Relationships

Crossing the Street

I watched two people cross the street today.  Peg & I were leaving the local mall to which we had gone for our morning walk.  The people crossing the street were attempting to reach the kitty-corner side of two four lane streets with signal lights.  With a median, and one of the two being an aged woman it took a complete light cycle for them to get to the median strip.  It would have taken another to finish crossing the first street, and two more cycles to finally reach their destination kitty-corner from where they started.  I don’t know where they were going, but it was going to be a journey of considerable difficulty for the oldest of them.crossing

While Peg’s dad was still alive we cringed at the thought that we might some day have to take dad’s car keys away from him.  As it was, his girlfriend of 20+ years was already nagging him about his driving and while he wasn’t entirely on top of his game neither Peg nor I felt it was right — at that time — to disable his car and take away his keys.  Fortunately, for this particular situation, he passed before we were faced with the ugly necessity.

So, also with my dad. He was a guy who loved to drive — I’m sure some of my DNA is imprinted with his love of travel.  But the last couple years of his life we made it a point to take Sunday drives with him — to give him a chance to see the world passing by in the car window, and with that little concession to his personality he was happy most of the time to let me do all the driving around town too.

The U.S. is not a friendly place for people without cars.

When Peg & I were looking for a place to live here in the Milwaukee area we talked a lot about finding a home that would be near goods and services, my specialists offices and hospital, and a bus stop.  We succeeded.  The bus stop is only 100 feet from our front door and although connections aren’t great we could get anywhere we need to in the city if we had to.

I can’t help but think about the difference though.  What it’s like to have a car, and to not have a car.  The ease of movement which I take so much for granted evaporates in the absence of an automobile.  I find it hard to imagine life as a poor person with no transportation, relying solely upon public transportation.

Public transportation here isn’t bad.  Early in our married life we lived in Toledo, Ohio. That’s a town with what had been a poor public transport system, and it has only gotten worse with closed businesses and declining public revenue funding for the transport system.  Here we have service well into the evening, and early in the A.M.  There the buses primarily run on a spoke system that requires riding all the way into town and back out again on a route that goes near your final destination making some times 4 or 5 times as long by bus as by car.  And the system closes down for night so early that even some office workers can’t use it.

I wonder why we think so little about public transportation?  Our trains are a sad imitation of the regularity and frequency of transport in, for example, Europe.  But, in our large, expansive nation, where we treasure our individuality so much we have created a nightmare for ourselves.  And as yet we don’t realize what we have done to ourselves.

I don’t look forward to the day I can no longer drive.  This post came to mind because after our recent move from the second floor to the first floor that meant that we also needed to change our address with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  And whilst doing that I noticed that our drivers licenses which expire every 10 years will come due for renewal in 2026.  All of which got me to thinking about the fragility of our lifestyle and the possible changes ahead.

I expect no local changes.  I hope by the time 2026 rolls around my eyes will still be good, and my reflexes and brain still functioning well for my age.  Of course no one knows about the future.  But I do know that I look at things like people crossing the street differently now that I’m in my 70’s.

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Old Diary, Relationships

Blogger Decay

Where, oh where, have they gone?blog Where have “who” gone?  Why bloggers, of course!

I have a love hate relationship with the feed reader which WordPress provides.  They just call it “Reader” as if there were no other options but we all know that’s not true.  However, I am lazy, incredibly lazy, and I’m quite happy just clicking on the icon in my WordPress application and going to the internal reader they provide.  I don’t want to mess around with other applications.

blogsIfollow

The Reader Home Page

For a few years not, in spite of my faithful use of Reader, Reader has not been faithful to me — or to all the people I try to follow. Reader decides quite arbitrarily who I want to follow and when. And it thinks nothing of shortening the number of blogs I want to see.  As a result I have to manually dig into the list of managed blogs so as to force WordPress to search for recent blogs. I almost think it would be easier to use another feed reader.  (Ah, but there’s the rub.  I try to keep email to a minimum. Too many blogs in my mailbox seems oppressive and when they arrive that way I tend to trash them rather than read them. I’d rather go to Reader when I’m in the mood instead of seeing a cluttered mailbox all the time.)

So, the other day when I was feeling bored (a very rare occurrence), I satisfied my brain by looking back on blogs I used to follow with great interest.  I don’t know if you know what I mean by “with great interest” — but to me it means that like great old friends I enjoy getting caught up but I don’t want them knocking at my door all the time.

Wow.  What a surprise.  More than 60% of of my “blogger friends” have stopped publishing!  Perhaps I have fickle blogging friends?  Or perhaps blogging is something that a lot of people try for a while and tire of the process. Or they tire of the discipline.  Maybe the have no discipline. Or they tire of searching for new ideas about which to write.  Whatever the reason there are a lot of people I was enjoying getting to know who have withdrawn from this little world of WordPress Blogging.

WordPress Reader has a function called “Discover” and this morning quite on a whim I clicked that button.  I’ve done it a few times before but the results produced have never appealed to me so I rarely use the feature.  Today, however, the first blog in the list was one about analyzing the content of your blog.  I didn’t read the post. I did skim over the post though…

What seeing dissertation on how to make your blog better did for me was to help me understand one of the reasons I think folks give up on blogging is that they do it for the wrong reasons.  They are impressed with the look and feel of someone else’s blog and they think that their own version isn’t up to snuff.  Or they read about what you’re “supposed to do” with your blog, or how you’re blog is supposed to function and they judge themselves unworthy.  Next thing you know it’s been two months since they last wrote, and then a year, and then simply perpetual silence.

I’m sure a lot of folks make money off their blog.  Or at least a lot of folks seem to try to make money off their blog.  Money has never been much of a motivator for me.  And things I try to do just to make money never last very long.  Besides, the Interweb world is a big and ugly place — trying to compete here for moolah is a thankless job:  you are subject to whims and ever changing trends; one day you’re in, one day you’re out.

I’m sure a lot of folks start their blog to inform family and friends of what they are up to. Travelers are great for doing this, but the fact is that not everyone wants it rubbed in their nose the fact that someone is traveling and they are stuck at home — not traveling. Others spend their efforts writing yet another review of the same touristy destinations that 90% of the population have already visited.  No sense in telling people who have already seen the Taj Mahal what it looks like.  Or Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Or the Washington Monument in D.C.

It’s not a very popular way to blog but I have alway relied on the idea that there will always be a few people out there with whom I can connect.  For some odd reason I communicate in a way they understand.  Or I amuse them.  Or I madden them and they can’t stay away, waiting to hear what complete and utter nonsense I will spout today, or tomorrow.  It’s simply a matter that in a big world there are a few people you appeal to.

If I was vain I’d be depressed that my blog gets so few views.  But then I’ve never been the popular guy — not at school, not at work, not at church.  I have my friends, and associates, but people have never flocked to me as if drawn by some magical force — or my personality.  And I accept that.  In life and as a blogger.

Truth be told, I blog mostly for myself. I blog to process life; to allow the process of getting words onto paper to solidify my thoughts about all and sundry. amuseboucheMaybe I help others do the same.  Maybe I’m just a momentary amusement.  A literary amuse bauche:  a verbal taste treat of some odd sort. I’ve been blogging off and on since 2007 at least.  I had a few non-Wordpress-hosted blogs that may not have been included in that period, but it’s something that has been a regular part of my life for a relatively long time.

I don’t really journal.  Peggy has a journal that she keeps of our activities.  I suppose I could say blogging is my kind of journalling — but not really.  I don’t blog to record what has happened in my life — as you know.  Usually my blog is three or four days behind what’s happened.  In part because it’s a security issue with me.  I don’t necessarily want the wide, wide world to know where I am at any and every moment in time.  But also I write so that I have a couple day’s posts queued up and ready to go — so they can’t be precisely timely as if I was writing to assume what was going to happen.

I miss those friends. I still have others.  A lot of the folks I “met” while RV’ing and who were blogging about their travels have stopped writing.  Perhaps they stopped RV’ing and now they think they have nothing to say.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  In the meantime I’ve found new interests.  I’m still interested in architecture, and photography, and bonsai, and…. well, it’s a long list.  So I’m not without interesting topics to learn about.  And I hope that there are a few who can find my blog with or without the help of WordPress Reader.

Goodbye to those of you who have given up on blogging. I’ll miss you.  I utter those words (with my fingers) in the hopes that the echoes will reach you through the mists of the interWebs and give you comfort that all your efforts were well received even if you doubt your own ability.  See you again, some day.

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Old Diary, Relationships

It takes two people to compromise

the other person has just as much right to be happy

One person cannot compromise.  To do so is simply surrender. Governing is not supposed to be about surrender, it’s supposed to be about managing an entire nation/state/city, not just one person or one point of view.  Compromise takes two.

give and take

I don’t know how or why the GOP decided that they were no longer going to act as if there were any other legitimate point of view in government — heck, they can’t even agree that there is more than one point of view in their own party.  But it sure seems that since the country elected a black man as president they have decided that the only way to govern is if they get their own way in everything.

For 8 years GOP obstructed any plan of action the Democrats had; I guess it was hard being “led” by a black man.  All the white faces in Congress just couldn’t take the will of the people and if anyone is responsible for what the GOP complain about as Obama’s governing by executive order it’s the GOP itself.  Had they done what government does — which is to say, COMPROMISE — they would have taken fewer hits and been a lot better off.  But no.  Ideology had to come first.  And governing went down the metaphorical tubes.

Now they control both parties of the Congress and have a President of their own party they have pushed and pushed in a completely PARTISAN way, passing the largest tax reform in history with NO public hearings, NO public oversight, and meeting behind closed doors in secret as if theirs were the only voices that needed hearing — in secret.  So much for transparency in government.  So much for the sunshine laws which the GOP have been ignoring by their secrecey and flaunting of governmental ethics.201801171324121446

If nothing else, the last year should have taught us all (but I know not everyone is paying attention) that government lies to the people.  You don’t have to limit your attention to the president (lower case), you can easily see and prove that the GOP and Democrats both, along with cabinet officers and other officials think nothing of mangling the facts and manufacturing their own personal versions of reality (the word TRUTH not being used).

I’m a lifelong pacifist. I hate violence.  But I have to say that the GOP is on a course of action that could easily boil over into a very non-peaceful reaction.  You can only go so long before the consent of the governed is withdrawn and the “little guy” gets angry.  It’s easy for the rich and powerful to think that will never happen.  It’s easy for those who have everything they want to imagine that those who lack necessities can be coddled and cajoled into continuing to support them — but history has shown us that even those with nothing will rise up when pushed too far into a corner.  When its about survival, human nature gets pretty resourceful and swinging pendulums are hard to stop.  (Sorry about mixing metaphors…. well, actually, I’m not sorry.)

Where in life can you behave without regard to compromise?  No one I know is satisfied with the way things are.  We all have different reasons for feeling that way but the fact of life is that we are all forced to compromise.  Why politicians think that just because they sit in posh hallowed halls of marble and precious metals that they don’t have to think about the guy on welfare or the pregnant woman.  Perhaps Congress should have to conduct business out in the cold, underneath a railroad underpass instead of in their offices.  Perhaps a few less millionaire congressmen/women would better hear the cry of the average citizen.

But the fact is that the election cycle will repeat.  Too many of the same old faces will be returned to office and the system will propagate itself yet again.  Not until enough people get angry and say STOP will anything change. 20170731080245063

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Ideas, Relationships

Freedom to Annoy

How often it happens that social attitudes swing like a pendulum from one extreme to another.  The child who was spanked, chooses not to spank their offspring — making a statement against their parents.  An industry that produces miniskirts one year puts out maxi-dresses the next.  Mens suits favor wide lapels one year and narrow lapels the next. The child who lived in a home with scant resources is want to live as extravagant a life as possible. Trends do keep us on our toes.

From time to time I have chosen to write about male/female relations.  I seems bizarre to me that men treat 1/2 of the human population as if they were some kind of undesirable minority to be victimized and taken advantage of.  For those of you who don’t know, I spend the better part of 5 years in my photo studio shooting discreet nudes. Surely, if there is a circumstance where the possibility of treating another human insensitively exists, it’s going to be while one party is fully clothed and the other party isn’t wearing a stitch. To say that I was extremely careful about how I dealt with my models — male and female — would be an understatement.

Consequently, the question: “how do you treat other people sensitively” has great meaning to me. I took extraordinary steps to make sure that the women & men I was working with felt comfortable in what could be a very uncomfortable situation. I think I succeeded because I’m still friends with most of my former models. But I have to say that after having been in that situation I am befuddled by some of the things I see and hear in public discourse.

At the end of this blog I am reposting a letter was published January 9, 2018 in Le Monde.  I apologize for the translation, it’s by Google and there are some choppy bits — but I wanted to use it to illustrate a point.  I should mention as well,that Catherine Deneuve — who was a signatory to the original letter has since apologized to women who have suffered the humiliation and violation of rape.  In her apology she was quick to note that her apology was to women who had been through these things — and not to anyone else. I think that is a point well made.

Subsequent to Deneuve’s apology none other than Brigitte Bardot has called out the #METOO movement:

“Veteran French actress Brigitte Bardot has dismissed actresses who have commented on sexual harassment via the #MeToo movement as “hypocritical”. The star was asked in an interview with French magazine Paris Match what she thought of actresses denouncing harassment in the film industry. “In the vast majority of cases they are being hypocritical, ridiculous, uninteresting,” the 83-year-old said. “There are many actresses who flirt with producers in order to get a role.” She added: “Then, in order to be talked about, they will say they have been harassed. In reality, rather than benefiting them, it harms them.” “

— BBC News January 18, 2018

The fact that there is disagreement among women — particularly women who are in an industry that is particularly prone to harassment makes the point I want to think about this morning.

I suppose it was predictable the letter would produce a violent reaction — both supporters of #metoo and opponents of #metoo — because the “thing” about trending movements is that too often people don’t listen to what is being said, or even have an idea of what the movement is really all about.

Instead they react from their gut to snippets out of context.  Or to their imagination of what they think the another party is saying — never having actually listened to an opposing point of view and given it some thought. On a fundamental level huge public statements aren’t what it takes to make lasting change. They are soundbites.  And too many people make their public statements to gain a little notoriety for themselves that has nothing to do with the topic on which they are commenting — no more than flirting to get a role is seen as anything wrong when that is just sort of the inverse of sexual harassment.

But what bothers me is that the real problem is ignored because of all the public posturing.  Sexual harassment in the workplace is but the tip of the mistreatment-of-women iceberg.

There are a lot of marriages (and affairs) that begin in the workplace. I’m not sure there will ever be a way of stopping flirting in the workplace.  Drawing a proscribed line around clumsy flirtation in the name of stopping sexual harassment is doomed to failure. The instinct to procreate isn’t going to be stifled that easily. We tried (in this country) to ban alcohol and we all know how that turned out.  Banning behavior aimed at the propagation of the species isn’t going to be any more successful.  Men and women can be very clumsy about flirtation;  I know I was for most of my life — probably still am.

But it’s abuse we are talking about, right? Stepping over the line. It ought to be obvious that you don’t go around putting your hands on people — I would never touch a model in the studio — and yet in a social setting, among people I’ve known for years a hug,  or a pat on the shoulder/hand are so much a part of the culture I have been part of that I wonder what I would do if I was 20 instead of 68.  Of course you can ask.  Or you can watch the other person’s eyes and demeanor for clues as to whether your friendliness is welcome or not. I’ve been in enough situations to know that women can telegraph the fact that you’re overstepping their comfort zone without saying a word.

Personally, I have no idea why a woman would choose to wear something to work that exposes most of her cleavage, or a dress with a hem that’s nearly up to her hoo-ha.  I’m a guy, I was accustomed to going to work in long trousers, a long sleeve shirt, a tie, dress shoes, socks and a suit coat or sport coat.  To me that was “business dress.”  For my gender.  I never paid a lot of attention to other men — they too were covered to the hilt, as it were, with clothing.  Women, not so much.

Most of my working life I was not in an office setting.  For a few years I did spend my working hours in an office, and I can guarantee that all the men, myself included, spent more time looking at women than men. Typically they offered more interesting viewing:  to be blunt — they showed off more.  And no one on this earth can tell me that women are not aware of the fact that regardless of what they say about who they dress for men, they are aware of the reaction they produce. Much of the time they are glad to reap the results:  after all, it’s always ladies night at the bar, not gentleman’ night, now isn’t it?  Often, women aren’t afraid to use their looks to their advantage.  So innocent protests about whether it should matter what someone is wearing are blatantly dishonest.  If you know people are going to treat you differently because of how you dress, then dressing that way isn’t as irrelevant as you’d like to make it sound.  You can’t both garner the benefits and complain about the consequences at the same time.

My point is simply this.  You can go ahead and do whatever you want whenever you want.  That’s your free choice.  And people — men and women — are supposed to behave in a respectful manner and not to abuse you — male or female, young or old, rich or poor.  But I’ll bet that many women will be careful to park in a well lit part of the parking structure; and that there are parts of town they may not frequent; they will avoid certain employees in the company who freak them out…. and yet they truly believe that it’s a good idea to wear things that they can predict will draw attention to themselves.  If in fact drawing attention to themselves is not the reason.  It seems to me that’s not a very smart move because not everyone is always going to do what they are supposed to.  Doesn’t it make a little bit of sense to be prudent in one’s decisions?

The Le Monde letter makes the point that you can’t outlaw the right to annoy someone.  Human behavior is not always logical/rational/well thought out.  We all do things that we ought not, from time to time.  From speeding in an automobile to skipping ahead in a queue, failing to own up to the incorrect change a cashier gave you, or shoplifting something for kicks — humans just do stupid stuff from time to time. Guys are going to annoy women; just as women are going to annoy guys — often for very different reasons but the fact is the net result is the same.  Yeah — it’s wrong.  But does anyone really think that they are going to push public behavior to the point that an occasional annoyance doesn’t occur?  Or to think that every annoyance deserves legal punishment?

I should not have to say this, but you realize I am not talking about illegal activity. I’m not encouraging sexual harassment — that is wrong, all the time, every time.  But I do think there’s a difference between harassment and stupid behavior.  As a guy who grew up as the odd duck in his social group I’m here to say that embarrassing oneself in public isn’t all that hard to do.  I have long said I am Socially Obtuse.  I don’t alway see the social cues others seem to be aware of.  So I can understand how people make mistakes that they certainly don’t intend the way they are taken; in many areas of life — not just how you treat men or women.

One point I thought the letter made was that everything that happens does not make a person a victim.  Most of the time we have no problem recognizing the difference between playful interchange and sexual harassment.  Sometimes it doesn’t even reach the level of flirting — sometimes people are just being clever or witty — not everything is the world relates to your genitals.

I wish there were more public discussion about what people want in the workplace. Censored stories about events from years ago aren’t particularly helpful.  Yes, equal pay in the workplace is a real goal.  Fair treatment is a fair goal.  But I’m not sure that the person who calls everyone of the opposite sex sweetie is “harassing” anyone — they are being inappropriate.  And as someone who has been socially obtuse all my lifetime I understand that inappropriate happens.  Some inappropriate behavior you’re going to effectively change; but I doubt very much you’ll ever wipe it out — no more than you’ll wipe out idioms from the English Language or dialects.  A part of our behavior IS idiom. We all say and do things that don’t mean the dictionary definition of the words we use.

We have been retired for 6 years now.  For 20 years before that I was either self-employed or working outside an office setting with any significant number of women.  At the time Peggy would come home with information from her place of employment about sensitivity training, and equal rights in the workplace and on more than one occasion we talked about the difficulty in knowing what is expected or forbidden.  It seemed as if the metaphorical goalposts kept moving — and that was as an outside observer who was not in the situation.  Would I have understood better if I was in the situation?  I have no idea.  But it’s not a new situation and it’s not going to go away any time soon.

I’m glad people are talking about the proverbial elephants in the room.  It helps to acknowledge them.  How to deal with the elephant once you have acknowledged it’s existence may not be easy, but you’ll never accomplish anything until you say, “Oh Look — there’s an elephant!”


Here is the article/letter:

“We defend the freedom to annoy, essential to sexual freedom”

In an article in “World”, a group of 100 women, Catherine Millet, Ingrid Caven and Catherine Deneuve, affirms its rejection of a feminism that expresses “hatred of men.”

Rape is a crime. But insistent or awkward flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry macho aggression.

Following the Weinstein case a legitimate awareness of sexual violence exerted on women occurred, especially in the workplace, where some men abuse their power. It was necessary. But this speech today release turns into its opposite: we are talking intimate as it should, to silence the angry, and those who refuse to comply with such injunctions are regarded as traitors and accomplices!

Now this is the own of Puritanism than to borrow, on behalf of an alleged general good, the arguments of women’s protection and empowerment for better chain them to an eternal status of victims, poor little things under the influence of demons male chauvinists, like old times of witchcraft.

Accusations and indictments

Indeed, #metoo resulted in the press and on social networks accusations a campaign and put in charge of public individuals that unintentionally leaves them the option or respond or defend themselves, have been exactly on the same plane as sex offenders. This summary justice already has its victims, men punished in the exercise of their profession, forced to resign, etc., while they were only fault that he hit one knee, tried to steal a kiss, spoke of things “intimate” during a business dinner or to have sent messages of a sexual nature to a woman for whom the attraction was not mutual.

This fever to send the “pigs” to slaughter, far from helping women empower themselves, actually serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom, religious extremists, the worst reactionaries and those who believe in the name of a substantial conception of good and Victorian morality that goes with it, that women are beings “apart”, children in adult face, demanding to be protected.

In front, the men were ordered to beat their breasts and find, deep in their retrospective consciousness, “inappropriate behavior” they could have had here are ten, twenty or thirty years, and they should repent. The public confession, the incursion of self-appointed attorneys in the private sphere, that which installs as a climate of totalitarian society.

The wave of purification seems to know no limits. Here we censor a nude by Egon Schiele on a poster; here called the withdrawal of a painting by Balthus museum on the grounds that it would be an apology for pedophilia; in the confusion of the man and the work, asked the prohibition of retrospective Roman Polanski at the Cinematheque and obtain the postponement of that devoted to Jean-Claude Brisseau. A university considers the film Blow Up, Michelangelo Antonioni, “misogynist” and “unacceptable.” In light of this revisionism, John Ford ( The Searchers ) and even Nicolas Poussin ( The Rape of the Sabine women ) do not lead off.

Already, publishers are asking some of us to make our male characters less “sexist”, talking about sex and love with less excess or to ensure that the “trauma of the female characters” are more apparent! At the edge of ridiculous is legislation in Sweden that wants to impose an explicit notification by any party for sexual consent! Another effort and two adults who will want to sleep together should first check via an “app” on their phone a document in which practices they accept and reject those they will be properly listed.

Indispensable freedom to offend

The philosopher Ruwen Ogien defended freedom of offending essential to artistic creation. Similarly, we defend freedom to annoy, essential to sexual freedom. Today we are sufficiently informed to admit that the sexual drive is inherently offensive and wild, but we are also clear-sighted enough not to confuse awkward flirting and sexual assault.

Especially, we are aware that the human person is not monolithic: a woman can, in one day, lead a professional team and enjoy being sexual object of a man without being a “slut” or a vile accomplice of patriarchy. It can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but does not feel traumatized forever by a shoe in the subway. A single incident can be considered either an expression of great sexual misery or as a non-event.

As women, we do not identify with this brand of feminism, beyond denouncing abuse of power, which takes the face of a hatred of men and sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say “ no” to sexual proposal does not go without the freedom to annoy. And we think you need to know to answer this freedom to annoy other than retreating into the role of prey.

For those of us who choose to have children, we feel it is better to raise our girls so that they are sufficiently informed and aware in order to live full lives without being intimidated or guilty.

An accidental touch to a woman’s body does not necessarily offend their dignity and should not, if they are hard sometimes necessarily make her a perpetual victim. For we are not reducible to our body. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom we cherish is not without risks and without responsibilities.

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Old Diary, Relationships

…Settled in for a long winter’s nap

We aren’t really hibernating … not really … but it is our first real winter in 6 years and we are in the active process of getting accustomed to winter once again. I’m writing this on the 15th of January; so we are nearly one third of the way through our “official” winter — though Milwaukee has been known to have snow as late as the middle of May — still, “Spring” approaches and my dear wife is happy at that thought.

Right now life is a bit boring… well, not boring, just not very active.  We both keep busy during the day with no problems.  Peg is working on her puzzles as well as her daily / weekly chores; I am working on my new office installation and my daily / weekly chores.  Life goes on.

Apple Time Capsule

I am currently able to say I am finally — after too many years to remember — able to say I’m happy with my computer array.  For years, and particularly our years on the road I had to have my art images spread over three hard drives and I wasn’t able to back them up in the way I most wanted.  Recently I added a third 3 terabyte Apple Time Capsule to
 my setup and spent literally days moving files off the drives they had been living on in order to have a storage and backup system that I was finally satisfied with.  It’s been a lot of seemingly wasted time (to someone else) but to me it was well worth the effort.

Peg has gotten out a folding table that we bought in S. Texas for my office but which now is available for seasonal use as a jigsaw puzzle assembly area.  After all those years of either not-being-able to do jigsaws  or only being able to do really SMALL puzzles, because of the limited space in the RV, she is now relishing an ample workspace and good lighting!  (If only all wives were as easy to please!)

This time of year (in Wisconsin) I am a lot less active outside.  But I do try to make up for it by staying active indoors.  I supposed I’ll find out how good a job I’m doing at that when I see my GP sometime in the next month or so. We had to put off our Annual Wellness visit because of the move and one of these days I need to get that rescheduled — and prepare for a bawling out because my weight is up a bit. Still, we’re both feeling good and thus far winter isn’t nearly as bad as we remembered it. (Though SE Wisconsin has been spared most of the bad winter weather thus far.)

It would be nice to say that we are formulating travel plans for later in the year. Truth is we aren’t thinking about travel at all. (Or at least I am not thinking about it.  No telling what’s on Peggy’s mind!)

I have to say that it’s a bit strange that after a lifetime of being the “restless roamer” that I’m nearly three months into being in the same place and I haven’t felt the need to get those wheels-a-rollin’!  Perhaps it’s because I have been waiting years to get this computer backup thing sorted out to my satisfaction and I’m sort of “totally into” my little project. Still, it’s strange getting used to this new “me.”  On occasions I don’t recognize myself anymore. Age does interesting things to all of us who get to enjoy it.

We’ve gotten most of our address changes taken care of now. I might have another one or two that I missed.  And I downloaded the forms to change our VOTER REGISTRATION — voting is too important to leave it to chance on the “morning of.” Our local form is quite simple, and in the next day or two we’ll take them to City Hall along with our ID to get them processed. 

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Old Diary, Relationships

The Shaving Shelf

I stood at the sink, shaving. But my eyes weren’t on the mirror, they were on the glass shelf that hangs on the wall next to the sink.

Years ago my parents owned a small, mom & pop, hardware store. I wish I still had photos of the place, but I was too young to be thinking of photographs back then (I was only a few years old at the time). Still, even at such a young age I remember a few things about living above a hardware store, and what life was like for my parents — the only employees.

We sold glass, everything from window glass to thicker sheets the likes of which you’d use for shelves, etc. The glass was kept in the basement — a dark, dank place that I only ventured into when I was with mom or dad — it scared the bejeezus out of me!  There were vertical racks where large panes were stored and a long table on which the panes could be placed — one by one — and cut to size. Whatever size you wanted.  Right there, on the spot. 

It is that which I remember most about living with the hardware store. The fact that people came in with problems and my folks were there to help them out of the problem:  if it involved cutting a piece of glass to size, then that was what they did.

How well I can still hear the sound of a glass cutter on glass.  Then there was that certain “tink” when the glass surrendered at the scribed line drawn by the glass cutter — breaking smooth and clean.

It used to be that small stores dotted the landscape.  Driving along a city street there were a lot of storefronts with residence space above.  I’ve often wished we could find an apartment in such a building; I loved the idea of being able to live in the middle of a bustling business community — of course, nowadays those small stores spread along the city street are dying and with them a way of life.

I looked at that shelf and thought back to a thousand times I walked into a little mom & pop store.  I remember the mixture of greetings I received; sometimes cheery, other times glum, periodically I was aware that the shop owner might even have wished I hadn’t have walked in the door.

I thought about what happens when I walk into a Big Box store, a Walmart or a Home Depot and there I’m met by a “greeter”; a person who’s sole job is to make you think they are happy to see you.  It’s a far cry from a shop owner whom you know by name welcoming you into their world and hoping they can be of assistance.

I suspect that if I walked into the same Big Box store at the same time every day I’d rarely if ever run into the same greeter; fact of the matter is I pay no attention to the greeters at the stores I shop in.  They are irrelevant.  Oh, I don’t mean personally, but they truly have no reason for being there.  In today’s shopping world they don’t really serve a useful purpose.  They aren’t necessarily familiar with where to find things.  They aren’t supposed to leave their station so they can’t take you to where you want to go.  All they do is stand around “looking friendly” and maybe pushing a shopping cart at you to encourage you to purchase more than you intend.

The thing about small stores and their clerks is that they need you and they know it.  They may not love their job but there is a tacit recognition that they need to service you if they are going to make a living.  Most of them (at least in my experience — and I tend to greet everyone I meet with a smile and a cheery “good morning”) are happy to help out — whether it’s point me to the right aisle, or helping me find a product, or as in the case with finding the right sized screws or bolts, they will rummage around in the bins until they find just the right size for my need.

What you built were relationships with the people who serviced your needs.  You’d chat across the meat counter with the butcher.  A good butcher would know you on sight and know whether you wanted one or two or three pork chops.  The dry cleaner did more than clean your suits; was expert at removing all manner of stains; and it wasn’t too much to expect them to sew on a loose button or two.  You knew them; they knew you; you expected certain things from each other.

We try, as much as possible, to deal with small retailers/craftsmen/suppliers.  Their livelihood depends on local support and in ways that have nothing to do with dollars and cents the community depends on the local business owner. That morning I left the bathroom a little bit saddened that those mom & pop stores are disappearing. The Waltons, owners of Walmart, don’t really need my money — they are rich enough already.  My little bit of business isn’t going to hurt them.  But my little bit of business will help some of those little guys hang around a little longer.  It’s not a big thing that I do, but it’s worth while.

 

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Old Diary, Relationships

Mini-RoadTrip

To go where no one has gone before?  Or maybe just to retrace one’s steps down memory lane. That is the question of the day.

Actually, it was the question for yesterday….

Because we had been cooped up in the house for a couple days and we were in the mood for a mini road trip; but where to go?

The story may be about modern history but it has roots in our personality and says more about who we are, and perhaps who you are, than might at first be evident.

Back in 2011, before we went full time RV’ing we were faced with a winter where we owned a brand new-to-us RV and had to put it in storage for the winter.  Being new to the idea of owning a motorcoach I was obsessed about keeping the batteries sufficiently charged and the coach regularly moving so our solution to the problem was to “exercise” the coach about once a month on a day when the temps were warm enough that we could start the diesel without extreme measures or jumper cables.

a former employer

We made four or five short trips that winter; each of them fun and interesting in it’s own right.  It had been 10 years since I’d been in a driver for Lamers Bus, and while I hadn’t forgotten all that much about coach-ing you do tend to lose your skills and refresher time behind the wheel is always good. So, those were days to spend time together, talking and sharing our ideas of what full time RV’ing would be ‘like’ when we finally got the chance to do it, and seeing a little bit of the countryside.

Now, 7 years later, we find ourselves returning to Wisconsin and wanting to reacquaint ourselves without home state and just how do you do that?  We’ve always enjoyed a good drive and day trips are one of the more pleasant ways of getting out to see and do what there is to be seen, and done!

One of those 2011 trips had been to an un-memorable county park named Carlin Weld. The “most notable” feature of the park was… it’s name.  For some odd reason the memory of having been there brought back a warm-all-over feeling.  It wasn’t the park. It was who I’d been with when I was there — and not for all that long either — and memories of a time when we were looking forward to new adventures together; after a lifetime of working apart we were finally going to get the opportunity to be together — exploring the world — without interruption.

Today (well, technically “yesterday”) we are at a similar though very different place.  Once again we find ourselves at a crossroad:  new horizons await; new adventures too.  What will come of them.  The best part is that we are still having fun being together all the time. I know that’s not always the case with couples; we know plenty of them that don’t do much of anything together and when they are together they seem to get on each others nerves.  But we’re fortunate.

I guess the important “part” of this blog is that it doesn’t take much to make us happy.  Something to do together. Time to chat idly when the TV isn’t distracting us, or a puzzle isn’t calling our name.  The mindlessness of a drive in the country is the perfect opportunity to commune with each other.  (Next to a leisurely stroll through the woods — but it’s way to cold for me to enjoy that right now!)

So, we drove there again, yesterday.  It wasn’t far.  We stayed on the back roads.  We were reminded of the system of Wisconsin Rustic Roads — a couple of which we passed along the route. And if you aren’t familiar with the system of  Rustic Roads in Wisconsin you are missing out. (The link gets you a download of the Wisconsin Rustic Roads Guide)  You can’t “take them anywhere”; they aren’t contiguous. They don’t lead anywhere; they aren’t purpose built.  They are a glimpse back into the world and the life of yesteryear. Most of them are under 5 miles long.  They wind and twist through Wisconsin — little snippets of historically irrelevancy — but they are fun to drive.

My point being simply that they are opportunities for kismet, for happenstance, for whimsy. You don’t have to have a reason for taking a mini road trip — sometimes you spirit just needs to get out and breathe — and what better way to do it than to see a sign, and respond to it.

 

That was how we found Carlin Weld in the first place.  We were traveling a highway and saw a sign to a county park.  We said, “what the heck” and turned to follow the sign.  What we found was small, not very exciting, and in the circumstance it was also snow covered and blustery being in January — but it made a pleasant memory and provided time to enjoy just being together.  I never thought back then in 2011 that I’d want to return.  But then I didn’t know in 2011 that 6 years later I’d be back in Wisconsin wanting to travel again the old roads, to remember where this one leads and where that one needs pot-hole filling.  It’s not about great adventures; it’s about little moments of happiness.

These mini road trips aren’t about going places.  They aren’t about great adventures.  They are about the simple act of investing in one’s own future with their spouse.  You may not enjoy time in the car.  For you, the investment in your spouse might be a night out bowling — not so much for the bowling as for the time between balls.  Seeing as you know I dislike baseball — your investment could be taking your spouse to a game — if you’re like me and bored to death by the game — it would just be a perfect opportunity to sit in the bleachers on a sunny afternoon and tell each other stories.   Things like an afternoon on the beach might not be the best way to invest in each other; not if the guy is looking at all the other women and the wife is looking at all the other men.  These kind of investments have to be about a time when the both of you are just sort of coasting mentally, when there is no agenda, no plan, no schedule.  When your mind is free to wander you get to find out how well your minds (both of you) wander in the same direction.

I hear couples say they grew out of touch.  And the question comes to mind, “what have you done to STAY in touch?”

For us, it’s often these little mini road trips.  For you it might be something quite different.  The only proof of the pudding as to whether it’s an effective gimmick, is whether or not the two of you feel closer as a result.  So there’s no cheating here.  You can tell yourself you’re doing it for someone else, but if you resent the time, or the effort, or the expense then you’re only fooling yourself.

For more information about Wisconsin Rustic Roads, just Google the expression.  That way if the state changes it’s website you’ll always go to the right place. 🙂

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