Tag Archives: Blogging

An on-again, off-again blogger

I suppose that publishing a new blog post every six months isn’t exactly the rate of productivity that most bloggers aim to achieve, but it is in fact the span of time which has passed between my last post and this one.

I’m not going to attempt to offer any excuses for this, nor apologize, because I clearly recognize the turmoil that has been my life since last April.

Let it suffice to say that the earlier than expected retirement of my wife, the associated decision to move back to the mountains of North Carolina, managing the work of electricians, painters, plumbers, et. al. in order to get our house ready to go on the market, the listing and sale of the rejuvenated house in four days (rather than the four months we expected that process to take), multiple house hunting trips to find our new home, hiring a moving company, packing everything we own into boxes only to turn around and over a few weeks unpack everything we own, and ultimately the joy of closing on two houses in two days in two different states all has a way of filling a good bit of one’s time for periods up to and including six months.

HomeAnd I didn’t even mention the two or three months it takes to complete all of the changes that are required to turn the new house into “our” place.

It should come as no surprise that I have declared that I will never (voluntarily) move again. I included voluntarily in this statement in order to provide for the possibility that at some point, members of my family may need to take the bull by the horns and put me out to pasture in the, hopefully, distant future. But I can assure you that I will have little, if anything, to do in making that move happen.

I’m here to stay.

A plague on pollen and all other allergens

img_0251

In terms of being sensitive to, or even aware of, those mostly invisible foreign irritants which float around in our atmosphere, I led an idyllic childhood.  My brother suffered from recurring bouts of asthma and both my mother and father from seasonal allergies.  I, on the other hand, seemed to be immune to all such maladies.

That is until one fateful Spring day during my freshman year in college.  That was the day that Bobby Bumbles walked into my dorm room carrying a kitten.  His real name was Robert, but due to his proclivity to spontaneously disrupt the general welfare of those with whom he came into contact, Robert became known to all as Bobby Bumbles.  No doubt, he probably still is.

A perfect example of his impact on others was evidenced by his acquisition of the kitten.  No good can come from attempting to discern why he thought that having a kitten in a college dorm would be practical, much less a good idea.  There’s simply no reasonable explanation for that.  Nor is there an acceptable reason for why he began playing with the feline as he sat on my bed; rolling the kitten around, bouncing it on my blanket, and in the process dislodging copious amounts of cat hair, fur, and dander.

Within an hour, I began to feel as if someone had sprinkled tiny particles of sand under my eyelids, my breathing became labored, and a vile and noxious fluid began draining down the back of my throat.  That was the day that I learned that I was allergic to cats.  And I remain so to this day.

Thank you Bobby Bumbles, wherever you are.

I’m fairly sure that the initiation of my cat allergy also served as my personal Pandora’s Box in terms of the advent of other allergies.  Within a year or two, I found that I had become susceptible to various forms of pollen based hay fevers.

At first, my reactions to pollen seemed to occur on an every other year basis and were limited to short-term bouts of itchy and watering eyes, repetitious sneezing fits, and dull headaches.  But within a few years, I also began to develop nasal congestion, a scratchy throat, and tiny but incredibly itchy bumps on my fingers and hands.  A dermatologist told me that these bumps were known as vesicles, that they were related to hay fever, that they can develop within a very few minutes, last several weeks, and were essentially untreatable.

Did I mention that with my ever advancing age, my hay fever is no longer biennial, but now an annual affair?

As noted above, today’s pollen count is 10.1 – High.  I have no idea how that assessment is derived, nor do I want to have it explained.  I’m just glad that it’s less than the 11.0 – Extremely High levels that we’ve had here for the past three or four days.

img_0254I’ve tried using the common over-the-counter allergy medications with limited or no success.  These days, I tend to just stay indoors until the pollen counts subside. 

This has the added benefit of limiting my exposure to those other irritants in the environment such as urban sprawl, endless and unoccupied strip malls, traffic jams, and their basic root cause – people who have absolutely no clue how to drive a car!

Happy days!

 

Too much time on my hands?

Amazing!  Has it really been over 5 months since I last posted anything on my blog?  Well, obviously it has or I wouldn’t have made note of it.

My only explanation is that I’m retired and I have a plethora of interests, all of which are now bidding for my time and attention.  What I’m finding is that the manner in which all of these competing interests are prioritized is in a state of slow, but constant flux.  That which is dominating my attention span this month will, in all likelihood, take a back seat to another of my varied interests next month.  And on and on and on…..

So, what are these competing interests?  In no particular order (because in a very short period of time, the ranking will have changed anyway), they are:

  • Blogging (I gave this one top billing because at the moment I am…)
  • Photography (with the following subsets)
    • Landscapes
    • Sports
    • Street
    • Urban
    • Nature
  • Videography – taking home movies to a whole new level in the digital age
  • Reading – mainly fiction
    • SciFi
    • Mystery
    • Action/thriller
  • Amateur radio – also known as Ham radio
    • Talking around the world from the spare room upstairs
  • Learning to play the guitar

At the moment, learning to play the guitar has really taken over and supplanted all of the others on the list.

From the age of 9, I’ve had a desire to learn to play the guitar.  Unfortunately at that early stage of my life, I was unable to gain any traction in obtaining support from my parents in pursuing that goal.  I’m not really complaining, that was just the way it was back then, but the desire to learn guitar never left me.

During my college years, I came into possession of two guitars, an old Silverstone electric and a bargain basement acoustic.  As I recall, I traded a .22 rifle for one of them and a set of Koss stereo headphones for the other.  I spent many hours plucking on them both, learning to play short riffs from popular songs, but never seriously attempting to learn more than that.

Roughly 45 years later and a little over a year into my retirement, two things happened.  1) I decided that I now had the time to dedicate to the objective of learning to play the guitar, and 2) I discovered several on-line resources which provide very instructive guitar lessons.  I settled on JustinGuitar.com and can strongly recommend his site and lessons to anyone with similar interests to mine.

BCA0F188-A0FA-4284-B397-D6F3C17EEC34Both the old electric and acoustic guitars are still in my possession, but have been mothballed in favor of a new Yamaha acoustic.

I’m a month and a half into following Justin’s beginner lessons and I now know how to play all of the 8 standard open chords. Sadly, through all my years of free-style plucking, I never bothered to learn how to play a single chord.  I also can play several songs well enough that if you listen carefully, you can probably recognize what I’m playing.

That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but for someone who has wanted to be able to do just that, this is huge!

So yeah, in answer to my original question – it’s great to have too much time on my hands

Another of Life’s Little Surprises

Have you ever had the opportunity to know, or as in my case, to work with a really memorable character?  One of those rare individuals who stand out from the crowd due to their life experiences, their sense of humor, or their easygoing curmudgeonry?

Well, I have.  His name was Bill and I had the good fortune to work with him for about eight years beginning in the late 80’s.  Bill was a human warehouse of humorous anecdotes regarding things that he had seen and done, the source of countless limericks learned in his college days, and wellspring of unique descriptive phrases which I came to realize were mostly of his own creation.

Bill was 15 or so years my senior and as he moved closer to retirement age he began to describe his problem with weight control as “Creeping Obesity“.  It’s a concept with which many folks who are in, or moving beyond, their middle years can readily identify.

Two events that I’ve experienced over the past two days caused me to recall Bill’s Creeping Obesity and to recognize a parallel condition that I’ll identify as Creeping Dotage; dotage being a nice word for senility.

Like most people, I have a smartphone, an iPhone in my case, and I carry it with me for nearly 100% of my waking hours.  If it’s not in my hand, it’s in one of my pant’s pockets, or sitting on a table or desk in front of me.

Two days ago, I was walking through my kitchen when I thought of something that I needed to check on.  I’ve known for some time that the answer to any and all questions can be found with a quick and simple Google, so I reached into my pocket for my phone.

But it wasn’t there! No problem, I must have left it on the desk beside my computer. Nope, it wasn’t there.  Maybe I left it downstairs when I was checking the weather on the TV.  Nope.  Did I leave it in the laundry room? Nope.  The bedroom? Nope…… and on and on and on!

I walked through and searched every room in this house at least 3 times without finding the phone.  As I was approaching total exasperation, I walked for a fourth time into the den where I had been watching TV.

As I was approaching the chair in which I normally sit, something in the deep recesses of the back of my mind told me to look down. There, laying in plain sight on the Persian carpet, but perfectly camouflaged, was my iPhone.  The phone, in it’s jet black case, presumably had fallen off of my lap as I had gotten up from the chair and had landed face down in an area of the rug which was equally dark.

Fast forward one day to yesterday.  Sitting in the living room, I remembered that I wanted to check on a baseball score from the previous night, so I reached into my pocket to get my phone, but wait, it’s not there!

Two days in a row!  Surely not! This can’t be!

By this point, I’m confident that you know the drill and will understand that after 3 or 4 circuits of every room in this house, my iPhone was still AWOL.

Equally concerned with the sieve that my mind was apparently becoming and with my inability to locate the missing phone, in desperation I walked one last time into the room which serves as my office.  I scanned the desk and moved everything that was on it.  No phone.  Then that same remote place in the back of my mind whispered to me, “Move the office chair!

iphoneI reached down and grabbed the arm of the chair.  But wait!  What’s this?  As my hand wrapped around the chair’s arm rest, I realized that it had also wrapped itself around my perfectly camouflaged iPhone which had been hidden in plain sight resting on the jet black arm rest.

I’m pleased to report that it’s after 2:00 pm.  It’s been over 24 hours since the last unfortunate incident and the iPhone is resting peacefully on a piece of lily white paper just to the left of my computer as I type these words.

Yes, Bill.  I hear you.  Undeniably, it’s Creeping Senility.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash