Looking Somber

In recent weeks we’ve had mid-term elections, recounts of votes, calls for gun control, wild fires, shootings, states of emergency and the list goes on. Today is Veteran’s Day (observed), and  is  a reminder that our freedom is a fragile thing that must be nurtured and protected. The newspaper had a 2 page listing of events for Veterans, everything from high school performances of bands, orchestra and/or choirs to addresses by elected politicians or dignitaries. There are wreath laying ceremonies, a drive to collect suits for veterans, and a canned goods drive. However there wasn’t any mention of the local grocery store chain where son#1 and son#2 work. I suppose it was so well known that they give away hot meals (fried chicken meals – 2 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, biscuit, and another side) to veterans that there didn’t need to be any advertising. Although it is officially Veteran’s Day today, they gave away meals on Sunday in alignment with the Treaty of Versailles signed on November 11 at 11:00 AM that ended WWI.  It is such a big deal that son#1 worked in the kitchen making chicken (he is so good that people will call in to find out if he’s cooking). He said they gave out over 200 meals at their location from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It pains me to think that our military veterans are not being accorded the assistance to heal from the trauma of combat, reintegration to civilian life, and assistance with finding good paying jobs. Which brings me to the startling fact that the children in school now are too young to remember September 11, 2001. Seniors in high school weren’t born yet in 2001! The college students were too young to even remember the horror of seeing the World Trade Center fall.

So why am I talking about September 11 now? It is November and I should have been posting all this on September 11th, right? Well, the reality is that I went to Baltimore and saw this:

This is a chunk of the World Trade Center. It is a twisted and compressed piece of the interior steel skeleton of the tower. It sits on a marble pedestal outside the Baltimore World Trade Center. I walked past it on my way to a dinner. I was walking with 2 women (one from San Diego, CA and the other from Pittsburgh, PA). We had discovered that we were all going the same way and since it was dark we decided to walk together. As we passed this monument, I paused to read the plaque and take a photo. They patiently waited for me. As we walked away one asked me why I was taking a photo of the “modern art”. I explained that it was a piece of the World Trade Center. She stared at me blankly. I realized that both were probably only 25 at the most and the event that is seared into the minds of most adults is but a historical footnote to her generation. For them it is the reality not of foreign terrorists but gun violence in schools like the Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in 2018. Seems the memory of the twin towers is dimming and being replace by other unspeakable tragedies.


Looking Under Water

One of the highlights of my trip to Baltimore was going to the Baltimore Aquarium. This was an after hours event just for the attendees of the conference. I have to tell you that of all the aquariums I’ve visited (and I’ve gone to plenty of them), Baltimore’s was very well done. It isn’t the largest and it doesn’t have the widest variety of animals but they have one of the very best in terms of visual display, education, and layout. I was impressed.
The saltwater area has some stunning anemones. These are the pink/salmon color ones (with a couple white ones in the mix). I wanted to include a photo of some of the others but the angle resulted in mostly a reflection of me instead of the contents of the water. I’m also fascinated with brain coral. I’ve done a couple ceramic orbs to mimic brain coral but they pale in comparison to the real thing. In the last photo above you can see the tiny corals that look like fluff on the branches. I wish I could have gotten a close up. They were so delicate!

I have no idea about the names of these fish. Really. Fish are not my deal however I couldn’t help but be attracted to these fish. The first one was a lovely blue and yellow with a bright blue mustache that reminded me of Salvadore Dali. The second was a beautiful white fish that had dorsal and ventral fins that extended the length of its body and undulated like a ruffle. I was mesmerized. The last one was such a vivid yellow – the photo does not do it justice.

The stingray is a very poisonous fresh water ray found in South America. I think it is called a Potamotrygon henlei or Bigtooth River Stingray or Tocantins River ray. Either way it is beautiful. The last two photos are of fresh water turtles. I really liked the nose on the one in the middle. It made me laugh.

Looking at What I Missed

So I’ve been reading and commenting and visiting and I think I’ve finally seen all the posts that were published from Sunday 10-28-2018 to today. Although I don’t always comment on every post of every person I follow, I do try to visit. Since I got caught up on what you’ve all done, I thought I should bring you up to speed on some of my doings that are not of sufficient importance to merit a stand alone blog.

First the burning question you all wanted answered: What did I wear for Halloween?

The next question was: What did you do in Baltimore?
I managed to go geocaching! This photo was outside the Orioles Ballpark at the Veterans Memorial.

Then there was the question: Why did you go? The short answer was because I had to. The longer answer was to learn things that I needed to know and to assist with the poster presentation. This is one of the slides that was presented on a boring topic to many but absolutely wonderful to me. I got lots of great ideas!

Another burning questions was: What did you eat?

The photo is of Seafood Imperial as prepared by Mo’s Seafood. It was heavenly. The crab was so sweet and tender, the scallops melted in your mouth and the shrimp were simply delicious. I’d give it a 9/10 and that was only because I could barely finish it because there was so much richness and yum! This was the only instance of eating out. All the rest of the meals were free or on someone else’s dime. Case in point a dinner at the Capital Grill.

This was the Citrus Glazed Salmon with green beans. It was very good but I can actually get just as good in my town. My other meals were at various receptions. There seemed to be a theme – Old Bay seasoned everything but especially potato chips. It was odd. I would have thought that there would be more seafood, especially crab, but the menu was generally sandwiches more often than not with grilled zucchini and Portabella mushrooms.
And I have to confess that I had a couple days where I had a “chocolate lunch” which was necessitated by the schedule of talks being so tight that I didn’t want to miss anything so I ate chocolate to sustain myself. The vendors were kind enough to supply me with Dove, Hershey special dark, York peppermint patties, and a variety of hand made chocolates in the shape of crabs, lighthouses, and mice.

Looking Above the Clouds

Looking at the top sides of clouds
Soaring above the earthbound crowds
From the window only sky blue
I have an angel’s point of view

Not the first time I have traveled
Airplane nerves become unraveled
This perspective feels fresh and new
I have an angel’s point of view

Ignore the stomach butterflies
I focus on the endless skies
And trust the stratospheric crew
I have an angel’s point of view

Moisture laden clouds admire
Dazzling sunset climbing higher
Celestial sunbeams breaking through
I have an angel’s point of view

Yes, I had a window seat. Although take off is always spectacular and the landing has its own special thrills, it is the cruising above the clouds that makes my heart happy. It never gets old. Seeing clouds from the top is awesome! There was a small patch of stormy weather that we flew over. From the top the sky was a clear blue and the clouds were a dark juxtaposition. The sun made the top of the clouds a bright “bleached white’ but the bottoms were an ominous slate grey! There were a few spots where it appeared the sun had punched holes in the cloud cover releasing powerful beams of light into the rain darkened land below. The poem above is a Kyrielle. A Kyrielle is defined as a French form of rhyming poetry written in quatrains (a stanza consisting of 4 lines), and each quatrain contains a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the poem consists of only eight syllables. I know it sounds daunting but it will flow after you step back to see the overall effect!

Looking at a Pile of Work

I got home last night. I’m exhausted. It was fun and I learned some new stuff. When I go to these conferences I like to take advantage of the opportunity to attend as many sessions as possible. It is a win-win. First I get Continuing Education Units to maintain my professional registry. Second I learn as much as I can. Thirdly I network with the vendors. All this is to make the most of the trip – a trip paid for by my boss. I brought back a bunch of useful info. I also got some swag for those coworkers who remained behind to hold down the fort.

I’m concerned that my inbox will be over flowing with email. I will have to take some time to sort through the messages to hopefully discard the junk/spam email from that which actually needs my attention. I was gone for 6 work days and I know that there will be stacks of items that no one wanted to deal with in my absence. That’s how it has gone historically. I’m not sure what I’ll be walking into. That’s why I’ve packed a bigger than usual lunch – to sustain me as I run around like a crazy person.

This weekend I’ll be doing laundry and other housekeeping tasks that were likewise left for my personal attention. I will however, take several breaks during my cleaning frenzy to access blogs. I did read many of your posts on my phone while in Baltimore. Alas my phone does not allow me to post comments. The few times I’ve tried have not gone well as the comments appear to have been sent only to have them never show up on posts! I’ll be in touch!

Looking Scary

Today is Halloween and most of the kid’s trick-or-treating activities have already occurred. At the conference the celebration started on Monday with quite a few people with some sort of costume. I wish I was faster on the draw with the phone camera so that I could have captured a couple of people in full costume. One woman was decked out like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark – make-up, wig and dress (though she didn’t bare as much as the real Elvira, then again she didn’t have as much to bare)! There were a couple of very credible zombies too. My coworker reported seeing a vampire complete with blood dripping from his chin which grossed him out and made him feel queasy. The only other celebratory clue that Halloween was eminent was the plethora of candy at all the vendor booths. I managed to score a big York Peppermint Patty which is nearly my favorite candy. There were lots of other inferior candy selections but I limited myself to the dark chocolate and the gummi bears. I packed my bat brooch and matching earrings. The earrings are really heavy, I’m also allergic to the nickle in the wires, and lastly the hole in my left ear has grown closed. I think it is for the best I forego wearing them. A bloody ear might be in style but I refuse to bleed for fashion (my own credo). I also packed a headband with pink bunny ears attached. I’m not sure I’ll wear them today. I’ll let you know if I get up enough nerve to do so. I will be leaving Baltimore tomorrow evening and will be home by Friday (so that I can get back to work)! See you then!

Looking Leftover

I’m pushed to the back
Forgotten, spoiled leftovers
Waiting for trash day

A little unconventional for a haiku so I’m calling it a senyrus (which is a type of haiku that is cynical or darkly humorous). Last month I had dinner at my sons’ house. Son#1 had cooked and as we were trying to fit leftovers into the refrigerator, I started pulling out mystery items. I could tell without opening the containers that they had gone bad. It wasn’t even a situation where there was a small spot of mold or something dried out. No, these leftovers were horribly bad. The lids of the containers were bulging with botulism, near exploding with putrefaction. These were bomb squad level. Several were in those disposable Ziploc plastic containers – I tossed them. There was a partial package of bacon that surprised me. I thought that bacon was so full of preservatives that it was unlikely to rot – I was wrong. I’d never seen tie-dye rainbow bacon before… When everything was said and done, I sent Son#1 outside with the kitchen trash to salvage the half dozen Tupperware bowls and sandwich squares. He managed to scrape them out without tossing his cookies. We put them into the sink to soak in some bleach water. We succeeded in cleaning them out and they were washed and returned to duty. There are days where I think I’m one of those forgotten containers reeking of ptomaine.

Looking to Fly Away

I have printed my ticket and gathered my agenda. I am flying out this weekend for Baltimore, MD. It is not a vacation. I will be traveling with a coworker to present a poster at a National Meeting. I need to travel light to make it easier so I’m trying to pack versatile clothes that will compact without wrinkling. So far I’ve laid out multiple clothing combinations and attempted to sort them by day/activity. I’m wondering if I can manage without a jacket or sweater. In the past the conferences have been in warmer areas – San Antonio, San Diego, Charlotte, Austin, Phoenix. This year it is in Baltimore. It is easier to pack for warm weather… I’m tempted to forgo the stylish clothes and just hang out in jeans. Then my professional conscience whispers that I’m representing my place of employment. Anyway I’ll have the suitcase packed by the time you read this. I will be gone 4 days. I have the poster printed and the extra Velcro in the travel tube. I just hope it doesn’t exceed the size requirements for a carry on!! I will try to visit while I’m at the conference but I can’t promise that I’ll have time, or a secure computer connection. If I don’t visit all of you – rest assured I will be making the rounds as soon as I get back!!

My dearest friends I bid adieu
It pains my heart to part from you
My travel takes me to the East
I’ll be back, I think, at least
While I’m parted from your view
I will miss you all ’tis true!
When I return in four days’ time
I’ll update the blog and post a rhyme
Missing my bed and pillow is tough
And missing your blogs is also rough
But I promise I’ll catch up as soon as can be
I’ll read all past posts I guarantee!
Until I return please be kind and good
And treat each other as I would.

For those with inquiring minds, the above poem is an Epistle poem. This poem is is read aloud as a letter. It may be a direct address; informal or formal in tone, and in any form from rhyming couplets to free verse. The audience can be external or internal to the poet. It is usually used for moral, political or religious discourse. Until I return please “be excellent to each other”!

Looking Through the Crack in the Fence

Our neighborhood has a set of covenants that cover everything from basketball hoops to house color. One of the defining things about our subdivision is that there aren’t any chain link or stockade fences. If you want a fence it can be a split rail fence with green coated wire fencing on the inside. There are strict specifications on what kind of wire and how tall and how big the openings can be. Basically it forces you to be neighborly. You see your neighbors grilling on the patio, the kids playing in the yards, and it makes having a dog a challenge. There is a fence in our neighborhood. It is on the property line between the subdivision and a diesel repair shop/shady operation. This fence is rather decrepit. At one time it was painted red but it is mostly just weathered wood now. There are several sections that have been replaced with a different style of fencing so the thing looks rather haphazard. Mostly it is covered by untamed vines, weeds, and poison ivy that grows on the strip of land between us and them. This repair shop has recently changed hands/owners. Whatever questionable activities had been taking place have ceased. There have been positive changes:
1. The ferocious shepherd mix dog is no longer patrolling the grounds. This is a relief for many people as this dog would regularly slip off and terrorize neighborhood children and pets. I’m hopeful that the new owner will forego the “junkyard dog” method to guard the property.
2. The driveway has had a new deposit of gravel spread to fill in the ruts the size of most compact cars. That should reduce the mosquito population too!
3. There is a new chain link fence around the front of the building. They even put tarps on the inside to act as a wind break, to prevent drifting snow, and to provide a touch of privacy.

(these are not photos of the fence but represent the type of fencing used)
As you can imagine, the changes have brought out the curious. This routinely deserted section of the walking path is now teeming with my neighbors. The fence wood is warped and sections are leaning. Poison ivy has filled in many of the spaces between the boards. Everyone still wants to press an eye to the cracks in the fence to get a glimpse at the changes being made. Or they could walk to the end of the path and walk a half block down the street and actually stroll up to the shop. The guys are fairly friendly and would probably be more than happy to show you the upgrades that have been made!

Looking at Whale Song

I was thinking about human courting behavior. Which made me consider my ongoing romance with my husband. Below is a haiku where I explore love after 40 years:

Belly to belly
In language only I know
He sings a whale song

I decided to take this theme and attempt to move it into different forms. This is a kimo, a modern Israeli haiku, composed of 3 line with a syllable count of 10/7/6:

We sing intestinal whale song duets
Entwined belly to belly
Through ocean depths in love

Then there was the Tyburn. This form is more difficult – there are 4 rhyming lines of 2 syllables each, followed by 2 rhyming lines consisting of 9 syllables each. The 5th – 8th syllables of the 5th line are made of the 1st and 2nd lines and the 6th line followed the pattern of the 5th – 8th syllables are the 3rd and 4th syllables. It isn’t the easiest poem to write:

My love
Sort of
True love
Held to his heart my love sort of sings
Whale song rises, true love above wings

And then there is the Rhopalic verse, a Greek form with deceptively simple rules – the 1st word in a line has one syllable, the 2nd has 2 syllables, the 3rd has 3 syllables, the 4th has 4 syllables, and so on. You can have as many words in each sentence as you desire as long as they follow the rule.

Minds entwined intellect
One body interweave
True marriage consummate
Love making serenade
Whale language recital