Tuesday, January 29, 2008

birthday toasts

Last Saturday we had a party. A birthday party to be exact. We were celebrating my sixtieth birthday and I had the good fortune to be surrounded by family and friends. The highlight of the evening came just before the birthday cake was presented ( a cake in the shape of a golf ball that daughter-in-law Katie had spent a week experimenting with and perfecting).

On past occasions like this, I have frequently offered toasts to the celebrants in the form of rhyming doggeral. So this time I was the recipient of just such poetic efforts by my two children, Carrie and Jonathan. I think I may have created a monster. Like father, like children?

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy their efforts on my behalf so I will share them here with you. While reading them again, I got all teary and sentimental and ended up blubbering like an emotional idiot. You need not blubber along unless you really feel like it.

JONATHAN’S ODE TO DAD

It was a beautiful day back in 1981
When you were given a wonderful son.

Over the years you’ve lead by example
And today I’d like to share a small sample.
Of the many things you’ve passed on to me
And how they’ve shaped the man I am and hope to be.

From early on one thing has always brought us together,
Our love of sports regardless of whether
It was playing or talking, you’d always know best
And admittedly sometimes I was impressed.

I can remember as a kid I’d wait for your truck to drive in
So I could help you unload lumber and get a quick game of catch in.

You always made time to throw me some flies
And those evenings with you I’d never revise.

You always supported me on and off the field
And came to every game with lips not usually sealed.

I played pitcher, catcher, shortstop you know
While you told the umps where you thought they should go.

But one thing I could count on is when I’d look around
You’d always be there and never let me down.

Basketball was one of our favorite sports to play
At the Y, in the driveway, and I still remember the day
When I finally got big enough to beat you one-on-one
And how I thought I was one bad son of a gun.

Golf is another sport we often play together
Regardless of rain, wind, cold, or bad weather.
On the golf course I usually kick your butt,
And you’re usually left wondering if you could only putt.

But many a lesson has been learned on the links,
And one thing’s for sure the more I think
That if I hadn’t spent so much time with you it’d be scary
Just how less extensive would be my vocabulary.
But all things considered we’ve always had a great time
By simply playing another nine.

Besides playing we’ve always talked about sports
And if the Packers or Badgers lose we get all out of sorts.
We love to discuss what should have been the approach
And how we know everything and should be the coach.

Florida is a place that brings back many memories
Of how we played shuffleboard and aerobi in the warm ocean breeze.
But road trips were more than just warmth in the sun
They provided quality time with family that can’t be undone.

Then there are the memories that the cottage has brought
Of countless things that never leave my thoughts.
Like bonfires, waterskiing, hitting golf balls in the yard,
Playing Trivial Pursuit, watching movies, and beating you at cards.

The holidays bring feelings that I often retrieve
Such as making and eating cannelloni on Christmas Eve.
Getting and giving gifts—some great, some not bad—
But each felt very special when they came from my dad.

Back in the day I used to cut your hair,
But I never got paid which I still think is unfair.

Then there was the time you shaved off your beard
And mom thought you just looked really weird.

Since then I’ve often tried to grow hair on my face,
But never could pull it off with quite your grace.

Building decks with you taught me about hard work.
And looking back I can’t help but smirk
As I wonder if you ever had a slight hunch
That the highlight of my day was usually lunch.
Woodworking has always been a way for you to provide
Long lasting gifts that will never subside.
Looking around my house I see tables, a desk, and a bed
Made with love that I appreciate though it often goes unsaid.

One of my fondest memories came only a couple years ago
When you officiated my wedding and put on quite a show.
That day was great to an immeasurable degree,
And your role in it all was extra special to Katie and me.

Those are just some of the memories that stick out
Though there are countless more I could talk about.

But those are stories for another day.
I just hope this toast was able to adequately portray
What you’ve meant to me for so long
And how I hope some day I can be a man half as strong.

So please join with me and raise your wine or your beer
And toast my dad for his sixtieth year.


CARRIE’S TOAST TO DAD

All of you now, it’s time you must hear
My ode to my dad for his sixtieth year.

From this sage with the beard, (that I’ve never not seen)
So much wisdom and knowledge and skills I have gleaned.

He taught me to throw like a boy and to catch,
A skill the dogs love when it’s time to play fetch.

And when I was little, something close to my heart,
My dad grabbed a pencil and taught me about art.

I remember in preschool my Thanksgiving drawing,
A dinner scene, I’d have them oohing and aahing,
But instead the dumb kids thought it absurd
that the dad in this picture had his face in the bird.
“Idiots!” my dad said, that’s called perspective
And though I never did charm them with my invective,
I figured at four that’s not a bad start
To launch a lifetime journey in art.

And when I learned to ride bikes, boy did we ride,
‘cross all of Up North through pines and up sides
of hills that never ended, those summers
past the sign for the poor family named “Dummer”
and wwe laughed at that and the “slow children” sign
and continued our riding till I could hold mine own
on the roads.

And today as I bike to and from school
I’m never timid nor lose my cool,
‘Cause I’ve been a biker for so many years
Since my dad bought me my first bike with gears.

And he taught me to work hard and enjoy
The kind of labor one might expect from a boy.
Like hauling and hammering and sawing and hence,
I still know how to build my own fence.
Or we’d work in the yard planting the flowers
In the hot sun for hours and h ours.
And when we finished our labors dad always would say
“Wow, kiddo we sure got a lotta work done today.”

And this man with the beard and the always gray hair
Has for us kids always been there.
For the art shows and concerts, science fairs and matches,
Games and races and even square dances.

He took me to Boston to cheer me in my race
And sent me off one summer to bike ‘cross our state.
He met me one stop in the middle of that ride
And I remember my overwhelming feeling of pride
That I have dad who will go out of his way
To make sure that he sees me and all is okay.

Who’ll pick me up anytime, anywhere,
Who’ll help me move my whole life from here to back there.

Who’ll laugh with me—man, don’t get us started—
Mom’ shake her head and think we’re retarded.

Who’ll go with me to museums to discuss works of art,
And rant with me about politicians and other old farts.

Who’ll trek down a trail, even if he must be carried
To get to the beach where I’m to be married.
Who pulled off quite a feat there that day,
Acting both as the Reverend and giving me away.

And now it comes down to all I can say
Is that my dad is the greatest and not in that way
Of mushy platitudes and Hallmark greetings,
But from a proven life filled with real meaning.

And while we all know that sixty is just getting started
Today you must sit on your throne and be lauded
As we lift our glasses to you and say
Happy birthday, dad, happy birthday!

Monday, January 28, 2008

on aging

They say that age is a state of mind. You are only as old as you think you are or want to be. The number that attaches itself to our yearly commemorations is really an arbitrary indicator that measures our time in this life, but really doesn’t count the experience of life. As I celebrate my sixtieth birthday, I can look back and try to make sense of all those years and experiences that made me who I am today. Yearly numbers make it easier to catalog those experiences and offer handy reference points, but all those years taken together still don’t definitively define me. Being sixty is just another reference point along the way.

When I w as a child, sixty was so far away that it was impossible to comprehend. Old people were sixty. My grandparents were sixty or some other incomprehensible number. Who could relate to such an extravagant number when ten seemed so far along in life? Childhood years seemed to last forever and exiting childhood seemed an impossible achievement. I can remember being seven years old and talking with a neighborhood girl who was all of eleven and thinking how old and wise and mature she was at that age, and wondering if I would ever reach that vaunted status.

Once my teenage years were a reality, time and age were measured against the typical milestones that defined being a teenager. Surviving being a freshman with all those upperclassmen threatening my life was the first test of my mettle. To achieve sophomore status without suffering a crippling wedgy was my only goal at that age. Doing so while combating the onset of raging testosterone just made that year more confusing. Squeeling with the not-quite-changed voice of a little boy or raging with the authority of an octave lower almost-man’s voice was a day to day crapshoot controlled by hormones seeking their level.

Sixteen was, of course, a significant age that promised adult-like mobility once that coveted driver’s license was obtained. Yet with that new mobility came little freedom since Mom and Dad controlled the gas tank. Naturally, every waking moment during those teenage years was passed in a randy haze of testosterone induced confusion about the other half of the population and just when and if I would ever actually get on base, let alone score that elusive home run. When high school graduation finally arrived, and the almost-but-not-quite adult age of eighteen was passed, I, like everyone else was mired down in the mucky limbo of 19 and 20, those ages where the youthful exuberance of the teens was replaced by the harsh reality of near adulthood. Those years were the adjustment period that saw a rocky, uncertain road ahead, with the responsibility free life of a child and teen receding rapidly in the rearview mirror.

At the time I turned eighteen and left the security and relative innocence of high school, the war in Vietnam was the scimitar hanging over my generation’s head. Every decision we made was colored and informed by the Far Eastern dragon wielding that scimitar. The choices we had were few—join the military, go to college and secure that draft deferment, escape to Canada, or hope that some physical debility would make the decision for you. My decision was college and the sanctuary it provided for four years.

The decade of the twenties was a time of finding the adult path that would lead in the right direction toward success in life and career. Stumbling along the way was expected, but finding the right balance was the singular achievement of those years. Marriage and career provided entry into the real adult world of responsibility. The arrival of children, one of each if you’re keeping track, induced a whole new outlook and sense of mission to life. Now the egocentric life I lead had to be adjusted to accommodate the needs of two wholly realized human beings that required undivided attention. Talk about growing up. While they did, I did, too.

Reaching the age of thirty meant the final leave-taking of youth and its promise, and the realization that adulthood was here to stay. Work, children, work, children, work, children was the metronomic theme song of that decade. The comfort of routine set in and stability was much prized. That that stability was fueled by a certain ennui escaped me at the time. I was so engrossed in the daily walk through life that living became an afterthought. Yet there is a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I weathered those years barely battered by the storms that arose and swept from the horizon through my mostly tranquil existence. Coping became the essential virtue. Coping was the survival technique that saw me through to the decade of my forties.

Once I turned forty, the realization that there was no going back finally hit. I was an adult by default whether ready or not. By my forties I had already voted in five presidential elections, seen the end of the Vietnam debacle, saw a sitting president resign in disgrace, survived the disco plagued seventies, waded mostly through the me- first eighties, grieved the loss of grandparents and the nearly unfathomable deaths of both parents. Once your parents die, the realization that the torch of life has been passed finally hits home. I am now the older generation. Youth is but a series of distant memories dredged up to embarrass my children.

Now that I’ve survived my fifties and achieved something approaching emeritus status in my family, I get to look back on a life reasonably well lived. As the song goes, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.” I have few regrets, at least none of substance, and really wouldn’t change much of anything. I had the great good fortune, and indeed good sense, to marry a woman who loves me unconditionally and has taken good care of me despite my making her life difficult at times. She is truly my better half. That she and I contributed the genes that produced two astoundingly intelligent and creative children is our crowning glory. Conjuring up a stable homelife and family was no small achievement and one that I am most proud of.

So here I am on the precipice of seniorhood, left to contemplate what happens next. I like to believe that age bestows wisdom on those who arrive at a certain age unscathed by past experiences and made wiser because of them. I’d prefer to think that the lack of seekers lining up outside my door awaiting the pearls of wisdom I might grant them is simply a matter of discovery. Sooner or later all those who seek my wisdom will be rewarded for their patience.

And while age is supposedly just a state of mind, it is difficult to divorce that three score digit from the harsh reality that is my aging body. While I like to think that my emotional state and attitude is hovering around 25-30, my body is claiming a position closer to 90. The indignity of a chronic illness like Parkinsons Disease makes it difficult to maintain a youthful outlook despite the advance of ever larger numbers. Still, to give in to an infirmity is akin to giving up, and I’m not ready to do that just yet. And while I will never climb a mountain, jump from an airplane, go deep sea diving, or shoot under par, I still have monumental occasions still to come, like reveling in the success of my children and their spouses, the eventual arrival of grandchildren, and the serenity of growing old with my lover and best friend.

If indeed age is just a state of mind, then I like to think that I still have unlimited potential. I like to think that maybe I’ve only just begun, but I’m not quite that delusional. Still, arriving at the age of sixty is no small achievement. And if, as they say nowadays, that sixty is the new forty, then I have long and eventful journey still to come. So look out world, here I come.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

body world

Friday we went to see the Body Worlds exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. It is by far the most incredible, amazing, awe inspiring exhibit of the human body that you can ever imagine.

Our visit to the exhibition was made even more special because we had our own anatomist accompaning us to explain what we were looking at and to offer insights that the written captions at each part of the individual displays couldn't give. Carrie, my daughter, has taught anatomy classes at Berkeley and since she is here to visit for my birthday, we took full advantage of her expertise. It absolutely amazes me when she is in her "teaching" mode and displays the depth and breadth of knowledge that leaves me shaking my head in wonder.

The Body Worlds exhibition has traveled the world for a number of years and is continueing to do so for awhile. If you get the chance to see it, don't pass up the opportunity. It is a complete and inspiring, and even reverential, display of the wonder and miracle that is the human machine. If you don't come away with a new appreciation for what you are made of and aren't humbled in the prescence of such creation, then you'd have to be brain dead.

I only wish you could have Carrie accompany you when you see it too.

Friday, January 25, 2008

surprise

So there I am sitting in my chair last night watching the late news and wondering why Mary agreed to go out so late to help a friend. The phone rang, her friend was apparently in sobbing distress on the other end of the line and Mary was making calming noises on her end. The story, she explained to me, was that her teacher colleague had had a verbal confrontation with an irate parent at last evening’s parent/yteacher conference and was so upset she just needed someone to lean on and offer empathy and a good dose of sympathy. So despite it’s being 9:30 in the evening and a frigid ten below zero outside, Mary dutifully left the comfy warm confines of her home and the stellar company of me, her husband, to rush to the aid of a friend in need.

The telling part of this is that I didn’t once question Mary’s actions. She is the kind of person who would do that—rush to the aid of a friend in need. So despite my protesting the late hour and the nasty cold outside, she dashed out of the house on her proclaimed mission of mercy. She is such a liar. And her friend who placed the call was a co-conspirator in the subterfuge. Her bogus phone call was all part of the plan.

A little background might be in order here. For the past month or so, Mary has been wandering out of earshot whenever she talked on the phone, especially when one of the kids was on the other end. She’s never done that before so though I noted it, I didn’t place too much meaning on the practice. Maybe she was just getting hard of hearing and needed a quiet place away from my intrusions into the conversation. Yeah, right. I should have realized she was up to something. My bad habit of tuning her out much of the time and just nodding my head in her direction whenever I sensed her talking to me, worked against me and in her favor during this time of deceit. I should have been paying better attention.

You see, this weekend is my birthday weekend. My actual birthday is on Monday, but Mary has decided that the whole weekend should be dedicated to celebrating. The surreptitious phone calls were part of the planning. The fact that it is my 60th birthday—something of a milestone—makes her plans understandable. Since I tend to downplay most birthdays, I was not expecting anything special to be going on. I had my head up my a,,, I mean my head in the sand and was totally oblivious to her subtle conniving.

When I think of the best birthday present I could get, Mary must have read my mind. So when she returned home at nearly 10:30 she brought along the best present I could ever receive. She didn’t actually go to her friend’s house on a mission of mercy. That was just a ruse to get her out of the house. Instead, she went to the airport and picked up a precious cargo from California, my daughter. When Carrie walked into the house, yelling “surprise, happy birthday, Dad,” I sat there dumbfounded and speechless for a couple seconds and then blurted out the stupidest thing that most surprised victims do, “what are you doing here?” I am such an idiot. Then of course I recovered my senses and initiated a round of hugs that I can still feel.

The best present I could ever imagine is here for the weekend. Am I a lucky guy or what. Happy birthday indeed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

headcase

It’s all in my head. Quite literally. Parkinsons Disease is a neurological disorder, so it is really all in my head. But when my doctor says that, what he means is that the disease, while physically manifesting itself with outer symptoms, is only part of the problem. The rest of the problem is the anxiety that comes along with those symptoms. It’s all in my head.

Or at least a good portion of it is. Anxiety is capable of mimicking the physical symptoms of a disease and exacerbating those symptoms. The need to cope with the disease or condition facing us, and the uncertainty of the future, creates considerable stress that leads to anxiety. From there it is a short step from the rational to the irrational and a deeper plunge into the darkness.

So when my doctor tells me that my disease is barely progressing physically, the only explanation available to explain my recent distress and increased physical debilitation is that stressing about the disease and its effect on me is fueling the fires of anxiety. It’s all in my head.

The solution? Quit thinking about it and carry on. Cope with the physical problems and accept them for the minor nuisance they are. Stop worrying about what the future holds and live in the moment. Accept the fact that you have to cope with this as part of your daily life and then don’t let it dominate your life. Parkinsons Disease doesn’t define who I am. It’s just one of the many facets of my life.

And though I may want to tell my doctor, when he tells me that anxiety is the culprit, that he is full if shit, I have to at least make concessions for his years of experience and expertise. I have, at least until now, never felt like I was overly stressed or anxious about all that is happening to me, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe it all is really just in my head.

The little white pills should help.

Monday, January 21, 2008

it's over

That loud, incessant, pitiful moaning you hear, that groan of anguish, the sucking sound of breath and blood, indeed life itself, draining from the collective soul of Packer Nation, is the result of last night’s horrendous performance by those Packers in the NFC title game at the cathedral of football, Lambeau Field. Such a humbling comedown from the lofty expectations of Packer fans is nearly impossible to comprehend today in the cold and harsh reality of the day after.

It was all a bad, bad dream, right? They still have to play the game, right? This didn’t really happen, did it? That hollow feeling deep in the psyche will still be filled by the thrill of deserved victory, won’t it? This nightmare is only a momentary abberation, a slight stumble on the road to glorious triumph, right? Or not.

The unavoidable fact is that the Packers played like crap. They failed to show up in the most important game of the season. Don’t blame the weather; both teams played in the same conditions. The Packers displayed little of the offensive skill we’ve come to expect. The defense failed repeatedly, through lousy play and penalties, to stop the opponent’s offense. The unmistakable truth is that the Packers did not deserve to win the game. And so they didn’t.

So now all we are left with is the annual Bret Favre watch. Will he, or won’t he? Speculation takes the place of expectation. “Wait till next year,” has already become the hopeful mantra of the delusional, but loyal to a fault, Packer fans.

At least now I, for one, can watch the Super Bowl with a dispassionate eye of someone with no emotional stake in the outcome. If nothing else, my blood pressure will return to normal and my TV will be in little danger of being the target of angry missiles. But somehow it won’t be the same. It will just be another game.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

cane

Here is a cane I finished some time ago, but never got around to showing you. It's made from a series of cylinders separated and stacked. It has a vaguely machine-like look to it.

This a close-up of the handle.

The cylinders are pine, the shaft is oak.
I have so many canes now that I will need to get out more to show them all off.

Friday, January 18, 2008

downer

I am in the throes of a down time. I hate to complain, since there are millions of people out there in the cruel world who have it far tougher than I. But my immediate world is what I know and what I’m complaining about, the far reaches of the universe beyond the threshold of this house notwithstanding.

This time of year is always difficult to deal with. I am not a fan of the cold and snow that come along during winters in Wisconsin. When the temperatures dip into the low single digits, as they have today, I find even more reason to stay cocooned in the warmth of home. I have little desire to venture beyond my front door when that means bundling up in several layers of insulating clothes that do little to keep my nose from dripping and my fingers and toes from becoming numb.

But the cold is really just an excuse, conveniently available, to explain the greater reason for my being increasingly housebound. It has become more difficult for me to get out because of this nonsense called Parkinsons Disease. For the past month, or maybe a bit longer, the symptoms of the disease have become more pronounced, making it far easier to avoid going out and having to deal with the infirmities that result from the exertion. I feel safer here. I feel less the object of other’s concern. I avoid the embarrassment that the tremors in my hands elicit from people who try not to stare. That I am probably imagining all those stares is beside the point. I would rather not deal with it, real or not.

So I hunker down here in my cozy abode, going out only when absolutely necessary. I made it to the library yesterday, but came straight home, not dawdling out there in the world for too long. I made it to a meeting of the men’s Parkinsons support group the other day, but by the time I got back home I was a quivering trembling mess and finished for the day. I used to do the weekly grocery shopping, but that has become too much for me most of the time now, so there goes another reason to get out of the house. Anytime our plans call for being out for more than a couple hours, I have to plan a nap beforehand and pace myself so that I have enough energy to get back home. I am more and more reluctant to drive, not trusting my reaction time now. If I have to go out, I plan the activity for the best time of day for me, which is late morning into early afternoon. After that it’s a crap shoot whether I will be functional beyond the bare minimum.

So I am having a down time right now, feeling a little bit sorry for myself and wishing it wasn’t like this. The mid-winter blahs coupled with my physical condition makes for a bad combination. I see my doctor in a few days. Maybe a change or adjustment in my medications will help. That and the advent of spring—baseball spring training is only a few weeks away—might help to lift me out of the doldrums I’m in right now. At least the sun is shining today.

Monday, January 14, 2008

not just football, Packer football

If, at the beginning of the football season, any Packer fan would have predicted the success the Packers have had--13 regular season wins and chance to play for the NFC championship--they would have been laughed at for more than just their cheeseheads. This improbable season has been not just exciting, but joyous for any Packer fan because it was so unexpected.

So now, of course, we here in Packer country are being bombarded with all Packers all the time. You can't take a breath without getting a whiff of green and gold. The rest of the world has apparently stopped in its tracks, since there has been no news of anything other than Brett Favre and his minions. The war in Iraq? Must have called a truce. The economy? Must be booming (it is if you count sales of Packer paraphenalia). Immigration woes? Give em all a Packer wool cap and a shovel and they can clear the snow from Lambeau. Health care? If you're talking about any health issues other than the aches and pains of any Packer player, shame on you for being so selfish. No matter what the issue, there is a Packer spin to it here in the land of the Frozen Tundra.

Not that that is all bad. It is kind of energizing to focus on something good and worth cheering for in this time of political bombast and worldwide woes and the complex issues that normally fill the pages of our newspapers. A little escapism is good for the collective soul. It is good as long as the Packers keep winning football games. If this team of destiny lives up to its promise and everyone's expectations now and makes it to the Super Bowl and wins that game, there will be such an outpouring of pride and jubilation around here that all other worldly issues will disappear in the avalanche of love.

See, football, despite my wife's opinion to the contrary, is a good and wonderful thing. Just keep winning. And wear lots of green and gold.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

it just happened

Oftentimes, when dawdling in the workshop between projects, I will pick up a scrap or two and place them together on a pile and then start searching through the leftovers scattered about to find similar pieces that just might lend themselves to "something." As the pile grows, those scraps and leftovers begin to take on a life of their own. I sometimes feel like the wood is grabbing my hand and guiding me along to where it wants to be. So I follow along, shaping, sanding, glueing, as the wood evolves into whatever its final form will be. I am always amazed at the way it turns out. That fascination is what keeps me going.

Here is an example of just what can happen when I let myself be guided by the material.

It reminds me of a Yucca or some kind of desert dwelling spiky plant. It just sort of happened.

The wood is mostly oak and it stands about 36" high.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

if it's news....

Here in southeastern Wisconsin we were hammered by some severe weather yesterday. Tornadoes and thunderstorms raced through the area causing considerable damage, but thankfully no fatalities. News coverage of the event was extensive and seemingly endless. Catastrophic events like that are certainly newsworthy, but my gripe is with how newsworthy they are.

For some reason the local TV stations, without exception, seem to think that the more they report about something the more important and interesting it becomes. That is particularly true about weather events, whether tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, high winds, snowstorms, or any natural event that either causes damage or has the potential to do so. What they don’t seem to realize is that once the occurrence has been reported there is no need to continue to report it ad nauseum.

Ok, we get it. A tornado touched down and blew away some buildings and left some people a mess to clean up. It doesn’t take a dozen reporters and camera crews all talking about and showing pictures of the same thing for four hours to get the message across. After we have oohed and aahed about the damage and felt the initial wave of sympathy for any victims, the story is old news and should be left alone until something new can be added. In the meantime, what else has happened in the world that we should know about?

And what genius figured out that we, the viewers, are not convinced that it is raining or snowing or blowing unless we see some intrepid reporter in the middle of field being assaulted by the rain and snow and wind? We can look out our window and see the rain falling down and the snowdrifts piling up. Why can’t they? Did it ever occur to TV stations that they might enhance their intelligence quotient if they showed that they had the good sense to get inside out of the weather? I don’t need to see Rhonda Reporter or Charlie Correspondent standing out in the severe weather to trust their veracity. Bring them in and let them dry out. And use their reporting talents to bring us the actual news.

Local TV stations are lamenting the fact that their audience for news is dwindling more and more each time the ratings come out. Maybe if they actually served the public interest by serving up the real news of the day, their audience would grow. Is it any wonder that people are looking to cable news organizations and the internet for the information they crave? I have become part of the viewing public that is more inclined to turn off the TV at news time. Reporting the real news might win me back.

Monday, January 07, 2008

celebrate or worry

Here it is, January 7th, the middle of winter, and it is 60 degrees out there. That is both a delight and a concern. Sixty degrees in the middle of winter is always a phenomenon to be celebrated, bringing as it does a respite from the shoveling and the icy winds and the constant whitish gray of the world. But at the same time, when it gets that warm at this time of year, we should be concerned that the earth may have veered slightly off its axis and we are on a collision course with the sun.

The rain, yes rain, today has all but obliterated what remains of the huge mounds of snow that accumulated over the last month. In this part of the world, Wisconsin, December was the second snowiest on record, a dubious cause for celebration. Now all that is left of that largess bestowed on us by Mother Nature are some pathetic, gritty, grayish tendrils of snow lining the driveway. You can almost hear the whimpering as those leftover mounds melt into the ground. On the one hand, I say good riddance. On the other hand, I somehow find myself wishing for real winter to assert itself so that I don’t lose any more sleep over such aberrant weather leading to the end of the world. I know, ridiculous worry, but it’s all I got.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

stuff

Here a few recent things to come out of the workshop. They became Christmas presents and seemed to be well received.
This a little clock I made to replace one that stopped running. I gave it to Mary as a Christmas present. It's about 4"x5" made from maple, walnut, and oak.


This is a candle holder with three pieces that nest together. It is made from a laminated block of oak, maple, and walnut and is 4" square. I made several of these to give as Christmas gifts.




This is a little box that ended up being a candle holder. It made a nice Christmas gift.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

all gone

It’s like it never happened. I woke up this morning, came downstairs in my usual pre-coffee stupor, and realized that it was all gone. Every last vestige of the holidays was gone. The house was stripped clean of all the decorations and festive bunting that filled the house for the past month.

Apparently, Mary, in one of her fits of feverish activity, worked into the wee hours of the morning eradicating any hint of Christmas spirit still wafting through the house. No more greenery, no more shiny ornaments, no more twinkling lights. All gone. It’s like the past month never even existed.

The only decorations still untouched by her eraser were those outside. The only reason she didn’t get rid of those, too, was because it was dark outside and she didn’t want to stumble around in the night. So it fell to me this morning to do the removal of the outside garlands and wreaths while she disappeared to a lunch meeting with her friend. Despite my frozen fingers and toes—it was only 17 degrees out there—I managed to finish the job.

So the Christmas season is officially over. Now we can concentrate on complaining about the cold and snow and the interminable length of winter still ahead. The holiday season is gone, let the whining season begin.