Sunday, December 30, 2007

Picky Little Peckers

   When I moved to my new room I hung a bird feeder outside my sliding door to the courtyard.  It was a type that had attracted dozens of finches when I was living in Hesperia, CA.  But here in Merced, not one bird has come near it.  Why?

   I put some in an elevated bird bath.  No takers.

   So I spread wild bird seed on the bare ground and a few LBJ (Little Brown Jobs, chickadees, I am told) came and pecked cautiously at them. 

   Next I spread more seed, this time throwing it under bushes and trees. This time lots of little birds came.  It is tough to be a little bird. You don't dare feed anywhere in the open.  I guess they are afraid of bigger birds, or cats, or humans.  They will only feed where they can remain mostly out of sight.  They are picky where they peck.

PERSONAL OBSERVATION: I have been told that only hummingbirds can fly backwards. Not so.  Finches and bigger birds do too, When finches were feeding from a hanging feeder, the would approach, hover, and drive off whatever bird had perched on the feeder, and would fly backwards when perched bird refused to move. It aint graceful, but it does the trick.

Passing into New Year

   Everyone should have something deep and philosophical to end a year.

   It was a good year, because I got through it.  When I was a young man and all the years started with 19, I looked forward, and decided I just MIGHT make it to see the year 2000.  How wonderful, I thought.

   I programmed myself to reach 2000. 

   Then 2000 came..and WENT.  I had no program beyond that.  I felt a little lost. What was my scenario for this subsequent years?  I have spent them all living in an old folks home.  Here I live my life, investing in tiny little projects like playing the harmonica, keeping a blog, smelling the roses.  I eat and sleep and grouse about the limitations of old age

   For 2008 I resolve to find SOMETHING exciting to do, a project that makes use of my wisdom and sense of humor, and love of music and art. (I love 'em, even though I am amateurish.)  I will write a book or a play, or paint a masterpiece, or compose a sonata (or jingle of some kind),

   I will sleep eight hours a day, seven at night and one in the afternoon.  I will eat sensibly and lose weight (oh, yeah), exercise on a stationary bike, or maybe a real three wheeler. I will write, write, write. 

   And what I can't do myself, I will inspire and encourage others to do.  My son-in-law needs to get those Christmas records on the market. Wandering Dave will be home from his trip and needs a kick in the butt to get started on his next career. Grand kids need encouragement. Everybody at the old folks home needs cheering up. The management of the old folks home needs to settle down to the business of assisted living.

   Hillary will need guidance, as will our senators and congressman, but maybe I'm looking too far ahead...I have to get them all elected first.

   There will be Valentines to deliver, Easter eggs to color, fireworks to ignite, and rainbows to be painted.

   A busy time ahead.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keep Dancin'

   Keep Movin'.  Don't stand still, or they'll get you.  And don't turn your back.

   I looked out my courtyard door today and.... whoa.  Our favorite yellow rosebush, Jude, had been cut off at the knees.  She had been cut back to three feet in height. 

   Alas.  And yet, I know it was the right thing to do.  It is COLD out there, and she'll sprout again in least, Twiggy did this year.

   The cuttings lay on the ground and I wheeled out and saved some for a friend's garden.  Now Jude will have off-spring to beautify other parts of Merced, our town.

Conseptual Art II

   I wanted a project or two to spice up life at the old folks home. 

   What if I set up my laptop, camera, and printer somewhere for free portraits.  Residents sit in a chair, I focus the digital camera on them and snap, and show the results on the laptop screen.  If it is a pose they like, I press PRINT and here comes a copy.

   What if I make an award of some kind for people who do kindnesses for others.  A huge poster saying something like "THANK YOU, EARL, FOR PUSHING WHEEL CHAIRS TO THE DINING ROOM."  It might say, 'THANK YOU, MARY, FOR HELPING SET UP THE MUSIC ROOM FOR OUR VOLUNTEER PIANO PLAYER." Or even, "THANK YOU, KAY, FOR LOOKING SO GOOD AND RAISING OUR SPIRITS."


Things I Take for Granted

   Thank you, Society, for the things I can take for granted. People have not always had these wonderful conveniences.

   Light at the touch of a button, or in my case, the clap of my hands.  No need to fumble in the dark for a match to light a candle. I even have a back up, a couple of flashlights within reach.

   Shelter and warmth.  I set my comfort level and forget it.  I recently upped my comfort level from 73 75 F.  Baby, it's cold outside...but not in here.  And I don't have to shovel any coal into the furnace.

   Hot or Cold water right in my room.  Thirsty?  Put a cup under the tap and voila! Hot water or cold.  Did I forget to mention a microwave for my tea or coffee or cocoa in a minute?

   Human waste disposal at the touch of a lever.  Off it goes to I know not where, and I am have a fresh white receptacle for the next use. Children wonder as they learn to press the lever and say, "There goes the poo."  But I take this convenience for granted.

   Instant communication with friends, family, paramedics.  Telephone, cell-phone, email...I love 'em all. Never out of touch. I have an hour long visit with Cousin Bertha every morning...and she's in Texas, two thousand miles away. 

   Quick pain reliefTummy ache, headache?  I have a choice of aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen all within an arm's reach.

   Food.  No, I don't remember ever feeling really hungry.  Food is always within reach. I have crackers in the cupboard, muffins and sandwich in the fridge, and fresh oranges on a tree just outside my room. 

   Is this a great age, or what.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ham Hawks?

The staff of the old folks home is willing and able, and bit dyslexic.

Notice on todays menu:  Pinto Beans and Ham Hawks.

Holiday schedule included a Staff Christmas Pride at 2 PM. At 2 PM I was startled to see the staff parade by my door.

Residents may not be much better with linguistics.  One resdent was helping prepare the bulletin board and declared she had to "Rat the Bird before we wash the Momenites."  I translated that to mean she had to write on the board before we could watch the Mennonite Choir.


Thinking Caps Please

I need an idea for a conceptual art project for the Old Folks Home where I live.  Christmas is past, and we are about to grow stale. No one likes stale old people.

Conceptual Art can be anything inspirational, and unusual is better.  Think of Christo and his hundreds of umbrellas dotting the hillside, or his arches in Central Park, or his miles long Running Wall of Muslin.  Totally useless, except as an art project. 

A New York artist conceived the idea of having a crowd of viewers gather on his Manhattan rooftop one morning to watch for his conceptual art.  When they had gathered they noted at a woman had come onto a rooftop of a neighboring building and begun hula hooping.  Then another appeared on another building, hula hooping, and then another on a third. The hoopers kept appearing on various rooftops until twenty were visible, all hooping merrily. 

That's conceptual art.

Now, what in the world can I do at the old folks home?  I have already done Mudpuddle Art.  Thinking caps please.  We need an inspiration.


                     An example of conceptual art

Monday, December 24, 2007

Glamour Girls

Because you may need something to do when you become bored with Christmas story re-runs on television... a re-run of my own...


Female film stars of the early years were known as “Glamour Girls” for their fabulous make up and styles. Can you name the film star from the brief statement about her?.

Left click your mouse and run the cursor over the question to reveal the answer.

Was called “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Picford

Was the “it” girl and appeared in Wings with Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen. Clara Bow

Originated the “vamp” style seductress. Theda Bara

Said “come up and see me sometime” Mae West

Gave up an academy award winning career to have and affair with an Italian film producer. Ingrid Bergman

Was the original “hot lips” in the filmed version of M*A*S*H. Sally Kellerman

Was “hot lips” in the television version of M*A*S*H. Loretta Swit

Said “Fasten your seat belts, it‘s going to be a bumpy night.” Bette Davis

Sang with Nelson Eddy. Jeanette MacDonald

Insured her legs for a million dollars. Betty Grable

Had lavender eyes and was married eight times. ElizabethTaylor

Was known for her “look” though hair covered one eye. Veronica Lake

Glamorous image was shattered in tell all book Mommy Dearest. Joan Crawford

Loved horses so was comfortable with role in Big Valley. Barbara Stanwyck

Married all-star Yankee Joe DiMaggio Marilyn Monroe

Died in a horrible auto crash Jayne Mansfield

Starred in “It Happened One Night” with Clark Gable Claudette Colbert

Had a child by Clark Gable Loretta Young

Clark Gable didn’t give a “damn” about her. Vivian Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara

After her film career, became the First Lady Nancy Davis

Played wife of William Powell in The Thin Man Myrna Loy

Was taught to fly by Howard Hughes Kathryn Hepburn

Had a brassiere designed by Howard Hughes Jane Russell

Her curious French nude scene made news when nude actresses were still news. Brigitte Bardot

Her nude run through the woods brought her to Hollywood Hedy Lamarr

Went on the road with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope Dorothy Lamour

She wanted to be alone Greta Garbo.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tempramental Printers

I don't understand printers.  Now my printer is in a snit.

My old printer would go berserk if you tried to cancel a printing order. It wouldn't work if you stopped a page while it was working on it.  Instead it would run reams of paper printing one line of gibberish on each page, thus spoiling it for any use except scratch paper.

Now the new printer goes on strike if you let it run out of paper. At least the old printer would stop and wait for more paper. This one goes bananas and wont do ANYTHING even though you have restocked the paper supply.

What makes these machines so human? They get their feelings hurt, and they are not fit for anything. 

On television last night I saw a lady hurl a printer off a second floor balcony. It did my heart good.  I know just how she felt.

Later.  I got it going and ordered one copy of a document.  It gave me FIVE, of the WRONG DOCUMENT.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Beast of Burden - or- Trojan Horse

When I was twenty-one, my family was "into horses".  They had three or more, and their friends and they went riding every week end.  I was just home out of the service and I would have liked to join such a congenial crowd. BUT... I knew practically nothing about horses.

A horse is ten times the size of the person who rides him, guides him, is his master.  If the horse knew how, he could be the master of the human. But people who know how easily control that beast. You can fool a horse by pretending to know how... for a while.  Sooner or later the horse "catches on" than you are faking.  And if he wants, he takes over.

My family wanted me to join the social circle of horsey people, and I was willing.  So they put ME on a HORSE.  Right on top, as though I knew what I was doing. And we went on a week end social ride.

All went well for a while, until the horse discovered that I was just a puny human hanging on, not controlling. At a crucial point in the ride, he wanted to do his own thing, and he did.  He ran.

And he ran until HE decided to stop.  My "whoa" and pulls on the reins, nor my cursing did nothing. He had the bit in his teeth and I was merely hanging on.  When he tired of the game he stopped.  The rest of the group caught up with me with lots of advice on how to control a horse.

I don't remember if I finished that ride or not, but mostly after that I stayed off horses. I learned to fly a plane and pilot a boat, but the horse had won his battle of wits with me.  I am NOT smarter than a horse.

What brings this memory to mind?  My computer.  This morning the computer took the bit its teeth and ran away. For nearly half an hour, when I wanted to do one thing, it wanted to do another.  And so it did ITS thing. It downloaded files that I have never heard of, from someplace I have no idea where.  No amount of computer "whoa" would stop it. Not delete/control, not escape, not Start/turn off. Cursing did not bother it either. I could have killed it by pulling the plug, but I figured, that like the horse, it would behave once it tired of the game.

After twenty-five minutes, it settled down into normal routines. I am NOT smarter than my computer.  But I out-weigh it. We labor on, and I drive it warily.  Sooner or later it will take off again. I know it is just a matter of time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Growing Younger - (Toward Infancy)

I thought I would hate it but now I appreciate it.  When they began the policy here at the old folks home, of checking on us every two hours at night, looking in to see if we are in our beds and not on the floor, or worse.

I thought I would resent "Big Brother" opening my door, doing a "bed check", at 12, 2, and 4 am. (Well, 12:15, 2:15, and 4:15, because it takes the caregiver at least fifteen minutes to get to my room on his rounds.)But now I look forward to it.  Now it seems like a friendly gesture, a bit maternal.  Mommy is peeking to see if I am all right... for I have become, a great big, whiskered, wrinkled infant. 

For instance, last night I slept in my easy chair. I become more congested with this darn cold when I lie down, so I sat up, all night and tried sleeping in my recliner. From the chair I cannot see the clock, and oh, how slowly the night creeps by. In the dark, unable to tell what time it is, I really looked forward to the caregiver's peeking in. 

I wave, and he asks if I am all right, and I say yes.  The infant in me is soothed. I can face another long lonely two hours in the dark.

Maybe I can train him to give me a pat on the head as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Deal -- or No Deal

Deal or No Deal has got to be the silliest program on television.

And yet...

I watch it every chance I get.  I love to see those simpletons defy the laws of logic and reason, and gamble away hundreds of thousands of dollars on a slim chance, one in twenty five, of winning a million dollars.

The producer gives them a bushel basket full of money, and they happily throw it away.

Last night the contestant had been given $110,000 and gambled it away.  She ended with $1000.  
Well, that is a thousand dollars she didn't have before the show started.  That is a thousand dollars for playing a game for an hour.  Not a bad reward.
But, oh, the thought that you threw away all that money on a the toss of a coin.

That's entertainment.

Solitary Confinement

This is the third day I have been confined to my room with a cold. I am going "stir crazy".

Getting over a cold takes one week if  take cold remedies. Otherwise it takes seven days.

In case you didn't "get" that joke, it means I'll have to sit in here for several more days, no matter what I do.

I have played dozens of games of gin rummy against my computer, as well as dozens of games of "Racko" I am abut 50-50 match for the computer in gin rummy, and about the same in "two opponent Racko" and can hold my own when the computer plays three hands against me.

I have the computer skill set for "master", since it would be no accomplishment to beat a "beginner".  I wonder how the programmer makes the computer play like a beginner?  Did he built in some bone head plays. 

Furthermore, if I play enough hands of cards to learn the proper algorithm, the one the computer uses to beat me, will I lose interest in the game.  If you always win, it is no fun.  And if you always lose, as I do in chess against the computer, that is no fun either.

Bingo is a staple in old folks homes, but I have lost most of my interest in that too.  Who wants to sit and hear a caller read from a list of random numbers? Well, actually, she draws numbered balls at random, but that is the same as staring at a list of random numbers. 

A friend once paid me a compliment.  He noted that I was interested in so many diverse things and he said,"You'll never be bored."

He should see me now.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Day (or two) Late

A few days before Dave Burke (<- Link to check him out) started on his meandering year long trip around the perimeter of the United States, he came to my room to see if we could invent a theme song for his use on his Pod-casts.

We noodled around for a while but came up with nothing definitive.  I am not sure he ever found one, nor whether he is keeping up the pod casts at all.  I believe he said he had abandoned them.

Yesterday I was idling some time at the keyboard and punched in a catchy bouncy hillbilly rhythm and seemed to go just fine for a home spun travelogue.  Then I assumed the role of Dave in a voice-over introduction: "Hi, I'm Dave Burke, and I'm traveling around the United States meeting lots of friendly folks.  Here's what I did yesterday..."  And the music continues in the background and imaginary Dave tells what he observed. 

"Hey, Dave," I thought, "I've got it...just the very thing for your podcast."

But then I remembered, Dave's already on his way home. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cat on a Quilt

Krissy in Sometimes I Think, tells about her "healing cat" on her bed. Check it out.  But my cat on the bed story is different.

I had a cat trying to snuggle up to me on my bed in the complete darkness, lying on top of the satin quilt.  Rather than being pleased I wanted the cat off the bed.  I sat up and slid the cat to the edge of the bed.

If you have experimented with static electricity you know that cat fur and satin fabric are somehow opposite polarity, and rubbing them creates an electric differential that sparks.

As I slid the cat across the quilt, I was astounded to see a complete outline of the cat in blue flame. The cat didn't seem to mind the electric discharge, but she did mind having to get off the bed.

I laughed so hard at the phenomenon that I had trouble going back to sleep.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Month is a Day in the Life of an African Violet

   The title up there has little to do with this entry, except that is shows how weird my thinking is at five thirty am after a rare whole night's sleep.

   I lie in bed, and I clap my light on with my new "clapper" audio light switch, and I look around my room, and I realize that it is my "world" now.  The Earth was once my world, but now my limitations have shrunk my territory.  My world is a wheel chair, in one  room, in an old folks institution, in a medium sized county, in a state within a country.  It stops there, I do not have a pass port like my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. Well, it IS is the grandest state in the grandest country...that's pretty big, and my wheel chair world is pretty small.

Outside I have a car that I used to drive, and the family heirlooms and my household stuff is in a storage locker nearby. What a weird world, and what weird thoughts to reflect upon.

Once my world was wider.  I owned an airplane and the sky was mine, and I owned a boat which was on the Pacific Ocean, the largest of the oceans, and the wide world was mine.  I once lived in a condo with a deck and a dock.  I could go down to the edge of the dock and dip my fingers in the Pacific Ocean, and thereby be connected with water that had flowed the world over, touching all the continents, and through rivers to all the lands of the world.  I was touching water that had been ice in Antarctica and at the North Pole. I was touching water that has been in contact with Captain Cook, Amelia Earhart, the Santa Maria, and the Titanic.  I was everywhere.

   Did I say this entry was weird?  That doesn't tell the half of it. I was "under the weather" with a bellyache yesterday, and confined to my room for most of the day. I didn't even do a "virtual" mile or two on the stationary bike. My world was room. And yet, there are folks herewhose world is smaller...they have to share a room.  Their world is HALF a room. 

   My world once was big.  When I was learning to fly, my first "cross country" flight was to San Diego and back from Los Angeles.  My instructor asked me on my return if I had any trouble navigating from San Diego to Los Angeles. 

  "No," I said, "I kept North America under my right wing and the Pacific Ocean under my left wing until I came to a huge city, and there I was."

   While boating in the fog one day I came upon a fisherman who said, "I'm lost."

   "No, you're not.  Go east until you come to California."  My world was once larger.

   By the way, navigating in the fog is an emotional experience.  Your world is about a hundred feet in diameter.  It is spooky.  The land is gone, you are alone. And you expected a freighter or speed boat to come charging into your world at any moment. I once impressed a lady passenger who was a day sailor herself, by navigating out into that scary fog-world, and then, using my watch and a compass, bringing us right back through the mist to the harbor entrance.  She was impressed, as was I. 

   That is enough rambling.  It is morning, and it will be daylight in half an hour.  My world will be expanding to take in the dining room for breakfast, and maybe even Starbucks for mid-morning coffee.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Before When

What started the universe?   The concept "It has always been. It had no beginning." is inconcieveable.

And if there was a beginning, what was before that?

And if you say God, or some unnamed force or entity, created it, where was God, or that force, before the universe was created?

It boggles the mind, but I just got called to breakfast. I can think about pancakes instead of the universe.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thank You Gillian Gibbons

Thank you, Gillian Gibbons, for showing us just how dangerous the schism between the rational world and the irrational world is.  You are a lot more tolerant than I. You said you don't want your experience "to put anyone off going to Sudan "

Cancel my tickets to Sudan.

It looks like a horrible confrontation is coming.

LOLI (Laughing Out Loud Ironically) Let's pray that it isn't.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

NaBloPoMo Summary

NaBloPoMo is over.  Last month was National Blog Posting Month.  I didn't post every day but I posted 35 entries, so I think I qualify. I did my part in filling the Internet with drivel (Dribble).

A "dribble" is "a drip going steady."


Chuck Savies Up

I am improving.  On a weekly news quiz a few weeks ago I got one out of twenty correct.  The following week I got three correct.  Today I got nne right. 

My grade is now up to D-minus.