Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Norah And I Did Our Nails

I never wear this shirt.  But today was warm and I guess I just wanted to shake things up, so on with the old Florida novelty shirt.  Being invited to Norah's house is always a worthwhile trip.  

Norah and I were doing our usual romping when I saw a couple of nail polish vials on the coffee table.  One thing led to another - isn't that how everything starts?  I asked if she'd like her toenails prettied up and she quickly said yes.  

Like an artist with his masterwork, with unbridled concentration and determination to  excellence, I dabbled with as much precision as these old eyes could muster.  I like the look of Norah in this one, as she looks like a pampered princess who has dozens of ladies in waiting helping her.   

As I began to show her that I had no qualms about gussying up myself, she came up with an idea of her own.  

Turnabout is fair play.  As I did her nails, she now wanted to do mine.  

Walking into Wal-Mart a day or two later with my flip-flops, and getting just a couple of strange looks, it did my heart and soul some good.  Let 'em wonder.

Nothing works quite like discovering new fun activities with the Smidge. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  I have good news on my Aussie Shepherd Rescue application.  I have received word that my references and past vet have come through with good reports and they will be conducting a home inspection soon.  There is every likelihood that I could be united with my newest best friend by Christmas.

2.  Bedlam had a kind of resident appreciation day last week: they handed out breakfast to people leaving the gates.  I didn't have anywhere to go, but thought that sounded like a good idea, so I hopped in the car and grabbed breakfast at the "Out" gate and swung back into the "In".   

Bedlam is a crazy place, but bless their little hearts, danged if they aren't trying to be nice.   They are also sponsoring a Christmas Toys For Tots and some kind of Shoebox for Seniors thing (I'm assuming items seniors need rather than their ashes).  

3.  As is usual when I return from Northlandia, a kind of melancholy settles in my bones and brains.  It is a testament to my friends and family up there: they do such a great job of making me feel important.


Remember last week I'd mentioned that Side Trax in G-Burg had stiffed me my change?  Well, it happened here in St. Pete at Red Robin at the Mall.  I was due  $16.18 in change and the waiter, Jordan, said he's didn't give me the $.18 cents in change.  And did I want it?  I said yes, I did and why didn't he give it to me.  I also told him of my past experience and wondered what was going on.  He said change came from his own coffer, not the restaurant's and he didn't have it.  Well I told him I wanted it anyway and after the longest time he returned with a quarter.  Now I;m no city guy.  I'm just a country hick who was taught that if you pay for something you should expect change in return.  I was also taught that you determined the tip, not the waiter or waitress.  I was also taught that if you don't get your full change back then there has been some kind of theft occur.  I had originally had a $5 dollar bill out there for his tip  but after this exchange, like the one in G-Burg, I removed the 5 and replaced it with a 1.   Frankly, I don't care for that kind of jackassery and if we are all of a sudden going to change the rules then I need a memo giving me the necessary instructions.  I have always thought I was a generous tipper and hate leaving these people basically empty handed, but, dammit, what's going on?         

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tybee Island Art Guild

At my urging, dear friends Jeff and Carol took up the brush in one of my "Rah, Rah, Ya-gotta-try-this"  regarding the therapeutic benefits of painting.  And those crazy kids actually went out and got the materials to try it.  I struck up a challenge to Carol to try 4 paintings and she has now done 2.  Jeff has one under his belt and I was tickled to see the fruits of their labor on his website a while back.  I leached onto his pictures and am posting them today.     

This does my heart good.  I have known Jeff for several decades now and I can attest to his earnestness when tackling a new project.  He will do his damnedest learn what one must and and then tackle the project with gusto.  More than anyone else I know, he is "All-In" on new endeavors.   

Carol has been doing cement stone works and quilts for a long time and has mastered those efforts, so I knew she would do well with a new artistic pursuit.  

These are the latest works from the Sutor artist garrett.  

Never having ever taken an art class I do not profess to be a critic.  I just go with what I like when I see it.  If asked what my favorite artist was I'd probably ask if I could do one for classic and one for modern.  I like the blackness and play of light Caravagio perfected in his time.  For modern I really like Edward Hopper.   

Jeff's painting above is colorful and symbolic.  Having worked in the correctional setting his painting above shows prison bars and a pile of rocks.  Jeff displayed a little whimsy for his first effort, but what really catches my eye are the rocks.  He actually shows, at least in my mind, a pretty good idea of how light is diffused on uneven surfaces.   That's not always easy to display on canvas, and his first effort screams for more!

Carol is more in the Expressionist school with big bold colors and large subjects encompassing her canvas.  Her subjects are barely able to contain themselves within the boundaries of the canvas and the colors are almost electric.  

I am quite pleased that I was able to prod (nag, harass) the Sutors in the direction of personal art and hope, fervently, that they continue.  Not for me, or family or friends, but for themselves.  In the few minutes and hours one dabbles with brush in hand, I swear it makes one relaxed but also almost manic in the creation and birth of something real.  My only word of advise, continue…..please.

Perhaps someday in the art history books we'll see this picture of Mr. Sutor in his artist's garret.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Flashback Friday

Veteran's Day was the 14th and I wanted to honor our Vet's closer to that date, but other things got in the way.  This series of pictures are of Herb while having landed somewhere in the South Pacific with some crew members.  He was the captain of a gunboat during World War II, a 90-day wonder is what they were called.  
He joined the Navy while in college and went to Columbia University in New York to take a three month course on navigation and other nautical elements, and graduated a Lieutenant JG (Junior Grade).  When the skipper of the ship was transferred, he became its captain.  His gunboat travelled around the Philippine Islands specifically Mindanao.  

These pictures had no information on the back so we can only guess as to what was going on here, but it would seem that they fell amongst the natives wherever they landed and posed for these shots.   

Herb is in the middle in what looks to be some lush forested ground.  It almost looks like there is a river or creek to the right and are those people in the water swimming?  

Herb (rear right) and his shipmate seem to be enjoying themselves in this picture.  They must have just learned that they would not be the main course in the evening meal.

Here is Herb kneeling down with some native children.  I'm not real fluent on my WWII history but I recall hearing that the native population in the remote areas of he Philippine Islands aided the Allies in their fight against Japan.  The Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1941 and retained control until 1944.  That probably makes these pictures somewhere in that year, give or take, and would make Herb around 22-23 years old.  This would have been when we took back the Islands and from what I remember Herb saying, there was still plenty of action in the area.

I recall seeing a picture of old Gunboat 61 but I don't have it, so I will be checking with the brothers to see if they do.  If so, I'll post someday.  A gunboat was smaller than a destroyer but bigger than a PT boat.  They were good for going in and out of inlets around the islands of the south Pacific. 

I am still amazed at how the citizen-soldier, or in this case the student-soldier, of World War II could be studying a business class  in Monmouth College one day and in New York studying navigation the next.  And in a few short weeks commanding a ship in the Pacific Ocean, and getting fired upon by Japanese torpedoes (true).  

As always, thanks to the Vets I know who sacrificed to secure our freedoms.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Florida

Last week we examined, photographically, some of my reasons why Florida in my neck of the woods is so durn unlovable. And I didn't even get around to the summer heat.   
Here are more examples of Florida in my backyard.   

I suspect it helps to be stoned in this state.

A pasture that looks oddly like one in Northlandia is right next to 10 lane Rt. 19 - Death Alley.

Life, even weedy life, clings to whatever purchase it can.   Imagine the very little soil in this open gate piece of steel, then imagine a seedling that came from somewhere and its subsequent germination and life.  

An empty box of condoms I guess is no great thing lying along the sidewalk in the city.  I took a picture of this one since I had passed one previously a block or two back.   A classic example of "Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink."   

The juxtaposition of an adult novelty outlet and barbed wire was simply too good to pass up.  

And besides, Floridians are damn poor parkers.

This picture doesn't do it justice, but invariably at each bus stop the amount of trash and garbage lying on the ground is amazing.  But that doesn't stop the mowing crews who just chop and mulch it it into smaller pieces.  Also, it is amazing that over there just a few steps away is a trash receptacle.  Floridians are pigs.

An example of the above, I saw this the other day on my walk.  I don't know what this means:  can you down  a six-pack before the next bus comes?  

And what's with all the underwear lying around?  I hate feeling like I'm missing out on something, but gee whiz, why is everyone going free-range?   

Having trashed the neighborhood I feel compelled to do my best to find local good things that make living here in bedlam worthwhile.  Look for that post in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In For A Penny...

My friend Christopher in BFE likes to go treasure hunting with his metal detector.  I've seen some of the stuff he unearths and a lot of it is really impressive.  Looks like a fun and potentially rewarding hobby. 

 I learned down here that Floridians are so rich or blind that they throw coinage in the streets and on sidewalks.  It may be one of those "city" things but for the most part I keep my head down to the ground most of the time I'm walking.  I have found many dollars worth of pennies, dimes, and nickels down here; my biggest take at a car wash once was around $3.00 - just left behind on the cement abutment between bays, presumably by someone who didn't want the job of cleaning them from being sticky and stuck around inside their car.  Midwest tightness or borderline poor, I'll be glad to take them off your hands.  Money is money wherever you find it, and I find plenty on the streets and parking lots around here.      

Like most folks I have a budget and I try to stay within it, more or less.  I allow myself a weekly cash allowance and I get my groceries, any incidentals and eating out with this allowance.  Anything left over from week to week goes into my secret compartment as a kind of emergency fund.  I explain all this utterly worthless factoid in order to explain this penny.  I used to ride a lot here and there when I was at Shawshank, but at Bedlam the traffic is such that I'd rather not mess with it and so I walk.  I walk every Thursday or Friday to get my allowance funds that are at an ATM at the grocery store.  Along this path I have to cross East Bay Drive which is a 6 lane major road.

One such trip I espied something coppery while in the crosswalk.  It lay about a yard and a half out of the walk in the center of one of the lanes.  It was indeed, the penny pictured here.  I walked on by,  half mad I didn't dart out and grab it.  Next week, again, it was still there but I kept on walking.  I asked myself why I didn't grab it and the answer was kind of vague:

  • I don't think I wanted anyone stopped at the light to see me dart over  for something on the road that may label me a derelict or bum.  Here I am worried about what a bunch of strangers will think whom I have no connection, or will ever, while grabbing free money from the pavement.  

And then I started asking questions about what it said about me.  I didn't like some of the possible answers.   I decided, then,  that the next week I would grab that penny if it was still there.

There were a couple of thoughts I had while I walked outside the crosswalk and bent down in front of all these stopped cars and picked up this penny.  None are particularly profound but it gave me an opportunity to look at myself and to give myself a pep talk on certain things to keep in mind.  

  • George Patton always used as his mantra,  "Audacieux, audacieux, toujours audacieux."   Audacious, audacious, always audacious.  I think that is the spice that we sprinkle on our activities every once in a while that become memory makers.  Once when I was at Cotton's/Timmy's on Rte 150 for Bucket night with Neighbor Tim a storm blew up and instead of sitting tight while it ran its course we decide to run back into BFE in as blistering a rainfall as I remember.  Couldn't see the road, and we went like a couple bat's out of Hell, but we made it and it was because of that audaciousness that I have a memory that will last till I die.  Another example is grabbing an artifact from the old Ponemah pumping station with the Wombie a couple years ago.  Yet another is climbing the grain elevator at BFE once and for all next time I'm in Northlandia.  And while a penny in the road isn't perhaps very audacious, it is, nonetheless a signpost that reads, "If given an opportunity, do the daring. "  We all need to do the daring once in a while.  
  • To Hell with what people think.  Who gives a mole rat's ass? I understand there are political considerations and appearances with jobs and other places we inhabit where staying under the radar is commensurate with conformity, but in all other areas,  to hell with what people think.  Be yourself and if you want that penny, walk over, reach down and pick it up.   
  • Look at that poor penny.  You can barely distinguish any of the normal features found on the one-cent piece.  I have no idea how long that penny has been trampled, shoved, run over, skidded, slid, scraped, mauled, or crushed by traffic.  But, you know what, it still retains its value.  Its somewhat like all the rest of us.  We have been hurt, stressed, or endure all the things life throws at us, but we retain that distinctive quality that makes us…us.  We still retain our value, too.  Perhaps grayer, a few more wrinkles, a bit less steady, but we remain essentially ourselves, and loved by others.  
Sorry to be a bit windy about a penny lying in the street.  But there are lessons to be learned in the things we do every day.  There is a chance you will see a coin lying on the sidewalk someday.  Don't walk by.  Pick it up.        

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tidbit Tuesday

1.  I have returned to Bedlam.  My list of "Things To Do"  didn't exactly happen as I had hoped, but then they don't usually, anyway.  The Retirement party was a smashing success.  I crawled out of my self-imposed introvert bubble and tried to act charming witty and self-possessed.  You'd have to ask others if it worked, but a morning-after self-evaluation revealed cracks in the foundation.  

My super secret attempt at surprise was successful in all aspects.  Holly was asked several times if I was coming up and she said that she didn't think so; "He'd let me know if he was."  So I have some trust issues to repair.  Many at the Club said there had not been such a party of that magnitude for years.  Congratulations, Mark. 

The weather and perpetually cloudy skies prevented many planned activities but other pursuits helped make the trip immensely enjoyable.  The lens I rented to see more of the night sky was barely used.  By my accounting, with the 20 some pictures I took with it, each one cost around $2.60.  And most of those I trashed.  Oh well.  I'd do it again if I had the chance.  I did learn that if Santa wanted to be nice this year, he'd put a Tokina 11-16 mm wide angle in my stocking.   

2.  I had lunch at the Side Trax in Galesburg while back.  Pat and her daughter Shelley met me and it was nice to have a Tenderloin since somehow they don't have those in Florida.  Spent some time here when it was the old Crappies.  Always good food and pretty decent atmosphere.  

When the waitress brought my change back I momentarily was confused on two things.  First, there was no change and from a $20 she had brought a five and some ones back from a $8.72 bill.  I'm not the swiftest cat when it comes to math so I was initially surprised at the fact I didn't get a $10 back and thought I had been shorted.  While I was doing my mental math I said, "Uh..." before she went away and then she said, "Oh, I shorted you the change, did you want it."  Like that would be most unreasonable.  I said, "Well, yes I do."   I then wondered if it was some kind of new thing up in G-Burg to openly steal from customers, or that patrons don't have the pockets for change.  She would have gotten the usual tip, but in this case she got a $1 and the change she brought me.  

3.  I was watching a commercial for Wal-Mart while at Mark's and they had the stirring heartfelt music thing going and at the end they had a line that read "Wal-Mart pledges to hire 100,000 veterans by 2018.  And then I got to working on my math skills again:  

  • There are approximately 4253 stores in the US (as of July 2014).
  • There are approximately 2,000,000 employees worldwide of which 1,200,000 are in the US.   
  • Average turnover in any business (2006) was around 35%.  Because of the pay and working conditions some Wal-Mart stores have suffered 85% turnover.  They stopped issuing their rates but it is higher than the rest of industry.  But lets assume a 30% turnover rate, which is lower.    
  • There will be a possible 400,000 openings at Wal-Mart this year (2015).  By 2018 that number increases to 1,200,000 for a total of 1, 600, 000 openings between now through 2018.    
  • Vets make up 7% of the workforce in the US.  
  • Of those 400,000 openings that means each store will have approximately 95 hires per year.  
  • Wal-Mart only needs to hire 5 veterans out of 95 openings per store.   

My fractured math may be off.  It may be off a great deal.  I'm no mathematician - ask anyone.  But if my facts and figures that I gleaned from various sites holds true, Walmart's bar for hiring vets is extremely low, but sure sounds good on a commercial.   In marketing it isn't the reality, it's the presentation.  This may be a long way around to take the opportunity to bash Wal-Mart, once again, but is an opportunity I don't want to miss.  By the way, I relaxed my ban on Wal-Mart a bit while back in Northlandia.  If one must go to the place, try the one in Aledo.  No lines, friendly faces and if one must, one could probably find someone willing to help you.  

4.  It was too cold to climb the grain elevator in BFE and it was overcast every damn day so the lens I rented just took a long trip in my suitcase.  I went out once while the skies cleared for an hour, so we'll see what I ended up with when I plug them into my computer.  Out of everything that didn't go as planned, the project to move Miss Frump to Burgess was a rousing and heartwarming success.  I went with jumper cables and ether in case she was persnickety, but she started right up and she drove just fine.  We are warming up to each other and I foresee a long and happy union together.  She is a dazzler.  The drive from Henderson through Alpha and New Windsor to Viola was great fun. 

5.  It was chilly while in Northlandia but on Monday it got up to 60 degrees.  And I also saw deer and snow!  Wonderful. 

5.  Ashley, Mark's smart and beautiful daughter is my social soul-mate.  If given the choice of wading through a room full of people or jumping into a swimming pool in January, well..."Pool Time!"  We both navigated the retirement party like well seasoned gadflies but I was just as glad it was over.  Ashley, too.

6.  Pat told me her father had a unique superstition.  Whenever he entered a building or house he always left by the same door.  

7.  Thanks JC for providing the transportation to and from the airport.  Thanks also to those who put me up and put up with me while back:  Mark and Holly and Pat.  Their generosity is always amazingly selfless.  

8.  I forgot my phone in Northlandia and it is being sent back to me, so if anyone called,  be patient - I'll return your calls when I get it. 

9.  I have learned that my Aussie Shepherd rescue application is in the reference stage.  Pretty soon they'll want to meet me. Yikes! 

10.  Gimpy's with some friends.  Unbeatable.