Daily Prompt: The Natural World — Living There

I cannot remember a time when I did not live in or close to woods. I grew up in a house surrounded by giant white oaks, the last of the white oaks in the New York city area. So rare the city took care of them for us, though they were on our property. All the other white oaks had long ago been cut to use as masts for tall ships.

Two red lawn chairs are bright in a wintry woods.

Even when I lived in a city or suburbs, we spent vacations, weekends, most of our off-time in the country and often, very far out in the country. Places you could only get to by dirt roads. Awed? No, not so much awed, though often impressed. Except on the ocean where I am constantly aware how quickly Mother Nature can change from benevolent to terrifying.

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I have sailed — in a tiny wooden sailboat — through thunder squalls. Not of my own choice, I should add. I had an insane husband who liked to pit himself against the seas. It gave him great stories to tell when friends dropped by. I thought him mad, but there I was, with him and the baby, so maybe madness is contagious.

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Today, we live in a not-so-little house in the woods. I love the trees, hate the pollen and have really gotten totally sick and tired of the bugs, tons of leaves to clean up every year, not to mention a fascinating collection of critters who think our heated house is the spot for a winter retreat. Our endless battle against mice, rats and chipmunks never ends.

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Then there are the bobcats who haven’t read the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries bulletins about being shy of humans and take up residence under the deck or in some other building next to the house, ignoring us and going out of their way to aggravate the dogs. Or the fishers who think the back lawn is the ideal place to sun bathe, snarling at anyone who tries to use the yard. The birds who nest on the deck, screaming at us and attacking should we dare attempt to use our back door. They leave when they are good and ready. They didn’t read the bulletins either.

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For all that, I can’t imagine living in a concrete world again. I need contact with the earth, with all the challenges of living in a forest with wild things. Which reminds me, I really must remove the mouse nest from my car’s transmission compartment ASAP … I have no idea how they keep getting in there.

Being connected to nature is as necessary as the pollen-filled air we breathe and the inhalers I keep nearby to control the asthma.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable – Like Bookends

We met in college. 1964. I was 17, he was 22 and recently out of the Marines. The college radio station was a great place to make friends, a great place to form relationships.

Photo: Debbie Stone

Photo: Debbie Stone

We worked together, played together, dreamed together, drank together. And then many of us married each other and though not every marriage lasted forever, the underlying friendships never ended. It is the only group I know where even the couples who divorced remained friends. Perhaps, in the end, friendship is a better platform for marriage than love alone.

Photo: Debbie Stone

Photo: Debbie Stone

Lovers come and go, but a true friend is forever. When your lover is your friend, that’s the total package.

I married my friend. My lover. My confidante. With whom I argue, laugh, cry and share a life. We got lucky: we won the lottery — the whole package. It’s 49 years later and here we are. Together.

 

Daily Prompt: No Longer a Mere Mortal? I’ll pass. Thanks anyhow.

I don’t know what is more terrifying: the prospect of death or immortality. Fortunately, I don’t really have to worry about it.

superwomanlogoBut if I did? I’d write more books, take more pictures. And take my time. I’d slow down and enjoy every single minute. I can hardly imagine how much material I’d have.  An eternity of experiences. Time to travel everywhere, see everything — and take pictures of all of it. I’d need a really huge hard drive.

How would I fix the world? I wouldn’t. No thanks. The world needs more help than I could ever give it, no matter how long I lived. Immortality doesn’t necessarily confer wisdom. Or power. God’s having trouble keeping up with the problems of planet Earth. I doubt I could do better.

Maybe I could brighten a few lives, make some people smile, give a bit of good advice. Suggest things worth doing to those who might listen — most would not. (Listen, I mean.)

The gift — if indeed it is a gift — of immortality doesn’t confer godhood or godlike powers. Nor does it guarantee I would understand the world, the meaning of life or myself any better than I do now.

I am not a deity nor do I aspire to godhood. Way too much responsibility. No. Thank. You.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable — The Dog God

Garry and the terriers

Garry and the terriers

Around here, we call him the Dog God because they adore him. He adores them in return. He cannot imagine or entirely remember what the world was like before the fur people became part it. I hope he never has to choose between them and me.

 

Try Windows 8.1? I think not.

I’ve given this thought. I reviewed the video from Microsoft. I read the FAQ. I’ve read the articles in ZDNet and anything else that seems to have detailed information. I watched the video a second time. I read the email you sent me and looked at the poll results. I still can’t find any advantage for me in using — or even testing — Windows 8.1.

I  don’t have a machine appropriate for testing anyhow. If I install it on a little notebook, the inadequacy of the machine would so limit what I could test I’m not sure I would learn anything meaningful. I couldn’t use such a little machine to run any important applications. I don’t even know if Chrome will run on 8.1. The information in the FAQ was vague.

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Installing and testing would steal time from other projects to which I’m already committed. Others things take priority. If I could install it on one of my real working computers and use it for regular stuff I do … no, I don’t think so. I’ve heard rumors. Ugly rumors. I’m not willing to risk my computers … or waste my time. In the end, I’m merely curious about the system. And that isn’t enough motivation.

Windows 8 does not appear to be a work-oriented operating system. I’m a work-oriented user. The Dell XPS tablet I gave my son runs RT and that’s fine. RT was designed for a tablet and it does well in that environment.

But what’s in it for me? A bunch of apps I don’t need and won’t use? I have no interest in or need for basic photo editing apps. I don’t need simplified anything. I’m way past grade school versions of real tools I’ve been using for years.

Who does Windows 8.1 target? Not me. You? Anyone out there?

I understand what Microsoft is selling. The problem? I don’t want or need it. It’s not a business environment. My wish list for a new operating system is for more and better business tools. Easily organized, searchable databases for graphics, photos, and documents. Tools to help me quickly locate files on huge hard drives. A better media player for audio.

I want an improved email client and a versatile calendar application I can share on a network. And I don’t want to lease or even buy it. I want it to be part of the operating system. I want dependable, easy access to the Internet and in particular, this website. I don’t like Internet Explorer. I hate being prevented from going where I want because my browser is a wimp. I’m not 12 and I don’t need to be protected from myself.

Microsoft urgently needs folks like me to test drive this operating system. They need core users — like me — to work with it, accept it, and enthusiastically endorse it. To talk it up on the Internet. To vouch for it to friends and co-workers.

Instead, we are the people most reluctant to try it and unless something dramatically changes are least likely to adopt it in the forseeable future.

XPS 10 Tablet Details — Dell Windows 8 Tablet - Dell

Does Windows 8.1 work? Probably with a lot of bugs. Eventually Microsoft will fix it. They usually do, though not nearly fast enough. Two very basic questions remain unanswered:

  1. Why should I switch to a new operating system that’s anti-intuitive, ill-suited to my needs, and requires I relearn basic computer tasks?
  2. What advantages does Windows 8.1 offer that might motivate me to use it?

The answers are “no reason” and “none.”

Two words: Why bother?

I have read every article, watched all the videos, played with my son’s RT tablet and I cannot see anything tempting — for my purposes.

Maybe in the future Microsoft will do something to change my mind. But far as I can tell, they don’t know I exist. Or don’t care. One way or the other, they’ve chosen to ignore me and everyone like me, effectively disenfranchising the whole class of business users. That’s a crazy choice for a corporation which depends on business clients. Mind blowing and well … dumb.

Does this mean that there’s no merit in this operating system? I’m sure it has value to someone, but it doesn’t have any to me, at least none I can find. And I’ve really looked. I want to want it. I want to like it.

Sorry, Microsoft. Not happening for me.