Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

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  • RSS Cat Cartoon w/o the Cartoon

    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
    • December 31, 2011
      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
    • December 30, 2011
      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Archive for the ‘Trivia’ Category

Disturb us, lord

Posted by joeabbott on June 22, 2018

I’m a sucker for a quote and while I like a pithy turn of phrase, I was recently introduced to a longer “prayerful poem” attributed to Sir Francis Drake (1577) and I thought I’d share it here:

stormy_sea_by_alexlinde-d3y6mgd.jpegDisturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

I’ll admit it’s a big challenge to live up to those words in their entirety, but they give me inspiration and help me remember to set a high bar for what I hope to accomplish.

Here’s wishing your disturbances are in measure with your capabilities, your future is full of strength and courage, and you find both hope and love along the way.

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A little time off

Posted by joeabbott on April 21, 2018

WP_20140627_001For a guy who doesn’t mind working one bit, I do have to say the relentlessness of routine sometimes assails me and it really feels good to have a little unstructured time. This is one of those times.

I think it’s in large part due to things that have come before, what’s in front of me, and just my busy life. You see, since breaking my elbow in December (yes … I’m still going on about that), I have some abandoned projects I’d intended to tackle; that weighs on a guy. Also, with my new found resurgence for hiking and climbing, I’m out every weekend … which leads to time away, not doing other stuff, and a garage full of drying gear most days of the week. And, there won’t be an end until later in June.

Mondays are a nice break, but Tuesday I’m up at 5:15AM and have about 15 minutes after getting home that evening to grab dinner before I head to the gym for classes … and then get back at 8PM, giving me a couple hours to do what I want, clean up for bed, and then do it again. Wednesdays I’ve been trying to hike up a local peak after work and have been fortunate this goes pretty quickly … and hour up and an hour down, getting me home around 7PM. Not bad. Thursday is a mirror of Tuesday.

This means I get Friday evening to prep gear for my weekend outing and I run run run.

So, for a guy who really does like the company he works for, likes the work he does, and likes staying busy, I’m looking forward to this coming week off. What do I have planned?

Well, Suzy and I will see a couple movies, we don’t do that enough. I’ll try to get in a small woodworking project … I’ve been using a cart Suzy bought for her Master Gardener clinics (the MG season hasn’t opened just yet) to dry and arrange my gear on so I need a replacement station. I’ll blog some more and have a number of things to organize and tidy up. Of course there’ll be a couple of days of general labor around the yard, but for a desk jockey, that seems like it’ll be fun.

In short, a little this and a little that. Of course I’ll more regularly visit my blogging duties. Sounds perfect.

Here’s hoping your coming week has a little bit of perfect in it, too. Thanks for dropping by.

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One of the greatest pics of all time? You decide

Posted by joeabbott on April 15, 2018

When I want to waste time I surf Reddit … it’s great. Because I only give myself minutes to waste, I typically stay on the “front page”, where those items that are significantly ”upvoted” show up … that is, where many people who subscribe to the site “like” it. And that’s where I see things like this … one of the greatest photos of all time:

image

It was submitted as part of a story entitled, In many North American areas in which wolves have been reintroduced, the resident coyotes are seeing them for the first time. I’m pretty sure those coyotes are remembering an urgent appointment across the valley’ they’d forgotten about, but look at that wolf!! Terrifying! I’m sure it’s just curious and looking on, but it appears to be 10 yards beyond the coyotes and it’s massive. The fur is bristly, the head lowered, and the eyes are almost glowing.

I believe wolves are pack hunters, but this fella looks like he could have a go at being a pack of one. Beautiful animal, beautiful picture.

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Weather on my mind

Posted by joeabbott on March 17, 2018

I seem to like to do these … these little snapshots of Seattle life. They amuse, bemuse, and sometimes confuse me … mostly it just makes me smile.

Here’s my typical impression of Seattle spring days:

image

Friday was sunny, the weekend had chances of showers, and the start of the week back to sunny.

Now, I’ll take a sunny spring day in Seattle any time I can get it, but this is one of those bemusing times: I get a chance to get outdoors, and the rains seem to settle in on those days. And yes, I am smiling. It’s a wry smile, but it’s there. I’ll remind myself it’s St. Patrick’s Day today, and without a little rain I wouldn’t be able to find my rainbow and its pot of gold at the end.

Here’s wishing you a fine day with your own smiles.

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It doesn’t snow often in Seattle

Posted by joeabbott on March 17, 2018

And when it does, we’re typically not all that ready. In recent years they’ve (city, state, county and businesses) made more of an effort to be ready. Meaning warnings are issued, walks are salted, and they even send out plows. However, because it doesn’t snow here all that often, you see things like this in the aftermath:

image

Yup, all those lane-dividing indicators and reflectors end up pealed, popped, or broken-off the roadway.

File this under: scenes from a town that doesn’t have complete planning for snow.

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Valentine’s Day

Posted by joeabbott on February 18, 2018

WP_20180218_09_43_51_ProValentine’s Day with Joe and Suz was a special time … also known of as “Cold and Flu Season”. As a result, we shared a very nice meal prepared by Suzy, exchanged homemade cards, and then sat together holding hands on the couch. A syrupy, maudlin moment only tainted by our mutual blowing of noses, deep-chested coughs, and a bit of mild sneezing. If it gets worse, public authorities will erect barricades outside our home to keep a contagion from spreading.

But, we’re on the mend.

One of the things that made the day even more special was a card and note my mother sent us. She acknowledges Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts, but sent her note just the same and I can’t tell you how much we love that woman. She makes our lives better in so many ways.

First there was the simple card: velvety to the touch and festoon with rhinestones; it acknowledged us both and was simply signed. Big smiles all around at the thoughtfulness. But inside there was more!

With prior letters she’s included little square cards that you open for a motivational or thoughtful message. The front encourages you to embrace the day with mine saying:

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. – Ruth Ann Schabacker

WP_20180218_09_44_50_Proand Suzy’s saying

Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will …  — Johann Wolfgang von Goerthe

For two people who could easily get lost in self-pity, these messages could only help rally the spirits and ask us to keep an eye on the horizon. Good stuff.

And finally she included a couple of crisp two dollar bills, each bearing a Post-It proclaiming: This is for you! (from the Book Fairy!!)

Included was a small note saying this:

Just thought I’d send you one of Uncle Joe’s $2’s. Among his things, Dana and I came across a pack of over 60 two dollar bills. I didn’t have the heart to spend them, and finally decided on how to move them along … So every now and then, when I go to the library, I take along one of them with a little post it on it, like this one … And I roam around in the children’s book section and where there’s an empty spot, between rows of books, I’ll leave it there on the shelf, kind of low down … so a little girl or boy will come across it  Smile I’ve been doing this for a couple years now, and have about 10 or so left. I’m sure there librarians who come across them, are wondering who this “Book Fairly” is. We’ve recently built a new Shoreview library, near the old one which is now offices, so I’ve moved my business over there… it’s a fun diversion for me – I’m sure UJ is chuckling. And I’d love to be a fly on the wall so I could see the little one’s reactions. And their mother’s reactions! Such are the games that we Ancient Ones love to play!

WP_20180218_09_45_27_ProWell, she can consider the Book Fairy to have conscripted a couple of helpers out in Seattle!

One little Valentine and so much heart I can’t stop the smiling for how special and welcome that card was. As for Suzy and me? Well, it’s four days since V-Day and we still have cold symptoms but are planning to take a walk through a park somewhere … either today or tomorrow. We’re “untying the ribbons” but they’re coming off slowly.

Thanks for dropping by … I hope you didn’t catch anything!

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A good lesson

Posted by joeabbott on February 18, 2018

imageConsidering my last post, it appears I’m in an introspective mood … perhaps New Year’s Resolutions are just now catching up to me. I’m a procrastinator, so I wouldn’t be surprised. But I read another person’s post that I’ll share here … it spoke to me about some of my own traits and ways to improve change.

I follow a blog called The Daily Skeptic and it’s a woodworking blog … or, kind of is. Eric Key is the owner and he posts frequently and includes lots of photos and short pieces … they come so regularly that he has to be self-employed or retired. It’s nice because everything is short and the topic is typically some woodworking project he’s doing. And it’s motivational for me because he does a lot of things that I think are beyond me right now … but he presents them in a way that I ask, “are they beyond me?” It’s good stuff.

But today he posted a piece called Sloth that hit home in a lot of ways. He talks about buying a tool he didn’t make time to use, he talks about making time to teach himself a new technique, and he ends by sharing how he failed his way to success … and in the process, learned to slow down. I won’t steal his story or try to provide a shortened version; as I said, they’re already easily digestible in a quick reading.

I appreciate bloggers like Eric who can teach me more than just technique without it becoming a “change your life” or some other sort of sermon. I want to talk about other bloggers I follow but I’ll hold for now … Sloth is good enough to have it’s own quasi-repost.

Thanks for dropping in.

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Edgewise by Pavel’s Puzzles

Posted by joeabbott on December 31, 2017

Earlier in my winter break, I wrote about a puzzle I received as a gift and how it’s been on my mind … and dinner table … since I opened it up. Well, the holidays, a broken elbow, and being stumped by this puzzle all have solving it on hold but I still glance at it, wonder a bit, and then move on. I’m at the point where I’m truly stumped.

After writing my post (A Grand 54th), I was tickled to receive a comment from Pavel himself, offering for me to drop him a line if I wanted a hint. I didn’t then but will take one now … I’ll either reach out to him a day or two or wait for him to reply here. I’m going to collapse this next section because IT CONTAINS POTENTIAL SPOILERS! If you’re working on Edgewise and don’t want to be polluted by my thoughts, pictures of my progress, or anything like that, don’t expand this section and just move on.

Consider that fair warning.

Read the rest of this entry »

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You used up all the glue on purpose!

Posted by joeabbott on December 21, 2017

imageOK I’m guilty of using the same movie for a second quote … A Christmas Story is an annual part of our movie watching tradition and I was reminded of it again yesterday when I dropped a bowl and saw it break on impact. Guess my hand still has a way to go to heal up.

I’m on the fence about the modern tactic of not putting a broken limb in a cast. Many times a day I’m reminded that even an inactive lifestyle has you moving and interacting with your surroundings enough to cause a lot of pain, and yet I’m able to shower and wash and scratch or rub my arm as I wish; something I couldn’t do if I were in a cast. I’m also able to gauge the improvement in strength (a little) and flexibility (not much) with a cast off. But that pain … pretty intense when it shows up. Oh well.

So what have I been up to (aside from damaging the crockery)? Well … it was wrapping day on Tuesday and yesterday we went out to see a movie!

Gifting

Sometime before the holiday we agree on what sort of gift we’ll give each other … saves embarrassment if Suzy were to finally give me a pony on the year I decide to simplify and give her a LifeSaver’s Christmas Hard Candy Sweet Storybook. Because I really loved the cards she gave me this year, I decided to give her 12-days of cards at Christmas time … below they’re lined up on the mantle and each one has a small date on it.

For those who see the uninspired “Wife” as the salutation on the envelope … they all say “Wife” and it’s a carry-over from when we were first married and I was tickled she’d agreed to marry me. It just made me smile a lot and continues to. She will get to open one from 12/20 thru New Year’s Eve.

WP_20171220_15_27_04_Pro  WP_20171220_15_27_18_Pro

This year, aside from the cards, we agreed to just giving each other small gifts that would fit in a sock. Because I’ve lost a lot of dexterity, she’s allowed me to put stuff into a box instead. I needed two.

WP_20171221_07_39_31_Pro

Movie time!

I love the movies! Not enough to really go the them all that much, but I have a blast when we do. I overeat popcorn, be sure to arrive early to get the seat I want, and almost always LOVE the shows I see. I see maybe one a year, so in order to make it worth it, I come in with a super low bar and an eager receptor for whatever entertainment comes my way! Not really a discerning cinephile, but I’m OK with that.

imageSo we saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi and it was pretty good.

You may sense a bit of understatement there and it’s true. While the movie had hero moments, lots of things blowing up, and involved the Star Wars universe … well, I was a bit at sea. First, I didn’t recall what happened in earlier franchise movies for this one to carry over well for me. Second, there was some stuff I just didn’t get … any minute I was ready for Kylo Ren to say, “Rey, I’m your brother!”, due to this persistent mind meld\share thing they had going on with Rey.

I liked the moments with Poe Dameron … he did a good job for replacing the dashing swagger lost with the absence of Han Solo. And the pacing of the movie kept things brisk, although I was ready for it to be over when it was done.

If I had to put my finger on it, the thing that kept me from really loving it was the Luke Skywalker character. I’m OK with the whole “I’m turning my back on the Force” thing, I’m fine with the “no more students of the Force”, but I think I really wanted him to go out with more of a bang. Without giving too much away, he stood against a bunch of bad-guy tanks (AT-ATs, I think they’re called), and I really wanted to see him wave his Jedi hand and bring them all to their knees. WOULD HAVE LOVED IT. Didn’t happen.

So I’m left trying to understand what’s going on and I just don’t normally put that much mind power into movies. I go, I’m entertained, I come home to my home life. The end. So, still working this one out. But it was fun, so go see it and judge for yourself.

Coda

I have an upcoming blog post on video games so feel free to leave this channel for a while if you wish. I get that not everyone likes video game stuff, but I completed Fallout 4 last night so it seems like a good place to stop and consider some of the recent games I’ve finished … what I liked and why. But, thanks for dropping in and hope you get to enjoy some free time this holiday season, too!

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Stop in your tracks moment

Posted by joeabbott on December 8, 2017

I’m not a huge Facebook fan but I like to stay connected to family and friends, a voyeur into their lives more than a contributor. I put myself out there enough in other ways that the instantaneousness of a Facebook post feels vacuous. And this comes from a guy who’ll post about Bing searches and Yeti. Still, good stuff comes to me from perusing the various posts from my friends and family and a recent visit stopped me in my tracks.

The piece was re-posted by a climbing friend and is a poem by Wendell Berry, someone I’d not heard of prior to that introduction. I read the poem, stopped, reread it … and then just sat there reflecting. It was beautiful and moving in its simplicity and voice. I’ll share it here … it’s called The Peace of Wild Things:

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

As I reread I literally got goose bumps. I’m not sure why it speaks to me. As social and extroverted as I am, I find deep contentment in solitude and silence, I find healing in the winds high in the hills, and I have a yearning to see day-blind stars, waiting for their light.

It’s a good piece. Good enough to have me read up on Wendell Berry, good enough to put one of his books on my Amazon wish list, and good enough to share with all of you. Thanks for coming by.

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