Monday, December 31, 2007

new year's resolutions

I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions. They always seem destined to disappoint and cause guilt. Who needs that kind of baggage on top of the everyday problems we face. So I choose to refrain from causing any extra mental hardship.

I’ve always thought that if we are living our lives with good intentions and are striving to make the most of each day, then resolutions to improve our lives are unnecessary. Just keep doing what you are doing and you should improve your life without really trying or needing the extra boost that a promise to yourself would provide.

So if you insist on making a new year’s resolution, how about making one that promises that you won’t have to make a new year’s resolution next year because this year you were as perfect as you could be. Works for me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas sunset

The two hour trip north to our lake cottage can be tedious at times, a chore that has to be done in order to enjoy the relaxation promised. Somewhere along the way, I'm not quite sure where exactly, is the amorphous border that is crossed between two realities. The city with its hectic, hurry-up vibe is left behind and replaced by the quiet, clear-aired aura of the country. Nothing exemplifies the difference between the two realities as the clarity and vibrancy of the evening sunsets that Nature splashes across the country horizon. The clarity of the landscape and vivid color we see as we stare west over the lake is an impossibility in the city's westward view cluttered with rooftops and wires and reflected light.

So our Christmas day trip to the cottage this winter evening was worth the effort simply for the reward of this Christmas day sunset. What started off as a lightly colored promise evolved into an intensly colored gift. We watched, awestruck, for nearly 30 minutes as Nature created a masterwork right before our eyes. The color may have faded with the lowering sun, but the memory of that sunset still lingers undiminished. I hope this picture gives some indication of the wondrous beauty that we experienced. Merry Christmas indeed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

happy holidays

If you celebrate Christmas, then I wish you a joyful and blessed Christmas, remembering what the day is supposed to be celebrating. If your celebration is more on the secular side, then I wish you a merry xmas and hope your days are filled with good cheer. For those of you who are of other religious and ethnic persuasions, my hope is that this holiday season leaves you filled with hope for greater understanding of others and tolerance for all beliefs. Happy Holidays. Peace.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

first time this year

There's a first time for everything. Today was my first time shoveling snow off the roof. Don't worry, it is a flat roof so I was in no danger from sliding off into the bushes and snowdrifts below.

What demon possessed me to risk such an endeavor, you ask. Well, there have been numerous reports on the local news about the heavy snow of recent weeks causing roofs to sag and collapse. That planted the seed of worry, and the gutter ice dams that are a result of the warming temperatures causing those huge icicles to hang down from the roofline, spurred me into action. This is not a unique situation here; there have been many years that have produced as much snow and more, yet before now I never had the motivation to get up there and clear away the accumulation of white stuff. Boredom may have played a significant role in this instance.

Still, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment at having thwarted Mother Nature once again. The bright warm sunshine on display today has nearly cleared the gutters of ice now that I cleared away the insulating blanket of snow. The icicles have been knocked to the ground with a few mighty swings of my shovel. And I have no fear now that my roof will collapse from the nearly twenty inches of snow that had rested evilly on its surface.

The satisfaction is worth the aching back and sore muscles that plague this old body right now. A fistful of Advil and a long afternoon nap will bring me back to my normal state of decrepitude. I'm off to the couch to dream of summer days on the golf course......

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

tis the season

Ok, sure, this is the time of year that is supposed to bring tidings of joy and good cheer. We are supposed to be stuffed with happy feelings like a stocking stuffed on Christmas eve. But, realistically, this time of year is one of the more difficult times to cope with.

The property tax bills are due. Gasoline prices are through the roof. The continuous snowfall over the past three weeks has made getting around problematic. Finding the right gifts for those still on the list is always a challenge, not to mention the financial burden that forced gift giving brings. It seems like every subscription to every publication and organization comes due at this time of year, too, adding to the cash outflow.

And those are just the domestic problems that are somewhat under our control. I don’t even want to have to think about the chaos in the world, the wars and genocide, the poverty and starvation, the rampant disease and overpopulation, the raping of the environment and global warming. Add to the mix an election year that brings out the boldly ambitious, power hungry, sound bite spewing politicians vying for our attention and I find myself wanting to bury my head in the snowdrift outside my window until Spring and its promise of renewal rolls around.

So forgive me if I’m not quit into the holiday spirit of joy and goodwill toward men. Despite the decorations and twinkling lights that are meant to lift our spirits at this time of year, I find myself in a struggle to keep the lights plugged in and turned on. The glow is diminished and the decorations seem a little tawdry right now. Somewhere along the way, the true meaning of Christmas has been hijacked by the chaos in the world at large and the immediate world around us.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mecca

Hardware stores are my Mecca. I frequently travel to one to rejuvenate my spirit while I worship among the tools and gadgets and wondrous inventions of man. I don’t necessarily have to buy something to justify my trip there. I just need sometimes to wander the aisles and soak in the essence of the accumulated wonders. To have so many obviously needed items all gathered in one place is truly a blessing.

When I can get Mary to accompany me to my favorite place, that can be the best of all worlds for me. She has the checkbook. And usually coupons. The two are a wonderful combination.

Recently we made the trip to my favorite Ace Hardware store with the intention of purchasing something, I forget exactly what, that she desperately needed. Once there, she discovered to her dismay that she had forgotten the all important coupon at home. She then made the rash decision to leave me unchaperoned in the confines of said Ace Hardware store with a nearly empty shopping cart begging to be filled.

In the half hour it took her to drive home, grab the coupon, and drive back to the store and me, I managed to find all sorts of amazing gizmos and gadgets and little tools and chemicals and objects of wonder that until I laid eyes on them, I didn’t know existed and that I couldn’t live without. When she returned, she found me struggling to move a heavily laden cart toward the checkout.

Of course she exercised her wifely veto power and made me edit my cart full of newly acquired favorite things. Killjoy. I did my whining and begging act and even tried to explain how important each of those objects was to, not just my wellbeing, but hers as well. She wasn’t buying any of it. Literally. She made me put back the majority of the stuff despite my foot stomping and breath holding. She’s a tough nut to crack.

I did manage to salvage some nifty little clamps and thus a modicum of dignity. So the trip wasn’t a total loss. Despite not getting to keep all my found treasures, I did get to spend some quality time alone in that inspiring hardware cathedral and renew my spirit. I should be good for another week or so before I get the urge to add that neat rat nose pliers I saw hanging on the wall. Maybe she’ll have a coupon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

dragon

While clearing space on the worktable in the workshop, I gathered a pile of little scraps left over from other projects and simply couldn't stand the thought of throwing them away. So I started glueing them together to see what might develop.
They developed into a funky dragon.

The scraps that make up my dragon are a wide variety of leftovers like oak and maple and walnut and pine and poplar and probably some others that I've forgotten.

If you look closely you can see his beady little eyes staring back at you.

I feel like he needs a name and for some reason I think of him as a "Darryl" but I'm open to suggestions if you can think of something better to name him.

He only stands 10" high so he is not of formidable stature, but he has both an evil aura and a playful look. Kinda like he might laugh while devouring you. I have him on a shelf behind some of the other sculptures so that he appears to be lying in wait for me to get close enough to his tongue that he might get a taste of me. I am wary.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

gimme mine

You know how some of life’s minor irritations can, over time, fester and become issues and even eventually causes for action? There is an irritation that has bedeviled me for a while now to the point where I have to say something. I give you the yogurt cup.

I like yogurt. Eat it all the time. It is a staple of my lunchtime menu. Yoplait is my brand of choice. And therein lies the rub. Yoplait has seen fit for many years to market their fine product in conical shaped 6 oz. containers that are decidedly unfriendly to your spoon.

So what’s the problem you ask. Well because of the shape of the container, a significant amount of yogurt that should end up on my spoon and then in my mouth, is left to fill the many crevices and nooks of the container. By not being able to scour the last remaining remnants of yogurt out of the cup, I’m not getting all that I paid for. I’ve gone so far as to measure (approximately, sure, but close enough that the government would accept my findings) what remains in the yogurt cup after my best efforts at removal.

I came up with a generous teaspoon full per week of wasted yogurt. That’s 52 teaspoons per year. That comes to approximately one cup per year of yogurt that I paid for and had to waste because of poor packaging (plus or minus a factor for my admitted unscientific measuring). I’ve been eating yogurt as a constant staple of my daily lunches for easily 20 years now, maybe longer. But for the sake of argument, let’s peg it at a mere twenty. That would give me twenty cups of unconsumed yogurt that has languished, unreached by my spoon, in the recesses of that lousy container. Twenty cups is four cups more than a gallon. That’s a lot of product that the purveyors of Yoplait yogurt owe me.

At the risk of sounding unnecessarily petulant about all this, I think the Bureau of Standards and Practices, or whoever is in charge of yogurt packaging should start an investigation and expose those fraudulent marketing practices used by companies that don’t deliver all they claim. If the container says that I should enjoy 6 ozs of yogurt, then I should be able to extract that full amount from the package.

Over the years I’ve gotten cheated and I’m not going to tolerate it any longer. This minor irritation has festered long enough. It’s time for action. I may have to switch allegiances to Dannon or, God forbid, some off brand at the discount store. It’s time I got my full complement of yogurt for lunch and eliminated the cause of all my angst.

PS. Dear Yoplait, I am particularly fond of Blueberry if you decide to make good.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

another one

Here is the latest wall sculpture to come out of the workshop.

It is constructed fro a variety of woods.

The overalll size is 42" long by 12" high.

The workshop is a busy place these days. I have another new cane to show you as well as some neat little candle holders and a couple of sculptures in the works. As I get a chance, I'll post the pictures here for you.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

getting in the spirit

Even though I usually don’t get very enthusiastic about Christmas and all the attendant hoopla, I have to admit that today is probably the perfect day to put up and decorate the Christmas tree. The first winter snowstorm of the season is raging outside, so being inside in the cozy confines of the living room with the fire in the fireplace lighting the and heating the room, a glass of wine sampled at my side, and Mary loading the tree with all the special ornaments (each with a story accompanying it), is stirring seasonal feelings in my otherwise reluctant spirit.

Even though she grumbles incessantly while doing it, Mary always turns the tree into a fine example of Christmas splendor. My contribution to the decorating effort is over once the tree is set up and the lights are strung and twinkling away. Then I gladly relinquish any responsibility for the remaining ornaments getting onto the tree. I figure I would only get in the way. And I don’t take direction very well, so hanging an ornament would be an exercise in confrontation and a power struggle that I choose to avoid. For some reason, Mary seems to think that she, and only she, has the proper decorating sense when it comes to the placement of those baubles on the tree. I happily give way to her. After all, Santa has never failed to make a stop here on Christmas, so she must be doing something right.