I dream in black and white. I’ve always assumed this was because I grew up watching black and white TV. Occasionally my black and white dream contains one item in color—a more recent cinematic effect that my dreaming has likely emulated. A couple of times an entire dream scene is blasted with vibrant, blinding color. It comes as such a surprise that I instantly wake-up.
Since I dream in black and white and grew up watching television in black and white, it shouldn’t be surprising that I enjoy black and white movies. (And for the record, I’m not a purest and I don’t object to the colorization of black and white films. A good movie is a good movie, regardless.)
In selecting older movies, I first consider those that are heralded as classics. I also give consideration to the classic films that Netflix suggests, based on my ratings that I’ve given to other films. A third reason why I will opt to partake in cinematic nostalgia is the people associated with a picture.
As far as directors, I opt for Alfred Hitchcock: North by Northwest, Vertigo, To Catch a Thief, and Rear Window are particular favorites. Not surprisingly, the main actors in these films also capture my attention. For the males, it is Jimmy Stewart and Carey Grant. On the female side, it is Grace Kelly, along with Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck, and Audrey Hepburn. Often I gravitate to anything that includes one of these four ladies.
Several years ago, I was again watching “To Catch a Thief” (a triple bonus: directed by Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly). There is a scene with Grace Kelly wearing a stunning white gown and adorned by a sparkling array of diamonds encircling her neck. Just then, my son walked into the room. “What are you watching?” he inquired. I provided more information about this classic tale than he wanted to hear or needed to know.
I then gushed about Grace Kelly and concluded by saying, “Isn’t she incredible?”
He stood silently for several moments, shook his head, and said, “I just don’t get it.”
How could he get a black and white movie? He probably dreams in color.
Fall means that I won’t likely be watering the lawn anymore for the rest of the season and that mowing will occur much less often. So you think that I would look forward to fall because it means a lot less yard work. While this is true, there is one thing that I dislike about fall—the knowledge that winter will soon follow it.
Spring is my favorite season. To me, spring means new life, fresh beginnings, and personal rejuvenation. Summer is a close second, with the warm days and a break from the normal schedule. Then comes fall, which weather-wise is an okay time of the year. But winter is a time that I view as something to endure. I know, I need to develop a more positive attitude about the season of cold and snow, but it’s hard for me to do—and seemingly gets harder every year.
I used to think that my dislike for the winter months centered around the lesser number of daylight hours, but it turns out that is more of an incidental issue, with the cold temps and blowing snow as the central cause of my angst. By working at home, I can largely avoid those twin threats, but by mid-winter, I start to get cabin fever, which is about as bad.
But right now, I need to not dwell on it—and enjoy fall while it lasts.
Years ago, on a Saturday, my lawn was again in need of liquid sustenance and I was in watering mode, repositioning sprinklers in half-hour increments. During one mid-morning trek, there were two birds on my deck railing. I walked by them slowly, wondering how close I could get before they flew off in fear. They never did, even though I passed within a couple of feet. I’m not sure if they are immature, sickly, or both.
This continued for several hours, even when I made no attempt to slow my approach or quiet my steps. Desiring to snap a photo, I retrieved my camera. As I was setting it for an outdoor shot, I heard a loud thud. Looking up, only one bird remained on the rail, with the other staggering in an apparent daze on the deck next to the window. Soon his friend fluttered down to join him.
I thought I missed my shot, but 30 minutes later they were again on the railing, where they stayed a few more hours.
The next day, as I rounded the corner of my house, one of them was sitting in the grass and I almost ran into him. He studied me carefully before casually flying to a nearby tree.
Sadly, the following Monday, there was a suspicious pile of feathers in about that same place. Today, the apparent survivor was alone, randomly walking on my driveway, as though not knowing what to do. Nature, for all its awesome beauty, can be painfully sad.
I remember, years ago, I used to like woodpeckers, admiring their colorful beauty and stately appearance, being amazed at their peculiar characteristic of using their beak as a drilling tool to find food or make a shelter.
However, when I learned that woodpeckers had taken an interest in my neighbor’s house, I immediately checked mine. Unbeknownst to me, they had been hard at work on the shutters on the south side of my home—fortunately, it was only the shutters.
My bride, an amazing cyber-sleuth, quickly learned that:
It was usually just one or two woodpeckers that attack one’s abode, not a flock of them.
There were a variety of motivations: looking for food, establishing a nest, or trying to attract a mate.
There was no one guaranteed solution, but a list of possible ones— that may hinge on their motivation for pecking.
Anything that hurts or kills a woodpecker—or disturbs their nests — is illegal; they are protected. (Not that I would want to harm them, but recalling the tenacity and rapidity of their work, courtesy of the old Woody Woodpecker cartoons, I can envision things quickly escalating out of control.)
As a first step, I filled and painted the holes.
That solved the problem—for a few days. Though they never returned to the south side of my house, they moved their focus to the shutters on the north side, which have now been filled twice and repainted.
I made a daily walk around my home’s perimeter, scrutinizing it for the telltale signs of a woodpecker at work. I am was pleased to state that I had been woodpecker free for seven days.
I have had a lifelong affection with words. An avid reader of fiction as a child and teenager gave way to becoming a student of nonfiction as an adult. Along with that goes forty-one years of random writing experience and eighteen as a magazine publisher. It should come as little surprise then, that I also enjoy crossword puzzles.
When I work a puzzle, I rely solely on the mind: mine and sometimes my family’s. (I used to tap all available non-human resources, but upon enduring merciless harassment after buying a crossword dictionary, I swore off artificial assistance.) Unfortunately, I am, quite ironically, a poor speller. (My “flexible” pronunciation of most words doesn’t facilitate spelling accuracy either.)
My wife often endures the brunt of my spelling deficiencies. It might go something like this:
“How do you spell Cat?”
“It’s not with a “K?”
“Could it be four letters? Like K-A-T-T or K-A-I-T?”
I ponder a bit more. “I can make kitty work if it only has one T.”
“No, there are definitely two Ts in kitty.”
I contemplate the situation some more, but I’m no longer thinking of a 4 letter word for feline. Instead, I’m marveling that a person with orthography issues, such as mine, could so immensely enjoy crossword puzzles—and generally complete them quite effectively.
Years ago, the squirrel population around our home seems to be on the increase. One of their favorite pastimes was gathering nuts from my neighbor’s trees and relocating them to my yard. For years this has been happening with acorns, resulting in me pulling up tiny oak trees each spring.
Now they’ve added hickory nuts to their menu, as my bare feet frequently encounter empty half shells in my lawn. Though they try to bury their treasures, my sod is too thick for them to have much success.
These squirrels are increasingly comfortable around humans, too, no longer scurrying away as I approach. When I was moving a sprinkler, I saw one squirrel furiously pawing at my grass attempting to dig a hole at the base of a Maple tree—and having some success in doing so.
I approached him to scare him off. He was not deterred.
Forty feet away and he stopped digging to give me a long look, not fearful, but amused.
Thirty feet away and he paused to give a long and vigorous scratch to the back of his head; I think he was grinning at me.
Twenty feet away and he rolled over on this back, but not in a posture of submission as some animals do. He shimmied from side to side, rubbing his back on the hole he was boring, feet flailing in the air with unabashed jubilation. I’m sure he was laughing at me, daring me to come closer.
Ten feet away and he scampered around the tree trunk, poking his head out to watch my approach.
I circled the tree and he did the same, climbing up several feet so we could look at each other in the eye. I think he was enjoying this.
We played hide and seek for a while, and then I couldn’t find him. Eventually looking up, I spied him perched on a branch, looking down on me from a safe distance.
I instructed him sternly to stop digging holes in my lawn. I think we have an understanding.
Years ago, I and my bride were talking with a young engaged couple and the subject of finances came up. I shared my thoughts and seemingly gave them something to ponder.
I said that most people in the US live beyond their means. They live paycheck to paycheck, are overextended, and one little glitch sends their world crumbling.
A few people in the US “live at their means.” That is, they spend their money wisely, save for a rainy day—which will eventually happen, don’t try to keep up with everyone else (who are actually living beyond their means), are careful using credit, and make careful investments. In short, they live fiscally responsible lives.
My goal, however, is to “live beneath my means.” That is, to live more simply than what I can afford to. This certainly doesn’t imply that I’ve taken a vow of poverty or anything of the sort—I have been too spoiled to attempt that—but I have sworn off extravagance and am largely content with what I have, be it home, car, clothes, and other possessions.
It is most freeing to be not always wanting more and yearning for what is unwise or unwarranted. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals—I do—but they aren’t materialistic in nature. I’ve learned that possessions can weigh you down and often make demands of you: be it time, attention, more money, or worry; plus you really don’t own them anyway—they often own you.
So, let’s keep it simple; it’s much more prudent and a whole lot less stressful.
In 2010, on a mailed statement, there was a notice that “for every 13 people who go paperless, one tree can be saved.” Really? What does that mean?
13 people go paperless with this company for one month and one tree will be saved, or
13 people go paperless with this company for one year and one tree will be saved, or
13 people go paperless with this company for as long as they’re a customer and one tree will be saved, or
13 people go paperless with all companies for the rest of their lives and one tree will be saved…
None of these explanations makes sense. The first two would not save much paper, while the last two contain too much variability to be accurately quantified. What does make sense is going paperless when it is sensible to do so.
I enjoy receiving invoices as email attachments. I don’t like the alternative of receiving a notice that a statement is available for me to download. Although a desirable precaution for banking and investment records, it is a hassle. You need to log into a secure site, enter your login and password, navigate to the right page, and download the statement. To make matters worse, it is inadvisable to click on email links, as they can direct you to a bogus site. It is also inadvisable to use the same login and password for each site, which adds another level of complexity and confusion.
I’m all for saving trees and doing whenever it is practical. However, when saving a tree is time-consuming and frustration-laden, I’ll pass. After all, a tree can be planted to replace the one I used, but the time lost in trying to save the tree is gone forever.
Although I live in a rural area, my immediate surroundings are not; I reside in a subdivision. Even so, wildlife abounds. During the non-snowy months, I can, at any given time, look out my office window and see at least one animal and usually more; I’ve spent the last five months verifying this to be true.
The most common sight is birds. Squirrels come in second; sometimes they’re in pairs: darting, jumping, chasing, climbing.
I also see rabbits; they are common, but not a daily sight (though I don’t spend my time gazing out my window either.) When I see a hare, it’s always alone, which is a bit sad to mention.
But today I saw two: hopping, playing tag, hangin’ out. Then a third one appeared. One hops to my left, the other scurries right, while the third goes in a circle. They were on the smaller side, perhaps siblings from this year’s batch.
Then to my delight, a fourth one-hopped into view. A bit larger and more deliberate in movement. I surmised this to be their mom. For quite a while I admired their comings and goings, their freedom and their life.
I’m glad I took the time to watch them frolic; it was good to slow down—and to marvel.