Sunday, December 01, 2013

The City of New Orleans Song

Here's what can happen when you click on the suggested YouTube links. I really enjoyed this fascinating explanation behind one of my favorite songs. Sorry, the narration is kind of awful, but wait till he gets into it. And, the narrator is actually from Kankakee. . . . 

Here is the video Lee sent me yesterday that led to the above:

Here's Steve Goodman's version, 1972:

And Steve Goodman, 1982:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Two Flower Photos in my Zazzle Store

I took both of these flower photos in Bend on August 9, 2009. Now both are on products in my Zazzle store. Which photo do yo like best? I think the top one would make a nice mousepad.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Iguana Eating

The first image I put in my new Zazzle store was this iguana, and the main reason I used him was because the exposure and focus are both good. Lots of people like iguanas. At this point, it's all experimental. He reminds me of a T-rex, but without the teeth.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two Variations on a Seagull for my New Zazzle Store

I started a Zazzle store the other day. I have not put up a header or made the store look nice yet. I also don't have any illusions that it's going to take off fast, but if I post enough images over time, maybe it can help pay for my time to write books. After a learning curve I find that I can post about 100 products quickly with one image in about 20 minutes (after the image is already found and prepared, which can take some time). Of course, it's going to take additional tweaking and time to make some of the products look right. This is quite an improvement over the Caf├ęPress store interface I used a few years ago. More on that later. Although people like one of the designs, it hasn't been that successful.

I had a lot of fun late one night tweaking a seagull photo into the pink Image at the top. I also did a version that is more square, the same shape as the yellow seagull below, but facing the other direction. I like the cropping on the top image, but a lot of the products do better with the square image. I now have products online using both of these images and a couple more which I will post later. I hope I can keep it fun long enough to make a difference :-) It was fun having an excuse to use filters.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Gorgeous Fall

Astoria, Oregon ~ October 28, 2013

The trees were gorgeous on Exchange Street last week. Sights like this, and photos in particular are still rare for me, as all my energy is going into business. I'm not taking walks yet, but I stopped the car on one of my rare trips out because I had to catch the colors. I've begun working with a doctor in Pennsylvania who understands mitochondrial dysfunction and is working with me through diet and supplements. I am improving some, but the last few weeks were stressful, and my energy dropped again. I'm taking it easier this week. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sunny Weekend

Astoria, Oregon ~ October 6, 2013

It's super nice out today after last weekend when we were doused with an epic rainstorm, where we got 9.7 inches in three days (or 10.1; see below). Here on the river it didn't seem much different from any other heavy rain. It poured at times, but not all the time, and the River Walk didn't seem any soggier than usual. At least not where I was. We did have some thunder, which is unusual. One loud burst came within a mile. I love storms. 

Here is the scoop: "Astoria recorded 10.1 inches during the same period, the most since records were started in 1890 and a drastic increase from the city's 'climatological normal' of 2.14 inches for the month of September, according to the weather service."

Sunday, March 03, 2013

My First Digital Book: Next Steps

I'll have to stop thinking in terms of making a Kindle book and think of it as a digital book, or even a Smashwords book. I've been reading the free Smashwords guide, and I'm impressed. Of course, Amazon and Kindle are a tremendous marketplace – you'd be insane not to publish there – but Smashwords says they are growing, and they provide an amazing service. 

You upload your Word file, they "smash" it through their affectionately-termed Meatgrinder, and it comes out in multiple digital formats. Unless you do something very wrong, in which case it comes out, as they say, hamburger. But they have a handy mistake-finder in the system which tells you what you need to correct. I haven't gotten that far by a long-shot, but it sounds pretty wonderful after my first experiments last year with another conversion software on a different still-unfinished project. I had no idea how to fix the things that were going wrong.

If you take care with your book and it comes out looking reasonably professional, Smashwords will even distribute it through their catalog to numerous sellers of digital books, including some big names. You can still take your original Word file and upload it to Amazon as well. Oh, there is just so much to learn! The whole thing is making me a little nervous daunted, but I've taken a few more steps today.

They tell you what to do and what not to do in Word, the best software for your manuscript. So I turned on the "reveal formatting" feature (see above) and fixed some no-no's. 

I still have a few things to learn about preparing the text before I move on with the photos. But so far, so good. If you're thinking of putting together a digital book, do check out the Smashwords Style Guide.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Anatomy of My First Kindle Book: All Eight Went (Getting Started)

All Eight Went
From the diaries of

In 1977 I helped my grandmother edit a cherished bit of family history which culminated in the 224-page self-published paperback, All Eight Went. Grandma (Bernice Jameson Todd) provided family diaries, wrote pages of additional material to fill in the story, and answered my many questions as best she could after a lapse of 67 years. Her sister Adelaide Jameson David also supplied personal insights. I set the type and pasted up the pages, designed the cover and chapter titles, and wrote introductions for each country.

The first printing was about 200 copies, and I remember that Grandma was surprised when they were all sold and given away. One relative in particular liked to buy ten at a time and give them to friends. Soon they were all gone, and we discussed a second printing, but I don't remember if we actually printed more. I think we did. The only copy I have left is the faded cover you see above. I decided this year that it was time to digitize.

Fortunately I had kept the original paste-up boards through 36 years and countless moves. I found them on my bookshelf in a box originally made for selling a ream of paper. The box was the perfect size to hold this book, and it was all there and nicely protected. My first task was to scan everything to PDF files so I could copy the text into a Word file. I completed that over the last few weeks, proofed it for scanning mistakes (and typos in the original), formatted the text, and ran the spell-checker, which brought up interesting points in how people wrote back then vs. now. 

Most of the pages were still attached in their original 2-up signature format. In other words, page 75 might be followed by page 73 so the order would come out right when printed on both sides and cut for the book. The white scotch tape on most of the pages was still in place and flexible, but for some reason I'd had to use masking tape on the last part, and the masking tape was brittle now, so I removed it. That's why the last part is stacked as single pages. The cover you see in the box is one that was never used on a book and didn't fade.

I've gotten so used to digital type that it's fun to look back and see how we used to send things to the printer. This is strike-on type set on an IBM Selectric Composer, not the Selectric typewriter everyone used, but its upscale cousin that would do many of the things word processing programs do, only slower. We used "photo blue" (or maybe that should be "non-photo blue") pencil to draw the margins because the camera didn't see that shade of blue. You could even write notes in blue to yourself or to the printer. The pieces were hot-waxed on the back with a roller (blue wax was the best, again because it wouldn't show up when photographed onto a plate) and carefully positioned and burnished to the card-stock "boards." I was impressed that not a single piece had fallen off in 36 years.

Every one of the 143 photos was shot through a screen to create a halftone and pasted onto the page. This is what I have to work with next. I have to scan all the photos and figure out the best way to make captions for an e-book. I've read that the caption will often fall on another page from the photo if you don't connect them. Ugg. More learning curve. I've seen good text captions in e-books, but of course I don't know how they did it. Right now I'm using Cyberken Blog's info as a guide, and soon I'm going to have to read the guide on Smashwords. I don't mind doing the work, I just don't like having to figure it out. But it's a brave new world out there in digital publishing land, and I hope what I learn now will serve me well on the next phase of my journey.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Robin Williams: "Like Trying to Catch Lightning in A Butterfly Net"

Long video, but amaaaazing. Just when you think he's forgotten he's not running the show, he loops back to the question and answers it by example. I had watched a couple of Actors Studio interviews, and the format seems to be for the actor to cut the talk-show persona and give straight answers for the students. This interview was, needless to say, different. . . .

If the video doesn't show up, here's the link:

To Francisca: One of the things that caught my attention about this particular interview was that often when you see him doing his thing, not knowing where it comes from, you think it spills out naturally, and that he has no control over it. But to see an interview like this, you understand that he works and studies as much as any actor or performer crafting his performance. He's built up his toolbox consciously and then he has it at his command when he needs it, with the added factor of his lightning-fast ability to create in the moment. I thought this was brought out so brilliantly in this particular interview. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bye Bye, Jaguar

I hoped I would be posting interesting or meaningful things about my life once I renamed this blog, but I've been busy just coping with my life. I'm working on reinventing some aspects of it - more on that later. Meanwhile, we have sold out of this movable jaguar permanently. I liked his green eyes and curious, somewhat-friendly face. He's been in the store almost since the beginning.

Yesterday I made final changes to Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo so I could turn it over to Cyndi. Sad, but also a good thing. I'm nearly done transcribing (converting) the text portion of All Eight Went to a Word file so I can take the next steps toward getting it online on Kindle.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

I Sold A Collage on Etsy Today

Outer Garments
Original collage painting on press board
Made 2/27/1983
SOLD 2/6/2013

Yes, yes, yes! Somebody liked this collage enough to buy it from my Etsy store. It's the second one I've sold. It's very exciting, especially as I have a goal to market more of my creative work online this year. Maybe this weekend I will add some more collages to the store. This one was a particular favorite.

"Original collage painting on press board is 10 x 15 inches. Image about 8 1/2 x 11 inches depending on how you want to crop it. Signed, dated, and titled at the bottom of the board, which, in my opinion might be cropped off or covered by a mat (Outer Garments, Sheryl Todd, 2-27/83). I wrote 'Crop here' with a line, so you can either crop it or use as part of the art to keep a very immediate feel.

"Cut paper from magazines and postcards, spray and acrylic paint. This was one of those passionate moments. Facades and masks. Target shooting at a human frame. Smiles and pain. Innocence. I can't seem to make an intense collage without a touch of comic relief somewhere. What do you think?

"Made in Corona, California, February 27, 1983."

Blogger changed the orientation.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Debbie's Watercolors

This painting is not by me (I wish!). It's by my counselor and friend Debbie Loyd, whose work I just love. Very few artists get the drawing part down correctly and in a balanced way, and I like that as much as I like her colors and technique. I'm thrilled that she finally has her watercolors online :-)

Another One Bites It

Today I had to take this stuffed bass off of the web site because we sold out and he's been discontinued. Although he isn't one of my all-time "pet favorites," I do like him, and losing good realistic stuffed animals is always sad. I made a choice early on that I would carry mostly realistic toys. There are exceptions, but I have to LIKE them. For instance, I wish I'd thought of carrying Angry Birds merch when it came out. The birds are cartoonish, but I like them.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Astoria, Oregon ~ November 3, 2011

Eeesh. Photos are so smart now that they have their own orientations. For some reason this eel will not stay upright on Blogger. Being an eel, he probably doesn't mind. But I do. I can't fix it.

I have to think about this. Not the eel, but blogging. One of my goals for the new year was to consolidate at least some of my scattered projects. Another was to come out from behind the curtain of my online store store and the Tapir Fund. I felt like I needed to repackage both into who I really am instead of maintaining them as faceless entities outside of myself. The idea is frightening, but the alternative has begun to seem ridiculous, and emerging feels inevitable.

Tonight I attended a writers' online chat, and the author leading the Q&A discussion emphatically said that a writer should combine all of their interests into one blog and market themselves rather than just their projects or products. I like the idea. It fit with my notion that I would feel less scattered and fried if I consolidated. There are a couple of blogs I think I would not want to merge or give up, but I like the idea. I'm going to work with it. She said that all of the strands should come together in one home location. My place of consolidation has been Tapirback, but that is only a top-level web page. It's not dynamic. 

These days, she said, people want to see real. They want to see who you are. They identify with you, they like you, and they want to buy your book or product. You are selling you. That is scary, but I believe it. I don't know that my blog is here to sell books, but for years I've neglected to make it the journal I want it to be. If I talk about my work and someone buys a book, that's great, but this is not "an author platform," it's just me. If they like my art, that's good, too. Pull it together. Here. Not all over the web. This is, hopefully, symbolic of the year.

The timing for tonight's online revelation was uncanny. I had been thinking all day about starting yet another blog for my reworking of All Eight Went into a Kindle book, but the whole idea was disturbing. I could not see this book merged with any of the blogs I already have, nor could I see myself starting blog number ten. So thank god I tuned in. I seem to be paying attention to the signals.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bicycle Waiting

Astoria, Oregon ~ January 24, 2013

Yes, some of us need reminding. I'm still noticing small improvements that add up, but I'm waiting for the huge improvements. I did the math last night, and I honestly think my recovery was set back about a year because it took six months after the first surgery to get the second one. That means six more months of getting sick and six more months that I wasn't recovering. It's like driving an hour in the wrong direction. You lose the first hour, you lose the hour getting back to your starting point, and you lose the two hours you would have been driving in the right direction. I'm so mad about it, but at least I'm on the recovery road now. For some of us who were so incredibly sick before the surgery, this is unconscionable. These doctors were nice to me but I think they made mistakes. I will definitely tell them my opinion afterwards, though nicely. I reserve my greater fury for the doctor who had no clue when he saw the calcium test of 11.3 and would not send me to an endocrinologist. That was in 2004. Oh well, this was about recovery. I know it's here for all of us, but I know I would have had a quick recovery myself in 2004. I was still so very functional then.

I feel a bit like this bench. Waiting. Moss growing. Bicycle waiting. It's a bench for two, and yet it feels so lonely. The background is peaceful, but the real world waits outside the confines of the frame.

I was able to have coffee and visit for awhile with Barbara, Erika, and Laurel. I had fun playing with smiling Inga, still tiny with big blue eyes that sparkle fun. Teagan no longer knows me. We will see what happens with that.

1:30 p.m.: After my Reiki treatment with Angela, my feet gave me just a hint that, yes, they will someday take me places again. It was one of their better mornings. I remember the day - in between my two surgeries - when I was able to walk to the parking lot of Wells Fargo to hear music on Sunday Market day. It has not happened since, but it will happen again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

INFP: Embracing the Quest

Catherine discovered the Myers-Briggs configuration of INFP today and realized they were talking about dreamers. Apparently you have to pay for the real M-B test, but together we found a site where you can take similar tests. Catherine came out ESFJ, a "Seller." I wasn't too surprised that I came out INFP, because I took the test years ago, but I didn't know that my designation came with the label, "Questor." 

INFP - "Questor". High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.
Take Free Jung Personality Test
Personality Test by

This is good. I like being a questor. The test reminds me where my focus needs to remain to feel fulfilled. I have books to research and write this year. Several. I am also bringing more of my interests into my business, and embracing the quest here, too.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Night Street

Astoria, Oregon ~ January 9, 2013
Please click photo to enlarge

Today may have been my best day since my second parathyroid surgery on October 30. I've been taking enough calcium to alleviate symptoms since about December 31. Some symptoms of post-surgery low calcium were relieved right away, but then I got very tired, and any expenditure of energy through movement or stress knocked me right down. On January 7, I had dinner with Jane at Pier 11, and felt the best I had felt yet for about 10 or 15 minutes before I got painfully tired again. It was progress. I had showered and dressed just before she picked me up, and believe it or not, this still constituted a lot of activity.

Today, January 9, I went to the pharmacy in the Park Building and continued on to Starbucks. I don't remember feeling shaky, weak, or light-headed, and I came home not feeling overtired. This is big progress, even though I am still getting somewhat bloated. Not as bad as before. Maybe staying off of wheat (except for the occasional cookie) is helping.

I took the photo from my window when I got home, mainly to have a picture for this post. Turns out I like it, especially larger.

My Web Page:

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Getting the Word Out about Parathyroid Disease - A Curable, Silently-disabling Epidemic

Astoria, Oregon ~ December 17, 2012

The photo is simply a scene near my home, since I am not getting out much yet. I posted the text and link below on Facebook last night after several of the discussions in my FB parathyroid groups centered on how poorly-recognized this devastating condition is and how many are not getting diagnosed, and are not even getting treated when their calcium labs come back high. Primary hyperparathyroidism is common, can easily be found and treated if the doctors want to. This disease is a silent epidemic, especially among women, and is actually masked by its many general symptoms. The article and my post are below. 

Link to an article in the Telegraph:

My Facebook status from last night:

I am finally BEGINNING to recover. Friends . . . women in particular. Women need to get blood calcium levels checked, especially if you feel tired, depressed, anxious, have fibromyalgia, osteopoenia, osteoporosis, aching muscles, cancer, or a host of other conditions. Fatigue (highlighted in the attached article) is only one of the symptoms. This condition is treatable IF you or your doctor can read a number on a test. Mine had no clue 8 years ago, and I was only diagnosed in 2012, after long years of wondering what was wrong and years of being sick and disabled, especially the last 2 1/2 years. It's worth a blood test. This article gives a brief description. Maybe 1 in 250 women have this disease by the age of 50, and 90% may go undiagnosed. For me, diagnosis took 10 years. This condition is NOT as rare as your doctor may tell you. And don't be surprised if you have a high calcium and they don't take you seriously. There is no such thing as calcium being "a little bit high." The list of symptoms is HUGE, and you don't have to have them all. See also Men can get the disease as well, but women get it much more often. A simple number on a standard blood test can put you on the road to recovery before you lose years of your life to this debilitating and expensive disease. If your calcium is over 10.1 and your doc doesn't take this seriously, have him or her google hyperparathyroidism or get another opinion. I'm sorry if this sounds like an ad. It's not. I'm trying to come back out of my seclusion, and this is what it's been about. Reply or message me if you have questions.

I wish everyone a happy and HEALTHY 2013.

~ Sheryl