Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bad Spelling, Happy Day

Xmas? I have avoided that spelling of Christmas most of my life, and I'm only making an eXception so that I can show the photos I made on that happy day 3 days ago and can still use that X . Yes, ABC Wednesday round 7 is at X, planning to eXit the alphabet in two more weeks. Check out the eXceptional cleverness of participating bloggers and their eXciting eXamples of eXercising their XXXXs by clicking on logo.

Early Christmas morning, while some of the guests in my daughter Candace's house still slept, I took these pictures of the living room with its lighted tree and the great pile of gifts that ringed it. This is natural dawn light (no flash) with snow softly falling outside.

While there are some lovely gifts in what appears to be an obscenely
materialistic pile of presents, many of them proved to be

joke items or even gifts for the two dogs.

And I had the choice seat by the tree, camera poised.

Granddaughter Myrtle appeared in silver shoes.

And one of Candy's first gifts proved to be reindeer slippers

So she put on reindeer antlers and hammed it up a bit.

Byron opens a gift while his mother, Candy, at left, looks on. Ernie, Byron's lively little mongrel, and Hobbit, the resident dog, attempt to help.

Myrtle looks on as her brother Cedric prepares to open a gift.
Cedric's wife, Susan, also watches.

Susan admires her new frying pan.
The rosettes on her cap were package decorations.

Son-in-law Clinton hams it up with a new shirt.

Compare this with the serene early morning picture...

All was followed by a delicious Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, formally set on the table that had held our traditional Christmas morning breakfast stolen.

The participants are: myself, visiting from Port Townsend
Candace, my daughter, and Clinton, my son-in-law
Candy and Clint's daughter Dr. Myrtle Shock (Ph.D in archeology)
" " " son, Dr. Byron Shock, professor at College of Idaho
" " " son. Cedric Shock, computer eXpert
Cedric's wife, Susan.
Ernie and Hobbit, enthusiastic doggie participants

Sunday, October 17, 2010

N is for Nasturtium

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday round 7 has reached N. Click on banner or link to see what fellow bloggers have been inspired to do.

Nasturtiums have long been favorites of mine, at least until invaded by aphids. Way back when my children were young and begging for a snack, I would slather a piece of bread with butter for them to take to the backyard; there they would harvest nasturtium leaves (pesticide and aphid free) to make a sandwich - a tasty treat in which I often would join them.
Then the aphids found the "nasty urchins" (as my father used to call them).

This beauty is in a neighbor's yard, not mine
Please click on this picture for a full view of it.

Now that I have moved to Washington State, I can again have nasturtiums in my garden.

Kristin planted these as a border to my walk.
The blossoms are lovely, but so are the variegated leaves.

Some of my language-loving father's other favorite flowers included Christmas anthems. And Spitunias. I wish I could remember more of them!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

M is for Merriment

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday, now in its seventh round, has reached the letter M. Thank you, Denise, for your original vision and continued involvement. To see how other participating blogs have been by the letter M, click on banner or link.

A little over a week ago my son Stan and his wife Dianne, visiting from Colorado, took me to the Port Townsend waterfront to see the kinetic race. "Kinetic" means that the entries must be human-powered both on land and in the water. It is an all-day race, ending when the last remaining participant reaches the fairgrounds. There is also a judging of the floats for cleverness and decor. These first few pictures are of the participants racing toward the launching spot for the water leg of the race.

Completely unaware!

Some entrants use bicycle type pedals. Others, like the man above, jump or teeter-totter. All of them must have adequate floating devices for the water leg of the race.

The fantastically costumed Kinetic Kops enforce the racing rules. The course is rigidly set. They also act as announcers.

Some Kops ar Kind to Kiddies.

The floats (literally!) must race around a distant marker, out of sight of the launching site. Here one of the leaders in the water leg of the race races toward shore.

Here come they come!

To add to the merriment, there are a variety of prizes, I understand. One for 1st place, of course, but also for last place, middle place and others equally ridiculous.

I can take no credit for the photos. My son Stanford is the photographer.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

L is for Lazuli Bunting

ABC Wednesday Round 7 has pregressed to L. To see the many and varied entries of participating blogs, click on link or banner.

I snapped this picture last May when visiting my daughter Candace in Ontario, Oregon. She has a flat bird feeder outside her dining room window. These were shy little birds that flew at any perception of movement inside the room, so that I had to stay absolutely still with my camera set for the spot that they were apt to perch. They usually appear at Candace's house for about 5 days each spring before flying on to their summer destination.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Where has the month gone? The last week I can account for. I was recovering from an emergency appendectomy in hospital then at home. Otto and Kristin are my beloved angels who take exceptionally good care of me with cheerful competence and love.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Green is for Granny's Green fingernail polish

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday is now a cooperative effort in it's seventh round, which has reached the letter G.

This is just to let you know that I'm still around, although not with the blue hair with which my Webcam portrayed me. I wanted to show off those new green fingernails that have become part of my new identity, but it was too hard to hold a camera in one hand to tkae a picture of the other. Hence the Webcam.

When I found that I would most often be seen in public in a wheelchair, I also found that I was invisible as a real person, especially when accompanied by one of my children (all still vertical).

"What would she like?" the waiter would ask. "When would she prefer the return flight?" "Can she walk a few feet through the door?" "What color does she prefer?" "What size does she take?"

"Hey!" I wanted to shout. "Ask me. I'm not brain-dead!" It seemed that I was only some inert freight to be carted from place to place but never required to speak.

So I painted my fingers with iridescent green fingernail polish. It worked! People said, "I love your green fingernails." They didn't say, "I love HER green fingernails." When I began going about unaccompanied on my electrical wheelchair, I regained most of my identity as a sentient being. By then I had become an acquaintance to many wonderful new friends here in Port Townsend
. They would be disappointed if I ever appeared without green fingernails. I have bought enough bottles of it to last for several years.

At one time I thought the way to gain recognition as a real person would be to dye my hair shocking pink, like my favorite author and blogger, Laini Taylor. I'm still considering it. What do you think?

Sunday, August 29, 2010


The Sunday Scribblings prompt is FAITH.

What better could illustrate "faith" than the utter confidence on the face of our tiny daughter, Candace, as she launches herself into space knowing, beyond a doubt, that her father, Otto, will catch her in his arms.

For other musings on "faith" click HERE.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

C is for Chagall

Round 7 of ABC Wednesday is well on the way as it reaches C

This is a momentous day when this original Chagall etching, "Ezekiel's Vision", leaves my Berkeley house, where it has hung over the fireplace for more than thirty years. It goes to granddaughter, Daria Bishop, artist with her camera. I know she will take pleasure from when it hangs in her Vermont home. From the time we bought it, Otto and I knew that it should go to her some day.

When we bought it we surprised even ourselves.

I had loved Chagall's art ever since I first saw something of his in a magazine illustration, and when we went to see his etchings for his Bible series at the Hansen Gallery in San Francisco I already owned an unsigned lithograph (he only signed the first hundred and mine is #136) which was bought for me by son Otto at an exhibit and sale at Chico State University and one of his lithographed opera posters (for "Die Zauberflauta").

When we saw in the "events" section of the San Francisco Chronicle that Hansen Gallery would have a show of Chagall's etchings for his Bible series, we hied ourselves over to S. F. to enjoy an afternoon of art we knew that we would enjoy seeing.

But a signed rare Chagall etching had never found even a potential place in our budget. None-the-less we found ourselves the owners of "Ezekiel's Vision" by the time we returned home. It was love at first sight. To be sure we had to cut a few other things from our budget that had seemed to be necessary. Not that it was even in the car with us. It was marked "sold" but would remain for rest of the gallery show here then go on to other shows in New Orleans and Nw York before it was finally hung above our mantel.

Above is an oblique and frameless photo of my earliest Chagall lithograph - the unsigned one that Otto bought f0r me at Chico ('Solomon and Bathsheba'). It was shot at dusk last night by daughter Candace for me to use in this post - hence is both oblique and frameless to avoid reflections of the camera's flash.

For how other ABC blogger's responded to the letter C, click here or on banner.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bye, bye,Berkeley

B is for beginning life in my new (to me) home. I shot the above photo at the height of the rhododendron season.

ye, bye, Berkeley, the city where I was born and where I lived for most of my life, first as a child, then for the more than sixty years that my husband Otto was a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California.

This little house in Port Townsend, Washington, is now my legal address. It belongs to my son Otto and is right across the street from the house where he and his wife and my dear friend Kristin live. As I become more and more dependent on others because of age, arthritis, etc., they are the angels in my life, taking care of me in a thousand ways and claiming to enjoy it.

All of my children have been wonderfully helpful. Daughter Candace will meet me in Berkeley next week to help me with the disposition of a few of my belongings in the big house on the hill which I still own. The grand piano will be sent to Port Townsend, where it will dominate my small living room. But what is nicer than a house with home-made music?!

I have had a wonderful time redecorating the interior of my new home with sometimes unusual color schemes that I have dreamed of but never tried before. My dragons will move here too, in fact will be the theme of my house which I have named Dragonhaven. There will eventually be a sign out front proclaming it!

Since the photo above was shot, ramps have been built to enable me to encircle the house in my wheelchair or reach the wheelchair-friendly walks of Port Townsend or be loaded in an auto for longer trips. (I'll tell in some future blog of some of memorable trips we have already made.)

This blog is definitely egocentric, not to be confused with the educational, informative, and creative entries of other ABCers. For their entries, click here or on banner.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


You walked all night to beat the cold
so now you drowse on a sunlit bit of sidewalk
legs sprawled, head lolling on your knapsack
backed against a facade of patterned tile
from Mexico.

Your eyesballs move behind your eyelids
but your face is slack and inward turning.
Surely your dream is not here on the avenue,
hassled by corporate cops, muttered at
by passers-by who must detour around you
as they scan store windows for a way
to spend their money.

Where do you dream?

Do you toss a football to the brother lost in 'Nam'
Weave a mysterious plot that's fraught
with dream significance?
Walk a shaded path you know but can't say where?

Will you remember when you're wakened
by the grip on your shoulder
and the order to move on?

No. Dreams like that escape like noonday ghosts

You stumble to your feet,
grit grinding where your elbows met the sidewalk,
limbs still leaden with fatigue
mind struggling to retain the dream
where lost loves linger—
even your own lost self.
Phyllis Sterling Smith

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Me Then and Now

For more self-descriptions by Sunday Scribblers, click here or on banner at left.

This poem was written in the year 2000. Since then I have aged in a multitude of ways. I am confined to a wheelchair, have been ill any number of times, am in pain much of the time with all the problems associated with pain control. Am I happy? Yes, almost always, blessed with children who not only take superb care of me, but who are also delightful company. My only sadness is mourning my dear Otto. I love my new little house and am enjoying redecorating and furnishing it. I am surrounded by music, both live, due to my talented son Otto and beloved daughter-in-law Kristin, who live just acrosss the street from me.


I thought the world was mine.
I thought that I could swim in any ocean.
Clouds below were my familiar landscape.

How could I know that wings that carried me
would be landlocked, horizons shrink and borders close forever?

Oil executives
I object!
It’s my life that you circumscribe.
I miss my world!
Your oil is running short; so too my years
and I am bitter with thwarted expectations.

I know that somewhere children starve.
Their eyes rebuke my selfishness.

But oh! I want my steaming jungles, jangle
of unknown tongues, smells of roasting coffee,
lights of a city never seen before that mark
a thousand homes in each of which
I live a lifetime
for a moment.

Phyllis Sterling Smith revised September 11, 2000

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

T is forTalent

ABC Wednesday Round 6 has reached the letter T. Thank you, Denise, for starting this weekly spot where friends can meet to share their talents by following the link above or the badge to the left.

The talent I would like to showcase today is that of a young poet, the son of a friend. The poet, Kincaid Gould, is only eight (yes, 8) years old.

I will let his poetry speak for itself and let his wonderful feeling for words and nature shine through them.
by Kincaid

splash and splatter
drizzle and splinter
dazzle my eyes
a dash of wonder
a dash of light

by Kincaid

spirals of shimmering vapor
diamonds of puddles
swishing in the wind
flashing ribbon hitting the ground
opening the gate of drizzle.

by Kincaid

glory full looks
bleeding for happiness
screaming for joy

gloomily reflecting the glittering sun
meek little leaves

by Kincaid

mountains shimmer
snowy mountain peak
a stream of purple
a line of blue
a flow of pink
and a wave of white light
a rough surface
and a fuzzy inside

mountains shimmer
snowy mountain peak

by Kincaid

Shiny winds blow
and frosty chills tickle me
breezing past me quickly
diamonds blowing magestically

by Kincaid

smooth and tough rocks
pebbles are chunks of boulders
some rocks are cloudy
and some rocks describe the sunset
some rocks are grassy
and some watery rocks too.

by Kincaid

forests gloom with trees
seas of frosted clover
dark and magically
takes me across the bridge of fairies
past the enchanted emerald ruby sky
of mystical dawn

I wish you could see the little scraps of paper on which these are printed. I took a few liberties with spacing, such as centering the lines which Kincaid had positioned from the left of the page. I thought it looked better on the blog. I also put in that line-break in ROSES because I interpreted the next-to-last line to refer to the meek little leaves not the happy flowers. I capitalized all of the titles (the poet used no capital letters) but signed each title with by Kincaid, since he used it with the title on every poem and may have considered it an integral part. Am I right, Kincaid? Consider me one of your first fans - and keep writing!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

P is for Pelican in Public Park

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday has progressed to P. Click on link or banner to see how other bloggers have interpreted it.

Candace took me last Thursday to Oakland's Lake Merrit Park, an urban gem in the center of the thriving city. My camera and I (below) are on the outside of that cyclone fence that keeps mere humans from intruding on the water fowl. The birds are free to come and go in this area of the lake set aside as a wildlife refuge.

In the distance you can see a pelican on the shore among other feathered friends who have flown into this safe harbor. The park has built five artificial wooded islands edged with reeds. There they can breed and nest.

Here is a closer view of the pelican

intent on getting those feathers cleaned

Sunday, May 2, 2010


The prompt for Sunday Scribblings is event.

Just yesterday I went to a genuine community event in this town of Port Townsend, Washington, where I expect to make my home for at least part of every year and perhaps permanently.

May 1 was the annual opening of the Saturday farmers' market, a street fair where local purveyors of farm and nursery products and handicrafts have weekly booths. Unfortunately I left my camera at home, so I was unable to photograph the many colorful booths. Fortunately this left me free to roam in my trusty wheelchair to simply enjoy them. I was sorely tempted to buy a quilted hot pad that had at its center "Home is where I park my stuff while I go buy more stuff." Also fortunately, Peter Wiant, a local photographer has posted a gallery of photos taken yesterday. I have borrowed a few.
There was entertainment.
Copyright 2010 Peter Wiant
Here is the unofficial audience facing the official entertainment stage and Cal's Beach Band, one of the many groups in which my son Otto and his wife Kristin take part. That is the back of Otto's head with the billed cap in the lower right corner of the photo as he holds his concertina...

Copyright 2010 Peter Wiant
...and here is Kristin with her fiddle and her infectious enthusiasm.

Most of venders at the booths not only sell their products by the pound, dozen, bag or tray but also sell snacks such as sandwiches, soups or (paper) plate meals to eat at one of the many picnic tables. Hungry for a Baja style fish taco? You can find it here. How about a wild salmon and fried egg sandwich on local sourdough bread? It will be prepared before your eyes, and you can buy at the same booth a whole salmon or salmon steaks or fillets to take home for dinner or your freezer.

But perhaps you are in the market for handicrafts. There are dozens of booths selling everything from gorgeous cloaks of hand-spun handwoven fabrics (with the spinner working at her wheel) to whimsical hats and toys, beautiful hand-thrown pottery, jewelery, woodcarving, etc. etc.

Copyright 2010 Peter Wiant
Wheels and backpacks.

One of the reasons that I want to have a home in Port Townsend is that it is really wheelchair friendly. Friendly also to bikes, trikes and backpacks.

What did I buy at the market? Two pots of young sun gold tomato plants for the garden I will have here after May 15, and a beautifully silk-screened official Port Townsend Farmers' Market shopping bag made of environmentally-sound cloth - to carry to MY home MY future "stuff" from the market.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sky High Wonder

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is WONDER. And I may just get under the wire, since daughter Candace and I took advantage of this glorious warm day for a wheelchair trip (Candy pushing, me riding)around the Marina paths through the territory where folk were flying kites, walking dogs, picnicking, and shedding their winter wear.

Candy with kites just showing over hilltop.

Fathers were launching kites with the "help" of excited children.

Big Dog.

And what child's sense of wonder could fail him at the sight of this humongous dog floating above him or her? They ran back and forth beneath him shouuting with laughter, trying to catch a giant paw. While this is literally a kite filled only with breezes from the bay through that flapping slit between his eyes, it's greater weight required a booster kite, at a much greater height, buoying it up.

Booster Kite,

Nor were children the only ones taking part in the joy and wonder of kites! Here are a few other kite photos taken today. Many may be practicing for the renowned Berkeley Kite Festival, which takes place in July.

Here are a few more kites sighted today:

Airplane kite

There were many rotating kites.

Dragon rising.

And then there were the ground squirrels everywhere. A sign at the entrance to the walks warns "Please don't feed the squirrels." It seems that the park is suffering from squirrel over-population. Well, here are a few of the little varmints:

One squirrel...

Two squirrels...

And so it goes. And the squirrel population grows and grows. For some other blogs participating in Sunday Scribblings (probably not submitted as late as this one) click on links or banner.