Monday, August 31, 2020

The Theater King of Sweden ~ Part I

This will be a week of a bit of Swedish history. I've been playing around with a post I wrote about a Swedish king, a tragedy, and an opera by Verdi. 

My friend in Denmark told me she has recently watched programs about the Opera in Stockholm. This reminded me that during the A-Z Challenge in 2012, I wrote a post about the old Opera where King Gustav III of Sweden was assassinated. I thought why not post it again. It was a long post, so I broke it up into three segments and edited it, added some, took some away. This is part one:

Gustav III

This is a true historical drama about a king who ruled Sweden toward the end of the 18th century. 

I was very fond of this king up to a point. He did some  wonderful things for cultural life in Sweden, and then he sort of blew it. Apparently he was not alone. I learned that during this period we call Enlightenment, some rulers who were progressive and believed in the ideas of the time, then later changed as power became more important are called Enlightenment despots. 

The king's name was Gustav III and he ruled Sweden from 1771 - 1792. Also known as the Theater King, Gustav was a patron of the arts, architecture and the building of beautiful palaces, as well as the old Royal Opera House in Stockholm. 

King Gustav also founded the Royal Ballet and the Royal Theater, where his own historical dramas were performed.

The Royal Swedish Academy, which focuses on the Swedish language and, since 1901, decides who will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature every year, was also founded by Gustav III.

And he was a patron and supporter of one my favorite Swedish artists, the poet and composer Carl Michael Bellman. 

Carl Michael Bellman

In addition to his cultural endeavors, King Gustav reformed criminal justice, eliminating the use of torture to gain confessions and restricting the death penalty to murder and a few other crimes. He proclaimed liberty of the press, however, within certain limits. He also proclaimed limited religious liberty for Roman Catholics and Jews. 

Gustav III ruled at the time of the American Revolution and took an interest in what went on across the Atlantic Ocean. According to Wikipedia, he had this to say in 1776: 

General Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge

It is such an interesting drama to see a nation create itself, that I – if I now had not been who I am – would go to America to follow up close every phase in the emergence of this new republic. – This perhaps is America’s century. The new republic, which hardly has a population put together better than Rome had to begin with, may perhaps take advantage of Europe some day, in the same manner as Europe has taken advantage of America for two centuries. No matter what, I cannot help but admire their courage and enthusiastically appreciate their daring.

Part 2 will post on Wednesday

Part 3 ~ The Opera on Friday

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Me And My Jeep

Ever since I met Errol, he wanted a Jeep. He finally got this one in 2007. I had my own SUV at the time, but it was later totaled by a really dumb driver. At the time, we also had a pickup truck, so we didn't need another car. But then driving the Jeep back and forth to Los Angeles, over 100 miles one way, when Errol was ill in the hospital there, was really difficult for me. I so resented the Jeep, blowing in the high desert wind, noisy with its soft top. 

I no longer have the truck and I bought Rachael's old Honda CRV, so the Jeep is now my country car. Most mornings, I take it for a spin around the lower part of my property. I also use it to go to the dump. When Samson needs to go to the vet, or anywhere, he rides in the Jeep. The back is covered in his white fur that's sort of stuck to the bottom and the sides and I don't want that in the Honda, if I can prevent it.

People in the canyon recognize me in the Jeep. When I drive the Honda, I think I'm completely incognito. Just one more driver in a white car. The Jeep is British racing green, a color I've loved since my younger days when cool British sports cars were abundant on the roads around Princeton, N. J. where I lived. 

The point of this little story is that I have now become fond of my green Jeep and enjoy driving it around here. We ride up the hill to see Joyce; we ride to the dump; after it rains, we drive on our muddy road, dirt splashing and sticking to the wheel wells. In the winter, we get in 4-wheel drive and ride through the snow, my Jeep and I. 

There's just something about a Jeep! Makes you feel young, I think. Fun and adventurous, perhaps.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Driving Ms Inger

That would be me, driving myself to town for nothing and then deciding to make the best of it.

Since April, I've ordered food online from Walmart and then, following the instructions from WM, picked it up. Piece of cake, right?

I put in an order day before yesterday and was ready to go and pick it up yesterday morning, but when I checked, the order had not gone through. It was there, but had not been processed. 

I fixed a few things, or so I thought, and this morning, even though I didn't get the acknowledgement from WM, I was so sure all was well and set off for town.

Some 15 miles later, I arrived at WM. And, of course, my order had not been received. I just couldn't understand how I could do something correctly for five months, twice a month at least, and now be so completely lost. 

Fortunately, two chirpy, helpful, and technically advanced young people, WM employees, appeared, took my phone and showed me what I had neglected to do. A simple double-check that the order submitted was the order I wanted. So now I know and will, hopefully, remember it.

Driving home, I decided to make the best of it and take some pictures so I could post about my lost morning, and sort of show off how I didn't let it get me down. OH, well...

Saturday, August 22, 2020

My Morning: Emergency Preparations ~ No Emergency Now

but with 500 fires in California, better be somewhat prepared than not. So glad for my not so pretty front yard, devoid of any flammable grass. But still, with our winds, we're not really safe. "But you do the best you can," said I to myself.

It was so smoky outside this morning that I turned on my TV early. I usually turn it on in the late afternoon to catch some news when I eat my dinner, but today I needed to know what was going on with all the smoke. 

It's truly heartbreaking to see. I think of all the animals. Then I try to not think of all the animals. None of it helps my heart. 

There were no new fires near here, but when I saw pictures of the fires up north some of my long-missing energy returned and I decided to check my fire evacuation suitcase and update it.

I worked on it all morning and feel pretty good about the end result. 

I still need to pack dog food, water for me and the dogs, buy some snack food for myself, get some cash and then I think we are all set. 

Oh no, my medical supplies! Can't leave home without them.

Unless it makes me sick, I usually don't much think about the fact that I have Type 1 diabetes, caring for it is all automatic. Going through and making sure I would have enough of everything was a bit daunting though. I assume that some supplies would be available in the event of a disaster. 

But my my insulin pump supplies would not be readily available and since I've had the pump now for over 20 years, I wouldn't be able to manage well without it. For one thing, I don't have the two different types of insulin I would need and not very many syringes. 

Stuff like that, so I made sure to pack what I felt would keep me safe.  

All in all a good morning. Much needed safety precautions taken care of. 

Have a nice rest of the weekend, take care and stay safe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Faith And Her Ball In 4 Acts





I will go tell Samson what a boring old mommy we have!

So there!

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Dogs Of My Life ~ Post No. 9 ~ Princess

After we bought this place in the summer of 2005, I went back to work to finish up my final project at UCLA, while Errol took time off to fix up this run-down house that we had bought. Sometime that winter, a dog was wandering around, looking for food and water at the Donkey Rescue and also at our house. 

Glenn had bought a house in town here and the guys spent their nights there. One day, as they left our place, the dog began to run after the truck. It was winter, snowy, and even though Errol knew we had enough dogs, a cat, and a bird he stopped and let her come with them. For some strange reason we named her Princess. 

Errol brought her to Los Angeles to meet me and our dogs, Angel and Bandit, our cat, Sindbad, and bird, Pippi Birdie. All went well and Princess was added to our pack.

While in LA, our neighbor said she thought Princess was a black Lab/border collie cross. Later, she proved herself to be both and saved a life. Bandit's life.

Princess spent the winter with Errol and Glenn. Errol took this series of photos of Princess. He was standing below a steep cliff, with Princess up above. 

Some years later, on another winter's day, we took Bandit, Angel and Princess for a hike in the hills to the east of us. The dogs were off leash, as they usually were and all was good. Then, in the blink of an eye, Bandit was gone. By now, Bandit was an old dog, hard of hearing, with practically no fur on his tummy, so would not have survived a cold winter's night outside. 

We were beside ourselves, how could we be so stupid? He couldn't hear us calling, it was getting late, it was getting colder. I was so upset, I felt I wasn't helping any and told Errol I was taking Angel home, maybe that would give him and Princess a better chance of finding Bandit. Errol agreed and we left, Angel and I. I felt worse than I think I ever had.

After what seemed like forever, they came back home, all three of them. Errol told me a fabulous story of a rescue. The landscape where we hiked consists of steep hills. After searching for a while, Errol thought to go back to where he last saw Bandit. Once there, he somehow managed to get Princess to understand she was to find him. Once she got it, she set off up a completely different hill from where Errol thought Bandit may have gone. She ran straight up to the top, looked down the other side, and waited. 

Errol climbed up the hill as fast as he could and, sure enough, there was Bandit in the canyon below. Doing what he did best, what any good hound will do, sniffed and sniffed, with not a clue about how dire his circumstances would have become had he not been found.

From then on, this marvelous dog became a real Princess to us, or better yet, our Hero. Our hero dog who could do nothing wrong.

Like Faith now, there were two things Princess loved more than anything else: Chase her ball. And when it snowed, jump in the fresh snow, face first and just madly roll around while Angel and I would stand to the side and just grin. 

Princess was with us for four and a half years, I wrote in my obituary for her here on the blog. She was about 11 or 12 when she suddenly started bleeding internally. Our vet diagnosed her with a gastric tumor and felt it was too late to save her life with surgery.  

The vet had a sad call with Errol, who was in Los Angeles, and then I had to say goodbye to this wonderful dog. I cried so, I went to my car and just cried my heart out. One of the women in reception came after me and just held me and told me how sorry she was. I will never forget that. 


During the time Princess lived with us, we found out from a friend that her original owner was a strange woman who lived up above us. She was thought to use meth and was known to drive around our country roads at night, without her her car lights on, looking for aliens descending from the sky above. We also learned that she had left Princess alone for two weeks to go up north for the holidays. The guy who told us this said he would never let her know we had her dog because he thought it unforgivable to leave a dog in the cold, with not enough food and water, for that long. Apparently Princess agreed with this and decided to find a new home for herself.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Smoke, Heat, Hot Dog, Missing Tortoise, And A Thunder Storm

Not a happy sunset yesterday evening as the wind changed and smoke from the Lake Hughes fire descended on the canyon. 

The fire isn't close by, so we are safe from it. 

The heat is another thing. I stepped outside for a minute and looked at the thermometer. It's in the shade, but not 100% all day, so take away a degree or two. 

So I said to myself, lets step out in the sun to see what that feels like. I have been in hot weather before, so I just wanted to be reminded -- or act like a stupid Swede (as my countrymen of yore were called when other immigrants, from slicker nations, were able to cheat the more honest Swedes, or so the story went in the upper mid-west. Long ago.) 

Yore -- what? Can you tell I just finished reading this great book called The Adventure of English, The Biography of a Language, by Melvin Bragg? It tells the story of the origin of English and how the language grew and developed over the centuries to become the universal language it is today.

Back to the heat:

Believe me, I would not have survived long in the heat. I got dizzy immediately and turned around. 

I made the dogs come into the air conditioned bedroom where neither one likes to be. I had to close the door to make them stay. I worry about Samson and will pour a gallon of cold water from the fridge over him soon. 

He much prefers to lie on the slate tile in the entry hall, so I let him after I cool him off in the air conditioning.  The water works best, but makes a big mess since he has so much fur.  In the above picture he's resting under the fan in the dining area. This is where he likes to stay at night too, both a fan and an open window to the cool mountain night air. 

Faith tries to be a photo bomber in the above picture, but not at all as successful at this as Samson.

Since she always has to be in on everything, I'm posting her picture too. She looks like she's gained some weight to me, so I make sure she gets a good run in the mornings before it gets hot. 

Today, I drove the Jeep and let her run around, I told her "go find, go find." The reason for this was that Joyce texted me that her African tortoise had escaped. He has escaped before and it's amazing how fast that tortoise travels. 

When I tell Faith to "go find," she moves in circles, wider and winder circles to look for something. She probably thought it was her ball, but had she come upon the tortoise, I would have known of course. 

It's very interesting how she responds to this command, using data in her DNA somewhere. I've never taught her to widen her circles, it's just something she always knew how to do. And, believe me, she always finds her ball.

Sometimes, she does it in reverse, from a wide circle to a smaller one. I guess she has a fair idea of where the ball may be.

No such luck with Kenya, the tortoise. I so hope he is found. 

And now we are getting a thunder storm, right here over my house. This would be great if it comes with some rain, if not, dry lightning just adds to all the scary nature stuff right now.

I just went outside and it's raining, like crazy raining, raining. Oh, I'm so happy, you have no idea what a big rain like this means here in our hot and dusty canyon.

It rained so hard, the Jeep got clean. What a happy ending to this hot and miserable day. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Train In The Rain And More

It's Thursday afternoon here in California and I've been feeling a bit down. More about that later. This morning, thunder rolled around the mountains. I had to go to Walmart to pick up some groceries and Samson's eye drops. By the time I left, it was raining. First rain since the spring. Much needed, much grateful for it and for my windshield wipers working as they should. 

Samson is scared of thunder. Not panicking, but not comfortable and I didn't like to leave him, but somehow I knew he would be OK. He's not an easily frightened dog, it's more that he doesn't like noise. Faith is not bothered at all. Labs must have both guns and balls, replacing the birds they're supposed to retrieve, etched in their DNA.

You know I'm always happy when I get a train. Just so I can take a few pictures. And I love them, I really do. The trains I mean. It's fun to take a picture through your side mirror and see the rear of the train pulling up. 

Before I left Walmart, I took this picture of the dark clouds. I haven't seen a good cloud cover for months now, so I just had to.

So after I got home, I was feeling a bit down. Mainly because I get so darned tired after I come home from town. I mean, these days I don't go shopping, I just sit there and wait for the people to come and load my groceries for me. Then I go to the post office and walk maybe 30 steps, get my mail, walk back another 30, get in my car and drive home. Once home I unload the groceries, not much this time, wipe them down, and put them away. Big deal. So, so tired, I'm getting on my own nerves.

I sleep in this room now because it faces north. I got this antique bed from my friend Lin when she moved to an assisted living place. One of the four posts has scratch marks from her cats, Siam and MeTo, gone for so many years now. As is Lin. 

So I sat in this bed in my other bedroom, feeling blah. Wondering why I'm not in my living room. The bed was not made, I hadn't slept in it, but for some reason it was not made up. There was a mess all around. Stuff in it, laptop, calendar, notebook, notepads, pens, and you get the picture. I hate piles of stuff. I hate even more when I feel too tired to deal with piles. 

What would make me happy, right now, I asked myself. To strip the bed, put on a bottom sheet only since I'm not sleeping in it, and then take out the quilt that I washed a while back and make up the bed. 

This I did and felt immediately so much better. I can now sit  in it, it looks nice and my much loved Purple Cottage picture is on the wall opposite, so I see it all the time.

I still wonder why I'm not in my living room. But I'll worry about that some other day.

Sorry to bother you with all this, but sometimes you just have to share. I have been here alone now since March after all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Country Morning

Before I begin this post, I want to thank you for your thoughtful comments on my Emigrant post. 

Just one thing though, no I'm not homesick, this is my home. What I wrote were as Dee said: "Poignant thoughts of memory."

I drove up to Joyce's place and was greeted by a Carmen, who was recovering from having had a foxtail (a grass) removed from her ear the day before. She wanted nothing to do with me and Judah was busy eating a rabbit he'd managed to catch. 

I found Joyce milking one of her cows. This one kicks so Joyce has to sit a bit away on her cool stool that's only a little visible here. 

After spending her youth as a dark gray horse, this mare is now shedding her coat and will, maybe by next summer, become a Grey. I spell it the British way, and for those of you not familiar with horse colors, a Grey begins its days and the first several years of its life as a dark gray horse and then transforms to one that looks white, but is not a true white. So a Grey.

The llama's ears were pointing straight up as I came over, but as soon as he saw the camera pointing at him, his ears went back and I moved out of the way. Since all of Joyce's animals are so sweet, he probably would not have spit at me. He just let me know he wasn't into having his picture taken.

Here's my favorite, the Guernsey bull. And the mother of the horse I wrote about, a gray mare and the chestnut gelding in the background.

The other llama. He is a truly beautiful animal, mostly white.

Franklin, the very massive Devon bull, a small cow, and the chestnut horse eating breakfast. And my shadow photo bombing. 

It's truly wonderful to have a neighbor like Joyce and to be able to come and visit any time you want to. 


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