Wednesday, May 31

Old is Good

I bought my first SLR camera in 1970. The little brother of the Nikon F, my Nikkormat fit the bill at the time and continues to work well. Instead of buying a normal lens way back then, I opted for the 55mm MicroNikkor to satisfy a strong and lasting urge to enlarge all things small.

Well, when the digital bug bit a lot of us a few years ago, most point-and-shoot cameras had a Macro capability. My Canon A70 has been a wonderful addition, especially when it comes to close-up work. But then the digital SLR bug bit and I didn't have a good Macro lens anymore. Or so I thought for a few months. According to the owner's manual, I'm not supposed to be able to use my oldest lenses with the new camera. I learned otherwise today.

If I pop on my M-2 extension tube with my old MicroNikkor, presto! - it works in manual mode with no problems whatsoever. I couldn't believe it. This little red-eyed whatever-it-is is a bit blurry due to no tripod, a breeze and 30th of a second shutter speed. Sorry.

Life has a few surprises. Some of our old tricks can still be used in the twilight years.

Sunday, May 28

Life, Liberty and Pursuit

Our little worlds collide
With colored lines and streaks.
We don't like the green and purple theme
And quickly grab the nearest brush.
There, that's better.
We stand back and admire awhile
Before another artist returns the scene
To a glorious purple and gorgeous green.

Thursday, May 25

One Down, Two to Go

FROM: Campaign for Children and Families Newsletter

Sacramento, California -- According to today’s Sacramento Bee , Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has promised to veto SB 1437, one of three transsexual-bisexual-homosexual “education” bills in the California State Legislature.

The newspaper, which contacted Campaign for Children and Families for response late Wednesday, wrote in Thursday’s edition that, according to the Governor’s communications office, Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto SB 1437 if it reaches his desk.

“We’re very pleased that Schwarzenegger is listening to the concerns of parents,” said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), a leading California-based pro-family organization that strongly opposes SB 1437. “Now the Governor needs to pledge to veto the two remaining sexual indoctrination bills, AB 606 and AB 1056. Parents and grandparents are demanding it.”

All three bills rely upon the strange definition of “gender” in Penal Code, Section 422.56, reading: “Gender” means sex, and includes a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth. “This terrible trio of bills would promote cross-dressing and sex-change operations to children as young as kindergarten,” said Thomasson. “Schools should be about academics, not about promoting alternative sexual lifestyles to impressionable schoolchildren.”

SB 1437 would prohibit textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities from “reflecting adversely” on transsexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality; it requires positive portrayals of these sexual lifestyles in curriculum in all grades in all public schools. Consequently, schools would have to promote “same-sex marriages” and even sex-change procedures. STATUS: Assembly Education Committee, no hearing scheduled.

AB 606 would authorize the California Superintendent of Public Instruction to arbitrarily withhold state funds (around 2/3rds of a school district’s budget) from any district that does not adequately promote transsexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality in its school policies. AB 606 repeals the current state law prohibiting transsexual, bisexual, and homosexual curriculum from being forced upon local schools, and authorizes the state Superintendent to develop new curriculum that affirms transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality in all its forms. STATUS: June 21 hearing scheduled in the Senate Education Committee.

AB 1056 would spend $250,000 in taxpayer dollars to promote transsexual, bisexual, and homosexual lifestyles under the banner of “tolerance education.” STATUS: On the “suspense” file in the Senate Education Committee.

Sunday, May 21

Jack and the Bluejay

This is no mutual admiration society. It's the fur against feathers ritual that's played out daily worldwide.

Our feathered friend has been appropriately harrassing furry Jack for the past few days. Jack would lay on the sidewalk by the house and calmly twitch his tail while being scolded by Mr. Jay from the lawn. Closer and closer came the bird, hopping here and there, flying to the roof gutter for a better vantage, then back to the lawn. Jack remained unmoved and disinterested . . . until this morning.

Fed up with the scowling, our brave little lion climbed the birch and tried his darnedest to launch a retaliatory assault, but could barely keep his balance. In fact, one blunder found him hanging from his two front paws, rear legs dangling. A bit of monkey bars expertise and he pawed his way over to the tree trunk to get a safer grip. Poor guy!

There are those things in life that keep nagging at us. We don't pay much attention to them at first, but they get closer and louder and finally unbearable. Then we react with heated abandon and find ourselves hanging by our two paws, trying to find a place to stand again. Better to use a good set of earplugs and deal gently with the disturbance. Or sometimes it's just better to walk away and shut the door behind us.

Monday, May 15

Beware of Hungry Horses

Poor Dolly meets a sad end at the museum as Blackie takes her hand and keeps munching. Please! Do not let your children see this!

Friday, May 12

This Morning's Surgery

This morning's date with my doctor at 10:00 proved worth noting. No mention of what HMO I belong to, but it rhymes with 'miser.' The assistant put me in a regular room after taking my vitals. Then she came back in and said, "We need to have you in another room. Sorry." She was really nice about it. Then, while in the little (and I mean little) surgery room, another assistant came in and said, "We need to have you in another room. Follow me." This room was right across the hall. A little bigger room and nicer bed to lie on, I think. So the second assistant, who used to be my doctor's assistant for years, told the first assistant (who was just filling in and was having problems) to do this and that, get this and that for the tray. The tray ended up a few inches high with scissors, pliers, syringe, scalpel, gauze, plus lots of other stuff. Mostly 2 or 3 apiece items. Must be major surgery today.

My poor doctor comes in, ready to go. I'm sitting there in my 'modesty' gown, smiling and enjoying the routine. He raises the bed and flattens it. "Okay, we'll have you lie on your stomach. I hate lying on my stomach for anything. But, hey, I'm the patient, he's the doctor. He looks at the cyst. "I'm going to need a razor to shave around the area first. Where are the razors?" Uh-oh. No razors. The assistant goes out to look for one. "There aren't any razors," she reports. "Well, go over to Dermatology and get some," he says politely. I asked how they work their inventory system here. Obviously not very well.

Next comes the local, then the cutting, then the visual proof that he'd actually removed the cyst (nice and bloody, of course), then the suturing, then the gauze pad without adhesive in place, then "Okay, you can get dressed." I could feel the excess blood dripping between my legs (the cyst was fortuitously located on my right gluteus minimus). Okay. That was fun.

After the doctor left, the nurse was apologetic for her clumsiness. I consoled her. I was thinking earlier: All of this high tech, modern marvel medicine and expertise and was only costing me a small co-pay. I forgot about the sky-scraping monthly payment 'miser' receives from its members. But I guess it's better than do-it-yourself surgeries.

Wednesday, May 10

Thirty Five Years

It will soon be our 35th anniversary celebration in another week or so. I'm looking forward to looking backward over all the years and remembering the winding road to 2006. This is a picture of Jacob and Rachel, of Old Testament fame. Rachel was the love of his life and there is quite a story about their wedding night you just have to read if you missed it! Genesis 29.

After Jacob's son, Joseph, is sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph lands in prison after being falsely accused of adultery. In time, he's brought before Pharoah in Egypt and interprets a dream. Pharaoh makes him prime minister, so he sends for his family in Canaan. Old Jacob is brought before Pharoah and says, "Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life." He was 130 years old at that time, but not as old as his ancestors had been. He had experienced great love and great sorrow.

Getting old with the one who is your life-long love is one of this world's greatest blessings.

Saturday, May 6

Sego Lily

A poem by Laurie Wagner Buyer

Cowboy, the world turns too fast anymore.

Firelight brightens your bowed head and clasped
hands that others may mistake for prayer
or contemplation.

Only I know it's longing, loneliness that weights
you so.

High in the hills the horses' night bells ring peace.

But always, the return: the steep rock and sage
covered slopes down to the valley, the weary
ways of those who don't know the meaning of
a sure-footed mule, a sand-bottomed creek, or
a flat, grassy place to unroll a bed.

You know I know. Our descent is difficult.

No words pass between us but in one dancelike
you dismount and take from the sandy soil

a sego lily

trumpet-shaped and fragile, three white petals

tell me how pure the wanting is.

Tuesday, May 2

The Iceland Poppy

Papaver nudicaule is its formal, scientific name. Easy to grow and 'wow' your friends with, this multi-color specimen will bloom all summer if you cut its flowers every day. And how do I know that? From reading this info-packed webpage: Poppies International. Oriental poppies are featured also (those are the ones with 8" to 10" wide blooms!)

You will find beauty in the most humble and unexpected places. Your eye just needs a little help from a close-up lens.

"There is a thing called beauty, which prevails upon the hearts of men. Mighty men, not a few, have bowed before it and paid it homage; but if you want true beauty, look into the face of Jesus, for there you have the concentration of all loveliness. There is no beauty anywhere but in Christ. O sun, thou art not fair, when once compared with Him. O, fair world and grand creation of a glorious God, thou art but a dim and dusky blot compared with the splendors of His face. When we shall see Christ, we shall be compelled to say that we never knew what loveliness was before. When the clouds are swept away, when the curtains which hide Him from our view are drawn aside, we shall find that not anything we have seen or heard of, grand or graceful, in the wide universe, will bear a moment's comparison with Him, who was once seen as a root out of a dry ground, but shall presently fill heaven and earth with lustre and gladden all hearts with His glory." --- Charles Spurgeon, 19th century pastor.

Monday, May 1

Earthy Day By All Accounts

In addition to the conservation theme, our local Earth Day's festivities included a panoply of cultures taking stage throughout the day. The most bizarre was the Belly Nation's tribe of colorful and non-exotic dancers. Indian music blared as a backdrop to these ladies' midriff-drops. I was too embarrassed to take a picture of the poor girl who needed liposuction. Apparently, she wasn't embarrassed enough to refrain from displaying her elasticity.

You could also see a solar cooking demonstration and get blinded if you looked directly at the pot of ? she was cooking. Let's see --- from now on, all hot meals will be provided during daylight hours between noon and 4:00. And plan on cold cereal during the winter three times a day.

The vendor list also included a vegetarian trailer. Most of the other food venues had long lines. But this one only had a few people in it, so it was my choice when I needed a Diet Pepsi. So does this mean that most environmentalists believe it's okay to further maim the planet by consuming beef, pork and chicken? Something doesn't calculate here.

The highlight of our short visit was getting to meet and talk with Pete McCloskey, former House of Representatives member and co-founder of Earth Day back in the early 70's. He's coming out of retirement (rancher/lawyer) to run against Richard Pombo of the 11th District. McCloskey is one of the Democrat's favorite Republicans. (Pete campaigned for Johns Kerry and Edwards). He answered our questions while sitting in his campaign motorhome. He was trying to get our friends (Democrats) to fill out an application for voter registration (with the "Undeclared" box checked so they could vote for him in the Primary). Pretty sneaky, Pete.

Pete's a nice guy, I guess, but after reviewing his website, I probably won't be giving him my endorsement in June. Pombo's got some problems, but voting for Kerry isn't one of them.