It must be spring

The ducks are back
The ducks are back

Ducks seem to like our pool, even when the cover is still on it. I took a picture of them last year, though it was later in the spring, on April 20. I noticed them today when I was letting Marlon back in from making a deposit in our back yard. The wonderful pooch never acknowledged that they were there. He is a wonderful watchdog.

***

I can tell it is spring without walking outside in shirt sleeves. First, as you can see, the ducks are back in the pool. They have been showing up for a few years now. They enjoy the pool before we open it. We usually see them for a short while before they continue north. At least that’s where I surmise they go. Looking at that picture I can see that I’ll need to waterproof the deck again soon.

A second reason I can tell it is spring is because I wish I was back on campus. In the spring I always seem to miss the academic life. That is surprising because I wasn’t very fond of academics when I was in school. It’s kind of like nostalgia for a life I never really experienced. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed college life, but I was never one who delved deeply into any one subject. I’m more the person who knows a little bit about a lot of things, but I’m not an expert on anything.

Reason number three is that I’m ready for a road trip. It doesn’t have to be long trip. Right now I would settle for a day trip somewhere. In fact, yesterday I started thinking about driving up to Rolling Prairie, my home town. I haven’t been there for five years or so. This morning I was thinking about how I would like to go there and take some pictures around town as reminders of when I lived there. I may get around to making that trip in a few weeks. If I do, I know I’ll post some of the photos here.

I hope your Easter/Passover/Opening Day has been a good one.

It was a long night

Wish I could get under this door
Wish I could get under this door

Marlon wanted to go into the bathroom with Cindy while she was showering yesterday morning. He couldn’t get in, but it looks like he wanted to squeeze under the door. She eventually finished and he had a few minutes of quality time with her before she left.

***

People who know me probably think that this post’s title references IU’s loss to Syracuse last night. That is only partially correct. Read on, and you’ll understand.

If you watched the game you know that it was a late game. It started between 9:45 and 10 p.m. locally. I was watching in the family room, and Marlon was wandering back and forth between the living room, through the kitchen, and into the family room, and then back again. He made the trip every time he thought he heard something in the garage, hoping it was Cindy. I tried to tell him that she was at the gambling boat with friends, but he didn’t understand me. I was getting tired, so at half-time I let him out for the final time, around 11 p.m. When I let him back in he went through the downstairs looking for Cindy, didn’t find her, and then curled up in my easy chair in the living room. He isn’t interested in basketball. I went upstairs to watch the end of the game while he dozed in my chair.

The game ended with a bad outcome, IU lost, around midnight. I read a short chapter in The Underground Man by Ross MacDonald, turned out the light, and went to sleep. The sleep lasted for about an hour when I wakened by Marlon’s nails clicking on the hardwood floor in the hallway. He came into the bedroom, walked around checking it out, and jumped up on the bed to settle in. He decided that the best place to sleep was in a spot between my feet and the side of the bed. I shifted my feet to accommodate his comfort and tried to go back to sleep.

Let me interrupt my tale to state that I don’t know why I let him sleep on the bed. I don’t like animals that sleep with people. I don’t understand why people want animals in bed with them. I once dated a woman who…well, that’s a story for another post. Anyway, let us mark it down to me being too tired to move him off the bed.

The experience of having Marlon on the bed last night was a lot like the first time you sleep with another person. You don’t want to move around too much, or make noises (I snore and occasionally pass gas), because you don’t want to disturb their rest. And you might want to be invited back, or invite them back. Anyway, I found myself lying in an uncomfortable position, thinking about the similarities of sleeping with someone new, and, of course, that led me to remembering some of those experiences. It took me about half an hour to start falling asleep again.

I take a medication twice a day. That medication has a side effect of sometimes causing diarrhea. Last night, around two in the morning, that side effect kicked in. I found myself trying to get out of bed without rousing Marlon. I found myself doing that a number of times as the night went on. After the first time Marlon changed his position on the bed so that he was no longer between me and the bathroom, and he slept through my subsequent trips…for the most part.

Around four this morning, feeling drained, I was able to start drifting off into slumberland. That’s when I heard a slurp, slurp, slurp. It was Marlon, licking himself. What the heck. I fell asleep anyway.

I woke up again at 5:30, like I used to before I retired, and made a final trip to the bathroom. When I came out, Marlon was there acting very frisky. I knew he wanted to go outside, so I slipped on some clothes and slippers and took him down and out into the back yard. I went back in, got a cup of coffee, and turned on Morning Joe. When I let Marlon back in, he went around the house looking for Cindy, and then went back to my chair in the living room where he promptly fell asleep.

It was a long night.

Marlon and words

Marlon enjoying his evening
Marlon enjoying his evening

Marlon was so excited to come for a visit that is was napping within an hour of being dropped off. He loves my chair. When he is awake he can sit in it and watch out the window for other dogs. He barks at them as they are being walked by their owners, all from the comfort of my chair. Who says cocker spaniels aren’t smart?

***

I was watching the NRA’s latest TV ad. I don’t recall the exact words; I wasn’t paying much attention because I knew I wouldn’t agree with the content; but I caught the use of the word scheme. Like most of the attack ads you see during political campaigns, scheme is a word used to connote a bad idea; usually used in conjunction with the adjective risky. I guess that makes some sense because we tend to use scheme rather than plan when we want to imply something sneaky or ill-conceived.

***

Many of the male celebrities these days seem to have a perpetual two days of stubble on their faces. First, how do they keep it that way? Second, why would they go to the trouble of keeping that way instead of either shaving or letting it grow out into a full beard?

I wonder if a partial reason is so that they will look like a “bad boy,” you know, the kind that women find attractive. That’s speculation on my part, because I honestly don’t have a clue. It doesn’t work for me. If I don’t shave for a few days, I just look grizzled. I guess that’s just another aspect of growing older. An even further aspect is that I don’t really care that I look grizzled unless we have something special planned.

Swim suits and Russian words

Early spring in Indiana
Early spring in Indiana

Now this is what the weather is supposed to be like in Indiana during tourney time! It was always like this when I was a kid in high school; but then I grew up in a Lake Effect area. I was ready for spring a couple of days ago, but I can hold off and enjoy this weather. I went out this morning and shoveled enough snow so that Cindy, our bread-winner, could get to work. I’m a good husband.

***

One of my Christmas gifts last year was a gift card for Lands’ End. I used it to purchase a man’s sweater. Since then I have been getting catalogs in the mail from them, and that’s fine, except for the fact that the contents of the catalogs are predominately women’s fashions. The catalog that arrived today is entirely women’s clothing. I enjoy looking at pictures of attractive women wearing swim suits and summer wear, but I don’t want to purchase any. I’ve pretty much stopped buying clothing for Cindy, and I don’t wear women’s clothing myself…never have…never plan to. If that makes me old-fashioned, no pun intended, then I plead guilty.

***

While I was showering this morning a word popped into my head that I hadn’t seen or heard in years, perhaps decades: agitprop. The word is Russian in origin and is what is known as a portmanteau word, the combination of agitatsiya (agitation) and propaganda. The definition is Political strategy in which techniques of agitation and propaganda are used to influence public opinion. I’m sure I first came across the term in one of the spy thrillers I read back in the 60’s or 70’s. But I have no idea why I thought of that term this morning. Ah, well. That’s my brain.

A little of this and a little of that

It looks like a piece of history
It looks like a piece of history

I took this picture yesterday morning. With the car windows rolled up, and the heater on, it felt like spring. The sun was bright, and the sky was clear. It was beautiful, so I went for a short drive in the country. This is the first photo I took yesterday, and I like it the best.

***

I have to say that I was impressed with IU’s victory over Temple this afternoon in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. I was disheartened when IU fell behind at the end of the first half, but I didn’t give up hope, and obviously the team didn’t either. It was a long slog, but they finally overcame at the end. I am truly proud of that team.

***

Today’s tip: Remember to trim your mustache before you don your black V-neck sweater. 

***

I jotted down a quote from the episode of The West Wing that I watched Saturday morning, but now I’m trying to remember the context. I think I’ve watched too much basketball since then. Anyway, the quote is, “Modern history is another name for television.” Wait…wait…that was President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) trying to convince Charlie (Dulé Hill) that he should be studying ancient western history rather than modern history. That sounds like an idea I might try to foist off on my grandchildren. Actually, though, I think there is merit in studying both.

***

I like the sound of the word bloviate. It pushes its way out of your mouth to expand into the entirety of your personal space. At least that’s how I see it. When I did a quick google on the word, I was happy to learn that the Urban Dictionary links it to President Warren Harding who, I read, used it frequently. Then they go on to quote H.L. Mencken, and I like the quote so much that I’m supplying the link to that page: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bloviate. Look it up. You’ll be glad you did, and might even become a better person for it.

Music and Memories

Good Shepherd Baptist Church
Good Shepherd Baptist Church

I was on my way to a meeting at LARA the other day and saw the steeple of this church a few blocks away. After the meeting I drove over and took this picture because I like the contrast of the brick red and the sky blue.

***

I decided to watch one of my favorite jazz concerts on DVD this morning. It’s the Milt Jackson & Ray Brown concert at Montreux in 1977. Once you get past the fact that most of the band is dressed like John Travolta in his vanilla ice-cream colored suit in Saturday Night Fever, you can listen to and appreciate the music. Ray Brown and Milt Jackson lead a group that included Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Clark Terry, Monte Alexander, and Jimmy Smith (the drummer, not the organist).

The music is great. Aside from the leaders, who are great, I think Monte Alexander does a spectacular job on piano. To me, he seems to be the driving force in the group; but perhaps I’m overlooking the subtlety of Ray Brown’s bass.

While watching today, during the playing of Mean To Me, there was something in Alexander’s solo that made me feel like I used to feel when listening to the James Moody album Hey! It’s James Moody (so cleverly titled). I owned that album when I was in college, but no longer have it…more on that shortly. I can’t say exactly what the feeling was that resonated, but it was almost like loneliness…but not quite. I wish I had the words for it. It wasn’t quite despair, either. Try to imagine a feeling of hollowness, if you can, that’s what the music evoked.

The reason I no longer own the album is that at the end of the second semester of my Junior year at IU I realized that I didn’t have enough money to buy gas for my car to get home, and to also buy cigarettes. So, I decided to sell part of my collection of music albums to finance my trip home. A student from Saudi Arabia was interested in my jazz albums and bought the Moody album as well as a Jimmy Smith (the organist, not the drummer) album and a couple of Stan Getz albums. Over the years I’ve replaced all of the albums except the James Moody album. I searched record bins (remember those) for years and never saw it again. Recently I saw an MP3 version available on Amazon, and have decided to download the album. I guess it’s true that all good things come to those who wait.

Swim meets and some speculation

At the swim meet
At the swim meet

I took this picture last week at the Montgomery County Swim Tournament. Mason’s team was in the tourney, and he did a very good job. Of course I’m proud of him. But that isn’t why I took this picture. I was interested in the people who were wearing costumes at the side of the pool. At first I had no idea why they were dressed that way. Trina told me that she thought they were there to show support for one of the teams, and that made sense. Then I realized that they were adults, not students. That gave me pause. I suppose a teacher, or teachers, could get away with the fancy dress; but I wonder if they might be parents, or alumni. That would be something else; and I find it somewhat scary. Well, society changes. I can remember being surprised when parents started dressing their children in basketball uniforms as a style statement rather than to show the kids were on a team. Now, if you look in the crowd at a basketball game, many of the students are dressed in uniforms. I don’t get it.

***

Well, Senator Harry Reid has decided to not bring the assault weapon ban bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote. He said that there would not be enough votes in favor to override a filibuster. So? What is his point? Does the issue not warrant a debate of the full Senate?

Here’s my speculation: I think Senator Reid wants to give cover to Senators who don’t want to have a voting record on the issue. Senators know that a majority of the citizens favor a ban, but that the gun lobby (the NRA and lobbyists who have money for reelection campaigns) are not in favor. If there is a recorded vote, one party or the other will make an issue of it in their next reelection. The Senators don’t want to give anyone a reason to vote for someone who is new to the Senate, so no vote at all. That’s my conspiracy theory.

Things that bother me

It felt like spring
Junk in their yard

It isn’t the most awe-inspiring picture I’ve ever taken. I took a short ride on Tuesday, and while it was cold, the sun was shining and it felt like spring to me. I was going to post this picture, and relate the whole background to that day, but something came up and I never got around to it. Now that day doesn’t seem so special and I won’t be giving you the background. I will say that in order to try to put down feelings into words I need to make that attempt while I’m still having the feelings. If I don’t do it then, it’s like groping around in the dark; you seldom find what you want and occasionally have an unpleasant surprise.

***

I’ve decided to unfriend another contact on Facebook. Once again it’s because I so want to respond to their pre-packaged posts, but know the futility of doing so. Today it was something along the lines of Cain slew Abel with a rock and since rocks and guns are both inanimate objects don’t try to take away my gun. I don’t know how many people have been killed with rocks in the U.S. in the past three months, but there have been, on average, 15 deaths by gun per day in that time. Of course people do the killing, not the rock or the gun, but killing with a gun is easier; you don’t have to get as up close and personal as you do with a rock.

***

I received another catalog from a book seller in the mail a few days ago. It divided the types of books into sections and I was looking in the few sections that interested me. I went to the U.S. History section and started looking at the titles. In the first twenty entries of books on U.S. History, seven were conspiracy theory books. Since when is conspiracy speculation history?

Lord, I shudder.

I blame the GPS

Abandoned farmhouse
Abandoned farmhouse

I took this picture in the mid to late 70’s. I don’t recall exactly where I took it, but based on the other shots from that roll of film, I would guess it was in either Noble or Steuben County.

***

The other day there was a Facebook post from Amazon.com asking what album people were using to get ready for the weekend. I thought about that question, but couldn’t come up with just one album. I’m not that kind of person. I did narrow the selection down to three albums; New Grass Revival’s Too Late To Turn Back Now which was recorded at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and was released in 1977, The Buddy Rich Big Band’s New One which was released in 1968, and the one I’m listening to now, Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues. This album was released 1967. I love listening to the old albums and variety; what can I say?

***

Yesterday I agreed to pick up a young man at his work and drive him home. Not a big deal, you might think, but it set off a string events that stretched into the evening. First, I arrived at his place of work a few minutes early and parked in the parking lot to wait. He was supposed to get off at 6:00 p.m., but 6 came and passed. No one came out of the building. This was surprising to me since I have never worked anywhere that didn’t have people leaving, or trying to leave, a few minutes early. Granted, that doesn’t happen often when you have to punch in and out on a time clock, but it does happen. 6:05 came and went. Finally, around 6:10 the first people started to exit the building, and the young man appeared.

As he entered the car he asked me if I knew how to get to his house. I had never been to his home, so I told him I knew the general area, but that he would have to give me specific directions when we got near. That proved to be a problem, because this 19-year-old didn’t know how to get to his home from his place of employment, even though he had been working there for some time. So I turned on the GPS in my smart phone and went to the navigation app so that I could get him home. While we were on the way, his mother called him and tried to pass along sketchy directions to the house. I decided to trust my GPS navigator. When I pulled into their drive, the young man wanted to hug me, which is always awkward, and his mother was there to greet us.

As I left I decided to call and order a pizza for pickup, so I could eat part of it while watching a movie. Having done that, I started out to Arni’s, the pizza place. While I was driving, my mother called, and I decided to ignore it and call her when I was no longer driving. When I got to Arni’s, I parked the car and called my mother before going in for the pizza. That was a mistake. As we were talking, she was telling me how nice it was in Santa Claus compared to St. John, she was enjoying things like the birds, the green grass, the daffodils that were budding, and then my phone died because the GPS had drained the battery. There wasn’t anything I could do about that, so I went in and got the pizza. On the way home I was stopped by a train, which made me nervous, because the longer I went without calling my mother back, the more anxious she would become.

Well, I got home, started recharging the phone, and called my mother again. No answer. It went to her voice mail, which I don’t think she listens to, but I started leaving a message anyhow. I had no way of knowing when she would call back, so I decided to start eating, and started the movie, Oceans Twelve. About three minutes into the movie she called back. I paused the movie and answered her call. Gone was the happy Mother Jekyll I had been talking to a few minutes earlier. Now I was listening to Mother Hyde who was feeling sorry for herself, saying things like, “I can’t seem to do anything right in this house. They (my sister and brother-in-law) don’t want me here. I don’t know if I can take it anymore.” I tried to reassure her that they didn’t want to kick her to the curb, but she wasn’t having any of that. I tried to explain why we were cut off in mid-sentence, but that was swept aside. Also, she couldn’t seem to hear anything I was saying. I remember my grandmother (her mother) having that same problem when she didn’t like what you were saying. After about five minutes she was through talking and hung up. I went back to my pizza and movie.

About ten minutes later, mom called back. It was more of the same…inflated. She was going to close out her bank account, cash in her CDs, and move somewhere where she could be on her own. This is a woman who prefers to be housebound, she doesn’t like going out. I asked her who would do her shopping for her. She couldn’t hear me. I raised my voice a few decibels and asked again. She couldn’t hear me. I shouted at the top of my lungs, and she heard me, but had no answer. We brushed that aside as well. With a final plaintive , “Don’t worry about me,” sh hung up again. I sighed and went back to my pizza and movie.

Another ten minutes or so and the phone rang again. This time it was my sister with her side of the story. When the phone had died, my mom thought that maybe she had cut us off somehow and told (not asked) my sister to call me back. My sister, quite rightly, told mom that I would call back. That upset mom, and she started sulking and getting angry (Cindy wonders where I got my passive-aggressive nature). After venting for a while, we said goodnight. I don’t know that I could live with my mother full-time without resorting to tranquilizers…for me.

Repent Harlequin

Graycliff, on Lake Erie
Graycliff, on Lake Erie

This is a picture of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house, Graycliff, that overlooks Lake Erie. Cindy and I toured the house the last time we went east on vacation. I believe that was the last road trip vacation that we have taken. Also on that trip we toured two other Wright designed houses, Kentuck Knob and Falling Water, as well as going to Niagara Falls. I want to tour more Wright designed buildings, because I love his style.

***

In the past I collected a few portfolios of artist prints. Most of them were created by people who were connected to the comic book industry. A few days ago I decided to get them out and look at them for the first time in two or three years. I thought it would be interesting to see if they had increased in value since I originally bought them. Considering the change in buying power of the dollar, most had not. In some cases, however, there was an increase in value, at least from the seller’s side. I have one portfolio that was designed around the short story by Harlan Ellison, “Repent Harlequin!” Said The Ticktockman. The artist was Jim Steranko. Both the writer and the artist were known to me, and I enjoyed the work of both. Many of the portfolios I have were signed by the artist; this portfolio is unique to my collection because it is signed by both the artist, Jim Steranko, and the writer, Harlan Ellison. When I looked it up on the net I found a range of prices from $17 (less than I paid) to more than $400 (much more than I paid). Most of the prices fell in the $200+ range. I like it way too much to part with it, but it is nice to know that I made a good purchase.