On the banks of the Seine in the Tuileries Gardens you’ll find Musee de l’Orangerie. Originally built to protect orange trees in the winter before they were planted, the building now houses an impressive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings and one sleepy young man, who was not stirred by Monet’s “Water Lillies” or any of the numerous works by Cezanne, Matisse, Rousseau, and Modigliani.
Unlike the youngster, Monica and I found the museum to be delightful and a must see for anyone who loves Monet. You can learn more by clicking the link below.
While walking the neighborhood a few days ago, I saw two pennies along my route. They had been there for a while and were showing considerable wear from the time they had spent on a busy street. Though the stamping on each side was almost gone, I didn’t hesitate to snatch them up and carry them home. My views on money were largely shaped by the adults who influenced me as I grew into adulthood. I spent a lot of time around my maternal grandparents and paternal grandmother. All had lived on farms in rural Indiana, didn’t have a great deal to start with, and had weathered The Great Depression, which profoundly impacted them. My Dad was in his early teens during the worst of it while Mom was not yet in elementary school. After that came WWII and rationing, so the Shawhan and Richardson families knew how to stretch their meager resources to make ends meet. That last bit of ketchup in the bottle could be mixed with water to make something resembling tomato soup, but mostly it was a warm, flavored liquid that was better than going hungry. Dad’s income from his mining and construction business was spotty, but Mom and he were always able to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, though there were stretches where bologna on crackers and chicken noodle soup were frequent entrees.
I learned to scan the ground while I walked. It was a good day if I found soda bottles that could be turned in for a few cents at the local gas station. It was a great day if I found coins. All of that “found money” went into my piggy bank, which wasn’t a pig, but a small black ceramic teapot Mom gave me. Mixed in among the coins was some “folding money,” the term Dad used for paper bills. Those came to me on birthdays, Christmas, and whenever the grading period ended. I learned early that being a good student could have financial as well as academic benefits. The real treasures in the teapot were my $2 bills and silver dollars, which were not to be spent under any circumstances. The lessons I learned about saving, discipline, and delayed gratification continue to serve me well.
Though I don’t know how much money I’ve picked off the ground over the years, I can remember the most I found at one time. Late one evening after a basketball game I pulled into a gas station. As my tank was filling, I decided to wash my windows and found a $100 bill near the trash can. That was a very good day. It’s pretty rare to find paper money and most of what I get are small coins, but I stop and pick them up without fail and they go into a repurposed large plastic Planter’s Honey Roasted Peanuts jar. It takes about a year to fill the jar then I take the contents to a store with one of the change sorters. The last payout was almost $280, which I think is a pretty good investment for being observant and willing to bend over.
I’ve been a lot of places in the U.S. and have noticed that almost without fail it is those of us in a certain age group that tend to pick up coins. Younger folks do not appear to be interested in small change. Perhaps they are focused on becoming the next great social media influencer or internet entrepreneur. I wish them well. Less competition for me.
For me, these bicycle tracks on the beach are a visual metaphor for relationships. There are people to whom we stay close for long periods, while we interact with others from a distance. Events seem as likely to bring us together as they are to move us apart. While it would be easy to infer that long-term relationships have a higher significance or greater meaning, I have experienced brief encounters that changed the direction I was heading, so length does not equate to impact.
Monica and I like to say that when things are going well, we are in relationship and when they are not we’re in relations**t. Our goal is to have a lot more “ship” and a lot less s**t.
This is an image that was created because my phone was ready while my “professional” camera was safely in my shoulder bag. I’ve missed enough decisive moments to know this one was too fleeting to get the DSLR out. While there are a few elements present that typically comprise good photos, there are more that could be added to a “Don’t take it” list:
The primary subjects have their backs to the camera
The light is flat
The sky has no clouds
I like that the lady with the bag on her shoulder and the man on the hotel wall are both wearing long coats and are going in the same direction. That the hotels across the street from each other use the same typeface makes me wonder if they have the same owner. I wish this could have been made in front of a Scottish pub to stay true to the heritage of “Loch Lomond,” the song whose lyrics are in the title, but alas, all of these visual elements were on display in front of an Irish pub on a side street in Paris. My life is filled with little disappointments. :-)
Canyon de Chelly National Monument is in the “Four Corners” region of the U. S. near Chinle, AZ. It has been home to native Americans who have lived there uninterrupted for over 5,000 years. Today, about 40 Navajo families live there, tend livestock and farm a small portion of the almost 84,000 acres that comprise the monument. The history of the peoples who made the canyon their home can be seen in the ruins and petroglyphs found there.
We booked a full day with one of the Navajo guide companies and were treated to an exceptional tour. The canyon is both unforgivingly harsh and breathtakingly beautiful. The shadows cast by the rock formations when the sun is low create sharp lines on the rocks and canyon floors.
This image was created on our way out. You can get a feel for the immenseness of the place and the steep, and often sheer, walls on both sides.
While in Asheville, NC in early September, Monica and I visited Lexington Glassworks and were thoroughly impressed by the quality of work produced by the in-house artists. Though there were many beautiful pieces on display, this one caught my eye with its combination of color and intricacy of the overall design.
You can see more of their work at: https://www.lexingtonglassworks.com/
The title refers to a Broadway play of the same name, but the place this image was created is a bit over 1800 miles west. Coming out of Chaco Canyon National Historical Park is a stretch of road that offers unrestricted views of the incomparable New Mexico skyline. And while you can’t really see forever on a clear day, the view is so stunning that you just might not care.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” While in Cades Cove during early September I came across this one leaf that had landed on a section of split rail fence. It was a beautiful morning with dew glistening on the grass and early enough that we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I looked about for other leaves on the ground and saw a few. For the people who lived here in the 1800’s, these few leaves signaled a change in seasons and the need to lay in provisions for the coming winter. Being able to read nature’s signals was a survival skill in the days before weather forecasters.
Wow! A whole building dedicated to Doctor Humor. I’ve heard some pretty good physician jokes in my time, but not much lately. Perhaps this type of humor reached its zenith the year this building in Asheville, NC was built. :-)
Obviously the building is not as I described, but the name plate got me to wondering if there was a building dedicated to the different kinds of humor with a separate level for each type, how many floors would there be? After extensive research (2 minutes on Google), it appears there would be nine and they are listed below in no particular order.
Physical, which includes slapstick. Who doesn’t like the Three Stooges?
Surreal. Get on YouTube and watch anything by Monty Python if you want to know what surreal humor is.
Wit - Wordplay. This is where puns reside along with anything that makes language humorous
Topical. Humor based on what’s going on in the world. Saturday Night Live is a great example of this.
Observational. Jerry Seinfeld is one of the best at observational humor
Bodily. Probably my least favorite. I had four sons, so excuse me if I don’t want to experience another joke built around any bodily function.
Dark. Unsettling, depressing themes with something funny thrown in to relieve the tension.
I love to laugh and if humor had its own building, I would be quite happy going from floor to floor. I expect to be a regular on the Surreal, Wit-Wordplay, Topical, and Observational floors. The good thing is I will be able to avoid the Bodily floor altogether even without a directory. I could smell it before I exited the elevator.
The new home next door has risen quickly from foundation to its current state of being under roof. Each of the respective subcontractors have taken care of their tasks in short order and moved on to their next work site. Baudilio, Osvar, and Aklandy handled the roofing and I was impressed by how well they worked together. They were able to scale ladders carrying heavy loads and work on a slanted surface for long periods of time. All the while, the sounds of their nail guns made the same “bap, buhdap, bap, bap” rhythm like the call and response of a song. The only time I saw them stop was to each lunch and then stretch out for a few minutes on the cool concrete floor of the garage. It took them only about 12 hours to complete their work. From my perspective, they more than earned whatever they were paid for the job.
We moved to a different location in mid-August and it was a major undertaking for us on several fronts. First, we opted for a mortgage with the new property and that took longer and was a lot more detailed than I could have imagined. About the only thing I wasn’t asked to submit was a sample of brain tissue and that’s good because I need all I have left. Coordinating and managing the tradespeople to get work done on the new place in the time frame we wanted was more challenging than anticipated. We’re quite happy with the outcome, but we didn’t hit our target date and we went over budget…just like the folks on the folks on HGTV. The physical move wasn’t as taxing as we thought it would be thanks to our great movers, but getting our other place ready to put on the market took a lot more energy and time than we estimated and we had kept the place in great condition.
The new neighborhood is smaller and more rural with less traffic. We have a lake behind the house so we can sit on our lanai and watch the abundance of wildlife…egrets, herons, kingfishers, cormorants, sandhill cranes, turkeys, and alligators that pass through. It is hard to consider there is a better place to start or finish the day.
I’ve been impressed with the overall design and care given to the landscaping by the developer. There has been a liberal use of tall grasses throughout and this particular variety turns dark pink in the fall. The fine, brushy heads are great collectors for dew and in the mornings there are more beads on them than on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. This makes my morning walks just a bit more enjoyable.
Name: Sebastian Horvath
What’s your job title? Flooring Installer
What do you like most about your job? My freedom. My work shows a bit of me…it’s very detailed.
What’s the hardest part of your job that no one knows about? This work takes a lot of focus. There’s little margin for error. It has to be right every time. The job is physically demanding, too.
If you weren’t doing this work, what kind of work would you be doing? I would be a monitor support technician at a hospital. I want to be a master of my craft and be my own boss.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at age 16, what would you say? Keep your ass in school. Get good grades.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Trust in God.
Name: Travis Burran
What’s your job title? Flooring Installer
What do you like most about your job? It’s different all the time.
What’s the hardest part of your job that no one knows about? Trying to keep everyone happy.
If you weren’t doing this work, what kind of work would you be doing? An outside job…something physical.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at age 16, what would you say? Go farther with your education.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.
Name: Marc Goerke
What’s your job title? Flooring Installer
What do you like most about your job? The outcomes. I take pride in my work and enjoy seeing the reactions of people when we finish the project.
What’s the hardest part of your job that no one knows about? The mental part of the job is very challenging. You have to stay focused and keep track of all the little things that can impact the outcome.
If you weren’t doing this work, what kind of work would you be doing? HVAC work. I liked the challenges of dealing with new issues every day.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at age 16, what would you say? Concentrate on school! Plan on going to college.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Be dependable and pay attention to detail.
Name: Ken Turner
What’s your job title? Project Manager
What do you like most about your job? The finish work...getting to the end of the job. It’s an opportunity for me to step back and take a look at what I’ve done.
What’s the hardest part of your job that no one knows about? There’s a lot of disciplined thinking that goes into each aspect of the work. You have to keep sight of the finish as you do each part of the job. Being able to work in the present while keeping in mind what the finished project will look like is a challenge.
If you weren’t doing this work, what kind of work would you be doing? Painting. I’ve always been a painter. It comes naturally to me.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at age 16, what would you say? Save your money!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Pay attention! Keep your surroundings in mind and remember where you’ve been.
Prior to the purchase of our new home, we decided to have tile throughout the house. That meant removing five rooms of carpeting and finding a dye lot of tile that matched what we already had. Since the home was only two years old, we caught a break and were able to get something that you have to look closely to notice any differences. Then we had to find an installer in whom we had confidence and could meet our timeline. We got a great recommendation and after an initial meeting, the job was handed to XXXX XXXX. From the moment they arrived on the first day to when they pulled out of our driveway on the last day, these guys were in constant motion. There was no slack in anything they did and their work was topnotch. For the next five posts, you’ll have a chance to meet the guys who tiled our home.
Name: Anthony Davidson
What’s your job title? Owner
What do you like most about your job? Meeting new people. I love seeing the reaction of our customers when we finish the job.
What’s the hardest part of your job that no one knows about? Keeping several crews of installers going at the same time on multiple jobs.
If you weren’t doing this work, what kind of work would you be doing? I would return to school, maybe med school. I really love helping people.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at age 16, what would you say? Finish high school! Go to college and learn about business.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? My mom told me, “Make sure you enjoy whatever you do.
Cades Cove is the most visited place in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and for good reason. It is a stunningly beautiful island in a sea of mountains and trees. The first settlers of European descent arrived in 1818 and the population grew to 671 by 1850. Driving through the area today it's easy to be distracted by the surroundings and abundance of wildlife and miss the three churches that are in close proximity to each other. Initially there were two congregations: Baptist and Methodist. A split among the Baptists led to the renaming of the initial church as Primitive Baptist and the creation of a new church called Missionary Baptist.
Spending time in the Missionary Baptist and Methodist churches, I was struck by their similarities...and a few differences. I loved the simplicity of each place as they were truly houses of worship. Except for the cross on the front wall of the Methodist church and the small pulpits in each, there was no religious ornamentation present. Simple wooden pews were present in both and the few windows held no stained glass. There were no distractions. The Baptists provided some additional windows for their pastor, while the Methodists opted for a piano. They also provided a constant reminder of our mortality by having the cemetery visible through the windows on the right side of the building. Being a Methodist, I'm reasonably sure casseroles played an important part in the life of the church, but I'm not sure what year that started.
Regardless of your religious affiliation, I highly recommend stopping to visit the churches. They're a great place to reflect on times past and to get away from the pace of our lives in today's world.
You’re looking at progress.
It might be hard for you to imagine, but for farmers from the early 1850’s to the 1930’s this one invention made sweeping changes to their work life. That the cast iron seat remained largely unchanged for 80+ years is a commentary on the pace of change and the limits of creative thinking applied to an industry where work was defined by bone wearying, muscle aching tiredness.
After a few hundred years of trudging behind draft animals in the mud and muck, seats allowed farmers a bit of ease and greater effectiveness in their work. New farm equipment came with levers, and seats enabled the operator to control the machine and drive the horses.
In the early 1850’s companies made seats from wood, adding cast iron backs by the middle of the decade. The 1860’s saw the introduction of molded cast iron seats. While these were an improvement, the solid construction gave the farmer the choice of sitting on something that was hot, cold, or wet. Farmers had a well-deserved reputation for being tough, but some were getting tired of the jarring ride and looking for more comfort. In the absence of social media it took a while, but not too long, before implement companies began putting holes in the seats for the comfort of their customers. Enterprising folks in marketing realized the seat was a great space for the company names, which would be cut out of the metal covering the seat face. Seeking competitive advantages, some equipment salesmen would custom fit seats to the buyer. Still, most seats were bolted to the frame of the implement, which meant that every bump was transferred to the body.
The 1920’s brought an increased focus on operator comfort and there were designs featuring padded bench seats. Rather than experiencing a widespread adoption of the padded seats, iron seats stayed in fashion for a number of years. In a classic case of evolutionary changes versus revolutionary changes, equipment manufacturers didn’t change the seat, they focused on how it was supported. Instead of anchoring the seat to the frame of the implement, the new design featured a seat connected to a flexible steel band. The band might be straight or slightly arched and would flex under the weight of the operator. This improved design would hold sway until the early 1960’s when padded tractor seats came into widespread use.
Is it any wonder so many young people left the farm for other jobs?
If you ever visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, I encourage you to spend some time in Loretto Chapel, a former Catholic church that is now a museum and wedding chapel. The chapel is best known for its miraculous staircase, which is shaped like a helix. The gift shop sells collectible rosaries and many can be found decorating the trees just outside the chapel. You can learn more about what prayers of the faithful can achieve at www.lorettochapel.com.