Daily Post – Interest

via Daily Prompt: Interest

You might be interested to know that Stan Watkins, talented electrical engineer, Vitaphone director, and thinker, also had lots of other interests. From a very young age he was fascinated by nature, both alive – insects, butterflies, and moths – and dead – fossils.

fossil fish

In my attic there are boxes and boxes of specimens caught and carefully mounted as people did in the Victorian age. He kept up his interest after retirement and even got his grandson  interested. There’s a tiny slip of paper giving the date each insect or butterfly was caught in Stan’s hand made net, and one says “Danny, 1969” (Dan would have been 9 years old).

SSAW butterfly collection 010

When I checked on the collection, for the first time in decades, opened the boxes with care and was interested to see that they were so beautifully sealed that the insects inside were mostly in perfect condition.

Nowadays we prefer to see them alive and flittering around (except perhaps house and horse flies!). But what an example of patience and scientific study which Stan explored with interest throughout his long life.

(P.S. please excuse the dates which my camera always puts on when I take a picture.)

 

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Daily Prompt: License (sic) to drive?

I have been known to drive without a licence (UK); unwittingly, to be sure. On occasion I let it run out; not noticing when I should have renewed it, although it is a month to the day after my birthday. Now I’m over 75 (a long way over!) the American license has to be renewed every year. Incidentally, over here it is a license – they don’t differentiate between the noun (licence) and the verb (license) as the Brits do. I wonder why?

We were signing up for a hire car and my PA said “My wife will be the second driver.” I handed over my driving license (US) only to be told “This has expired.” Blush. Guess who had to do all the driving that trip?

We were abroad when it ran out last time, but I had my British licence (UK) which was still valid. The first thing we did when we got back to the States at the end of December was to visit the MVD – Motor Vehicle Department. At the main office the renewal is free, but the privately run ‘express’ ones charge about $15. Their motto is “Why wait?” and my PA always goes to one of those. He doesn’t like waiting around.

This time we not only had to wait, but we then discovered that new rules had come in that November. Of course, they can’t warn you personally but we weren’t around to read about it in the paper. So when our turn finally came, we learned I now had to show my official Social Security card (I knew the number but that wouldn’t do), and my birth certificate or passport, and also proof of current residency at our home of 30 years.

So back home we went to search for the SS card – put away for safety last June, but thankfully I found it first place I looked. I took it with my passport and a utility bill dug out from the 6 months of mail awaiting attention. But that wasn’t enough. We needed two proofs. So back home to dig out another one and for the third time, back to the MVD. And of course, my PA had to do all the driving.

A new photo was taken, a written test done on the office computer, and finally I was done, having spent the entire morning going back and forth; very frustrating. “Why wait?” indeed. But at least I would now be able to drive.

I was so glad it was over I didn’t check the temporary paper license (US) they give you while the real laminated license (US) is being produced. About two weeks later the license (US) arrived; I was very pleased, until I noticed there was a W beside the (which means I have to wear glasses when I drive). That puzzled me until I saw “Restricted Driving License.” That means you cannot use the ID for getting on a plane.

This really bugged me. I realized (US) that illegal immigrants getting US driving licenses for ID purposes is a very controversial item these days, but hey, I’m nothing if not legal.

So back to the MVD, and another wait. Human error, they said. Luckily for her the gal who dealt with me the first time was not there to vent my annoyance upon. Another long-winded effort, waiting for the supervisor to help sort out the mistake, and a new photo to be taken; at least, I didn’t have to go through the whole shebang again, and I went away with a new temporary license (US) – unrestricted.

All’s well that ends well. I now have a valid driving license (US). So after all that I am now legally licensed (US & UK) to drive. Until next time.

Color your world: Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown

jan-2-2017-068My feet get cold in winter, even in the house, so I like to have slippers that reach up over my ankles. And these did – just. But they were quite cozy as the cuffs hugged my legs. And as you can see, they were very fuzzy-wuzzy and definitely brown.

Soft slippers, however, don’t hold up very well after long use, and for some reason one of them began to sag a bit to one side at the heel. Nothing to do with the way I walked, of course. Oh, no. We always followed our mother’s gait, one foot in front of the other – Indian style, as she used to say. But somehow one heel had begun to slide over to one side. This made it very uncomfortable – though it still kept my foot warm. I even wore them on the wrong feet sometimes but that didn’t even it out.

Then we went to London. In June. So I didn’t take my fuzzy-wuzzy brown slippers. But the house in London was chilly. New Mexico is so nice and dry one doesn’t feel the cold so much, but a rainy, damp day in London can be very cold. Even in June. I did have some over-the-ankle slippers there, gray ones, but – guess what – they were wearing down just like the ones back in Albuquerque. However, needs must, and I slopped around in them whenever the weather dictated.

Meanwhile my PA was slopping around in his traveling slippers, but they are black, so they don’t fit into this story. For a while it sounded like an old people’s home with both of us shuffling around on the wooden floors. Wait a minute, we are both old people, but at least my house smells better.

So one day I took the bus to Croydon where there is a big shopping center (we don’t call them malls in England). I love having a day just to wander around and check out everything. This time I was looking for a Clarks’ shoe shop. They seem to fit my feet best – wide at the front, narrow at the heel – though they are not cheap. Luckily it was sale time – isn’t it always, these days? So I got myself a natty pair of navy blue (though AP says they are black) suede booties with sort of netting at the sides and zips up the back. Less than half price, too. I will feel really chic wearing them after living in trainers. Or sloppy slippers.

But I digress. Back to the fuzzy-wuzzy brown footwear. As I strolled around the Whitgift Center (wondering who Whitgift was to have a Center named after him/her) I chanced upon another shoe shop and lo, there they were: the perfect pair to replace my worn out slippers. They were in my size. They were brown. But the nicest thing was the fuzzy-wuzzy wool lining. These would come back to Albuquerque with me, I decided. As they look like boots and have a rubber sole I even kept them on for the flight back – ah, comfort and warmth.

I love them so much, and I’m sorry London; we’ll have to make another trip to the Whitgift Center to get some ‘over there’ slippers next time. These ones are staying right here.

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Winter Flowers

I’ve been watching the garden here in London for a couple of months. There is a ginko tree out back, one of my mother’s favorite trees. My son planted it in her memory a long time ago. It is now very tall and hides the side of the house behind us. It’s fun to watch the changing colors of the leaves as autumn weather gets colder, until finally its bare branches glitter in the low sunlight. (Nov.5, 11, 28) ginko-1
ginko-2ginko-3

Then I looked out this morning and noticed some tiny yellow spots on the back fence, which turned out to be delicate yellow flowers – winter jasmine, I think. We did a lot of pulling out tangled greenery this summer, and I didn’t even know this plant was there. I photographed it next to one of the candle holders that give the back fence a nice glow in the summer evenings.

winter-jasmine-2

For the festive season, here are a couple of photos of our enormous holly tree. It is simply covered with berries this year. A blackbird hen uses it for her abode, carefully darting in through the prickles, or pecking away at the berries on the other side. We also have a little robin who is too quick for my camera. He likes the small black berries from the creeper vine. He comes most mornings, and stands on the compost bin looking at us through the dining room window before he, too, takes his breakfast.

To all my readers, thank you, and I wish you all a Happy Hollyday!

Daily Prompt: Original

via Daily Prompt: Original

We spent a year in Australia, home of the Aborigines – the original people of that land. In Alaska the native people are known as Aboriginals.

But since the prefix may have a negative meaning – abnormal, abjure, aberrant, abuse, abduct, etc – I think the first native peoples should be called “Originals” without the AB.

Just a thought, and it’s probably just a question of etymology. But anyway….

Daily Prompt: My Computer is Shivering

That’s just what it does when that annoying box comes on saying “connecting to the printer” and when the print information comes up and I click on it, it just shivers. Often I didn’t click on Crtl & P and I don’t want to print anything, but the same message comes up. And then the document showing on my computer screen shivers.

Honestly that’s exactly what happens, it shivers, and then doesn’t print. It doesn’t even put a note of what I want to print in the box, so somewhere it has gone missing.

At least I know now how to explain what I can see happening, so thank you whoever thought of a computer “shivering.”

Daily Prompt – Learning – Rhubarb

Yesterday was apples and I forgot to show you the fluffy apple ‘mousse’ that I cooked yesterday. If you look carefully you can see the cubes of the ‘other’ apples that are soft but not as fluffy as the cookers.Newcastle 009

But today I was learning about rhubarb – not only how to spell it (I keep starting ‘ru..’) – but about the fruit itself. Did you know that you could have green rhubarb? We are so used to seeing the pure red sticks at the green grocers , and our home grown variety is part red and part green with a pink core, but a wholly green plant just looks unripe.

But not so, it’s a true rhubarb. Apparently it is just as delicious as the others. But I still like the red kind.

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This was my job today, and here I am chopping the green end of a red rhubarb. Pete cut the sticks yesterday and I showed you a basket full of this yummy fruit in my blog about chopping apples. There must have been more than 100 sticks! So I began. Chop, chop, chop. Slice the very thick stems in half and then chop, chop, chop.

The pieces are to be frozen so they are packed into plastic bags, approximately 2 kilos each; I filled five bags. Chop, chop, chop. You can see the mix of red and green – the green ones have a pink center. Such a pretty fruit, and very versatile.

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For instance, rhubarb and ginger ice cream (which we had with the end of the apple crumble), and rhubarb chutney. My son requisitioned half a bag of pieces that I had just chopped and without delay whipped up the chutney ingredients, from his own recipe, and it proved really delicious.

Here’s the wonderful mixture boiling up, and then cooked to perfection. The test for readiness is to make a shallow ‘trench’ through the top of the mixture; if the groove remains, it is ready to pot up.

All the rhubarb has been harvested, it will grow up again next year. But the apples are still falling; I could hear the thuds as I was chopping them, and will continue to ripen, then the plums will be ready.

A  gardener’s work is never done; it’s a continuously learning experience, too. But you can’t say it isn’t rewarding. For, no matter how much my arm might ache tomorrow, I’ll relish (literally) the results of my labours.

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