Minor stuff

Storm clouds over Utah
Storm clouds over Utah

We returned yesterday from a nineteen day road trip. I always wait to write about the trips after we get home. Why advertise that the house is empty even when we have a security system?

I took this picture with my phone on the sixth day of our trip; which means it was in Utah. I say it that way because until I checked the time stamp on the photo, I thought that I had taken it in Wyoming. I was surprised when I saw the photo in the camera gallery on my phone, because I didn’t remember taking it. My phone sometimes seems to take pictures on its own. I have discarded many pictures of my shoes and the car dashboard. Yes, I took the picture through the windshield of a moving car (Cindy was driving).

I am submitting the picture to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness which will appear next week. The theme is clouds. I had a number of pictures from the trip that I could have gray scaled and submitted, but this one seemed to best capture the spirit of the theme. And I didn’t do anything to the image. These are the original colors. You may detect elements of blue, but I still believe it appears as a monochrome image.


If you are now eagerly expecting a daily post about our travels, as I often do, I’m afraid that you will be disappointed. While I do want to write about the trip, I will only occasionally slip in a post. Tomorrow is the beginning of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I plan to participate again this year. It will take up most of my writing time.

I successfully completed that challenge last year, a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. Last year’s work, however was relatively easy for me since my work was semi-autobiographical. I knew the start, the finish, and most of the interior before I started the actual writing. This year I’m depending on my creativity, and that can be spotty at best. I have a beginning in mind, and some details, but I don’t know how I will end the work. Wish me luck.

Early morning thoughts

Can you feel the excitement?
Can you feel the excitement?

There is something exciting about passing under a bridge or through a tunnel. It is as if you are passing from one part of life into another. You don’t feel it? I’m sorry for you.


I must be feeling my mortality lately, because I find that I’ve been ruminating on aging in the early morning hours. It doesn’t happen every day, but often enough lately that I notice it. Here are a few of the things that I’ve recently thought.

I know I’m growing older when I look in the mirror after my morning shower. I see how thin my wet white hair is becoming. I can see scalp where I never noticed it before. For some reason this always startles me. It doesn’t sadden me, but I do wonder when this phenomenon started.


Either I’m becoming more cranky or I just notice it more in myself. Perhaps with age or maturity you become more aware of your shortcomings. You see your former self in the shortcomings of others, and you become more tolerant. Except you get more cranky.      Well, I guess this point needs some more thought. For now let’s just say that I have cranky days and less cranky days.


I used to look at pretty women and feel lust. Now I look at pretty women and wonder if they have an interesting mind. When they do, and they are willing to be a friend, it is like hitting the lottery. The odds are better with a pretty woman because most people have interesting minds below all of the surface crap. Digging through the crap is the hardest part, and I’m not often willing to do that hard work.


A couple of months ago I was n a big box store to buy a pair of blue jeans. As I was walking through the men’s clothing section I noticed a stack of T-shirts and stopped to look them over. There I found a Captain America T-shirt that caught my fancy. I started to go through the pile of shirts, looking for my size. And then my mind said to me, “What are you doing? You passed the age of 65 a couple of years ago. Act your age!” So I moved on. I did, however, buy a plain lime-green (the color expresses my still smoldering rebellious streak) t-shirt with a breast pocket. I used to dislike t-shirts with breast pockets, but now seek them out. I insert my MP3 player n he pocket on my old-man morning walk. At least I don’t use a hiking stick and wear an Australian bush hat.

#10 of 501: Charade


I’ll bet that you thought that Cindy and I had given up on watching movies from the book 501 Must-See Movies. I had pretty much given up as well. But the other night I was able to convince Cindy to watch something other than a British murder mystery. I love them too; but I also like a little variety, leavened with a hearty dose regularity, in my life. I don’t do tacos every Tuesday, but I do watch an episode of Pie In The Sky with my lunch on most Mondays.

Sorry about that digression. We watched another favorite from my youth, Charade. The stars are Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Having Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy and others in the film didn’t hurt. It was released in 1963, and I remember going to see the film when I was in high school. Those were innocent years when the characters had to explain what the CIA was, and soon enough after WWII that the plot was plausible.

The screenplay by Peter Stone is a melange of comedy, mystery, suspense, and love story. Most of the comedic heavy lifting goes to Grant, who was a master, but Matthau’s character also had some brilliant moments. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you saw the 2002 movie The Truth About Charlie you know how Charade ends. My own taste prefers Cary Grant to Mark Wahlberg and Audrey Hepburn to Thandie Newton, but I’m a geezer.

I read that Charade started as a screenplay that Peter Stone couldn’t sell, so he adapted it to a novel. Once it was in novel form and selling, he was able to sell the screenplay. When I was younger I never bothered to check the writing credits on films, so when I read the novel I remember thinking that the movie had been very faithful to the book. Now I know that it was the other way around.

OK. Ten down and four hundred ninety-one to go.

The world is slowing down

Bring the rural to the city
Bring the rural to the city

At first I didn’t know if this was once a door, or a window. I’ve decided that it is a doorway; but  it is very narrow.  There are hinges on the left side and a padlocked latch on the right side, but they are painted to blend in with the painting. Also, there is a curtain painted into the picture. I found it very confusing until I looked at it close up. It is just off main street in Lafayette.


I was watching a local news broadcast the other day and they showed a report about fast food restaurant drive-thrus getting slower. They are supposedly becoming more accurate, but that seems to slow their speed. Interesting.

It made me reflect upon my last trip through a drive-thru, which had been that very morning. You may know that I am not a fast food aficionado, but I do occasionally get a breakfast “meal” when I am out and about in the morning. Let me tell you about my experience.

I went to one of the many local McDonald’s to break my fast. I went their because I don’t like sandwiches made on a biscuit; they are too crumbly. It seems that all of the McDonald’s drive-thrus now start in one lane and then split into two, so you have to decide whether you want to go in the right lane or the left lane. I chose to go to the right.

There was method to my madness choice. Whenever I have a choice of choosing between a lane with a pickup truck in front and one that does not, I choose the lane without the pickup. Invariably when I get behind a pickup, the driver is there getting food for an entire construction crew. It isn’t fun getting behind one of those pickups. So I avoided the left lane where the pickup truck driver was waiting his turn.

The right lane was not a great choice either. Evidently the guy placing his order in the right lane was a talker. He was carrying on a conversation with whomever was the employee on the inside. He was smiling, laughing and gesturing as he talked. It had gone way beyond food ordering phase. This went on for a couple of minutes while the rest of us waited patiently. Even the guy in the pickup truck in the next lane finished before the fellow from Toastmasters International who was at the head of our lane. Finally he finished and I was able to creep forward another car length.

Meanwhile, a woman in a little blue Volkswagen reached the head of the other lane and then decided to decide on what she wanted. The fellow in front of me got his order in and pulled away from the speaker in record time. I liked that guy. The woman in the blue VW was still hemming and hawing.

My turn! When asked what I would like, I answered succinctly, “One breakfast burrito and a large black coffee.”

The woman on the other end said, “Do you want hot sauce for your burrito?” and I answered in the negative. She then said, “That will be,” and quoted a price.

I looked at the order screen and said, “You don’t have my coffee on the order.”

She said, “I’ll take care of it at the first window. Please pull around.”

“OK,” thought I, “we’ll see how that goes.”

As I started to pull forward, the woman in the blue VW, who must have been holding back, decided to squirt into line ahead of me. I hit my brakes, but not my horn.

While I waited to get to the first window, I observed as I have many times before, how busy the person in line ahead of me is. They bob, they weave, they reach into the adjoining seat, they reach into the back seat, when it is a woman they dig through their purse, everybody reaches down to the floorboard of the car. What are they searching for?

When I got to the first window the woman asked for an amount that would cover the burrito but not the coffee. I said, “You are forgetting my coffee.”

“Oh,” said she, “what kind of coffee did you want?” I told her, and she added that to my charge. I paid and crept ahead toward the second window where I hoped my food and drink would be waiting.

Success. It was there; and the order was correct.

I understand why the study showed that fast food is getting slower.

Waiting for the words

After the harvest
After the harvest

I took this picture with my phone Friday morning and knew that I wanted to use it. But I have nothing to write about today. I’m going to wait for a bit to see if inspiration strikes.


Ow! It struck. I’ve been giving thought recently to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. It begins on November 1st. I enjoyed so much last year that I plan on doing it again.

I’ve had two or three ideas for the novel, and came up with one that interests me. It is very different from what I did last year. If I use this idea it will be a bigger challenge for me than last year’s finished work, and I find that somewhat daunting. But if can do it successfully, I will find it at least as satisfying as what I did last year.

But I have a problem. After jotting down some ideas on how to move forward with the actual writing, I realized that it reminds me of one of Vladimir Nabokov’s better (in my opinion) novels. I haven’t read that novel since I was in my twenties, but the fact that I remember the broad outline indicates to me that I may be drawing upon it.

My question is, am I wrong in doing that? Should I drop the idea entirely, or should I move forward? It’s not as if I want to follow in the footsteps of Borges’ character Pierre Menard. My purpose is not to cover the same ground exactly. I just have an idea that I want to pursue.

By this time you are probably saying to yourself, “Who cares. Nobody is going to read it anyway.” That’s true. I doubt if more than one or two people will read it. Excellent point! Even if they did work their way through it, I doubt that they would be expecting to read The Great American Novel. Yes, that is an excellent point. I believe I’ll go ahead with my idea. Unless I have a better one before November.

A duke’s mixture #3

The toll of the years
The toll of the years

I took this picture back in March but didn’t get around to using it until today. I am submitting the picture to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness. She will be putting together a gallery of submissions that are based on the theme “Country.” I think this fits the bill. Click on the link above to view her wonderful website.


I have a couple more idea notes on my phone that I want to clear off. The first involves my smart phone. I saw a news report a couple of weeks ago that a few states, specifically Iowa and Delaware, were running pilot programs to make your driver’s license available as an app on your smart phone. Hmm. Would I mind handing over my phone to a police officer if I was stopped? Personally I wouldn’t, but I know a number of people who would object. What do you think about it? Oh, and the reason this report seemed noteworthy to me is because the reporter, in his summation, made a reference to Max Headroom. I wonder how many people under the age of thirty-five recognized that reference? But then I also wonder how many people under the age of thirty-five watch the news.

 In one news show that I was watching they did a tease for an upcoming segment. The tease was about a man who hadn’t showered in years. I didn’t stay tuned to hear about that oh so noteworthy news story, but it made me wonder and ask a couple of questions. First, what if he prefers baths? I know many people who choose baths over showers. Second, who cares if he bathes other than people who have to interact with him? Is it really newsworthy? And finally, why do television news shows think that they have to tease their audience into watching? Doesn’t that say something about the quality of the show? Just wondering.

That’s all of my duke’s mixture for now. Once I build up more short idea notes I’ll bring it back. Have a great weekend.