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In this week’s challenge, show us your minimalist photos. Find an interesting texture, color, or silhouette. Maybe there is a story that you can tell with your minimalist photo. Try an interesting angle with your composition to turn a traditional scene into a minimalist one, by eliminating as much of the extra detail in the background as possible.
Remember, minimalist doesn’t equate to mundane. Sometimes the simplest photographs make the boldest statements.
These days you add milk to your tea and not the other way around. This way you control the color of the tea. You want your tea to look like tea, not milk. (Unless you use antique bone China, then pour the milk first.)
Always use milk, not cream.
Do not use lemon AND milk together. The milk will curdle.
Don’t teabag your tea. Let the tea bag rest and then take it out. No teabagging, as amusing as it may be.
Make sure the water went past the boiling point.
Tea bags without strings and staples and paper and doodads are preferable.
Never stick your pinkie finger out.
Never use the microwave.
Only hold the saucer under the tea while standing.
Don’t leave the tea bag or spoon in the teacup.
If using a teapot, take the teapot to the kettle and pour the hot water in and not the other way around.
Some say the teapot must be swished with boiling water to prepare it for the tea. Tea cannot be steeped properly in a cold pot.
A tea cozy keeps the teapot warm for a long time; they’re not just cute afterthoughts. (Someone please knit a tea cozy for me.)
Tea cups do not have to match.
When stirring tea, do so silently, without clanging the spoon on the edges of the cup.
A tea pot should have multiple holes in the spout, not just one.
Do not substitute Earl Grey for English Breakfast tea. Ha! Ha!
When removing the tea spoon, set it leaning on the saucer to the right of the tea cup.
If serving tea with scones, cut the scones in half. Dab bits of curd and jams onto your saucer with the serving spoon and then return the serving spoon to its proper place. Do not use the serving spoon for your personal spreads. Use your own spoon or spreading knife.
Take small bites. Tea is a time for conversation and relaxation. DON’T EAT LIKE YOU WERE CULTURED IN THE BLOODY USA.
The movies Freddie enjoys watching would surprise you. Sometimes, late at night, I grab the chance to watch a movie before bed. I’m lucky if I can stay awake. If Freddie’s in the room that night, I have to be even more selective.
Freddie has to have everything his way.
If Freddie doesn’t like my movie choice, then he screams. Have you heard a goose scream? Not just the husky honk of a Toulouse or an Embden, but the shriek of an upset Chinese swan goose who claims he was Freddie Mercury in his past life?
I change the movie.
Breaking Bad. War of the Roses. Rocky.
Out of the question. Freddie is particular. He doesn’t like confrontations. People can’t yell at each other, push, shove, punch or appear as if they are standing there on-screen looking directly at him.
He gets Goosietude!
On the other hand, he surprises me sometimes. Quite the fan of David Attenborough, as can be expected, it interests me that he became so engrossed in a collection of films I checked out from the library called Free Radical, Eclipse Series 18, The Criterion Collection, short films by Dušan Makavejev. Known for revolutionary work during the sixties that pushed the boundaries of the film world, Dušan Makavejev seems an odd candidate for Freddie to favorite. Dark, raucous films with odd and shocking imagery, he remained glued to the screen and I drifted off to sleep not having the chance to watch much of the third film in the collection, Innocence Unprotected.
And would you believe the first film on the disc is titled Man Is Not A Bird? I kid you not. How strange is that?
These films are memorable and I plan to find them again when I have time to examine them further. For the second film in the set, Criterion.com, describes as such:
This story of the tragic romance between a young telephonist (Eva Ras) and a middle-aged rodent sanitation specialist (Slobodan Aligrudic) in Belgrade is an endlessly surprising, time-shifting exploration of love and freedom.
Never a dull moment with Freddie the Rock God Gander around.
This morning I dropped my dog off at the veterinarian to have a melanoma-type lump removed from her side. Right now I’m waiting to call and see how she’s doing (in the next half hour). These things are always stressful. The lump will be tested for cancer as she has another internal lump on her chest below her neck. If only our pets could live longer.
My little Betti Boo is 11 years old as of July 2014. When I found her she was 14 months old. I can’t say I recall exactly how I found her, but I was looking for a young rescue rottweiler at the time. Someone had referred me to a breeder of German rottweilers who had a couple of dogs that were unwanted. The story went that Betti had been purchased for $1300 and then the people who bought her kept her outside, unsocialized and didn’t care for her health well. This was obvious. My late boyfriend Au and I drove across Washington State, starting out early morning and taking a route from east to west traveling north and then through a high mountain pass near the Canada border called Highway 20. Our destination was a tiny town in the west foothills of the North Cascades mountains called Sedro Woolley.
When we arrived and first saw Betti, she was so pitiful: ribcage showing, timid as a wild animal and she had a terrible smell coming from her body somewhere. The smell so raunchy it made me want to gag. But, I knew she couldn’t stay like this no matter what her true story was. We put her in the car where she hunkered in the corner, so rigid her body stood erect as if she were a person sitting in the back seat, leaning against the armrest in the door. She stayed like that all the way home, though we stopped in Seattle to get her a collar and leash seeing as how she was so skittish we were afraid she would bolt if we opened the door.
We went right home that evening. Just one round trip around Washington. At first Betti was afraid of everything and she leaked urine a lot. We introduced her to our two older dogs, Greta and Lou, and she tried to play with them, though Greta was quite grumpy. I quickly enrolled Betti in socialization classes, because she was special needs. I remember the dog trainer telling me that as timid as Betti was, she could see a prima donna in there waiting to come out. I didn’t see that yet.
Each time I left the house, my boyfriend had to pick Betti up and carry her to the car. When I came home, he had to carry her from the car into the house. If we went to the veterinarian, she had to be carried from the car to the inside and vice versa. Otherwise she would hunker in a corner and tremble. Many veterinary visits were necessary to treat her and her illnesses took around two years to diagnose and cure. A lot of her trouble was due to malnutrition. She also suffered from crystals in her urine and urinary incontinence, which finally cleared up. At first I thought she was difficult to house train. Her ears were infected with yeast. Poor little girl.
One time I took her for a walk along the paved Centennial Trail. We were not three hundred feet from the car down the trail when Betti decided to lie down on the pavement and refuse to move. I remember thinking, O crap! What on earth am I going to do now? Even though she was still only about sixty-five pounds (she was probably fifty-something when we got her) and not completely well yet, I couldn’t lift her. I imagined we’d be standing there for hours. I had to think of something.
The idea came to me that perhaps she didn’t feel safe on the concrete as the path was raised up and I could see how an animal would find that exposure intimidating, so I beckoned her down into a grassy ditch along the trail and voila!, we were on our way back to the car.
Everywhere we went those first few months many people would comment or stop us to ask what was wrong with her and I’d repeat the story of how she was rescued malnourished and ill. She was so skinny and timid. But both the dog trainers and I came to the conclusion that she hadn’t been abused, only neglected.
Not long after we welcomed her that fall of 2004, Miss Betti’s prima donna emerged, indeed. By that spring of 2005, she was a sneaky butt pincher and wanted to play. When we took her swimming she dog paddled, her front feet chopping too high above the water and a desperate look in her eye. Betti, you’re not doing it right.
In the wee hours of the morning when we were camping at Noisy Creek, I awoke to find Betti–her first camping trip–sitting up and listening silently at the wilderness sounds. A bird I hadn’t noticed before called out, “Sheeeeeeeeeeee-did-it!” Each time the bird sang, Betti’s head jerked toward me and she looked right at me as if to say, “What’s that, mom?” The bird would call out again and she would repeat that same stare. So we sat there in the tent for quite a while, listening and looking at each other in silence. A bonding moment.
Several years ago I was sleeping in the basement where there was a big coffee table. Betti was halfway under it, snoring. In the middle of the night she must have kicked an easel that was against the wall causing it to fall and startle her so that she jumped up, but the coffee table stopped her. She cried out. That morning she couldn’t make the stairs. That day her hind end gave out. I was terrified. She’d injured her spine.
For several weeks I used a towel wrapped around her flanks to help her walk up and down the stairs and outside to potty. This gave her back time to heal. A lot of rest and help with mobility did the trick. While she has been stiff ever since, she’s never relapsed and I help her in and out of the car.
Rottweilers live to be 9 years old on average. Both of my old rottweilers I had in 2004, Greta and Lou, died when they were 9–one from osteosarcoma and the other from an unknown cause. I tell myself Betti has had a good life and that she’s lucky to be 11 and to not have suffered that many ailments during her lifetime. She’s a good girl and we’ve laughed and traveled a lot together, though in recent years I haven’t done a fraction of the activities I’d envisioned sharing with my dogs. Sometimes this eats at me, but I try to stay positive.
In ten minutes I will make that phone call to see how surgery went.
A FEW HOURS LATER
Betti’s back. Surgery went well. Vet said he took part of her mammary gland and that the lump was next to a vein. She has a small suture site from the incision, which the vet said has three suture layers, on her tummy and a red bandage wrapped around her foreleg where her IV came out. Her urine came back clear (she had a lot of blood in her urine a few weeks ago and received antibiotics for that). For an 11-year-old dog, let’s see–that’s 77 in dog years–she did fabulous. Now we wait for the biopsy of her tumor to come back.
Good job, Betti Boo.
Do your pets have nicknames? If so, what are they? Please share in comments below.
Betti’s nicknames are Betti Boo, Boober, Boob-A-Bub, The Little Thing, Snuffleupagus, Little Betti, Betti Grable and The Triple (or Quadruple) Nipple.
“I am as gay as a daffodil, dear.” — Freddie Mercury
Freddie, the gander, is as sweet as can be. He’s meticulous about his performances and his appearance. No one can ruffle his feathers, so to speak. I’ve seen him trip on several occasions, sometimes in the mud while getting in or out of his porcelain bathtub, or while too busy showing off to notice the goofus dog lying on the floor in front of him. But he always bounces back quickly and as if it was all part of the show. You’d hardly know he stumbled and in a few minutes you’d be wondering if you’d seen him stumble at all.
Lately, around this something of a substitute Garden Lodge Freddie lives at during his current reincarnation as a goose, the question of whether or not he prefers men or women has come up. At a random moment of morning in the living room I asked my roommate E. to get down on the floor like he’s a goose and let’s see if Freddie is interested.
“No way!” E. Said.
I don’t blame him at all. We’ve already seen enough to establish Freddie’s prowess is directed toward men. Not ducks. Not other geese. Mostly, a certain young man named E. who doesn’t fit the profile of men the late Freddie Mercury found attractive. E. doesn’t ride a motorcycle or have a mustache and clean cut, short dark hair like Jim Hutton. Nope. E. is young and slender with long blondish hair.
Freddie doesn’t care. Last spring he made it a habit to spring into action on nights when E. came home late from work and Freddie and I were in our basement room listening to Queen. Freddie’s favorite activity to date is serenading E. to the song “Body Language”. E. would sit at the bottom of the stairs while Freddie strutted back and forth, arching his neck and his tail at the same time so his little white bum became rounded and he appeared taller as he flirted.
But finally Freddie approached E. a bit too close for comfort, acting as if E.’s knee was a step up to his lap. As he attempted to climb E., Freddie extended one wing and when E. wiggled to get away, Freddie let out an annoyed, “Uuuuuuhhh! Uuuuuuhhh!” sound, which in Freddie-goose means, “Come back here, darling!”
Mary Austin is reported as having told Freddie from the start, at the point when he first approached her after their extended relationship to tell her he was bi, that he was gay, as quoted here in an article from the UK’s Daily Mail:
Gazing down at her lap, Mary says softly: ‘I’ll never forget that moment. Being a bit naive, it had taken me a while to realise the truth. Afterwards he felt good about having finally told me he was bisexual. Although I do remember saying to him at the time, “No Freddie, I don’t think you are bisexual. I think you are gay.”’
Neither E., I or Freddie care whether or not he’s attracted to men, women or ducks, actually. We were just curious what he’d do when faced with choices. As a gander he definitely prefers E. over anyone else in the room. Perhaps that will change from time to time. I doubt anyone will let him go very far.
That having been said, Freddie may be a bit lonely at times, I think. When he stays the night in the house and wakes up in the morning, he spends a good deal of time looking at himself in the mirror. I wonder if he’s reflecting on the lyrics to “Somebody to Love”.
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
Each mornin’ I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord what you’re doing to me
I have spent all my years in believin’ you
But I just can’t get no relief, Lord
Freddie would like me to stop using the GIMP airbrush tool to fill in his mustache. His exact words were:
“I reckon it…it…makes me look like I have a caterpillar on my face, dear.”
He’s right. I admit to noticing this, but I posted the photos anyway. (See November 2nds blog, “A Trinket For Freddie”.)
Have you ever seen a woolly bear caterpillar–the orange and black striped kind? I don’t know if that’s what they’re actually called, but we have them here in the northwest United States (Spokane, Washington) and I used to collect them when I was a child. Fascinated by their beauty–the way they moved, their multiple little feet, shiny black face that reminded me of a cab-over semi truck–I would watch them climb from one of my tiny hands to the other.
(See, this is part of why blogging is so great!) —> One sits down and begins writing, not knowing what facts will be learned or what direction one will take. Despite having fooled around with woolly bear caterpillars for years, I never saw which butterfly they turned into. Now, I know that they are Pyrrhantica isabella also known as Isabella Tiger Moths. According to “Weekends in Paradelle”, a WordPress neighbor of mine, the measurement of the orangish-brown bands on the woolly bear caterpillar indicate whether a winter will be harsh or mild:
“The lore is that the wider that middle brown section is (i.e., the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.”
This reminds me of something my parents would have found in the old Farmer’s Almanacs we had lying around during the seventies. In fact, I vaguely recall something being said about the caterpillars and the weather, but time is always passing and so my memory grows foggier.
Another reason to blog and journal and keep lists and just write stuff down. I always thought my mind particularly sharp. I’ll never forget any of this, I thought as my grandparents retold stories to me.
For many tales I wonder these days if I wouldn’t find my imagination has filled in details where there were none.
So, back to Freddie’s mustache.
I asked him in the beginning if he would like to have a mustache, since Freddie Mercury’s mustache is like a trademark, and Freddie agreed that a mustache lends character.
“Otherwise I will look like any old gander,” he said. “I mean, if you want to see a gander, just look on the Internet these days or visit a farm. There I am. That’s not me.”
There isn’t a way for Freddie to have a real mustache as geese don’t grow facial hair. Since his bird features are far different from when he was human, there’s no way for him to wear a fake mustache. Options are limited to modern graphic design.
Last month I decided to meander local antique stores as I have not done in years. Along with many other joys in life I’d left behind for nearly a decade, antiquing seemed a pleasure of the past. After a rather quick reintroduction, I caught up with the current antique shop scene in the city of Spokane, Washington where I live. While I’m not in the market for anything extravagant, I can’t say I won’t begin collecting in the future. Not only do I adore the sturdiness of real wood, but the intricate carvings and stately styles of furniture of bygone eras blanket a room in such a way that feelings are evoked from all who enter. People may not discover these feelings right away, but they will know something is happening, because words will escape their mouths. Statements like, “You never know what to expect in these neighborhoods. When I walked inside I thought, Wow, this is a nice house!”
Indeed, last month is when I decided to put almost all my contemporary furnishings up for sale on Craigslist and replace them with either older pieces or styles that fit my personality. Previous furniture had been chosen to accommodate other folks who resided in my home for a good number of years, but the furniture was not only wrong for the period of the house (1938), but bulky and dark and just blah. I called the brown micro-fiber sectional “The Giant Turd”, if that gives you any idea. And I said that once “The Giant Turd” was gone, it was as if the house was no longer constipated.
This is true. I chose furniture with legs. This way I can sweep beneath the furniture easily. Height, not width, is fashionable in a house like this in which the living room is small and square, with a fireplace, and of a pre-television design. The only other item I long for is an antique upright piano, but there just isn’t room in here.
While window shopping antique shops, there were a couple of things I looked for. 1. salt and pepper shakers, 2. lamps, 3. coasters, 4. anything that caught my eye. After many hours I found salt and pepper shakers: petite, orangish-opalescent shakers made in Japan. Simple. Elegant. Perfect.
Lamps, I have not found.
The other item I came across was at a friendly little 1,600 sq ft store called Rare and Retro Vintage at 27 West Indiana Avenue. The store only opened on May 2, 2014, but I was impressed with the layout, prices and inventory. Not only did I find a set of glass coasters, hand-painted and made in Japan, but a light turquoise, glaze statue, about five inches tall, of a woman in a long dress, her arms spread out with the arms of the dress like wings. When I laid eyes on this piece, I knew it probably wasn’t something expensive, but struck a chord, nonetheless, reminding me of Freddie Mercury’s love of astrological symbols, The Virgin for Virgo is his birth sign, and the white blouse he would wear on stage during the seventies with the arms just like that on the statue.
This is so Freddie, was my thought.
So I purchased this little statue and the coasters and went home.
That evening I brought Freddie Goose in the house so he could prance around the living room and do his entertainment bit that he enjoys. By that time I’d refurnished the living room, so Freddie had some studying to keep him occupied while I unwrapped and polished the statue.
I settled on the sofa.
“Freddie,” I said. “I have a present for you.”
I held the statue in Freddie’s direction. He tipped his head curiously and approached, uttering a soft, “Heh.” as he does when he’s feeling gentle and intimate. What struck me first was that he wasn’t afraid of the statue in the least. He kept looking and looking. Tipping his head this way and that way. Then he craned his neck and reached toward the statue with his bill, touching it lightly on the arm, and then said, “Heh.” and touched the head and then the feet. After that, Freddie straightened up proudly as he always does and began prancing. (Did I mention we were listening to Queen the entire time? Freddie Goose loves Queen, of course. That goes without saying.)
This made me very happy. I wasn’t sure how he would react to the statue. Would he grab it and fling it like he does chunks of mud he excavates outside? Would he bite it to see if it was edible? <–I highly doubted this, because Freddie Goose is particular about his diet and smarter than that. He was not afraid. He even let me touch the feathers on his shoulder with the statue.
Now the ethereal Virgo in blue stands in front of a vase near the front window where Freddie passes by now and then during one of his performances.