A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
In my continuing effort to make up for lost time reading popular whodunits, potboilers, espionage, crime, mysteries, and other books that can be read in a few hours, I worked my way through Nelson DeMille's novel "Night Fall." I should have become a writer of cataclysmic disasters with twisting deceptions, vicious lies, evil people who are holding the red button to destroy the plant or even the universe, and made millions of dollars instead of boring thousands of students to slumber and tears for 40 years. DeMille is a clever and successful writer, but he is a tad liberal with the potty language and explicit shenanigans.
I was left with one enduring thought from this book, p. 173:
"The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you're finished."
Other than that, I pursued the book to the predictable ending disaster and the narrow survival of the protagonists. And then moved on to the next book wondering what total disaster I could come up with to write a doomsday novel. And then, it came to me: Passing the Obama budget! I'll get started on my novel very soon.
As my wife left for water aerobics this morning at 9:00 a.m., she reminded me that I needed to vacuum the carpets today. As she left, at 9:01 I got the vacuum out and positioned it in a strategic position. At 10:11 a.m., I heard the garage door go up, so I quickly turned on the vacuum and was merrily doing my housework. A few minutes later, she asked "When did you start vacuuming? When you heard me come home?" So much for living together in matrimonial bliss for 56 1/2 years. There are no surprises.
I wish the comic strip "Pickles" wasn't copyrighted. In the morning strip, Opal is telling Earl, who is ironing his shirt, that he can vacuum the living room after ironing his shirt. Earl protests, saying "I don't think that's a good idea. Too much vacuuming can wear out the carpet fibers." And, finally, "Just like too much brushing did to my hair." I can certainly attest to those truths.
People who discover that my wife and I are "snowbirds" often reply by saying "How I envy you. I hope I can be one someday." We paid our dues, however. Oh, how we paid our dues! Thirteen years in Laamie WY, and my wife was born and raised there besides. Legend has it that the chain on the flagpole in front of the Half-Acre gym on the University of Wyoming blows straight out in a windstorm. The wind does not just blow in Laramie, it howls and moans, noisily reshuffling the snow into deep drifts and plastering the roads with ice and frigid ruts. Depending on whether you like the noise of the wind blowing around the corner of your bedroom all night long, or whether the wind drives you insane, you may have a varying opinion of Laramie. While at the University, I often had to travel around Wyoming, including the short drive up Sherman Hill, which is the steepest slant on the entire Union Pacific Railroad, just east of Laramie. In olden times, so to speak, you just took off, hoping you could see the reflector poles through the blinding snow. Now, in more modern times, the Highway Patrol actually closes I-80 between Laramie and Cheyenne, Laramie and Rawlins, and Laramie and Fort Collins to the Colorado line. What wimps. Memories of the wind are enhanced by periods when the thermometer plunged to 30 below zero, sometimes more, sometimes less, thus necessitating covering your nose and face when going outside so you don't freeze your lungs. In contrast, Laramie summers were beautiful, albeit plagued with mosquitos as big as antelope who survived every attempt to spray them into extinction.
Our three years in Cheyenne was marginally better, and our ten years in Fort Collins, 65 miles south of Laramie, were significantly better. But both were still plagued with icy and snowy days more often than we liked. Ann Arbor Michigan presented a gray and dreary landscape, hiding the sun for weeks on end, with more snow and ice than seemed civilized. Penn State had its share of black ice and snow, but spring came earlier than we were used to with blizzards of falling pink and white tree blossoms to ease the pains of winter. Washington, D.C. was a laugh to anyone from the snow belt, as everyone panicked with a couple of inches of snow, closing schools, sliding off roads, banging into each other. I note that D.C. and local area residents still are witless when it comes to snow. Bozeman MT was the coldest. I honestly thought I would be hauled out of there frozen before the spring thaw came and the snow drifts melted.
So now people envy us when we tell them we spend the winters in St. George. I would actually like to go back to Salt Lake, but who wants to go when they are still getting inches and inches of snow? It has snowed a couple of times in St. George, occasionally sticking to roads and driveways for more than a couple of hours. Again, there are no snow shovels in St. George. No 4-wheel drives except for people who explore the redrock backcountry. No Ice-Melt at Home Depot or anywhere else. People have no clue that you should slow down. Same on the highways, like I-15 between St. George and Salt Lake. Drivers are stupid, intentionally or otherwise, in respecting the dangers of snow and ice.
But meanwhile, we are happy that, having paid our dues, we have lilacs, redbuds, crocus, and all of the other colors and blossoms of spring. We just feel sorry for the people in Salt Lake, North Dakota, Minnesota, and other places dealing with snow, rising waters, and flood conditions.
I reached up over my neighbor's back wall to snitch a sprig of white lilacs to bring home and put in a paper cup and then smell every few minutes. The purple lilacs were too high to reach, unfortunately.
Natasha Richardson's tragic death from a head injury incurred from a skiing accident in Canada seemed especially sad and almost like we were personally involved somehow because just two nights before the accident we watched the movie Widow's Peak. This movie is a clever and charming tale of an iron ruler of a small Irish village (Joan Plowright) and a mysterious and beautiful widow who comes to town (Natasha Richardson) and their ensuing contest. To even give a clue as to what ultimately happens would be to ruin the fun of the movie. Rent or buy the movie, have fun watching it, be in for pleasant surprises, and grieve for Natasha Richardson. Widow's Peak is one of those special movies you have likely never seen and wonder where it was hidden all those years after you watch it.