Monday, April 27, 2015

Flower power

Someone wondered in a comment, kiddingly, if I was a flower power child of the 60s. Here is a photo taken in 1970, when I was ten years old, and you decide for yourself...

I was on a 4th grade field trip to Mystic CT Seaport and Museum. The lady next to me was my teacher, Miss May

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A slideshow of Pixlr photos

These represent all the pixlr photos I've created so far. I update it each time I add more photos
A Pixlr photo is my photo post-processed using Pixlr software to overlay or otherwise manipulate the photo to add texture, mood, or other elements into the photo.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Bountiful Basket Saturday

We had two solid weeks of steady rain, accumulating to about 6 inches. The past three days of sun were glorious and well needed. The sun shone all day, the birds sang, the humidity was gone, and everything was green, green, green. April in Georgia is simply stupendous.

At 4am the rain began again. I don't mind really, my plan for today was to pick up a Bountiful Basket and use the oven to roast whatever is in it, plus the butternut squash I got last time. And chick peas. If you haven't had roasted chick peas, you're missing out! They make a filling and tidy little snack.

My monthly Tea Time magazine is filled with tea history, serving ideas, and recipes for cute little bites for your afternoon tea. One recipe caught my eye: English Pea Salad in frilled phyllo cups. Phyllo cups were on sale at the store so I am going to make a tea for myself Sunday afternoon, using the Whittard Tea Clipper set with rose hip tea and the pea salad cups. I'm fancy.

I've enjoyed this week's challenge at Pixlr, post-editing photos using their newest overlay pack, "Gibson." I've favorited Clark and Constellation as the best of these for my tastes. I notice on the Pixlr blog the archive of Gibson entries almost uniformly use the birds. I like the birds but man, it's just as easy to go outside and actually take a photo of birds. So for my entry I entertained myself by using a photo of an actual bird with the other Gibson overlays. I posted two of them earlier this week. The lines are phone wires.

Here are some more post-processing editing efforts.

I really like the 'Metal" overlay in the Default pak.

Yes. I caved. Here are birds from Gibson. I liked how they reminded me of the neon steam circles, changing into birds once set free from the coffee cup.

It's a few hours later now and I've gotten the Basket. It contained cukes (which I promptly gave away) mangoes, honeydew, apples, a lot of great looking broccoli, orange peppers, spaghetti squash, onions, potatoes, and lettuce. I probably forgot a thing or two.

I roasted some of the broccoli, butternut squash I had from last time, peppers, and the spaghetti squash. The spaghetti squash is so hard that once I get my cleaver a quarter inch into the rind, I can't get it to move in more nor can I get it out. I've taken to going outside at the walkway to the front door and smashing it on the pavement. With the knife stuck in there, I simply lift it entirely and then crash it to the ground, Even then, it's a cement rind. The cookbook wasn't kidding when it said "the rind is seriously hard". But I must look pretty funny out there...smashing pumpkins squash.

Have a good day everyone!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Some pixlr pics

Pixlr is a photo editing software in which the photographer post-processes his or her photos by adding overlays, effects, and borders. People who are talented even make their photos look like works of art. Here are a few of my attempts.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A short story

The dog ran into Mexico and I had to go after him. The Rio Grande was narrow here and Bud saw a horse come to graze at dusk and he saw his chance for a little fun. Too bad he doesn't know about geopolitical and economic boundaries. All Bud saw was a horse and some fun.

EPrata photo

I hear him barking in Boquillos now and I'm not looking forward to that guy selling mineral earrings again. He scared me with his pitiful intense desperation, 'look I made these aren't they beautiful' and then he touched my sleeve.

So I slip off my sneakers trying hard not to notice the myriad paw prints looking like hieroglyphics from big things came to graze. I tie the sneaks in a good knot and slip them over my shoulders. Feet slipping in the oozy mud, my prints now mingling with last night's predator and prey I run splashing loud across the river drowning out the cattails' whisper announcing my arrival in a foreign country without a passport.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Back to School tomorrow

Spring break is over and it sure was a good one. Great weather, very quiet, nice cats, haircut, Bountiful Basket, books and shows.

I got into The Indian Doctor from BBC on Hulu, a very good show. Well written and acted, pretty to look at, safe to enjoy without profanity or sex.

The old neighbors had left their lawn swing last summer, promising to come get it at some point. After nearly 10 months I had gotten used to the thing maybe always being here... I sat in it, looked at the clouds, took photos, read, listened to the birds.

This week with magazine in hand I went out to sit...and it was gone. I'm glad they have it back, becuase I know they enjoyed sitting on it a lot. I did too, so I'm glad I got to use it as much as I did.

Murray the cat is turning out to be a very nice cat. He's a legacy from the neighbors too. A nice cat who likes my other nice cats. We are happy here.

The Thursday and Friday before Spring Break I got overstimulated. I'm talking autistic overstimulation. Next stop...meltdown. I usually can avoid overstimulation becauase I know my triggers and limits. Whenever I vary from them I will get into trouble. My worst sensitivities are clothes/skin, noise of all kinds that is either sudden or sustained, and exposure to prolonged emotional displays.

I wore the wrong clothes on Thursday, dressing up because a Congressman was touring the school then spending time with the first graders. I wore flat, non-supportive shoes (AKA not my usual orthopedic clodhoppers), a polyester skirt, and nylons. Wearing hosiery for two hours at church is very different from being entangled in them all day. They had wrapped funny around my upper thigh and they chafed my thigh raw. My feet were killing me by the end of the day and I was totally angry at the polyester.

When I wear the wrong clothes my skin screams all day. It is hard to describe but it's like my brain is constantly going "DANGER DANGER, WRONG WRONG, NO NO" like a factory claxon alarm is going off, and my brain won't settle down and let me focus on anything else. It takes mental and emotional energy to shut my brain up enough to be able to function. By the end of the day I am exhausted from this effort.

Friday was loud. Easter Egg hunt, party, cafeteria double duty (meaning I spend an hour and ten minutes in an environment where the number of children is about 150, and decibel level nears or exceeds 80 to 85 db). It had been a long time between breaks and the children and staff were excited. Noise was heightened for the day everywhere but especially in kindergarten area where I work. This is normal but it exceeded my ability to handle it.

I knew I was pushing it to zip to the grocery store after work. But I also knew I didn't want to leave my home again for the week, so I drove there fast and didn't linger. But I was tired, overstimulated, and was running on fumes. I ran into a dear friend and we chatted briefly in each of the aisles where we crossed paths. It is a very small store. But by the last aisle we both went for the cool whip, and she asked me if I wanted regular or lowfat, and my brain was so jumbled I couldn't answer. She handed me regular and I literally only could say "Sugar." I wanted to say thanks but all I could do was stare numbly at the item and say sugar. My brain was shutting down. Picture an overheated computer in a cartoon spewing smoke and lighting zzz sounds.

I hurriedly left the store and got home, putting away only the cold groceries and then I fell face down on the bed.

The result was that Saturday I slept most of the day. I was physically ill. When my body gets overstimulated, my stomach gets upset & nauseous. The overworked brain kind of hurls out a kind of  poison and it swirls all around my body in a residue for a long time. Only time can deplete it. It would be while until I felt normal again. I woke up at 7:00 but went back to bed at 10 and slept until 2. Then I woke up and shambled around but went back to bed at 4 and slept till 6. Saturday was a totally lost day. I was a non-productive human being.

If Sunday hadn't have been Easter I'd have stayed home. As it was I was catatonic at 6:30 am, simply staring blankly at the ceiling and not being able to make my arms move enough to strip the covers off, so there was no chance of getting up at that point to attend Sunrise service. I attended the regular service but I didn't dress up as much as I would have liked. No nylons, that was for sure. So I didn't wear a dress. The music was good but loud and at one point I had to stop myself from covering my ears. Every note was like nails from a nail gun going into my brain. I know at one point I was wincing in actual pain. Afterwards, I went home and naturally, I slept.

By Monday I was feeling somewhat normal and by Tuesday I'd recovered. Phew, that was a bad one. Do I like being like this? No. Can I help it? No. Well I can a bit- make better choices about my environment. There is nothing I can do about the cafeteria but I can dampen or reduce all other effects by being careful about clothes, take small breaks of quiet like at lunch. I look frumpy and misshapen most of the time because I wear ill-fitting clothes that are not stylish, and not flattering. I don't care. They are comfortable, clean, presentable. And I can handle life when I wear them.

Sometimes when I get home the noise dose, an official term for accumulated noise a person encounters during a workday, is so high that once I had to stop chewing chips because they were too loud in my head. 

Well it has been a good week. I recovered, spent time restoring the well of strength I will need to face a noisy, bustling, happy school once again in the morning. I am looking forward to seeing the kids. I'm sure they will all look like they grew like weeds. Only 34 1/2 more days until summer break. Woo-hoo, I can make it!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Lawn cutting and sheep shearing

A productive day, catching up on all emails and blog comments. Some of the questions asked of me were complex, or at least the answer needed to be complex to answer correctly and fully.

I practiced with Pixlr collage again, not too successfully if looking at the actually good collages at the Pixlr blog site for this week's challenge. Sigh. Why do I do this to myself? I am no good at art. I can appreciate it, I can see what makes it good, but I simply can't produce it from my own brain and hands. I never could and I likely never will. But I keep trying.

This morning the landlord mowed the lawn and the shepherdess sheared the sheep. Tufts of grass and wool drifted across the lawn in the gentle breeze. Rural living, man.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Birds on branches and death in paradise

This is an actual photo of a bird silhouetted against the sky, with Pixlr overlay pak Mermaid and Dreamscape added to the background, which was a very dull late afternoon misty gray.

This is the original

What I love about school break is:

-sleeping until after 5:30,
-not getting dressed until I want to,
-being able to wear leggings and a soft turtleneck all day,
-washing my dishes on the same day that I dirty them,
-spending time playing with pictures and reading my twitter stream and not worrying that I am wasting time,
-being quiet,
-discovering more about my Logos bible software, like you can select a passage to be read aloud to you,
-listening to sermons and Gospel music in the afternoon
-cooking (today will be granola, and roasted broccoli)
-having time to go through my Youtube subscriptions and culling the dead ones and uninteresting ones,
-organizing my photos on the laptop...

and so much more.

I found another tv show I like. It's British, which means there aren't a lot of them. Their seasons, or series as they call them, are only 6 or 8 shows long. I watched all 8 of the first season and it is a top-quality show: Death in Paradise. Despite the goth title, it is a 'blue skies' program, and a 'fish out of water show' and a 'police procedural' if you like categorizing shows by title. It is about a London police detective temporarily assigned to discover why the Chief of Police on a small Caribbean island (a UK protectorate) was killed. Of course, his temporary stay becomes lengthier through no will of his own, he hates the heat, the sand, the slower ways, and mostly everything about the place. He is a stiff, a British man through and through with a single minded head for solving crime and absolutely no social skills, quite an abrupt thing for his colleagues living a friendly island reggae life. Of course he is brilliant and successful at solving murders so his colleagues forgive his quirks, even as he has a harder time overlooking theirs. The characters are realistic, nice, well-played and distinct.

There is no profanity, no sex, no gore (well only a drip here and there, but it's minimal). The setting is glorious, actually being shot on Guadaloupe. It is well-written and acted (usually the case with BBC TV shows). I like it. I will be sorry when I finish season 2, because I learned that the main character is killed off in the first episode of the third series. He found that being away for six months at a time to shoot on Guadaloupe was too stressful on his family whether they stayed there or flew to the island. So he gave it up. Sigh. Anyway, it's lighthearted, sometimes funny, and good. On Netflix.

Well it's nearing noon so I will get dressed and then continue on the peaceful day set before me.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Pixlr photo editing - it's fun to experiment with pictures

Pixlr is my favorite photo editing software. It's free, or if you want more versatility there is a minimal charge for the year.

It is versatile, interesting, and they provide tutorials on how to use the elements and recipes to try yourself. There are also weekly challenges to motivate us to try new ways to enhance the photos. This week the challenge is to use the autocontrast feature. If you run a photo through autocontrast several times, it reduces the realism of the photo but it brings out the other aspects, such as making it look faux HDR, or graffiti/cartoonish, or bringing out the rough edges of granite or the veins in flowers. Here are my attempts. The first two I was satisfied with and sent them to the challenge.

In this one, I used fast splash. This feature allows the editor to select one color to 'splash' or remain in the photo, while making the others go to black and white. Then I used auto contrast three times to heighten the pine tree needles.

On this one I used autocontrast three times, and the silk effect to give the crinkle look.

I used splash again, this time to highlight the aqua of the graffiti and to make the distance between the train and the overhanging pine tree more stark.

There are lots of fun effects in Pixlr. I plan to re-arrange my photos on my laptop into folders and be more organized, so that when I play with them in photo editor Pixlr I won't have to spend so much time searching for particular photos I know I have and want to use to experiment in different features.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Spring break is finally here

I am officially on Spring Break.

The stretch between breaks at school was a long one this time. I don't know why I was asleep at the switch last year when the school calendar proposal became available for voting on, but this one escaped me. I didn't see the long time between breaks. This week's vacation is a week later than usual. We usually have break from the last few days in March at the end of the first weekend in April. The February long weekend break was deleted, so even that little stress-relieving hop from January to February to the end of March was absent. Losing Feb break and the later week for Spring Break made a difference. We went from January 6 to April 6 without a break except for Martin Luther King day.

A school is a living organism. The emotions, intensity, climate all build as the year progresses, the children mature, and the curriculum gets progressively more difficult. Stress is palpable. The teachers and staff get tired but the children get tired too. In many cases, they live busier lives than some staff! Some kids arrive at school as early as 7:15 and some children whose parents work are not picked up from the After School Program until 5:00, 5:30, or even 6:00. They go to music lessons, church, ball practice, or on errands with mom or dad. It is a looong day for them. Add 12 weeks of long days and you have an environment where the week off is very needed and very welcome.

I plan to do the things I always do. Listen to the birds outside. Sit in the swing on a sunny day and read. Nap on my 110 year old four-post bed in the sun with my cats curled on my feet. Write and study. I am going to start a biography by Temple Grandin, a theological book by John MacArthur, and short stories by Herman Melville (Moby-Dick author). I put the car in the garage and do not plan on taking it out at all except Sunday and Sunday for church.

These things which I enjoy so much are absent of noise and absent of people. When my noise-overloaded brain is ready, I plan to watch some movies. Mr Pip with Hugh Laurie looks good:
As a war rages on in the province of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, a young girl becomes transfixed by the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations, which is being read at school by the only white man in the village.
The Well-Digger's Daughter also looks good.
In 1930s southern France, a father is torn between his sense of honor and his deep love for his daughter when she gets in trouble with the wealthy son of a shopkeeper.
As does the television mini-series The Indian Doctor.
When a sleepy 1960s Welsh mining town's only doctor dies, the only replacement the union representative could find arrives, straight from India. To everyone's surprise, he's better educated and more cultured then anyone they know, yet friendly and eager to help. His wife however looks down on the 'peasants', compared to viceregal Delhi, and wants him to move to London.

These are films that seem culturally interesting to me, will feature great scenery, and be pretty to look at. Meanwhile, though I have been awake and up for only three hours, I am going to take my first nap.