Baby it's cold outside…

It’s a tad brisk here – funny how cold really bothers you more when you get old.  I lived in Vermont for some years and when it comes to cold and snow they have a pretty good wrap on that. Not as bad as Minnesota say, but cold enough so cars have block heaters and you plug your car in at night if you want any chance of it starting in the morning.

My cats have never lived anywhere near that cold but you know cats, they do love the warm. Miss Frankie has been spending her time hanging out on the heating units these past few days –

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It was much easier for her when we lived in a house where the heat vents were in the floor –

Lots of old folks move to warmer climates, out west to Arizona and south to Florida. But Florida does have it’s cold snaps and now the catch phrase is “Watch out for falling iguanas”.

Some 10 years ago during a cold snap, my brother who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, sent me a series of photos depicting just such a situation. I put the photos in a slideshow called Frozen Lizards –

While I am not incredibly fond of Winter and cold and snow and ice, I’m also not fond of Summer with heat and humidity. Somewhere on this planet there must be a place where the weather is perpetually moderate – eternal Spring or Fall.

I'm thinking about music today

Not listening to it much because I have no way to listen to music anymore except on my computer or my iPod and that sucks. I liked records, I even liked cd’s, I was never into tapes.

I was born in 1946 and by 1956, when rock and roll was was hitting the airwaves I got my first portable radio and 2 years later I had a transistor radio with an earphone. We also had portable record players – everywhere we went we had music – and we danced, oh man, did we ever dance.

I haven’t listened to radio in decades – decades! My vinyl was all ruined from sitting out on a dock in the Bahamas (after sitting in a ship container for even longer) but I slipped easily into the cd era. I can’t say that I have been all that thrilled with the mp3-player era – I just found making playlists the most tedious thing on the planet.

We have hundreds (and hundreds) of cd’s – my husband, back in the day when it was easy to do, converted just about all of them to mp3’s and stored them on a back-up drive.

Anyway, that’s not the point of my musings. When you are old and hardly going out clubbing anymore or listening to the radio, and getting grumpy about how music was better in the old days, how do you hear new music?

I read the entertainment section of the newspapers, the music reviews and then I’ll check out anyone who sounds remotely interesting. But my other source of new music is British television shows and movies – damn but they have some great soundtracks.

Last night we were watching the first episode of a British series (“The Split”) on Hulu. My husband is usually in charge of the remote (see the last comic strip in my previous post) and while he is usually so s l o w with the clicker, he can be damn quick to bounce out of the credits at the end of a show/movie. Me, I’m a “wait for the credits” person.

As the episode was was wrapping up with visuals, no dialogue, a song was playing and it captured my attention, I realized my husband hadn’t clicked out and was listening to the song as the credits rolled. We simultaneously said – “That’s a great song!” We didn’t see it named in the credits so I used the handy-dandy website Tune Find to see if I could locate the name of the song.

Turns out to be by a young woman who performs under the name CLOVES. And lo and behold she’s on Youtube – so here you go, my latest favorite new music –

So much truth in the funny pages

There is a comic strip called “Pickles” and it is about an old married couple.  More often than not after reading it and laughing, I check the apartment for hidden microphones. Sometimes the conversations Earl and Opal have are word-for-word conversations my husband and I have had and situations that play out in my home on a daily basis (and no, we don’t have Siri  or Alexa or whoever). 

For example:

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But there are other comics that showcase our conversations – verbatim. More often than not this conversation ends with me yelling “Just pick something!”

A Tux and a Beer Truck

The other day I read a post called The Sartorial Elegance of the Labouring Classes by Jim Webster.  And it quickly brought to mind my father. While my father was not of the labouring class mentioned in this post he was a laborer. My father was a truck driver/delivery man. He worked for a major beer company, the same one his father worked for, he loaded and unloaded his truck himself – no helpers. I guess that makes him a laborer. 

My father wore a uniform – dark blue, with a company name patch on the shirt. I think they also provided him with a winter jacket but I can’t be sure. The shirts were short sleeved for the warm months and long sleeved for the cold months. 

But here’s the thing – my father also owned a tuxedo, a fancy tuxedo shirt, studs, gold cufflinks, a tie-it-yourself bow tie, a dark navy blue cashmere overcoat and a matching wool fedora. 

My father wore his tuxedo twice a month to attend meetings at his lodge (he was a Mason). His Lodge held 3 meetings a month and two required formal dress.

When I was a little girl I so remember Friday nights when Daddy would get all dressed up and I thought he was the handsomest man in the world!

It wasn’t until I was much older that I wondered how strange it was that a beer delivery truck driver owned his own tuxedo!

But – it did instill in me a preference for men in tuxedos. I’ve always said that there are only two “outfits’ for men –

  1. a well fitting classic tuxedo and
  2. nicely fitted jeans, cowboy boots, an open neck dress shirt and a leather jacket.

My father’s dead now some 47 years (actually almost to the day I am writing this) and while I have no pictures of my father in his tuxedo, none that I can hold or share, I have that indelible image in my mind. 

And always and forever a man in a tuxedo will capture my fancy.

Hand to Brain

There are many ways to learn – there is no one way or technique that works for everyone. Unfortunately, unless you are/were homeschooled  square pegs were jammed into round holes; you were thrown into the deep end of the pool and sink or swim – your problem.

I could never just memorize something. If I didn’t understand it it was not going to stick in my brain.  I learned by reading and writing – when I studied for a test I had two methods, depending on how difficult the material was for me. If it was information that I readily absorbed then all I needed to do was read through my notes or the appropriate chapters in the textbook and I was done. My memory was such that I could easily visualize the page and mentally scan quickly through to the information I needed to answer the question.  More difficult material I had to write – sometimes it was just a matter of re-writing all my notes – hand to brain – and then I could do the “visualize the page” thing.

My dear, dear 6th grade teacher, Adelaide Forlano, always said if you write a word three times you will never forget it. Worked for me – learning this way worked for me. Read-Write-Done – permanently etched in my memory.

I am a hand-to-brain learner. I am a reading learning. I am NOT a listening learner. This was obviously a problem in lecture type classes – the professor could be the most interesting speaker and none of it, or very little of it, would get processed in my brain. My constant complaint in college was “Just give me the syllabus and the reading list and I’ll come back to take the tests. Don’t make me sit here!”

Same thing when I started learning computers and programming and coding and all that jazz – if there was a manual, I read it and then – sat at the keyboard and – hand to brain. Often if someone was ‘teaching’ me by showing me I would say “I’ll sit at the keyboard, let me do it” – Boom! – hand to brain.

Which is way I HATE being read to – nothing makes me more crazy. Didn’t like it when I was a kid, don’t like it now. It’s just plain annoying. Audio books? Oh hell no. Podcasts? What the hell are they anyway – people you can’t even see talking? Give me a transcript – I’ll read the material, thank you very much. Do not talk AT me.

And the whole audio book thing – how do you flip back and refresh your memory? How do you flip forward and skip over the boring parts, and if you can’t ‘read’ ahead how do you know which parts to ignore? And suppose they read to fast, or too slow – OMG I can think of so many ways an audio book would drive me insane. And how do you underline things? And how do you look up something you want more information about? Yes, I look up things I read in novels – often just the meaning of a word, sometimes an idea that intrigued me – I put the book down and and go tracking after that…

Audio books – No,  not for me. Lecture classes – No. Memorize what I don’t understand – No.

Hand to Brain? Read, Write and Visualize? That’s how I learn.

Does any of this resonate for you?

Back in the day – (here I go again!)

I am not a fan of memorizing without understanding. Nor am I capable of it. While I have a talent for remembering and memorization I could never memorize something I didn’t understand – probably why I flunked Geometry II. Or never really mastered another language. The exhortation to “Just memorize it, you don’t have to understand it” never worked for me, actually never made sense to me – but you know, that’s just me.

That said, all through grammar school, as part of the reading curriculum, we had to memorize a poem every week. I loved that because I have always loved poetry. (The first creative writing I ever did was poetry. Ah, the poetry of an 8-year old. I still have a few, cringe worthy, but sweet.)  Bits and pieces of those poems still stick in my head and pop into my consciousness at odd, and sometimes appropriate, moments.

Many mornings, like this morning, when I wake up, the first thing I am conscious of thinking is:

“Here hath been dawning
Another blue Day:
Think wilt thou let it
Slip useless away.”
~ ~ ~ ~Thomas Carlyle

While today is not a blue day, as in sunshine and blue skies, it is indeed a rather dreary rainy day, but I am feeling well rested, and, if not totally energized, at least upbeat and looking forward to accomplishing something, anything, today.

Happiness is – feeling rested and hopeful, if only for practical things, and starting your day with odd bits of poetry making you smile.