Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Night & Day...

Change your thoughts,
change your world.

click on image to see it larger

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cindy the Guest Cat

This is Cindy, who was boarding here for a couple of weeks and went home today. Now that she has left, Sylvester has the room to himself for a while again. Click on the image to see a larger view of Cindy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Grasshoppers Are Here!

It's grasshopper season again.
Here's one that visited me, after
escaping from one of my cats.
I think the poor fellow was in
a bit of shock as I took photos.

At the end of our photo shoot, I put him down in a little tree. You can see he has what appears to be bug blood on his (or her?) face and belly. I hope he was OK.

Click on photos to view larger images.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Early Childhood Immunization Record...

This may not interest anybody but me, but here it is anyway- my childhood immunization record, showing my original birth name of Julia, from back in the 1950s. If you click on the images, to enlarge them, you can clearly read them. I came across this the other day and found myself studying it. You can see that some of my entries have Jeanette Munro listed as the physician. She was my childhood doctor, before I was sent off to boarding school at age 11. As I researched for this article, I discovered that she was the very FIRST pediatrician in Princeton, New Jersey! I don't know when she began her practice, but I'm guessing the 1940s or early 1950s. I remember I was given a lollipop at the end of each visit.

It also notes on the front side, in the 'Record of Childhood Diseases' section, that I had measles just after I turned two, in August of 1957. I don't remember that. I believe I also had chickenpox several years later, around age six or seven, though that's not mentioned on this record from earlier childhood.

Another thing I remember happening later in childhood is getting a tetanus shot, after stepping on a rusty nail that went through my shoe into my foot. It was especially distressing because it happened just a couple of days before Halloween, and so I could not go trick or treating that year. My cousins gave me some of their Halloween candy, but only the yucky stuff they didn't want.

One point to note in looking at this old immunization record is how early childhood immunizations have CHANGED in the last 50 years. Today there are several shots given that were not given when I was a child, such as Hepatitis A and B. Below is the list of today's early childhood vaccinations, for children in the United States.

Recommended Vaccinations:

Hepatitis B
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)
DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (whooping cough))
Hib (meningitis)
IPV (polio)
MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
Varicella (chickenpox)
MCV4 (bacterial meningitis) (for older children, ages 11 -12)
Hepatitis A

I, on the other hand, was given a smallpox vaccine, which is no longer given because smallpox was officially declared erradicated from the human population back in May 1980.

Early 20th century quarantine poster.

In October, 1977, Ali Maow Maalin of Somalia
contracted variola minor, becoming the last person
in the world to contract smallpox naturally.

Also, I was given vaccines for Thyphoid and Cholera. I don't know, but perhaps I was given those because the family was moving to Istanbul, Turkey. I see I was given a 'Schick Test', a diagnostic test designed to evaluate susceptibility to diphtheria, while we were still in Turkey, in June of 1959.

I know that in recent years childhood immuniztions have become somewhat controversial, with some parents refusing to give them to their children, fearing the potential risk outweighs the protection given. Back in the 1950s, I don't think anyone gave it a second thought.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Good Thoughts For Gamma

Gamma, with Boo in the background, two summers ago

One of my cats is having a health crisis, and I'm asking all readers to send her good juju for a speedy recovery. Gamma, the big old matriarch of my cat family, suddenly got a huge abbsess on her cheek- I took her to the vet on Monday, and they lanced it. So there is bloody gunk draining from the side of her face. It turns out she's got one or two infected teeth. She goes in tomorrow to have the bad teeth extracted.

Gamma is an older cat, so being put under anesthesia is more risky. She's a tough kitty with a pretty powerful life force, so I think she'll come through it well, but still this is all traumatic for her. I've had Gamma for about 15 years now. I don't know how old she actually is, as she was already a grown cat when I found her wandering through the cars of a local supermarket one night. I took her home, to keep her from getting run over, and she began her reign. Her original name was Blessing, because she was so kind to several younger cats I took in after her, playing Mama to them when they were missing their own Mamas. Over the years her name evolved into Gamma, or just Gams. She's a fine old kitty.

She is home again, and doing fantastic. She had FOUR teeth pulled. She seems really happy- she must have had some whopper toothaches going on, so I bet it DOES feel better now. When she first got home, she was walking all over the place, meowing away. She wants food too, which she is not allowed to have yet. Now she has settled down on a new rug in the kitchen, which I bought while she was away at the vet's.

I've decided that the next time I need dental work done, I'm just going to dress up in a big cat outfit, and let the veterinarian take care of it. The prices are much better than my dentist, plus they totally knock you out for it!

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes to Gamma!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fiesta, Tomato Plants, & Cats

Photo by Rick Romancito from the Taos News

¡Viva Las Fiestas! Yes, it is Fiesta time in my little New Mexican town. That means the Plaza is crammed full. I'm not entirely sure what it's crammed full of, as I avoid crowds like the plague (which we also have out here - if you visit, please don't try to befriend the cute little prairie dogs and their potentially plague bearing fleas!)...

But anyway, it's Fiesta weekend, and mariachi music is in the air alo
ng with the scent of chile sauce. I went outside to take some photos for you, just as the parade was making its way down the Paseo del Pueblo, less than a mile away. There were non-stop sirens from police cars & fire trucks sounding the whole time I was outside. I'm pleased to announce they'd stopped by the time I was done editing these pictures.

I went out to photograph my garden. Now, I'll be the first to say I'm not much of a gardener. I think it is only out of great kindness towards me that my indoor plants stay alive year after year. Outside it's a different story. The weeds I just leave alone, and they do pretty darn well. A couple of months ago I decided I'd have a vegetable garden this year, and I was very sad when the frost came along and killed my entire garden pot of cherry tomatos before I even gotten them planted.

'Health Dish Delights',
not looking too healthy anymore.

After that sad experience, I'd given up on vegetable gardening for the summer. I'm sure vegetable plants in garden centers throughout northern New Mexico breathed a sigh of relief. BUT then, just three days ago, I was offered a couple of lovely cherry tomato plants. The threat of frost was well past, so I decided to give it a go, and brought them home and planted them in my vegetable garden pot. I've lived here about 5 years now, and the only vegetables I've managed to grow in this pot were a few green peppers about 3 years ago. They only grew to be miniature green peppers, about 2 inches long... each a little nibble of a pepper. I think the lady who sold me the artichoke plant last year was playing a joke on me, because it never even thought about making any artichokes. But take a look at what is growing there now- two big healthy cherry tomato plants!!

And a closer view, looking down on them:

And check out the flowers they already have:

After getting photographs of my new vegetable garden, I paused to admire the vines which have grown along the front portal, shading the house and providing some very nice privacy for my kitchen window.

I was about to walk under those very vines, and go inside, when LaLa came outside. So then, naturally, I had to follow her around the side of the house to try and get some photos. Here we see LaLa (and her shadow) walking away from me, totally NOT interested in posing for photographs.

Then she changes her mind,
and decides to come back towards me...

But then LaLa thinks she hears some other cats sneaking up on her. Or is she just hearng the Fiesta parade sirens? She is not very sociable, and doesn't approve of other cats sneaking up on her. And I don't think she would approve of the Fiestas either, if she knew about them.

She decides she will get up higher, off the ground, the better to see the Sneaky Cats. And she finally poses for a picture. Isn't she a Beauty Girl?

But she's still keeping a watch out
for those Sneaky C

Friday, July 20, 2007

Namaste from Sylvester la

I'd like to introduce you to Sylvester. He is one of the cats currently boarding in my 'Cat Guest Room'. Sylvester will be with me for over a month, as his human has gone off to Tibet to do volunteer work and meet with Tsedor, the Tibetan man she's fallen in love with.

Sylvester is a very handsome fellow, as you can see below, and he is also an exceptionally large cat, with a great zest for life! He has a LOT to say, and he likes to say it at full volume! He loves attention, and will butt his head up against me while purring with pleasure. He's a wonderful character, and I'm enjoying having him as a Guest Cat.

In the photo below you can see Sylvester dressed up in his party attire, to celebrate the Tibetan blessing ceremony his human, Carol la, had on Friday to honor her union with Tsedor la.

The goal is to bring Tsedor over to the United States. It is a complicated process, but it is looking good right now. Sylvester is VERY much looking forward to meeting Tsedor, about whom he has heard such wonderful things.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Grandpa Died in the Hotel Dorset

Construction of the Hotel Dorset, a 19-story, 240,000 square foot building in New York City, was completed in 1927. It was was then demolished back in 2000, to make way for renovation and new construction of the Museum of Modern Art.

Between the Hotel Dorset's being constructed and being demolished, my paternal grandfather, Herman Aaron, died there, on April 20th of 1939. He was 77 years old, and had lived in the United States for 74 of those years. He came over from Germany when he was a child of 3, sailing from Hamburg on the SS Teutonia, and arriving in his new country on June 2, 1865.

He died before I was born, so of course I never met him. Nor do I remember hearing anything about him as I was growing up. I'd never even seen a photograph of him until a couple of years ago, when my sister Wylie sent me some information which included a copy of his obituary. This had a photo of him. When I saw it, for reasons I still can't fully explain, tears came to my eyes... somehow there was a connection between this
man and me, and one that stirred up my emotions. Below is a portion of that obituary.

I was also sent a copy of his death certificate, which said that he was buried at the Kensico Cemetery. I found their website, and it looks like a lovely, peaceful place:

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My Home in Ojo Sarco

Back around 1990 I moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to a small mountain village about 45 minutes north, called Ojo Sarco. This was back when I still had enough money to buy a house, and below is the one I bought and lived in for two years. If you click on the photo to view it larger, you can just make out my red chow chow, Bebert, standing by the side of the house. And the dark shadow by the corner of the house is my black chow, Baba, peeking out.

This was an old house built in the traditional local style out of adobe, and the rear room had a viga (ceiling beam) that had the date 1906 carved into it. The back room, which I used as an art studio, also had a bit of an odor to it, as one of the previous occupants had housed goats in it!

Ojo Sarco is one of the villages off of what is known as 'The High Road to Taos'. This area is described as follows on about.com: "North of Santa Fe, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains soar, their 13,000-foot (4,000-meter) peaks punctuating the horizon. The Taos High Road passes through isolated mountain towns that retain the atmosphere of early Spanish settlers who came here four centuries ago."

This was a lovely place to live, with mostly friendly people, although the postmaster in the tiny little post office and gas station was a grumpy fellow who did NOT approve of the colorful drawings and stickers I put on my outgoing mail. In order to try to get me to take a more serious approach to mail, as he did, he began charging me extra postage for any mail I sent that had artwork of any kind on it. I indulged him and happily paid the extra pennies as my penance for unauthorized creativity.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Storm Coming

Yesterday evening, as I was sitting outside, near the tall weeds, it suddenly darkened, and the wind picked up, as a storm approached. I ran in and got my camera, and snapped this photo before the rain began.

(click on photo to see larger view)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shift Happens (and it boggles my mind)

Below is a YouTube video, 'Shift Happens'. I urge everyone to take a few moments and watch this. Take this information in, to really understand the speed of planetary change we are living with, and how much faster the changes will be coming in the near future. The original video was created by Karl Fisch, and this updated version was modified by Scott McLeod. Visit Karl Fisch's site for more on the background of the original video. To join in the conversation about all this, please go HERE:

And here is another version, with cooler graphics, that was put out after I originally posted this- you click your way through it at your own pace:

I am boggled by this information. What does it mean for a human living on planet Earth?? Well, to some extent that depends WHERE that human is living, although that seems to be less and less important, as humans EVERYWHERE start getting connected. And to a much larger extent, it depends on WHEN that human is living. We are seeing the first stages of this global transformation... what will our children and grandchildren live to see, and how will those changes effect the quality of their lives???

In a related matter, I took a 'speed test', to compare my internet connection speeds to other areas. The results were disappointing. My download speeds were 2,090 kilobytes per second. The US average download speed is a measly 1,280 kbps. Compare that to average download speeds in Japan, a whopping 51,200 kbps. Wow! Results for the upload times do not show as large a difference: Mine =
599 kbps, average US = 230 kbps, and Japan = 1,275 kbps. Why are Japan's citizens provided with connection speeds SO much faster than in the US and elsewhere? What speeds are YOU connecting with? Take the quick test for yourself, by going HERE.

I tested my speeds again August 20, 2007, four times within a period of about ten minutes, and got these varying results results:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Childhood Home...

Before my parents died, when I was eleven, and I was sent away to boarding school, I lived in Kingston, New Jersey. This is near Princeton, where Princeton University is. Our house was later sold and turned into a bank with some offices above. I remember one of the upstairs bedrooms, , became a psychiatrist's office. Since I was having emotional challenges during this period of childhood, it seemed appropriate. Below is the flyer announcing the opening of our house as a bank, from back in 1967.

(click to view larger image)

And here is an edited view of the house:

Across the street lived my best friend, Andy (Andrea), who was a year older than me. Her family had some cows. I remember once Andy and I got into a fight and began picking up the 'cow pies' (dung piles) and throwing them at each other. Some were all dried out, but not all of them. A good bath was needed by us both after that!

Andy and I also made friends with a little black steer who lived in the barn. He was a cute fellow, and we named him Blackie. We would visit him almost every day, as he grew larger. One day we went to visit and Blackie was not there. This was very strange. Where could he be? We asked one of the men who was working there about it, and he told us Blackie had been taken off to be slaughtered. This was a great shock to us, as we'd never realized that might be Blackie's fate. It was around this time that I considered becoming a vegetarian, like my big brother Richard... but then, when I realized that would mean no more of my favorite cheeseburgers, I quickly abandoned the idea.

Andy's father was a doctor, and later he would be the one to stitch up my knee, after I put it through the kitchen window as Andy and I were trying to get into my house, to look around after it had been sold. Andy and I also liked to sneak peeks at some of his medical books, to look at the disturbing photos of various diseases, mutations, and injuries. This fit in well with what we called our 'bloody murder' games, which we played now and then, where we would pick off scabs we had to see who would bleed the most.

Andy's mother was the one who taught me how to spell my name when I was little, by refusing to let me in to visit Andy until I spelled it. Andy would lean around her as she barricaded the door, and try to give me hints in silent sign language. I also remember we would hunt through their house before Christmas, trying to find where Andy's mom had hidden her Christmas presents.

And I recall the BIG white chocolate Easter bunnies Andy got each year. I was jealous of those bunnies, even though she would usually share them with me. They took Easter more seriously than my family did, because they were Catholic. The only time I've ever been to Catholic church services was when I went with Andy's family
a few times. That was back when services were still being given in Latin. I think I enjoyed that strange and incomprehensible aspect of it as a young child. And just a few days ago, the current Pope, Benedict, announced he'll be allowing the option of the Latin masses again. I approve of this decision. Bring back the mystery of my childhood - more Latin, and more white chocolate bunnies!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hannah And The Dragon

Click on any page to see larger image.