April 6, 2013
High stakes yard work is kind of an exaggeration. Difficult as it seems in this cool and rainy weather, I have to think about heat coming on while I’m gone. You can lose an expensive, mature shrub in a week in withering weather without an intact sprinkling system. My housemate and I checked the system and it needed two small repairs. The sprinkling clock works, and I can rest in peace when I return to the motor home, hopefully on April 15th.
It’s killing me that Jim is having soooo much fun while I’m missing some great craft beers and the friendly folks of Vicksburg.
Brian, my computer guru is set to come tomorrow and help me out. This morning I’ll evaluate my insurance coverage before paying the bills and then attend an engagement party in the afternoon. Shoot, I haven’t been to an engagement party among friends in…?? (I’m not counting that extravagant engagement shower In Louisiana.) I’m not sure what to expect. I know chocolate and cherries spell romance so I did put together a chocolate bouquet and a cherry surprise. These kids are 25 years old so I hope to toast them with this old saw:
Here is to Karli, may you always have diamonds on your fingers and knock-em-dead-destroy-the-paycheck-dresses to wear.
And to Danny, may you have an indestructible paycheck.
Karli and Danny aren’t as materialistic as that toast suggests, but it always brings a laugh and they don’t read my blog. What I really like to impress on young people is the definition of treasure.
Before getting on-line this morning, I cruised through some old family photos and put on slideshows of my grandkids at an earlier age. What a pleasure my pictures are to me. A keen reminder that real treasure is our family and friends.
April 3, 2013
Picasa claims it solved its picture loading problem on March 26th. It isn’t fixed. No auto load. After considerable effort, I was able to load my Easter Photos. Or, at least that is what I entitled the folder. I took pictures the day before Easter and the day after. I was elated when I saw them loading. I erased them from the camera, and then? Only the first days pictures loaded into the folder. So, my Easter Sunday pictures are gone forever. Bummer.
Kind of past the point, but I got pictures of the kids coloring eggs.
And son-in-law Cedric making the beautiful Easter Bread he baked on Sunday.
Ken and Virginia discussing the bike route they planned for Easter morning.
The bouquet of lilacs that hid a purple egg.
I dug up an older photo of an Elks dinner I attended.
The Chaplain was fascinated by my Faberge Egg Purse.
And I made a sandwich that tasted so good, I made another and took a picture. I sautéed a Portobello mushroom in a scant touch of oil. Both sides, flattened it with a spatula til it was good and hot and juicy all the way through. I put a half slice of good sour dough french bread on top of the mushroom covered it for a minute to warm it. Then I put a 1/4 inch thick slice of mozzarella cheese on top, covered it again until it was soft and melty. Scooped it out of the pan intact and covered it with a handful of water cress, the hydroponically grown kind from the store. It would be better with the spicier type you can pick yourself in the creek. Yum. I liked it so much I tried it again with sesame seeds in the cheese and added mustard. It tasted like a hot dog, the mustard overpowers the subtle flavors.
Got my taxes delivered to the tax man, yesterday. Brian, my computer guru has been sick all week, so I’m hoping within the next few days he can help me repair this indispensable torment of a computer and figure out how to get Picasa working again.
February 22, 2013
We are parked next to the American Legion in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, waiting for good weather. The patrons here told us we have to stay through Thursday, because they cook jambalaya for everyone for lunch. The cooks arrived about nine. Flys was cutting cabbage for the coleslaw.
Norman was taking a break while Mark cut up the pork meat.
Most of the fat comes off, but not all of it. Then it is set to brown.
When it is almost browned, the sausage is added and it gets stirred some more.
In another pot, fresh crowder peas cook. And still another pot holds rice.
Sally added water and seasoning and took her turn stirring.
Norman gave it his approval and Sally began loading styrofoam trays with the free lunch for everyone in the bar.
We bought a round of beers for the cooks and others did the same. Julia, the bartender is very able and practically runs, she is so busy.
The patrons here depend on the friendships they’ve developed. It is their social life and joy to get together, drink and eat. The bar always has peanuts, pork rinds, or something to nibble on. Beer here is lite and only comes in 10 oz cans. The man standing closest to Jim, is Shannoo. He owns the LA Bar downtown. Everyone has dictated that we HAVE to go to the LA Bar and after we had lunch and a beer, we did.
It is in an old historic building and according to some of the pipeliners, it is well-known outside Louisiana.
It is one of those places that has jokes and stuff and a big horned deer head hanging on the walls; dollar bills pinned to the ceiling, and 75-year-old whiskey. Shannon, doing bartender duty, is the owner’s wife. Her husband is also named Shannon, so he removed the n, added an o, and goes by Shannoo.
We were told the LA Bar serves the very best bloody mary money can buy. It was different, spicy and delicious with a green bean, carrot stick and okra pickle, an olive and lemon slice.
When the previous owner died, the bar was closed for four years. The locals are appreciative that this young couple in their thirties rescued their famous icon. Shannon told me some of these bottles are 75 years old and have never been opened. They are no longer for sale.
I enjoyed taking pictures of humorous signs.
Some are as old as that whiskey.
This one is barely readable. It looks like politicians were just as popular 75 years ago as they are today. Politicians and drunks not permitted on premises.
We walked toward the boardwalk at the lake. A beautiful oak greeted us at the end of Main St. Then the winds and rain suddenly started up again, and we had to abandon our walk.
We read for most of the day. Then back in the American Legion bar for a nightcap. Mark and Marlene were back as well. Mark will take us out to net catfish in his boat this morning if the weather isn’t too wet and too windy. Everyone seems to like everyone in this community. You never hear them grumble and complain about their neighbors. Fine salt of the earth people who know how to have fun. Tonight there will be a dance with a DJ.
June 30, 2012
We visited the Yonghe Gong Tibetan Temple in Beijing, the only Tibetan Temple not destroyed by the Red Guard during the 1960′s cultural revolution. It houses a very famous statue of Buddha made from a single, gigantic sandalwood tree and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. (My camera couldn’t get this picture. I got it on-line from worldinprint.com.) What I did get is the many worshipers around the temple grounds who do not mind if you take their pictures during what is a rather personal, private event. And, the beauty of the temple itself.
Like most Chinese heritage sites, there are multiple buildings and plazas. The complex is huge and mobbed. Ten percent of Chinese identify as Buddhist, but many more really are. The tradition is deeply rooted and the Chinese people want to do good deeds and enjoy a better life in the hereafter. They feared retribution during the Cultural Revolution and have only recently returned to their temples.
A detail of the roof of the main building.
The worshipers mob fire pots to light their incense bouquets, some quite large.
They touch their forehead, mouth and then bow.
During the ritual, they recite the mantra: Mind, Word, Deeds. The street on both sides was filled with incense stands, and we wondered about them.
Then we saw the huge bouquets of incense they burn.
A pot for dousing the flames is ignored and used for offerings instead. They allow the incense to burn down to the nub.
There are many stations like this one where people contemplate their lives and pray to be better citizens and to ask for wellness and hope.
Some worshipers pass through the building behind them that houses multiple Buddha’s, some black, some gold. From Buddha’s position, just a small change in an arm or leg, comes different meanings. Some are painted black, others are bronze. Tibetan Buddha’s all face north.
This man is thankful for his son, in a one child family. He comes to thank Buddha for answering his prayers for a son.
This device is something like a prayer wheel. It has an inscription on it and people touch it quite reverently.
In one open building sat this huge tortoise-like creature.
Its mouth was filled with offerings for the monks, and maintenance of the buildings.
The monks don’t mingle much with the people. They are somewhat reclusive. This one wears a tan robe.
Another wore a saffron robe. The color of the robe dictates different functions.
And, you are never far from the protective spirit of the lions.
June 25, 2012
With my first digital camera, I visited China in 2006 , when China was in the middle of changing from a Socialist/market economy to a capitalistic economy. As a child, I watched a neighbor dig a deep hole in his lawn. Every few minutes, he’d say, “Look at this? He’d hand me a penny he’d supposedly found, and tell me “We must be getting close to China.” He regaled me with fantastic stories about dragons and castles and magic, all happening on the other side of the earth. Simple things that fostered a dream.
We whizzed through Beijing with 300,000 vehicles in a city of 13 million people. Fifteen percent of families now own cars that intersperse with weird motor driven carts piled high with goods, and 8 million bikes, motor cycles carrying whole families and buses and pedestrians all mingling in a way that you are sure someone is going to get killed at any minute. I saw a man carrying a baby high above his head as he squeezed between two moving buses. You just have to turn your head away. We stop at Tiananman Square, so huge it defies the camera’s ability to capture it. A flag pole so tall the flag can be seen all over the city.
Just like us, Chinese tourists, something new for China, have their picture taken at their seat of government, much like us having our picture taken outside of the White House. Sixty per cent of the citizens of Beijing work for the government just like the greatest percent of people in D.C. are under some kind of government employ.
The grounds around the building are beautiful where once there was a forbidding wall around the buildings and the whole city. Chairman Mau tore down the old city walls and built what they call ring roads to replace the feudal walls of China’s cities.
This is “modern” China. We were very quickly dispelled of the notion that we would see Chinese men and women in black sack pants and shirts wearing straw hats. This is the infamous square that led to student deaths in 1989, forever giving China a black eye over their aggressive policies. We are mobbed by vendors selling post cards. Capitalism is grasped very quickly.
We move on to the Forbidden City which was built, or finished anyway, in 1420. Eleven Emperors have lived in this multiple complex of 980 buildings between 1419 to 1911. It has 9,999 half rooms in the palace. Nine is the supreme number. Nine gates, each gate measures nine x nine. Our guide tells us that the Last Emperor, the movie, is very accurate about what happened to their last Emperor.
This is one of 18 water pots around the square, (a multiple of nine). They represent the 18 provinces. All must be in harmony.
Soldiers still guard the palace and live here. Notice their boots and shoes lined up next to their “barracks”. The living quarters of the Emperor is approached by a series of stairs and nine gates to pass through. Each gate is a palace with marvelous gold, jade carvings, incredibly fancy decoration as part of the building, with real gold leaf. The rooms that store antiquities are not lighted, tall columnar rooms, no windows. Pictures don’t reflect the glorious treasures inside.
It seems as though every inch of the building is exquisitely decorated like this mantel above a doorway. The complex is a UNESCO site.
My traveling companion, Michal Houston and I posed before this Chinese guard lion. His left foot is crushing some small creature, I think.
His right foot is balanced on this ball. I’ve forgotten the significance of this stance, and its meaning, but it is the same wherever these lions are seen. And, the dog-like face of Chinese lions was rendered by artists who had never seen a lion. They only had a description of lions from explorers/travelers who passed through China. I always wondered about that. Now I know and so do you.
The roof of the palaces are protected, as you can see. It seems a bit strange to us that the superstitions of old are still, if not believed, at least respected and revered. Visiting China helps to understand many mysteries about the Chinese people’s beliefs that hang on.
This little boy knows nothing of the Ming Dynasty, 1420 to 1644 or the Ching Dynasty, 1644 to 1911, or the turbulent history of the gate he is crawling through. Notice you step over the deep thresh hold as you move from one gate , then palace, to the next.
Aren’t they gorgeous? They are depicted along the walk to the Palace of Tranquil Longevity.
We see so much, it is difficult to take it all in and remember it all. The Palaces all have beautiful names, like the Palace of Heavenly Purity, and so on.
June 9, 2012
Norman Roach is a Lakota/Sioux Tribesman, his native name is To Chase Along. His wife Ramona is from the Dine’ Tribe. He presented her with a beautiful beaded shawl when he asked for her hand in marriage. She wears it in the first, traditional dance she did for us at the Cortez Culture Center Amphitheater. Both are school teachers and they have danced and taught together for 29 years.
The Beaded shawl weighs 30 pounds.
The shawl from the back and a clear look at her headpiece.
I was able to get a picture of Ramon’s beautiful matching boots because the traditional dance is quite formal and slow.
Norman dances the Grass Dance. His costume is supposed to represent the life giving grasses that the Lakota People are thankful for. It is an old dance. The grasses fed the buffalo they depended on, until the massive slaughters that were meant to drive the plains Indians to extinction. He reminded us that Buffalo Bill Cody, a wild western hero, bragged about killing 6,000 buffalo in one year, leaving the carcasses to rot on the ground.
Lakota language is not understood by Navajo people. Navajo has more similarity to Athabascan People who came over the Bering Straits 30 to 40 thousand years ago. Norman and his wife studied the history of Native Peoples and interjected a bit of history as they explained their interest in Native Dances, and how they evolved.
Norman dances in moccasins. He plays flute; songs that are traditional and some he has written. I find a haunting loneliness, like the howl of a wolf whenever I hear the high-pitched flute music.
Ramona played the drum and sang a song about a little goat, and a child. The costume she is wearing is called the Jingle, Jangle dress.
It is easy to see why it is called Jingle Jangle with tiny metal noisemakers sewn on it. A modern dance that evolved when a grandfather dreamed of this costume while he was ill. He asked his family to make the dress and do a dance to make him well. They did, and he got well.
Norman talked about the Hollywood version of Native American life, how women are portrayed as subservient to their husbands. In fact, Native cultures revere their Grandmothers. They are the basis of first nurturing and learning and are the most respected individuals in the tribe. One of his songs was dedicated to grandmothers. He said only in the movies will you see an Indian covering his mouth back and forth and caterwauling. He talked about the misnomer, Indian, to the more accurate identification of Native Americans. Dances are sacred rituals, just as we find music and camaraderie healing and healthful. Then, the pow wows became popular as a venue and now some dances are allowed to be photographed and are public like those he and Ramona perform.
The shawl dance, is controversial. It was the first dance where the dancer spins around in a complete circle. An energetic dance, performed by a young woman. Some of the elders did not like it, but now they accept it. The young have evolved their native dances and they continue to change. Norman quipped, we do not have Indian Dance Classes 101. All are learned from family members. They are invented to serve a particular purpose in their culture.
The Shawl Dance is very fast and as you can see, Ramona’s feet come right off the ground in jumps and twirls.
A good view of the back of the costume.
Norman performed a complicated Hoop Dance that was originally done with a single hoop.
It is a difficult dance, energetic and complicated.
This figure represents the wings of a butterfly. For the last dance, the crowd was invited to join in a simple round dance which is a very Hollywood ploy to involve everyone, but welcomed by all and quite fun. Then anyone who wanted, could have a picture taken with the couple. It was a fun evening
Norman’s grandmother was a survivor of the Battle Of The Little Big Horn. She was five years old. He is very proud of his ancestry and likes to promote the positive history of the Native Americans that the history books often avoid.
To view more pictures of the dances, click on the following link:
Yesterday, we drove to Mesa Verde National Park to see the cliff dwellings and enjoy the high country scenery.
May 22, 2012
In yesterday’s blog, I referred to a ceremony that master balloonist, Fergie invited us to attend. We repaired to the motor home, changed clothes and washed up a bit and then found out we were the foil of this little ceremony, not the observers. Fergie is, without a doubt, a genuine character. First he recited the balloonists prayer while everyone doffed their hats.
The winds have welcomed you with softness.
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well
that God joined you in laughter
and set you gently back into
the loving arms of Mother Earth.
While we were at attention, we were given a cup of champagne. And, we were not alone. Lynn and Jim to our right, were also part of the plot. I thought they were regular crew members. I found out they were part of the veterans motorcycle motorcade from the Freedom Ride, and got invited to fly as we were.
Fergie uses stuffed animals to explain the history of ballooning during this induction ceremony for newbies. We gathered from the heckling of the crew during his speech, he is required to fit every stuffed animal given to him (by them) into the history. No mean feat. Technically, I have ridden in a balloon, but it was a fly-by compared to this experience and I gladly submitted to induction. We started out as turkeys or virgins, take your pick. About three weeks back we visited the ABQ Ballooning Museum and learned about the rich Frenchmen who made the first balloon inspired by a house fire that caused objects to rise high into the air. In Fergie’s version, it was the Parisians ogling of French women whose skirts rose when stepping over a heated vent that inspired the brothers in 1783.
“We’re drinkin’ and drinkin’ and thinkin’ of drinkin’” (This from the crew.)
And, so the convoluted history continued from the original sheep, duck, and cock proving air was breathable high off the ground. The King of France wanted to sacrifice a prisoner to try the balloon. The brother’s didn’t want a prisoner to be the first person to fly. He was released instead. In Fergie’s version the prisoner was the first prisoner to participate in the “early release program.” And the crews dirty underwear was used to fire the balloon instead of rotting meat, old shoes, straw and manure. “We’re drinkin and drinkin…”
Fergie, part preacher, actor, comedian, and all around good guy, getting high on flying and fun. “We are drinkin’ and drinkin’ and thinkin’ about drinkin’ is an essential part of the ceremony.
We kind of learned why his Balloon was named Itsa Touchie Subject, again by some off comments from the crew about “…burning fabric…” and “…a big hole in the balloon” and from event officials, “why doesn’t your balloon have a name?
At the end of the ceremony, we were pinned as genuine flyers.
Crew member, Patty, pinned Jim in the vicinity of his brain. Fergie pinned me over my heart. It was all in fun, and the crew enjoyed the celebration as much as we did.
So, hey, Fergie. What are you gonna to be when you grow up?
My second file of balloon pictures is available in the following link. It takes about two minutes for a full screen slideshow.
Yesterday, we outdid ourselves, putting in a nine-to-five, visiting four museums, jewelry stores, The Gallup Cultural Center, and the famous El Rancho Hotel. We leave for Window Rock this morning, so I’ll try and catch up with our last day in Gallup tomorrow morning.
April 24, 2012
I just happen to have an extra telephone pole hanging around at my rental which is near my house. I had a new pole installed to operate the well, but the contractor didn’t remove the old pole. I caught this freesia in bloom hiding among the grasses, but, I got so excited I completely forgot to take pictures as the new contractor cut it down and brought it to my house.
They trimmed it to twenty feet.
Dug a five foot deep hole.
And put it in the ground. It stands fifteen feet high and is ready to be transformed into a totem. Today, I’ll start some preliminary decorating, just to see how it works out. The purpose is for a fun project at our family and friends reunion in July.
I was inspired by this totem put up by a local club in the neighborhood called The Barnies”. They charge themselves an initiation fee to join. The money goes to keep the barn maintained in good shape, and pay the power and to use it as a meeting place for a once a month pot luck. They invite a musician into play, barbeque, play bocce. In other words, just have fun.
the totem was one of their fun projects. Anything goes.
I’m posting this so everyone will bring their junk and we will find a way to get it on the totem. Jan will do a rain dance, no doubt. It will get well christened. We still like to flume, and play horseshoes and bocce, but for some of us, a new piece of art is just the right touch.
I hope you agree and get inspired by The Barnies creation as I was.
You’ll have to admit it is a fun way to recycle.
April 10, 2012
I watched a documentary about Kevin Klash, who dreamed of becoming a puppeteer on Sesame Street when he was a young child. Klash is an endearing subject, who followed his dream and grew up to become a now famous puppeteer. How is it that some children seem to know exactly what they want to be when they grow up? When a teacher would ask my classmates what each one wanted to be when he/she grew up, most of them didn’t have a clue. I just wanted to be myself. My grandson Theo is certain he wants to work for Lego and become a designer. My experience tells me he will have changed his mind several times about his chosen occupation before he grows up. But, in the meantime, he is very serious and he owns, with a brother, a mountainous collection of legos. (Hidden under his bed.)
Click on the link to hear the budding engineer describe his passion:
His brother, Owen, has been chosen from among his peers to be a demonstrator for karate. They encourage others to try their craft and only those who are very proficient are chosen to go on demo gigs. He is practicing one particular move, and showed me that move:
One of the great joys of being a grandma, is not carrying pictures around, but uploading their feats to youtube and sharing on a blog. I still have people ask me, what’s a blog? It is a web-log. Thus blog.
April 6, 2012
Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?
You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.
You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.
You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.
You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.
You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.
One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.
I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.
Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House now? He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.
If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.
If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ..
If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.
There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.
Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
They, and they alone, have the power.
They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees…
We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!”