Rock On

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Some of my recent rock artwork: heart balloon, book shelf, camper, Pigeon (hat tip to Mo Willems), Kokopelli, pig, sugar skull, fox, star, trebel clef, koi, fox face and Pete the Cat (a pale imitation of illustrator James Dean’s work!).

Well, well, well, what do we have here?  That’s right, I’ve crawled out of my cave, remembered I have a blog, and have gotten around to actually posting something.   Where have I been?  What have  I been doing? To quote the driven Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain… no, there is too much.  Let me sum up.  Buttercup is marrying Humperdink in a little less than half an hour, so all we have to do is break up the wedding, steal the princess, and make our escape after I kill Count Rugen.”  There was some happily ever after living thrown in there as well.

I was busy, but now I’m back, and with a new hobby:  rock painting.  As a Pinterest heavy weight, I had come across it in my daily rounds but hadn’t done much about it until recently.  There’s a small devoted following in my area of this hobby, Facebooks dedicated to it, the whole nine yards, but it’s not nearly as popular here as it is in other parts of the country.  As a result, when I happen to mention that I paint and hide rocks, I get a few stares.  (It’s a thing!  It’s TOTALLY a thing! Shouts the crazy woman hiding painted rocks.)  For the uninitiated, sometimes the rocks are called Peace Rocks, they are used in Kindness projects, and it’s an artsy  combination of Geocaching and an Easter Egg Hunt. Paint them up with any design, “hide” them in plain sight, and if you are interested in joining a larger community, there are tons of Facebook pages you can join. I recently joined my local group, Solano Rocks.

I started off a couple months ago putting the rocks out in secret in the area surrounding a school.  It delighted me to no end to see kids discover the rocks as they exited the school.  After a few weeks of being sneaky about it, I got found out by another volunteer, and now folks are starting to keep an eye out for the weekly rock batch.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive hobby and a creative outlet, this is a winner.  Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  1. Rocks – Either ones you pick up while taking a walk, from beach combing (my personal favorite), or buy a bag of river rocks from your local home improvement store in the landscaping/gardening section.  I found a big ole bag of River Rocks at Home Depot for a little over $11. Make sure the rocks you buy are not coated, like the ones for flower arranging, as the paint won’t stick.
  2. Paint – You can use your favorite acrylic paints, paint pens, and a clear coat, such as Rust-Oleum Clear Coat or Valspar’s equivalent.  Another option that saves a step is using Acrylic Patio Paint, my personal favorite. There’s no need to clear coat the patio paint and it weathers really, really well. (By the way, I don’t get any kickbacks of any kind. There are no affiliates for my blog, these are just products I use.)
  3. Markers – Permanent markers of any kind to do the detail work, whether they be the humble Sharpie or a high end fancy art marker. Be sure to spray a clear coat over your marker work, though, as it will wash away when exposed to the elements.

Wash and dry your rocks before painting to get off any debris, then go wild!  Spread the happy little rocks around and have some creative fun in the process.

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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It’s time.  I’m integrating the household. Dogs and cats living together. It might drive me crazy.  Winston wants to Play! Play cats, play!  Run and I will chase you! Winston may suffer the loss of an eye or two if Monkey gets to have her way. I do believe her ears have become permanently flattened and her ‘vocabulary’ has decreased to hissing. FatCat just wants to be left in peace.  He’s cool with living on the desk or in a quiet corner.  Maybe I should sit the cats down and have them watch these:

Dork Fish Strikes Again

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I have been making a concentrated effort to work my way through the AFI’s 100 Years 100 Movies list as one of my Fabulous Forty goals. I know at this point I’m not going to make it through my entire goal list and I made my peace with that, but I thought I could AT LEAST get this one done. I went to double check what I had in my Netflix queue against the list, and one of the movies, The Jazz Singer, didn’t have the year associated with it on my reference list and there were multiple choices on Netflix.  So, I did a quick Google search and discovered, with only 24 movies to go,  that I’d been working off the 1997 list, THE OLD LIST, not the updated 2007 10th Anniversary List. *beats head against wall*  How did this get past me??? Ugh.

Some of the movies I already watched were dropped, I now have 28 movies to completed the list instead of 24, and there are four of those movies that Netflix doesn’t have (High Noon, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Modern Times and Do the Right Thing).  Weird.

At the start of this little experiment of mine, I thought, “How hard could it be to watch movies? I can just sit there and work on other projects while I watch.  It’ll be a piece of cake.” Turns out, it’s pretty stinking difficult when a lot of the movies are about as appealing as getting a rectal exam while doing algebra and eating kale. I must admit, it’s very tempting to walk away and chalk it up to “a nice try.”  I’ll keep at it, though, and with a month left on my time table, I just might surprise myself. Or not.

Social Media: The Carnival Ride

I’ve been reading a book by Molly Ringwald titled “Getting the Pretty Back.”  Even though I was never a John Hughes devotee and Ringwald wannabe, I would have had to have lived under a rock to avoid her influence on the teenage landscape of the late 1980s. So when this book landed in one of my secondhand bulk purchases of book, I figured I’d give it a once over. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well written it is, full of humor and thoughtful observations as well.  It impressed me enough that I even double-checked to make sure it wasn’t ghostwritten, and it seems to be all her own work.  Good for you, Molly, it’s so great to see an actress who has more going on than a pretty face.

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I reached a chapter in the book where Ringwald writes about e-mail and social media right about the time things blew up with the Confederate Flag Debate, quickly followed by the heartwarming (and long overdue) Supreme Court Decision on gay marriage. Naturally, Facebook,Twitter, etc. BLEW UP. For all I know, Tinder and Grindr were going at it, too, only in a much sexier way.

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I stay out of “discussions” online that are about politics or religion. My views almost always clash with my extended family, and while I will happily give my views and the reasons behind them in an honest, face-to-face conversation, I won’t do it online. There’s just no point. Someone’s feelings will get hurt, things are taken the wrong way because there’s no such thing as a sarcasm font, and there’s lots of bad feelings that get put out there in a wholly unnecessary way when people write things online that they would never, ever in a million years say to someone’s face. So, I stay out of it altogether.

In Ringwald’s book, on the section about social media, “My Facebook Space Oddity,” she writes the following:

Social networking sites are meant to be light and funny and glib. They are a performance.

This jumped out at me when I read it, and I thought, “Yes, that’s it, exactly!” Those ideas had been in free form rambling around in the back of my mind, but I had yet to solidify the ideas. My social media performance is comprised of  positive, funny, and/or uplifting items in my Facebook feed. I occasionally share things that aren’t all warm fuzzies, because I”m not perfect, but I try. Anyone on my friends list who routinely gripes and whines or goes over the top gets unfollowed. In a few cases, I have unfriended and blocked people. I don’t have room in my life, in this form of entertainment, for that kind of nonsense. There’s too much of it out there already.

I agree that everyone has the right to voice their opinion.  The constitution protects free speech, but it doesn’t enforce kindness or common sense, which is why I have to set my own guidelines. Thank goodness I have that choice!

The mainstream media is often referred to as a circus.  If this analogy is correct, then social media is a traveling carnival. The rides are thrilling, but also a little dangerous. There are curiosities, “freaks,” rigged games, highlight reels, barkers spouting out incorrect and highly stylized information, heightened emotions, teeming masses of thrill seekers, and the misconception that under the cover of darkness (cyberspace) we are excused from the mundane aspects of our daylight selves, including manners.

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I doubt very seriously that anything I write here will change social media, or anyone’s perspective, I know that. It’s been proven that we all make decisions based on emotion, rather than logic,  and then find the data to back it up. My emotional response to all that nonsense is that it feels bad and I have a choice in the matter, so I choose not to feel bad, and my logical response to avoid all that negativity is to  shoot rainbows out my butt.

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Dog Toys According To The Dog

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My dog considers the following things to be toys, his toys:

1. Actual dog toys.  I usually buy these at a dollar store, because Winston doesn’t so much consider them toys as fluffy enemies that must be eviscerated or rope things that have displeased him in some way and the only solution is to chew them in half.

2. Shoes.  Watching an 11 1/2 pound dog haul a men’s size 11 shoe and relocating it to the back yard is a sight to behold. Mostly, he sticks to swiping the Hobbit’s shoes on account of them being smaller and the Hobbit’s reaction of running after the dog.  Oh joy!  We are Playing A Game!  Catch me!

3. Socks. Oh the delicious smell of feet!  The socks and be clean, dirty, single or paired.  He’s not picky. And if we are so rude as to not leave any socks out for his doggy pleasure, he’ll fish them out of the laundry.

4. Plastic water bottles.  They make crunchy sounds!  They’re light!  I can run and crunch and leap!

5. Plastic children’s toys.  The Hobbit is learning the hard way that toys left on the floor are in The Dog Zone and therefore Belong To The Dog.  I suppose it’s a good thing he has so many toys Winston can chew his way through.

6. Cardboard.  He chews on boxes and book marks and the edges of books or photo albums.

On most days, our backyard looks like a scenario from the Facebook game crime scene (minus the dead body):

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She Sat Down to Write a Blog Post and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

That title is how you’re supposed to lure people in these days.  Every time I see “you won’t believe what happened next…” tagged onto a video or title, I roll my eyes so hard I nearly get a sprain.  It gets up my rebellious side, and I bypass the video BECAUSE it has that tag.  My apologizes to those who do the same. Shock and awe, my hind foot. (Insert derisive snort here.)

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch… I hadn’t intended to start off with a rant.  I’ve been busy. Very, very busy, and enjoying my summer by ticking things off the To Do List.  I’m working on a 30 Day Decluttering challenge that I have gone all Type A Personality on and am accomplishing in 2 1/2 weeks.  It’s merely economizing my time, like opting to drink one espresso instead of four cups of coffee.

After the decluttering comes The Epic Yard Sale.  I have an Epic Yard Sale every year, so perhaps it’s not epic, just very well done. But that doesn’t really attract people does it?  No one ever puts up signs that say “Quality Yard Sale – Organized and Well Done.”  That’s like trying convince people that accounting is exciting.

Once the purging of all the cabinets and shelves and rooms and closets is completed, it’s time to organize all that stuff.  I clean everything, wipe off the dust and grime.  I wash all the clothes and HANG THEM UP.  (I burst out into a Hulk-like fury whenever I drive by a yard sale and people have laid a blanket or tarp on the ground and dumped out all their clothes in a giant heap.  I call this type of sale Sh*t on the Ground.  Only the most desperate, or the most die hard optimist, will go through piles like that. I could go on and on as to why it’s so wrong, and I do when driving past them, but I’ll refrain from it here.) Everything gets priced, grouped, and placed on tables.  I even have prepackaged snacks & drinks, free coffee and take debit cards.  I do it up right, but need to finish the decluttering.

You might notice that one of the lines on that decluttering challenge reads “Data in Computer and DVR.”  We don’t have a DVR, so it’s just Data in the Computer for me, and not exactly in the computer because we recently got a new computer and I had oh-so-smartly transferred all the files over to an external hard drive for safe keeping until I could sort them out and put the important ones on the new computer. Patted myself on the back for that one.

I went transfer and delete files this past Sunday, and much to my horror, discovered the external hard drive wasn’t working. They always work. There’s no operating system or software to go bad or be updated.  It’s just storage.  It would be like your closet suddenly not working.  It’s a closet, it holds stuff, that’s HOW it works. Why aren’t you working, you stupid, stupid storage device?

I tried really hard not to vomit in my absolutely panic-stricken state. The computer wouldn’t even acknowledge that the drive existed.  I tried another computer.  Same thing.  Changed the cord.  Same thing.  Ohgodohgodohgodohgod nooooooooooo!

See, it’s not just files, it’s pictures and video.  It’s ALL my pictures.  It’s every picture of my child since he was born.  I have printed out a few things, I have a completed baby book (ok, books, it spans 3 volumes), but it is EVERYTHING from his life.  Every vacation, Easter, Christmas, first day of school, EVERYTHING.

Did I mention it’s EVERYTHING?

I tried not to panic further, or vomit, from fear and loss. I cried, because that’s what one does when they’re sad and feeling helpless.

I’ve watched CSI and I’m a reasonably intelligent person who knows that data can be recovered.  There’s software and pasty-complexioned, sun-starved computer geniuses out there who can coax fragmented files from damaged computers. We can get it back.  It’s not like the horror one of my cousins faced when she lost everything in a house fire AND her child.  I have, temporarily, lost access to every documented thing from my child’s life.  Deep breath.  It’s gonna be okay. (Isn’t that a great lie to tell yourself?) Deep breath.

The solution is to find the mad geniuses who retrieve the data.  Throw some money at them and get it all back.  Right?  Right.  My darling husband got a quote on what it would cost. I was too distraught to think straight.

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So, yeah, we’re looking at $1800 to get back all those precious 0s and 1s of data.

I’m having Mom Guilt over this.  I know I shouldn’t, it’s most likely a hardware failure. I didn’t do anything wrong or irresponsible and it’s (probably) completely fixable.  Still, I feel guilty. Maybe I’ll get mad later, but for now it’s sadness and guilt.  I’m much more accomplished with sadness and guilt.  Anger makes me uncomfortable, even my own, even when it’s justified.

I had read something years ago that basically said we really have very few problems in life, because if you can throw money at it to make it go away or fix it, it’s not a problem, it’s merely an inconvenience. That eliminates pretty much everything except your health, emotional well-being, relationships, and death.  I’m trying to hang onto that and convince myself it’s true while I slog through all our unnecessary, accumulated crap. I’m keeping busy.

That hard drive was one of the few non-living things I would have risked life and limb to save  in the event of a fire or earthquake, and it’s the one thing I have (temporarily) lost. The fact that I lost it while going through the process of decluttering and prioritizing all the other stuff I would have walked away from … Oh the irony.

Wednesdays with Winston

I hear there’s a scruffy faced nerf herder in San Francisco who does a weekly Facebook post about life with his biped, called Fridays with Freddy.  The biped is some guy named Mick Rodeo? Mitch Rolo?  Mike Rowe?  Somethun’ like that.  I ain’t never heard of the guy, but I figured Freddy and me have a lot in common besides our stunning good looks and the bipeds  I got saddled with sure do provide a whole lotta writing material.  So why not?  Thanks for the idea Freddy, here’s the very first Wednesdays with Winston.

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Today has been much more thrilling than my usual Wednesday.  Heh.  I must say, I really kicked it up a notch.  But do the bipeds appreciate it?  Not like they should, so I am forced to seek an audience on the web.  That’d be you.  Prepare to bask in my glory, because today was a doozie.

I started off the morning in a truly spectacular battle of wits and bravery with an invading enemy of the feline variety.  See, I have a couple felines in my garage.  The biped lets me go in and play with them on occasion.  The male cat just sits there like a bump on a long while I give it allllll the right signals.  I wag my tail, I assume the “wanna play” position, perk up my ears and bounce around.  What do I get for my trouble?  Nuthin’.  Then, the cat just walks away and hides under a chair.  How rude can you get?  That just gets my goat, and I start barking.  The biped doesn’t approve and I get taken out of the garage at that point.

The other feline, the female, well, she’s even more rude.  I swear, try to give a lady a compliment and what do you get in return?  A slap in the face, hissed at, and growled at.  I’m not giving up though, I know those guys LOVE me and want to play.  We’re gonna have fun if it kills us.

This morning THE BEST THING EVER happened and I found another feline!  It was out in the giant grassy toilet behind the house, and it wanted to play hide and seek.  With me!  I’m not one to turn down an invitation and don’t mind being ‘it’, so I sought.  Our game led us around the spa and we spent a good long time under the deck.  I’d bark. The feline would hiss and swat at me.  I’d bark some more.  Then there was yelling and stomping on top of the deck.  It’s soooo hard to have a good game of hide and seek when someone is stomping around over your head, but I managed.

Then there was a game changer and someone opened the flood gates.  Water was shooting all over under that deck. What is this, the Hunger Games?  I wasn’t going to let it slow me down, but that cat was such a weenie, which is ironic, considering I’m the wiener dog. It went racing out from under the deck and tried to hide in a stack of firewood.  I’m sure it’s still there.  I’ve been going back to check the firewood ever 3 minutes or so, which is extra fun, because it means I get to climb.  I kill two birds with one stone, playing Hide & Seek AND King of the Mountain.  The yelling gets to me, though.  the biped is all, “No!  Winston!  Down!  Down, Winston!”  I appease her by getting down and wait until her back is turned.  It’s always best so humor the bipeds, since they’re the ones who fill my food bowl.

I needed a little rest after all that early morning cardio and I like to spending my down time under my biped’s desk.  It’s a great place to root around for a missed pieces of popcorn, engage in some extended licking of my nether regions, and best of all, it smells like feet.   Mostly because, I’m laying next to feet.  But this arrangement doesn’t completely meet all my needs.  There’s these annoying cords, see, and they move around when my biped is going tippy tappy on the humming machine.  I’m a proactive kinda guy, so I took care of it.  I chewed through the offending cord.  Problem solved… that’s when the cursing started.  My poor young ears!  Yowza!  You kiss your kid with that mouth?  I mean, sure, I lick my non-existent balls whenever the mood is right, so I guess I don’t have room to talk, but sheesh.  All this fuss over what?  I fixed it!

Then, wouldn’t you know, once the ranting stopped, there was ANOTHER cord invading my personal space.  I waited a bit.  Tried to ignore it, like they tell you do with bullies.  I did some deep breathing and meditation and did my best to coexist, but in the end I just couldn’t hack it, so I chewed through THAT cord.  And one more just to show I mean business.   Again with the cussing! What is up with all this drama?  Can’t a dog just get a little peace and quiet?

Then the biped did something I really don’t like… she left me alone.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to bide my time in the plastic box, but I still hate being alone.  That really freaks me out.  What if they don’t come back?  Who am I going to sleep with?  Who will feed me?  Whose shoes am I going to steal and take out into the giant grassy toilet area?  Just when I have come to the conclusion it’s the End Times and they’ve all died, by biped returns.  Oh happy days!  I tell you, that really gets me goin’.  I’m so happy I just gotta bite something.  Usually a pant leg, or shirt sleeve if I can jump high enough.

Wouldn’t you know it, the biped brought home MORE cords to string around in my den.  The she kicked me out of my own den and moved me next door to what was previously a perfect dog condo.  Now, no condo, but I do get to keep the blanket.

But my day’s adventures didn’t stop there.  Oh no, it got better, because there was FOOD.  Delicious, sweet treats.  I know the biped likes to play a little game with me and puts the treats up high, but I love this game and the pay off is great.  This time, especially.  I scored some Twizzlers.  Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhh.  I’ll probably pay for that tomorrow when Montezuma’s Revenge hits, but it was so worth it.

I tell ya, this day has been exhausting and I’m ready to hit the hay.  I know I’m gonna feel an urgent need to take a piss at 1 am, so I better get in a little nap in before then.  And maybe I’ll take one more trip around the grassy toilet area just to make sure my new feline friend hasn’t come back to play.  One can only hope.