Monday, May 17, 2021
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Mitchell is getting a driving license in Spain. He has a few years of experience, but the rules are different in Spain, so he is driving with an instructor to get ready. Made me think about my learning to drive. Hence this weeks Sunday five, driving. I think when he passes he should get something in red, like the car above, it would look good on him.
- Did you ever drive on the road before you "officially" learned to drive?
- At what age did you get your first driving license?
- Can you drive a car with a drive a manual transmission?
- Was your driving test easy or hard?
- Did you have to parallel park to get a license?
- Did you ever drive on the road before you "officially" learned to drive? Only once, I spent a week on a ranch in Colorado and drove a pickup truck back from one of the remote parts of the ranch to the barns, I was terrified.
- At what age did you get your first driving license? 16, my father insisted.
- Can you drive a car with a drive a manual transmission? Yes, I did about have of my student driving in an aging Ford pickup truck with a three speed manual. The last time was a rental in Iceland in 2015.
- Was your driving test easy or hard? Easy, three left turns, one right turn and the examiner said "get it stopped in the parking lot without hitting anything and you passed."
- Did you have to parallel park to get a license? Thankfully, NO, still not my best skill.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
I never thought I would earn a living in my bedroom, but I have for the past 14 months. When I started the job in DC, I drew a sharp line between work and home. Simply put, I didn't work at home, I didn't sleep in my office. I did this because on my previous job, I found myself working 1 or 2 hours a day at home, in addition to working in the office, and working on weekends. Work dominated my life, I was physically and mentally burned out. For 12 years I succeeded at maintaining a good distinction between home / personal time and work.
Friday, May 14, 2021
My father loved chocolate chip cookies. He would tolerate oatmeal raisin, but his passion was chocolate chip. So they were one of the few things my mother would bake, using the recipe on the bag of chips. Jay's mother made them, a slightly different recipe and hers were small. You knew Lil was there, when you saw a tupperware box of chocolate chip cookies about as big around as a silver dollar. I don't make them often, I can't remember the last time, we try to be careful in what we eat, and the temptation of homemade cookies can be hard to resist.
Do you bake? What reminds you of your childhood?
Thursday, May 13, 2021
|My almost waterproof hiking shoes|
Six years ago today, May 13th, is my lucky day. The day talented neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons removed a rather large tumor, stabilized a section of my spine, and gave me a second chance on life.
Walking a lot this past year, I think has helped me continue to rebuild strength. I have walked places I couldn't for years. I am not up to doing a triathlon today, but I can take a nice walk in the swamp, I can listen to the birds, I can feel the wind on my face, the sun on my balding head. I can venture out onto the rocks and flats, moving over and under fallen trees - to some extent.
I could talk about the things that will never be the same. There was permanent nerve damage. It hurts at times. But I am so lucky that I can feel the pain, that I can be careful when I walk- mindful of my balance. It was my lucky day, I saw the right doctor, who had the right hunch, who sent me to the right place for scans, that would send me to the emergency room, that would land me in the care of some of the best doctors in the country. People who gave me a chance to celebrate what I can do, everyday.
Thanks for putting up with my annual mention of this experience. People tire of a constant tale of woe, and also are frustrated by vague mentions of health problems with no details. Hopefully my once a year mention strikes a balance.
If you ever need someone to talk about things you are experiencing, drop me a message. I am not a healthcare professional, I won't offer advice, but I will listen and encourage you to seek the best care, and then focus on what you can do each day, to celebrate your abilities.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Monday, May 10, 2021
Sunday, May 09, 2021
Spo mentioned one day recently the television being on a dinner time and that got me to thinking about food - not that it takes much to get me thinking about eating. Hence this weeks Sunday five.
- What time should the evening meal in your home be served?
- Is the evening meal supper or dinner or tea?
- Do you normally eat at a table, or elsewhere?
- If you have a formal dining room, do you use it?
- Television on or off, when the evening meal is served?
- What time should the evening meal in your home be served? Between 6:00 and 6:30 PM
- Is the evening meal supper or dinner or tea? Dinner
- Do you normally eat at a table, or elsewhere? At the table, for my ex it was in bed, or in the living room.
- If you have a formal dining room, do you use it? Yes, virtually everyday
- Television on or off, when the evening meal is served? Off, with very rare exceptions.
Saturday, May 08, 2021
I am on the editorial board of a monthly professional journal whose audience is older professionals, primarily age 62 and older. The theme of the May issue is grandparenting. I have never been a parent, hence I am not a grandparent. My nephews were raised a long way away, so I didn't have the experience of substitute grandchildren. So I really can't write on the experience of being a grandparent.
This got me to thinking about my experience as a grandchild. Grandparents had an influence, positive and negative on my life. I was fortunate that all four of my grandparents lived into my middle teens or beyond, and my paternal, maternal great-grandmother outlived my grandfathers and I had a lot of contact with all of them.
My family and my father's parents lived on the same farm, around the corner from one another. When I was a baby, my mother's parents retired from farming, bought a large travel trailer and as they would describe it "went camping" for most of the rest of their lives. They would spend anything from a few weeks, to a few months each year literally in our backyard. My great grandmother lived with my grandparents on the farm for several years giving the me the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours with her. My great grandmother was born in the 1880's, my grandparents in the very early 1900's, all were alive through World War I and World War II.
My maternal grandparents were complex people. She was unhappy with her lot in life, often feeling distressed, hateful, and fearful. He was unflappable, simple, and stubborn. He accepted his fate, would sooner go fishing than deal with the drama that was my grandmother. They were married about 55 years, at times I sensed that they relied on one another, felt committed to one another, but didn't really like one another. They held deep grudges, and seldom practiced forgiveness. I learned how damaging that can be, how it gets in the way of personal happiness.
My father's parents had started spending winters in Florida by the time I was born. They were a presence in my life 8 or 9 months out of the year. By the time I was 6 or 7, I was allowed to cross the two fields, skip over the drainage ditch by stepping on the rock in the middle by the mulberry tree, come out between the barn and the pool room and visit them.
Being out in the country without many neighbors, my grandmother became one of my closest friends. She was born near London, immigrated to the USA as a very young child. She had lived in New York, Chicago, Toledo and Detroit. She as the closest to a high school graduate of all of my grandparents, being just a class or two short of finishing when her mother (the great grandmother in my life) was seriously burned in a kitchen accident. She took time off to care for her mother, and by the time she was ready to return to school, her father had a new job with a move to a new city, and she never returned to school. She valued education, she read - a lot. I learned about the value of education and making the most you could of your talents and abilities from her.
I only ever once witnessed my paternal grandparents argue, it was an epic fight. Apparently they fought through the early years of their marriage (leaving emotional scars on my father - that explained his aversion to conflict.) They eventually made peace, agreeing to be kind to one another. Their love of one another was obvious. He taught me about hard work, doing what needs to be done, and about the need to take time off. He loved to hunt, and fish. He treasured his winters in Florida with no work to do. He had grown up in grinding poverty, first on 80 acres of clay near St Louis, then in Detroit where Ford was paying an amazing $4 a day. His father was born a trust fund baby, who blew it all and never really knew how to work, or how to manage money. They were my first role model with keeping a budget, saving, and taking care of your money so it can take care of you. My grandmother taught me how to manage a household. Stocking a pantry, raising a garden, how to be a good manager, and also how to have fun a live well. I learned tolerance, generosity, and forgiveness from her. She taught me about getting outside of my comfort zone. After my grandfather died, she and I traveled to places she always wanted to see, but were outside my grandfather's comfort zone. He had no desire to return to his roots, my grandmother and I traveled to explore where he grew up. She never returned to England, I wonder if she regretted that. Late in her life, a group from her church planned a cruise to Alaska, she went. She said, be brave, do it now, you can't take it with you, and if not now when? I learned about bravery and seizing opportunity from her. One of my few regrets was not spending more time with her in the last 4 or 5 years of her life. I let work, and the gym, and school get in the way.
My great grandmother, my father's mother's, mother, was born in Swansea on the south coast of Wales, and came to live with my grandparents when I was a child. I spent hundreds of hours listening to her reminisce about life, and change. No matter how complicated things were, she never seemed to let it get her down. She was in many ways an eternal optimist and a fatalist. I adored her.
My grandfathers died the fall I started my last year of high school, weeks apart. My paternal grandfather had dementia, died of a heart attack in a nursing home. My maternal grandfather, had a massive stroke parking the travel trailer in Florida. When he was released from the hospital my grandmother didn't want him to go to a nursing home, so they came to stay with us. A few weeks later he had a heart attack, we took him to the emergency room, where he died surrounded by strangers unsure what if anything they could do to help him (in retrospect, we shouldn't have taken him to the emergency room.) My material grandmother developed Alzheimers and spent several happy years in a nursing home. She forgot most of her worries about life, and relaxed. My paternal grandmother gave up her car after backing into parked cars several times, moved to assisted living by her choice. And died a couple of years later. My great grandmother, died the fall after my two grandfathers. She had a fall, broke a hip, spent time in a nursing home, and suffered from poor care, very old age, adult failure to thrive.
They left an impression on me. Not the article the journal is looking forward, so it is a story I can tell here.
Friday, May 07, 2021
When my father was growing up, his family had a stall on the Eastern Market in Detroit. My grandfather grew a huge garden and kept bees and they sold most the honey and wax, directly on the market. My father had many fond memories and tall tales from his years on the market.
The adjoining vendor was Nick. Nick spoke several languages and was forever finding what would sell for a profit. Onions, add a lot of flavor and not a lot of cost. Nicks secret for selling onions on the market was a camp-stove and cast iron frying pay, no one can resist the smell of gently frying onions, just don't burn them, he would say.
One day a woman asked Nick if the eggs were fresh, it had been a busy morning, he was grumpy, he replied, "Of course they are fresh, What a silly question, do think I am going to tell you they are left over from last week!" After she made her purchase and moved on, Nick looked at my father grinned and said, "they are left over from last week!" My father told that story a thousand times.
Is the fish above fresh? I think so, clear eyes, it smelled of the ocean not like a dead fish.
Thursday, May 06, 2021
How can it be May already? I get chef and author David Lebovitz's monthly newsletter, he started off this month with saying he still finds himself writing 2020, then after he pressed send, realized the header said April 2021, not May 2021. I understand, 2020 will go down as the lost year, there was an article in the Washington Post about the archeology of returning to offices that have been empty for over a year, and finding artifacts of life before. My office committed to full time telecommute through the summer, we are starting to look at returning in the fall. I had no idea when last I was in my office that I wouldn't return for 18 months. Somehow the world didn't come to an end when I didn't look at that stack of working files on my desk.
I have committed to speak at a conference in Reno, Nevada in October, assuming my office approves staff travel by then.
I was talking with a collaborator the other day, who said she went to the supermarket for the first time in 14 months, after getting her second vaccination shot. She described it as thrilling and terrifying. A lot of terrified people around these days.
I read recently that scientists used tissue samples preserved from people who died in the 1918-19 flu epidemic to culture the virus in the lab, infected test subjects who then developed antibodies. They then looked at blood samples from people who survived the flu in 1918-1919, and found that nearly 100 years later, their bodies were still producing antibodies that neutralize the virus. Science and biology are truly amazing.
Next week is insanely busy, a major policy conference, and a huge funding proposal that needs to be finalized. That funding proposal, and another one that should come through in the next 60 days, if approved, will fund my position past my retirement date. Maybe by then we can travel again.
Wednesday, May 05, 2021
The small town that I grew up, a few miles outside of, had a hardware store much like the one in this photo. With an entire wall of wood cabinets from floor to ceiling. The kind of place you could go in and buy 1-screw, a single bolt, or a case of 1,000 of them. One of my high school classmates ended up running the store, started by his grandfather, or maybe it was his great-grandfather. Back in the 1970's they sold guns and dynamite. One night a person who was having a bit of a personal crisis, broke in, shot the place up. The police were terrified, because they knew there were cases of dynamite. Fortunately he either didn't find it, or didn't know how to use it. They waited for him to fall asleep, had a local doctor sedate him and took him away. I hope he got help so that he could feel better about life.
The last time I was back in my hometown, the store was still there, the family was still making a living.
Tuesday, May 04, 2021
My great grandmother Wood, my father's mother's, mother, was born on Midland Terrace in Swansea, Wales. The first time I went with J to the Oxford Patristics Conference, we went onto Swansea. I had a copy of her birth certificate, she was born in 1888. Two years after the cornerstone for the Church around the corner was laid. I expect that she was christened in that church (the Vicar was part time and not able to meet with us to check the records when we were there.) The sign says Midland Court, Midland Court replaced Midland Terrace when the neighborhood was rebuilt after World War II, the street she was born on, was replaced by senior citizens housing. She was in her late 70's or early 80s when she came to live with my grandparents on the farm. She died in 1977.
I remember her telling stories about her father running after the train to hop on for the ride to work, he was a brick maker. The train tracks and the remains of the platform from the neighborhood station are at the foot of the street.
I am the only member of my family who has traveled there to see from whence she came. As a teenager I spent many afternoons listening to her stories, sharing dreams about my life, marveling at the long path she had traveled. Traveling there connected me to her in new ways. Travel does that for me.
The next trip to London I want to leave time to find where my grandmother was born. When doing final preparation for the trip in 2020, I discovered that she was born closer to Greenwich, not near Tower Bridge (street by the same name, the district was different, addresses have changed a bit in 100 years.) As a child she spent some time in Hammersmith. Her father took a job in Mexico City, and the family went to live in London while he was on that job.
Monday, May 03, 2021
Sunday, May 02, 2021
It is time to make summer plans, time when families send their kids off to summer camp, I think we adults should send ourselves off for new experiences this summer.
- Do you prefer a city or rural setting for your summer get away?
- Do you want to be alone, or with a crowd?
- Do you want to do painting, wood shop or ceramics?
- Should there be booze or no booze?
- Comfy hotel, or camping?
- Do you prefer a city or rural setting for your summer get away? City, I miss cities this year.
- Do you want to be alone, or with a crowd? Alone
- Do you want to do painting, wood shop or ceramics? Ceramics, actually pottery, I have always wanted to try pottery.
- Should there be booze or no booze? Either way,
- Comfy hotel, or camping? Comfy hotel,
Saturday, May 01, 2021
I spent three years in law school less than 2 miles from Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby. It was a milestone in the school calendar, exams finished by Noon, on Friday, Kentucky Oaks Day (one of the top races for fillies only.) Known as the fastest two-minutes in sport, the Derby is the highlight of the spring racing season.
The traditional drink is a Mint Julep, made with spearmint. If you are not fond of spearmint (I think it smells like cat urine) try a different spin, two parts bourbon, one part peppermint schnapps shake over ice, strain into a chilled glass.
One morning when we lived in Kentucky I was flying out of town on Sunday morning after the Derby. Queen Elizabeth's chartered 747 was boarding next to us, William Shatner (Captain Kirk) was in the front row of the flight I was on (he owned a farm in the area until his recent divorce.) They had both been in town for the Derby.
Friday, April 30, 2021
In farmers markets in France, you tell the vendor/farmer what you want, and they select the best for you. You look, maybe point, but don't touch. In the USA, you normally select what you want, then find the vendor/farmer and pay. Then along comes COVID 19, and things change.
I went to the farmers market in Old Town Alexandria Virginia one Saturday morning recently. There has been a public market on the square for well over 200 years. (The human slavery market was a few blocks away for the first 100 years or so of that.) Normally you can enter or leave on any of the four corners, and you push your way through the crowd in any way you can. Now, there is one entrance and one exit. The flow of people is in one-direction. The vendors ask you not to touch, and they are not very good at following the point to the ripest of the tomatoes. I miss picking things up, checking for weight, ripeness, filling bags with more than I need.
That being said, I picked up a quart of delightful early season strawberries, and a couple of tomatoes. The berries tasted like strawberries. One of the two tomatoes was delightfully ripe.
I am glad it is market season, I hope the experience gets better.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
I have fallen into a habit of posting the best photos from my morning strolls in the marsh, on the last Saturday / first Saturday of the month. This Saturday is something special, and last Saturday was to far from the end of the month. So my Mornings in the Marsh collection are today. My once a month indulgence in lots of images.
Lots of Barred Owl images, it is the first time I have had the opportunity to photograph one up close. The Eagle chicks, there are at least two, are finally showing themselves.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
When my oldest brother had his appendix removed, his hospital room mate was the son of a local farm machinery dealer. He came home from the hospital with an amazing toy tractor. A couple of years later my middle brother had his tonsils removed in the same hospital. He was angry and upset when he came home from the hospital. But he didn't communicate why he was upset. He has some challenges in his life, and communicating is not always easy for him. A lot of his moods were dismissed as him being a little different without anyone taking time to help him communicate what he was upset about.
Decades later, he finally told my parents that the reason he was moody, upset, angry, was that he had surgery in the same hospital and didn't get the same toy that his older brother did. For decades he thought it was because he was not worthy.
A few years ago, he told me how poorly he was treated in the schools, because he was a little different. He honestly felt that half of his time in school was wasted, repeating the basics, the fact that he was able to understand that his time was wasted, tells me he was a lot more capable than anyone recognized, they never took the time to listen to him, they were to busy telling him. All he wants is to be treated the same as everyone, to feel worthy.
The photo above is from the family archive, likely a special Christmas toy for the first grandson, one that was handed down, and never duplicated in grandeur. I remember skinning my ankles on the nails used to replace the pins that held what was left of the petals by the time I was the one playing with it.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Monday, April 26, 2021
Sunday, April 25, 2021
I wonder what my great-grandmother thought the first time she saw an automobile, or an airplane? My great-grandparents, and I knew my great-grandmother well, pre-dated technologies that we take for granted. We have a generation graduating from college who have always had computers and access to the internet. Some of them had email addresses created at birth, that they can use for a lifetime.
1: What is the device above and have you seen one in action?
2: When do you think we will have self-driving cars?
3: Do you use a voice remote or digital search engine like Siri or Alexa, or Hey Google?
4: Do you think we will return to supersonic airline travel?
5: What technology that we use today, will be extinct in 20 years? (Interesting question from a guy who bought a Betamax machine, weeks before VHS became the standard.).
1: What is the device above and have you seen one in action? Obviously I have seen one in action (two of them that morning), if I told you what it is, it would spoil it for you, have fun.
2: When do you think we will have self-driving cars? I think we are probably 10 years away, the experts say 2 to 20 years.
3: Do you use a voice remote or digital search engine like Siri or Alexa, or Hey Google? Yes, I have used all of them, Siri is my least used.
4: Do you think we will return to supersonic airline travel? There is a group of entrepreneur engineers trying again, but I think they will run out of the investors money before they make it work - but enjoy a few years of million dollar salaries along the way.
5: What technology that we use today, will be extinct in 20 years? (Interesting question from a guy who bought a Betamax machine, weeks before VHS became the standard.) Sadly, I think my desktop computer is one of the last generations, hopefully connecting portable machines to large displays will still be popular, I love my huge screens (I have two 27 inch displays side by side on my desk at home!) I either want them tiny or huge!
Please share your answers (and silly remarks) in the comments.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
- Have a little fun everyday.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Be kind to someone else.
- Care not, what other's think.
- Find the good in others.
- Don't get hung up on the daily drama.
- Take a walk.
- Savor the good stuff.
- Read something worthwhile.
- Spend time doing nothing, thinking about nothing.
- Think outside the box.
- Laugh. If you can't remember the last time you laughed, it has been too long.
- Move forward everyday, one step at a time.
- It hurts sometimes, get on with life.
- See the world though the eyes and ears of others.
- Look up, look down, look right, left and ahead.
- Surround yourself with things that make you happy.
- Play, we don't quit playing because we grow old, we grow old when we quit playing.
- Remember, life is a temporary condition, enjoy it while it is here.
Friday, April 23, 2021
I have a modest "collection" of really good bourbons. No Jim Beam or Maker's Mark in the house, all really good stuff. Some of it rare and hard to find. The good stuff. Good bourbon is warm, and smooth, it may have a slight bite (from a high rye content,) it should have a vanilla and oak flavor - without the wood overpowering. I prefer a sweeter bourbon, a higher wheat, lower rye mash bill. I buy it to enjoy it, but I enjoy it slowly.
I discovered good bourbon, when I lived in Kentucky. It does not have to be made in Kentucky to be bourbon, but about 90% of it is.
The one above was a very limited release, single barrel, barrel strength. I will open it sometime in the future.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
I had my second dose of Pfizer Vax a couple of weeks ago. How long before I start to feel safe?
I have had the same cell phone number since 1996, it is the only mobile number I have ever had, does that make me a dinosaur?
I never had an AOL email address, does that keep me from being a dinosaur?
I have only had 5 email addresses, a University account, 2 work addresses and 2 personal accounts. I still prefer email to instant messaging or text messages. I have no idea what SnapChat is, does that make me a dinosaur?
We still have a home phone. Does that make me a dinosaur?
I discovered we have a NetFlix account, I rarely use it. I do use Amazon Prime video and YouTube a lot. Does this offset my being a dinosaur?
The photo above, is dinosaur parking at National Harbor in Maryland, funny I always thought the dinosaur parking lot would be filled with Buicks, Cadillacs, and Lincolns.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
This photo was taken before I was born, those are my two brothers and my sister who is about 18 months older than I am. My grandmother is on the sofa.
I remember that Sofa. It was a dark green and had a deeply textured fabric. I remember the feel of the texture of the textile. I don't often think of textures, but that one stands out, it was both stiff and soft at the same time. The replacement had a pleated brown wool fabric, with a Walnut frame across the top at the back, across the bottom and caps on the arms, wood legs. I remember the brown wool being soft to the touch. She bought furniture to last, the brown wool one my father had in his den in the house in Florida for years after my grandmother died, until my mother convinced him she needed the space for a third desk.
What textures to you remember from your youth?
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Actually, I have never been there in April, I have experienced Paris twice, in winter. The first time was in January 1991, during the first Gulf War. The second time was for Christmas in about 2004.
The city is delightful in winter, the weather is moderate, not warm, but not cold and snowy (a disappointment the first time I was there, I was living in Florida at the time.)
I am read to go back.