Sepia Scenes: Winter

My last Sepia Scene of the year.



Year End Meme

The objective of this meme is to reflect back upon the year. Flip through your blog and look at the very first entry for each month. Take the first sentence from that entry. Cluster them into a single post (as seen below) and tag other friends so that they might do the same.

1 January, 2009
The first day of the New Year is unique: it is the only day of the year that we awake brimming with a sense of freshly baked optimism for the future and all the changes we must morph through in order to achieve it.

4 February, 2009
Feathery snowflakes whirl past my office window; buffeted by the wind, they rise towards the sun.

2 March, 2009
I wanted to jot down the fuzzy noise inside my head regarding the past seven days.

1 April, 2009
Monday was Mum’s first post-op appointment.

19 May, 2009
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. (quote)

15 June, 2009
Once upon a time, when I was much smaller and less inclined to pay bills and taxes, I would crawl into a pampas grass clump armed only with a blanket and a can of bug spray that I had stolen from the garage.

3 July, 2009
The thunder rolls about like a stray bowling ball, a precursor to a chilly downpour; I’ve paused in my writing to contemplate my possibly precarious (and weather controlled) fate during tomorrow’s mission.

4 August, 2009
I haven't much free time right now.

It really is more impressive if you've actually blogged a full year (haha!)

Pick Me Up


Pictures for Jeff

I haven't much free time right now. I will update once things slow down.

As promised, pictures for Jeff:

"I've never seen black on the Doppler before."

Brutus and his morning breakfast.

A flood of water, 3:30 PM sharp - daily!

Piper's boyfriend.


A Day...

The Voice of God boomed down from Heaven, and He said, “GO TO MASS”, and so I did, but that is not why I’m writing today.

I’m amazed by the Michael Jackson drama. I am not amazed that he died; he wasn’t in the best health. I am dumbfounded by the ferocious display of greed, which, as it so happens, can be rivaled only by the act of throwing an open packet of Hebrew National wieners into a pit filled with ravenous lawyers.

Do not try that at home. We raised ravenous lawyers before the laws were passed in our state. It was very profitable, but now you can be sent to jail for simultaneously possessing a lawyer pit and hot dogs. We were forced to euthanize our ravenous lawyers although we were able to “rehome” many of the young paralegals.

I digress.

I did so on purpose.

You are still reading, aren’t you? Of course you are.

You can stop at any time. I really haven’t anything important to say. Were you expecting something profound? Try Michael Rowe over at the Huffington. He’s branched out from the Advocate (although his Cuba article should be published soon) and has (finally) gone mainstream (hallelujah!) I’ve been neglecting him and all of my friends. I miss them but I’ve felt too out of sorts to really interact with people.

I’ve gone green. No, not really. I am as eco-friendly as Dolly Parton’s hairdresser. My contribution to conservation is a pledge to use up those last swigs of bottled water by donating them to the office cactus. Note that there are numerous bottles filled with prehistoric backwash next to a rather dusty plant. It’s a cactus, damn it. Cactus can go for a decade without water, can’t they? Am I teasing it by placing the water so close to it? Does it care? Will it call Cactus Services on me, whereby I shall have all my houseplants removed and a Guardian ad Litem assigned to them until such time as I comply with court mandated botany classes?

That would be the story of my life.


Snapshots From Above

I have survived the mission (of course!) and am penciled in for one or two more tomorrow. While I can not share photographs from the mission, I can share a few personal snapshots that I took between grids. Enjoy.
This is a fuzzy snapshot captured shortly after takeoff. It does have glare from the back window, but I wasn't about to open the little bird's hatch for personal purposes.
Here are the locks as we head north. This is the Ohio River. Ohio sits on the left, West Virgina sits on the right.
This is also the Ohio River, with Ohio on the left. These bridges lead into my hometown of Steubenville. The top bridge is closed to vehicle traffic. The bottom bridge is the Market Street Bridge. For those who know the area, this bridge is a harrowing experience to drive - it is "slicky" if you travel too fast. The bank on the right hand side of this picture belongs to Weirton, WV.
Holiday people and a weirdly (and artificially or chemically coloured) lake.
This is Piper, held by our Fearless Leader, next to her namesake airplane.

July Greetings

The thunder rolls about like a stray bowling ball, a precursor to a chilly downpour; I’ve paused in my writing to contemplate my possibly precarious (and weather controlled) fate during tomorrow’s mission.

A quick check of Weather Underground reveals little data. Rain, overcast. The phone rings. As adept as a classical mind reader, our fearless leader calls (which means that I don’t have to look up his phone number) and we do a quick chitchat about any unforeseeable delays. We’re a go, 8:30 AM with a planned takeoff at 9. That isn’t the reason for his call, but it’s a good reason for me to include him in my (very unrealistic) concerns.

I’ve always had unrealistic concerns in regard to flying. Prior to a Pittsburgh-to-Denver commuter flight I am absolutely convinced that the Airbus A-320’s nose will shear off, thereby causing me to hurdle towards the earth at breakneck speeds that have only previously been obtained by Paris Hilton shopping a crotchless panty sale. Every dulcet variation of the engines is a sure indication that they are going to snap free of the wings (or the winds will snap free of the plane, or the tail will snap free of the plane and strike the wings, thus causing the wings to snap free of the plane, or should that be vice-versa?) Winter flights will have gremlins building tiny snowmen on the flaps. All of these fears occur before I arrive at the airport and, thankfully, dissipate by the time that I reach the gate.

I actually do love to fly. I find it relaxing (when I’m not distracted by certain death and aeronautical mayhem.) I love to visit new airports and exploring the architecture. I always purchase postcards.

We do not have a gate at HQ. There isn’t any terminal. Our airplane doesn’t have a bathroom. There are two seats (pilot and copilot/observer) and a small bench seat in the back that, for all practical purposes, reminds me of one quarter of a gymnastic balance beam, where I shall park my rump and try to maintain my steadiness as the plane is buffeted in the wind. Stability is essential, as I will be doing photography as part of the mission.

I just know that part of the airplane will break off. I shall switch my camera to a rapid capturing setting and chronicle my terminal fall frame by frame.

Anyhoo, if I do die, I hereby will my rubber duck collection to my mother.

I have been really lax in my blog activities. Here are some updates:

My Birthday:
It was on the 1st and it was lovely. Better Half and I drove to Robinson Township for a nice Mexican meal, and then bought a new flat-screen television (the red was going on our old one.) The first thing that we watched on it was Lilo and Stitch. I spoke with my Aunt Paul, and my cousin dropped off a card and gift certificate (I've been trying to get a hold of her so we can do coffee.)

The Basement:
The Basement War is nearly over. It’s come down to a siege, with Better Half and I pitted against the last vestiges of junk. We have a coat of paint on one-fourth of the floor. We’ve done an initial coat in the dog’s kennel room (the old bathroom.) I have nearly gone through all of the old sheets, blankets and towels that were stored down there. We rearranged some furniture upstairs (swapping things out) and have placed one of the old china cabinets downstairs, where it will hold surplus dishes and whatnots. These are the before and after shots for that portion of the basement.

The Christmas boxes are out of my dining room. My living room is now clean again. I will work on the dining room after we come home tomorrow (if I’m not splattered on some obscure cloud, having been kicked out of the craft by a very annoyed pilot.)

The Dog:
The dog saga began two weeks back, when Better Half discovered a puppy. Better Half is adept at that sort of thing. The puppy, named Piper (or “Piper Meridian Flight Plan Filed On Time”, in order to poke fun at show dog names) is a bright and cheerful pup that suffers from an open fontanel (or molera), which is a congenital condition often seen in toy dog breeds. The opinions on this range from “it’s okay” to “guard the dog’s skull with your life, as a hard knock might kill it.” It should be noted that I will not allow the dog to play rough with the German Shepherd or the Pomeranian, as both dogs gnaw on skulls – puppy skulls are not jawbreakers. (CCA-Molera Statement )

Piper is a Chihuahua and Shih Tzu mix. We don’t know if she’ll have long fur, but her guard hairs give me reason to believe she will have some nice fluff to her.

The Garden:
The Garden is coming along nicely. I’ve had a few plants die back, and a few that died from the heat. The fountain is still functioning nicely and our porch garden had filled out. Yes, that is parsley.

The beds are going wild and I need to trim back the lamb’s ear. The grass is in desperate need of mowing.

No tomatoes yet.

Friends and Family:
I haven’t checked my email yet. I do not know what many of my friends are up to. I should check Facebook.

My mother is starting a new book. This afternoon, she read part of it to me.

(to be continued)

One Upon a Time...

Once upon a time, when I was much smaller and less inclined to pay bills and taxes, I would crawl into a pampas grass clump armed only with a blanket and a can of bug spray that I had stolen from the garage.

The blanket was my hobo’s bundle and it contained everything that a child would need in order to survive in the Wilds. There was always a book but the bundle was usually deficient of water and food. The only truly functional item was the blanket itself, which transformed into That Which Stops Fronds From Cutting at a moment’s notice.

My lack of foresight can only be attributed to the simple fact that I had never met a real hobo, ergo my self-preservation was limited by the proximity of my house to the pampas grass. Regardless, I would sit inside my impenetrable fortress and do what I loved to do most: read.

For those who are not in the know, pampas grass is an ornamentally bushy thing, with sharp grass blades that can cut deeply. My choice retreat was the neighbor’s backyard, where a healthy cluster of them was planted to screen the arroyo behind the house. The neighbor’s wooden fence lacked boards and so my fort had a ready entrance hole. It also had earwigs, spiders, small lizards and the constant smell of soggy bark.

I merrily sat between those clusters, with the plumes high above screening the sunlight and dappling the pages of whatever book I was reading. The wind would play up and whistle through the blades, the grass would sway and I would think of the ocean, or the sound of rushing air over a dragon’s back.

I could pretend to be Tom Sawyer and the arroyo would, with its healthy trickle of water, become the mighty Mississippi. I’d teach my mother not to make me do chores (I’d say to myself) by hiding in my pampas grass fort. They’d have to walk that arroyo and throw bread into the stream in hopes of finding my body. I’d also rescue Becky and find the treasure.

I really was a very sullen and warped little child. I was also very much a boy child. It was a pity that I was wearing a B-cup by third grade. It shattered my conception of myself. It shattered everyone else’s conception too, as I was the only girl on the block who could run with the boys and match them. By the third grade, I had been regulated to Girl Status. It didn’t matter than I could pin Brian the Fat Fifth Grader, or that I could shoot a BB gun with ease. It also didn’t matter that I had every Matchbox car make and model.
All of that vanished in the hot summer heat of 1979. My friends and I snuck into Rancho Park, stripped off our shirts (per our custom) and jumped into the lake. It was Danny that pointed out that I had “mom things”, and a quick pants check revealed that my penis surely must have fallen off due to Cooties, because that’s obviously what Cooties do to a fellow.

I tried a variety of girl-oriented Books that summer and found them pedestrian. My hopes of being a Real Girl were dashed upon the desecrated shores of melted Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Holly Hobbie cling stickers.

Holly Hobbie. Does anyone remember her? She was recently revamped. Instead of the sweet little prairie darling in search of chubby-faced birds and saccharine-sweet kitties, she’s become something akin a Bratz doll.

She has a long way to go before living up to the Streetwalker Bratz™ street cred, however.

I digress.

Reading is a pastime that has accompanied me into adulthood. I spent most of last summer filtering through the Stephen King section of our local library. I don’t know what I’ll pursue this summer. I’m still finishing out Better Half’s giant lizard-centaur books (and still on page 22. HA!) I’m also revisiting some old Friends whom lay dusty on my shelf during the winter.

Has anyone noticed this growing trend of eliminating paper in favor of a handheld plastic device with a patented scroll feature and a memory that attempts to rival a Cray?

New! For Father’s Day! The latest generation. Kindle DX releases this Wednesday, 6/17! Just over 1/3 of an inch, it is as thin as
most magazines, holds up to 3,500 books, periodicals, and documents. Display
auto-rotates from portrait to landscape as you turn the device so you can view
full-width Web pages. 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle
, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, no annual contracts. Warning: this product is not a floatation device.

I don’t suppose it emits little scented puffs to remind us of weathered pages caressed with a schmere of atomic tangerine-colored stain from our nocturnal cheese doodle snacking session? We won’t find the remains of a crumbled leaf nestled between the pages. We can’t even turn the page and find a small fingernail impression left by our long-gone Great Uncle Luciano as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a packed sardine can, nor see the damaged book spine that’s shaped exactly like the back of Uncle Tony’s head.

I won’t be purchasing one any time soon. It’s too bulky to stuff into a hobo bundle and I’m certain that the bug spray would kill the circuitry.

Basement War

I have been MIA for some time, owing to the copious amount of basement cleaning/work that needed completing. Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated although I was almost eradicated by sixty pounds of dryer lint.

We are almost done. We have been almost done for a week. I am very pleased to announce that we have a very large clearing on one side of the basement, as well as another large clearing in the laundry area. This clearing is in jeopardy as I type this; we cleaned out boxes of material and clothing that smelled like general mustiness and cat piddle.

Cats. I have never been a cat fan. I do love the way our cat hops up on the bed and snuggles with us. It’s very comforting to feel her curled up on the small of my back while I cozy on my belly. She is affectionate. Lovely. Charming. She has pushed my tolerance boundary at this point.

This wretched beast destroyed my stairwell carpeting. She has destroyed the nap on several highly noticeable places in the living room and dining room. She has a perplexing disorder that causes her to vomit her food, usually on my rugs, a chair, or a brand new sideboard. Her veterinarian shrugs and offers to remove all four legs, thereby confining her to a single spot. I’ve nearly crumbled to the temptation.

Her recent habit has been to shove all the clean litter out of her clean box, pile it onto my basement floor, and shit or piss. She will do this even if we leave a few “reminders” in her box. Tomorrow I will leave a M18A1 in her litter box, there by solving my problem. Note to self: “front towards enemy”.

I’ve had the opportunity to meander (stumble, screaming) down memory lane. Our excavation yielded my old china doll, bronzed booties, The Cure, a fantastic assortment of classical literature, and some of my old writing.

A friend and I conspired to write a book together. It was my sweat and blood mixed with his suggestions. We thought up technology, social customs and language for this story. Granted, he was too drunk to really do more than say, “Well, George, what if we did more than simple bioengineering?”

My future ex-boyfriend destroyed the book. This moron fancied himself as the next Robert Anson Heinlein. Sadly, his talent was on par with “Where’s Waldo”. His writing style was nothing like mine. His suggestions grated on my nerves. If RJH told me, “well, George, what if we did more than simple bioengineering?” I would join him in a beer-fueled brainstorming session. If the future-ex said the same, he would then follow it with, “this is how I want it…” and no one would be allowed to input anything as he, the future-ex, was All Knowing and All Knowing.

Why did I date him afterwards? I was drunk. Final answer. I did protect some assets by registering my work and our ideas with the U.S. Copyright Office. I did not trust the future-ex.

My friend, RJH, took a downward spiral, as did our friendship. I worried about him for quite a while. He wandered around in a state of apathy, living for the next beer. He was fed quite a few lies from a mutual friend, and I firmly believe that was the catalyst for his breakup with his then-girlfriend as well as our ending. He finally took a prolonged Reality Check and, I would hope, stayed on it. I’m proud of his accomplishments, I truly am. I miss his friendship, even after all these years.

Our daydreaming gave me an entire story outline plus the initial eight chapters completed. I might revisit it. I certainly will change the name of the species. The language was my baby, with a few anatomical suggestions thrown in by my friend. Our own technology has advanced in the last twenty years, thereby negating our species biotech level and my friend’s suggestions. Perhaps I will rework everything. As I told him years ago, I would include him by name, if he wished. He said that he wasn’t interested. (I would include him anyway.)

Yah yah, shur shur.

I stirred up a nest of old photographs. It was the perfect opportunity to jump into the Way Way Back Machine and revisit some old haunts.

It was a cold Christmas in 1992. We had nothing under our tree. We didn’t have a tree. We had an orangutan. It was dead, murdered thirty years prior. It was also stuffed and mounted onto a large branch, festooned with tinsel and holding a candle. Its name was Bobo. Merry Christmas Bobo, from a very drunk Better Half and Aut.

Once upon a time, there was a very stocky Italian who loved to dig up dead things and cruise around in her Jeep. She had a Shadow Dog and really tacky clothing that really didn’t flatter her figure. She could probably bench press the Jeep and the dog, which is why her clothing never fit nicely. Better Half loved her anyway, and took this nifty picture.

Better Half wasn’t always Grizzled Veteran. He was Hottie Veteran with Dogs. See the Hottie Veteran sitting on the rocking chair? Rock, Hottie Vet, rock.

Better Half is MESSY. I believe that is a newt tank on our desk. Perhaps the Savannah Monitor was in it. Who knows.

I went through a blonde phase. I thought I could cover all of my gray hair by making myself look like I had just been frightened by a moose, or an IRS agent, or a fortune cookie saying that some moron named Obama would one day hold office and screw over our soldiers with regard to the TADT policy.

A bad photograph of me. Very bad. Avert your eyes, if possible. Warning: staring directly at this photograph may lead to blindness and erectile dysfunction.

A Christmas dinner. Possibly 2001. My parents, our kiddo Vlad, and us.

New Year’s Eve.


Home Sweet Chaos

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

My poor house. Once so prim, it has become a ships’ graveyard of furniture, boxes, knickknacks, dust and dead bodies.

I lied about the dead bodies. I wanted to see if you were paying attention.

The Epoch of Organization is in no way similar to this present Condition of Chaos. It began with my trip to Colorado. The opportunity to organize our basement did not present it
self prior to then, nor was it convenient to tackle it upon my return. We could have placed all of our Christmas boxes down there but we would have to move them in order to clean. Hence, all of our Christmas is still residing in my dining room, stacked in happy gray tubs (four feet in height.) Never fear! You can not actually see those boxes. The surplus furniture is in the way.

The furniture (and bric-a-brac) comes from my aunt’s home. My cousin parted things out in order to clear the home for sale. She is redoing her home and plans to move many of her
mother’s cherished pieces into her living, dining and family room.

I need to pause here to gush about my cousin’s pad. It rocks. I can’t put it any other way. She is in the process of having her main level carpet replaced. She has already had her basement reworked, with a beautiful laminate floor and freshly hung and painted drywall, courtesy of her daughter and daughter’s friend. It looks fabulous and her mom’s furniture will complete that home perfectly. I’m so happy that she was able to accomplish this transformation. She deserves it more than anyone else in
the whole universe; it‘s a healing makeover.

Back to my mess.

My cousin opted to take her mother’s beautiful breakfront and she passed our grandmother’s on to me. It fits perfectly in our home, whereas my aunt’s matches all of the other furniture going to my cousin’s. I promptly set up that breakfront; the china cabinet that it replaced i
s currently parked in my dining room, awaiting a trip to the basement. (I’ll use it to store “company is coming” dishes.)

Christmas boxes, spare china cabinet, and bric-a-brac - oh my!

The second room, our living room, contains superfluous items from the dining room, a box of clothing my mother shipped out, some garden items, and Better Half. I can move Better Half around with ease but the other items must remain where they
are while I work on Other Areas.

The kitchen. Don’t get me started on this room. I simply have not had the time to wash my floor. It isn’t sticky (dogs are a blessing) but I can’t stand flecks of anything on my floor or perfectly white countertops. Flecks would include a simple tea cup rin
g on the surface itself. Must. Bleach. Counters.

Moving upstairs, we find more furniture. Oodles of it. Spread through three rooms.

My parents plan to move to Ohio, and they do not want to take all of their furniture. They are working on two options: take their bedroom set and store it or leave their bedroom set. Either way, they will stay with us for a month or two while they
look for a new home, and they will require a bed to sleep in. We don’t mind if they stay longer.

My grandmother’s bedroom set is now set up in our bedroom. This is the largest room upstairs, and my parents will need the space for their CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators. Also, we didn’t have a bedroom set. Seriously. We had a bed held together with best wishes, a dresser with more nails in the leg than an ostrich has as
s feathers, and two end tables for night stands. My parents will now have a dresser for their clothing, nightstands (the end tables must remain), a chest of drawers, a mirror and plenty of bedding when they arrive.

My mother is thrilled over the prospect of sleeping in her old bed again. She shared the bed with her mother from the age of sixteen until she moved to New York City. So many memories of her youth and young adult years.

For my part, I am thrilled as well. This bed was my second bed on weekends, shared with
my grandmother. The dresser is much shorter than I remember it being, and the hope chest is no longer with the set, but I can still run my fingers over the pineapple-capped posters and retreat back to those special years when I hadn’t any cares or burdens.

I can hear my No
nna humming in the kitchen. I recall all the building’s sighs and whispers. The landlady, Mrs. Baumen, grew roses in the back garden and the heady scent was more than just intoxicating during the spring - it was deliciously enthralling. I would sit in the middle of the bed (so large then!) and make believe that I was riding in a gilded coach, a flying carpet, a sailing ship, or a rocket. I would pretend to be my mom as a young girl, with real sisters (I am an only child.) Once I became bored with my play, I would tug on Nonna’s skirt and she would put aside her tasks and play kickball or hide and seek with me. We would board the bus and go on adventures that always ended in pony rides or Griffith’s Observatory. We would return for lunch and then I was picked up and tucked into that comforting bed for my nap.

Years later, I experienced an old distortion of time. I ran my fingers over dresser top, feeling the cool pine under my fingertips. I quietly cried. My Nonna was just arou
nd the corner, perhaps laughing because I couldn’t see her as we played hide and seek. Her voice - a voice I haven’t heard in over two decades - sang “you are my sunshine” as clearly as if she were there with me. I recalled the fresh roses, the soothing scent of her soap and the glint of sunshine that always seemed to warm my side of the bed. I felt peace.

I can only imagine what my mother will feel when she experiences her own dormant memories.

Alas, the damn dresser mirror has not been set up yet. The outlet, which hides behind the dresser, has once ag
ain mysteriously died. (I replaced it last week with excellent results. God only knows what the hell is wrong with the upstairs wiring.) The night stand is in my office, as I didn’t want to place it until we had the mirror/outlet problem fixed. Meanwhile, the spare room now contains the old dresser as well as a ton of Better Half’s wucking Battletech. The bathroom is in need of repainting and has a loose tile that wants mending. My desk apparently got sick and threw up several reams of paper, CDs, battery chargers, camera equipment, books, a plastic snack tub, and some dog toys.

The basement is menacing. It has regained its Dungeon title. We hope to have all the boxes transferred to the garage so that I can wash down walls and floor. My laundry area is the test site for nuclear weapons. My sewing machine is coated in drying fuzz. It smells like a basement and I loathe basement smell. It needs to smell like a spring meadow or laundry soap. I would accept it smelling like dog farts at this point. Anything is better than that musty scent basements pick up when they serve little purpose and are neglected.

In short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. That is not to say that this house is a struggle concerning England and France, although as time passes, my “England”, or bedroom, is quickly becomin
g a safe haven for escaping the insanity perpetrated by the house cleaning endeavor. There isn’t any political connection at all. It is my hope that I can show Better Half the negative aspects to “put off until later” aka “snowballs become avalanches”. However, chaotic or orderly, our house is still our house.

Alright, there is absolutely noth
ing that actually ties Dickens to my house woes. I simply wanted to use the quote in something. I’ll go back to Posleen now.

John Ringo: Posleen War Posleen War Series.
My Posleen woes are

Update: the mirror is now on the wall. At an angle. It's okay. It's Up. Up is Good.


Pittsburgh Wine Festival

The Pittsburgh Wine Festival is this weekend. It's not one specific event and you can always choose where you wish to spend your time. You can listen to seminars or make reservations at restaurants participating in the fun. I do not know if we'll attend. It would be lovely to.


Lullaby of Blogland

I've started a photography blog. I was torn between having a black background here or starting a different blog specifically for photographs (which always display nicely on dark backgrounds.)

You can find Lullaby of Blogland at: I will publish my Sepia Scenes photographs from there as well as attempt to keep current with my macro.

Thanks so much,


Musing Behind My Office Window

My head is throbbing today. This has nothing to do with alcohol. I must have clenched my teeth last night. Splendid.

There is a lovely spring morning unfolding outside my window. The industrious bees were already humming around my dogwood, drifting amongst the flowers in search of choice pollen. It’s an entomophilous dance that has take place ever since flowering plants made their appearance on earth.

The question is not “which came first, egg or chicken?” but rather “which came first, flowering plant or biotic pollinator?” During a time when birds and bats (especially hummingbirds) were nothing more than dust contemplating which niche to fill, we had little to rely upon. It casts pollination syndrome into a whole new and fascinating light: flower traits evolved in response to natural selection imposed by different pollen vectors, which can be abiotic or biotic. That is standard theory. I agree with it. Scent attracts pollinators. Your roses, bleeding hearts, dogwood, daisies and other scented plants each exhibit traits specific to the beastie that they are hoping to attract. Coloration and flower shape/size all play into the plant propagation quest. Plants strive to complete their symbiotic relationship with a pollinator, be it melittophily (bee pollination), psychophily (butterfly pollination) or phalaenophily (moth pollination).

Aut, you made those words up.

I wish I had. Psychophily does not mean “psychotic butterfly”, by the way.

It doesn’t?


Oh. That’s disappointing.


A few of the other forms of pollination are myophily and sapromyophily (fly pollination), cantharophily (beetle pollination), chiropeterophily (bat pollination) and ornithophily (bird pollination).

That is your lesson for the day. I did not intend to delve into pollinators. God knows I didn’t even intend to roll out of bed before 10 AM. I haven’t any option, however, as I have an appointment with my psychologist.

Does that have anything to do with the psychotic butterflies?

No, the butterflies are perfectly sane. The psychologist flutters from patient to patient, studying their behavior. Now that you mention it, I believe I’m actually seeing the psychiatrist.

What’s the difference?

The latter involves blowguns and Thorazine, much less flutter.

As I was saying, there is a lovely spring morning unfolding outside my window. The birds are trolling the treetops looking for unattended drinks. The chipmunks have awoken and stretched after their long winter’s nap and are, presumably, contemplating chewing my things in the garage or our neighbors’ electrical cables. The squirrels don’t really come around here, but that might be due to the foxes and other predators that live in the copse down the way. My arch-nemesis, the Damned Black Rabbit, has gone MIA.

I’ll post some garden photographs once I’ve got everything done. Better Half had to move some heavy things yesterday and he’s hardly functioning today. My poor Husband. The garden can wait. (We are a riot to watch! We bought two shrubs and planted one. Just one. The effort kicked our ass. That was three days ago. We might get around to planting the second one by tomorrow.)

Sepia Scenes | Sepia Spring!

The Teach inspired these. It's just a simple sepia with a little contrast boosting. Images of our home. If you look closely, you'll see Better Half (the Husfriend) and our greyhound.


Suives moi!

She followed Uncle down the empty alley, her heart skipping beats and her knees shaky as she watched his hunched form lumbering at a fast clip. Her small legs had some trouble keeping up and he would turn back and snarl, “Suives moi!” each time she lagged. “Follow me!” and “Hurry!” and occasionally “worthless child!” were whips that prompted her to trudge on. Mama’s face floated before her. She had kissed it at dawn before the men came to remove her body.

There hadn’t been black drapes or deeply scented flowers for Mama, as there had been for Fat Auntie. Mama died with Fever, on a pallet on the floor at Uncle’s house. It wasn’t a house, really, and it was silly to think of it as such. It was nothing more than a leaning shack stuck near the train yards, and it rattled in the cold and smelled mildly of chickens.

Uncle didn’t want them to come. She knew this because Mama had whispered it to her. They came anyway, having no other options. Papa wanted to follow his brother all the way to America. Papa was certain Uncle would care for them both until they got on their own feet again.

Uncle turned into another alley and counted doors. He finally paused before a blue one, wooden with peeling paint. He kicked the stoop to shake mud from his shoes, then snatched her by her ear and hauled her through the doorway.

The shop smelled of piss. She covered her nose with her bare hand and wished that Uncle had not sold her jacket this morning; she could have buried her face into her sleeve. He had crossed to the counter and was speaking English to a very thin man. They argued for a short while, and she stood uncomfortably to one side and admired (not that there was much in here to admire) a brass lamp with funny etchings on it. They looked like monkeys gamboling around palm trees.

Uncle slid his hand into his pocket and produced a silk handkerchief - Papa’s! He shook it and three items clattered onto the wooden counter.

One was the brooch! Mamma’s brooch was always at her collar or pinned above her heart and so beautiful in the sun. Papa was in there, his image was at least, taken by a photographer who had come to town to photograph the old courthouse before demolition. He had taken that picture and Papa paid good earnings for it. It was so long ago, in France when they lived like human beings. Papa laughing and Mama chiding him for leaving footprints on her floor as he proudly showed off the photograph. Then she thought of Mama’s garden, filled with roses and daisies, and Mama always pruning and plucking to make it just perfect. A flood of smells erupted from fettered memory: cooking smells, Papa’s tobacco, Mama’s talc, her own soft sheets scented with lavender water. And then Papa came home and gave Mama that brooch and she hugged him so. It was lovely and had a picture of Paris in it.

But Papa fell ill, then died in the hospital in America. She thought that maybe the hospital had killed him in the end. This wasn’t true but it eased her mind to think it. “Papa didn’t have a choice to stay with us,” she was fond of telling herself.

Mama took the photograph and had it fashioned into the brooch after Papa died, saying, “This is as a widow should.” Now it lay in Uncle’s hands, and the girl warily watched as he spoke in rapid English to the man behind the counter.

They seemed to barter a while before Uncle nodded and slid the brooch across the counter towards the man. He also gave the man Mama and Papa’s wedding bands. The shopkeeper fetched a few silver coins from a tin box. She could hardly see them passing into Uncle’s hands; tears blurred her world.

“Suivez moi,” he snapped, grabbing her roughly at her shoulder and steering her out of the shop.

He counted out the coins and then grabbed her hand, pressing the smallest ones into her palm. “Prenez ce argent. Suivez votre proper chemin.” He spat on the ground and pointed towards the end of the alley. “Vous êtes insignifiant.”

She stood in the shadows a long time, contemplating his words to her. “Take this money. Go your own way. You are unimportant.” This is what he had said. She allowed her lower lip and chin to tremble, or perhaps she hadn’t any choice in the matter. Uncle wasn’t coming back. Ever. Fin.

“Mama,” she whispered to the filthy bricks.

“Mama!” she shouted and it echoed, startling pigeons into flight. “Allez où?” Go where? “Allez où?!”

Mama did not answer.

*Hundreds of children were abandoned on the streets of New York. Please visit Orphan Train History to learn more.*

Visual Victuals

It has been a very long time since I've recommended a blog. This is in part due to real life intruding on my blogging hobby.

Visual Victuals is sure to dazzle you. Please take a moment to stop by.

Sepia Scenes: Garden of the Gods

AnnieElf introduced me to Sepia Scenes. My first entry is a photograph from Garden of the Gods in Colorado. Mind you, I don't have Photoshop programs loaded onto my new computer (yet) so this (bland) rendition is via Windows Live Photo Gallery.

This was taken "on the fly" with a Fujifilm Finepix S1000 using the built in autofocus and picture stabilization. I used my steering wheel as a platform; I'm amazed that none of the flattened insects on the windshield made a guest appearance in this shot!


Thanks for stopping by ~*~



A friend sent this to me. A 15 year-old girl produced it.

To hear it properly, you must turn off my Music Player. It is currently at the bottom of this page. Click the pause button on the player.


Email again!

This is getting ridiculous. It was cleared out since my last post on this subject and none of the gems packed into my humble in-box are spam. I am thisclose to murdering a certain "blind copy" twit.


Roadchick Rides Again!

One of my (new!) favorite 'Chick posts.

This girl has moxy!
A tale to lighten up your day.

One of my (new!) favorite 'Chick posts. This girl has moxy!


There are some things that no one should look upon at the start of their day: Dead baby ducklings that have been flattened by an asphalt truck, frock-clad psychopaths named Norman, and anything with Paris Hilton’s quickly decaying face plastered onto it would all be prime examples of Things I Do Not Wish To See.

Ah Paris, that hopeless twit. How maddening it must have been for her when she first learned that self-run sperm banks do not qualify for bailouts. No matter, deposits still taken daily!

As I was saying, there are some things that no one should have to endure. My personal hell arrived in the form of 293 email.


Really, that’s a bit much.

I had only one piece of spam email. Just the one.

I had forty-three joke email (none were funny) and a plethora of “cc” email from a friend who feels I must be “CCed” on every bit of mail that leaves the desktop. “Oh Aut, you’ve been CCed on this,” she’ll gaily chirp. CCed? Is that proper grammar? I don’t think so.

We had a discussion about it not so long ago. She wanted to know if I received her “CC”. I ventured to ask her, “when you say that in your head, does it come out as “SeeSee” or as something else?”

“SeeSee, silly. What do you say?”

“I say carbon copy,” I reply flatly.

Speaking of overly abbreviated wordage, TXT and TXT IM really rip the alligator off my Lacoste. It isn’t that I do not understand it (please, darlings, Auntie Aut was warbling Leetspeak while you were just a gamete in your daddy’s… we won’t go there.) Many of the TXT fiends can’t actually spell in the English language or present a thought using actual words.

DIA - Darwin in action. I find it humorous when some silly twit races by me on the interstate, thumb frantically working as he awkwardly holds a device and hammers out a message. Survival of the fittest, I say; the stupid always die before properly breeding. We can only pray that the fellow doesn’t take out a school bus.

I have become very lazy with my own writing but this isn’t due to texting. I’ve been lazy. I’ve lost my polish. Frankly, I don’t care about this one. After all, my days are spent answering copious amounts of email, most of which isn’t even intended for me. There is an AnnieElf email or two tucked in that pile, I’m certain of it. I probably have Ox Surgical Updates. I am hoping that I have a small note from Michael letting me know that he’s come back from Cuba unscathed. My mother never sends me email so I needn’t worry about that.

Ah well - GOI, Aut. IADIEH.



PS yes it is a new template

As for those codes
GOI: get over it
IADIEH: it’s another day in email hell
TFLMS: thanks for letting me share