Archive for January, 2020

01 25th, 2020

Want to know what ‘pettifogging’ means? This will explain; “pettifogging attorneys are the bane of civil society”. If you were one of the 2.5% of the population who bothered to put up with the blather, repetition, and irritation that played on television this week, hour after hour, for days on end, then you know exactly what it means. You were pettiffoged.

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s continue. This past weekend we went to our town’s world food market, Jungle Jim’s; it’s one place where I can get Dutch Rusk. Hence, this morning, I am starting these ‘Ramblings’ with a great mug of hot coffee and a wonderful Holland Rusk or as my mother would say; a “beschuitje”. I know you’re jealous.

So far we’re experiencing a non-winter winter; a bit of frost here and there, some chilly winds, but mostly it’s mild. Yesterday I heard that the last measurable snow was on the 17th of last December.

But meanwhile the winter plods along in shades of dark brown and is mostly dank, and that isn’t what it’s supposed to be either.

“To appreciate the beauty of a snow flake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” ~ Anonymous

Neighborhood fire becomes opportunity – A week ago, a few doors down a home caught fire. I heard something explode and looked out the window, saw flames, and called 911. The place is completely done in and now is just an eyesore.

This is the story after the story. Marcia wanted me to check whether or not kids were rummaging in the place. So, on my next walk I went over to check things out. Soon the owner of a large multi-unit apartment building came over. Shortly, the Property Manager from the 11-story Belvedere Condominium across the street also wandered on by. Then, the owner of the burned property joined. Now it was serious. We had a ‘confab’.

Forty minutes later a path leading to a solution became a real possibility. The Belvedere needs parking spaces, but not that much space. However, the apartment owner does need a few spaces. The owner of the building needs it cleared. See where this is all heading? Who knows the outcome, but serious discussions are underway and as a neighbor I’ll be rid of an eyesore. Yes!

Jazz Evening – It was Marcia who spotted a likely Jazz evening at Café Vivace. Two groups were on the schedule; Animal Mother and Out on a Limb. Best evening in quite some time.

For two and a half hours we listened to original music (one piece was not theirs). Piano playing that was as good as one could wish for, Sax that was stunning, drums and Base that formed the backbone. And oh, I nearly forgot that it was also the first time that I saw and heard a three-necked guitar being played. It was wonderful! And there we were with some excellent Malbec. Then as it got later, Marcia got a large buttery Scone and I got one of my favorites; a mug of African Peanut Soup and a black coffee.

It’s really good to see a new generation of Jazz musicians coming into their own. Café Vivace billed these groups as ‘Garage’ Jazz Bands. Well. I remember when Janice Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company were also billed as a ‘Garage’ Band – a group that produced some of the best Blues, Soul and Southern Rock And Roll ever produced.

Totally different we were thrilled to have had the opportunity to be part of the artistry displayed by Animal Mother and Out on a Limb. Who knows where these guys will end up on the Jazz scene?

Fini – Next weekend expect The Ramblings to appear on SUNDAY. Saturday morning early I’ll be participating in (what’s now become an annual event) the Cyclone’s Frozen 5/10K. Early weather prediction is partial sun with a high of 48 – so much for the ‘Frozen’ portion of the run.

Care to see what the area around our Northern Comfort cabin looks like? Care to see where one of our favorite Family Style eateries is located? Have this Fly Fishing show introduce you to both as seen through the eyes of Ann and Jim Kehoe owners of the Outpost Lodge which served as the base for the TV production. The Outpost Lodge, on Lake Jobamageeshig, is about five miles north of our place . Put this YouTube on the big screen, put your feet up for a half hour and savor the area we call ‘home’ each summer:

In the meantime have a look at this two minute trailer of the show:

Yesterday President Trump unveiled the logo for our 6th branch of the military, the United States Space Force. Just thought you’d appreciate.

This past week I spotted a small note mentioning that the iconic Blues musician, Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter), was born this week (January 20) in 1888 in Mooringsport, Louisiana. It reminded me that as a teenager I purchased a small portable record player and Lead Belly’s rendition of “Take This Hammer” was the very first 45-RPM I had – ‘B’ side. Remember those little plastic inserts that allowed 45’s to be played on the much smaller turntable spindles?

Last evening Marcia allowed me in the kitchen where I made dinner; Nasi Goreng. It’s an Indonesian spicy rice dish and a Dutch staple. Dutch you say? Yup. That goes back to days of yore when Indonesia was a Dutch colony. Anyway, Nasi Goreng with shrimp is what it was – and as luck would have it, there is enough left for a wonderful lunch. Wonder how that happened?

Make it a great week and stay safe!

Fitness Week
01 18th, 2020

Fairly late last evening, yet somehow it made little difference this morning. It’s 5:25 and the coffee is made.

Since a number of you struggle a wee bit starting your ‘engine’ at an early time, I thought I’d begin with a bit of levity (and learning as well).

The original painting was made by the French Painter, Joseph Ducreux (1735 – 1802). He was mostly known for his unusual self-portraits, of which he made a number.

So, now that the ‘night fogs’ have lifted, something a bit more substantial:

“‘After all these years if you are still mnemonically possessed by Pluto, then this may help:
My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos.”
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

Now after pondering on deGrasse Tyson, just ease back into your pillow, close your eyes, and try to think back to some long forgotten business travel; you were comfortably settled in your room at some Motel-6. Then, at 5, you hear the alarm going off in the neighboring room. It’s loud enough to wake you up, and keeps snoozing for almost an hour. OK, you’re awake now?

Exercise – One of the best niceties of Medicare is the Silver-Sneakers program. A week or so ago I joined the YMCA. Our nearby local branch has an indoor pool and this is what I was interested in. Winter was not going to affect me.

Last Monday was my first lap event, and it felt great! Great that is until I started getting a bit of a leg cramp. I eased up and went to a back-stroke. Matters got worse by the minute and I made for the deep-end ladder (the closest). That’s when I noticed that I couldn’t get my heels down and couldn’t climb out of the pool. Here I stood, trying to look calm and collected, much like I was just trying to get my bearings (which I was). Eventually I did manage to get out – maybe looking a bit as if I had a tad of Cerebral Palsy. The hot shower did help a lot.

It was about the time I was finishing up dressing that the chlorine burning in my eyes was more than I had thought. Actually, my eyes were tearing so bad that I couldn’t see. Eventually, with one eye clearing more than the other, I was able to make it home. Even with multiple Visine Totality drops, it took a full day and overnight to get back to normal.

Now the hunt was on for a pair of swim Goggles. In the mid-west, and out of season, this is most difficult and I wanted to inspect first and therefore skipped ordering on line. Finally I hit it at REI Co-op and got a pair of upscale Italian swim goggles. I know that they’re ‘upscale’ because these are fog and UV protected – critically important for swimming in an indoor pool. Yesterday’s lap event was wonderful, even if I only did half the number of laps I did on day one.

Hospital Garb – the Pros and Cons. In a most efficient manner I was traipsed into a small changing room and advised to place everything I had on in a nearby handy-dandy locker and to shimmy into a pair of very hospital looking pajamas. I had an early morning session with an MRI machine.

On the bottoms, I managed to tie the strings, but the rest looked like sausage casing. Then I noticed (a cooler stream of air alerted me) that the front was stretched wide open and I now looked like a stallion about to be led to a waiting mare.

I didn’t care whether or not there was a camera on me. I began to open and close a series of drawers in my quest to find a larger pair of bottoms. Success and in the end all was well!

Back at home Marcia listened to my tale and asked about the top. I remembered my struggle tying a bow with the straps positioned behind my neck, and that it took a bit of effort. Perhaps I screwed that piece up; from movie scenes I thought the top had to be put on in a manner normally considered backwards.

The highly trained MRI professional never blinked and he treated my whole ‘dress-for-the-occasion’ event as perfectly normal. I never even noticed him smirking.

A Weekend of Fun – This whole ridiculous Impeachment nonsense all week long got my dander up. To a point where Marcia finally told me to “get a life”. So I did.

The House’s ‘clown circus’ brought back memories of one of my favorite comic characters, England’s Benny Hill. Enjoy the little video, it’ll tell the story:

Fini – UPDATE: Two Saturday from now expect The Ramblings to appear on SUNDAY. That Saturday morning early I’ll be participating in (what’s now become an annual event) the Cyclone’s Frozen 5/10K.

Tevita made it back from is visit home, Tonga is a long way away and with almost an 18-hour time difference it takes a bit to get back on track

At 9:00am this morning a Canadian fishing TV show will premier. As luck would have it it’ll also be available on their YouTube channel – “TNFF River and Lake Smallmouth Bass Fishing”. What will make it really great is the fact that it was filmed a couple of lakes up the road from Northern Comfort on Lake Jobamageeshig. Ann and Jim Kehoe owners of the Outpost Lodge hosted them and the scenery alone should be great.

Saturday February 1st Marcia and I will participate in our neighborhood’s annual Progressive Dinner. Over the years it’s become a winter highlight. Since our neighborhood is replete with a massive core of “Never Trumpers” I think I might have the perfect offering for the event. Think I can replicate it?

Have a great week and stay safe!

01 11th, 2020

Well, well, mid-January and it’ll get to 70 today. Consequently, I made a belated discovery this morning, that being that the load of blankets, coverlet, and comforter on our bed is currently totally unnecessary. I’m serious.

Late yesterday afternoon Marcia and I ground some beans from a very special coffee Kirstin gave us at Christmas. It’s an infusion of special ingredients into the coffee bean. The net result being that we almost forgot doing dinner; it was so relaxing.

Willie’s Remedy is coffee with all the medical properties of organically grown hemp infused in it:

“Willie’s Remedy combines the benefits of cannabis with other plants. Whole bean coffee is carefully selected and roasted, then infused with full spectrum hemp extract.” ~ Count Your Blessings Daily

And yes, we did get the ‘lift’ of the coffee and the calming effect of the cannabis. Thanks Kirstin. Thanks Willie.

Tom Thomson – Not exactly a saint, Tom Thomson died mysteriously at age 35 when his empty canoe was found floating on a lake in the Canadian North Woods (b 1877 – d 1912).

However, in his short life he’d become the iconic Canadian landscape painter of the Algonquin wilderness area. In fact, he was the inspiration for the ‘Group of Seven’, who followed and started a movement of landscape painting which is still revered today.

It was last summer when with Donn and Marlene that Marcia and I drove to the nearby Round Barn to listen to a Professor and Art Historian give a talk on Thomson and the ‘Group of Seven’.

This week Marcia perused the various items on the latest on-line auction she follows. Buried amongst that ‘stuff’ she spotted a double-matted, printer’s proof (#206-950) with wax seal print, of Thomson’s Spring in Algonquin Park.

We picked it up yesterday morning! We’ve already selected the perfect spot to display it. Spring in Algonquin Park will do our little condo justice.

Corner of Chaos & Mayhem – Just a quick update since your inquisitive minds do want to know. Primarily things have been quiet on our corner. But that doesn’t mean that nothing happens. Early in the week there was another EMT run (probably a drug overdose) down a ways. More interesting is the collection of 5 Police Cruisers with lights flashing spotted immediately across from our little balcony. Have no idea what was going on, it seemed to be more of a ‘confab’ than anything else.

Weekend Fun – Tevita is back home from visiting his mother and family in Tonga. However, last weekend Adrianne and the kids needed something to do since their winter break was still in full swing and he was still out of town. Adrianne thought of the winter festival in town and I thought of combining that with a Hockey game; our Cincinnati Cyclones are doing well this season.

It was “bring a Bear” night where after the Cyclones first goal people can toss a stuffed bear onto the ice. These are collected by the Police as aids to dealing with kids in distress.

The picture and little video will tell the story:

Fini – A benefit offered through Medicare and my insurance carrier is a program called Silver Sneakers. With winter here I had the idea to sign up with the YMCA to do laps in the indoor pools and use some of the equipment. This to ensure I get some exercise during the winter months. I signed up and now it’s going to be 70 degrees. Something is not right.

Marcia’s Birthday came late last week. To celebrate we had dinner at her favorite; Suzie Wong’s, and as always, we weren’t disappointed. Marcia had Pad Thai, I had a Bi Bim Bap bowl complete with a Duck egg and Kimchee. Perfection!

Remember the families devastated by the horrific shoot-down of the Ukrainian airliner by and over Iran. Not 100% certain but I did read where 5 of the 57 Canadians killed were from the University of Windsor where two of our friends teach.

Make it a great week and stay safe!

A New Decade Snuck In
01 4th, 2020

A brand new decade has snuck (‘sneaked’ for you old timers) in, so Happy New Decade.

December 31st 2019, 10:00 PM, and Marcia and I were curled up in bed underneath a warm quilt. Here we discussed the many great New Year’s parties we’d had over the years. Everything from those with friends where we’d booked half the rooms in a motel and had hired baby sitters, to small intimate gatherings in someone’s home. Time has crept along for us all, hasn’t it?

My coffee is next to me and if I keep up this sentimental thinking these whole Ramblings will devolve into a mass of blubbering thought and little else.

Every so often it feels really good to mess with someone’s head. How about this for the father of the theory of relativity which, in part, deals a lot with the speed of light, Albert Einstein:

“What time does Grand Central Terminal arrive at the next train?” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

Speakeasy – Last week the Ramblings mentioned that our old vintage Speakeasy Pinball machine was in service the whole week and that by Saturday I had loaded 160 games. By the time our condo emptied it was well past the 200-games mark and by then I had lost count. I feel bad for the old woman who lives below us with the noise of the flippers, the ‘slammer’, and the bells and all. Well, no, not that bad!

Marcia’s Birthday – had one of those advanced number birthdays. That said, this one was for the memory books. With everyone here we celebrated a bit early by heading out to the newly revived Wiedemann Brewery, now a craft brew taproom with multiple rooms. Great food. Great ‘run-free-and-wild’ activities for the younger set. Flight tastings; and some wonderful boogie woogie and blues piano adjacent to our table by Ricky Nye. Nye is in the boogie woogie Hall of Fame and honored as being the 2019 town’s Blues Artist of the Year. Marcia sure had picked a winner evening.

Desert and drinks were then had back at the condo with more talk and table games. It was some evening.

Watch – Jason totally blew me away this Christmas. With the smartphone intruding everywhere many have stopped wearing a watch. Not me. I love a good watch. This year I opened his gift-box to stare at my new Casio Pro Trek watch. Solar powered, 100-meter water resistant, all sorts of time zones, altitude, compass, and barometer. I could go on, but this ‘beast’ has it all and I am thrilled!
Spring in the North Woods can’t come quick enough!

Event in White Settlement, TX – This past week some deranged individual entered a church and began shooting. In a mere few seconds the killing was stopped and the killer brought down. This event was thought about a long time ago. Read the quote and then look at the date.

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, quoting criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

Fini – Kirstin, Derek, and Kellen all made it home safe and sound. We did a lot, wanted to do more, and missed doing a bunch. Isn’t that how it goes? Always?

Next week school will be back in swing. The local gang will start on Monday; the Austin gang starts on Wednesday. Question, why do teachers in Austin require two extra days off?

Hey, take note for all of you still running Windows 7 (me for one), January 14, 2020 Microsoft will stop supporting this version of Windows. You’ll be able to use it indefinitely, but there will be no updates and it’ll be easier and easier for the ‘nasties’ to insert malware. I had hopes of avoiding Windows 10 into infinity. Now I might have to bite that bullet. Just a heads up.

Till next week, Happy New Year and stay safe!