WINTER 2015 – THE TIME CAPSULE

Time Capsule – What would you put in this year’s time capsule to channel the essence of our current moment for future generations?


It would have to be an electrified, refrigerated time capsule because aside from the technical problem involved in keeping stuff frozen indefinitely, there’s but one possible answer, at least if you live around here.

Snow. Ice. More snow. More ice.

For your shivery pleasure, here’s a summary of the past 6 weeks:

SHOOTING DOGS (WITH A CAMERA)

I have a lot of good pictures of Nan. I have great pictures of Bishop. Both Nan and Bishop were show dogs and when they see a camera, they sit and give you their good side. If you try to take a picture of another dog, they will bomb the picture.

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Then there are Bonnie and Amber. Amber runs for the hills. Maybe you’ll get a shot of her butt as she disappears down the hall. Bonnie, on the other hand, is a tease and her timing is impeccable. She sits perfectly still. Waits. As my finger approaches the shutter, she springs into action.

For example, here is Bishop this morning:

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Elegant. A proud, handsome dog. Dignified, yet always ready for a bit of pizza crust … or watermelon. Next, we see my best picture of Bonnie. Same camera. Same light. Same five-minute period in the same room.

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What does she have against me and my cameras? I’m sure she does it on purpose. Want to see another one? The white streaks are snow in her beard.

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Obviously a far superior shot since you can tell it’s a dog. Probably.

You should see the ones I deleted.

SHARING MY WORLD – WEEK 9

Share Your World – 2015 Week #9

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? 

Somewhere between 17 and 1001. It depends on when you ask.

Are you left or right-handed? 

Absolutely right. Not even a hint of ambidextrousness. My mother was truly ambidextrous, but I didn’t inherit it. How useful it would be if I were.

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If you HAD to change your name, what would you change it to?

Maggie. My not-so-secret identity. I don’t think Maggie has a last name. She is just Maggie. Like Madonna or Cher. One name (to rule them all).

Where do you hide junk when people come over?

I don’t hide things. I put it all on shelves. I call it art. To me, it’s beautiful. If it were junk, it would be gone. I don’t save trash.

COMFORT FOOD – HOME FRIES

This ultimate comfort food has a variety of names. Cottage fries, home fries, onion fries. Breakfast fries. Whatever they’re called, it’s a way to use leftover potatoes and a staple of diner breakfasts.

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You can use leftover boiled potatoes if have some. You can even use canned potatoes in a pinch. Here’s the recipe. By nature, it is imprecise. And easy.

4 - 5 large, washed unpeeled potatoes, cubed
1 or 2 large onions, chopped
Salt
Paprika
Pepper
Garlic (chopped or powder)
Cumin or chili powder
Optional: 1 - 2 banana peppers (mildly hot Hungarian peppers)
Oil for frying.

All spices are "to taste."

You can use potatoes that are past their prime. Whether or not you peel them is up to you, but you do have to scrub them well, remove eyes and any suspicious spots. Cut them into bite-size pieces. Any shape will do, but it’s easier if the pieces are more or less the same size.

Boil the potatoes until they’re tender, but not mushy. Check after 5 minutes. Keep checking until a fork goes into the potatoes without difficulty. The smaller you cut them up, the faster they cook.

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While the potatoes are cooking, fry the garlic, onions, and peppers.  When the potatoes are ready, drain them, rinse with cold water. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Add them to the onion and pepper mix. Add spices. The paprika is for color. If you like things spicy (I do), you can use hot Hungarian paprika.

It’s done when you think it is, when it tastes the way you want it to taste, as browned as you like. Or, when the rest of the meal is ready. As long as you add oil as needed and don’t let them scorch, this dish will wait for you. Keep moving it around the pan with a spatula.

You can make more than you need. You can reheat leftovers or freeze them for one of those “I don’t feel like cooking” days. Great with eggs or any main course.

CARDINAL ON A SNOWY MORNING

Imitation/Flattery

Today’s Daily Post suggests I write about something — anything — in the style of my favorite blogger. (Be sure to link to them!) I don’t have a favorite blogger. I have a lot of favorite bloggers, each a favorite for a different reason. Some make me laugh, others make me think. Their work entertains and inspires me … but how could I imitate one of them?


I have been left pondering the conundrum. I love my blogging friends … but copy someone’s style? I don’t think I can. It’s not they aren’t great writers, but imitable style is something else again. A favorite author, maybe Hemingway with his short, sharp, sentences. He’s easy to parody. Poe. Faulkner. Joyce. Wolfe. Easy to make fun of them, but I’m sure parody is not the same as imitation. And surely it’s not flattery.

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What to do? Then, an epiphany. Many of my favorite bloggers don’t write, or at least, not much. They are photographers. By fortuitous circumstance, this very morning I spied a flash of red in the big forsythia bush. I ran for a camera, all the while thinking of Suzanne Rogers, who takes gorgeous pictures of wildlife around her home.

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She doesn’t use a lot of words, but posts amazing pictures — especially of birds. Other creatures also populate her world, but the birds seem to steal the show.

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So not so much in imitation of A Window Into the Woods, but more in acknowledgement of her beautiful work, I present (short drumroll) – Cardinal On A Snowy Morning.

CEE’S WHICH WAY PHOTO CHALLENGE, WEEK 9

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge: 2015 Week #9

Welcome everyone to Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge. This challenge subject is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, we move from one place to another on. You can walk on them, climb them, drive them, ride them, as long as the way is visible. Any angle of a bridge is acceptable as are any signs.

And this week’s entry … a gallery.

RUINED FOR THE REAL WORLD

I had been looking for a job that would let me flex my hours so Garry and I could spend time together. It was difficult. He worked terribly long hours, gone before the sun came up and not home until it was dark again. Ironic. Most people think reporters work “a few minutes a day” because that’s all they see on the news. Not true.

To get those few minutes of finished news on the air, they drag themselves through every kind of weather — blizzards, hurricanes, bitter cold, unbearable heat — and endless traffic, from one end of the state to another. They are often on the scene of the worst imaginable horrors before the first responders arrive.

And they have to look good while doing it. Without a break for lunch or even a bathroom. Someone once commented it’s like being in the army, just without the uniform.

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His days off were Wednesday and Thursday. That meant we had barely a few minutes after work to meet and greet each other. Everything else waited until vacation. By which time Garry was exhausted and needed two weeks of sleep to recuperate so he could go back to work again.

The good part of his job? He loved it. I think everyone in the news business is an adrenaline junkie. The thrill of getting the scoop, tracking down the story, coming up with a different angle on something every other station is also doing and sometimes, finding new information to crack open a case. Garry loved his work. He didn’t love every single moment of it, but he loved most of it, loved knowing he could make a difference, shine a light into a dark corner and fix something that had been broken.

When I married him, I married his work. No whining about him missing all the family events, never being around to help with the housework or the shopping. I knew from the get-go I’d be keeping his dinner warm for whenever he got home. That was the deal we made.

One day, I got a call. A major corporation was looking for a technical writer to create documents for various computer programs aimed at end-users. Entry-level stuff. For me, this was a piece of cake — with icing.

I went to the interview. Bad part? It was a part-time job, paying a retainer. I would be paid for 20 hours a week at $25 an hour, which was less than my usual rate. But it was a retainer. Freelancers know there’s nothing better than a retainer. I might work all 20 hours, or no hours. I would not be required to go into the office. Ever. I’d work from home or wherever I and my computer might be, including the back porch of the house on the Vineyard.

Although it was half the money I’d been earning, I could take free-lance gigs to make up the gap.

I took the job and never looked back. When I accepted it, I figured I’d be working most of the 20 hours. It turned out there wasn’t any work. Or almost none. Weeks and months went by. I would call to find out if maybe they’d forgotten me. Didn’t they want me to do something? No, everything is fine, they said. No problem. We’ll call you. Once in long while, they did call and for a few days, I worked. It was almost a relief. Even though it was writing I could do in my sleep.

For more than four years, I got a regular paycheck for which I did nothing much. I did other free-lance stuff here and there. I had to bring a laptop with me when I went on vacation, just in case. It was the dream job. I was getting paid and didn’t have to work.

One day, I picked up the Boston Globe and discovered the division for which I worked was being disbanded. Apparently someone noticed that no one in the department actually worked. So I called my boss, Anita.

“Anita,” I said. “I was reading the Globe this morning. Does this mean I have to look for a new job?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “We all do. But you’ve got three or four months, so you should be fine.” I couldn’t believe it. They were taking away the best job in the world. I was going to have to go to work, show up at an office. Stay there all day. What a horrible thought!

I went job hunting and found what would turn out to the best real job I ever had. The best colleagues and the greatest boss. But it was work. I had to think (a lot), learn (like getting a masters in advanced object linking in a couple of weeks), synthesize, design documents, write them. Back to meeting deadlines. Although my extended paid vacation had not lessened my skills. I was as good as ever, but never again would I feel comfortable in a 9 to 5 job.

Merely having to be in one place all those hours made me itchy. I got the job done — and done well — but I was ruined. No regular job felt right. Not until retirement would I find myself as happy as I had been during my retainer years.