Sunday, October 28, 2012

On the road again . . .

Man, I've been traveling so much lately, I might as well be a rock star. Last Saturday, Mike and Jeannie went to a picnic in Tampa and took me with them. It was a birthday party barbecue for M's high school class, and I finally got to meet some of his friends who have been long-time readers of my blog. We had our camera with us, but for some reason didn't take any pictures. Not one! (Don't blame me for this lapse. It's impossible to work a camera when you don't have opposable thumbs. It's hard enough just typing this blog!)

The people who organized the picnic made Mike wear this name tag, which supposedly has his picture on it. Well, trust me, this looks nothing like M. In fact, none of the pictures I saw came close to resembling the people who were wearing them.

But the food was great, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Then yesterday, we went on an even longer trip, though it was still crammed into one day. We went to a family reunion where I met more of my blog readers. It was at a house way out in the country, near a city called Valdosta. That's in a whole different state, about a four-hour drive from where I live. Just as at the picnic, there was lots of food, and it was delicious!

This time M made sure to take plenty of pictures, and I will share some of them with you.

For starters, this was also a birthday party--not for Mike and his high school chums, but for three of our relatives who were all born in October. The first was M and his sister Julia's Aunt/Cousin Hazel, whose birthday was October 3rd and whom we honored a couple of weeks ago with a special blog post called "Two Relatives in One."

The next birthday girl was my Auntie Julia, herself, whose birthday was actually yesterday, the day of the reunion. A couple of years ago on October 27th, we posted a link to a nice Beatles song for her. It's worth listening to if you have three minutes to spare, so here is that link again.

The third honoree is a birthday boy, Mike and Julia's Uncle Chuck, who is the second of Grandpa George's two brothers--the one who didn't marry Aunt/Cousin Hazel, the event that created that "Two Relatives in One" situation. (Confused? Me, too, though I'm making progress!) Anyway, Uncle Chuck's birthday is tomorrow.

M says that at some point in his teens (either late junior high school or early senior high school, he's not sure which because he's developing a medical condition called CRS), he took piano lessons from Chuck, and that it was Chuck whose playing of Beethoven's sonatas inspired him to get interested in what was then called "longhair" music. (He says that this was before the Beatles and the Rolling Stones changed the musical landscape, tonsorially speaking.) At the reunion, M asked Chuck if he was still making music and Chuck said no, he'd had to give that up because he can't hear so well anymore. M reminded him that neither could Beethoven, but it didn't stop him. (I'll have to remember to fact-check all this, because M could be pumping sunshine up my overalls. That's something he's been known to do.)

Here's a picture M took of Aunt Sylvia (our reunion hostess, who is Uncle Chuck's baby sister and also a very talented pianist) presenting a birthday cake to Aunt/Cousin Hazel, Auntie Julia, and Uncle Chuck. The cake has just three candles on it, so as not to create a fire hazard, and I believe the three honorees were finally able to blow them all out.

While I'm at it, I should also introduce Sylvia's husband, Don, our other gracious host:

Don seems like a nice guy, except I didn't like it when he tried to show me his pet wolf.

I didn't want to have anything to do with that critter, not even when it was Jeannie dragging me up to him:

It's not that I was afraid of the wolf. It's just that I couldn't imagine what he'd done that got him turned into stone, or plaster, or whatever. Anyway, moving right along . . .

"Is this a dagger which I see before me . . . ?"

M said that if I introduced this picture of Auntie Julia and Jan with the above quote, some readers might think it was pretty clever and conclude that I'm a brighter-than-average dog. I didn't know what the heck he was talking about. So I did some quick Googling and found that it's a line from a play called  Macbeth, which was written by William Shakespeare. But then I did some more Googling and learned that the line is spoken by a man (Macbeth) and not a woman, and that anyway, in Shakespeare's day ALL of the parts, even the lady parts, were played by men. When I pointed out this discrepancy to M, noting that Julia and Jan are females, he said that's part of the joke and as long as I'm Googling I should look up "irony." Whatever.

At some point toward the end of the reunion, someone suggested we should all go out onto Sylvia and Don's big front porch and have a group picture taken. So out we went, but after everyone was situated, this was all I could see:

I think the best group shot was probably this one that Mike took:

We left around five o'clock for the four-hour drive home. I slept most of the way, but each time I woke up I noticed that it was getting darker. Right at sunset, we were coming down Interstate 75, crossing a place that M says is called "Payne's Prairie," named for a Seminole Indian chief who used to live in the area. Jeannie was driving. M looked out of his side window and noticed a straight cloud line that he thought was the trailing edge of a cold front that had moved through northern Florida that afternoon. He turned the flash off on his camera, so it wouldn't glare in the window, and started taking pictures. Here are a few of the results:

Even though it doesn't show the front as well, I tend to like this one. It reminds me of a dream I once had:

That's about it for me, from here, for now. See y'all down the road!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Romney passes more gaffe . . .

Apparently the Republican presidential candidate fouled the air again a couple of nights ago with a statement that Mike says isn't apt to pose a long-term threat to "Ask not what your country can do for you . . ." or "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." What Mitt Romney said was something about a number of ladies' groups having provided him with "whole binders full of women."

M thinks that in a perfect world, Mitt would have (a) realized that he'd said something that sounded borderline Martian, (b) used his rapier wit to laugh the incident off, and then (c) led the puzzled crowd in a patriotic song:

"Did I say binders? Please excuse my rented lips! What I meant, of course, was handcuffs, shackles, chastity belts, and straitjackets. But seriously folks, Oh beautiful for spacious skies . . ."

Or perhaps a little play on words would have sufficed:

Or he could even have killed two birds with one stone by posing a riddle that reached out to the Latino community (which Mitt has sometimes been overheard wishing he belonged to, as it would make the job of getting elected President a lot easier). Maybe something like this would have saved the moment and picked up a few Hispanic votes: "Hey, here's a good one. What do you get when you cross that crazy thing I just said with a commercial for Mexican beer?"

Of course he might need to lose the "beer" reference on religious grounds, which would weaken the joke considerably.

On the other hand, Mike says that calling Dos Equis a Mexican beer is a bit of a stretch anymore, since the Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma Brewery, of Monterrey, is now owned by Heinekin International, headquartered in Amsterdam. M says he wonders how many Dutch brewing jobs got "shipped to Mexico" as a result of that little transaction. I'm sensing a blog post for another day . . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Through the window I can see . . .

. . . Arlo looking back at me.

Okay, it's not me and it's not Arlo. But it sure comes close!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Evil Twins?

Mike says that one of these bad motor scooters is running for Vice President, but I can't remember which:

I think it might be this one:

13th-Century Thinker in a Pinstripe Suit

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Two Relatives In One!

Last week Mike's Aunt Hazel celebrated her 90th birthday! We wish we could make it up to north Georgia this weekend to join in the official festivities, mainly because we love her to bits, but also because she knows how to party, as this picture from last year makes abundantly clear:

Mike says Aunt Hazel is unique in our family because of what you might call "dual citizenship": Her official nomenclature to Mike and his sister, my Auntie Julia, is "Aunt/Cousin Hazel," as she was their mom's (my Grandma Grace's) first cousin AND they were also sisters-in-law. They were first cousins because Grandma Grace's mother and Aunt/Cousin Hazel's father were sister and brother. They were sisters-in-law because they married a pair of brothers, George and Bob. (George, of course, was Mike's dad--my Grandpa George. And if some British guy in a pub ever told Mike or Julia, "Bob's yer uncle, innit?"--well, by golly, he was right!) What all this boils down to is that Hazel, the birthday girl, is Mike and Julia's aunt as well as their first cousin once removed. And as Mike likes to add for effect, "I'm my own Grandpa."

(Are you getting this? Remind me to tell you sometime about how Mike's real Grandpa, George and Bob's father, once had a sister-in-law who later became his mother-in-law. I've seen feral cat families with less confusing relationships!)

Here's a nice picture of Aunt/Cousin Hazel with her husband, Bob:

And one of Cousins Grace and Hazel from a reunion several years ago:

We wish Aunt/Cousin Hazel a very happy birthday and look forward to seeing her at this year's reunion, later this month!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The world is so full of a number of things...

. . . and some of the weirdest are found in my neighborhood!

Yesterday when Mike and I went for our morning walk, he took his camera along. He doesn't usually bring it, and just the day before, he was grumbling because he'd missed a chance to get some pictures of a raccoon that was sitting in somebody's driveway. Not that raccoons are particularly strange around here. I've seen lots of them back in my wandering days, though actually you see them mostly at night. But I digress.

So anyway, M grabbed the camera as we headed out yesterday, and I'm glad he did, because we saw something that was a first for me, and he was able to snap this picture of it before it disappeared over some trees:

M says the contraption is called a powered paraglider, or PPG for short, and that the guy flying it is called an accident looking for a place to happen.

A few days earlier we came across this flamingo flash mob. Once again Matthew Brady was sans camera, but close enough to home that he could run get it. (He didn't really have to run; I don't think those flamingos were going anywhere!)

I just love to discover the unusual, don't you?