Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween dog

Makayla is being a good sport about Halloween. She is dressed and ready for some serious trick or treating.

Halloween 2010

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not appreciate Halloween.

I'm not sure what the purpose is to dress up as scary creatures and troll the neighborhood looking for trouble.

Asking unsuspecting homeowners to pay a ransom or be tricked!

But that written, Makayla does have a costume and will be trick-or-treating tonight with the grandsons.

While on the surface this festival is all about goodness and fun, it has very dark undertones which pull at our hearts and cause sleepless nights.

But, funny enough the name Halloween really draws from the day it precedes--All Saints Day. A holy day celebrated by the church where the saints of the church are remembered and celebrated.

Now the festival (I refuse to call it a holiday) has become a huge commercialized venture coupled with parties and many social events and opportunities.

But, on the other hand, I do enjoy the little kids in their costumes and the fun that they have coming to the door and saying those magical words: "Trick or Treat!" It makes me smile to see their smiles behind their masks.

So while I don't appreciate Halloween--as such, I do enjoy the children and their enthusiasm and I guess that is what it is all about.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spider lurking in the tree

Outside Nicole and Mike's home the other afternoon was a very large spider--going about the business of creating a huge, just in time for Halloween web.

The web was not confined to only one tree, not this industrious arachnoid was busy involving two trees into its web. I wonder if it was hunting for small birds or children? This is an example of an orb-weaving spider and according to the description, it was doing exactly what it is known for--weaving a large web between objects.

This also must be small animal week--given the depressing blog yesterday about the small frog that attempted to cross the parkway.

This spider though is big! Compared to spiders.

It was a very industrious spider and I am sure it will be rewarded with a satisfying meal of some large insect.

I was fascinated, for a few moments, watching the spider work. After a while though, it noticed me and ceased working and began watching me watching it.

It was an interesting stand-off and the spider proved victorious when I got bored watching it do nothing and moved along.

But is was a beautiful afternoon after the storms to notice the bugs and animals around the area.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Frog and Traffic

It was suicide--I knew it was.

There was nothing I could do but watch and wait for the inevitable to happen on the rain swept morning highway packed with other commuters headed on their way to businesses, schools or other places of labor to spend their day.

It was still night even though it was morning. Made darker still by the low-hanging graphite colored clouds pouring rain down upon the landscape.

The headlights of my car reflected very little of the wet, soggy scenery back to me.

Although my speed was significantly reduced from the normal 50 to 60 miles per hour--even creeping along at 15 mph there was no hope.

I first saw it as a streak of white bounding in front of me. It continued with some regularity bounding across the road with all of the traffic.

A small animal, I presume a small frog, crossing the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the height of the predawn rush hour. It was bounding up into the air and back down again. Playing a real world game of Frogger--only this time there would be no resurrection for round 2. The consequences this day were permanent.

In the steady rain even with the wipers removing the water from the windshield only moderately efficiently, it was easy to see this small creature and consider its impending fate on the three lane wide highway.

I was saddened.

But, I am always saddened by the carnage along the roads.

I wonder if the frog had a last thought as the tire of the car in the lane next to me transformed it into a two dimensional creature like a cartoon drawing.

What is it like to be alive--and then not? That fast.

I looked down the road at the miles of red tail lights strung out before me like so many Christmas lights. I turned up the radio to see how bad the delay was going to be this morning and worked to remove the thought of that ill-fated road crossing from my mind.

Still, it haunts me a little.

I don't like unhappy endings.

The endings where the underdog fails--and then dies.

What chance does a small frog have against a car on a parkway?

The same as a cat or a dog or a raccoon.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Enemy of Good is Better

It's true.

Sometimes I spend so much time trying to achieve perfection that I become wasteful--can I make it just a little bit better?

How much time do I spend trying to make something good, perfect? Or a little bit better?

Is it an act of pride?

Is it productive?

No, sometimes it is not productive at all. I can spend 90 percent of my time striving for a modest improvement--and I could have spent the additional time doing something really important.

An acquaintance of mine is publishing a new book of his poetry titled The Enemy of Good is Better.

Chris and I sit in front of him and his wife at Orioles baseball games as we have the same 13-game plan package. Over the years we have gotten to know them and look forward to chatting with them during the games. Catching up on life and talking about friends and family and the rhythm of life.

Only within the past year did I realize that he is a published poet--with his own book and a number of very prestigious awards. I purchased his first book--The Clock Made of Confetti. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and the poems--they are complex reading poems full of images and history and emotions.

So it was the title of his new book in pre-publication which really stirred me thinking about the use of time trying to make thing just a little bit better--when they were really good.

Nothing good, it seems, survives. It must be better or it decays into chaos.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Trees at the End of the Parking Lot

Walking out of the gym on Monday afternoon, I was confronted with an awesome sight--the stand of trees at the end of the parking lot were in full autumn color.

In a word--they were magnificent in their seasonal garb.

I snapped a quick picture with my phone camera. I was a little unsteady after playing four hard fought racquetball games--but I was still able to appreciate the color and the beauty there at the end of the lot.

The trees were standing in front of gray, dark clouds--which even without the sunlight to illuminate them made them seem all the more beautiful.

This is the season to notice the changes happening around me. It is much the reverse of springtime--where I notice the new green growth on the trees and then the flowers begin to show themselves. Now, it is the trees as they morph from green to reds and oranges, and yellows that cause me to pause for a moment and appreciate their transformation.

Although like the springtime, the color is only temporary, now is definitely the time to enjoy it.

Take a moment--

It will soon pass if you miss it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flu Shots

They say we should get them.

And I did--yesterday, but secretly I wish I hadn't.

My arm hurts where I got the shot. The health care professional told me it would and it was because of the shot, not the person giving it. Some gallows humor I guess.

The price was right--free, and I got to get some time away from my desk to get the shot.

Still, I feel like a Guinea pig. Test driving the shot for millions of others who have yet to get it or decide they need one.

This year they have included the swine flu shot we received separately last year. I'm sure there will be some new flu they haven't thought about which will require a second stick.

I hate needles. I just can't look at them as they penetrate my skin. I'm afraid I'll tense up or something and then bad things will happen.

But I lived through it.

So I guess I recommend the experience.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Musings - October 25, 2010

1. Well, the teams are all set. Isn't it great we are going to have a World Series without the Yankees, Red Sox, or the Phillies? Actually 2006 was the last time this happened with the Cardinals beating the Tigers 4 games to 1.

2. Sports-wise, yesterday was a good day for the family with the Ravens, Steelers, and Redskins all winning. Tonight, however, will be a disaster as either the Giants or the Cowboys will have to lose and there are family members rooting for each team. It is tough when the teams play each other.

3. Eight days until the election--I wonder if there is any hope the news media will run out of gas or things to say before then.

4. Chinese (Brown Marmorated) stink bugs are a real problem. They are everywhere.

5. Isn't it interesting the difference in perspective? The French are on strike because the government wants to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Here in the U.S. we are yawning as the government is making plans to raise it from 66 to 70. Hmmm.

6. I heard an interesting statement regarding differences between people as it related to the bus scene in Forrest Gump: "we all, deep inside, are hoping that someone will say, 'you can sit here.'"

7. Here is a scary thought. Christmas is just two months away.

8. Today in Elkridge, the sun rises at 7:27 am and sets tonight at 6:14 pm. Total: 10:47. Tomorrow, the total sun time will be two minutes shorter. I hope the Australians are enjoying our sunshine!

9. Mondays are the dividing line between what we want to do and what we need to do to keep enjoying what we want to do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Late October Reality

The cool wind, almost cold, that blew me through the breezeway at work was a real shock the other day at lunch.

I had not felt a wind that cold in many months--and I was immediately transported back to last winter when the frigid winds blew unchecked across the landscape bringing with them record amounts of snowfall.

I can still see the whiteouts associated with the Snowpocalypse. And feel the chill all the way to my bones.

But have no fear, the NOAA is reporting that this winter should be a more normal 18 inches of snowfall variety, with temperatures a bit warmer.

That will sure be a welcome relief to my beleagured budget when confronted by the astronomic electric bills associated with too much cold and its associated snow.

The cool wind chilled me.

And I stood straighter and squared my shoulders into the wind so that it would not get the best of me.

But I know what is coming.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

As Darkness Falls

I was outside the other evening.

It had been a beautiful afternoon. Chris and Makayla and I had taken a long walk to enjoy the afternoon and the clear blue skies as well as the touch of autumn which is beginning to adorn the trees in the neighborhood.

I decided to walk the yards--something that I all too infrequently do just to see how things are doing. I often do small tasks like removing fallen branches and I also determine whether it is time to mow again--which it is by the way.

As I was completing my tour of the yards, I noticed the setting sun was delineating a clear line of light and dark on the trees in the back yard.

It was eerie.

There is was--the dividiing line between day and night, it seemed, clearly drawn on the trees behind my house.

Now I know this was not the famous terminator line. But I could imagine it was, for a minute. The difference between the light and dark was very stark.

Above, in the tree tops it was bright as day and cheerful. Below, it was night. Hard to see and full of unseen unknowns.

The trees are mostly green but the colors of the autumn are creeping into their canopies.

Soon, after the leaves are fallen, the trees will cast ghostly shadows on the lawn instead of providing their ubiquitous shade.

But that is still to come as the seasons continue their inevitable cycling which spawns new life and sees it through to maturity and then starts over again.

For now though--I glimpsed, or I could imagine I glimpsed, the line separating light and darkness as it crept across my lawn and night fell.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Passion Factor


It is a driving force behind success.

When I was younger, I would play games passionately--and I would win. Now, it seems I do not really care if I win or lose--and the passion is gone. I lose a lot more. Which certainly makes one of my grandchildren happy.

A Wikipedia definition of passion:

Passion ( from Latin verb patior meaning to suffer or to endure) is an emotion applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. The term is also often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love. Passion can be expressed as a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion towards a subject, idea, person, or object. A person is said to have a passion for something when he has a strong positive affinity for it. A love for something and a passion for something are often used synonymously.

Passion is the feeling in my gut that tells me I really care about what is happening. That could be something with my family, church, recreation or job.

I am a passionate person.

Sometimes I get blinded by my passion--but

I do best when I am working on that passion because I find that when there is no passion "burning in my belly" I really don't care about the outcome. I become apathetic.

I love working with other passionate people. It makes life fun, even if we disagree because it tells me that they care as much as I do about getting something right.

What am I passionate about?

Well, I'm not going to share--but you can probably guess by reading some of my blog entries.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Mailboxes are part of life and I suspect that most of us check them six days a week.

Why? Because mail is delivered six days per week and we don't want to miss anything important.

I have noticed lately though, that I am recycling more and more of the items that the USPS mail carriers so diligently deliver.

Lots of junk.

I have started stopping by the recycling bin to drop off the unwanted items before even going back inside the house.

It is amazing how a stack of mail can be reduced to two items in about 30 seconds.

I wonder what it is that triggers me to open some of the items? Some go into the bin unopened, while others at least get a peak inside before being recycled. There is something about the ones that get opened that call to me. Is it the promise that there may be something of value inside? I don't know--more it is the fear that I'm discarding something important disguised as junk mail.

Think of the waste in productivity and resources associated with all of the junk mail. It boggles my mind.

Most all of the stuff is not only unwanted it was unrequested. And, unless I take action it will continue to arrive daily in my mailbox.

I'm not sure I want to stop it--think about it. I hate empty mailboxes almost as much as I dislike ones full of junk mail.

It is perplexing. At least if there is mail in the box there is hope that something exciting or important will reside within--in addition to the periodic bills which come interspersed throughout the month.

And so, I will continue my afternoon trek to the mailbox full of the realization that most of what I receive is going to be discarded, but that there is mail in the mailbox is more important that reducing the junk.

I'm not sure that is the best answer--but it's where I am.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jack-O-Lantern Season

They are appearing everywhere.

Pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns.

At stores, on doorsteps, almost everywhere imaginable.

We even have one on our doorstep to welcome people to the house. Or is it guarding the place to keep intruders and evil away? It is hard to know.

While we think of Halloween and its relationship to Jack-o-lantern pumpkins as uniquely American, sadly, it is not so. Jack-o-lanterns originally began in Ireland and turnips or potatoes were used the carve the scary faces. After the pumpkin was discovered in America, that became the vegetable of choice for obvious reasons.

If you have never heard of story of Stingy Jack, click the link above and read it--it is fascinating. Apparently, according to tradition, Jack went toe-to-toe with the Devil and won--or so it seemed.

Probably most people have no idea where the Jack-o-lantern tradition originated--in an Irish turnip.

But now, pumpkins are everywhere to keep Stingy Jack's wandering spirit as well as other evil spirits away.

Our Jack-o-lantern is fabricated. I'm not sure it is endowed with the same protection powers. But it is part of the seasonal tradition. And it makes me smile. And we can reuse it annually--which I like.

And they are everywhere it seems.

So, if you see Stingy Jack's spirit wandering on your front lawn, make sure you light your Jack-o-lantern to keep him and his evil friends away from your doorstep.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Autumn Smells

Autumn has a unique smell.

It is probably the smell of leaf mold on the wind--which at the same time is familiar and makes me sneeze.

That, coupled with the cooler crisper air is one of those dead ringer "it's autumm" signals for me.

Smells are very powerful. I think they are being over used now though. Everytime I turn around there is a new candle or spray object in the house putting out seemingly pleasant odors that mostly make me sneeze.

I noticed the autumn smell this afternoon while going to the cafeteria for lunch. I just caught me and made me realize that it really is autumn here in Maryland.

I also know that there is a very clean, almost odorless smell associated with snow as it lays new fallen on the ground. I don't particularly enjoy it, but I have noticed it.

I looked at the pool cover the yesterday and thought about the water underneath, waiting for springtime.

And it reminded me of the smell of water being splashed upon hot concrete. It has a particular odor to it was well--one that calls for me to jump in the pool and enjoy the day.

So smells are a part of our overall experience that sometimes we do not take time to catalog. They can't be stored slike so many digital images--but we do remember them and can quickly be transported back in time in our minds to a different place.

Some smells make us think of home--like pumpkin pie or baking bread.

Some smells tell us there is a problem, like the smell of burnt hair or hot brake fluid.

Some smells are for information like the smell of radiator fluid leaking on the ground (I hate that).

But the smell of autumn is unique--it is just, autumn. Refreshing and complex.

So I will enjoy it as I watch the sun set too early and the flowers dim and wither knowing that springtime is one day closer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Musings - October 18, 2010

1. Election season is in full swing. The candidates are buying up the airtime for campaign ads. I can't wait until the beer commercials return.

2. It seems that if I stop by the recycling bin on my way back from the mailbox that I wind up with a lot less junk in the house. And there really isn't all that much important mail anyway.

3. Last week something really miraculous happened--the miners in Chile were rescued after 69 days under ground. We need to remember that good things happen too and not get so focused upon the bad things happening around us.

4. I heard a compelling testimony about forgiveness during church yesterday--and it reinforced my belief that too many people are looking for revenge rather than freeing themselves from the trap of hatred and forgiving those who transgress against them. According to Lewis Smedes, "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."

5. October is more than half over--just yesterday it seemed I was complaining about closing the pool.

6. Passion. It dawned upon me that passion is what often separates successful people from those who are less successful.

7. Cars never break when it is convenient. And the corollary to that is that when you're running late and need to be somewhere, the gas tank is empty.

8. I wonder how many things that I think need to be done, really aren't all that important?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birthdays and Football

It ha been a birthday celebration weekend. First Chris and then Jeremy celebrated birthdays. Although Jeremy's birthday isn't really until Tuesday--we went out with him and Nicole last evening to Fed Hill to enjoy some evening libations.

Today--mixed in with football, was celebration day.

The centerpiece was the cheesecake that I made for Chris.

We actually lit the candles twice so everyone could blow them out--well, Lucas just kind of watched. But they really had a lot of fun.

Then we ate cheesecake!

It was yummy and helped to soothe the wounds left by an ugly Cowboy loss at the hands of the Vikings.

Mostly it was good to have everyone together for another afternoon as we planned to start the week together.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Morning

It was a beautiful morning this morning.

I got to sleep in past 7am and wake up gently rather than to the blaring of my alarm.

I didn't have to be at the racquetball court or at work. It wasn't even like yesterday when I took the day off and wound up in Annapolis at the car dealership before 10am to get Chris's car fixed, when I thought I was going to have a completely different day.

Today was going to start differently I thought--yeah, I would be at the grocery store before 8AM getting the items I needed to make and bake my kick-butt cheesecake which Chris asks for as her birthday cake. We are having the party tomorrow during our Sunday family football gathering.

And then--another hour making the cake followed by hours of baking and post-baking activities associated with this labor intensive cheesecake which I noticed has 520 calories per slice. Ugh! No wonder why I usually have a slice as a meal and I only bake it once per year.

As I was doing all of this and taking Makayla out for her required periodic outdoor activities, I noticed a mum in the garden.

It is one that we put there because it came back after the winter in one of the pots and needed a spot to grow.

It was just spilling color into the world and doing its part to make everyone smile.

Much of the rest of the garden has already surrendered its color to the forces of cold and darkness--but this mum, cheerfully sitting in the front of the garden near the driveway, reminded me that the world is full of color and wonder--sometimes you just need to be open to seeing it.

The color is there--I know it in my head, but sometimes I don't let it into my heart.

There is a tree at the top of the street that is always the first to don its autumnal colors. And I noticed yesterday, that it had begun to fully transition from the green of summer to the orange and red of Autumn. The other trees here are not far behind now.

I still look out my window and see green, mostly. But by next week I expect to see yellows and oranges.

Colors of life to offset the quickening darkness--it is so dark now in the morning when I got to work and even when I play racquetball and come out of the gym I can only see traces of the coming dawn in the sky.

Colors that remind me that on the other side, there is springtime waiting to embrace me with its cool warmth and brightly colored flowers.

Winter is like a doorway--from this year to the next. It is a passage that I make every year, to get me ready for the similar journey I will make someday on my own.

I just need to see the colors and the joy that is there and not focus on the darkness.

I'm not afraid of the darkness--I just prefer the light.

And all of this from running out to the grocery store for cream cheese to bake a cheesecake.

Where did I leave my coffee?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Chris(tina)

This is a special birthday card blog (yeah, I am buying a real card, too!) to my partner of too many years to count.

If you factor in that we were 15 when we met, that would make it about 40 years that we have been a thing! And we have been married over 35 of those 40 years. Which is waaaaay to many to think about on a regular basis.

Did you ever think about how we use words to describe people on a regular basis? Well, I did and I want to share a few words about my wife--

Anyway--Chris is the world's best Mom, wife, confidant, physician, psychologist, party planner, grandmother, friend, ER Tech, house vet, L&D volunteer, Offutt Aires member, animal rescuerer, turtle spotter, wine drinking buddy, beach comber, house cleaner, project planner, interior decorator, wily shopper, sister, daughter, aunt, sister-in-law, cousin, niece, grand daughter, civil rights defender, faith-filled believer, worship team member/leader, Dallas Cowboy fan, god-mother, adviser, and lover. (I'm sure I missed a few)

Now each of those words has at least one story attached to it--that I could never even think of trying to recount--but be assured--I'm sure you would agree with my assessment. OK, maybe that she is in the top 10 in these categories.

It is her day. Wish her Happy Birthday (and mean it!). And no, I'm not revealing how old she is or isn't.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Miracles do happen

Any questions? Just ask the miners who just were rescued from deep in the earth after 69 days.

Can you imagine smelling fresh air for the first time in over two months? To be in sunlight?

To see your family?

To burst from the earth after a ride up in a very small looking capsule and to be free?

It is a miracle.

We should celebrate with the miners, their families, and everyone who had a part in the rescue--and that latter item includes everyone who prayed for their rescue.

Some are calling it the greatest rescue since Apollo 13.


Gap Filler Pop-pop

Other duties as assigned.

That is a phrase which is often associated with job descriptions to allow for flexibility in assigning duties and getting tasks done.

Yesterday afternoon I assumed the "other duties as assigned" part of the grandparent job description. I became the after school childcare gap filler.

I never really thought of myself as that--but in fact, the other duty was childcare with my oldest grandson, Ethan.

I re-planned my day to get to work a bit earlier so that I could depart a bit earlier to retrieve Ethan from the neighbor.

It was a beautiful day and I learned a lot about the parking lot at work at about 3pm. It is busier then than at any other time it seemed. It took me and extra 5 minutes to get out of the lot due to pedestrian traffic and cars.

Actually I was looking forward to spending quality alone time with Ethan. We have always gotten along really well and I remember when he was a little baby, I was the first person his mother trusted to watch him for an afternoon--I don't remember the details of that day--but he was a snugly baby and we spent a few hours asleep together on the sofa.

In short the experience yesterday was great for both of us--and I'm told he was really looking forward to time with Pop-pop. I hope I didn't disappoint him--and I don't think I did. We were pretty relaxed and things seemed to go very well.

I was nice when Nicole and Jax arrived--but E and I pretty much stayed on the sofa, chillin' and Jax joined us for a bit. Which was nice, too.

So for a few every other Wednesdays--E and I will be spending time together and the Pop-pop other duties as assigned expansion will likely be as enjoyable for both of us as it was today. Sometimes it is nice to be flexible and willing to try out new things--the results can be very rewarding.

In this case it was easy, just chillin' and spending time together with Ethan

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Playing with Images

I was trying to get an image of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

They were very hazy in the distance on this glorious Sunday afternoon.

The image though, as I took it I knew would not come out very well.

So with my trusty computer in hand, I did some enhancement of the image to bring out the mountains a bit and give it a little artistic quality.

The mountains in the distance were beautiful. The landscape in between was showing the first signs of autumn, with trees beginning to don their autumn finery.

I was standing on the south balcony of James Madison's home at Montpelier. I worked hard to frame the image with the black walnut tree in the foreground.

It was all hard work.

If I was talented as a painter--I might have come up with something like this.

But I'm not.

So I get to enjoy playing with image manipulation programs.

It is still a memory, too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekends Away

Some weekends are really special and reflecting upon them afterwards brings back fun memories.

I mean--9:15 am Sunday morning and I am in a winery sampling wine with Chris and four of my best friends.

If there is a better way to start the day, well it would be hard to imagine. OK--so out on a beach definitely wins hands-down, but this is a close second.

Grapes are beautiful.

Vineyards are relaxing places to walk and enjoy.

And of course, vineyards were not the only places we went on this beautiful Sunday.

We also toured James Madison's Montpelier to take in some important aspects of American History.

It was fun to see the changes in the house as the restoration continues.

But it was a great weekend--and we had a lot of fun and samples many different wines.

I highly recommend it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Musings - October 11, 2010

1. Happy Columbus Day. Columbus day became a Federal Holiday in 1937. Click the link and read about it--it may surprise you that it is not a uniquely U.S. holiday.

2. I bet you forgot it was a holiday until you went to collect the mail. Surprise--no bills!

3. Did you know there are 10 Federal Holidays?
- New Year's Day
- Martin Luther King's Day
- President's Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veteran's Day
- Thanksgiving
- Christmas (yes, it is OK to say Merry Christmas!)

4. I enjoyed a weekend of wine tasting and history in Charlottesville, VA again this year. We had a lot of fun with friends.

5. The weather has moderated and is awesome. Don't forget to enjoy it. It may be the last before the dark days are upon us.

6. My dog was so happy to see me when we returned this yesterday that she has not left my side since. It was a little tough taking a shower--but we worked it out.

7. Well, we finished the bed exchange with Patrick and Tina. We received a queen bed as our guest bed in exchange for a full. It is now set up and ready for company. And yes--true to form, blood was spilled!

8. And so the week begins. Thankfully, I have a short week--I'm taking Friday off. Chris is off and it's her birthday.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wine on the Vine

Started Sunday morning in the vineyard.

A beautiful day. Out with friends and sipping wine before 10am.

Afterwards it was off to Montpelier and James Madison's home.

The area is beautiful. The wines are awesome.

The friends are fantastic.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wine Tasting Saturday

Well it is October and we are out int the Virginia wineries tasting.

We are out with good friends getting int trouble but also finding wines to enjoy.

I'm fact, I found the Thanksgiving dinner wine.

It is a beautiful day out in the countryside.

Does it get better than this? Yes, but only on the beach.

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time ...

The words are magical, are they not?

They remind me of childhood and dreams about the future.

Of knights and dragons, and even of space warriors fighting against overwhelming odds.

They remind me of playing for hours in a fantasy world without too many props on the edge on my imagination where every thought was reality and reality was but a memory.

Once upon a time I was the captain of a starship.

Once upon a time I was the the best pitcher on my baseball team and I won game 7 of the World Series by striking out Mickey Mantle on four pitches. (I guess I never did like the Yankees after all)

Once upon a time my sisters and I along with some neighbors created a series of tree forts from which to protect the area from invading Indians. We shot real arrows made from birch with bows made from birch and fishing line.

Once upon a time I was going to lead the first manned mission to Mars. Well--we see where that went.

It is fun to remember once upon a time--

Not that it could ever be any better than today, living life in real time. But it was fun to stretch the imagination. Once upon a time when I was young and could do anything or be anyone in the universe that I could imagine.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Music in my Ears

Chris told me about it a week or so ago and I really didn't think too much about it.

She noted that I was not listening to music anymore while driving in the car and she was listening to more of it.

I dismissed the comment--I like listening to talk sports radio.

But I recently remembered reading a study that people who listen to talk radio are more likely to be depressed. I went looking for it but could not find it.

That written though, yesterday morning I played music and wound up even singing along as I crawled along in traffic to work.

I felt much more energized when I left the car in the parking lot.

I didn't have a clue what happened in sports the night before--but there was a spring in my step as I bounded across the parking lot to the building . Ready to face the trials of the day.

Of course, it was a sunny day.

I will conduct the experiment over the next couple of days to see if it holds.

I urge you to try it and let me know the results of this unofficial, unscientific study on the effects of music upon mood.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lists and Rankings and Memories

We are people who love lists it seems.

We pay others to rank things for us so that we don't have to try everything to make our own ranking. Or sometimes it is fun to rank things on our own just to see how we compare to the professionals.

I can tell the year is coming to a close because the rankings are beginning to show up in the mail.

Just this week, I received in my current issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine the "Top 100 Best Buys 2010.' Yes a list. I look forward to the wine lists. And there will be a lot before the year is over. Some will seem funny before it is over-- "The 100 best Wines without a cork" or something like that.

All through the year, new wines are ranked on a 100 point scale. OK--the dirty little secret is the scale is really from 55-100.

Soon we will see lists of the top 10 movies of 2010, or the worst 10 movies. Every day I look forward on ESPN to the "Play of the Day." And during baseball season the "Web Gems." Or the "Top 10 Plays of the Day" from all sports. I am amused sometimes about how they try to give equal time to golf--but that's a thought for another day. I never see chess in the play of the day, though.

Some lists are much more useful than others. I find that Consumer Reports has good lists of things I might want to buy. And my Scuba magazines ranks everything Scuba--nice to look at, but I'm probably not going to replace my current gear with new gear just because.

What if I tried to rank order list things in my life? I thought about it for a minute. It would be pretty weird.

Bob's Top 10 Favorite Living Dogs
1. Makayla (keeshond)
2. Ben (keeshond)
3. Jefferson (beagle)
4. Florence (itailian greyhound)
5. Ginger (chocolate lab)
6. ?

That went well didn't it?

I want to try another attempt at dog listing:

What about Bob's Top 10 Favorite Dogs of All Time: Living or Deceased

Actually this gets a lot harder.

1. Nufi (keeshond)
2. Makayla (keeshond)
3. Meghan (golden retriever)
4. Spooky (some kind of spaniel/hound)
5. Ben (keeshond)
6. Zachary (Yorkie)
7. Bear (keeshond)
8. Trixie (Shepard mix when I was a kid)
9. Lady (collie mix when I was a kid)
10. Ariana (shitzu)//Rippy (Lhasa apso) (it was a tie for 10th)

Anyway--it gets hard. With the exception of Makayla and Ben, they are all deceased--but their memories linger. Is it useful?

I don't know.

I do recommend the wine list though for for good value wines under $15. The list gives me something to look for when I go shopping.

And we will all likely continue to check the lists for the best buys or for whatever.

Happy listing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blahs of Life

Sometimes I feel as if I'm just playing out the string--especially in these days between baseball and hockey. Kind of like what the Orioles did for the past month or so.

It is just tough--two days with no baseball as the playoffs are scheduled to start later today.

The other night it was so bad I mostly watched a chick flick with Chris--"Letters to Juliette." I mean really? I had a Monday night with almost anything to do and I watched a chick flick. If there had been baseball on TV--it would have been on.

It was so bad that I went out and filled up Chris' gas tank in her car for her--just to get a break.

With it getting dark so early now I really don't know what to do with my evenings--except look out the window into the darkness and wish for summer.

I think I need a trip to the beach or something.

I had forgotten how dark it gets so early and we still haven't switched off daylight savings time yet! Ugh!

I just need to strive to enjoy the daylight more. And it is supposed to warm up again as the week moves along. We will struggle to see 70's it seems.

And so I'm just blah!

It is even spilling over into my racquetball--I'm playing totally uninspired. Although last night, in an effort to beat the blahs, Chris had a stunning meal ready when I stumbled through the door after getting thrashed on the racquetball court again.

That was nice and served to chase away the blahs for a while.

But they are still out there. Lurking.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halloween Village

It is October after all.

Time to really begin the window dressing on seasonal decorations. One of the things Chris really enjoys are her Halloween decorations.

Those of you who know me, know that I'm not a huge fan of Halloween. I like the candy (a bit too much) but that's about it. But, in the spirit(s) of the season we decorate the house because, well, it is a piece of American tradition that keeps us from becoming stogy.

There is so much inertia to overcome in doing anything different these days. It seems the easiest thing to do is nothing at all. And then feel guilty about it later.

We did get our decorations out Sunday and placed around the house to begin to get into the season. We only have a small Halloween village--because it is out for less than a month. But it does get me excited for the Snow Village and its arrival in the house, now scheduled for November 20th.

That of course, begins the Christmas season--with all of its special sets of issues.
For now though--the next celebration on the radar is Halloween. And the nights are getting colder and the days are cooler.

Autumn is fully in control now. I guess we need to embrace it because, as the line from one movie reports: "resistance is futile!"

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Musings - October 4, 2010

1. Busy weekends move by so quickly that sometimes I even wonder if you I a weekend.

2. Baseball season is over--the Orioles finished really strong and made watching baseball fun. I hope it carries over to next year. I miss the "Boys of Summer" already.

3. Where is hockey? I'm ready. Oh yeah--Thursday night! Can you say Stanley Cup?

4. It is raining again. I'm not sure we need anymore for a while. Who turned off the sun?

5. Did you hear about the Earth-like planet they found? It doesn't rotate. I guess it is not so earth-like, then.

6. We are in the season of changes--decorations which last only for about a month. Currently we are celebrating a harvest holiday with pumpkins and scary houses. Next month we get out the turkeys for a celebration of thanks.

7. Makayla had prissy feet. What are prissy feet you ask? Well, she won't go into the wet grass to do her business. That becomes a bit of an issue with all of the rain we are having and so I have to put her on her leash to guide her to spots suitable for her activity. I do not have prissy feet by the way.

8. Did you hear the joke about October weather? Neither did I.

9. And writing of jokes:
If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you! (from Joke of the Day)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday Catch-up

It is funny how a quick trip to the dump turned into an all day series of projects--some of which still beg for completion.

The day started pleasantly enough with Chris and Riordan enjoying a moment on the sofa before it was off to the lab for blood work in advance of a physical.

After a short breakfast we decided to rid the hacienda of excess junk that had piled up during the summer. One additional item which finally made its way to recycling was was an old Honda engine which had been reclining under a counter in the garage for almost eight years--it is finally being recycled.

Patrick and Tina arrived to help and we also sorted through attic holdings that were beginning to burst out all over. It is funny how attics quickly become the black holes of the home--things go in but never come out.

The truck was full as Patrick and I headed for the recycling center--and I am happy to report that only a very small amount of the overall load were not able to be recycled.

Chris and Tina took a load of clothing to the Salvation Army for donation--and amazingly did not pick anything up while they were there.

But did the day end there?


We all went out to an enjoyable lunch and then it was on to other projects--moving beds and finally, after over a month of consideration and planning, placing the TV in the family room on a wall mount.

Is any project easy? No. the TV mount required three trips to Lowe's, including changing the original mount which didn't fit the TV to complete the project. I also discovered a number of wires and pipes in the wall--right where I wanted to put the new electric outlet. OK--so I do have some patchwork to complete.

We shot this image after the TV was mounted to the wall but before we had removed the base that it had been sitting on for almost two years. It kinda looks suspended in space.

As as darkness fell--and the carry out Chinese arrived--the day began to come to completion. The TV was finished--although there is a mattress in the garage that displaced Cat for the night.

All in all though--a productive day and an enjoyable one.

I slept well.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Blades of Grass

Green. Alone among the millions
growing in my yard.
The mower cut them all the same
no individuality here.

Despite the lack of rain this year
my lawn remained still green.
And so I mowed it every week
as each grass blade grew new.

Summer's sun has lost its heat
and frost too soon will fall.
The blades of green will change then too
become the brown of Fall.

And lay beneath the royal robes
adorning trees that shade.
The blades which once were green and warm
will sleep beneath the snow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy New Year FY11

Funny how that sounds, right?

But actually we celebrate other new years as we go through our calendar. Last month it was Jewish New Year. In February it was Chinese New Year.

Today though is the Fiscal New Year! And so we awake this morning to a government without a budget because our elected officials can't seem to focus on the important aspects of their jobs and ensure a funded and functioning government.

Thank goodness for continuing resolutions!

I'm frustrated about the state of our government.

I saw a poll reported on the NBC Nightly News Tuesday night that really drove home the point about voter frustration. The bottom line was--it didn't matter whether Republican or Democrat--the voters are ready to part ways with whomever is currently in office and get some new people in place who are more collaborative and less partisan.

I'm with them.

As it stands right now, I do not see myself voting for anyone who currently is in office this year.

Give someone else a chance.

Let's get past partisan politics and get on with the business of running the government and stop the ceaseless bickering. It is not getting any better, is it?

The economy is still faltering, joblessness is increasing, and the debt is mounting.

I don't care whose fault it is, FIX IT!

That the government has no budget is just one of the many symptoms of the problem.

It seems that our elected officials no longer represent us--the ones who gave voted them into the job.

So Happy New Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. May we reclaim the government of the people and for the people this year!
My Zimbio
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