Monday, January 25th, 2021

test post

for this test post, I am sharing the lyrics to

“Roving Gambler”

I am a roving gambler I gambled all around
Whenever I meet with a deck of cards
I lay my money down
Lay my money down, lay my money down

I had not been in Washington many more weeks than three
I met up with a pretty little girl
She fell in love with me
Fell in love with me, fell in love with me

She took me in her parlour, she cooled me with her fan
She whispered low in her mother’s ear
I love that gambling man
Love that gambling man, love that gambling man

Oh daughter oh dear daughter how can you treat me so?
Leave your dear old mother
And with a gambler go
With a gambler go, with a gambler go

My mother oh dear mother you can not understand
If you ever see me a coming back
I’ll be with a gambling man
With a gambling man, with a gambling man

I left her here in El Paso and I wound up in Maine
I met up with a gambling man
Got in a poker game
Got in a poker game, got in a poker game

We put our money in the pot and dealt the cards around
I saw him deal from the bottom of the deck
And I shot that gambler down
Shot the gambler down, shot the gambler down

Well, now I’m in the jailhouse got a number for my name
The Warden said as he locked the door
You’ve gambled your last game
Gambled your last game, gambled your last game

I am a roving gambler I gambled all around
Whenever I meet with a deck of cards
I lay my money down
Lay my money down, lay my money down

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Visit to Syracuse (the camera saga)



Today is not July 27th, 2020. Today is December 25th, 2020. It’s the tail end of Christmas day. The truth is, I rarely post my blogs on the day they are dated. The date you see is the day that the photos are taken, not the day that I write the post. I go through my photos, reconstruct a story from memory, back-date the blog post, then upload. So why am I telling you this, now? Why, after so many years?




Last spring, the children and I walked down to someplace on a close by river with Claudia’s family. I brought my camera and some water kefir. Unfortunately, the water kefirβ€” an acidic, sticky liquidβ€” exploded in the backpack & drenched my wonderful delightful beloved perfect awesome superb magnificent & all those other superlatives camera. Oh, crap. My $1,400 USD camera.




The camera worked intermittently for a while. First, the battery died quickly. Then the optical viewfinder was stuck on half-way useless. It worked long enough to me to order another camera, to be picked up at the end of summer in Syracuse. I bought the same camera. The software and some other aspects of it had been improved, which was nice. The price had also improved up to nearly $2000 USD, which I was not so terribly happy about, but the camera would make me happy, so I didn’t bother thinking about it. I’ve wasted as much money on foolish mistakes before. This would not be a foolish mistake.




I loved Lightroom. Did I tell you I loved Lightroom? I like to shoot RAW file format (unprocessed data) & do all the processing myself. It’s like being in the darkroom, only one is highly unlikely to receive chemical burns unless the computer explodes. So I bought the new camera. Unfortunately, I could not import the files into Lightroom. The old version of Lightroom that I own did not support the new camera. I would have to get the new version. The new version is the typical Adobe pay-per-month program. Even if I wanted to get the new version of Lightroom, I couldn’t get it unless I installed the newest browser on my Mac. However, both of my computers are from 2012 & are not compatible with the newest OSX browser. So in order to use my camera with Lightroom, I would have to buy a new computer. But my computers work just fine!




After bringing the camera home, I spent about a month trying to determine which development program would be best for my needs. I settled on ON1 Camera RAW, tho I can’t say I like it nearly as much as Lightroom. Nonetheless, I didn’t have to buy a new computer. However, I did have to clean up my old catalogue, organize a few thousand old photos and figure out a new way to catalogue and organize my new photos. To make a long story short, ON1 is really quite different than Lightroom.




After all that, I found that the program worked incredibly slowly on my computer. So I bought a speed-em-up, clean-em-out program to streamline all the garbage on my computer. Still slow. Finally, months later, I decided to use my relatively fast laptop for photography and my relatively slow desktop for everything else. I have yet to solve the problem of my need for another external monitor and a larger desk. I hardly know how to use the new program, which I find excessively large, disorganized, and slow. But, look! Almost exactly 5 months after taking the first photographs on my new camera, I have learned how to process & export them to post on my website for your viewing pleasure. I almost hate the program. I can’t even get a good consistent watermark across photos. I have to put a different watermark on each photo, depending on its orientation and output size. I haven’t got that square yet so you’re going to have to suffer with lousy watermarks this post. I’ve already spent two days trying to get me a good watermark. It’s just so non-intuitive. It’s un-intelligent. It almost makes me want to pay a couple hundred bucks per year for Lightroom and a few more thousand for a new computer. Which I would do, for certain, if I had nothing else I needed to do with money.





Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

Squirrel Traps! (& other things to worry about on the 6th anniversary of our wedding)

To celebrate six years of being wed, we decided to take a walk in the woods. Or perhaps we decided to take a walk in the woods & what do you know, it was our anniversary! Either way, there we were sitting down eating a snack when Martin fell asleep. Mom believes this tendency is located on the Y chromosome.




While he was resting, Iris invented squirrel traps. As you might suspect, squirrel traps are meant to trap squirrels. Anything meant to trap squirrels should somehow employ nuts. It is quite possible that the idea was inspired by a video that Dad sent us by Mark Rober, “Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.” Iris’s resources were a bit more limited than Mr. Rober’s. She dug a hole with a large stick, surrounded it by small sticks, placed a leaf on the bottom, and would bait the leaf at the proper time. This particular squirrel trap, just so you are aware, is not meant to physically trap a squirrel. It is meant to mentally trap their focus for a moment, distracting them from whatever they were concentrating on, enticing them into the hole to eat the nut. Then the squirrel would be free to go.




After much longer than you might think it would take to engineer such a trap, the work was done. Either because she figured it wouldn’t take much to distract a squirrel or because she didn’t particularly want to share her snack, Iris chose the smallest nut she could find then woke Martin for the celebratory baiting of the trap.




When we reached the place of the grandfather trees, Iris resumed building. First, she experimented with building tripods. She tried very hard. What she learned is that it is difficult to lean three sticks together and have them stay just so.




Meanwhile, Akiva continued to play toss-the-spike with an iron spike that we found in an old junk pile. He had been playing it the whole way’s down the path since the junk pile. It’s played like this: toss the spike. Walk forward. Pick up the spike. Repeat. Usually, the spike lands sideways, bounces, then spins.




In this photograph, I have managed to capture the moment the spike landed point-down in the ground. Pine needles splash like water drops.




While this is going on, I play with the panorama feature on my camera. I have never used it before. Upon developing the photos, I see that, when taking a horizontal panorama, it would be a good idea to have a long depth of field. My favorite panorama captures Martin once again enjoying the activity of woodland resting.




Having given up on building a tripod, Iris built a common four-sided gnome house with a bark roof. She chose a nice forked stick to set off the front door so that the gnomes would know how to enter properly.




Finally, I took some portraits of my children. Mom says I should just take some nice photos of them now and again. Aside from the days when I take lots and lots of photos at once, I hardly seem to be taking many photos at all lately. But the woods are lovely for portraits. Here are some regular-ol’ photos of my kiddos, so’s you can go on and admire their cuteness. Or at least so I can admire their cuteness. That’s why I take photos, really: not for you: for me.




































Sunday, June 28th, 2020

Circle Skirt 2

I wanted to make Iris a new dress. First I picked a fabric from my stash. Hmm. Yellow with green leaves. Three yards. That should be good. Then I picked an idea. I wanted to make a new version of a dress I made two years ago. Seeing as Iris was playing happily, in lieu of measuring anything (my first mistake), I decided just to go maybe two sizes up, lengthen the bodice a bit, and make the skirt a bit longer.




I made the bodice first. Lovely. Then I made the skirt. Oops. Not enough fabric. Fortunately, I’m great at piecing & I was able to piece together the circle skirt in a rather unusual, unnoticeable manner. I didn’t have any scraps large enough to cut pockets, so I cut them from a plain yellow, seeing as they would not be seen. Only the smallest, most useless scraps of fabric were left over.




I placed the pockets without measuring how long Iris’s arms are. I knew logically they should go at the top of the skirt, but I didn’t know if my circle skirt would exactly match the bodice, in terms of circumference. I wanted to leave room for possible miscalculation. My method for calculating the opening for the circle skirt is to do a bunch of math and then decrease the opening by one centimeter. I don’t know what the centimeter does, but last time, I wish I decreased the opening by one centimeter. I figured I’d better put the pockets too low instead of too high. If I put them too high, they might get cut in half if the diameter of the circle skirt is too small in diameter for the bodice due to my random one centimeter alteration. So I put them on the skirt, about three inches from the top. Things I do in a calculated manner I do in centimeters; things I do haphazardly I do in inches.




I used the rolled-hem foot for the first time on the bottom of the circle skirt. It turned out perfect, thank you. Then I attached the bodice to the skirt. That was also perfect! Thus, my random pocket placement is about 2.5 inches too low. Ugh. Useless! Finally, I went through the button box. I absconded with approximately 15,429 buttons from my mother’s house, so I always have the perfect button for every occasion*. In this case, I chose a pair of matching carved vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. Magnificent! I will not allow her to wear the dress anywhere.




For a photo shoot, we went to our new favorite spot on the Massawippi River. I discovered it one day when our old favorite spot had been just been shat upon. The shitter was still there. His shit was covered in flies and surrounded by toilet paper. He had shat right in the middle of the trail. Disgusting! I could tell it was him. He had stayed there a while, unpacked all his bike bags, eaten, and pooped in the middle of the trail. We biked up past him, right to the spot he used for a toilet, and he quickly got packing and left. Disgusting. So we had to leave, too, seeing as the spot was now ruined. The new favorite spot is lovely, tho.




I really don’t know what kind of occasion this dress is good for. Although I generally just let her wear the dresses I make anywhere, this one is a bit much and a bit more easily stained, due to its color, than the others. I suppose she can wear it to school, should school start up again in the spring. It should fit her for a couple of years. We will see if she still likes circle skirts and mama dresses when she is ten.







*NOTE: My mother does not have the perfect button for any occasion. In fact, she is no longer an owner-of-buttons. Sorry, Mom. I took them while you were plastering the ceiling. I thought you wouldn’t notice.**


**NOTE: Actually, Mom, you gave them to me saying that you probably wouldn’t use them any time soon. You would have been right had it not been for the completely unforeseeable global pandemic. The simple precaution of leaving you six plain buttons to make straps on which to hook your ear elastics to would certainly have prevented the pandemic in the same manner that carrying an umbrella keeps away the rain and that hanging the laundry is sure to induce a downpour. What I mean to say is, thank you for the buttons.

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Grotto, again

I took a photograph of my children here on October 19, 2017.

They have grown!



I love them so.


Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Iris & a New Doll

I finished a new doll.

Iris said, “You used to take pictures of me holding dolls.”

And so I did, again. This one will be going to France.











Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Massawippi River

We ride the cargo bike down to the bike path on the Massawippi.




We get wet.

Monday, May 25th, 2020

We walk upstream from the school

We walk down through the school woods then turn left, back up the hill, where the stream goes under the culvert.

The children practice crossing and re-crossing a log.











There are many people footprints here. There are also raccoon footprints, ‘possom footprints, mouse footprints, and various bird footprints. Akiva finds snails to be the easiest animal to track and spends some time judging a snail race.





Upstream, we find many bones of a long-dead horse. Iris takes home some teeth.

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

More Rabbits







Six kits were born on April 26, 2020.

One died the next day.

One was paralyzed in its hind legs and had to be put down.

Four bunnies remain.





Even Martin thinks they’re cute.



Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Train Engine at the Station (Unit Blocks)

Akiva asked Martin to play with blocks. Martin wanted to build something new: I started building parking garages for Akiva’s cars a few years ago, & although it’s not getting old for Akiva, who is four, Martin who is 48, is a bit more ambitious. He took out his phone for inspiration. A few hours later, one engine and one coal car stood on a slightly-elevated track at a train station. Fantastic!





The engineer climbs into the engine.





The rest of the people get off the orange bus. They wait to board the platform.





Slowly, slowly they climb a great staircase where one single rise is higher than their shoulder.





The people at the top of the platform mill about,

discussing where they will sit.





“There is an engine and a coal car,” one person says.

“The engineer won’t let us ride with him, and the conductor won’t let us ride in the coal car!”

“Where does this train go, anyway?” says another person.





An angry mob debarks the platform. One person is trampled in the rush.





Infuriated by the inconvenience, they storm back to their bus.





Still, the train waits at the station. Where does this train go?