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Archive for December, 2021

The year in review

Dawn or dusk? If you have no orientation, it looks the same. You must know where to look, east or west. We had quite a year around here. Coming or going? We lost one and added two – cats. It was a year of sorrow and of joy. In the midst of this, Covid raged around us. Our experience pales in comparison to a pandemic which killed hundreds of thousands. The vaccine came, then the booster was available. Half the population is currently vaccinated. The unvaccinated group remains a large source of ongoing Covid infection… and death. People gather now and take off their masks in an effort to believe/pretend the pandemic is now over. It’s not over. At the beginning of the year we had no access to vaccination. Now we are triple vaccinated. We have come a long way. Have we? It’s been a hell of a year. Which way out? I cannot say. Ummm… no, we still have eight cats. And, yes there are nine pictures. It would appear Colleen loves Nutley most. Happy New Year.


Ah! You…

…bastards! You tiptoe around. You do dirty tricks and hope they won’t be found out. You truly are evil bastards! In the miserable pouring rain as we passed on a cold dark night through Maryland on the way home… Colleen was struck by revelation! She has been casually watching gas prices as we traveled this holiday season – NY NJ MD WV OH. Democratic friendly states – about $3.29 and up for gas. West Virginia, $2.75. Ohio, $2.83. Umm… who #$#@#% represents those states in Congress? manchin and jordan. I read how joe is in the pocket of fossil fuel… oh! This is how they pay/BRIBE! joe back for his efforts to stall the democratic agenda. This is pretty blatant “pork.” Payback’s a bitch. Me? It never occurred to me how low ‘special interests’ would go. Price gouge your neighbor especially if they are Democrats. Colleen is simply brilliant. Or you are dumb to think, we would not notice your “stink.”


Anything else?

Sometimes I think Colleen and I have a lot of time to catch up. That is to say – what would have had happened if we had been together fifty years? Shopping? Oh boy! The candy store is now, an antique store. We don’t buy candy. But… in an antique store Santa and Xmas is fair game. Gifts – the nativity went to a cousin. Snow globe – for Noa’s pleasure. The stone tablet, now painted – was ballast for ships coming to New Orleans. We scored a German pyramid ornament. Rare indeed to see; we have two now. Oh boy! Santa? Yes, Colleen decided to collect ones she liked. Oh boy! It means that they all don’t come home with us. The beneficiaries? My cats love siting scrunched up in boxes and baskets that we get. Yeah, yeah, I cannot blame Colleen alone; I have been guilty of a purchase or two. How about a light up Mexican style kitchen scene?


Oh no!

Why couldn’t it be rolling pins… that I/we collect? I never considered masks.?! And, well, I should not! No! No no. We simply are out of wall space. Oh well, time to reinvent myself (ourselves) once more. These masks are from Mexico. I bet you could tell. Masks are ingrained in many cultures around the world. These masks tell a story and are full of stories about the ceremony and how they evolved. You can see primitive culture and the Spanish influence all wrapped up and melded together. Symbolism is heavy. Top left – Moor/Chinese influence ?? go figure. You can readily see Hispanic influence. Snakes? They are not ‘garden of Eden’ evil, but are water sign. Rain dance! Me? It’s another thing to eye more closely when we go thru and antique store. Gee! Can we just get one? NO!!!

Non sequitur: driving to the museum lecture we were treated to a spectacular sunset all the way up the road. It was gone by the time we arrived. Note: crescent moon over the parking lot.


Really?!

After my recent fiascos with Mexican food, you would think I would lay off for a while. I don’t much like Mexican food. Sorry! What it lacks in taste it makes up for in hot sauce. But… Colleen remembered burritos. Her fond memory was akin to Proust’s Le Madeleine. Ok! Off we went. The restaurant at the first address from the internet – was closed, permanently. Aha! Someone else has the same idea as me. So, we drove a long long way… far away. And, it was a typical “joint.” The margharita was half the price of that overpriced unnamed place we ate in last. The food was otherwise typical. I love the taco bowl for my salad. What can I say? We had a Mexican meal like all the others I have had in my life. Considering all things, that’s not so bad, sometimes. Ah, the memory of – salsa and chips.


It’s not the beer

… nor the food; nor the music. It’s the one you share it with. Boy, I’m lucky to be married to Colleen (finally). I probably say this too often in this blog. Hey! It’s my posting. We all have doubt. She asks me if I like her. Ha ha. She liked me first. Men! I was so dumb (unconscious) it took me nearly fifty years to figure out she liked me. Thank goodness there is still time to appreciate all of this, and, to share more than a beer. I hope the music never stops.


Come and go

My visitors/followers come and go randomly. There is no requirement or subscription other than my ability to capture your attention and entertain you for a few moments. Family, friends, visitors, and followers all alike will drift in and out. Some of you follow all of my posts… hey! I preaching to the converted. Thanks for being here. I’m musing, randomly, too. Colleen hates Indian food; she told me. We eat Indian food. Standard fare: papadam and condiments. Note: anything that tastes good is bad for you. The essential fact: Colleen loves to eat out. She likes Thompson Island (restaurant). We go to the beach:  I get a selfie; I get a wave shot. Here’s a shot you don’t try while driving; I was stopped at the light. What was this happy couple thinking?? After all the above nonsense: my point? My dear wife faithfully reads my posts. There are dear friends who read too. … and acquaintances. Others: one time visitors; alas. To all of you: thank you. I’m still here and hope to be if should you return another day. Daily thoughts and photographs. Free! That’s the (my) price!


Merry Xmas

But, of course! From our family to you and yours, we wish you a safe and healthy holiday. It’s been another eventful year. We lost a cat – Patch. We gained two cats – Tillie and Peas. Peas was an afterthought. We mistakenly left Tillie’s sister behind at the pet store. My bad. You cannot replace a lost cat – for (darn) sure. …but we had an extra food bowl…. Now the table is full once more. Happy and merry to you all. We are both fortunate and happy to wish you all the best. YES, they all jumped up on the table and lined right up. Didn’t you realize? I herd cats!


Thank you

To all of you, my audience, visitors, followers, family, and friends – Thank you. You check off “likes” and comment on my posts. All the best to all of you this Holiday Season. Happy New Year. I admit I am shy and lax about thanking each of you individually when you tell me you like a post. But I appreciate that there are those of you out there in the world who stop in and look at what I have photographed. All the best to you all. And, thank you again. The lump of coal is a joke, of course. I lost all of my ornaments in the divorce. Colleen and I have begun our own collection and traditions. Santas abound. We are simply nutty – in a nice way. It’s amazing how we are making up for lost time in such a short time. Fun? There is love in each and every goofy thing we find and do. Merry Christmas to one and all.


Serendipitous

Fortuitous?! This is the great grandson of Charles Dickens, Gerald Dickens, who has returned to perform his one man show – The Christmas Carol. It is indeed daunting. He plays all the characters and within two hours performs the whole novel. It’s a special connection to the original author via his own progeny. No other family members are inclined to perform in such a manner. This is truly a special one of a kind, treat. We have seen it twice now. (Ha ha. I was sleepy thru the first half.) Colleen and I saw the movie in black and white in the basement of our elementary school. Her favorite is the George C Scott version. I have seen Bill Murray’s (not so good) movie. And so it goes. To see Dickens’ great grandson adroitly perform makes us feel like we are connected to the author himself. How grand! An aside: the guy in front of us – “hat head” – ha ha, Colleen admonishes me for being too observant of people around us. ,


It was but a year ago

A lot changes. A year ago during the height of Covid we went on a quest for a Christmas tree that took us to the perfect tree in a tree farm. We cut it down. Guilt! On many levels this was such a nice tree that lasted a month and was then taken to the curb. We went artificial tree this year. This has its own associated guilt. We’ll see. During Covid I made an estimated 26 Nantucket style baskets. They make/made me happy. I have had mixed reviews on their quality. In looking back, it has been a long and eventful year.


Craft and collect

Christmas. We collect Santas. I don’t quite know why. They are available in thrift stores or antique stores. We took a lesson in glue gun crafting for making wreaths or miniature Xmas trees. This year the craft store was out of the little wooden figures. Ok. Plan B.


Not that long ago

Hey! I just built the giant bookcase! That one! The one behind us. Do you remember when Ray was a kitten? Well, you can tell. How do you know? I can (tell). Don’t we look the same. No one has aged. We are at that certain age when you are between young and old. We’re old. I don’t feel old. I’m glad I don’t?? look old. Can you believe I built that bookcase moments ago? It took a while to find a pic of the finished product. Can you imagine going through 400 thousand pics one at a time? … me neither.


Remember

Sometimes, many times, I am humbled by my lack of photographic skill and how it has grown as I grew older. Ego?! I was born perfect. I lived in a bubble. Not, nope, nada. But, in the looking back, I am amazed at my ego and ignorance. I did get a good camera early on. It would be a long long time before I overcame mistakes to be a better photographer. I believe volume (many photos later) has saved me. if you take enough pictures, there is bound to be one among the clutter that is serviceable. This follows the theory – eventually, even a blind squirrel gets a nut. Thankfully, there are bad images in my collection. Some people do not have a collection to cull. This is remembrance and happy birthday. At least there are choices that I have. When your birthday falls so close to Christmas, it is so unfortunate. You have nothing to look forward to, for the rest of the year. Furthermore, you get one present to cover both events. Cheated! John was born on December 19.


Wander thru my mind

No! No Freud today! It’s merely an exercise and lament. When I’m dead, someone looking thru the image catalog will have no reference to time and place. I have a database that will inform. Sure. But, I look at a series and piece together my past memory. The waterfall? I haven’t a clue to what or where. But the adjacent images on the same day, tell a story. I was in Amish country. Someone told me an eagle had nested among the powerlines. There was an image in an Amish market. The African daisy was on sale outside the door. I got some. And the clincher was an Amish farmer plowing the field. For me, in my mind, an image is the trigger for memory. By itself the image might mean nothing to the viewer. To me? it is the anchor to a memory of the day. It’s not photographic memory in one’s sense of genius and it is, most definitely, in my own mind. Convoluted? The brain is like that.


Technical

Light. It is the essential element of photography. Without it, there is no image. Controlling it: therein lies the key. Most people don’t see it. Rhetorically speaking, most people don’t pay attention. Light has color. And, it behaves to thwart the efforts of the causal photographer. iPhone has enabled the feeble to be stars by anticipating the mistakes and correcting them for you. Oh boy! Our selfies (not one and the same) – one was taken with flash, the other was natural light. Can you tell? I was bedeviled to get a wave shot. The answer: pan the camera as the wave broke. Duh! Backlight? A bright sky will make the foreground subject dark. See it, correct for it. Morning light? Meter the foreground darkness to bring out the color of the sky. Simple. It’s even simpler in iPhone. It will do all this for you and it comes with a stack of enhancements, so you look like Monet or Adams. If you made it this far, you have interest in photography. Otherwise, you are interested in photographs. I’m, just being crotchety today.


Custom and practice

I prepare posts in advance. It allows me the space to compose and create and pick photos from my catalog. A few posts got away (published in advance) on Nov 30. My bad. I did not pay attention to the publish date. Jules told me a long time ago, too much was a waste. So, I did not and do not post multiples per day since her admonishment. Ha ha. Another, non sequitur. We hang out in antique stores. This one is somewhere in Missouri. Yes, Dorothy, we have traversed Kansas too. It’s somewhere around St Louis. I won’t go into details about how I know. And, you cannot tell (where we are) either. Old phone? With dial or without!? I bet there are many folks who have never seen this kind of phone. I shoot typewriters, too. This is the model I typed all my college term papers on – usually at about 3AM in the morning. Remedies? What will they put in a bottle. And, some have patents as well?! Geez! Toilet cream makes me laugh. No, I have never used it. But, in the misunderstanding of terms, it makes for a great juvenile joke among pre-teens. Yeah, there’s a little Peter Pan in me, still.


Bad idea

I want to short the stock on this drug. Pilocarpine, it’s been around forever. Drops: charge me $80 a month? Really?! The drops constrict your pupil. It has been used for glaucoma forever. Closing down your pupil improves the depth of field therefore you perceive better focus. It’s akin to a camera focal f-stop opening. The downside? When you close down the pupil, you have difficulty seeing in the dark. The immediate danger – driving at night! And, therein, lies the source of untold law suits. People are dumb. And, they drive at night. Dumb drivers at night, how smart is that? So, the price on this stock is going straight down. No good deed goes unpunished.


Out of print

Things jump out – sometimes, literally. Ha ha, another Photoshop trick (not!)? The frame was set up to take a portrait and to make it look elaborately framed. I would never be so subtle. Ha ha. It was colonial day on the green. People were dressed in Revolutionary war style fashion – a snake oil salesman, etc, It was still fall. I was still chasing color. In this case I settled for a closeup in order to avoid the vast areas of drab brown leaves. Autumn color was scarce around these parts.


I wuz wondering

Umm, I don’t have Mark Meadows on speed dial on my phone. Do you? So, I’m wondering how cozy Fox news is to 45 (he, who shall not be named) to have Fox news anchors with direct access to the Chief of Staff. A direct line! And then, to advise? Does this cross the line between reporting the news and …? Oh! I see. It means nothing. Fox is the public relations arm for 45’s presidency. They immediately reported lies and continued to lie about the results of the 2020 presidential election results. Aha! Fox is the propaganda arm of the Republican party. … cuz, no one seems to pick up on Meadows being advised by news anchors.?!#$@$#!!! Three! Count ’em! Three anchors!! Ingraham, Hannity, and Kilmeade!! News organizations report the new unless, they make the news. I guess it’s good to be king! I can say emphatically, that I did not sign up to have a king of the United States.


Mis en place

Right about when Covid hit, we got messy. We always were (before). But, it is way out of control now. Laugh. Or, don’t. The other thing that comes to mind is – a messy desk is the sign of genius. We have that in common with Einstein? Good company. He liked ice cream. The good thing is that we don’t have melted ice cream everywhere. The cooktop (you cannot see it) is covered. Fruit is healthy!? Mis en place – I visualize (in my dreams) a neat kitchen where all the ingredients are arranged neatly in place ready to be prepared. Us? Me? It’s a freeforall. (Yes, a run on word.) How? Don’t ask! The pantry simply got uncontrollable. Or, I am old and senile. Having ingredients out on the counter makes it easier for me to spot ingredients that inspire the next dish I cook. Whatever! It’s a grand mess! No one goes away hungry. And, no ice cream melted in the production of this post. Yes, we give generously to the food bank. The pile just never seems to diminish. Alas!


We need a bigger table

This holiday season things are returning to normal in an abnormal state. Covid rages and 1000 people a day die in this country – still. No worries. Everyone is virus fatigued. Masks are off. Well, not quite. We went to a Xmas concert. Certainly, many venues recommend and suggest mask. Many ignore masks if it is optional. Stupid? Ignorant? Or Republican? Eating out? Obviously, you don’t wear a mask. Safe? Who knows? There are a lot of moving parts in a restaurant. It’s a risk. At this time of year, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. And, we need a table that is bigger than just for two.


We need a little Christmas

The annual Winterthur Christmas decorations never fail to cheer us. Impressive?! You bet! The tall ~ 25 foot tree is decorated with dried flowers from the grounds that are picked and preserved all year long. Amazing. Simply amazing. I garden. I am not up to the task of doing as this dedicated staff performs year long. The culmination is a tree stunning and unique. We count ourselves very fortunate to see it once more. We have tried to share this with members of the family. The true experience is being there “in person” to appreciate the tree’s majestic scale. Thank you!


Food of the year

Things cycle. Many years ago, I became aware of mozzarella sticks for the first time in Hawaii. Ok, odd place, but it was my first memory of encountering this appetizer. We have gone thru tiramisu and so many other things. This year juicy dumplings have been on the radar. You take a bite and hot soup pours out of the dumpling. Be careful not to burn yourself. Ha! It’s a neat trick. Someone in the kitchen is tasked with injecting soup into the dumpling as it goes out to the customer. (Ha ha, it’s not so, but, then again, I ain’t sayin’ how they do it). Scallion pancakes? Yup, they were Dave’s favorite for a long time. Colleen always has trouble splitting her chop sticks open. Go figure. I wonder what dish will dominate our consciousness in the next year.