A Completely Blank Mind

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For the last few months I’ve been doing my darndest to avoid thinking – about anything! No, I’m not a Buddhist nor a Native American, but I admire the wisdom of both of those cultures about the nature of humanity and how we can rise above our inherent flaws by first and foremost, releasing ourselves from everything we think we know about the world – about ourselves – about how and why to live – about how and why to die – and about the nature of love, of peace, of wisdom, and of souls. And so, I’ve been trying to teach my brain to simply “Let Go” and think about absolutely nothing. If you’ve never tried this, it is not as easy as it may sound. And it’s even harder if you have spent the last 40 years of your life consciously trying to keep your mind active in order to prevent epileptic seizures! I’d like to share much more about these subjects and my personal experiences with them over the next few blog posts, and hope to start a dialog on these pages with you as I think we can learn a lot from each other. I know that tonight’s (early morning?) post is extremely brief and merely serves as a notice as to what I intend to write about over the next couple of weeks, but I do hope that you will check back here every few days and join (or start) a conversation!

In the meantime, I’d like to pass on to you a link to the latest post, Healing, Harleys & Horticulture of my dear friend, “Dogkisses”. She has a very unique and personal style of writing that draws you in and opens your mind and your heart, even if you come from a completely different background and think you face completely different hurdles.

Oh! I also wanted to let y’all know I just completed updating 4 more of my earlier blog posts tonight, a task that’s been necessary to ensure all the Freebies I’ve posted remain available to you to download. The way I have them set up now, should make my blog pages load a lot faster for you, too! You can check ’em out at the links at the end of this post.

See you in a day or two!

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Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered in the “Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day” section are free for your personal use, subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for Terms of Use) For commercial or any other use, please contact me for directly.

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a.k.a. “Rip Van Winkle”

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Geezus Frog! Is it 2011 already? I seem to have overslept a bit… 🙂

For those of you wondering where the heck I’ve been for the last month or so, or those who were worrying whether I had gotten too big for my britches and abandoned this blog in favor of fame and fortune in the world of commerce: I thank y’all for caring so much, for the many private e-mails, for your patience and forgiveness, and assure you that my feet are still squarely planted on the ground (or at least metaphorically as they are actually at a right angle to the ground and hiding beneath several layers of quilts and blankets).

As the subtitle of this blog declares, the theme here is “The Art of Survival”, and that is what I’ve been doing: Just trying to survive. If you’ve ever been pregnant or observed it from afar, there is an odd phenomenon where a few days before the babe makes his grand entrance, Mom2Be gets a splurge of energy and accomplishes incredible feats of creative and physical effort. It could be anything from chopping enough firewood to keep the kid warm through kindergarten, wallpapering the entire house as well as the neighbor’s, or stripping and finishing an ancient grand piano. Well, my body, for some weird reason, adopts that routine whenever I’m just about to suffer a relapse, and that’s just what happened this time after enjoying a flurry of creative activity from Sept.-Nov. I’m still having a hard time of it and really have no way to predict how often I’ll be able to post but I’m hoping to get back here at least once a week for as long as I can.

In any case, while I’ve been “away”, if I hadn’t known before, I was reminded once again of the riches I’ve been blessed with in friends. Janie, Mi’chele, Art & Enid, Steve & Sue, Barry & Sharon, and Michelle B. too, are each the jewels I shall always cherish. In goodtimes or bad, in silence or song, these are friends who linger long, whether close or far away. What I’ve done to deserve you I have no idea but pray I can live up to your example.

“But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

”There is nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends.” Hillaire Belloc

”Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.“ C. S. Lewis

”If you think that the world means nothing, think again. You might mean the world to someone else.“ Unknown (fun link but I doubt this quote was his)

“One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.” Euripides (408 B.C.)

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

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Therapeutic Bear Hugs

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A couple of days ago, I got together with a friend that I hadn’t seen for over 40 years. While the occasion was a sad one (he had come up to Ohio from his home in Florida for his father’s funeral) it was really wonderful to see him. Of course, when you haven’t seen someone for many years, the first thing is to try to catch up on all that’s happened in each other’s lives. My favorite part is in hearing all about the other person as it gets me out from under my life and I get to imagine what my friend has seen and done and felt. When the focus turned to me (as arriving with a walker or in a wheelchair that the friend wasn’t expecting is bound to do) my tongue seems to trip on my words. After all these years, I still have not figured out how best to respond to the question, “So, what happened to you?”

Not to make light of the pain of those who’ve fallen down a flight of stairs or been in a car wreck, but I wish there was some simple one sentence statement like that I could use to reply to such questions. There are some people who ask “How are you?” that are merely being polite and who really aren’t interested in details. Those are easy. To a friend who really does care, I feel that it’s a matter of respect to tell them the truth. Of course, I also don’t want to come across like a whiner or to depress them or cause them to feel badly for me. And there lies the problem, because the answer to “What Happened to Me” entails a recitation of a long series of illnesses and circumstances that built upon each other over a period of 56 years to land me in the condition I am now. While there is one cause (Hereditary Hemochromatosis “HFE”) that has been at the core of every other major condition or disease or disability that I’ve suffered, most folks have no idea what HFE is but they do know what Epilepsy, Stroke, deafness, Uterine Cancer, Hepatitis C, Non-Alcoholic cirrhosis, Arthritis, Haemolytic Anemia, Osteoporosis, Esophagitis, Peripheral Neuropathy, and chronic pain are. So whether I start with HFE or end with it doesn’t much matter and it doesn’t much matter whether I spend any time at all on the details of any of those conditions and how they’ve affected me or simply just stated their names in a single sentence. The result is still the same. People feel overwhelmed simply hearing that list, can’t imagine how any one person could have endured all that (much less still have a smile on their face) and wonder what kind of hex was put on me while still in the womb. Their reaction is understandable but for some reason I tend to feel a bit embarrassed as I know it has to be difficult to think of “the right thing” to say after someone has answered “What happened to You?” with such a mucked up laundry list.

The best friends I’ve found are those who can hear that list and then go ahead to tell me a joke or can be comfortable laughing at one of mine. People who have such a generous nature as to be sensitive enough to know when to just listen, when to ask for more info, when to laugh with you, when to share with you their own troubles and dreams, and know when you just need a great big bear hug, are priceless. (Thanks, Mark!)

Listen To Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends”

On the menu tonight is a smorgasboard of orphaned icons and clip art that have little in common with each other as far as style or theme but they are easily usable as application icons, avatars, or a variety of scrapbooking or illustration purposes. Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

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My Mammy 2

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The Waiter-Fatchef's hat

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Work In Progress Folder

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Draw of the Kentucky Derby

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As always on the first Saturday in May, it’s “Kentucky Derby Day” here in the ‘States. Don’t know whether it’s of any significance to anyone outside of the U.S. It’s a funny thing about this race as it seems to capture the interest and attention of many of us who pay zero attention to horse racing except for this (and then possibly the other two races which make up the so-called “Triple Crown” – but such interest lasts only if the same horse wins the first two). And you don’t even have to be a gambler to enjoy the hoopla (although I’m told it helps). I think this phenomenon is a real credit to the folks at Churchill Downs and in the State of Kentucky who have done a masterful job over the years of promoting this event to the point where it has crossed the line from “sport” to “legend”. It’s like the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix race (but US style) where one doesn’t need to know a fig about the cars, drivers, track, science of racing, or the teams to be drawn into the glamour and excitement.

I’ve never seen the race in person but have seen the track. It’s set into the hills of Kentucky which, to my taste, is one of the top five most beautiful of our 50 states.

Took a pause to watch the race. It is a mucky muddy mess out there but the horses ran bravely and magnificently. Congratulations to jockey, Calvin Borrell horse “Super Saver” (why are horse’s names so “thing” like? Guess that’s the difference between animals “owned” and used to make money vs. pets.) In my very amateur opinion, I really think that this jockey has done so well is in large part due to his complete lack of arrogance and ability to “listen” to his horse (rather than dictate to the horse). While I was favoring the filly, “Devil May Care”, it’s always inspiring to see another one of the underdog’s win.

The Kentucky Derby race lasts only 2 minutes – so I think I should keep this post suitably short to match. Onto tonight’s freebies! On the menu tonight are “Nuevo Melamine” clipping and location images. Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

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Countdown To Justice

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The count down to justice continues… In the Fourth District Circuit Court of Appeals in south Florida, the judges publish their rulings only once a week, on Wednesday mornings. It has now been 5 weeks since the three member “Merit” panel met and made it’s decision on my case, but I will not know what that decision was until they publish their written decision. And so, it is yet another Tuesday night that I will go to sleep wondering whether the morning will bring news that the legal monkey is finally off my back. Try as I might not to dwell on the negative, the continued burden of this case weighs heavily in my mind and heart. It is a sad situation that never had to be, yet at the same time, it was inevitable. Math was never my strong suit, and perhaps that is at least one reason why I had not been able to see the simple equation that set this nightmare into motion:

PARTY “A” = PARTY “B” =
+ bitterness + trusting, forgiving nature
+ sense of entitlement + believes no one is “entitled” to anything that they haven’t earned or at the expense of other’s rights
+ law degree, member of Florida Bar: 20 years experience dealing with Florida legal system, connections in clerk’s office, knows system’s weaknesses and how to use them. + no legal education nor relevant experience.
+ forced into early retirement from civil service job + self-made entrepreneur with long history of intellectually satisfying and financially rewarding business.
+ opportunity to obtain assets, status, power and revenge through appointment as fiduciary. + believes revenge is foolish & morally wrong
+ believes fiduciary duty, rules of attorney ethics, and “inconvenient” laws apply only to others. + strong sense of ethics, personal responsibility and that one’s good name & honor must be earned & is only “possession” of true value.
+ lacks willingness to recognize own wrongs or the unfair, harmful effect of those wrongs on others. + Self-Esteem not tied to superficial facades and holds no interest in having power over others’ lives.
+ lives in south Florida, where case is being heard, in relatively good physical health (able to walk, drive, travel, lead a “normal” active life. + lives in Ohio (1500 miles away) and can’t travel due to being confined to bed for last 7 years.
+ lack of ability to feel true empathy. + in a particularly vulnerable position where person “A” had sole possession and control over critical medical information that could be used either to help or hinder “B’s” chance of survival.

Now give judicial oversight of PERSON “A” and determination of what to do when “A” breaches fiduciary duty and willfully engages in a number of serious incidents of misconduct that caused serious harm to PERSON “B” (and “B’s” family) in the hands of the trial court which has for years held position as one of the top five “Judicial Hellholes” in America, and in particular put this case in the hands of one judge who has been fodder for late night talk show hosts as the “Weeping” Judge and for the last two years since he resigned as a judge, has been battling a law suit against him for his own (alleged) breaches of fiduciary duty and fraud in regards to an 82 year old neighbor, and our second judge who was subsequently forced to step down as “Chief Judge” due to political pressure over a number of (alleged) legal and ethical violations (yet still presides over this case at the trial level), and where more than a dozen other judges and prosecutors have been either forced to resign after being found guilty of various legal and ethical misconduct or in an effort to avoid facing trial for such charges or whom are still currently under active investigation for either ethical or even criminal misconduct.

Yet, despite all this, I still believe in our system of justice and I believe that Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals in particular takes their job and their duty to the honest citizens who rely on them to ensure that they’re legal rights are protected, that the “bad guys” are held accountable, and that “justice” is done as well as humanly possible. I pray that THIS time, my faith is well placed.

On a much more positive and fun note, I give you tonight’s freebies: Part 3 of my multi-part series, “Neue Melamine”. Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

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Busy, Busy, Dizzy!

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The past three days have been a whirlwind of activity around “IconDoIt Palace” (Hey, if “a man’s home is his castle”, a woman’s home can surely be her palace, eh?) In any case, as the requested quotation mentioned in Requested Quote for Custom Icons – Real or Scam?Friday’s post was indeed legitimate, I have been not only working up a formal preliminary quotation and estimate of time, but also created three different preliminary layouts for two different pages, as well. And on top of that, my sister-in-law who lives in St. Louis, Missouri just retired and drove up to Ohio to visit and has been staying with us. All this focused, rushed activity has been both exhilarating and a drain on my physical energy. The cold and rainy weather and my Hubby suffering from a severe chest cold haven’t helped any. So now that my estimate and samples have gone out I’m going to take the opportunity to get some much-needed sleep.

Tonight’s free offering is the third installment of my multi-part series, “Nueu Melamine”. Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

NM_App-Clock

NM_TB-CustomizeNM_TB-NewFldr

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NM_TB-Photos

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Requested Quote for Custom Icons – Real or Scam?

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In my e-mail inbox this morning I was surprised to find a letter from a fairly large company in the United Arab Emirate’s state of Dubai expressing interest, based upon the examples they have seen on this blog, in having me provide them with a quote for custom designing a set of icons for one of their software applications. Considering the fact that I have not overtly advertised my availability for providing custom design services (as opposed to numerous other websites and blogs which do actively solicit commercial business) I felt very flattered and pleased. They had sent me a .pdf with approximately 15 different screen shots showing a mocked-up layout with generic icons to give me a rough idea of what they’re looking for as far as the interface, functions & quantity that they’re looking for. I did a little bit of preliminary research on the company itself (just to verify that they actually exist, their services, size, length of existence, locations, and also to get a flavor of their existing style and level of sophistication and professionalism as far as their web presence goes.) The company appears to be fairly large (including numerous locations, with a wide range of services they provide, well-established, and with a very professionally designed website that appears to be striving for a non-stock look to it. Since my research suggested this was indeed a legit request, I spent a good deal of time doing a preliminary analysis of their needs and generating an intake form for them to complete with additional specifications I need from them in order to put together an accurate quote. That done, I attached the form to a cover letter and e-mailed it all to the individual who wrote me using the “reply” button. Thinking I was done with that for a while, I returned my attention to another project I was already working on.

Minutes later, I received one of those aggravating “Postmaster” messages indicating to me that delivery of that e-mail had failed. Normally, such messages include a bit of an explanation such as: “Recipient’s Mailbox is Full” or “Network is down” or “ISP is currently unavailable”. There was no such explanation (nor any other explanation) included in this message though. So I tried to resend it. Again, it was returned as undeliverable. Next, I deleted the attachments which had been included in the original e-mail (from the company) while leaving in my own attachment and attempted to resend it. Once more, it was returned as undeliverable. So I went back to the company’s website to verify the company contact information and did a test by clicking on their generic “Contact Us” link (which had the same ISP as I had been using but was addressed merely to “Info@” rather than to the specific party. That appeared to go through fine when sent directly from their website. So then I tried sending another test message to the info@ address but this time from my desktop e-mail application. That one too went through fine without any delivery problems. I tried one more time to send my response to the specific person – but this time, rather than clicking “Reply” from within the original request, I created a clean new message. And once again, I received the dreaded “Undeliverable” message.

ARRGGGHH!!

So now I’m wondering whether the person who sent me the request simply formatted her personal e-mail address incorrectly or whether some hacker had simply lifted the company’s logo and letterhead, made up a name for an imaginary employee, embedded some kind of either virus or spyware in the .gif file for the company’s logo and sent it to me (and perhaps other graphic designers) for some nefarious purpose. Am I being overly paranoid here? Or have any of you either experienced or heard of some similar scam going around?

For tonight’s freebies, I’m posting Part 2 of my latest series “Neue Melamine”. (With still more to be posted in the coming days) Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

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