Tuesday, June 28, 2011

X is for....

I have no beautiful photograph or painting of Xanadu.  In fact it is probably more appropriate that I do not. For Xanadu is perhaps a product of one's imagination -- a utopia.  What would be utopian for me may not be so for you.

The name Xanadu is an ancient name for Shanghai the summer capital residence of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, which was originally described by Marco Polo who is believed to have visited the city during his travels in the 1300's. The city had every outward sign of pastoral beauty, material luxury and opulance. It was eventually destroyed and so the transient and dreamlike quality, as with a mirage, was ascribed to it.  Today we might call it Utopia or Shangri La.

Many writers over past years have attempted to describe or even create their perfect society.  Thomas Moore wrote "Utopia", Henry David Thoreau wrote  "Walden". The English romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge made the name Xanadu famous through his unfinished poem "Kubla Khan".

It is slightly bemusing to me that my gracious and rather proper English teacher in high school extolled the merits of this poem, even as far as to having us memorize some of it.  Bemused, because the poem was written by Coleridge after waking from an opium induced haze in which he dreamed of visiting Xanadu. Upon awakening he immediately sat down to write about his experience. Surely Miss Eaton would not have wanted to encourage her impressionable young pupils to follow Coleridge's example in order to produce a literary masterpiece!  That would be like the hippies of the 70's justifying their use of LSD to enhance their creative powers.

Unfortunately Coleridge had written only two stanzas when a visitor arrived and interrupted his efforts.  Afterwards he was never able to recall the rest of his experience and the poem remained unfinished.  In one sense that is perhaps appropriate for as mankind has and still is searching to create his own Xanadu, it slips from his grasp as ephemeral and fleeting as mists rising at the beginning of a hot summer's day.

So X is for Xanadu and that is whatever you would like to make it.


In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea
through which the river runs.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
(For more of this poem please refer to Wikipedia)
This page is my contribution to Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC WEDNESDAY.  Please click on the link to see more imaginative contributions.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Recent Artwork

I haven't done much painting in recent weeks.  I have had numerous doctor appointments, tests and physical therapy which have not only taken up my spare time but also made it hard to concentrate and keep a steady hand.  The picture below is based on the photo banner at the head of Weaver of Grass's Blog.  She very kindly gave me permission to copy it.  I think it is an attractive photo and makes a lovely painting.I hope I did it justice.
          Cows at the Fence

This one I chose to name Woosh!  It is descriptive of some of my experiences in recent months.

So for some of you who have been concerned, here in a nutshell, is what we have discovered about my health problems.
It would seem that there is a genetic problem on one side of my family which causes poly neuropathy. It is called CMT or Charcot, Marie, Tooth disease. (Names of doctors and nothing to do with teeth.) I have .neuropathy in my legs, feet, hands and arms. I have now also been diagnosed with vestibular  neuropathy which is causing the vertigo.
None of this is life threatening or terribly serious -- just a number of things that are a nuisance.  There is no cure but there are therapies that I can do to minimize its progress. It's also nice to know that there is a name for my problems and it's not all a product of my imagination!
The first priority is to minimize the pain, also connected to my fibromyalgia.  The up side of all this is that I have lost 15 lbs in the last three months and  I am now also walking 15-20 minutes three or four days a week, and only minimal pain killers, which all has to be good. Then I still have physical therapy twice a week for another 5 weeks.

That's it.  All very time consuming. Hope to get to more painting soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


 Well not really.  I haven't been participating in this because our skies around here are usually all gray or all blue.  But I have collected a few photos of skies in recent months, so I thought I would post them tonight.

 I think this is the most spectacular one.  The tattered flag there is not "Old Glory" but one of the San Diego Chargers.  Our neighbor is (was) a huge fan and when they lost their last chance for the Superbowl he left the the flag to the ravages of the weather in disgust.

The whispy mare's tails are supposed to be signs of rain to come.  I think this time they only brought wind.

Finally, I saw this as the Christian symbol, the sign of the fish.  I just wondered if one of our Navy guys had decided to leave his mark (that has been known to happen before) or maybe it was just coincidence.

Well that's about it.  Only three intriguing skies in the past six months.

Hope to post two pieces of art that I have been laboring on, shortly.
 My dizziness and shakiness has hindered much progress in my art work recently.

Maybe I'll tell you about my 'Disneyland' ride in physical therapy  this week !!~~!!  If you have ever been treated for vertigo you may know what I am talking about.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

W is for WRECKS

There are many many ship WRECKS around Flamborough Head. In the 1800s there were at least 72 mapped and there's been a good number more since then.

Flamborough Head is on the east coast of Yorkshire where I grew up.  It was populated before even the Vikings showed up, but the Vikings had much to do with forming the culture of the village and the people. My banner photograph shows what the North Sea can be like at the North Landing, Flamborough  --  in the summer! Needless to say the sea floor around the headland is littered with wrecked ships, the most famous of which is the the Bonhomme Richard . This is  the ship sailed by John Paul Jones, who, although he won the Battle of Flamborough Head, lost his ship and  had to sail  the enemy's ship, The Serapis,  up the coast to safety. There are, or were American divers on expedition looking for this WRECK.  I don't think they will tell anyone if and when they find it until it is safely secured from other divers.  So I don't know if this wreck has been found yet, for sure.

These old post cards and photographs are from my collection of old photos of Flamborough.  A couple of them are from the very early 1900's.

Note the date:  1903

Notice the great number of birds in the cards above.  It is said that before the lighthouse was built in the 1800's sailors would listen for the seagulls to tell how close they were to the headland and being wrecked on the rocks.  It is a Royal Heritage site today with many, many birds nesting and frequenting the cliffs, including gannets and puffins.

This one says "After the Storm" and shows parts of a boat or boats washed up on the shore at the North Landing.

This photo would have to be dated in the 1930's or 40's. The cliffs here are about 300-400 feet high.  

I think this was the Rosa which was wrecked at the North Landing.  The great boiler from this ship was still there on the rocks when we moved to Flamborough in 1946.  It was too big for me to scramble up on at ten years of age, but quite accessible for others at low tide.


The letter W is brought to you by courtesy of Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday.  If you would like to see more Weird and whacky W's  please click HERE

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Color Spots in our Back Yard

It has been a cool and wet spring and the flowers in our yard are a little slow in appearing and are not quite so abundant as usual.  Just ten minutes back inland from us the temperatures can be 5 to 10 degrees warmer and the coastal gloom replaced with sunshine.

The bouganvillia rarely lets us down and we have two sprawling and thick vines at each end of the yard.

The nasturtiums are courtesy of our neighbor, whose plants crept under the fence and give us a bright splash of yellow/orange.

Here is the bouganvillia at the other end of the yard.  The patio and the bird feeding area are between these two.

 On the patio we have plants in pots, mostly begonias and impatiens. I really like the begonias that have bronze or copper colored leaves.

There are two potato vines on either side of the patio.  Such pretty flowers for such a mundane  name.

We bought several pots of a deep red geraniums.  Somehow the color red does not reproduce  well on my computer -- or maybe it's my camera.  The color is really deep, deep blood red. Quite spectacular when clumped together. They have several heads of blooms on each plant.

Even the butterfly bush is finding it hard to burst into its usual bush full of blooms. Just not enough sunshine.

More begonias with their brightly polished copper leaves.

We trimmed back the hibiscus bushes that  are located against the fence. A couple of months ago they were full of blooms. They are pretty old bushes and were here and growing well when we moved in 38 years ago.  There are two of them and when in bloom the flowers are Chinese pink. The one above is how they should both look right now, however....

...the second bush looks like this.  I caught a squirrel having a fine feast on the leaves of this one and look at this!  It has been denuded! We have a family of at least four squirrels and evidently they don't just eat the extra bird seed!

In the front of the house, my poor jacaranda tree is having a hard time putting forth a few blooms.  By the way, the  green stones in the front yard, is our 'lawn' in a desert climate.  After the cool summer we had last year and the cool wet spring  just past, we are really looking forward to some warm sunshiny days, which they say are coming next week.  But then they said that last week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011



When we were up in Boise with my son recently, he brought this out and proceeded to give us a demonstration. The Commodore VIC 20 came out in 1982 at which time my son was 14 years old.  He is now 39.  We were much more impressed with his abilities now than we were back then, having no idea then what he was doing or what it took to figure it all out.

This is the photo I took of the screen in May, just to prove it was all in working order.  He hadn't brought it out for years. At the time, Space Invaders,  an arcade video game was all the rage. Not that I knew anything about it.  He decided to program his own version of the game.

These are the characters Owen programmed for his own version of Space Invaders.  And yes, the game still works after all these years.  He was pretty pleased with himself then and now. Now I know what he was doing up in his room for hour upon hour, day after day.  This game was the end result.
Not bad for a fourteen year old in 1982.
He did go on into computers as a career, but when the tech slump hit, he was out of a job, though I must say they gave him very good severance pay for 6 months.

Today he has his own business of Property Management which he started from scratch.  He didn't want to go back into computers because, he said, as soon as he got something working satisfactorily, the company moved him into teaching it.  He is very much a hands on guy so he was somewhat frustrated with this.


Saturday, June 11, 2011


If you're not into cats, you'd better skip this post.

This is what tipped the scales for me.
(An advertisement seen in several magazines recently.)

How can you resist those eyes?

 His Response
"This is mine...all mine..."

(In case you're wondering, Scruffy has Moth wrapped around his little white paws.) 

"This is my other best place to sleep
other than the bed of course.  But I'm very polite.  I sleep at their feet.
In fact my new mom says I'm the politest cat she  knows.

This is what I've heard her saying:

1.  I don't beg for people food.
2. I don't get up on the counters.
3. I use the kitti-litter box appropriately.
4. I love cuddles, but I don't intrude. I know she likes cuddles, so I give plenty of cuddle time but I'm not a nuisance.
5.  I'm not easily spooked, even when the blender goes or she takes out the aluminum foil.
6.  I don't fret when they go out, but I do greet them politely and sweetly when they come home.
7. I don't meow very much and when I do it's kind of raspy.  But I chirrup when I greet you.
8. If I want something I just stare at her and follow her around. Eventually she catches on.
9.  She hears MOTH talking to me in the morning and when he brings her a cup of tea in the morning (isn't she lucky), I stay on the bed for a little uninterrupted cuddle time.
10.  I have my very own TV Game Player.  There's some very cheeky squirrels who come up to the patio window and try to tease me, but I soon chase them off, even if I do bump my head and nose. 
11. I know my name.
12. I come when I am called.

And I give 'High Fives'
(I am left handed by the way).

This is where I sit in the kitchen so I can keep an eye out for those trouble maker squirrels.
I can hide behind the arm of the chair and they don't know I am there, then I pounce!

Other interesting facts:

I have very soft short fur and I maybe part Chartreux and British shorthair.
I hardly shed at all.
My eyes often look more amber than yellow.
I am eight years old.
The shelter gave my new owners a special price because they are over 65 
Then they gave them another special price because I am over 7 years old.
So actually I cost absolutely nothing. Those people at the Carlsbad shelter are so good to their cats.
Then they gave me a micro chip for nothing in case I ever get lost.
And finally they gave me a five pound bag of food (Science Diet) which I don't like very much, but I eat it because I am polite.

My favorite treat is....wait for it.... PETROMALT. 
 Boy are they happy about that!  I did have a small hair ball problem the first week but nobody gave me Petromalt at the shelter.

 My other most favorite treat is ice cream or milk but they won't give me any, even though I almost lose my manners and crawl right up to their mouths if they are having it. Mom is going to try a tiny, tiny drop of Cat Sippy Milk to see if she can use it as a special treat when needed -- but only a tiny drop.  I've heard all about my predecessor, who I must say looks a lot like me, but I would NEVER do to their carpets what he did!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I almost missed this letter this week.  Had the last of my tests today and it was a lengthy one, so blogging was on the back burner for a while.
So here, UNDULY late, by the stretch of my imagination is... U is for UNDO problems with BLOGGER.

This is my fix for blogger's comments problem:

1,  When entering bloggerdom do sign in first for your session and then remember to sign out when finished.  I wasn't doing that consistently, so my comments appeared sporadically. Frustrating!
2.  UNCHECK the box on the sign-in page that asks you if you want to stay signed.

My reasoning is this:  Blogger has been trying to fix problems with spammer commenters.   Consistently signing in and using your password, and signing out when you're all done with your blogger session, (not just one odd comment done on the spur of the moment) means that spammers do not have free access to your blogging session unless they know your password.

That's my theory!  It remains to be seen if it works for everyone as it has so far for me. But I'm not a tech wiz.

Sorry no interesting photos this week.  Most testing now finished and I can now be a little more creative.

Visit Mrs. Nesbitt's fantastic  ABC WEDNESDAY for more enlightening posts on the letter U
by clicking HERE

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I think so.  Haven't had any problems today.  I updated my Java stuff; unchecked my sign in box; made sure I sign in and then when I'm done  I make sure I sign out. Do you think that's why  I kept getting whisked back to  the sign in page??? --DUH!  Never bothered with that before.
While I was fiddling around with all the different options I decided to change my banner photo.  I like this one so much better.  It has some drama to it -- especially because it was taken in the middle of JULY.
Incidentally, Robin Lythe's Cave is to the right of the last cave seaward.  You can't see it because it is behind where that cliff juts out.  If you're ever in the district you must go visit.  The entrance is unprepossessing but inside is magnificent. More on that later.

Have a blessed, peaceful Sunday.  He watches over you because He cares for you.

Friday, June 3, 2011


For the past  4  or 5 days  (from about June 1st or before)  I have been trying to post comments  especially for ABC Wednesday and others. My comments appear in the box as I type but as soon as I hit  the post comment button the page flies away and I am back at Blogger Dashboard asking me to sign in.

So I apologize to all my friends whom I follow and who have commented on my blog.  I have replied to many of you  with the same result.

So please forgive me!

I had noticed others were having the same problem, and I was feeling happy it wasn't happening to me.  But now it is.  Is it spreading?

I will keep working on it, but in the mean time if you haven't heard from me, please understand why.  Comments are a blogger's life breath -- almost!