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: http://lullabyofblogland.blogspot.com/. 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


Home! Home!!!

I'm home. It was a surprisingly swift trip and I will try to blog about it later on. I want nothing more than to drink my coffee, eat my toast and catch up on things at the moment.

Better Half kept the house immaculate (he must have hid the kegs and dancing girls) and the dogs are behaving themselves (indubitably hung over.)

It feels good to be back. I'm already planning my flower beds, plotting to repaint the living room, and pondering cleaning the carpets.

'Tis good.

Mum's post-op(2) appointment is this morning. I'm hoping that everything goes well. I miss my parents.

Better Half is pestering the hell out of me, although I do not mind. I have to retrain him to keep the damn Pomeranian off the bed at night.

Our First Tree

Once upon a time, Better Half and I lived in a very tiny house that was tucked onto a very tiny street.

We planted a very tiny tree. It wasn't any higher than my thigh.

In honor of Better Half, I visited the old house and found our tree.

Look baby! A little bit of our love grows all the way out here in Colorado!


Olympic Training Center

A couple of pictures taken at
the Olympic Training Center


Glen Eyrie with Dad

Can you stand one more tourist entry? This one has a picture of sheep.

Technically these entries don't qualify as "touristocratic" as they are my old haunts. Dad and I stopped by here on our way home from Garden of the Gods.

Glen Eyrie. The name means "Valley of the Eagle's Nest". Glen Eyrie castle was built by General Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs. You can discover the fascinating history at http://www.gleneyrie.org/us/ministries/gleneyrie/aboutus/history

I want to wrap up these posts; this is a quick tour of the areas that we were able to visit.

The bookshop, relocated to the Carriage House, had some sweet treasured tucked away.

Spring arrives at the Carriage House

An ancient gate

You can take a video tour from this room. The Carriage House housed the horses and carriages. The floors are still rough stone interlaced with iron grates that once drained away horse urine and water. The interior is freshly painted and everything looks romantic and crisp. What a delightful find!

The castle proper was closed to visitors; there are weekend retreats in session.

Better Half and I love this castle and grounds. We shared High Tea here, Revels and Mads, and a passion for his heritage.

Air Force Academy Stadium with Dad

I've decided to quit my day job. Now that I'm not working, will you please let me out? I don't even like football!

The idiot in the window is your very own Autrice. I'm sans makeup (do I even have any?) and sporting my nifty "get ready in under 10 minutes" hairdo.

I tagged along with Dad today. He pulled a service call at the Air Force Academy football stadium. I never stay out of mischief, of course. I accept full responsibility for my penchant for getting into trouble. I had to check out the press box.

I wonder if the non-working media is escorted away. We are an Obamanation now. The needs of the unemployed outweigh the needs of the rest. Perhaps the now-defunct Denver Post would like to appeal to the AFA for free tickets?

The views were spectacular, both of Pikes Peak and of the stadium and field itself.

Dad finished up his project...

... under the watchful eye of this military K-9 Belgium Malinois. He was exquisite. I first caught sight of him as I crossed the second floor lobby; twin ears sliced upward and deep brown eyes peered at me as he tracked my progress. (The dog, not Dad.)

He loves his Kong.

It was a lovely morning with my Dad. He explained the complexity of the sound system and relays; it was like going back in time and visiting my younger self, sitting beside Dad and listening as he taught me during our weekends at Hannon and Paramount.

Garden of the Gods

Dad and I visited the Air Force Academy, Garden of the Gods and Glen Eyrie today. Photographs from Garden of the Gods are below.

Our last house was down the way from this beautiful location. I would frequently drive through the park as a means of relieving stress after a hectic day.

Garden Of The Gods Official Website:
"Garden of the Gods Park, with its vertical red rocks and Pikes Peak views, is recognized worldwide as an iconic landmark of the American West.

Three of North America’s major ecosystems converge within the Park’s boundaries. Its varied rock formations reveal one of the most extensive displays of earth history found anywhere.

Garden of the Gods Park is nationally known as a cultural crossroads where American Indians, explorers, “Pikes Peak or Bust” gold-seekers, railroad builders, homesteaders and health seekers all were drawn to the red rock formations that mark the dramatic meeting place of the Great Plains with the Rocky Mountains."

The park is 3,300 acres (1,300 ha) and it was established as a park in 1909 when the land was donated by Charles Elliot Perkins' children. It is a Natural Monument designated as Category III by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Geological Data that Aut was too lazy to compile. It is borrowed from Wikipedia but it is accurate (amazing, that!)

"The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of red and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Pikes Peak massif. Evidence of past ages; ancient seas, eroded remains of ancestral mountain ranges, alluvial fans, sandy beaches and great sand dune fields can be read in the rocks.

A spectacular shear fault can be observed where the Tower of Babel (Lyons Sandstone) contacts the Fountain Formation. The name Colorado is said to come from the color of the sandstone. There are many fossils to be seen: marine forms, plant fossils, and some dinosaur fossils.

The hogbacks, so named because they resemble the backs and spines of a pig, are ridges of sandstone whose layers are tilted. Instead of lying horizontally, some layers are even vertically oriented. Each hogback can range up to several hundred feet long, and the tallest (called North Gateway Rock) rises to a height of 320 feet (98 m) tall. A notable rock feature on this hogback, the Kissing Camels, appears to be two very large camels sitting face to face with their lips touching. The hump on the northern-most camel broke off from erosion and heavy climbing."

I hate it when I spend time typing only to find that Wiki has assembled the facts. I also am amazed when Wiki gets the facts correct.

As I was saying -

The park has its own dinosaur: Theiophytalia kerri was officially classified as a unique species not too long ago (but discovered in 1878). It was an herbivore beastie that lived on the cusp of the inland sea that was tucked into Colorado itself. Yes, there are seashells and other marine life fossils within the rock formations throughout this area. [ DinoData - Theiophytalia kerri [sG] [T] ]

The pictures here are all mine. Use them as you wish as long as you don't abuse them.

Balancing Rock

Cathedral Valley

Kissing Camels rock formation

A bunch of ridiculously fat tourists pretending to hold up Balancing Rock

I need to comment on that.

Without fail, the conversation always plays out like this:

"Hey Bubba! Lookit that rock!"

"Yeah Dahrlin, that's a big ass rock. Woooeeee. Get up there, mama, and pose like you is holding it up."

"Bubba, I doe'n know if I'll make it up thar."

"Well sugs, you just try now, and I'll snap yer picture."

** panting, groaning, torn clothing and red dirt up the nostrils **

"Ok Bubba, dahrlin, I'm up here."

** Tourtist proffers routund bottom as she strains to hold up rock with both arms, her fat face shining from the effort of climbing up the rocks **

You ought to know by now that I don't like tourists. LOL

Now back to your tour. There isn't much more.

A Snowy Adventure, Update

Monday was Mum’s first post-op appointment. She was so eager to have her staples removed. We planned to leave at 9:30 AM. Nature decided to throw us a curve, of course.
The temperature dropped significantly overnight. We awoke to a foreboding chill that the furnace didn’t dispel. Dad and I picked up the pace as the departure time loomed closer (it was Mum who was pokey, which is understandable given how difficult it is for her to maneuver around.)

I ducked into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Thunder rolled across the sky and reverberated deep in my chest. I looked up at the bathroom skylight, toothbrush stuck in my mouth and toothpaste froth dripping down, and I thought, “No way.” Rain drops splattered onto the hazy skylight plastic. A single heartbeat passed before a flash of lightening illuminated the dark sky. The rain turned to hail and then sleet in a matter of seconds. The “microblizzard” had arrived.

Mum asked, “What is that noise?”

I spat out my toothpaste and replied, “We’re having a thunder… snow.” It’s Colorado. It happens every so often. I always enjoyed these freak storms – when I was younger and did not have to drive in it.

Dad and I loaded Mum into the car, hung her wound vac from her visor arm (not exactly safe, of course) and tucked her temporary walker into the trunk. My hair was coated in mini sleet balls (they look like the white bean bag pellets.)

Driving became a chore. Dad did well as he squinted into the dense snowfall and navigated the icy streets. A blanket of grey slush and snow cloaked the black ice, the result of the earlier rain.

Powers Blvd. proved to be the safest route until we reached one of the numerous hills. Vehicles were stationary on the slope, emergency flashers piercing through the almost-whiteout conditions. We were forced to turn right. The road led us out of our way and in the opposite direction from our destination. Still, Dad trudged on.

We reached Austin Bluffs and found the road closed. Three police cars sat in an intersection and people, seeing the futility of the endeavor, tucked into a left-hand turn lane. Traffic flowed in the opposite direction and our procession of cars hardly moved. A snowplow ambled up the hill, fishtailing a bit. The nearest officer began to shunt traffic into the left-turn lane. Dad rolled down the window (Mum began one of her wordy explanations dealing with staples, doctor blah) and I explained that she was on a battery operated pump. Say no more. They waved us through and we followed the snowplow. We arrived at her surgeon’s office within five minutes.

The roads were clear once we left the building. They reflected the blue sky.

As for her post-op appointment:
Things are healing well. She is allowed to discontinue her Lovenox, Lasix and potassium. The incision line looks decent. Dr. Fischer is very pleased with her progress.

Her ankle swelling has gone down. Her discomfort is minimal. Her color looks fabulous, indeed the best I have seen it in two decades.

Her belly is black and blue from her thinner injections (the Lovenox) but I assured her that it won’t be permanent. My friend, Ox, has been on Lovenox for quite a while and was my saving grace when it came to questions. Mum has progressed nicely, as he said she would, and she is tickled to have one less medication in her system.

Her wounds are still mending and the vacuum will remain in place for a while. She did get about sans walker yesterday afternoon. Nurse R was not due until later in the day so Mum, free of her vac, made a break for it. She ambled to the bathroom and also raided the biscotti box.

She is still feeling a loss of coping skills. Her faith in God is shaken. She is depressed. I can’t force her to speak to her doctor about it nor can I force her to “snap out of it”. She has good reason to feel depressed.

I loathe people who use the “snap out of it” mantra. Depression can not always be controlled through sheer will. We can suffer from chemical depression or mental illness. Often, depression can be a loss of coping skills; an antidepressant will help us cope with things as we relearn how to apply our coping skills to those depressant situations.

Mum’s nurse visited today to change the wound vac bandages and take her vitals. Physical Therapy stopped by and set up a program for Mum.

We booked my flight (I return on Sunday) and Dad is going to find me a box. I loathe Denver International’s scales (strange how I can ship things home on my return trip yet my checked bag is always over the weight limit.)