Never too old

Politics & Recipes

It is difficult to give much thought to a topic these days and still be somewhat current. I’m the type of person who needs time. I’ve found that if I rush to take a definitive stand on an issue, it is usually haphazardly thought out and subject to being critically picked apart…often by myself.

I decided a short time ago that I would write something about the recent and overdue upheaval in our country over the issues of sexual predation and monetary inequity visited upon women. I was floundering to find a rock upon which to build my case, when it was presented to me by a pundit, Princeton professor Eddie Glaude Jr., on one of my favored political TV shows.

Roy Moore

But then I got sidetracked and have spent too much time being enraptured by the consideration of things such as political elections in other states; the mental stability…

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Memories of Marilyn Monroe

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Yes, it is Marilyn

This is my new mousepad. It is a Christmas gift. I have conflicting thoughts about dragging a mouse over Marilyn’s face. I’m sure that I’ll use it eventually, but not today.

Why was I given a Marilyn Monroe mousepad? It is a convoluted story, but one that I’m ready to relate.

It began more than fifteen years ago. Back then my camera of choice was a 35mm Nikon. I took many pictures, and as a result, I often received different types of picture frames as gifts. One year,Trina gave me a carousel type of frame that held ten or twelve 4X6 pictures. I decided to put black and white pictures of family and friends in the rotating frames because it was faux pewter and I thought B&W photos looked better. So I went through my photos and chose photos of the proper size. Unfortunately, I was shy two photos to fill all the frames.

At that point I had a mischievous thought. I went online and downloaded a B&W picture of Marilyn Monroe, and one of Bridgett Bardot. I printed them and used them to fill the frames. Then I took it to my office cubicle in Indianapolis and set it on my desk. People would stop by to chat, and would occasionally spin through the photos. Nobody said anything until it had been there for a few weeks. Then my boss, who was pretty sharp, asked me about those two pictures. I told her that they were pictures of past girlfriends. She smiled and gave me a “sure they are” look and let it drop.

A few months later I brought the pictures home to our new house, and installed it in our home office. I didn’t think much about it until our granddaughter Macey, who was very young, and one of her friends came across the pictures, and asked me about them. I told hem the same story that they were old girlfriends. They were outraged that I would display pictures of old girlfriends when I was married to Grandma Cindy.

Later that day they sneaked (or snuck, take your pick) into the office and tried to steal the photos so that they could destroy them and defend Grandma Cindy’s honor.

Shortly after that they were shopping in the mall with Cindy. It must have been around Christmas because they were looking a calendars. The girls came running up to Cindy and declared in a loud voice that my girlfriend must be famous because her picture was on a calendar. Cindy tells me that all of the people around them started laughing.

Ever since those days, Marilyn Monroe has been my former girlfriend, and people give me MM themed gifts. I wonder if the girls have figured out yet that Marilyn was 19 years older than me?

The 2018 Reading Challenge

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New snow

It is snowing again. A new layer of white is covering the snow we already have. This is perfect weather for reading. And since the new year is almost here, I think it is time to announce the 2018 Reading Challenge that I have set for myself.

As in past years, I’ve added a new category of book to the challenge. So without further ado, the categories are:

  1. A book by an author I have never read
  2. A biography or an autobiography
  3. A book recommended by a friend
  4. A romance novel or a western
  5. A mystery
  6. A book on a historic subject
  7. A science fiction or fantasy book
  8. A book previously started but given up on
  9. A graphic novel
  10. One book originally published in each decade I’ve been alive, so
    1. the 1940’s
    2. the 1950’s
    3. the 1960’s
    4. the 1970’s
    5. the 1980’s
    6. the 1990’s
    7. the 2000’s, and
    8. the 2010’s
  11. A book of short stories or essays
  12. A book that is part of series
  13. A book that is the basis of  movie or television series (from page to screen)
  14. A book of any kind
  15. A book by a favorite author…or is it a favored author? Is it possible to have more than one favorite? I should know, but I keep confusing myself when I try to think it through. Help would be appreciated.

As always, I can’t use one book to fill more than one category. Each category gets a separate book. In my case that means 22 books this year. If you decide to take the challenge, it will depend on your age. If you are doing a different reading challenge in the coming year, please let me know about it.

Doggy-sitting

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Please?

Macon is imploring me to let him out to play in the snow. He has already been out four times today. Guess who gets to dry him off each time he agrees to come back inside? Since he enjoys sitting on the top of the deck, I’m drying more than his back and head.

The first time I let him out this morning it was still dark and just beginning to snow. We now have around three inches with no sign of immediate let up. I hope the highways get well cleared before I have to drive to Indianapolis tomorrow. But let me get back to doggy-sitting.

Are dogs ticklish? I haven’t found any yet who appear to be. Macon doesn’t squirm or giggle when I try to tickle him. He enjoys the attention and seldom wants it to stop, but he is that way about all forms of attention. If you know of any ticklish dog, I would be interested in hearing about it.

Macon also likes to be in on everything that I do. As you can see in the picture above, he is lying directly between my feet. Actually he is on top of the toe of my left foot. He will sleep that way while I watch TV. No matter how many explosions or gun battles may go on in whatever I’m watching, he will sleep through it. But if I try to move, he is instantly awake and watching to see if get out of the chair. I hate to disturb his sleep, but I occasionally like to get up and move around.

Does your dog dream? Macon does. At least the evidence indicates that he does. It isn’t just that he moves his legs as if he were running. Yesterday, as he slept between  my feet, he gave two soft “woof”s. He has also been known to howl in his sleep. I wish I knew what those dreams are about. Or maybe I don’t. The howling dreams sound scary. Or maybe he is just dreaming that he is a wolf. Ill probably never know.

Happy holidays to you all!

Is it Christmas yet?

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Decorated hearth

My picture is blurry. Darn! But that fits with my mood. I have to admit that I am not ready for Christmas. Oh, I have all of the gifts bought, and most of them are wrapped and under the tree. And yes, the tree is up and decorated. The rest of the house is decorated s well. We’ve had our holiday party and it was fun. This isn’t a case of Bah-Humbuggery, I’m just not into that Christmas mood, for lack of a better term.

I didn’t do cards this year for a couple of reasons. The first is that we seldom get cards anymore; so far I think only one had shown up in our mailbox. The second is that even when we get them they are usually just signed with no personal notes. Sometimes there are no signatures, just a printed family name. We haven’t even received a card from our insurance agent. What’s that about? I still have a couple of days, so I may design a personal card and email it to a few chosen friends, or perhaps not. It’s that Christmas mood thing again.

For years I used to burn cds with a variety of holiday songs for friends and family. But I stopped doing that because so few people use cds anymore. It is all Spotify or some such now. I ripped some blues tunes to a flash drive to give to Lee while on vacation this year, but he declined it because he said he had no way to access the music. All of his was on his phone, or in the clouds. Speaking of vacation and music,  I had an MP3 player for quite some time, but this year while on vacation, it died and went to electronic heaven. Have you tried to find an MP3 player lately? I fear that I’ve strayed from my topic.

So, I have four more days to try to get into the spirit of things. If I were a pessimist I would give up now. But hope does spring eternal. Wish me luck.

2017 Reading Challenge update #4

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Fear Nothing

It seems that I always hit a reading dry spell during the summer months. I read no books during July and August this year. Well, I read one book before that dry spell, Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz. This book was my choice for  science fiction/fantasy selection. I’m sure that I have mentioned in other posts that when Cindy plays an audio book in the car, I fall asleep. Fear Nothing was the exception to that rule when Cindy played it many years ago. This year I bought a physical copy of the book to hold in my hands and read to see if it was a fluke. It wasn’t. I’ve read other books by Mr. Koontz, and none of them are as satisfying to me as his two Christopher Snow novels. I only hope that he eventually gets around to writing the third.

East of Eden

I broke loose from my reading dry spell in September when I took my next selection, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, with me while we were on vacation. It was published in the 1950’s. Steinbeck is another one of those handful of authors who have always made me feel like a hack writer when I read their prose. Perhaps that is the reason that I don’t read them as often as i should. This is a sprawling family story that stretches over generations with echoes from biblical stories, both old and new testament. Once again I find myself swearing to go back and read more Steinbeck. He is worth it.

 

The Night of Morningstar

Next I went to a book published in the 1980’s, The Night of Morningstar by Peter O’Donnell. It is a Modesty Blaise novel. I believe it is the only Modesty Blaise novel that I hadn’t read. Over the years I’ve read all of the novels, many of the comic strips in reprint books, and I’ve seen the atrocious movie which starred Monica Vitti, Terrance Stamp, and Dick Bogarde. I haven’t seen the made-for-tv movie(s?), and don’t plan to see them. The books, however, are worth reading and re-reading.

The plot lines are familiar. Wealthy men want more wealth and power. Their plot is stumbled upon by Modesty and Willie. Innocent people are in danger. Modesty and Willie insert themselves into action. Modesty and Willie prevail. All is well. No matter how many times I read one of these thrillers, I love it.

Body of Lies

From the 2000’s I chose to read Body of Lies by David Ignatius. He has been writing espionage books for decades, but this was the first of his that I’ve read. I see Mr. Ignatius on television often as a political commentator. He also writes a syndicated column for The Washington Post. Body of Lies was made into a movie in 2008, but I have to admit that I never saw it. I enjoyed the book, It was well written and had an interesting premise. Plus it drew upon the book The Man Who Never Was, which I read when I was in high school. That book was was fact. I shall be reading more novels by Mr. Ignatius.

 

Unbelievable

As the book on a historical subject, I chose Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to The Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur. As you might have guessed, the book is about her coverage of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign for President of the United States. She is a reporter for NBC News, and was assigned to the campaign for what was supposed to be a short time. However, she stayed with the campaign through the election. The book gives can account of life on the road as she followed the campaign. She also writes about her youth, her parents, and how she got into TV journalism. It is an interesting and quick read. I’m sure that if I re-read the book in a few years,it will bring back memories.

The Steel Mirror

Finally, as the book I read from the 1940’s, I went back to an author, Donald Hamilton, whom I had read  for the 1970’s. This is the first time I have read the same author in two categories. I had not planned on doing so. I had started reading 1984, but found that I wasn’t able to really enjoy it. It was too serious at a time when I didn’t want serious. I wanted an easy read. So I dug out my copy of The Steel Mirror. I read the book so long ago, and it had made so little impression on me, it was like reading it for the first time. It is something of a pot-boiler that is hard to take truly seriously. Or perhaps  it is that I’ve become more cynical as I age. Still, you can see the germ of Hamilton’s more famous creation, Matt Helm, in the actions of the male protagonist of this story. I may dig out some other older Hamilton books and give them another read.

I successfully finished my challenge for the year! And I still have enough time to read a couple of books that I don’t have to try to fit into a specific category. I am pleased.

What the? and wonderment

It’s almost time

I put the tree up so that it would be ready for our party last weekend.

***

Talk about strange dreams! A few nights ago, in a dream, I found myself laying on a couch in our living room. Only it wasn’t our living room. It was similar in layout to the living room in my parent’s house, and Cindy and my first home, as well as our present house. The couch was facing a picture window onto our front yard. But the front yard was not one I had ever seen before, because there were tall, hedge-like bushes in front of the window.

Also in the room with me were two women whom I did not know. They said nothing. I knew that they were friends of a non-carnal nature. They were just sitting there.

Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from somewhere behind me. I arose and walked into the back of the house. I saw nothing unusual, so I looked out a window into the back yard. I saw a maple tree sappling and beside it was a bird bath and a wheelbarrow. On the ground was a very large log. I instinctively knew that the log had been dropped there, and that was what I had heard. I saw no one in the yard so I went back to the living room and once again lay down. The women said nothing and neither did I.

All of a sudden I heard another noise in the back. Once again I arose and rushed to the back. I looked out the window. Again there was no one there. But the log was now balanced in the wheelbarrow.

I went back to the living room and resumed my place on the couch. The women said nothing, and I said nothing to them.

I glanced out the picture window at the hedge-like bushes. Wait. I thought I saw something move in the bushes. I stared where I thought I had seen the movement. And then I saw a man standing in the bushes. He was wearing a fedora and had a camera strapped around his neck. And then I could make out another man over the first’s right shoulder. The second man was wearing a pork pie hat and appeared to be holding sound equipment. I looked back at the man in the fedora and clearly saw his face. He knew that I had seen him. He wasn’t smiling, exactly; it was more like a sheepish grin that had gone wide.

I started to get up to confront them. That’s when I woke up.

I have no idea what that dream was about. I would be happy to hear your theories.

***

I was ripping music from of my favorite albums for a dear friend the other day. When I came to my albums by The Beatles, I started looking through the songs from their early albums through Abbey Road. As I went through those albums I marveled once again how quickly their music evolved. I liked The Beatles the first time I heard them. That wasn’t true of many of my high school classmates. But, back to The Beatles’ (R)evolution; while I liked music from all stages of their career, I do have two albums above all of the others. In my opinion, Revolver and Abbey Road are the best. Feel  free to argue with me, but you won’t change my mind. Which album(s) do you prefer?

Scheduling woes

Remembering

I took this picture earlier this year, but never posted it anywhere. Since I didn’t have any recent photos, I chose to use this one.

***

We had a problem with our clothes washer last week. The pump on it broke and poured water onto the basement floor. Another flood, no matter how small, was not something we wanted. Besides, we needed to wash our clothes. So Cindy immediately delegated the responsibility to call a repair person to me. Great. She also informed me that our reasonably new washer, purchased at Sears, was still under warranty. That would help.

So I opened up the laptop to look up phone number for the Sears’ repair service. Finding the page, I whipped out my smart phone, punched in the number, and listened to a busy signal. I frowned. No recorded voice told me that my call was important. I hit re-dial and once again heard a busy signal. I repeated this process half a dozen times over a three-hour period. Each time I got the same result. So I let it go for the rest of the day.

When I woke up the next day it occurred to me that perhaps I had erred and fingered in an inaccurate telephone number. I know that it is hard to believe that I could do that, but I decided to go back to the laptop and check. Hmm. I had erred. I entered the correct the number and dialed. Almost immediately I got a recorded message stating that I would be transferred to a customer service person, but while I waited I could listen to an amazing offer. I listened and was then told that if I wanted to take them up on the offer I only had to enter the number 1, or to decline enter #. I declined. Then I was given another offer. Again I declined. After the third offer I dialed 0 because that often takes you to a real person. Instead I got another offer. I just started hitting the # key as soon as another offer began. I gave up after the seventh futile attempt, and hung up.

Then I thought that I would give it another go and see how long it would take to get to a customer service representative. So I dialed again and prepared to start hitting #. After the twelfth # another recording came on and told me that the company I was trying to reach was no longer at that number, but if I wanted to hear more offers I could dial another number to listen to offers there. Sure. That’s what I want.

At that point I finally gave up on the Internet, and called the local Sears store. They answered on the first ring and transferred me to their repair department. I’m pretty sure that the person to whom I next spoke was somewhere on the other side of the world. While I had a hard time understanding everything he said, I was able to schedule an appointment for two days hence. He gave me a window of time in which to expect the repair person; between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Well, that narrowed it down.

I mentioned the warranty on the washer, and was told that he didn’t believe our warranty would cover anything but the electronics in the machine. He then tried to sell me insurance to cover future repairs at around $150 a month. I turned down that amazing offer without dialing #.

The repair person appeared on the scheduled day around half way through our window of opportunity. He put on a new pump in short order. He said he would clean the dryer for an additional amount of money (we accepted). And then he offered to sell us the same insurance that I had turned down two days earlier. Again I declined. Before he left he told me that he was required to call a customer satisfaction representative so that I could tell them that he had offered but that I didn’t want the damned (my term, not his) insurance. After I talked to the Customer Service Rep, the repair guy apologized and left. I liked him.

Catching up

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A photo from our vacation

This is another photo I took while on vacation. It shows the smoke in the air from the recent wildfires, and the tree remnants from a past wildfire.

***

I haven’t been writing much lately. So it is probably a good thing that I’m not doing Na-No-Wri-Mo this year. Plus, Cindy doesn’t like it when I choose to spend hours at a time on the computer when we have a holiday party planned. Somebody has to send out the invitations, haul up all the Christmas decorations from the basement, erect the tree, and decorate it.

That doesn’t mean that I have completely given up writing, or planning for Na-No-Wri-Mo. I’ve just decided to have my own private month to write in February. There are only two things happening in February that I have to aware of. 1) Valentine’s Day, and 2) Indiana University Men’s Basketball. If it snows, I might have to clear the driveway. On the other hand, it isn’t all that long until the spring thaw.

***

Here is something strange. Almost every weekday morning I start the day with two cups of coffee while I watch Morning Joe. Shortly after I finish the second cup, I start to get drowsy. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve had any breakfast, or failed to break my fast. I just get drowsy. I often close my eyes and listen to the television as I sit in my La-Z-Boy.

As an aside, I marvel at the branding of the furniture with the cute La-Z-Boy, rather than with the more pejorative La-Z-Man. Absolute genius!

***

I feel that as I grow older, I have the right to grow more cranky. It only seems fair to me. What do you think? Should I start writing nasty letters to the editor of the local newspaper? Can I start yelling at teenagers who are walking in the street rather than on the sidewalk? How about setting traps for the cats that wander into our yard? It is worth a ponder.

N-N-1 October 31, 2017

The latest episode of N-N-1 was hosted by Barb, whose entry blended N-N-1 with her own blog’s title, The View from a Drawbridge. I love that she brought so many new people into the fold. I hope they stay.

The View from a Drawbridge

This was a fun post to write, because it took a village. In an atmosphere of increasing divisiveness, people from all walks of life, from all over the world, got together to do one thing: Take a photograph at 6 pm (their time zone) on the 31st of October. If you’re mathematically inclined, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (because those numbers should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time. These photos were sent to me, along with 50-100 words about them, so that we could share them all with you.

What I love most about this project is that we are all seeing different things at the same point in time. The world is so varied and nuanced, as are our lives, and yet we are all part of the human race. Thirteen responses…

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