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Just kidding. You’d think that, if you only listened to Portland-area newscasters. Yes, the city is pretty much shut down. Yes, there are people still going out there and attempting to drive without traction devices. Yes, the entire trucking community is at a standstill because of a few who didn’t chain up.

And, yes, I made the call to close the office today and take a snow day. My job is a “non-essential” position and there’s no reason to go out, and chain up to drive three miles to sit in an office that noone is going to come to. Instead, I laced up my snow boots and grabbed my camera, and took a ton of fun photos to commemorate The Great Snow Fall of 2017 (which isn’t nearly as deep as other snow falls we’ve had at this address, but because it fell on January 11, sets a new record). For the date.

We had 12 inches one snowfall somewhere in the realm of 8-10 years ago. 18″ in February of 1996. Today, we got 6″. (Portland got more.)

If I wasn’t battling bronchitis, I’d wish I still had my x-c skis. As it was, it nearly kilt me to shovel the front walk & clear off my car (hubby did the back and cleared off several bushes as well).

Anyway – here’s my gallery of fun (often photo-shopped) snow pictures. I love snow. I’d probably hate it if I still lived in snow country, where it’s as common as fleas are in this country.

Happy January!!

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This is how I feel about 2017. I should be enthusiastically preparing new goals, tossing out old ones, and starting off on a good foot. I’m not.

I’m on the tail end of a nasty winter cold that kicked my butt and kept me out of the office a total of 13 hours last week. I’m coughing less and it hasn’t degraded into bronchitis, but I still lack energy and motivation. Today is the first day that I have done anything besides occupy space (I mean, aside from the daily living stuff we all do, like work, sleep, watch t.v., buy groceries and dog food, and watch it snow).

My brain is stuck somewhere on the long flight back from Georgia to Portland, just a week ago. We’d gone down to St. Augustine, Florida, on the Friday before: toured the old fort, wandered the “Colonial district”, drank beer at an Irish pub and a British pub, and spent the night in a motel. In the morning, we toured the lighthouse, and made the drive back to Georgia. My daughter-in-law took me to the airport in Savannah, and I began the long flight home. I didn’t sleep much.

The Irish pub was in the Colonial district and our beer maid was a gal from Beaverton, Oregon. They had great micro-brews on tap.

The British pub was a karaoke dive where the bartender occasionally neglected his duties to sing. We bought bottled beer because what was on tap was so… normal. And we laughed and laughed and laughed. Then we went to a pizza place and split a shot of Jamesons’ whiskey to the Irish in all of us.

I made a lot of flight observations.

On the way out of Portland to DFW, I waited in the gate near a woman who was glued to her cell phone. You could hear her entire conversation. She never looked around, just talked into that damn phone the hour we sat at the gate waiting. And she followed me when we started to queue up to board, still talking on the damn phone. Worse, she was my seat mate, but by then she’d put down the phone and pulled out a lap-top that she remained glued to for the entire flight.

Me, I like to people watch. I observe. I listen. Little kids wandering away from parents. People plugging into their electronics and texting or reading. The way people avoid eye contact. People who make eye contact and manage a small smile. Anyone looking shifty. The woman who walks away from her luggage and returns a few minutes later. The number of dogs in the airport. The stewardesses and the gate crew. The clothes people wear.

I am the person who will see it coming: the guy with the gun or whatever. These people glued to their electronics? They’ll never see it coming. Can’t say if I’d survive, but I think I have a better chance than the clueless.

I checked my luggage through to Savannah because the flight was full. Carry-on, checked voluntarily = free checked bag. Remember that. I try not to check my luggage, but it felt right on Christmas eve.

Coming home, I met the only bigot on the entire trip. He really didn’t have any place to complain (he was “group 3”) but he was upset because a Ukraine ex-pat edged her way in front of him in line and he had to move to a slot behind me. I was in “group 2” with the woman from the Ukraine. But he still had to rant loudly that she should “go back to Russia. Go back to the Ukraine. Go back wherever she came from”.

I want to say that everyone turned to him and told him to shut up. I want to say that someone else stood up to him. I wanted to shut him out and ignore him, but he was in line right behind me, and still ranting. So I shut him up. “Really? Are we going to do that now?” Meaning: it’s New Year’s Eve, and we all want to go home. Just shut up and be patient.” Oh, and “You’re an asshole.” It shut him up.

Then I was on the airplane, next to a sullen-looking woman of about my age, and an empty middle seat. She slept; I stared out the window. New Year’s Eve turned to New Year’s Day somewhere along the flight, and I saw fireworks. But it was still 2016 when I landed and still 2016 when my girlfriend dropped me off at home.

Then it was 2017 and I was sick. And it was cold. And we had a snow/ice storm. And I am just simply not ready for it to be 2017. The year is more than a week old, and I am just catching up to the fact that the date changed. Oy vey.

Can I go back to Georgia now?

We took a little sight-seeing trip to Jekyll Island, just past Brunswick, Georgia, on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a windswept piece of land, part of a series of islands called the Sea Islands or the Golden Isles, and helps form a line of barrier islands between the rage of the Atlantic and the mainland. We stayed clear of the touristy spots and combed the beach, instead. With six small children, this is the ideal activity.

The tide was low enough that we found some tidal pools with dull anemones and tiny hermit crabs.

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It’s a photographer’s dream.

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That’s a hermit crab. Itty-bitty one, next to the green glass.

We didn’t see much wildlife, which is sad, but December really is not the time to come to a place like this and expect to see a lot of animals. And the trip wasn’t about seeing wildlife outside of the car, it was about dealing with the wild critters called “my grandchildren”. So I was content with what we didn’t see and with the company I was keeping.

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That’s my daughter-in-law and one of my granddaughters by the sea.

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My son & one of his sons, combing the beach for treasures.

It was a beautiful day.

I spent New Year’s Eve on a crowded airplane (or two), flying from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast.Then, again, I spent Christmas Eve flying from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic, and trying to espy Santa and his reindeer in the sky.

Nix on Santa on the 24th, but I did catch some fireworks (out the airplane window) somewhere in Idaho last night. And a whole lot of fireworks in my neighborhood, as my friend dropped me off at the house at ten to midnight.

I added two states to my list of “states I have visited”: Georgia and Florida. It will be a couple of days before I process all of the photos. I brought home one of those colds that settles in the lungs, 215 photos and videos (on my camera, alone) to process, and a little bit of jet lag.

I will post my annual resolutions sometime this week, too, and tell you how I did with last year’s. But that can wait.

I sort of wish I had traveled when birds are nesting, but I didn’t. I only saw winter birds on my travels, and with the exception of one: I’ve seen them all before. The one I had never seen before is this one.

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I am pretty certain he is a boat-tailed grackle. He’s magpie-sized, say 16-18″ long.

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Here’s his lady.

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And his “crew”. This was the only time I saw them, at some gas station in Florida. I think we were in Florida.

More on that, later.

I had a wonderful visit with my son & his wife and all of their children. I met the grand-dogs. I held the newest grandson. My life was full and my heart remains full. I already miss them.

I wish for anyone reading this: prosperity, hope, peace, and the sort of joy that settles into your inner being so that even when you have a moment of self-doubt or anxiety or depression comes crashing in, you will have the strength to reach out and find someone to anchor you. I wish healing and health on all of my friends. I pray that those who lost loved ones in 2016 will be comforted.

Shalom, my friends.

Another vintage book review. I just wish this book was in better condition. It’s been well-loved.

I remember reading this when I was a pre-teen. The damage to it might have been caused by me, or my siblings. Some of it is just age and poor binding.

The book was published in 1926 and has my grandfather’s stamp inside of it, plus an inscription to my father, making it a Christmas gift from Santa Claus. I’m not sure why Gramps had to stamp his name in it when the book was clearly Dad’s. But, that would be my Gramps. He was just making sure everything was marked as belonging to the family, in case it ever was lent out.

I want to digress here: a friend of mine has been searching for a particular Hardy Boys edition. I searched all of my vintage books, but – alas- not a single Hardy Boys. And I have only this one Tom Swift. Most of my vintage Young Adult mysteries are “girl” books: Brenda Starr, the Curlytops, and the like.

So – the story. Oh, if only we were still so innocent as we were in 1926, when Tom Swift was written! The Great War was over. The Second World War was silently brewing, but we Americans were naively unaware of the winds of war. The Great Depression was still years off.  Young men in novels were still gallant and honorable. Tom Swift was coming of age at the same time as the young Indiana Jones, but without the aid of cinematic special effects.

Tom was an inventor, and in this book, he invents a coast-to-coast air transport system to carry packages from the Atlantic to the Pacific under 18 hours. Given the technology available at the time, that’s pretty astounding. The author imagines an improbable car that attaches to, and detaches from, the belly of the airplane.

Of course, there’s adversity, but Tom’s enemies are always a bit bumbling and Tom always manages to be a bit like MacGyver (escaping with just a paper clip and personal will), and the conversations are so… out-dated. But to credit the author, Tom’s love, Mary, is not portrayed as a dumb girl, but as a steady and thoughtful young woman who stays calm in a crisis and often comes up with a solution on her own.

The racism… Well, it’s just there. I can’t do anything about the casting of either “faithful servant”: Koku, who is described only as a giant, and who has a singular lack of English; and Eradicate, the Black servant who is portrayed as slightly off-center and jealous of Koku. I suppose that it was meant to be an “inclusive” novel, giving small parts to other nationalities. It’s kind of offensive in its betrayal of minor characters, but (I guess) at least they were given roles. Kind of Orphan Annie supporting roles, I think.

If I flash back to my father’s childhood: the Tom Swift books were no doubt exciting and innovating.

If I flash back to my childhood: Tom Swift was fun, and I was too naive to understand the subtleties.

For my grandchildren: the book is a white elephant.

It isn’t worth anything in the condition it is in, unless my father’s hand-written signature somewhere inside counts for something.

It has been seven years since I have been stuck in snow like we had yesterday. (You can read about it here.) Same scenario played out yesterday all over Portland with the one exception: I wasn’t stuck in it. Two things have changed since that awful wintery commute: I quit that job and now I only work 3 miles from home and now I absolutely will not drive in snow around the Metro area if I do not have to. The latter translates to: “when it starts sticking on the road outside my office, I close shop and take all level roads home” – there is no exception.

I can drive in snow. I grew up in snow. The Metro area shuts down in snow, people abandon their cars in the road(!!!), people stand on their brakes and slide through intersections (saw that on my way home yesterday), and there are too many hills and too many cars. Yesterday, most of the Metro area ignored the weathercaster’s warnings to go home early, and they ended up stuck – some students even had to spend the night at school! And we only had 3-5″.

That’s the back story to why I am sitting at my desk, in my house, writing on my blog. There’s no easy way to segue into this: snow=photo ops=comparing cameras.

I love how snow changes things and I’ve been wanting to compare my new Google Pixel phone camera to my 35mm Canon Rebel T2i.

Confused Camelia – DSL on the left, Pixel on the right. The pixel is OK, but this is like comparing apples to oranges for quality!

I played with photoshop on the left (DSL). I have no idea why the Pixel picked up the blue – I used one of the Instagram filters to tone it down.

The DSL focuses better (and I can actually see Harvey’s head under the bush, but the Pixel zoom works, and I think the boys came out all right on the right.

This is where the Pixel outshone the DSL. I had to play with the contrast and balance in photoshop to bring out the color of the maple leaves on the left (DSL) because the normal photo was just too dark. But the Pixel caught the maple leaves’ true color, even against the snow (right).

Apples to oranges, again: the DSL just did this one better, but Instagram has filters that make it look pretty cool.

I could just get closer with the DSL. Poor Harvey! He has such long hair on his feet and between his toes, and the snow balls up and ices. This doesn’t happen to Murphy.

So those are my comparison photos. I like the Pixel. It’s not half bad. The DSL will remain my camera of choice, but for portability and photos when I don’t happen to have the DSL with me, the Pixel is passably decent.

Now, I am going to work on my novel, paint a little, and just generally enjoy my day trapped inside the house. Oh – and I’ll be feeding the birds.

I was bequeathed a number of vintage books in varying condition and value.

I intend to work my way through them, unless they are in such bad shape that reading them would destroy them. I did inherit them, and it seems only kindness to the authors of long-ago that I read them.

I read this one about a month ago.

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This is the original edition, published in 1914. Condition is fair to good.

The only art work in it is this:

007 The artist was Douglas Duer.

The dedication in the book is foreign to me:

005It is possible this book was purchased used, but the pencil notations cause me pause. I will need to research this more: who is Leda, and who is Papa? I have a year to go on: 1914, the year the book was published. It has a copyright date.

About the story: it is set in rural eastern Idaho around the turn of the century (1900). The heroine is the first person we meet, and her name is Billy Louise – named after the son her father never had and after the daughter her mother always wanted. She goes by Billy, for the most part, and she has to play two roles: Billy, the son, and Louise, the daughter. Her best friend is an illiterate woman by the name of Marthy, who has settled the draw above Billy Louise’s parents’ place.

By chance, Billy Louise a cowboy named Ward, and he is hired on to work for her through a very cold winter. I was tempted to skip chapters, but I ended up having to go back and read all of the chapters. I loved the conversations Billy Louise and Ward had. Ward creates multiple nick-names for her. Billy Louise is bluntly honest about her fantasy life as a child (which included Ward, taken from a scrap of newspaper she found wrapped around a parcel when she was a young girl).

There’s a mystery about stolen cattle and Ward’s past. The main characters: Billy Louise, Ward, and Marthy, are drawn together in the ultimate conclusion of the book. The horses have names and personalities (Okay, that’s not a good reason to give a book a good review, but who can resist a faithful horse named Blue and a crazy horse named Rattler?)

It’s a romance story, pure and simple. And it ends happy.

Then I picked up this “gem”: 001It’s a tad bit water damaged on the cover, but not inside.

003My grandmother’s handwriting. I have no idea who Marian Holmes was. My mother was 11 in 1943.

Condition is OK. No copyright date.

Elsie seems, in the first 6 pages of this book, to be constantly worried about whether her father is going to be angry with her and punish her, and whether she has sinned against God. Elsie is always apologizing to her father: “Dear papa, I was very naughty and cross just now… Please, papa, forgive me; I am very sorry, and I will try to be a better girl.” At least once, her father sends her to sit in the closet, simply for having asked a question twice – and he leaves her there for hours!

I skimmed the book. There is a story in there, but it is dimmed by my own perception as an independent woman, and I couldn’t stand to read it. Elsie is completely dominated by her father and her fear of God, the punishing Father. By the end of the book, it is clear that all Elsie desires to be is “good” and “obedient” and “submissive”. And she’s getting five stars for getting all of that right.

Give me Billy Louise, any day. She was a rascal and a judgmental young woman, but she was completely honest, and she was raised to be able to do a man’s job as well as a woman’s. Side by side, these books don’t compare in price and antiquity.

Elsie – there were 28 books in the series. The one I own, in good condition, sells for $19 or so on Amazon or eBay.

Billy Louise – You can download for free on Amazon Prime or purchase an edition of the book (if you can find it) for under $3.

But, as far as it goes for historical role models for young women, Billy Louise is more honest, straight-forward, and romantic than Elsie, the cowed, will ever be.

Pun intended. And if I have to explain that to you, I’m sorry. 😀

Next up: Tom Swift and His Airline Express by Victor Appleton. And I do remember reading this as a young girl.