Spwinter*

The first week of spring has come and gone. As have the last days of winter. I think. We hit 70 early on; it snowed Friday night. I was driving in it. Nothing major here, not like my friends out east, who’ve had more than enough of snow, just flurries. I was driving an unfamiliar car, though. My Friday evening wine tasting got a bit more interesting than it usually does. One of the regulars had a friend, who she sees only occasionally, pop in. We enjoyed the rest of the evening at the wine tasting – there was an amazing roasted cauliflower dish the chef had made; I have the recipe† – then while our mutual friend finished her shopping and went home, we went out to dinner. She was already a bit unsteady. How, I don’t know, unless she slammed four glasses when I wasn’t looking. Maybe she came in that way. The restaurant was just across the parking lot; Flipdaddy’s, which has burgers and craft beer. That made me a little sad since I don’t drink beer anymore. Something about the aftertaste. There was a lovely Sam Adams cream stout I tried a couple weeks ago, though. We had a Sam Adams‡ rep at our wine tasting, in observance of that great Irish holiday, St. Patrick’s Day◊. Our stand was poorly attended that week and the next, which I guessed might have to do with spring break, but the regulars still showed up. I’d like to say I’m the Norm of the group, but I’m not; I’m probably more like Cliff Claven, but less annoying. And more often correct.

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Spring 2014; hopefully these’ll be available in the next week or so.

Less than 200 words to derail! I’m a little impressed.

We went across the parking lot to Flipdaddy’s and had some food. I had a lovely burger with fried onion straws and boursin cheese, and she had a salad with ranch, which she shared with the bar. Not the people, the physical bar. Most of it got into her mouth, though. We also had some traditional hot wings. They were hot, but tolerable. I doubt I could eat more than three without something in between, but they actually had flavor, not just heat. It was nice. There was a man next to her who kept hitting on her, and she kept pestering him to buy us a drink. I had my Long Island and I was content. I’d be drinking water the rest of the night. I’d asked the bartender, and she’d said they were good. I took a chance and ordered. Well-mixed drink. Those are very easy to screw up. I’m not sure what she ordered, a beer I think. we’d reached critical mass – she was done for the evening. She did at least finish off with water, and didn’t order another drink. Not that the bartender would have served her. We had occasion to chat. Anyway, she was also aware enough to realize she was going to need help getting home. Apparently, she was a bit of a regular, and had someone who usually took her home. He wasn’t available, had to close, so we were looking at calling her a cab. Because of where she lives, that wasn’t really feasible. So, the bartender who made that fabulous Long Island volunteered to take her home, and I drove her Jeep. That was entertaining. The first thing I had to do was figure out how to get the clutch off the floor. Fortunately, one of the other bartenders used to have one and knew what to do. The headlights were on high-beam, and I couldn’t figure out how to turn them back to regular. Whatever, we were moving.

It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve owned an automatic transmission, thankfully, so I was able to adjust pretty quickly to driving this thing, but I was also grateful that the Kings Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership was so obnoxiously rude and disrespectful to me when I was last car shopping. I was ignored for a good ten minutes while the salesmen stood clustered near the dealership, then they sent me some kid who’d been working there for maybe a couple days. I was more than a little irate. If they had treated me better, though, I’d likely have bought a Wrangler, and while I’d have been very familiar with the workings of said vehicle, I’d probably have regretted that purchase in a matter of a couple years. Of course, being in Colorado, it would have been pretty easy to sell and replace, but I’ve no idea what would have happened if I’d done that just before I got laid off. I still have the car I bought at a dealership that no longer exists, and that saddens me. They had a reputation for respect. I didn’t get that slimy used-car-salesman vibe there. Pity.

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Rime frost, Colorado. This was gone by noon. It knew when it wasn’t wanted…

It sort of felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, although I did have a little more control. I was driving, so I should hope so. It had been snowing on and off all day, or at least since the middle of the day. Again, just flurries, and a bit of accumulation on my own car when I got back to it, but snow just the same. The bartender drove me back to the restaurant so I could drive myself home. I woke up Saturday morning extremely sore through the shoulders, to the point where the pain made me hyperventilate if I laid down a particular way. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain, so it was pretty severe. I still haven’t figured out what happened, other than another long, stressful week finally coming to an end. I tend to carry my stress in my shoulders, as many people do.

It wasn’t all bad, last week. Thursday morning I had a (verbal) communication seminar I attended. I thought it would be useful, so, even though it’s hard to find an hour to do something I want to do (Toastmasters), I signed up. It turned out to be a great idea. I hope, anyway. Aside from the class itself, which I thought was helpful, I had the director of one of the departments I’ve been trying to get into at my table. She’s out of the office next week, but we’re having lunch the week of the 13th. I’m both nervous and excited. Thursday ended on a high note. For me, anyway.

Literally; my choir rehearsal is on Thursdays, and I’m a soprano♥.

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Early spring blooms, surviving a late frost in April 2013

These major weather shifts bring something to mind. Now, lots of people like to say that if you don’t like the weather here, wait a few minutes and it’ll change. As it happens, one group did some research about that. It turns out that as cities in general go, the Midwest♠ has the most unpredictable weather, particularly,  unsurprisingly, the Great Plains. It’s not a matter of who has the most violent weather, or the fiercest snowstorms or hottest summers, either. Phoenix has hot summers, but they’re consistently hot. Buffalo has heavy snow, but it’s consistently heavy. I would mention consistent tornadoes, but those are capricious; they can be a bit unpredictable. Fits well within the rankings.

The long and the short of it is among the 50 most-populated metro areas in the US, Cincinnati ranks 4th for unpredictability. Higher than Denver, which didn’t even crack the top 10. Overall, it’s also higher than Colorado Springs, so there. As I’ve mentioned, I lived both places; as weird as the weather in CS can get, it is worse here. Sure, not by much, but that’s beside the point. Spring is here, the weather is volatile, there’s more sun and more warmth, the plants in the soil are waking up, and so am I. It’s been a long week; I went dark for a while, there, at least a week without Facebook or Twitter. I just didn’t want anything to do with it. I suppose that could’ve been obvious in the last few posts I’ve made.

Still, it’s spring. Time to wake up, time to start over.

There was someone for whom Thursday didn’t end well at all. Fire Apparatus Operator Daryl Gordon died in the line of duty on Thursday, saving lives. He fell down an elevator shaft and didn’t recover. The fire was in an apartment building a couple miles from here. By 5:45, when I was up, I heard the sirens. I’m two blocks from my neighborhood firestation, and I daresay theirs were the sirens that woke me. The wind was blowing from the wrong direction, so I didn’t smell anything. Four-alarm fire in the end. And one firefighter fallen. I have friends who are first-responders, whose lives are on the line every time they go to work. Whenever something like this happens, I can’t help but think of them, and hope and pray they get to retire.

CFD Daryl Gordon lineofduty attr

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*Not to be confused with S’winter. Or wummer, if you’d prefer.

†When I say “recipe,” I mean an ingredient list and temperature to put the oven. She asked if I wanted measurements, but I said no. She agreed – recipes are only guidelines. Except when yeast is involved, then you really have to pay attention.

‡Sam Adams beer might have been born in Boston, but one of the founders was born in Cincinnati. He’s opened a brewery or two here, and bought Hudepohl back in ’97; probably helped save it. His father had apprenticed for them. It’s Cincinnati-owned again.

◊What we celebrate here in the US is about as Irish as something that’s really not at all Irish and a bit offensive. Drink up!

♥Like I could have passed that one up!

♠The broadest possible definition of Midwest, encompassing the area between Pennsylvania and Utah, Oklahoma and Canada. It overs three timezones. Probably needs a better designation.

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Just About

Sunday again. I had plans for the day. Church in the morning, laundry in the afternoon. I washed my hair instead. Of laundry, not church. Singing keeps me sane, so that, I make sure I do. Another week at work best left unspoken. Wednesday I had a hair appointment – gotta cover those grays* – but that was about as exciting as it got. Yesterday, I got my brakes repaired. I’ve had that car since 2001; I figured by now, I probably needed them taken care of. It had been mentioned to me a few years ago, but I didn’t have the funds to do anything about it. I do now, so I did. Not going to be replacing my car any time soon (thanks, student loans), so I have to keep it running. Next thing you know, I’ll get my oil changed more often than once a year. I still haven’t driven it 100,000 miles, by the way. Apparently, wherever I go, it’s not very far from where I am.

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Another from a couple weeks ago. Shot this one blind, as it were.

While I waited for my car to get looked at, then repaired, I issued myself a challenge; I challenged myself to find something interesting along the stretch of road where I was, something interesting to photograph. There are no homes right there, nor are there factories. There are stores and restaurants, urgent care facilities and power lines. Lots of power lines.

I thought about other things to write about, much like last week, but I didn’t really dig into them much. On CBS Sunday Morning today, they did a story about Bela Fleck and his banjo playing. It reminded me that the banjo was inspired by an African instrument, which they mentioned a little later in the article. It reminded me about some of the way speople shoot themselves in the foot, ignoring experiences because it’s just not done in their tiny world. I was ready to rant on that for a bit, but it was going to be nothing but a rant, not productive, probably make me angry. Much like the special I started watching on hurricane Katrina on Saturday. I watched Mockingjay On Demand instead. I have until 7 tomorrow night to re-watch. Probably will, since Once Upon a Time has jumped the shark. Cruella deVille, Ursula the sea witch and Maleficent? Really? Fire up the speed boat and don’t forget your water skis.

Not as warm today, but still lovely, I drove around with the top down. The sun was out. I think it was in the mid-40s about then. As I’ve said many a time, that’s what heaters are for. All my rants melted away, so I’m left with a post and no burning need to write anything. Whenever that happens, I default to photos. So, a few from yesterday, experimenting with a place only a mother could love.

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Fallen hydrant on the side of the road.

 

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Contradiction

 

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Number, please.

 

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Turkey vulture between the lines

Have a good week!

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*For years, I didn’t color. I was fine with the silver strands coming in. They’d been coming in since I was 15, so they were familiar to me. Still, they started to multiply, and not in any sort of pattern. So, they’re gone now. Besides, it’s one evening of pampering and wine.†

†The wine is secondary, just like it is on Fridays when I go to the wine tasting at the grocery store. Then, though, rather than the pampering, it’s about the company and the food.

I Ate’nt Dead

Not easy to learn, the Haydn, but so worth it.
Not easy to learn, the Haydn, but so worth it.

Last weekend was busy. My choir had our Lenten concert on Sunday afternoon, a church service that morning, and a dress rehearsal on Saturday. After a long week at work, and a rough moment or two recognizing the 10th anniversary of my mother’s passing, I didn’t have energy for much else. Throw in the time change, the loss of an hour, and it was all I could do to function. It went well, I think, our performance. The audience leapt to their feet at the end, different from the usual reaction of the few who stand up for every performance, and everyone else eventually rising. The soloists were, of course, spectacular, as was the orchestra. The audience was a bit sparse, but I think part of that might have been the time change, part the weather. It was lovely outside, sunny and warm; I didn’t put on my jacket when I left, and I drove with the top down, of course. It was probably not above 50 degrees (10 C), and a little breezy, but that’s what heaters are for.

I have a few things rolling around in my head right now; I’m afraid a decent segue is out of the question today. Shall we press on?

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Near the end of the daylight at Ault Park, March 11, 2015

Meteorological spring has sprung, as of March 1st. It rained. Well, it’s spring; I’m definitely not complaining. This past Wednesday, I left work after a particularly stressful day and grabbed my camera. It was nearing sunset, and I wanted to get something showing that spring was on its way. I considered areas where there might be new life springing forth. There’s a shrub or tree outside the door at work that’s been pushing forward new branches for a few weeks now. There’s even a leaf on one of them. But it’s dark, and it’s limited, and I wanted something more. I thought of going to one of my favorite spots – reminding myself that there are SEVERAL places just on this side of town I could explore – but I saw the sun sinking and made a last-minute decision. I headed to another of my favorite spots, Ault Park. It was close. I spent a good two hours there, I think, just shooting, decompressing, working on becoming whole once more. I played with the light, which is what you do with a camera, and I think I came up with some interesting things. That wasn’t the point, though; I was relaxed, as though I’d just had a steamy hot bath and massage. The winter had been long, cold, unpleasant, and near the end, full of snow. I’d gone out for fun once in November, once in January, and once in February. That’s all. It’s not enough. I’d planned to go out today, see what I could get of the Ohio river above flood stage, but I got caught up in other things instead. It’ll flood again, that’s what it does. Hopefully not that badly; it seems the vast majority affected this time are the ones usually affected, which still sucks, but it’s not that odd. It’s not 1937, after all. Or even 1997.

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Pavilion pillar at Ault Park

I have notes about what I wanted to cover – zero-tolerance policies, the impending season, fatigue, and late bloomers (more in-depth than above). As I said, much rolling around in my head. And yet…

I was stalling. Terry Pratchett passed away this past† Thursday. Completely unmentioned in the US media, all over British media and my Facebook newsfeed. Yeah, my friends have excellent taste. See, I knew, as did most fans, that Sir Terry was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease, and that it was just a matter of time. Still, it was no less shocking when he did pass. I discovered him in 1997, I think, when, after years of reading Piers Anthony’s Xanth books, I was ready for something else. I’d heard of him, of course, just hadn’t gotten around to reading anything. I didn’t pick up the very first book, it wasn’t available. Instead, I picked up the first book I could find, which I think was Lords and Ladies*, featuring witches and wizards and elves and rude earthworks. And I read. Before I even finished reading it, I bought all the books I could find, and afford. Some months I could only get two, thanks to bills and low pay. There were gaps that took years to fill. I think I literally squealed when I saw the first three books for sale, and at a special price of $3.99. The new publisher was looking to get people interested again, and probably figured out the lack of early books was hampering them just a bit. Discworld doesn’t necessarily have to be read in order, but it can help with some of the stories. I’ve had to replace two of them so far, because I’ve read them so often. I usually start the series once a year. I haunt bookstores looking for a paperback° that I haven’t gotten yet, and snatch it up on the spot. They’re not that easy to come by, you know.

But see, he didn’t just write about Discworld; that was only his most famous stuff. I also read Good Omens, which is about the Apocalypse. Well, the attempted Apocalypse, anyway. If you’re easily offended, move on; if not, though, if you like a good bit of (religious) satire, I highly recommend it. As with his other stories, it is at once funny, touching, and deep. It makes me think, still, as many times as I’ve read it. A master of the written word, and I do not say that lightly, everything he wrote makes me think, even as it makes me laugh, or cry.¤

So once again, my world is saddened by yet another light snuffed.
Terry Pratchett - TheAustralian Ripples Quote

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†For the grammatically challenged, I will point out that there are indeed words that sound similar but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Passed and past are no more the same word than they’re, their, or there are.
Okay, I feel better now.

*It might have been Masquerade, too. It was nearly 20 years ago, give me a break!

°Here’s the thing – the first books I bought were all paperbacks, and there was no chance whatsoever of getting them in hardcover. I can’t very well have part of a series in paperback and part in hardcover, now can I? Unless it’s a book signing; then I have two copies, a signed hardcover, and a reading paperback. Which reminds me, I still have two Hollows books to get.

¤Collections of quotes, from his book, and his own mouth.
The Telegraph – 50 Best Quotes
Buzzfeed from 2013 – 26 Quotes
BBC America – 30 Quotes