Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Perry Como's  golden hit, CATCH A FALLING STAR,  came to mind Monday in an unfortunate event, especially this verse.

For when your troubles start multiplyin'
An', they just might
It's easy to forget them without tryin'
With just a pocketful of starlight.

I needed "the pocket full of starlight."

After the Saga of the Solar Shades, we were in charge of re-installation of the vertical blinds. In earlier decades of our lives we tackled just about anything, but in our golden years some tasks simply become hard labor. Some involve perilous activities for an elderly person, like using stools and ladders.

A completed window with solar shades
plus verticals installed. It should be
clickable to enlarge further for details.
My husband usually leads the way and I assist, and sometimes hinder progress. My main job was removing the vertical vanes from older head rails for installation on custom cut new ones.
This task I can do easily.

Then I decided to facilitate the installation by inserting the vanes in their hangers on the new head rails. I had some spare time before I bailed Luckie out of her beauty shop appointment for the works: shampoo bath, nail trim, ear clean, considerable shedding hair removal, etc.

I used a very stable 3 step ladder for this task. It has very wide steps--so wide and stable that I can turn around on the top one. It has been in use in our household since my knee surgeries, so I am very familiar with its features.

However, no matter how safe a ladder or stool may be, it cannot compensate for a user who ignores even the most basic rules.

At some point I tired of the up-and-down the ladder, move it a foot, and up-and -down again. I had to move just one vane a little to my left, a little out of reach, without leaning. SO I violated one cardinal rule of working on a ladder: do not outreach you area of work.

Which I did... and now regret. With my weight all on my left leg, I lost my balance and fell, most ungracefully, my back hitting the very sharp corner of my husband's printer table, sending two printers flying across the room like falling stars.  I was falling star #3 sprawled across an conglomerate of printer pages, window rods and vertical vanes, and heaven only knows what else.

I lay on the floor, somewhat stunned but conscious, a few minutes to determine if anything was broken. My husband' who was eating lunch, in a nearby room came in.

He knows I have to get myself up. Prosthetic knees have some drawbacks. All he can do is hold a chair or similar item firmly as I pull myself up. After determining my bones were intact, I managed to regain a vertical position once more.

Then I began to examine the damage. I had a huge hematoma, (something more than a bruise) forming on my back side under the rib area, and another on the hip. Of course I was aching, but pain was not of broken bones.

After an exam by the nurse practitioner in our clinic, I was scheduled for a CT scan, which I 've completed, but do not yet know results.

I am under doctor's orders to take it easy until I hear from the nurse practitioner. Hope I hear something Thursday.

Mainly I am very sore., but otherwise intact... now I've got to find the pocketful of starlight. If I had any, I used it all, and have an empty pocket!!!

Here is a YOU TUBE link, to CATCH A FALLING STAR. These are children singing it for Mother's Day. Cute!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Saga of the Solar Shades

This week and several weeks to come we are engaged in home improvements, which may reduce energy use for heating/cooling, or possibly improve property value.

The past week was the installation of solar shades.

Since the 1000 Year Great Ice Storm of 2009 when we lost all the significant shade trees on our property, our home and occupants have broiled in the summer as the air conditioner struggled to keep up with the relentless heat invasion through our eight--make that 12--windows. We had 4 sets of two windows side and side.

 Plus one inhabitant in this household insists the front door be open most of the day, and at least one vertical shade open all day. Both preferences allow the sun's energy to permeate our living space with record speed.

The heat also comes down the through-two-roofs vent pipe for our range (ceramic stove) hood. I found putting the range hood on the very lowest speed during the hottest late afternoon hours curtails the heat transfer.

In the past we replaced the house's original windows with double paned windows, which helped somewhat. We installed vertical blinds which blocked some energy transfer, when closed.

The HVAC unit runs constantly in the late afternoon from about 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. It cannot keep up with the infiltration; the thermostat reads 3 degrees above the 77 degree setting.

Master Bathroom
Solar Shade
So we opted for solar shades. These roll-up shades remind me of my parents' and grand-parents' window treatments before Venetian blinds became the trend in the '40s at my house.

Remember the Venetian wood slats? Guess what! I was assigned the chore of dusting them. At my home windows were exceedingly tall as we had 10' ceilings, maybe higher as I remember. Short-legged and short armed moi had to climb on chairs and stand on tip-toes to reach the highest slat to dust. I dusted every slat, all three sections, the valence and cords, etc.--no wonder I am allergic to dust.

This rose/vase sits in the win-
dow window box. Photo is made
through the solar shade inside
the house giving it an ethereal
feeling, similar to using filters
with camera lens.
A year ago I ordered a solar shade for a window box in front of the Kitchen sink. I was impressed with its characteristics including how much solar energy blocked. Once a thriving group of succulent plants, the window box plants wilted and died under the unrelenting summer sun, which had been shielded by a beautiful 100 year old red oak tree.

I order solar shades from Lowe's June 11 the order arrived at my front door June 18 and installers were here June 23rd in the afternoon. After two hours m/l they were gone. If we had tried to install ourselves, I would not be writing this article. We'd still be installing.

Master Bedroom Windows
Outside - Daytime
There are several options in solar materials. We chose a bronze/silver material with characteristics of 91% glare reduction, 85% solar energy reduction, 99 % UV rejection.

One feature peculiar to this material is during DAYLIGHT hours nobody can see through the windows from OUTSIDE, although we can see outside. The silver side faces outside and reflects/blocks light. (I've made pictures through this material, which look a bit dreamy.) 

Master Bedroom Solar Shades + Vertical Blinds
(inside).Temps in this room is now 3-5 deg. less.
At night, if lights are on inside the house, one can see in the windows, although not very detailed. But we are adding verticals, too, so we won't be seen running around the house in our bunny suits. HA! HA!

Now we are remounting the verticals which will further block the sun's energy, etc. We are also hoping this window treatment will retain heat more efficiently in the winter.

Homeowner installers  leaves messes;
There is always tomorrow for cleanup!
Remounting vertical blinds is not progressing speedily or efficiently as the installers, so we have cayuse around the house! I dread my housekeeper's remarks this Friday. She is not fond of working around messes.

This traumatized Luckie as she had to isolated in a room as the installers did not need her underfoot. She sulked the rest of Wednesday afternoon after the installers left. Spoiled rotten dog!

During this past week I had two exercise classes, Police Auxiliary meeting, City Council and Friday shopping for custom sized vertical blind rails, and groceries. WHEW! too much for an old lady.

But I found time to eat a banana! HA! HA! Just wanted you to know I have my priorities straight...FOOD rules.
How about that ambient backlight
nearly matching the banana skins!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bees, Butterflies and Flowers

Purple Coneflower/Bee
Find the Bees and Butterflies: my lense does not allow me a closer position which would scare the flitting, skittish creatures away. I need a 2 or 3x converter or a true MACRO .... dream on. 

Purple Coneflower/Bee
  I followed the same bee around the Coneflower patch???

Three Coneflowers, Two Butterflies

Two Coneflowers, One Butterfly
Purple Coneflower
SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Small town living sometimes is more rural as are the amenities offered by the small government. The basic amenities a city or town offers its citizens is fire and police protection which may be shared with other nearby rural communities.
Each living unit may have its own well for water and septic system. As for storm water is called a drainage ditch.

Queen Ann's Lace
In my small Arkansas city, Police and fire protection are city units of the city government and have mutual aid agreements with nearly units. Water from Bull Shoals Lake is treated and delivered by a rural water association; the city operates a waste water (sewer) sytem. Yes, our storm water sewers are open drainage ditches.

Filled with various weeds and debris, many consider the ditches ugly. I prefer to observe that which is beautiful, the native wildflowers which populate the ditch in front of my home.

"I don't know--but cute!"

Today I salute the wildflowers in my ditch, some of which I know names. Other flowers I hope others may identify for me.
Ox-Eyed Daisy
Ox-Eyed Daisy

Ditch Black-Eyed Susan

Friday, June 18, 2010


Summer Sunshine means
Coneflowers, Black-Eyed Susans
Dressed in purple, gold and brown, the splashy color guards stand like a clustered infantry near an old outbuilding, proudly lifting their faces to the sun.

Without ruffles and flourishes, year after year faithfully they appear to resume their assigned June duty.  Without oversight or inspection, they appear fully adorned in their perennial assigned uniforms.
Never faltering in reporting for duty, these sentinels of June are resilient survivalists, who herald the transition from Spring to Summer.
Purple Coneflower, Black Butterfly
This imagery is an exaggeration of my bountiful display of Purple Coneflowers and Black-Eyed Susans. This year I have an overabundance of these beauties, which self-seed and seems to thrive, despite my benign neglect.

So today I salute these beauties. Both have prominent brown spiny central disks which rise about the surrounding petals. The  disks resemble small inverted brown ice cream cones, swaying in the wind.

WOW! More Sunshine!
Asiatic Lilies Found Daylight
Above Black-Eyed Susan brigade!
These flowers were planted several years back and I've lost track of their identification. The purplish flower I think is the genus Echinacea and commonly called Purple Coneflower. The Black-Eyed Susans, a name which seems to apply to several genera, appears to be genus Rudbeckia and is commonly included in the "coneflower"  family. Some of you gardeners and or botanists who pass through my blog may correct me. I did not make an A+ in botany or pharmacognosy (but did pass both subjects required by my degree)!

Purple Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susans
SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera)

P.S. The Black-Eyed Susan is actually a wildflower, widespread in US. I bought these starts from a local nursery. However, I have some natural wild ones in a ditch. The difference, if any, cannot be detected by my untrained eye. I will post them soon.
[Needless to say, I have a plethora of images of these flowers, and, of wildflowers growing in the stormwater drainage ditch in front of my property....stay tuned as I will be adding then as I have time to sort.]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Roma Tomato - I
Tuesday my husband presented me with the first tomato from his container garden. He had been inventorying his prospective produce.

Roma Tomato - II
Not only was it a tomato, it was a ROMA -- my favorite! He counted over 80 more tomatoes on his various plants. Several tiny green peppers are maturing and the green beans are beginning to show tiny green pods.

After hurriedly snapping photos, I ate the whole thing...

Roma Tomato -III
[Blogger is tricking me again. How on earth some pictures offset the frame is not my artistic prowess, it just seems to happen.]

Monday, June 14, 2010


Since our return from NC in mid-April, we have played phone tag in an effort to arrange for carpet/uphostery cleaning and pest control, as well as an expensive re-do of our refinished trestle dining table.

We were beginning to be paranoid, wondering if we had B.O. or leprosy as no one returned calls. In a serious recession where it is purported businesses area on respirators, you'd think the phone would ring off the wall.

For nearly a month I've tried to schedule steam carpet cleaning and pest control. My husband (H) was in  charge of nagging the reluctant refinisher.

The trestle dining table with distressed finish is about 35 years old and showed signs of use and abuse. It is a wonderful table with insert and seats 8. We have 8 matching chairs. Earlier this year we contracted and paid for the table to be refinished. When returned, it looked beautiful.

But very soon it seemed the 7 coats of shellac were flawed. Whenever and wherever chairs incidently touched the table the shellac cracked and left an open white indentation down to the wood. It looked worse than before.

We called the refinisher, telling him we had used the table for a meal one time. Most of the white dings were along edges where the housekeeper moved chairs and vacuumed. I moved one chair myself and dinged a corner leaving a similar gouge. The refinisher inferred we were abusing the surface when he arrived to view our complaint, but agreed to redo the table soon.

H made several trips over 4 month to remind him the table was still waiting. One of the trips my husband made to the shop, the refinisher admitted he had purchased a bad lot of shellac and had to re-do several pieces. He made several promises to pick it up and never showed. 

Finally the refinisher narrowed it down to June 4. H stayed home specifically to see if he kept the date. Early afternoon I gave up and left the house. H stayed. He showed up late that afternoon.

WOW, one job down, two to go!

The first pest control business, whose name I retrieved from City Hall, never returned my call.

In the mail I received an ad from a highly advertised company; however, their (lack of) service nearly leveled a church we once attended, and they bought out a service which had proven undependable and cured me on the popular 3-4 month treatment subscription. That flyer went in file 13.

Finally, one pest control service returned a call only to get my recorder. I tagged back; third time is charm- we connected and have an appointed Monday morning. 

Now for the carpet/uphostery. I called one franchise twice which used an answering service. NO return calls at all.

So I called a service which advertised all kinds of carpet cleaning, especially restoration from fire and water damage. That service no longer did routine cleaning but referred me to three area steam cleaning services. I called one of the three; BINGO! I have them scheduled Monday afternoon.

Going to me a busy MONDAY! I also have council workshop Monday evening.

Luckie complicates matter. It will take one of us all day to contain her away from the pesticides used by the pest control service. I recently sprayed a few areas in house for ants, mostly inside cabinets, behind appliances and around kitchen sink and lavatories. I caught Luckie licking the floor near the dishwasher where I a few drops dried on the floor.

And the rest of the week looks about the same. Two Silver Sneaker sessions....Police Auxiliary Benefit Dinner at VFW (I have to provide a dish, and something for a silent auction).... Housekeeper on Friday....I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

But at least my B.O. or leprosy has left me.... now about that vertigo (BPPY)'s better, but has a way of reminding me it is still around.

It may be "see you in the funny papers" this week, as my parents used to say.

Well, Blogger is full of surprises again. Today there is no easy way to add cutlines to graphics. All graphics are Broderbund CLICKART.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Weird! Ominous! Beautiful!

Weird Frontal Cloud Formation
Monday found us on Bull Shoals Lake fishing--first trip out this year for me. Yes, we caught 4 respectable, but not 'keeper' bass.  But fishing is not the subject of this post.

A weather front was approaching from neighboring Oklahoma. We watched clouds slowly move into our area of Arkansas.  "Watching the weather" is a secondary occupation of fishermen, especially on large reservoirs, like Bull Shoals, which impounds over 45,000 acres and 700 miles of shoreline at power pool to 70,000 acres and 1000 shoreline miles at 690 ft. near top of the flood pool. 

Misjudging an approaching storm can lead to an inconvenient drenching, or more disastrous events.  Lightning strikes is very real danger to vessels on the water. Capsizing when the winds stir the water into white-capped waves is another hazard.

Weird Frontal Cloud Formation
However, this front was a very slow-moving storm. We returned to our boat stall about mid-morning.  As we returned home we noticed the looming cloud formations were unusual, not in the tornadic sense, but, well.....weird!

As we crossed Bull Shoals Dam, the clouds appeared as very neat layers, almost as if an artist had painted them! Come to think of it, a Great Artist did 'paint' them!

Because of construction/repair crews (your TARP dollars at work) and other restrictions on the Dam, I could not jump out of the car to capture the moment. I waited until we arrived home to capture the effect. By then the effect was not as dramatic, as the moment we crossed Bull Shoals Dam.

Local media received phone calls, alerting news reporters of the  unusual cloud pattern, and expressing anxiety of impending danger.  Indeed there was a short term weather alert of sky-to-ground lightning but nothing indicative of tornadic activity.

As the clouds passed over us, we received thunder, some lightning, and rain, generally a mundane weather event, except for the CLOUDS!

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Master's Garden!

Four horse troughs,
three  5-gallon(?) pots
Probably inspired by our neighbor, my husband (H) decided to plant container gardens this spring.

He bought 4 horse watering troughs for containers and 3 huge flower pots. He said they were horse troughs. One looked like a fiberglass bathtub, complete with drain, but I am not into bathing in the back yard. I prefer temperature controlled water and a tad more privacy.

Tiny Sweet Bell
Pepper and Bloom
He planted tomatoes and sweet green peppers, while I largely ignored his endeavors, until I realized he was serious. Then I requested stringless green beans and Roma tomatoes.

We have a difference of opinion on salad tomatoes. I prefer Romas with less juice, and he likes  chopped large juicy tomatoes that can also be sliced, hamburger style.  We will have both as there are green tomatoes of both styles currently growing in the horse troughs.

To date there is one tiny sweet bell pepper. 

Tomatoes and Blooms
And one variety of green bean has blossoms. One variety of green  bean looked puny--some yellowish leaves and chewed off leaves. I suspected several leaf eating species of insects or caterpillars--that is until I paused snapping photos, long enough to glance back at the green beans. The leaf cutter had 4 legs instead of 8 or more. Luckie was happily grazing on the green bean leaves.

Now we must battle leaf chewing insects, caterpillars, and a loopy canine aspiring to be a vegetarian.

We have known druggies on our block. Hope our little array of plants are not mistaken for adding and abetting our neighbors' illicit habits. Smoking tomato leaves or rolling bean leaves doesn't see like a suitable substitute for their particular palates. I suspect they are far more into cooking, dealing and trafficking.

It is interesting to watch traffic on my street. Having been in a profession where I was required to be able to identify legitimate and illegitimate drug user, I have a life-time of observation. Buyers, dealers, and users on my street frequent one house and arrive in an assortment of licensed vehicles. However, a large number are on-foot, riding bicycles, scooters, or smaller motorcycles not requiring licenses. You see, they have already lost their driver's licenses, soon to be second (or more) offenders.

And More Tomatoes
These are not inspiring photos. Summer is less splashy with color. Everything is green, as it should be, of course. I failed to find patterns that I usually see today. I usually delight in monochrome challenges. Not today.

Anyone who is creative has days, even weeks or months, when the Muses  fail to deliver the inspirative germination, leaving us void of creative genius.

Duo Basking in the Sun - I
Today was such a day.

Consider two photos of tomatoes in another setting and time.

Duo Basking in the Sun - II

Friday, June 04, 2010

Yikes! Year of the Yucca!

Four Yucca
'Soldiers'in a Row
In 1980 I had two Yucca plants on our property. In the ensuing years I've moved them, separated them and replanted them. Some replanting seems squirrel oriented as a few plants sprang up in really weird places--not my doing!

In recent years I envisioned lining the driveway with Yucca instead of pines, or other trees.

This year is the Year of the Yucca. For some reason the odd combination of ice storm in 2009, to more-than-normal snow in 2010, and unusually wet Spring both years, our plantings, both old and new have flourished beyond our wildest dreams.

Yucca 'Bells'
on a Stem
The Yucca I transplanted as tiny roots 3 years ago are full fledged plants along one side of the driveway.

Now I have visions of continuing the row across the front of our property on one side.

Yucca bloom and pod
Yucca is an inspiring plant with such a large flower plume. However, I focused on an individual stem of blossoms to see several bell-shaped flowers on a stem like Christmas lights-- Quite beautiful individually and collectively.

When focusing on a single bloom, the single blossom looks very different from the plume effect perched atop a cane-like 6-8 ft stem!

In fact it looks as if the flower belonged to another species entirely.

Another interesting fact is fertilization is accomplished by a yucca moth. Not every flower depends on bees!!!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


The blog of an accomplished photographer [Small City Scenes of Smallwood] has reported the theft of some of her work, used by a site, called PHOTO WORLD NEWS. Apparently this has occurred more than once.

I could not find a link to the site, but decided I really did not want to provide one. There are lots of illegitimate sites purporting to deliver news, stealing others' creativity and practicing outright plagiarism.

No matter what you think of your own creativity, whatever it is, you own it and deserve at least a nod of recognition.

Recently, I purchased an inexpensive collection of nearly 1 million pieces of clip art, photographs, and other graphics. The software collection has specific instructions how it may be used, primarily non-commercial use. Using this software's graphics which are recognizable logos and likely trademarked is prohibited except in very elementary situations like home-made greeting cards. To be responsible, I have adopted the extra precaution of crediting the software, when I use its contents.

Now photography is a 1st love of mine, but I know despite my limited skills I'll never make a living at it. So I have, on more than one occasion asked for attribution if used by others. 

Apparently stealing photos by PHOTO WORLD NEWS is habitually, not an unintentional oversight.

When I started blogging I used the Internet for illustration, too, but I soon realized even web pages are copyrighted.  On occasion in my zeal to have graphics in my blog, I overlooked a copyright mark. Sometimes I discovered it after posting, or much later. I tried to make corrections.

As a substitute for posting possibly copyrighted creativity myself, I have adopted a policy of linking to the site where proper attribution is already given.  My blog may be less attractive in layout, less I unintentionally offend or slight someone's creativity.

There is a fee free (I think) license called Creative Commons some bloggers use. Whether it is a deterrent to unauthorized use of your creativity, I cannot say.

P.S. For those following my current malady, Dizzy as a Dingbat, Drunk as a Skunk, I am improving.

First Rosebud of Spring - 2010
NitWit1 photo