Day 52

The birthday girl

I have just returned from the surprise open house that Cindy’s staff had to celebrate her birthday. It seemed to come off without a hitch. Even the video I did turned out pretty good, though not everything was included.

Trina would not have had a birthday greeting included if I hadn’t asked her about it over the weekend. She did not get my email request because she had changed her email address and I did not know it. When I did get her contribution the audio was terrible, so I ripped the audio from the video, opened it in Audacity and determined that the left channel but not the right was fine. So I saved the left channel of the audio in .wav format. Then I  converted the video portion from .mov to .wmv and eliminated the audio. In Windows Movie Maker I pulled in the video portion (.wmv) and added the audio (.wav). It turned out fine.

Lee told me on the telephone that he never got my email. However, when he sent me a birthday greeting file he attached it to my original email. The problem with his video was that I couldn’t open it, so I couldn’t use it.

Lisa took videos with her cell phone of Cindy’s staff for me. For some reason she was not able to send them as email or text attachments. She was able to burn the videos onto a disc and give that to me. It was easy to copy the files from her disc to our hard drive so that I could work with them. All but two of the videos were oriented vertically rather than horizontally, so it appeared as if most of the staff was laying down. I tried to change the video orientation, but the closest I came was none too good. Flipping the video ninety degrees changed the aspect ratio, and each person looked at least twice as wide as they truly are. Also, the audio was lost in the transition, and true motion was lost; the motion was herky-jerky. Not good. Sp, I added the sideways videos with a slide that said the staff chose to do their greetings that way.

Still, the open house was a success. Thanks, Lisa! Mary too, and any other staff that helped with the planning and coordination. You are good people! Oh, and thanks to Cindy’s Uncle Mort and Aunt Esther for supplying the only video I could use without having to tease out a usable product.

Day 51

Beyond my means #2

I admit that this is not the best photo I’ve taken. In fact, it really isn’t a photo. I accidentally had the camera set on video. When I got home and realized my mistake I made a screen capture of the video and converted it to a .jpg file. Then I ran it through software to clarify the image. While clarifying, I lost some of the color, but since I was shooting into the sun, I don’t think it turned out too bad…well, yeah it did. There. Truth in blogging.

I love to sleep with the windows open. I also love waking up in the pre-dawn and hearing the birds. I don’t recognize specific types of birds, except turtle doves, but that doesn’t stop me from listening and enjoying.

Sometimes, if I wake up early enough, I can also hear the train whistles. I don’t seem to notice them after sunrise. After sunrise it is the trash collectors emptying the dumpsters at the apartment complex behind our house. But train whistles are enjoyable to me. Cindy doesn’t like hearing them, they disturb her sleep. If I hear them I’m wide awake anyway.

Both the sounds of birds and train whistles remind me of my childhood. Until I was in second grade we lived in the village of Rolling Prairie. My parents rented a house there. I can  remember hearing turtle doves on summer mornings and thinking how pleasant that soft sound was. The house was located about three blocks from the train depot and a train crossing. Not many trains stopped in Rolling Prairie, but every train that went through blew its whistle as it approached the crossing. For some reason I found that reassuring. When we moved out of Rolling Prairie, we lived in a house my parents built. It was located about two miles from the nearest railroad crossing, and at night in the country you could hear the train whistles as they approached the crossing. Again, it was a soothing sound to me. Early morning hours are the best time to hear these sounds, because traffic is light and doesn’t drown out the sounds.

Day 50

Empty house and downed tree

The empty house alone is interesting, but the large downed tree, partially cut, adds to the interest for me. I wonder why it is empty? I’ve seen houses in worse shape on the outside that were still lived in. Perhaps there are structural problems that can’t be seen from the street. 

This is one of those days when I don’t feel motivated to write. I took the photo around  10:30 this morning, but have been hoping for some writing inspiration to strike me. It hasn’t happened. Rather than ramble on, I’m going to post this. If anything worth writing about happens between now and midnight, I’ll update the post.

Day 49

Cloudy morning

This farmhouse is just isolated enough to suit me. If you left click on the photo you should be able to get an enlarged view, and note that the porch light is on. Is someone expected?


I took a break from writing to eat some breakfast and do a couple of things in our bedroom, and forgot to come back to the blog. Either I’m getting too old and forgetful (Nahh!) or I don’t have anything to write about (no) or writing isn’t as interesting today (yeah). Still, I have my goal, and I shall meet it before the end of the day. So I have about seven hours that I can use to work on the writing.

Let me write about a pet peeve that I have with the paper newspaper, specifically the comics page. When I was growing up, (I can now hear the moans from anybody under the age of 35 who may be reading this) the comics pages had both “gag-a-day” strips like Peanuts and continuity strips like Steve Canyon. There are very few continuity strips anymore, and I miss them. You could follow the continuity strips for months before a story arc wrapped up. It was like watching a movie serial (I can hear the people under the age of 45 saying, “What is a movie serial?”).

One of the best, and longest running continuity strips is Prince Valiant. It has been running in Sunday newspapers continuously since 1937. I hope you are lucky enough to live somewhere that still has a newspaper that carries the strip. We are not so lucky in Lafayette, IN. I mentioned Steve Canyon earlier. It was a daily and Sunday strip that ran from January of 1947 to June of 1988, when the creator, Milton Caniff died. It was one of my favorite strips. I used to read the Sunday pages in The South Bend Tribune. My dad always bought that Sunday paper because the LaPorte Herald-Argus did not have a Sunday paper. While the LaPorte paper had continuity strips, Alley Oop comes to mind, it did not carry the Steve Canyon dailies.

Why are their fewer continuity strips? I need to give that some thought.

Day 48

I couldn't find a green barn, so...

I love this barn! I’ve considered taking a picture of it a number of times, but I’m glad I waited until the grass was green and the sun was shining. I’m sure I’ll go back when the trees have leafed out, and again when the leaves are ready to drop. 

While out driving this morning I had the windows cranked (well, motored) down and The Clancy Brother & Tommy Makem’s The First Hurrah! album playing on the cd player. Me, a geezer with an anglicized German name, wearing a green T-shirt, pretending he is a least partially Irish. I think maybe there is some Irish on my mother’s side of the family, mixed in with the French and English. 

The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem was the first Irish group I listened to back in the 60’s. Later I picked up on The Dubliners, and later still The Chieftains. More recently I’ve started listening to Solas and Tim O’Brien’s Crossing album. 

In between I’ve listened to and bought music from other Irish groups and started listening to groups from Scotland. Somewhere along the line a friend loaned me an album by Silly Wizard. The bad news was that by the time I heard them, they had disbanded. Hmmm…disbanded seems an appropriate word for a band that broke up. 

The disappointing part of my love of music Gallic is that Cindy doesn’t share my love. She has been heard (by me) to say, “You’re playing that Irish crap again.” She can be critical. I see and hear the thread of musical history that stretches from Ireland, Scotland, and England to the Appalachian area of the U.S. Bluegrass owes so much to that musical tradition, as does the folk music tradition of this country. The older I get, the harder it becomes for me to say definitively where one branch ends and another begins. That’s as it should be.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

Getting back to the Clancy Brothers,

Day 47

Our first daffodil of the year

I don’t have a specific topic to write about today, so if you want something that will logically lead you from start to finish, you might as well sign out now. Part of me wants to forget about writing today, and to work on organizing the office. Part of me wants to go outside and start on one of the three or four projects that need to be done (though I will admit that it just a small part of me that wants to do that).

The biggest part of me, though, tells me that I need to write at least three hundred words today so that I won’t feel guilty later on. Heck, what are three hundred words? I’ve already written more than a third of them, and I haven’t said anything worth reading. Also, note that I cleverly spelled out the number each time, counting as two words apiece as opposed to one word if I use numerals. If I feel like I’m running short of words I can go back and spell out the contractions I use.

Changing the subject drastically, Anthony Head. Yes, the English actor who played Giles in Buffy The Vampire Slayer as well as Uther Pendragon in Merlin. You might also remember that he was in a series of commercials for Taster’s Choice instant coffee. (An aside: I don’t like instant coffee, and when we were in England that was the only kind of coffee we could get. Tea snobs. Go figure.) Anyway, once I became aware of him, I seem to find him in a lot of roles I had forgotten, or that I have recently come across. For instance, I was watching an old episode of Highlander and there he was. I also remember seeing him in episodes of NYPD Blue and New Tricks. I understand he has parts in Iron Lady and the new Ghost Rider movie, though I haven’t seen either of the movies yet.

Well, I’ve made my goal with words to spare, and no contractions expanded. Have a nice day.

Day 46

Taken from the West Lafayette side of the pedestrian bridge over the Wabash River

What a beautiful morning! As much as I like winter, even the mild one we have been enjoying, spring is in the air and I’m ready. Today is as good as yesterday was bad. Does that sentence make sense to anyone other than me?

If you read this blog ona regular, or semi-regular basis, you know that music is an important part of my life. There are some songs that trigger specific memories about people, places, events, or any combination of those things. I was thinking about that yesterday, before the day started to go downhill. One set of songs, an album, is unique to me. The David Bromberg Band released a double vinyl album How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?. One of the two records was a studio album and the other was recorded live. I have two separate memories concerning the live record, and they are unique because one memory is of an event that happened, and the other memory is of an event that did not happen. I know it did not happen, but it seems real when I think of it. Bizarre, right?

The false memory is only false in the fact that I didn’t own the album, and had never heard the album, when the event took place. The event took place one summer when I was on vacation. I was single, so I was traveling alone. I had been driving through Canada, around the Great Lakes, and dropped down into Minnesota on my way home. I stopped for the night in St. Paul. I didn’t want to go to a restaurant that night, a pizza sounded good. I checked the yellow pages in the motel room I had rented for the night. There was a pizza place nearby, but they didn’t deliver. No problem, I could go pick one up. I drove to the place, and it turned out to be located in an old Victorian house. I went in, ordered my pizza, and took it back to the motel. Now, when I think of that event, in my mind I hear the Bromberg album, but it wasn’t playing in the pizza place. My real memory knows that playing in the background was Mantovani, or something equally insipid. Why I link Bromberg to that place, other than the fact that they should have been playing Bromberg, is beyond me.

The real event that is linked to the album took place when I was living in Auburn. Due to some strange coincidences that I may write about some other time, a young woman whom I was wooing had taken in a stranger as a roommate. The stranger turned out to be a former girlfriend of mine. Well, one summer evening they decided to drop in to see me. We were sitting in my living room, enjoying cold beers. they would have preferred tequila, but I had none in the apartment. They asked me to put on some music, something loud and with a fast beat. What they had in mind was something similar to Hank Williams Jr., but I had nothing like that, so I opted for The David Bromberg Band. The first cut was Sloppy Drunk. They were not impressed. It’s probably best that the wooing did not work out. Still, that evening pops into my mind when I play that album.

Day 45


I had planned to write about an old girlfriend of mine, but too much has happened today. Let me tell you about my adventure with Flo. My mother-in-law, Flo, needed to have someone drive her to the cardiologist today. Since Cindy and Trina both were busy, I was nominated. That’s OK, I’m seldom asked to help out with her. But let me say upfront that Flo is very high maintenance.

The doctor’s office is about fifteen minute’s drive from Flo’s apartment. I arrived a little over a half  hour before her appointment. Cindy had told me that all I had to be sure of was that she took all of her medications with her and that I had her use her walker. That was simple enough. When I got to the apartment Flo told me that she need to have me get one of her portable oxygen bottles ready for her. I had never done anything with the bottles before, but I was willing to try since Flo, who has been using oxygen for quite a while, had no clue how to get the tank ready. She also told me that I needed to get her sunglasses for her. They were in her bedroom and she didn’t feel like getting up and going to pick them up.

I started working on the oxygen bottle when Flo mentioned that Cindy and Trina usually pulled their vehicles onto the grass so she wouldn’t have to walk down to the street. Seeing as how the street is about twelve feet from her door, I told her that walking to the car would probably be good exercise for her. I could tell that I went down a notch in her estimation. It took me about five minutes to get the oxygen bottle ready for use. I carried it to the car after helping Flo to her feet and she started hobbling to the car.

When she got to the car she said she didn’t know how she was going to get from the grass to the car. I told her she would have to step off the curb one foot after the other, and that I would help her. Together we got her into the car, but only after she asked me to lift her right foot and put it in the car because her knee was sore. Evidently it didn’t hurt as much if I made her bend it.

I put the walker in the back seat and got in to drive away. But, before starting the car I asked if she had her medications with her. “No,” she said, “they are on the table beside my chair.” So, I got out of the car, went to the apartment, unlocked the door, went in and got the medication. I locked up the apartment and went back to the car. Flo said, “There is no oxygen coming out of this tank.” OK. I took the tank back to the apartment, unlocked the door, went in and got a different tank, locked up the apartment and went back to the car. “Did you turn this tank on?” Flo asked.

“How do I do that?” I asked.

“I don’t know, they do something with that green plastic thing.”

“What green plastic thing?”

“There is one hanging on one of the other tanks,” she said.

I went back to the apartment, unlocked the door, went in and found the green plastic thing, locked the apartment door, went back to the car and immediately saw how to turn on the oxygen. “It’s really hot in your car.” Flo said. I told I would turn on the air after I started the car. I felt myself drop another notch.

We drove to the Doctor’s office. At one point Flo told me she liked the music I was playing. It was mellow jazz. When that song ended, Little Feat started performing Oh, Atlanta which got no comment from Flo. When we got to the office I pulled to the front door to let Flo out. I took her walker out of the back seat and helped her get out of the car. She went ahead while I parked the car and brought her the oxygen and medicine.

When I went in I found Flo sitting in the lobby. I asked her if she had checked in, and she said no, that Cindy always did that for her. So I went up to the counter to get her checked in. The nurse said, “Has she been home? I have been trying to call to reschedule the appointment. The doctor is out this afternoon. I left a message on Jill’s phone.”

I told the nurse that Jill no longer had anything to do with Flo’s care and that they should take Jill’s name off their list. I gave them Trina’s number as an alternative to Cindy. I went back to Flo, collected her and the oxygen, helped her to her feet and went ahead to get the car. As we were leaving the building she said to me, “I think I can wait to pee pee ’til I get home.” I just nodded and went to get the car. On the drive home she mentioned how good the air conditioning was in Cindy’s car, her car was nice and cool. Another notch down for me.

When we got back to the apartment I decided that rather than drop another notch I would pull the car up onto the grass like Cindy and Trina. I got the walker out of the car, unlocked the door and got out of her way as she rushed, in slow motion, to the bathroom. I brought in the oxygen tank and made sure it was turned off.

Just then there was a knock on the door. I opened it and found a disheveled man wearing a yellowish baseball cap. “You can’t park on the grass.” he said.

“Yeah, I’ll move it in a couple minutes, I need to make sure this is turned off.”

“Move your car now. You can’t park on the grass.”

“I said I’ll move it in a couple of minutes.”

“Look, this is at least the third time this week you people have parked on the grass. Now move it!”

“Hey, this woman has a heart condition. I’ll move the car when I’m finished here.”

“Don’t give me that attitude.” He took out his cell phone and said. “I’m the property manager here. I’m calling 911 to have the police take care of you.”

“Go for it,” I said.

He slowly looked down at the cell phone in his hand, stared at it for a few seconds, and put it back in his pocket. “I could have you banned from the property,” he told me. He then went back to the sidewalk, collected his grocery shopping cart, walked down the street and disappeared between two buildings.

I went home and contemplated my afternoon.

Day 44

Our first flowers this spring.

I know the flowers mean the onset of yard work, and the weather is right for it, but I’m not sure I’m ready for it. But then, I’m not sure I’m ever ready for yard work. 

I’ve spent the past few days trying to either get the TV in the family room repaired or replaced. It turns out that the repair could cost as much as a new TV, so I broke down and purchased one this afternoon. It is now set up and waiting for my child bride to come home from work. Since it is Tuesday, it will be a late arrival for her. I wish, for her sake, that she would look for a job that would allow her to work normal hours…but not until I’m eligible for Medicare. Just a few months to go. 

A couple of decades ago I would have been eager for the start of the baseball season. I’m not sure when I lost interest in the game. Perhaps I should start watching again. It would be like starting over as a fan. I would have to learn a whole new generation of players, and most of the managers and coaches. It’s worth considering, but not until IU finishes their season in the NCAA tournament. First game, Thursday night against New Mexico State (I think). I’ll be watching. 

There is still a lot of work to do in our home office, furniture to move, supplies to put away, at least one file cabinet to purchase, and I’m not in the mood to do it. I feel like I’ve either been confined to working in the office or trying to get the TV situation resolved. Neither is complete, but I want to slack off for a while. I shouldn’t because tomorrow I have an appointment with the podiatrist, and then I have to run my mother-in-law to her cardiologist, and then home again home again jiggety jig. After that…we’ll see.

Day 43

Finished, with only a few parts left over.

It’s normal to have parts left over, right? Sure it is. The dimensions of this desk are different from the older one, the one now in pieces waiting for the trash. I’ll need to do some rearranging, moving bookcases and file cabinets and such. 

Now I need to start loading junk on top of the desk, which will drive Cindy crazy, but I lost a lot of storage space when we tossed the old desk. Still, I was ready for this change. I cursed a minimal number of times considering the frustration of trying to work with small Phillips head screws and fingers that have lost some of their feeling. That, and the fact that every time I had to lie on the floor to work on something on the bottom of the desk I would start to feel nauseated. I don’t know why that happened, but I remember I had the same problem when I put the last desk together. If our office was on the ground floor I would buy a desk from a furniture store and have it delivered.

Darn, I just realized that I don’t have room for my USB turntable. I can always set it up when I want to use it, but where do I store it when I’m not using it? Sometimes I feel like I’m just shuffling things around until I find a solution that kind of works. Hmmm. I wonder if my two drawer file cabinet will fit under the desk? I’ll have to see.

Just a word or two about today’s music. I started the morning listening toSinatra At The Sands.It is one of my favorite Sinatra albums, and I own a lot of Sinatra albums. I started listening to him when I was in high school. Right now I’m listening to Beethoven’s 3rd symphony. Again, it is one of my favorites. I explore new groups and sounds, but I also stay with what I love.