Wednesday, December 5, 2012

1GB. Ugh.

So I had to break down and upgrade my free Blogger account so that I have more storage space because apparently there is a 1GB limit for the free version. I was ignorant of this limit until I ran out of space.

I looked at my options and and realized there are ways to reduce the file sizes placed on the blog so now I will be more aware as I proceed. In the mean time, I decided to simply upgrade to a paid account rather than go through the trouble of somehow changing blogging platforms at this point in time. Of course Google required payment through their new "Wallet" payment system ... tricky Google. I do believe they are going to run the world at some point.

testing ... yes, I can once again add images ....
this wooly bear is in a folder of images waiting for  a future post about these cute little fellas

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Zen ~ Wonder

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.
                                                                       E.B. White

The universe has a way of confirming things if we are open to seeing these confirmations, and today I received one of those confirmations. The above quote came from my daily Zen calendar on Friday, and I saved it with the intent to post it here at some point. This morning I took an online inventory on the Spirituality & Practices site, and the spiritual practice suggested for me based on my responses to their survey is "Wonder". Truthfully, I feel that it is the largest part of my spiritual life - savoring the beauty that surrounds me everyday.

From Spirituality & Practice:
Wonder begins in the senses, comes alive in the imagination, and flourishes in adoration of the Divine. It arises from our natural curiosity about the grand adventure of life. It increases our capacity to be a bold inner space tripper and an avid explorer of the physical world. There is no end to the things that can awaken our wonder, from the majesty of the night sky to the smell of lilacs in the spring to the turning of the leaves in the fall. And it is all right here, a feast of epiphanies and astonishments in the daily round of our spiritual lives. The first step in this spiritual practice is to rejoice in the play of our senses: smell, touch, taste, hear, and see. Slow down and tune into the varied world of this and that. You'll never get anywhere with this practice by rushing.

~ click here for the beautiful gallery of quotes ~

Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Be Miserable

Shared by my principal this morning ... perfect ...

By Alex Green

At a conference in Las Vegas a couple months ago, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Dr. Joel Wade, a psychotherapist who has dedicated his career to discovering what it means to live well. As a life coach, his practice is about helping people create and embody a truly extraordinary life.

His lecture was "Mastering Happiness: Practical Skills and Ideas for Living Well." When Dr. Wade uses the word happiness, however, he isn't talking about more parties, laughter or high times. He's referring to something larger: having a sense that you are flourishing, of feeling fully satisfied with your life.

This is something we all desire, consciously or unconsciously, and virtually anyone can move closer to this ideal. Living a more satisfying life, Wade insists, is a skill that can be developed. It is mostly about the attitudes you embody and the choices you make. Like any skill, however, it requires time, attention and dedication.

To prove his point, Wade demonstrated how easy it is to feel miserable. All that's necessary are three simple steps:

1. Be as self-absorbed as possible. Make sure every situation at work or at home is primarily about your thoughts, your feelings, your welfare. Talk about yourself. Think about yourself. Make sure the point of every action is to accrue some personal benefit.

2. See yourself as a victim. Observe that life has conspired against you. View others as the source of your problems. Blame them for your frustrations and setbacks. Tell yourself that you are helpless in your particular set of circumstances.

3. Spend a lot of time ruminating. Go over past negative events again and again. Think about things that make you angry. Dwell on what makes you bitter. Remember how you were hurt in the past and who was responsible. Spend a lot of time reliving and re-experiencing these events in your mind.

Just reading this short list, you probably feel a little bummed out. People who make these steps a habit are well on their way to a life of dissatisfaction and misery.

The good news is that doing the opposite is a tonic - and will almost certainly add to your satisfaction with life. In other words:

1. Absorb yourself in your work, friends, family relationships and outside interests. Move your focus outside. Become absorbed in what you're doing. Remind yourself what you are trying to achieve. And if you don't have personal goals - dreams with deadlines - set some.

2. See yourself as in control of your destiny. We all have problems and setbacks, but things only begin to turn around when you take ownership of your situation. Then you can begin to move forward.

3. Focus on what's right with your life. This is a tall order in some cases. Many of us are dealing with unfortunate economic or personal circumstances. Still, you can't wallow in it. Accept that the past is past. Forgive any transgressors, not for their sake but for yours. Start imaging how things could improve. This is the predisposition to action.

Dr. Wade points out that the best way to achieve a higher sense of well being and life satisfaction is to cultivate a sense of gratitude. He suggests taking a moment each evening to recall three things that happened during the day to make you feel grateful. It could be a problem resolved, an unexpected call from a friend, a smile from someone you love or just a good meal on a starry night. Psychologists report it is impossible to feel grateful and unhappy at the same time.

These steps may sound simple - and they are. But that doesn't mean they can't make a profound difference in your quality of life. As the British essayist Erich Heller observed, "Be careful how you interpret the world; it is like that."

~ Chandler took this photo of our Sycamore tree ~

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Married Hoss

As a child, I loved the television series Bonanza. I had a huge crush on Little Joe and I especially loved his beautiful horse. Joe was young and spunky and handsome - and frequently in trouble. When Little Joe became Pa Ingalls, my crush continued. Pa was strong and patient and still handsome ... sigh.

But my point to all this is that I married Hoss, and I am so glad I did. Hoss - the big guy who had a plain looking brown horse. He wasn't a big shot on the show - he was just a good and decent guy.

Dan Blocker – Eric "Hoss" Cartwright
Dan Blocker was six foot four and roughly three hundred pounds when chosen to play the gentle middle son Eric, also known as Hoss. The nickname was used as a nod to the character's ample girth,an endearing term for "big and friendly", used by his Swedish mother (& uncle, Gunnar),or a rib to his humiliating, failed attempt to break a horse . In theBonanza flashback, his mother Inger names him Eric after her father. To satisfy young Adam, Inger and Ben agree to try the nickname Hoss and "see which one sticks". " Inger says of "hoss", "In the mountain country, that is the name for a big, friendly man."

Please note that Jim is okay with my comparison of him to Hoss - that's because Jim, too, is just a good and decent guy.

Enjoy the photos!

~ Hoss ~
~ I'm sure this was Joe's fault! ~
~ the fam ~
~ Hoss looking serious!~ 
~ Pa ~
~ how could I not have had a crush on Joe? ~
~ and his horse was spectacular!! ~

Friday, October 19, 2012

Let Me Take Your Photo

Today my photography class watched a piece on the photographer Gregory Crewdson, and they were curious about "Let Me Take Your Photo", so we watched the music video on Youtube.

The internet can be a wasteland, but it can also be a rich resource of anything and everything. How the heck did I teach before? I remember buying art calendars on sale in late January so that I could have visual resources for my students. Now, I have the entire art world on monitors and screens all over my room. 'Magical.

(Crewdson was born in Park Slope, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. As a teenager was part of a punk rock group called The Speedies that hit the New York scene referencing Preston North End in many of their songs. Their hit song "Let Me Take Your Photo" proved to be prophetic to what Crewdson would become later in life. In 2005, Hewlett Packard used the song in advertisements to promote its digital cameras.)

~ the original ~

~ 2005 commercial ~

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Empowering People: NILIF

Okay. I have a lot of work to do (here, at my job, which was not handed to me but instead required years of student loan payments even though I went to a public college) but I must get this out of my brain. 

I believe in helping people who truly need it, children in particular. There are folks who are legitimately disabled, there are people struggling with addiction, there are sick people and elderly people ... we are directed by the Judeo-Christian moral codes to help those who cannot help themselves.

I believe in the concept of "Capitalism". I do not agree with the redistribution of wealth. This is not the Caste System where people are not allowed to work hard and get ahead. All people should contribute to the betterment of society in some way, even if that means simply raising their children to work hard and have self-respect.  I believe that our current policies have contributed to the erosion of this idea of "contributing member of society", and we have created a generational nightmare that will take some drastic measures to turn around.

Now let's say I am given a magic wand and I can make everything better ...

(all people = those who are physically and mentally able)

Guiding Principle #1: EMPOWERMENT: All people should contribute someway, somehow. NILIF.
What would that look like? All able bodied people work. Period. And if it means you are keeping the sidewalks clean or picking apples (we have to hire migrants who are willing work in the orchards - I hear them behind my house singing and laughing and talking in Spanish) then you do it - and only then do you receive assistance. Your children see you working, and they see that NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free). We stop the cycle of laziness NOW. (This is where I could write on and on about the people who come to this country and thrive - because they are willing to work hard. It happened back when my grandparents came to this country from Germany, and it happens today. Want specific contemporary success stories? I have them. Just ask me.)

Guiding Principle #2: Simplify the tax code.
You make $20,000 a year? You pay the exact same rate as those who earn $20 million a year. No exceptions, except maybe if you make charitable contributions? Hmmm. I'm not an economist but I sure know what is broken.

Guiding Principle #3: End Cheating.
You are wealthy so you hide money overseas? No more. You really are able bodied (for some kind of job) but claim disability? No more. You are a small business man and you hire people under the table without paying workman's comp, etc.? No more.

Guiding Principle #4: Stress Education and early intervention.
Head Start, yes. Arts in school, yes. Opportunities to learn trades, yes. Your children's attendance at school tied into your government assistance, yes. PBS, yes (even though I am a little frightened of Big Bird, for real.)

Guiding Principle #5: Our "rights" in society are limited. Deal with it.
Yes, we are all equal and all that good stuff, but if you need assistance for food then you have to come and pick up food -- no more food stamps -- oh I mean a swipe card. You may have unlimited fresh veggies and fruit, pasta and bread, chicken and beef and pork, peanut butter and jelly, cheese and milk. Along that same line: You do not have a right to "purchase" luxury items unless you earn the money to do so. You do not have a right to a cell phone. You do not have the right to refuse a drug test. You do not have the right to say "I want to stay home and raise my child" unless you have the means to do so yourself. You do not have the right to have more children than you can afford. You do not have the right to hide your assets and not pay tax on them. You do not have the right to claim your knees hurt so therefore you cannot work.

Guiding Principle #6: You want more choice in your life? Work hard.


Of course there are lots of complicated things that people smarter than myself are struggling with: Healthcare, energy, rampant lawsuits ... all which add to the mix. The bottom line is that children are growing up in households without any role models for what it means to feel proud of what was accomplished that day. We need to stop this cycle someway, somehow.

~ the cartoon that made me climb up on the soapbox ~

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Do Love Mornings

Allow me to clarify.

I love heading outside to take care of my animals in the early morning. If it weren't for the shed pets I would miss out on the brief minutes of peace and solitude at a time when most of the neighborhood is still sleeping.

On clear mornings like today, I stop in the darkness and look up at the stars ... I watch the waxing and waning of the moon ... I feel connected to something so much larger ... I am grateful for my life. My animals are shaking off sleep as they greet me, happy for their breakfast. They are grateful for the most basic things in life, and being witness to that helps to keep me grounded.

Astronomy 101, Freshman year. Oh how I wish now the boy I had a crush on wasn't in that class. Yes, I learned so much but imagine what I could have learned about the vast universe if only I wasn't distracted by who was sitting in front of me in the rundown lecture hall. Ah, regrets. Thankfully one can learn without a college professor, and thankfully I have been able to fill in some gaps left by my distractions during Astronomy class so many years ago.

I found the following image which is very similar to my view this morning. The twenty seconds I spent looking up filled me with what I need for the day. Just add happy goats and a cup of coffee and I am at peace.

Crescent Moon and Venus on an Autumn Morn - Earth Science Picture of the Day

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday I'm in Love

TGIF to all of my 80's peeps ~

(Yes, I know this particular song was early 90's, but the Cure = the 80's in my heart)

From Wikipedia:
"Friday I'm in Love" is a song by British rock band The Cure. It is the second single taken from the album Wish (1992). It won the award for European Viewer's Choice for Best Music Video at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Photoshop Play

I have so much work to do, but instead of being productive I have just spent the last 30 minutes playing around with Photoshop and a branch from my chestnut tree.

I brought the branch in to school to use in Ceramics (for textures on a bowl that I am making) but I couldn't resist grabbing a few digital images prior to dissecting the leaves. Being lazy, I just propped a piece of black mat board behind the branch and used Photo Booth on my laptop to capture a few photos. Using Photoshop, I exaggerated the levels and saturation, and then went to work with layers and blending modes. What fun! I could do this all day, but alas, I have to get back to work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Building Frenzy

Jim and I are well into the process of designing and building our house, and the plans are verrry close to being finalized. We have been working with a talented and patient (!) architect who has turned our ideas and needs and dreams into something that will eventually become wood and stone and concrete. We are both "building virgins" so this process is very important to us. We have been married to other people, we have had children with other people, but neither one of us has ever been through designing and building a house with another person. It's been relatively easy so far because fortunately we have very similar ideas about aesthetics, needs, and budget. Hopefully that will continue. Gulp.

As a contractor of construction services (pavement construction and maintenance) and a college degree in something construction-y, Jim has a better grasp on the road ahead. I, however, feel fairly overwhelmed with the complexity of being our own construction managers. My response to feeling uninformed is to READ AND LEARN, and here are the three books I ordered from Amazon along with my first impressions:

"What Your Contractor Can't Tell You" by Amy Johnston should be an excellent resource. It addresses a whole lot of details about the construction process, such as foundation types,  roofing options, and screwing drywall versus nailing it. Included are many diagrams and illustrations, and a TON of checklists. 

"Building Your Own Home For Dummies" is a pretty typical "Dummies" book. It has lots of info written in a language that a layperson can understand.

"The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home" by Kent Lester and Dave McGuerty looks like another winner. Not as many illustrations as Johnston's book (and I do like pictures!) but great information written in a language I can understand along with many checklists and time lines.

Monday, September 24, 2012


I just dragged this from my Instagram account ... it is larger than the standard uploaded image but it isn't a thumbnail. It just is what it is. 
Lake Ontario, after a storm

Saturday, August 18, 2012


All summer I have neglected writing, and like exercise it is difficult to get going again after taking a break. Here I go ...


"Friendship" has been on my mind. What causes some relationships to last a lifetime despite obstacles like changes in location, and what causes some relationships to crumble? What are the different categories of friends? What makes a toxic relationship? What makes a mutually fulfilling friendship? How to be a good friend? How not to be a doormat?

And with Facebook, the term "friend" has forever been altered. I am thinking here only in terms of a traditional friendship.

My oh my, just do a little internet search and you can read all sorts of thoughts and opinions on the topic. Here are some things I found that resonated with me:

From Think Outside In
Associates were people who only shared a common activity, like a hobby or a sport.
Useful contacts were people who shared information and advice, typically related to work or advancing ones career.
Favor friends were people who helped each other out in a functional manner, but not in an emotional manner.
Fun friends were people who socialized together, but only for fun. They didn’t provide each other with a deep level of emotional support.
Helpmates were a combination of favor friends and fun friends. They socialized together and helped each other out in a functional manner.
Comforters were like helpmates, but they also provided emotional support.
Confidants disclosed personal information to each other, enjoyed each other’s company, but weren’t always in a position to offer practical help, for example if they lived far away.
Soulmates displayed all of the elements.

From an alumni blog
1. Professional Friends – This group is for professional networking. At the beginning of the relationship, most of the conversations are about topics of mutual interest in specific professions, and then it can gradually take a more personal turn. In this friendship, the expectation is to learn, exchange information, ideas, concepts and grow professionally. A lot of these friendships are formed in professional organizations like Economic Club of New York, Project Management Institute, and 100 Women in Hedgefunds. Most of these relationships grow deeper when both individuals can provide professional expertise and insights. We can find these friends at workplace also. Sometimes, they take the form of mentors, or someone we can count on in future. As we grow professionally, this group tends to increase more. This is where professional and business etiquette must be practiced.

2. Social Friends – This group of friendship is formed in social service clubs like Rotary International, Lions Clubs, and Kiwanis International. This group is conscious about social issues and also wants to network in a less formal setting than the professional friends circle. This group of friends volunteers their time, money and efforts to work on social causes, and get public recognition for the same. The budding professionals can take leadership roles to take and execute responsibilities, and to promote and sell their skills. We can also find a group like this in major corporations like Asian Heritage Network group of Citigroup.

3. Deep/Emotional Friends - Friends in this group are very few. This group of friends tends to have an intellectual appetite, but usually have perceived and experienced life through various relationships. This friends group will be there to support us during the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, we can find these friendships between married women, mother and daughter, close sisters. These are the friends who we will grow old with.

4. Intellectual Friends – This group has a very curious and intellectual mindset. We can talk about anything without being embarrassed. Friends in this group are very few. The difference between the Emotional and Intellectual friends is that the latter understand situations logically without mixing feelings. Usually this group of friends is considerate, matured, well-developed and have their own fulfilled lives. Sometimes, these groups of friends are so busy in their own pursuits and quests of life that they might not be able to offer the time, but when they do, it is mutually fulfilling.

5. Self-Actualized Friends – Friends in this group are the perfect combination and are very rare to find. These friends have an amazing appetite for intellectual conversation, are open to discuss about life experiences, take care of their own needs, have less complaints about life in general and respect others views of life. In addition to that, they will love to invest time to grow emotionally, professionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually, know how to laugh and enjoy life also. These friends will not try to change others, but will appreciate and respect the differences. Probably, we will grow old with this group of friends. The friends in this group volunteer to give us feedback and advice about different aspects of life, not only because they care about us, but want positive things to happen in our lives.

6. Buddy Friends – This is a very informal group of friends, who meet informally to have a great time together. A lot of Meet Up groups fall under this category. This is the group who are usually college students, high school students, and singles. These friends usually go to the clubs, bars, happy hours, discos. There is not much intellectual connection, professional connection, because the people in this group still does not have the need to explore more serious matters of life, or might not feel the comfort to seek advice on any issues.

7. School Friends (Memory Revisiting) – There are a lot of friends in this group. If we have not kept in touch, most of them are acquaintances at this stage. Most likely we have changed, since we last saw them and they have changed also. We will meet them at reunions, alumni events. Most of the conversations are nostalgic and about the “good old days.”

Some thoughts I have on all of this ...

-- Maybe conflict arises between friends when one has different expectations than the other? When one feels they are in a different category of friendship than the other feels? Expectations are raised, disappointments felt.

-- Selfishly, the easiest friendships are my favorite, whatever category. Like a romance, it shouldn't be difficult, although not to say that conflict can't ever arise between good friends. 

-- Some friends have the power to lift you up - to make you laugh - to make you feel glad to be around them. Hopefully that works both ways. 

-- Some friends have the ability to suck the life right out of you by being negative and always dealing with yet another crisis. (This is tricky because real friends are there for each other in thick and thin, but if it seems that there are lots of continual troubles - some of which can be fixed but never are - then it's time to re-evaluate the relationship. My mom went through this with a lady who was being abused by her boyfriend. My mom listened, helped, advised, GAVE $ TO, and then in the end this crazy girl stayed with her idiot boyfriend. My mom was very hurt. Some people seem to thrive on their sadness, and it is frustrating because you want to help, but can't. Then you feel guilty for giving up, but give up you must.)

In the end, friendship is indeed an art, not a science. 

'Just because: my highbush cranberry, minus a few berries (bird snack?)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ADK 2012

My brother's girlfriend, Nora, is an amazing lady for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that she just turned 50 AND she just became an RN. Michael threw a big celebration - complete with a piggy - and my girlfriends and I decided to make a road trip out of it.

Trip Highlights:

-- Patty melts at the Grist Mill (my first ever 'Melt at a restaurant I used to frequent while growing up in Parish), complete with fries and gravy (and smelly bathrooms although I didn't notice)

-- While driving, Stacy was annoyed that we were all on our phones texting :)

-- Using tests to figure out if we were elves or demons (Stacy is not an elf)

-- Talking about movies that MOST of us had seen

-- The Beaver Tamer

-- The Summit Hotel in Lake Placid: nice, with friendly "simple" people

-- Cutting our lemon with a nail file

-- Dinner at the Adirondack Brewing Company: special drinks = free glasses

-- Brown Dog Cafe and Wine Bar: Roy, and his little wood - or was it a putter?

-- Wine (in little glasses) in the room while watching Forrest Gump

-- Breakfast at Pan Dolce: bamboo menus (what - no grease on the menus?), cloth napkins, and omelettes with yummy things like avocado and brie - 'so civilized

-- Me SUPPOSEDLY copying the menu choices of others (whatever)

-- Shopping: matching hoodies, funny and fitting magnets, looking for beaver stuff, matching drink cups

-- IDK - no I mean ADK


-- Malone Holiday Inn Express: swanky! And again, friendly simple people.

-- Aquatic tattoos

-- Trying to find Mom's house, the back way (I was not lost!)

-- Mike's house full of stuffed things in snarling, eating, swimming and flapping positions (probably most disturbing is the stuffed coyote eating a stuffed squirrel and it is sitting on his fridge)

-- The reptile room

-- Women in Waders calendar

-- Photos under the moose - or was it a reindeer?

-- Liz with Squish, the snake, wrapped around her neck!

-- Lynora to Mike: "Will you do me in here?"

-- The screen door crashing in and Lynora sitting on top of it (because she was running through the house so she wouldn't get caught wearing her sneakers inside)

-- The skunk hat, and how Liz ROCKED it!

-- Rainbowwww

-- People eating - without fear - food that had been sitting out for hours

-- Mo's Pub, sipping martinis and Coronas while repelling all men in the place with our idiotic behavior

-- Fat Bottom Girls

-- Closing the damn blinds at the hotel (well, some of us figured it out)

-- Listening to 80s music allll the way home, and making fun of those who didn't know any of the songs (but we still love her anyway!)

-- Eating my first Wendy's meal (I was disappointed)

-- Lynn + Nora = Lynora!

-- Liz and her TWO pair of sunglasses: dark and light

-- Digestive issues necessitating a quick stop (and it wasn't me, for once)

-- Are we home yet?

I CAN'T WAIT TO TRAVEL WITH MY GIRLIES AGAIN SOOOON! (and next time, Christine, you better be with us!)

the cake says it all!!

Beaver Tamer

brave Liz

sad Christine, still at work :(

Lynora getting "done"

stylish Liz


pushy Stacy

we found a beaver!


cloudy mountains as seen from our hotel room in Placid


the Grist Mill in Parish