It’s (almost) all about me

Wall Art #18

This another of the pictures I took a few weeks ago. At some point I want to return to that area of town and get some more pictures. Perhaps I can get another of this wall without the shadow.


I hope you are doing well. Some are, but many aren’t. Cindy and I are doing alright.

I never thought I would be saying this, but I am happy that we are pretty much on a fixed income. So many people are out of work due to the various stay at home orders around the country, but we still get our Social Security and pension checks (actually direct deposits into the bank) right on time. And while Cindy’s business has been forced to stop, they are trying to move it to an online format. And she is teaching community college classes through Zoom. So, financially, we are doing fine.

I do most of the grocery shopping, which is nothing new, but I always wear a face mask and only go to the store about twice a month. Cindy and I pretty much split the trips we make to the drugstore. I still go to see my podiatrist on a regular basis. Don’t want any more pesky infections in my feet. 

Trips to the podiatrist can be “interesting.” The walls between the examination rooms are thin, and you can often hear snippets of conversations between the doctor and other patients. For instance, last month I heard, “Wow! See, there isn’t a lot of blood.” Comforting words. In the room on the other side I heard a patient say something about “thinning the herd.” I sincerely hope he was talking about his livestock. When I went earlier this week, one of the doctor’s assistants told me that she believed the Coronavirus was the Chinese government waging biological war on the rest of the world. When she asked me what I thought, I said “Huh. I think Mother Nature is getting even.” She left the room without another word.

I’ll end this post without going on a (long) rant about the politicians out there who think that letting older, and other at-risk people die (thinning the herd, so to speak) is alright. I can only say, as a septugenarian with a preexisting condition, “You are no longer beneath my contempt.”

Upon spending an inordinate amount of time inside

Wall art #17

I took this picture in pre-hunker down times. I want to go back to this area of town because there are a number of murals. Unfortunately I was in a bit of a rush that day, and only had time to snap a couple of pictures.


Let’s face it, most of us who are of sound mind are spending more time at home, inside. When the weather is nice we go out into our yards, or take walks (maintaining proper social distancing), or just sit on our porches or decks. I can’t speak for you, but Cindy and I spend most of the gloomy days in the house. She usually binge watches home improvement shows on TV, while I am spending more time reading and listening to music. Most evenings are spent watching British mystery movies.

For some inexplicable (to me) reason I find myself listening to songs that I haven’t listened to in a number of years. In some instances they are considered One Hit Wonders. I’m pretty sure that a lot of the people who purportedly read this blog are too young to have heard some of the songs unless their grandparents played them. I mean, how many of you have heard Art & Dotty Todd’s version of Chanson D’Amour, or Danny O’Keefe’s Good Time Charley’s Got The Blues, let alone Art Pepper playing Patricia

I have also started posting links to music (almost) daily on my moribund Twitter account. While I believe that all of the songs are worthy of being listened to at any time, most seem to speak to me as being appropriate for the times we are in. Some of the songs that I chose to put forward are The Pozo Seco Singers’ Keep On Keepin’ On, Bill Evans’ You Must Believe In Spring, and especially John Prine’s Bruised Orange (Chain Of Sorrow).

If you are interested in listening to any of the songs I’ve mentioned in this post, they can be found on YouTube. If you are interested enough, you can find my daily song selection on Twitter at @NormHouseman.

Stay safe.

Estate Sale

Wall Art #16

I don’t know how long this mural has been on this wall. I noticed it for the first time a few weeks back when Cindy and I were driving home from an art sale in West Lafayette. I finally got around to driving back to get this picture last week.


Back in 2014 I wrote about a day trip to visit a number of graveyards that I took with my friend Mary. Well, This weekend she invited me accompany her to an estate sale. She thought I would be interested because they advertised that there were jazz paintings included. I had never been to an estate sale, and since I had nothing else planned, I accepted the invitation. That and I enjoy her company.

We met Saturday morning at a Starbucks near the site of the sale. I’m not much of a fan of Starbucks, but also I’m not so snobbish that I would refuse to meet there. I arrived early, entered the establishment, and stood in a short line to order and get my coffee. I hadn’t brought my laptop, so I pulled out my smart phone and stared at it to better blend in with the other customers. I sipped my over-priced bad coffee while waiting for Mary to arrive.

I had ordered a plain black coffee and then understood why so many people get the more exotic drinks. They needed to overpower the flavor of the black coffee. Oh well; too each his own.

Mary arrived right on time. We sat and chatted for a bit. We talked about family, mutual friends, and Christmas plans. Then it was time to set out for the sale.

The sale was in a neighborhood filled with expensive homes. I thought there might be some interesting things on sale for prices I couldn’t afford. The house was a a two story house with a finished basement. It sat on the shore of a pond. It was a nice setting. We started in the garage where there was absolutely nothing that interested me. We moved on to the kitchen where I had my first surprise. The cabinets were open, displaying jars of all types of spices that had been opened and partially used. There was no way to tell how fresh, or how stale the spices were.

Mary explained to me that anything we bought would be for the marked price, but at 1:00 p.m. the prices would be cut by 50%, and the next day any remaining items would by cut by 75%. I doubted that there would be much left. We moved into a small room that appeared to have been a den. There was a wet bar in the room. There were also built in bookshelves that held some books ($2 each). One full shelf of the books contained cook books, except for a Weight Watcher’s Guide stuck amidst the cookbooks. It seemed out of place to me.

There were a lot of bookcases in the house. With the exception of the built-ins, which were high quality, most of them looked pretty cheap. In fact, most of the furniture looked low quality considering the house and its location.

I decided that I wanted to check out the basement next, because I saw a fellow carrying a jazz painting from there. We went down, and sure enough there were jazz paintings and prints, as well as other items that were of no interest to me. Most of the jazz themed items didn’t appeal to me, but there was one print that I liked. I had two reasons for not buying it. First, I thought it was too expensive, and second I had no place to hang it. I considered coming back in the afternoon when the price would be lower, but then the fellow I had seen earlier came back down and took another painting. I decided the print I liked would be gone before I could come back.

When it was time to leave we walked into a room where Mary could pay for the items she wanted. There was also a man with a carton full of knick-knacks that he wanted to purchase for 50% off. A woman explained to him that he would have to wait until 1:00 p.m. but he was having none of that. The woman went off to find someone else who would talk to him. I looked around the room and saw a row of liquor bottles to be sold. About half of them were open and partially consumed. Who in the world would buy an opened bottle of booze? Maybe an alcoholic would; but even when I was drinking at my heaviest I wouldn’t have done that. While I was driving home I started to wonder if selling booze without a liquor license was legal in those circumstances.

It was an interesting experience. That said, I don’t think I’ll do it  again anytime soon.

Ed Asner on stage

A Man and his Prostate

I planned on writing a post about this show right after attending, but things happened and I got slowed down. I’ve posted about most of those things. Today I’ve taken the time to get this post completed.

When Cindy and I saw that Ed Asner was coming to Lafayette with his one-man show, A Man and his Prostate, we immediately decided to attend. We are both fans of Mr. Asner, and the topic is certainly important…especially to men of advanced years. I was pretty sure that Cindy would attend because I had gone with her to see Menopause The Musical during one of our trips to Las Vegas. Turnabout is fair play.

Another couple of our acquaintance wanted to attend, so I went online and purchased tickets for four adjoining seats. The Sunday afternoon of the performance we met at the theater doors and proceeded in to pick up our tickets and find our seats. We settled in and awaited the start of the show.

As we waited I looked around at the rest of the people who were coming into the theater. Two things surprised me. First, there were a number of younger people attending. Most of us who were there had grey hair, though a number of people were hiding it under dye. Still there were many younger (under the age of fifty) in the crowd. Let’s face it. a man’s prostate is more likely to interest older men than younger.

The second surprise was the number of women who were attending without men. Then Cindy surmised that perhaps the women were Ed Asner groupies; after all they were coming into the theater in groups of three and four at a time. To me that seemed like a reasonable guess. I just hoped that they wouldn’t disrupt the show by throwing their bloomers onto the stage. Luckily, they didn’t.

I have to tell you that for such a serious subject, the show was probably the funniest I have ever attended. I highly recommend it. I will say that as a movie it would not get a G or PG rating due to language. People who are easily offended by religious humor might also want to avoid the show, though I thought that humor was minimal.

If you get a chance to see this show, I hope that you’ll take the time to see it. No matter what your age or sex is.

Fun times

What we did Saturday night
What we did Saturday night

We don’t often go out on Saturday nights because for years Saturday night was card playing night for Cindy. We broke the pattern yesterday evening.

Our evening started with having dinner with friends at a good Italian restaurant in downtown Lafayette. I decided to be less adventurous than normal when eating Italian, I had the baked ravioli. It was great!

From there we moved on to the concert at The Long Center. We knew right away that the audience was excited to be there. How did we know? Well, the director of the center came out to welcome the crowd. He started ticking off the improvements that had been made since the previous season. New curtains had been installed to reflect the original curtains from so many years ago. The audience applauded the curtains. The sound system had been upgraded. The audience applauded the sound system. A new concert grand piano had been purchased. The audience applauded the piano. He mentioned the roses in the vase that had been supplied by a local florist. The audience applauded the roses. By then I was sure that the audience was starved for entertainment. Finally he advised the audience that we were in a cell phone free zone for the duration of the concert. And so the concert began.

I’m sure that many people who read Classical Gasbag have no idea who Judy Collins is. If you are interested, she was a famous folk singer in the early 1960’s. She expanded her repertoire to include show tunes and pop music. She is now in her 70’s and is obviously still performing. As I looked around at the rest of the audience, I noticed that there was only a handful of people there who were under the age of 60. I may be over estimating the number of people younger than 60.

Judy Collins certainly has good pipes for a woman in her seventies. The songs she sang progressed from her early music to the most recent recordings. She interspersed the songs with stories of her early and later career, dropping names of famous people as she went on. We in the audience found it charming.

On Sunday afternoon I went to the movie and saw Logan with my grandson Mason. Over the past few years we have gone to a number of superhero movies together. It is something that we both enjoy. At least I think he enjoys doing it with me. I can’t think of a reason why a high school senior would want to hang out with a geezer like me rather than spend time with a high school girl. I hope we can continue spending time together like this for a long time.

Geoff Muldaur

Wall art #14
Wall art #14

I went back to pictures I took last month for today’s picture. I didn’t want it to languish in photo limbo while I used more recent pictures. It didn’t seem fair,and I like wall art. Left click on the image if you want a better view.


I have been having trouble coming up with ideas for posts recently, so I decided that I should take a look at the Draft posts that I have stored in WordPress. There are three, and this is the one that has been hanging around the longest. I started writing this a little over two years ago. I didn’t get far. All I had was a YouTube link that no longer goes anywhere, and a joke that doesn’t make any sense when I look at it now. I’ll spare you the joke. Here is a link (that works) to the song.

The song above was from the first Geoff Muldaur album that I bought, “Geoff Muldaur Is Having A Wonderful Time,” back in the late 1970’s. The album was vinyl and I found it in a cut-out bin (that means that it was on sale) in a Karma Record store. I was living and working in Auburn, Indiana when I bought it.

Another song, actually a medley, from that album is I Want To Be A Sailor/Why Should I Love You:

I’ve shared that song with people over the years. Some get it; some don’t. I hope you get it. For that matter, I hope the link works.

After I bought that first album I did a little research and found that Muldaur had been married to Maria Muldaur. The truth be told, I was already a Maria Muldaur fan and bought this album because they had the same last name. I discovered that they met when they were both playing in Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band. Raise your hand if you recognize any of those names.

Here is a song from the album, “Geoff Muldaur & Amos Garrett”: This is an example of why Richard Thompson’s said of Muldaur, “There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.”

I admit that Muldaur is not everybody’s cup of tea, but he is a great cup of Earl Grey for me.

Where do those ideas come from?

Wall Art #13 (I think)
Wall Art #13 (I think)

I found this when I was out looking for a picture for the most recent 3-3-1. I came across it after I had taken the picture that I used in that post. I don’t want to let this photo go to waste. I’ll have more pictures from that morning in future posts.


What do you do when you are awake at 3 a.m.? I usually try to put my mind in neutral by going over old familiar daydreams. There is something about repetitive mental thoughts that aids in my relaxation and eventual sleep. But sometimes it doesn’t work.

A few nights ago I woke up around 2:30 a.m.. 3:00 rolled around and I was still wide awake. My normal daydreams weren’t working; and don’t tell me that they are daydreams, not night dreams. I don’t want to hear your semantics…that’s my game. I don’t know why, but my mind turned to writing, and travelling, and life & death, and other things that popped in and out of my head. I should have gotten out of bed and started drafting all of these thoughts, but instead I stayed in bed with my eyes closed thinking.

Now I have to try to reconstruct those thoughts because they are very important, deep thoughts. And I need to share them with the world. Because, as I said they are very important, deep thoughts. Even the rabbit holes my mind swerved into need further excavation. OK. That excavation is for me; you might not find the rabbit holes relevant.

I used to have a friend who told me that I wrote too much; that I needed to pare it down because people don’t like to read a lot of words. She is probably correct. We do seem to live in a Twitter/Instagram world. Short phrases and cropped pictures have become very important. Just ask the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee.

I haven’t mastered the art of short and pithy. Frankly, I don’t want to. When I was in college my professors and instructors told me that I needed to add verbiage to my papers. In effect, while I thought I was being succinct, they thought that I was leaving out important information. So, with effort, I started bulking up papers. That also served me well when I worked for the State. But now, it seems, I should be reversing all that work that I put into eliminating terseness. May I cry?

OK, those two preceding paragraphs are a rabbit hole. That isn’t what I started to write about, though in my defense, it does have to do with writing. It just isn’t very important and deep.

Of course, it has been a few days since my early morning musings, and I have forgotten a lot of the very important and deep thoughts that ran through my mind. Maybe I can spend some time reconstructing them from the wispy memories that I have retained. If so, I’ll try to share them here at Classical Gasbag.

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.


Urban Art - Military Cat
Urban Art – Military Cat

I took this picture when I was in downtown Lafayette today. I ran my errand and then walked into an alley in search of a mural that I had noticed a few weeks before. I must have been in the wrong alley because the mural wasn’t there. I did find, however, this work. I haven’t labelled it wall art, as I usually do, because it really isn’t on a wall. The surface is more like a combination of fence and wall. Oh, and it is a black and white photo because I am submitting it to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Monday. I haven’t submitted anything in recent months because I didn’t feel that I had anything worth showing, but I kind of like this picture. You can get a better look at the photo by left clicking on the image.


The other morning we lost our Internet connection and WiFi. I found out when Cindy told me she wasn’t able to send an email. I got right on it, after I climbed out of bed and had my first cup of coffee. I was hoping that it would fix itself, but it didn’t. I walked into the office/library/computer room and looked at the cable modem. The only light that was lit on it was the Power light; all of the others were dark. I did what I always try first, I unplugged the modem, waited a bit, and then plugged it back in. That didn’t work, so I tried it again; and again it didn’t work.

That’s when I decided to call the cable company’s tech support. I got a recording that asked questions, and based upon the (limited) responses, offered a course of action. The recording told me to unplug the modem, wait a bit, and then plug it back in. The recording then asked me if the problem was solved. When I responded with a firm “No,” I was put on hold to wait for a human being.

The kind technician who spoke to me suggested that I unplug the modem, wait a bit, and then plug it back in. When I told the tech that I had tried that three times and that it didn’t work, she asked me to try it again. I humored her and did so. When, once again, it didn’t work, she tried rebooting the modem from her end. That didn’t work either. She then said that she would schedule someone to come out and look at the modem (perhaps a good stare would cure it). I knew that I didn’t want to wait for hours, perhaps days, for a tech to show up, so I asked if I could just take the modem into the local Comcast office and trade it in. “Oh,” said she, “You can do that. Just let me see if they have any in stock. Yes, they do.” She then thanked me for calling and said a few more canned things that would reflect well upon her when they later surveyed me.

So, I unplugged the modem for a final time, and headed to the office. When I got there I saw that there was a man and a woman standing in front of the door. They were talking, so I thought nothing of it. However when I got to the door I realized that the office wasn’t open. I read the sign and saw that they didn’t open until 10 a.m. I checked the time. It was 9:35. Aloud I said, “They don’t open for another 25 minutes?”

The woman turned to me and said, “They don’t open until 10.” I thought that was just a different way of saying what I had just uttered, but let it go. There was no reason to be unpleasant.

I said, “I guess I’ll come back later.”

She said, “You should wait because there might be a long line later.”

I turned and left. I drove to our Doctor’s office to have some blood removed from my body so that lab work could be done before my appointment next week. Accomplishing that I drove back to the Comcast office. I arrived a 10:05 and found no line of people standing outside the door. I walked in and took a number. I had #90. An electric sign on the wall showed me that they were serving #87. Since there were three customer service reps working the counter, I didn’t expect to wait long. I was right. In just a few minutes I was headed home with a new cable modem.

I hooked it up, called a toll-free number where they activated the new modem, and all was right with our Internet world. Isn’t it nice to hear something good about a cable company? Except that they do open their doors way too late in the day.

Labor of love


This is another of the art pieces in the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette’s Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! exhibit. Kevin is a piece by Lorie Amick and LaDonna Vovar. He is dressed correctly for our current weather.


I have been in a verbal slump for the past few months. You can tell by the paucity of posts recently. I’m still in that slump. I can’t even come up with a line or two for ideas to write about of things about which to write. Though it seems that I can still occasionally worry about ending a sentence with a preposition. Do the grammar police still worry about such things? Should they?

In order to keep somewhat occupied while I’m not writing, I have picked up on a task that I work on every now and then. For the past few weeks I have been ripping my CDs to MP3 files and transferring them to flash drives. I started on my jazz albums last week. For the past two days I have been working on my Dave Brubeck albums. I probably own thirty or more albums by Brubeck. I started listening to him the summer before I went away to college, and have listened ever since then. Some of the CDs that I’m ripping were made from vinyl albums that I converted to MP3 and burned to discs. Technologies change.

Working on the Brubeck albums is a labor of love for me. I have inserted links to Brubeck music five or six times in the past, but there is so much good music of his available, I’ve decided to add three links in this post. The first is Give A Little Whistle from the album “Dave Digs Disney.” It was recorded in 1957 and features Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, Joe Morello on drums, and Norman Bates (not from the Bates motel) on bass.

The next song is Time In from the album with the same name. It was recorded in 1965 and released the following year. The personnel on the album was the quartet that most people think of when they hear Dave Brubeck. Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, Joe Morello on drums, and Eugene Wright on bass. I saw the Quartet in concert between the time of the recording and the release of the album. They played many of the songs from tha album, and it is one of my favorites.

The third song is Georgia On My Mind from his “Indian Summer” album. The album is from 2007. It was recorded when Brubeck was 86, and is a solo album. This song, like the rest of the album, finds him in a reflective mood. It is among my favorite non-quartet albums.

I hope you enjoy the music.