Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The 50-Year Vacation

Ordered some old books and from one of them fell a glassine bag of color negatives: 12 images in all, taken with a 2-1/4-inch camera, a type now extinct, already passe back when in college I bought a used one. These photos don't have the date anywhere, nor does the envelope, but they document someone's beach vacation in a place where there are palm trees (shown in another negative). I hope they had a wonderful time and remember their vacation fondly. In these delicate negatives it's lasted half a century.

Do resorts still have beach cots? Nowadays everyone lies on towels on the sand.

The books were from the late 1950s. Not only were there negatives, but tucked between other pages were 2 report cards, one from 1957-58 and one from 1961-62. I love these kinds of strange treats. Eye-openers for sure. More about them later.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Chokin' His Chicken

So I go to buy a pound of barbecue and. . .

No, that's not how this begins. Rather, this town has a scarecrow contest every October and all the local businesses create, dress, and put on the street their own life-sized scarecrows, all very fanciful, and then the townspeople vote for their favorite. The post office's scarecrow is dressed like a postman. The bank's scarecrow is a woman in a garden hat watering a money tree. The gym's scarecrow rides an exerbike. Some are so elaborate that the owners cover them like mummies in plastic when it rains.

As the pumpkin lattes, pumpkin beers, and pumpkin snickerdoodles come out, so do the scarecrows, and the barbecue place took its scarecrow out of storage and this is the first I've seen of him--the swine! So I thought I would overshare. He reminds me of someone I used to know. The expression on the chicken's face is precious, so here's  a close-up.

I'm so grateful I moved to Missouri where there's barbecue and humor.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Home Improvement

It's not my house (it's rented) so I don't improve it. Has been my home for 15 consecutive years on October 1. Thought I'd celebrate by improving my daily home life.

This doesn't mean interior decoration. I'm "adecorative," if that's a word. My focus is elsewhere. Like, on my vertebrae, now 15 years older than when I moved in. Vertebrae first disqualified me from mowing the lawn with a push mower. Some years ago one of the two wooden garage doors (measuring eight feet by nine feet) I permanently shut; after wet weather it was hard to lift and a few times I wasn't able to stop its downward momentum so it slammed the concrete, one time shattering a window.The landlord replaced the window with glass that made that door even heavier. I gave up and now use only the other door; it's identical but a bit lighter.

Lifting and lowering got dicier with time. I considered leaving here solely because of the garage doors. It got so I had to raise the door using two hands and shoulder muscle I built at the gym especially for that. A recent soaking rain brought the door's weight into my danger zone. I felt it. (There's no electricity in the garage for automatic openers.) So then I lifted and lowered only once a day: morning and night. Birds flew into the gaping garage and couldn't find the way out, and, panicked, threw themselves at windows and died there.

The fault lies not with the garage door or landlord but with me, so I chose as my 15th anniversary gift to my home a new garage door, without knowing how the heck to get one. It involves people. Went to Lowe's, saw the millwork guy. He showed me samples and colors of steel doors and sent full-time garage-door installers to my house to measure. Lowe's priced the project at $830. People I told cried out at the horrible expense. True, the garage is not my property but my vertebrae are, and I decided they were worth it, because slipped disks or crushed bones cost far more. The new door will be installed within the next two weeks.

Now for home improvement all I needed was a handle to help me out of the shower. I'd been using the towel bar just outside of the shower for balance and one day pulled it out of the wall. (The landlord repaired that.)  How the heck to get one? Would somebody have to drill? No: For $11 at Walmart I got this cool suction-type handle that latches onto and grips tile. Undo the latches on the back and you can move it. That, now, is my own property. Home improvement is so satisfying.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day

Labor is beautiful.
"A job is the worst way to make money." Let me second that. For 20 years my day job actually paid me LESS take-home every year. They instituted a shocking parking fee (half a month's take-home), taking it out of our paychecks, then decided I had to pay part and then one-half of my health insurance (both benefits had been free). They kept taking out and taking out. When anybody complained we couldn't live on our salaries and 1.5 or 2 percent raises the bosses told us to get a second job. I did. And a third job. At one time, with spouse unemployed, I worked seven separate jobs: webmaster, freelance webmaster, freelance editor, night school teacher, guest night-school teacher, freelance writer, and jewelry crafter. (The bosses asked me why I didn't show up at the department's evening events.) I diverted 16 percent of my day-job check into a 401K; wasn't nobody gonna do it for me. For three years I paid my dying spouse's health insurance at an extra cost of $4000 per year. Now I was really stuck with that job solely because of insurance. After 11 years the comptroller decided to downgrade my job and salary from Level 9 to Level 6. Finally in 2010 I was laid off with a nice severance so I wouldn't sue them for age discrimination, and right there in front of the two lead-bottomed bosses (who had a cellphone out on the table in case I got violent) I went into ecstasies. Being laid off was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I set up my own successful business, have an awesome regular freelance gig, teach online, have passive income from stuff I wrote years ago, and make much more money than when employed in a "job." My job is to stay in my cabin and write all day. I'm insured by Obamacare. I employ an accountant, a housekeeper, and a man who mows the lawn. Happy Labor Day. I'm working today because I love my work.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Life

Once in a while a sight moves me to the core for no reason and I take a photo and think, "My life. I've just captured my life." And so it was, with this vista of a wildly gorgeous August sky as a cool front drove storm clouds away from Ste. Genevieve, and my happy reminder reflected in the corner of the windshield. My life. . .is a highway. I grade it A. I've made it to the junction of 55. Ahead is open space, an open road (and full-grown corn). The sky's the limit. Things are always working out for me.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Pink Things You'll Find on the Ground in August

And they just left it there in the grocery's parking lot. . .
Laetiporus sulphureus (good mushroom to eat!)
"August is a September month"