Friday, December 08, 2017

Bulbs in the socket but not all my lights are blinking


I've written in the past about my love/hate relationship with Christmas lights and decorating my house. Usually by the week after Thanksgiving I've unpacked crates of lights and headed up to my roof and undertaken the arduous task of clipping lights to the gutter and trying not to slip off the roof or electrocute myself.

This year I decided to only put up lights in places that didn't require going up on the roof. And the world did not end.

It's not that I don't enjoy the beauty of Christmas lights. But thinking about the labor required to put them along my gutters just made me depressed. I've invested hundreds of dollars in lights but there never seemed to be enough. And even if I tested them before I put them away for the year, it never failed that once they'd come out of storage, passed another test a section would inevitably fail once I'd attached them to the roof.

Then there was the complicated system of extension cords, timers and outside power outlets. And there are the blown breakers. I also have bags of spare bulbs I've accumulated over the years. Regardless of what the light manufacturers say, all of the other lights don't stay lit when one burns out and you have to test each bulb in a patch of lights that have gone out in order to find the bad one.

Even just putting lights on my deck railings and my shrubs and trees took a great deal of effort and a few trips to the store for more lights (despite all of the lights I own for the roof most of the sets had burned out sections and I just could deal with the mind numbing process of trying to find the bad bulbs).

But still we have enough lights out to stave off the neighborhood shaming for not decorating for Christmas.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Humbug


Saw "The Man Who Invented Christmas" this weekend.  It is the story of the internal struggle Charles Dickens went through when he was writing A Christmas Carol. I left the movie theater with a kind of "embrace your inner Scrooge" feeling.

Apparently, Dickens had many inner demons he struggled with. And A Christmas Carol became his personal tale of his rocky path to redemption.

The beauty of A Christmas Carol to me has always been that tipping point where Scrooge transforms from the dark, dismal miser into a man who once again has hope. Dickens does a wonderful job of revealing the journey that the man went through that turned him into the cold, heartless figure of Scrooge and then chips away the blackness to give him a second chance at life.

I don't know enough about Charles Dickens life to know how much of the movie was based on truth and how much was artistic license. But I know enough about writing to know that the characters you bring to life are often parts of your own psyche. It doesn't stretch the imagination to think Scrooge was a part of Dickens that he struggled with. And according to the movie, Dickens wasn't quite sure if Scrooge was capable of redemption. Fortunately, Dickens was able to give his demons the benefit of the doubt and let Scrooge turn his life around.

I hope it was an epiphany for Dickens. It's a message that we need in our current times where politics have turned our culture upside down.

I think Tom Robbins said it best when he stated, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." Of course then Sees Candy ripped it off and used it in their advertising for awhile.

But the sentiment rings true.

God bless us, every one!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Over the river...




It has been about five years since I subjected my family to Boise for Thanksgiving. I've been there a couple of times on business since my mom died. But I've avoided Thanksgiving trips there since she died.

This year my daughter proclaimed she wanted to see more of our extended family at times other than funerals. So I broke down and booked a trip to Boise for Thanksgiving.

I left Boise for Seattle when I was in my early 20s. And there has hardly been a time when I've visited there that it didn't depress the hell out of me. This trip was no exception.

Despite the rain (and probably because of it), Seattle is a place filled with green and majestic views of the water. Boise is a flat, barren strip mall with majestic views of the surrounding sage brush deserts and gray foothills. To get anywhere in Boise you basically have to get on the freeway and then transfer to major arterials with complicated four-way intersections that take forever to navigate.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gray, gray, go away

With rain and wind already battering the Pacific Northwest, I am fighting my winter blues a bit earlier than normal. Daylight Savings Time doesn't help. It's barely 4:40 p.m. and it is already dark.

I don't like winter and I believe the feeling is mutual with winter.

I don't like the rain much. Snow sucks. I've looked at clouds from both sides now and I really don't like clouds much either.

So why do I live around Seattle? It's not because it is touted as a cool place to live. That's only if you are under 30. It's not even because it is near water (which is why I thought I moved here in the first place). The water is as gray and dark as the sky.

I live here because I ended up here. Not sure where else I'd go. Once you reach the west coast, it doesn't seem practical to go eastward.

Perhaps climate change will eventually make the Pacific Northwest tropical. That would be nice. Even if it kept raining, it would be a warm rain.

Regardless, I sometimes just feel like pulling the covers over my head until it all passes.

It can't rain all the time.


Monday, October 16, 2017

The devil is in the details


I generally consider myself an "idea" person. In an ideal world (i.e. mine and mine alone), I would sit around thinking of ideas and outlining them to a bevy of hovering assistants who would scurry away and implement them without question. Then they would return with praise for yet another brilliant success spawned from my brilliant idea.

But I unfortunately don't live in an ideal world (i.e. mine and mine alone). I live in a world of details. I don't get to sit around thinking. I don't have a bevy of hovering assistants who marvel at my genius. Instead, I'm surrounded by people who stand poised with a club ready to put most of my new  born ideas out of their misery not unlike Alaska seal hunters swarming a baby seal.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Take it to the limit one more time...on getting old



And it's so hard to change
Can't seem to settle down
But the dreams I've seen lately keep on turning out
And burning out and turning out the same.
So put me on a highway and show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time.
  
--"Take it to the limit" The Eagles
Aging baffles me. It's this cruel trick of the mirror that seemingly over night started showing me someone who isn't me. Or at least not the me that my mind's eye sees.

So far for me, aging is a physical thing. I still, for the most part, have a young mind. Oh, I have moments where I can't remember things. But that has pretty much been with me all my life.

I'm not as flexible physically as I used to be. Even though I workout almost every day, I can tell that I'm slowing down. Rising from a sitting position on the floor after playing a board game with my kids isn't accomplished in one fluid moment any more.

Ok, I likely have another 25 or 30 years to live but the reality that I'll be living those years in an old body is pretty daunting. It's not like when I was in my 20s or 30s and didn't really see an end. I could easily rely on "somedays". Now someday seems like a diminishing possibility.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mad in America


Seems like crazy in the US these days is the new black. Trump tweets new Twitter-babble almost on a a daily basis. And it garners more attention than the natural disasters ravaging the Caribbean.

It doesn't seem to matter to his "base" supporters (and I mean base literally).

Even the whack job North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un seems rational compared to Trump. He probably didn't expect to encounter someone crazier than he is who is willing to drop the bomb to prove America has bigger cojones than any other country.

The hypocrisy of all is also maddening. Trump rails on NFL football players for kneeling while the Star Spangled Banner is played at games. This sparks more protests and entire teams skip the Star Spangled Banner. This incites a segment of the population who think this is an insult to Veterans. Then photos emerge of Trump standing while the Star Spangled Banner is played but he doesn't have his hand over his heart.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

El dia de los muertos Cerdo


All of those Day of the Dead skulls I painted on river rocks motivated me to clean off this derelict cement garden pig ornament that we had inherited when we bought our house and give him a new paint job. He had been hidden in some ivy. When we uncovered him, he'd lost most of his snout and his front hoofs.




It was actually my daughter's idea. She also helped with the intricate paint scheme. I think he turned out pretty cool. So cool that I cleaned off a derelict garden gnome and I'm going to turn him into a Day of the Dead gnome next.

So beyond painting rocks and garden statues being relaxing, I realize it's not high art. But for a little while, it helps fulfill my need to be creative. I just need to remind myself to keep it all in perspective. Just because I like it, doesn't mean other people like it or understand it.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Painting rocks


I just returned from two weeks vacation and though we spent 8 days in Los Cabos, my biggest discovery from my time off (other than I don't like working) is that I like to paint rocks.

I learned this by helping my ten-year old daughter gather rocks from the stream that runs through our backyard. The rocks are exceptionally round, smooth and for some reason are all black. I had gathered some before to fill in steps that lead down our hillside towards the stream. But this was the first time I'd gathered rocks for their artistic potential.

Apparently painting rocks isn't a new phenomenon in Western Washington. There are groups popping up on Facebook with people who paint and hide rocks around for other people to find. My daughter had found some and that inspired her to paint her own rocks.

I decided to join her. She had a bin full of acrylic paints including some metallic paints that really popped when applied to the black rocks. I started by painting a heart shaped rock gold with bronze accents. Then I painted gold angel wings that looked cool on the black rock I'd chosen.

That hooked me. I launched a "day of the dead" series that I'm still kind of obsessed with.




Friday, August 11, 2017

Kettle calling the pot black

Ted has left a new comment on your post "Night of the Living Beach Boys!": 
You're an idiot for saying derogatory things about these fantastic artists. Sounds like you're jealous... 
Oddly enough, in my 13 years of blogging I have had very few trolls sending me love letters like the one above. Whoever Ted is (and I know he isn't my brother Ted...he doesn't use the Internet), he took umbrage at a post I made several years ago about the Grammy's. I'm assuming he is calling me an idiot for dissing on what's left of the Beach Boys for lip syncing  and shuffling across the stage while young performers actual play and sing.

Normally, I just delete comments like this and move on. But although Ted has an account on Blogger and left his name, he didn't provide any means of responding. Because if he writes a blog, he doesn't publicize it with his profile. Probably because trolls don't like to be trolled.

My problem with this is that when I comment on some stranger's blog, I at least have the cojones to not be anonymous. People can respond to my comments. But then again, I don't call strangers idiots. If I take issue with their opinions, I at least engage in civilized debate rather than leading with an insult. It tends to put a damper on communication.

That being said, Ted, I'll respond in a way I hope you understand, "I know you are, but what am I."


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Game of Thrones on!



My latest binge-watching accomplishment has been watching all the past seasons of Game of Thrones just in time for the new season to start. I know I was late to the game, but once I got through the first season, I was hooked big time.

Not like other Game of Throne fans, I've encountered though. I didn't read the books. I can't remember half the names. But I am blown away by the amazing, intertwined plot lines. The production values and acting are pretty amazing, too.


The beauty of Game of Thrones is that it transcends time. It's a period production, but not of any period that actually existed. And the politics of the people who jockey to sit on the Iron Throne and rule the seven kingdoms is a bit too much like politics in general today.

The thing about Game of Thrones is that even the good people can be exceedingly bad. And the good don't always triumph. But the bad are more or less pretty consistently bad. But even they have their likable or vulnerable moments.

Unlike Twin Peaks, which I binged watched to prepare for the reprisal, Game of Thrones seems to have only gotten better over the years. The new Twin Peaks is just bat shit crazy and incomprehensible (but of course I still watch it).

I hate that this is the last season of Game of Thrones.  I could have been enjoying it for years.

Oh well, I always have the Walking Dead to catch up on.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Toys in the attic

Crazy
Toys in the attic, I am crazy
Truly gone fishing
They must have taken my marbles away
Crazy, toys in the attic he is crazy

--Pink Floyd, The Trial
Unless you totally avoid social media, the news, talking to co-workers and never leave your bed, it is  not hard to imagine that the world has truly gone crazy. It seems as though on a daily basis that violence erupts, some new scandal breaks and the lunatic in the Oval Office is tweeting gibberish.

Police seem to regularly be shooting unarmed people on routine traffic stops. Others are shot by stray bullets as they sit in their cars or walk down the street. Hatred seems to be the norm. Tolerance is low on both sides of the political spectrum.

For the most part, I am used to odd behavior. Seattle's weather has always been a magnet for the unhinged. I walked past Starbucks yesterday and a woman stood with outstretched arms spinning slowly. A supersoaker water gun sat on the table next to her.

No one around her paid any attention.

The homeless seem everywhere. Tent cities crop up under freeway overpasses. There is hardly a exit and entry ramp onto a major roadway that doesn't have someone standing there with a sign pleading for help.

And bipartisan politicians point fingers at each other and slip through legislation that broadens the gap between the haves and the have nots.