Total homeschool post – almost – well, never mind

It’s been a while since I’ve checked out homeschool blogging circles but I was in a couple several years ago and eventually dropped out of them as most were indeed homeschooling for religious purposes, and then those that were not tended to be either suburban or nearly rural and very do it yourself kind of people and very curriculum oriented and the few that were urban tended to be far more ambitious than we are and again pretty curriculum oriented and utilized tutors and many outside classes.

Plus I didn’t want to blog regularly about the homeschooling. Though I wish I did blog more about the science projects and art things and museum and puppetry excursions.

This will be a here’s-what’s-working-for-us-at-the-moment post because though lots of the Google hits I get are scum bucket googles, this blog fairly regularly get hits on the homeschool science posts, and maybe if I post what we’re up to then a likewise progressive-minded, arts-oriented, flexible type homeschooler who maybe doesn’t live in a rural area will one day stop by and leave a comment directing to their blog and I’ll get ambitious or interested and go over and look. Couldn’t hurt.

Continue reading Total homeschool post – almost – well, never mind

Fury of the artist

H.o.p. is furious at me. He believes I lost a drawing of his. I probably did. I probably threw it away. He draws ten thousand pictures a day and it’s impossible to keep them all, which he would do if he could. We haven’t the room so I sort them out occasionally and throw away the obvious prep drawings and many others. He says, anyway, that up front was a drawing for an animation he was doing and it’s gone now. So, he is mad. I think it is also the cold. We have both hit cold-cranky.

Attempting to clean up the enormous mess of files on my computer, art and photos everywhere, I started sorting through all our digital files from the middle of 2004 when we got a digital camera. I was also sorting out pics of H.o.p.’s art and have been reflecting the past few days as to what happened where throughout 2004 I did a pretty good job of recording and scanning H..p.’s art and this somehow collapsed in 2005. I realized, going through all the folders of photos what happened.

Everything became art. And it became too much to keep up with.

Going through the photos I realize there isn’t a single thing eventually that isn’t art or performance here at home. I knew that at the time but it has been so much a part of daily life that I didn’t really how *everything* was art. There were no more plain photos of H.o.p. It was H.o.p. in costume, H.o.p. performing, not just drawings and scans of drawings but photo after photo of digital drawings he was doing on multiple computer programs, turning everything into art, spoons rearranged to be art, whole sections of rooms rearranged to be art, a sudden multiplying of sequence art, photo after photo of sequenced drawings or puppet performances. And finally H.o.p. took over the camera (my dad had given me a better one) and began taking hundreds of photos that were all art exercises, conceptual art, blurred and apparently nonsensical images as well that he did on purpose going for a particular effect, photographing everything not to record it but to make something new, to make a story. And ultimately hundreds of digital photos we had also to discard as there was no saving all of them, still leaving a copious record. He’d also begun experimenting with video but then our camera broke and our replacement camera turned out not to have sound, which took a lot of the fun out of it. And now tons of animations. He was going through them last night and was scrutinizing his older ones. “That’s no good,” he said. “All my older ones look just like separate pictures. They don’t look like animation.” He was saying he didn’t want others to see them because they weren’t like real animations and weren’t any good. I told him no, they were excellent for what he was doing at the time. That he needed to do those to learn, all part of the process.

Below is a picture he took in February. Deliberate. He plays with the camera continually, jiggling, doing high contrasts, dark against light, seeing what he can get out of it. “Isn’t that cool?” he says. I was going to adjust the levels in Photoshop but it softened the contrast and he didn’t want that. “Change it back,” he said. “I want it like it was.” He had done several videos first, the camera on the chair, so he would know exactly where to stand to get the effect he wanted.

There were a number of images that were almost all white, such as all white with a streak of blue-white, that he got out of jiggling the camera wildly while taking pictures of the white plastic venetian blinds. “Isn’t that cool?” he said. Done deliberately.

And always loads of stills from animated movies or flash animations so he can study them.

Against ceiliing light
H.o.p., age 8

Chocolate fountain only on some Sundays

Another Boingboing pointer because it is about chocolate and because the new Fernbank exhibit is on chocolate which is an exhibit making a nationwide tour.

I love chocolate but am no connoisseur, just like I love coffee but am no connoisseur, and one it comes down to it am fine with a really oily french roast. I know I like a dark hefty chocolate and so we usually get Lindt with a high choco percentage and lower ones that H.o.p. loves and we split, eating a bit at a time, because I don’t like to overload. Or Perugina.

We went to the museum with my being newly equipped with the knowledge there are three kinds of cacao beans and that few chocolatiers use the premium. I didn’t know I was going to the chocolate exhibit today, was a last minute thing, so I went not knowing what the names of the beans were and what chocolatiers use them.

Continue reading Chocolate fountain only on some Sundays

H.o.p. instructs me on art and I give just a tad return instruction

Every little budding artist is eventually struck by realism, at least for a period of time. H.o.p. tonight was looking at a drawing of two Egyptian women embracing, an older and a younger woman, in a story of his, and he was struck by the realism of the illustration. He decided to tell me about how you draw something so it looks real.

“Look how real that looks!” he says of the illustration. “How do they do that?”

“Do you want to draw something that looks real like that?” I ask.

“Yes! How can I learn that?”

“Well, you’ve seen my paintings. I do things that look real.”

“No. You use a computer. That’s not real. You don’t draw.”

“True, I use a computer for my painting right now.”

“Mom, I can show you show you how to make things look real. if you want to make something look really real you put a white dot on it for the reflected light and then put a shadow with it. Now take this robot for example, I’m drawing the shadow first. You can draw whatever you want to first. Does the shadow look real? I’m trying to make the robot look real, like he’s light and dark at the same time. So I draw a little white dot on the robot which is the light reflecting on him. The light is reflecting off his forehead. Just like the light is reflecting off that human’s forehead. I want this drawing to look like it really happened. Now time again for the shadow. This would be a good marker for the shadow…”

Thus does eight-year-old H.o.p. instruct me on making things look real with magic markers.

Since he’s adamant on making things look real, I wait a bit and then mention if he used conte crayons or pencils for drawing he could add shading. I only once in a blue moon critique anything H.o.p. draws, because he’s done so well learning on his own and pacing himself just with my giving him books and showing him things online. But I figure it’s time to talk about shading.

“I don’t want to use crayons!”

“These are a different type of crayons.”

I show him some pictures of realistic drawings done with conte crayons.

“I want those crayons!”

I show him some pictures of realistic drawings done with colored pencils.

“I want to do that!”

He does have a few colored pencils and some pastels. Maybe it’s time to get some more. He hasn’t wanted to do smudging or anything before but I go ahead and pull out some available oil pastels and ask him for a piece of paper and do a quick sketch of an imaginary apple with some highlight and shading, talking about light and shadow.

“My drawing is better than yours,” H.o.p. says. “See?” He holds up his robot next to my apple, says, “See? Look! Mine looks more real.”

Then he looks at it again and says, “Oh, yours looks more real.”

“Honey, yours is great! I was just showing you a little about smudging.”

“I guess yours is what you call a masterpiece,” he says in a disappointed voice.

“No, it’s not. Yours is great! I was just showing you smudging.”

And seriously, mine was just a lousy apple sketch done in a few seconds. His was a carefully drawn robot. His was better.

Man, I hate teaching. He puts down his markers for a while and plays with cars.

“I know how to draw pirates!” he says finally. “And to make it look more real, I can use those crayon things!” And he pulls them out.

“Wait, H.o.p.” I go and pull out for H.o.p. the remainder of what pencils I have. He’s thrilled. I do this because I know that it’ll be better for him to smudge with pencils instead of pastels at first, just because of his temperament. He likes his hands clean and the pencils will feel less nasty.

“Thanks, mom!!!”

And he sets about drawing a spaceship and another robot. He draws for a while and then gets up and washes the color off his hands and then comes back and finishes his drawing.

“Does the picture look totally real?”

I say it does, though it doesn’t. I know to him it does and he’s making a great effort and he’s learning something completely new. He’s not liked to use pencils or anything other then pens or markers before. He’s bang up with markers doing marvelous vivid pictures and can see a cartoon and recognize and memorize immediately what makes the character and draw it. He’s been so marvelous at cartooning, imparting personality and expression econimically and immediately, that I’ve pretty much stuck with these interests as far as drawing. This is his first time with something like pencils and adding shading directly onto a subject. The light direction for one part of the robot is from the left and changes to the right by the time one gets to the feet, but s’right.

“I can’t wait for dad to get home so I can show him! He will think it’s totally real! And I’ll tell him no it’s not, it’s a picture! This is my first real drawing with pencil!”

He’s loving it.

“You know, people learn shading and light by looking at a thing and drawing it, like that cup,” I tell him. “That might be something you’d like to try one day.”

“Yeah. But right now I’m drawing another pencil picture of the robot running through smoke.”

He has already picked up that pen and pencil go real well together. He’s doing another picture where it’s pen and pencil.

Gotta be careful with these things, with giving a kid some tips in such a way that they don’t feel overwhelmed or their ability negated.

“Can I use all the tools?” he asks.

“You can use every tool you want!”

“I’m proud of myself!”

H.o.p. on H2O

So I was on the phone telling Marty to pick up water on the way home.

Me: We need water.
H.o.p.: We need H2O.
Me (being dyslexic): We need HT0.
H.o.p. No, we need H2O. I’ll tell you what H2O means. It means there’s one H and 2 oxygens and when they stick together they make a liquid.

Well, he’s not quite there, but I call that a good effort.

Tonight’s long H.o.p. story is about orcas, water, ice and penguins and seals and stuff like that.

But the seals are not really bad guys. They’re just poor. They didn’t have anything to eat. The little seal said “But what can we eat.” And they helped the penguin make it home. But on the way they ran into really big predators. The first was a ferocious black bear male. And they met a time-traveling penguin and they traveled through time to when the big beast T Rex was alive. And this is what the T Rex did when he was hungry. Before they traveled back to the Antarctic they went into the ocean, the part where was the little penguin’s family and they said at least no predators are after us. And there was the orca who had turned into a good guy and he said see I didn’t eat them, I was a good guy. And the whale stumbled into a big piece of ice. And the seal stumbled into the orca’s back. And the penguin stumbled into the seal. And the orca said, Why me? And they saw that the time-traveling machine got the T Rex and the T Rex said there is my snack, and steam puffed out of his nose and his eyes were angry looking. The seal said if you don’t be quiet he’ll eat you for dinner. And the T Rex tripped on a big icicle. And at night velociraptors escaped from the time when the asteroid hit the earth and were the guards of the T Rex, the king of the dinosaurs. When the velociraptors caught the little penguin, the T Rex, the King of Tyrant lizards, was really far away. And the velociraptors were holding onto the penguin and he said let me go, let me go back to my family. And a velociraptor broke a mountain apart into tiny icicles and they ran through the icicles until they reached the T Rex’s huge footprints. The velociraptors attached the penguin’s feet to the ground, in the snow, and put rocks in front of him and in back so he couldn’t escape! The penguin said he’d try flying and tried flapping his wings but he couldn’t fly. The penguin said he had to get back to his family. The velociraptors ran through the icicles, like trying to run through sticks getting tossed, only the sticks were falling down. They trapped the penguin into a box made of rocks. The penguin said at least it was still cold in there. And the penguin got one of his feet out then another. He had to try to fly to get out. The velociraptors climbed a mountain made out of snow. And the other velociraptors made a big ball out of snow and icicles that they were going to use to call the T Rex to come eat the little penguin. They tossed the ball and it went BOOM and they said the T Rex, the King of Tyrant Lizards, will hear and come and eat the penguin. The penguin saw a shadow and it was the King of Tyrant Lizards! Its footsteps made big snowstorms and the penguin cried out, Uh oh, the beast! And the penguin saw it’s scary face. The T Rex tossed an icicle and broke open the box and caught the penguin. The T Rex said Gosh, I caught him. The guards saw the T Rex running off to put the penguin where he eats everything. And the seal and the orca stepped out and the orca said we have to save the penguin. The penguin said I’m glad you’re here, help! And the T Rex hit his hand on a big huge snow mountain and the snow fell down. All the animals went after the T Rex to save the penguin. The orca pushed the icicles way down. The velociraptors went oh no, the antarctic animals are after him! The animals saw the T Rex’s footprints. They saw a huge stegasauros that came through the time-travel machine and it ran towards them and said Excuse me, coming through! One of the penguins fell deep into the T Rex’s footprints. They said the T Rex will be bigger than an apartment building. They saw the velociraptors. The orca said Run away! We must run and pass by them! One of the penguins was stuck in the circle of guards. One of the penguins said he found a penguin on top of a tree and the velociraptors started climbing up the tree but all they were eating was air. Then they saw the T Rex. And the pteranodon flew by because all the dinosaurs came through the time traveling machine. But then it wasn’t a pteranodon, it was a flying penguin. And one of the flying penguins caught the 9 year old penguin. The T Rex was attacked. All the guards thought he was a penguin in disguise. The T Rex was defeated. And his arm fell down and his fingers fell open and out fell the baby penguin. And the baby penguin wiped off all the asteroid dust that had been on the T Rex. The penguins tossed the T Rex back in the time-traveling machine, and the velociraptors too and the T Rex came back to life again because it was back in time and the T Rex said, “Well, whatever, I’m not going in that time zone again.”

The drone bee that wasn't kicked out in the cold

H.o.p. was mortified when he learned that drone bees are kicked out of the hive to die. In tonight’s story-play-game he is a drone bee who has made himself useful by making a map of the hive (so bees can find their way to the nursery etc.) and protecting the hive from intruders. He is certain that having made himself useful in this way, he won’t be kicked out. He’s going all around telling me about the layout of the hive, about the different parts of it, including the kitchen where the royal jelly is made.

He brought this up last night when he went to bed. “Drone bees are kicked out of the hive to die.”


“What am I going to do when I’m kicked out of the hive to die?”

“You’re not a drone bee. You’re not going to be kicked out of a hive to die.”

“Oh right! I’m so glad I’m not a drone bee. But why do they kick the drones out to die?”

“Nature made them that way. Feels kind of sad, doesn’t it?”


“To us, but maybe not to bees. I don’t know how a bee feels about it. A drone bee may feel it’s perfectly natural.”

Right now he’s taking extra cells from the hive and using them as buckets to go down to the river and get water to bring back ffor the baby bees. He’s come back to the hive and he’s closing the door so the baby bees won’t fly out on their own and get hurt. Now he’s asking me if I’m hungry, having decided I’m the queen bee, and he’s bringing me royal jelly the worker bees have made.

He’s talking about how the child bees need to be told to enjoy their childhood so that they will appreciate it while they’re children and that way they’ll enjoy being adults when they’re adults.

He did a marvelous recording at the studio this weekend. He told a story and did all his own sound effects and sang his own background track. He isn’t interested in learning an instument yet but he makes music in his head for all his stories. He rehearses the story and rehearses the music separately. I was really impressed with the recording. He sounded so confidant and self-assured, going by this internal clock that had the timing of his story just so.

Anyway, now it is winter (he checked the temp) and it’s time for the bees to pack their hive and migrate. I tell him bees stay in the hive in the winter, in clusters. “Not according to the rules of our game,” he says, “this is just a game.” Everything is packed and we move, the worker bees carrying us to a far off land and while they move us we enjoy relaxing in the hive and H.o.p. talks about how comfortable it is..

“I like the peace and quiet. No bears growling…”

He guides the worker bees to a warm island where we land and we are the same size as humans here.

“Yahoo! Nobody will step on us!”

Then he asks the inhabitants, “Are we bigger, or are you the same size as bees?”

Oh good, the island has turned out to have a toy store which is good as there are children bees in the hive. Does the island have flowers that make pollen? It does and that’s good of course. Are there mosquitoes here? No, and that’s good as they’re the villains. It’s a great place, this island.

Oh, no, the mosquitoes are on their way here. Gotta go.

Bigger, smaller –"Alice in Wonderland" science

Ah, the travails and uncertainties of homeschooling. This chapter I’m naming “Alice in Wonderland” science.

We’re listening to “Carmina Burana” this morning, an old favorite of H.o.p.’s, because it was used in a video at a website on the “4th Revolt”, which I came across via Pen Elayne. The idea over at the 4th Revolt is that biogeography shows the earth is expanding and used to be much smaller. I couldn’t possibly give you the rundown. Go read. Please. Neil Adams is the author and he states…

On December 1st, 2005, articles on both expanding Earth
theory and the ether theory appeared in mainstream science
texts — my paper in The Journal of Biogeography and the
ether view in Scientific American. The title of The Fourth
Revolt refers to the current broad-based scientific revolution
involving these two theories…

The appearance of these papers in two different journals
on the same day is notable for two reasons:
1) Both theories have struggled for acceptance since the
first half of the 20th century.
2) And the theories are intimately connected: The ether
sink view of gravity provides a natural mechanism for
planetary and lunar expansion.


I read and gave a profoundly distilled account to Marty on how the 4th Revolt states there was One Earth but there wasn’t this big ocean that the One Earth split up and went journeying all about willy-nilly, that instead of subduction and regurgitation the planet is expanding, something like that, in my layman’s ineffectual way of discernment, and his first question was on increase of mass and earth’s rotation. And if you go the 4th Revolt faq it’s briefly approached. And my first question and Marty’s second question was essentially, “Isn’t the expansion of planets and moons geophysically impossible and wouldn’t it violate conservation of mass?” and that too is answered in the faq with something about views consistent with ether-sink views of gravity, which I’ve not read up on yet.

Like it will make any difference to my beetle brain when I do!

Enter “Alice in Wonderland” science.

The thing is I well remember my days in science in the hallowed halls of public education and I would look at the map on the wall and I’d think, “The earth all fit together at one point, why doesn’t anyone talk about that?” Which was back in the ancient days when men were landing on the moon and no one did talk about that, at least not in schools I went to, and so I was very excited when I learned about Pangaea, a theory controversial into the ’60s, because it had been so damned obvious to me. And then there’s the time I circled on my science test the mutiple choice answer that the earth was pear-shaped rather than round. I was in 5th grade and stared at that, thinking for quite some time that my teacher could have been listening to Walter Conkrite tell me about the earth not being perfectly round but was kind of pear-shaped, or this could be a trick question where she wanted “round” as the answer. But I circled “pear” and got it wrong and when I explained to her why I circled “pear” she told me basically I was an idiot, that the books said round and that’s all that mattered was what the books said, and I decided that science in grade school was nothing but trick questions and that was that for me and science.

So, being the child who was staring at the map in the 60’s and thinking, “It’s so obvious, it all fits together like a puzzle,” but my elementary teachers were having nothing to do with that, I look at “The 4th Revolt” and think, “What do I know? Could be.” For which reason I sat briefly with my eight-year-old son this morning and told him a little about how some people think the earth is actually expanding.

When I read things such as “The 4th Revolt” I wish for some kind of easily accessible ongoing dialogue where I could recount more of the back and forth, “Could be! Can’t be!” to H.o.p. Hate the idea of H.o.p. being fed uneducated science because of an uneducated mom who looks at something and says, “Hell, could be! Let’s talk about this!”

“I’ve decided I’m going to make a movie about the day the aliens were alive,” H.o.p. is saying behind me. Which will let you know where he is mentally right now. Just right where an eight-year-old should be I guess.

On Saturday I was reading to him about how one of Saturn’s moons is geologically alive and spewing ice. Which I figured would entertain H.o.p. and did.

Right now he’s talking about Pluto being made of ice and the aliens living on it being frozen on it. He’s talking about an alien that has two heads and one head froze and the other head didn’t and the unfrozen head said, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

No biogeographers are going to happen by my blog and give me tips on homeschooling H.o.p. on biogeography. I do know that. I’m one of the unwashed masses off whose tongue science latin doesn’t easily trip.

Anyway, not knowing big from small in “Alice in Wonderland’s” world, where things aren’t always what they seem to be, I tossed a few of the ideas of 4th Revolt at H.o.p. I played the video for him. He wanted to see it again and again, because of Carmina Burana. I told him to go put on his Carmina Burana CD as I didn’t want to have to keep skipping Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” which which the video opened and which he wasn’t interested in hearing.

“Please, can I look up aliens on Firefox which keeps you safe from viruses?” H.o.p. says. While we were all worried about IE and image viruses, I was trying to get H.o.p. interested in Firefox (which he wouldn’t use) but he insisted he couldn’t use it because of aesthetic reasons, he didn’t like the arrows. So I gave him stern warning then not to google images and go floating about the internet on IE. Now the patch is out but he in the meanwhile also absorbed that Firefox was a friend and wants to Google aliens on it.

I’m placing this in the “homeschool” category but pay no attention as .myategories so don’t work here. I categorize almost nothing. Except Hanford. I categorize that. And art.

Displaying a few musician genes

“That song is done with an accordion, isn’t it? And a piano. That’s really cool. I didn’t know that a piano could make it sound like something was about to happen in the darkness or in the big city. They had an accordion in the movie called Madeline. And that’s Russian music, isn’t it.”

He was right, it was Russian music being played.

H.o.p. now says he wants to learn accordion.

Torture and Human Rights Abuses – we gotta stop thinking of ourselves as the good guys gone bad because if the bad sleep well then America has had more than its fair share of many well-rested nights

Over at Nightbird’s Fountain the other day was made this post linking to the very pink Torture Tree.

Someone remarked in the comments area since when did we represent torture and human rights abuses and we needed to stand for freedom again.

As I noted in response in the comments area, I always feel like the bad downer drug at the party when I bring up generations of genocide and ethnocide of American Indians (how many nations utterly destroyed, reduced to a very few) and that many South and Central Americans don’t exactly love us. Plus Nagasaki and Hiroshima and Bikini Atoll and the extreme radiation carelessness with the Columbia River Basin that has made it the most toxic site in the western hemisphere. And there was slavery and the KKK and lots of lynchings of which the American public thought it a good thing to take photos and burn those photos onto postcards so as to spread the cheer. Plus the conducting of deadly science and medical experiments on unsuspecting individuals. Radiation thrown at people who had no clue and were expecting helpful health care from their government. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Hitler studied the Trail of Tears and the reservation system.

No questions asked, the U.S., well into the 20th century, was taking the children of American Indians and shipping them off to boarding school, away from families and their nations, forcibly stripping them of their language and culture. H.o.p. knows about this, I’ve discussed it with him, but he was still freaked by the exhibit on those boarding schools he saw at the Heard Museum in Phoenix earlier this Autumn. He looked at the exhibit of the barber’s chair knee deep in locks of shorn hair (not all American Indian nations believed in growing the hair long but many did) and he saw in it a torture chair and had to get out of the room. No one literally died in that chair but its intent was to kill culture. He talked about that chair for a couple of months and he still brings it up occasionally because for him it is a symbol of bad-bad-wrongs-being-done-unto-others.

The U.S. broke every single treaty made with American Indians and the ink was often not dry when a treaty was wastebasketed.

The argument that these were policies and attitudes scripted by the times and we can’t judge them is bullshit. There are numerous surviving examples of people who spoke out against abuses against American Indian nations. But the majority of Americans quite simply wanted the land and what was on it or in the ground and were furious with American Indians who said, “Stop! Thief!” And so American Indians were the bad guys standing in the way of the spread of America’s brand of free capitalism and democracy. It’s a very recent despicable history and, as the Cobell versus Norton lawsuit shows, it’s not done yet.

Young Actress with Roses (digital painting)

Young Actress with Roses
14 by 28 inches
digital painting 2005

Our power went off last night. Off and on. Off and on. Off and on. We were all just getting to sleep and I heard this wild distant sound and the power went off. Then the power came back on. Then there was again this weird distant sound and the power went off and that was that, off and on, all night long. As this happened, I lay there and half asleep I had one of those half-asleep thoughts where is this what the universe sounds like, shutting down for you, when you die. Zonk, bop, and off it goes. All kinds of whacky unbidden thoughts lately. Yesterday Marty got up and said he had found himself, upon waking, meditating on what a space alien would think of Christmas if it walked into a Christmas party, not knowing anything about Christmas, a stream of thought that prompted him finally to think, “Get out of my brain!” and cut off the proceedings because it was a ridiculously meticulous meditation. About the same time I had found myself thinking, “Whatever in the world brings the thought of Dorothy Stratten to my brain?” Because there she was suddenly, a woefully 1980’s blonde Galaxina sitting on her space ship robot’s throne. I never think about Dorothy Stratten and had no reason to be thinking about her. I’ve seen Galaxina a couple of times and thought it was a fun film but the last time I watched it would have been at least ten years ago.

Not that strange unbidden thoughts don’t happen every few minutes but yesterday our brains were apparently more confused than usual by them.

So the power goes off and Marty cut off this and that around the apartment and we still got up this morning to a burned out aquarium pump, and it was no cheap pump. Damn! And then the new LCD monitor, the one that took me forever to calibrate, which I’m still questioning whether it will work for me, wouldn’t come on. Said it was in power save mode and for me please to move my mouse and I did but still it wouldn’t come on so I rebooted and it came on finally. The video card is messed up because the monitor now looks like hell. The new machine, back last night from being tweeked, sits in the corner and maybe today we will or I will be able to finish transfering everything over and get it set up. It may have to be today as the last time two times the power died (it dies frequently here) it took 30 to 40 minutes to get H.o.p.’s computer back on. We have a battery back-up/surge protector on mine. We should get one for H.o.p. too.

Our mail around here sucketh. Relatives mailed cards to H.o.p. at the time of his birthday, December 2nd, and they didn’t get here until yesterday. Nearly two weeks. And that included a card mailed for him in town on December 2nd. A lot of mail we’ve been waiting on for a couple of weeks didn’t get here until yesterday. But some cute cards for H.o.p., celebratory. He had great fun opening them.

We are still figuring out Christmas here. UPS knocked on the window yesterday and apologized for waking me up though I wasn’t asleep. All my life people apologize for waking me up, in sight and on the phone. I must look and sound perpetually sleepy at first auditory and visual glance and it has been extremely annoying, for decades, to have everyone say they’re sorry for waking me up, including my mother-in-law who can say that even if I’ve just stepped out of the car. In the box was a popcorn maker from a relative. I never think of Christmas until the last minute but that and the cards had me looking around Amazon, anywhere, this AM, trying to figure out Christmas gifts. H.o.p. was all excited about the popcorn maker, never having seen one, a microwave popcorn boy. It’s an on top of the stove type. He puzzled over it for the rest of the afternoon. He made dinosaurs out of the styro-popcorn-pellets. “Math, math!” I kept saying now that he’s getting over his cold. “Math! Math!” I said. He replied, “How did the world get here?” and I wanted to hit him over the head as I’ve told him that story a dozen times, what anyone believes they know about it, and he’s seen film on it numerous times at Fernbank. (Which reminds me, there’s a film on the Nile at Fernbanik’s IMAX I promised him we’d see.) I wasn’t up for talking about the beginnings of the world yesterday for some reason. Just wasn’t in me.

He’s still coughing. I’m dribbling kleenex again. Marty said he felt awful yesterday.

As for the header, it is a portrait of my young actress niece. I call that some sense of presence to be eleven and pull off that expression and pose. When I was photographing her for the portrait when she received the roses, she was herself but when she was back on stage during the strike and saw me taking shots she went into the pose. (And, Bibi, if you’re reading this, isn’t she gorgeous?)

That’s what I’ve been working on since Sunday. Hell was painting in every single one of those flocked things on the dress. But this portrait needed all those little flocked dots. For one thing it needed to be a record of her and her roses and the dress her mother made for her for the play. Also, just too stark without the flockings. Needed some activity. Spent hours on a background that you can hardly see, just painting and repainting and paint over, layer on layer on layer, to get some good depth to it. Simple black wouldn’t do. Not with that light-colored dress and shawl. Simple black background and she became all black eyes and nothing else. May have worked with just a facial portrait but not this.

To me she looks remarkably like this portrait Antonello da Messina did, a Sicilian painter, renaissance years. It’s always funny what stares out at you from the canvas. With my niece it was her father and then the man in the Messina portrait, the same mouth. And the shape of the eyes.

You say, “Why didn’t you take the roses out of the cellophane in the painting?”

Because I like the way the wrappings push the eye up to her face.

I am still not happy with the calibration on this monitor. Today I realize it is a tad contrasty. Seems to be. This is going to drive me nuts. Am right now running VGA and will switch over to DVI cord on the new machine and it was looking contrasty on that as well. Can’t afford one of those expensive calibration meters.

And of course most people don’t even have their monitors calibrated so what they’re seeing on the screen begs the trash can.

Can’t right now check my calibration against a print as my printer is cheap and for some reason now had begun printing all reds and nothing but. But my former monitor was spot on, I know that, though at the end it was getting just a touch darker.

Driving me nuts, I say. Nuts. Bang my head against the wall despairing nuts.

The day before the day when many will be dozing on turkey

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. If you look back a couple of posts you’ll see the picture of a dead turkey and a comment on Edward Curtis. That’s my sideswipe version of a Thanksgiving commentary, I guess. But I hope everyone who drops by and reads this post has a good holiday weekend.

Right now I’m deep in morosing over computers. No, I still have not purchased a monitor. The past couple of months when I was talking about how next we would be upgrading H.o.p.’s computer, in the next year and a half, I was pretending that my monitor wasn’t on its way to dying, sometimes not coming out of sleep mode. Then I was certain it had died and hadn’t, and then again. And finally the other day it wouldn’t come on for a number of hours and finally did and I have it now set to no sleep ever at all and we can only hope the power doesn’t go off here again for a little while like it did six times day before yesterday. At least not for an extended period.

Continue reading The day before the day when many will be dozing on turkey