Stuff I think about

I took this picture three weeks ago. Since then, Spring has arrived. Soon the trees will be budding and leafing out. Life is better.

A lot of my time this past year to eighteen months has been spent thinking. What with politics, BLM, all of the sexual predators, our paternalistic society, and the pandemic there was a lot to think about. I even spent time reflecting on myself and the things I’ve done in my own life. There are plenty of things to be happy about, and a number of things that I regret doing and saying. Self-reflection can be a worrisome thing.

I spent a lot of time last night thinking about friends that I’ve lost over the years. I realized a couple of things. The first was that the great majority of those lost friendships was due to neglect. Neglect in that I didn’t take greater responsibility to stay in touch with people who didn’t live close to me. I could have called them on the telephone, but I didn’t for the simple reason that I don’t like using the telephone. I often feel tongue-tied when on the phone.

Written words are easier for me. I can take my time and edit the words that I chose. Changes can be made to better express what I want to say. I have always enjoyed sending and receiving letters and cards. Unfortunately, most of my friends didn’t enjoy letters as much as I. So gradually they stopped responding. As a result of that I stopped writing. And as a result of that, we fell out of touch.

Email came into vogue after I moved from Auburn. Once again I could correspond with people. Unfortunately for those with whom I no longer kept in touch, I had no email address. Still, with newer friends I could trade longer, considered missives. It wasn’t quite as satisfying for me, but it would do. But then, email is for me a more immediate mode of communication. I probably picked that up from work where people expected a near immediate response. At any rate, I found myself dashing off responses rather than thinking through what I wanted to say and crafting that response.

One by one, these friends stopped using email and switched to test messages. With texts you are limited in how much you can say without interruption. It really isn’t as satisfying.

I now know people who have moved on from texts and exclusively communicate through short Twitter statements and with pictures and videos on Instagram. Those media allow you to broadcast to groups rather than individuals. I have mixed feelings about.

Rather than go on about changing communication patterns, let me move on to the second thing about lost friends. It is that they never age. When I think about my lost friends from my years in Rolling Prairie or Auburn they look exactly as they did the last time I saw them. They still have the same thoughts they had back then. None have had another birthday, gotten married or divorced, or had any children. None of them voted for Barack Obama or Donald Trump. None have had a heart attack, gone deaf or blind, come down with Alzheimer’s, or died from Covid-19. There lives have been suspended in time.

If any of my lost friends come across this post, think of it as a letter from me. I’ll do my best to write again soon.

Norm Houseman: Places

Thanks once more to Cupitonians for posting one of my mixtapes. One day she will tire of using them. But until then…

This Labyrinth I Roam

I love to travel. But we haven’t been able to take any extended trips in the past year, so my travel ha been confined to daydreams and musical excursions. Lucky for me that there is a plethora of songs that have connections to geographical locations. I would like to go to most of the places in this mixtape. I don’t want to go to New York, New York; too many people. The same is true for Chicago. I don’t want to go to Kokomo; been there too often under less than desirable conditions. Kalamazoo if OK; used to date a college girl there. The rest are a blank slate.

As part of my new mixtapes project, I have asked select friends to curate playlists for me. This mixtape is specially curated for us by Norm. He quickly became a true friend and…

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N-N-1: A Picture That Represents Inner Peace to You

Ashesh, who writes From Life to Me at hosted the most recent N-N-1. I think he did a darned good job. Thanks Ashesh.

Come one and come all to the latest N-N-1. This time I chose the theme “A Picture That Represent Inner Peace To You”. I was legit blown away by the quality of entries that came forth.

It was an honor to host this N-N-1 and my sincere thanks to Anju and Norm for letting me do it!

My first person to send me a post was Natalie who writes Wild Rivers Run South. Her post is a poem.

Sunshine and blue skies

The Sun came up this morning.


I was up to see it,

But didn’t have my camera.

So, I went back inside.

Ate breakfast.

Got my camera.

And went outside to see the blue sky.

There was a time,

When I thought there would be

No more blue skies.

I was wrong.

There is still a deep sadness,

But some of the ache is gone.

And I can see the blue in the sky.

The sun never stopped rising.

Clouds have just been hiding it.

And the blue skies.

But now there has been some clearing.

There will be more clouds,

But not every day.

Sunshine and blue skies are back.

Norm Houseman who writes Classical Gasbag had this to say:

I’ve been thinking about this ever since Ashesh first mentioned the theme to me. There are a lot of things that bring me inner peace. There is music, reading books, watching a good movie, visiting a graveyard, even eating a good meal. But I’ve taken pictures and written about those things before. Then I thought about artwork. We have paintings, posters, and prints hanging in almost every room of our house, and I find myself looking at them each time I enter a room.

Recently I started working on and adding to my stamp collection. I hadn’t touched it since the pandemic shut down most places. When you think about a collection of stamps you realize that it is like going through a miniature art gallery. You have etchings, landscapes, portraits, still lifes, pop art, and probably things that I’m forgetting. If your stamps are used there is a history attached to them, where they came from and where they were bound; the provenance so to speak.

These small pieces of art are accessible to everyone. I’m sure you can find pictures of recent and old stamps on the Internet. Take a look and soothe your inner being.

Barb sent me a charming post which is linked below. Her blog is The View from a Drawbridge.

This N-N-1 posed a great challenge to me. Inner peace has been elusive lately, due to the pandemic and the political and social turmoil. That, and how does one take an outer photograph of inner peace? Hmmm. I had to think about this for several days. And then I realized that the place that allowed me the time to ponder this project was the very place where I have been finding the most inner peace: the YMCA Community Swimming Pool.

I spent the first few months of this pandemic doing nothing. That had to stop. To keep from going insane and becoming too large to fit my clothes, I’m now doing a regular exercise routine for the first time in my life. I can’t control the rest of the world, but I can take charge of my health and wellbeing. At a time when I’m feeling otherwise helpless, this has been a precious gift that I’ve given myself. It’s also a wonderful way to spend quality time with my husband.

This photo is of my swimming exercise equipment. And the fact that it reminds me of the Cookie Monster never fails to make me smile.

Barb Abelhauser

The View from a Drawbridge

We now come to Cristopher LeCompte who is not a blogger, but happens to be married to a blogger (his words, not mine). His entry is given below.

My inner peace is found at home, hidden behind the trees at the end of this rainbow. The stormy spring weather means the daylight hours are growing longer and my dislike of long nights can be subdued for another six months. The large undeveloped park next door is home to coyotes, red-tailed hawks, a bald eagle and countless rabbits hiding in the brambles, hoping to avoid the predators for another day. This location is a personal treasure, my own pathway to inner peace and my escape from the rushing chaos of the surrounding city is literally a walk in the park.

Peace to you.


And lastly we come to Anju, who was the one who got me into this wonderful project way back when. This is what she has to say and her blog is This Labyrinth I Roam

Being stuck at home for a whole year now because of a global pandemic, I’ve had to come to terms with all the things that I have lost. It’s made me let go of the things I can’t control, and focus, instead, on the that I *can* control.

So, when Ashesh laid out the theme for this N-N-1, I was thrilled. Then, a bit overwhelmed. The date coincided with the busiest week of my life. But what it gave me was a real opportunity to figure out what truly gives me inner peace when things are a bit chaotic.  

For me, it’s the little things.

It is an open window when the sun shines. It is the crisp spring breeze that weaves itself into my consciousness when I’m neck deep in black mirrors and deadlines. It is blooming tulips after a long winter, and the smell of warm cinnamon and vanilla candles. It is the unexpected sound of birdsong in the late evening, and the cheeky smile of a stress relief toy puppy (introducing, Herbert Morning!)

This is my inner peace.

And with that, we come to the end of this edition of N-N-1. To those of you who participated, thanks a ton. To those of you willing to participate, get in touch with us ASAP! I personally found this experience very soothing and shall be glad to host another N-N-1 soon! 

Stay safe and vigilant.

Until next I come calling

The Bilge Master

Norm Houseman: Drinking Songs

My dear friend once again shared one of my mixed tape contributions with a larger audience than I could imagine. Thanks to Cupitonians.

This Labyrinth I Roam

There have been periods in my life when drinking alcoholic beverages was my favorite pastime. That ended many years ago when I spent fourteen hours in a drunk tank with a self-described paranoid schizophrenic. He talked for fourteen hours straight. I’m sure that if he is alive today he must be a leader of QAnon. He made that much sense. Just because I have stopped drinking doesn’t mean I have stopped enjoying songs about drinking. Vicarious thrills anybody?

As part of mynew mixtapes project, I have asked select friends to curate playlists for me. This mixtape is specially curated for us by Norm. He quickly became a true friend and confidant 7 years ago when I correctly recognised a floppy disk for what it was. Since then, he has seen me through all my ups and downs through perfectly timed…

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Info for the next N-N-1

Ashesh Mitra is hosting the next N-N-1. As he recently posted on his blog, From Life To Me:

Welcome everyone to another edition of N-N-1! I am Ashesh, from Kolkata, India and I will be hosting this edition of the project. 

So, N-N-1 basically stands for 1 contestant, one photo and one writeup which has to adhere to a theme which is set by the person who is hosting it. The theme for this edition is “A picture that represents inner peace to you”. Please note that the word limit of your writeup which explains why your photo represents inner peace to you, should not exceed 200 words.

This is a call to arms my friends! I hope to see some interesting posts.

He went on to explain that he want pictures and words submitted no later than March 14th. You can either go to his blog to contact him, or you can send your contributions to me at with the subject N-N-1 Contribution, and I’ll forward it for you. I hope you’ll find the theme interesting enough to consider participating. 

Norm Houseman: Beatles Covers

My dear friend Cupitonians has started a new series of blog posts, Mixtapes Project, and has honored me by letting me put together the first mixtape. She knows how much I love music. Thank you!

This Labyrinth I Roam

I have been a Beatles fan ever since high school when I saw their first appearance on Ed Sullivan’s television program. I went to school the next morning eager to talk to my friends about them. Most of those kids had either not seen them or were unimpressed.What?Luckily, Christi Gumm was a fellow convert to the British invasion and we were able to talk about them before Spanish class started. It wasn’t long before other artists were releasing cover versions of Beatle’s songs. At first, I was aghast that anyone would have the temerity to do so. But time passed, and my taste in music expanded, and I grew more tolerant. After all, if the Beatle’s weren’t upset, why should I be upset?

As part of mynew mixtapes project, I have asked select friends to curate playlists for…

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