I’m not sure, but I believe the last time I posted was sometime in the fall of 2018. I started working at an accounting firm in spring of 2014 and from then on I was busy. It had been so long since I had worked outside the house, it took me a while to get the hang of it. I never did like leaving the house to GO to work, but I did it. I mostly did payroll and found that every three months there was a busy time that included overtime, and planning very little outside of work for at least half that month. Then, of course, there was year-end and quarter 4 that would regularly take ALL of January. I was blessed to have this job and the long hours every few months was no hardship. There was always a light at the end of the tunnel, and by the time I got through the craziness of January, days were getting longer. I found a lot of joy in that, on one drive home, each season. That was the light – something to look forward to each January.
As part of working this job, I met those who have become lifelong friends. With them, I travel, camp, explore, dine, and have such fun conversations. These precious friends of mine enrich each day of my life. They have taught me to take time (starting with them), to be a better person (because they are such good and kind people), and to better enjoy life and the simplest parts of it.
My father passed away in November of 2019. He was probably the nicest, kindest person I ever knew. There was always a place at his table for any of our friends (I have two brothers), he took people into his house who made it their home – and then did him wrong on their way out. But I don’t think he would have done anything differently. I think I was angrier and less forgiving than he. It was who he was. With my father, I knew I was loved, and he saw some of my worst. There is something about family, even if we’re not close, that gives us some sense of belonging. The people who raised us and who were raised with us, know us in a way that nobody else does.
The busy-ness involved with taking care of Dad, his estate, his house, and all that comes with the passing of someone you love, kept me very busy for some time. I miss him so much. There are still days I think of things I’d like to ask him, but he is no longer available to me for that purpose. I’m glad I listened as much as I did; I wish I had listened more carefully. My life would have been so much different (and less) except for him.
Of course, then there was COVID. I’m so glad (if that’s the correct way to express myself), Dad was sick and passed before the advent of COVID lock downs. I don’t think I would have allowed my Dad to die alone, but one never knows one’s strength until challenged, and luckily, I didn’t have to face that challenge. More to the point, he would have been appalled at how we (collectively) reacted to this thing, loosed on us, we knew nothing about. We older folks were less afraid than the youngsters. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been around awhile and are looking at our lives more in the rear-view mirror than the windshield. What was frightening to us was the number of ways our governments ignored rights and wielded their authoritarian sticks against its citizens. We had never seen anything like it. While things changed substantially around me, in more ways than was recommended, my life did not change. I had “dinner” every Sunday and my granddaughter and a friend would sit on the balcony, enjoy the view and quiet, and talk. The local Mexican eatery allowed for take-out, including my beloved margaritas, and if I didn’t cook our meal, we’d order from them. Anyway, we’re all going to get it. I got COVID in January 2021 and stayed home and worked when I could. (Remember, January is the busiest time in the payroll world.) I ran a fever for ten days! That’s when I started gobbling up vitamins. I got COVID again in June of 2022 – or maybe it was July. Seems like both times I had COVID it was during a busy time at work. Anyway, my second bout with COVID in 2022 lasted only a few days.
I’m happy to announce, I have retired! I have a rental and am learning how to manage that. For six(ish) months I dealt with the construction of that. And, finalizing that process was busy and expensive, but again, I have a lifelong friend who has taken it upon herself to guide me and help me. I am forever thankful for her and all she has done.
So, directly after retiring, I had MORE to do, but it is done and I’m now able to relax a bit. I am now taking the time to walk most days and that feels so good. It’s starting to warm up making it a lot nicer. I missed that part of my life after going back to an office for work the last (almost) eight years. I’m now finally starting to organize my life, since it seems I think I don’t HAVE to remember ANYTHING, and so I remember very few of the things I should. I’ve started to draw again and do tutorials. Most importantly, I have begun to read the Bible and have learned so much about our history as a people, about how flawed we are, and about God’s grace. I have a long way to go. I am, every day, listening to Fr Mike Schmitz read the (Catholic) Bible (The Bible in a Year podcast) https://tinyurl.com/4n2z7fme. Afterward, he lends some insight into each daily reading. It’s been enlightening. I also (twice) listened to the audio book, The Rock, The Road, and the Rabbi by Kathie Lee Gifford and Rabbi Jason Sobel. I wish I’d had this information years ago. My understanding of the Bible was naive and very limited, although I have always had an innate faith in the Lord. I’m not a very good Christian, even now. Anyway, I’ve come to believe the Bible shouldn’t be taught or studied without the Hebrew influence of the Old Testament. So many translations of old Hebrew to Greek and then to English lost meaning. All that is lost in translation, is so important for understanding. It also makes the stories richer with meaning.
You can listen to and/or watch Rabbi Jason Sobel on YouTube. If you’re interested in such things, you’ll find him interesting. Here’s one of my favorites:
Now, I hope to post more often. I’m still taking pictures, and I am once again making art. I have lots of pictures I haven’t posted, and some art I will add to this blog. I’m in a good place – and life is good.
Thank you for stopping in. I hope things are going well for you. God bless you and yours.
“Fog is my weakness, and every time there is low fog, I am out and about with my camera.“—Om Malik
A few short weeks ago this same picture was full of rich blues and browns and colorful fall leaves covering the surrounding trees. I love weather — any kind. We have so many days of sunshine here in the Grand Valley of Western Colorado, that the clouds, the rain, the snow, and anything that breaks up the monotony, is welcome. (One website says 245 sunny days, another says 240.) Don’t get me wrong, I love the relatively temperate climate here, but there’s no drama in that. I think it’s a nice break when a storm pushes through. And, of course, I have a birds eye view.
“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” –Bob Ross
I recently discovered alcohol inks. I’ve seen some beautiful art made with this medium, too. I don’t think it’s easy to work with, although in the abstract, I’ve gotten some really pretty pieces.
For those of you not familiar with alcohol inks, they’re basically alcohol based inks — they respond to alcohol in somewhat the same manner water colors respond to water. It IS different from watercolors. For instance, if you drop alcohol into a painting, the color on the surface will bloom — as in the picture below. The spots on the tree are created by dabbing alcohol on the inked surface. You can also use alcohol pens, like Copic pens or even Sharpies. In fact, you can use Copic ink refills as the ink. What I use are Jacquard Piñata inks and Tim Holtz Ranger inks, a painting tool filled with alcohol, a Copic colorless blender, and paintbrushes. These inks work best on non-porous surfaces, like tiles, acetate (Dura-Lar), or Yupo. I have also used photographic paper. I’ve seen tutorials where foil was used that gave the art a stained-glass type appearance.
This is my latest and it’s one I think I will frame, eventually. This is Tim Holtz Ranger inks on Yupo, using a paintbrush to spread the ink, a smaller paintbrush to dab alcohol on the tree for leaves, and the Copic colorless blender pen for the trunk and branches and the vegetation at the bottom.
I went to a class at Seasons to Follow in Downtown Grand Junction, where I was shown how to use canned air to make a flower on a 4 x 4 tile. I though those turned out kind of interesting, but they don’t look a lot like what I was being shown. I have trouble controlling the air. I compensated for my ineptitude by making details in the middle of the white flower/black tile, and putting dots and lines all around the one on the white tile.
Another tile I did was based on a YouTube tutorial by Myriam’s Nature (Miriam with a y). She is a lot of fun and really creative. I followed along as best I could. I am not unhappy with the result. I wiped that tile clean several times until I finally ended up with something I liked. That’s another cool thing about these inks—you can thin and wipe and pour until you have something you like.
I tried a couple other of Myriam’s tutorials, but I have a hard time emulating what she does. I guess it’s all in the interpretation and I end up liking all of them.
The following are my effort to make something I like. I have also followed another artist, predominantly on Instagram, who mixes and mixes and mixes until she finally has something that I think is so beautiful. They’re more like the pink and gold one below, but the color mixes are so interesting, and she uses alcohol spots to add interest. Her Instagram name is manifest.jess. Check out her art; it’s beautiful!
For the one below, I may eventually use a black marker to make flower details. This reminds me of fabric my grandmother might have had.
As difficult as this medium is to wrangle for traditional and representative art, it can be done and I have seen some beautiful pieces on Pinterest. If all I ever do is these hodge-podge pieces, I’ll be happy. They’re very colorful. I would also like to do some landscape art with this, but it will take a lot more practice.
If I ever want to add or subtract to any of these pieces, I can always use more ink, or I can use 91% Isopropyl alcohol to remove ink, and I can do that weeks after—probably even years.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this. I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?
“I have long thought that anyone who does not regularly—or ever—gaze up and see the wonder and glory of a dark night sky filled with countless stars loses a sense of their fundamental connectedness to the universe.” —Brian Greene
I took these pictures 11/8/18 on the Colorado National Monument. It was a class put on by the Monument and taught by Christopher K. Eaton. We hiked down a little way to get a good spot to photograph and then he helped us, with our different cameras, to take these night pictures. I had a blast and learned a lot. My feet got really cold, though. I did wear plenty of clothes and I had hand warmers, but my feet were what finally did me in. I can’t wait to do this again. I hope I can find someone with the same interest; I really don’t want to be out there alone at night. I’m not as brave (or foolhardy) as I once was.
It was a beautiful and relaxing afternoon at the newest winery in Palisade, Colorado, Restoration Vineyards. They put on a party that included wine, Double B BBQ serving up yummy food, music by Jared Shaw and Erika Beland and Crimson Finch, stunning views, and a sunny and warm fall day. It was all so relaxing surrounded by my sweet, long-time friends. The icing was enjoying the success and party spirit of my newest friends, Gary and Linda Brauns, the energetic and imaginative owners of Restoration Vineyards. They know how to put on a party!
This venue is surrounded by vineyards and cherry and peach orchards with a view of Mount Garfield that is quite different from mine. I had lots of photo subject matter.
I am often confounded by the software industry tweaking something out of usefulness, and the upgrades that Adobe is making to its Lightroom software may be just that. I’m willing to see where it goes, of course. But since mine apparently upgrades itself, this morning, when I wanted to get something done and move on, I had to deal with some unfortunate issues with the latest and greatest version of Adobe Lightroom CC (2015).
If you’re using Lightroom CC and you’ve deliberately or accidentally upgraded to the latest version, here is a link to instructions to go back to the last version of the software (CC 6, I believe). Lightroom is a great piece of photo-editing software, but it appears that rather than keeping this a high-end, usable program for photographers, Adobe is trying to cater to the mobile photographer set. To that end, they’ve dumbed it down, ostensibly so the learning curve is less steep. Unfortunately, in doing that, they’re eliminating useful things I, and many other users, have come to depend on. That said, I imagine we’ll eventually get used to that. The problem now is that several things in the upgrade just don’t work, although they’re supposed to. They’re things that are not being eliminated, just changed, I think.
So, if you use this great software and want to continue to use it until the engineers get the kinks worked out, downgrade. It’s so cool that you actually can, and it’s even more amazing how simple it is! I used the instructions in this article—Install a previous version of any Creative Cloud application—to do just that. It’s very easy, and I’m back up and running with what works.
One of my issues was importing. I imported all my pictures, but somehow Lightroom didn’t show all the pictures I thought I had imported. I could see that some I had shot were missing, and Lightroom said I had 20 more to import, but when I went to find the 20 missing ones, I couldn’t import them because Lightroom said they were already imported. In CC 6 (I think was the latest before this upgrade), I could tell it to ignore suspected duplicates or I could uncheck that box. Nowhere in the new import window could I find such an option. I also checked out all the Preferences panel (may be called something else on a Windows machine).
I then found I was now unable to copy from one picture to another, settings that worked for the type of picture I was working on. You know, if you make adjustments to the exposure, temperature, highlight, shadow, white, and black sliders, for instance, you can then copy those setting and apply them to the next similar photo by clicking on the “paste” button. That wasn’t working today.
Anyway, if you’re using Lightroom CC, and have any of these issues (or others), the answer for you may be to downgrade. It worked for me.
Here are a few of the pictures I was trying to work on. I took a walk in Downtown Grand Junction yesterday with my camera. Colors are great, but in Grand Junction, we’re getting almost to the end of color season. Leaves are falling off trees, and there’s less to shoot. I got a few that I liked and here they are.
Patrón and I took an eight-hour drive that took me through Glenwood, Carbondale, Redstone, over McClure Pass, Paonia, Hotchkiss, and Cedaredge.
We drove over the Grand Mesa first on 65, then the Old Grand Mesa Road, and stopped at the small parking spot below the Crag Crest Trail so Patrón could stretch her legs. She and I enjoyed some time sitting at the lake and walking along the road.
I took a few pictures of sunflowers that were obviously past their prime, but they were so pretty anyway. There’s some serious standing water in the low spots, too — presumably from all the recent rains.
We then got back on 65 at the Visitor Center and soon took off onto the Land’s End Road. That first mile or so going down is kind of spooky. (I have no idea how they do that Lands End Road Rally [?] every year without someone seriously falling off the mountain.)
It was a really nice day, but Patrón wasn’t too thrilled with being tied down in the vehicle. I gave her enough lead to hang her head out the window (I’m not a completely horrible mother), but I need to find a better way to tie her down. She got herself completely tangled in her leash and the harness I bought just to keep her in place in the vehicle. I’d hate to buy a cage for her to travel in when part of the purpose is for her to have some “head-hanging” time. But she cannot wander the vehicle. I stopped several times for her to water and pee. She did neither, and she wouldn’t get back in of her own accord—I had to lift her into the seat. I also wanted to do a little exploring (like Redstone Castle), but couldn’t with her in tow. (Why can’t I lock the doors with the keys in the ignition?!! I have another set of keys!)
I won’t take her every time, but this was interesting and fun trying to figure out what to do with her. When she tried to wallow in a dead fish, I was not completely sold on this arrangement.
Outside of Paonia, I finally saw the coal mine(s) where my son used to work. While in Paonia, I visited the Orchard Valley Farms & Market and Black Bridge Winery and discovered a new, interesting addition to their vinegars—Ripe Peach White Balsamic Vinegar. Yummy! Not sure it’s new, but it is to me.
I try to remember to see it. Last weekend, my daughter, her daughters, my friend, and I went to Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls, and Harvey Gap. From there, we drove through a beautiful sheep and cattle (and spring-and-wet-green) valley behind the Hogbacks, then we went through Newcastle and went back home to Rifle. We had a lot of fun, and I found it was beautiful there. I’ve lived in Western Colorado for 38 years, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen those places. Below are pictures I took of our trip. I told the grand kids that when I went up there again, I’d take them with me. I expect that will be a blast.
My relationship to plants becomes closer and closer. They make me quiet; I like to be in their company. —Peter Zumthor
It’s been a busy two weeks. The time change always kicks my butt. On top of that, there were reports and projects for school, learning gobs of new things at work, putting the finishing touches on documents for an old job, bowling, dinner with Dad, and enjoying the company of an old friend recently in town. I plan to relax this weekend and walk with Patrón on the desert. She’ll love it, and I need to get outside. It’s been SO nice here.
Last weekend she and I took an extra-long walk and we found this well weathered piece of plywood with grass growing up through the holes. We went back the next day with the real camera (instead of the iPhone) and took a few more pictures. It’s easy to pass up this sort of thing. I’m so glad we were less fixated on the destination, and more intent on enjoying the journey.
Breakfast is the best meal of the day; it gets your engine warmed and humming and gives you strength for the day.
You can make breakfast interesting very easily. I love omelets and have one almost every day. That said, you can use any of these ingredients in a tortilla, on a potato, on rice, on toast, pancakes, or biscuits.
I love an omelet for breakfast. Until I had breakfast with my Dad in Florida, for his 50th High School Class Reunion, I didn’t really know how to make one easily. There are a few rules.
1) Use water, not milk, in your eggs. Milk will cause the eggs to stick if they won’t ordinarily.
2) Use butter—not fake butter, like Country Crock. Use butter, margarine, and/or oil.
3) Get the butter hot without burning it. Add your “fillers” and cook them. Don’t burn them; cook them slow if you need to.
4) Pour in the egg/water mixture and cook, either shaking the pan to move the egg and distribute it, or using a rubber spatula to push cooked egg to the middle, allowing the uncooked egg to pool around the edges to cook.
Despite thinking the fillers go on top of the egg after it’s cooked and the egg folded over it, these actually work best, cooked with the egg. The exception is the cheese. That does get put on after the egg and fillers are cooked. Here are a few ingredients I like, but the ingredients available to use is only limited by your taste and imagination. They include:
Peppers (sweet, hot, you name it)
Onions (sweet, green)
Meat (bacon, chicken, sausage, ham—whatever is left in the fridge from last night)
Asparagus, green beans, squash, tomatoes, whatever you like!
These are “fillers” for me:
After the omelet cooks, you will want to put on toppers. They might include:
salsa (any kind)
more of your favorite fillers
yogurt (if you like the flavor)
These are toppers I like:
This is how I do it:
First get the butter hot. Then throw in the fillers to cook.
Second, when the fillers cook, pour in your beat egg. Shake it around and/or scrape it to the middle of the pan so more of the wet egg solidifies around the outer edges. Once everything done, add the cheese and let it melt. I very often turn off the heat at this point and do something else for a few minutes to give it a chance to melt and cool.
Third, slide the omelet onto the plate while folding it over.
For Office Procedures, we were tasked with making a presentation for our class. I struggled a bit to decide what to do and came up with a video for making an omelet. My granddaughter visited and she shot the video and I’ve spent the rest of the afternoon trying to put it together. I give up. QuickTime is now on Saving — About 11,000 hours (and I know that’s not right), and I finally uploaded the four videos separately. I don’t have time for this, and for today, the learning curve is too great for so short a time to learn. So, I’ll learn this later and learn it well.
Meanwhile, I thought I might do this instead, but I don’t think I can get away with it. Still, Savannah and I had fun doing this. I saw this done well (better than this), and it was so much fun to watch. There was accompanying music that made it a lot more fun.
The canyon speed limit is anywhere from 50 to 65. I never go as slow as 50. The road is winding and it’s just fun to drive. It’s not fun if your vehicle doesn’t handle well, or you’re afraid of driving (and many people are), but if you love to drive and your vehicle hugs the road, it’s a great run.
It’s a beautiful Saturday and I have some fun tonight to look forward to. My friends and I (of many years), will have dinner and paint ceramics. I believe that is the plan. Perhaps included in the fun will be wine. Well, I’m involved; there will be wine.
Last night I spent a lot of time writing a note to a friend and my mind is mush today because of the effort to spill my thoughts in an organized way, to allow someone else a glimpse into my inner world. Doing that doesn’t come naturally and it’s not a stingy thing. It’s that there’s so much more interesting to know about you than I have to tell about me. But I think sometimes people misunderstand that lack of forthcoming information as a lack of trust in them. It is more an interest in their stories.
Last night I “friended,” on Facebook, someone who has recently piqued my interest. She’s a much younger person and I am sure we are misaligned in many key areas of discussion, but I have read some of her posts, and think she has a lot of wisdom to offer this world. She’s an old soul and I think she has a story to tell about why she is. She provided a brief glimpse into that possibility earlier this semester. She has spoken in class and she’s articulate and thoughtful, and I find myself drawn to discover what she will eventually offer the world. Whatever it is, it will be good. I’m excited to get to know yet another person, even if it is from the safe distance of a Facebook friendship.
I am so pleased to be in the class I now attend. It’s not a difficult class, but for the first time in a couple of semesters, I am not surrounded by middle-aged, entitled, and lazy women who were given this educational opportunity they don’t take as seriously as they should. I am now surrounded by motivated, bright, young and young-at-heart women who will eventually influence our world—and from whom I will learn a great deal if I keep my mind’s doors wide open.
Well. I need to get something done. I played with this flower in Topaz Labs’ Impression this morning. I believe I’ll eventually play with this one a lot. It is perfect.