Art and introversion

Nature, confused
Nature, confused

If you can make it out, we have here a tulip sprouting in the snow. I took this picture yesterday morning. Today the temperature is in the high 30’s, heading up. Maybe I’ll go out and work in the yard this afternoon. Maybe.


I am not sure where this post will end, or even what it will be about. Neither am I sure if I can get one succinct post out of these thoughts, or if I will have to stretch it into a continuing self-examination. I’m asking you to try to follow my train of thought. I hope it turns out to be worth your effort.

I started thinking about this topic this morning while watching CBS Sunday Morning. There was a segment about graffiti artists and a show of their work in a museum in New York City. An element of one of the pieces of art included a reproduction of Howard The Duck, the Frank Brunner version I believe, and that struck a chord in me. After all, I liked the comic book, and for a while I collected art portfolios, including one by Brunner, until they became harder to find and more expensive (I’m cheap).

If that were all, however, I wouldn’t be writing this post. At the same time this morning I was feeling kind of lonely. Surprise! Occasionally introverts feel lonely. In my case, I only feel lonely when I have had no recent contact with people who are important to me. I can be surrounded by acquaintances and be lonely, because we don’t really have much in common.

To reiterate, I was watching a TV piece on art, and I was feeling lonely. Can you see why I came to the not-so-earth-shaking realization that the love of art is a solitary experience. People can tell you what they think good art is, and you can try to tell people what good art is, but the cliché is right about beauty and the eye of the beholder. You can tell a person why they should like something, but that only works on the very impressionable, not on someone who is comfortable with himself or herself.

This leads me to a coping mechanism that I have for dealing with loneliness and/or depression. I immerse myself in art. Often that art is in the form of my stamp collection. Stamps are, after all, small pieces of art. Some are good, some are not. Some are brilliant, some lackluster. Some commemorate the very important, some the mundane. Over the years I’ve changed my collecting habits from trying to get everything to just collecting stamps and covers that I find beautiful. To me, that is more important than the monetary worth of a stamp.

Well, I seem to have strayed from my original topic. I said at the beginning that I didn’t know where this post was going. I’m still not sure, so I’m going to break off here and bury myself in thought…or do something fun…like the laundry. Any thoughts you have about this post or topic are appreciated, so feel free to comment, or send me an email using the form below.

Non-Music and Music Memories 2: Eddie Lawrence

Eddie Lawrence: The Old Philosopher

The Old Philosopher
The Old Philosopher

Yesterday I mentioned that I was looking for a different comedy bit than It’s In The Book, but found it first. Well, this is what I was originally looking for. The only thing I could remember from The Old Philosopher was the music and the line “Never give up, never give up, never give up…that ship.”

I don’t remember when I first heard The Old Philosopher. It had to have been on the radio because I’m sure we never had it on a record. I suppose we could have seen him on TV, but somehow I don’t think that happened.

This is also another case of not knowing the name of the performer until I found the bit on YouTube. I’m not all that fond of the video that goes along with this performance, but you take what you can find. I’ll also admit that I don’t find it very amusing now I did when I was a kid. Tastes change.

As I was composing yesterday’s post in my mind yesterday, there was another song from my kidhood that came to mind. Most men of my age will remember The Ballad Of Davy Crockett from the Disney TV show and movie. I’ll admit to giving in to nostalgia and buying the DVD of the movie and enjoying it again this past (perhaps current, there is snow on the ground again this morning) winter.

Well, I feel like I’ve exhausted this topic, at least for the time being. I have no idea what the topic will be for my next post, but I do know it won’t be about memories from the 1950’s.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Non-Music and Music Memories 1: It’s In The Book

Johnny Standley: It’s In The Book (Grandma’s Lye Soap)

Johnny Standley
Johnny Standley

My dad bought this 45 rpm record when I was a child. It came out in 1952, but I don’t remember when he bought it, or when I first heard it. I do remember thinking that it was hilarious. I still think that it is pretty funny, especially the first side.

To be honest, I didn’t remember Johnny Standley’s name, just the title of the piece, and the phrase, from side two, “It’s not raining inside tonight.” That line really tickled me. And who, anymore, says “tickled me?” I found his name when I looked up the record on YouTube.

Another piece of honesty: I was thinking about, and looking for another comedy bit to go on about, but It’s In The Book popped into my head, so here it is. I’ll write about my original idea soon…maybe tomorrow.

Only a few records, mainly heard on the radio, stand out in my head from the early to mid-1950s. This record, obviously, but also The Teddy Bear Picnic

and from the PSA, Smokey The Bear

I can remember sitting in the waiting room at our dentist’s office, singing Smokey The Bear, to stifle any nervousness I may have been feeling. I’m pretty sure that everyone else in the waiting room was happy when I went in to see the dentist. They could then listen to the drill rather than my singing.

Still, we take our opportunities to entertain the masses when and where we can.


Feel free to skip this post

Waiting for spring
Waiting for spring

I am afraid they are still waiting for spring weather. We’ve had another snow since I took this picture. But maybe in a week or two.


I was reading a post on a blog that I like very much the other day, and I almost jumped in with a comment. What I had planned on saying, kind of, was that the writer and I had similar blogs except for the fact that she tended to write about her current life while I tended to write about my past life. Luckily, I stopped myself before I could make such a silly statement. It is true that I like to think that my Music Memories posts are vignettes that show a broader aspect of my thinking (while you are probably thinking “What twaddle!), much of what I relate in this blog is my current life. Even the stories from my past are colored by my life now. I have the luxury of looking back and smiling over things that I thought were really important at the time, but were just passing drama. If I’m lucky, in ten years I’ll be able to look back and feel the same about today’s life.

When I got that far in my thinking, I realized that memories are just images of a past as seen through today’s eyes. I also decided to take up this internal conversation again the next time I wake up at 2:30 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep. You’re probably nodding off just reading this post.


I know that I wrote about our troubles with our water heater. Last week a repair person installed a new gas valve, but told me that the igniter could fail at any time, so I had him order a new one and arranged to have it installed yesterday.

He was right, the igniter went out at some point on Saturday, so there was no hot shower on Sunday. Well, there had been three and a half days of abundant hot water. I brought our very large soup pot back from the basement and started heating water in it again. It suffices.

Yesterday the repair person returned. It wasn’t the same guy as last week, but he had been out the first time it was worked on around seven or eight weeks previously. And he had been to the house to change out the brine tank on the water softener. If he has to come back again I may have to add him to our Christmas card list.

He put the new igniter on the water heater and stayed long enough to determine that things seemed to be working properly. As he was leaving he told me that the only thing left that could go wrong with the heater would be if the blower failed. I hope he wasn’t trying to get me set up for another visit.

Cindy and I will be content to have hot water from a faucet as long as we can. The soup pot is always there for backup…assuming we can light a fire under the pot.

Music Memories 11: Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders

The Days of Wine & Vinyl: Bonnie Raitt – Too Long At The Fair

The Days of Wine & Vinyl
The Days of Wine & Vinyl

I know that I wrote briefly about this particular double album and the Bonnie Raitt song in my post Day 22. The YouTube link is to a live version of the song, not the studio cut that I first heard; but this version is excellent also. I hope you enjoy it.

I have always liked compilation albums. I don’t believe I have ever bought one that didn’t lead me to at least one artist who was worthy of my attention and of my dollars purchasing his or her or their music. I’ve had a few clunkers when I downloaded free compilation albums; but, as they say, you get what you pay for.

This album, The Days of Wine & Vinyl not only brought Bonnie Raitt to my attention, but also Tim Buckley and Jesse Winchester. In addition there were new or unreleased songs by artists who I already listened to, such as Arlo Guthrie, James Taylor, Jethro Tull, The Youngbloods, and John Hartford. And, of course, there were a number of other artists who I would probably put in the second rank, but who were interesting. Where else would I have heard of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band?

To purchase the album I had to clip an order blank from the inner sleeve of a Warner or Reprise vinyl album and send it, along with a check for two dollars, to Warner Brothers. In a short six to eight weeks the double album arrived. I only bought two of the loss leaders over the years. Now, looking back, I wish I had bought more. I think that I didn’t buy more because I was spending a lot of money on records then, and I was buying a lot of new (for me) artists. I started buying Bonnie Raitt albums, first her earlier albums, and then everything new that she released. The same was true for other artists whom I “discovered.” I’ll be writing more about those times, the 1970’s when I lived in Auburn, in a future post.

Music (false?) memories: Berlioz

Berlioz Greatest Hits
Berlioz Greatest Hits

You may be asking yourself why I’ve added the word “false” to the title of this piece. Well, that’s a good question. Let me tell you the story.

When I knew that I was being drafted into the army back in 1969, I decided that I wanted to expand my musical horizons just as I did when I went away to college. Back then I added jazz to my listening; in ’69 I decided to add classical. I didn’t feel like jumping in over my head, so I bought an album by Andres Segovia because I figured that guitar playing would be good no matter the genre, and I bought a version of Beethoven’s third symphony because everyone said Beethoven was wonderful. Both were good choices. I also decided to try someone I had never heard of, so I picked up the album you see above.

However, I guess I didn’t buy that album at that time. I still have the vinyl album, and it has that exact cover. But when I checked the album number on the Internet, it showed that the album was released in March of 1971. Well, OK, I was still in the army then, and maybe I bought it when I was stationed in Germany. But no, when I took a closer look at the Internet entry, it showed the album had a different title, and was only credited to Leonard Bernstein. How could that be? The album cover credits not only Bernstein, but also Charles Munch and Eugene Ormandy. When I took a close look at my copy, I realized that it had a notch cut into the cover, so I obviously bought it from a cutout bin, which would indicate that I probably bought the album after I was released from the army.

I guess that I bought the album sometime after August of 1971, but have convinced myself that it was one of the first albums of classical music that I had purchased. I don’t know why I would have done that. And it doesn’t explain the discrepancy in the Internet information and the album cover.

I think it is time for me to let all of that go and sit down to listen to the music. It is wonderful. I am glad that I added classical music to my listening rotation.

Happy Birthday, Cindy!

The birthday girl
The birthday girl

Yes, it’s my honey’s birthday; she of indeterminate age. For those who know Cindy, this is her actual birth anniversary, not the month she sets aside to celebrate.

I gave my presents to her this morning, before she left for work. She loved the card, it was sentimental, not funny. She wore one of the pairs of earrings I gave her to work today. I know she’ll use up the prepaid gift card in short order. I think, however, that her favorite gift was the bacon press. It was the biggest, heaviest bacon press that I could find. She thinks that I don’t listen to her when she rambles on about things that she wants.

You might think that a bacon press is not very romantic. Well, you may be right. My Cindy can occasionally be practical. She used to love watching Alton Brown’s Good Eats on the Food Network, and she knows that he detests single-use tools. She knows well that she can use the bacon press to clunk me on the head for buying her a bacon press. It is a true multitask implement.

Tonight we are going out to dinner with some friends. I’m pretty sure it won’t be to a Mexican restaurant, because she isn’t fond of wearing a sombrero while the staff sings some sort of happy birthday song to her. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t mind being the center of attention; she just isn’t fond of the sombrero.

Not to toot my own horn too much, but I’ve avoided making a joke about Cindy’s birthday pretty much coinciding with the return of the swallows at Capistrano, or the sand hill cranes on the Platte River in Nebraska, or even the buzzards (turkey vultures) at Hinkley, Ohio. What would be the purpose. Besides, the first vulture arrived seven days ago.

Today’s word

Never enough barns
Never enough barns

I could have shot a better picture of this barn and horse, but I honestly didn’t think I would be using the photo. I’ll have to go bask later this year and get a better picture. I hope the horse is still there when I do.


Glum. It’s how I feel today, but I don’t know why. I would say it is about a half step above morose. I feel that you must have a solid reason to be morose, but not so with glum.

The weather (overcast and chilly with a wind) could be making me feel glum. Or perhaps, the fact that we now have hot water again, but the repair tech found another problem with the heater and has ordered another part to be delivered next week; that could be a cause for glumness. Maybe it’s because today turned into a bill paying day that I hadn’t planned on, but felt that I had to do. Or maybe it is because I would like to get an email from a friend, but none have turned up in my in box (little things mean a lot). Any of those, on the right day, could cause me to feel glum, not blah, but glum.

Having said that, on most days none of those reasons would bring on glumness. Tomorrow I’ll probably be smiling and laughing, skipping and jumping, and breaking out in a chorus of I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing. But that would be tomorrow, not today. Today I’m just feeling glum. I don’t feel dejected or despondent, or downhearted, or crestfallen. I just feel glum.

Glum is a good word. It is almost onomatopoetic. I don’t think that feelings can be onomatopoetic; but if they could be, glum would fit the bill.

I hope you’re having a non-glum day.

Female singers and customer service

Spring is coming
Spring is coming

The trees are still bare. The grass hasn’t started to get green yet. But you can tell spring is coming from the angle of the sun in the sky and the types of birds that are now coming to our back yard. I’m ready.


As I was waking up this morning, I heard (in my head, not for real) a woman’s voice singing “We’ve got nothing but time, we’ve got plenty of time,” over and over. She was singing it to the tune of Old Devil Moon. I don’t have a clue as to what it means. What is my subconscious mind (if there is such a thing) trying to tell me. Your input would be appreciated.

More interesting to me is the fact that I haven’t yet identified the singer. I know for sure that it isn’t Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson, Linda Ronstadt, Melody Gardot, Judy Garland or Sarah Vaughan. I’ve also ruled out all of the folk music singers like Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Mary Travers. It isn’t Diana Ross, Rosemary Clooney, Joni James or Sade. I haven’t ruled out Joanie Sommers, but now that I think about it, it might well be June Christy. Hmmm. Yes, I would say there is an 85% chance that it is June Christy. I feel better now. Except, why was June Christy in my dream? Now, that’s a puzzler.

If some of those names aren’t familiar to you, check them out on YouTube. You might like what you hear. And, no, that isn’t an exhaustive list of names that I went through in my mind, but rather, a representative sample.


Yesterday I received an automated phone call from Sears, telling me that I had to call them to reschedule having a repair person come to fix our water heater. It stopped working, for good, a week ago. (In case you are worried for us, we’ve been heating water in a jumbo soup pot to get by.) I was upset that I had to call to reschedule, but I got right on it and called the number they provided.

When I called in, an automated voice told me that all of the customer representatives were busy, but that my call was important to them, so would I please wait for the next available representative. Sure. While I waited, another recorded voice kept trying to sell me coverage plans that I didn’t want. After about five minutes, another automated voice came on and asked me if I wanted to have them call me back when someone was free to talk to me. Finally, a sensible way to handle their calls. I pushed 1 for yes, and hung up.

About five minutes later the phone rang, and a young man identified himself as working for Sears and asked how he could help me. I explained about the automated call I had received, and he told me that he would transfer me to the right person.

Of course I was put on hold where another recorded voice kept telling me that all of their reps were busy, that my call was important, a rep would be with me shortly, and in the meantime did I know… That went on for about fifteen minutes. About half way through that wait I started having visions of a group of reps sitting around in a break area, drinking coffee and eating doughnuts.

Finally a real person came on the line. He asked for my telephone number so he could pull up my information on his computer. I complied, but wondered why their phone system software didn’t supply that information. He said, “Yes Mr. Houseman, I see that a repair technician is scheduled to come to your home between 8 a.m. and noon on Wednesday the 19th. ” I told him he was correct. He asked if the part for the repair had arrived. I told him that it had, but didn’t snidely go on to tell him that he should have been able to track that through the USPS website. Then it got a little weird when he asked me for my name. Had their system crashed so that my name was no longer on his screen? Did he think I was just pretending to be me? But, I complied and gave him my name. He verified my address. Then we got to the nitty-gritty, rescheduling the repair. I asked him if, since the part was already here, the repair visit could be moved forward. He said no, that the first time available was Wednesday the 19th. Did I prefer morning or afternoon. Morning, of course. “Alright,” said he, “the technician will be at your home between 8 a.m. and noon on Wednesday 19th. Can I help me in any other way?”

So, after half an hour to forty-five minutes on the phone; a call that they said I must make; nothing changed on the appointment. I can’t wait for the customer satisfaction survey.

This feels like filler

Just sittin' around
Just sittin’ around

I hadn’t planned on taking this picture. I was hoping to get one of a bird or two on the feeder. Since I was on the other side of the yard, I zoomed in as much as I could, but the birds took off just as I was taking the picture. Still, thought I, there may be something worthy in a picture of a deserted bird feeder. When I downloaded the picture to PC and pulled it up in the software, I saw the turtle-dove sitting on the fence behind the feeder. So I enlarged the picture some more, and sharpened the image a bit. I kinda like the result.


I’ve been reading a lot of new (for me) blogs recently. It has been a somewhat random selection on my part. I have been going to the blogs of people who follow my posts and reading what they are posting. If I like it, I follow them, or at least bookmark the site for future consideration. Then I check out the people who “like” or comment on the posts of the first group. I’ve come across some interesting blogs in that way. Some of them I’ve started to follow, and some of them give me hives. Just know that if I follow your blog, I truly enjoy what you post. If I don’t follow your blog, it doesn’t mean that I’m not checking it out from time to time, and that I may follow it in the future.


I was half watching a political talking heads program a few days ago, when I heard one of the wise men say the phrase “Japanese mainland.” Where would that be? The last time I looked on a map, Japan was just a series of islands. Of course, I’m not smart enough to know when an island becomes big enough to have a mainland. Perhaps someone who is reading this could tell me. I really would like to know. It could be that I have been wrong all of my thinking life. It wouldn’t be the first time.