Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. It has little to do with the things you see & everything to do with how you see them.


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Old Diary

Perceptions Aren’t Reality


This morning’s weather radar — and what Kathryn get’s to drive around/through on her way here.

Staying in the moment is a deceptive place to be!  Just because one perceives their environment doesn’t mean their perception is accurate!  It’s rather the same difference as is found between an opinion and truth.  Just because one has an opinion about something does not make that either a fact, or the truth. (And yes — I’m still one of those dinosaurs that believes there is and can be such things as absolute truths.)

Like most of the parents I know, when our family is traveling we’re always a bit on edge; always waiting for that “Arrived Safe” from whomever the traveler might be.  Today, there are some sizable weather cells betwixt Kathryn and us, so we’re understandably eager to have her through them and into the good weather.  (If indeed there turns out to be any good weather this weekend.)

After her early morning “I’m Leaving” message I checked the rain numbers for our area.  (doncha just love text messages from your kids — no matter what age they are!) We normally get about 3.5” of rain in May and this year we’ve had… WHAT? …  Only 1.34”?????

How can that be?

Seems like twice that?

Mumble, mumble, mumble….

That’s the thing about living in the moment.  You are left with impressions of the moment — impressions that aren’t always accurate. I know that as an RV’er impressions are often the only thing I have to report as we aren’t in many of the  places we visit long enough to assimilate truths about them — what we experience are isolated points in time aside from context and ignorant of trends.

When in school I never liked history. But I wasn’t out-in-the-world for very long before I began realizing that history is a lot more important than I ever gave it credence for being. I found myself boning up on history and trying to put my own life into some sort of context;  context I discovered is a lot more important than the smart-aleck young guy living in my body wanted to acknowledge.

context-mattersWithout context we repeat errors.  Without context we adopt exaggerated behaviors.  Without context we commit to ill advised plans.  The builder who ignores the hundred year flood plain is bound to find expensive repairs a frequent experience.  The nation that ignores the morals of their neighbors ends up with a century of war.  etc.. etc., etc.

I don’t know if it’s possible to travel without adopting some inaccuracies about the places you visit.  I know that for us, we can only take away the memories we experience of a place.  Our recent winter in Florida might have been during a cooler and wetter season — but we can’t walk away saying how WARM it had been — because for us it wasn’t that way.

There is a part of me that knows the United States that I remember growing up in, and working in, is a lot better than this United States that seems to have emerged during the current election cycle.  Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the candidates on both sides.  I keep asking myself, “where did these people come from, and are there no better options out there?”  The predominant trait for the front-runners is not what they stand for, but how strong are their disapproval ratings.  That’s a terrible thing to have happen.

It seems as if in the current climate the entire election process is about $$$$$$$.  And I can’t see any way that the Average Joe can do anything to change that.  Politicians themselves aren’t going to suddenly decide to throw away the feeding trough that has made them all pigs and gluttons for more.  So, how we get ourselves out of this current situation is quite beside powerful

Just the other day I was thinking about how down to earth a lot of the young adults we meet are.  There really are a lot of decent, thoughtful folks out there.  And then I turn on the news and after about 30 seconds I want to turn it back off because the stories that reach the media are such trash.  I find myself needing context.  I find that listening to the evening news is quite like listening to the pitter patter of rain on the RV roof:  it often sounds much worse than it is; it often seems to last much longer than it does.

Currently I’m reading a book by Julian Fellowes — the same guy who wrote the screenplays for Downton Abbey. In this book which encompasses past and present from the 1960’s to now he comments on how friendship has changed.  It’s a change that I have thought about myself numerous times because along with the technological changes in the world, the way we see other humans has changed as well.

Friendship used to be a thing of experience.  You became friends over time because you became friends as you got to know someone more and more intimately.

“This is a distinction lost on the modern world where
people who have shaken hands and nodded a greeting
will tell you they ‘know’ each other.  Sometimes they
will go further and assert, without any more to go on,
that so-and-so is‘a friend of mine.’   If it should suit
the other party they will endorse this fiction and,
in that endorsement, sort of make it true.
When it is not true.   Forty years ago we were,
I think, more aware of the degree of a relationship.”

As we travel around we make a lot of acquaintances, and a very few friends.  In fact, during my lifetime I’d say I had a handful of real friends, and a myriad of acquaintances. The thing is, no one want to be an acquaintance.  Everyone wants to think they are friends.  But I’ve never been willing to commit myself to all that many people at once.   It’s hard work to be a friend.

But, back to the thing about perceptions…

Perceptions as regards friends and acquaintances follow the same paths as other perceptions.  A moment’s attention gives you a data point that applies to a moment.  There are no trends,  there are no averages. In that moment of experience you may fully experience all that a person reveals to you of themself; but you’ll only experience all that such a person reveals to you in that moment.  There’s no way to know more about them short of spending … duh … more moments with them.

I’m not sure I want to spend many more moments getting to know either Hillary or Donald.  To be honest, I don’t think either of them would be good for the United States of America.  Similarly,  I don’t know much about the climate here in Highland Ridge — I’ve experienced a grand total of several summer months of it, but whether they are typical or not I don’t really know.  I’ve tried a few restaurants; but I don’t know if they are really good restaurants, or if we were just there on a good night.

I’m happy for this part of my retirement to be a constant flow of temporary experiences.  I’m happy — for a time — to approximate a life without context.  I know that will end at some point.  My need for context will eventually overcome my need for novelty.

criteria decision matrixAll my life I’ve used the the illustration of a matrix to describe how I live my life.  Life is a giant grid and people, places, things, experiences, relationship all fit into that grid in some way.  When I don’t know the coordinates I put those items off on the side until I figure out where they belong.  Then the fit into the matrix and I can… sort of… forget about them:  I know where they fit.

Perhaps that’s partly the reason we haven’t found a “place” that we want to call our retirement home.  Thus far the places we’ve been have been only points in time.  And perhaps I’m jus figuring out right now what I’ve been looking for.  I’m not sure.

Anyway… perceptions are not reality… they are point in time data points that tell us about the moment, but not about what to expect.  I wish I knew what to expect from this election.  I DO know what to expect from Peggy, and from Kathryn, and Michael and Melanie, and many of my close friends.  I also know that I’ll never be able to count on any politician — not on Donald, neither on Hillary — or even Bernie.

So, on this Friday before Memorial Day weekend there you have it.  The reality that Presidents send young men and women into battle — often for reasons more their own, than reasons of the nation.  And I’ll do my own grieving for those lost.

And I’ll be here tomorrow,  to chat if you will.  Why not stop and spend some time?

Old Diary, Travel

Practicing scriptlessness

Yesterday was spent in the car.  We had howling winds all night before and Peg didn’t sleep much so we got an early start in the morning. That was partly due to the winds, partly due to sounds that sounded like someone’s door being slammed — over and over and over again, and partly because her back has been quite painful.  Which is the reason for our quick trip.  We know we could get medical service in TX but for a variety of reasons we opted to make a quick trip to Wisconsin, see her regular doctor, see our daughter and Son-in-Law, do some business with our safe deposit box, and a few other things we realized could be all done in one fell swoop so we hopped in the car and headed North.

The longest of three days drive

The longest of three days drive

The Plan — such as it is — is to make the 1500 miles in three days while there is a good weather forecast.  Friday was 542 miles from Los Fresnos to Plano TX.  While it was a very manageable distance I was reminded why I don’t like I-35.  It is/was virtually rush hour traffic from San Antonio to Dallas, including at least 40 miles of stop-start bumper-to-bumper going-nowhere-fast.  I really like Los Fresnos, but I really dislike this route and I will do all sorts of things to avoid taking it any more than absolutely necessary.  There ARE other routes out of South Texas.alternates


To illustrate, here are two alternate routes:  1.) via I-10 to I-55
2.) via I-30 to Memphis.  Both of them have advantages over the route we picked this time.  This is a route I’ve driven quite often from Dallas North.  What I haven’t driven often is the Dallas-San Antonio section and every time we have done so I-35 has been under major reconstruction with horrendous backups.

Once we pulled into Plano we needed a good meal and we found our way to Paesano’s.  Tripadvisor rates it as #33 out of 233 restos and I can see why.  The prices are reasonable,  the entrees were well done, ample, served quite quickly, and the place is BUSY — in a good way — the sound of people having fun and enjoying life.

Peg has a Dr’s appointment on Monday.  We’ll see what the treatment plan is — can we be in and out of Milwaukee on under 1 week or not?  We’ll see.

Saturday we will head north to Rolla Mo.  I’ll talk with you from there. Cheers, and thanks for stopping by.

Old Diary

Life Unscripted…. really unscripted….

plans-changeSomething has come up that necessitates a quick trip to WI.   We hope to be back in Los Fresnos in a few days (given the fact that we are taking 3 days to go up and back – that really means 2 weeks).

Given the way we travel, I may stay current with my postings but  if I fall behind know that we aren’t dead or dying — we’re just attending to businessok_change_of_plans_sorry_1118385.

Today it will be Los Fresnos to Plano, TX. Let’s see how that goes.  The forecast is dry, but with possible freezing temps overnight so we don’t know how early we’ll leave in the morning. As always avoiding Austin, and Dallas during rush hour are paramount.

By the way… if you don’t use the individual state Department of Transportation websites to keep you up to date on road conditions — its something you should look into.Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 5.24.39 PM  For example, the TXDOT road condition map currently looks like this, with lots of negative road situations SW of Fort Worth and East of Dallas.  In Texas’ case they tell you expected end of situations and road location.  In keeping with the fact that this is NOT the UNITED states of America — each state has their own way of reporting road conditions, so you may need to check each individual state in which you plan to travel.

Thanks for stopping, and I’ll try to talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

And suddenly it’s the end of summer… NOT

Our minds play tricks with us.  Or on us.

We were walking from the pool tonight and peggy says to me, “I know it’s weird, but with all the people leaving the campground now it seems like it should be the end of summer!”  And you know… I does kind of feel that way.

You know that feeling when the weather starts to change, when your neighbors at the lake start packing up their summer stuff and start closing down their summer cottage for the winter and you know that they will soon all be gone and the winds will blow cold and the summer will be over.

Well, in a weird way it feels that way right here, right now.  The Season is almost over. I guess that’s the way people here think about it: the season.  Not the winter.  Just the season. There are conversations about “Are you  coming back next season?”  Not next fall, or next winter.  In fact, come to think about it I don’t think I have heard anyone utter the word ‘Winter’ since we’ve been here.  (Well, not unless Peg or I might have done it.

How does a person’s mind get out of sync by 1/2 a year?   I know that as we are expecting a cold front to go through tonight a lot of folks are talking about their body parts announcing the cold front’s approach — just as you might do up North.  But it’s a curious phenomenon that should happen primarily (for us) because of the association of departing friends with the end of summer.

Don’t Rush the Seasons


Momma Nature is bigger than us all! Don’t fight with her — you’re guaranteed to lose.

Monday seemed to be the day for a few early departures from the campground — but sometimes it doesn’t pay to rush the season.  Our neighbor to the North is preparing to leave in the coming week.  Their neighbor to the north left a few days ago — about the time of the last weather advisory for Ft Worth & Dallas.  Well, we heard from them today and they are still stuck just North of Ft Worth — parked at a Casino  — waiting for the weather to improve before driving on home.  It doesn’t pay to fight with Mother Nature.  Which is a lesson a lot of us RV’ers learn pretty quickly:  Don’t drive in bad weather; which is to say, get off the road wherever you and and just wait it out.  A lost night’s lodging reservation isn’t worth an accident.  And if you don’t have a reservation it’s even less of a good idea to soldier on and risk an accident.

That’s it for today.  Talk to you tomorrow. And thanks for stopping by.