Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Monday, September 27, 2021
When friends of mine talk about "over sleeping" and missing their morning alarm, I cannot relate. It is hard for me to oversleep due to my two little alarm clocks - Ellie and Marshall. Every morning at 5:30, it is as if their little Mickey Mouse watches go off. If I am not awake Ellie will start nudging me, as much to solicit me to scratch her face as to wake me up. Marshall, on the other hand, will climb on top of me and gently pat me with is left paw, as to say "Let's go!"
When I can sleep late, it becomes a negotiation. I will scratch Ellie's face hoping to mollify her enough that she will settle down and nap. If I ignore Marshall long enough, he will crawl under the covers in defeat and go back to sleep. But the stand off is short lived and shortly we are up and about. Time to get dressed and go out for our morning constitutional.
With the days being shorter and dawn coming a bit later every morning, it is now totally dark when we leave the house. There are 2 choices for our walk - the street that runs in front of my place and the street (more of an alley) that runs behind it. Each carries its own perils, depending on the time of day. Getting out at 6 am or later, means that others will also be out with their pooches. The lady with her large Sheppard mix and the distinguished looking old man with his well behaved Jack Russell will be out and about on their morning walk out back. Any time around 7:00 - 7:15, the older gentlemen 2 doors down will have his Ellie, an older Australian Sheppard mix, out front.
Usually, we are out earlier so we do not have to negotiate these obstacles. Don't get me wrong, I am social and these neighbors are very friendly. Unfortunately, Marshall, with his Napoleon complex will take offense that these other canines are also taking their constitutional. With all of his 10 inch height (he is a full size Yorkshire Terrier, and no, that is not an oxymoron) he will channel his inner canine, bark, and lunge on his leash as if he is going to take these interlopers down. Any person familiar with canine behavior will see his wildly wagging tail and understand his ruse.
So each morning I must make a strategic decision - the front or the back. Lately, we have been out early enough to take a nice stroll down the front sidewalk free of any canine encounters. However, just when I think there will be peace in the morning, there is a new threat - early morning joggers. Being pitch black dark they are wearing head lamps as they come down the street.
So the game is afoot. If I see them first, which can be difficult given they usually are coming up behind me, I can start telling Marshall, "It's OK, it's OK Marshall keep calm." If neither of us are surprised by a jogger, this will usually pacify him. However, this all becomes an issue when we are both surprised. I doubt any of the runners feel threatened, given Marshall's small stature. Often I doubt they can even see his small self as he barks loudly in the dark. I, on the other hand, am mortified that I have such an unruly pet.
Then this can become a game of cat and mouse. If I see the jogger's light bouncing in the dark, I can manage to be standing beside one of the parked cars, shielding the jogger from Marshall's eyesight. Another strategy is to turn into a neighbor's yard, making my way to the back, all the while steering Marshall's attention away from the jogger.
All in all, what should be a relaxing way to start my morning can be very stressful. Often my next door neighbor leaves for work during this bewitching hour. If his departure coincides with our return, Marshall will also bark loudly at him. However, he understands dogs. Instead of trying to avoid Marshall, he will approach my unruly terrier, stoop down and offer his hand. Marshall will immediately stop his barking, wag his tail, and happily accept his kind words and scratches on his head. We exchange pleasantries, I apologize for Marshall's behavior, and we go on our ways.
In contrast to Marshall's deportment, Ellie is always friendly, usually quiet with her little stubby tail wagging as hard as it can. I doubt she cares about Marshall's antics. She is simply trying to solicit attention, as if to say, "Look at me, please pet me, just ignore him". Her unruly black hair (keep in mind Toto was also a Cairn Terrier) makes her look like a street urchin as opposed to Marshall's flowing grey and tan coat. With all his antics, Ellie feels neglected. It is as if she is saying, "Don't mind him, he is just full of 'sound and fury, signifying nothing'."
Sunday, September 26, 2021
I'm embarrassed to say, I still do not know my neighbors well. Oh, I know their names, basically what they do, but other than that - peanuts. I'll confess it is my fault and I should be ashamed on myself.
Last week when I came home, I noticed a box, the size and shape of those of flowers come in, sitting outside my neighbor's door. "What a nice thought," I said to myself, "Coming home to fresh flowers."
The following morning as I left for work I noticed the box still there. No doubt she will get them later this day, I thought. I bet she was already home when they were delivered yesterday. We've all done that. Who checks their front door after they have come in for the evening? Can't say I do.
When I came in from running errands the following day, the box was still there. Later when I took the pups out my back door for their afternoon walk, I made a note to knock on my neighbors door and tell her about the box. Then I noticed her car was not where she usually parks. Note to self - check with her tomorrow.
Friday, I left for work, and the box were still there. Since her car was parked out back, it dawned me, unless she had company, she rarely used her front door. So I sent her a text. "Noticed there is a box on your front stoop, know you always use your back door, figured you hadn't seen it."
About an hour later I got a text back from her, "Thanks so much."
It wasn't long before there was another text. "The box is for you, just had the wrong address."
I texted back, "Thanks, I just wasn't nosy enough to check the name on the box."
Immediately she responded with a laughing emoji.
That evening when I got home, the box was in front of my door. Sure enough the label showed my name but my neighbor's address. And, it was a box of flowers - "fresh" flowers. Well, fresh as flowers could be 4 days old (all the while sitting on a stoop in warm weather). As I opened the box, I feared what I would find. They were impeccably packed with the blooms carefully wrapped so they would not get messed up in shipment. They were in a nice water vase, that was sealed around the stems so it would not spill. Well, a nice empty vase that was.
Miraculously, the flowers had survived, a bit worse for the wear (or neglect), but still intact. I cut their stems and filled the vase with water. As I placed them on the table, I thought, what a conundrum? If I had been a nosy neighbor, I would have gotten the flowers the second day I noticed them on the stoop. But, why in the world would I have done that, it wasn't my business.
Does this mean, after a package has been left, unclaimed, I should check the address? I think not. If it looks to be a box of flowers? Maybe?
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
I cannot speak for everyone, but I pine for normal. Never did I think I would miss being in a crowded restaurant or standing in line. I am tired of checking the paper daily to see where we stand on the COVID mortality chart. Suddenly being first is not desirable.
I'm ready to go to the Cimmaplex to see a block buster - let me reword that, at this point I would enjoy seeing about any movie. I promise not to get frustrated standing in line for popcorn (served up once again in an open bucket). I miss not being able to try on clothes in a store because the changing rooms are closed. Taking into consideration the environmental plight we are now in, I wish to never see a single serving container ever.
Never in my life have I not been able to escape my reality. Before this God forsaken pandemic, just knowing I could buy a ticket, at any time, and go just about anywhere in the world to run away was a mental salvation. By plane or train there was an out. Maybe I did not have the disposable funds to afford such a trip, but I knew it was possible.
I miss seeing people's faces. Wearing a mask prevents us from showing any emotion. Often I find myself smiling then realizing that the show of pleasure is lost in the face covering we all wear. I miss friendly hugs and shaking hands. It will be nice to know that every time I have a cough or cold, not everyone will silently being asking, "Is it COVID?"
I am tired of the world being 6 feet apart. I never thought I would say it, but I yearn for crowds. Deserted sidewalks and empty queues are depressing. Seeing small businesses closed and realizing many will never reopen is terribly sad, knowing that the hard work, investment, and dreams of those owners is lost.
Before February of 2020, I knew the definition of an "epidemic" but was unsure exactly what the term "pandemic" meant. Now, I wish it were a word not heard in every newscast.
I realize in the past, we were lucky to avoid pandemics. Polio, Measles, and Smallpox were eradicated before they could cause a world wide blight. Citizens were appreciative of the hard work and talent of the researchers that worked for years before coming up with a viable vaccine to eradicate these scourges. Most people of my generation sport a scar on our upper left arm, a sign of the Smallpox vaccination we were able to get as children. Yet, now when modern medicine has allowed the production of such vaccines in less than a year, enough people are questioning its efficacy that this modern miracle cannot produce enough immunity to halt the pandemic.
I shudder to think where I would (or would not) be now if my parents had questioned these vaccines. How many friends and family would I never have known due to the mortality of these diseases. Perhaps I could have been a victim myself. 100 years ago, the world was attacked by the Spanish Flu. But now a majority get an annual flu shot. Does the general public realize if enough of us did not get this simple vaccine every year, it may be the flu shutting down our world as we know it.
COVID is not black or white, red or blue, it is an equal opportunity illness. Yet, by simply going to the neighborhood pharmacy, doctor's office, or maybe even the pop up clinic in the parking lot of the local mall, in a matter of weeks we could be free again. We need to ask ourselves, is it worth continuing this madness due to a false premise? In the 1960's would we question scientific truths and believe the scuttle butt we heard over the backyard fence?
Reality is that it will not go away on its own without taking the lives of 100's of thousands more. Every citizen in the United States has the ability to do our part to end this blight. The question is, do we choose to free ourselves and our neighbors or continue the madness out of ignorance and pride?
Monday, September 20, 2021
- Star Wars: The Child Animatronic Edition Toy (ie Yoda)
- LEGO Star Wars The Razor Crest
- Barbie Color Reveal
- LEGO Super Mario Bowser's Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set
- PAW Patrol Dino Patroller
- LEGO Ideas Grand Piano
- PLAYMOBIL Back To The Future DeLorean
As usual there are nods to plastic and well known brands (LEGO, Barbie, Star Wars). These names date me. Barbie debuted in 1959 (the year I was born). LEGO was introduced in 1932 (the year my mother was born), and the first Star Wars movie was released as I graduated from high School (May 1977).
FWIW, the 2020 Toy of the Year was the L.O.L. Surprise! I would have no clue as to what this is, except for my granddaughters.
- 1965 James Bond Aston Martin die-cast car (Didn't have one, but would love to)
- 1966 Action Man
- 1967 Spirograph (I had and loved)
- 1968 Sindy (I clueless)
- 1969 Hot Wheels Cars (I played with my brothers.)
- 1970 Sindy (I'm still clueless)
- 1971 Katie Kopykat Writing Doll
- 1972 Plasticraft Modelling Kits
- 1973 Mastermind - Board Game
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Continuing my education in pigments and tone, tints and tones I read through the color recipe book. Rather than a cup of this and a pinch of that, it was so many parts and a speck. After trying to measure parts and specks I was totally frustrated. How large is a part? How small a speck? Then Geronimo! At the very back of the book was a clear plastic "Color Mixing Grid".
Now that that issue has been solved, onto the other issue - the basic colors I need to create any of these 390 unique "colors". "Permanent Blue"? Is that the "True Blue" I have. "Burnt Umber" - check, "Naples Yellow" - check. "Alizarin Crimson", not so much.
Out of the 30 base colors one needs, I have 12. Now comes the quandary, do I take the 40 or so colors I do have and try to see which color comes closest to the any given true base color. This may take some time. Will "Hooker Green" do for "Permanent Green"? Perhaps the pieces of my work will just be a tint, tone, or hue off.
Of course I haven't even thought about venturing into the Neon tones or Metallic colors. All of this makes me think - how elementary would my work be if I only used ROYGBIV plus black, brown, and white. Thinking more about it, my work requires a lot of Gray (which of the 7 different "grays" should I choose?). And Tan, there are only . . . Wait, there is no Tan in the book. 12 "Browns" but no Tawny or Tan.
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Back in "Miss" Nancy's Kindergarten, I was only allowed the 16 Crayola Crayon Box. My parents did not buy my pitch for the box of 24 or, God Forbid, the Holy Grail - the box of 120 Crayons (with the sharpner). Of course, all we really needed was the basic 8, ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet). Well included in there was Black and in lieu of Indigo, there was Brown.
With my new hobby of painting, I find myself constantly trying to get the right color, with the right tint and hue. What I mixed for the light edge of that peach colored rose petal, just had too much orange. And, I learned the hard way gray is not just gray. There is "green" gray, "brown" gray, "light" gray, and "dark" gray just to name a few. So I decided to hedge my bets and invest in a coloring guide entitled "Color Mixing Recipes".
Reading the first chapter on tone and shades, harmony and psychology, chroma and compliments, I realized I was way over my head. All I wanted was to mix a perfect peach. Looking at the 390 different colors, my mind was blown. Maybe that box of 120 Crayons was more serious than I thought. (And I just wanted it for bragging rights over my friend Frances, who had the box of 64.)
A prime example is "Ochre Red" #314. The recipe of which is 2 parts Naples Yellow, 1 part Burnt Sienna, and 1 speck of Cadmium Blue. A page or 2 earlier I found "Moth" #294 which is 6 parts White, 4 parts Yellow Ochre, and 1 part Ultramarine Blue. And, then there is #135, "Lapis" which is concocted from mixing 3 parts Permanent Blue, 1 part White, and 1 speck of Alizarin Crimson. No wonder I couldn't get the color peach correct, I had no idea it may have been "1 speck" of Crimson (or whatever) that made the difference. BTW what is a "speck"? And while we're at it, how big is a cubic? But I digress.
Looking through the index, I found there are 5 different "Pansy" colors, 2 "Pelicans", 4 different "Seafoams" (including 1 sub color), and 15 "Oranges." Hearing that Dorothy awoke to find the witch was dead and everything was in color, now has a whole new meaning. (15 Oranges - seriously?)
So my work is cut out for me. Now in trying to come up with a perfect peach, I am bogged down in 3 different Peach recipes (Blossom Pink Peach, Cream Peach, and Pink Peach). Deciding on "Pink Peach" I need to mix 10 parts White and 1 part Cadmium Orange. After a quick Google search I learned Cadmium is a silvery white color, so I assume Cadmium Orange is a silvery white orange?
Perhaps, I should leave the acrylics for the grown ups and invest in that box of 120 Crayons. After all, if I cannot recreate the image I have in my mind on canvas in 120 colors then I seriously need help. However, looking over the chart of the 120 colors included in that box, I notice "Granny Smith Green". If I remember correctly in the 1964 box, that was simply "Light Olive". And "Piggy Pink"? I'll stick with "Cadmium Yellow", "Cerulean Blue" and "Phthalo Red". I may not know what I am talking about, but at least I will sound serious. "Macaroni and Cheese" light orange? Seriously?
Friday, September 17, 2021
We are now entering the time of purgatory. Note it is only Mid-September. The Dogwoods are still green, with maybe a tinge of pink. The stores of full of crates of orange, white, and green pumpkins. The candy aisles in the stores are over flowing with jumbo size bags of treats. Big box stores sport shelves topped with everything inflated from Dracula and his Coach, a Giant Pumpkin complete with a Ghost (albeit friendly) coming out of the top, Ghouls with Glowing Eyes, and Witches Stirring their Brews.
We are still 6 weeks away from All Hallow's Eve, and the world seems to be all about orange. Or so it seems. However, just a day or so ago I saw green and red. Say it's not so, not Christmas. Not yet!
But alas, once again, we can have no peace. If the yule tide season starts showing its face in September, do we accept that Christmas consumes a quarter of the year.
I'll admit the dirty dishes from Thanksgiving have just been put in the dishwasher when I start pulling out my Christmas Tree stand. "Black" Friday means "shopping" to me. However, that is only shopping for a Christmas tree. As a lapsed Episcopalian, I know I should hold out, restrain myself, until Christmas Eve when it is truly time to decorate the yuletide tree. (And keep it up until epiphany.) However when I consider the investment I have made over the years in ornaments and the time it takes to properly trim the tree, is it worth the effort for less than 4 or 5 weeks? In one word - No. The time to enjoy a trimmed tree is however many days there are between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.
In my mind, September through December is a triathlon of holidays. And those 3 holidays should all have their moment to shine, all in their proper time . . . and proper order. Halloween, the "pagan" celebration on the eve of All Saints is supposed to come first. 3 or 4 weeks later, Thanksgiving should follow as a day of thanks, a celebration of family and friends, not to mention the feast. Then a month or so later, we celebrate Christmas.
As an aside, some feel Christmas is a lost soul. The day that is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ, has gotten lost in the expectation of the Jolly Ol'e Elf, irreverent songs (ie such as "Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer"), and commercialism on steroids. In my mind, Christmas is what one makes it. For practicing Christians, it is still all about the birth of the Christ Child, a time of carols, the creche, and services. For most of us, it is the joy of friends and family as we gather together. It is a time of remembrance of past Christmases, seeing the wonder in a child's eyes, and the exchange of gifts. And, last but not least, to many, it is a time of parties and frivolity. To each their own. But, I digress.
The bottom line is that the holidays are what one makes of them. It our choice what and how we celebrate. But, whatever one chooses, or not, there is an order to the universe and that includes the Gregorian calendar. It doesn't matter how one looks at it, October comes first followed by November, and finally December.
As an aside Hanukkah falls in here also. However, I am embarrassed to say I do not know enough about the holiday to comment on it. Perhaps some research is in the cards.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
September is my favorite month of the year. While most folks yearn for spring that breaks through the winter doldrums, I long for September. To me, it brings to mind the first crisp days of cooler weather. OK, I know that these few glorious days are sprinkled among the remaining dog days of summer. But still, it gives me hope.
Like the songs about the month: "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire, "September Morn" by Neil Diamond, "It might as Well Rain until September" by Carol King, and "I'll See You in September" by The Happenings, and "September Song" by Frank Sinatra, it is special time.
The leaves of the dogwood tree show a faint blush of red that professes the oncoming change of color. Footsteps crackle on the brown fallen leaves under foot. Rakes are pulled from their summer sheds to sweep up the leaves and pine straw that have started to fall. Golden rod brings a bright color to the edges of the fields. As much as I enjoyed the freedom of the summer break I was happy to get back into the cadence of school. There were the reunions with old friends I hadn't seen in months. Since we always started school in August, by September we were settled into a routine of new classes, text books, and book bags.
Even with the welcome of cooler days, in September it was still warm enough to float down the river. In high school, when classes let out, my friends and I would change clothes, grab our black inner tubes, and coolers and head for the black water of the Edisto. As we floated along with the slow current, solving all the world's problems, the leaves of the cypress trees in the swamp were starting to turn a copper color.
At High Acres, the air was already crisp. There was the fragrance of apples in the orchard. The vistas were starting to show subtle bursts of color as the green faded. The horses were a bit more frisky in the chilly morning air.
From my high school days, it is the memories of football games, stolen kisses, and sweaters. Talk among my friends and me turned to plans for the fall dances - Homecoming, Sadie Hawkins, and Cotillion. There was much discussion about possible dates and dresses.
During my college years, September meant we were once again on our own, out of the prying eyes of parents. There were the new roommates in old dorms, new classes with tenured professors, and the freedom of our youth. In Charleston, the onslaught of tourists had faded and it was if we had the town back to our own. Or, at least the (then ) 4 square blocks that made up our campus, bordered by George, St. Phillips, Calhoun, and Coming streets.
And, best of all, the long shadows are there in the afternoon, giving everything a wondrous glow.
Sunday, September 12, 2021
With most in my generation, I am trying to do New Math with an Old Math mind. All that said, I'm pretty sure 2 x 10 still equals 20. And, Pi is still 3.14159265359 and is the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle.
All this brings to mind age. Is 1 still 1 or is it 2. I turned 62 this year. Does that mean I am enjoying my 62nd year of my life? Oh, no! Insult to injury, in truth I am now in my 63rd year. Let's do the math. I was born in 1959. Last time I checked (in Old Math Terms) 2021-1959 equals 62.
So I have achieved 62 years of age, which honestly means I am now in my 63rd year. But, by God, I am not 63 yet, therefore I will take a victory lap and enjoy my 62 years. 63 can wait, unless I go back to the future.
But, as "they" say, 'Age is just a state of mind.' I find little solace in that given this most likely was said by some 30 something trying to assuage an elder attempting new math.