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Heroes

It’s a small field. There are about 3700 neurosurgeons in the US, not too many more than the average daily kill from covid. It’s unlikely you have heard of any, much less, those who are heroes to me. Yasergil, Heifetz, Cloward… Ransahoff. Yasergil and Heifetz pioneered early aneurysm clips that revolutionized how we treated the berry (time bomb) aneurysms in the head. Cloward pioneered the anterior cervical decompression and fusion. He kept his donor bone in his refrigerator in his home at one point. Ransahoff, was my training director. His contribution was to teach me judgement – when to operate, how far to go, when to get out. He famously had a penile implant, facial plastic surgery, and finally committed suicide when his memory was failing. I saw these men in their later years too. Fame had been pushed aside by younger surgeons for progress as they were left behind to grow ever more frail. It’s life’s cycle. But once upon a time, I walked among giants. I never expected to be fortunate enough to be among them. They were authors and teachers in places far from me. Yet, here we were, once.


Scripted… not

About the last thing my life is about, is scripted. Pretty much all that we (Colleen/me) do, is spontaneous. There is a loose outline (sometimes). And we have a list of things we like to do. Otherwise, very little is scheduled or planned these days. Appointments are few. You can’t get into the bank without an appointment. The library remains closed. My point? I was thinking life is a disorderly Jackson Pollack painting these days. I searched for an illustration for this post before realizing, life is like clouds, never repeated, fleeting, and always different. Beautiful.


Stats – I owe a lot of thank you(s)

I shot 52k+ images in 2020 down from 72k in 2019. It’s just a number. When I shot slide film it was more like 3k per year. Film and developing cost money! Recently, I got a 256gb SD card on sale for $40. It will shoot tens of thousands of images. Free (almost! Followers of this blog – 996. It’s not a large number of people, relatively. I have been blogging since 2011. It’s an outlet for me to just post images past and present with some humor (maybe). I try to limit myself to 1 post a day. Jules taught me that too much is not good. Politics in recent months were too outrageous to ignore, hence a second post for a while. What amazes me is the breadth of my audience around the world (see views per country). The internet has me connected to the world. Thousands have visited this blog. Positive waves, I try to be positive (except the recent past politics) about the things I have photographed. I remain a staunch advocate for cameras – real ones – though I have recently reluctantly admitted Jules new iPhone 12 is pretty good. Meanwhile to all you visitors to this blog, near and far – Thank You! – for visiting. I apologize once more for not thanking each of you personally when you visited. Yes, this is the (in)famous Beef Wellington, Yorkshire pudding Xmas dinner – first time we made it and first time we ever ate it. (P.S. I don’t think my kids are following this blog, so anything goes.)


Tyler group

Friends – not any more. I’m too lazy to seek out another pic. We went to the Tyler Place in Vermont for a bunch of years when the kids were small. This group hung in and persisted as fast friends for more than 25 years later. Two of four couples are divorced now. The end ladies, one a liberal democrat and the other a conservative republican are no longer friends (of mine). One chose my wife over me in the divorce. The other did not like my liberal rants against trump. She defended herself saying she watched the news – Fox news. Oh! Times change and old republican friends just get older…. and fewer. Yes, and they sold the house (in the background) too. Everyone one is on another path. Better? Worse? Was the split because of politics? We all met at the Tyler Place a long long time ago. No regrets. Friends. Republican friends in a time when it was ok.


Be with the “one”

Valentine’s day. One more. It’s very nice to be with the one you love. See the remote? It’s how you do it. This selfie was made with better tech than the good ole iPhone. Then again, the pose? It’s harder to control. A kiss is just a kiss. But, a kiss with the one you love is “priceless!” I wish everyone happiness. I know that I am.


While we’re talking…

… about food, I have to mention Beef Wellington and Yorkshire pudding. The internet will provide you with about any recipe you desire to tackle. Ha ha, my vegetarian wife (temporarily on hiatus) suggested Beef Wellington. She reads recipes – yes, even after dinner, they appeal. Well, ok! We needed meat. Off to the butcher to discover the cut needed to put this together. We were told to call a day in advance only to be stymied when I called to put in my order. No more phone orders, it was too close to Xmas. We got there just in time to snag the very last Filet mignon roast out of the case. Pfewff! Yorkhire pudding? Why not? We’ve never done that either. There were more steps, a lot of mushrooms, some Dijon mustard, and more steps. I have never worked with puff pastry either. Wrapping the meat in puff required some logical thinking. Fortunately, we were up to the task. The Yorksshire pudding calls for drippings in the muffin pan on high oven heat. It was smoking hot and not too promisingly looking when it went back in the oven. It returned gloriously risen. We were giggling. (Yeah, a couple of grown-ups giggling.) All in all, it was fabulous. Borscht might not be the soup to pair, but hey, Colleen wanted it. And, she prepped a Waldorf salad. Darn, we’re dropping a lot of names here. Did I say it was a fabulous meal? It came out delicious and perfect. My only regret is that we could not share the good fortune and bounty with family. I’m hungry writing about it. The very good news is that there are leftovers in the fridge and dinnertime is soon. Historical note: this was a fabulous meal. Three dishes began with names with capital letters. How neat is that?!!


Failure is not an option

We made gifts for the family – local cousins. Times five – one each and one for us, it was to be Challah bread, brownies, and flavored oyster crackers. Ha ha. Oyster crackers? Yeah, a guilty pleasure triggered by a memory while grocery shopping. Hey, they are good! The bread – who knew – Colleen started baking them after dark. Five loaves. Five recipes, one at a time. It turns out the loaves were huge, as in really large! This was way too big for one or two persons. Ha ha! She followed the directions. We were exhausted and I fell asleep by the time the first loaf came out of the oven. Colleen still had four loaves rising all over the house in every warms spot we could construct. She finished around 1:30am. Over baked! Dammit. You could tell from the loaf we had/sampled. Trash or gift? Four huge loaves. You could cry. The pecan tassie – “tea time tassies” (local vernacular) were inspired by a visit to the grocery and a NYT recipe. That would have been perfect but we were not ready for mass production…. yet.

What could go wrong? Brownies – I added chocolate chips and walnuts. No problem. And sprinkles on top, it’s Christmas. The sprinkle stars melted into the brownie top making unidentified holes. Not too bad otherwise, I was sure no one would notice after they were cut.

Pea soup? Yes, that was the opening act to our day before we started baking bread. Who figured proofing and rising would take so long? Leftover ham bone makes great pea soup to go along with ham and cheese sandwiches. Really! And yes, that’s a bite out of the sandwich. (I forgot to snap a picture before I was savoring my sandwich.) Yes, we have been eating well during the pandemic.

We delivered (bread), mentioning it was large (ha ha) and would make great French toast. It worked. Ultimately, we got messages of approval. Of course, I had messaged images of the French toast and my “mmmmm’s.” It turned out to be fabulous French toast! – We’ve had no feedback. My opinion: the brownies were overdone and the challah overbaked. Well. Damn!


Faster

Better? Colleen’s cousin got a Macbook. She upgraded from her Windows laptop? It’s a big paperweight that looks good. (She’s not using it.) She did not want to give up her mouse. I found Colleen’s Bluetooth mouse. We loaned it out. And she (cousin, name withheld to protect the innocent) wants to use her Window’s external drive to link photos for her scrapbooking. They (cousin and husband) could not get the hang of a formatted ‘fat’ drive that sees jpeg on Windows and Mac simultaneously. Yes, a big fat paperweight. I have offered help. Sometimes it takes time. Meanwhile I have cannibalized the TV as a monitor for my image catalog. I can view more images on a screen. Editing is a little easier. It brings me to the observation that things are not really faster. Transferring files from memory cards to external drives still takes a lot of time. My very first Mac desktop was so slow… you could go have coffee and a refill till it did…. Well, I still wait. It’s just different. I’ve had a laptop as my computer for a long time. This upgrade was necessary/justified because the hardware changed and I could not personally install a bigger hard drive. Solution: new laptop/bigger drive. Yeah, it’s not too bright. And the speed? I still sit and wait. At least it (laptop) looks good sitting there. I could talk about a Lamborghini in my driveway….


Last night

Last night was the big game. Super Bowl. American football for my visitors from around the world. Tom Brady is a trumper. So, Colleen rooted for the Chiefs. I was sentimental to see the underdog win. Our tradition is to have a pig out of junk food. We had doughnuts, chips, and chocolate covered strawberries, etc. on hand for watching the game. Colleen hates football. She watches the commercials. I watch the game. We are about evenly set up.

Noa? She doesn’t know the situation and isn’t allowed junk food. All they had at her house was a lone bag of chips and avocado (healthy) dip. How much fun is that? Judging from her smile, more than enough.


Changes

Yeah yeah it’s February. Christmas 2020 is in the rear view mirror. Shutterfly sent me this memory from years ago. A lot has changed. I’m not with Lisa. We all have moved. Jules got married, has her own daughter, and lives in another state. Ha ha, I have told you, her kids (students) looked her up on the ‘net. I cannot use the correct spelling of her name. They found my blog and it was “weird” for Jules. Xmas past? It’s about the same, with a different tree and with different ornaments. There have been bigger and better changes that I alluded to in yesterday’s post. Different! I am, though it matters not, miffed that Shutterfly has/continues to pry into my life past. I’m doing just fine. Can they just leave it at that?


Someone’s watchin’

I lifted this layout right off Shutterfly. Who’s got rights? I have been told nothing disappears from the internet. But, how’d it get there? Shutterfly, it took over after Kodak folded. They send emails to me of “memories” from time past. I mostly don’t pay attention. I did, once upon a time, upload a lot of images to Kodak in order to share pictures. But, hey! Where did these come from? They are long after I uploaded anything to Kodak and definitely not on Shutterfly. I don’t use the service. It’s not transparent. I can easily see who owns Shutterfly. For sure, they did not ever receive or have permission to snag these digital images. By, the way, their periodic reminders of memories from the past are (mostly) unhappy remembrances at this point. They wouldn’t know – a smiling face is a smiling face. I’m just wondering. However. So far it’s so. What’s on the ‘net lingers forever. In this particular instance I do hope the (these) memories last forever. This one was an “extended” first date, the best I ever had.


Art

You know me and art. I’m no artist. Photography ain’t art. Pressing your finger to the shutter is not a particular skill. Ha ha. Yes, it’s all tongue in cheek. For real? A recent NYT article described 3D imaging and used an artists’ loft as its model (see below left). They said the clutter was arranged carefully over years to achieve the exact art effect they (artists) desired. Ha ha! I am hysterical! Yes, laughing hysterically. We do/did it in my/our (it takes more than one) house. It takes about a day. It is ever changing. This was our seasonal look. Clutter? Art!? Oh yeah! Oh yes! Things are in their place once. Who can keep track? It’s enough to make your mother shudder. Hey! No dirty laundry. I drew the line when I saw Dave sniffing his laundry in his room to decide if it was wearable. The washer was on the wall directly behind his bedroom.

Some have art. Some have clutter. I guess there’s a fine line between art and clutter. We have family and friends shuddering (with laughter) as they read this.


… not as I do/did

Don’t go out. Do what I say. We have admonished all our family. It’s dangerous out there. Covid. We’re out in the antique store. Yes, we have/had masks on. Carolers – collectible. Colleen took notice. No! we got no room. Honest. Thankfully, we passed on mangers/nativity too. Santa? We somehow got to collecting them a couple years back. It was sneaky, insidious really. They just seem to show up….

We got this set, too many, in three or more trips. She felt guilty acquiring them in one haul. Ha ha.


A bit later on

Yes, Thanksgiving was last year already. I know that. And, we got a covid surge in December. And you have seen this picture of a crowded table. But, darn! We can cook (and bake!)! Needless to say we were not going anywhere and out of caution we did not invite anyone nor accept any invitations. It didn’t mean we did not have fun. Meanwhile, the food?! I am not a food photographer. Far from it. Often, I will be halfway through the meal before the thought of a picture occurs to me. Ha ha, let’s just agree that I am not a real food photographer. We did cook and bake. Colleen baked the butter sticks (rolls) and pumpkin pie – with whipped cream. We made a stuffed (chestnut dressing) turkey. In this I cheated. The turkey was overdone and not too (Norman Rockwell) picturesque. Alas.

We made (from scratch) all but the pickles – scalloped potatoes, Waldorf salad, cranberry sauces, apple sauce, pomegranate, and butternut squash soup. We made a lot of hot turkey sandwiches later and turkey pot pie. We missed family and friends. Fortunately, they have remained safe too. Let us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Pie, before the whipped cream has covered Colleen’s gorgeous crust and filling. Too much – guilty, I always make too much stuffing to go inside the bird – Plan B.


Hard to get… two ways

It’s hard to get me a present. By this point in life I am fortunate to be pretty content and, stuff, I got. Colleen tried. She giggled and held her breath till it came. Yes, it’s my first – a front pocket wallet. Who thinks of these things? Colleen! I’m impressed. I have never seen nor thought of one. Hard? I just got done scanning 80k+ thousands of slides. The left screen shows ducks walking in the street. Thanks to Feather – the cat – I am reminded of it. Now, find it. Okay, here’s my logical thinking. Go to the image info – metadata. Get the time this image was shot. Go to my slides scanned and find the scan time (when it was scanned). Voila! Not so hard after all. Ha ha, I’m not going to go looking.


Beside myself

Yeah yeah I know, thanksgiving was an age ago. And once upon a time, Bill held Jules and she was smaller than our thanksgiving turkey. That was a long time ago. This past year we felt bad that we were in quarantine and no company allowed. Solution: make your own. Lately, there are those who believe in whatever they are told. So: we invited a group of look-a-likes. I snapped the picture, There was enough turkey for all. Since we all quarantined together it was perfect. Yeah, yeah, we all had the same outfits. But, it would have taken longer to have everybody change. Me? I think that turkey was bigger than this turkey.


Four years

It was four years ago on this day… we were at the women’s march in Newark, DE. I would have been in DC for the protest but Colleen was chicken, But we were out there. I am reminded because Carol sent me pictures of her presence in NYC at the parallel protest. Four years ago this day… and now it is Biden on Day +1. What a difference.


Killt

That would be past tense of killed. I’m a dead husband after this post. Oh well… we laugh a lot around here. What do you do during a pandemic and you’re home alone? My brother was once a stock day trader from home dealing with the big stock brokers and would laugh to trade shares over the phone wearing just his underwear.  Yeah yeah, you get where I’m going. Someone got distracted early one morning and started winding a warp before breakfast. I don’t think there’s any family who follows my blog regularly. They will (all, I hope) miss this. Meanwhile, just about any and everybody else in the world will know.

Que? … that we have and eat healthy fruit – banana, grapefruit, apple …. you’re all peering at the background, right?

Me? Dead ham. I’m dead ham. If I didn’t mention you’d never notice….


Get out!

So much to say so little time. Turned (you) out! Get out of our house! Here’s three voters who helped vote you and your fat ass out. Backwards, you got it all backward. You did not win. And this time around we were paying attention and were ready. No amount of cheating or your version of an alternate reality can make it anything less. And there is an excellent chance you will be indicted and convicted and be LOCKED UP! Delicious!? It’s another day, the collective nightmare will end and ‘barr(s)’ will have a new meaning in your pathetic life. Oh, did I say? I did not vote for you either. Today is the eve of “eviction.” This is a real post not a wish or fantasy. Do you know/can you guess – how much we will miss you?


Strange day

We were playing hooky. Instead of quarantine we were… We found a new bookstore dedicated to local authors. The owner herself had written of her experiences as a funeral home owner. Geez, I can’t wait to see how that ended. The Enchanted Tea Room – ah, bad timing. She offers high tea – English style – tiered trays of tea sandwiches. Alas, she was ill with low back pain – my specialty! But I could not advise or console her. She only had an answering machine which she turned off. She was dreadfully afraid to catch covid. A former favorite restaurant re-opened as a bar. We tried it. Beer!? What’s not to like! The place was empty – not an auspicious start, ordinarily indicating a quick demise. Oh, I circled back to the funeral home?


Classroom

Class is in session. We went to an old elementary school with wooden desks one per student. No double desk for us. We were in the same classroom from 3rd to 6th grade. She sat on the other side of the room. We orbited but barely interacted. We danced in the same folk-dance group during those years. We must have been partners at some point. Colleen remembers being in the car when the rear passenger door swung open during a turn and I swung out over the street. She helped rescue me. I don’t remember she was in the car. I remember my dad kept driving along as though nothing had happened. We are together now. The circumstances that brought this to be were so tenuous as to be nearly invisible. But then again, it wouldn’t be the story it is if it were otherwise.


Staff

Our cats consider us “staff.” We made another basket. Yes, we take classes. I have my kids guess which of us made which basket. Hint: Colleen hates red. The shapes and sizes vary by the weaver. Ha ha! I think Colleen’s shape is better/nicer. For sure! After all that, Nutley hopped right in and went to sleep. Who’s basket is he in? Ha ha!


Digital

Whether you’re interested or not, I have shot more than 596,000 digital images since June, 2004. That would be 4251 (days) entries in my database out of 6200 or so days in the past 17 years. It’s nice to be able to review my data. It has been quite a journey through digital. I have evolved so much. Parsimony held me back when I used film. The cost of digital has dropped while camera technology improved so much. I am thankful. Truly! There are gems among my early digital. I am happy to say I am better than I was and not as good as I’m gonna be. By way of comparison, I shot about 117,000 slides over 32 years from the 70’s to 2004. I make it a point to try to shoot something everyday.


Nutjob

All was forgiven. Let’s start there. And no, we were not masked. It’s enough to make you cringe. But, we have all been quarantined so it is virtually the same household. Okay?! That vine (climbing honeysuckle) growing up the column? And the clematis in the background next to Colleen? They have been growing happily for years. There’s a passion fruit that showed up giving brilliant showy flowers for a couple years. It doesn’t grow in my zone. So? But it grows! Barb(not shown here!!), who is Colleen’s cousin is (considers herself) an expert gardener. She has from time to time trimmed our clematis. Fine. This year she took it upon herself to return and trim once more. The climbing honeysuckle has taken four! years to grow to the height of the balcony. The balcony is a horrible architectural sight I have been trying to hide since forever. Good old Barb never looked!! She cut the vine on the column at ground level. In one fell swoop she took out my climbing honeysuckle and my passion fruit. The epithets and meltdown (mine) that followed scared the cats too! Poor Colleen. I did call Barb and tell her of my extreme disappointment. Four years work! Well, as my father-in-law said, “No one died.” But!!… god f’n damn, #$%@*!!! Ha ha. Contrition would have been in order. Instead Barb pushed a bad position of ignorance to send me a website defending her trimming and pruning.  I returned with internet info that says honeysuckle vine grows at max two feet per year. Do the math – four more years. … at least no one died. … I’m getting a chainsaw and going to visit Barb’s new house. Heh heh!

The showy passion fruit blossoms will be sorely missed this coming season. So beautiful… I could cry.

I suppose I should show an image of the culprit. Her photo won’t make the Post Office or FBI’s most wanted. There will be no apprehend: Dead or Alive. Alas!