Archive for February, 2020

Leaping out of February
02 29th, 2020

And a great Saturday morning to all – the 29th day of a month usually found without. Not only that, but last Monday the ‘wheel’ turned another notch on my ageing thing. Vili is our discoverer and was bound and determined to make me a ‘pop-up’ card for the occasion (at age 8). Apparently it took him a few tries but he did it. Open the card and a cake complete with candles comes out at you. Needless to say, it now has a place of honor.

”Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ~ Satchel Paige, baseball player

Now for a coffee. The mug’s been warmed and the java is done.

We Gotta Shout! – Last Sunday Marcia and I joined in a celebration of a recording made in 1963. When, after meeting at a social gathering Clara Ward and her Gospel Singers and The Dukes of Dixieland decided on a joint venture. This led to a legendary recording; We Gotta Shout! – especially so, since this was still the era of segregation and Jim Crow.

Sunday, we were treated by a wonderful gospel choir together with the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra in a celebration of that early joint recording. We had the Corinthian Baptist Church rocking. And Marcia claimed she was completely drained as we walked out 2½ hours later. Enjoy these two numbers, Travelin’ Shoes, and Marchin’ In (P.S. Go full screen or even better, play on a TV and do crank up the sound):

Another week, another Debate (part XXVII or something) – Yes, we did see the South Carolina debate – at least until it became noticeable that the CBS moderators had lost complete control and all we could hear/see were flapping arms and everyone talking at once.

Immediately prior to switching the thing off, I swear I heard from somewhere within the assembled crowd someone yelling: “air travel is a human right and we demand that airlines pay for our flights.”

But, best of all is this Tweet from someplace within Bernie’s Movement:

Art After Dark Opening Event – Marcia noticed a reference announcing that last evening at our Art Museum there was an opening social bannered under the heading of; Art After Dark It was complete with a Jazz Trio, cocktails, and Barbeque prepared by ‘Just Q’in BBQ’. How could we NOT go I asked? Two exhibitions opened, first; Women Breaking Boundaries. And the second was a special exhibition “Something Over Something Else” Romare Bearden (1911 – 1988) his Profile Series. The Bearden showing is one of two showing. It just finished in Atlanta and now here. Each of these exhibitions were more than excellent and the evening great fun.

Bearden’s works are a retrospect over the years, many light hearted, some poignant, paints, collages, and each descriptive.

This one was labeled; “when I was old enough I found out what Liza’s mother did for a living.”

Or; “The church was always filled when people knew Reverend Russell was going to preach about Adam and Eve and the Apple.”

                 

Fini – This coming week it’s wishing a Happy Birthday to Dinah.

And Dinah’s brother, Marin, passed his drivers exam on the first try last Wednesday. Mom and dad are swallowing hard waiting to open mail from the Insurance Company reflecting the new rate now that Marin has taken this huge step.

Today, back in 1960 the first Playboy Club, featuring waitresses clad in bunny outfits opened in Chicago. I remember my first visit to the Cincinnati Playboy Club, breakfast at 1:30am.

Also today, but in 1984, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced he was stepping down after more than 15 years in power. He was the first Trudeau to smack Canada on the side of the head; a tradition current Prime Minister, sonny-boy Justin, is continuing.

We have a lamp Marcia found at an estate sale years ago. We seldom used it since it was too bright and I got nervous about the amount of power it drew on its skinny little chord. Last evening at the museum we saw the original. A Tiffany Studio piece called Pond Lily Lamp (circa 1906-1910). As luck would have it, our power company had a 50¢ each LED bulb sale, and I had just bought 12 of them for our lamp. Now we’re actually using it!

Visiting Austin? Be sure to RSVP for this session:

Make it great week and stay safe!
Dirk


Café du Monde
02 22nd, 2020

And a great Saturday morning to all. It’s been an excellent week in the ‘Nati and I hope yours was as good as well. And now I hear Mr. Coffee happily perking away in the background and so, my morning begins. We ran out of our regular go-to coffee from White Castle (White Castle of ‘slider’ fame). However buried deep in the bowels of our little condo’s ‘pantry’ was an unopened can of Café du Monde coffee, New Orleans’ best.

Those of you who’ve had the stuff can’t forget the taste. If you have yet to enjoy a cup at New Orleans’ French Market along with a warm ‘Beignet’ you’ll not soon forget. It’s the ‘blast’ of Chicory mixed in which makes it oh so distinct; anyway, no Beignets for me this morning. Possibly it’ll be a Dutch Rusk later on.

Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised. ~ Star Trek: Voyager

Taxes – For me life has become dramatically simpler. For almost the past twenty years I would race over to my CPA, Ed’s office, late in March. For almost twenty years he’d dutifully file for an extension, and then in early fall I’d cut a check and race over to his office. That was the ‘norm’ of my tax filing.

Last year I decided to take a “path less traveled” and ordered a copy of TurboTax. Hence, yesterday was THE day and so TurboTax was again seen on my computer screen. Paperwork was strewn all over the dining room table and in a circle by my feet, add a calculator, 1099 forms, 1099Rs, forms with “Div” printed here and there, and a small handful from a file marked ‘donations’. I dreaded it. But, this year they hooked me because it remembered the details from last year and so it actually became even easier. By dinnertime I had submitted both Federal and State taxes and by the time we finished eating both had been accepted. Yessss!

Marcia said that I still looked like I did on ‘Tax-day’ each and every past year. I’m not so certain. Are you casting your vote for Marcia or moi?

Another week, another Debate – To be honest, I really hadn’t watched the earlier ones much – seemed like watching the minor leagues. Now, with a reduction in players and the addition of Mike, I gave it a shot. What a sad spectacle. The new entrant was an outright disaster. Warren appeared much like that obnoxious second grader flapping arms around looking for attention; “teacher, teacher, me, me, oh, oh, me”. Nearly all seemed just plain angry.

At least Bernie stayed on queue. ‘Queue’ that is until his personal wealth was brought to light and like a good ‘commie’ this had him give that ‘Deer in the headlights’ look. Trying to explain away his $600,000 summer house as a ‘camp’ was totally lame. But, I do have a solution. With this gang, scrape them all off the ‘table’. There is probably enough time to garner a totally new fresh bunch – in other words; start over.

Mental Health – Immediately after my college days I began working for our State’s Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. It only makes sense that I take note of the affairs of how we began and have continued to deal with that population. It’s been a DISASTER.

About the time that I left it was deemed that individual rights were paramount and so, all across the nation, residential institutions were closed. The new ‘freedoms’ allowed for seriously mentally Ill people to wander around with minimal or zero support – after all, they had the right to choose, independent of whether or not they could. This in part accounts for our massive homeless populations.

This week President Trump, for the first time in over 50 years, took a stand for the Mentally Ill, by including in his budget language for Medicaid funding for institutional care. The White House’s move to ease the restrictions will improve care. Of the hundreds of thousands who bounce from jail to jail, prisons, and shelters on any given night, fewer than 40,000 are in state psychiatric hospitals. This situation can now be addressed. Thank you Mr. President.

The Corner – has been remarkably quiet; no Chaos or Mayhem. That doesn’t mean that it’s been totally quiet. The ‘urban’ happenings keep on happening. A week or so ago EMT were across the street when a woman reportedly came down with a stroke, Then a couple of days ago, again EMTs, were called to a few doors up the street for a Diabetic situation. It’s never a dull moment.

     

Fini – This is the week of the kiss heard round the country. February 19, 1972 is when Sammy Davis, Jr. kissed Carroll O’Connor’s character Archie Bunker on the TV sitcom All in the Family. See, we oldies remember this stuff.

Marcia will hate this, but I love it. This past week in 1876 Sardines were 1st canned – in Eastport – Maine. So there!

And, something I meant to make note of but didn’t at that time is that on January 27 we had Holocaust Remembrance Day. That day is set aside to commemorate the genocide that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others, by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Never forget.

And tomorrow a very Happy Birthday to our family’s Tuba Player and soon to be High School senior; Derek. Wow, number 17 already!

Marcia and Adrianne joined forces to paint their very own pillow case. ‘Gnomes’ had to be the subject of their artistic endeavor. The three hour class produced these amazing results.

Make it great week and stay safe!
Dirk


In Our Time
02 15th, 2020

The first thing Marcia said when she got up and spotted me keying in these Ramblings was; “well you’ll need a nap later today”. Apparently it was a subtle reference to my coming home at 12:30 this morning. Having said that, I best grab more coffee.

Our St. Valentine’s Day celebration was slightly different this year. Marcia was at home and watched her favorite channels, Circle-R which is the Grand Ole Opry channel and then on the Decades channel a re-run of the old Dick Cavett Show. She was wearing her brand new flannel-like (no little ‘Flannels’ were harmed in the making of the faux flannel) lounge pants and quite likely had a glass of red wine alongside.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, I kid-sat while the parental-units went out for the evening. Eventually, I found Rugby-the-dog laying on the couch next to me with his head in my lap. On a cold night can it get any better?

These couple of days have been the coldest of the winter 13 to 17 degrees in the mornings. Tomorrow it’ll be back into the forties and by mid-week the flood waters will recede.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ~ John Ruskin

St. Valentine – I finally discovered the ‘true’ story of St. Valentine. Can’t totally vouch for it, but last evening discovered that he was a sort-of ‘hermit’, living in the upper reaches of lake Tonlé Sap in Cambodia. Once a year he would travel by a rudimentary kind of a boat down that large fresh-water lake and then the 75 miles of Tonlé Sap River to where it connects to another series of rivers. Eventually he would end up by the Gulf of Thailand for his annual ritualistic cleansing.

Along the way he was known for his flower gathering along the river banks. These he would distribute to the women at the shore when he finally arrived at the Gulf.

Over the years people would actually gather to witness Valentine’s annual pilgrimage. And, frenzied, they would anticipate the distribution of flowers. Over time ‘magical’ love properties were attributed to the whole event. Eventually the St. Valentine craze was picked up and promoted by a company named Hallmark; hence, even here in the mid-west it makes women ‘mad’. It’s also suggested that men too use the day to cleanse in the St. Valentine manner, and shave or at least trim their beards.

Audio Books – Once again we think of ourselves as the inventors, this time it’s the Audiobook. Wrong!

Century upon century ago that’s what people had, audiobooks. Listen to a reading of the Iliad, or Beowulf. Even a translation of the Heliand is rhythmically charming. Remember having to read Chaucer in school? These were all audiobooks meant to be read and listened to (especially at a time when the masses could not read).

Ah yes, and we think we’re so smart. Now that the political silly season is in full swing just listen to the many ‘new’ ideas promoted by slick charmers (today’s version of the Snake Oil salesmen of yore). Nearly all tried (and failed) at an earlier time. Just stop and say to yourself; “nothing there, nothing to see here” and go on your merry way.

Jazz – Last Saturday evening Marcia and I went to a wonderful Jazz evening. Phil deGreg and his Trio were masterful (and since they all taught at The University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music they are true Masters). Add to that setting Ken Wade on trumpet and Kathy Wade a jazz singer reminiscent of the greats of yesteryear meant that their final number at shortly after 11 came way too soon.

Canada stuff – Canada for its early history always flew Great Britain’s Union Jack, or Royal Union Flag. Then on this day, February 15, 1965 a formal proclamation by Queen Elizabeth II, and the new Canadian national flag was raised above Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The bright red Maple Leaf had become the flag we now all identify as Canadian.

Something which has never changed since about that same time is a little charge the Bell Telephone company of Canada has stuck onto the bill of every land-line still in use; $2.80 for having a push-button phone. For years it’s been impossible to even get a ‘dial’ phone, yet that silly little money grab continues.

Fini – Back to swimming. Pool repairs are complete and the temp is hovering at 80. It’s grand.

Now that this whole idiotic Impeachment business is behind us it’s interesting to note that on this day, February 15, 1798, the first serious fist fight occurred in Congress.

And as a ‘first’ in the wacky world of Climate Change, The London Zoo in 1925 announced it would install lights to cheer up fogged-in animals.

Make it great week and stay safe!
Dirk


Snow and more
02 8th, 2020

December 15th last year and Marcia and I had just arrived in Michigan for our annual ‘sibs-dinner’ (plus Jeanne’s major birthday party). That same evening it was also our neighborhood’s annual Luminary Walk. At the exact hour that the candles were being lit the snows blew in and a perfect winter’s evening fell into place.

The remainder of December – no more snow. January came and went – no snow. Then came February, and yesterday finally, on the morning of February 7, we had a lovely picturesque snow – 2” of the white stuff. And, the schools were ready. Page after page of school closings were read off on the morning newscasts. Our city school system braved it all and stayed in session. Oh so many parents were totally delighted!

Midafternoon came and I went on my 5-mile walk. The streets were bare and dry as were the sidewalks and walkways. A few patches of snow on grassy surfaces were all that remained. The temperature had climbed to well above freezing and I actually started to overheat a bit. I suspect that spring is beginning to stir. As proof, this morning the Cincinnati Reds equipment truck is leaving for spring training camp in Arizona. Baseball season is around the corner.

All of the above is to point out that a grand weekend awaits. Marcia was up early and had made the coffee by the time I got up and had started a batch of steel-cut Oats. She asked if I had a theme this morning and I guess that my theme is to enjoy all of it.

Optics – It’s been said that all politics is local and personal and is hinged by something called ‘optics’ (today’s buzzword). Without getting too verbose and overly political (in case my kids read the Ramblings) let me just give visual meaning to the best of both the ‘optics’ and substance in the President’s State of the Union message:

What was probably not realized was just how powerfully the opposition played into the evening’s ‘optics’. By the Democrat women’s Congressional contingency dressing in all white, sitting together, so that when a camera passed over it was as if a spotlight had been turned on. The best example was the President’s statements on School Choice and giving a scholarship to a little girl sitting in the gallery with her single mom. They both glowed with joy and much of the assembled roared with approval. Yet, when the camera passed over that block of women in white, sitting on their hands, and with dour looks on their faces, a major message was sent. Any speechifying by them on ‘women power’ ‘people power’ had just become meaningless claptrap. Yup, optics is important.

Impeachment – and the idea for it, was started almost on Inauguration day. As time wore on it became clear that no criminality had taken place. The search for something continued and eventually, sorta out of desperation, the proceedings began to take shape. In the end, by mid-week, the shameful and sham impeachment trial was voted down. It had now become little more than a campaign strategy. I think that the words of Mark Twain best be heeded:

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ~ Mark Twain

The Corner Rules – Earlier I noted that I enjoyed a good walk yesterday afternoon. On my return, approaching the corner of Chaos & Mayhem, I ended up calling 911. A SUV had piled into a power pole, airbags had popped, and the car’s front end absolutely demolished. A pregnant woman standing outside was bawling and several little ones wailing. I just fail to understand how this all happens. Well marked city streets, dry pavement, and no further than 50’ from three different Stop signs. It’s really beyond me.

From Home to Lot – last week I posted the opening lyrics of that wonderful Joni Mitchell song;

Big Yellow Taxi
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I expected that a week or two and we’d see the change. How about a day or two:

A Frozen Swim – A few weeks ago I joined the YMCA and since have enjoyed doing laps three times a week – it’s delightful.

A week ago required a two day shut down as an exterior wall was repaired. That turned into a few extra days. By Wednesday morning the pool was reopened and I went for it. It was just me, a lifeguard, and water a little beyond the 70-degree mark. A half hour later while on lap 20 I realized I was shivering. Off to the hot showers and ‘mucho’ steam. By 9:00 that evening I was under the blankets since I couldn’t warm up.

During the day, I spotted a new post on Facebook. All the problems seem to relate to the contractor’s clean up: as they were hosing down the repaired area the electric was hit and things fried. I’ll see where things stand on Monday:

Fini – This evening Marcia and I will head out to a performance by our favorite Jazz piano player, Phil DeGreg and his trio. He’ll be joined by international powerhouse Jazz singer Kathy Wade. What’s interesting to me is that I coached Kathy’s daughter in soccer when she was a third/fourth grader. How time flies

This week dynamo Congresswoman AOC clarified that it’s impossible for someone to lift themselves up by the bootstraps. I was so impressed by this bit of wisdom that I’d like her to clarify these:
• “I’m in a Pickle” – how is that possible?
• “Beat a Dead Horse” – would that bring on Animal Welfare?
• “To bury the Hatchet” – what good is a buried hatchet?
• “Its water under the bridge” – probably Global Warming, correct?
• “Cat’s got your Tongue”
• “Pot calls the Kettle black”
• “Raining Cats and Dogs”
Should I go on?

Remember that on this day in 1969 a Meteorite weighing over 1 ton fell in Chihuahua, Mexico. Better ‘keep your eyes on the sky’; did you catch that AOC?

Happy Birthday to twin cousins in Holland, sisters Jacqueline and Karin. Also to Brother in Law David Z

Make it great week and stay safe!
Dirk


The Marmot
02 2nd, 2020

Super Bowl Sunday and a happy morning to everyone, I’ll get going before the coffee gets cold.

Yesterday was a long one. I woke up sometime after 4:30 when our Power Company texted me that our area had a power outage which would last till no later than 8:30.

Since I had my 5K and realized that in fact we had power, I scurried to make some coffee, and plug in my phone and Fitbit before the power went out. It never did.

The evening was our neighborhood Progressive Dinner from which we returned at 11:30. Off to bed and it was Marcia who heard the EMT dispatch call for Fire and Ambulance to the house directly across from us for a lady with a suspected stroke. So, at midnight, both of us were sitting on the couch watching the goings-on. Makes for a short night.

With all of this I missed this morning’s big event as Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil made his prediction at sunrise. This was the cuddly oracle’s 134th prognostication:

“(Phil) grasped the glove of a handler as a member of his inner circle declared: “Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.” ~ The Boston Globe

Then comes the shocker; in reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. So, this too is FAKE!

Neighborhood fire becomes opportunity – was a chapter heading in last week’s Ramblings. Yesterday this BEAST was parked on the house’s front yard. Marcia thought it fun if I make a weekly record as that area takes on a new look.

She also said that along with a logging of the change with photos I need to remind you of that wonderful Joni Mitchell song;

Big Yellow Taxi
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Cyclones Frozen 5/10K – For me it was the third time I participated. Yesterday the weather was great, the first time it was sloshing through wet snow. Since no one has any idea what the weather will be like for the event when signing up, it makes for an interesting wait.

I haven’t gotten details other than that there were over 2,200 of us. But, the early stat had me as #5 in my age bracket. This year I think it helped that I made certain that I was running every time I spotted a camera recording the scene.

   

Brexit – is now reality and from a distance I think the Brits made the right call. Remember this isn’t the first attempt of countries in the European Union trying to regain control over their own status:

“Brexit wasn’t the European people’s first cry of revolt. In 2005, France and the Netherlands held referendums about the proposed European Union constitution. In both countries, opposition was massive, and other governments decided on the spot to halt the experiment for fear the contagion might spread.” ~ Marine Le Pen

Seeing what has been happening in our nation and now in Europe I believe that Globalism is somewhat on the ropes and Populism is making a comeback. It’ll be interesting to see where it all leads.

Progressive Dinner – our neighborhood’s annual event was once again a huge hit. Last year we were one of the stopping points and this year I was told several times that they missed being able to play my vintage Bally Pin Ball machine. I suspect that next year people will want me to trailer the thing from house to house.

It’s always amazing to see the variety of food stuffs assembled at this event. It’s huge fun to meet old neighbors normally not seen; and, new neighbors to welcome into the mix.

One of the highlights for me was running into two guys, absolute Bourbon specialists and aficionados. Especially so since next month friends Barb and Bulent will come down from Canada and the four of us will take a several days tour of Kentucky’s Bourbon country.

One of these guys manages a place across the river known as “Cork ‘N Bottle”. He’s promised to send me details of some of the more special places to visit on our trip.

The other one is just a lover and collector of fine Bourbon. His house was the last on our dinner list and was the Dessert stop. Instead of dragging me past the tables filled with sweets, he took me straight to a special section of his bar area – the Bourbon bar. Not only were there the common varieties, but one specialty Bourbon after another. All except for three bottles which weren’t to be opened the rest were waiting for sipping and testing. Just how good does it get? You tell me!

Fini – A few weeks ago I joined the YMCA. Since then I’ve tried to establish a rhythm where I go three mornings a week to swim laps, approaching about a half a mile each morning. Last week the pool was closed due to repair work and it opens again on Wednesday. Already I can’t wait.

Can’t remember who it was I was talking with but the subject of old 45RPM records came up. We couldn’t come with the name of the little inserts to allow these records to play on a standard turntable. They’re mostly referred to as just ’adaptors’, but I’ve also heard the term ‘spyder’. Anyone know for certain?

Then, I can’t miss out on a smidgeon of the political. This has to be the best response in a text I’ve seen in quite some time. Enjoy:

Make it great week and stay safe!
Dirk