Friday, January 30, 2009

W.O.F. 49 Elephant Washcloth

And by "elephant washcloth" I do not mean "a washcloth for elephants". I believe this was mine when I was a wee lad, and at some point a parent told me "Take this back with you", and I did. I don;t use it as much as I could. But it has a place of honor here.
And here we see another weird thing - this purple guy who just showed up in the house one day not too long ago - sporting the elephant washcloth.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fits Me to a "T"

There's this challenge that's been going around a couple blogs that I keep in touch with. Someone assigns you a letter and asks you to list ten things you like that begin with that letter. My sister was posing the challenge a few days ago, I said "OK, Shoot me a letter", and she said "How about T?"

So, after some thought and trepidation, I have come up with these

1. Travel. Yeah, I like to get in the car and go, see some new sights, learn about others and what they do and like and have. I often say three of the best weeks of my life were in 1998 when six of us headed west in an Oldsmobile station wagon, and followed a carefully chosen path through maybe eight or ten national parks, 15 or 16 states, all the way to the Pacific (the incredible Route 1 from Monterey down to almost L.A.) and back.
2. Tranquility. What beats one of those lazy summer afternoons just gazing at some water?
3. Trails. The kids know from countless vacations. I just love heading off into the woods on a trail, not knowing what's around the next bend, listening for the waterfall that's on the map and that you know just HAS to be very, very close.
4. Toys. We all have our favorite stuff. These are a couple of my favorite toys.
5. Togetherness. If I tried to list my ten or twenty favorite times ever, nearly all of them, if not absolutely all, would revolve around the family, or close friends, or both, being together having a great time. And when you get to the "empty nest" as we have, those together times are even more valuable.
6. Tunes. Oh, man, gotta have my music, whether it's the Mahler's Sixth SACD I just ordered or the son's Led Zep collection, or the songs popping out of the XM radio in my car on the way to work, or any of the hundreds of CDs and good ol' LPs (yeah, I'm old) I have collected, or me just noodling around on the items featured in #4.
7. Towns. Much of what I do for a living involves working with rural communities to help them put together a shared vision of their future, and then to work to achieve their home-grown vision. So I have a professional interest in communities, how they are laid out, and how they work (or, in many cases, how they don't work).
8. Tails. This is my back-handed (back-sided, anyhow) way of meaning pets, animals. Like our good ol' dog, or the daughter and son-in-law's dogs that we call the "grand-dogs".
9. Turning pages. I pretty much end each day, at least the conscious part of it, listening to #6, and reading a little before we shut off the light. It may be 20 pages, it may be a couple paragraphs, but it is a great way to wind it down for the night for me.
10. Thoughtfulness. Just the ideas that come from people who have figured something out, or discovered something they did not know before. Or the consideration they show in what they do.

And that's my list.

Monday, January 26, 2009

This Week's Letter is "C"

Continuing this crazy alphabet chase, we cruise into C Country. A cool letter, I'm convinced.

C is for COINS
Those State Quarters are nifty
But try as I might
I can't get all fifty!

especially when you get nerdy about it and try to get them from the Philly AND Denver mints!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Round-Up

It has been a somewhat successful, pretty laid-back weekend around here. First of all, I am pretty much up to speed with this new laptop computer I got at Staples a week ago.
The 17 inch diagonal picture is a step up from our other laptop, and there are some other cool features. One being the web cam and mic which allows us to stare at our son 100 miles away and talk to him while he stares back and talks to us. It is funny how, after a while doing this, the stares go sort of blank.
But it is a nifty feature, and as we were playing Apples to Apples while we had him in on the web conference, I could sneak him a peak at my cards and he could advise me on which one he would play, as in "third one from the left".

Last night it was another musical trip down memory lane for us. Linda and I have widely divergent musical tastes, but there is some common ground, and one such area is the music of Chad and Jeremy, folk-pop-rock troubadors from the 60's. We drove over to the historic and wonderfully preserved Ritz Theater in downtown Tiffin to catch their show last night, and they delivered. Both are accomplished musicians as well as singers/songwriters. During the course of the show, Chad played guitar, piano, mandolin, and a little kazoo during the encore. Jeremy stuck to guitar, and held up the rhythm strumming. They took a couple hours to run through their back catalog, play some of their early influences, and cover some other folks' work (they did Homeward Bound, which Paul Simon had originally "given" to them to use when he was living in England). They also played a handful of songs from their last two Columbia releases, which I especially liked, "Of Cabbages and Kings" and "The Ark". Good stuff.
I did the fan boy thing and hung around for autographs on the poster that came with the CD, a re-working of much of their better-known anthology. I have listened to (and claimed as part of my life) a lot of music over the years. Chad and Jeremy were not a huge, huge influence, but they were right in there during the magical late 60s era, and it was great to hear those 67-year-old voices sound just like they did on vinyl in nineteen-67! A pretty special couple of hours
That brings the Weekend Up-Date to today, and I can point to two accomplishments. First, the band pulled off a reggae-inflected song at church this morning ("Shut de Do' - Keep Out the Devil"), and it was seemingly enjoyed by the congregants.

Second, we have fish from our fish pond that winter over in an aquarium in our basement. Believe, me, if they were in the pond over the past couple of weeks, they would be fish-sicles by now. Anyway, even with a filter, the water in the aquarium was getting a bit too scuzzy, so I changed the water and cleaned out their home. Here are a couple shot of our guys and gals (and we know we have both, because we keep getting little ones!)
"Ok, this time, Goldie, go out long about ten yards and buttonhook and I'll hit you"
Obviously, I've been messin' with this cool, free photo program I downloaded.
It's called "Photoscape". It's pretty cool.

Hope your weekend is going well and yes, Margaret, I am still thinking about the letter T and will issue a full list one of these days (I don't have a huge fondness for Tuesdays or Thursdays, especially.. this is not easy!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

W.O.F. 48 SHARK TEETH!!!!!

I spent a couple weeks for three summers of my childhood at a YMCA camp, Camp Conoy, on the western banks of the southern Chesapeake Bay. The site of that camp is now a nuclear power plant, so it would be hard to go back and gather my memories.

Anyhow, one of the highlights for me was going down to the beach and sifting through the sand for shark teeth. They were in fair abundance. Here is a picture of my collection.

And in case you wonder, the little pouch that I use to hold these dental specimens was in fact a craft project undertaken while at Camp Conoy. Note the perfect stitching (he said, sarcastically).

These teeth are not huge; the largest ones are maybe 3/4 of an inch long or so. But I have a feeling that you put several of them on one jaw, apply some shark-like pressure, and you can do some serious damage (and pretty much eat whatever you want).
Somehow this reminds me, February is Pet Dental Health Month. Have 'em checked out, folks!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A-Z Mondays: Brought to you by the Letter B

B is for BIRDS
Of which we have two
Can you tell which is "Sunny"
and which is named "Blue"?

These are mainly my wife's - she's always had parakeets since I met her, including one named Charlie who was a good talker. These guys mainly just make loud parakeet noises at each other. Parakeet pointer: Slinkys (Slinkies?) really make great perches!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

WOF/WOS 47: from the archives

Sorry; Streetpolo is sorta in between "host" computers right now -the old one (which I'm using now) is a bit slow and last night Blogger did not want to load a picture in the -13 degree F. weather or something. And the new computer has zero pictures loaded into it, with no orderly plan figured out for pictures just yet.

So we reach into the archives, a day late and a picture short, and bring you (from warmer times) a black squirrel. Black squirrels are the predominant kind around here, which is odd for this east coast kid who is used to the grey kind. But they are quite a hoot when they are cavorting around in the back yard. This one seems to have achieved a reasonably high level of comfort.

So for now, stay warm - it's going to be absolutely BALMY later today, reaching 22 degrees F. Can't wait.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Prisoner Escapes

Man, I hate it when this happens. I had just gotten my complete DVD set of all seventeen episodes of the Prisoner. I had sat down and watched three or four of them, introducing my son to them, convincing my wife once again that my tastes can tend toward the surreal.

I was reliving the 1968 series about how the individual can buck the system and, if spirited and persistent enough, he or she can eventually break free. Then I read the news today, oh boy.
Sadly, the creator and mind behind the series, Patrick McGoohan, made his final escape on Tuesday at age 80. It makes the whole experience of re-experiencing the series a bit bittersweet.

As oddball as the show was, it still resonates somehow with me - to varying degrees, many of us are prisoners of various "villages", whether of our design or of others'. And, to varying degrees, we find our means to escape.

RIP, Number Six.

Be seeing you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A-Z Monday: We Begin With A

Blogger Jen (listed to the right) has instigated an effort to get people to blog about objects every Monday, in alphabetical order, one per letter. I cannot promise to make every Monday, But I will try. Here, then, is our first contribution to the cause:

A is for Avocado
A is for the avocado
Some consider it holy
'Cause you can smash it up
And make guacamole!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

nature provides a blank slate

I've been back to work and we're already nearing halfway through January, but it still feels like the new year is just beginning. Our son just took off a couple hours ago to get on with his last semester of undergraduate education (and our final bills are pretty much history, hurrah!) With William thus gone, it feels like we're getting in order for the new year. Nature was kind enough to blanket us with a foot-deep coating of white, providing a sort of blank slate on which to commence.
Temps are forecast to go into the minus bracket at least one evening over the next few days. Definitely a setting for hunkering down, putting a log or two on the fire, pumping a little heat into this empty nest. Meanwhile, out in the back yard, it seemed like a fitting setting to leave the colors behind and just look out at the shades of black and white.
I'm still trying to put together a new year's resolution or two, but with it being eleven days into the year, it gets less likely that any formal program or plan will emerge. I have a couple things I'm working on, but it's all informal; no big lofty expectations.
For the immediate future, the goal will be to stay warm.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


We have snow - maybe 10 inches - and birds. The birds are pretty hungry. We had this brownish guy at the feeder this morning as we were eating (too), and the best we could figure was he's a Carolina Wren.

This begs the question: what's the Carolinean doing up here where the temps are going to approach 0 degrees F. over the next week?

Friday, January 9, 2009

W.O.F. 46 My First Camera

This one is sure to date me. Here we see my first camera, a Kodak Brownie 20. It took "127" film", as I recall. Talk about the basics: you just stuck the spool in in the innards of the thing and wound it over the center where the shutter was.

I only took a handful of rolls of film when I had this, as I was a kids with limited pocket change, and developing film and printing photos was not all that cheap (to me).

I used to borrow friends' 35 mm cameras in college and had a good time with it, and then we inherited the 35 Minolta that friends used to take pictures of our wedding. I used it off and on, but never really got the photography bug until digital photography came to the fore. Now you can shoot all you want, keep what you like, delete the rest, send pictures around the world via email, stick 'em on blogs like this or web site albums, and only pay to actually print what you like. How cool is that?
Weird, or at least interesting, objects are posted every Friday by several of the bloggers listed to the right. Check them out!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Out of the blue

Sometimes those unexpected, out of the blue contacts are the best. We had just rolled in the driveway from church this morning when an unknown, smiling guy about William's age appeared. Turns out he was Michael, William's best friend from childhood, not unknown after all, in town to hook up for lunch with a friend of his who was visiting a girlfriend in the area. He had stopped by the old neighborhood out of curiosity, I am sure, on his roundabout way from home to his college another 90 minutes or so away. He didn't have our number and took a chance on pulling in to see if we were home.

I'm glad we were. Michael had lived down the street until about ten years ago, when the family moved downstate. William and Mike went to different schools, but after school they could commonly be seen hanging out together, playing whiffle ball in the side yard, or plotting other nefarious activities. It was pretty rough seeing that family move; Michael's sister was a great friend of our daughter, so it was a double whammy when they moved out.

And now, the towering, articulate, baby fat-free Michael was scanning the back yard, taking in more memories than we can probably imagine, complaining that we got rid of the swing set. I offered an apology but said it really would not be a very good ride for him now. He was laughing about it, still all smiles and good natured, as I remember him from when he was half as old.

He caught up with us and us with him as we sat in the living room. His sister is married and has a good job in her chosen field; the younger sister is out of high school. Mom and dad are fine. And Mike wants to teach high school. Of course, in my brain, Mike should not even be IN high school yet, since everything froze in place when the moving van pulled away ten years ago.

It was a special hour as we talked. Then, Mike got the call from his friend and arranged the rendezvous, soon excusing himself for his lunch engagement. Hugs all around and he was gone, driving away. Little (big) Mike, driving! It's funny how important people can be to you even when you see them as little as once a decade.

Friday, January 2, 2009

W.O.F. 45: bad smelling rubbery things that flash

Everybody gets these totally non functional "stocking stuffer" type presents once in a while, don't they? These were handed out to a bunch of people at our house by an unknown benefactor (we'll call him, or her, "Santa"). They are made of some rubbery substance that probably contains Chinese industrial waste. When you smack 'em hard like a paddleball, using the long stretchy "handle", they start this spastic lighting display - in an array of breathtaking colors. I have tried to catch the essence of two of them, one of which is my son's, and one of which is mine. Oh, and if you ever get one of these things, don't bother to smell them, please. Take my word; not a pleasant olfactory experience.

They are cousins to a former WOF I posted, of another smelly thing that lit up when you whacked it. Yet, with the long rubbery handles, an entirely different experience.