Obeying the Rules

The men arrived with spray paint a few days ago. They walked up and down the alley consulting their electronic devices and releasing bright colors in spurts.  They dropped a few small, colorful flags at strategic points.

I’ve seen them before. They come in small groups at irregular intervals. Always by request.

A project engineer was surprised and saw complications in each dotted line. For these bright colors represent where the utility lines are buried. And his project involves digging. The more lines, the more cautious and careful the workers need to be. Smaller equipment or hand digging requires more hours. And more money.

On the other side of the equation. Marked utilities, caution, and a general knowledge of what lurks beneath the grass or gravel saves the trouble and expense if a utility line was cut. Can you imagine the conversation if you interrupt electric service to a group of homes? And the cost of the emergency repairs?


Adult coloring in the great outdoors.


Green First Aid

Go green! Recycle! Use Renewable!

More than a dozen years ago, we did some major re-arranging at my work place. One of the items which had to leave during this time was a small collection of houseplants. Take this one. You need both of these.

Really? I’ve killed a considerable number of sturdy(?) houseplants in my time.

But I relented and brought them home. Wonder of wonders, one lived. It out grew the original pot and then the next one larger. Now it’s split into two, both a couple sizes up from the tiny aloe which came home from work all those years ago.

It’s had some close calls. e needs to be careful and patient before setting it outside in St. Louis. The years I set it out when the temperature warms in May it’s had some close calls. Last year waiting until June almost killed it. Our spring rains were too abundant and the plant suffered another near drowning.

100_4240 Burn treatment for a Klutzy cook.


A Question of Timing

Is it done yet? Are we there? Is it time?

Parents of small children probably have these and more questions circle in their mind at all hours of the day and night. First as direct questions. Then on repeat either as additional questions from young voices or insistent memories interfering with other activities — like an adult conversation — or sleep.

Timing can be critical in more than parenting. When is the best time to speak up at a meeting? Approach management for new equipment, training, or money? How do I know it the cookies are done?

Once in a while the timing is off. The cookies burn. The meeting is adjourned before you ask your question. Or the perfect girl moves away before you ask her for a date.

Life is risky. Results are not assured. Consider these brave botanical specimens.

Hardy Optimist
The race to bloom first is fraught with hazards — like a final hard frost!

Impulsive Instrument

Music. It offers stress relief. Sets a mood. Offers a laugh.

Much of the music in my home in recent years comes from CD’s. A selection of favorites runs in the background while I work on the computer. It was not always so. Or at least the format was different.

The college dorm resonated with radio stations and recordings at varying volumes. By artists of varying abilities and aimed at different tastes. The daily commute equaled radio time with a mixture of music and news. Housework goes better with Bach…or the Beatles, or Sousa.

But sometimes I appreciate a quieter, unscripted melody. It plays year round. Summer, when the window is open I hear it best. Gentle at times or more insistent, depending upon weather conditions.


A Simple Instrument


Presidents in my Pocket

Please do not misunderstand the title. I’m not a lobbyist. Big campaign donations are beyond my bankbook. (And my personal beliefs.)

However: Every time I leave my home I take a collection of presidents with me. My companions vary. Some are printed on paper and mixed with a non-president. (It would be fun to make that plural, but the denomination featuring Benjamin Franklin is larger than my usual cash on hand.) Others, like this small collection, are round, flat, metal, and tend to escape an old coin purse and hide in the bottom of the purse.


Did you realize Lincoln faces the others?

Calling the profile on the dime a “man in a business suit” brought a quick correction from my mother during childhood.

Enjoy president’s day on Feb 15.



The Big Picture

The modern world is complicated. Technology is changing and rippling down into other aspects of life at unprecedented speed. Many people are unable to grasp it all — so they specialize, concentrate on one portion, and work to become an expert within narrow margins.

The world needs a few specialists. At times we need to consult an expert. For example, my grasp of physics is fragile. I’d never be able to pick up changes in observatory photographs or tiny pulses hinting at new space bodies or atomic structures.

But I ask you to remember the big picture. Resist the power of tunnel vision. Think a little about the future. (If I plant the tree here — will the roots clog the sewer in a few years? Will the crown surround the power lines?) It might work out better in the long run to plant the tree six feet to the left or choose a shrub instead of a shade tree.

Big picture, or long distance, thinking requires choices. So I urge you to gather the facts as best you can, weigh the pros and cons, and make an informed choice. Whether it be where to plant a tree, which item of clothing to purchase, or which candidate to mark on your ballot.



Rest a Spell

Cold rain. Wind. Snow swirling and dancing across the ground.

Three good reasons to move the daily walk into the mall.

Nice flat surface. People to watch. Dry and warm.

Walk, walk, walk. Past the row of shops, loop around at the department store, and return past the kiosks. There’s a couple doing the same path at a different speed. Up the stairs to another level. Make a oval past different shops. Savor the smell from the food court. Pause to adjust the shoelace. Walk. Walk. Walk.

Oh, good. Exactly what I need before I summon the energy to one final lap of the businesses.

100_2001 Ideal spot for weary shoppers.

Or walkers.


The Understudy

Every good theater company has them. A wise corporate manager trains them.

Performances must go on. Work must be completed.

So after you glance at the sky this morning to determine if it’s sunny or cloudy. Did you see your shadow? Did you want to curl up in your abode for an additional six weeks? Or are you invigorated and ready to go out and prepare for the next season?

Folklore gives the task of mid-winter weather forecasting to the woodchuck. AKA ground hog. I give you his understudy.

Prairie Dog
A prairie dog practicing for next Ground Hog Day.

PS: Have you eaten sausage today?