Another N-N-1 coming soon

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Lonely dying tree

This picture was taken back in August of 2015. I don’t believe that I’ve posted it before, and since I need a photo, I now present it for my enjoyment. You might like it too.

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My dear friend Anju is hosting another N-N-1 on January 20th. If you are new here, you may not know what N-N-1 is. Quite simply the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. We have had pictures from all over the world. At first the 1 time meant taking the pictures of wherever we were at the same moment, but with the addition of more time zones, that became darned near impossible, so we switched to the same time, such as 5 p.m., in our respective time zones.

This time around, however, Anju is mixing it up a bit. On the 20th we will take a picture at no specific time representing something you are dedicated to doing or not doing this year, whether it is a pet project, a habit to be changed, or a resolution you want to see through.

I encourage any of you with a camera and some type of plan for this still new year to participate. Just send your picture with a brief write-up and your email address to me at houseman@comcast.net (you can also email for more info if you wish) and I’ll forward it to Anju at https://thislabyrinthiroam.blog/ I would appreciate receiving any submissions no later than January 23rd.

Go ahead, it’s fun, and if you have  blog, make sure to include the name so that other people can be directed to it. You might even want to re-post the final product in your blog.

I hope you come along for the ride.

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2018 Reading Challenge – Update #4

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This year’s reading challenge turned out to be a bigger challenge than I had expected. I always experience a reading drought during the summer months; but then I usually come back with a burst of reading energy late in the year. In 2018 however, I only completed one book since my most recent update.

The Little Sister

I read The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler as my book first published in the 1940’s. It is a Philip Marlowe mystery, and since it is by Chandler, it is well written with many passages that you want to quote to your friends. I have all of the Marlowe mysteries in paperback. I bought them many years ago. They haven’t fallen apart yet, though the acid in the paper is slowly yellowing the pages. I was lucky they survived our flooded basement which destroyed all of my Michael Moorcock and Philip Jose Farmer paperbacks. That was like losing old friends, but at least I still have Chandler and some others that I can revisit.

I shan’t try to fit in any more books this year even though I started three other. They are good books, and I have enjoyed what I have read, but I don’t have a burning desire to finish any of them this year.

And that brings me to 2019. I have decided to not attempt my reading challenge next year. Instead I plan to spend a year getting caught up on books that I have bought over the past few years but which have not fit within the boundaries of the challenge. I have three Saxon Tales novels by Bernard Cornwell on my TBR bookcase along with various fantasy/sword and sorcery novels, spy thrillers, mysteries, biographies and other genres that I have been putting off. Next year is for fun. Heck, I may even start today.

If some of those books happen to fall within challenge categories I’ll keep track of them. That might be worth a post or two along the way.

This is probably my last post of 2018, so have a happy and safe New Year!

Estate Sale

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Wall Art #16

I don’t know how long this mural has been on this wall. I noticed it for the first time a few weeks back when Cindy and I were driving home from an art sale in West Lafayette. I finally got around to driving back to get this picture last week.

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Back in 2014 I wrote about a day trip to visit a number of graveyards that I took with my friend Mary. Well, This weekend she invited me accompany her to an estate sale. She thought I would be interested because they advertised that there were jazz paintings included. I had never been to an estate sale, and since I had nothing else planned, I accepted the invitation. That and I enjoy her company.

We met Saturday morning at a Starbucks near the site of the sale. I’m not much of a fan of Starbucks, but also I’m not so snobbish that I would refuse to meet there. I arrived early, entered the establishment, and stood in a short line to order and get my coffee. I hadn’t brought my laptop, so I pulled out my smart phone and stared at it to better blend in with the other customers. I sipped my over-priced bad coffee while waiting for Mary to arrive.

I had ordered a plain black coffee and then understood why so many people get the more exotic drinks. They needed to overpower the flavor of the black coffee. Oh well; too each his own.

Mary arrived right on time. We sat and chatted for a bit. We talked about family, mutual friends, and Christmas plans. Then it was time to set out for the sale.

The sale was in a neighborhood filled with expensive homes. I thought there might be some interesting things on sale for prices I couldn’t afford. The house was a a two story house with a finished basement. It sat on the shore of a pond. It was a nice setting. We started in the garage where there was absolutely nothing that interested me. We moved on to the kitchen where I had my first surprise. The cabinets were open, displaying jars of all types of spices that had been opened and partially used. There was no way to tell how fresh, or how stale the spices were.

Mary explained to me that anything we bought would be for the marked price, but at 1:00 p.m. the prices would be cut by 50%, and the next day any remaining items would by cut by 75%. I doubted that there would be much left. We moved into a small room that appeared to have been a den. There was a wet bar in the room. There were also built in bookshelves that held some books ($2 each). One full shelf of the books contained cook books, except for a Weight Watcher’s Guide stuck amidst the cookbooks. It seemed out of place to me.

There were a lot of bookcases in the house. With the exception of the built-ins, which were high quality, most of them looked pretty cheap. In fact, most of the furniture looked low quality considering the house and its location.

I decided that I wanted to check out the basement next, because I saw a fellow carrying a jazz painting from there. We went down, and sure enough there were jazz paintings and prints, as well as other items that were of no interest to me. Most of the jazz themed items didn’t appeal to me, but there was one print that I liked. I had two reasons for not buying it. First, I thought it was too expensive, and second I had no place to hang it. I considered coming back in the afternoon when the price would be lower, but then the fellow I had seen earlier came back down and took another painting. I decided the print I liked would be gone before I could come back.

When it was time to leave we walked into a room where Mary could pay for the items she wanted. There was also a man with a carton full of knick-knacks that he wanted to purchase for 50% off. A woman explained to him that he would have to wait until 1:00 p.m. but he was having none of that. The woman went off to find someone else who would talk to him. I looked around the room and saw a row of liquor bottles to be sold. About half of them were open and partially consumed. Who in the world would buy an opened bottle of booze? Maybe an alcoholic would; but even when I was drinking at my heaviest I wouldn’t have done that. While I was driving home I started to wonder if selling booze without a liquor license was legal in those circumstances.

It was an interesting experience. That said, I don’t think I’ll do it  again anytime soon.

Oh, those crazy dreams

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While I was in the library

We had snow flurries Monday. They started while I was in the library. This is what I saw when I walked into the parking lot. Very little accumulation occurred, but it helped me get in the mood to start decorating for our annual holiday party. I love it when it snows.

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I feels like, as I get older, I have more memorable dreams. The one I had Saturday night is the strangest I ever remember having, except maybe for one I had when I was 6 or 7. In that one I was being chased through a castle by a giant who looked like Howdy Doody. Saturday’s dream was not like that.

In Saturday’s dream Cindy and I were on vacation. We had reservations for a hotel in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. Visiting Jackson, Mississippi has never been on my wish list, so already it is getting weird. When we arrived at the hotel we found that it was pretty run down. They did advertise that there was an indoor pool, and that was what had caught Cindy’s attention. We found out while checking in that the pool was on the third floor. That was also the floor where our room was located.

I was taking our bags to the room in the elevator when I was joined by the hotel owner, a woman in her thirties who was wearing a bikini and carrying a cat. She was on her way to the pool. We chatted as the slow elevator ascended. Then her cat stretched out and bit my thumb. He didn’t want to let go of my thumb until i started choking it with my free hand. It didn’t seem to bother the owner very much. Though she did offered to make amends by offering to introduce me to the Lieutenant Governor the following day. That didn’t thrill me, but I said that I would.

The nest morning the owner gave me a pass that would allow me to get me into the Statehouse Rotunda where the Lieutenant Governor met people. In my dream the Statehouse was just across the street from our hotel. I walked over, entered the building, and climbed four flights of steps to the Rotunda. I entered the chamber and was surprised to find that everything was purple. There was purple velvet wallpaper, the chairs had purple upholstery, and there was purple carpet on the floor.

A man, dressed in a purple suit, stood up and announced the Lieutenant Governor. A door opened and a goat bounded into the room followed by a man dressed like an 18th century French nobleman. I was confused and I tried to decide if the goat or the man was the Lieutenant Governor. I decided on the man. As I was thinking, the goat skittered around the room. The man greeted those of us in the room, speaking with a French accent. And then he started walking around the room, pausing to sniff the upholstery while murmuring to himself in French.

And then I woke up.

Since my dream I took the time to Google the Mississippi Lieutenant Governor. a man named Tate Reeves. His official picture shows him in modern dress. I don’t know if he has any French ancestry. Nor do I know if he has a pet goat. I’ll go out on a limb and speculate that he may have some Gallic DNA. Further, I’ll guess that he doesn’t have a pet goat. But I could be wrong. After all, we are talking about Mississippi.

2018 Reading Challenge – Update #3

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As usual, my reading slowed down during the summer. In fact, it almost stopped completely. And as the year progressed, so many devilish things happened in our nation that many of the books that I planned to read seemed to foretell what we were experiencing. I started a few of them, and I was enjoying them, but the echoes I saw on our TV screen and read in our paper, ruined the experience for me. So instead of a certain biography, a certain novel written in the 1940s, and a certain book on a historical subject among others, I went to more lighthearted fare.

The Pupil

I read The Pupil by Caro Fraser as a book by an author I had never read before. Because the protagonist of the novel is a barrister I assumed the book was a mystery or a courtroom thriller. It was neither, but rather a novel whose main characters happen to work in law firms. It is a good read, and the start of a series of novels. I’ll probably read more of them.

 

 

 

The Warrior Heir

Next I read The Warrior Heir by Cindy Williams Chima. This a YA fantasy novel by an author I had never read before, but I slotted it as a book first published in the 2000s. The clerk who checked me out at the bookstore where I purchased it praised the series. She volunteered how much she enjoyed reading the books. As is the case of a few YA books of this sort, the protagonist discovers that he has spectacular powers when he reaches a certain age. He battles and overcomes evil forces by the end of the book. Don’t you love happy endings? I liked it, and plan to read more in the series.

 

 

Lemons Never Lie

From the 1970s I chose Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark, a pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake. Westlake used the name of Richard Stark primarily when writing novels about the thief Parker. A number of movies based on the Parker novels have been made, beginning with the 1967 film Point Blank starring Lee Marvin. I don’t know why they changed Parker’s name to Walker in the movie. But that has nothing to do with Lemons Never Lie except that the main character, Alan Grofield, appears in some of the Parker novels. Like Parker, Grofield is a thief; and like Parker, the heist goes wrong. I haven’t read one of these novels in many years. It was good to read another Richard Stark book.

 

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir

From my original choice of biographies I moved on to Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt. I have been planning to read this since it was published in 2013, but never seemed to get around to it. When I found it on a sales table I snatched it up to read for the challenge. Linda Ronstadt has been one of my favorite artists since I first saw her on The Woody Woodbury Show on television performing with The Stone Ponies. In the memoir she covers her life from childhood to her retirement. Unlike some other autobiographies I’ve read by performing artists, she exhibits humility and kindness. I don’t believe she said an unkind thing about any of the many people she wrote about. The closest she came was describing an artistic difference she had with a record producer. I miss hearing new music by her, but I have hundreds of recorded songs that I can go back to.

 

Villages

I chose to read Villages by John Updike as a book by a favorite (favored?) author. One of he reasons I love to read Updike is the ability he had to write convincing dialogue. He was also able to take ordinary people and events and make them so interesting that we want to know more. Many people, including me, swear that we hate having drama in our lives, and don’t understand people who seem to thrive on it. But we all seem to enjoy reading about it or seeing it on TV or in the movies. Also, it is the stuff that keeps gossip alive. Perhaps Updike was the fictional version of a gossip monger whom everyone decries but loves to hear. I love his books.

 

Berlin Game

Finally, for this update, I went back to the 1980s and reread  Berlin Game by Len Deighton. It was the first of a series with Bernard Sampson as the protagonist. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I love Deighton’s spy thrillers. They stand up there along with LeCarré’s, plus they have humor that others who write in that genre lack.  This was my first rereading of the novel since the 1990s. I don’t know why I waited so long to return to it. I’ll soon be going back to the next in the series, Mexico Set.

More Little Things

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Leaves from my neighbor’s tree, our yard

I finally took a picture of autumn leaves. Now I have to get them out of the yard. The leaves on the trees in our yard have barely started to fall.

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In my last post I commented on a trope found in murder mysteries. Well, I have another to discuss today.

Perhaps you have noticed those mysteries where the hero/heroine surreptitiously enters the home of someone. Often there will be a television or sound system playing. The protagonist, who doesn’t want to be caught, immediately turns off the sound coming from the electronic device. Why? Wouldn’t that notify the occupant that someone had entered their domicile?

We know that nobody will notice the lack of background noise because they are (GASP) dead. Gosh, we never saw that one coming. The only person surprised by this development is the body finder. It makes one wonder about the script writer’s skill.

I would be glad to hear any movie/TV tropes that cause you to sigh and shake your head. Feel free to comment.

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I attended a concert by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet a few weeks ago, and it was great. If you like jazz, you should see them if they come to a venue near you. Everyone sitting around me had good things to say about the group. But I must admit that while I eavesdropped on their conversations during the intermission and after the concert, I felt that they were saying some of the most inane things I had ever heard.

But while I was driving home I realized how unkind my thoughts had been. I’m sure that if I attended a classical music concert, other people might find my opinions, while positive, vacuous. We all come to music in our own way. For me, I base my musical likes and dislikes on the skill of the artist(s) as well as their choice of repertoire. Others might have different criteria, and that is fine for them.

I’m still working on being a better, more tolerant person. I have a lot of work to do on that project.

Little things

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Stock photo from freeImages.com

It’s autumn, and I haven’t taken any pictures yet. I haven’t done much of anything recently. By recently I mean the past few months. Oh, I’ve cut the grass and done a few other odds and ends, but nothing that makes me feel that I’ve accomplished anything. So today I’m trying to complete a post.

Today’s post is about a few mundane things that bother me. The first is a cause of wonderment to me. I call it Picture and Strings.

Picture and Strings

Cindy and i like to watch murder mysteries one TV and DVDs. One thing that I find incomprehensible is the use of walls to post pictures, news clippings, post it notes, etc. concerning the crime, and using string or colored yarn to connect things.

I don’t get it.It just looks like a hodgepodge to me. How does it help anyone?

I would understand if they set up a spreadsheet with the names of people and places on the X axis, and a timeline on the Y axis. That makes sense to me, but pictures and strings? Perhaps a person who responds to visual stimuli would find it helpful, but not me.

Toddlers at the BMV

I went to the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office a couple of months ago. It was time to renew my driver’s license. I pulled a number and sat down to wait my turn. Behind me sat a young woman who had brought three young children, all between the ages of two and five. They were a rambunctious lot. There was a lot of use of outside voices and scurrying about.

Imagine my surprise when the woman’s number was called and I saw that she was there to take a written test. She left her young charges behind when she went to take the exam. The outside voices turned into squeals and the scurrying turned into outright running.

I was about to stand up and become the hard-nosed authority figure when my number was called. Well, thought I, let someone else be take charge of the situation while I renewed my license. I suppose I shirked my civic duty. I feel bad about that. But I did get my license renewed and was out of there in record time.

Around The World In 3 Pictures

This Labyrinth I Roam

I love the N-N-1 no matter how many entries we get in. All you need is one different perspective of the same date and the same time. I don’t really have the words to express the powerful emotions it evokes in me. I hope you enjoy this edition as much as I did.

I sought out a quiet place for my picture this time around. I love graveyards. There is a calm serenity that is hard for city dwellers to find. Though, truth be told, I would love a graveyard if I lived on top of a mountain. This is one of the Catholic graveyards in Lafayette. The Catholic ones tend to have more older trees and rolling landscape. It is almost enough to make me consider becoming Catholic and be buried rather than cremated. But the odds are that I shan’t. I wonder if I can find a graveyard…

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reblogged: Time For Another Adventure Through Space And Time — This Labyrinth I Roam

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My good friend Anju is hosting the next N-N-1. N-N-1 you ask? Read on for the details. You might be interested enough to try your hand. It is really kind of fun. Participation doesn’t even require that you have your own blog.

I’ve exhausted all my money on “budget-friendly” holidays this summer but have still not a made a dent on the colossus that is my Wanderlust. The time is ripe for another N-N-1, an opportunity to see various parts of the world for FREE!

For the uninitiated, N-N-1 is the brainchild of one of my best friends Norm Houseman who blogs over at Classical Gasbag. The genius idea (some would say I only think that cause he’s one of my favourite people, but those people would be wrong #hatersgonnahate) is an attempt to see through the lens of the blogosphere where they are at that moment, whatever they are doing.

Simply put, bloggers from all over the world take a photo on a select date and time, whatever timezone they are in. The result is a magnificent online kaleidoscope of postcards that I am quite frankly addicted to.

You can find some of our older N-N-1 masterpieces by clicking on the link.

If you want to participate, please take a photo on SEPTEMBER 1st 2018 at 5:00pm YOUR LOCAL TIME. Send me the photo along with a 100 -200 word ‘caption’ to labyrinthiroam at gmail dot com within a week and I will publish it.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it, and to also invite any of your friends who you think might be interested!

Good luck! Bonne Chance! Viel Glück! Sterkte! Buona fortuna! Selamat Maju Jaya! Bahati njema! Buena suerte! And so on!

via Time For Another Adventure Through Space And Time — This Labyrinth I Roam

Still another strange dream

Lilies in the backyard

These lilies bloom in our backyard every year. We have 3 or 4 clumps that come up, but due to changes in our landscaping they are no longer in areas where others can admire them. We plan on digging the bulbs in the autumn and transplanting them into the front an/or side yard. They may not bloom the first year of the transplanting, but they should in subsequent years.

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Do your dreams have specific start and stop points? Mine don’t. They usually fade in and end abruptly. It seems as if they end when I wake up, but I don’t know if that is what really happens.

Recently I had another of my strange dreams, and I have no idea what brought it on. As my dream fades in I am preparing to pitch ideas for two different manga. Now before I go further, I should mention that many years ago I thought about trying my hand at writing American comics, but decided that I wasn’t young enough or hip enough to do it. So, manga. In my dream I had previous experience writing in the field. I had written a story arc of three books titled Daisy Worship, but it was dropped by the publisher because the artist couldn’t meet the deadline on the third book. All I remember about the book was that it involved a young woman named Daisy, and everybody loved her.

Now I was trying to get back into the field. The first of my books was titled Master Plaster Blaster and starred, you got it, the Master Plaster Blaster. His sidekick was Harri-chan. The details of the story I that I had in mind for MPB and Harri-chan were so forgettable that I forgot them as soon as I woke up.

The other manga I planned to pitch was even more forgettable. The only thing I remember is the main character’s name, Incubus Boy. Catchy, right?

It goes without saying that both were super-heroic titles. I was excited about the concepts and was about to explain them to a visiting friend, but then I woke up. Who knows, I might have become famous if I could find an artist who could meet deadlines.