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Archive for May, 2017

Laundry Day


Today is laundry day. Plain clothing, no buttons or zippers – there should be simple clothes without adornments. I got to peek at their laundry. Hey, it’s not dirty laundry.


Carriage ride

The Amish do not use modern transportation. Some use carriages. They are required to have markings and lights. They use the secondary roads not highways. Cars speed by. The carriages are set up for privacy. It’s hard to see the occupants. I guess the Amish want it that way. They got shit deflectors. They don’t pick up. In Central Park the drivers ride around with catchers. I guess their (yeah, I got a vague pronoun) shit don’t stink.

It’s a sign…

Roadside pictures are a challenge. Oddities pop up and you barely have an opportunity to respond. York barbells – yay! They advertise. And do you know Turkey Hill ice cream? My first encounter was when my nephew Steven was in a high chair holding tightly to a gallon container of Turkey Hill. What an odd name? But hey! The big cow caught my eye. It worked (advertising).

Ramadan – ??? right about now???


Around May27… They don’t know exactly when it begins because the religious poohbahs decide by looking at the moon. Gee, do you think science and astronomy might help? Nope! So each year no one knows exactly when it starts (or ends!). It means you have to flexible about closing down your business plus or minus a few days. Yeah, and what if there is a cloudy day? Nope! It’s always sunny and 100 degrees in Jeddah.

I was reminded this will be the first Ramadan I have missed since 2012. That would be: I do not and will not miss being immersed in it. I’m home now. My turf! I’m no longer turned upside down and inside out for an interminable month. No fasting: I never did anyway. No praying: ditto. I was oppressed – a religious minority in a country of zealots. They suppress and care not for any other views. See: censorship. No pork or alcohol or drugs. Ha! Government officials well know how to obtain and even abet their friends. No bibles: of course. Does anyone watch TV or look at the internet? “You can fool some of the people…”

What do I miss? Food as a sport. Each evening at “break fast” it’s like the starting grid at Indy. Ready. Set. Go!!! Everyone gathers at their favorite restaurant. All the restaurants are either closed or are running a special Ramadan break fast special meal. The hordes descend upon the buffet like vultures and leave mere scraps behind. It’s over in 30 minutes or so. The start time is also different between Mecca and Jeddah. The sun sets a moment or two earlier in Mecca. I was fooled/betrayed – the pilgrims started eating (on the 24/7 Mecca TV channel) while it was not yet time in Jeddah. My bad!

Fasting is a duty and reminder – not intolerable suffering. …Yeah, eating as a sport. I will miss the “value” special “break fast” meals. But not too much; my schedule will not be disrupted and I shall be quite content with that. Ramadan will go back to being a background noise in my life. No non Muslims are allowed in Mecca. Ask Dave, we’ve been twice – in one day. And, no, though he tried, he did not look Muslim.

I digress


I’ve been on an Amish roll…Happy birthday Eric. He’s not much online (probably won’t see this). Aside from a very very few people, (please don’t feel left out), I’m barely able to keep track. I don’t keep a list somewhere. My good buddy Susan does. She remembered mine. I’m just able to tell you that hers is in the summer. Sorry. Call it a guy thing.

Advertisement for beer: Guy runs out during halftime for a six pack. At checkout he sees one forlorn birthday greeting at the counter. He buys it, gives it to his wife upon returning. She exclaims, “Oh honey! You remembered!”

Hey, it’s a guy thing. My cousin Amy got married. Mostly it’s guys on our side of the family. Except for Jules, it’s just guys. It’s almost all girls on the other side. Happy birthday.

Goin’ to church


Sunday. They call it a gathering. No church. No ostentatious building of worship. Those who have buggies, buggy. And those who don’t, walk. You still gotta tend the cows. No commercial stuff – the local farmer’s market was closed, but, not the antique shops. And there’s no used Amish clothes in the Goodwill. No buttons. No bows. Plain.

Amish Biking


No gears! Huh? They use wheels. So where does technology begin and end. Where’s the bright line? No gears. So you use it like a scooter. They farm with horses. But the plow was forged metal. Oh well, there’s a book out there to explain. Meanwhile it’s fascinating to learn something new. The good news? You don’t have to tie up your knickers or your dress to ride.IMG_2523



I visited Amish country in Pennsylvania. This woman was on a mission. Mostly, Amish folks don’t like their picture taken. I tried not to intrude but did not heed propriety. In the public anyone is fair game as a photographic subject as long as it is not intended for commercial use. Read my writing without a picture? A picture is far more informative. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Feather and Spice are wary of “Marshall the dog.” He’s a mellow dog without any real bones about cats. Feather does not like Marshall at all. She hides away. After a few days it’s getting a bit better. Go figure. Spice will sleep on the high ground now. Feather stuck her paws from under the couch. How is that safe? So there must be peace talks proceeding slowly. So far no blood or fur has flown.

Just out of reach


Osprey. It is. I could be wrong. But, it’s not a vulture or a crow. It’s a raptor. It sat in the tree long enough for me to get a shot. I could not get closer. So, it’s a raptor and there are better shots by others But, this is my shot. It’s what I got up till now…

“It’s an adventure…”

It’s a short story – long. I had to rent a van. It wasn’t easy (pretty much impossible) to do on a Saturday afternoon near 5PM in rural Maryland.

We were at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. There is an auction tent where “umpteen” spinning wheels and looms are on display for inspection before being auctioned. The auction for weaving stuff begins in the afternoon at 1PM. It was cold and rainy (really cool and “drizzily” until it really rained). “We need a picker,” Colleen said to me. ??? “A what???” I replied. I should never have asked. There were two on auction. Retail, I had just seen one selling for $450 after I knew how to identify one reliably since I had never seen one before until the name was mentioned. It’s full of nails and nasty. Waterboarding would be a vacation if you threatened me with this device. Yeah, sharp nails!! The bidding began at $100 and soared upwards in $25 increments. I still had my hand up and to my utter surprise it sold to me at $250. Don’t ask. It was a bargain? It’s heavy but not too large to fit into the car. The other picker went later for $750.

The second story begins with a LeClerc loom that was auctioned later. Since I was not in the market, there is no picture. The bidding started at $200. No bidders, so the bidding started again at $100. The crowd was listless and the auctioneer admonished and cajoled the crowd. “This thing is worth at least $1500.” What the heck. I put up my hand. I intended to drop out before long. Meanwhile the thing sold to me at $200. A bargain? You bet! A bench was included. That alone retails new for $500. What did I know? Nothing, nada, innocent, naïve – that would be me. Colleen was dumbstruck. The auctioneer had only described the loom because it was to heavy to haul outside the tent. So I had bid and bought a loom, “sight unseen.” Yeah, and, we don’t need another loom.

“Ummm… how are you getting this thing home?” And then it occurred to me that it might be too large to fit into the car. There are no places to get a truck or van. Ah! … went online, got a Uhaul. Yay? Arghhh! It had to be returned to the same location. Darn! The silver lining was we got the loom home and went back the next day to do Day 2 of the festival. It’s still heavy and we had a heck of a time getting that thing inside and up the stairs. In the future, I’m keeping my hand in my pocket. Oh! Yes, the van rental was near the cost of the loom. But it was still a “bargain” according to list price, and, with a bench thrown into the deal. Note to self: stick with small objects that will fit into the car…or leap before you jump…


I don’t collect books. I collect books. I have an extensive library of neurosurgery reference books. They will have some value one day… or not. I saw a book on Lincoln displayed. 1896. That makes it officially old. I like the title. It’s about his early life and written a few decades after his death. “… many unpublished documents…” would be neat too. After all, it’s not like there are any more historically timely documents of Lincoln going forward. So, this book would be of historical relevance at the time and closer to the history time. Neat! I was tickled to hold a book more than one hundred years after its publish date. I don’t have many like this. I will likely not be tempted again…or maybe.

The Game

Value? It’s a game. You know. They know. Someone knows more. That is how the winner is determined. “He, who dies with the most toys, wins.” I passed by a yard sale. Low probability high value – that is to say there is a lot of junk mixed in with occasional gems. The most expensive thing was a pendulum Regulator clock. It ticks. That sucker sat in the back seat chiming gently in syncopated rhythm all day as I drove over hill and dale. I got a “New Age” serenade and was sorry to remove it from the car. The other treasure was a Chinese sewing basket. The beads and ring are decorative and essentially make the basket collectable. But there were “goodies” inside! Aha! Spools of thread, etc, it made the price a bargain!

Finally…there are levels – wooden – bubbles (three)… and then there are metal ones. The modern ones are made of metal. But… the Davis Company made levels in the early 1900’s. I looked them up after the fact to find out that I had astutely found another bargain. What to do? Open an antique shop… someday. Meanwhile, I was ahead on this day.

Don’t throw out nothin’


I admit I have been in a lot of antique stores lately. By definition the objects are older than 100 years. But, the category loosely refers to ‘old stuff.’ And, it has ’ high considerable value because of age.’ This display is an example that has been displayed more formal than the junk piles I usually see. There is all manner of junk. Junk? Yup. How about old containers. Empty! … as in spice containers, motor oil cans, cracker tins… you name it. The stuff boggles the mind. People save (and buy up…) old milk bottle tops (cardboard). Ok! You might be one to buy old bottle tops… but me? Nope. I just nod, tip my hat, and shake my head in utter amazement … that I ever threw anything out. There’s a buyer out there for all manner of trash?

What the?


To quote Senator Susan Collins, Maine, “Can we have a crisis free day. That’s all I’m asking.”

…I missed this little news item. An activist managed to project an image over the entrance of the Trump Hotel in Washington. To all of you folks who defend the man: what will it take and when will you wake up from your narcotized stupor to realize that you support a madman? As for him being a successful businessman, he’s not even good at the art of the lie.

Clean Up


Phragmites. It’s a marsh/wetlands weed grass – as defined as something you don’t want growing in your space – i.e. dandelions. It’s a tall grass that obscures (completely) my view of the pond behind our house. I previously posted about finding a bench beside the pond that we discovered two years after we moved into the house. There is an approved chemical herbicide. Cutting and burning does not work. But I am told you may cut it down to 24 inches height. Whatever. I don’t want chemicals. Yet. I got a hedge trimmer in the yard sale for $10. Yay! It mowed the grass/weed like a machine gun in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

And look! There are irises. Do you believe that? They are growing spontaneously in my wetland. Cool. They’re cheery and a welcome surprise. For now I have a trusty ‘old, used’ hedge trimmer and am prepared to cut down my phragmites as we go along.

Long Tailed Cats

We have Maine coon cats. They resemble/look like… Well, that’s what I’ve been told. Anyway, the principle of portrait photography is, ‘get in close, focus on the eyes.’ But the tail is the story. They are long (tails). So, I’ve been remiss. I get the eyes and forget the tail. There’s not much interesting to it unless you are in the room with them or are holding on to their tail. Ooops! Did I say that? (Ignore that last comment. The ‘boss’ might find out.) But I got a shot. It’s spring. They love the fresh air. Me too. And I won’t hold their tail.

While I slept…


This would be Feather (wearing a bag – shredded remnant). You may recall Marshall the dog came for an extended weekend. We are dog sitting. Or, rather I am. Certain persons and animals in my household heartily disapprove of my generosity. The claim on the table, like the 900lb gorilla in the room, is that Marshall tried to eat Feather when he last visited our house. (I personally think this is an exaggeration.) As soon as Marshall appeared Feather beat it. We did not see her for a day. Marshall sleeps at night – soundly. So, the noises and romping in the dark were definitely kitten made. When I arose this morning, Feather came through and shot under the couch. I could hear noises. Paper? She came out spontaneously when she saw I was without Marshall and the “coast was clear.” They had torn a shopping bag with rope handles to pieces. And, like a mane, Feather wore a paper “sail” remnant around her neck and torso. How she dove through the rope handle to nearly strangle herself is a mystery. As I said there was rather loud romping throughout the house in the middle of the night. Moral: Cats sometimes do need humans. I am more than just an easy meal ticket.

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Feather will not be shopping Yankee Candle any more.

It was a women’s protest

0023 31 Deanna

23 billion dollars. The average spent on /mom is $186.39. The $23billion is the commercialization of America this Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis, her home is still available to visit in West Virginia, started Mother’s Day as a women’s protest against war. Yup! Read! It was commercialized and finally made into a national holiday by Woodrow Wilson. Anna protested the commercial use until her death in a sanitarium. Yes, she was treated as “quackers.” Meanwhile it was always my lot to make breakfast in bed for my wife on said day. But, she’s not my mother. So now, kids, it’s on you. I skimmed the archives for a pic. I am frankly amazed at how awful a photographer I was in the beginning. …and for a long time after… and, no, a Nikon does not make the man… don’t blame your tools. I do miss my mom, still.

Apropos to the day: my mom immigrated after World War II. She grew up in Japanese occupied Shanghai, China. She came for a better world and freedom from tyranny.

Close Up


When the fog lifted, I was able to sneak a few images of practice. It’s what dads do. We watch and are secretly proud of our children. In California they take their volleyball seriously.



Just as quickly as it came, the fog left. It just lifted in a moment. And the sunset continued though a bit more subdued. The good news is that now I could see volleyball practice again.


In the time it took to walk to the pier fog rolled in and covered it. It did not completely obscure the players. No one stopped volleyball practice. It was just another evening of play in Manhattan Beach.

Spying Slyly Shyly


I was given permission to attend the volleyball practice and snap off a few images. I was not to be obvious or to embarrass Jules. I guess she and I have a secret bond. She knows how proud I am of her. And finally, we are both old enough to know enough to tolerate our quirks. I’d have been there no matter what; so the ground rules made it easier for us both.

Would you believe I was actually cool about pointing my big super zoom in her direction. The fog and evening lighting were no help but I got something. I even got a sequenace.

It happened at Dulles


Strange things at Dulles airport. They do art. So, you get to see some strange installations. Do you like the light show? What are all the silver ornaments for?

Did you know? They have a smoking room. The last time I saw one in an airport, it was in full use. The interior of the room was enveloped in thick dense smoke – so thick you could not make out a single object or person in the room. I would guess it was an intentionally unvented room. Or, do you have a pet?

There is a pet run – complete with poop bags. I thought it was only in New York where you pick up after. Apparently, it’s universal now. Oh joy!