fri 30 aug 2019... camera|
I have had my camera for about a year and a half. It's a
Panasonic FZ1000, and I've never really been happy with it.
I've owned a short line of digital Panasonic cameras and in
the past, and have LOVED them. The auto focus is very very
intuitive (a stick in front of that bird? who cares?! the
camera always focuses on the bird!!) and the photos are
fully saturated with great colour.
My current cam has... issues... with light. It can't deal
with too much light. If there's not enough light, very
often it refuses to focus on anything. Dappled light in the
forest? Sheesh, why even bother?!
The thing is, I am very invested in simple point-and-click.
I have never been interested in figuring out the manual
settings. With wildlife, I don't have time to mess with it!
And I take enough photos that I do get a decent
But taking photos of sunflowers, the other day, I got angry.
I was looking up at these beautiful flowers, with the sky
in the background... Sunflower Yellow and Sky Blue is an
amazing colour combination!
But my photos were showing a pale sky and flat colour and
I was sick of it.
I consulted google. One of the first websites I found said:
have found that the auto exposure algorithms used by
the FZ1000 quite often lead to a shutter speed or ISO
setting which differ from that which I regard as ideal.
live in Sydney where bright sunlight and clear skies
are common leading to subjects with high brightness
range. In these conditions the FZ1000 has a moderate
tendency to blow out highlights with JPG capture.
Okay! So I learned how to adjust the exposure on the stupid
camera. And, um, well... instantly, there were better photos!
The blue, blue sky is back!
*laughs* And, I don't know, maybe the focus is a little bit
better as well...
I admit, this was probably just a lucky shot of this
lovely Green Heron. But I seem to be getting more lucky
shots since I've turned the exposure way way down.
So, I'm happy. And not as constantly frustrated with the
cam! But I am annoyed that Panasonic has screwed up the
auto settings so much.
sun 11 aug 2019... Garden Failure|
The valley that I live in, in the Pacific Northwest, has a
Mediterranean Climate... It rains from autumn thru spring
and the winter is mild. The summers are hot and dry.
Supposed to be hot and dry!
But this summer has been cool with chilly nights.
And instead of a week or two of 100° (38°C)
days, here and there
during the normal 85° (30°C) days --
we've had several weeks of cold cloudy days,
even with some rain!
And the summer garden veges hate the cool weather!
They haven't been growing properly.
The squash plants are tiny and pathetic looking
with their ONE blossom.
What tomatoes there are, haven't been ripening.
And the cucumbers have lost uncounted flowers.
When I look at my photos from last year... the current
garden looks a lot like the garden of mid-July.
So, the veges are a good three or four weeks behind schedule!
On the other hand, the spring garden veges did well, I
only wish I had planted more of them! But then, I always
forget how much I love fresh beets.
One of our experiments in the garden this year is Fennel.
We've never even eaten fennel before, but I was excited when
I googled it. You can eat the fonds, the stalks, the
bulb, and the flowers and fruits. It has a mild anise flavor.
I'd been munching on the feathery leaves every time I visit
the garden. Definitely refreshing! And this week I pulled
up the biggest one. The guinea pigs have been eating the
fronds, and love them.
And I chopped up ½ of the bulb and threw it in while
cooking pasta. Like this it looks a lot like,
and has the same texture, as celery. It had very mild
I probably over cooked it. For the other ½, I will
chop it and just steam it in the microwave for a couple mins.
This is my favorite little corner of the garden:
Everything is planted too close together, but it looks so
happy. On the left is leeks. Then down the center is
Part Two cauliflower (because of course Part One died!),
Purple Basil and Soybeans.
wed 31 july 2019... CSS|
I am part way through the third week of my five week CSS
class and I'm working on a new archive page for this site,
as I go.
I find I am completely delighted with the simple and clean
For instance... You see the grey bar above with
the date and the title of this blog post? Currently, on
this page, I'm using tables for positioning and a lot of
inline styling and the code goes like this:
<table align=center width=550 cellpadding=10 cellspacing=0 border=0>
<tr><td bgcolor= #74828f>
<b><a href="2019/20190731.html" style="color: white;">
wed 31 july 2019... CSS</a></b></td></tr><tr><td><p>
Pretty complicated, huh? Whereas the new code, using HTML5
and CSS separately...
wed 31 july 2019... CSS</header>
Of course, all that information that's in the TABLE tags of
the top example, still has to be spelled out. It's just
spelled out in a completely separate file so you don't have
to look at it when you're making a new web page.
Anyway, I just think it's pretty. And I'm glad I'm learning
I just love how the light catches the veins of the
Cherokee lettuce behind this Love-in-a-Mist flower!
The lettuce is going to seed now... and I let it be. Real
gardeners would pull the plants out and compost them. But
Goldfinches think the seeds are quite tasty! The lettuce
plants with the seed heads get pretty tall, a good 4 feet
or more. And I really think they are beautiful.
And even more beautiful with Goldfinches on them! :)
sun 21 july 2019... HTML|
Working on my mojo, I thought I might begin some repairs
here at Static8...
The website design you see before you is a cobbled
together mess! :) laughs. I taught myself HTML about a
million years ago, and this site has gone thru
iterations because I used to enjoy playing with design and
But the current Sunflower design has been up for way too
long. Plus it's done in HTML 4.01 with tables for
positioning. And the world has most definitely moved on!
I've taken a HTML5 and CSS Fundamentals class at
and now I'm continuing with a CSS Basics class.
My goals for the HTML and CSS class:
I wanted a refresher on HTML, along with best practices,
and I wanted to learn what was new in HTML5. Check!
I was also hoping to learn how
to use CSS to position my designs so they'd translate across
devices... to look good on a desktop monitor, on a tablet,
and on a phone!
Well, I did learn the names of what I want: Flexbox and Grids.
But the brief overview wasn't enough. I think I learned
enough to be dangerous with Flexbox, nothing about Grids,
and nothing about combining the two.
And, since I'm a random user of CSS, I actually needed to
learn about the original CSS positioning techniques
like relative position and float.
No big deal, the CSS class that I just signed up for
covers layout and positioning. But it sounds like it too,
just mentions Grids and Flexbox. So I may have to learn
that on my own.
A beautiful Banana Slug!
are bright yellow. In fact, I've never
seen a yellow banana slug... they have all been this tan
colour with dark spots and decorations.
But they are all big! Banana slugs are the 2nd largest slug
in the world, maxing out at almost 10 inches (25cm). This
one was only about 6 inches. But she+he is seriously lovely
with those marking.
(Slugs and Snails are both female and male, thus the she+he!)
Tues 16 July 2019... Update|
Well, 2019 has been a crazy year...
∞ Car accident, 22 Jan 2019
It was a pretty bad one, not my fault. I was bed bound
with pain from bruised ribs and sternum, and then house
bound. I had a broken foot, and I'm still having some
trouble associated with my time in the walking boot.
∞ Laid off, March 2019
I had worked at Copic for ten and a half years, and loved
it. So that was a major bummer.
∞ Partner in the hospital, May 2019
He had to stay for seven days, with severe pneumonia. And
on top of that, he had to drive himself to the ER, because
I thought he was being a
And now the year is half gone...
I still don't have a car. (I've used the bus a few times.)
I still don't have a job. (I'm taking some time off.)
But I do still have a partner. (That's nice.)
I have got a lot of time on my hands, and I'm doing things
I love: reading like crazy and going out for long walks with
my camera every day. But strangely, I have not done anything
creative with my time.
I quit sending out my monthly postcards last year, and I've
not gotten back to it. And this site has been abandoned
for many years. I haven't been drawing, and I haven't been
doing much with my photos, either. No crochet, no book making,
no bookmark making. I haven't even updated my book reviews.
I don't know why. I've just lost my mojo.
But that's okay. I'm working to get it back.
Stay Tuned! :)
Bushtits are pretty cool! They are tiny, and they usually
bounce around too quickly for me to get a photo. So this
pic is a happy surprise.
I think their pale eyes makes their face look like a hawk!
Well, I bet the bugs they eat are scared of them, anyway!
fri 18 jan 2019... Weekend Review|
Gah, half of January is gone already. And I'm
just a little bit slow, getting back into the swing of
Last weekend, I got a couple of extra
things done. Just little things, but
they made me happy.
I wrote and sent a letter and I
completed an Amnesty International Urgent Action. It has
been ages since I've sent out AI mail, and I am looking
forward to being active there again.
I have several big projects planned, but I've not really
started any of them.
Wait. Let me back up. I've not told you WHY I have several
big projects planned.
In 2018, the GoodReads postcard group that I host got
overwhelming. I spent all of my free time working on it...
and it had been like this for a while. I just finally
got to the point where I wanted to do other things!
I grabbed a couple friends from the group and bounced
ideas off them. I revamped the format of the postcard
group so that it basically runs itself, I just have
to get the ball rolling.
The January pc exchange is going great. And I have a lot
more time on my hands!! Thus, my plans for big projects.
But maybe I need to ... ease into my crazy plans. :)
Tues 1 Jan 2019... Review and Revise|
Happy New Year!
Well, I haven't done a New Year's post in a few years, but
I'd like to spend more time typing here in 2019... so here we go!
In 2018, I changed up my walking habit... instead of walking
the bike path down to the community garden, I've started driving
to different places. The hiking trails at Hendrick's Park are
my favorite: loads of wildlife, and a good variety of paths
to take. I've also enjoyed hiking
the Ridgeline at Fox Hollow and Spencer's Butte. And
there's Owen's Rose Garden, where I can walk the River Bank
trail and also hike up Skinner's Butte.
In 2018, I took 11,570 photos, averaging 964 photos a month.
I didn't realize my camera was broken, taking slightly blurry
photos, at the beginning of the year. My printer had died,
in an expensive way, and then my computer had crashed
in a permanent way. Using a tablet instead, I wasn't
studying my photos closely like I usually do. In May, I
bought a new camera. There were some frustrations, but
eventually my photography habit was invigorated. Jan thru
April, with the broken camera, I averaged 400 photos a month.
With the new camera, I was taking about 1250 photos a month!
In 2018, the GoodReads postcard group kind of took
over my life. We had between 70 and 110 players each month,
and averaged 84. The last 1/2 of the year was simply
overwhelming for me, and I was tired of having to spend
time every day working on this project. It became more
of an obligation, and less of a joyful fun thing.
In 2018, I also hosted 50 swaps at Swap-Bot, and
additionally participated in 46 swaps. I enjoy the weekend
notecard swap I host. Since I write about my weekend
and share the photos I took,
it has become a special kind of journal for me!
In 2018, I sent out 1250 postcards and letters,
averaging 104 a month. Febuary was my most challenging
month: both the computer and printer were dead. But for
LetterMo, I managed to send out 30 postcards and letters!
I found a good pace thru the summer, sending out about 160
postcards each month. But in the autumn, I started
My other major project of 2018 was the Community Garden Plot.
It was not a great year, and I didn't experiment with any new
vegetables. There are never enough Lemon Cucumbers, but we got
plenty of zucchini and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.
* * * * * * * * *
In 2019, I want to get back to sharing my stories.
I want to type here, more often.
I want to get back to sending out
my monthly postcards to friends and family.
I want to get back to art journaling.
I am reminded over and over, that people enjoy reading
my letters. Many people like my nature photos,
but just as many enjoy my storytelling and the interesting
facts I discover and add.
sun 9 sept 2018... walking|
Yesterday, I didn't feel like driving to any of my usual
hiking places. And I wanted to get pics of Goldfinches!
So I walked out to our Community Garden.
The Comm Garden is about a mile away, and it is right on the
bike path. This path runs next to a creek and has a decent
area of green space along parts of it. It's a beautiful walk
and I have encountered all kinds of wildlife over the years.
But this year, I'm more likely to drive someplace else to
walk. Walking along the path yesterday, I thought about this.
I have walked that path about 1000 times. Yes, literally.
A thousand times. I did the math.
I know what kinds of birds or beasts or bugs
I might come across, at any time of the year.
I know the cracks in the pavement. I know the graffeti
with the misspelled word which has been there since last
year. I know when and where I might pick some blackberries
to munch on. I know the places where the homeless people
might hang out. I recognize many of the dog walkers, and
know a couple dogs and humans by name.
Knowing these things has been comforting for most of my
time here! But lately,
I just want to look at something different. :)
The Goldfinches are molting this time of year, so their
feathers look a bit messed up. :)
mon 3 sept 2018... Song Sparrows|
I have a love for Song Sparrows.
Yep, they are sparrows. Also known as "little brown birds"!
But Song Sparrows are seriously cute, with their stripey
face and chest. They stay here, year round. (and can be found,
all across the US and up into Canada for at least some of
the year!) And their voices are so cheerful and happy.
I just love their song!
But more importantly... Song Sparrows seem to be fascinated
by me and my camera!
When I happen to find a Song Sparrow close by, I start taking
pics and they start showing off for me! They hop around,
study me from several angles, flick their tail and stand up
straight, and stay and watch me for a while!
At first I just assumed it's because I'm awesome! *laughs*
But maybe they like the beeps my camera makes. I tested
this today. There was a Song Sparrow close to the trail
who dove into the underbrush when I saw her. She
didn't go far, tho. So I turned on my camera, and held
down the shutter button to do the auto-focus. *beep*
And the Song Sparrow came out of hiding immediately! ha!
I could hear her talking with her friend. Song birds have
this *chirp* contact call, which they say constantly to
each other. The *chirp* is nothing like the camera focus
*beep*... but maybe I'm making the *beep* as a natural
response to their contact calls.
sun 2 sept 2018... hike|
Instead of my walks to and from the community garden, this
year I've been going for hikes on the weekends. My favorite
place is a city park that has a Rhododendron
Garden and a Native Plants Garden.
And across the way, there's a forest trail and part of the
Ridgeline. The trails are short, but pretty steep. And
if you want to walk all of them, you can go for several
I walked these trails yesterday, and I wasn't having
much luck with the wildlife. I'd see a chipmunk! and
then I'd see her tail as she scampered away
into the underbrush. Several times over... Chipmunk!
Tail! Song Sparrow! Flicked his tail! then gone.
Some days are like that. I just kept walking up and down
the hills. And then a deer.
Or to be precise, a deer's butt.
He was pretty far off the trail, and I watched his butt for a
while, walking back and forth on the path, trying to get
a better view. He finally moved and laid down where I could
almost see him!
I've seen does at the park and a momma with a child, so it
was exciting to see a male for the first time.
He had a girlfriend with him,
too, that was sweet.
sat 1 sept 2018... An Experiment|
I have a little extra brain power, and I think I'm going to
dedicate it to blogging.
At the day job,
they fired all my friends in the warehouse. And I'm bored, so
bored, without fun and interesting people walking by who want
to chat with me about random things. So, instead of my
brain complaining to me about how bored it is... I'd like to
think up topics and writings for this place!
Don't know if it will work, that's why it's an experiment.
But I aim to post here, not every day, but 4 or 5 days a week,
for the month of September.
Note: Yeah, none of the internal links work here at the
website. I've not
fixed everything since my devestating computer crash at
the beginning of the year.
sat 5 may 2018 2018... Spring Cleaning|
Well so much for my March goals of posting more often.
And so much for my April goals of catching up with my
GoodRead book reviews. And so much for sending mail
every day. Multiple Failures.
I can't stick with anything, and I'm having trouble doing
anything at all.... Depression is acting up, big time.
But, it's a new month, and I'm going to give it another go!
My partner is visiting his mom, and he'll be gone
for two weekends, so I've decided to do some Spring
Cleaning. The floor of my bedroom is my craft area,
and there are several years worth of piles taking over.
It's embarassing, but, as I mentioned, with depression
it's just difficult or impossible to deal with things.
I took all the piles out and vacuumed.
There is no walking space in my partner's room... but my
room looks open and inviting. I celebrated by getting
my paints out!
This idea has been rattling around in my brain for a
couple weeks: Black Paper + Metallic Watercolours!
I'm going to cut up the page and send it as postcards!
Now the hard part, of course, is going thru all those
piles and finding a place for everything. About ½
the piles are just books... but I ran out of book
shelf space a long time ago. However, once I find
and clear a space, the books will be the easiest
thing to deal with.
All the other stuff, I don't know. These two weekends
might be interesting.
sat 31 mar 2018 2018... April Goals|
Well, sheesh. I did mean to post more often during the
month of March! Unfortunately, I've been dealing with a
(very) lingering cold and I've mostly slept thru the last
half of March.
Despite this, I have sent mail almost every day during
March. I only skipped two days. Problem is, I didn't
write ANY LetterMo replies, like I meant to!
For April, I'd like to continue my goal of sending mail
most every day. It would be nice to figure out a way to
motivate myself to write replies, as well. Not to
mention, I need to keep up with my mail log, as well.
But my major goal for April is a different project that
I have procrastinated for a very long time.
My book reviews GoodReads. I am currently a year behind.
It's important to me because, with my postcard group there,
I am very active on GR. I am a fairly serious reader, and
it's a bit embarrassing that I'm not adding the books
I use my book reviews to remember what I've read, and to
find new books when I find an author I like. The book
reviews are also a conversation starter with the members of
the group I host. And I just feel organized, when I am
all caught up with a project! :)
So here's my plan. Slow Drip! Ten minutes, every day!
When I pull out the computer every evening, I will set a
timer. There will be ten minutes of focused activity:
∞ Figure out the next book, find my
handwritten review. Read it and make corrections.
∞ Add the book at GR and type the review.
I hope to add reviews about every other day? I tend to
hem-and-haw about my reviews, so I'm not sure if I can
finish typing one in 10 minutes.
That's the plan. We'll see how it goes!
fri 9 mar 2018 2018... Story of the Printer|
Well. I think I have a working printer. We shall see
how long it lasts.
I've bought 3 printheads here recently. The first one only
lasted about three weeks. The second one never even
installed correctly (And then I was not refunded for the
peice of junk they gave me).
And here we are on the third one.
Yeah, at this point, I'm a little short on hope.
But I've started printing things here and there. Trying
not to get too excitable. Just a few basic postcards.
fri 2 mar 2018 2018... Arriving from USPS|
Yesterday my order from USPS.com arrived...
This is a fair representation of the stamps I buy every
month... About 5 or 6 sheets of Global stamps, usually two
rolls of Postcard stamps, a few sheets of Forever stamps
(especially new ones, or ones I love), and, if they have
new Postal Notecards, I'll get some of those.
I am especially excited about the amazing
Bioluminescent Life Stamps. Wow! They are shiny!
I love them!
LetterMo March On... my goal is to continue to send mail
every day, and to send some replies.
I actually did really well about replies in Feb... I sent out
four replies to SendSomething.net and LetterMo friends.
Since my normal is zero replies, actually sending a few is a
great improvement! *laughs*
wed 28 feb 2018 2018... Keeping Sane: Snail Mail|
This year's LetterMo -- Sending mail every day during the
month of February -- was not as fun as usual.
A lot of that, of course, was my personal apocalypse... no
files and no printer and I couldn't make my own postcards
and send tons like I usually do.
But some of it was the LetterMo website. The personal
messaging system was turned off, and that was a major bummer.
The badges were down, which in years past were always a fun
incentive. The forums were pretty slow, and there were only
a couple of blog posts... probably because there was a private
facebook page (which I'm not interested in, due to myriad
Anyway, just kind of a disappointing experience.
So I've decided to make March special by typing about my
mailing fun here! Here's what I'm working with...
Those are some of the postcards I've been sending out. Yeah,
store bought. sighs... but I did buy them to use them!
I am happy to use some of my store-bought notecards as well.
I've been signing up for more written notecard exchanges at
swap-bot, and I host my own weekly swap as well. It's
fun and I have learned how to fill a page with chatting...
I couldn't tell you if it's interesting or not. ;)
sun 25 feb 2018... Looking Up!|
Yay and Huge Relief! Files are back!
I haven't downloaded all of the years yet, but it looks like
almost all of my files have been returned to me. So far,
there's just a few weeks of January 2018 that are missing.
But getting Hundreds of Thousands of photos returned more
than makes up for it!
Next up: Figure out what to do about the printer and the
When I didn't have my files, I felt like my life
was on pause and I couldn't do anything. But now,
I feel like a real person again!
sun 11 feb 2018... Keeping Sane|
My regular and ordinary, if obsessive, hobbies are
keeping me sane during this time of
On an ordinary weekend day, I go for a walk.
I take photos. I turn photos into
postcards. and I mail like crazy!
Okay. So right now, I can't print. And I don't have any
addresses to send postcards to.
All due to the Extreme Troubles I mentioned.
But I keep walking. And I keep taking photos.
And I'm surprised at all the wildlife that's showing up!
There is this one tree, it's about 1/2 way out on the path
to the Community Garden. Birds like to sit there, it's
kind of a look-out tree because it's right on the edge
of the green area, and it's tall and alone, and it's base
is mostly surrounded by a Wet Prairie pond.
Sometimes Starlings. Lately, Crows. I noticed a big
dark bird in the tree as I came around the corner. But,
when I got within camera range... um, that's not a Crow!
In fact, she or he was being mobbed by a Crow!
Unfortunately, there is no hope for the photos I took.
The day was too cloudy and I was too far away.
But that's okay. It's always fun to see someone new!
This is a Red-Shouldered Hawk, a little bit outside her
usual range along the coast in California.
fri 9 feb 2018... My Apocalypse|
At the end of January a bunch of crises happened and I am
having the worst year ever.
∞ Print head died. AGAIN.
I had just bought a print head, and it only lasted 3 weeks.
I've now spent 500$ because I have to be able to print!
(This is a large, high-end printer, and yes, it's worth it.)
∞ SO's mom is in the hospital.
Fell and broke her left humerus. Kidney failure. and a
diabetes diagnosis. SO took a flight out to Miami to be
with her and help organize care.
And in the meantime, our phones went down and communicating
with each other on opposite sides of the country, became
∞ And then my computer crashed.
in a rather permanent way.
∞ And then my backup files disappeared
All my photos, gone. My postcard files. The address files.
The files and software I use to coordinate the mail
exchanges I host. Emails. My encrypted password file.
All gone. And I honestly don't know how to live my life
without all this stuff.
And I'm so overwhelmed, it's difficult to even look at
data recovery options. And I've been stymed again and again,
as I try to find a decent and real Data Recovery company.
I'm beginning to wonder if they are not all just scams,
out to get money from desperate people.
A Good Thing: I recently bought myself a tablet, and I splurged
on the extra memory. I'm fleshing it out with hardware and
software and it is now a decent replacement for my crashed
Just no files.
I go back and forth between hope and hopelessness. not to
Another Good Thing: My friends have been awesome, caring
and understanding. I don't know how I would have reacted without
them. Saying "Thank You" is such a ridiculous under-statement
of my gratitude that it makes me cringe. But...
sun 12 nov 2017... Daily Drawing|
I've not been posting... but I have been drawing every day
I sit down every evening to write some postcards, and then I pull
out an index card to do my drawing.
I'm using pencils and Copic Sketch greys.
Many of my drawings are coloured.
I am drawing from my own photos. I've got several pics of
Guinea Pigs Piper and Dawn. I've also drawn some of my
postcard photos of birds.
My drawings are not that great. Mostly, I am okay with this.
I only draw once a year, after all, and I'm definitely losing
my talent with so little practice! Arg.
sun 22 oct 2017... Creative Every Day|
For the month of October, I've challenged myself to send at
least one bit of mail, every day.
This used to be standard operating procedure. But this summer,
I took a break. ha: no good came of it, that I could tell! ;)
So, I need to get back to my mailing normals. Every Day.
So far, so good.
And for November, I will be drawing every day.
Last November, I sketched on 4x6 index cards and my focus was
drawing myself in the mirror. It was definitely something
different, since I don't really like drawing humans. But
I think it turned out rather well.
I'm not sure if I completed the challenge of drawing every
day of the month... I did run out of time to upload all my
drawings, and I don't remember how much further into the
month I got. I will look into this!
So anyway. This annual drawing challenge is important to me
because it's mostly the only time I bother to sketch.
I do other artsy things: I take
a couple hundred photos every week, and I design a postcard
or notecard every week. I create several journal pages every
But physically drawing something takes different creative
"muscles". It's a bummer that those muscles only get stretched
once a year... but maybe one November, I will keep going into
December, and then into the new year.
This is what I hope for. And this is why I keep challenging
myself with a daily drawing during November.
Sat, 07 Oct 2017 18:19:26 PDT|
Uploaded a couple old entries. Got some
back end stuff cleaned up.
And wishing I could spare some more time for
my poor, abandoned web site.
sun 24 sept 2017... Banned Books Week!|
Yeah, if I only write one blog post a year, this is the one
I'm going to type! :)
It's been a few years since I have added to the
But this year, I've read The Catcher in the Rye...
Which brings my Classics total to 12 of 46:
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
9. 1984, by George Orwell
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
57. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron
And, I am excited to report, I've read at least one book from
each year's Top Ten list...
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
- Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
- Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
- Beloved, by Toni Morrison
- The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
- His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- (Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer)
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
- (The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins)
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
- I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
The thing I love about Banned Books Week is that it
introduces me to books I wouldn't ordinarily read.
Magenta about transgender teens??! How random!
And yet, it made me laugh, it made me cry,
and I hope it made me a better person.
wed 12 apr 2017... J is for Journal|
I am pretty serious about keeping my journal. In the past,
this has manifested as Daily Stories, Morning Pages,
Art Journals, and just Filling Up Note Pads.
Currently I am journaling digitally on the weekends, adding
photos, blog posts and emails... And then printing and
adding paper notes, written journal pages and random ephemera...
And then binding it all up into a wire-bound book!
This has worked really well for me for several years.
Well, except I perpetually don't have time for this project.
So, I'll print and bind a couple months here and there, and
then much later I'll do a couple more. Not sure how long it's
been since I've completed a full year!
And, you know? I am completely okay with that! I do
journal on a consistent basis... it's just the form that's
tues 11 apr 2017... Introvert|
I'm an extreme introvert. Toss in some shyness and some
social anxiety. Yep, that's me!
I love open space. I do not want humans in my bubble. My
bubble is pretty big. I'd rather not talk to you... but if
you want to type or write, I'm all for it!
mon 10 apr 2017... H is for Horses|
Yep, I'm crazy for horses!
I graduated college with a BS in Equine Science... nope,
I didn't go into the business: the summer jobs I had taught
me that working with horses is extremely hard work for
little pay. :) But I would not have done it any other
way, my misdirected schooling got me where I am, and I'm
quite happy here.
I do sometimes miss riding horses. I rode dressage, and
enjoyed it. But now that I'm vegan, I know it's wrong
to enslave a fellow earthling.
So these days, I occasionally draw horses but that's
the extent of it.
sat 8 apr 2017... Gardening and Guinea Pigs|
The baby guinea pigs are now 2 weeks old. They are definitely
the picture of cuteness! Still no names, yet, but I am
pretty sure the Big One is female and the Little One is male.
We've got a vet appt next week to be sure.
Taking care of guinea pigs is part of my activism for animals.
Guinea pigs, as a species, have been so abused by humans
that their name is synonymous with experimentation. It is
part of my mission in life to love and care for them.
And the gardening...
We have had a Community Garden plot since 2009. I still don't
consider myself a "real" gardener... I just pretend: I'm mostly
there for the photo opportunities, but I'm happy to get a
few zucchini and sun gold cherry tomatoes out of the deal as well! :)
The Community Garden is about a mile away, and right on the bike
path that follows the creek which runs near my home. It's a lovely
walk, and I go out to the garden most every weekend all through
the winter. During the spring and summer, I usually have to
drive there because I've got baby plants or tools or compost.
Our "go to" veges that we plant every year are: Sun Gold cherry
tomatoes, Zucchini, Lemon Cucumbers, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut
Squash. We do have some Strawberry plants, but only get a handful
of strawberries every year. After that, we experiment with new
veges every year.
I practice Veganic gardening, for the most part. That means
Organic (no pesticides, organic starts and seeds)
and Vegan (no animal-based compost, no attempts to kill slugs
or other critters).
The only non-vegan thing I do is the very occasional vermicompost:
We've got a worm bin at home... keeping and using worms as pets
is not vegan, but it helps the earth so much I think the "end
justifies the means"... but I am quite ambivilent about it.
We started this year's garden Today! I don't have very good luck
planting seeds, so we usually buy most of our veges as seedlings
from Saturday Market. Today we got Snap Peas, Cauliflower and
a new experiment Cherokee Lettuce.
I'm looking forward to warmer weather so we can fill up our space
with plants and flowers!
fri 7 apr 2017... F is for Freedom|
Life is a hard battle anyway. If we laugh and sing a little
as we fight the good fight of freedom, it makes it all go easier.
I will not allow my life's light to be determined by the darkness around me.
~ Sojourner Truth
I am a human rights activist. I do my best to Fight the Good Fight
of Freedom for everybody on the planet.
My activism through letter writing and postcard sending
is an important part of my life.
I am a letter writer for Amnesty International's Urgent Action Network.
It's been a while since I've been super active: I used to take on
an Urgent Action every weekend. These days, I am not quite so dedicated:
I'm writing one case a month.
And I take on other mailing campaigns, as I see them: I've sent
postcards for the blitz to Betsy DeVos
and I sent a bunch of postcards for the
The Ides of Trump.
thurs 6 apr 2017... E is for Ebooks|
I discovered Project
Gutenberg in 1997 or 98. I think the first book I read
on my computer was Alice in Wonderland... or maybe it was
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I read both, early on and
it was the combination of two of my loves: books and computers!
I bought a Palm handheld device, at some point. I loved that
thing! I could read old Gutenberg books, or buy new books
from Fictionwise (now defunct). Plus I could play Sudoku and
an awesome pinball game.
Eventually the battery went out. Instead of fixing it, I
bought an Amazon Kindle. Which I'm still reading today,
even though it has a couple of micro cracks in the screen
and is slow as dirt. :)
When I bought the kindle, the deal I made with myself was
that I would only have one (bought and paid for) book at a
time. If anything else came up while I was reading my one,
I would get the free sample.
This worked brilliantly for years!
I have still bought more than I can read of the dead-tree
books. But my digital collection has remained manageable.
I had tons of free samples, but just the one book I'm
I signed up for this stupid Daily Deal thing at GoodReads.
And, as I mentioned before: "A curse on those Daily Deals.
The book is 2$! Today Only! and I meant to read it some day, anyway."
Lordy. And, the bought-but-unread books are piling up on my Kindle
as well as in real life. But at least I'm not paying 10+$ for these
books I might not ever read! *giggles*
The kindle, with some dead-tree books I've read recently.
wed 5 apri 2017... D is for Drawing|
Drawing is one of those random things I like to do,
except, like blogging, it seems to only happen in
concentrated daily challenges like this one. I usually
do my daily drawing challenge in
(ha, I just remembered I ran out of time to upload all my
drawings from last november! Need to do some scanning and
pre-date a few more blog entries, I guess.)
Anyway. I usually do a half-decent job when I draw... as in
you can mostly tell what it is I'm drawing! And drawing is
a skill and I can easily improve, just by practicing every
day. Thing is, I've got a million other projects that I work
on every day as well. Just have to let some stuff go.
tue 4 apr 2017... C is for computers|
I have had a very happy relationship with computers since my
Dad got a TRS-80 when I was a kid! I eventually minored in
Computer Science at university. I got As and Bs, but the
programming classes were more difficult... school
stuff came pretty easily for me, so it was a surprise when
I actually had to think.
I never wanted a computer job, because I knew if I worked on
or with computers all day I would not want to play with the
computer on my own time.
But every once in a while, I do think I want to try with the
programming again. I'll buy a new book about some random
language, and then I will realize I don't have time
to read the hefty book, let alone learn anything!
ha, but some day I will get bored with my regular books,
and I'll dig out one of those old programming books...
mon 3 apr 2017... B is for Books (and Birds)|
I love reading!
And Birds are cool too. Sometimes I read books about birds.
The biggest reason why I like birds, is because they
are almost always available to be photographed! Even when
you don't have a bird feeder. :)
But this post is actually about books. I have a terrible
habit of buying more books than I can read. I'm not sure
of the exact count, but I'm positive that I have 60 or 70
books here, that I've bought but haven't yet read. Yeah,
there are piles of books all over the place!
Including on my kindle! A curse on those Daily Deals. (The
book is 2$! Today Only! and I meant to read it some day,
One of my piles. These are some of the books I got for
xmas. A couple of the books, I have read. Most I have
not! There are three bird books in this pile. :)
*PRE-DATED* sat 25 mar 2017... Piper, part TWO!|
Before Piper was brought to the local humane society,
she was kept with a male guinea pig. uh huh.
Greenhill Humane Society fostered Piper for a month, and
there were multiple vet appointments before she was up for
adoption. Her last ultrasound was on 14 feb, "Rechecked
abdominal ultrasound... Unlikely to be pregnant, ok for
Well, yeah. Humane Society people were very confident and
I totally assumed they knew what they were talking about!
But last thursday, I came home from the day
job, spent some time with Piper and realized she was very pregnant.
I could see a very active fetus on her left side, and a more
relaxed fetus on the right side of her tummy. and more fetuses
hanging out underneath? eek!
I looked up Guinea Pig gestation -- 70 days -- and did the math.
If Piper got pregnant on the very morning that she was brought in
to the humane society, the babies would be born on sunday 26 march.
That gave me a time-line to work with.
ha. I worried as Piper got more round every day. And more round!
Finally: Friday 24th of March, around noon. Two babies born!!!
I am so surprised and amazed that there are just the two. It means
that I have meet and become acquainted with both before they were
It took a couple of minutes, but soon I could tell who was the
active baby, who I had called a "tap dancer" as a fetus, from the smaller,
relaxed baby, who just stretched every once in a while inside Piper.
Tap Dancer is much bigger, and the stretcher is practically a runt.
They are quite adorable. In all my years of taking care of guinea
pigs, I've never had to care for babies, so this is new and wonderful
and terrifying and anxiety producing for me!
sat 1 apr 2017... A is for Art|
Thanks to one of my friends over at GoodReads, I am going
to attempt another month of daily blogging. The
from A to Z Challenge
sounds do-able and fun... Every day's topic is to begin with each
letter of the alphabet. So rather than an infinite number
of topics I could be typing about, I'll be more limited and
hopefully not as overwhelmed! :)
So. Art. Yeah, capital "A" art!
Yep, I love Art. But this post is actually about me. I
am an Artist. I don't throw that word around lightly,
but I definitely own it.
I am a photographer and I share my photos with the world:
here on my web site and on the postcards that I send out.
I am not a professional and I have never made money on
my art. I don't have to worry about such things because
I have a decent day job which pays me a living wage. That's
not to say I'm opposed to making money on photos, I'm just
not interested in it right now. And I don't consider money
to be an indicator of my success.
Success, to me right now, is simply knowing that I've brought
a smile to someone's face when they are standing at their
I do not have comments enabled here on the blog. I just
don't have the time to maintain them. If you wish to say
something to me, my email and my PO box are listed in the
sidebar on the right. Happy Day, rift
Another good "A" word, that I felt bad about passing by:
And Another Thing: I have Announcements to make, which I will
be typing soon and post-dating.
They'll be at the top of this page in the next day or so!
sat 4 mar 2017... The Piper at the Gates of Dawn|
My partner and I have adopted Piper the guinea pig!
at the Gates of Dawn"
is my favorite chapter in The Wind in the Willows and
I love the name Piper. I think she is named appropriately:
her webpage at the humane society mentioned that she's talkative,
and loves to sing!
Piper is about 6 months old. Her intake papers make me sad.
This is the paperwork filed out by the previous "caretaker"
who surrendered her to the humane society. They list her
name as Brown.
Sighs, that's not a name. That's not even a description,
since she's yellow and white.
And "How often is your pet handled?" Not Multiple times per day,
and Not Daily... but weekly. Which probably means less.
Sad, because she is very friendly. Definitely not
"shy" or "timid", which is almost a joke.
And her "Problem Behaviors" are "Chewing" and "Escape Artist"...
*giggles* I wonder if they kept her in a cardboard box!!!
(In case you don't know, guinea pigs and all rodents are
SUPPOSED to chew! Their teeth grow continually and they
have to chew hard things like wood to wear them down.
Trimming their teeth is a routine procedure at your veterinary
Here's Piper at home, accessing the escape possibilities. ;)
Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:30:48 PDT|
Today's outgoing mail included a postcard protest directed
at the Department of Education.
I'm looking forward to the big postcard protest of the
15th of March...
The Ides Of...
Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:04:38 PDT|
sat 25 feb 2017... mail|
I guess I forgot to post anything here, last weekend...
Yeah, that uploading a photo every day is going Great, isn't it??!
So this week, I've been working on the february postcards
for the postcard group I host. I like to send a postcard
to everyone who participates. It was a fun and joyful thing
to do when the group was small. Last year, the monthly
exchanges hit 50 and 60 participants, which was more difficult:
I would spend hours every evening for most of two weeks writing
postcards. I enjoyed it, but it was taking over my life!
This year, the group is up over 70 players every month.
I've simplified my process by typing my message on the
postcards instead of writing. It has helped immensely.
It's not as personal, but I can type a lot more since I
can reduce the font size. And of course, things go much
more quickly now. We are back to having fun and joy again!
Here's a pic of my work space as I'm cutting up the 2nd
half of the postcards...
As I cut out each postcard, I arrange them by country.
I send out International postcards first since it takes
them a bit longer to get to where they're going.
When I cut up the USA postcards, I arrange them
by zip code so I can send to the east coast first,
which is the furthest away. Closest locations --
California, Oregon and Washington state -- are sent
last and only take a day or two of travel time.
Before I printed all the postcards, I did stress a bit
about the wordage I was typing. When I was hand-writing
my postcards, I would practice what I wanted to say
and my words would change as I edited myself. And that
doesn't happen when I'm typing my words. I guess in the
future, I need to actually write my stuff a few times over
before I go to the computer to type it!
It's a big project, and I love it. The people are
wonderful and kind and I always enjoy conversing
with them... both online and in the post!
sun 12 feb 2017... mail|
Haha! So much for taking pics of my mail every day!
(I've not posted anything here for a week.)
Truth be told, I got bored of the pics because I was
only sending one or two postcards every day last week.
And I ran out of time to get creative with the backgrounds.
So, here is what I worked on this weekend, with the
standard boring background... tho I do like the Copic
markers as props! :)
Sending on Monday: 4 letters
One to a friend, one swap-bot notecard
and two swap-bot "Interest Me in a Book" notes
Oh, and I love to use digital paper as belly bands when I
send standard letter-size paper in the US#10 envelope...
You can't see it in the pic, but the brownish dot paper
is very beautiful and is included in this set, made by my
friend Linda at Happy Print Club:
Stationery Printables. And yes, there's tons of free
printables on the Internets... but I prefer to support
Mon, 06 Feb 2017 18:32:30 PDT|
I cut up a couple world maps to make a bunch of
postcards this past weekend.
They came out amazingly well!
I put 11 of them in the this morning's mail.
Also Sent: 2 welcome postcards
+ 2 letters
= 15 total bits of mail today!
Sat, 04 Feb 2017 18:26:33 PDT|
Sent: 3 welcome postcards
fri 3 feb 2017... condolences|
Sent: 1 condolence card
sighs. Last year I lost track of how many condolence cards I sent.
And this year is starting out the same.
This is the second sympathy card I've
sent this year, already.
It's a hard thing to do. It's sad and
there is nothing you can say on a
card that will help. But, believe me, it is very
very important that you write and send something!
Thu, 02 Feb 2017 19:02:55 PDT|
Sent: 1 GR Welcome PC
+ 1 Swap-Bot PC
Wed, 01 Feb 2017 18:50:25 PDT|
Sent: 1 GR Welcome PC
sun 22 jan 2017... LetterMo Plans|
Yay Mail! and Yay Month of Letters!
Okay, so you know the State of the Blog
is "way behind"... so what is
the State of the Postcards??
Well, there's good. and bad. and normal.
Good: I got a slow start at the beginning of the month because I was
not feeling well... but I am catching up big time and am on track to
have a regular month. During a regular month, I send out
about 130 postcards and notecards! Yay Mail!
Bad: I am very behind on my mail log. What's involved here? I scan
my incoming mail and type it into my mail log and then postcards need to
be registered with certain websites. I'm still dealing with december
mail, here! ack!
And Normal: xmas Thank You notes, not written yet. Probably won't be
sent until March or so! haha! yep. this is normal.
My letter writing work space in Dec when I was writing Amnesty International
protest letters for Write for Rights. I thought the Star Trek stamps were
appropriate! and I'm still decorating my envelopes with my Wide markers.
friday 20 jan 2017... Behind the times, but catching up|
Well. um. Happy New Year!
I have had some creative down time... I never completed the
posts for my daily drawing month in November, I didn't post
again after that, and, most importantly, I did not post my
annual First of January "year in review".
I've been doing a Jan 1st post for about a million years, and
this is the first time I've ever missed it!
I got busy. Then I got busy with the holidays. And then
I got sick with a bad and lingering flu.
I'm feeling better now, so, here's the plan...
I will fill in older posts as I get the time.
I will back date them, but I will post
them here on this page in the order that I type them.
I have deleted the rest of this page in order to encourage my
participation in this plan: it looks kind of empty around
here, doesn't it??! Look! You can see the bottom of the page!
hello, rift?! Type something, rift!!!
for Inauguration Day:
I stand on the side of LOVE.
Looking down at an Egret in the Rain.
I am rift vegan!|
I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA,
with my Significant Other (SO) and
Piper the Guinea Pig.
I am vegan for ethical and environmental reasons,
my love for animals and nature is
a very important part of my life.
This blog is occasionally about...
∞ Vegan Life
∞ Handmade Postcards
∞ Books, Reading & eBooks
∞ the Paper Journal
∞ Drawing & Art Projects
∞ Randomness :)