Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Busy Work

 The last few days have seen a flurry of banking transactions, party preparations and reservations for the resident feline at his vet's spa for vacationing cats. 

My sixtieth .birthday promises to be a relatively quiet affair as two friends and I visit our local history center and museum and dine al fresco facing the river at the Columbia Cafe on Sunday. 

A centennial celebration for my aunt who lives in another city follows in two weeks and will be a gala at her local arts center with cocktails followed by a multi-course dinner and dessert. 

I'll confess that the idea of going out of town, staying in a hotel for two nights and getting something to wear thrills me not at all. However, I am privileged to be alive and invited to a once-in-a-lifetime event, so all will be booked and done. Uncle will stop to pick me up along the way.

 I'll be looking for something to wear, another always
 anxiety-filled endeavor for me.

In the interim, it is starting to rain...


Thursday, July 25, 2019

A Wet Day And Home Movies...

My grandfather loved documenting moments in his family life and was proud of his job as a federal employee which allowed us to live and work overseas. The opportunities this afforded were many and varied. I was reminded of this as I watched a DVD of a small number of the previously reel to reel movies. Created by my uncle and given me as part of a package of memorabilia that arrived yesterday, these were completely new to me. The segments start from about 1946 when my mother was eight and her siblings two and four.

Apart from seeing my mother and her siblings, first as very small children, and through years into their teens, I am in the final segment as a young baby being fed, laughing and playing with my grandmother while my mother remains in the background. The final scene features my young mother holding my arms and standing me up at the edge of the shore at what my uncle says is the bottom of Fort San Lorenzo, Panama, which overlooks the Chagres river, a body of water discovered by Columbus in 1502.

 A sixteenth century fort and village with a lengthy and interesting history, Fort San Lorenzo was used as a transport point for gold destined for Spain from Peru until Henry Morgan, a rather infamous pirate, launched the attack which left the fort and surrounding area in ruin. Once abandoned, the fort was subsequently used for a time as a prison. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 You can read more about this online, if you happen to be a history buff. I was fortunate to have grown up surrounded by all sorts of history which as an older child sparked an interest still with me today.

Seeing this as an almost sixty-year-old reminds me not only of times and people gone by, but how much life truly offers us above hardship, politics or problems if we simply take the time to notice.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Dark, Wet Anniversary...

Sometime in the late hours of July 20, 1998, my mother, then aged 59, went to bed. Riddled with cancer, she had been given mere months to live. She had called her siblings and their father and me and confirmed her weekly chemotherapy appointment.

My mention of  recommended hospice care rendered her belligerent. She brooked no discussion of end of life arrangements, flatly claiming she wasn't dying. This ostrich-in-the-sand approach left me exhausted and was an indication of the depth of her fear, I knew. Our weekly phone calls had became exercises in dodge and dive. She dodged every question put to her, forcing me to simply dive into the small cadre of friends who accompanied her to appointments for information and to remind her yet again to give her doctors a letter giving me permission to speak with them.

The letter appeared a mere three days prior to her falling into a peaceful sleep and slipping away. She was found by the friend who was to drive with her to the chemo appointment. Living in another city, news of her death reached me on the evening of July 21, a rainy night as I returned home from work. The sheriff and coroner had counted medications, determining that there was no obvious evidence of overdose. With the doctor's signature and a finding of death by natural causes, I saw no reason to ask for an autopsy, focusing instead on her end-of-life desires which were part of her Will.

I was two weeks from my thirty-ninth birthday and left to sort our tangled, sometimes turbulent history amid my goodbyes...

As I reflect on her life this night, I am reminded of both her darker side and instances from my earliest childhood when I would sometimes catch her dancing to the popular songs of the time in our apartment or the small house we occupied prior to her second marriage or our singing together to the car radio on the way to school  for the three years I attended the school at which she taught.  I can't hear any sixties music without calling her to mind. My love of books and reading, my cats and other animals, the beach and a varied palate, all stem from her influence.

We, however, were otherwise so dissimilar that it rankled her. An introvert and bullied as a kid, I sought the quiet refuge of my room when not at school, and often found myself on the end of demands to make more friends, wear this not that, go to the Honor Society ceremony because don't you know you are a reflection of me?

Beyond this was a woman with expectations and a strong need for control who frequently lost patience and her temper, taking her anger out on me, often to the point that my stepfather, whom no-one would ever describe as a softy as a seasoned military officer, had to intervene...

Dying at home and gently in her bed was a mercy few with widespread cancer are granted. I hope she was at peace.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Raindrops Keep Falling On My House...

It is another rainy evening in Florida and I've got a scratchy throat and have been slurping hot tea for most of  the afternoon. The day has been quiet. I've spoken with an old friend whom I've known since primary school. She is newly retired and recuperating from recent knee replacement surgery. Another is frantically searching for her escaped cat. I don't envy her this task in wet whether.

 Though people commonly believe cats return home unassisted from wandering, many do not, ending up injured, homeless or worse. Lukas and my other cats were among those lucky enough to be found and taken in. While Lukas is very happy in our small flat, my friend's cat fears thunder and lightening and may have bolted due to our stormy weather. Ironically, he is called Lightening.

Since the demise of my iMac, my forays into social media have been limited and I'll admit that I've enjoyed life without Facebook and will probably further limit my time there. I check email regularly and moderate blog comments once daily but Facebook, with its ads and constant political trolling has just gotten under my skin.

An interesting book by Cal Newport entitled Digital Minimalism explains why and how we get sucked into sites like Facebook and that the phenomenon of people constantly checking their phones or other devices is not merely habit or an age-related thing but deliberately cultivated and encouraged by design. I'll write more about this when I finish the book.

For now, I'll leave you with this question:

How much time do you spend online each day?


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Lovely Surprise...

My Saturday trip to the big box store saw me turning in my haywire HP and buying a new-ish never out of the box iMac. Of course, now that the laptop is working, I'm wondering about keeping the other as it is more costly. The minimalist in me is rearing her head and I must acknowledge that this Apple product may well be my last, especially given the life span of parts and service. I'm extremely happy not to use my phone for more than texting and talking.

I am awaiting a visit and surprise from Lloyd, Florida, courtesy of longtime friend and blogger Steve Reed of Shadows and Light. I've known Steve since our adventures at university and he is a wonderful person with a great eye for photography. You'll enjoy his observations if you don't already.

Another lovely from Lloyd and his reason for visiting that locale is Ms. Moon and her wonderful clan. She is also a blogger and has a wide following. I enjoy her stories, her family and her outlook and wish I too could meet her in person. The bits I've learned about chickens have all come from her.

At this point in my own blogging history, I seemed to have slowed as far as writing is concerned and now realize that I need to remedy that situation. Though I find it difficult to write daily now, writing is like muscle and what you do not use you lose, so I'll be attempting to post more often and we'll see what happens.


This beautiful blue bottle was a surprise gift from Steve via the Good Girls Get Saved by Jesus Thrift Store in Lloyd....Thank You, Steve!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Blogging from an Android...

My HP decided to go nuts this morning and I have had to take it in for evaluation  A newish end of 2017 Imac sits in it's box until a Geek Squad person comes to set up next Saturday. The HP should be ready on Tuesday.
   I find it difficult to read and blog from this phone. But will do my best. If  I am not around much don't worry. I'll be back as I can. Cheers.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Rain and More...

Greetings from dark and rainy Florida where I sit hunched over an old HP laptop. Purchased in late 2015, it too is considered vintage now and contains virtually no software, including Word which I bought with it but which the vendor apparently never installed.It will go with me to a well known big box store tomorrow to see what can be done to sustain its utility while I ponder whether to spend a hefty sum on another Apple product..

Apple stopped making parts for my original desktop about three years ago and will shortly cease servicing it altogether. According to their representatives, Apple does this with every product in its inventory. The goal here is to keep people spending, though they would not admit that.

I've had computers since 1989 when I was gifted an SE. That lasted until 1998 when I appropriated a custom-built PC originally purchased by my mother. This was subsequently replaced by a Dell which lasted seven years until getting my iIMac in 2011. Four computers in thirty years means they've lasted much longer than their respective manufacturers likely intended.

Unlike many, I am generally not an early adopter when it comes to new technology unless it serves a purpose. In my working life, I was surrounded by it and expected to be up to date so that I could best help students or their faculty.and since I wasn't footing the bill, that was fine. Prior to my adventures in library science, I utilized libraries as a busy freelance writer or editor, generally researching for a client.

At home, however, practicality reigns. My dollars expended must stretch since I am retired. Though bells and whistles figuratively appeal, they must match my usage and needs. I do not have a television,  a sound system, a Smartphone, a car, a tablet or other techie items people seem to think everyone needs. My computer, a gifted Kindle and an old boom box are it. This is pretty pared down and likely to remain so. I read, stream movies and watch DVDs, listen to music, write and blog from a computer.

For the few days it took to get this dinosaur of a PC up and running, I was not bored, scared, lonely or freaked out. I did not die a sudden death without Facebook or Gmail  The relative quiet was a wonderful antidote to our sped up existence and something current research says our brains need.

How much time do you spend off screen?


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Solitude, Anyone?

There is nothing like a little enforced solitude to heighten one's appreciation of quiet. I've begun this practice just as my aging computer has begun to fade. The screen goes out for no apparent reason rendering online tasks impossible.

The upshot of course is that I cannot then scroll through endless e-mails, submit blog posts or save anything pertaining to my life online. After some time on the phone with a support technician, I apparently have a hard drive problem which may or may not have been resolved. Further diagnostics are necessary and Apple now considers this a vintage computer and will probably refer me elsewhere for needed repair.

What I've noticed, however, since returning to this post is that my screen is staying lit and I am able to type and read without any problem. As this is a holiday weekend and I must arrange transport for myself and a large desktop. This means a willing friend and sometime next week when both of us have a window of time to go across town.

The support person was not familiar with the error code generated, so, with everything at least temporarily working as it should, I'm not sure I should do anything other than contact the nearest store and ask what the code means if anyone there is familiar with it.

Ever had a fading screen that goes to black?

Happy fourth, everyone...