Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today, Anna and I have been married for nineteen years!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center

Today I went out for a little drive. At about 1:00 I sent Anna this picture and text:

I'm at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center. Man, this place is great! Why have I never come here before?

A few minutes later I sent her this:

There's a dinosaur on the roof! 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thirty Years Ago

Today is an important anniversary for me: It was exactly thirty years ago, on June 4, 1990, that I started working as an Associate Course Developer at ExecuTrain Corporation, my first "real" job out of college.

This is me back then (not actually on my first day, but after I'd worked there about five months--the Far Side calendar behind me is on the November 1990 page), sitting in my office by my IBM PS/2 computer:

I worked there for ten and a half years, from the time I was 23 until I was 33, and loved...well, not actually every minute, but many of them. In a lot of ways it was the best job I ever had.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Bee Tanka

The side of our yard
Is buzzing with springtime life
And I am grateful
For these bees, and for this tree;
For all this wonderful world.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Jessica's Photo of Haley

Jessica texted this picture to me. I think it's pretty great. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Vines Gardens Walk

This afternoon Anna and Elyse and I went to Vines Gardens. These are the pictures I texted to Jessica while we were there:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Jessica's New Painting

Jessica painted this last night and this morning. Isn't it beautiful?

It's adorning our dining room wall now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Breaking News

(Elyse made this on her phone this morning.)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Cat nap on the hearth: A Haiku

Cat nap on the hearth
In the post-thunder storm calm--
And so this day ends.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Squirrel-proof feeder breach: A Tanka

Squirrel-proof feeder breach--
Greedy baby squirrel, stealing
From the chickadees:
Gorge like that today, you'll be
Too big to gorge tomorrow!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Ginormous roses: A Haiku

Ginormous roses
Outside my office window--
I keep the shades drawn

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Young peach-munching squirrel: A Haiku

Young peach-munching squirrel
Through the living room window--
A sure sign of spring

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Driveway chalk drawing: A Haiku

Driveway chalk drawing
This sunny spring afternoon--
Weekend diversion

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cats at the window: A Haiku

Cats at the window,
Hopeful that a bird will come--
Spring feline ennui

Monday, April 27, 2020

Backyard Tanka

Chipmunk and rabbit, 
Two of our favorite wild friends,
Dining on the seeds
Spilled for that very purpose
By the considerate birds.

* * *

If I'm honest and step out of the faux Beatrix Potter/A.A. Milne/Kenneth Grahame role I've assumed here, I must admit that the rabbit wasn't actually eating, she was taking a bath. She was right under our living room window, almost under the bird feeder, and Elyse and I watched her for several minutes, talking about how she was cleaning herself just like the cats.

The chipmunk really was eating, though.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Shelter-in-Place Haiku

Roses peeking in--
Even flowers have noticed
We no longer leave.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Shelter-In-Place Tanka

Sheltering in place
With a ten-year-old baker--
Now the worst news comes, 
Not from CNN or Fox,
But from the dang bathroom scales.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Shelter-In-Place Tanka

Friday afternoon
Out for a neighborhood walk--
Anna is working,
Kids are "Digital Learning"--
But I now have some free time.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

My Birthday and Easter

Today was both my birthday and Easter Sunday. This is, in fact, the third time when Easter has fallen on my birthday (or vice versa, depending on how you view it). (Also, for whatever it's worth, it won't happen again during my lifetime, unless I live until the year 2093, though Easter will be the day after my birthday a couple of times when I'm in my 60s.)

It was also a day when, because of the shelter-in-place orders still in effect and the coronavirus-quarantine recommendations, we couldn't go anywhere (or at least really needed to choose not to go anywhere), which made it (as Winnie-the-Pooh would put it) a bothering sort of day. But what really made it a Very Good Day was the beautiful Easter/birthday cake Elyse and Jessica and Anna made for me:

They used as their model this cake, which I wrote about a few weeks ago:

Later in the afternoon, Anna lay down on the sofa and was joined by the cats:

Shortly before we were planning on having supper, our electricity went out and the Georgia Power app showed an estimate of two hours before it would come back on:

(It's hard to tell from the picture, but they are coloring by the window light.)

As if that wasn't bad enough, only minutes before my birthday pizza was supposed to be delivered, the pizza place called to say their ovens were broken and they couldn't finish my pizza.

Like I said, a bothering sort of day.

(However, the electricity did come back on after only one hour instead of two, which was a nice surprise. I ended up having a plain old sandwich for supper.)

Friday, April 3, 2020

Two Reports from a Walk at Vines Gardens During the COVID-19 Crisis

Out for exercise
but the number of people
here at Vines make this
no less anxiety filled
than a visit to Walmart

No haiku, no tanka, just gnomes at Vines Gardens:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Nearly Everything That Was Wonderful About My Youth

This picture, from one of our family vacations to Florida around (I'm guessing) 1978, illustrates nearly everything that was wonderful about my youth:

First of all, we're in Florida, and among my most treasured memories are those of our annual family vacations. And, as you can see, Jeff and I are playing miniature golf--you probably can't read it, but the oval sign at the left edge of the frame says, "No. 9  - Woolly Mammoth - Par 2." Was there, for a young boy in the 1970s, any place cooler than a miniature golf course with statues of dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures and monsters of various kinds? (The answer is No, no place cooler--though admittedly quite a few places equally cool; many of them also happened to be in Florida.)

If you look closely, you can see that Jeff and I are wearing Star Trek and Star Wars shirts. Jeff's shirt has a picture of Chewbacca on it; mine features the star ship Enterprise. There was nothing more wonderful back then, nothing more wonder-filled and pure, than the love of an eight or ten or twelve year old boy for Star Trek and Star Wars. (Equally wonderful, though, I will admit, was the obsession we had back then for the collection of Micronauts and Shogun warriors that we were amassing at home...but that's another story.)

Most important, though, is the fact that somebody took this picture. Somebody cared enough to preserve this moment on film so that more than forty years after the fact I can appreciate it. Somebody loved us enough to have bought us Star Trek and Star Wars shirts, enough to take us to Florida, enough to pay our admission to the miniature golf place.

And that is the most wonderful thing of all.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Elyse's Bedroom Tree

Over the weekend, Elyse, with some help from her mother, painted a tree on her already well-decorated bedroom wall, and this afternoon she wanted to set up the camera with the remote shutter release so she could take some pictures of herself with the new tree. Here are four of the pictures she took:

She managed to perfectly time a picture of herself holding Hale-Bopp so you can't tell how much Haley hates to be picked up and held:

This is her with her bonsai tree, Myrtle the myrtle:

(Elyse took all of these pictures--and also did her own makeup, I'm pretty sure--but I did some cropping and other adjustments to the pictures before posting them.)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Decorated Cakes

It's a pretty wonderful thing to be a kid in the mid-1970s with a mother who can make cakes like this:

(As I write this, Easter 2020 is less than three weeks away, though the wisdom of the usual Easter festivities right now seems in doubt, given the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing and stay-at-home orders with which we've been living for the past couple of weeks. Maybe I can convince Anna and the girls to recreate the above cake for us this year anyway.)

Mom took a cake decorating class sometime around (I'm guessing) 1975, I think at Sears of all places. Maybe it wasn't Sears; that doesn't matter, what matters is that I remember being amazed that my mother could make these beautiful cakes, which in my memory she was doing almost constantly, for every occasion, such as the one above, which must have been an Easter cake, probably around 1976, and this one:

If you can't tell, it's a Scooby-Doo cake, and must have been for Jeff's birthday, which apparently we celebrated (at least in part) at my grandmother's house in Tucker (where this picture was taken). (And oh how I wish I could remove my ridiculous grinning self from this picture, but I don't want to misrepresent my past, and plus also I remember the navy winter coat I'm wearing here, with its fur-lined hood, with an indefensible fondness. One year I wore it as my Trick-or-Treating costume; I zipped it all the way up and said I was an Eskimo. But I digress...)

Until I found the picture below, I remembered this one as a Scooby-Doo cake; I must have been conflating it in my mind with the one above. I remember Mom meticulously decorating Yogi Bear with frosting stars applied with a piping bag and tip:

I'm happy that my daughters continue the baking tradition. In fact, after I click Publish on this post, I'm going to eat a piece of the Oeey-Gooey Butter Cake that Elyse made for us tonight. It's not decorated, but I'm excited about it nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Thirty Years Ago Today

Thirty years ago today I officially graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in English from Georgia State University:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sunday with Peanuts

(Click to enlarge)

This "Peanuts" strip, from Sunday, May 15, 1966, perfectly illustrates the complexity and unflinching truth-telling for which I love "Peanuts" so much: Charlie Brown's anxiety and disappointment and anger, Linus's wisdom, and the actuality that shows us that Linus's self-help-book advice, good-intentioned and genuinely insightful though it may be, is no match for the Harsh Verities of Life.

"...a difficult moment to treasure," indeed.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Chestnut Grove Baptist Church Cemetery

Today Jessica and I went out to take pictures. Since the current coronavirus-avoidance recommendations say it's a really bad idea to go to anyplace where we're likely to encounter lots of other people, I chose a spot that seemed almost certain to be deserted, but also likely to be visually interesting: a cemetery. (The fact that we enjoyed our time walking around and shooting in the cemetery in Pembroke last month also figure into this decision.)

(And actually it wasn't deserted, not strictly speaking: in the time that we were there, three or four vehicles came through with individuals or families to visit graves, deliver flowers, and so on, and there was also a woman who appeared to be walking the cemetery's paths for exercise. Still, we were at least six feet away from them--more like 60 or 600 feet away, actually--at all times, and nobody sneezed or coughed on us.)

The cemetery I picked, Chestnut Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, is less than four miles from our house; I've driven by it hundreds of times and barely even noticed it. Here's a picture of one of our first views of the cemetery, from the church parking lot:

Jessica in her typical pose, taking pictures:

The church in the distance:

(The flag on the right side of the frame near the top is across the street, at a used-car lot.)  

Jessica righting a vase of plastic flowers (which she does a lot in these places):

Come Ye Blessed

J.M. Head
Sept. 11, 1829
May 9, 1910

May he find joy in the 
life everlasting.
An honest man is the
noblest work of God.

Aunt Jane Ford
Born Nov. 23, 1827
Died Sept. 18, 1901
Mother to
the Motherless

How I usually see Jessica:

One of our last views of the cemetery, just before we left: