Where are we headed?

Head in search of a body
Head in search of a body

I’m having a hard time getting enthused for Halloween this year. I decided that I should start decorating in hopes that it would help me get in the mood. It hasn’t really helped, but I still have hopes. This is a picture of one of my favorite decorations, a head in a bag. The bag moves and a recording yells things like, “MY HEAD! MY HEAD!” Unfortunately the light/movement detector has stopped working and you have to touch the bag in order for it to work. It loses much of its shock value in this condition. Yes, I lean towards the horror movie end of the Halloween spectrum even though I haven’t enjoyed a horror movie since the days of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr. and Claude Rains.

I took this photo with my smart phone and used the built-in software for the framing and to make it a black and white image. Then I moved the image to our laptop where I used PaintShop Pro to colorize the photo. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, in the colorization process I lost the blood-red color that stains the bag. Without the red, I still think this is a pretty creepy image.

I know that Halloween isn’t celebrated worldwide. It’s more of Western Civilization (using the term loosely) tradition. I like it because I enjoy giving candy to all of the little costumed children who come to the door seeking a treat. I am looking forward to that part of celebration. Did that make me sound creepy? I swear that I didn’t mean it that way.

By the way, this photo is my submission to Monochrome Madness this week. I recommend Leanne’s website if you enjoy looking at top-notch photography. She also supplies links to the websites of all of the people who submit photos to Monochrome Madness.

Have a great week.

Bad picture, good dog

Happiness
Happiness

This is, I think, the tenth picture of Marlon that I have used in Classical Gasbag. It is certainly not the best I have ever taken of him; he decided to move at the last moment. The ninth picture was less than a week ago. This is likely to be the last photo of him that I will post.

I mentioned last week that Marlon wasn’t feeling well. What I didn’t mention was that he had cancer. I’m using the past tense because yesterday Marlon was, as they say, put to sleep.

Just days ago the prognosis was that he might live until Thanksgiving. Yesterday morning it was that he might live through the weekend. Cindy and I went to the veterinary hospital to be with the Marlon, Trina and the rest of the family. It was sad.

I just started to write that it was like visiting a dear family member who was dying. But it wasn’t “like” that. Marlon was a dear member of the family. I’m not one given to sentimentality, but I found that I had to put on my stoic face yesterday, or give in to the despondency that I was feeling.

I can hear Cindy say when she reads that last sentence, “Give in, it’s natural, you should let your feelings show.” That’s not the way I was raised, and it works for me.

But back to Marlon. As the day went on he became visibly more tired and more in pain. He couldn’t get comfortable. The last few times, he struggled just to stand up. For me, that hurt the most because he was normally such a frisky dog.

I know that his death is painful for Cindy and me. It’s hard to imagine how hard it must be for Trina, JR, and the kids. That must be a truly sad household this morning.

As the years go by I’ll be remembering all of the love that Marlon shared with us.  Because if animals have personalities, Marlon was a lover…unless you were a another dog, a cat, or a squirrel that wandered into the yard.

If you’re asking why I chose to use such a bad picture of Marlon, my answer is simple. It was the last picture I took in which he looks truly happy. I’m pretty sure it was because I had been slicing ham and he smelled it on my hand. That’s also the reason he moved as I was taking the picture; he wanted a good lick. That was Marlon.

Art outside the gallery

Wall art #1
Wall art #1

When I left the library yesterday I took a route home that I seldom use. I saw a mural that I had not noticed before; though it has probably been there for more than a year. This mural was celebrating the Day to Disconnect, which was March 1st in 2013. I had to stop and take this picture. Later on Tuesday I drove downtown and found more wall art.I took pictures and will post them on subsequent days.

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I took Cindy’s car in for servicing last week. I do that so she won’t have to take off work and, I suspect, so that she won’t have to sit idly in the waiting area of the dealership. Cindy wants to be in complete control of her idleness, thus I take the car in.

This dealership waiting area is different from many because it is open, spacious, has a large screen TV (not playing Fox News), and has coffee, cocoa and water. The only disconcerting thing is that they have Christian Rock playing on the sound system. Even that wouldn’t be bad (I can ignore a lot); but I find it bothersome when the sales staff starts singing along to the music. At least they didn’t have choreographed dance moves.

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On a happier musical note, I popped a Three Dog Night CD in the machine this morning to help the creative juices flow to my fingertips. It was working well until this song came on and I had to stop to listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm6qw_yeo6o Hoyt Axton wrote some great songs.This is one of my favorites.

I hope the song brings a smile to your face for the weekend.

Roundabouts

Tree at the courthouse
Tree at the courthouse

I took this picture on Tuesday evening when I went to pick Cindy up after work. As I was waiting in front of her office I noticed the leaves on this tree and decided to get the picture on my smart phone. I didn’t realize until I looked at it later that I should have moved the focus more to the left, but I still like the picture.

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We have had roundabouts in Lafayette for a few years now, but there are still a number of people who have trouble maneuvering in that traffic flow. A majority of the people around here took to them quite easily when the first couple made their appearance, but some people…well they have problems.

In the past month I have observed some strange behavior by my fellow motorists. Before I relate those instances, however, let me share with you a succinct description of proper roundabout use in the U.S. (where we drive on the proper side of the road). This is copied from a Wisconsin government document. There are also nice diagrams on their website.

Steps for driving a roundabout:
1. Slow down. Obey traffic signs.
2. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.
3. Yield to traffic on your left already in the roundabout.
4. Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in traffic. 
5. Keep your speed low within the roundabout.
6. As you approach your exit, turn on your right turn signal.
7. Yield to pedestrians and bicycles as you exit.

Simple, right? Well, not for everyone. More than once I have come up behind people who are treating the roundabout as if it were a four-way stop. They come to a full stop as they wait for a vehicle to their left whose driver is also at a full stop even though there is no traffic at all in the roundabout. And so the two cars sit, not moving, while traffic backs up behind them. Eventually one of the drivers will screw her courage to the sticking place and inch into the roundabout. That brave person is never the driver in front of me.

One day, a few weeks ago, I came up on just such a scene. The woman ahead of me stopped long enough for the other driver to move into the roundabout, and after a string of cars proceeded to their exits, she pulled out, allowing the cars behind her to proceed. I followed this woman past two exits and then I peeled off onto my exit. The woman, however, continued on. I assumed at that point that she was making a U-turn. When I looked in my rear view mirror, though, I saw her pass that exit and start her second time around the roundabout. I don’t know how many revolutions she made.

This past weekend I came to a roundabout and was happy to see no traffic other than two cars that had entered the roundabout seconds before I arrived there. I went into the roundabout and came up behind the second of those cars. It had come to a full stop. The car ahead of it was sitting broadside on the traffic lane. I wasn’t sure if that car had spun out (hard to believe), or if its driver wanted to turn around and come back the wrong way (perhaps the driver was from England). Anyway, that driver eventually did a Y maneuver and proceeded to the next exit.

Roundabouts can be a treat.

Marlon/Marlin

Marlon, or is it Marlin?
Marlon, or is it Marlin?

I realize that every time I write about Marlon I ask myself if his name is spelled Marlin or Marlon. Logic tells me that it should be Marlon because he was named for Marlon Brando, but I’m not sure that Trina checked how the actor spelled his name when naming our favorite dog. I have probably used both spellings in the life of this blog. If he were our dog, I would know the spelling, but he is part of Trina’s family, and I have never asked her.He answers to either spelling and I guess that is all that really matters.

By the way, I’m submitting this photo, taken yesterday, to Leanne Cole for this week’s Monochrome Madness. This picture is different from most of my submissions. They are usually barns, or nature shots, or dilapidated buildings…or all three. But Marlon spent the weekend with us, and he wasn’t feeling well, so I chose this picture from the many I took of him, and added a sepia cast to the picture. It was one of the few I took where he wasn’t laying down. I have another picture where he actually looks happy, but I plan on using it, in color, for another post.

I hope you had a great weekend. If you live in the states, I hope you enjoy Columbus Day.

What the..?

Spring 1991
Spring 1991

This is another picture that I took with my Minolta 35 mm camera. This time, however, I know that I took it in the yard of our home in the spring of 1991. I have no idea, though, what the flowering bush or tree is.

***

Yesterday I was sitting in the family room with Marlin, Trina’s dog, and had the IU football game on the TV. I’m not really a football fan, so my mind wandered away from the game. My mind turned to a summer scene near the northeast coast of the U.S. It happened in 1977 or 1978. I was standing under a large tree in the yard of a large Victorian home. On the gravel driveway was a light blue 1965 MG. I was standing with another young man, dressed in khaki slacks, white shirt, and a seersucker jacket. There was jazz playing somewhere in the background. At that point I could feel the emotions, the happiness, that I remembered from that warm, sunny day.

It only took me a second or two to realize that it was a false memory. It never happened. I have no idea why that image, in all of its detail, came to me. Looking at it in  my mind today makes me think of a full-page color magazine ad for a car from that period. Except that I’m in it. That is very strange.

I would attempt to analyze it, but I don’t have the skills to do so. In that time period, in real life, I was working in Auburn, IN. I liked my job. My social life had its ups and its downs; maybe there’s a clue in that, but nobody from my real life appeared in the false memory. There was no dog in the memory, so I don’t think Marlin triggered anything. I don’t recall any aural or olfactory trigger. I am at a loss.

Hmmm. Trigger…Roy Rogers…I was listening to The Sons of the Pioneers yesterday morning. Do you think??? Nah, that isn’t it.

If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them. Or, if you know what is in the picture, I would like to hear from you about that as well.

Snippets

Colorado
Colorado

I wish I could remember in what year I took this picture. Cindy could probably tell me. It was back when we both worked for the state, and they had sent her to Colorado for training on Veteran’s benefits. I took vacation and went along. While she was in Denver being trained, I was out driving in the mountains. I took this with my Minolta 35 mm camera, before the digital age. When I look through my old photos I really miss Kodachrome film.

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I had planned on creating a long, involved rant about our trials with the cable company. Yes, another one. But at this moment everything is working the way it is supposed to, so I have calmed down. If it goes bad again, however, my words may raise blisters on your screen. Today I shall simply say that in the past week I’ve had to call the cable company three times and have had service techs here twice.

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One of favorite bloggers, http://cupitonians.wordpress.com, asked me if I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I had to Google NaNoWriMo to figure out what she was asking me. The acronym stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is a creative writing project/challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.

I gave up on trying to write novels years ago, but this idea intrigues me. I haven’t decided yet if I will participate. The idea of churning out 50,000 coherent words between November 1st and November 30th seems daunting.  Even more daunting is that I would be writing fiction, not my daily life events like I do in this blog. Still, I was flattered that she thought I was capable of such a feat. And maybe she thinks I make all of this up. I wish that I had that much imagination.

If any of you have participated in past years, I would like to know what you feel about the experience. You can either comment or use the form below.

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I hope you have a great weekend.