, then plunged once again into the pool. The barrier lasted about 2 hours. And then she is not only wet, but smells like The Swamp Thing. Again. So this weekend the plan is to add to the deck railing by building an extension all the way across the deck blocking the pool, with a gate. It will be made of wood to match the rest of the railing, and it will be a nuisance because it will cross the area where we hang the hammock, meaning it must be moved too.

The cats are really bent out of shape too, even though Raven just wants to play. If she catches one of them unaware, she polishes them with a big ole lick and lots of dog spit. It has been an ongoing challenge to put their dry food where they can go and she can't; worst of all are the water bowls, since Raven pretty much inhales all the water she can reach. One of the cats (I'm not certain which, although I have my suspicions) showed her extreme displeasure by peeing on the dining table!!!!! At the time, one of the cameras was on it, and it got christened too, which is how I found about it. And we wanted pets for what??

I have signed up for an on-line photography course starting June 6th. It is a composition class, and the students upload their photos for the instructor and the other enrolled students to critique. There are 4 lessons in all, and 11 days to complete each one. I now have a decent digital camera (a Sony Cybershot), and I'm looking forward to doing this. I'll share the assignments and maybe my photos here as i go. My daughter wants to take a beginning photo class, and checked with the local Vo-Tech and the journalism dept at WVU, but both of them have discarded their black-and-white darkroom work and changed to digital only. Most digital cameras cannot be used in a manual mode that allows you to control BOTH aperature and exposure, and even then focus is auto. This means basically, that if you want a very shallow depth-of-field, where your subject is in focus but everything behind is not, you pretty much can't do it unless the background is *very* distant indeed. And trying to take a panning shot of an object in motion is impossible, as it drives the autofocus nuts. It will all be blurry, instead of a sharp subject against a streaked background. And I don't know how you can gain an understanding of f-stop and depth-of-field when you can't control the aperature at all. Sigh. This is another instance where the old was better than the new, and where technology takes the place of actually knowing what you're doing.

Battery power low, must close! Photo soon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Podunk praise

Life in a small town is much different than living in a big city. I grew up in Miami, lived in Memphis and then San Francisco before moving to this small WV town, and it took me a while to get used to the different way people behave. I remember one time, I had gone to the grocery store in our pickup truck, and because the seat was pretty much filled with a baby seat and baby, I put the groceries in the back. As soon as I turned the corner, all the groceries fell over and began slidding all over. I pulled to side of the road, climbed into the bed of the truck, and to my vast surprise, someone stopped and asked if I needed help! Several people called out "You OK?" as they slowed going past me. In San Fran, you could be bleeding to death, lying in the middle of the road, and people would swerve to go around you, that's how unlikely it was that you would get any help. People here hold doors, wave you into traffic, help you load your groceries in your car and refuse a tip if you offer. Amazing.

But the more subtle result of living in a town is that people are no longer anonymous, and this can be a good thing, and a bad thing too. I would tell a funny story about something the babysitter said, everyone would chuckle, and then someone would ask, Who's your sitter? And I would answer, and inevitably someone would remark, I went to school with her, or, my brother is good friends with her brother, and I'd gulp and try to remember if I'd said anything hurtful. The connections seemed to be a network that encompassed everyone. You couldn't be rude when you were driving, cut someone off, flip the bird, because when you got to the grocery store, there they were, your checker. Who clearly remembered the incident. We've lived here 25+years, and although the population is 25,000, less the students, still everyone now looks vaguely familiar, but you can't recall in what context. Was it Girl Scouts? 4-H? High school band? When my kids were learning to drive, we forbid them from taking anyone else in their car. I think it is a huge distraction to an inexperienced driver, and I couldn't imagine how I could face the parents if some child were hurt in a car mine were driving. And I pointed out to them, that everyone here knows everyone, and if they gave a ride to anyone, I WOULD hear about it, make no mistake. And it worked very well, I might add.

But I guess the down side is that it is all to easy to know the private things too. Like when I went to the Psych hospital after a failed suicide attempt, the clerk that admitted me was a former co-worker. Her husband taught my kids at the junior high school. We both belonged to the local kennel club. N knows hundreds of people from work, and would run into them everytime we went to the mall, usually when we were having a little dispute about what to buy. In San Fran, I NEVER saw anyone outside of work unless it was a planned event, never at any mall, theater, hairdresser, park, anywhere at all. It was so different here, I felt intimidated about the books I got out of the library, the videos we rented, the bar we went to, everything. Everytime I came home with fast food, I felt like the neighbors were saying, Doesn't that woman ever cook? They even published (then) the names of patients admitted or released from the local hospital in the local newspaper. They still publish the daily police report, so you can see that, yes, your boss WAS arrested for DUI. So I can understand why people find small town life too stifling, too much like living in a fishbowl. Still in all, I'd rather be here than the greatest city in the world. When my friend from Miami visited me a few years ago, we went to the mall, and at one point sat on a bench. She said, Look where your purse is, then look where mine is. And sure enough, hers was on the bench between us, still looped over her shoulder and with one hand on it. Mine was on the floor near my feet. She said, That's the difference in living in big city. And I guess she is right.