20
Mar 17

Notes that end the winter, and start the spring

It is the first day of spring, when everything should be new and possible, or impossibly new. It has been cold and damp and gray, because we have no respect for meteorological certainties.

But things are blooming on the ground. Last week, in the snow, the carefully installed pansies and daffodils were bent over low by a wet snow. And while that stuff is gone, the dampness is hanging over and clinging to us. The chill is made downright cold because of the damp, and upgraded to demoralizing based on the gray skies, because the gradient suggests it will never ever change.

So, on this, the weekend that prefaces spring, we had a dismaying end to winter. As for the winter itself, mild. Not so bad. A few harsh and cold days here and there and just a few small snow showers to hide from. It was, as they say, a mild one. But it has persisted enough, and the new has not yet begun with the proper zeal required by my discriminating tastes. (Rain today. Pleasant tomorrow. It is a fickle start to the season.)

So, on Saturday, I stayed inside and worked on a puzzle:

I received three puzzles at Christmastime. And I said they would be terrific winter weekend projects. As I am officially over the season, and the season has yet to be over itself, I am puzzling in protest. This is Declaration of Independence. I did the borders first, and then the historically accurate doodles along the bottom — Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams and Franklin. Then I slowed down as I worked on the signatures, because I went back to this book. It was also a gift a few years ago, about the origins and fates of the 56 men who signed the broadside.

And, of course I had a helper:

So that was Saturday. And yesterday, we actually saw the sun. It was the second time in a week, and such an exceptional occurrence that I’m now counting the times it happens each week. And I go outside. So, yesterday afternoon, a bike ride:

First one of the year. Felt like it, too!


17
Mar 17

That looks pretty comfortable

Sometimes, the sofa is comfortable. Sometimes it isn’t. It all comes down to where you are and how you are and how you’re feeling. It shows its age every now and again, and it is getting to that point where you sometimes have a two-point maneuver to exit the thing. But it still sleeps pretty well.

Or so I thought.

Sometimes the sofa isn’t comfortable. You could sit on any of the chairs or any of the beds or, really anywhere. But sometimes you find yourself on the sofa and it just isn’t working. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit your needs.

Which is why we have throw pillows:

I bought gas this morning:

This is notable only because of how little I have to do that now. This is I think the second, but definitely no more than the third time I’ve filled up this year. Used to be a once-a-week thing. But, now, my commute is a little over four miles, and we carpool and I ride my bicycle when circumstance allows, so I don’t have to get gas very much. That’s a nice improvement.


16
Mar 17

I was not awake at 5 a.m.

A good singalong makes one happy:

Too-high, too-wide photo still to come.

I found this today:

Two young men hit by a train in 1917, both lived. And then I found this and this. One lived to 80 and had three kids. The other lived to 85 and had four children. And this quick look online tells me that a man who died at 85 in 1983, in my lifetime, knew his grandfather, who fought at Kennesaw and Nashville and against Hood in Georgia and Alabama. That man, in my lifetime, could probably recall his grandfather who fought in the Civil War on land I know fairly well.

So it is a small world, I guess. Though anything is possible if you start a story with “So this guy found himself crawling out from under an actual trainwreck.”

Today, Indiana fired their basketball coach. Just as the tournament begin, his tenure ended. He’d gone to the Sweet Sixteen last year, indeed, three of the last six years he’d been there, and he won the conference championship twice. But they decided to go a different way, so there was an announcement, and a press conference. And, despite this also being Spring Break, the student media was there:

Dedication, hustle and showing up will get you places in that business. So it is great to see students from both the television station and the newspaper reporting it at full speed. Good for them.


15
Mar 17

Alone in the woods, with sunglasses and soup

Each day I make use of at least one weather app, the smart thermostat which is still patiently trying to convenience me it somehow knows what is going on outside and a variety of windows which display both front and back yards. I do all of this at night and again in the morning, before I put a single thing in my pockets to leave. And then I put the things I carry in my pockets, so many things. And then I go to the garage, because that is where I park my car.

I open the garage door, because that is easier than driving through it and replacing it every week. And then I settle into my car, crank it and undertake the normal procedures one uses. I put my foot on the brake, select reverse and then throw my arm over the other seat and look backward because that’s how everyone did it when I was growing up and that’s still the coolest move in a car. I snicker at the idea of a backup camera. No, seriously, every day, that makes me chuckle. And then I move the car, each time I am amazed by my good fortune of avoiding hitting things with the passenger-side mirror. And then I am in the driveway, and I back up about 15 more feet and I’m in the road.

Only, today, I was confronted by this thing that I knew from both ancient DNA and my own dim, distant memory.

That’s actually overselling it. Of course it was the sun. I was pleased to see the sun. “This is,” I thought to myself, “a sign of things to come.” That thought was immediately followed by “My, but that’s bright!”

Don’t I own some device that was designed to aid in the filtering of the bright and magical UV rays which are now descending on me for the first time since, oh, November? However long ago it was I had to really struggle to remember — and this part is legitimate — where I store my sunglasses in my car. But I used them today. So pleased was I that, in the parking lot at work I had to find a sunny spot for this picture:

I used to use this article in writing classes. It is about a man who stayed a true hermit, in the woods of Maine, for 27 years before police picked him up on a series of cabin break-ins. One reporter, the author of that piece, was the only person the guy talked to. (Turns out, I just learned, that story has become one of GQ’s most-read pieces ever. I’d give students that article on a Monday and would ask them to discuss it the following Monday. The few that would actually talk about it thought it creepy. At 20 pages of intriguing brilliance, most just thought it too long and admitted they gave up on it. Their loss.)

Anyway, the story appears again, by the same talented reporter, Michael Finkel, who has now written about it in The Guardian. And now he’s got a book on the story, released earlier this month. Read the GQ version, it is worth the time.

Tonight I learned that Allie likes minestrone:

She likes it a lot. Licked the bowl clean. Worked hard at getting the edges. I’ll have to leave her a bit of the broth next time.


14
Mar 17

The nose doesn’t know

Wrapped up some studio work today, and spent a bit amount of time wandering around the building.

This isn’t far from my office. The door is usually closed, so that catches the eye first. And then you don’t often see arrow signs. It was worth exploring:

And then, a bit further back, another sign:

You wonder about the sign reader. If you keep putting up signs as you go farther back into the work area — and I only went this far — you wonder what you expect the reader to find.

Multiple signs? This must really merit investigation. But would the investigator not smell the smell themselves? I didn’t smell it, but then, my nose isn’t very good at this sort of thing.

Too much time near the grindstone, I’m sure.