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.
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.
We went down to the beach to find the federal replenishment program in full swing. How to they do this? They pump sand onto the shore, pristine sand, from about a mile offshore using pipe to carry the sand to the beach. They lay all this enormous length of pipe. Bulldozers spread the sand pile, and, instant beach! I have mixed feelings about the process of messing with Mother Nature. But without the Feds, I would otherwise be on beachfront property about a mile from the current beach. Erosion can be impressive. The last replenishment saw the beach raised about ten feet higher. Shhh… this enormous project is akin to shoveling … against the tide. I’m still a mile from the ocean front. Does iPhone face recognition work with masks? …’cause we’re headed to the bank next.
Sunset is tricky to image. The camera automatically wants to meter the field and washes out the gorgeous colors. You have to fool it into doing what you envision/see. I’m lazy. No, not Photoshop. I use my wits to outwit the camera’s metering. Hey! It works. It’s otherwise too much to search out manual settings. The book cover photo is mine, not the book or title. Hey! They found the picture on the internet and used it! (with permission) Nice! It’s not a living, but I have sold a few pics. Not four, a few.
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.)
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.
We didn’t change much. Colleen and I are identical triplets and everyone came in for dinner at the holidays. We were a family gathering of less than 10. You know how it goes, triplets tend to dress alike. We couldn’t resist. All safety measures were taken and testing was all negative. Christmas lacked the big roast – the Beef Wellington was in the oven. And, oops, there were four of me at Thanksgiving.
… 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?!!
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!
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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?
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?
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.
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!