Thursday, January 28, 2016

Be warned case you missed this:

The Official Buzz from Blogger at Google

An update on Google Friend Connect

December 21, 2015

In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

Posted by Michael Goddard, Software Engineer

If I were still in the Boy Scouts, posting this would count as my good deed for the day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more

Yorkshire Pudding is always taking us along on his walks through the English countryside. I thought today I would take us someplace else.

My Country
by Dorothea Mackellar

The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror --
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die --
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold --
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze ...

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land --
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand --
Though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Stumped? It could almost be somewhere in the American West -- Arizona maybe, except for the jewel sea -- but it is not.

Dorothea Mackellar (1885 - 1968), author of the poem, was from Australia. She began writing the poem in 1904 while visiting London, England. The spectacular 12-foot-high metal sculpture of a phrase from the second stanza is located at Australia's National Arboretum in Weston, a suburb of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Thank you, Sue (Elephant's Child), for introducing me to this beautiful poem.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Peacocks are blue, dilly-dilly, peacocks are green

One green peacock may be beautiful:

But two blue peacocks are downright gorgeous:

These are Mrs. RWP's fifth and sixth creations since she began enjoying her new hobby of using artist's pencils to complete adult-difficulty coloring books. She chooses her own combinations.

Thanks to Sue in Australia who blogs as Elephant's Child, I was introduced today to an Australian poet, Dorothea Mackellar, who was born in 1885 and died in 1968. In my next post I will share with you her best-known poem, but today I want to share her poem "Colour" because it gives me, a non-artist, insight into how Mrs. RWP must experience things:


The lovely things that I have watched unthinking,
Unknowing, day by day,
That their soft dyes have steeped my soul in colour
That will not pass away -

Great saffron sunset clouds, and larkspur mountains,
And fenceless miles of plain,
And hillsides golden-green in that unearthly
Clear shining after rain;

And nights of blue and pearl, and long smooth beaches,
Yellow as sunburnt wheat,
Edged with a line of foam that creams and hisses,
Enticing weary feet.

And emeralds, and sunset-hearted opals,
And Asian marble, veined
With scarlet flame, and cool green jade, and moonstones
Misty and azure-stained;

And almond trees in bloom, and oleanders,
Or a wide purple sea,
Of plain-land gorgeous with a lovely poison,
The evil Darling pea.

If I am tired I call on these to help me
To dream -and dawn-lit skies,
Lemon and pink, or faintest, coolest lilac,
Float on my soothed eyes.

There is no night so black but you shine through it,
There is no morn so drear,
O Colour of the World, but I can find you,
Most tender, pure and clear.

Thanks be to God, Who gave this gift of colour,
Which who shall seek shall find;
Thanks be to God, Who gives me strength to hold it,
Though I were stricken blind.

--Dorothea Mackellar (1885 - 1968)

P.S. - Peacocks can also be white:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Have you heard the one about the nine ladybugs, the peacock, and the Guernsey cow who walk into a bar?

Neither have I.

There isn't a Guernsey cow. I made up that part.

Actually, the photographs in this post are the two latest masterpieces from Mrs. RWP's new coloring book.

Survey: Which is funnier, a Guernsey cow, a St. Bernard, or a big, black tarantula? Give reasons.

This post makes absolutely no sense because the full moon once again approaches. Accordingly, I am dedicating it (the post, not the moon) to our old friend Putz (David Barlow of Tooele, Utah) who hasn't posted since January 16, 2014. His innovative spelling and indecipherable punctuation are sorely missed in this little corner of Blogland.

All in favor say "Aye"....

Monday, January 18, 2016

This, that, and the other, plus an essay by Flannery O'Connor

Today is the observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States (although his actual birth date was last Friday, January 15th), tomorrow is the birthday of General Robert E. Lee, and so it goes from day to day, observance to observance, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Before you know it, it will be National Pickle Day. It's not until November, but, hey, time flies when you're having fun.

Although the sun is shining brightly, today (Monday, January 18, 2016) is the coldest day of the 2015-2016 winter so far hereabouts. Tomorrow morning's low temperature is expected to be even colder; the weatherman is predicting 18 degrees Fahrenheit ( -7.77777778 degrees Celsius) . We've seen no snow yet this winter, but a "light dusting" of the stuff was reported yesterday in the mountains around Blairsville, near the border with North Carolina.

Mrs. RWP completed a page of ladybugs from her coloring book over the weekend and now is working on a page featuring a peacock.

Speaking of peacocks, Georgia's own Flannery O'Connor once wrote an essay many people know as "The King Of The Birds" but which was published originally in the September 1961 issue of Holiday magazine as "Living With A Peacock" -- you can read it in its entirety right here.

Or you could skip over it altogether, but I recommend that you do not.

Afterward, if you become as much of a fan of Flannery O'Connor's writings as I did, and if you are very brave, you may want to settle down for a long winter's nap with some of her short stories such as "The Enduring Chill" or "The Displaced Person" or "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" or "Good Country People" or "Everything That Rises Must Converge" or "Revelation" but you may not have pleasant dreams.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Butterflies, they say, are free here are three of them, courtesy of Mrs. RWP:

If you think they are female and you are of a certain age, you might name them Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne after the Andrews Sisters singing group of the 1940s, or you might name them Phyllis, Chris, and Dottie after the McGuire Sisters singing group of the 1950s and 1960s. But they could be male (the butterflies I mean, not the Andrews Sisters or the McGuire Sisters), in which case you might name them Manny, Moe, and Jack after the guys who own 803 Pep Boys automotive supply stores with 7000 bays in 35 states and Puerto Rico, or you might name them Frank, Dean, and Sammy after the best-known members of the Rat Pack. And if you are of a certain age and/or frame of mind you may never have heard of the Andrews Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, the Pep Boys, or the Rat Pack and furthermore it has never occurred to you to care whether butterflies drawn on paper are female or male.

Whatever floats your boat.

Butterflies usually make everyone happy, but sometimes they make me sad when I think of I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of works of art and poetry by Jewish children who lived in the German concentration camp Theresienstadt during World War II. The book is named after a line in a poem by Pavel Friedman, a young man who was sent to Theresienstadt and was later killed at Auschwitz.

You can read Pavel Friedman's poem "The Butterfly" here.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Works in progress

Our grandson Sam:

Our grandson Noah:

Mrs. RWP's third coloring project:

Our entire family last July, Take 1 (click to enlarge):

Our entire family last July, Take 2 (click to enlarge):

Sam eventually finished playing "Silent Night" on December 24th. Noah eventually made both free throws on January 2nd. Mrs. RWP will eventually finish her third coloring project, probably in another day or two. Our family may never quit clowning around, but all of us hope that the photographer, a professional hired to record Mrs. RWP's 80th birthday bash, will eventually learn how to place human beings in afternoon sun in such a way that the resulting photograph does not contain unwanted shadows on their faces.

Just for the record, this blog is still a work in progress also.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mrs. RWP creates Number Two

That is, she completed her second pattern from her new coloring book.

Here it is:

I thought about also showing you the sample versions that the publishers of the coloring book provided so that you could contrast the drab, dull, depressing products they suggested with the delightful ones Mrs. RWP has created using her own color choices. But then I realized it might be a copyright violation, so I decided against it.

Mrs. RWP is definitely the visual artist in the family.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Our Christmas cactus

...decided to surprise us and become an Epiphany cactus. Here's how it looked today:

Here is a closer view:

And here is an even closer view:

Epiphany is not quite here yet, but then neither is Mrs. RWP's second creation from her new coloring book. While we wait for both to arrive, let's watch and listen to Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke perform "My Coloring Book" (4:21). Their version is ever so much more fun than Kitty Kallen's original rendition in the preceding post.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Mrs. RWP begins a new hobby

The beginning of a new year brings with it, to our house at least, a new hobby for Mrs. RWP. She had dropped a few hints to the children before Christmas that she would like to have an adult coloring book. Get your minds out of the gutter, people. She didn't want an adult-content coloring book, she wanted an adult-difficulty coloring book. These are all the rage this season hereabouts.

No one acted on her hints. Our children pooled their fortunes and presented us with the joint gift of a new computer. From now on I will be composing these posts on a Hewlett-Packard "All-in-One" PC with Windows 10 instead of a 16-year-old dinosaur with XP. I missed Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 altogether. The new computer came with a wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard. I went out on December 31st and bought a new wireless printer/scanner to go with it, replacing the unbelievably slow but still-functioning HP-812C that I've had since 1999. But I digress.

Mrs. RWP went out to an art-supply store one day last week and bought a coloring book herself along with some "artists coloured pencils" (hey, look, British spelling!). On December 30th she began working on her first project. If I had been thinking, I would have shown you the page before she began, but as usual, I was not thinking. (Note to self. If I had been thinking, I would have given her the coloring book.)

Here's how the page looked when she had filled in half of it:

And here's how the page looked on December 31st after she had finished it:

I think it is very pretty.

Mrs. RWP says doing it was very relaxing because she had to stop thinking about everything else and concentrate on the coloring. If I tried to do this sort of thing myself, it would make me tense and frustrated, and perhaps I would go stark raving mad.

They say opposites attract.

To end on a somewhat melancholy note, here is Kitty Kallen singing “My Coloring Book” (3:18) from 1962.

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...