Mondayriffic

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Full disclosure. Found the native operating system tools for enhancing photos and I think I got a little carried away.

Well, it certainly is Monday. It’s all kinds of Monday. The kind of Monday where I mistyped Monday about five times (and erased mistyped accidentally).

Monday.

Now Monday looks weird. Mission accomplished.

Woke this morning to thunder, and I presume lightning, though I saw no evidence thereof through my determinedly, yet futilely, closed eyelids. It’s a soggy gray world out there today. The spring color is muted, and we’ve gone from summer temps to early season ones. It’s kind of backward but it figures.

Got outside a little yesterday for Mother’s Day (a happy belated one to all who celebrate it) and caught all kinds of little birds. Well, I didn’t catch them catch them, I glimpsed them, and even photographed a few. Apparently, according to the Chicago Botanic Garden, many of them were migratory warblers. Including this one, which could be a Cape May warbler, judging by the photos. Boy are they fast.

So I will Monday on, while wishing you all a productive, less Monday-like week. I’ve got some MAYkingItWork to MAYke work.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

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A real-life mystery, but not of the Dateline variety

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By A Tower magazine (Scanned cover of pulp magazine) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been down the rabbit hole of technical difficulties over the last few days, some mine, some belonging to others. But one had a mystery twist.

My mom, in the last few years, has taken up photography. I’ve always enjoyed it, my dad got into it a long time ago, and then suddenly my mom decided she wanted to be Annie Leibovitz. So she’s jumped into into it with both lenses and as a consequence, has many photos.

But hadn’t exactly devised a system to keep them straight.

So yesterday she was looking for a specific group of photos but couldn’t find them. Anywhere. And my dad, resident IT person, couldn’t figure out where they’d gone either. While we were talking on the phone, my mom said she unearthed one.

“Great,” I said, “right-click it and find the properties.” Find the file path, find the photos. The plan couldn’t fail.

“I’d moved it to another folder, the rest aren’t here.” Plan failed.

“Huh,” I told her. “You handled the evidence with your bare hands and now we can’t collect DNA.”

Alas.

But I was determined, and in exchange for promised lemon-ricotta pancakes, I vowed to find the photos. I’ve written a mystery, how hard could it be to solve one in real life?

Well, yeah.

After collecting on the pancakes (delicious, by the way), and dealing with my own technical issues (far less glamorous), I endeavored to uphold my end of the deal. A deal’s a deal, after all.

I settled in before her computer. I tried organizing by date. Nope.

I tried searching by date. Nope.

“There,” she said “that’s where I copied them.” I narrowed my eyes at the photos in the folder. An idea dawned.

“Are those all from the same batch?” I asked.

“Yes,” she told me.

Using the handy search box that bleached itself white in the last update for reasons unknown to all except those who hate corneas, I looked for an image name one number below one in the file.

Bingo.

That picture came up. A right click on properties told me exactly where it was hiding.

Gotcha, elusive photos.

I turned to my mom, who was now aglow with relief. “You destroyed the DNA evidence, but we still had fingerprints.”

(Dramatic music).

Case closed.

Check out my recaps of the hit new show “All My Traitors.” Recap of episode 2, “Lock Him Up” is available now!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Issues in Bloggery

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Freed up enough space for one picture!

With the gorgeous weather this weekend in Chicago, I got out with my camera, and I was going to post pictures, but just remembered that I am out of storage space. Old problem, forgotten with all the bigger problems of the world, still unsolved. So I’ll work on that, and maybe get some photos up this week.

Getting my mind back to this blog has been tough. When the entire world starts dissolving around you, fun irreverence isn’t the mood that immediately surfaces. Life is currently fraught with a kind of fear most of us here in the United States have never had to face; it’s the kind of fear people travel thousands of miles and leave loved ones behind to escape.

Usually by escaping to the U.S. So…

I’m still working on that balance I wrote about, and maybe, while things are as they are, breezy blog posts about TV shows and writer’s block will be far less frequent than they used to be. But even so, I’m still working on finding pockets of normalcy, on days where I can head out, trusty camera in hand, and see the world in a new way and an old way, all at once.

 

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Oh, Monday. And NaNoWriMo. And Other Assorted Bits.

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It’s taking up storage room here, so I figured, hey, why not use it. Last year’s fall colors.

So I thought I had the most genius solution to my storage problem: Instagram. Oh yes, thought I in my too-old-for-the-app naivety, Instagram will solve my problems and give me another social media outlet!

Only.

Well. Turns out the only pictures you can upload on Instagram are from your phone.

There are some work-arounds, but I think I may be heading back to flicker. Or follow my Inner Laziness Guru:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/144440142@N04/30655029766/in/dateposted-public/

And just give WordPress more money. I mean they’re totally counting on it, right?!

Ironically, though, I had to use Flickr to embed that photo, because I couldn’t do it directly from Canva for some reason, which is where I made it. And by “made it” I mean typed those words.

Proof of my Monday: I literally hit “publish” when I meant to save a draft. SAVE A DRAFT.

Arrghh.

Still working on this post, I’ll update it when it’s finished.

And here we go!

ANYWHO, (hmm, was that a little channeling of Aunty Ida?) The balloon drops on NaNoWriMo tomorrow, and I think I’m jumping in. Last year, for the first time since I started doing NaNoWriMo, I didn’t hit 50,000. So I don’t know if I’m starting with a chip on my shoulder or a monkey on my back.

I can’t decide if a monkey on my back might be fun. We could become best friends and solve crimes together!

On a completely unrelated note, I think I know what I’m writing about for NaNoWriMo.

This photo comes from NectarConsulting.Com. I have absolutely no idea why, or if they made it. But I'm pretty sure that's no a monkey, but a baboon.

This photo comes from NectarConsulting.Com. I have absolutely no idea why, or if they made it. But I’m pretty sure that’s no a monkey, but a baboon.

I’m hoping to have the next Galapagos post up, uhh, someday. Meanwhile, if you don’t hear from me, the technology has gotten me. Please send help and chocolate cupcakes. Heavy on the chocolate cupcakes.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Storage Oh Storage. My Kingdom for More Storage

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Look at this guy, taking up storage space. Aw, just kidding! Can't get mad at him!

Look at this guy, taking up storage space.
Aw, just kidding! Can’t get mad at him!

Arggh. So if you read yesterday’s post, you know that I have reached my media storage limit here. I’ve been trying to get Flickr to play nice, but I’m having trouble, and I’ll have to go through the photos before I upload. For Day 3 of the trip alone — the first full day in the Galapagos — I have over 1200 photos.

Nope. Not a typo.

I really took that many photos. So I have to weed through them, and then, if I use Flickr, select them one by one. Or post an album, but apparently I can’t embed it.

Yes, I know, this dilemma is fascinating.

The easiest option is the most expensive. Isn’t that always the case? I can buy more storage from WordPress, but I’m just not sure how I feel about that.

So trip posts will have to wait while I see if I can get the the whole Flickr thing going (or if anyone else knows of a better photo hosting site, I’m all ears! Well, not ALL ears. 86% ears).

Or I could just invite you all over and make you watch my slides, hour upon hour, blithely refilling glasses with tepid water, as I explain the rocks.

Yes, even the rocks are interesting on the Galapagos.

Beyond that, last show on Saturday! It’s now or never, get your tickets!

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Ecuador & Galapagos Day 2: Santa Cruz Highlands or Check out Those Giant Tortoises!

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img_5727(Previous Ecuador posts) We squeezed into the back of the white pickup truck, me in the middle, my enormous camera backpack between my knees, my huge purse lodged under, our suitcases in the bed of the truck. Everything we saw was new: The trees that looked like dead sticks; the others that resembled very tall birches, only they weren’t.

The higher we went, the greener it got.

We passed a small town with small stores open to the street, wooden railings, low, single-story buildings. Santiago told us that on the weekends, there’s a market there, and people come up from Puerto Ayora, the big city on Santa Cruz.

The driver pulled over, seemingly to nowhere, but we saw some other tourists emerge from the greenery. An application of sunscreen and a donning of my hat later, and we were taking in our first Galapagos sight (and site): Los Gemelos, The Twin Craters, formed when the tops of the mountains collapsed inward due to erosion.

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And then it was back into the truck to see the giant tortoises. Suddenly they were everywhere, dotting the hillside, stalwart, like living rocks in the road. The very-slow-moving rabbits of the Highland, the giant tortoises were everywhere. They’re also allowed go anywhere they want and eat anything they want, undisturbed, chewing away at crops.

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This is what it’s like to get side-eye from a tortoise. The meanie. Obviously.

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We went to a farm where you can get close to them, though you are supposed to stay a bit of a distance away, as they, like all the species of the Galapagos, are protected. Most didn’t seem to mind us at all, aside from one real meanie.

Watching them move was interesting, they put their huge, stubbly legs, each ending in a set of impressive claws, forward and heave themselves, fighting for every inch.

Then we looked at the lava tunnels, hollow tubes running under the island. We had to descend some steep stairs, but luckily, the ones we saw didn’t involve any crawling.img_5870 img_5868

Unfortunately, though, my future storage problem has become my current storage problem, and one I must solve before I can post the rest of the pictures. We had a lovely meal on the farm, though, in a gorgeous outdoor dining room I’ll have to show you another day, made from a local wood which is actually invasive. Because it’s invasive, it’s used as a building material, unlike the native or endemic species (we’ll get to that), which cannot be cut.

And then it was off to our eco-hotel, Isla Azul, a lovely, quiet spot where they welcomed us with fresh juice and slight concern: Apparently Pacific Holidays hadn’t informed them either of our plans for an afternoon tour. Isla Azul is known for the gracious hospitality of its owner, Raquel, who, sadly was on vacation during our stay, though her sons pitched in and did a great job. The younger son even hoisted our heavy bags high a trooped them up the stairs to second floor.

I’d show a picture of the view from there but…as you know. No more space. Oh well.

The path to the rooms was completely open, the view below of a street, and neighborhood, eventually giving way to the Highlands in the distance. The clouds took on a pearly sheen as the day wound down, and I breathed in the crisp air, finches appearing every now and then to peer at me curiously.

Soon there would be blue-footed boobies and frigate birds, but you, like me, will just have to wait for that.

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Ecuador & Galapagos Day 2: Hello Galapagos

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img_5495(Part 1, Part 2) I was going to attempt Flickr, but I’m having trouble with uploading. I’m right at the top of my limit here, so it’s a problem I’m going to have to solve, but we’ll see if that’s today.

Now where were we? Yes, we hadn’t yet heard from Mario, and excitement reigned: We were heading to the Galapagos Islands.

After a lovely breakfast at the Grand Hotel — my plate teeming with fried plantains — we were off to the airport. Mario e-mailed, he’d been released from the hospital late, but had tried to find us to resume the tour. We were probably at dinner at the time, as he’d called the rooms and we weren’t there. He left us chocolate at the desk.

Ecuador grows a lot of cacao, but we’ll get to it.

At breakfast, my20161004_085158_1477410905909 mom met a bright, chatty woman from Atlanta named Debbie, who, with her husband Tom, was on our tour, and, we discovered, would also be staying at the Isla Azul. Together we all trooped out of the van to the airport, where we learned that we needed to get in a line before we got in a line.

Due to careful environmental restrictions, everyone going to the Galapagos must swear to not having anything that could upset the ecosystem. No foods, no animals, no contact with farm animals. We paid our travel fee, and our luggage was separately inspected before we slogged over to the check-in line for the airline, lugging our approved luggage.

We boarded, and about two hours later, we were descending over glossy waters. After a quick announcement, the flight attendants, their faces stern, walked through the cabin fumigating each overhead luggage compartment, filling the plane with a surprisingly pleasant-smelling insecticide.

And then it was off and into the open airfield of Baltra, also known as South Seymour Island. We were in the Galapagos Islands.

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The actual Galapagos Islands.

There was a feeling of isolation, of being at a place near nothing else in the world. We were the only people here, intrepid explorers, buffeted by the strong winds, air so fresh my city lungs could barely manage.

And then, before we even made into the airport building, the next plane was coming in.

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To customs, one line for the Ecuadorian visitors; another for everyone else. I heard a sound above me, and looked up.

My first finch.

The Galapagos Islands are famous for many animals, but perhaps none so much as Charles Darwin’s finches. Though they weren’t his only subject — or even his most studied subject — they have endured as a symbol of what these islands mean to the study of evolution. In fact, the work continues on the island below, Daphne Major, where Peter and Rosemary Grant have spent 40 years watching finches evolve in real time. Their work is chronicled in the book The Beak of the Finch.

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After the customs officer collected the $100 Galapagos park fee, and a quick trip to the restroom where I had to remind myself you don’t flush the toilet paper in the islands, it was time to collect our bags. The luggage was piled on a short belt, the scariest K-9-sniffing German Shepard I’d ever seen leaping over the cases, taking his job very seriously. When he finished, his handler opened a metal grate in the wall, and the dog hopped through. Two bags sat at the bullet-proof vested officer’s feet.

Hmm.

Another officer asked us what we’d brought, again making sure we weren’t going to interfere with the ecology of the islands, and then I was free to meet our handler from Guiding Galapagos Expeditions, Santiago, who had a sign with our name.

Santiago and I chatted away, and then I realized my dad was standing next to someone else. Who also had a sign with our name.

He was from our other tour company Pacific Holidays. Even though my dad had explained to them, very carefully, with a chart and everything, that we wouldn’t need the transfer from Baltra to our hotel. Apparently no one bothered to tell our transfer.

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Frigate bird in flight. Huge and amazing to watch.

An explosion of Spanish later, Santiago and the other driver had it all worked out, and we were heading for our very first tour: the Island of Santa Cruz and its Highlands. (To be continued. Of course. Tomorrow: Giant Tortoises!)

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A little visitor on the bus to the ferry. It was as though he saying “I know you came to see me. Here I am!”

 

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The Baltra side of the ferry crossing to Santa Cruz.

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These boxes were all packed with chicks chirping away. Why? Literally no idea.

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In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!