Friday, December 31, 2021

Fabulous Friday - New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's Eve!  Here in the northern hemisphere, the calendar year starts in the dead of winter (this is not a recent photo - no weather like that yet this winter) and celebrating the start of the year is an opportunity for renewed hope. The fertility of the past year, feeds us through the winter, bringing us imperial tidbits and libations for tonight. And as the sun shines a few more minutes each day we see renewed hope of a coming season of warmth and fertility.  Trees such as the apple, remind us that a period of dormancy are needed, to assure fruitfulness. The primary reason apples don't grow in the south is without the dormancy of winter, they tend to not be fruitful, you can grow the tree, but they produce very little fruit. (There are modern hybrids that break this rule, but are they really apples if they have been manipulated to grow in unnatural ways?) Assure that you have your period of dormancy, downtime, rest time, restoration and recovery time.  

I have never been one for going out on New Year's Eve.  A friend of mine called it amateure  hour, when people who don't know how to drink and drive, try to.  And I am not a big fan of crowds, and noise.  So New Year's Eve is a night to stay home, to stay in.  I almost always stay up. I miss Johnny Carson, and Guy Lombardo,  we will see what is done to embarrass sweet Anderson Cooper in Times Square.  It doesn't look like Kathy Griffin has been released from exile, sad that. 

I little bubbly, fruit cake, caviar, a little cash in my hand, and a kiss from my beloved bear, will help to assure good luck in the year to come. 

Have a fun, fabulous and safe time,     


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Goals - 2021 and 2022

I know a lot of people don't make New Years Resolutions, I set annual goals, goals that are reasonable, and within my control. These give me a roadmap a plan.  I read someplace, "if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." 

So how have I done this year? Here are my Goals for 2021

  • Read 24 books, two a month is a healthy goal. I kind of blew this one out of the water, 64 books finished.  I have found ways to integrate reading into being home. 
  • Continue 45 minutes to an hour per day of physical activity.  Restart the daily activity log, what gets measured gets done. This one has faltered, not as much moving and the daily log worked well for a while, then started gathering dust.  5 out of 10 on this one. I have excuses for this, someone told me excuses are like assholes, we all have one and most of them stink.  
  • Blog daily. Mission accomplished. 
  • Add another 5,000 photos to the archive.  10,011 - over achiever 
  • Start to learn to identify birds, flowers and trees.  Good progress 7 out of 10 
  • Reach out to at least one friend per week, even if just to say Hi! About a 5 out of 10.
  • Develop my storytelling - putting a lifetime of adventures into words.  Great progress 
So I didn't master all of these.  I did make progress on all.  I also traveled a little, New York city in August, and Reno / Tahoe in October.  That was not on the goals list. Usually is. 

Goals for 2022
  • Read 50 books 
  • Blog daily 
  • Try to remodel / replace the kitchen
  • Reach out to at least 2 friends per month 
  • Ten Hotel Nights, I see a little travel on the horizon
  • Get back to walking 45 minutes or more, 5 or more times per week.  
  • Tell my sweet bear I love him, at least twice a day
  • Pause at least once per day, to think about what is making me happy today  
Any goals for 2022? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Flying Long Gone Airlines

 In the archive I have a momento from my father's first airline flight, on American Airlines, from New York to Detroit during World War II.  He saved up a couple of months pay to fly home on a short leave. 

My first airline flight was on Eastern Airlines, from Detroit to Tampa.  I flew down to help my grandmother drive home. I flew Eastern a few times in the late 70's.  I was in Atlanta changing planes from Delta to KLM, when Eastern shut down. 

I flew Continental once.  It did not go well.  The flight changed destinations during a stopover in Cleveland, resulting in a long wait. The return flight was messed up by weather.  

I flew TWA once.  My first consulting trip for the largest aging organization in the USA, to Sacramento with changes in St. Louis.  TWA had already announced merger with American Airlines.  

I flew Northwest a few times, it was not a good option from Lexington as they only had a couple of flights a day, and if anything went wrong it could take days to get rescheduled.  

US-Air, was largely the same as Northwest from Lexington.  When I moved to DC, I started using US-Air a lot more, lots of flight options from National.  My bookmark for American Airlines, still says US-Air. 

What long gone airlines have you flown? 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Reading List 2021

 What gets counted, gets done.  My annual list of books I have finished reading during the year. 

  1. The Food and Wine of France, Edward Behr (P)
  2. The Food of Spain, Claudia Roden (P)
  3. Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis
  4. Coffee, Castanets and Don Quixote, Robert Noble Graham
  5. Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age, Sanjay Gupta
  6. My French Platter, Anna Marie Rawson
  7. The Problem of Alzheimer's, Dr. Jason Karlawish (P)
  8. Composing a Life, Mary Catherine Bateson
  9. All The Young Men. Ruth Coker Burns
  10. Open Wound, Dr. Jason Karlawish 
  11. Just Passing Through, Mary Jane Houlton
  12. Your Brain on Facts, Moxie LaBouche
  13. True Facts that Sound Like Bull#*t, Shane Carley
  14. Our Italian Journey, Ilene and Gary Modica
  15. A Cargo Pilot's Life - Tails from Corrosion Corner, Brett Lane
  16. The Potomac River A History and Guide, Garrett Peck (P)
  17. Stories from a Whisky Bar, Ralfy (P) 
  18. Altered, Kyle Ball
  19. Something Awesome: A life in neurosurgery, William Friedman
  20. The Housekeepers Tale, Tessa Boase
  21. World Travel, Anthony Bourdain , Laurie Woolever
  22. Finding Freedom, Erin French
  23. Provence 1970, Luke Barr
  24. Open Season, Ben Crump
  25. The House That Jack Bought, Jack Waldie
  26. The Road to Villa Page, Cynthia dn William Royce
  27. The Devil in the Kitchen, Marco White
  28. Living it Up in France, Hettie Ashwin
  29. Born for Love, Leo Buscaglia
  30. Little and Often, Trent Preszler 
  31. Becoming Trader Joe, Joe Coulombe
  32. Our Incorrigible Ontological Relations And Categories of Being, Julian Galvez 
  33. Living, Loving and Learning, Leo Buscaglia
  34. Disability Law for Property, Land Use and Zoning Lawyers, Robin Paul Malloy
  35. How to Write a Sentence, Stanley Fish
  36. Eat a Peach, David Chang
  37. Elderhood, Louise Aronson 
  38. The Wreckage of my Presence, Casey Wilson
  39. We Always Had Paris, Templeton Peck
  40. French Like Moi, Scott Dominic Carpenter
  41. Cutting the Cord, Martin Cooper
  42. Andrew Zimmern's Field Guide to Weird, Wild and Wonderful Foods, Andrew Zimmern
  43. Now Try Something Weirder, Michael Johnson
  44. The Comfort Book, Matt Haig
  45. How to Make Photographs, Joel Meyerowitz (P)
  46. It's A Mad World: Travels Through a Muddled Life, Susie Kelly
  47. Dangerous Minds, Taj Nathan
  48. The Obstacle Is The Way, Ryan Holiday
  49. Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Ina Garten (P)
  50. If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
  51. How Photography Became Contemporary Art, Andy Grundberg (P)
  52. Zen Camera, David Ulrich (P)
  53. Stupid Things I won't Do When I Get Old, Steven Petrow
  54. Aging A Very Short Introduction, Nancy Pachana
  55. The Photography Storytelling Workshop, Finn Beales 
  56. A Carnival of Snackery, David Sedaris
  57. The Meaning in the Making, Sean Tucker
  58. This Much is True, Miriam Margolyes (Thanks John for the recommendation) 
  59. Fruit, Nancie McDermoott 
  60. The Photographer's Eye, John Szarkowski
  61. The Best American Travel Writing 2021, Padma Lakshmi
  62. Vintage Christmas, Marlene Campbell
  63. Perspective, Val Proudkil
  64. Bistro Cooking, Cyril Lignac 

Monday, December 27, 2021

My Music Monday : Havana Daydreaming

Cuba, and when I think of Cuba I think of Havana, has long been on my list of places to see.  There have only been a couple of times in my adult life when US tourist visits were allowed by the US Government. Back in the 1980's an entrepreneur took advantage of a liberal definition of cultural exchange and flew plane loads of tourists from Orlando, to Havana, with dinner and a show at the CopaCabana, then back home the same night.  The State department shut that down before I had a chance to go (a banker friend of mine was arranging a group to go.) Then in the waning years of the Obama administration, cruise ships from US ports were visiting Cuba, things changed and that option closed before I could work a cruise into my schedule. I can separate the government from the people, and the culture, and the art, and the music, and the food. Maybe someday.  Or maybe I can go learn and teach.    

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Sunday Five - Good Year or Bad Year?

 How did the year treat you, Good or Bad

1: Was it a good year or bad year for money? 

2: Health, was it a good year or bad year for your health? 

3: Relationships, was it a good year or bad year? 

4: Happiness, was it a good year or bad year? 

5: Looking into 2022, are you thinking good year or bad year? 

My Answers: 

1: Was it a good year or bad year for money?  Prices are up, but so are values and investments, good year for us. 

2: Health, was it a good year or bad year for your health? Good Year, we remain relatively alive. 

3: Relationships, was it a good year or bad year? Good, and in a strange way, I excluded some toxic people from my life. 

4: Happiness, was it a good year or bad year? Good year, busy, but happy. 

5: Looking into 2022, are you thinking good year or bad year? A good year, I can see some challenges, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Please share your answers in the Comments! 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas Everyone

 Merry Christmas
May your day be filled with joy and happiness 
Thank you for being a part of my life
Everyday that you read my blog is a gift to me
Thank You! 
Everytime you post, everytime you share your life, everytime you comments, is a gift to me. 
Thank you! 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Fantastic Fun Friday - In the Beginning

 Happy Christmas Eve Everyone!  

And so begins Fantastic Fun Fridays. I will attempt a weekly dose of crazy, silly, or fantasticness. I love signs and decals.  I am not one to put stickers on my car, almost never.  But I get a kick out of the stickers that people put on their cars.  I had a co-worker a few years who joked that the only thing holding her car together was all of the stickers. You name the bleeding heart cause, she had a sticker for it, along with folk music and storytelling.  As to the two above, I find dogs more receptive to a random Hi, than most people.  I will continue to say that I am like an old dog, I will respond to almost anything in a kind tone of voice.  I love cats, but cats can be harder to make a connection with.  

I have a couple of over the top red scarfs that I wear at this time of the year.  One is sparkly and frilly, and the other is a spectacular red embroidered silk with white fur ends.  I made both of them, and they are simply Fantastic.   Don-we-now-our-gay-apparel. 

Have a fantastic Friday. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Thursday Random Ramble - I Talk Too Much

I love to talk, I have a colleague who loves to talk.  Recently I asked if she had a couple of minutes after a video call.  95 minutes later we returned to our work.  Not that the 95 minutes were not about work, it is kind of nice having a colleague that I can discuss complex issues with, even question if we are headed in the right direction or should we become radicals in a different direction.  She brought me back to the middle. It was a long diversion.  If we can master productivity, this should be a very effective collaboration. I talk to much. 

Sometimes you ask me a simple question, and when I finish my answer you feel like the kid who asked dad where do babies come from. I tend to get carried away and talk too much. 

A project we have been working on at the office, is almost finished and the answers we found where not what we expected.  Some of the questions we posed at the beginning either have no answer, or those holding the answers are unwilling to reveal them. I was reading something the other evening, and I came to understand what has happened.  What we have learned is not the answers to the questions we asked, but what questions we need ask.  Life is like that.

There was something on FB the other day about remembering when you buy a book, you are rewarding someone for days, months, maybe years spent staring at computer screens, wondering when the world was going to realize they are a fraud.  I have those moments, moments when I wonder if I can write a coherent sentence, if I am being to extreme in one direction or the other. I think back to being the kid who grew up a mile-and-half from the nearest paved road, about the failures in my life, and remind myself that origin is not destiny. All the world can ask, is that we take what we have to work with, and do the best we can.  

Like everyone there are challenges in my life.  I talk to much, but there are things I don't talk about.  I sometimes wonder if, I should. But I talk too much.  


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday. - Christmas in Paris

It is a bit of a long story, of lots of travel in a short period of time, and being pissed off at something someone said, I got wild hair one year and we went to Paris for Christmas the next year.  It was in the very early 2000's. 

I used 100,000 Delta frequent flyer miles for seats on Air France. I had been trying for a couple of weeks to book seats on Delta, I called one evening and the operator checked and found nothing, and she said, "would you mind traveling on Air France? I bet I can get you seats on our partner airline." Yes, without a moment's hesitation. We stayed in a comfortable but modest Best Western hotel near the Eiffel Tower.  We spent a week exploring, visiting museums, eating incredible food, and relaxing.  We had Christmas dinner at Altitude 95 on the Eiffel Tower.  It was delightful! Even if the airport was a Zoo when we went to fly home. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Avoiding the Holidays

Under the best of circumstances traveling at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years is unpleasant and expensive.  When my parents were still alive I would generally go to Florida for Thanksgiving, sometimes I drove, sometimes I flew.  We tried to avoid flying at Christmas, it was always crowded and expensive.  We did it a few times.  For a few years we drove to Cleveland to see Jay's mother.  

My general advice for holiday travel is simple, DON'T DO IT.  Go earlier, go later.  Stay home and enjoy a quiet stress free holiday.  Call, video call, don't feel guilty about not being there.  Quality time in late January, beats rushed crowded, stressed time at the holidays.  Last year I wrote about stressful holidays and weird family dynamics.  I don't think I am alone, likely I am one of the few that is willing to admit that holidays home with just the two of us, are much more pleasant and fun.  And shouldn't this time of the year be about happiness and fun? 

My holiday travel adventures included, Thanksgiving at Chicago O'Hare a burger and fries in a sports bar.  A weather related overnight  stay in Atlanta.  A plane delayed due to a collision with a baggage conveyor, the plane flew with a dent in the side (and I was glad to get home.) A check-in melt down at CDG in Paris that resulted in being almost the last one to board.   

There is no place like home for the holidays.  And that is were I suggest you spend the holidays, wherever you call home. If you travel over the holidays, don't say you weren't warned that it might be miserable. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

You Tube Monday - Stockholm Walks: in the first snow. Medborgarplatsen - Skanstull

Angus, from Sophie's French Adventure,*  puts a link or two at the end of every post, a couple of weeks ago there was a link to Stockholm Walks.  The content is as simple as it sounds, a wander about the streets of a beautiful city.  No narration, there is usually some titling. I love a good walk.  I love wandering city streets filled with open shops, this is a virtual adventure.  It is a little long, but it is relaxing.  Easy to fall asleep to. 

* It was Bob and Sophie, but Bob is no longer with us.  Bob and Sophie are the dogs.  Angus is the dog walker and narrator of the adventure.  

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Sunday Five: I Was Wondering

 I was wondering: 

1: Who is happier the man walking the dog, or the dog being walked? 
2: Are dogs or people easier to photograph? 
3: Do you prefer puppies or old dogs? 
4: Aren't all dogs, lap dogs? 
5: If a dog could answer one question, what would you ask? 

My answers:
1: Who is happier the man walking the dog, or the dog being walked?  The dog. 
2: Are dogs or people easier to photograph? Dogs - they don't worry about how they look. 
3: Do you prefer puppies or old dogs? Old and mellow 
4: Aren't all dogs, lap dogs? They try to be. 
5: If a dog could answer one question, what would you ask? Do humans smell funny when we are wet? 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Fast Away the Old Year Passes

 It seems like just yesterday, this year was beginning.  And here we are nearing the end of the year.  It has been an interesting year.  I started out working from home full time.  Walking in the swamp most mornings.  As the year progressed I was allowed to return to the office if I wished, and I did, two or three days a week.  We took a nice break in New York the end of August, then actually traveled by air for a conference in Reno, and a few days in the mountains.  By the time I returned, the subway, metrorail announced that is had taken 60% of it's rolling stock out of service because the wheels are sliding out on the axles, just this week they started to return some of those cars to service. With metro running at 40% of a normal schedule, I started driving to the office.  Limiting me to going in once or twice per week.  I don't enjoy the drive.  I finally parted with the second third car, the dealer found Max a good home in about a week's time.  We have moved forward on planning a kitchen replacement, we are about to give up on that and try again next year.  

It was a good year at the office.  My primary funding was renewed for another five years.  We picked up an exciting new project that will keep us very busy for the next two years. 

I have reawakened my joy of photography this year.  I love taking the camera and going for a long slow walk.  I added a second camera and some new (used) lenses this year. I am almost ashamed at the growth of the collection, good stuff, bought at great prices, at a time when I can afford it, but still indulgences. The 18-200mm is an amazing lens, and if I have been a very good person this year there is a little box under the tree with a lens I have wanted for almost 50 years.  I have started reading theory, history, art, and technique of photography - probably more seriously than I did when I was a student.  There are things I want to do.  

It has been a surprisingly good year for reading, my reading list will post near the end of the year.  

Still it is hard for me to believe that the sun is setting on 2021, the dawn of 2022 is on the horizon, time flies when we are having fun. 


Friday, December 17, 2021

Reflections on Friday

I still won't talk about my work on my blog, maybe in a couple of years, but I will talk about working.  

I have mentioned that my boss for the past 13+ years is retiring the end of January and I am filling the spot.  A nice little promotion.  Not a huge amount more money.  

The transition has been awkward.  I really respect him, I have enjoyed working with him, there is an honorable legacy, and he is the last of the founding generation of the program I work in, he has been here 37 years.  I sense a sadness at leaving work he has found very meaningful.  

I have been reluctant to start making plans for what needs to be done, when I start the directors role in February.  I don't want my boss to feel that we are pushing him aside, or out. I would actually be happy if he worked a couple more years, until I will reach the point of working because I want to, not because I need to.  

We are reaching the point that I need to start making plans for projects we can do in February and March, if we are going to do anything besides tread water in February and March.  And it is uncomfortable doing so. One day recently he and I were on a call with his boss, who will be my immediate boss starting in February. She asked about a particular project she would like us to do, and my boss has been reluctant to do.  He finally said, "David and his colleagues can decide what they want to do there." Ah, permission to make a plan for something to happen after his retirement.  

Moving into an official supervisory role, there are some additional trainings I will need to complete, and I will need approval access to some accounting platforms. Without mentioning it to my boss, I had reached out and asked, "what can I start getting done before I need it."  It is not bad, 4 or 5 short training modules. I felt strange asking.  I have been very loyal.  I have never told him, in 13 years I have only applied for two other jobs, one outside the organization that I was interviewed for, and an internal promotion that I was not.  I felt I was being disloyal doing that. I felt bad about asking about getting ready for February, but if we plan ahead, the actual transition can be more seamless.   

I don't have plans for radical changes, but I do have some of my own ideas.  And I need to spend time with my colleagues hearing their ideas.   

We are trying to hire a replacement for me.  With my changing jobs more of my time will be devoted to administration, and we have projects coming up to speed that are going to be more hours than we will have staff in February.  Three weeks, and one qualified candidate.  The first quarter could be a nightmare.    


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Thursday Ramble- Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Sorry I am a little late writing this year, I am only asking for miracles - hopefully those are not bogged down in the global supply chain. I know how you hate to be late. 

I have been a good boy, as always. 

Thank you for last year's election, it was a little late in final delivery, but much appreciated.  Those who are unhappy with it should get coal this year.  

Would you please make intentional stupidity, painful?  Kind of like stubbing your toe on an elf painful.  Or maybe make it feel like you just stepped in fresh reindeer poo with your freshly polished boots? Those who are destined for coal need this one too. 

Would you please deliver a giant dose of empathy and responsibility around the world?  Even those above who are destined for coal, need this one too.  

There is little that I want or need. I need a giant dose of generosity, a booster dose of kindness, and regular reminders to be thankful and remain humble.  I have so much, probably more than I need. 

Please take care of yourself.  The world needs you.  And you need to take care of you, or you won't be able to help others.  Find someplace comfortable and take a nice vacation after the holiday season, Key West is nice at this time of the year, especially if they are hosting Bear Fest.  

Until next year, 

Thanks again for all you do, 


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Main Street USA

 Disney has long gone all out to decorate Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida for Christmas.  This photo was taken in the 1970's the scene would be very much the same today on a rainy December Day.  

Disney invited choirs from around the country for a special evening parade and performance in front of the train station.  I was there for that a couple of times, Rock Hudson was the special guest one time. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Fond Memory Flashback

Andrew in Australia was posting recently about a trip they took, and being exhausted and staying staying in and having pizza one evening. 

Reading that I had a flashback to a very fond travel memory.  

About 30 years ago, oh closer to 40 years ago, I did a week long road trip in Florida.  I was living in Orlando, we had been out in the panhandle, Tallahassee and out along the Gulf Coast.  I have no idea how many different hotels we had stayed in, or how many hours I had spent driving.  We ended up, late on the last day before we needed to be home in Daytona Beach.  We checked into the Hilton, a nice room with a balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  I remember discovering this new cable network MTV, that played music videos.  We went up to the roof top restaurant in the hotel, only to discover it was closed for a private event.  I don't remember if I was more angry or relieved.  I really didn't feel like going out of the hotel, I really didn't want to drive anyplace.  

We went back to the room, I did something I almost NEVER do, I called room service and had them deliver a pizza and drinks to the room.  We sat out on the balcony watching the surf, listening to Orange Crush playing in MTV. It was the most relaxing part of that week on the road.  

Monday, December 13, 2021

My Music Monday - Rocket That Grandpa Rode

This was not a major hit for Jimmy, easy to overlook, unless you are my age, and listen carefully to the words.  I remember where I was when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, when Neil and Buzz descended the steps.  I was just old enough to remember.  My parents knew that, they let us all stay up past midnight to watch that first moon walk, in color, the moon landing had encouraged my parents to buy their first color TV that summer. Not knowing that the moon would be largely monotone.  

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Sunday Five - An Interesting Year

I always enjoy this time of the year, I pause to look back and 2021 has been an interesting year.  Less upheaval that 2020, a little more hope, still not back to what we might hope for.  So a few questions about your year, rest assured there will be more questions about this before the end of the year. 

1: Did you take a vacation this year? 
2: Did you travel for work or business this year? 
3: Have you visited family or friends this year? 
4: Do you feel and safer or better this year? 
5: If you had to repeat it, 2020 or 2021? 

My answers: 
1: Did you take a vacation this year?  Yes, New York and Lake Tahoe
2: Did you travel for work or business this year? Yes, just one trip
3: Have you visited family or friends this year? Hmm, brother in law visited us? 
4: Do you feel and safer or better this year? Yes 
5: If you had to repeat it, 2020 or 2021? 2021 

Please share your answers in the comments. 


Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post : Shop Local

There is a neighborhood a couple of miles from us, with a main street or high street, lined with small local shops.  There is a cheese shop, a couple of wine merchants, a butcher shop, two doggie boutiques, a hat shop, a couple of shops selling childrens clothing, and numerous restaurants and bars.  Del Ray has that small town anyplace in the world feel to it.* 

At the north end of this is Del Ray Artisans. A small gallery, featuring works of local artists, painters, sculptures, photographers, textile artists, and jewelry makers.  Prices range from $20 to $5,000, there is something for everyone.  And nothing there is being delayed in the global supply chain, everything is local.  Most of it supports local artists, most of whom have to have a day-job to support their passion of making art.  

It is fun to get out and walk, and visit these small local shops.  I always try to do buy something, on the latest visit it was the cheese shop, for specialty items for the pantry.  

There was a time when this kind of local shop was the backbone of every community.  Shopping local helps to keep these businesses alive.  

* The one thing Del Ray does not have is an easy connection to the subway, the reason I didn't consider buying there. I needed the subway to have a livable commute to my office.  

Friday, December 10, 2021

Foodie Friday - Breads

I have been reading an anthology of Americas Best Travel Writing 2021.  One of the essays was written by a guy who lived in France for five years, expecting to find work as a chef, was turned away because his training was Italian, and apprenticed with a bread baker. Makes me want to get out the flour, yeast, and the Kitchen Aid mixer and make bread.  I have always been in a hurry, so I my bread never has the depth of flavor that a good slow rise creates.  But it is good.  I don't often bake bread.  The bread I make has a short shelf life, a couple of days and it is past its prime. And we don't use it that fast. Or at least shouldn't. 

Many of the anthologies stories this year are COVID related.  The bread baker story was a delightful change of pace.  Let's hope in a couple of years, travel writing returns to travel. 

For anyone who noticed, I am late posting today.  Truth be told, I overlooked creating a Friday post, and didn't notice until I got up this morning.  Sorry, this is 6 hours and 42 minutes late posting.  

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Thursday Ramble - Putting Out

Our dear Spo, occasionally writes about the BOD, reminding him of his obligation to put out, to write, to post, to produce for his loyal readers. I feel this pressure, without a board reminding me of it.  I made a personal commitment to post at least once each day, five-six years ago.  

As bloggers, we are content creators.  We have an audience. Loyal readers that look for our updates.  They miss us when we are not there.  I have emailed a few bloggers over the years who went missing, inquiring into their health and well being.  

BF Skinner would say, don't be so predictable, but I am.  

Why do I do this daily? Because I want to.  It is a commitment to myself.  I hope that it my daily posts are looked forward to by my readers.  I love the interaction with comments.  

How do I do this.  Nearly every post is written ahead of time.  Some of the theme day posts such as YouTube or Music Mondays, are created and scheduled as much a month ahead.  I go back and review, and edit, and replace, or shuffle around posts.  I try to be at least a week ahead every weekend.  When I feel the need to take a break, I will write as much as three or four weeks ahead.  Then I can take a few days off, and my audience still gets a daily post.  I have a folder of draft posts, posts that have been started and still need work before they are ready for prime time.  Some never will see the light of day.  As I write this, I am amassing posts ahead, thinking a few days off from putting out are in order.  

I start every post with a photo.  Sharing my photos is a special reason for me to have the blog.  The photos here are mostly mine, some are old family photos, including a lot of scanned slides from my father's collection.  

I do this because I enjoy it.  I find meaning in it.  I do it to connect with you my readers.  I try to share a message, to remain positive most of the time. 

So what is ahead for the adventure?  I intend to maintain the daily posting.  Foodie Friday will go away, I am struggling for ideas too often.  Maybe after the new kitchen is installed, I will think about doing cooking posts.  The limits on travel the past couple of years, have at times morphed Travel Tuesday into way-back days.  The Sunday Five is very popular, I will keep thinking of questions to ask.  Music/YouTube Monday is fun. I need to get the scanner out to keep talking about the way we were on Wednesday.  I have all of my black and white negatives from the 70's - a few thousand of them to work through (groan!) Over the next couple of weeks I will develop a blog plan for 2022, I did last year, and taped a copy to my computer - it worked.  

What should I replace foodie Friday with?  

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Phoenix

 The first time my parents tried snowbirding, (aka going to a warmer climate for the long cold winter) I was in the first grade - we went to Phoenix Arizona for the winter.  It was an academic disaster, for a couple of the four children, and the following couple of seasons on the farm were not the most successful, and it was decided to not do that again until my brothers were finished with school.  In the middle 1980's, a good 20 years after that winter, I went to Phoenix for a conference and workshop.  I found the school, someplace I have my report cards.  The teacher I had that winter, had recently retired, with about 30 years of teaching.  This is the outdoor hallway, overlooking the playing field, room 37 was where I went to part of the first grade, one of the times. 

My memories of school that winter? Walking to school, the smell of the air, finger painting, and a school nurse.  

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Another Random Change of Plans

This was taken in early September of 2008, in Jeuno Alaska. Another random spin through the unsorted photo archive.  

We had not planned a float plane tour.  We had planned, actually booked seats on a helicopter tour that flew out and landed on a glacier, were we would get out and walk around on the glacier.  I had dreams about the helicopter tour.  It was one of two must do items on the cruise to Alaska.  And it didn't happen.  The fog was too thick, the winds too fast, the helicopter's weren't flying. 

The float planes were.  So change of plans, we were seated in a van down to the end of the harbour.   I love to fly, I grew up in and around little airplanes.  The pilot looked over his motley crew of passengers, and said to me, I could use about 250 pounds in the front seat, do you mind riding up front?  Mind! I would have paid extra! He must have filed an instrument flight plan, we were deep in the clouds for ten minutes, I could see on the radar the mountains on both sides taller than the we were high as he flew down the inlet. We made a gentle turn to the left, then we cleared out of the clouds and there on the left was a massive glacier.  The plane had recently been rebuilt, upgraded to a turboprop power plant (a jet engine with a propeller on the front.) It had less than 100 hours on the Hobbs meter.  

Looking at this brings all of that back in vivid detail.  

I still owe sweetie bear a helicopter ride.   

Monday, December 06, 2021

You Tube Monday : Hermès | The Legend of Hermès Della Cavalleria

I know, I Know, I know, this is not really music for a Monday, please forgive me.  I saw this, actuall a shorter edit of this on the CBS Sunday Morning Show recently and thought this is too cool to not share.  Dog only knows how outrageously overpriced the little red bag is, it is kinda of cute, but I would fight a war for it. Though I do like soft red leather. While I am unlikely to ever buy their products, I give them kudos for creativity.  

Sunday, December 05, 2021

The Sunday Five - Service

We talk about a service economy, and there have to be some superstars of service out there. Service is more than doing your job, it is doing what is necessary to help others enjoy the experience.  What is the sign about?  The Bike Shop is tiny inside, impossible to stay 6 feet away from others.  Honk the horn, and they will come outside, and help you.  

1: What coffee shop has the best service near you? 

2: Is there a restaurant that remembers you, remembers the way you like things? 

3: What online retailer has the best customer service in your area? 

4: When was the last time you spoke with a teller at the bank? 

5: What local retailer has the best customer service? 

My Answers: 

1: What coffee shop has the best service near you? Gregory's coffee near my office on Connecticut Ave in DC. Much better service than your know who.  

2: Is there a restaurant that remembers you, remembers the way you like things? The deli on the lower lobby of my office, they were closed for 15 months, and reopened with just two staff. Wonderfully Jose came back, he is the best.  

3: What online retailer has the best customer service in your area? Not the one I use the most (Uncle Jeff's)  - - - Target.  The order are always prompt, accurate, the delivery information is more accurate. 

4: When was the last time you spoke with a teller at the bank?  At least two years ago, I moved a chunk of money into my account to buy a garage space, and didn't want to deposit a rather large check in the ATM.  Then the seller decided not sell the garage space. 

5: What local retailer has the best customer service? An independent card and paper goods shop Penny Post on King Street in Alexandria. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, December 04, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Who Is Watching Who

It was amazing to watch people walk by the deer and not see it, but I could tell from the tilt of her head, that she was watching everything, every movement of every person. I pointed out the deer to a couple of passers by, one wise person asked what I had my lens focussed on.  Many were so engaged in trivial conversation that they missed the glories of nature that they were walking in the midst of. 

We have deer are here in the DC suburbs, but not in huge numbers.  There is too little forest, to many busy roads.  There was a doe and twin fawns inside the fence here at the Condo this year (we are four high rise towers on 35 acres, we have deep wooded ravines around the buildings.) Down along the River, I saw deer two or three times in a year, only once did one stand still so I could get a good photo.  

This photo was taken in Huntley Meadows, a county park not far from home.  The property is large, 200-300 acres. Bow hunting is allowed on about half of the park, this wise doe was on the other side of the park.  Still she was watching and being weary.  Wise lady. 

I suspect, the deer see me, more than I see them.  This is their environment, they know how to blend in, how see without being seen. Who is watching who? 

Friday, December 03, 2021

Foodie Friday - Grows on Tree

Especially when it came to money, my father would say, "it's not like it grows on trees!"  Well some things do.  Olives for example.  I like olives, at times, some kinds of them I love.  It is amazing the varieties, based on the variety of the tree, green or ripe, and how they are cured or pickled.  I have read that raw off the tree olives are inedible, they require some kind of processing to be tasty.  

I have only once seen Olives growing on trees.  In Athens, I realized that Carole, and Kent and J were standing under an Olive tree, and the tree had ripe olives on it.  Just after I took this photo, I shook the tree, and olives lightly rained down around them.  I don't understand why, but I still smile when I think about that.  Olives grow on trees, when they are ripe you can shake them out of the trees.  

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Thursday Rambles - December Already?

Is it December already?  Time flies when we are having fun.  And I have had fun this year. Not as much travel as I would have normally done, but we did have a nice visit to New York, and a quiet away from people week at Lake Tahoe.  I have had lots of fun at home, I love to cook, and I have had lots of time to do that.  I read cookbooks, not just look up a recipe - I look for books that have a narrative and I read them.  Then I get randomly inspired to create something. I have had some nice walks, read some great books. Work has been busy, we were short handed early in the year with someone leaving for a new opportunity, it has taken some time to get the new person up to speed, she is an incredible addition to our team, I hope she stays.  

We are starting the process of planning a kitchen replacement.  Gut the room to the walls, move things around, all new cabinets, flooring, appliances. The only thing that stays is the washer/dryer I bought last summer.  It will be late spring before the work starts, it will take 2-3 weeks.  The bids are already more than I paid for my first house 40 years ago, and we haven't picked out appliances yet.  We are maximizing what can be done, in the rather limited space we have to work with.  Only once have I ever had a custom kitchen, the last house I built for myself in Florida.  And every time I worked in it, I enjoyed things being where I wanted them (even if the cabinet guy did mess up and forget two-feet of cabinet and countertop.) We are dreaming of a prettier and more functional space, and YES it WILL HAVE UPPER CABINETS. 

I talked with my middle brother last week.  He retired last February.  He sounded good. He has adjusted to being in charge of his time, to changes.  It sounds like he has a new routine, a different day to visit the doctors, once a week driving across town to his favorite fast food restaurant for lunch.  We all thrive on routine, and Gary especially does.  He sounded like he is finding ways to manage his own.  He reminded me that he is still storing a large framed family tree from Dad's house for me, I need to drive to Florida someday. 


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Getting Started Online

This was taken with my first decent digital camera, in Toronto.  I had only had the camera a few days when we left on trip to drive around Lake Erie, we went to Cleveland, Niagra, north to Toronto, back across on Ontario to Michigan, and then south past the west end of the lake at Toledo.  This was taken in the subway system in Toronto. 

I know this is an early photo because the file is labeled VT.  VT was Vitrual Tourist.  VT was an early online travel bulletin board. I discovered it when I was looking for tips on Christmas in Paris.  It allowed members (and membership was free) to build pages with photos and text about their travels.  I was so happy with what I had learned, that when we came home from Paris* I took the plunge and created pages for places we had traveled to.  This was a couple of years before a friend introduced me to blogging.  VT shut down several years ago. It struggled for a while trying to become an online travel agency, and with some advertising, but ultimately it failed.  The model today, might work with advertising revenue and user created content.  But then it would compete with the mega social media companies and probably be bought out for a billion to make it go away.  Maybe it was ahead of its time.  

* More about that trip in a couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Travel Tuesday - An unexpected stop

It is time to go into the vast unsorted travel photo library and do some random travel, and this is where I landed.  I remember the random drive and unexpected stop.  To be honest, I was kind of lost, following the little voices to find my way back to the hotel.* 

The second time I went to England with J for the Oxford Patristics Conference, I sent him off to Oxford, and I hopped on the Eurostar to Brussels. From there I revisited Amsterdam.  Then my flight from Amsterdam to Normandy went haywire and I ended up on the TGV.  I was destined for a few days in a rental car exploring Normandy.  I was driving back from touring the D-day beaches late one afternoon and came across a local village festival, the kind you read about in books by expats living in rural France.  Parking was in a mowed field, I stopped and wandered around for a while. Very much a random and unexpected stop.  I remember buying a small bottle of calvados from this vendor.  I could have spent hours, but I had dinner reservations, and my encounter with Norman-Cider, that led to tromp in a freshly cut field of wheat.**  Very random, and very fond memories.     

* The voice from the Garmin GPS unit

** Very powerful stuff, and very good.  

Monday, November 29, 2021

My Music Monday - Muskrat Love

This song came out when my one and only Cousin was a baby, he would smile at the muskrat sounds, and fall asleep to this tune.  I think he turns 50 next March.  I wonder if the song still resonates with him.  

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Sunday Five - A Few Of Our Favorite Things

"And birds on the wing, these are a few of my favorite things" remember that line. This swarm of birds is the inspiration for this weeks Sunday Five. 

1: My favorite candy is? 

2: Spearmint, Peppermint or Wintergreen? 

3: I most enjoy spending time in a crowd, with just a couple of people, or alone? 

4: My favorite city is? 

5: My favorite way to move is? 

My answers: 

1: My favorite candy is? cholate 

2: Spearmint, Peppermint or Wintergreen? Wintergreen 

3: I most enjoy spending time in a crowd, with just a couple of people, or alone? alone 

4: My favorite city is? London 

5:  My favorite way to move is? Slowly under my own power 

Please share your answers in the comments. 


Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Some Days

Some days, I wish I had become a craftsman, a house painter, a cabinet maker, or a brick mason.  It would be nice to look back at the end of the day and see what I had accomplished as a material thing. 

One thing I miss from my days working for homebuilding companies was seeing vacant land transformed into neighborhoods. The timeline was months or years, but you can go back and drive through decades later and see what we accomplished.  

Some days I wish I had started to write, seriously write, earlier in my life.  At this point I have no desire to put the work into a book, I do a chapter here or there, even those I need to learn to say no-thank-you to.  I am glad I am doing the writing I am doing.  In some circles I am making a difference.  I hope to be able to continue for a few more years.  

Some days I wish I had overcome my fears of the unknown sooner.  I passed on opportunities for change, that would have changed the course of my life.  But if I had done that, I would not be here now, doing what I do. Jump and the net will appear.  

Some days I wish others had told me, or I had listened when they told me, sooner in life that I was brighter than a sack of rocks.  That I could do learn it, do it, if I took the time and put in the effort.  Education changed me as a person, I hope it never ends.   

We all have twisted and convoluted paths in life.  Mine is no different.  I didn't follow some grand plan that was decided on when I was 15. But here I am, and Some Days, Every Day, I am glad for where I am.   

Friday, November 26, 2021

Foodie Friday - Autumnal Good

 What do we have here? Apples, carrots and parsnips.  

What would I do with them? 

I would cook the apples, core and dice them, simmer in a little rum, and brown sugar, add a dash of cinnamon, and finish with a knob of butter.  Can be served, hot, warm, or cold.  

Carrots and Parsnips I would cook together.  A lot of Americans are unfamiliar with parsnips.  Parsnips are related to carrots, have a strong and distinctive flavor.  Try them.  I would peel, quarter, and cut the carrots and parsnips into about two inch lengths, and oven roast them tossed with a little oil and salt, about 30 minutes at about 400 degrees F.   

Parsnips are also a good addition to a homemade soup, I would go easy, one goes a long way in a kettle of soup.  Prepare as you would carrots.  

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thursday Ramble - What Am I Thankful For

For my readers in the United States, and that is most but not all of my readers, Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you are able to spend the day in a way that brings you peace, tranquility, and an opportunity to reflect on all of the good things.  Thanksgiving as a holiday, is a derivative of harvest festivals, the tradition in north America dates back to my far distant ancestors in the Plymouth Colony - the religious zealots from the Mayflower - estimates are there are 35,000,000 descendants somebody was doing something on those cold winter nights.  

I have much to be thankful for:
  • My sweet bear
  • I am able to love, and be loved 
  • I have a safe and comfortable home
  • I am in decent health
  • I am able to read, write, learn, share
  • I have a few toys that I enjoy
  • The shelves in my local grocery store are full 
  • I have enough to live on
  • I have a job that challenges me, 
  • My work makes a difference in the lives of others
  • I have a life outside of my work, that I enjoy 
  • I have a cadre of blogging friends, that I enjoy interacting with everyday 
  • I have a small circle of close friends
  • There are few fears in my life
  • For those brave ancestors  
Take care if yourself, Be kind to yourself, Be humble, Be thankful for all that we have, be generous, 
THANK YOU for being a part of my life for another trip around the sun.   

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Time Flies

This is my oldest brother, out in the snow, about 70 years ago. How can he be that old?  It seems like just yesterday he was finishing high school and heading out to make his way in the world (more like 51 years ago.) 

Sorting through my father's slides, there was one roll of black and white transparencies.  My father clearly preferred color for both slides and prints.  When this was taken in the very early 1950's, color was still emerging in the consumer market.  An amazing thing about the early Kodachrome slides, is most of them have aged well.  The color in Kodachrome was added in the development, using dyes that have a much longer life than the dyes in early Ektachrome that had the dyes in the film. 

Ektachrome you could process at home, if you were careful and adventurous, and yes I did.  Seems like just yesterday I was doing that, and it was more like 42 years ago the last time I did that.  Time flies. 

Happy Birthday this month to my oldest brother, who I don't think reads my blog.