Friday, February 29, 2008

February 2008

Corner of my home

Corner of my home

Just a little corner of my home, the top of my dresser, showing how cheaply I decorate. The pods are from a trumpet vine, in a vase that probably came with a bouquet I received long ago. The doves are from a thrift store, no more than $3, repainted with pearlized paint. And although you can't see it, the doves are sitting on top of my jewelry box that I bought with my first real paycheck in 1976 -- with FICA taken out and everything -- which holds mostly inexpensive but sentimental treasures.

Soon it will be time to think of some other little arrangement for this spot, and others, to celebrate warm weather and green things. What about you? Do you have a corner to share? A thrift store beauty that needs to be shown off? Or a little arrangement that soon will be replaced with a fresh nod to Spring?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Full Bloom

Full Bloom Valentine

This is a bit of a cheat -- a back dated post of a picture taken last week -- but I wanted to be reminded of this beautiful bouquet any time I look back at February 2008.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Song of the Day

Ain't Got No...I Got Life

I didn't realize I could rejoice because I got my boobies and my liver! Crazy. How did I completely miss the masterful Nina Simone (1933-2003) on my radar before now?

Thank you for turning me on to her, Mr. K.

And to GodInLA, I submit this as a long-distance dedication to you today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The moments we were more

"More Moments"

Treat yourself to a listen to my son-in-law David's new song, "Yes yes" from his Cloud Factory EP.

face it i'm not coming home
no i could never be your man
but for the moments we were more
than anyone would know
and i always said i was just busy
you thought that pretty lame i'm sure
still wear the watch you gave to me
with hand made box and bow

and it was always yes. yes. to everything
but we're moving much too fast
and i couldn't hide the shame i felt
in what little light we had to lay by
but i'll never hurt you a third time
no i'm never gonna love you evaline
because you're never gonna love me all the time...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winter's Blue Skies

Winter's Blue Skies, West Odessa, Texas

I thought it was interesting after I posted that email I received yesterday that I got a lot of comments outside my normal circle and so quickly. Just goes to show you the power of Google search. Whatever it was I'm not interested in that particular venture.

Frances asked how I felt about ads in blogs. Being the capitalist that I am, I don't have a moral objection. I enjoy several blogs that take ads, for example WiseBread and Lifehacker. I appreciate the work and valuable information that goes into them day in and day out. I am sure it is the income from ads that enables those writers to devote themselves to their subjects that otherwise they wouldn't be able to afford to do. We all gotta eat.

The moral test for me, though, is being honest about ads. There are blogs that act like a personal blog, but are actually one on-going ad for some product or another, usually an ebook. After a few posts, it quickly becomes obvious what they are up to and then has the exact opposite effect by making what they're hawking seem bogus to me. There also are blogs that are nothing more than consumers-for-hire, paid to favorably review products, without disclosing that fact. That's just two examples of blogs I've seen that rely upon your believing they are something they aren't in order to sell you crap. I'm sure there are more.

Ultimately for me, this blog is my personal place to reach out to other like-minded people, to make new friends, and to challenge myself creatively. But should I ever venture into something else, I would say so up front.

By the way, if you are adamant yourself about no-ad blogging, then check out the adfreeblog logo you can put on your blog. If on the other hand, you are curious about receiving revenue from blogging, then here's the first review of blog ad systems that I found.

Note: This, like all my 416 previous posts, is ad and revenue free. (And worth every penny.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Free Hugs Campaign

Youtube video of Free Hugs Campaign

I am probably the last person to hear of Juan Mann's video and campaign. But in case you haven't either, treat yourself to a virtual hug and a real appreciation for something so beautiful in its simplicity.

I wept when I read how his story started.
I'd been living in London when my world turned upside down and I'd had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

A strange, unsolicited email I received

Anyone else ever get something like this?

Subject: Advertising Inquiry

We have reviewed your blog on behalf of one of our
clients that would be interested in placing advertising with you.

Client profile :
DoingFine (
New project (<1 month old) Theme A forum dedicated to those things that came out right and worked out fine.

We'd like either a 150x150 button, 160x600 skyscraper or 468x60 full banner (or footer). Alternatively, we may be interested in text-only advertising.

This would be a weekly, monthly or yearly arrangement. In either case we will require a one time, one day (24 hours) free placement in order to test the quality and quantity of traffic your website can actually provide*. Within this interval, we will make a final determination, based on the traffic volume, quality, and your asking price. Should we find your terms acceptable, this trial day will count towards the agreed interval.

Kindly let us know if you would be interested, which arrangement best suits your editorial needs, and what rates you would like to charge. We prefer using PayPal but may be able to accomodate alternative payment methods.

Thank you.

*Please note that we employ software that reliably detects autoclick and autosurf bots, pay per click and paid to surf type traffic, and other such non-human traffic. This may be a concern for you, especially if you are buying "bulk traffic", or employing the services of dubious "SEO experts".

My faded two lips

My faded two lips

Compared to the daisies and the lilies, the tulips seemed to be a rush. They didn't wait. Instead they bloomed with wild abandon and too quickly for me to get a worthy portrait of them. There's a moral to this story somewhere.

Friday, February 22, 2008

One Orange Gerber

"One orange Gerber"

Looking into the center of one of the Gerber daisies Audrey gave to me. If that isn't a good way to start the day, there is no good way.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Little Windows

"Little Windows" Odessa, Texas

I remember back in maybe 1971, my mom and her best friend Peggy participated in a radio contest in Roswell, New Mexico. I remember them piling up their kids, five of us, in the back seat of the Pontiac station wagon. And off we'd go scouting for the day. The prize was to be found at the location indicated by the clues. I recall it ultimately was a check taped to the underside of a canon on the courthouse lawn. Or perhaps not. I was a kid and don't remember the details, but distinctly remember catching their excitement and thinking they were the two most fun ladies on the planet. I'm sorry to report that they didn't win.

Remember that, Mom?

I also remember when I was first married, very young, a radio station here had a similar contest. The clues given were for a make of car (something celestial -- a Nova maybe?) and its location. If you submitted the correct license plate number to the car, it was yours! I sorely needed a decent car at the time. Again I'm sorry to report I didn't win.

What does this have to do with the picture above? Well, I've often thought it would be fun to put together a local road rally contest based on pictures like the one above. Not only would contestants have to figure out what each landmark is, but since it is now 2008, they would have to get the gps locations. The winner would be the one who submitted the sum, or the closest sum, of the gps locations. Or something like that.

And since most of you don't live in Odessa, I guess I'll give away the answer to my imaginary contest. It's this place.

There you have it. Just some little meandering, fun thoughts that cross my mind with my morning coffee.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Happy Anniversary

"Joy" Double Exposure

Today marks my first anniversary of blogging Photo A Day. In that time, amazing things have happened because of photography, because of this blog.

In the last year, I have had countless hours and days of enjoyable creative outlet. I have been introduced to new friends that are encouraging and generous of their time and talents. They (that's you guys) have inspired me with blogs of humor, stamina, and works of art. I've enjoyed immersing myself into these worlds, near and far.

I have had new adventures, moments literally in the sun specifically because of the commitment to this blog. There have been a string of days where this endeavor has saved me by just by having camera close by and a persistent hope of using it.

I received the gift of a newer and better camera from my mom because of the efforts I posted here. Personal excellence through photo blogging has created an even deeper bond between myself and my like-minded friend Donna.

I like to think that my blog is part of a larger picture, an encouraging exchange that helps propel us into real, timeless, fearless moments. I have learned and been blessed by so much by being here among you, like-minded spirits.

Over the year I see I have been improving my skills as I had hoped. I've gained confidence because of your reactions to some of my better posts. And because of that encouragement a new dream is incubating, a new dream of camera, Donna, and our shared desire to learn more about hardy West Texas people.

Sure, it's "just blogging," but it has been a joy and a journey of multi-layers of meaning for me. Here's to a second year of a commitment to just blogging, and to whatever unimaginable things that may bring.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Batting cage abstract

After catching up with my posts this morning, I thought I'd spend a little time replying here to inquiries that have been on my mental list:

Quite a while back Bev asked, Which house is mine? Bev, I'm a little surprised you didn't figure it out, using your immense love and awareness of animals. Does that give you a hint?

About the Devil's Claw Valentine, I have to chuckle that several of you noted my romantic nature and a few of you also noted my new cynical point (point, get it?) of view. Irene wanted to know how big the pod is. Imagine the claws wrapping around the toes of your shoe to hitch a ride with you.

I've loved reading the various comments about the ongoing adventures of the pie melon. And I think it's a hoot that dear mom is the only person I know that has also tasted it. It's true the apple doesn't fall from the tree. Or a melon from the vine. ;) To answer Rima's question about the seeds, I believe I read that they are are nutritious -- but are they tasty? I'll keep my eye out for some ripe ones in the field and let you know, seeing as how I'm fearless now. And for Irene's comment about the pioneers being either brave or foolhardy, I guess they were more than a little of both. And hungry.

I'm so glad y'all enjoyed the pictures of the Little Wonders. Your guesses about the tracks were delightful and made me laugh. After some more pondering, I myself wondered if it was a little fellow dragging something home for his family. Irene and others have said they love (and even covet) my camera. I agree. It's a fine camera and I can't thank my mother enough for it. And as all things electronic, it is no longer as expensive as it originally was. Previous to receiving this camera I had one that gave me fits, a Nikon Coolpix. But, recently, I went back to it and played with it a bit, using some tricks that seemed to overcome some of my original problems with it. My biggest complaint was in order to push the shutter, I inevitably moved the camera and couldn't get sharp photos. But this is what I've learned since then, and one you might try with your own camera: to overcome blurry shots in macro mode, or in low light, try using the timer; it will allow you time to steady the camera in your hand before the shot is taken.

Well, I doubt that I've answered all the questions I've left hanging, and if you think of some you still would like to hear back on, nudge me by leaving a comment here. For now, I'm going to consider myself blissfully "caught up" with my blog.

It's time to tackle some much needed housework using my buzzing timer method, alternating between 15 minutes of battling dustbunnies and 15 minutes of delight visiting my blog friends.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

More Melon Adventures

Citrullus lanatus var. citroides

Here's another update on the gourd, aka wild melon, aka citron melon, aka preserving melon. Around my household it will henceforth be referred to as a "pie melon."

I emailed the kind and knowledgeable Mr. Burr Williams of the Sibley Nature Center, a 49 acre preserve in Midland that specializes in the nature and history of the Llano Estacado. I asked what he knew of this mysterious melon I had captured from the wild. He promptly replied,
The gourd is known as pie melon in west Texas. It is watermelon in its original form -- reverted back to the form through cross pollination with other gourds, and the natural variance of its own genetics -- its most hardy form is the original form, not our modern juicy watermelons. They are native to Africa... since they are called pie melons, I suppose with a lot of sugar they could be made edible, but they are horribly bitter -- so bitter the coyotes leave them alone.
With that information I went Googling with wild abandon. Among scientific papers outlining possible herbicides to eradicate it from cotton and peanut fields, and among anecdotal stories about its hardness requiring an axe to open it (I used a knife, but agree, it was quite hard to cut), I found other interesting tidbits.

Through Google Books search I found several old recipes including this one from the mid 1800s that seemed to imply upon mastering a certain sweetmeat recipe featuring this melon, I could become "an improved housewife." I also enjoyed this Texas writer -- and apparent jokester -- who tells how he tried to trick his friend into thinking his gift of one of these melons could be heartily enjoyed after a Thanksgiving meal.

These various internet finds and the long history of stories about this melon gave me a kind of pioneer adventurous spirit. So in spite of Mr. William's dire warning about its bitterness, I decided that I wanted to experience its flavor myself. With trepidation, I picked up a spoon and scooped out a small bite.

Far be it from me to contradict Mr. Williams -- he has never led me astray before -- but in this one case, I have to respectfully disagree. The melon was not sweet, but it was not bitter in the least. Its texture wasn't as juicy or as refreshingly crunchy as our icebox watermelons, but it was completely edible! Bland to be sure, but edible. No wonder the pioneer women made pies, preserves, and pickles from it. It definitely needs a little oomph to make it memorable beyond the first brave experience.

This is my fair warning to Donna: next time we see a wild crop of these, we'll need to make room for half a dozen of them for me to take home to cook. And here's my fair warning to readers: this isn't the last you've heard of the big-a** gourd, wild melon, citron melon, Citrullus lanatus var. citroides, or as I now shall simply refer to it, without feeling I'm misleading you in the least, the pie melon.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Bouquet from Audrey

(I'm cheating a's Sunday but I'm going back in time to catch up with my calendar of Photo a Day.)

Sweet Audrey. This bouquet -- and the thought that went behind it -- has been cheering me immensely.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Hearts to You

Devil's Claw Heart

Happy hearts to you, dear readers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wild Melon

Citrullus lanatus var. citroides

This is what the "gourd" looks like. It's not a gourd afterall! It really is a melon, commonly called a wild watermelon, a citron melon, a preserving melon, or a stock melon. Supposedly old-timers would make preserves or pickle the flesh and rinds.

I didn't try eating it, but while cutting it it did smell like a melon. According to the University of Florida it is inedible in its raw state, and sometimes used as hog feed. There I also learned it so closely related to the domestic watermelon that the two will cross pollinate. I'm going to email the Sibley Nature Center in Midland (Odessa's sister city) to see if Mr. Burr Williams -- a walking treasure of West Texas information -- knows more about the natural history of this delightful find. Now that it's a melon, and edible in a fashion, I'm all the more intrigued!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Little Wonders

Our plans for Saturday didn't go as planned. Unfortunately the gentleman we were to interview fell ill. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to interview him when he is once again able.

So Donna and I were unexpectedly free to follow our noses and do a little exploring of Gaines County.

Beyond the vast horizons, the quiet untold stories of abandoned houses, the variety of flora and fauna, one of the things (of many) that I enjoy on these outings are the small wonders. Wonders that make me wonder.

Like the tree stump above. It's not the stump of one tree, but of two, grown right next to one another. I don't know what it might have looked like growing together like that, or if it they were purposely planted together, but its stump was a beauty to me.

Or like the tracks in the sand. Donna is quite good at identifying tracks, but the creature that left this lop-sided diminutive track was a mystery to both of us.

Or like this '29 nail found in a railroad tie; that's 1929, y'all. I had heard of these before and was delighted to see a lot of them for myself along the tracks in Seagraves. (I even found one loose -- a 1939 one -- lying beside the tracks. Of course you know that one is now at home with me!) According to this expert, Jeff Oaks, "date nails were driven into railroad ties, bridge timbers, utility poles, mine props, and other wooden structures for record keeping purposes." And of course there are people out there that collect them.

At least once during any given outing, Donna will say, "We are so easily entertained." It's nice to have a like-minded friend, to wonder at little wonders with me, even if she covets my '39 nail.