Thursday, April 26, 2012

Goose tale

There is a large wetland area across the four-lane road near my home. Every spring, the Canada geese return from the south and set up housekeeping there. And, every year the widower returns to sit and wait for his mate beside the busy road. Six years ago, she was struck and killed in that exact spot.

The other geese have paired up and moved onto their nests. The fluffy little yellow goslings will appear soon, stopping traffic as they waddle across the road for the grass on the other side. But, the gander waits patiently for his chance to join in the rite of spring.  Every time I see him waiting there, I want to cry.

                                      sleek, handsome
                                   lonely, longing, patient
                                       loyalty incarnate                                 

The Canada goose mates for life, and the lifespan of a goose in the wild is 10 to 24 years. There are an estimated three million Canada geese in the country but they are widely hunted. So, there must be hundreds of thousands of geese that have lost a mate like that. It's a cruel world they live in.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This might be my 400th posting--or not

I decided not to think about my 400th posting and just get on with it. The crabapple tree off of my patio is in full bloom--a full three weeks early. This seems to be the case nationwide.

A friend who recently returned from her annual trip to Maui said that everything was three weeks early there as well. She saw flowers blooming that she had never seen before.

Monday, April 16, 2012

About stealing photos

I'm wondering about the treasure trove of photos and graphics available online. When I want something to illustrate my blog, I check out Google Images. I can waste a lot of time wandering through all the tantalizing things offered there conveniently lined up in tidy little squares free for the taking.

But wait! How do I know that there are no strings attached? Maybe there are some kind of online police who stand guard over those things. I might be placing myself--and my blog--at some kind of risk. Sometimes when I click on a likely candidate for pilfering, the original source will come up. This gives me pause. Does that mean that the posting was taken without that person's permission? How does all of this figure into the scheme of Google Images? And, more importantly, my right to do more than look at them.

I have been working on a posting about my childhood and in the course of my research, I was trying to find pictures of old country churches. I found a picture that had been taken inside the very church that I was writing about. I promptly right-clicked on it only to learn it was protected. There was no way I could get a copy of it.

Now this raises the question, if that picture could be rendered incapable of being copied, wouldn't that indicate that all those unprotected photos on Google (and Yahoo, Flickr, et al) aren't protected because nobody really cares if others use them?

You may ask why I don't just take my own darn pictures and not bother about appropriating other folks' stuff. Well, it's because photography is one of the many things that I really (momentary interruption while I check the Thesaurus for synonyms for "suck at") am not very good at. I won't go into all the details except to say, I'm an embarrassment to my kids who all take better pictures than I do.

      Ms Sparrow photograph-All rights reserved

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Making excuses

I read once that in the course of a normal conversation, the talk will naturally come to a stall every twenty minutes. I guess you could say it sorta "re-boots" before it resumes again.

I've come to think this is also true of writing. It seems that I can only keep blogging for so long until I run out of things to say. When I've been reduced to posting photos I found online, it's time to quit for a while. I'm sure you can understand.

I suffer from a severely critical (even ruthless) Inner Critic. My Muse, on the other hand, is a total wimp. So, while I might be inspired to blog about something, the Critic takes the wind out of my sails. As if that's not enough, the Critic destroys my confidence and will to write!

I must admit that I've also been sidetracked by a volunteer project. Then, there's also the looming specter of approaching my 400th post. I don't know why I should find that intimidating, but it's like running toward a high hurdle. So, I'm backing up to take a hard run at it and get past 400 in a blaze of glory--or its meager bloggie equivalent!

           Borrowed Image--Olivia Tejeda

Saturday, April 7, 2012

To delight the eye

Time to rejoice in the season!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Die, Rachel, Die!

The headline, dated April 1st, reads, "FTC pulls the plug on rogue telemarketing operation".  I cheered that at long last, our national nightmare is over! Never again would "Rachel of Card-holder Services" be harassing hundreds of thousands of decent citizens.

The news story goes on to state the despicable Asia Pacific Telecom company that has bombarded the US population with 2.6 billion recorded calls has reached a settlement to cease operations. The company was fined a measly $5.3 million and ordered to turn over all their assets. They were also ordered to properly dispose of all the phone numbers they had taken illegally from the National Do Not Call Registry.

Rachel at Card-holder Services is marketing "worthless debt-reduction services" according to the Federal Trade Commission. I know, because she calls me regularly. The automated phone message prompts you to press three if you want to discontinue calls. Of course, this is just a ruse to let them know an actual person has answered and not a machine. There is a prompt to press one if you want to talk to an agent. In desperation, I tried that several times and asked the "agents" to please remove my number from their call list. They would just hang up on me. So, for years I have just laid down the phone and walked away.

Yes, I said years! It's utterly ridiculous how ineffectual the FTC has been in shutting down this nasty operation that flagrantly defies the law and bilks thousands of people with worthless services. If you want to see how big the problem has been, just Google "Rachel at Card-Holder Services".

So, I was elated that the FTC had, at long last, done their job and protected us from the ongoing harassing and obnoxious calls. Until I got another call from Rachel a little while ago! Aarrrgh!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Finding a lost posting

I was looking through old posts to see if I had blogged on a certain topic when I ran across this draft from 2010.  It's not as good as finding a $20 bill in a jacket, but I'll go with it anyway.

A friend of mine teaches a class in memoir-writing. She's often prodding me to write more memoirs (as is befitting of a woman of my years) however, I fear there is little that is unique about me. Nevertheless, at her urging, I'll regale you with the story of my first winter in Minnesota after living in California.

I was all of fifteen months old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. At the time, my father worked at the lumberyard in the tiny town of Louisberg, Minnesota. My mother, the youngest in a large farm family, worked as a waitress at the cafe across the street from the lumberyard. That is where they met and fell in love. Mom was 19 and Dad was a 29-year-old widower. Six weeks after they met, they got married on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, 1939 at the minister's house. I was born a little more than seven months later (a fact I didn't figure out until I was in my teens).

After Pearl Harbor, there was a big need for workers in the aircraft industry on the west coast. They were so desperate they were even hiring women. My dad had not been called up for the service. I'm not sure if it was his age or the fact that he had a family--maybe both. In any case, he decided to move to California and work at Lockheed Aircraft Plant.

We settled in Van Nuys where my three siblings were born in quick succession. After the war ended, Dad built a sturdy two-wheel trailer and loaded it with our possessions. They packed us four kids in the back seat of the car with a potty chair and we headed back to Minnesota.

We arrived in the late fall and it was the first time we kids had ever seen snow. My mom loved to tell of how my brother Bob woke up, looked out the car window and asked, "What is that stuff?" We stayed with relatives until Dad found a job and rented an old farmhouse.

It was a very cold winter when we moved in. The main heat source was a washer-sized space heater in the dining room. The old fireplace in the living room was not working and apparently the furnace wasn't either. Incredibly, the space heater provided almost all the heat for the house. The big upstairs room where we four kids slept was unheated. We would get into our pajamas then run up the icy steps and jump into the cold beds. My two brothers in one and my sister and I in the other. We'd huddle together for warmth shivering while the bed slowly warmed up.

In the morning, we'd race back downstairs to stand by the space heater and get dressed. To this day, I need a cool bedroom to sleep well.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A few fun pictures

Some stuff I picked up online and saved to share.

                                            By Natalie Chalmers