Cold days

Building on a slope
Building on a slope

I took this picture on a side street on my way home from the library. The colors in the building seemed spring-like compared to all of the washed out browns, grays and dirty whites surrounding it. So I jumped at the opportunity to share the building colors. You will understand more as you read on.

We had another small snow fall last night and early this morning. I don’t mind it because I like the snow. But this year the cold temperatures and wind chills are taking their emotional toll on me. I can’t remember this ever happening to me before. I am actually feeling depressed about the winter; even on the days when the sun shines. I need to do something to get out of this funk that I find myself in. That’s why I took a picture of a more colorful building.

Another thing I did was go through my clothes and pick out a canary yellow T-shirt to wear rather than one of my more normal blue or black shirts. And then I turned to the music. Music evokes moods, and I needed something that would bring warmth back to me. Of course, the first song to come to mind was Frank Sinatra’s Summer Wind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GKFvgg1w48. I’ll probably be listening to it a lot until spring finally arrives and I can open the windows to let the fresh air in.

The second song that I decided on was by It’s A Beautiful Day Hot Summer Day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szkhlZPXMrM. It isn’t the happiest song, but it does contain the word Hot, and that is important. Let’s face it, though, a song title doesn’t necessarily cause a mood shift like the actual music can.

So then I went to El Picador by Calexico.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FO9ZCc4cDk&list=PL5B6D51ABF5151124&index=9. I dare you to listen to this music and think cold thoughts. It isn’t going to happen. And I love the band.

There are a few artists who play music that doesn’t trip some kind of musical mood trigger for me. The David Bromberg Band has always lifted my spirits, no matter what time of year or what kind of weather. I came across this concert on YouTube a couple of days ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNzSMdGINyQ. The picture quality is poor, it is in mono, and I love the music. If you watch it you’ll see Phoebe Snow come on stage and sing a song with the band. Bromberg isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I prefer warming up with him rather than using a cup of Earl Grey.

Stay warm, my friends.

From the doctor’s office to reading

Small graveyard in winter
Small graveyard in winter

It is another sub-zero morning, just as it was yesterday when I took this picture. It promises to stay this cold until the weekend. Yay (he commented sarcastically). I took this picture yesterday after I left my doctor’s office. I like these small, often single family, grave yards that are scattered all over the place. I believe that the first time I was aware of them was when I went to college at IU. There was a small graveyard on campus in front of my dormitory. I need to go back and take a picture or two. There is another graveyard in the middle of campus beside the student union. Maybe I’ll get down there when spring comes around.

***

I went to the doctor’s office as a follow-up so he could determine that a new medication that he put me on was not killing me. It isn’t. I wasn’t in the waiting area long, so there wasn’t much opportunity to observe the people around me. However, while checking in I overheard another receptionist saying to another patient, “I don’t know the answer to that question, but your insurance plan book should tell you.” The patient responded, “You mean in writing?” as if it were the most astounding thing she had ever heard. Perhaps she expected the plan to speak aloud to her, or was surprised that the book might have an answer for her question.

I’ve known for a long time that many people prefer to ask questions rather than try to find the answer themselves by reading. I am not that kind of person, so it came as a surprise to me when I first found this out while training groups of adults. They could have an instruction manual with detailed information on the training subject sitting in front of them, but would not open the cover as long as a human being was in the room with them. That was when I realized that we were turning into a non-reading society.

I know that many people still enjoy reading on a large number of subjects, but I fear that the number is shrinking. I am also a member of the sound bite society, so I too have my faults. I just hope that we can instill a love of reading in future generations…but I worry.

***

By the way, I didn’t want to publish this post, not for reasons of content, but because it is my 666th post in Classical Gasbag. I know how Christians feel about this number. Maybe some will think that I’m drawing a straight line from lack of reading to the apocalypse. Well, maybe I am. So grab a book and read!

Why I haven’t been posting

Wall art #9
Wall art #9

I guess that it has been at least a couple of months since I took this photo. I don’t believe that it existed when I took the first group of mural pictures, because I only noticed it shortly before I came back to take this picture. There are still one or two more photos that I’ll get around to posting in the future.

***

I haven’t posted much lately. There are two major factors behind this dearth of words. 1) I have nothing much to say, and 2) I haven’t been out taking pictures. It happens.

I shouldn’t say that I haven’t been writing, because I have sent a few letters to friends via snail mail. I enjoy writing to individuals, even if it is just in a (formerly) blank note card. Sharing with an individual brings a different satisfaction than I get from posting. There is an intimacy of thought that can’t be duplicated in a post. At this point I’m tempted to say that even if I use the same words in a letter and a post, the intimacy comes with the letter. However, if I wrote that, you would think that I was playing a Borges riff…so I won’t.

As to going out to take pictures, I’ll just mention that the current 26° F (-3° C) is one of the warmer mornings we have experienced in quite a while. I don’t mind snow, but the cold is bothering me more than it used to. I may sneak out today because I have to return a few things to the library. That always gives me an opportunity to travel down a side street or two in search of a picture.

Another sign of aging?

Another winter day
Another winter day

When I took this picture I was thinking, “Glad I don’t have to clear the snow from his driveway!” But I do envy the solitude the farmer must be able to savor.

***

There is one thing that I have grown to dislike more as I get older. Well, there may be more than one thing, but today I feel a need to complain about women who curse in public. By public I mean in the company of people who aren’t immediate family members, or who are very close friends, or who are in a public area. Pretty much anytime they aren’t muttering to themselves under their breath. Usually I just cringe and try to get away from it, but more and more often it is happening everywhere.

Lest you think that I am a sexist pig, or just sexist, or just a pig, I also dislike it when men curse in public. I suppose I am just more used to hearing it from men. I used to be one…a public curser that is; I am still a man. I just stopped heavy-duty cursing a long time back. I had developed my cursing style in college and honed it while in the Army. It was a few months after I was released from active duty when I realized that I didn’t need to curse. There was no reason to be lace my language with scatological terminology or with references to carnal knowledge. So I stopped. I will still utter an occasional “Damn!” or other one word, non-F-bomb exclamations, but only when I’m frustrated and alone or with Cindy.

But I didn’t call you here today to tell you about my sterling character or to complain about other men. It is to show you how stodgy I have become. If you have heard the expression “the coarsening of society” and utter a curse, you should have stopped reading this post a paragraph or two earlier. If you are a woman and have heard people say that something that you have said was unladylike, and you answered with a curse, turn away, sister. (And don’t get me started on how a grammar check tries to get me to use the word “woman” rather than “lady.”) If you believe that cursing makes men and women equal, get over it; the battle for equality in law will take more than a butch attitude.

One of Cindy’s friends was playing cards in our home a few weeks ago. I had ventured out of my room to come into the kitchen when I heard her using the carnal knowledge word in a joke. All of the women laughed and I remained silent. Then another of the friends saw me and joked about the fact that I didn’t like the use of that word. The first friend then declaimed on how she loved to use the word…but she didn’t say why she loved it. It was half an explanation at best. I remained silent because I need to think things through before I comment. I wonder if I had asked her why she loved using the word, if she would have a coherent thoughtful answer?

My thought is that too often women and men use curses as filler, instead of “Uh,” or similar monosyllabic non-meaningful space holders. Or, they may use curses for shock effect. They use them so often that shock no longer exists, just the coarseness. I have read some women who feel that cursing expresses the rage that they feel. Really? There is no other way to express rage?

This is the part where some women, if they have read this far, will be saying that I haven’t experienced what they have in life. That is correct. I haven’t had men treat me like dung. I haven’t been paid less for doing more. I haven’t had a partner leave me for a newer model. I haven’t had my sexuality questioned because I didn’t live up to the expectations of someone else.

I feel that cursing is the lowest common denominator, and that both women and men should aspire to more than that.

Or, as Dennis Miller has always said, “Of course, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”

My small photographic breakthrough

Working woman
Working woman

This is a pretty simple picture of a woman ready to work on your nails after she finishes her drink, one supposes. I found this nail file in our family room. I’m not sure where Cindy got it, but it caught my fancy and knew I wanted to photograph it. I set it on the kitchen counter, which is tiled,  and used my cell phone camera. The flash went off when I took the picture, and there was a light flare in the upper left corner. I hate when that happens. So, after having this phone for a few years I decided that it was time to figure out a few things beyond how to make the picture look like an Instagram image. After trying a few different things, I figured out how to turn the flash off. Thus I was able to take this picture. It’s no big deal…except it kinda is for me. Look at me bending technology to my will!

By the way, I took the caption for this photo from the title of a book by Jessica Strang. The full title is Working Women: An Appealing Look at the Appalling Uses and Abuses of the Feminine Form. It was published in the 1980s, but it is now out of print.  If you are interested, I know that it is available on the Internet. There are 90 plus pages filled with photographic examples of the feminine form being used in everything from architecture to household items. I am sure that the photos of nutcrackers bring a mixture of disgust and glee to some of the women who peruse this book. I have a copy of it somewhere in my collection of books, but I’m not sure on which shelf in which bookcase it currently resides.

That’s it for today. I have a Valentine’s Day card that needs a personal touch and a signature. Cindy will be awakening soon and I need to get that chore accomplished. Happy V Day!

A visit to the Doctor’s office

Lafayette, near north side
Lafayette, near north side

I took this picture on Friday morning; after having blood drawn at the doctor’s office and before meeting Cindy at her office. I had some time to kill so I drove around in Lafayette. I’ve driven past this building more times than I can count, but this was the first time I came down this street when I had my camera and there was no traffic. I liked the original color photo except that the colors seem washed out. Rather than try to tweak the original, I grayscaled the image to post. Perhaps some day I’ll go back to the original photo and intensify the colors. Maybe I’ll even get rid of the cable crossing the street…or not; after all, the cable is there in reality. I’ve decided that I like this picture enough to submit it to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness post for this week. Please check her website for an interesting photocentric blog.

***

Sometimes when I go to the Doctor’s office I spend almost no time in the waiting area. Sometimes I do have to wait, like I did this morning. Sometimes everything in the waiting area is quiet and I’ll pull out my phone to play SudoKu. Sometimes, like today, there is enough going on that I couldn’t concentrate on a game, no matter how hard I try.

I sat down in one of the chairs with my back to the wall. Across from me was an elderly woman with a younger woman whom I assume was her daughter. They were having a conversation in voices pitched low enough that I couldn’t hear what they were saying…not that I would eavesdrop. The elder of the two raised a hand to her face to scratch her chin. This caused the younger woman to blurt out, “Don’t touch you hand to your mouth, you may have germs on your hand!” While she didn’t say it aloud, I could mentally finish her thought, “You don’t know where it has been.” Or maybe I was hearing my mother’s voice in my head. But I definitely heard the younger woman say aloud, “If only you hadn’t had that bottle in your purse when you went to the school.” At that point a nurse came to the area to escort them to the doctor. Just when it was getting interesting.

Across the room, at a round table by the entrance, sat a woman with two young hellions who were making enough noise to raise the dead. She made no effort to shush them. At least they were sitting far away.

A woman about my age came from the reception counter to a seat across from me. She removed her coat but rather than set down, she got on her knees and peered under the chair. She said, “Are you there?” OK. I started to wonder if I had inadvertently gone to the mental health clinic rather than to my doctor’s office. But no, when I stopped staring at the woman I looked up and saw that the woman with the boys had come from the table by the door and was joining the woman who had gotten up from the floor and was talking to the boys. The boys didn’t quiet down.

I got lucky when the nurse came to fetch me to the building innards so that I could see the doctor. The visit to the doctor’s office gave me something to write about.

No Grammy here

Wall Art #8
Wall Art #8

Clint Eastwood in downtown Lafayette. Need I say more? Well, alright, this is my favorite mural in this section of town. That says it all.

***

I admit in this semi-public forum that I, a music lover, have never watched the Grammy awards on television. I don’t enjoy watching a group of people, whether actors or musical talents or any other group, take so much pleasure congratulating themselves over how wonderful they are. It isn’t seemly. So I don’t watch the Grammy or the Oscar or the Emmy or any other award show. I stopped watching Inside The Actors Studio because of the egos displayed by some of the actors. I guess that in some respects I have a weak stomach.

Having said that, I do believe that some music is worthy of being shown as superior to other music. Outside of jazz  and classical albums, I think that there are very few albums that meet my definition of great. What is my definition? A great album is one where every song makes me stop and listen and enjoy. The enjoy part is very important. These would be the albums I would want with me on a desert island (assuming that I had the means to listen to them). Today I’m going to list three of my all time favorites. I have excluded any “Best Of” and “Greatest Hits” albums because those albums seem like cheating. And truth be told, there are only a few of those types of albums that would be included.

The first album on my list is Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like A Wheel. Over the years I’ve told a few of my friends that I believe this to be a perfect album. Here is a link to the full album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt5YsCGX-UQ. Listen and appreciate. The album was nominated for a Grammy, but wasn’t a winner. I don’t understand why.

The second of my albums today is L.A. Woman by The Doors. Again, I have a link to the entire album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRVkG2JUlEk. This was the last album recorded by The Doors before Jim Morrison’s death in Paris. I’ve heard The Doors described as being an American version of The Beatles. I don’t agree. I would compare them to The Rolling Stones, only The Doors were better. Who knows what they could have produced if Morrison could have been lured back into the studio or on tour. Again, this album didn’t win a Grammy. Go figure.

My third album that is worth listening to is Bud & Travis’ Latin Album. I can’t find a complete album link, nor was I able to find a link to my favorite song on the album. Here is another excellent version of the song, Malaguena Salerosa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMzNjTdbybE. If you like this song, please search out a Bud & Travis album and listen. If you have a problem with two American white men singing songs from Mexico and other Latin American countries, I understand; but they were my introduction to the music and I haven’t stopped listening. As far as I can determine, Bud & Travis were never nominated for an Emmy.

If you plan on watching the Grammy show, I hope that you enjoy it. Perhaps I’ll slip in a DVD of West Side Story.

Movies I didn’t see

I want to stay in bed
I want to stay in bed

Yes, I know I should get out of bed and go in search of a picture; but it is so warm and comfortable under the covers. If I were bright I would find a way to remove the reflection of the flash that is in the window; but I don’t want to get out of bed to work on it. Besides, it was the blue in the sky that caught my attention. I’m staying in bed for a little while longer.

***

In the past I’ve told you about books that were advertised in catalogues that I receive in the mail. The other day I opened the mailbox and found a catalogue of DVDs for sale. Some of the movies look quite interesting. Here are a few that caught my eye.

If I spoke Spanish I would be tempted to buy a copy of Las Mujer Murcielago. According to the as copy, this movie is about “A mad scientist (who) is bent on creating a race of superhumans, and only with the glands of wrestlers can he hope to achieve his evil plan. With wrestlers turning up dead all over Acapulco, the mysterious yet voluptuous crime fighter Batwoman is called in to save the city.” Perhaps if I purchase this amazing sounding movie, Cindy will translate the dialogue for me. I wonder if Batman puts in a cameo appearance?

Then there is the classic Girl Boss Revenge. It is described as follows. “A car loaded with delinquent girls is headed to reform school when it crashes and the girls escape to freedom. The girl boss Komasa and her friends seek refuge in Osaka’s hardcore gang territory, only to become currency in a brutal gang transaction. Now, the girls are out for revenge.” I never would have guessed that the girls wouldn’t be safely delivered to reform school. What a surprise! Thank goodness there are English subtitles. Cindy can’t translate Japanese.

One of the more intriguing movies appears to be Blondes Have More Guns“A scarf, a chainsaw, and a mysterious blonde are the only clues to a growing number of stiffs (and not all of them are dead bodies). To solve the case, the police turn to trigger-happy Harry Bates, his partner Dick Smoker, and his faithful dog (who seems to be a guy in a dog suit).” I wonder who wrote the screenplay?

I don’t know how I managed to miss seeing these movies when they were first released. Maybe it was because the first two were released in other countries. I have no excuse for missing Blondes Have More Guns. The library doesn’t have any of these titles in their collection, so I can’t borrow them. I would order these DVDs, but unfortunately I have put myself on a strict budget. I can only sigh and whimper, “If only…”

Reality sets in

The culprit
The culprit

WARNING! This post is all about me! Nothing new? Well, that’s a fair observation.

I posted to this blog yesterday, but then came back and Trashed the post an hour or so later. If you were notified of the post but couldn’t find it, I’m sorry for the confusion. Blame it on this picture…or perhaps I should say that you need to give credit to this picture.

It is an innocuous picture. It is just an updated version of the picture that I posted on Sunday. It shows the small amount of increase in snow coverage that we received Sunday morning. “No big deal,” you say. I agree.

Except that it became a big deal to me. It became a big deal because I had submitted the picture to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness post for the week. It isn’t anywhere good enough to be included in that post. As I look back, I concede that many of the pictures that I have submitted shouldn’t have been included. I sent an email to Leanne asking her to not include the picture this week. I knew when I submitted the picture that it wasn’t good enough, so why did I send it to her?

The quick and simple answer is that I developed visions of grandeur over my photography skills. I enjoyed showing my photos to a wider audience. It felt good.

But as I started thinking about it, I realized that I had lost sight of a few things. For one, most of the pictures I post are explained with words in Classical Gasbag, but when they appear in Leanne’s blog there is no background information. There is just the picture. My pictures are seldom worth a thousand words. I’m sure that many people, when looking at one of my photos says “What’s this all about then?” When I thought about that, my ego started to deflate a bit. That’s a good thing. Humility is good.

There have been a few times that I posted a picture with the only purpose of having something to send to Leanne. It was addictive. I have been told that I have something of an addictive personality.

I also thought back to when I started Classical Gasbag and remembered that the words had always been more important than the pictures. Sometime in the past year I forgot that basic premise. Like I said, visions of grandeur.

So the upshot of all of this is I will only a submit a picture to Monochrome Madness when I think the picture deserves to be seen outside of the confines of Classical Gasbag. That isn’t likely to happen very often. At least here you may get a glimpse into why I took a particular picture. After all, the words are more important than the picture, and it is all about me.

A matter of balance

C'mon snow, I'm waiting
C’mon snow, I’m waiting

I stepped outside our front door this morning and took this picture with my phone. I know that at first glance it appears to be a monochrome image, but it isn’t. There is a winter snow warning over our local land, but we haven’t had a flake since yesterday. Since I tip-tapped those words, it has begun to snow. It is supposed to get bad later today, so perhaps I’ll be able to do a before and after retrospective of two or three photos. Wouldn’t that be fun? Seriously, I am looking forward to the snow. I am not a football fan, so all of the hoopla over the SUPER BOWL is lost on me. And shouldn’t I be reserving the use of the word hoopla to basketball? It’s something to ponder.

***

I’ve realized lately that my life has become slightly unbalanced. I blame Classical Gasbag. When I started writing here, three years ago, I was bringing writing back into my life. I don’t mean the nonsense that I had to write as part of my job with the State, or the very occasional letter I would send to a friend, but an attempt to write something that was meaningful to me. I have never attempted to reach a wider reading audience beyond myself. The fact that some other people enjoy reading some of my posts is very gratifying, if unexpected. I have also begun to write more letters to individuals.

When I started posting I was reading a lot of books, though not as many as I had been. After that first year however, my reading time dwindled, until last year when I read fewer books than I ever had before. That’s one of the reasons I gave myself a reading challenge this year, albeit an easily achieved challenge. To meet the challenge I need only read seventeen books. I can do that and add more as well.

I have grown accustomed again to writing on a regular basis. Blogging and letter writing can be addictive. So I need to balance reading with my writing. This probably means that I’ll be writing more about my reading. Lucky you. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be seeing book reports. To be honest, I’m not sure what those writings will be like since I haven’t started one yet.

I’ll keep you posted.