Monday, December 15, 2014


We are having weird weather, with temps in the 40s and rain.  And fog, lots of fog.  These are kind "Blair Witch-y" type photos but these are the same woods that I have have photographed with snow.  Now it seems that someone is going to throw an apple or just appear from the mist.  One shot is my road--seriously foggy, but kind of cool,

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Handel and all that

I just sat down after standing and lustily (and badly) singing along to Handel's Messiah.  I love music from that era and this is (can be) a very seasonal thing to do.  It is an amazing oratorio and more so because it has survived, well, it has survived 375-plus years of people singing it.

Certainly we weren't all like sheep in following his score and vision.  He started out with an orchestra of 35 and a choir of 20--it is not uncommon today to have 6-800 perform the Messiah.  The edition I have on my iPod has a mere 300 or so musicians.  That's like chamber music!

What I find equally interesting is how little people know about the WHOLE oratorio, mainly because it is so seldom that the whole score is presented.  There are Christmas, Easter, and short excerpt versions and you hear them more often. Blame Leonard Bernstein for the Christmas and Easter versions and organization.  Oh, those Sharks and Jets could sing!

 Most commonly heard is the Hallelujah Chorus and we all stand and often sing along.  I bet Handel hated that piece or at least the focus on it.  It is a catchy tune, but it is the 51st piece in the score in the recording I have and 43rd in Handel's original.  People stood in part because their legs were asleep.  It follows the piece with the most dreary excerpt of the Psalms ever,  "Thou Shalt Break Them."  Here, cheery holiday lyrics of  "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron: thou shalt dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel" push people into their seats.  Again, no wonder people stood up when that positively celebratory anthem rang out.  Hallelujah indeed.

My house is filled with music as I dredged up my battered iPod from digital oblivion.  I bought it in 2003 so it is ancient in Apple years.  There are 1200 songs and pieces in its old memory and I put it on shuffle.  I am going from Meatloaf to Handel to Phillip Glass to Abba to Dan Fogelberg to Johnny Cash to Bach and and and… Music has a visceral tie to memory circuits so it is kind of fun.  Rock on, Rachmaninoff!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Taking my iPad for a walk...

I have long been a proponent of the simple fact that the best camera in the world is the one that you have with you.  While I wait impatiently for my iPhone 6 (damn you Verizon!) I have been playing around with the new iPad Air that I recently received for work.  Its camera is not the best out there in phones or tablets, but I have found that it is remarkably good.  It has a better exposure system than most point and shoots, and while the lens is pretty much a wide angle, it is pretty sharp and it focuses and exposes well.  Some of the Apps are even more fun and add versatility to the camera--particularly for black and white photos.  Heck, I even bought Photoshop for it!

So today I went for walk in Hartwick Pines State Park, a small gem of a park about 40 miles away.  It is supposedly one of the largest old-growth forest in the state, and it is accessible and beautiful.  We have had a few inches of snow each of the last few nights and the forest and trails were perfect.  Candy coated trees everywhere, and the 30 degree temps made it a great day for a walk. I took two "cameras," the iPad and a near top of the line Canon 6D.  My apologies for yet more scenic pretty snowy trees with a path leading the way to unknown destinations, but it seems to be a theme of late--I probably should see someone for help in learning where the path/roads go, but in the mean time, here you go.  By the time you see them in this blog post, I think you would be hard pressed to tell the photos apart.    The camera in the iPad is that good.  Just a note, the square ones were taken by that, but can you tell the difference between a $3,000 camera and lens combo and the $399 iPad?  You can, but you have to look very closely.

I have laughed at people who have depended on their phones or tablets to capture life's important moments but I can see the appeal.  I easily could have done this whole blog from my iPad, but I do type and write more better with a laptop.  What was funny today was that people laughed at me.  Several people saw me taking these photos and they commented that people don't even have cameras anymore.  I didn't say that I have enough cameras for everyone, but it is true.  Minolta is out of business, Yashica/Contax  and Olympus are struggling, and sales of any camera below about $500 are shrinking every year.  Why buy a camera when your phone is a camera, too?

Well, I am not giving up on cameras, but I could see a project with just an iPhone 6.  And some European city/country.  Damn you Verizon!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A walk in the woods...

It is a nice day for a walk in the woods.  Actually,  it is a good day for a lot of things which may explain the whole thanksgiving thing.  It was mostly clear and a balmy 11 when I wandered around for an hour or so.  We had a few inches of snow last night but it wasn't really a photogenic snow but it wasn't too bad.  These photos were from the state land across the street from my house.  My house is pictured in the last shot.

I had time, of course, because I was in the midst of dinner preparations.  The chicken (sorry, the smallest turkey I could find was 14 pounds) was brining, the everything else was waiting and I went and walked.  The menu at "Chez Jason" is roasted chicken with tarragon, corn puddling, dressing and maybe I will make potatoes of one kind or another.  I figured the pudding had enough carbs and it had the added benefit of being a vegetable.  Sort of.  Wine is served--I opened a bottle of a great red Zin that I received in the mail from good friends.  How do you get to reach "good friend" status?  Send a wonderful bottle of California red wine!  I know, red wine and chicken.  I guess the chicken will just have to get used to it.

So life is fine.  I am most of the way through my laundry, my floors are mopped, my counter and table is clear, and generally the house looks pretty good.  I will sort type--I have 17 pounds of it to sort, if you could imagine.  Then I might even print something, though that will compete with shopping at 5AM for black Friday.  NOT!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Almost Thanksgiving

We had snow last night--go figure.  It was the kind of snow that is picturesque.  Certainly these photos don't capture the majesty of it all as men and technology just lack the ability to even come close.  Still, these photos give a glimpse of my wintery world.

It is almost Thanksgiving and people have been asking me what I am going to do.  I think of traveling and then I remember that the last time I traveled they closed the UP of Michigan, a place that seriously understands and copes with winter.  So I am not that thrilled with the prospect of 1500 miles of potential winter driving conditions.

I will probably stay close to home for most of the weekend.  To mark perhaps the high point of what might positively be called a "quiet life," I am excited that I am getting four new fonts of type today in the mail.  I guess in my life, nothing says excitement like "let's sort type!"    I can work on my visual acuity and practice my alphabet skills with big and little letters!  Whee!!!  I will mind my p's and q's though honestly I have more trouble with the b's and d's.

As for eating, I seldom go hungry but I will make an effort.  Hunters around me have offered bits of beasts of one kind or another to roast.  But I have been a successful hunter, too.  Don't mice count?  I have bagged a handful of the little _(!@$*)!@# in the past few days, almost enough for a mouse moose, or however you spell it.  A pie?  How long do you roast the little devils?  Mouse mignon?  Rodent ratatouille?

Nah, I will pass.  I will probably carefully brine some chicken wings, make some tater tots, and call it a meal. OK, I might aim a bit higher than that.  There is no KFC near here, so I will have to cook something. I promise it won't be something that you get at the only gas station in town, though I did see that they upgraded their wiener roaster and added new varieties…

I will in the end roast a chicken, make dressing and all that.  And shovel.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Tonight was the Eight Annual Faculty-Student Bowling Tournament, and I was a proud member of the "I don't give a split so spare me" team from academic administration.  Consisting of two VPs, a dean, and two spouses, we did moderately awful.  I think it is safe to say that we were hired for skills beyond our bowling talents.  Or at least I hope so.  It was fun, and since it was for the students, it was worth the humiliation.  I averaged almost 103 per game, so I am pretty much ready for the pro circuit!  Well, maybe I will practice a bit more.

The sunset is from the trip down to West Branch which east of most places.  It is a 40 minute drive to the big bowling alley.  The one on town has four lanes.   Tomorrow it is suppose to be in the high 30s and rain, so who knows what fall will bring us for the holiday week.

PS:  Tbe birds pictured in a previous post were American Gold Finches.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter--it's for the birds

Winter has struck and it seems to be staying around for a bit.  Probably only for 5-6 months, but it will be here for a while.  I have about 8-10 inches of snow on my house, but our campus center "up North," only 40 miles away has almost 30 inches and that will increase tonight as they are predicted to get 5-7 more.

While some around here seemed non-plussed by all of this, I am a bit nervous.  It is the middle of November and we are all OK with this?  We should fight!!!  Protest!!!  Rail agains the Man!  Or whatever it takes to lodge our protest agains this much snow so early.

My office has a window which is nice.  It does let a bit of light in during our 20 minutes or so of daylight, but it also let's me look out on the world.  I have seen turkeys out of it.  Man, that is a great line…some even had feathers!  Right now I can see the bird feeder right hanging right outside of it.  It is a busy place, the water fountain of the bird office world.  Birds flock (ha ha) to it, flitting and flying around.  It is almost like having an aquarium to watch though there are no fish or water or, well, an aquarium.  But otherwise that feeder is just like an aquarium.

I have to admit that this is only the third time that this blog has posted a picture of a bird.  There was an eagle once, and an osprey and a woodpecker another time and the predictable phot of the Kirtland warbler..  These aren't quite as majestic as they were just little things.  The males, of course, were better looking, but they were all pretty cute.  I will not venture a guess as to what kind of a bird thingy it is as I am certain one of the four or five people who actually read this blog will tell me what these were.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Important notice for all mice and other residents at 5554 N. Reserve Rd



It has come to the management's attention that there has been cavorting going on in this house.  This carrying on and the attempts to procreate (and any practicing)  must cease immediately.  I understand togetherness and all that and how it is lonely in Northern Michigan and  that the nights are cold and long and that you long for companionship but making an Amazon box into a love shack is just too much.   Playing house?  Really.  And those packing peanuts that you shredded?  Do you know what is in them?   No more canoodling, snuggling, cuddling, smooching, stroking, nuzzling, doing it, or even holding paws/feet/hands/tails in this house.  IT IS FORBIDDEN!!!

Of course, like all punishments, this will hurt and affect me far more than it will you. As a good leader, I (obviously)  lead by example, so I, too, will (continue to) refrain from canoodling, snuggling, cuddling, smooching, stroking, nuzzling, doing it, or even holding paws/feet/hands/tails in this house.

This edict is in place, unfortunately, for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The never-ending, lingering, not quite done yet war….

Roscommon, oh dark, oh dark night…

I am awakened by the sound of scrambling feet, small feet, tiny paws, as they scramble across the battlefield.  So attuned to their noise and the destruction and havoc that these tiny feet (or are they paws?  I pause to think.  I wonder if Wikipedia has that answer) can bring that I stay from slumber in hope of bringing the battle to them.

Alas, it is not possible.  I cannot seem to end this war without end, this everlasting battle.  I thought I was victorious.  Traps have been empty and there have been no sightings or visible signs of their existence.  I prayed.  I hoped.  But that was in vain.  The battle continues.

Instead I find the enemy just going underground and becoming sneaky little shits.  Speaking of that, that is part of the evidence that they continue this fight.  Today I saw this in an unlikely place.  I have a sugar bowl with natural organic squeezed by hand and dried naturally cane sugar.  A soldier's life is hard, and I have but one luxury, a small taste of this natural organic sugar for my tea.  As I dumped my first teaspoon into my tea I noticed how "organic" the sugar was.  The sugar was nothing but a minefield of mouse turds.  I think that was just from last night when a daring rebel raid did this.  I kind of hope it was just last night.  I drank a lot of tea yesterday.  Not so much tea today…  Now those sugar crazed hyena-like mice laugh at me in the night.  They laugh!!!

Other evidence shows that the fight will be for the long haul.  I did laundry for my bivouac last week but the tasks of leadership kept me from immediately folding it.  When I returned to that task yesterday and began folding my exquisite 600+ thread count Egyptian natural organic cotton sheets (my other luxury besides the sugar) I discovered the rebel stores.  More than 50 acorns fell from their folds.  They used my clean sheets as a storage depot!  As I emptied the basket of my dainties, I found that they also stored countless more nuts in my luxurious 12 thread count underwear, a fact both ironic and disturbing.  Damn them.  DAMN THEM!

They laugh.  They plot, but I am king of this castle!  I have a checkbook!  I have the directions to a hardware store.  I will fight on!  Beware, mouse friends.  I pledge eternal vigilance and more sticky traps.  Beware of anything that smells like peanut butter or cheetos!

And stay out of my sheets.

Monday, October 27, 2014

End of fall morning

This morning was in the very low 30s, and on the way to work in the middle of thunder and lightning of a late late late late late late summer thunderstorm, my car was pelted with not so liquid rain.  It is October and it is illegal even in Northern Lower Michigan to mention that one word term for non-liquid rain this early in the year.

Snow.  There I said it.  And more flurries scheduled for later in the week.    But the sky was remarkable as this storm front moved through.  Blue, black, and countless other colors provided the background for leaf-less naked (leaves-less?)  trees.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


You know what?  It was just a nice day.  I was out of bed by about, oh, 8:30 which was a luxury.  I made tea and read the New York Times and then did chores.  I can even see my table!  I went to "town" to have breakfast and coffee and it was good.  I grocery shopped and even bought healthy stuff.  Once home I raked for an hour and then mowed/mulched and took care of at least 10% of the leaves around this place.  For dinner I had a perfect grilled cheese sandwich made with a good English cheddar  and a wine that was far too good for such simple food.  And now I am sorting type.

To top it off, I received a press in the mail.  I bought it on Ebay a while ago, but it had a long journey from England before it finally made it to me.  I know I am a total geek and it is weird that someone would say a press is cute, but this one is cute.  It is made to print Victorian Era calling cards and you can see from the photo that is tiny.  It is at best 9-10 inches long and it requires half-heighth type which of course is not available.  I don't care.  It looks great on a table or perhaps, even on a key chain.  OK, it isn't that small but it is petite.

It was a stunning day weather-wise as well.  It was in the low 60s and while windy, very pleasant--a perfect fall day.  There is still some color but you have to look for it.  I think of my earlier photos when I had to look for one or a few leaves to photograph.  Then I had but to turn slightly to see and   photograph millions of red, yellow, and orange leaves.  Now, fall wanes, and you have to look for straggling leaves that are still hanging on.

It isn't that leaves are less pretty when they are sparse.  Finding a branch with what one poet called an "arm of flame" is still possible.  Perhaps, finding such a block of color still on the tree is even more striking--certainly we treasure what is rare.

I just like pretty leaves.

As always, click on the photo to make them bigger.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It was a very foggy morning--30 degrees and lots of wet ground from a few weeks of rain made it so.  Pictured here is beautiful downtown Roscommon.  The first shot is the fine clothier/haberdashery in town, also known as St Vincent DePaul,  and the other shot is of the train tracks, our public transport for hobos and other adventurous types.  Interesting about the train tracks--we don't have many trains running through, but if you happen to be in Fred's, our fine-dining supper club, when a train does go through town, they give you a shot.  Yep, a waiter/waitress walks through with a tray of shots.  Apparently it is to calm you from the excitement of a train rumbling by.  Hey, it doesn't happen too often and we do celebrate signs of progress here.

The other shots are from the College--it really is a beautiful campus.