DIGNITY. ALWAYS DIGNITY.


“Dignity. Always dignity,” said Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) in “Singin’ In The Rain.”


A perfect description of our lives. Yep. Dignity and nothing but. Dignity as the dogs attack our toes, leap gates, and laugh at our attempts at discipline.

“NO!” you say in your firmest voice.

“Bark, yap, chortle,” says Duke.

“Urk,” says Bonnie.

“Grumble,” comments The Duke.

We do not dignify, nor do we knight or enthrone in this household. But I did take a few pictures. Actually, there’s a story about the pictures.

I was looking through my cameras because I’ve got cameras hanging around which I haven’t used for years. A few are broken, but others were just unfortunate choices, discarded in favor of cameras take better photographs. This was one of those. An old Canon A something, I forget which.

That was long after they stopped making the good Canon A-series. That group ended in the 500s. My last good one was an A-530 (I think). After they started their “new batch,” the lens quality went way down. Everything went downhill.

So now, here I am holding a long unused Canon A. It needed four AA batteries. I put in the batteries. Stuck a chip in the holder. Took some pictures.

A camera that really works — very well indeed!

The pictures are good, but the camera was crap. The results were so grainy they looked as if they were taken through an old window screen. I realized that was why I gave up on that camera series. I saved the pictures, though — and dumped the camera. No one would want it and I doubt it would make it to a museum.

ONE JAPANESE TEA SET OVER THE LINE

Garry went to New York to help clean out his parents home on Long Island. He went with my explicit instructions: do not bring home anything. We have no room. NO ROOM. None. Anywhere. Not on the shelves, the cabinets, the tops of the bookcases. Nowhere.

He was pretty good about it. All he brought home was one lovely Japanese tea set. Five cups. I assume one was broken. Plus the teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer. Lovely. Dragon style, which is a favorite of mine.

Not long ago. I gave away a nearly identical tea set as a wedding present, but clearly I am supposed to have a Japanese tea set. It must be a genetic thing. This is not my first … or fifth … Japanese tea set. I have had antiques. New ones. Sets made for children. Many sets made in weird shapes which were surely never meant for the actual serving of tea.

I recognized that I could not escape this tea set. I rearranged the stuff in my glass chest and somehow managed to fit it in. I’m so glad there were only five cups. One more, and I would have been lost.

It’s a beautiful set. Made of the finest porcelain so lightweight it’s almost not there. Beautiful, but my problem is not a dearth of beautiful things. I have far too many beautiful things and I wish someone else wanted them. I’d happily give them away, including some rare, very old Chinese porcelain.

Does anyone need a lovely, handmade Japanese tea set? I’ve got an extra.

MY FAVORITE FAMILY ADVENTURE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Whenever the topic of traveling comes up, I will invariably go on and on about my all time favorite type of vacation – a drive through the canals of England. Not many people know that there is an extensive canal system that winds through the English countryside. The boats used on them are called Narrow Boats. They are large, steel houseboats, about seven feet wide (which is very narrow) and from 45-65 feet long. You drive the boats yourself and they can only go up to five miles per hour. It is a leisurely and relaxing vacation – or it can be.

In 1987, my family of four took a week-long canal trip with our close friends, the Millers, an English family of four. The kids were ages two (my daughter), six (their daughter), seven (my son) and eight (their son).

Our summary page for the trip

Our boat was 65 feet long, slept eight easily and had two dedicated bedrooms, a living area, eating area, kitchen and bathroom. It was surprisingly comfortable, even for eight people. The boat was driven, with a single tiller, from a small outside deck at the back of the very long-boat.

Our trip started inauspiciously. Our seven-year old son fell into the water just trying to get on the boat for the first time! Things improved for a while and we all enjoyed the beautiful scenery for the rest of the first day.

On the third day, our two-year old daughter ran in to where the rest of us were having breakfast and asked, “Why is it raining in the bedroom?” That set off alarms! Sure enough, water was pouring into the back bedroom, right where both families had stored their fabric suitcases. We had to make room wherever we could to dry out all the clothes that were soaked by this major leak.

We called the boat rental company and reported the problem. We had to pull over, in the middle of a field of cows, and wait for the repairman to come, by car, and fix the boat.

It was actually a lovely morning in a picturesque setting. Some of us took the bikes we had brought and rode along the path beside the canal. We also got up close and personal with some of the local cows. The kids were thrilled. The boys also played soccer in the cow’s field.

When we got underway again, we were heading to Birmingham, a city on our route. We were warned that the canal part of the city was not a safe or savory place to spend the night. We had to get through the large city and out the other side before dark.

We realized that we had reached the city when we started to see garbage and dead animals, including cats, floating in the water. It was getting dark. We began freaking out. We had to push on and hope to reach the city limits before we had to pull over (no lights, no night driving). We made it, with maybe a few minutes to spare. We were incredibly lucky and equally relieved.

Our next incident occurred when we stopped at a charming canal side pub for lunch. My ex husband, Larry, a lawyer, decided to call his office in New York City to check in. Big mistake. There had been a major crisis at work and Larry had to return to New York ASAP. We had to figure out how to get Larry from the middle of nowhere, back to London and onto a plane. That turned out to involve a taxi ride to a train, the train to a subway and the subway to Heathrow airport.

The rest of us had a wonderful afternoon exploring the ruins of an ancient Abbey in a beautiful woods.

Soccer in the ruins of the old abbey

One other aspect of this trip deserves mention. The locks. English locks have to be operated manually and take lots of time and effort. Everybody pitched in to master the 119 locks that we had to pass through over the course of the week. We had the kids ‘help’ and made it into a fun exercise. But 119 is a shitload of locks! We also had two ‘flights of locks’, which are numerous locks one right after the other with no space in between. We did as many as 43 locks in one day!

Near the end of the week the remaining Dad took the two boys on another bike ride. The four girls were left on the boat, tied, as usual, to a stake at the edge of the canal. I was washing dishes and looked out the window. I saw that the shore was farther away than it should have been. The rope tying us down had come loose and we were drifting into the canal.

The other mom waded into the water, got to shore and grabbed the rope. She tried to pull us back to shore. Instead, the boat pulled her into the water. The two little girls thought this was hysterical. We all ended up laughing as I also had to wade into the water to help my friend tie the boat down again.

Beautiful canal views

Most canal trips are far less eventful. I’ve spent three weeks on the canals since then, and had next to no problems. But despite our challenges, we all loved the 1987 vacation. We still remember it fondly and talk about it often, thirty years later. It was even brought up in a toast at the Miller daughter’s wedding! It is definitely a fun trip – also interesting, different, exciting, sometimes relaxing and, above all else, memorable!

NORMAL, NORMALIZING AND NORMALIZING NUTS – BY TOM CURLEY

Well, it’s been quite a week — don’t we say that every week? — and the words “unhinged” and “unprecedented” have been used even more than they were the week before.

And the week before that.

And the week before that.

A while ago, actually two weeks into this crazed mess called an administration, I wrote a blog called “We’re Getting Ahead of This Guy, But Where the Hell is He Going?” It pointed out that our “So Called President” is insane. Mentally ill. Off his rocker. A few fries short of a Happy Meal.

I pointed out that regardless of your political affiliation, you can’t have a President who is INSANE! When your Grandpa starts to show signs of dementia, you get him help. Maybe you have to put him in a home. BUT YOU DON’T MAKE HIM PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!

I said way back then, seven years ago (months are years in Trump-time), that the media had to start concentrating on this. Every day. Examine everything he says and does from the viewpoint of “This guy’s nuts.

He just proved it again.”

And this week, it finally happened. After the “campaign rally” SCROTUS held Tuesday night, August 22, 2017, I watched the media react in stunned shock. And then they all started talking about how this guy is seriously whacked.

They have also learned to call a lie, a lie. Not a “falsehood”. Not a “misrepresentation of the facts”. No, they called what he said exactly what it was. Lies. CNN covered the whole speech and then had a panel spend the next ten minutes or so talking about how this guy is insane. MSNBC only showed video of parts of the speech as pundit after pundit talked about how this guy has gone around the bend. They would bring the audio up now and then, listen for about 20 seconds and go “He’s not saying anything. And what he just said was a lie.” And then they’d go back to talking about how crazy he is.

There’s been lots of talk since this whack-job took office about “normalizing his behavior”. How we can’t let things like racism, misogyny, xenophobia and eating steak well done with ketchup become “normal”.

But here’s the thing. We are “normalizing” him. Just not in the way everybody thought. We are all recognizing he is insane and we are basically ignoring him. The world laughs at us and has started to stop paying any attention to anything he says.

Even leaders like Kim Jon Un are saying things like “Wow, I’m the sane one here. How insane is that?

He’s lost Congress. Even though it is controlled by his own party. He’s lost enough Senators to stop anything he might try to pass. Both houses voted by over 90% to stop him from lifting sanctions on Russia.  Republicans have introduced legislation protecting Robert Mueller’s special investigation. Stories leak every day from White House aides saying basically, “You think what he said today was insane? You have no idea what we stop him from saying every day!”. He’s being marginalized.

News reports are coming down  to this.

ANCHOR 1: In the news today, the President said something incredibly stupid and crazy.

ANCHOR 2: Yup. Moving on to sports …

EVIL SQUIRREL’S NEST STRIKES BACK! – RETRO NEST COMIC, JANUARY 29, 2015

You should be very familiar with my comic strip layout by now…. six panels laid out in a 3X2 grid.  It hasn’t changed since day one……. well, except for once.

Those of you who have been on WordPress for at least three years will undoubtedly remember the furor caused late in 2014 when WP decided to release its new “superior” editor that every blogger who wasn’t getting a kickback from our host company had very vocally decried as a piece of shit.  Nevertheless, with their very Orwellian powers over us, WordPress officially defaulted the post link over to the new editor in early 2015.  Most of us have long since found our own ways to circumvent this monstrosity and still use the old, classic, and still the best editor to do our daily writing…. making the new editor chapter in WP’s history almost a forgotten footnote again.

But in my attempt to be at my snarky, sarcastic best when it came to trashing WP’s ramming of this new editor down our throats… I came up with this comic which is still my most commented upon comic ever, and one of the most viewed strips on this blog!  This was Comic #144.

Beep beep boop …

Source: Retro Nest Comic – January 29, 2015