my cat

Sharing Dan’s, the other Dan, not me, not my cat, cat story of survival. It’s s good story, and I owe him one after making a snarky comment over there, last week.


I’m not really a cat person , but I have a cat . Well , I’ve always had cats since I’ve known Ada . Ada is the cat person , apparently .  Show her a kitten and she’s a goner .

My cat’s name is Cosmo and she’s old and a little too fat and  she’s lazy . She doesn’t get that from me , I should say right off the bat , so you won’t get the wrong idea and come to egregiously erroneous conclusions .  It’s just a coincidence that the beast and I  share a few common traits . I used to have black hair like hers , too , by the way , and I was also never very enthusiastic about chasing rats , either . And we both like chicken .cosmo in box

Ada was in Europe several years ago when Cosmo was , for whatever reason…

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SoCS Ain’t Misbehaving

socs badge 2016-17Marian, over at Marian Allen dot com, recently wrote a post about when characters won’t behave. We were filled with empathy for her characters. Who are we? Well, we’re those ham-handed, as Dan is wont to say, voices which are confined all week because things have to written in an oh-so-special way. Things have to be easy to read, easy to understand. In fact, we’ve overheard that things should be written at an 8th grade or lower level. Pfft, you made it way past 8th grade, right? Thought so. Is this too hard for you to read? Thought so.

As a consequence of all these constraints: readability, politically correctness, light but not funny, facts not opinion – and no, no alternate facts, we don’t get to talk much. We like to ramble. We like to pull a thread and see where the thread goes. Not like the thread that is hanging off that button on your sweater, we all know where those go. Puk, puk, puk, puk, puk and button gone.

Then you pick it up and put it in that drawer where, 20 years later it’s settled next to the keys for that 1977 Dodge pickup. Taken out by the person looking for the tube of Super Glue that is a) in a different drawer, and b) dried out. The button will be examined and put back, ‘cuz you never know who put it there and what it’s from.

We’re more likely to follow the thread on the back of a tapestry. The kind where if you pull the red bit above the character on the right, the barn in the upper left starts to unwind.

Esther Holsen tapestry- front and back view

Esther Holsen tapestry- front and back view

Those threads are more interesting than the stuff you read in 8th grade. By the way, some of the stuff you read in 8th grade was written so a 4th grader could understand it. This is what’s wrong with the world, people want things dumbed down for them. This is why “newstainment”, yeah, that’s a thing, you can look it up, is so popular. We’d give you an example, but no doubt half of you would be offended. Dan made us promise not to offend anyone. Where’s the fun in that?

Anyway, if you look up ‘newstainment’ you’ll see articles that accuse every so-called news channel of focusing more on entertainment and pleasing their primary audience than facts and stuff. So – tip from the voices – look for an article that lampoons a network you don’t like and become more solidly convinced that you’ve made the right viewing choice.

Sorry if that offended anyone.

But, that is what people tend to do. They look for stuff that supports their existing viewpoint. That’s called, or at least it runs the risk of committing or perhaps it merely supports epistemic-closure. There’s a word you didn’t hear in 8th grade. Wanna know something? This isn’t the first time that term has been used in this blog. Check it out, we wrote about it way back in 2013. Here’ a link for that term, but beware, it’s Saturday and that link takes you to a page that says stuff like:

“…knowledge is closed under known deduction: if, while knowing p, S believes q because S knows that p entails q, then S knows q…”

See, don’t go there. And, if you want to be truly informed in these crazy times, don’t do the stuff that leads you to believe ‘q’ when you don’t know Jack about ‘q’.

Who is/was Jack? My mother used to say “I don’t know him from Adam.” When she was accused of knowing someone she didn’t know. Adam was Adam from Adam and Eve. That Adam. The original Adam, whom my mom did – not – know. I mean she’s old, but… But Jack? Jack isn’t even always a person.

Look up “you don’t know Jack” and you’ll find links to movies, online games and websites. If you think the answer lies there, you don’t know Jack about knowing Jack. ‘You don’t know Jack’ was an expression when we were young voices back in the 70s.

Oh no, we were supposed to talk about ham. Linda said:

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “ham.” Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!”

Hmmm, ham, ham, well, back in the 70s, we were living in Pittsburgh where they had Chipped Ham – oh that was good stuff.

Chipped ham was invented by Isalys. It was a really thin sliced lunch meat. So thin you kind of globbed it on a sandwich instead of laying out slices. Isalys also invented the Klondike.

We got out a lot more often when we were in Pittsburgh. Part of “maturing” was learning how to confine us in the corner. Anyway, back in the 70s, Jack, was the first part of ‘Jack sh*t’ which further emphasized how little you knew about something. Sometimes, it wasn’t even a something you didn’t know. “You don’t know  Jack Sh*t” was a saying all by itself.

If you want to know Jack; instead of newstainment, read stories from different points of view, analyze them, think about them, fact-check them and then decide for yourself which you believe.

Don’t think you know ‘q’ because you trust ‘S’ – For all you know, ‘S’ don’t know Jack about ‘q’.

We could continue down this road, but we’re getting dangerously close to offending someone. Dan doesn’t want that to happen, and Marian said something about using cattle prods to keep characters in line, so…

If the title reminds you of a song, here’s my favorite version: Sarah Vaughan: Ain’t Misbehavin’

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Thursday Doors – Barns in the Snow

Standing strong

Standing strong

I am still playing catch-up on blog reading and blog writing. In addition to the snow last Thursday and Friday, we had a heavy period of “wintry mix” on Sunday into Monday. Wintry mix is short for snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain, aka: heavy wet snow with a thick crust of ice. Kind of like crème brûlée.

While driving around in the wintry mix on Sunday, I spied a barn. I drive by this barn often, but something about the red barn against the fresh snow looked interesting to me. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about Thursday Doors, but more barns followed and, here we are.

Where, exactly is here? Each Thursday, Frosty Norm Frampton hosts a blog-a-poloosa of doors on a website up in the land of the midnight doors. OK, he’s only in Montreal, but that’s 327 miles (526 kilometers) north of me, and I was recently buried in snow.

If you want to join us, take a photo of a door, paint a picture of a door, write a story about a door or dream a little dream of doors. Then, hitch the huskies to your sled and mush your way north on the Internet to Frosty’s place. Check out his icy doors, click on the so-cold-he-turned-blue frog. Add your door and/or check out doors from all over the world. Some of this is a bit of an exaggeration, but there really are doors from all over the world.

You might recognize some of the barns in today’s gallery from earlier posts where I featured the tobacco barns that are common in this part of Connecticut. I won’t bore you with the details again today, but you can click here and / or here, if you want to know more about them.

Weather permitting, I’ll finish a post about some very special doors this weekend and this place will be back to normal next week. Thanks for visiting. Enjoy the doors, and I added a little surprise for you under the gallery.

In case you got a song stuck in your head during my description of Thursday Doors, here’s Mama Cass’ beautiful rendition of Dream a Little Dream of Me. This was also performed by Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald, and probably a few others. If you want to hear Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong perform the song, click here. Otherwise, maybe John will do a Battle of the Bands on this in the future. For now, my blog, my favorite.

Posted in New England Life, Photography, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , | 80 Comments

One-Liner Wednesday – Dessert

Several weeks ago, I was up near Boston for a couple of days. The second day ended with an event that included food, so the first night was the one where I get to do my travel-meal-thing. Which is, eat at the bar.

That’s always where I eat when I travel.

Table for one?” – no, not for me. And, no, that’s not the one-liner. I know, I see it too, that would make a good one. But that’s not it.

I’ve been to this hotel often enough to know some of the bartenders. We have a little back and forth about sports and traffic and weather. Weather was a big topic that night, because Boston was in experiencing some very nasty weather. Heavy rain, that was working hard on turning to snow, and high enough winds that later that night, I would be woken up by sleet smacking the windows.

I had some clam chowder, ‘cuz Boston and this hotel has really good clam chowder. The serve it with tiny little pieces of cornbread, excuse me, Mini Corn Muffins, that look like they were cooked in a Suzy-Bake Oven. Cornbread, in case you aren’t aware, should be served in a thick enough slice to stand up to somewhat firm – not fresh from the fridge – butter, without going to crumbs. These pieces muffins were too small to butter…which is sad.

After the chowder and a hunk of something with some grilled asparagus on the side, I was full.

Then this happened:

Do you want dessert?

No, I’m good.”

You sure? You want to look at the menu?

No, maybe if I hadn’t had the chowder, but I’m kinda full.”

OK, but we have cheesecake, carrot cake, Crème Brûlée, and ice cream…vanilla, chocolate and Baileys.”

Wait, did you say you have Baileys ice cream?

Yes, made fresh at a local dairy farm.”

How could I not try that?

The ice cream was the color of Baileys. It tasted like Baileys. It was sooooooo good. The consistency was somewhere between hard ice cream and soft-serve, and, despite being full, I ate – all – of – it.

Oh yeah, I'm eating this.

Oh yeah, I’m eating this.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday.

One Liner Wednesday

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Fire and Ice

The blue sky is almost gone.

The blue sky is almost gone.

Travel, work and weather kept me from writing much during the past week. Most of the posts that you read last week had been written and scheduled before I left for Florida. Days full of meetings and meals left little time for writing. I figured that I could catch up by the weekend, but 16″ (40.6cm) of snow on Thursday, followed by 3” overnight on Friday put an end to those plans.

I was able to steal a few minutes in Florida for some photos. In addition to the seabirds, I managed to sneak in the beginning of a sunset and the end of a sunrise.

So, instead of a normal Monday post (if there’s such a thing), I’ll leave you with some sunset photos (fire) and some photos from my days of clearing the driveway, sidewalk and yard (ice). I’ll circle back to those sunrise shots at some point.

I hope you enjoy the gallery. If all goes well, I’ll be back on schedule for One-Liner Wednesday. But, it’s snowing again. Who knows, I might even get close to one line.

Posted in Blogging, New England Life, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 98 Comments

At the Bar with The Google

Cheryl's Little Buddy

Cheryl’s Little Buddy

If we were having a beer, you’d be showing signs of an attitude.

“So, where were you this week?”

“Who are you, my wife?”

“Sorry, it’s just that, for a while there, you were getting to be a regular at least one night during the week. I was here Tuesday and Wednesday and you were nowhere to be found.”

“I was drinking at 33,000 feet. Besides, I don’t normally come on Tuesdays.”

“Why not?”

“Because Tuesday…”

“…Because Tuesday is my day off. He only comes on the days I’m working. He’s loyal like that.”

“I forgot you were off on Tuesday, Cheryl. I ended up just ordering some food to go; no fun without you guys.”

“Aw, thanks. What are you boys drinking today?”



“Coming right up.”

“Where were you flying on Tuesday?”

“I was coming home.”

“Please, don’t tell me; you were in Florida, weren’t you?”

“Yes, but don’t get all knotted. It’s not like I was at Disney World.”

“No, you were at a resort in…?”

“Let’s just say it was warm.”

“You have all the fun.”

“I’ve told you before. 48 hours on the ground for a series of business meetings. It’s fun, but it’s not a vacation.”

“I’m guessing it also wasn’t 17 degrees, was it?”   – 17°f (-8.3°c)

“No, it was closer to 80, but I was inside a lot.”

“Here you go boys. One glass of Meiomi and one Corona, brewed by bad hombres but served with love.”

“Thanks Cheryl. Did you know he was in Florida…again?”

“Yeah, he sent me a picture of a bird to identify.”

“He could google that?”

“Excuse me, I’m right here. Google’s pretty good, when you know what you’re looking for. It’s less good when you don’t have a clue.”

“Still, there are ways.”

“Isn’t one of the ways to ask other people. It’s not like we have consult The Google.”

“The Google?”

“Yeah, The Google. As if it’s the all-knowing Oracle.”

“This is pretty strange, coming from a geek like you. I would think you’d be happy to peck that bird’s attributes into a search page, instead of interacting with a human.”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

“So, let me get this straight, you prefer people to computers?”

“Some people.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Let’s see, he sent the picture to me. Did he send you a copy?”

“I don’t know anything about birds, Cheryl.”

“I’m sure that’s the only reason. You boys want any food.”

“All this talk about birds has me thinking about wings.”

“Barbeque with Parm-Pep?”


“And how about you?”

“I’m going to have the Calamari.”

“That comes with Cherry Peppers, you OK with that?”

“The hotter the better.

“So, this bird, you have pictures?”

“I do, and a video.”

“Oh boy – it’s my lucky day.”

“Hey, I have 15 videos…I’m only offering to show you one…just sayin.”

“Why don’t you just describe it? Why does everybody have to video everything? I think we’re losing out ability to communicate without devices.”

“You’re all over the map today. First you want me to google something instead of asking Cheryl, and now you want me to describe something rather than show it to you.”

“Some technology is useful. Some is overused.”

“OK, I can describe the bird, it looks like a Tern, but it’s black. The video shows a flock in flight. I can describe that to, but it might take a few minutes.”

“How long is the video?”

“22 seconds.”

“22 seconds? You can’t describe anything in 22 seconds. What kind of bird are we talking about? Is it some kind of Tern, like you said?”

“I think they’re Black Skimmers. Here are your wings, and your calamari. You want another round?”

“Yes, but perhaps my young friend will join me in a glass of Meiomi.”

“They were serving Meiomi at the hotel. I like it, but I don’t like the idea of wings and wine. I’ll stick with Corona.”


“What’s that, you want me to describe the birds?”

“Bring him a Corona, Cheryl, and shove a hunk of lime in it. Now, let’s see that video.”

First, a few photos:


Posted in If having a beer, Travel, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 65 Comments

Thursday Doors – Charles Sumner School

Charles Sumner School

Charles Sumner School

Shortly after attending a couple of business meetings in Washington, D.C. last summer, I posted a selection of random DC doors. I hinted in that post that I had other doors, but that I needed to research their story. One of the buildings that caught my eye has a very interesting, albeit somewhat incomplete history. The Charles Sumner School represents a point in this country’s history when we began to turn in the right direction. It also represents the beginning of an era that, in retrospect, would continue too long.

An act of Congress in 1862 required the education of black children in Washington, D.C.

For those readers outside the United State, I should mention the District of Columbia is our nation’s capital, but it is not one of the 50 US states. The US Congress was granted exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia in the US Constitution.

As for the school, it started life in in grand fashion. From Wikipedia:

The building was designed by prominent Washington architect Adolf Cluss, a task for which he would receive a design award at the 1873 Vienna Exposition.”

Congress, through federal agencies, maintained administrative control of the school for more than 10 years. In 1873, administrative control was turned over to local officials, but separate superintendents were appointed to administer schools that educated black and white children. This school educated elementary school children and eventually included high school students. At that time, the school was called Dunbar High School. The first high school students graduated in 1877.

Also in 1877, the school became the first teacher’s college for African Americans and was renamed Myrtilla Miner Normal School. The building also housed the offices for the Superintendent and Board of Trustees of the school system for black students.

All three sites that I checked about this building’s history skip forward about a hundred years and mention that by the 1980s, the building had fallen into disrepair. Although Washington, DC is home to many of our country’s most historic buildings, by the late 1900s the trend was turning to tear-down-and-replace, rather than restore buildings in poor condition.

Fortunately, Richard Hurlbut led a fundraising effort to raise $5 million to renovate the building. The building was then renamed the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives. The building also houses the District of Columbia Public School Archives. In addition, the building includes reading rooms, meeting spaces as well as the D.C. Women’s Hall of Fame and some exhibit space that is used by local artists.

As many of you know, one of my favorite sources of information is the National Registry of Historic Places. There are almost 600 sites in Washington, DC on the registry. The registry nomination form for the Sumner School doesn’t offer much more information than I had found elsewhere, but it does include several historic photos. Since these are public domain photos, I included them in a second gallery today.

Thursday Doors is a super fun weekly series administered by Superintendent Norm Frampton from his world headquarters in Canada. If you want to participate, all you need is a photo of a door, a drawing of a door, or a door you can tell a story about. Take the school bus up to Norm’s place. Check out his doors. Look for the blue frog thingie. Click that tadpole and off you go to a collection of doors from around the world. By the way, check back because Thursday Doors is open for contributions until noon Saturday.

Posted in History, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , | 55 Comments