Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Short and Sweet

Dallas Cowboy  Guarding the Nandina
Forest. Nandinas not visible.
As Sept. 12 approaches, we are near to point of packing up our electronic toys; the suitcases are airing out, ready to be packed. Since we are going to a different clime, we are unsure what clothing is needed, as well as outerwear. Choices! Choices!
Old Hickory Nut Tree
%$$##@  Squirrels Are Have
24-hour Burial Parties in Our New Mulch

I am packing underwear, socks, and gowns in WalMart bags; that's a new recycling idea. They don't have to be wrinkle-proof and are easily available. Hmm...maybe I don't need a  suitcase. I also have a rollator (kinda like a walker) which takes up space in SUV. It will aid me in walking; I can store camera, purse, portable oxygen (if needed) in a seat where I can also sit if I become winded.
Scattered Garbage Cans #1
SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera)
Note: New Black Garbage Can Glare 
As we are taking some of what remains as memories of our 2.5 years in Morocco, we have to have room for them too.

Today I am posting a subtle use of a polarizer. I was sitting on front covered deck with my camera, hoping some birds would perch in a row on our incoming TV  and phone lines. There were plenty of birds, but the choir was not in session, I guess.
Scatttered Garbage Cans #2
Slight Polarization- a Tad More But NOT total as in #3
Would Make It My Choice. The Can Is New Black
 Highly Polished Plastic
It was also garbage collection day; I noticed the laborers who empty our cans don't care what we paid for them, the way they toss them on the ground. A car or truck could demolish them on my street, as it is barely a two lane street (with no lane or edge markings).

I have mentioned before my use of a polarizer to darken blue sky, but it also has other uses, such as reflected light. I am posting three pictures, one where the polarizer was not used (even though on the lens-#1), one with partial polarization (#2) and one where the light reflection was fully polarized (3). I happen to like (2) because the black garbage can is mine; it is highly polished hard plastic as it is new. Later it will look more like #3.
Scattered Garbage Cans #3
Maximum Polarization of Reflection On Black Can
On Black Can Note: in each photo the polarization
 also slightly changes other colors in each photo
A linear or circular polarizer is a special filter comprised of two layers of glass which bend light, depending on the light and light angle. It can be overdone for very dramatic effects, or it can make an otherwise 'blah" sky interesting to astoundingly nearly night. But it can be used to improve items that the camera lens cannot do without help. The sky/water effects which I usually exaggerate are my favorite use.

I have also scattered some photos throughout this post that are in the category of "this and that."

Faucet Is NOT leaking!
First of Several Minor Rain
Shower Drops After the
Long Hot DRY Summer
See you on the road sometime after the 12th. Gotta get packing, planning routes, preparing meds, and plan "escape issues" in case we have some medical or other emergencies.

Our Route to and from Rapid City SD includes parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas ........ we think.

The Reunion time is comprised of four days of touring all day, with a banquet at the end of the fourth day.

We are allowing 3 days before the Reunion starts for me to adjust to the altitude. Heart, COPD and asthma patients have to take precautions but can still enjoy this beautiful country with a little prudence and preparation.

I'm sure blogland will still be here when I get back and will try to check in from time to time to comment, if not add a photo.
More Raindrops On Garden Hose

Monday, August 22, 2011


Very Old House On AR 126 We Pass on Way to Church.
 It Is Typical AR Pioneer Home. AR Is Known For Lots
of Rocks. It Does Not Have Historic Designation. It
 It Appears Exterior May Have been Altered Which Is
Not Permitted in Historic Registries. If You Look
 Closely There Is Reflection of MY Car and Front
Fence In Window.
Persons engaged in visual arts whether for vocation or avocation, often refer to themselves or those they admire as having an "eye" for the subject/object of their vision at any given time; those engaged in the art of writing to create a visual image--much more difficult in my opinion--often refer to the Muses, who may abandon their creativity, more commonly called mental block.

The words sent me to Wikipedia for definition of The Muses. I think I read a book before I finished all the definitions of the Muses in the ancient world. Actually, by the definitions I read, persons in the visual arts may have influence of the Muses, too.

However, the "photographer's eye" is a bit more clouded. Some believe it is an intuitive, innate ability; others believe it is, or can be, learned. I found this definition at this site: "The photographic eye is simple. It is recognizing situations where the elements of art come together in a frame. It is opening your eyes a little wider and really paying attention to the details of the world around you."-Stacy Christian 

Front Door & Screen. There Are Many
Old Homes, Structures, Barns and
Scenes Everywhere, But Parking On
Narrow Easements Is a Hazard. I
Am Not Craving to Be Road Kill for
a Great Photo.
If you have time read the paragraphs containing the quote and following. One idea that struck me was many who come to photography may have had interest in, or studied other subject matter that contributes to a seemingly natural ability to see esthetically pleasing subject(s) within the confines of a viewfinder, usually square, portrait or landscape shaped.

A trick I once used, as I rambled around was to form a rectangle with my thumbs and index (fore) fingers, to imagine or frame a scene or composition. Usually, I was just training my "eye" without a camera viewfinder. The large LCD viewfinders I find annoying and still will not buy a camera without a tiny viewfinder. I know---I am crazy.

Most blogs contain acceptable photography; some are only photography, all visually pleasing even if the WOW factor is not there. The thing that got me to thinking about "other interests" is the blog on my bloglist by an artist who is equally talented in several painting media and photography, so if you have time visit mysteries. At any given time she may have photos from which she derives her inspiration for painting. Her photography is also very good.

napples notes, who is a poet, occasionally has done some amazing vignettes using Microsoft's Paint program with which I have never experimented. I have used it for some simple transfers.

Cotter Railroad Trestle Still in Use (I think) This Is What I Call
a Record Shot. It would have been SOOC (Straight Out of the
Camera) except My Haze Filter Did Not  Overcome the Haze. I
Have a New Set But Taken Before I Received It.
There are two bloggers, one of which is Abe Lincoln, who has been a journalist, writer, teacher, photographer, and a number of other talents with many accolades. The other blogger was an English teacher, artist in several media, photographer and writer who had to completely withdraw from blogging and FaceBook because of harassment, subterfuge and possible plagiarism. sad, Sad, SAD to quench the joy of sharing.

All of us write because we love to tell a story. Some of us are humorous. Some of us impart knowledge. I consider all of you far more talented authors than I. Some of us share our lives. I do a little bit of everything.  Thanks for putting up with me.
This Is Another Record Shot of the Cotter Bridge Which Has A Historic
Designation. In a Good year in October I can Imagine the Hills in the
Background Ablaze With Orange,Yellow and Red.
Probably NOT This Year!
 All of you are remarkable wordsmiths and in that respect I learn from you. Even though I considered majoring in English, I figured I would never make much of a living there. I piddled in art, music, snapshots, and many hobbies before I settled on counting pills for a vocation and photography for an avocation. Oh yeah! and marriage for a life-time, I hope.

Rear of Neighbor's SUV Across the Steet
Here are two shots of the same subject: rear end of a car with cloud reflections on the rear window. I am nuts about reflections and bananas when I miss one. I had been watching for some huge cumulus clouds which I had seen earlier.

But I captured this one for now. Do you like the one to the left which is cropped very slightly, or the closely cropped back window below right?

These decisions are where I waffle a lot. Altough the same picture, the cropped clouds are not as distinct, or so it appears. However, cropping and then enlarging, reduce the resolution of any given digital photo. We generally all take in *.jpg because of portability. There is a a file extension call RAW, Nikon calls it NEF but same thing. A good editing program can convert a Raw Photo to JPG after editing. I save my originals on a separate disk and copy to hard drive. IF and when I get the new camera am going to start using RAW so as not to lose data. I may decide it is not worth it.
Close-up (Cropped) Rear of Neighbor's SUV Across the Straight
And my very most favorite
sport season has finally started so I have football almost every night at some level: high school, college/university and my preference if a choice: NFL!

I watch 'em all, and have several favorite teams but as everyone knows, I am a Texan originally. I remember  the Dallas franchise announcement and the first team with Tom Landry and Roger Staubach who went 1-15 their first year. Coach Landry still remains in my mind as their classiest coach. I respected Roger Staubach who fulfilled his military commitment to the Navy before he ever hit the football field. The Dallas Cowboys saved a slot for him.
Dog Football Concrete Yard Monument
I modified with help of husband
who found the helmet.
It and many other franchises lost respect over the years, but the game keeps us watching. In high school I was in a marching band. We made every game, in and out of town. I learned the game, because we sat and watched, until it was our turn to perform. However, I did not fall in love with the quarterback, or the uniform--I was wearing one myself. It was the game.
Dog Football Concrete Yard Monument
I modified with help of husband
who found the helmet.
Dallas won their first game this year; their 3rd string quarterback looks like a winner, eventually. He might even move up to 2nd string if he continues to play as he did the last game.

Tonight (Thurs)I am watching Dallas rival, Philadephia and Pittsburgh Steelers. I can't believe how out of synch Philly looks. Bet they are in shape when they met Dallas! I think there are games Fri., Sat. and Sun. too.

A Decorative License Plate Posted at the Platform Landing of Our Handicap Ramp

Those Naughty Naked Ladies Which Mark One Side Lot Line
[Note mid-line focus- another trick that somewhat failed here.]

For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He'll make it right.
And the God of the good times
is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.

"God On The Mountain" words and music by Tracy G. Dartt

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Toadstools SOOC- 2011 (Straight Out of Camera)
In my late 40s I attended several photography workshops in New England and won a work scholarship to a multiple craft workshop in the Blue Ridge Mountains for which I received college credit. I completed two home studies in my 20s and 30s for which I have certificates. None of these accolades make you an artist; photography, in my opinion, is an art form where technology continues to implement improvements in  the "tools" of the artist, like cameras, lens, etc. 
Today the digital camera gives us options and editing programs which often save an otherwise disposable shot for snapshooters. But do not be deceived-- professionals use ADOBE PHOTOSHOP or similar programs, too, often to create special effects, but occasionally to salvage a photo.

Two Toadstools 2011 (not quite sharp focus)
However, it still takes an "eye" for the great shot, not just a technically good shot. Every workshop photographer/instructor emphasized they expected to keep only 1-2 shots from a shooting of several rolls of film.

Today we hit "delete' or "wastebasket'" instead of discarding "shots." And that is what today's post is about, as you will see as I continue this dialogue.

Most of you have been subjected to my maladies, particularly a soon-to-be 75 yr. body that resists bending and kneeling, twisting and turning as in my youth, even my 40s. Heart patients are supposedly not to bend down so that their heart is below their waist. I am only 4'10". If I bend down at all, my heart is below my waist. Some of this stuff I think is 'old wives' tales.

Two Toadstools 2011 (top view)
In my 40's I laid on my stomach to take ground level macros of flowers, mushrooms, bugs, kids, etc.

Blogger Abraham Lincoln, some generations removed, yet kin to Pres. Lincoln, is an award winning journalist and photographer. His knowledge of his varied subjects, too, is very impressive.

He often gives  photo tips, and is kind enough to endure this old lady's questions. He and I have lovely spouses who endure our propensities to photography and writing. Unfortunately, he and I share the maladies of COPD.

Sometime ago he wrote a post about putting your camera between your feet and taking ground level photos if you could reach your shutter button.
4 Toadstools 2011
almost SOOC
The toadstool photos in this post have used a modification of this technique, and hence I deleted a GREAT number of shots. I placed my brand new lens ( same as Lincoln recently purchased with a new camera) on  brown mulch mounds and aimed it at the toadstools. I deleted so many shots I lost count. Some of these are not up to my best criteria, but with persistence, I garnered several I have scattered throughout the post.

4 Toadstools 2011
Toadstools and mushrooms are used interchangeably. I always called this particular variety toadstools. I refuse to get in the debate of which are edible, etc. as I have develop allergies to the most common ones in cans or fresh.

The shots of 3 or 4 toadstools  are the same toadstools. The shots of two toadstools are the same, also. I found no toads, frogs, gnomes. fairies or other netherworld characters living in or near them.
Naked Ladies 2011
But in another part of the yard, those naughty, brazen darlings of bawdy vaudeville have finally made their late summer appearance parading in their nudity up and down my side lot line.

I have a monopod and know there are some right angle viewfinders, too. I also have a remote control for my shutter, so with practice I think I can improve on this ground level technique. The lower back and leg muscles are aching from my bending in this experiment.

Naked Lady Buds
[kind of remind me of
the Girl Scout Salute]
Another technique I am practicing is called zooming with long exposure. It is pretty neat, but can be overdone. When I have something respectable, I'll post.

Around Christmas I hope to buy a new camera body that makes movies. and has some other neat features. My husband approved my buying  one on Internet at unbelievable price--so was the dealer, so I passed. Always read the bad reviews; they really tell the true tale.

Now that weather has dipped below 100 deg. here I hope some or all of you can get outside, at least early a.m. and late p.m. I have seen a couple of photo reflections when the sun and clouds come together at just the right time....I am waiting patiently.......

4 Toadstools
God on the mountain is still God in the valley"

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Pink & White Crepe Myrtle?
As many of you know I have a penchant for Lewis Carroll, so I often quote partially or wholly from his works-therefore my post today borrows half a line from The Walrus and the Carpenter, which I think is a part of Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.

We have been busy organizing for our anticipated trip to South Dakota in September for a Moroccan Reunion Association gathering. The link provided is essentially under construction but several menu items are active. Highlights, to me, will be 4 days of touring, including Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, Custer Park and the Badlands, plus several other sites.

Buses are provided; walking is kept to a minimum. I bought a walker called a rollator where I can sit down, if needed. I become breathless easily, walking; my gait is less reliable, since onset of heart problems. With artificial knees I am supposed to use a cane in unfamiliar terrain, according to my orthopedic surgeon. I ignored this, but it is more apparent I should heed this suggestion.
Pink & White Crepe Myrtle?

Today I have an assortment of photos. I accompanied my husband to a physician appointment. This Crepe Myrtle, if, indeed, that is what it is, was by our parking space. It looked to be a Crepe Myrtle; I know there are several kinds and colors, but I had never seen a bi-color or tri-color one. The flower heads on this bush had vivid pink and white petals with a tad of yellow mixed in which was probably the equivalent of most flower centers.

Lilac Crepe Myrtle -
Our Back Lot Line
The light pinkish lilac photos is one of  the mostly neglected Crepe Myrtle trio we planted at the back of our property near a ugly backyard and fence. One bush died.

Lilac Crepe Myrtle -
Our Back Lot Line
Sadly a manufactured home that existed before our moving here has been condemned. It was owned by  several reputable persons, and often remodeled. Its last owners inherited it, and used their savings to open a restaurant which was moderately successful. However, the wife developed breast cancer (as had her mother-previous occupant of the home); she had no insurance. Before she found assistance, the cancer metastasized; and in a short time she died. 

Her husband did not stay long. The restaurant failed. He left almost in the dark of night and only returned, in a similar fashion, to retrieve a few items. The house set for several years, slowly deteriorating. The 1000 year ice storm did it in, as a tree punctured the roof. Since then the demise has escalated until neighbors requested condemnation. Inspections found black mold, dead animals and evidence of illegal occupants, foul-smelling food left in the kitchen sink and refrigerator.

Old Manufactured Home Across Street
Condition Is So Severe It Will Require
HAZMAT Specialists to Remove the
Home and Salvage and Varmints,
Feral Cats, Groundhog, Armadillos,
Including a Dead Armadillo

The City Council voted for condemnation, but title research shows federal and a state liens against it, so we still may see no relief for quite awhile. It is being handled by the city's attorney.

It is a sad story. I know there was a lovely piano or organ still there which will never play a note again because of water damage. The couple had met as roller skaters. The husband was always a great cook and dreamed of a restaurant. Just as it seemed his dreams were being realized, the worst possible happened. Silence is all that remains.

Porta-Pot At Police Auxiliary
BBQ Pork Butt Fund Raiser
Photographers, be they amateur or professional, often have peculiar interests, maybe fetishes--one of mine is Porta-Pots. Since I clearly remember outhouses as a child, and there are still outhouses in remote areas of Arkansas, I am sure my curious mind find this somehow perversely amusing. There are Outhouse Races in connection with a Bean Festival in Mountain View, AR. I guess it garners the gaseous fumes of eating all those beans.

In my area there are two providers of Porta-Pots. Both seem to have adopted brighter paints than the older traditional, mundane, muted colors.

Bull Shoals Dam Blue Porta-Pot
One Way Lane and Traffic Light
(at far end) With Machinery
This year Bull Shoals Dam has undergone resurfacing  AR Highway 178 which crosses it, and required cleaning, replacing and renovation of various machinery, generators, lights, catwalks and other maintenance of a dam which generates electricity for three states.

This was one of the inspired(?) TARP projects, which generated few if any jobs in Arkansas as the Dam operation is by the Army Corp of Engineers, the contract of which went to firms outside Arkansas. I guess the Porta-Pot owners and employees were the only known local or state businesses garnering any TARP revenues for this particular project  which was already on the drawing board ["shovel ready"] before TARP had a name.

Yellow Porta-Pot at Bull Shoals Dam -
Still in Place - Paving Overlay
Not Yet Completed
Besides one way traffic maintained by solar generated traffic lights, a Porta-Port was placed in a convenient area on the Dam for workers. First it was Bright Blue and then it changed to Bright Yellow. I guess  different colors is the spice, Ur .. smell of life.

Then there were the Porta-Pots at a Civil War Enactment at a State Park near me.

I took the photo after the event was completed as I had a hilarious but somewhat Exhilarating experience at a similar enactment years ago.

My best friend and I created crafts for awhile for a little extra pin money. We had a booth at an event which included a Civil War enactment, mainly a big cannon.
Triplets at a Civil War Enactment
It was hot afternoon and we sipped on beverages to keep cool. At some point I headed to the Porta-Pot row for relief. Porta Pots remind me of a casket standing on end. There is little room inside to maneuver between the so-called seat and a very small lavatory. I was well seated when apparently it was time to fire the cannon. That Porta-Pot felt like it lifted off the ground, vibrating top, bottom and 4 sides. I thought for a moment I was being launched like a rocket into space. I staggered outside to our table and told my best friend that was a new experience, to say the least.
Dam Site Park Ramp Prota-Pot - Still There
Although Water Has Significantly Subsided;
Different Provider Than Others in This Post.
Then when the area Lakes were at flood level, and campgrounds around the lakes were flooded, the Corp apparently placed Porta-Ports at the more popular boat launch ramps. This one was at the Dam Site Park boat ramp in Bull Shoals.
Dan Site Park Porta-Pot

Finally, I leave with the slogan on all of the Smitty's Porta-Pots.
[All photos taken by Nitwit1]

Friday, August 05, 2011


Today,  Aug.2, my yard usually would be filled with brazen naked ladies who parade about my yard, front and back with only a eye-catching trumpet flowered covered bonnet on their slender body of a single stem. [Picture from previous year.]
Naked Ladies in Our
Formerly Benign Neglected
Front Yard
Nor have I seen any Naked Ladies in my area to date. There is still time, but peak weeks in my area have always been last 2 weeks in July and first 2 weeks in August.

In a previous post I mentioned unusual turning of leaves of a ditch weed known a sumac (not poisonous variety), a common colorful bush-like weed that exists in a number of varieties throughout U.S. It usually turns yellow to orange to red with a rather large seed head in mid-to late September in my area. 
Sumac, 2009- -Notice varying 
shades of yellow, orange, red
and no seed head yet in sight.
Sumac is turning color now. I further checked several areas near me to see if there was some reason other than heat. In some areas it appears the Arkansas highway mowers may be spray killing some where the mowers cannot clear right-of-ways and intersections. However, I have seen sumac which appeared to be on private properties as well as some green sumac with fully formed seed heads.
Sadly, I am seeing many native trees dying or already dead.

It seems paradoxical to have had flood levels of rains two consecutive years, and at least this year, followed by severe heat and drought.

Meteorologists and other specialties that study atmosphere of the earth and nature's response to various conditions claim changes in temperatures of the oceans directly affect the conditions such as the U.S. Specifically, the warming or cooling of the southern Pacific Ocean near the equator cause conditions named La Nina or Lo Nino and determine more severe summers or severe winters. at higher or lower latitudes.

The same specialists along with geologists and archaeologists also bring into account global warming. In September we will be touring a couple of archeology sites where effects of climate show a different life form once in existence.

I remember a similar Arkansas summer when we moved to here in May 1980 from Texas. It was transitory moved in that at times we were in a Texas apartment and other times, in Arkansas, setting up our manufactured home, or in a local motel.
Snoopy (spayed female), our first German
Shepherd bought in Morocco.
I am not sure who took this photo nor
exactly where we were living, except
except it was NOT in Baltimore.
We had our first dog, an aging German Shepherd female, named Snoopy. Once, while we all were in the Texas small apartment, the temperature was 110 deg.--no idea what heat index was.

The entire complex's air conditioning system failed--not for a few hours--for a couple of days, All three of us, yes, dog included, laid on the floor with oscillating fans moving air across our bodies wrapped in wet towels, Needless to say we were scantily clad.

My husband was finishing his job as a mechanic at a marine business which was closing due to a divorce settlement, if I remember correctly.

I am no expert, only an observer for my tiny part of the world. However, I know all nature is cyclic. Even this concept is Biblical, such as the oft quoted Ecclesiastes 3 with which I now sign off:
A Time for Everything
Naked Lady bud before opening -2009
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

and further in the same chapter:
14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. 15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.

I interpret "fear" to mean respect. Verse 15 to be the Biblical equivalent of "history repeats itself." Hence, 1980 and 2011 are easily included in this cyclic nature.

[Photos, except as noted, and opinions are mine, and only that, opinion.]

Monday, August 01, 2011


My husband's water troughs and very large plant pots garden are producing tomatoes and green peppers as our water meter spins and spins. He uses very little critter killer powders or sprays so I have to do some carving on the tomatoes, but the green peppers are perfect if sometimes ill-shaped. But the crop is nearing its end,  as these varieties seem to mature by the end of July and taper off production. This year seems a tad early. There are still some cherry hot peppers to be harvested.
Sweet Green Peppers-2011
I carefully wash and dry them, using an easy touch of a soft towel, so as not to bruise them. We have shared with several people.

This week I made a call to the local food pantry to see if they accepted home grown garden produce, which is ungraded. Food pantries usually belong to a food bank which has its own set of regulations. However, I was delighted to find our local pantry does accept surplus home-grown garden produce.

In fact a local retiree is growing a good sized garden, all of which is being given to the local food pantry. He has asked for help with his water bill from local citizens. Due to the heat wave and drought in Arkansas [not nearly as severe as Texas] water bills for lawns and gardens are high and recent city needs, are going to make the bill still higher.

Should you have excess vegetables and fruits from your garden, check the food pantries, be they church or some other organizational structure. If the demand on these charities of basic necessity is anything like ours, the shelves are emptied every day. Ours is open only 3 hours per week, and is bare at the end of the day. It does not have to be bushels--even a small bag may be a meal for someone else. Or consider a monetary donation.
Earlier Tomato -Already Ripened and Eaten
But the title of my blog, EASY TOUCH, reminds me of a certain gullibility that sometimes is the side effect of those who have a propensity to help others.

When I was much younger, working as a pharmacist, I became calloused to not believing just about any story a customer espoused. This attitude developed long before I married. I also did not loan money as most personal friends never kept their commitment to return payment.

I soon learned to recognize forged prescriptions, There were customers who marched from physician to physician and pharmacy to pharmacy to gain the medication, usually narcotics, sedatives and certain other mind altering drugs. Then there were the persons who purchased certain legal drugs and ingredients to make illegal drugs; hence today, you probably cannot buy Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) or ephedrine anywhere, or with restrictions. Recently, I saw a sign in WalMart where  pseudoephedrine sales are suspended for the year. It was a very good decongestant. A legitimate need for this drug is denied by abusers.
Small Tomatoes
(example of  Macro where center
of focus should have been the
red tomato, but I missed a
smidge and it wasthe leaf in
front of the tomato! Macro
focusing is difficult because
of very narrow focus length.)
After I retired, these memories slowly faded; I had made several changes in my life and our overall financial condition was considerably improved. We were actively participating in church and charitable causes; the joy of helping others returned. We had loaned substantial funds to others and been repaid. We never signed papers and often exchanged services instead. My husband often initiated these efforts and led the way, as he knew what it was to be the recipient of others' kindness as a youth.

But there is always someone who perceives kindness and charity as opportunity for ill-gained advantage or profit with convincing pleas for some believable purpose. I call it "conning." The "conned" person is often described by the perpetrator as an "easy touch."

I've filled prescriptions later proved forged. I recently loaned money for a late electric bill which was misappropriated for illegal purchase of a prescription drug. My husband has loaned small amounts to persons who paid him back regularly, but at one point did not. It did not help to find out said person, too, was involved in illegal drug trafficking.

While on council I helped persons jump through hoops for building or other permits to find out they violated other regulations, by side-stepping procedural loopholes which are now being closed.

It only takes one such misappropriation to sour an attitude. I know it will not last long but I must remember to handle my judgement of merit decisions with more prudence. Being charitable is not being a fool.

Since we changed our personal idea of commercialized Christmas giving and other holiday and birthday excesses, we have tried to channel what we spent in these activities into giving to others, both formally and in other ways. It is a joy and lifted what over the years had become a burden. We had no children, so we had no prospects of grandchildren, etc.

Yet the true meaning of each holiday, has not changed, but I speak for myself. I have a few table decorations I put out a Christmas. The other holidays I simply observe quietly.
White Snail, or Is It a Snail?
Now for the hors d'oeuvres of a photo today. It is a sad one. This small little snail appeared in an area of my newly renovated front yard near the entry steps two days ago. The white pearlized snail lay atop the moist mulch near a small hedge bush; it never moved so it must be dead.

Where did it come from? Probably from nearby Bull Shoals Lake. IS a terrestial snail? Why did it choose to move here? The moist mulch upon which it apparently died contained chemicals to deter grass and weed growth which may have been toxic. Snails make errors in judgement, too.

It may not be a snail at all. I did not touch it. Nor have I ever seen snails on the property, but then they are some what shy creatures. I have seen slugs, one very old looking toad, small frogs, lizards and snakes.

The "green" fanatics will call me a murderer, I guess. Stay tuned for the trial.....