Monday, September 4, 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Your Unsaved Changes Will Be Lost

I don't do Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  I don't tweet and I don't text.  I don't shop online preferring to support local businesses.  Nor am I into smart phones.  I do have a cell phone which I got about a decade ago.  It makes and receives calls (when I turn it on) so if faced with an emergency and if I have my little book with everyone's phone numbers in it (no, I don't program them into my phone), I don't go into panic mode unless I then find myself in a place with no cell-phone coverage.  Now all those public phones are a thing of the past.  With a dime ... and then a quarter ... and then a calling card .... they came in quite handy.  And you didn't have to make sure you had a pocket or a bag to keep one in.

Then my computer presents problems with such messages as "An error occurred ...."  Or "It will take some moments while we upgrade your ..."  Or the modem is behaving improperly.  Or the wi-fi apparently didn't like the last thunderstorm.  Or the grid is down.  Or the grid isn't down but acts as if it were, so you have to fiddle with things you know nothing about to try and fix some oblique problem.  I admit to liking a computer for writing as opposed to typewriters of old, but then you have to have a separate printer to get any hard copy. (Though hard copy itself may be obsolete one of these days.)   Plus pay more than $100 for an ink cartridge to fit into the printer. You used to get a typing ribbon for a couple of dollars and that would do for all the letters you wrote for a good year or so.  Of course, I realize no one writes letters anymore.

A bunch of hand-written and typed letters from the old days.   Yep, I kept them!! 

Then who besides me finds it harder now to hear people on the other end of the line if those people are on smart phones or cell phones.  I prefer my land-line which gives me a better connection.  More grounded, you might say.  So often, nowadays, it sounds as if the person on the other end is multi-tasking deep in some Mayan well or talking while surfing a kahuna.

Then there's the nuisance-phone-call thing ... like several a day sometimes. About the back brace they say I ordered -- but never did. Or my Microsoft connection which is about to fail. Or some problem with my bank account. Or something else which I don't pay attention to because I've already hung up by then.  One nuisance person called and asked if he could speak to me and I said, "No, you can't."  "Why not?" he asked.  "Because you're a fraud," I said. "I'm not a fraud," he replied, then giggled and hung up.  (I've gotten so I can recognize their voices.)  I used to keep track of nuisance-call numbers so I could report them to the Do Not Call listing, but then I realized the callers kept switching numbers.  They also began using local numbers so you'd think it was some friend.

Then, not long ago, when I was on the phone to one of our Top Computer Companies, I kept getting interference from their Hold Music.  There I was, trying to hear what they were telling me as we worked together to solve a computer problem, all with Johnny Cash on the line, too, as if he were blowing bubbles through a Ring of Fire off in some bog.

"Your call is important to us."
     "Our options have changed."
          "I'm either on another line or out of the office."

Sunday, July 30, 2017

More from My Travel Sketch Book

Since it's vacation time, I thought I'd include more pages from my travel sketch book (see my June 16th posting) as further inspiration for you to start a sketch book of your own.

Olive trees and the Alpilles mountains in Provence

Scenes from Dieulefit, France

A Marsden Hartley painting in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

Looking out over the hills of Ojai, California

Calvin Coolidge's Vermont birthplace

The Indian Ocean from a beach in Bali

Wooden statue of Guanyin at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (great spot, by the way)

A local lake, done to the tune of bull frogs.

Crossing the Canadian Rockies by train

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Visit to Old Sturbridge Village

The Fenno Barn and pasture

On the Fourth of July, family members and I drove the nearly 90 miles down to the heart of Massachusetts to Old Sturbridge Village, listed as "an 1830's working village and farm with costumed artisans and farmers." With plenty of sunshine and just-right temperatures, it was a perfect day.  A fife and drum ensemble tootled along various byways over the course of the day. A crowd gathered late morning to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence plus patriotic poetry followed by a naturalization ceremony welcoming new American citizens who had chosen to be sworn in on that particular day and in that particular place.  And at 1:00, militia fired a cannon in celebration of the Fourth.

Our little party, in the meantime, was busy taking a gander at the turkeys plus spring lambs and chicks ... with a peek inside the Fenno House where one woman was carding wool, another twisting it into yarn, and a third wrapping it on a measuring rod.  Though not all shown everyday, OSV demonstrations include dying wool, weaving, blacksmithing, operating the sawmill, making soup over an open fire (and bread in a brick oven), grinding corn, making pots, shoes, and brooms, plus firing that cannon on special occasions.  All great fun.

We also discovered what is called the game of graces (from the French le jeu des graces), an early 19th century lawn game played with small hoops and sticks that young girls enjoyed and that supposedly helped them become graceful.  Basically, it involved tossing and catching a small hoop with the use of two sticks, one in each hand.

Here are some photos of our day.

Spring lambs

Coach ride

Center Meetinghouse

Friends Meetinghouse

Wrapping twisted yarn

Style of the day

Wallpaper in the Towne House

The Towne House dining room

A bedroom in the Towne House

Part of the Towne House kitchen

One of many flyers outside the general store

Tending one of the gardens

Making pea soup (right-hand pot) in the Bixby House

Carding Mill (in front) and Grist Mill

Inside the Carding Mill

Militia getting ready to fire the cannon

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

18th Century Version

I don't know about you, but whenever I run into the term, "Revolutionary War patriot," I waft through a few visions including Mel Gibson yelling, fighting, making a big fuss in the movie, Patriot, which, in fact, I never saw.  (Who needs more bloodshed!)  Or, I envision our F. Fathers in their 18th century attire doing Their Thing to Make Things Right.  Patriots, all.  All, of course, done with fervor, for flag and country.

So, when I came upon a piece from that day requiring every male to take an oath, I realized it had been less fervor and more livelihood.  That or else leave the country, please.  All this came up when I was working on my genealogy bit last year and found several antecedents with a little subscript note to the effect that they had "taken the oath."

That meant, at least in their state of Maryland, that all free males over 18 were required to go to the magistrate of their county by a certain date and take an oath renouncing the king of England and supporting the new revolutionary government.  Or else.  If they didn't, they would have to pay triple their annual taxes on real and personal property.  They would be prohibited from practicing their trade or profession including medicine, pharmacy, law, education, church.  They could not vote or hold any civil or military office.  And then the magistrates had to submit the proper paper work or be fined 500 pounds.   Hmmm ... why did I imagine the whole thing was more voluntary than that?

So one, then, became a patriot or remained a loyalist, royalist, or Tory and skedaddled off to Canada or returned to Albion unless he didn't care about his job or could afford to triple his tax rate.  One family antecedent, finding himself in Boston in 1775, decided things were heating up so got himself north of the border where that branch of the family remains.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Why Not Start Your Own Travel Sketch Book?

From a friend's garden in California

I've been using the same book now for 20 years to make sketches of places I visit, whether it's up the road or across the ocean.  (I had a duplicate book strictly for home scenes for many years ... until I filled it up.  Petunias in my garden, newly dyed Easter eggs, rainbow chard from the farmers' market.  That sort of thing.)

Besides being able to review my various trips, I find my travel sketch book a wonderful diary.  What year was it I went off to Scotland, I ask myself?  And there it is: 1998.  Or I simply browse through the pages and enjoy such renderings as a calm morning sea in Maine, a celadon bowl in a D.C. museum. The book is small, easy to carry, with an attached pen-holder.  As well, I keep a few stubs of colored pencils in a tiny tin box that fits into my pocket. There's little to carry, nothing to weigh me down.

Here she is in all her glory.

Except for the little tin box with lid on the right, everything else stays home.

It's all great fun and, as I say, a lovely reminder of just where and when I went and what I saw.

Provence, France

Coronation Chair, Westminster Abbey

Diamond Head, Waikiki

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ubud, Bali

Harbin Hot Springs, California ... with statues on the lawn.  In 2015 all of Harbin Hot Springs and half the neighboring town of Middletown were reduced to ash and rubble in the Valley Fire.

Entry to Sena Plaza, Santa Fe

National Portrait Gallery, D.C. ... Gertrude Stein statue made to look like a seated Buddha

Regent's Park, London

Friend at Groton Long Point, Connecticut