Category Archives: off the cuff

Blog Gone Live, Again.

So, in 2019, I eradicated (as in completely removed) my blog.  You see, it wasn’t good enough to just stick it in a corner where, supposedly, nobody would find it, even completely locked down.  In fact, even setting up severe restrictions on access still threw issues because, honestly, even GoogleBot doesn’t respect ‘no admittance’ lockdowns unless you actually set things behind an .htaccess prohibition.  And doing that makes some bots just keep bumping against the door.  So, I destroyed it all in one fell swoop–SHIFT-DELETE–off the server …but not before saving years worth of posts, pages, images, etc.  I’ve reinstalled the posts and the images–the public ones, not the private ones.  And, now, there will never be anything in draft form because, guess what?, Google indexes those sitting in draft, as well, posting them to their search engine for the world to see.  Didn’t know that?  Neither did I.  It’s because Google and all the other bots actually eat of anything in a database …which is where a CMS (that’s Content Management System, for those curious) stores everything.

But Now I’m Ba-ack!

And so are all those historic posts of mine.

Shudder at will, my friends.  The self-applied muzzle is off.

Of course, it’s been replaced by an N99 anti-covid mask, but, well, that’s just thanks to a certain little virus that won’t go away and leave us alone.

Anyway, I hope you are all looking forward to me and mine, mine being my sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes touching, sometimes irascible, sometimes downright obnoxious commentaries on life, living, and the state of being.

Coming to you from the North Country.

From out my office window.

June 8, 2019

June 8, 2019

So, because I’m back to being the household breadwinner, now, I’ve reopened my graphic art business. So if you need some graphic art work done, I am available again. You can find my business website here: https://www.zentao.com/graphic-art/.

In other news, one of our cats — not old, either — just up and dropped dead. It was the strangest thing and it left me in shock for days. I had just given him a couple of strokes and gotten coffee, went back upstairs to my office, and there was this horrible yowl. I bolted back downstairs, and there he was outstretched in the middle of the great room floor, yowling horribly and just laid out. He expired as I knelt over him, stroking him. Thankfully, it was quick, and Kathy, the vet, says it was probably a heart attack or an annurism. I miss him (Toes, our long-haired polydactyl cat).

The February Lacewing Reprise

Last year about this time — late February — I was sitting outside on the steps. It was morning, a few hours past sunrise. In my peripheral vision came tiny movement. I glanced that way and was startled to see a lacewing struggling across the snowy slope of the snowbank to my right, a mountain of snow that is the result of snow coming off the second story roof immediately above.

“What are you doing, emerging right now?” I wondered aloud.

I reached over and nabbed the struggling creature who was somehow functional despite it being below freezing. I stuffed “her” under the cantilevered kitchen overhang where, not trusting the heat tapes alone to protect the plumbing from our vicious winter north winds, I had wrapped and insulated it for winter, stuffing a heat lamp under there just for good measure. It’s warm under there all winter — well above freezing. If she was to have any chance at all, it would be there.

Never thought another thing about it. It was a fluke, I figured.

Sunday morning, Feb 25th, 2018, a full year later, a couple hours past sunrise, I was again sitting on the porch steps, sipping a cuppa to take a break from chores and demands for attention by animals and humans. And what do I spy in my peripheral vision? Yep. A lacewing struggling across the snowy slope of the snowbank …again.

Obviously, it was not the same lacewing. But, considering the timing, I’ll bet she’s a close relative. Nabbed her and stuck her under the cantilevered overhang, down where things stay warm and cozy till the weather moderates. Hope she makes it. More, I wish they’d fix their emergence clock. Obviously, it’s not timed properly for North Idaho.

 

The Hammer Has Fallen

Overnight
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Steady temperature around 26. Blustery, with a north wind around 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Sunday
Snow, mainly before 10am. Patchy blowing snow after 10am. Temperature falling to around 19 by 4pm. Blustery, with a northeast wind 16 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Sunday Night
A slight chance of snow between 7pm and 10pm. Patchy blowing snow before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 5. Wind chill values as low as -11. Blustery, with a northeast wind 16 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Washington’s Birthday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 21. Wind chill values as low as -12. Northeast wind 7 to 11 mph.

Monday Postponed Till Tuesday in N. Idaho.

Went to bed Sunday night with the Internet sort of on. Internet connectivity has been ‘sort of’ for several weeks, an off and on again experience, sometimes normal, sometimes sludge slow, sometimes not at all, but there. Hey! This is N. Idaho, just a few miles shy of the Canadian border. We’re still on braided copper wire up here. Some folks are lucky if they get 56k (kilobits-per-second) dial-up modem speeds. Remember those?

Monday morning, couldn’t get to anything but Facebook and reddit. (Yes, both of those work at dial-up modem speeds.) A call to Frontier netted me knowledge that the whole area from south of Sandpoint all the way to the Canadian border was out. No estimated time for a fix. (So that’s where all those Frontier trucks were racing off to when I dropped husband at his truck.)

Did I get out my Verizon hotspot? …No. I had things to do in the real world and wanted to wipe my slate clean.

Since Monday was already compromised, the best part of the day spent getting husband off to Canada in his big rig, it was a good day to get real world projects completed. When you can’t work on the Net, it’s a great, even awesome day to spend doing everything you’ve put off for just such an opportune moment.

My old friend Lloyd always warned, “Get your work done before noon, or it don’t get done,” and I’ve always found that to be pretty darned true. I had two hours to get done what needed doing before that noon deadline.

Now, I do as much work as possible via the Net, via the telephone, or, less favored, by old-fashioned USPS mail. Physically having to go to the bank, the lawyer’s, the insurance agent’s, the treasurer’s office… is always a pain-in-the-keister. (For those unfamiliar, ‘keister’ is an old word for ‘buttocks’.) First up, at the top of the list, was the bank, since everything else hinged on that. I needed some more checks — yes, checks — those rectangles of paper upon which you fill in the date, to whom, the amount, both numerically and written out in words, add the account and bill number for which the amount is to be credited on the memo line, then sign. Land taxes are due, and electronic payments are not to be trusted for things so crucial. When it comes to land taxes, I walk my payments in, getting a nice stamp of PAID from the county treasurer’s office.

I parked and hit — quite literally — the door to the bank — locked.

…Frowned.

Went to the other door — the one most people use. (Hey, I never walk the popular trail.) Locked, too, but this one had a notice on it. “Closed. Intenet down. Use ATM for cash.”

WTF?!

A peer into the windows showed bodies, the bank manager standing there wringing her hands — not normal.

…Grumbled. Frowned more, steam building up in my brain as I got back in the car.

Noticed the drive-up window was open and got in line behind a battered old red pick-up.

I recognized the ‘codger’ in the pick-up. Silver-haired and in his eighties, he’s notoriously cantankerous and a self-made multi-millionaire, North Idaho style. He’s a great guy …when you’re not on the wrong side of his temper (kinda like me, only the male variety). As I sat there, he’s pulling out pieces of paper, waving them at the unlucky woman at the drive-up.

I roll down my window. Yep. He’s giving her a piece of his mind, wanting the bank manager (the one standing on the other side of the building, wringing her hands). I keep hearing, “I’m sorry. The Internet is down.”

Other cars — Caddy SUVs, a BMW, a Porsche, another battered Ford PU, a Mercedes… pull in, go through the ATM, then circle the building to pull in line behind me, so many that, as I wait, the string of them curves out of sight around the building. Every one of them, like me, patiently waits for their turn. What’s our beef? BANKS SHOULD NOT CLOSE SIMPLY BECAUSE THE INTERNET GOES DOWN, NOT IN NORTH IDAHO, NOT ANYWHERE!!! Heck, Walmart was open, doing business. So was Home Depot. So, in fact were the Mom and Pop shops. Despite no Internet. (Maybe, like me, they have a back-up system that uses satellite, not wire, no guarantee, but at least it’s something. When that goes down, it’s pen and paper. Got it?)

Want to piss off a bunch of us mostly pretty highly educated, but, likewise, extremely, even cussedly, independent North Idaho ‘yokels’? Deny us access to what is ours, especially our money, for no good reason, and the Internet being out is NOT a good reason, sorry. Your bad.

After finally getting up to ask some very pointed questions of the window woman — no, they don’t keep a local back-up; they can’t even access the banking interface, which is run from the cloud — I drove over and marched into another bank. Their doors were open. They were doing business. I quizzed the friendly girl who offered herself up to my stormy countenance. Yes. They have a locally resident program and a resident backup database, so they can keep going when the Internet goes belly up, a regular happening here.

“Good. I’ll be back.”

It’s going to be a huge hassle, changing banks. We do a lot of direct deposit, but change banks I will. So will a lot of other folks. You want to stay in business? You don’t do it by locking your doors on a business day, and denying people access to their money and your services. For something as critical as banking, you have to have a back-up plan for eventualities or suffer the consequences of our bad attitudes. That’s why you get to use our money. Fail that, and you lose that privilege.

My Hands

I received a really hurtful email this morning. It was from a fellow flutist who said, and I quote:

“You have really ugly hands. Maybe you shouldn’t video yourself playing flute. Or doing anything. Its [sic] no fun to watch. Ever think about getting your nails done? Try some lotion, too.”

Well, to that, here’s my response …though I neglected to mention in the video, an expert equestrian’s hands:

For those who can’t hear, here’s a transcript of what I say:

“People comment about my hands. The brave ask about them, the concerned and well-intentioned offering me bottles of flowery-smelling lotion, presenting me gift certificates for a manicure and nail job, bringing me ointments and salves. It’s true, I don’t have elegant hands. I’ve got working hands. These hands play flute and piano, type 120 words per minute, move heavy objects, in short, do a lot of hard, physical labor. They’ve moved tons of hay and grain, dug post holes, strung barbed wire, carried wood and water. These are a martial artist’s hands, a musician’s hands, a swordwoman’s hands. They ain’t pretty, but I love them.”

Living in the Past Performance Video Released …Finally.

I actually started this a LONG time ago, but…. Heck! You know. Life, and all that. Mom deciding to up and head off the planet didn’t help matters. Well, by the time I got back around to this, the file had somehow corrupted, the visuals squeegeeing faster and slower than they were supposed to in chaotic, no formulaic, and, therefore, not easily fixable ways. Wound up having to start all over, something I’m never good at. I rarely procrastinate. Ever. But, when it comes to re-making something already done, then, yeah, I postpone, avoid, defer. But, a promise is a promise, so I beat myself over the head until I sat down and spent the two weeks necessary to redo the editing and splicing. So, here you have it. Jethro Tull’s Living in the Past, performed by zentao Music, namely me and Forrest. As ever, this arrangement is Forrest’s, who somehow manages to capture the essence of any piece he sets his hand to.

If you want to read about the flute playing in this piece, I talk about it here, in “Playing Tull’s Living in the Past“. That’s how I do it, but (…and here’s the biggy) it’s because I can’t get that airy sound that comes easy to Ian Anderson and to beginner flutists. I’ve tired every which way to try to make myself sound airy, but, to no avail. I guess I spent too many hours working very hard not to sound airy. I suppose I could sabotage my flute’s pads, but I won’t. 😀

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/WL0Ui8u0Eco” /]

Just Had an Earthquake

It happened about 11:30PM. Two distinct pulses that jolted me. The big wagon wheel chandelier swayed for a good ten minutes. So did the hanging plants and the wind chimes.  I heard the house, made of wood, set on a full cement foundation, give off two very faint snaps, like toothpicks snapping.  The floor moved under me. I felt an odd, faint sense of vertigo.  Earthquake. They happen here. Rarely. But they do happen. It’s eerie when it does. I’m not accustomed to them. 

…And, okay. Our wonderful Bonner County Sheriff just sent out a text: BCSO: The 5.8 earthquake in Lincoln, MT is being felt here. www.nixle.us/9FRLF Reply with a friend’s # to forward.

5.8?!!!!!!!!!!

Wow.

The biggest I ever remember was 4.2.

Lincoln, MT is like 300 miles as the crow flies from us.

Wow, wow, wow.

About Once Every Three

About once every three years, I catch some nasty upper or upper and lower respiratory disease, this despite the most powerful flu shots and the most potent pneumonia shots available as preventatives. Usually, these nasties come compliments of my truck-driving husband, diseases which he catches driving Canada.  …Or they might come from some friend who has children and neglects to wash his hands and face after hugging and smooching them off to school. And the nasty is always devastating, coming near to killing me.

I absolutely do not do ‘sick’ well. I’m never gracious about it. Neither do I run to the doctor’s office — no point. By the time they can get me an appointment, I’ll have either died or survived.  And, yes, I despise doctors, too, simply because they do not listen. Instead, it’s “daddy knows best” with verbal pats on the head as they proceed to use the appointment as an opportunity to treat me like their personal lab guinea pig with blood tests, urine tests, scans, and x-rays that have nothing at all to do with my illness, results delivered to me a week later telling me that my tests came out fine, but that makes no sense to them because, by rights, I should have all these things wrong with me based on statistics, so they’d like to do some follow-up tests, now.

Would you just give me some bloody antibiotics for the secondary infection, please?

Well, they think I’ll recover without them.

Right. As I hack up more greenish, putrid-smelling phlegm.

That will be $160 for the visit, two grand for the scans, another $300 for the x-ray, and, $75 for the urine test.

You betcha. Oh, and none of it is covered by that ugly close-to-a-grand-a-month-just-for-me Obamacare policy I have to pay to Blue Cross.