N-N-1 Autumn 2020

Welcome to the Autumn 2020 N-N-1 collaboration. This time around we are commemorating a new season in a…different…kind of year. While everyone acknowledges that the pandemic, among other things, has had a negative impact around the world, most of our collaborators believe that better times will someday return. 

I’m starting with a new member of the N-N-1 family, Anne in the Philippines. Her blog is https://primitivesoup.wordpress.com/ Welcome to N-N-1, Anne!

“Look up”

Taken last Saturday, 27th of September 2020, 05:31 pm (Philippine Time).

Here in the Philippines, we only have 2 seasons – rainy and dry season. There’s supposed to be a lot of rain and it should be slightly colder by this time of the month already but it still feels like summer. This view should be nicer without the tall buildings but our apartment building is also tall so… I’m not gonna complain. Anyway, the skies here are clear on most days. It’s like the skies represent a new chapter in my life because I just recently moved out (just in the downstairs unit so it’s not that far). But it’s my own space, so it’s kind of a big deal for me. It is the first time that I’m gonna be on my own so I’m excited to do things like cook more, dance, sing, paint, exercise (fingers crossed), or just be lazy (hopefully not all the time)! I’m loving it here so far.

Things are not that well and most of our plans this year have been canceled but I’m hoping for things to get better soon. I hope everyone is safe and staying safe!


Barb Abelhauser whose excellent blog is The View from a Drawbridge added her contribution.

Seasonal changes. Transitions. 2020. This photo, which I took in my front yard, sums it all up for me. Dark clouds looming. The unknown is coming. This isn’t going to be pretty. And yet, beauty still exists. Flowers still bloom. There are bright spots amid the gloom. I’m trying really hard to focus on them.

At the same time, those bright spots are starting to wilt and pass away. They’re struggling. If times were normal, we could console ourselves with the fact that there will be a new year and new growth. For every thing there is a season. But if we’ve learned one thing from this pandemic, it’s that things aren’t nearly as predictable as we once thought they were.

There’s still hope. But there is no longer certainty.

Stay safe everyone. Wear your masks.

Natalie Garvois, Wild Rivers Run South, sent this sadder testament:

The start of fall

It started with Uncle Arlo, big surprise.

He couldn’t stay away from the Legion bar

Where he and his pals guzzled beer, ate pretzels,

Laughed uproariously, and loved Prez Trump.


Of course, they are Rs, all healthy, and maskless.

Uncle Arlo became what they called an asymptomatic carrier.

And when he went home, he gave Aunt Cissy

A big wet, drunkard’s kiss.


A few days later she visited Grandpa John and Grandma Julie.

No masks were worn. After all she was family, and she looked fine.

Within a week they all had symptoms, except Uncle Arlo.

By the end of the next week, the three were in the hospital.


I was so afraid when Aunt Cissy and Grandpa John

Were put on ventilators and I wasn’t allowed to visit.

All I could do was sit at home, pray, cry, and curse Uncle Arlo.

I don’t hate what he did, I hate his stupidity.

On second thought, I do hate what he did.


But Tuesday was the start of fall,

Grandma and Grandpa are home, well but weak.

Wednesday was the day we buried Aunt Cissy.

It was family only at the graveside ceremony,

And even Uncle Arlo wore a mask.

My dear friend cupitonians at This Labyrinth I Roam offers this uplifting contribution from England.

Despite everything being up in the air this year, with plans having to constantly be impromptu, there are a few things that have anchored me. For me, one of those stabilising forces is nature. I find myself watching deliberately and mindfully as the trees have gone from bare to bright green to this firework hue! In its changing, there has been a constant, and it has been therapeutic. It has been a natural anti-depressant to me, just as surely as a sunset always is. I have learnt to sit with my uncomfortableness at not having any control, and truly enjoy a passing moment. I could write a whole chapter on the fairy-tail characteristics of a fleeting moment. They are so special. I am more grateful than ever this 2020 to have such moments of magic. Just like this moment last week when my favourite mood-booster, madame sunset, decided to shine the spotlight on an autumnal tree. What drama! What wizardry! What peace!

I had trouble choosing a picture to use. My first choice was a shot of my absentee ballot, but then I switched to this one.
There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, and grace – those qualities you find always in that which the true artist captures. You can find it in the tuning of the seasons…

                                                                        from Dune by Frank Herbert

 I hope that with this change of season we will once again see the symmetry, elegance, and grace of life. It felt as if summer was going to hang on forever. But then, a few days ago I walked out of the grocery store and could see Autumn rolling in. I’m ready for the change.

N-N-1 Callout Autumn 2020

Pandemic, Racial Turmoil, Political Agitation, Sexual Unrest, Mother Nature fighting back. Just another day in the paradise that is the U.S.A. How are all of you doing? I know that these problems have their equivalents everywhere, and I hope you are all coping. I propose we have an N-N-1 to celebrate the changing of the season. If you don’t know what an N-N-1 is, let me briefly fill you in.

Everybody who wants to participate takes a picture within a stated time period. They then write something in either prose or poetry to reflect upon the picture. The send the picture and words to a central person, in this case me at houseman@comcast.net. The designated person will compile the words and pictures and publish them in their blog. Everyone is free to repost the compilation in their blog if they have one. But you need not have a blog to participate.

Yes, I know that the season change happens Tuesday and that this isn’t enough advance notice for many of us. So, let’s all take a picture between Friday the 25th and Sunday the 27th based loosely on the changing of the season. It can be a picture of nature, a change that may come to your life, or anything else that fits that theme from your perspective. Send me your picture and write up (no more than 200 words) no later than Thursday October 1. I’ll put everything together and post it on October 3rd. Feel free to share this callout with anyone or everyone. They don’t need to have a blog, but if they do, ask them to share the name so that we can add it to their picture and words.

If you have any questions feel free to comment on this post, or send me an email. I’ll respond as soon as possible. 

Until then, please stay safe.

Disturbing Dream

On the road to the B&B

I took this picture two months ago as we were driving to a B&B. Our friends, Mary and George, treated us to a long weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversaries. We both were married in the same year, a few months apart. This is the second time we have had a joint celebration. It was a fun time.


Last night, or rather this morning, I had a dream that bothered me. In the dream I am back in the army, stationed somewhere in Europe (Germany?). I am part of a squad that is working in a bullpen in an office building. We are working with computers, doing something that is secret. I don’t know the rest of my squad very well, but we get along.

One day a new commanding officer comes in to address us. He tells us that our operation is going to be moved to a new location back in the U.S. We have two weeks to pack up all of our paper printouts, files, equipment, and personal belongings for the move. So, we start the process of packing everything.

First, we start dismantling the computer equipment and peripherals. A crew from somewhere else comes in to pack up the hardware and prepare it for shipping. We start packing up all of the accumulated printouts, manuals, and other paperwork that the army accumulates. All of this is packed in banker boxes and sealed.

Meanwhile, we are told that we have to move out of our barracks. We each have one cardboard box in which to pack our clothes and personal effects. We will move into our near empty bullpen where we will be issued a blanket and will sleep on the floor among all of the boxes that are awaiting shipment. A few of us build a cubicle of boxes in which we sleep.

One day, when everything had been packed, we are marched out into the countryside where we are put to work clearing brush from drainage ditches. When we returned to our office at the end of the day, we showered and went to sleep on the floor immediately.

My sleep was restless. I thought that I heard people moving around, stepping over us, and things being moved, but I was too tired to fully wake up.

When I woke up the next morning all of the boxes and all of the people with whom I worked were gone. My box of clothes and belongings were gone; even my blanket was gone. I was just there in my skivvies. I left the empty bullpen area and went down a hall that had offices on each side. One door was open, so I looked in. There was a middle-aged woman in there, so I asked her where everything and everybody had gone. She appeared to only partially understand what I was saying and waved vaguely towards outside and said, “Gone.”

That’s when I woke up. Usually, after a dream that I remember, I reflect upon it and laugh. After all, those dreams are almost always absurd. But this time it was different. This morning I woke up feeling alone, abandoned, and sad.

Cindy, of course, is elated that I had feelings and was able to express them. She has always asked me what I felt, not what I thought. That’s her training as a counselor. But I quickly got past the feelings and started analyzing the dream. 

For once I wasn’t befuddled by the dream. I am sure that is a metaphor for what is going on in the world, especially here in the U.S.A. The pandemic is forcing us to interact with, at best, small groups of people. We may not know them well because most of our interaction is through electronic methods. If we are actually with them, we are wearing masks. We may soon have a new leader who will give us new directions. What we do is simplistic in that we don’t do our tasks as we normally would, and we do fewer things, e.g. eat, sleep, perform tasks in limited ways. And some sad times we look around and the people we are in contact with get sick, are kept from us by quarantine, or die. Alone, abandoned, and sad.

Other things are going on as well. Race relations are getting worse; political campaigns are becoming more divisive; and relationships among countries are strained. You can probably come up with your own similarities, but it is my dream…and I wanted to share it.

Stay safe.

2020 Reading non-challenge, update #1

Reading Challenge Books 11 through 25

I planned on publishing this post almost a month ago, but things came up, I procrastinated, and frankly I forgot about it for days on end. But today I promised myself that I would publish this before I went on to do anything else.

You are probably asking yourself why I didn’t just whip this out. It is only a list of books read in the time of Covid. No big deal. And yet…and yet many things in life seem like a bigger a deal than they used to. For example: lately when I read somebody’s blog post and they are talking about their life, I find that I want to comment. I want to say to them this will eventually pass. Politically more so than pandemically (which may actually be a word), I hope. I find that I care about some people whom I only know through their writing. In most cases I defeat the desire to comment and offer my excellent, though unwanted and usually ignored, advice.

I suppose it boils down to me feeling more emotions and caring than is normal for me. What does that have to do with my reading non-challenge? Nothing yet, but maybe I’ll come up with something with the next update.

Stay safe!


So, I had this dream

It happened this spring

Every year in early spring a pair of ducks stops by our unopened pool and spends a few days swimming and bathing. It is fun watching them. This year, for one reason or another, they extended their stay and were here for about a month. I think it was because I put out critter food to lure the squirrels from the bird feeders. This year we got to watch the ducks feeding alongside of the squirrels and rabbits.


So, I had this dream last night. And it is the first dream I’ve had since retirement that was about work. Well, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t really about work, but I can’t tell. I’ll let you decide.

Cindy and I had been to an event in downtown Indianapolis. I’m not sure what the event was, but it lasted late. When it was over we decided that she would go home, but I would go and camp out in my cubical in the administrative building. It was kind of strange because it was actually in the IESD stand-alone building on Washington Street, but the building was on the wrong side of the street. And I never worked in that building until it had been enclosed in the Government Center building. 

Anyway, I had been away from work for some reason and when I got to the building I couldn’t find my cubicle. Indeed, I couldn’t find any cubicles. Some major renovation was going on and all I could see were corridors and enclosed office spaces. I was very tired, so I gave up looking, went into an office, and slept on the floor.

The next thing I knew, some guy I had never seen was waking me up. He wanted to know who I was and why I was sleeping on the floor of his office. I tried to explain it to him, but everything I said sounded like I had a mouth full of marbles, and it wasn’t helping my elocution. Being a sharp fellow, or just plain disgusted, he got to me to my feet and led me down the hall to a harried looking woman whom I had never seen before. She reluctantly took charge of me. 

She asked me my name and why I was there. Surprisingly I could now speak. I told her my name and that I was there to work. I went on to say that the floor layout had changed and I couldn’t find my workspace, She asked what section I was in and who my supervisor was. Hmm. Good questions because I couldn’t remember. She said that she was taking me to see Flo and that Flo would straighten thing out. 

She led me through a number of corridors until we came to a more or less open area where the walls were covered with beautifully framed paintings of all sorts and all sizes. There seemed to be no common theme to the paintings and they covered nearly every square inch of wall space. They had even set up some stand-alone walls that were covered on both sides with paintings. I would have liked to stop and look at the paintings, but the woman was in a hurry to turn me over to Flo.

Finally, after traversing more corridors, she led me into a meeting room where Flo was presiding over a meeting. To my relief, this Flo was not my mother-in-law. She told me to have seat in a chair along the wall. So I did.

As the meeting was breaking up, and before I could speak to Flo, Cindy came in laughing. She thought it was funny that I had slept on the floor in  my suit and that I was so confused. And then I realized that I had been retired for more than 10 years. 

I woke up. It was a strange dream. And I wonder what the room with all of the paintings was about. Any ideas?

What is happening?

I try, and for the most part succeed, in writing things here that will not upset the casual reader. I had a topic picked out to write about that would offend nobody. But I can’t post it now. There are elephants in the room, in this country, that needs to be addressed.

We are in the middle of a pandemic. Here in Indiana the governor has decided that things are improving, so he is allowing businesses to open up slowly. This is despite the fact that cases and deaths continue to increase. I admit that I have taken advantage of some of the loosening. Cindy and I went to a partially reopened restaurant on our wedding anniversary, and I shopped in a partially reopened bookstore. I don’t believe I did anything to spread the virus, but I suppose time will tell. Other parts of the country that are reopening quicker are experiencing increased cases and deaths. It feels like we are sacrificing lives for the sake of commerce. I’m waiting to hear an explanation of the economic benefits derived from unneeded deaths. I am sure it will be a fascinating discussion.

But that is not the only terrible thing that is happening in this country. On May 25th, George Floyd, a man of color, was cruelly murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He was aided and abetted by three other police officers. As of this writing, only one of these men has been arrested, though all four have been fired. I am sure you have seen the pictures, if not the video, of Mr. Floyd lying handcuffed on the ground, on his stomach, as the police officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck until minutes after Mr. Floyd stopped breathing. 

In the aftermath of the killing, there have been demonstrations, peaceful and otherwise. The demonstrations have taken place not only in Minneapolis, but all over the country and all over the world. Mr. Floyd is the symbol for the unrest, but, of course, his was only the most recent death. People are also remembering the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and so many others. To many others.

Prejudice, racism, and bigotry are all present around the world, including the U.S.A. We just seem to be more in denial and more tolerant of it. Witness our President and the party he leads. If you are like me, you know many people who believe they are not prejudiced, racist, or bigoted. And yet their actions and their words belie their protestations. 

I have been surprised at some of the people I know who are arguing that we never hear about black people killing white people. Really? Do you never watch or read the news? I have heard it argued that police kill more white people than black people. That is true, by a few hundred. But what they don’t follow up with is that white people outnumber blacks by around 6 to 1. So per capita, black are killed at a much greater rate than whites. Are white police representational of the entire country, or are they, as a group, more prejudiced, racist, and bigoted? I don’t know. I am just an observer.

Finally I am more worried now for our country than since Richard Nixon was our President. Donald Trump has all of Nixon’s faults along with his own failings. At least Nixon was intelligent, could speak in complete sentences, and had the decency to resign when he was caught out. I fear where we are as a country, and where we are headed.

Maybe I will return to bland posts after this.

30 years and counting

May 27, 1990

Today marks our 30th wedding anniversary. It doesn’t feel that long ago. There are days when I feel as young as I look in this photo from that day; but not very often. Cindy has aged better than I have.

We won’t be having a big party to celebrate. What we will do is pretty much what we have been doing throughout the time since the pandemic came to the U.S. The news will be watched in the morning and then we’ll work around the house in the early afternoon. But then we will break out of that mold and exchange anniversary presents, followed by going to dinner at a favorite restaurant (newly reopened with 50% occupancy, etc.). We shall wear our masks until it is appropriate to remove them, thank you. From there it will be homeward bound, where a movie, probably, will be watched. And then. to bed. You may think it doesn’t sound very exciting. But it can be satisfying. 

In the morning we will arise and start our next 30 years together. I cannot think of anyone with whom I would rather spend those days. 

Happy Anniversary, Cindy! My love for you is as deep as ever.

N-N-1: The Quarantine Edition

I woke up this morning to find a message from my friend Anju raving about how the most recent N-N-1 was so good. After reading it, I have to enthusiastically agree.

The View from a Drawbridge

For several years now, I’ve participated in a delightful photography/creative writing experiment that was created by two of my favorite bloggers, Anju, who writes This Labyrinth I Roam, and Norm, who writes Classical Gasbag. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explains it, in N-N-1 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.

The subject I chose for this N-N-1 was Quarantine. Our worlds have been turned upside down by COVID-19. What are you and/or your family and/or your community doing to cope during these strange times?

I received a variety of wonderful submissions, showing that we each have different ways of living, which is as it should be, and in…

View original post 1,367 more words

Call for Participants: N-N-1: The Quarantine Edition

It is happening again! Please consider joining us. Some of you want to. I know you do. If you prefer, just send your entry to me at houseman@comcast.net. I’ll keep your identity secret if you wish.

The View from a Drawbridge

For several years now, I’ve participated in a delightful photography/creative writing experiment that was created by two of my favorite bloggers, Anju, who writes This Labyrinth I Roam, and Norm, who writes Classical Gasbag. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explains it, in N-N-1 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.

The subject for this N-N-1 will be Quarantine. Our worlds have been turned upside down by COVID-19. What are you and/or your family and/or your community doing to cope during these strange times?

So your assignment (should you choose to accept it) is:

  1. Contact me using the form below, and then I’ll send you my e-mail.

  2. Mark your…

View original post 163 more words

It’s (almost) all about me

Wall Art #18

This another of the pictures I took a few weeks ago. At some point I want to return to that area of town and get some more pictures. Perhaps I can get another of this wall without the shadow.


I hope you are doing well. Some are, but many aren’t. Cindy and I are doing alright.

I never thought I would be saying this, but I am happy that we are pretty much on a fixed income. So many people are out of work due to the various stay at home orders around the country, but we still get our Social Security and pension checks (actually direct deposits into the bank) right on time. And while Cindy’s business has been forced to stop, they are trying to move it to an online format. And she is teaching community college classes through Zoom. So, financially, we are doing fine.

I do most of the grocery shopping, which is nothing new, but I always wear a face mask and only go to the store about twice a month. Cindy and I pretty much split the trips we make to the drugstore. I still go to see my podiatrist on a regular basis. Don’t want any more pesky infections in my feet. 

Trips to the podiatrist can be “interesting.” The walls between the examination rooms are thin, and you can often hear snippets of conversations between the doctor and other patients. For instance, last month I heard, “Wow! See, there isn’t a lot of blood.” Comforting words. In the room on the other side I heard a patient say something about “thinning the herd.” I sincerely hope he was talking about his livestock. When I went earlier this week, one of the doctor’s assistants told me that she believed the Coronavirus was the Chinese government waging biological war on the rest of the world. When she asked me what I thought, I said “Huh. I think Mother Nature is getting even.” She left the room without another word.

I’ll end this post without going on a (long) rant about the politicians out there who think that letting older, and other at-risk people die (thinning the herd, so to speak) is alright. I can only say, as a septugenarian with a preexisting condition, “You are no longer beneath my contempt.”