Friends

[A repeat from May 6, 2015]  Donna and I talked about “friends” while walking around the block with Daisy. Friends. We are blessed with many.  Some are those who read this post.  There are new friends. Old friends. Best friends.  There are a few friends in whom we can confide everything.  Or just about everything.  Friends we see or talk to every ten years (and we pick up where we left off) and those we talk to every day.  Think about it.  You have such friends too.  We all want friends.  Need friends.  BFF’s and just “friends.”  Guys we golf with.  People we work with.  Guys I see walking to the train station (“Hey John, howyadoin‘?”).  And of course there are spouses – and family – who are ever so special — a smidge above the BFF category.  

Friends are good for us according to studies.  Friends keep us healthy and happy.  Even add to longevity.  Friends make us smile, laugh and cry.  We cry when they leave us.  Yet many folks cry because they have no friends.  We are in a society where many people are sad, lonely or depressed.  That’s why our smiles and encouragement to all we meet can be so important.  As said before, the small things we do for others may mean nothing to us.  But it may mean everything to them. . . .   

I like the wry observation of Ralph Waldo Emerson that “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”  Donna says that I take full advantage of that saying (“Scott – would you PLEASE take the lampshade off your head. . . . “).                  

Dress Code

 We have a dress code in my house. It is strict. It is unwavering. And it is unwritten. Oh – and one more thing – it applies to only one person.  Me. . . . .   Dress code enforcement is much like a thunderstorm. Hard to predict. But when it happens, one must take shelter or suffer the consequence.

A few weeks ago, I got up early to play golf with my pals. I went downstairs for cereal, blueberries and coffee. Then dashed upstairs for a quick shower.  And I got dressed in my favorite shorts and a golf shirt. And thunder began to rumble. . . .   Donna looked at my shorts – and the storm began. “You can’t wear those shorts! They’re frayed.” I told her that I’d had my shorts since college. They were “veteran” shorts.  But that didn’t help.  As I was walking out the door, I was told to change them. But I didn’t abide by those instructions. The golf went pretty well – due in large part to my shorts.  When I came home, I put my shorts in the laundry basket.  

Weeks later, I was scratching my head – looking for my shorts.  “Donna, do you know where those – umm – golf shorts of mine are?   The ones I had in college?”  Donna shook her head – with the glint of a smile.  “I haven’t seen them.”  It was then I realized that my special golf shorts sleep with the fishes . . . . .”  

The 101

[A repeat from October 18, 2012]  Donna and I just returned from a week in California.   Two nights in Santa Barbara (the Canary Hotel).  One night at the beautiful Summerwood B&B in Paso Robles wine country.  A night in San Francisco (fabulous dinner at Rose Pistola).  And then Napa to lodge in a wonderful place called the Oak Knoll Inn — a 4 room B&B in Napa (a place to which we could easily return – and spend a few extra days).      

The drive from Santa Barbara to San Francisco along  the “101” is amazing in terms of agricultural activity.  As far as you can see — on both sides of the road for a hundred miles or more — literally everywhere —  there is a hum of activity. Trucks, tractors, workers, boxes, irrigation, cattle.   Everything moving (or moooooing).   California has 4% of the nation’s farms but is numero uno in cash farm receipts. California has 15% of the nation’s receipts for crops and 7% for livestock.  Say what you will about the Midwest and the prairie states but California’s Central Coast is truly an America breadbasket (and wine rack).

Afterword – Now if only California could comprehend some of the reasons for the terrible fires that are ravaging the state (see January 27, 2019).

The Secret to Peace is YOU

[A repeat of May 31, 2018]  I just had lunch at my desk.  And watched an 18 minute TED Talk –  http://www.ted.com .   In the past, I have applauded the value of TED Talks.  And I’ve posted on a few favorites (December 29, 2016 and February 5, 2017).  While I am frugal in my recommendations, today’s talk does not deserve frugality. 

I just watched “The Walk from ‘No’ to ‘Yes'” presented by William Ury – an American author, anthropologist and negotiation expert.  Ury co-founded the Harvard Program on Negotiation and helped develop the International Negotiation Network.  He is the author of numerous books including Getting to Yes which describes the method of principled negotiation and establishes the idea of a “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.”  

Ury’s presentation touched on the divisive issues faced in the Middle East — between Israel and Palestinians (and others).  And the religious strife in the region.   And Mr. Ury offered ideas – that are being used today.  In short, he reaches out to each one of us to become a part of the peace process.  I know — sounds simple.  But if you’re having lunch, you’re bored or you want to see how you can make a difference – please — invest 18 minutes and watch  http://www.ted.com/talks/william_ury#t-1105977   The secret to peace is YOU. . . . . 

Addicted to Love

[A repeat from November 29, 2015]

In my post of January 5, 2014, I referenced some of the most popular music videos (which I happen to like). One I neglected to mention was the biggy of Robert Palmer (1949-2003). In 1986, Robert Palmer – a Brit from West Yorkshire – recorded the top-of-the-charts “Addicted to Love.” The corresponding music video was classic and catapulted Palmer into the national attention. In 1987, Palmer won the Grammy for best male vocalist for “Addicted to Love.” This music video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcATvu5f9vE

The back up musicians – all women who are identically-clad and heavily made up – are thought to mimic or mock the painting style of artist Patrick Nagel. Robert Palmer – a heavy smoker – sadly died of a heart attack in Paris at the age of 54. But the women are still around. The ladies were interviewed by Yahoo at the 2014 Grammys. Interesting to see then – and now. Check out  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/video/robert-palmer-girls-today-173805406.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGtZ-9NCfgFNmnmFEaqX4DOXR5cM5yzyjES4lKBLqVhvOz5un1aOxp2_oB5er08vzAaTF3YRk3aFxdbZjT0bez0vKsN_rlqprc4VE74EkcpncM4mjp2G-1aaVM8hXlZrZGog-0y1kK3mRafaKbo6OXuEkdTkqIanwxLzJ8Hrq02z 

Fasty and Slowy

[A repeat from November 27, 2011]  When our daughter Lauren was very small, Donna and I would often need to find things to keep her occupied while sitting in the car, a restaurant or store.   One evening sitting in a Greek restaurant in Evanston, Lauren was getting a little bored so I took my right hand and – using my fingers as “feet” – began walking my hand toward her.  Well she squealed with delight.  And of course the hand walked up her arm over her head and down the other side.  Big smiles.  🙂  Big laughs.  😮

After awhile, I got the other hand into play.  Where the right hand was light and quick, the left hand was slow, lumbering and ponderous.  And heavy.  My index fingers would be raised to serve as “heads” of the two critters.   And so, “Fasty and Slowy” were born.  Fasty was nimble and danced lightly over the table and  all over Lauren (and even bouncing on top of Slowy) while Slowy plodded along.  Slowly.  Heavily.  And when Slowy stepped onto our daughter’s hand, he was . . .well, heavy.  Lauren thought it was hysterical!   And so Fasty and Slowy were regular visitors from then on. 

Fasty and slowy have been in hibernation for quite a few years.  But I have a feeling that pretty soon they’ll be making a reappearance. . . . 

Cremona

[A repeat from April 9, 2012] Cremona is a city of 72,000 in the Northern (Lombardy) area of Italy.  The city has a long and storied history.   It is known for many things but it is famous for one — violins.   Beginning in the 16th Century, Cremona was home to three legendary luthier families:  Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri.  While some folks will associate the names Guarneri and Amati with fine violins, everyone knows the name Stradivarius.

When I was young, I read a lot about treasure — the Lost Dutchman Mine, the Oak Island Mystery, the San Saba River treasure, Padre Island doubloons and so on.  I read books like Frank Dobie’s classic Coronado’s Children.   And I always longed to one day go hunting for these treasures or rarities like a Gutenberg Bible (post of 8/18/11) or a Stradivarius violin.  I’ve come close to a Gutenberg on two occasions (another story) but the Stradivarius has escaped me. 

During his lifetime, Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) made about 1,100 instruments.  A few hundred survive and those few are rare and valuable.  Why?  Because the sound is near perfection.  Antonio created his works of musical art with spruce tops, willow blocks and maple backs, ribs and neck.  The technique has been duplicated but the sound never replicated.  There is thought that the coatings on the wood made the difference.  So far, the exact recipe remains a mystery.

I still think of taking a sabbatical someday — and heading off in search of a Gutenberg Bible or a Stradivarius violin.   Or maybe the Lost Dutchman Mine . . . . .

Walking home from work . . . in winter

Walking home from work . . . in winter
       A poem by Scott Petersen (circa – a winter night in 1985)
Wind blows cold in my face.
Always.
Never sun.  Freezing, biting, eye-closing wind.
Every icy step is uphill. Every step a journey of a thousand miles.
Hooks pull.
Hunger, thirst, exhaustion and darkness.
With no end.  No remorse.
Wind pushes me back. Always.
Never rest. Mind racing. Muscles aching.
I press forward.                                                                                                        Each thought a labor.
Each thought – a painful ache.
Each thought concludes that there is no end.
Yet every passing minute – closer to the goal.

Bleak darkness speaks.
Always.
Desperate for sleep, I cry for the night.
Eyes heavy. Heart heavy. Nearly the end.
But there is a dim light.  I am home. Late again.                                            But home. Finally.
And dinner. . . . .
Boiled chicken. Frozen broccoli. Asparagus.
And cranberry juice. . . . .

A Belt and a Knife

On May 9, 2013, I posted on how I concluded some years ago that the tools and accoutrement in my basement workbench did little good if I were driving around in the car – and something came up where I needed a screw driver, saw, entrenching tool, air pump or axe.   So I outfitted our two cars with stuff that from the basement workbench.  If I need something for the house – I can go out to the car and . . . . .  Semper paratus as they say. . . . .

Sixty years ago, Boy’s Life Magazine suggested that Boy Scouts wear a belt. And carry a knife. Since then – I have done so.  

A belt can be used for many things:  tourniquet, a “reach” for someone in the water, restrain an angry dog, carry items, pull open car doors, etc.  A knife can open packages, remove staples, open a can or bottle, cut a seat belt, break a window, do an emergency tracheotomy and on and on.  There are numerous websites that discuss the potential value of belts and knives – beyond their intended purpose.  

So at any given time, when I am out walking, driving in the car, or heading off to my tap dancing lesson or the golf course – I will be wearing a belt.   And carrying a knife.  For the last 15+ years, the blade has been a Kershaw Black Blur.   On occasions when we go out for dinner or to an event – it’s a modest Swiss Army knife.  I especially like my Swiss Army knife because it has a toothpick.  For that reason, Donna prefers that I carry the Kershaw. . . . . 

I like your house

Forty years ago, Donna and I moved onto a new street, into a new house.  The homes in the area were well-maintained.  The neighbors were nice.  Our place was commodious. And we settled in.

At the end of the street, there was a house. That I really liked.  Half moon, third acre lot with privacy and space. One day while out walking, I saw the owner — Mr. Weiss. I happened to mention that I really liked his house.  And that if he ever wanted to sell — to give me a call.  I pointed at my place across the street and down the block.  We chatted and parted.

I never really thought much about this for a year or so.  We’d see Mr. Weiss or his family.  Wave.  Smile.  And drive on.   Then. . . . . (cue the trumpets) it happened.  I got a call from Mr. Weiss who said that he and his wife were thinking of moving.  And he asked if I was “serious” about my interest in his house.  I probably said something like “duhhhh – let me talk to Donna.”  And I did.   And I called him back and said “yes.”

The following weekend, we met with Mr. & Mrs. Weiss in their back yard and talked. We moved inside and talked some more.  And after discussing the matter with Donna – we made an offer, they said “yes” and – here we are. . . . .