Buddy

Just when we’d given up on pet adoption, this little guy arrived at a local shelter.

Meet Buddy, a 3 year old terrier mix who rescued us back in April.

He is, for sure, a very special new “laptop”.

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Summer Camp ?

For $2300, you can send your kids to a 10 day session designed to improve their social media skills.

Offered in London, Melbourne and here in California, the program includes instruction in lighting and camera work, writing, blogging, self-promotion, marketing, etc.

“Every kid’s dream is to be a Youtube star”, according to Michael Buckley, host of the camp in Claremont, Ca.

There is no doubt that a select few teens have achieved fame and fortune with a highly successful social media account.

Followers in the millions will generate advertising revenue in the area of 6 figures, an income to be taken seriously.

That kind of popularity doesn’t seem to follow a formula, there is no telling what will attract and sustain viewers. It’s a bit of random magic. Or is it ?

I wasn’t surprised to hear of this version of summer camp. Most traditional camps are still designed to allow our youth to unplug for a few weeks.

My family had our own version of affordable summer camp.

Send the kids out in the morning to play in the yards, woods and streams nearby and have them return, unharmed, before the street lamps were lit.

It was a different time, a different kind of adventure, and it seemed to work.

We survived.

And of course, Allan Sherman’s 1963 classic camp refrain.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Books, Education, Entertainment, Family, Humor, Music, News, Sports, Technology | Tagged , , | 62 Comments

Crayola

8 colors

Original package. 1903

We all started out with the basic 8 colors. That’s all we needed.

Introduced by Binney and Smith in 1903, they sold for a nickel, and no doubt had the same fragrance we all remember on opening the box…the smell of wax and joy.

Early on, I obeyed the rules, kept within a neat pattern, never mixing the colors or straying beyond the edges. Those who did not scared me a little.

That all changed.

With time and life experience, the mantra was different. Always color outside the lines. Also known as “think outside the box”, it was a metaphor for creativity, a different approach to life.

Color has always been a reflection of state of mind for me. If you look at photographs, or even into my closet, it is so clear.

There was a lot of black and grey in darker times, beige and brown for when I was trying to disappear. The bold primary colors of yellow, blue and orange were for the happiest times, pastels for the calmest, and red for when I felt powerful and unafraid. White was reserved for summer, giving the illusion of tan on a mostly freckled face. Purple came later, reflecting the royal sentiment of the more mature me.

Working in a professional world dominated by men, I avoided pink at all costs. Then my daughter was born; and I embraced pink for the first time in decades. I hope I have thanked her for that.

A tribute to another kind of color. From the mind of Cyndi Lauper. 1986.

Beautiful, like a rainbow.

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This is a re-post from 2014. It was inspired by a comment about recent wardrobe choices that seem to be mostly black and white. Life has not always been so monochromatic.

Posted in Art, Beauty, Education, Entertainment, Family, Fashion, Inspiration, Music, Technology | Tagged , , , | 58 Comments

Driving Lessons

I wrecked the family car when I was 16 years old, just a few months after getting my first driver’s license.

It was a 1960’s version of the “Woodie”, a beautiful and massive Ford station wagon with wood panel trim, the Country Squire.

It was the car on which I was trained.

My father’s strategy was to navigate the winding, hilly country roads outside of town.

There was no parking lot practice, we went straight to the paved roller-coaster streets of rural Pennsylvania. Road regulations, city traffic, even the dreaded parallel parking presented no issues for me. I was ready.

I proudly passed the first license exam, was quickly entrusted to handle all family driving challenges. My older sister was away at school, my mother never drove, the 4 younger siblings were depending on me.

My dad was able to walk to work, so he left the wagon at home for us.

On a rainy Friday afternoon, I sat in the local police station while my parents were contacted. The brakes had failed, I started a four car chain reaction at a stop light.

I couldn’t have been going more than 20 mph, but the car was totaled.

I remember every detail of that day. I was alone, driving to my weekly piano lesson that was 2 miles from home, not the first time I’d made the trip.

When they collected me from the police station, I was sure I wanted to tear up my driver’s license, never drive again. There was clearly a mechanical failure at fault, but I blamed myself, for a very long time.

My parents understood, and were very supportive. I was told that the younger kids were warned not to tease me, or make me feel bad about the accident.

That was my job, and I was good at it.

They quickly replaced the car, with a huge Dodge sedan that would accommodate our family of 8. I resumed chauffeur duties for the rest of my high school years and went on to be a confident driver.

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Post inspired by a recent car show of American “muscle cars”, which included the V8 Country Squire wagon.

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Tomato Sandwich

It’s the perfect summer sandwich, with the simplest of ingredients.

Garden-fresh tomatoes, mayo, store-bought white bread.

Photo courtesy. Food.com

I had the first of many this week.

You might be tempted to modify it, toast the bread, add ingredients like cheese, bacon, avocado, onion, etc.

But please do not. It is a culinary sacrilege.

Salt and pepper are acceptable, lettuce is not. It just gets in the way of those juices that absorb into the first layer of soft white bread.

Those healthier, whole grain breads just do not work here. Home-made or sourdough ? No thank you.

It was the lunch preferred by Louise Fitzhugh’s beloved childhood character Harriet the Spy. She would accept no substitute.

She understood the beauty of tomato as a main ingredient.

So do I.

Posted in Art, Beauty, Books, Childhood, Education, Entertainment, Food, Gardening, Movies, Nature, News | Tagged , | 83 Comments

Into the Storm

I was about 40 miles from home when I first spotted it.

Archive Image. Boston.com.

It was maybe the darkest cloud I’ve ever seen.

In sunshine and blue skies at my current location, I considered stopping the car.

It might have been a good time for a meal break, a rest stop, or an alternate route to avoid the obvious storm.

I did none of those.

I drove straight into the black sky.

From a very early age, I’ve been fascinated by thunderstorms, drawn to their absolute power. There is something so majestic about the way Nature chooses to unleash that energy.

I’m sure it was a metaphor for the desire to cleanse from the emotional turmoil that enveloped my family for a lifetime.

If, only.

So, on this balmy summer evening,  I encountered the downpour, the lightning strikes, the boom of thunder about 10 miles from home, passing through it, unscathed, with a freshly rinsed car, and a reminder.

All storms come to an end.

The skies were clear as I pulled into my driveway.

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“Service Engine Soon”

At first, they were called “idiot lights”. They indicate trouble within the engine.

The light comes on, you access the code book, identify the issue, repair or replace parts.

The light is extinguished and you move forward.

It is simple mechanics.

There is no equivalent for the human spirit.

Too bad.

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My idea was to take a short blog break. A few days turned into a few months.

Hope to be back soon. Thanks for your continued support.

Posted in Art, Books, Education, Entertainment, Family, News, Politics, Technology | Tagged , | 72 Comments