Sunday, September 28, 2014

Send in the Clowns

I have not left, I have just tried to run away with the clowns - quite literally. Actually it has been more like joining the circus. I have been preparing for a Photography Show that opens this week at the local Fine Arts Center on the circus entitled - "Here Comes the Circus". A very talented photographer emailed me last year when he saw some photos I had taken of a small circus and asked if I would like to do a Circus Show. Naturally it seemed like a great idea at the time.

Then when I started selecting my pieces from my files, my computer crashed and I lost most of my photography work that I had stored on my external hard drive. By that time, the Circus was beside the point. After having a company come in and salvage my laptop, it was determined that the external hard drive was indeed fried - to a crisp. Nothing was left, nada, not one file could be retrieved. 

Before I climbed inside a bottle of gin and planned never to emerge, I remembered that I did have an on line cloud backup service. When I checked, there they were, there was a God - 2 terabytes of my files. Of course then it was a matter of reconstructing the files on a new external hard drive (with a redundant backup drive). Since it was going to take a while (as in days) to download the backup from the cloud, I just found the Circus files and left the rest to finish on its own.

So long story short, I have spent many hours over the past week when I was not in the woods communing with nature, selecting, editing, cropping, printing, matting, and framing Circus prints. As of this afternoon, they are done. I just have a few "little" details to finish. We "hang" the show on Wednesday and the opening reception is on Thursday evening. 

Here are a few selections from the exhibit. I will have 20 something pieces. If you get a chance, drop by. The show runs the month of October and is open to the public - no charge.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall, Foliage, and the Fair

It is Fall and with it comes cool air - hopefully- eventually- or at least we can wish. The leaves begin to turn brilliant red, yellow, and orange. We can find colorful pumpkins and gourds in the markets. All of this comes to mind. One thing that most likely doesn't come to your mind is that this is the time of the State and County fairs and with that art exhibits. Yes, I realize this is a reach but stay with me here.

Each year I enter pieces of my photography in both the SC State Fair and the local county fair. As one would expect the State Fair is well run and organized. They have a web site that is updated throughout the year. Past exhibitors are emailed reminders in the spring that it is time to start thinking about entries and giving entry deadlines. Then a month before the deadline another reminder is sent.

Our county fair - not so much. For years I have complained about the one page of "information" for Art Exhibitors. Perhaps I should say "lack of information". Earlier I had learned that there was a new person assigned to handle the Art Exhibitors so I was encouraged. But my hopes were dashed when I went on the site and could not find the date and time entries needed to be delivered. After reading through the same garbled text I could not find the date or time anywhere. (Unlike the State Fair where you register your pieces on line by a deadline a month or so before the fair and are given three dates they can be delivered to the fairgrounds along with the hours each day.)

I went back to the home page. If it is there, I cannot find it. Perhaps it is a game, you know - "Find the date and time" like some of the games and raffles they have going at the fair itself. If so, I am SOL.

There is a name and phone number of a contact on top of the Art Competition page. The name is different from the one that had been listed in years earlier - the one I would call continuously, get a voice mail, leave a message, and have yet to get a call back. I am encouraged - always the optimist. 

So, last year the plight was finding my photography after the fair. This year I am trying to learn the date the entries are due. The fun just continues. Stay tuned - the game is afoot. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Trip to Italy, a Movie Review

There are boring movies. There are dull movies. There are bad movies. The Trip to Italy is a combination of all the above and more (or much less). Full disclosure, there was a prequel that we did not see. The 20 minutes we saw of this film were nothing but dialog between  the two characters played by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Much of it was mundane, some was childish, and some was incoherent. Parts referred to events and people the audience (or at least I) was totally unaware of and therefore left me listening to words coming from the mouths of two idiots that I found made no sense.

In the main scene we saw they were eating a meal they were supposedly critiquing. The camera would cut from their conversation to scenes in the kitchen of the chef preparing the food. However the chef did not speak and played no role. Still between each course the scene would change to kitchen. I found this terribly distracting albeit the kitchen had to be more entertaining than what we were forced to endure in the dining room.

This movie was billed as a comedy. In the 20 minutes or so that we stayed and watched, I failed to see anything remotely humorous. In fact it was painful. Personally it was like watching two men totally self possessed, eating in an Italian restaurants. 

Needless to say we walked out after 20 to 25 minutes of trying to figure out what was going on. We decided that if there was any humor, it escaped us. If there was a storyline, we missed it. And, if this was an example of a decent screen play as well as a competent cast -at best, it failed miserably. The only redeeming quality I can think to credit the experience was the lovely Italian countryside, and even that was sullied by the banal banter of Coogan and Brydon. 

Stay away. Stay far away. Spend your time and funds more wisely. We took this one for the team.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Rejected Turkey

Last time I checked my calendar it was September, mid September mind you. Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations are in the stores. That is understandable - I'll ignore the fact some of it has been there since the fireworks went on sale after the 4th of July. However, Sunday, I noticed that Costco already has Christmas items and are starting to rearrange the store into the "Christmas format" to handle all the extra decorations, toys, and festive food items. 

Once again Thanksgiving is getting left out, overlooked. Those poor pilgrims, the Puritans that came across the pond to escape persecution, and now 400 years later their one holiday, their feast in honor of the harvest and peace with the native Americans is now falling victim to good ol' American capitalism. 

Once again turkeys do not fair well. How can one expect them to compete with Teenage Ninja Turtles,   Sarah Palin masks, and the Smurfs, much less the jolly ol' elf and six flying reindeer? 

So as I pass the special holiday baking aisle I guess I will take solace in my candy corn hoping that the school children are still learning about the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, even though they must go through sensitivity training to learn lessons about the native Americans Wasn't it much easier when we were six and just made turkeys from our handprints and pilgrim hats from paper plates. I am sure someone somewhere would take issue with those simple pleasures these days. And, spare me any grief over the sugar content of the candy corn - please!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Copious Moves and Empty Nests

My Mama never told me that raising children would require a copious amount of packing and relocation. Now I was expecting to pack them up for summer camp and the ultimate - off to college (ie achieving Empty Nest hood). However, Mama never bothered to let me know about the "other" ancillary moves that could possibly occur.

Besides summer camp and college, I had my move to Atlanta for my first job. Since most of our extra furniture was on High Acres, the family mountain farm in North Carolina, my new household was packed there. To handle that move, my father tasked Stanbury his old mountaineer farm overseer. Stanbury loaded the furniture I wanted onto to his old blue pickup truck that looked as if it had had its better days. By the time all my worldly goods were piled on the back, all we needed was Granny and we could have headed west for Beverly Hills.  

We had the rocking chair tied to the back of the truck (like I said, all we were missing was Granny.) Much to my dismay I was to learn later that Stanbury had his jar of sweet mash whiskey in one of my English riding boots that he had secured in that rocking chair. I cannot even start to describe the first impression I made when we drove into the parking lot of my apartment complex in Atlanta - Stanbury, his truck, my riding boots, and his whiskey. Thank God no one remembers me. But I digress.

Besides the summer camps and the initial moves into college dorms, I started thinking about how many times we have "packed and moved" our girls. This came to mind because for the 4th time, I think we may be actually finally be empty nesters.

When our girls moved into houses in Charleston (5 on the peninsula alone) I kept reminding them if there was a carriage tour coming by the house it was in a neighborhood we could not afford. I always wanted to live on the peninsula in Charleston. Since I left college there, I have yet to full fill that dream. However I have paid rent for five years there - I guess I have lived vicariously - at best. Other than these moves there have been houses on the river overlooking harbor (it's a hard life but someone has to live it.) And one down a long dirt road located in a large lovely area of old oaks and ponds.

One carriage house was still being built the day my daughter moved in. Only two were ground floor. More likely than not there were stairs involved, at least one story if not two. There was the house on Society street with the front staircase so tightly curved no table or sofa could be negotiated up. A block and tackle had to be rigged up to the back porch to bring up the granite top kitchen table. One move was around the corner, we could look out the back door and see the front door of the next address. However, due to the size and amount of furniture we still needed a truck to move. 

Somehow moving day was always on August 1 when it seemed that humidity was 150% and temps in the mid 90's. And, the same day all the students were moving in and out throughout the peninsula. The one way streets blocked by U-Haul trucks, SUV's, and pickups.

And today's move involved three levels, two large staircases, 95% humidity, and 85 degrees.  I am happy to say we are empty nesters.  Well, let me rephrase that we are empty nesters again - for the fourth time. Yes, they are always welcome back.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I'll be Back

I shall be on the road this week. I may or may not be able write, but rest assured I will be back no later than Monday, September 15.  Have no fear my insane life continues.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Old Navy, New Navy

When I was just a child, navy blue was a color that was very popular. I can remember having a navy blue and white sailor dress. Navy hose were a color I always had in my selection of pantie hose among nude, beige, nearly there, and off black.  Everyone I knew had a pair or two of navy colored shoes.

Several years ago, I decided it would be nice to have some navy colored slacks (for you youngsters - that is a nice pair of ladies pants). I could not find one any where, or a navy skirt for that matter. When I asked, the sales lady looked at me, "Oh, navy is so out. No one wears navy any more."  How do you just deem a color, a basic color passe, obsolete, demode just like that? So my so soft and comfortable navy blue Brooks Brothers flats (that I got on a major sale) were put out to pasture - or rather up on the top shelf of my closet.

Then, just as quickly as the color was deemed DOA, it was back. Suddenly navy was the new thing. It was as if the color had just been discovered, some designer found it hidden on a color pallet, right there stuck behind black just to the side of deep purple. Who knew? It was everywhere. I was happy to see it and immediately went to purchase some pieces before someone discovered that in fact it was not new, just that old navy blue that was dismissed as passe for years.

Then there was another problem. I had several nice sweaters and tops with designs in them including navy among colors. When I  brought my new navy slacks and skirts home I was met with a new surprise.  Who knew there were so many navy blues? I found that my lovely blue, green, and white paisley top clashed with my navy slacks - I had purchased the "wrong" navy. Seriously? It was too light. My brown, black, and blue sweater did not go with the skirt I purchased - too dark. Really? 

So now when I go shopping I cannot simply look for navy, I need to shop for the correct navy, the light navy or the black navy or the bluer navy. I may need garanimals to match my navy suits. God forbid I go out in public with a black navy skirt and a blue navy paisley top. Maybe there was a reason navy fell out of style, it did itself in with its multiple personalities. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A New Name I Need to Live up to

Even before my granddaughter was born I was often asked, "What is she going to call you?" I found this to be an odd question if you think about it. First she had yet to meet me. And, even though I knew she would be the brightest child ever, I doubted she would be able to talk - at least until she was six months old (and that was in English - I felt sure she would be fluent in several more languages by the time she was two, but I digress).

My father's maternal Scottish grandmother's name was Mary Currie. She lived with my grandmother, my father, and his sister after the death of their father. My father called her "Grancurrie". When I was born he named me "Ann Currie" after his grandmother and my mother, but I always thought the name reminded him of his dear Grancurrie. All that said my daughter always said that I would be called "Grandcurrie" when I became a grandmother. Thinking of myself as being eternally young, I just filed that thought away.

So now I am a grandmother. And I need to have some dear moniker to be referred to as. My daughter just ran with "Grancurrie" and inside I just assumed that would be it. However, when she looked at little Lou, handed her to me, and said, "Here's Grancurrie, I know she wants to hold you." Suddenly all I could see in my mind were the pictures my Daddy had showed me of his dear Grancurrie. The ones of her in her 80's - the black and white ones from the 1930's that showed this loving dower widow, with her gray hair in a bun, and wrinkled worn face.

While I am joyously enjoying my first grandchild I fear looking in the mirror for I am sure what I see will be that loving dower lady with gray hair in a bun, and a wrinkled worn face. Does just the name morph me into the persona I remembered being told about? Obviously not, what I should be thinking of is that I am taking on the title of much beloved and nurturing woman who patiently helped rear my father during the depression. She was the lady he so dearly loved that he named his daughter after her.

So instead of fearing the visage in the mirror, perhaps I should question whether or not I can live up to her reputation. Meanwhile, I'll just enjoy this lovely little girl. Who knows, she may have an independent mind and decide that Grandcurrie doesn't fit and come up with something completely different. Then I may be upset that she doesn't call me that treasured name.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yes, I Know We Sound Like That

Down here we are often chastised, laughed at, criticized, and made fun of the way we talk. Oh, some will call it "so cute". Others may refer to it as "quaint". I have heard, "Damn, you sound like you have marbles in your mouth." or "Did you realize the words hound dog only have two syllables?"

Whatever. I have heard most of it. I have been interrupted during talks, asked to phonetically spell what I am trying to say, and heard my words repeated in jest. No, I do not sound like a character off of hee haw and I am not from Georgia either with the sounds of Scarlett O'Hara. Although I will say my Mama got more southern the more she drank. But, I digress.

All this leads me to my latest unpleasantness - dealing with the demise of the external hard drive attached to my computer. Stay with me here. I spent a good 5 hours yesterday online and on the phone with tech support trying to get the issues straight with the hardware and software involved. I dealt with 4 different techs after being "escalated" several times. All in all I was very impressed with the service. At 9:45 last night I left them logged into my system and I called it a night.

This morning they had left a message telling me to call them this morning to continue the service. When I called in they had me log back on and I was connected with another tech through an online chat. This where there was a failure to communicate. I was trying to explain that I only had 45 minutes before I had a meeting to attend at 10 am and would not be available again until 12:30. The online Tech kept saying "That is fine please reconnect with us in an hour." 

I spent the next several minutes going back forth explaining that I would not be available in an hour, but it would be two and a half hours. The tech kept replying, "Please contact us in an hour."  Finally, after much frustration and explanation, I got the tech to understand it would be 12:30 before I returned. Then the tech finished with, "Please get back in touch with us when you return - ever."

Now understanding the spoken word, when English is not your first language is one thing. And having issues with someone speaking a local dialect that, by some, is considered backward is another. However not being able to understand it when the words are clearly typed on the screen in front on you puzzles me.

The worse I can be accused of here is typing too slowly, right?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Not A Good Day

Signs it is not a good day:

  • One of your bird dies

  • As well as your external hard drive - yes, the one that has ALL your photo files

  • You realize that your book has only been purchased by the seven dear friends, the ones who originally promised to by it (Bless their hearts), actually now it is "Bless my heart"

  • It is September and your deadline to find a job by October, that you discussed in November of last year, suddenly doesn't look real promising

  • And, you just went through 23 peppermints at your desk (justifying that they only had 60 calories in each serving of 3). That adds up to 456 calories or I could have had one and a half Snickers and probably felt much less guilt.
These are the days my Mama did not tell me about. But, once again, Mama never told me about Ultra Brite either!