The Latest! Writing…

There’s a new page tracking what’s “The Latest” for me.  So what’s new lately? Well, let’s see….

I ARE the Geek Squad

Miracle Max: “Somebody call the Brute Squad!”

Fezzik the Giant: “I’m on the Brute Squad.”

Miracle Max (scanning Fezzik up and down): “You are the Brute Squad.”

—The Princess Bride

So I got some memory for my laptop.

Now, I’ve had some years’ experience with taking the desktop PC apart, and disconnecting and reconnecting various paraphernalia in that respect. But as my notebook (or “Baby,” as I call it) is only a bit over a year old, I haven’t had a reason to take it apart yet. It’s one of those things that you really hate to get the first ding on—it’s so nice and new.

Well, the biggest “ding” was that Baby was taking her own sweet time to do normal tasks. So, I took the finest option available to me, and bought her the biggest memory card she could handle. Mind you, this is my first laptop, and it’s an entirely different sort of animal from the PC. In my career of computer troubleshooting, I’ve come to rely heavily on intuition…which sometimes doesn’t seem to translate from one piece of technology to the other.

Well, I got the card all right, and this morning I went to install it. The included instructions tell you how to ground yourself against static electricity. They also quite clearly illustrate how to put the card into the slot—but they don’t show exactly where the slot itself is. The backside of Baby tells me nothing whatsoever.  The instructions that came with Baby are so high-tech that they’re installed on the notebook itself. Which means I have to power up the notebook, when I wanted to keep it off and static-free.  Bummer.  I told you, Baby takes her sweet time.  It takes her for-ev-er to wake up. It’s gotten to the point where I usually just put her on “hibernate,” rather than power her down each day.  It’s easier that way.

So I awoke the sleeping babe and found the Help information.  It wasn’t that helpful.  As a matter of fact, it told me absolutely nothing I needed to hear. Oh, except for the Gateway website address.  Not to be disrespectful to Gateway—it’s just that oftentimes, with instructions, I get the feeling that somebody presumes you should know what it is you’re looking at.  Or for.

So I went to the website.  A little niggling around there, and THANK THE LORD!  PICTURES!!  They had a step-by-step example with PICTURES.  Ah, so THAT’S the memory slot.  This is going to take a screwdriver.

E-mail the info to myself.  Power Baby down.  It takes her just as long to get ready for bed as it does to wake her up, so I just hit “Hibernate” out of habit.  Blink, she’s off.  Flip her over, suddenly realize that my own “random access memory” didn’t remember which panel I was supposed to take off.

“Not my fault!” as Han Solo would say—the carbon monoxide poisoning left me with a Swiss cheese memory.  So I do the usual steps:  Get mad at myself, then start over.

Head to the PC.  Get the help site off my e-mail, commit the panel to memory, then go back to the kitchen right quick.

My Dad is on hand to help.  I asked him for a really small Phillips screwdriver.  So he brings out a crowbar.  I’m laughing out loud.

Having been duly impressed with the awesome fearfulness of static electricity, I ground myself on anything that sits still.  Remove the battery.  Eschew the crowbar, use a screwdriver, remove the panel, look eagerly within.

There’s already a card in the slot.

Have to think about that for a second.

Reading the information on that card, I realize, well, of course the computer has to have some memory installed—it was only that I was expecting to ADD a card, not have to REPLACE one. WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TELL ME THESE THINGS?  I do some mental shenanigans here for a second.  250 MB of memory vs. 1 GB+.  More is definitely better.  So yes, the old card comes out.  Where’s my tea???  Oh, wait, no liquids by the computer.

So I get the old card out all right.  Reverently remove the new one from its static-free bag—which by the way had a hole in it from shipping and handling—and go to install it.  It doesn’t…quite…fit.  Not that it isn’t supposed to—it’s just that it needs to be pushed, and all I can see is the price of this little wafer floating before my eyes.  “Just jiggle it,” my Dad advises.  Age-old remedy, I think to myself, for the computer age—but there’s a reason why the age-old methods have stuck around for so long.  They work.

So the new card is in.  Put the plate back on, plug the battery back in, flip Baby over, and fire ‘er up.

Ah, no Blue Screen of Death, thank Heaven.  But…what’s…

Black screen.  With words on it.  And a menu of choices.  Oh, dang.

“Delete restoration data and proceed to system boot menu” or “Try restart again.”  Holy cow, yes, try again, please.

Chews on that for a minute, then back to the same screen.  I read the message again.  My eyes are glazing over at this point.  I’m presuming—no, I’m intuiting—that I’m getting this trouble because I had Baby on Hibernate, rather than shutting her down from the Start menu.  So she needs to be restarted, and I have a feeling that that’s what the “delete restoration data” menu choice does.

But would you want to take a guess with anything that has the words “delete” and “data” in it?

So I call the Geek Squad.

The guy on the other end of the line doesn’t even let me finish talking before he takes a breath to answer.  “Yes, just click that option, you’ll be fine.”

I figured.

As he spoke, I clicked on the ominous “Delete data” option, and my Baby gave a deep sigh and showed me the Windows screen.  All was right with her world.

And dang, did she wake up fast this time.

Well, I wished a very happy day to the guy from the Geek Squad, and in the meanwhile felt my intuition redeemed.

I ARE the Geek Squad.

More New Stuff!

'The Diving Bell' by mousewords

There’s something new to see in my Gallery of Mermaids! Let my descriptions take you on a tour.

Bring a snorkel and take a look!

New Stuff!

I’ve been tinkering with my blog. The Gallery has a new page–Castle Art!

Clicking on “Next” at the bottom of each page will take you on a guided tour of some of my art.  Check it out:

My Gallery

Send Out the Marines!

'Glow in the West' ACEO by mousewords

It seems like it’s becoming inevitable. 

We’ve had at least a month of clear evenings–no clouds in the sky.  Late this afternoon, my family and I went for a walk in the hills just inland from the coast.  Bright, warm sunshine–piercing blue skies.  Lovely!  Then, as we headed back down to sea level, we felt ourselves being enfolded in that familiar, chilly, damp embrace of a rolling fog bank.  The hazy marine layer proceeded to engulf the coastline all the way up to the inland hills.

The topographical area where we live is something akin to a bowl–curving hills surround us on every side.  Well, right now that bowl is fiiled with pea soup!

We can hear plenty of fireworks going off around us…it isn’t quite dark yet, so none of the city displays have begun.  There’s still a chance it may clear away.  However, I’m distinctly reminded of last year—when we went up into the hills for a splendid view of the seashore and all the fireworks displays for miles around, only to find ourselves staring into a hazy grey mist illuminated by colorful lights.  With big “bangs.” 

Such is life on the coast.


Well–Happy Fourth of July, anyway!!!

Side note about the artwork : I drew this pastel ACEO late last year, but it turns out to be very appropriate for today.  Can you see the American flag hidden in the sky?  That was my subconscious putting pictures in my art again. 

“Chewie, Hand Me the Hydrospanners!”


I never thought I would ever find myself on my hands and knees, poking my head into a dusty, claustrophobic location, while I sorted through an incomprehensive tangle of wires. Wires that had power running through them, no less.

If I could have imagined that, I wouldn’t have ever dreamed that I would know what I was doing as I rooted through those wires.

The climax of the fantasy would have been if I pictured myself crawling into a cramped area on my hands and knees, rooting through a tangled mess of live wires, knowing what I was doing…and actually FIXING a problem.

Well, self, welcome to Fantasy Island.

One of my all-time favorite aspects of the Star Wars Trilogy was Han Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon. To me, few things about the series were cooler than that massive structure, with all its mysterious hideaways and corridors—with its fame for speed and maneuverability—and almost best of all, it’s cobbled-together repair work, like layers and layers of paint, built up over many years of seat-of-the-pants emergency fixes. I love that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Han has his head poked into the side of the Falcon, trying to get the behemoth to work even as the Imperial army closes in on them, necessitating a fast escape.

I had a Millenium Falcon toy as a child, but it didn’t have nearly enough nooks and crannies, and no wires at all. However, as I grew to adulthood, I would think of the Falcon anytime I discovered the need to do anything even remotely technical. As a writer and an artist, those experiences were seldom.

Then my three techno-savvy brothers went away to college, leaving me with the responsibility of caring for our home-built computer.

Welcome to the Falcon.

It’s been a while since I first poked my head into the inner workings of that mini-behemoth. I find myself creating many seat-of-the-pants fixes nowadays…and the thought of the Millenium Falcon was never closer than it was the other day. The left speaker went out on our sound system.  It had been blinking in and out for a while, which was frustrating; but usually a little jiggle would get it working again. That day, however, no manner of jiggling would get that speaker to work. Ooh, wire problems, I thought to myself with a wince. That was annoying, because I wanted to listen to some inspiring music while I drew my artwork—and having one speaker just wasn’t cutting it.  So, I pulled my chair away from the computer table, got down on my hands and knees, and took a journey to a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away.

I was busy tracing those speaker wires through the impossible tangle of dusty cords under the desk—dusty no matter how frequently I vacuum them, and tangled despite my efforts to organize them—and had just slipped my fingers behind the subwoofer to check the speaker cord, when it came to me that it was just like working on the Falcon! And then, wonder of wonders, I felt the cord I was looking for, gave it a push, and heard the beautiful sound of a speaker coming to life. Rudimentary, to say the least, but it fixed the problem!

And Chewie didn’t even need to hand me the hydrospanners.


'Eden' by mousewords

Ah, summer! The very thought of it brings greenery to mind—lush forests, tall grass, garden produce. With roots (so to speak) in the midwest, I remember the abundance of green that would overflow the horizon in summertime.  Paired with the tangible haze of humidity in the air, the green was vibrant.

After moving to California, I have exchanged green for a rainbow of other colors—the cacophony of flowers and plants that create a bright mosaic in Los Angeles; the lush gold of the parched, rolling hillsides in Northern California, topped by the stalwart, dusty olive tint of oak trees; and the bright blue of the Pacific Ocean, put together with the many hues of light that permeate the mist in the air.

 It’s not always green, but it’s good.

The Funny Pages — Oscar!

Oscar 1 'Treasure Play' by mousewords

…Thanks, Sky. :) :)

…And thanks Mom, who has also been asking me, “Where’s Oscar??”

Happy Birthday!

'Birthday Angel' by skyM

So what’s today, you may ask?


 July first.

 The day of rest.

 Yes on all three counts.  But today also happens to be the birthday of a great friend!

 Allow me to introduce you to skyM.  Fantastic Mom, savvy businesswoman, computer techie (though she’s modest about it), and–perhaps most well-known–talented artist. 

 Though she has been known to work in different media, Sky’s focus has been on acrylic.  Her soft, colorful style and amazingly detailed brushwork seem to glow from her pieces.  As one of her collectors, I have first-hand experience with the nuances of her work.  Reminiscent of the Impressionist technique, she builds up shimmering layers of colors until one can almost see forever into the backgrounds of her art pieces.  Her talents have been turned to many different subjects–her florals and animal artwork truly shine.  

Recently, the predominant format of her artwork has been in ACEO size, which is 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches, trading card dimensions.  Achieving detail of this caliber in that small size is no mean feat. 

 Sky has developed many popular series with her work.  Highlighting them all is her trademarked Hyacinth Cat Series, which has been a hot seller on eBay ever since Hy first appeared from Sky’s brush.

'Love Blooms' by skyM

Based on Sky’s own cat, Hyacinth, this series is a luscious exploration of color and mood.  Lady Hy is every bit as elegant and camera-shy as Sky’s art pieces depict her to be. One of her favorite pastimes is gazing out upon the flowers, which was what first inspired Sky to paint her. The rest is history.

Always one to try something new, skyM recently created the “Little Blessings,” a series of precious folk art angels. Each little angel has a different theme, and charming details in their wings, dresses, hair, and in the objects they hold. 'Kitten Baby Angel' by skyM

Sky’s talented children are also following in their Mom’s footsteps–their artwork has been known to appear along with Mom’s auctions from time to time. 

 As a human being, skyM is always among the first to lend her support wherever it’s needed.  Her encouragement and friendship have meant a great deal to me.  She challenges me to do better than I think I can do, and keeps me going on days when my own challenges make my artwork seem pointless.  This very morning, she asked me why on earth I wasn’t blogging a certain character of mine.  Not that I haven’t been meaning to…but like so many other things, it might not have gotten done if she hadn’t given me the push I needed.  Thanks, Sky.

So Happy Birthday to a dear friend. I thank God that He has put you in my life, and pray that He showers His best blessings on you…just as you do for others.