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Photo: In the fire… via #instagram

September 30th, 2014 No comments

Into the fire

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The uniforms we wear – End of the Day for September 29. 2014

September 29th, 2014 No comments

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There are uniforms we wear on the outside and there are those uniforms we where on the inside. With external uniforms, though, we can easily strip them off and replace them with thoughts appropriate for home and life. Interior uniforms are much more difficult to discard after a long day at work. Having been there myself, i know how easy it is to bring work home with you, no matter what your job might be. Even after a long drive home — and maybe because of it — you can walk in the the front door feeling like you are facing the same challenges, the same arguments, the same disrespect, the same bureaucracy you face at work and treat everyone at home the same way you treat people at work.

Image from page 219 of "The photographic history of the Civil War : in ten volumes" (1911)

Now, that’s not to say you treat people badly at work, but the rigors of the office do require a certain amount of command, control and manipulation, no matter how great the job or workplace. Family members, though, can see through the uniform to the person below and — in many cases — won’t like it much. Family members have seen us at our best and our worst so they can easily tell when the uniform is still firmly in place in a loved one’s mind. Further, they probably don’t like it much. They want their father, brother, spouse, whatever back from the battle without all the uniform trappings and disguises. They want to be treated as a family member, not another co-worker, or even worse, an employee.

I have suffered from this inability to decompress and undress myself at the end of the work day and I see others who struggle with it, too. I have also seen the troubles it can cause first hand, which is a big reason I am addressing it now. You can’t expect to treat your work peers like your family or your family like your work peers or employees. Neither one will accept it. They will both rebel and call you on your folly. It can’t be done and you will suffer all the more for trying. Work is work and home is home and each requires a different uniform, both on your body and in you mind. Forget this at your peril.


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Photo: Gull at Leo Carillo State Beach

September 29th, 2014 No comments

Photo: Gull at Leo Carillo State Beach

Previously in my Instagram Photos…

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…and it all comes tumbling down – End of the Day for September 28, 2014

September 28th, 2014 No comments

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There are days when the world seems to be ganging up on you. Sometimes there are small problems, sometimes large and sometimes unknown. We came home this afternoon to find our front yard hose and decided to burst. It was brand new only a couple of months ago, but it is my guess that the high-heat of the last few weeks and extra pressure created by the heat caused it to give up the ghost. Tomorrow will mean gathering some repair supplies and an hour or so putting things back to rights. Also on the small scale was a hole the popped up in the backyard soaker hose. That will need patched or repaired, too. Nothing too major, but an inconvenience.

The next couple of problems are a bit more serious, though. First, one of my big 3TB drives decided to get all flakey, so I have been spending the evening copying large hundreds of gigabytes of photos and video off to a new drive.. It looks like most everything important is still intact, but no one needs to be spending hours babysitting file copying. Blah! I have some really large folders to copy overnight, but hopefully by morning things will be back on track. Good thing, too, as MOnday arrives with work to do and I really don’t need to be spending any more time in recovery mode.

Finally, a a lot more concerning, just a few minutes ago the neighbor across the street — and next to a house that is being stripped to the frame for remodeling — rang our bell — at 1030pm — to let us know he will be visiting his doctor tomorrow as he believes the contractors have done nothing to mitigate the asbestos and/or lead that was in the home they were demolishing. Hmmm…I hadn’t even been thinking about such things, but I think he is probably right. I didn’t notice any of the usual protections or notices during demolition. I’m probably going to make a call to the AQMD or other appropriate department to see what can be done to, at least, check if the neighborhood was exposed and how much that exposure was. I don’t want to worry about such things too much, but it is probably worth checking out.

All in all, not a great day on several fronts, but I guess that means that tomorrow can only really get better, right?


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A Reading Day — Her Royal Spyness solves her first case (and more) – End of the Day for September 27, 2014

September 27th, 2014 No comments

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Her Royal Spyness

I am a sucker for mysteries, especially those set in Britain. I saw mention of the latest book in a mystery series that was previously unknown to me, Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness Mysteries. Set in 1930’s Scotland and England, the series stars Lady Georgiana — 34th in line to the throne, single, without any allowance from her brother and utterly broke. She bolts to London in an effort to start life anew, but murder, intrigue and villainy dog her steps.

It is The Great Depression and life is tough for many people, including young nobles with no family money and no prospects and “Georgie” find herself among old friends in similar circumstances. She puts on her sleuthing hat, though, when her brother, the Duke (or Binky, as they call him) is arrested for the murder of a shady character who threatened to take their family home from them. Georgie’s mother is a flighty actress, jumping from relationship to relationship and someone NOCD (Not of our class, dear) for Georgie’s  family and friends, but her aged, Cockney grandfather, a former constable can offer help when no on else can.

A great sign for any mystery book is the ability to dive in and lose yourself in the writing. I picked up this book from the library this afternoon and just finished as I write. What a great way to spend and evening! I am always looking for good fun reads to divert myself when my other, weightier, reading gets a bit stifling and this book — and I hope this entire series — should be a great selection to keep on hand. I look forward to reading my way through the series, although I expect I will do it much too quickly and end up waiting, impatiently for the next installation. I love the characters, the setting, the period and the refreshing take on stories that might otherwise seem dated and cliche.

The flyleaf of this book mention 2 other series by Bowen, both that I will be looking into in the coming weeks — The Molly Murphy Mysteries, set in turn of the 20th Century New York City and the Constable Evans series set in the Welsh countryside. 

Read all the books in the Royal Spyness mystery series

Other books and series by Rhys Bowen


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Noted: Beginner’s Guide to Tripods via Digital Photography School

September 27th, 2014 No comments

Beginner’s Guide to Tripods via Digital Photography School

Beginner’s Guide to Tripods via DIgital Photography School

The lowly tripod – the unsung hero behind so many fantastic shots – finally gets its day in the spotlight here on dPS.

Do you want to photograph the stars? You’ll need a tripod. Want to get silky smooth waterfall photos? Yep tripod again. Need to photograph an HDR to extend the dynamic range of your scene? Oh yes, tripod required there too.

Basically, if you want to do anything more than point and shoot, you’ll need to bring your three legged friend along with you.

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

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Noted: Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes from Joy the Baker

September 27th, 2014 No comments

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes from Joy the Baker

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes from Joy the Baker

If these pancakes can’t be a part of your most immediate NOW, I’d really love for them to be a part of your most immediate weekend.

They’re indulgent. They’re best made in the late morning in your house-slippers. Allow the stars to align.

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

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Pictures: Morning Room with Cat

September 26th, 2014 No comments

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“The Grey Boy” – End of the Day for September 25, 2014

September 25th, 2014 No comments

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The Grey Boy

By Douglas E. Welch

The war had ended only months ago. 1865 would be a year of peace after four Aprils of war. The boys, made men, were riding the trains home.

Joshua Farmer sat at the rear of the passenger car. No one sat next to him, even though it was crowded. He was an island of grey in a sea of blue. His grey, Confederate uniform was tattered and dirty but his head was held high.

The other soldiers in the car had spent many hours murmuring and gesturing amongst themselves. Joshua could hear the anger in their whispering voices. He had faced many fights in his week-long journey home.

The fanfare at each station increased the further north they traveled. Bands of every shape and size played marches and the crowds cheered as each man disembarked from the train. Joshua hunkered down in his seat, wrapping a worn blanket around his shoulders to hide the grey uniform from the onlookers. He feared they might pull him from the train and harm him before he made it to his own hometown.

The train and its passengers were following the same route that President Lincoln’s body had traveled in his funeral train. They traveled in the opposite direction though, away from Illinois, “The Land of Lincoln” and into Ohio.

Joshua had begun to recognize the city names they passed in the last several hours. Several more and he, too, would finally be home. He held no expectations of cheering crowds for him, though. He had made plans to slip off the train quietly and make his way to his house as quickly as possible.

[Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform and snake belt buckle with Enfield rifle and saber bayonet]  (LOC)

Night was falling and that was to his advantage. He would be harder to spot in the lamp and torch light of the station crowd and the general commotion would cover his exit. There would be no one at the station to meet Joshua. He had warned his mother and sister to stay away in case there was any trouble at the station. They had suffered enough over the last four years.

The train followed the flat farm fields with their wooded fence rows. He saw buggies filled with torch bearers racing the train to the station. Shouts and whoops resounded to and from the windows of the train as they caught sight of familiar faces.

The train halted for long periods at the larger cities of Mansfield, Bucyrus and Crestline. Finally the train moved onto Joshua’s town, New London. He had seen much in the 5 years he had been gone but very little would he want to remember. Joshua only wanted to see home. The home he had dreamed of every night during the war.

The conductor called “New London. Next stop, New London.” A few men, maybe 10 or 20, gathered their haversacks and hats and looked out the windows for familiar faces. Final good-byes were exchanged with many promises to stay in touch. Joshua made his way slowly towards the rear of the train. He planned to exit at the door nearest the caboose to conceal himself as much as possible.

The train slowed to a stop. Its arrival shrouded in a cloud of steam. The local band struck up “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” How foreign it sounded to his ears after years of hearing little but the strains of “Dixie” played innumerable times by countless people. Many of them who no longer walked the earth.

As the crowd cheered and crushed toward the train, Joshua slung his blanket tighter around his shoulders and stepped off the car. The train was too long for the small station at New London. The platform did not reach its entire length. The last few cars were left to empty along the coarse rock of the rail bed.

This was to Joshua’s advantage as he quickly walked to the high weeds surrounding the tracks, slipped down the small embankment and began walking the dirt streets home. He left the main street, lined with lamps and clogged with traffic and made for the darkened side lanes toward his family house. A few noted his departure but to his relief no one followed or shouted.

The streets were much busier than normal. Buggies and wagons rolled by, packed to bursting with happy families. The one saloon in town roared with a noise like Satan himself was the proprietor.

Ahead, a substantial frame house appeared in his view. A lamp stood in the window, looking more welcoming than Joshua could have ever imagined, although he had thought of it a thousand times. He quickened his step and was soon passing through he small gate. He approached the door, knocked, placed his hand upon the latch…and entered.

Inside the door, to the left, in a small parlor, sat Joshua’s mother in a rocker by the fire. She did not rise to greet him but sat, quietly sobbing, with tears streaming down here face. He went to her kissed here tears and kneeled at her feet.

His sister, Julie, threw her arms around him from behind and cried against the scratchy coat of his uniform. They cried together, all three of them, for many minutes, his mother running her fingers through his long unruly hair.

The door opened and Joshua’s father appeared. He was a large man with a shocking head of white hair. His eyes met Joshua’s and burned with some deep anger or hurt. He grunted a greeting and went immediately into me kitchen. 

Joshua found his father sitting before the fire, holding a small photograph, his head hanging low. Joshua had feared this meeting but knew it had to be settled. “You must go,” said his Father. “You are still my son but I cannot look on you without seeing your brother. You must find your own lodgings tomorrow. You can no longer stay here.”

It was Joshua’s brother Jeremy, in the photo. He had been lost early in the war at the First Battle of Bull Run.” He had only found out himself a few weeks ago when he was able to receive letters from his mother. It was useless to argue. His father might eventually forgive him but the pain was still to strong.

Joshua prepared himself a bath and sat long in thought until the water was cold. He washed and shaved properly for the first time in months, slowly returning to some semblance of his former self. He had lost much weight during the war and looked sickly yet from the diseases he had suffered. Still, dressed in his old clothes again, he thought there was still something of the old Joshua left.

He had just settled down in his favorite chair before the parlor fire when he heard the rustling of people on the street in front of the house. He pulled aside the curtain and noticed several people gathered at the gate. His father was talking with them. He seemed agitated and his gestures became more and more angry.

Joshua stood in the front doorway  and  inquired what was the matter. As soon as he did he heard the men cry, “Johnny Reb, go home!” and “You’re not wanted here.” Joshua’s father told him to get back in the house and turned on the men. “Leave us be,” he said. “We want no trouble and you are drunk. Go home and sleep it off before someone gets hurt.” Some of the men carried torches and others still carried their rifles and side arms. Most were still dressed in their blue Union Army uniforms.

An officer, in a grand dress uniform, stepped forward and calmed the men around him. He talked in hushed tones to Joshua’s father who alternately shook his head and nodded. There seemed to be some negotiation happening although Joshua could not hear them talk above the noise of the men who still stood around, grumbling to themselves.

Eventually, the office turned to the men and shouted, “Let’s be off to more celebrations my good men. We have won a victory. Let us remember the celebration and forget the tragedies. Come along and I will buy the next round to your health, if you will drink to mine.” With that, the men gathered together and lifting the officer to their shoulders, carried him off towards the saloon.

Joshua’s father returned and said, “They were ready to take you off and lynch you tonight. I don’t know what you were thinking. You should have never come back. Thank goodness Major Johnson intervened. Otherwise we would have had a fight on our hands. You owe him your life. They might even have burned down the house. You have to leave soon. There will be others and we will not be so lucky next time.”

As the long night passed more people gathered outside the house. Dawn came and the former soldiers were joined by women and children who came to see “The Grey Boy” as they had come to call Joshua. They couldn’t imagine a rebel in their midst and thought of him like some circus curiosity.

More catcalls came and young boys peeked in the windows until chased away with a brandished cane. The town constable had been called but instead of dispersing the crowd he joined it. Hurling catcalls with the others. Joshua knew something had to be done. He had traveled all this way only for a chance to rest but now he saw that even that was impossible. He was putting everyone at risk.

As quickly as he could, Joshua began to gather his belongings. He had had a traveling trunk before but that was lost during the war. He had only an old, small suitcase and he filled it to bursting. His mother and Julie assisted him while still pleading for him to stay and crying his shoulder. He offered soothing words but was determined to go.

After an hour or so he was prepared. A bundle of food was added to his baggage and he moved towards the front door. As soon as he appeared the crowd sprang to life shouting hurtful things and flinging old fruit and other garbage at him. Fortunately, the trip to the train station was a short one as he was followed by the mob, growing stronger as they traveled through the center of town. He feared he might not make it and be hung from a tree, like he had seen done to slaves in the South.

Joshua had planned his departure to match the train schedule. Not long after he arrived the train appeared. He quickly boarded and tried to stay hidden from the crowd. Even though he was leaving, the crowd seemed to be placing the entire blame of war on his shoulders. Shouts of “murderer” came from those who lost sons in the war. The guilt he felt would never disappear and this made him feel it even more keenly.

At last, the train left the station, bound for Cleveland. There Joshua could become anonymous. He could hide from his history there, if not from himself. The cries and shouts slowly died and he moved to the window once he thought it safe. As they approached a crossing outside of town he saw a wagon waiting to pass. As he got closer he saw his mother, sister and yes, his father watching the train. He caught their eyes and raised a hand as the car passed, never knowing when he could see them again. Four years of war had ended but it would be many years before the wounds of war would heal.


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Friends after 50 – End of the Day for September 24, 2014

September 24th, 2014 No comments

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I have noticed a trend happening for years now, but it seems to have accelerated lately. We once seemed to have a large groups of friends — real friends, too — not just acquaintances. Our parties were full of people who we really liked and it never seemed any trouble to have someone over for dinner almost any time we wanted. Over the years we also had several younger or at least single, friends who became part of the family for a while, spending large amounts of time with us and almost feeling like siblings or sometimes, older children, more than just friends.

Each year, though, our friends have peeled off one by one. Having children was one of the first big changes that broke us apart. As we well understood, children take a lot of time. While we all turn our focus inwards when our children our young, we made conscious efforts to find time for ourselves and our adult friends whenever we could. Several friends became non-blood relatives to our child — the uncles and aunts that he knew better than he knew his familial aunts, uncles and cousins. Other friend virtually disappeared. Beyond the occasional holiday newsletter — or Facebook message today — we hardly knew them anymore. Now, most of our children are old enough to have their own lives, but we’ve lost touch with our friends. Joseph is off to hang out with his girlfriend most weekends, so we have plenty of time, but very few people to spend that time with.

I can understand this in many ways, but it certainly doesn’t make me happy. I have seen my own friends, especially make friends, fall off, one by one. Now Rosanne and I have several “couple” friends and she has quite a few girlfriends she can hang out with, but I really don’t have any close male friends I can just “hang out” with. Now, let me be clear, I am not always the best person at hanging out, but I don’t think I drove them all away with my behavior. I don’t have the typical male interests like sports, cars or bar drinking, so this might have something to do with it, but as far as I know, those aren’t the deepest interests of many of my friends, either.

Basically, what I am trying to say is that, after 50, life can get a bit lonely. Everyone is so tied up with their own lives an the space for others in those lives is limited, if not nonexistent. I try to put together events and give people excuses to come out, even for an hour or two to share time with us and others, but inertia is a strong force and can often keep us in our chairs on most evenings. I know that feeling myself and this somewhat drives my efforts. I spend so much time at home — both “at home” at “at the office” that i NEEd to get out on occasion, even if just going to the local coffee shop. 

O am very thankful for the few close friends we have these days. Were it not for them, we might not do anything at all. There is one particular couple we can call spontaneously and, more often than not, they are up to do something — even something small like dinner or just hanging out watching a movie for the evening. I appreciate them more and more every day. They — and others like them — are our family now, being so distant from most of our blog relatives, We have had to develop a “family” of our own over the years and it is a bit depressing to see if getting smaller and smaller. I don’t’ see a way of correcting this trend, o I’ll just have to deal with it, I guess, even if I don’t like it.


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