Hi Again, December

Thursday, December 01, 2022

During the winters Mule Deer frequently migrate through our neighborhood. This group at the bottom of my hill watched me but wasn’t fearful. After snapping this image I let them graze peacefully. Such sightings make me feel good because they represent continuing local wildlife. Deer migrations are fewer than when I moved here, for the city was small then with more unfenced and accessible areas.

It’s December and nearing the time of this city’s annual Christmas Parade. I considered entered my donkey, Pimmy, an experienced and very popular parade participant, but have been busy straightening and fixing things gone wrong on the property. There wasn’t spare time to reconsider and refit a Christmas costume.

Last year, I was working and couldn’t participate, but Pimmy marched in the Parade. Here, Julie Gilbert leads her to join the other marchers.

Abby Gilbert riding Pimmy through the Parade, and here her Aunt Darcy holds the lead rope.

More than just the approaching Holiday is wonderful about December. Christmas arrives to “lighten” the year’s darkest days. Very soon afterwards, the real extended lighting starts to occur. The daylights gradually lengthen, re-energizing us, and we start turning our sights to spring.

Dear Friends: It’s fun, glimpsing backward at ways we’ve navigated this darkest month. Diana


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

There she goes, full speed ahead! This photo from a few years ago is one of my favs. Quick Osix, she can be a challenge to capture.

Today she’s on my mind. She’s turning 10 years old! Osix was born in a barn, in Alfalfa, and my arm greatly was twisted before I would consider a newborn. Then was during the 2012 housing crisis, my roughest time as my home was under water. I was searching for new digs and the last thing I needed was a puppy.

On meeting her, oh well. Who can resist an infant?

Just look! Who could have said no?

A few weeks later, her “mousy” puppy coat began to reveal the colors in her mom’s beautiful coat. Osix quickly attained that rich coloration known as “sable.” It could be a sign of rough collie in her lineage.

Colorful and pretty, there are no throwaway photos of Osix. Nearly all are knockouts.

Osix proved herself to be very smart. She’s also very quirky and very loyal. Over the years, she’s covered many miles with my horses. She’s navigated all sorts of trails, is good with my other dogs, and most happily would be my always companion.

How can she be turning 10? Where did those years go?

It matters little in terms of what’s really important. She’s a great companion, and our years together have been loving.

(BTW, a shout-out to Osix’s full brother, Nick. He’s equally quirky and fun, and lives with our friends, Julie and Dave.)

Happy Birthday, pups!

Dear Friends: Here’s one more image. Diana

Imagining & Imaging

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Yesterday with my zoom camera, I took today’s header photo. It’s an uphill drive intersecting with a footpath from my house. This random, lucky capture with good composition guides a viewer’s eye from the bottom left to the top right. My only alteration to the original was a slight trimming.

Meanwhile, I have a stiff neck for having stared at my computer too long. I’m trying to learn to manipulate images using Photoshop, a huge, daunting suite of tools and techniques.

Last night, I decided to play with the header photo, by inserting an image from another photo. I looked through many saved images and came across this one.

It’s my neighbor, Frank, watching his dogs skate on an iced-over pond. No telling how old this image might be, but apparently, it’s from before Frank acquired a third dog.

At first, I considered putting Frank himself into my landscape photo. But I’m a new learner and elected a simpler and easier addition. I’d add one of the dogs, and Abby in the middle seemed poised about right.

My first step was to isolate Abby before putting her into another image.

Then I had to remove Abby from her original background.

And then, I combined the images.

This combo came together after lots of focusing with trial and error attempts. If not 100% perfect, it represents a giant learning step.

Dear Friends: Abby seems happier on the snow rather than on that ice. Diana

Game On

Monday, November 28, 2022

I received a letter from one of my longest-time friends, Linda. She remembers that we first met 54 years ago when she arrived from California to take a position in the Kansas City organization that employed me. I was a general office worker and shocked at Linda’s role as a full staff member, equal to the organization’s all-male other managers. In those days gender-mutual roles were unheard of.

She came with credentials then rare for a young woman. She held a Master’s Degree, had traveled in Europe, and had been a staffer for a legislator who represented a major eastern state. I was amazed that a young woman wasn’t a general office worker, and we became friends.

My working credentials were a high school diploma and rapid typing skills. Linda’s letter recalls that my best hope for becoming self-supporting was eventually to be a private secretary.

Linda had a key attribute that I lacked: self-confidence. While we worked together or just hung out, she encouraged me to rethink becoming educated, to re-imagine my goals. That nudging started me toward formal education. Through the years, Linda encouraged and supported my efforts. As she predicted, each educational achievement opened new working opportunities and raised my life goals.

Her letter points out that working during my retirement has meant my taking entry-level roles. Those have taught me new skills that the local economy demands. She correctly points out that continuing to work brings more learning and achieving. Those are life skills she encouraged me to gain and they have served me well.

Dear Friends: Job-hunting is a game for retirees to re-learn because ageism is a huge issue. Diana

Sofia & Leo

Sunday, November 27, 2022

I’m reading (on my Kindle) the “Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy” and learning about her difficulties and stresses during her life with the author of War and Peace. These dairies that span the couple’s fifty-some years of marriage paint a frightening portrait of Leo Tolstoy.

He married Sophia when she was 19. He was wealthy and famous, and she was very bright and eager to marry. Aside from being his wife, and ultimately pregnant at least 15 times, she was Tolstoy’s secretary. When his writing day ended, he passed page drafts to Sophia who spent nights rewriting and clarifying his scribbles. The next morning, she would give Tolstoy the new pages, receiving that evening his re-drafted and re-scribbled pages which all night she re-copied and clarified.

Besides that work, her days were consumed with doing housework herself and overseeing the household and estate workers. As children were born, she cared for them while continuing all else she had been doing. Her dairies were where she turned, to address stress, worries, and fears about her husband.

This work reveals Leo Tolstoy as a monster to live with. Russian politics in the late Nineteenth Century were all about a “man’s world.” Tolstoy, before and during the marriage, was a product of free social experimentation and personal degradation. Sophia coped with that outwardly loveless man. He had strict behavioral rules governing her wifely role and behavior, and her role as the mother of his children. She confessed her feelings and responses to her dairies.

In modern days of Hemmingway-like clean and clear writing, I hesitate to pick up and re-read a great Russian novel; but I’m curious as to how Tolstoy portrayed in fiction his relationship with Sofia. Since he was unable to communicate directly to her his deep feelings about love and commitment, maybe he fictionalized that part of himself. It makes sense considering Sofia’s willingness to rewrite his drafts over and over. Maybe they communicated what she needed.

Before the Twentieth Century, women’s roles strictly were confined. I can’t forget Jill Lepore’s explanation of social and marital restrictions confronting Benjamin Franklin’s sister, Jane. There was a huge contrast between Ben’s and Jane’s life opportunities. Even in the more enlightened Twentieth Century, but before the advent of birth control pills, only slightly were women’s roles less confining.

I will continue reading Sofia’s dairies. They have me vividly remembering social changes inspired during the 1960s, and their positive affect on my life’s choices. Reading also has me worrying about recent and current politics that would limit our current roles and freedoms.

Dear Friends: An eternal question is, Why can’t we all just get along? Diana

Time Affects

Saturday, November 26, 2022

It appears that our current balmy weather will become fierce with snow predicted on Monday. The dogs and I have enjoyed the past several days of milder temperatures. Here’s hoping that “whatever weather” arrives next isn’t too awful.

We’re entering the dark days of December. Now, “midnight” seemingly occurs around 5 p.m. or earlier. Truly, I get confused during early darkness times. Now, early evening hours seem way later than my wristwatch shows. During these and upcoming briefer daylights, routine bedtime beckons early as 8 p.m.

The dogs come inside in the early evening and crash and sleep. I wind up doing the same but over a computer. At some point, faux unconsciousness quits, and as my brain returns to reality it’s thinking bedtime.

Yesterday, a professional dispatcher whose work makes him “in the know” told me there will be a final time turnover, which will happen next spring. After that, he said confidently, daylight savings time will remain unchanged without future time changes.

I’m just repeating the straw of hope that happened my way.

We’ve learned that semi-annual time changes make daylight changes highly confusing. Having to cope with suddenly shifting daylight hours is a hardship. Topping that, weather changes feel abrupt and unpleasant. So stressful.

Regardless, we’re entering this year’s darkest season knowing to anticipate having to cycle through. If my informer’s perception is true, next year we might learn what it’s like to experience “dark days” occurring in clock time not artificially adjusted.

Dear Friends: The current kind weather helps to ease the stress of adjusting our internal clocks. Diana

Cloud Speaking

Friday, November 25, 2022

Hello, Black Friday!

I looked through many available “deals” without finding anything I want or need, or don’t already have. This year’s Black Friday, like most other venues, lacks new attention-grabbing bright technological products. Following the Covid period and now the active war in Ukraine, the creative pipeline isn’t popping for household and personal products. Plus, factor in a sagging economy and cautious public mood.

Without paying much attention to changing, I’ve begun leaning more toward streaming. I’m tired of lugging books around to find places for them, and searching through stacks to find a particular book. I’ve begun reading books using the Kindle app or a Reader. Those make it a cinch to pull up almost any book, from anywhere and anytime. As to television, mine mostly remain turned off.

I gave up the internet long ago and found it too costly with unattractive choices. I streamed movies until sitting and watching became too time-consuming, and I canceled the subscriptions. I still like watching PBS for two evening airings that are excellent: The Newshour and Amanpour & Company. The Newshour airs often when I’m not home; and Amanpour airs at 10 p.m., usually just too late. Subscribing to PBS Passport lets me air both broadcasts on my own time on my computer screen.

After long resisting spending lots of time at a computer, I’ve adapted. There are Kindle and Passport, and (to be honest one Black Friday purchase, Hulu at $1.99/mo. for a year). Last night, I snuggled under an electric blanket with a tablet and watched a recent new movie from a talented director whom I admire.

To facilitate my transformation, it could make sense to try comprehending Elon Musk. Of course, many have/are and remain confused by the man; he’s wealthy. odd, and perhaps a technological genius. Musk reminds me of Howard Hughes, another super-wealthy genius and oddball. Hughes created the Spruce Goose, a prototype strategic flying boat that actually flew, but wasn’t finished soon enough to use in WWII. Ah genius, ah weirdos, ah money!

Dear Friends: This Black Friday represents a re-energizing of cloud-driven commerce. Diana


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

In my neighborhood, this day will be wonderfully warm. Our temps will climb into the mid-fifties.

This morning, I’m thinking about thankfulness and feeling grateful for tender mercies. There are “internals,” including reasonable health, strength to carry on, and brain energy. There are “externals,” like a sturdy homestead, healthy pets, and opportunities for periodic part-time employment, and ongoing friendships.

A key external I’m thankful for is this blog. I appreciate my readers and enjoy writing. I try to remain upbeat, but sometimes larger social and political events control my finger landings on the keyboard. I’m thankful to all who read both my good and less better blogs.

May we on this pleasant morning feel optimistic about today and tomorrow? And speaking of tomorrow, may we again meet here?

Dear Friends: Let’s hope this Thanksgiving Day offers up healthy doses of pleasure and reflection. Diana

Oh, World!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Good gravy! I’ve worried about possibilities of an active shooter entering a busy store where I’m employed or where I’m shopping. In these days of holiday rushing, active shooters seem more common. I’m ordering more from online to avoid busy shops.

Early today, an active shooter in a Virginia Walmart murdered six. He was an employee! I’ve not imagined a shooter as being employed inside his target venue. Despite my experience as an employee in busy retail settings.

We employees often articulate a shared perspective of preferring to avoid a coworker because that person’s an “odd bird” or a “weird one.” Usually, an odd one departs for unexplained reasons.

We have learned that a weird employee, after leaving a workplace, may return as an active shooter. An early series of such murders, because of where they occurred, earned the label, “going postal.”

Maybe “going postal” encouraged us to not work for the Postal Service. We’d visit Post Offices anyway, for stamps and to mail packages.

Over time and increasingly, we grew more aware of actual and attempted public murders: The Kennedys, King, Lennon, and Regan, to mention some. After the Columbine shooting, there began a spreading of active shooters and mass murders, in schools, churches, and marketplaces.

Despite any concerns about entering public places, the odds more than not are in our favor. We might equate them to the safety or not of driving or riding in a car, crossing a street, riding a bicycle, or just walking the dog. We’re aware of the pros and cons and participate in those activities routinely.

We’re learning in a world now populated by 8 billion residents. Surprise after surprise begins generating fewer surprises.

Dear Friends: Wishing for us all, to find genuine moments of quiet, peace, and joy. Diana


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Note: On this day in 1963 JFK was assassinated in Dallas. That and ensuing leadership changes began what today are continuous and ever-increasing social/political conflicts. The processes of governing have become complex and confusing beyond what anyone might ever have predicted or could have imagined.

Nowadays, we’re accustomed to assassinations. They occur all around us–in schools, nightclubs, neighborhood homes, and on the streets.

Today, and fortunately, we’re made aware of a mega-heroic act. An ex-military, professional warrior happened to be in a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub. He responded immediately to gunfire; he tackled and brought down an active shooter. He got his hands on the shooter’s gun and steadily beat the man’s head with it. Someone else kicked an AK rifle beyond the shooter’s reach, and another person in high heels stomped on the downed shooter.

Serendipitous, right? People out, enjoying being together. A shooter enters, begins killing, and a trained warrior happens to be at the scene with his family and responds.

This story’s endings are rotten and great. Rotten is that people were killed, and great is that many more weren’t.

The cartoon header sums up much. Pelosi’s attempts to address gun violence have achieved only moderate successes. The Supreme Court agrees with a Republican majority that gun ownership and carrying is a constitutional free right.

Pelosi’s pants suits and high heels are recognizable images of her political strength and masterful management.

Dear Friends: We hope the next Congress reveals thoughtful heroes, participating for the greater good. Diana