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Friday, November 17, 2017

Clay feet

Went to bed sick to my stomach, or my mind, last night. Slept badly. Al Franken, too. I feel like we’re in a virtual three dimension tic tac toe game, pitching men through space. Who’s in charge? What’s going on. What is the point? The biggest offender holds the biggest office in the world, and nothing has changed.

I’ve reached the point of “so what.” Until the biggest boil is lanced, nothing has changed. We struggle against more power than can be overcome. It’s good we are taking sexual assault seriously. If more abusers step up to the mic over time, and confess, good. But until the biggest bully is gone, there will be no mic drop.

Bullying starts at home. I wish every parent understood that. Treating children as less than people, shaming, confidence destruction are bullying. Sibling against sibling; child against playmates. It can be stopped at home and it will never spread like binder weed and crab grass.

We’ve excoriated Bill Clinton; we’ve called out every third movie mogul; it’s time to let go. Reserve a right to shun or prosecute every old offense that comes to light. But, we need to stop, cut, move forward the business of this country. And that does include removing President Pussy Grabber.

The world has not ended since January 20th. A lot of sleazy legislation has been passed. A lot of stupid world deals have been made. More wildlife has died. The oceans are rising. We’ve learned to mobilize and prepare to keep making change. We can outlast Pence. We can keep on voting more intelligent people into office.

That’s all. Calm down. Keep calm and carry on.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Red shoes

I see the world in pictures and in stories. I see people by what I see around the people. Often I recognize them by their hair, by their size and shape, but not by their face. I don’t know why, or why this even came to me, as I set about clearing a batch of pictures from my phone.

A little batch of pictures has hung around on my phone since election day. Not that long ago, but light years in my world of file them or get rid of them. Flags were at half staff that day. I had to look it up. The church shooting in Texas. What changes?

Of everything I lost to the Red Bus, my job was the worst. It connected me to the world more than any other piece of my brain that went spinning off. I have an email almost daily from the new fiscal officer: How does she do this or that or the other thing. And I know and I tell her. I did not lose that job for want of competence.

The new fiscal officer was appointed by the trustees to fill the vacancy when I left. She had to run for election in the next general election, in November. She had an opponent, which I never did in four elections. And, she won.

I vote in the town hall, and took my chances at finding Ron on my way out. The door still opens to the same key code, and the same voice from the office observed “I hear footsteps in the hall!” Ron moved Winston, the skull in wool hunter’s cap, from Doug’s chair, and I settled in for a catch up chat. Doug is off, nursing his replacement knee, you may recall.

First we talked grandbabies. Ron has his first, a boy who’s closing in on a year now. Actually, we shook hands on our way out the door, me to DC and him to Czechia, where the little fellow was just born. That’s the little guy, on the phone.

“I have a picture for you!” Ron said. This picture is so Ron, I must explain it. That’s the hood of a thirty five year old Ford tractor, on the last trip mowing ditches this year, “on Wetmore, your favorite road. It was a beautiful day! I had to take a picture.”

Here’s one more picture I didn’t use the other day. The branches over the road at Kendall Lake. I take this picture almost every spring and every fall, for the last many years.

And, for the end, our little girl with red shoes. Now her care is in the hands of a fifteen year old girl every day. Often in the afternoon I see her and her brothers coming down the road with the caretaker. The complex maintenance fellow says they’re still using space heaters in the house, but that’s all he knows. All I know, too. I need to figure out how to upload the doctor forms to the Rotary site.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Out and about today

The year abroad to study story must have a twist, or it wouldn’t be mine. That’s how my life works.

Laura is so pumped about the idea, she had her half of the document completed and emailed to the coordinator before bedtime last night. No idea what she sent, but perhaps that’s the best for now.

I spent the morning preparing doctor, dentist statements. We must give the documents to be completed with the applicant’s personal information completed, and have a scannable document with original signature in blue ink returned to be uploaded. By lunch time I had them all prepared, together with a cover note, to courier to the doctors this afternoon.

My last flurry of activity before leaving the house was a note to the program chair, a fellow with a hundred percent Irish name, to the effect we had come late to the event, and I would appreciate some more information on who we were to contact as a Rotary sponsor, so I could take care of that.

Off to the races, being the person with all day and no commitments. Our primary physician is not in the office for a week, so that one is on a desk. What the heck; the deadline and interview isn’t until December 2nd.

One stop was for Children’s Hospital doctors, in the renovated B.F. Goodrich factory. Since forever I have said I would take pictures and show how this building has been renovated, and we’ll close with them. Meantime, I came home to an email from Mr. Great Irish Name that basically said, “What are you talking about?”

I put my scant knowledge of Laura’s weekend together, and realized she had been on the trip with Kay to retrieve her son from his overnight and interview for the same scholarship. Now many tidbits of the conversation repeated to me fell into place.

Son: They have more scholarships than applicants. They asked us to spread the word. Laura, this would be great for you to try.

Son forwards email of information to Laura. And so the process began.

I was so impressed by her can do attitude last night that I composed a new email to Mr. Irish Name myself. It says a very qualified young woman wants very much to be part of this program. In addition, a great Rotary member, my Uncle Hank, would have sponsored her in a heartbeat, and may still be involved. So, can we meet for lunch and see how we can make this work for Laura.

Details to follow.

Here are a few phone photos of the renovation of Goodrich into offices. 

The basement, looking up from one direction.

The basement, looking up four floors. There are about nine stories in the building.

The concrete pillars are original.  Consider the weight of manufacturing they supported.

The first four floors are mezzanine style, with the centers cut away. The floors above are solid. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mostly local news

All I had to do today was play cards with the Methodists. The front door rang sleigh bells when I opened it. A pleasant surprise. And, because I have no post in mind to use them, the rest of the fall pictures are interspersed in the rest of my post.

One card player was returned from a three week jaunt to visit children and grandchildren. One son lives in Seattle. Much of what he said I’m reading about in Slate, among other publications. They stayed in a nice AirB&B that had been a garage, and now was rented to visitors to the city.

He had been worried about transportation in the city, and his son said “Chill, Dad.” Public transportation buses are plentiful; Uber is a phone call away. Cars are available at the curb; with the phone app you unlock the car, authorize the ride, drive, leave it at a curb and find the charge on your credit card. Then there are hundreds of bicycles available, with the tap of an app.

The homeless population was disconcerting. The shortage of affordable housing is acute. Finally, the phenomena in yesterday's post; houses are built on forty foot lots, to maximize housing available. Housing is fairly affordable here in Ohio. The new homes at Salt Creek start around $225,000. More than I ever paid for a house, but it’s the current cost. I doubt homes are that inexpensive in Seattle and surrounds.

The opportunity for Laura to spend next year abroad, on a scholarship, has come up. Actually, we are late to the game and scrambling to catch up. In one day’s time Laura has completed and submitted the preliminary paperwork. Which is to say, she’s motivated.

My job tomorrow, when I have nothing to do and all day to do it, will be printing and completing all the doctor and dentist and whatnot releases, talking to school counselors, etcetcetc. I talked to Ann, who spent her high school and college years in Switzerland. Ann said students entered the first day, proud of their honors French background, and floundered the first semester, trying to grasp system, language, life in a Swiss village.

Then, a talk with the counselor, or the unit principal, if necessary, to see that Hudson is familiar with exchange programs and Laura won’t be five years in high school. Let’s all guess the first question from Laura when she comes in from school tomorrow.

It will be interesting to see how Laura narrows her choice. Everything in the northern hemisphere seems available, except countries with English as the first language. I had the list read aloud to me yesterday, and remember nixing Turkey and India. I’ll print it out tomorrow and start with my fine tooth comb. She will need a mighty fine argument to get to a couple of global spots.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Flying weekend

We went to the Weathervane Playhouse yesterday to see Laura's pick, Talking With... It's an old play by Jane Martin--1982. I was as interested in Laura's reaction to such old character topics as in the play itself. Nothing happened on stage we couldn't talk about later. I think we'll see the Billie Holiday play in January.

I thought we'd go to Spaghetti Warehouse after the play. Not because Cisco makes such great food, but because it's a first time experience.  The entire square block of Akron that was the B.F. Goodrich Company has been renovated. For an Akron native, it's wonderful. For a fifteen year old, little bit naif, it's a big eye experience.

The Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant was the warehouse portion of Goodrich. Right next door is the plant, now renovated for business and medical offices. We go into the plant to reach some of Laura's Children's Hospital therapists. 

I thought I knew the best way from Weathervane to Spaghetti Warehouse, but I asked Google, nevertheless. As we followed the map, I could only think how my mother would laugh. Google took us directly there, up the valley, into downtown and over to Goodrich. I'm addicted to Google Maps.

An Irish Whiskey sign over our table, and the Union Statio sign across the way reflected.

In other weekend news, Laura earned her badge and staff, and put up the tree. Never too early, I am told.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


When I was an ideal (istic) teenager, I would sing Malvinia Reynolds, little boxes, made of ticky-tacky, little boxes on the hillside, and feel superior, and of the generation that would save the world. We were rather rude and offensive.

The generation was good in its beginning, but many lost the way to sloth and, face it, self preservation. Job, car, house, children...It may improve.

I moved here thirty years ago, from a suburb where I lived next door to the farmer who sold his land to the developer who built my house. I loved Gus. He took care of his wife until she died. He moved to Tennessee, to live with a son. I got one post card from him, in pencil, in old man writing: I miss you. Love, Gus. I never wrote back.

When I moved here, I was in the middle of farms, or golf courses that once were farms. And I worked, and paid for a house and a cargo van. When I retired that weaving job I took up as township fiscal officer. I began to pay attention to my township, once farms to its corners, with a tiny village in the middle.

I noticed most the barns. We had cow barns and horse barns. I think more horse barns than cow barns, because there were many gentlemen farmers and summer residents here, with ponies for the children. Between two large industrial cities.

Even as I noticed them, the barns were deteriorating. I began taking pictures, because I knew what was happening. I've posted enough barn pictures to bore every one of you to two deaths; that's not today's purpose.

Today Laura and Kay are out hiking the last trail to earn the staff and badge. When they get back, Laura and I are going to a play at the Weathervane Playhouse. Afterwards, supper somewhere with spaghetti and meatballs.

In the meantime, I went down the road and took a picture of the fate of one of my favorite barns. This barn was in Northampton, annexed by and now part of Cuyahoga Falls, the city creeping up the road.

I don't know Northampton's history as well as Boston's, so I don't know the farm. I do know it became a clay pigeon range, and that development was stalled for about ten years of picture taking while the soil was remediated from lead shot.

People must have somewhere to live, I remind myself often. The Preserve at Salt Creek. Now, that is ostentatious, unless they're accounting for all the saltpeter in the soil.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A few more pictures

This morning I had an appointment with the new neurologist. I’d love to give up the lot of them, except my primary care would turn on me, and I do like her. She loves to scroll her computer and say “Your cardiologist says….”, or “when did you last see the eye doctor?” She stunned me when I asked if anyone would ever learn the blood flow through my calcified carotid and she said “Oh, just a minute. That came with the scan from George Washington…”

Standard procedure for unconscious patients seems to include a head to toe scan, these days. I’ve had several doctors look at the scan results and answer a question for me.

I left for the appointment and found snow. I went into the valley, crossed the river, came up the other side into Fairlawn, and found a blizzard. Well, heavy snow. The ground is warm, the roads are warm, it won’t stick. It’s simply the fact of it falling. Annoying, as Laura would say. And certainly not the day for pictures.

I took the two pictures above three years ago, 2014. This is the old Black farm, on Wetmore.  The National Park has renamed it Briar Rose Farm. That's because they have allowed to farm house to be totally overgrown by brambles, so they invent a new history for it. 

Yesterday: the gate is open, the chain and lock no longer on the gate.

The upper loft door is open to the weather, as is the lower door. The barn needs painted to protect the wood.

The gutter no longer has a downspout. Vegetation is overtaking the barn. The roof still needs painted.

Whoops, there's the downspout.

The foundation does seem recently sealed.

I tried this picture six ways to breakfast. I love this weed. You can make out the stem, but the large flower head, gone to seed, is hard to make out.  For 360 degrees around the picture the landscape was too brown to show off the flower head.

A nice fall tree, further down the road.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A photography discourse

My first camera was a Brownie. I was eight years old. When I was a teenager, my dad passed along an old Kodak bellows. He never mentioned the benefit of a light meter, so I pretty much worked it out myself. The other day I pulled out the phone and framed up a picture.

Laura said, “Kay showed me the nine points of framing a picture, while we were hiking.” I smiled. Two universal truths. The nine points of framing a picture, and ‘teacher says.’ I think I’ve always seen the world as a picture, and the truth of my philosophy, ‘there is no such thing as objectivity.’ It totally is in the presentation. Move a few steps left. Wait for the light to change.

I may get a Moto Z Droid phone, next upgrade. Laura needs a new phone. She has dropped and shattered her <one year old phone so often and badly, it holds its charge barely half a day. It’s under contract for two or three more years. Mine is out of contract in a couple of months. Sounds like she gets mine and I get a new phone.

The Hasselblad feature is still up in the air. It has to live in another pocket and go on the phone. It’s only another 10X, but on a good camera. But, it does not have a eye piece, an essential to finding my photographic world these days, especially in the bright sunshine I like for photography.

Clearing all the old photographs to a flash drive was such an experience. My dad’s work ranged from classically fine to street photography. My mother was a good photographer. Neither one of them showed me how to used a light meter or select depth of field. But, I figured it out. Dad cataloged their work. I’m the only person in the family who gives a damn. So I’ve scanned it all to a flash drive Someone may look, some day, and be stunned.

Now there is nothing in my “Pictures” folder. All my old work is cataloged and on the same drive. I’m starting over. It’s so easy to begin new. Yesterday was a fine, bright day, and I left with the camera, to take some pictures of the red crane down the road.

This is Titus; he lives next door. The picture is a the epitome of using a screen on a bright day. 

Not sure, in the glare, if I had him all in the frame, I said his name, to change the dynamic, and tried again. Even less highly bored dog made it into the picture. I switched over to eyepiece mode and went on down the road.

At enormous cost, a new high school is going up down the road, consolidating all the schools onto one property, the old Quick farm, on Quick road. I tried to take a picture of the red crane last week, from a business directly across from it, across the road. I was told to vacate the property at once. I did. 

Coming back from somewhere earlier in the week, I saw the red truck, the red bushes, the red crane, all about the same color. The motor cycle dealer was not fussed, though I might have produced my motorcycle endorsement for bonafides.

There is a flag up there, not the stars and strips. I pushed the camera to max in hope of capturing and identifying it. But, the wind was not in my favor.

So, I pulled the camera in a bit, to fill the frame from top of the flag to the bottom of the wrecking ball. See the problem? I lost the ball anyway, and did not  do the old photography trick of two or three shots, to be sure. That is one red crane, though.

Then I went on down State Road, down Steels' Corners, across Haas Road and down Wetmore. I needed a day of roads with first names. State Road was Akron-Cleveland Road, before annexation by the big city. You knew it went from Akron to Cleveland. It's how I got to college, in Cleveland.

All the land between Quick and Wetmore once belonged to two farms, the Quick's and the Blacks. Actually, the Black farm ran from Wetmore, across Quick and all the way to Truxell. Tomorrow, good pictures from the shambles the national park service has made of the Black farm.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Walrus

Among other things, yesterday, I hit upon what the Walrus said. “Suck it up, Buttercup.”  I went to lunch with my sister, who said she was so glad to hear Laura is getting over her teenage angst. 

Interestingly, I heard “Suck it up, Buttercup.” I hoped to create an opening to discuss family relations, but fared badly. She was happy to hear my neighbor and I will share Bob Evans take out for Thanksgiving.

The indoor band concert was last Saturday. The “leave your hearing aids at the door” concert. We do warn people. Just this minute I checked back for the last time I used my camera, and it was May 1st. I downloaded the D.C. pictures, and presumably, because it’s what I always do, charged the camera. In fairness, May 1st was six months ago.

At the band concert I found Laura on the opposite end of the stage than I expected. I snapped a picture or two, and planned to move to the other side of the auditorium at the band’s convenience. I took another shot and then the camera shut down. “Suck it up, Buttercup.” Battery life is not forever.

Laura’s trumpet section is on the right. Our trumpeter is the short nose with ear muffs. The band does not wear hats for the indoor show, and headgear of their choice is the order of the day. I like the screenshot from the video before the show. “Half time is our time.”

I asked Laura if her mother and Bekka were at the show. Yes. “Mom did homework the whole time and Bekka helped with the uniform, ‘to remember her band days.’”

“Suck it up, Buttercup.” Giving Bekka an envelope of money to celebrate her trade school graduation and another to celebrate her birthday a month ago doesn’t obligate her to thank the person her mother trained her to hate. Along with the last oyster, the Walrus mentioned “the right thing may be the hardest thing you ever do, Buttercup.”

Today was wall to wall sunshine. I had breakfast with Linn, and heard about her trip to haunted Disneyland (the one in Florida). Laura would have loved it, she said. This afternoon I took the camera out. A new high school is being built down the road. It features a very red crane. I tried pictures from across the street a couple of weeks ago, and was told to leave the property. Insensitive oafs. I put a lot of pictures in the camera today, to show off later in the week.

On the way home I stopped at River Light Gallery. I met Diana at the door, and said “ The buffalo plaid.” I worked it out. We wove this no later than 1989. It was before we hired a sewer, and I sewed it. And, I sewed on the buttons. By hand. It was way before the Husquevarna, that made lovely buttonholes and sewed buttons on. Buttercup left smiling.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I voted today

I hope you voted, too. Sadly, we cannot vote out crazed shooters, bullying and death. All separate topics.

We are reduced to railing against shooters. Literally, screaming in the wind and flailing arms. There is no solution. It’s all old news.

Bullies are closer to home. My granddaughter’s struggle against bullies began sixteen years ago, when she became the displacement baby. It reduced her to the status of everyone’s punching bag. By her own will she has stood up, come back, been heard, become a real person.

Yesterday afternoon she had an Instagram message: “You’re being targeted.” Are you sick? I am. It’s in the hands of the police. If there is a connection, this blog will be wiped clean.

I have a gentleman friend I may have mentioned. He used to sell road equipment, before he retired few years ago. He called on the road guys, who were out to lunch one day, so we went out, instead. He was a pretty new widower.

We’ve met for lunch once a month or so, ever since. He could solve any problem. Tires low? “You unscrew the caps; I’ll inflate them;” with his electric tire pump. We solved world problems over apple dumplings (me) and the special of the day (him).

I realized I hadn’t heard in a bit. I called. No answer, voice mail full. I texted. No reply, until last weekend. A shaky teenaged voice fished about a bit to verify my name, then blurted “Grandpa told me to call you. He was sick and he died.”

There's more; that's enough.

Just fuck. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Penny project

It’s a shame the penny project ended. It has amused me for two or three weeks, and kept Laura nimble as a goat. Twenty odd plastic cups holding solution and a penny to be cleaned needed to be set up and tended for a week. In our house, the kitchen or Laura’s desk were available, except…

The kitchen counters are for cooking. Leaving cups of solution invited spillage, toast crumbs, coffee inadvertently added by grandma, or bits of spinach and olive oil from Laura’s stir fry. Laura’s desk is a joke; there is more room on mine.

I suggested clearing an appropriate space in the front of the shed and be sure she got there in daylight to take pictures. So she did, even stepping over the lab apparatus, lawnmower held high, to deal with the grass last weekend.

The project required twenty household chemicals, plus a plein air control. Of the chemicals, exactly twenty five percent will never cross my/our threshold. Ketchup, hot sauce, cola, Pledge, bleach. Laura canvassed the neighborhood. “Can I have a bit of ketchup? sauce?...a dab of furniture polish?”

After the initial set up, the project was rather humdrum, for the observer, at least. I knew it was being tended when Laura grabbed the shed key and sped out the back door at night, flashlight in the other hand.

The analysis and presentation have been fun. I did make a screen shot of her beginning and ending photos; the colors are nice and/or interesting. The entire affair was emptied on the kitchen counter, test data in careful order. Data previously input into google is downloaded. A google engineer would have been appreciated here, but she got on through.

My next computer will print to the printer on demand, without turning the printer off and on and waiting for its self test. It will print from Laura’s computer with or without getting up and finding the I/O. We closing in on new equipment, real fast.

Little more to say. Next the slicing and dicing, the pasting and gluing (Gorilla glue; the pennies will survive the bus ride to school!), and the obligatory display by the author.

Early credit bonus is 11/6. Done and done and done.