Monday, October 14, 2019

Mural Monday France

Over years I have spent a couple of weeks roaming the back roads of Normandy, someplace there I came across the gem.  

Do you think that is a tomb this is above? 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sheep on the heather, Sunday Five

It all started with one cute little stuffed sheep, picked up one spring near easter.  He was cute and fuzzy and the next thing you know, acrylic or wool, sheep were a regular part of our lives.  A week in Yorkshire fueled the passion.  

1: Have you touched a live sheep? 
 If so: What to you think of the lanolin smell? 
2: If you had time and space, would you keep sheep? 
3: Are there fields of sheep near where you live? 
4: Do you have a stuffed (artificial) sheep in the house? 
5: Do you wear wool clothing? 

My answers: 
1: Have you touched a live sheep? Yes, when they are welcoming they are fun to pet.
 If so: What to you think of the lanolin smell? It makes my nose itch.
2: If you had time and space, would you keep sheep? I don't think I should be responsible for keeping anything alive. 
3: Are there fields of sheep near where you live? There is a flock in the historic farm at Mt Vernon about 8 miles away, not many others in this urban jungle. 
4: Do you have a stuffed (artificial) sheep in the house? Several
5: Do you wear wool clothing? When I can. 

Your answers in the comments please. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Fancy Colors

Colors do something for me.  As a teenager a Mrs. Miller who lived next door tried to teach me how to paint, she was encouraging, but I could tell she was disappointed.  Her drawing ability far exceeded mine, and she had been practicing for 7 or 8 decades.  Still she told me, if you enjoy it, that is all that matters, who cares what others think.  Mr. Miller described herself as a successful widow, the first husband died and left her a couple-hundred acres of good Florida farm land, she used that to bankroll the second husband into a VW, Audi, Porsche dealership, in the late 1950's when VW and Porsche were just getting a strong foothold in the US market.  When the second husband died, she inherited the lot.   

The greatest thing that I learned from painting with Mrs Miller was how colors blend and shade.  I learned more about color from painting, than from color photography, or any other art class.    

Color excites me, I find pleasure in colors.  I have recently come to the conclusion that having a favorite color is to restricting for me.  I color outside of the lines anyway.  

Do you wish for more or less color in your life?   

Friday, October 11, 2019

Some Days

Some days life is hard, some days I feel like I am being scavenged for parts, some days I feel like I am locked in place - unable to escape.  I had a weird dream one night recently, in the dream I was working intensely in my office, I looked up and someone had taped a note to my computer monitor, that read  in block type on a plain white paper, "Run, you moron!" (Or was it "Run you fool!"?) 

Don't get me wrong, I have a good job, my boss challenges me, but allows me a lot of freedom, I am able to work on issues that I believe in, I do think we are making a difference, but when my time to go arrives, I will be out the door.  

A colleague who retired a couple of years ago and still chairs a couple of committees and was in the office the other day, looking all tanned and relaxed (the relaxed part being new.) When he left I looked at my boss and said, "Bob is proof that there is life after this job."  Then I added, "46 months." The boss looked a little stunned, he said he still enjoys his work and has never really drawn a line in the sand.  I also find my work rewarding, but I have set a target date, August 1, 2023. 

At one time I thought I would work until they found me decomposing at my desk. Over time I have come to understand there are things I want to do, that being tied to the office make it difficult for me to do. The longer I am locked to the job, the more opportunities to go or do that pass by, never to return. I am well paid, it will be hard to walk away from the money (and no I don't have a large guaranteed pension,) but I have also calculated that we will have enough income to live comfortably, and everything we own is paid for.  Happiness or worth in life is not measured by who dies with the most money (or the most toys.) 

My parents should have spent more of their savings.  They lived on the income for 30+ years, but the principle actually grew most of that time. Only in the last couple of years of their lives when they were too sick to really enjoy it, did they dip into savings.  As my father proved you can't take it with you - and a month after he died I cancelled his credit card (a family member was still using it to order things on Amazon- or maybe it was him?) 

Some days, I think I should work until I drop, there is so much to do, but most days I think it is time to turn this over to the next generation.  To build them up, load them with skills, knowledge and a sense of purpose, and quietly fade away.  Some days, I get frustrated with the slowness of progress and wonder if I am part of the solution, or part of the problem.  

What one thing do you want to do in retirement that you can't (or couldn't) do while working?  

Thursday, October 10, 2019


I started my first job with a home building company in the summer of 1980.  It was a small company, 15 or 20 employees, run by a Leon and sweet genius of a man who went on to teach at the University of Florida, and is long since dead.  He still haunts me.  I can recall early on in working there saying something about cement blocks, and him correcting me, that those are concrete blocks.  Cement is what sticks together the aggregate in concrete, a cement block or sidewalk would be all stick and no strength.  When I saw this sign in Philly, I could hear Leon echoing in my head, "Concrete, cement is just what sticks it all together!"  

I was in the grocery store recently, and someone had left open one of the doors on the cheese display in the dairy department. This time it was my mother screaming, "CLOSE THAT DOOR!"echoing in my brain. I did close the door, even though I didn't leave it open.  

Those voices that echo in our heads are how people from our past haunt us.  Nothing sinister or evil about these hauntings (well there are few things from mom that would challenge that statement) but lessons learned and reinforced.  

Who haunts you? 

There is one other Leon story, I have to tell.  The staff went out to lunch once a month.  At lunch one day, someone ordered Scotch (whiskey) on the rocks. Leon grimaced, and said, "I don't know how you can drink that stuff."  I responded that "Scotch is an acquired taste, you get use to it." Leon responded, "If I put my hand on the table and pick up a hammer and start pounding on my hand, after a couple of minutes I will get use to it, it still won't be pleasant, but I will get use to it." I loved working with him.   

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - way-way back

I was born in late August, this would have been Easter the following spring, I was less than a year old.  Notice my sister's sideways glance at the egg in my hand, my two freckled brothers.  There is a radio on the table, not something you would see in most living rooms today. The table it is setting on was still in my parents home when they died 58 years later.  I remember the china lamp, very post war, I don't think that one was still in the house, but the blue one was - left for the estate sale.  

Hard to believe I had hair like that once.