Jul 17

This is going to seem sarcastic, but it isn’t

The Tour de France is on. I have turned on an inordinate amount of lights in the house. Chicken parm for dinner. I spent the evening sitting in my office recliner. Time of my life.

In my recliner, I was typing on a section of the site. Actually, I was thumbing through old books. And digging through a storage space for other books. I have a lot of books. These are my grandfather’s books. I’ve been flipping through them and reading them and enjoying the photographs and sharing them on the site. I have a big shelf of dusty old textbooks and agricultural reference books. I have a huge stack of magazines, and those will get included before too long. But, first, there’s the 1943 edition of Occupational Guidance:

There are seven more pictures just like that if you click the link above. (I’ll add a few more next week.) You can also see the growing collection here.

I also did some back end work on the site, but you aren’t interested in that and it is mostly just fun for me anyway. Also, much like people hold dear the goal of Inbox Zero, I have a similar goal for browser tabs. I’ve lately found it challenging to reach the goal numbers. (The goals are: four tabs on my computer, two tabs on my iPad and two tabs on my phone.) What, you don’t have goals like this?

The phone has reached two tabs. I’m down to just five tabs on my iPad. I was able to wipe a few off my computer, but there are still 10 open tabs to deal with. But I’m making progress. Time of my life.

Jul 17

Happy Fourth

Hope you had a lovely day of it, he said while waiting for all of his neighbors to stop demonstrating their mastery of a modern application of ancient chemistry. I don’t suppose it would do any good if I went out there and asked them to stop, since it is after 10 p.m., would it?

Anyway, we woke up, packed the car, had a nice little barbecue lunch with my mother and grandfather and got on the road. And there we stayed for the entire afternoon. It is a drive. And so here are some pictures, and all of them will age better than fireworks.

Since you like rainbows, here is one we saw on Friday, somewhere in Kentucky, or perhaps Tennetucky:

And this is probably, technically, the same rainbow. I find it hard to keep them straight, especially when I am moving around. It emerged from the same storm system so, at the very least, the two were cousins:

I was talking about genealogy yesterday, because my grandmother and I were reading old names and dates and such on Sunday. She was sharing pictures, and here are two of them. This is my paternal great-grandfather, a man I never knew:

This picture hangs on a wall at my grandparents’ house. Its one of those things you pass by and don’t really know until you ask about it, I guess. I know exactly four things about the man. But, The Yankee says she sees where I get my hair. She has said about that man’s son, my grandfather, and she’s usually right about most everything, so it is a safe bet.

On the same side of my family, this is my other paternal great-grandfather:

My grandmother, his daughter, believes our hero is the young man on the right. He died before I turned three, so I don’t have any memory of him, or his wife, my great-grandmother, who died just a bit later. I do, however, see a few particular pictures of them a lot. They are an older couple, he has a flattop and she also looks just so. They are handsome and they look kind and welcoming. That’s the man I see in my mind’s eye. But this guy, with the wide hat, he looks like an interesting fellow too.

I wonder what we’d think of people we know if we’d had the chance to meet them in some other place in their lives …

Meanwhile, this is a time-traveling hipster:

The caption says this is a sesquicentennial anniversary for a Tennessee county, and that the photo was taken in 1959. The book was published at the turn of this century and, thus, the only logical conclusion is that this man is a time-traveling hipster.

Truly, that’s the last great frontier of Internet conspiracy theories.

Anyway, back to today. The view while driving back to the house, somewhere in southern Indiana:

Allie is a great traveler, but this drive gets to everyone after a while:

There is a great deal of scenery to enjoy in the trip. First there are hills and pine trees and the occasional hardwood of Tennessee, and then all of the trees of Kentucky. In the last third of the trip:

All the barns and corn and silos and corn you can enjoy. And I do enjoy the views a great deal.

Traffic was light. Everyone was where they needed to be. It only rained for about half an hour and we got home just in time to unload the car, have a late dinner and watch today’s stage of the Tour. Tomorrow, it is back to work and email and journalism and recording things and getting back to the routine, here, as well. Meanwhile, there’s always Twitter and Instagram for you.

Jun 17

Happy anniversary to us

We were standing in the heat. We were with my family and hers. Her friends and mine. Someone was going to have to travel so we made them all travel. And everyone was there, in Savannah, where we’d taken our first trip, across the street from “our tree” and the place where we’d also gotten engaged. We had everyone sitting outdoors on the hottest weekend of the summer — you couldn’t reserve a space in August, I figured, because people would melt — and they were there for us.

My uncle was down there at the end of the aisle. He’d promised to tie us in a knot we wouldn’t easily get out of. I walked down and stood beside him. Then The Yankee came down on her father’s arm and she was smiling to light up the world.


Now we’re in front of everyone and I remembered that it would have been nice to say something profound and special to her parents, but how do you say in a whisper, in a moment, that you’re going to try your absolute hardest to spend all of your time watching out for their daughter and trying to make her laugh? How do you tell two people all the things you want them to hear in a single sentence? And how do you look back among the small group of people who have traveled from many points on the map and thank them for taking their time to be there? How do you apologize to them, with a wink, for the heat they are sitting in?

My uncle, he’s delivering this lovely service, and it is just perfect because I’ve heard him preach a little, but mostly sing my entire life. I can pick out his voice in a crowded church of singing people from the back of a room and now he’s putting words to thoughts about what I’m supposed to do with all of my days to come.


Almost all of our two small families are there, and the fullness of that is such a special and lasting thought. In all of this time and in all of my sentiment I can’t get the importance of that down in a statement. Our friends, meanwhile, are live-tweeting the thing. Everyone is waving a sandalwood folding fan. There’s a string quartet over there to the left playing a set list that she’s picked out and there’s a candle to this side that is probably just melting in the radiating Savannah summer heat. Later, our friends will say I turned white, but it was the heat and the wool as much as the moment. That heat defines most everyone’s memory of the day, because every wedding has some kind of character.

She’s saying a part and she’s tearing up a little and I whisper something about taking her time. Like she needs this advice. This is one of the strongest, smartest people I know and this platitude is silly even as I say it, but there should be no rush here. There is rushing aplenty in our lives and we’ll get to all of that eventually and sometimes you should just take your time more, and that ceiling fan hanging inside the tent is doing nothing.


Now it is time for the kiss and I did something funny and our friends and family chuckled and then the ceremony was complete and we went back inside and into this fancy restaurant attached to the mansion where we got married. We had a lovely dinner where I learned what it means when they tap a knife on a glass. We went outside for night photos and it was somehow hotter and muggier. The festivities went long into the night.

And they’ve gone far into the years that have followed on adventures with our friends and families and at home and abroad and in all the big and little and pleasantly unexpected and perfectly predictable parts of life. Eight years of laughter and a relationship that gets better all of the time. We were standing in the heat, and our relationship just gets warmer.


May 17

Whaligoe Haven

Near Ulbster, a slightly-less-narrow spot on a diminutive two-lane Scottish road, you’ll find Whaligoe Haven. This is a beautiful little place you’re told to watch out for, but it doesn’t show up on the national maps and there is no signage. You park behind a hotel and walk through someone’s garden to get there. And then, there are the steps.

You go down to look up, and when you look up you are surrounded on three sides by 250-foot cliffs.

It is a beautiful harbor, at the bottom is a manmade grassy area and the ruin of an ancient storage building that held salt used to cure fish. You’re standing just in front of what’s left of the stone walls from this view:

So let’s talk about the name. A “goe” is a rocky inlet surrounded by cliffs. The prevailing opinion is that Whaligoe was named after a dead whale that was washed ashore here.

There are 334 flagstone Whaligoe Steps, and this dates back to at least 1769, but there’s no consensus on when they were built. The current design, however, dates back to 1792.

More than 20 fishing boats used this harbor each summer during its most successful period in the 19th century. The last ship sailed away in the 1960s.

Whaligoe Haven is now maintained by volunteers.

Tonight we’re in Kingussie, in the Cairngorms National Park, where we’ll spend two days. We walked through town today, had afternoon tea and saw a few gift shops. I liked the cover of this day planner:

And of course I took pictures of this book to send to people.

It was a tongue-in-cheek sort of thing, but it made fun of men far more than women:

We’re staying in a 140-year-old Victorian home. After dinner in a pub downtown, we’re having tea and shortbread before we call it a night. Tomorrow, we go canyoneering!

May 17

Cruising Loch Ness and touring Culloden Moor

Where’s Nessie? We found Nessie! This morning we searched for the Loch Ness Monster. Also, we cruised by Urquhart Castle:

And this afternoon we visited the field where the 1746 Battle of Culloden took place. This video tries, in vain, to explain the modern interpretation of that battle, a bloody affair that ultimately marked the end of the 1745 rebellion.