Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Unfinished business

I have one piece of unfinished business that has languished for awhile – and I just realized I never told you the outcome.  The other is MUCH more recent.

Remember when we were putting together that puzzle, Starry Night, in San Diego while visiting Lafawnda and Flash?  It was really doubtful that we were going to get it completed before we had to leave.  Well, here is what happened:


Here is the picture of Flash and Lafawnda putting in place the last piece literally 10 minutes before we headed out!

And this is the result of doing tie-dye of t-shirts at Booder Fossil’s 10th birthday party:


I love the way it came out.  And, my hands are almost scrubbed clean, even though I haven’t soaked them in vodka like Grannymar suggested to me on Facebook.  Was I supposed to soak them from the inside, GM?  It isn’t working, but I no longer care that they are stained!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Funniest Line of the Week


I have never given the Lady Fossil her due for sense of humor on this blog.  When confronted with the above effort by a neighborhood squirrel to bury a peanut he had found, simply accomplishing a scooped out hollow in which the peanut was still clearly visible, she drily observed, “Wild animals just aren’t what they used to be.”

Friday, May 25, 2012


I’m late to this invitation from Padmum to write on Invitations as our Friday topic!  Oh, dear.  Well, when you finish my scintillating offering, be sure to check out the other Loose Blogger Consortium members listed on the right side of the page.

Ironically, I ran late last night (when I had planned to write on this topic) because of a last-minute invitation to a spring concert with a friend’s daughter, a senior, performing. It was worth it!

This is our season of birthdays, graduations, marriages and memorials.  We just received the following invitation to a celebration of high school graduation for one of Mo Fossil’s little sisters:


Lady F may have to work, but I’ll be there!


Sunday, we are invited to Booder Fossil’s 10th Birthday bash in which we will do tie-dye among other things.  I have my white cotton t-shirts ready!

Sunday, the entire region, indeed the world, is invited to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most recognizable icons anywhere.  At the 50th Anniversary, they allowed people to walk out onto the bridge to celebrate and so many participated that the bridge sagged 7 feet in the middle!  They have decided to not do that this time.

Facebook invited the public to invest in their company, another global story with local interest for us, for Facebook headquarters is right across the Bay.  Unfortunately, the invitation turned out the be something of a flop and may ultimately be determined as an expensive crime if allegations of withheld information holds up.  That invitation could end up costing them over a billion dollars!

Next month, I have been invited to officiate my niece’s wedding in Missouri.  You will get the rundown and pictures (of course) following!


Lafawnda Fossil will marry Flash Focker (above) in August and you are all virtually invited.  In the virtual universe, Flash Focker will of course become Flash Fossil.  Virtual refreshments will be provided and I might even open the Whine Bar.

Once a person puts his or her mind to it, it is easy to notice that invitations are EVERYWHERE.  The following can be seen as an invitation:


This is one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever taken, Mitre Peak at Milford Sound in New Zealand.  Currently, this is the wallpaper on my computer monitor, because to me it was and is an invitation to luxuriate in stunning beauty.  For someone else, perhaps it is an invitation to climbing adventure!

Such is life.  One invitation after another.  Indeed, the future is always an extended invitation, an invitation to bring experience into the present.

The RSVP is always up to us.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Roman Cowboy


Grannymar, Ramana, Delirious, Alice, Nick and anyone I missed were discussing GM’s Living Statues she photographed on the street.  This is a guy Lady F, Lafawnda and I saw in Rome.  He could stay in the pose you see above virtually endlessly and his makeup was superb for you didn’t even notice the slight rubbing away at his neck until looking at the photo later.

This gentleman stopped to be photographed next to him when, to his amusement:


The statue came to life!

See GM’s convo at:


This topic brought to the Friday Topic Fish Fry by our very own Grannymar.  See the Loose Blogger Consortium members (with clickable links) on the right to see what they say about a very interesting and broad topic.  It is hard to imagine there will be two approaches the same.

I decided that rather than doing my normal writing on a topic, I would try to represent it visually using photographs that I personally had taken of my granddaughter.  So, here we go …


Hello, World!


Best “motion” picture Grandpa ever took!


OK, I have my thinking cap on, so what do you want to know?


Everybody loves nuts for a snack.


With Dad’s help, I can fly!


It almost goes to the sky, Grandpa.


Grandma teaches me how to play hopscotch.


I love hanging out with my family!


I just got a new family added on!


Dad is teaching me how to play baseball, now …


… and I’m developing my own style.

Grab all you can, folks.  It’s so fleeting.  She will be 10 next Monday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Teaching people how to consume

Ramana, Grannymar, Shackman and I are bemoaning the current state of education.  Teaching to the test, so that rote answers substitute for critical thinking may not be the whole problem.  Unfortunately, we may still be teaching our children quite effectively.  The problem is in WHAT we are teaching them.

At one time, we were teaching them to be good citizens.  Now, we may be more effectively teaching them how to be good consumers!  The following article is well worth the read:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It’s just a flesh wound …


Last night, I was slicing a potato with a super-duper slicer that makes potato chips in the microwave.  They are surprisingly good.  Unless the gadget they have to push on the top of the potato slips and your finger drops down to the blade just as you push!  But, under the handy dandy repair the Lady F and I did, it isn’t even serious enough for pity points and will be mostly healed by the end of the weekend.

It reminded me of what the cowboys always used to say on TV when they had been shot, “It’s just a flesh wound.”  Now that I’m an adult, I wonder what else it could have been, like maybe a bone shot up or something.  I guess if it isn’t a support member, it’s nothing of import.  Unless it’s an organ, of course.  Tendons are probably grey areas.

Violence was sanitized back then, in the days before Sam Peckinpah.  In fact, as we ran around with our cap guns, we would ambush somebody and he would declare it didn’t count, it was just in the hip.  That shows just how much it was totally a game disconnected from real gun violence, the idea that a bullet “just in the hip” would be no problem.

What do you think about kids running around and “shooting” each other with cap guns?  Do you think it leads to later violence or do you think that later generations who got to see all the faked blood and gore were more encouraged?  Maybe neither and the breakdown of the family structure has led to devaluation of life.

I don’t know, but I do know that in America we seem to be shooting each other on a fairly regular basis and I guess the equivalent of just a flesh wound is the intonement of “the injuries are not life threatening” on the evening news.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Well … there goes Education!


Looks to me like Education has been “tageted.”  Well, at least we have Roseanne to save the day …

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Chickens of Manchester


Read Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn and you will get a good idea of what rural Kansas was a like in the mid 50’s.  And I do mean rural.  I used to date a young lady from Spanish Harlem who literally had more people in her tenement when she was young than I had in my entire town as a kid.

One of the beauties of that life is that the division between the country and the town was practically non-existent.  That meant we grew our own produce and had our own chickens.  Thirty hens and a rooster named Henry meant thirty eggs a day – our hens must have been happy, because each laid an egg a day - and we kids just loved collecting those eggs.

Henry and his hens were Bantams, more popularly called Banties.  Now a Banty egg is only about 1/2 the size of an egg you will buy in the store, but at 30 per day, we did alright.  So, we had 210 eggs a week.  Divide that in half and you have the equivalent of 150 or so regular size eggs, about 12 dozen.

The feed cost 10 cents a week.  So, 12 dozen eggs for 10 cents comes out to around a penny a dozen.  Even accounting for inflation, that amounts to 8.5 cents a dozen AA eggs in today’s money.  Are any of you out there bettering that?  We sure aren’t!

I used to spend a quite a bit of time outdoors and when I was in the back yard, that meant plenty of time to eat mulberries and watch the chickens.  I noticed that every so often Henry would jump on one of those hens and grab its neck.  I asked the folks and Dad told me that Henry was planting a seed in the hen and that is how little chickens got started.  Henry would plant the seed, the hen would sit on the egg for about 21 days and out would hatch a chick!

Mom told me yesterday that she saw me out in the back yard with my friend Bobby one day, both of us in our bib overalls, little farmers and I said, “Boy, old Henry is busy today!”  Bobby asked me what I meant and I explained about how he was planting seeds for the little chickens to be born and Bobby thought that was cool.  Mom thought it might be interesting for the conversations with Bobby’s parents, but nothing ever came of it.

It brings to mind a story of President Calvin Coolidge and the First Lady visiting a poultry farm.  The First Lady pointed out that a rooster somewhat like Henry was able to keep quite a number of hens serviced!  The President noted that he was indeed capable – and that it was a different hen each time!  Since then, the increased ability of a man with multiple partners has been know psychologically as the Coolidge Effect.

Me, I had a different interest.  I wondered just how Henry got that seed in their necks …

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Celebrating the Lady and the Kid!

Thirty-three years ago today, the Lady Fossil was celebrating her first Mother’s Day.  That is because the day before, she gave birth to Kid Fossil.


The Lady in her time was given birth by GiGi Fossil.


Thirty-three years and six days before the Lady and I married, thus officially folding together a new three-piece family, Ma Fossil gave birth to me.


Now, Kid Fossil has married Mo Fossil, bringing Booder Fossil – Bood properly pronounced like Good in this case - into their fold.


Now, just try to tell me it isn’t all magic!

I agree with Ursula that EVERY day is Mother’s Day.  But, I step back anyway to say to all the magical moms out there:


Friday, May 11, 2012

Lafawnda lays it out!

After I posted on moods, I talked with Lafawnda to see if she would like to say anything.  Here is her marvelous response ….


After that last post, I thought that it was only appropriate that you heard a word or two from Lafawnda Fossil about the craziness (yes, I said crazy) that is bipolar disorder.

"Crazy" seems to be the word that people try not to say when you not-so-casually mention that you have bipolar disorder. They immediately think of their aunt's cousin's neighbor's dog's sister who had bipolar disorder, didn't take care of themselves, and was "crazy". So I'll just set the record straight - I'm not crazy (at least not because I have bipolar disorder). My brain just works a little bit differently than yours. Sometimes my brain decides that I'm depressed - whether I'm simply bummed out or wanting to die on my bathroom floor all depends on what kind of mood my brain is in that day. These aren't the greatest of times, let me tell you. Other times my brain decides that I cannot keep still.

carly_blowing_topThese are the times when you realize who your best friends are, because during one of these manic episodes my best friend ran around the perimeter of our school campus with me until we just about fell over. Such is the unpredictable life of someone with bipolar disorder. It sounds horrible, I know. You're probably feeling pretty sorry for me right now, thinking, "Oh, that poor girl with her wacky, unpredictable brain." Well, you shouldn't, because I have a pretty amazing life.

Sure, I can't drink alcohol because it mixes with my medication. Do I care? Not a bit! I don't like the way alcohol tastes anyway. Sure, I have to get a regular amount of sleep, eat my vegetables, drink enough water, and exercise in the sun. Guess what? We should all be doing that anyway!

I'm not saying that I haven't had my difficult times. I've had to interrupt my schoolwork to deal with my depression. I've cried on my bathroom floor for no reason other than my brain decided I should be sad that day. I once stood on stage rehearsing for a musical and suddenly burst into tears. Yes, I've had some difficult times, but there are two things you learn through difficult times - who your real friends are and how great the good times are.

Let me tell you, as a 16-year-old high school student who has sudden, unexplainable episodes of depression, you lose a lot of friends. It was upsetting at the time, but I've learned that my real friends will stand by me. Real friends can handle a little bit of crazy. Also, bad times teach you to appreciate the good times. It sounds cheesy, but it's true. When I convince my brain to behave itself for a while, I love my life. I love my family, I love my friends, and I love my fiance. I love that I live in sunny San Diego.

I love that I know how to appreciate the good times, and there are a lot of them. As you've probably learned by now, I like to look on the positive side of my condition. I could dwell on the days that make me want to die, or feel sorry for myself for not being "normal." But who wants to be normal anyway? 

The moral of this story is that my condition does not define me. Bipolar disorder is not who I am, it's just something I deal with that has made me a stronger person. I am Lafawnda Fossil, daughter-fiance-friend-student-artist-singer-dancer-piano player extraordinaire, and a little bit of mental illness is not going to stop me from living an amazing life.

Are you letting anything stop you?


This topic was brought to the LBC for the Friday topic by the Grand Old Man himself, Ramana Rajgopaul.  However, I must caution that between yoga and walking, the fitness of the GOM is taking him to the level where he may be becoming the Grand Young Man, the GYM!



Above are two pictures of Lafawnda Fossil, apple of my eye!  They were both obviously taken at different points, the first expressing the joy of cuddling “Dolly” who got her through most of childhood.  The second expresses the misery following wisdom tooth extraction!  Different moods.

Everyone has them, different moods; happy, sad, angry, peaceful.  But it is a different circumstance for Lafawnda … and one of my nieces … and my paternal grandfather.  We have some kind of genetic strain, we Fossils, that surfaces like blue eyes or brown hair, a genetic strain that is the root of Bipolar Disorder.  What the rest of us take for granted must be managed by them.

People with Bipolar Disorder have moods like other people and they can be normally happy or sad.  But, they also have (as Lafawnda puts it) “episodes.”  These episodes are of a different nature and are cyclic.

From the outside, I probably can’t describe the difference with the accuracy that Lafawnda could, but I’ll try to offer what I’ve been able to glean.  She says that a normal mood is a response to a normal cause.  Someone gets married and that makes you happy.  Someone steals your car and that makes you angry, etc.

But a Bipolar episode comes from left field and is severe.  It isn’t like a normal mood and might be a severe depression or an extreme euphoria.  My grandfather had two-year cycles, if you can imagine.  He would be euphoric – to the extent that you never knew what he might say or do in public or what weird contraption he might invent – for two years at a time and then severely depressed, literally staying in the basement away from everyone for two years.  His pathology was so severe and so classic that when my father wrote of it in detail for an Abnormal Psychology class the professor accused him of just stealing it from a textbook and gave him a C for the paper!

My niece and Lafawnda cycle much more quickly than that, usually cycling within a day.  Of the three, Lafawnda is the least severely afflicted, but you can trust me that you would not want it.  She manages with a medication that in part moderates the manic phase (which may manifest as euphoria or may manifest as agitation, a need to literally get out of her skin!).  If the manic is moderated, it helps to stop the exhaustion of resources and the slide into the depressive phase.  The medication lessens the depressive phase directly, too.

She moderates the cycling by getting regular sleep, steady diet, exposure to sunlight and consistent exercise.  Meditation also helps as does a special light during the seasons of shorter daylight.  Structuring her time and focus helps.  And, oddly for an achiever like Lafawnda, she has learned to not draw on that “5th gear” that is available to Bipolar sufferers, a state of energy, awareness and alertness that the rest of us cannot call upon.  The psychiatrist told her that it is so tempting when a project needs completion, but so damaging in the cycling it generates.

Possibly more important than anything else above, Lafawnda recognizes her episodes, and has from the start, as something that happens to her and recognizes a regular mood as something that she generates as a response.  Lafawnda meets the challenge of her disorder directly, honestly and responsibly while the rest of the Fossils and her fiancĂ©e Flash are all supportive.

I think the main thing for the rest of us to gain from the story is an appreciation of our normal moods, something too easily taken for granted.  I am also grateful for the normal moods for Lafawnda that come from a managed situation, normality that can extend now for pretty long periods of time.  It means that the disorder need not define her life.

These realizations make me happy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Apologies to LBC … work overload!


That is what my head is wrapped around at the current moment and it is leaving little room for an old fossil to consider other issues.  It is nothing dramatic, just technical and it has come at a time when numerous other issues have led to long work days since the middle of last week.

I am not complaining.  Lafawnda may actually get to be married in a church!  Well, in a vineyard, actually, but close enough.

But, it’s Maxi’s first week and already I flake out!  Sorry.

That does work for “Sincerity” though, doesn’t it?  Consider Friday’s topic written on.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Tall Poppy Syndrome


This is our spring growth of California Poppies.  Every year, they sprout in somewhat random configurations and densities in our front yard.  Indeed, they have spread as far as three blocks since the Lady F planted a packet about a decade ago.

School children are very much analogous to these poppies.  They have obvious similarities to one another, but they come in different configurations with each year’s “crop,” seeds blowing in the wind landing in nurturing spots and growing in isolation or in groups.  While approximately the same size, they do vary and you will see some in this picture that are obviously shorter or taller than the others.

Now, these poppies are allowed to do what they wish, because we like it that way.  Humorously, in some ways, it is also against the law to pull out a California Poppy – although we can’t imagine how or why they would want to enforce that!  We clean up around them and I took this picture right before we did some weeding and cleanup of our front yard.  We are quite pleased with the results.

Back to the kids.  They also tend to be somewhat the same size in abilities, somewhat homogeneous as a group.  Every so often, we have a runt intellectually or physically and we give that child extra nurturance and care, trying to achieve the best result we can for them.

But, also every so often, we have a tall kid, physically or intellectually.  They are often not helped with their slightly-out-of-normal capacities, because the assumption is that they will get along just fine!

Unfortunately, what we often do by this assumption, by the process of concern about the normal sized poppies, we trim that poppy back to normal size without further consideration.

I have always thought of Mensa as an elitist organization.  However, after reading the following article about America’s youngest member, I am reconsidering what may indeed be a nurturing organization as essential and as compassionate as the organizations that help the handicapped and disabled.  I invite you to read: