28 January 2013

Rogue's Gallery


This was one of those projects that just took forever. OK, not forever, maybe, but 13 years. At least. Depending on when you start counting. Getting things hung on the wall doesn’t sound like a big project, but we just never seemed to get it together.

It’s not art, really. Photos, mostly. Family photos, although neither my family nor Scarecrow’s is what you’d consider particularly decorative. Some of them are just snapshots, and not particularly good snapshots, at that. Still, coming up with stuff to hang was the easy part.

You think, just by chance, that the occasional image would be a standard size 4 x 6, 5 x 7, or 8 x 10, but no. Custom mats and frames can be expensive. In fact, standard size mats and frames can add up pretty quickly. And there are so many choices! Too many.

But what the heck. This is not art. It’s not a museum. Let’s just do it.

I scavenged eBay for frames unloaded at estate sales, and got about what you'd expect. Nothing matches anything else. Well, a couple do, but that was purely by accident. Scarecrow loaded the frames with our stuff (in some cases replacing pictures of people who are far more decorative than our relatives, but hanging pictures of people we don't know just wouldn’t be the same, would it?) and hung them on the wall.

My dad's family, mostly.

My mom's family.

Products of the Milburn Wagon Works in Toledo Ohio, where my gggrandfather, ggrandfather, and ggrand uncle worked.

Scarecrow's family. The empty frame is a placeholder for a picture of Scarecrow's mom in her wedding dress. He keeps promising to ask his brother, Tin Man, about it

It’s been 13 years, but it’s finally starting to look like we’ve moved in.

24 January 2013

What I Should've Said

I can never think of the thing I should’ve said when I should’ve said it. Only when the moment is long past – when the conversation has moved on to other things, or when I wake up at 3 AM – do I finally come up with what I really should’ve said. Sometimes it’s days or weeks later. Years, sometimes. Decades, even.

I’m not after the clever comeback, here; I’ve never been a master of Quick Wit and Retort, and my expectations are not unreasonable. I just mean what I would like to have said if I could think a little faster and was a little better at putting thoughts into words. Pathetic, really, for someone who has always made a living, one way or another, with words, but there it is.

Just now, for example, I’m finally coming up with what I should’ve said last Friday. Like I said, quick wit is not one of my strengths.

What happened was this: Scarecrow reconnected on Facebook with a woman who went to the same high school in Florida. Turns out she’s now in the Seattle area, and works in Community Relations and Marketing for our local library. Scarecrow pipes up with how great a resource the library is for me/us. Turns out they’re putting together a series of videos about the library, and she wondered if they might talk to us about it.

There are many reasons for me not to do this:
  • I generally don’t like to make a deal of being disabled
  • I definitely don’t do “courageous” or “inspirational”
  • I don’t much like having my picture taken
  • I’m uncomfortable being the center of attention
And most importantly:
  • When you’re talking, it’s always a first draft
On the other hand, this is the library we’re talking about. If there’s something I can do to help, I’m in. So OK.

So. Last Friday the library lady (I’ll call her Spike) comes to our house with a director, a tech/camera/sound guy, an assistant tech/camera/sound guy, and a whole bunch of equipment. Everybody was very nice, and fortunately they were all dog people, because the whippets were going ballistic. (We always say they normally have better manners, but I don’t think anyone ever believes us. Which is just as well, because they don’t.) The tech guys fixed us up with cool wireless mics, pointed the cameras our way, and we talked about the library and stuff. Although I felt like a total moron, I thought Scarecrow actually sounded pretty good, and overall it was not as agonizing as I had feared. Part of the reason was that they probably spent as much time taking pictures of the dogs as they did of us, and the dogs expressed themselves more coherently.

I’ve had a week to cringe at some of the stupider things I said. Although I don’t get to do the editing myself, I can only hope that the worst bits vanish forever into pixel never-never-land.

I can spend the next decade working out What I Should’ve Said.

14 January 2013

I Shouldn't Be Enjoying This so Much

In June 2009, I finally conceded that MS had kicked my butt, and retired from my day job. I’d heard the stories about people who, when suddenly confronted with so much unstructured time, acquired bad habits. Chewing slippers, recreational barking, peeing in the house, and similar. Having known for several months that the inevitable was not far off, but determined not to succumb to such vices, I’d been preparing a list of things I could do after I retired. Some were things I needed to get done, but had just never managed to finish. Others were things I enjoyed doing, but that my day job didn’t seem to leave time for. All were things I could do from my power chair, no hands required, with no (or minimal) assistance. The list was longer than you’d think, although I can’t tell you what was on it. I didn’t ever refer to it much. I just went looking for it, just now, just for grins, but couldn’t find it (although I got sidetracked, and then got sidetracked from the sidetrack, and so just spent several hours doing things that were totally unrelated to whatever it was I set out to do. This happens a lot.). In the 3 1/2 years since I retired, I’m pretty sure I haven’t checked anything off of that list.

The shameful truth is that I rather enjoy having absolutely nothing to do. Total indolence really suits me.

My mother always said, “You expect to be waited on hand and foot.” Now I am, literally, waited on hand and foot, and although I hate it, I’m afraid I don’t hate it is much as I ought to. I suspect this makes me a bad person, but I’m not sure what I can do about it.

A whole day with no commitments, nothing I have to do, far from inducing apprehension or anxiety, is something I look forward to. A good thing, because most days are like that.

What do I do all day? Good question. I’m not sure. A little of this, a little of that. Whatever I start, it doesn’t take long before I get sidetracked, and then get sidetracked from the sidetrack. Then I look up, and it’s getting dark. Yeah, I know it’s January, and this is Seattle, so that could be right after lunch. But still. What can I say? I’m easily entertained.

Looking at my almost entirely empty calendar, I see nothing until… let's see… Friday.


08 January 2013


The other morning I was chatting with Tuffy online. It's not like we've never done that before. When she was still living at home, it wasn't unusual to get an IM from the next room down the hall. And I know when we're on the phone or on Skype we're doing the same thing at the same time. But for some reason it just struck me as extremely cool that I'm in Seattle and she's in Japan and we're typing back-and-forth. I don't know why. It just did. The wonders of technology. PFM.

Anyway, she said her birthday/solstice present was on her desk when she got to work on Monday. As I may have confessed before, on festive occasions, my family is resigned to receiving gifts that I want myself. Tuffy tumbled to this early. She must've been four the year Stellaluna was published. I read it to her several times when we were in the library or at a bookstore. It's a charming story, the illustrations are wonderful, and I really like bats. So, come solstice, I got her a copy. "Mom!" she said, when she opened it. "Stellaluna! Your favorite!"


I've still got it, too. Right there on the bookshelf, next to Sheep in a Jeep. And Sheep in a Shop. And Sheep on a Ship.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Using holidays as an excuse to inflict stuff I want on members of my family. Like the year Scarecrow got a grill for Father's Day. And the time he got an espresso machine for his birthday, even though he doesn't really drink coffee. (Hey, he's a guy, right? It plugs in, and it's got buttons and knobs, and it makes noise. What's not to like?) So Tuffy probably wasn't particularly surprised to find that I got her a camera. It's true that she'd been whining about the crummy picture quality from her iPhone, but the real reason for the camera is that I want to see pictures of Japan.

I haven't seen any output from the new camera yet. What's the holdup, I wonder? Anyway, she took this with her phone; I stole it off her Facebook page. We haven't had any snow in Seattle yet this year, but apparently it has snowed a couple of times in Nagahama. Tuffy is still enough of a Seattle kid to run outside with her camera (or, apparently, her phone) every time it snows. We left Michigan when she was five, so I guess she doesn't remember what it's like for snow to be a regular deal.