Saturday, March 21, 2009

Artist in Residence

Well if I can't do a photo a day, can I do a scan a day? Last night after the girls went to bed, I returned something to the girls' second room and found a stack of drawings like these on Jing's table. They had been watching a movie but Jing never sits idly - dozens of illustrations like these covered several pieces of paper. You can see other images bleeding through the paper from the back, a habit from China she can't get past. I told her she did not have to draw on the back of the paper or combine a bunch of pictures on one page, that I would always provide as much apper as she needed, but she is still a very economical girl; nothing is wasted. Not a bad philosophy for these days especially!

I used to draw a lot too, pretty much all animals like Jing. I could draw a horse blindfolded in any position because I was, and am, a horse fiend. But anything else I drew decently I had to look at a photo or preferably another drawing and copy it. What amazes me about Jing is she draws a multitude of creatures but there is no book in front of her - they are all out of the herds of animals living in her head, images from her own imagination. At times I find pages of, say, a lion face done over and over with multiple expressions, or legs and paws or hooves drawn flat, curled, in motion. It's a beautiful thing to witness, that God-given talent that is so strong and instinctive it flows out spontaneously and freely, if not involuntarily. A gift to be envied!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Woe is me!

The photo of the day is one I found on the floor yesterday. It must have slipped out of a file as I have been trying to go through things now that I can see a bit better. Today I had to rely on a scan as I can no longer get my HP PhotoSmart scanner to send photos from my memory card to my computer. Which is NOT FUN!

I have googled myself silly and even paid $$$ I could not spare to load one of those file cleaners, which found almost 1200 things to be fixed. My computer is moving faster but I still get the same error when I stick in my memory card - "Application has generated an exception that could not be handled." Then it gives some codes.

I googled those and found two other people asking about the same thing on computer boards but no one had answered them. It says to click cancel to debug the application. Then it says, "Registered JIT debugger is not available." I found the RegCure program when googling this error but it has not fixed it, though I have not rebooted since I installed it, so I have a tiny bit of hope. I've actually had this error for a while but my Microsoft Wizard for cameras and scanners would pop up and take over and did fine. Now it doesn't, and when I try to run it manually it only reads the scanner as opposed to where it used to default to the memory card. It's a very old machine and very much used but I sure wish I could get it to work! I was just about to put some things up for sale and now I can't scan in my photos!

My computer does seem to be a good bit faster already! It was CRAWLING, and scanning through my files to get down to current photo files took so long. Now it is moving along. So I guess I won't ask for a refund! I will have to be frugal with our smallish memory card and save my photos on there for a while. At least I can catch up on my layouts, which are badly behind.

If anyone has any idea how to fix this, please email me!

The photo is from about six years ago, probably almost exactly, just a few months after Jing came home. That sweet smile she has is very deceptive of what was going on behind the scenes, but it's very cute!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Princess Leia Hearts Santa Claus

Lily had the funniest dream last night, especially considering Jing is the Star Wars nut and neither have ever believed in Santa Claus. She dreamed Princess Leia had a major crush on Santa and was sending him notes, pleading with him to be her boyfriend, saying "Be Mine" and "I Love You!" It was a long dream but it ended with Santa going back to the North Pole but leaving Leia a snowglobe with a little plastic sign inside saying something like "Love Always, Santa" to remember him by. I about drove off the road I was laughing so hard! We are vigorous dreamers but that one is dadburn eccentric! Jing once dreamed there were cowboys riding around on horses trying to lasso the Disney princesses that were flying around in the sky above them. The cowboys were real, the Disney girls animated. Maybe I need to move snacktime up a bit LOL!

Today was our last day of Freedom/Splurge Week, next week back to once-a-week eating out max, and we went to our favorite eatery - Truett's (Chic-Fil-A). They have the best fast food ever. McDonald's, BK, Wendy's, et al, taste like junk next to "Chicky-Fay" as Lily used to call it when she was a preschooler begging to go. This one opened during the time Lily was madly in love with Thomas the Tank Engine, and she was thrilled to see that it had a little train track running around the ceiling with a little working choo-choo doggedly circling the restaurant again and again.

She loved eating in this real vintage trolley. Now we eat outside at a sole umbrella table behind the restaurant, even on a rather blustery cool day like today. We got our exercise bounding after napkins that kept blowing off the table! Unfortunately, my batteries died as I was trying to take their picture on the bench made out of the backside of an old Chevy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cemetery and Return to AWANA

What a day we had! We had to get up early (2:00 p.m.!) so our car could be worked on while we waited and we could still make it to AWANA in time. There was not much near the auto shop to explore, so we walked to this old cemetery. It is at the end of the drive we used to live on, so it was familiar stomping grounds. It was poignant to read the older stones, the sweet sentiments loved ones placed there. Many were war veterans. One said, enigmatically, "She did all she could."

The saddest thing was all the babies and toddlers that were there from the early 1900s. It was a good opportunity to discuss advancees in health care and the importance of the discovery of antibiotics.

From there we went to the Betterway Christian Bookstore and I picked up next year's history text used at a great buy! The tests too! It was gratifying to see the girls excitedly flipping through the pages of the book, crowing over chapters on Japan and China history and the Mayans, who Lily has a weird fascination with. I've found her more than once curled up at the bookstore with a huge tome titled "Aztecs and Mayans." From about 7 to 9-1/2, she was utterly enchanted with Ancient Egypt, mummies, pyramids, the Book of the Dead. Jing's interests never waver - dogs, cats, animals, drawing, cars.

Then we spent an hour at another branch of our library, then off to AWANA for the first time since the year started in August. The girls were a bit nervous but it went fine and their friends welcomed them back. Lily had memorized eight verses and Jing seven, which is amazing. I enjoyed some time to myself grocery shopping and then we went for Chinese! We love China House as they serve on paper plates and you take your own food to the table so no tip, and the price is the same as a fast-food meal - and it's delicious! As you can see we are eating down the last few bits of Almond Fried Chicken! A great day!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Growth from old Limbs

I so dread the heat that comes after the all-too-brief spring, but it is hard not to be moved by the beauty of new life in spring. These old peach trees (we think that's what they are) looked dead, but our landlord hopefully pruned them year before last when we moved in. They put out branches last year and this year there are shy little blossoms popping out to charm us, a beautiful juxtaposition against the gnarled old wood.

Monday, March 9, 2009

L and J Discover More History

Today's photos were supposed to be out and about, but as we got out, our car refused to start back up. We had quite an adventure hiking over to a nearby mall in search of a phone and finding they had removed all the pay phones in the mall! We went begging at the Sear's auto and a nice man drove over where we were and banged on the starter with a tool and it started, but he said to go home as it would probably do it again, so back home we came. We went on a lovely walk by the river. The frustrating thing about living with this river is there are no good places to get down to it, especially for arthritic knees! My little mountain goats, however, manage quite well and found some rocks where they could walk out onto the river today. The bridge you see is part of the highway we live off of.

As they were gazing around at the water, Lily said, "I see human-made rocks!" There was a sawmill and store on the river in Civil War times and I believe these are part of the walls of one of them, coming right out of the river! We had no idea these were down there!

Another nice surprise today was getting Grace Lin's newsletter email and finding she had featured Lily's letter with her little Mandarin dress made out of handmade Japanese paper. It was so neat! Unfortunately I didn't see it on the web link to her newsletter but if you get it by email, that's Lily's letter!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daisy Doozie - or 3 Girls and a Car!

I forgot my memory card in my camera today. Otherwise I would have been choosing from photos of our frenzy of running around today. First we just drove in circles, unable to decide where to go out of so many places we have missed! I drove after dark for the first time post surgery - other than a trial run at 4 a.m. - and did so-so. I don't think I will be able to do both rain and dark together at this point but still it was so much better than five months ago when I stopped driving and I was happy to be able to do it at all. I told the girls I thought we could make it to AWANA next week, and Lily said she thought she would rather just catch up on going places! Even as we were running around, we were plotting our route for my next day off on Monday!

So you get a photo of our Daisy. Daisy was born on my bed about seven years ago but that is the last time she would get on it until this last week. She is second generation feral cat, born to our Zoey, the kitten of a rescued feral cat. It amazes me that the instincts carry on still. Zoey wanted me there when they were born, but then she figured out she could hide them up UNDER our bathtub through a hole in our closet, which meant I could not get to them, so until they were able to crawl out on their own, there they lived - the bathtub babies. This gave Zoey time to indoctrinate them into the caution of humans that her mama had taught her. When I began to catch them, I tried to block them in the bathroom for safety and Zoey kept carrying them back under the tub until I finally got them all out at once and blocked the hole!

Daisy mostly wants to be outside. There is a wildness about her. I love to watch her leaping gracefully through the woods, effortlessly bounding up and along fallen trees and skittering up tall ones, and she is an avid hunter. But a few months ago she began coming in and sleeping on Lily's bed. Now she has decided my bed is the thing and has taken to hanging out under my feet in the kitchen. We love our cats but boy would I love an affectionate lap cat again! It's been great to have her in more - maybe she took heart after all my begging at the door for them to come inside on cold nights.

Daisy is such a work of art. The fur on her chin is not white but the palest of gray - on top. But if you ruffle it back, it is medium gray underneath and soft as a baby mouse, and a small bit of this darker gray appears just around her lips. Her fur is lushly thick and rich, each hair four or five different colors - if you ruffle it backwards there are layers of brown, tan, black and creamy gray. The artistry, imagination, colors, intricate details and breathtaking beauty I see in nature are why I find it so easy to believe in a Divine Creator/Artist of Life. And Daisy is a masterpiece.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Love the Library!

What bliss today to return to the library. That is, until they told me the late fees figure! Yikes! My sister took us a couple of times over the last few months but I thought the last time was just a few weeks ago. It was two months ago and we had checked out a lot of books that never got renewed! I won't say how much I owed, but let's just say I am helping fund part of the renovations they are currently performing!

Before we had this nice building, the library was rather small. It was quite exciting to have this new modern lovely building. However, I am a bit peeved they spent untold sums on a round dome that does nothing but look pretty and yet the books are still so dated! I love to read old novels but the vacation guide books, for instance, are from the 80s. I don't think the hotel prices will hold up 20-something years later! And the craft books are mostly things like macrame and bread dough creations. I can't help but wonder how many new books that useless dome cost us! And now they are enlarging the library, after I heard them moaning about not getting a budget for any new books. And if you take the time to go to another branch of the library system, they tend to have an almost duplicate set of books rather than buying different ones for each branch that can be traded around.

Nevertheless, picking up a stack of free books is pretty blissful, and it's fun to look at the vacation books and PRETEND the prices are still that low!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sweet Freedom

Today for the first time in a full five months, I got in my car and drove my children out to have Chic-fil-A, to the bookstore, to Target, to get gas for 1.78 a gallon. Last time I put gas in my car it was 4.12 a gallon. Then on the way home, we all got a movie! The Blockbuster guy said, "WHERE have you been!?" Unfortunately I left my camera at home, but here is a photo of today's treats in celebration of recovered independence, minus the Breyer's ice cream and Magic Shell topping, first ice cream in over five months as we've had to jam our tiny freezer with veggies and meat as the trips to the store were few and far between. Boy is my mood dramatically improved!

Even the months before I had to hang up the car keys, our driving was very limited as my vision worsened, every trip a stress-laden nightmare of straining to see and angry people riding my bumper, so this is just an incredible day. As we were sitting at the umbrella-covered outdoor table eating our lunch and looking at the clear blue sky, Lily sighed contentedly and said, "This is just the Perfect Day."

I was terrified to get behind the wheel as my vision is SO different than it has ever been, and I simply could not tell whether or not I could safely drive until I did it. I meant to drive up and down the drive Tuesday before work but couldn't bring myself to do it, so as soon as I got up today I hopped in the car and drove to get the mail. With not one problem! I figured if I could see on a dirt drive, I could see on the road, and sure enough I had no problems and in fact it is so much better than the last two years - and maybe ever - it was incredible! And no glasses! I have worn glasses since age 8 and had terrible vision even pre-cataracts. To drive with only my post-surgery sunglasses on is like a miracle! Even if I can't read the TV Guide or my watch LOL!

We didn't try dark driving, but it was getting dark as we drove home and it was a little trickier but not so bad. Lily's already hinting about the Terra Cotta Warrior exhibit and several other adventures yet to be had! Bring it on, I say!

Next up, my butane torch and silver clay will be arriving to try my hand at silver jewelry. I can only hope my picture of the day won't be the trailer burning down and my landlord running over with his hunting rifle to shoot me!

Postcards from afar

We have so enjoyed Post Crossing ( We mail out cards to an assigned address, which also features a profile on the person, and they register our card number and then we get a card from someone else. Sometimes we get and send replies to the same people.

Today we got cards from a 12-year-old boy in Finland, Joosua, and a 23-year-old girl in Shanghai, China, Iris, who was actually vacationing on Hainan Island for Spring Festival. She was someone we sent a card to, so who didn't owe us one, but she was excited to get a card from two girls in America who came from China! The postcard had elephants on it so Lily was thrilled! She signed it with a cute little chop. Tomorrow cards are going out to another US state and to Germany. Finland and Germany are the most common countries participating it seems, though we have sent one to Japan that never got registered as received, and received one from Canada. It's helped the long months at home have some anticipation as we head for the mailbox every day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bye-bye snow

Early this morning before I went to bed, Matilda and I took a walk on the hard-frozen crust outside and watched the new sun throw shadows between the trees. By the time I got up this afternoon most of it was gone, but what a lovely sight while it lasted.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow-rain Georgia style

This is the view out the girls' back door. We have some pretty snow falling but actually it is raining at the same time, and having been raining very heavily the last couple of days, almost causing the river next to our house to overflow, the ground is a mucky mess. This is why we have no photos of frolicking girls in the snow, though they have been in and out. I do have a picture of them outside cleaning up the trash the raccoons tore open all over our porch, leaving their little footprints as evidence, but I'll save that one for the family album.

I wish I had had the camera when we took our walk yesterday and the river was sloshing over the sides and we saw countless trees bobbing like corks as they sped their way through the rough water. Nature is apparently having a little fun and frolic after a long dry spell.