Monday, October 18, 2021

Gratitude Monday: finally

Last week’s weather was not bad—low- to mid-60s for my morning walks, and 70s to the cusp of 80 during the day. Not exactly Autumn in the District They Call Columbia, but not bad.

Saturday morning was a good walker. I overheard a couple of cyclists meeting up for a spin down the W&OD Trail commenting that they should get going “before the impending rain”. So, I checked WaPo, and sure enough, the forecast was for blustery showers in the afternoon, followed by a drop in temperatures.

This is precisely what happened: some wind, then gentle rain most of the afternoon, then a 20 degree drop. I closed the patio door and considered turning on the heat.

Yesterday, it was 50 degrees when I walked over to Whole Foods; it felt well and truly like Autumn. And I am so grateful to welcome it.


Friday, October 15, 2021

I long to hear you

We lost a giant of music this week; Paddy Moloney, founder and guiding pipe of The Chieftains, died Wednesday at age 83.

Moloney has been rightly credited with the revival of traditional Irish music, but he took his group down so many paths, creating albums with country, rock, classical and other musicians. He was curious and courageous in this respect, and all the genres have benefited from these collaborations.

President Joe Biden invited The Chieftains to perform at his inauguration, but COVID travel restrictions prevented them showing up. Biden’s said that one of his greatest wishes was to join with them in singing “Shenandoah”. That will not happen, but I’ll give you Paddy, The Chieftains and Van Morrison performing it on the soundtrack of a PBS show, The Irish in America.

Wherever you are, raise a glass for Paddy Moloney.




Thursday, October 14, 2021

Clearing out

Late last week there were “estate sale” signs around the hood, so on one of my walks I swung by and had a look. Not so much, originally, because of whatever items might be on sale, but for the layout of the house—one of the four-bedroom ones.

I have no insight into the circumstances of the event, although there has been a folded-up walker parked out front in the past. And I used to occasionally see an older fella sitting on the bench out front under the tree. So, I’m assuming that there’s either a death involved, or the occupant(s) moved into different accommodation.

However, from the moment I walked inside, I made a note to self: when the time comes for me to take either of those paths, get rid of everything beforehand. I mean, the term “estate” could be applied only in the loosest sense; well, maybe in the British meaning of “housing estate”, or ghetto. From furniture to clothes to dishware to electronics, there was not one single thing I would have if it were given to me. De gustibus non est dispuntandum and all, but I absolutely do not want anyone, friend or stranger, walking through my house and wondering, “Who would have this crap?”

(TBF, there were already pieces of painters tape with “sold” on some of the items, so I guess we’ve got the trash-treasure conundrum going.)

Beyond that, however, I thought it interesting that the four-bedroom unit looked so much smaller and crowded than my three-bedroom one. I felt like you don’t have room to stretch your arms out, so, ew.

But yesterday, outside the house, there were these items that clearly didn’t sell. We’ll see how long they last now that they’re free. 

Update: as of 1956 last night, only the last bicycle was left. I guess the pricing strategy worked. 



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Far out

I pass these two vehicles pretty much every day; they’re on one of the streets on my walking circuit and they’re parked next to one another.

SAMPL is an old truck and AUSWEG is a BMW. Both have seen better days.

Ausweg” is German for “exit”; literally “out way”, or—as the Brits say—“way out”.

Sunday morning I was shocked to see a gap behind the truck where the BMW always is; I was wondering where it could have auswegged to. But then I noticed it parked on a cross street, and I’ve been trying to make up a story for that ever since.



Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Transient splash

One of my neighbors has a squash vine going. It’s next to the pace where their trash bin is kept, so I don’t know if it’s something they planted or something that missed the bin. But I like squash blossoms—they’re splashy and spectacular; almost defiant in their color. I appreciate that kind of thing, so of course I took pix.

However, on my most recent pass by the plant, the flowers are gone, and I don’t see any squash. Guess that's life, eh?



Monday, October 11, 2021

Gratitude Monday: reading matters

I “attended” parts of a virtual cyber conference last week. The best sessions were interviews by the company CEO and various speakers. One of the questions the former asked was, “What are you reading these days?”

Paul Nakasone, head of the NSA, recommended Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War (Fred Kaplan) and The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation and the Longest Night of the Second World War (Malcolm Gladwell). Sue Gordon, former principal deputy director of national intelligence, had several, but the one I wrote down was American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (Pauline Maier).

(Gordon described the members of the Second Continental Congress as “average schmos”. My ex-boss said he agrees with her; “Not all of them were a Hamilton or a Franklin.” My thinking is that—while not all of them were intellectual titans, the very fact that they could afford to spend months in Philadelphia debating political philosophies set them aside from average schmos.)

When I say, “wrote [the titles] down, I mean that I pulled up the Fairfax County Public Library online catalog and placed holds on the books. For good measure, I also reserved Donna Leon’s and Louise Penny’s latest police procedurals. Friday morning I popped over to the People’s Republic branch and picked up two of the recommendations and Leon’s Transient Desires. I spent most off the weekend polishing off the mystery—such a luxury to spend a Sunday afternoon reading about Venice and eating madeleines (with the occasional break to toss a handful of seed onto the patio for birds and chipmunks).

That’s my gratitude today: the immense resources of the public library and hours of being lost in a book.



Friday, October 8, 2021

Tell truth from the lies

Other units in my company have pulled together their constituents for in-person team meetings, where people who are all working remotely get together, put faces and body language to voices and emails, whiteboard stuff and have some company-funded food and drink.

The group I am part of (under protest) is holding a virtual escape room exercise. I gotta tell you, I’m whelmed.

In honor of this, today’s earworm is Jefferson Starship’s “No Way Out”. Not only because it’s thematically appropriate, but because this video is suitably plotless. Just like my managers.




Thursday, October 7, 2021

Birds of a feather

In about the past month, I’ve started seeing Bird scooters abandoned around the People’s Republic. I have no idea where you find them to rent, whether there are racks of them like bike shares, or what; I also am without clue about how you rent them. Oh—there’s an app; of course.

I assume they need to be charged at some point, but whether the Bird fairies come by at night to collect them and take them to the mother ship, I do not know.

At any rate, here’s a pair of them, abandoned behind the ‘hood, looking a little forlorn.



Wednesday, October 6, 2021


A few weeks ago I looked at the screen door and saw this guy:

I watched him for a few seconds, and understood all the slime trails I’d seen on the outside of the screen.

I do not know why slugs would want to climb screen doors, but I knocked this sucker off and then sprinkled salt on him.

Just not in the mood.


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Fruitarian visit

Huh. In addition to chipmunks, know who likes cherries? Skunks. Viz. this guy who I heard snuffling about on Sunday night:


Also, notice that he turns up his skunky nose at carrots.