Cyber-Rattling – the Skeletal Remains of Abandoned Blogs

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“Flash Dance” Oil on 20 x 16 canvas; framed

We’re all eager to start them. We want our own public space in the sun to share our personal trivia or our hopes and dreams. Millions of blogs attest to that fact. But what happens when the enthusiasm fades and a blogger moves to another space? What if a blogger leaves his or her audience hanging on as weeks turn into months and months into years?

Admit it, we’ve all clogged search engines with the skeletal remains of our blogs which end up littering the pathways of cyberspace. I was amazed as I searched for viable art blogs how many of them have not been updated in months; some for more than three to five years! Many don’t even have a follow button so they probably won’t have readers or customers returning any time soon.

Amongst the casualties were new mother blogs, created by first time mothers who wanted to share the miracle of birth and their amazing adventure into motherhood. Others wanted to share a wonderful vacation with humorous stories and full-color photos. But when the vacation excitement fizzled, the dazzle of motherhood wore off, so did the blog.

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(My first great grandchild)

Many blogs are started with good intentions, but they fail miserably when the blogger realizes there is no substance. There are no long-term goals. There was a beginning, but no ending. The blogger had no vision for the purpose of his or her blog or the discipline to finish it.

Clanking around in this gigantic wasteland, I still found some good information, an interesting fact or two; but it required an investment of time to find that juicy low-hanging fruit, that bright star among the scattered bones of defeat. Some bloggers move frequently from space to space, leaving their old blogs behind like breadcrumbs that lead their followers back home. Some links failed, leading me on a wild goose chase.

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“With these Hands Hope” Oil on 16 x 20 canvas

With all the apps and gizmos out there, I sometimes have difficulty uploading my own updates, especially in the evening hours. The large sites like Facebook and Twitter become unpredictable and double tweets or failed tweets happen on occasion.

Abandoned bytes and cyber debris join other waste materials in the heavens. Our Satellite Station over the years has dropped scraps and junk that still circles the globe endlessly polluting the atmosphere.

Our oceans are filled with garbage and the ghostly remains of plastic bags. Japan’s Tsunami debris still floats around the globe, butting up against foreign shores and introducing the local flora and fauna to alien species.

Our “throw away” society continues to add to our mountain of debt and our growing landfills. Wouldn’t it be great if someone would find a way to clean up this wasted space or manufacture things that would last? If our economy is so bad, why do so many people throw thousands of pounds of food in the trash each year? Solutions not rhetoric is what we need. Suggestions anyone?

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“Sandhill Crane dreams” (They all wish they were Indians)

Brick and Mortar vs. Flesh and Blood – They Both require Care

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“Americana” 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

I’m giving our villa “a dust up” in preparation for sale and asking myself “How would a potential buyer see this room, this painting, this piece of furniture or memorabilia?”

When I find something out-of-place or obtrusive, I have three choices:

  1. Put it in a Good Will box to be given away
  2. Place it in a container for “safe keeping”
  3. Dump it without regard for sentiment

Each item saved for Good Will must pass a certain test: Can it be cleaned? Would someone else be able to use this or is it just old junk?

The box for “safe keeping” holds stuff that a loved one has given me or that belonged to one of my parents or grandparents. I can’t throw these things away without feeling guilty. Besides, I might need some of them in our new place. I plan to put these things aside until nearer the actual move giving me a second chance to keep or to throw them away. In number three, some of the “dump” items may fall into this category.

In truth, I’m a sentimental saver. I have difficulty parting with gifts from loved ones even though they serve no logical purpose. And after a while, these items begin to clutter the walls and shelves and look like somebody’s junk to potential buyers seeing our home for the first time.

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“Moody Blues” 18 x 14 oil on canvas

These decisions can be painful. You soon discover what’s really of value and what’s simply ostentatious. Impulse buying adds an accumulation of stuff that makes its way to the dump box. You buy an item on sale, or someone else does and then gives it to you. In either case, you know you probably won’t miss any of it when it’s gone.

Wouldn’t it be great to give your body a clean sweep like this? You could keep only what adds real value to your life and cast away the rest. You could get rid of bad habits and regrets, put old grievances in a box and tape the lid shut, and finally focus on what’s important.

Gone are the “To Do” lists that were never finished, the half-made quilts, the dreams that got away. All could stop gathering dust in your closet and finally RIP at the bottom of some landfill for recycling. You could make a fresh start with more realistic goals and some well-defined dreams that come from deep inside of you instead of from peer pressure.

Once the cobwebs have been swept from your interior, you could start unearthing your most urgent needs and longings. Find out who you are and what you’re made of in the scheme of things.

What is your heart’s desire? Discover the spiritual roots of your personality and your divine nature. Discard the negative aspects of yourself that turn other people off. Scrub out the dingy coating that has crept inside and tarnished your luster. Let your hidden treasure shine through and regain your self confidence.

When all is said and done, your mortal body is the house you live in every day until “Death Do you part.” Then your immortal spirit is liberated from all physical encumbrances and restraints. Since you only live once, doesn’t it make sense to spend as much time getting your spiritual house in order as you spend on getting your physical house ready to sell to strangers?

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“The Cook” 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas

Magical Hot Air Balloons Send Us Soaring and Set us Down Easy

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Hot Air Balloons

The last time I rode in a hot air balloon, I was in my twenties. I remember being surprised at how hot it was up there. Our pilot kept a constant watch on the fire and gas levels which filled the hollow balloon with hot air. The exhilarating feeling of gliding over the pasture land below was well worth the fee we paid for the thrill.

I’ve had a fascination with these colorful “envelopes” ever since. Every year in Missouri and many other states balloonists gather with their gondolas and designer aircraft to share their enthusiasm with other fans of the sport. When they all take off, it’s a breathtaking spectacle that is remarkable and unforgettable.

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Recently there was a horrible disaster in Texas. A balloon carrying 16 people on an overcast day failed to see the overhead power lines they were heading for. The balloon caught fire and exploded killing all 16. Because of the wind and weather, hot air balloons can be unpredictable.

According to Wikipedia, the hot air balloon is the “oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. Are they safe? Today’s balloons have an envelope that is not sealed at the bottom, the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the inlet of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material.

“Beginning in the mid-1970s, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as rocket ships and the shapes of various commercial products, though the traditional shape remains popular for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.

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Shortly after 9/11 I attended a hot air balloon show at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. All planes were still grounded, including these magnificent aircraft. We walked from one gondola to another greeting the owners and admiring their colorful envelopes that were inflated and ready to fly. Sadly not one balloon was able to launch that day.

In the interim, we were fortunate enough to witness a marriage ceremony of two balloonists. They had met during a balloon conclave, fell in love, and wanted to share their wedding day with the friends who enjoyed the sport as much as they did.

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Is Technology turning us into Robots? Are we losing that Human Touch?

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My parents believed that television was the culprit. “Your children are watching too much T.V.” they said to me. “They’re going to turn into little machines.” But did I listen to them anymore than the kids of today listen to their parent’s concerns?

Some of you may not remember the “slide rule;” (a manual calculating device, now largely obsolete, consisting of two rulers marked with graduated logarithmic scales, one sliding inside the other) used long before computers became laptops and then hand-held devices and smart phones. My husband used a slide rule in college. Both students and teachers thought it was the crème’ de la crème’ in mathematical tools; but how quickly things change.

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When I started out as a freelance writer, I used a Smith Corona and up to six sheets of carbon paper for needed copies. What used to take several days or even weeks to complete now takes only a few hours. My first draft was usually hand-written. When I finally learned how to use a computer, the process of writing took far less time so I began charging by the project rather than by the hour.

My grandfather was a blacksmith who shoed local horses until the advent of automobiles made his job obsolete. He then made wrought iron fences and decorative housing materials. Advancement in science and technology always makes someone’s job vanish.

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Research and biogenetics are advancing so rapidly that today people are being replaced by machines. It’s become the way of the world. Because of the danger in terrorist attacks, robots now approach suspects or their belongings to save the life of the police officers. Robots are being used to defuse bombs, and to find terrorists and wipe them out. They are used in warfare and will soon surpass human beings in intelligence and physical capability.

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What was once only a plot devised in someone’s imagination is now becoming reality. Man’s farfetched imagination is already at work in laboratories across the world. Some predict that machines will replace humans or become an integrated part of their future; half man, half machine. We are seeing this already as transplants for body parts are becoming a daily occurrence in the medical community and returning veterans receive metallic parts that can move and act like their fleshy counterparts.

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Will science ever be able to replicate emotions and personality? I hope not. The Bible says “God is love.” We are created in God’s image therefore love is a Godly emotion. Many people and most scientists think that one day they will be able to create life, not only replicate what God has already done. When that time comes, what will life be like?

Some researchers are experimenting by combining animal and plant cells with human DNA hoping to create a super human being who can sense danger like most animals can. What causes dogs and birds to sense a Tsunami or earthquake and flee for safety long before humans are even aware of the risk? Will this mixture of combined cells eventually become an ungodly conglomeration of half human, half animal entities?

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What will all this mean for human beings? As we head feet first into the future, how can we hold onto our values and beliefs? What is the anchor to your soul that keeps your life stable and strong?

If you don’t have someone or something to ground you to truth how will you make choices in this complex world in which we find ourselves? Can artificial intelligence make our decisions for us? Can the power of the human heart to heal, to comfort, to safeguard the God within us be replaced? When the lines of truth blur how will we be able to tell right from wrong and good from evil? Perplexing questions to ponder in the near future.

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When Lines Blur between Reality and Fiction

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“With these Hands — Wonder” http://carol-allen-anfinsen.pixels.com 

Most People seek the truth. They want to believe in what is real; what is factual. But the media has long given up on gathering facts and are now focused on distortion and white lies. They’ve become promoters of their own personal ideology and political bias, and are focused on manipulating truth. Many participants take words out of context and turn conviction into lies. They prevent their audiences from getting an objective viewpoint or in hearing both sides.

Now unabashedly the FBI and the Justice Department have begun to skirt the law. Even the Supreme Court is ignoring their allegiance to the Constitution and the people dishonoring their positions and personal honor in order to promote an agenda that is underhandedly dark and holds serious repercussions for the future of this nation.

Remember when a handshake was not only respected in a contract or agreement, but engraved in stone because people considered their word sacrosanct and lawful? Now we can no longer trust our leaders who we thought were held to a higher standard. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t trust anyone. We’re afraid of a sales call, of identity theft, of scammers that assault us day and night.

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(Front yard blooms)

Those elected to power are mainly concerned with their own careers. In their personal view and thinking “the ends justify the means.” Their allegiance to the electorate whom they serve no longer matters. How did we sink so low? What has caused this fall of national character into the murky abyss of slime where right and wrong have been muddied in a grab for power?

Prior to her husband’s election as President of the United State, Michelle Obama said “I’m ashamed of my Country.”  After almost eight years of Obama leadership, I can say in return “I’m not only ashamed of my country, I fear for its future.”

We have become a Godless people more concerned with our personal pleasures than in our own honesty and integrity. The decline in American values is evident. We have turned honorable men and women into puppets of the state. Our greed for power has tainted our judgment. Our leaders have become dictators, and our loyal servants have become dishonest politicians grubbing for position and control.

The heart of America is rotting from the core. There are a few glimmers of hope. When a crisis emerges, we still stand together. When people die, we are there to give compassion and support. But even in the midst of this, we are divided. We ignore crime and the law in favor of prejudice and popular opinion. Many segments of the population have become a mob mentality. It doesn’t matter what the laws say, they break it. If they don’t like the outcome, they stand against the enforcers who have pledged to keep us safe. In turn, lawbreakers are shielded by their leaders and mob violence is often encouraged and allowed.

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(These young armadillos visited us early one morning.)

Both political correctness and designated “hate speech” are becoming a law unto themselves setting a dangerous precedent in overruling existing Constitutional law. As a result, people are becoming afraid of spontaneous speech or of expressing an opinion. Free speech is being set on its ear by self-appointed enforcers who label someone’s opinion as prejudiced or hateful. Recently some university students uttered “I hate the first amendment. We don’t want these people (those with opposing views) on our campus.”

These students are too young to remember Hitler and his brutal regime when hate speech was lauded and opposing opinions were stifled. Our Founding Fathers must be quaking in their boots in fear that all they worked so hard to achieve is being destroyed.

We have one of the most important elections in our time coming up in November. Will we disregard what history can teach us? Will we put our personal stamp, our thumb print, in support of lawlessness, dishonesty and Godlessness? Or will we uphold the principles that made America great for all people and not just the few in power?

This division we now feel in our country did not come from the ground up, but from the top down. Good leaders inspire the best in their followers. They lead by example and truth. The chaos in our country and the world has been allowed to happen. The Middle East has been blown apart by incompetence and falsehoods.

Socialism and totalitarianism are not the answer. You just have to examine their roots and results to understand their automatic downfall. Freedom isn’t lawlessness or pitting one group of people against another. Class warfare is a communist tactic. Morally it is bribery with the intent of getting what you want.

Freedom isn’t free just because you want it to be so. Freedom is the result of sacrifice, honor, and hard work. If you’re not up to it, someone else may be and the result is your neck under the boot of oppression. Please friends, vote judiciously and prayerfully.

 

Survival of the Fittest — How to “Hold your Own”

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Books always broaden your horizons. I just finished a fiction novel centered in Alaska, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. In fact, it’s on my “bucket list.” Alaska is one of the last great frontiers where many people still live off the land. My reading “wish list” when I was a young woman always held a few with an Alaskan theme.

One such book was a frontier story that included details about the early settlers and their interactions with the Indians and Eskimos. I’ve forgotten the title, but one story intrigued me because I had my own baby to care for at the time.

The natives used moss for diapers. The green algae was soft, absorbent and good for the skin. There were no diaper rashes to cope with and no diapers to wash. They also washed their infant’s faces with the bright green moss.

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“Sand Crane Dreams”  24 x 20 Oil on canvas

The early pioneers learned many things from the natives: how to survive, what foods to eat, what plants had medicinal powers, etc. I doubt the settlers would have endured the harsh winters without their help and knowledge. These stories gave me inspiration and enthusiasm for our own family camping trips.

Now I’m reading “Cyber Storm” by Matthew Mather. What happens when society becomes so dependent on technology and the internet that they can’t manage without it? When the grid is destroyed and the internet is hacked by an unknown enemy, the U.S. and the world finds out.

This gripping tale will soon be in movie theaters. The book reminds me of a time when my then husband and I flew off to Minnesota to look for housing leaving our 17-year-old daughter, Holly, in charge of two younger children and our Kansas City home in the middle of winter. Holly was a real trooper.

While we were gone, the power went out for several days. She and the children moved into the family room where a fireplace roared and slept in their sleeping bags. Because of our camping experiences, she was able to help the kids fend for themselves. They ate cold foods and used a manual can opener. She didn’t tell us what was going on because she didn’t want to worry us. Some of our neighbors also pitched in to make sure the children were all right. You know who your friends are in times like those.

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“Robin Hood” 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

Knowing how to be prepared and what to do is important. During “Cyber Storm” the characters worked with their neighbors to survive. Chuck the highly anxiety driven neighbor is the only one who is prepared. He tells the people in their New York City warehouse: “In survival situations, the order of importance is:

  1. Warmth/protection
  2. Water
  3. Food

“You can survive weeks or months without food, but only two days without water, and you’ll freeze to death in just a few hours. We need to stay warm and find a gallon of water per day per person.”

During hurricane season in Florida, our goal is to stay cool. If the power goes out, staying cool and hydrated is critical. People can suffer from heat stroke or dehydration in a short period of time.

I was amazed at how quickly the grocery stores empty out when a hurricane alert is given. Water goes first, then canned meats. If you haven’t prepared somewhat beforehand, you can be SOL. Sometimes you only need to prepare for a short period of time. If you’re smart, you’ll always have at least two weeks of extra food and water in your pantry. Even an illness can make it almost impossible to get to a store.

During the summer, many of our neighbors leave for northern climes. Our neighborhood becomes almost like a ghost town. Knowing I have a few extra cans of food on hand and a case of water gives me comfort.

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“Egrets and Mangroves” 14 x 18 acrylic on canvas

Blending Two Separate Families – there’s an App for That!

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There's no Business like Show Business

Wedding rehearsal begins with “There’s no Business like Show Business” my kid’s favorite song from childhood.

Just kidding! There isn’t an app.; but my son, a science teacher, used a chemical experiment to show the children that it is possible.

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Blending Family “practice run”

Chris was lucky enough to have his older sister Pam, a “Celebrant” officiate at his wedding. The input from the couple and the expertise of Pam made for a lovely ceremony. I have photos of the rehearsal on Friday, and the official wedding on Saturday, June 25.

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Pam Torres Officiater

The weather cooperated and we had clear skies both days. The backyard was in full bloom and the sunshine bathed us in glorious light. After the rehearsal, we binged on ham, macaroni and cheese, bread and green beans. Later we had croissant sandwiches and yummy desserts.

To avoid the heat, the wedding took place at 10 a.m. the next morning. Attendees each took a rose and placed it in a circle around the couple, symbolizing the love of family that surrounded them. Music was also performed by the groom’s younger sister, Holly; a duet with her daughter Amelia. Holly’s husband Mark played the trumpet after the couple were pronounced man and wife.

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Encircled in love and roses.

Friends and relatives congratulated the two families and then went inside for coffee, wedding cake, and conversation. Funny stories and experiences were shared and remembered. The photos speak for themselves.

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Holly & Amelia sing duet; Griffin wearing hat, and Pam on the right.

Hope and faith made the experience joyful. The future is unknown to all of us. We usually walk confidently into our lives knowing that much of what happens is in the hands of fate. For believers, trusting in God to walk with us gives us an additional edge over those who are skeptics.

Below, Tamara’s mom discovers she has cake on her shoe from cutting the wedding cake.

I hope time and shared experience will blossom in the lives of my son and his new family.

I now pronounce you man & wife

I now pronounce you man & wife