Thursday, April 25, 2013

A face in the crowd..

I am not a professional photographer, and I don’t even play one in my imaginary games, but that didn’t stop Judy from asking me to take pictures at her birthday party last… no, it was 2 weeks ago now (where does the time go, for cryin’ out loud!)

Because one never knows where the flying fickle finger of fate will point next, I recruited Richard to bring his camera and also take pictures in case something went wrong with my camera. And it was a very good thing I did. Both of us ended up making mistakes with our cameras in some of the pictures, but because there were two of us, she got a good selection of pictures to remind her of her birthday.

There were several groups of people at the party, and with the exception of her family who came from Indiana, I had seen nearly all of the same people at the party she gave last year for Charlie, her husband. It was the fact that she got very few pictures of that party that reminded her that she needed to document this party.

A certain woman ended up in a lot of the photographs from both of our cameras.

Have you ever been in a small crowd where one person seemed to draw you to them? Something about them that made you want to be with them? They aren’t necessarily the most beautiful or the most handsome, in fact, often times they are neither one. It’s happened to me a few times, and it happened at this party. Donna. There was just “something” about her. I wanted to throw my arms around her and hug her.

She seemed so relaxed and comfortable in her skin… and just plain “happy.”

A few days later I took the flash drive with the photos from both of our cameras to Judy’s house. Their precious friends who had driven down from Michigan were still there – ever noticed that the friends of people you really like tend to be people you like as well? The two couples are the sort you could sit up all night talking with and not be bored for a second.

I apologized for the mistakes in some of the pictures but pointed out that one of my favorite photos of the group happened to be a mistake caused because my camera’s shutter speed is so slow. They all laughed...

Don’t say it’s a mistake – say that’s your “art photo.”

And then the topic turned to Donna, who attends the same church as Judy and Charlie (the man standing in the background with the friends from Michican).

He said he felt exactly the same way about her. Besides, he said, she is the only one who laughs at my inane jokes.
What is that certain “something” about someone that catches your eye… these “ordinary” people with something extraordinary about them? I dunno, but I am sure glad they are in the world...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
Douglas Adams
I particularly like this quote from the late Douglas Adams who gave us witty and zany science fiction novels about people hitchhiking around the galaxy. One of the most fun times we had at the movies was when we saw the movie made from his novel Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. We were the only people in the auditorium and we had a wonderful time laughing and talking out loud and otherwise behaving badly.

I have constant deadlines, but I am almost never late with meeting mine, so I seldom get to hear the whooshing sound of a deadline flying by.  

But then we turn to “tax time.” I don’t love money in the Biblical sense that doing so would cause me to do something evil to get it, but I do work hard for the money I earn and I do like having it.

I also like living in this country, and unlike Adams with his deadlines, I don’t particularly like the “whooshing” sound the money makes as it flies out of here on its way to the IRS and the State tax collector. I acknowledge that paying taxes is something we need to do to help keep the state and the country running, and so on Monday morning I signed here... and here... and here... and… and Richard handed me the envelopes, and I presented myself at the counter at the local post office with our tax returns and off they went.

I have no idea what sort of wasteful spending goes on in the halls of the state government and out in Washington, DC, and I suspect I am better off not knowing.

But I do appreciate very much the state employees who climb into the huge yellow trucks with the plows anchored on the front and who keep our road cleared so we can get out in the winter, and the crews who come by and pick up the dead animals on the highway in front of our house so we don't have to smell them rotting. I appreciate very much the highway patrol officers who put their lives on the line to help keep our roads safe. I appreciate very much the government-funded system that was in place when our son got sick and which took care of his medical bills.

Tax time is not an easy time for us. Because we are both self-employed and work out of our home, the returns are rather complicated. Rendering unto Caesar isn’t always fun, and I am not going to go so far as to say I am “happy to do it,” but I am thankful I am paying it to our government. It could be worse.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Not-a-laughing cow

Just about every day I walk by the white house next to the microwave tower and the field they had refenced some time ago. The land sat unused until the winter. Then, a man who keeps cattle and lives further down the road, apparently rented it and put some cattle on it, including a big Black Angus bull.

The man who lives directly across the road from the white house also has a small beef operation, and his Blank Angus and the new bull stood at their respective fences and periodically bellowed at each other for several days. Miss Molly and I happened to be walking by when they were doing this and they scared the dog so badly it took about a week before I could get her to pass that area.

I guess the boys got it worked out, because they eventually stopped.

Now, along with the bull were 4 cows and a large bull calf – probably born last year or maybe even the year before. One assumes that the man intends for the bull to be the daddy of four new calves when the time is right. One of the cows, a very pretty Hereford, was letting this rather large “baby,” which was almost as big as she was, continue to nurse.

Then, late one afternoon a few days ago the bellowing starts again. It continued off  and on for most of the night and into the next day. Wondering if perhaps if the “boys” were picking up where they left off, I headed off to see who was making the racket.

I noticed that there was one less animal in the field – the young bull was gone. It wasn’t the bull dong the bellowing, it was the calf’s mother.

Missing her baby. I wanted to sit down next her and do some bellowing myself.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The unexpected guest

The teenager at church likes to go what he calls “herping” – hunting through the woods and bottom land for reptiles and amphibians. Had we been teenagers together, we would have been good friends, I think.

Not too long ago he was lamenting that it has simply been too cold to have much success at finding these creatures. Although there is a frost warning for tonight, it has most certainly warmed up in the last week.

It is unfortunate he was not at my house yesterday afternoon. We could have done a bit of herping together and would not have had to go far to do it.

At about 1:15, I had said goodbye to a friend who came to eat with me on her lunch break and took the Mollynater for a walk. We got back a little before 2:00, and when I walked through the kitchen and reached out to turn on the light in the living room , I did a double-take and changed my mind (the brown square is the light switch).

This is not the first time I have found one of these on the counter. Fortunately, he was just checking things out and did not try to entice me to eat any forbidden fruit.

Unfortunately, when a photo opportunity like this presents itself, one doesn’t have time to dust and remove clutter and set up the subject so the perfect shot can be taken. Had I taken the chance of turning on the light so the color would be better, I am not sure he would have continued to sit there.

And on the off chance that anyone might be worried about the outcome...

the story has a happy ending for all concerned.

Monday, April 08, 2013

If a daffodil blooms and nobody sees it…

Once upon a time, we took the train to Los Angeles, and the tickets were arranged by a man named George, who operated as a travel agent out of one of the businesses in town. We paid him to drive us to Jefferson City, where we caught an Amtrak train to Kansas City, where at about 2:30 a.m. we caught another train coming from Chicago, and so began our great train adventure traveling across the Plains and through a corner of Colorado, where the aspens in the river bottoms were golden and glorious.

George’s house is not too far from our house, perhaps a 10-minute walk, and I usually walk by it with Molly Wog at least once a day. He built on to the corner of his house a really nice, round, sun room, and bundles of shingles were delivered to the roof so a new roof could be put on… and then… George vanished.

He abandoned the house… he never finished the sun room, and he never had the house reroofed. We heard he had moved to Springfield, and we never saw him again.

So for the past 20 years or so the house has set empty, slowly deteriorating under the relentless onslaught of nature and periodic vandalism. 

I found a name matching his, for a man who would have been about his age, who died in Springfield in 2003. I don’t think George will ever return to his house.

George had built what once must have been a very nice flower bed lined with rocks (which we have plenty of here) for an assortment of daffodils. The normal, garden-variety “wild” daffodils have already passed their peak and are fading away, but other varieties are just how at their peak, including the ones in George’s back yard that have been on their own now for many years.

If one knows where to look, it is possible to just barely see a bit of the rock bed with its mass of daffodils as one strolls by. The rock bed has gradually fallen apart, but the daffodils are thriving and have spread over the yard, and are quite beautiful.

If one has already ignored the “No Trespassing” sign that was once hanging on a tree and is now on the ground on what was once the driveway, one could likely also bring clippers along on the next walk and return home with a beautiful bouquet. Couldn’t one?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another…

Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something--if it ain't one thing, it's another...

is how the late great Gild Radner would end her monologue as Roseann Roseannadanna in the early years of  Saturday Night Live. I don’t actually have a Roseann Roseannadanna tale (I mean, I didn't meet a celebrity who did something that made me sick) but yesterday really was one “for the books…”

We were supposed to go to Springfield today, but had decided to take the Divine Ms M with us to see if she would travel well for a longer distance than just a mile to town and back. We are contemplating bringing her along when we drive to California in the fall.

The main objective for the trip was to have lunch at the Macaroni Grill, one of our favorite places to eat in Springfield. One of my family members had sent us a gift card some time ago that we had yet to use and so we figured we would use it.

Richard had pared the stores he needed to shop at to four, and the plan was I would walk the dog around outside while Richard did the shopping. Worked for me. I do not particularly enjoy trudging behind him as he gallops down the aisles. When he goes shopping, he is a man on a mission and moves right along. But it wouldn’t work if it were raining. And the forecast was for rain today (and indeed, it is raining this morning in Springfield).

The plan got changed because the weather yesterday was nice. So we ventured out into the rather uncharted waters of “spontaneity” and headed off for Springfield yesterday morning. About 7 miles down the road Richard realized he had forgotten something rather important – the money to pay any balance due on the gift card – so we turned around and came back and he got the money, and the mobile phone, and the glasses he needed, and we started off again.

And much to our dismay, as we drove past the distinctive Macaroni Grill building, we observed that the restaurant was obviously closed and there was a big FOR LEASE sign out in front. In stunned disbelief – how could a restaurant that good close down!! – we proceeded down the street and stopped at the first restaurant we came to, sort of steak/bbq place, and had lunch, which was expensive and not that great. We did not think it through very well. I mean, we could have gone to Panera, which is another place we enjoy eating at, even if it is fast food.

Aside from that, the rest of the day went well. While we were driving, she curled up in the back seat and went to sleep. We managed to get her through the Pet Smart store without her peeing on the floor or causing too much of a disturbance. She tends to greet people by howling, which I am going to have to stop her from doing.

And when we got home, Richard got out the Macaroni Grill card, thinking we would slip it into an envelope and send it back to California with a note, when he noticed that the card was also good at Chili’s, another place in Springfield that serves decent food. Had we gotten it out and looked at it yesterday we could have eaten there. Like I said, it’s always something…

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The slime factor

Not too long ago Richard read somewhere that if everyone gave up meat for one meal a week that it would save…. Well, he doesn’t remember now what exactly it would save, but it made quite an impression on him at the time, so we have been experimenting with “Meatless Monday” for about 2 months now.

What is impressing me most about my husband, who will begin another decade of life toward the end of summer, is that he is becoming more open and more adventurous the older he gets. I am very pleased that he is turning into an interesting geezer who is not so stuck in rut that he can’t try something new. What is particularly thrilling to me is that he is now quite willing to try many of the vegetarian meals that I have prepared for myself for lunch for many years and which he wouldn't even taste to see if he liked it. In the margin of the page of one of the recipes from my Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, which I use often, and which I had fed him once some years ago to an underwhelming response, I had written “Richard hates this…”

I fed it to him not too long ago, and he quite liked it this time around and said I should make it again.
For this Meatless Monday I fixed groundnut stew, a pleasing blend of sweet potato, cabbage, onion, ginger, chopped apple, tomatoes, some spices, and peanut butter… and chopped okra.

Okra. One of those vegetables is that is either liked or not liked... at all.  There is a slime factor with okra. The slime doesn’t bother me, but it bothers him. He will only eat okra if it is dredged in cornmeal and fried in oil.

I thawed the frozen, sliced okra and tried putting it in warm water for a while and then rinsing it in a colander to get the slime off, but there seemed to be a never-ending supply of slime… So I dished out his portion of the meal and added the okra to the rest of it and cooked it a little longer, and dinner was served..

That was really good. Let’s have that again some time…