Picture This

Yesterday, I decided to scratch an itch I have had for a while now. Over the years, while writing this blog, I have frequently incorporated pictures that I have taken with my cell phone camera. I love doing this and feel that pictures, properly displayed, can tell their own stories. And, since I am going to take them anyway, I thought I would share some of them with you.

I once created a blog called Inklings at poormanspoet.wordpress.com to showcase my poetry, but ultimately abandoned it and consolidated everything on this blog. However, Inklings has been sitting there waiting for me to come up with another brilliant idea and, although the name can be a little misleading, I have decided to use it as my venue for posting my pictures. It will contain only my photographs and a caption. Text will be minimal. I will leave you to decide the value of the pictures.

I posted the first entry last night on Inklings. I hope you will take a moment to check it out and or leave a comment.

Posted in Cell Phone, Perspective, Photo, Reflection, Tribute, Vision, Whimsey | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

For Every Action

It has been a long and often dreary winter. For most of it, we were spared a lot of snow, but the cold and winds were biting. Plus, as is always the case, in the winter, our days end at four P.M. and the extended nights begin. But, you don’t live here if you are not prepared to confront this part of the annual cycle. It is part of your environment and it is up to you to deal with it.

Being a Mainer both by chance and choice, and a New Englander by birth, winter is kind of like the stars. Sometimes there. Sometimes not. But you always know it/they will return. In fact, as Autumn begins to decline, you may even have feelings of anticipation. You pride yourself on having the stamina to withstand another one and may even harbor some disdain for the Snowbirds that head for warmer climbs at the first frost. This, you decide, is what makes you a Mainer.

But the time between when the last oak leaf falls and the first robin appears can ultimately wear on you. Your bravado becomes a little frayed and your days begin to look a lot alike. The winds continue to blow and, as is usually the case, Mother Nature saves the worst for last and turns February and March into a mixed bag of snow, sleet, and ice. The streets (and your kitchen floor) are becoming sand boxes and everyone’s car is an unpleasant shade of brown as are most snowbanks. It is hard to think of anything nice to say.

That’s the way I was feeling a few days ago. I went to bed to snow showers, expecting that in the morning, I would be plowing the driveway…again. But, it is what it is, and somewhere deep inside, you still have an optimistic view of things to come. Very deep inside.

But, as it is said, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that is what I experienced the next morning. Upon rising and opening the shades, I was met with bright sunlight and a winter palate of white pearls covering everything. I quickly prepared for my day, and, donning my coat and boots, snapped the leashes on the dogs and headed for our morning walk. The snow wasn’t deep. Maybe 4 inches. But it was dry powder which allowed it to sit lightly on everything.

As we walked, I found my attitude changing. My spirits began to lift. How could they not when I was being treated to a beautiful renewal of my world. I began to think again, how lucky I was to live where I could behold such beauty. A reminder that if you look hard enough and wait long enough, you will remember why you love it here. For every action. Yup, I’m a believer.

Posted in Beauty, Life, Maine, Perspective, Photo, Random Thoughts, Reflection, Seasons, Winter | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Kramer’s Korner

Hello again all my rabid readers. Kramer here with another installment of my blog. Well, my page actually. Bob still claims the blog is his. The past two weeks have not been particularly exciting, but they have been kind of eventful. You see, Mother Nature has decided that we have been kind of flying under the radar when it comes to snow. So, she has been trying to make up for it. We have had multiple snowstorms recently, bringing varying levels of snowfall, sleet, and ice. Plus, she doesn’t believe we should enjoy any days above freezing either, so there has been no melt. With what we already had on the ground, it is starting to add up. Of course, for me, that means new vistas to conquer, new horizons to explore, and new snowdrifts to scale. And, of course, putting on that damn coat.

I am learning a lot about this winter thing, like all snow is not equal. Some is wet, some dry and powdery. And frequently, it hides a lot of stuff underneath it. One day I can walk on it and others, I disappear in it. That’s why I bring Bob on my walks. If the breaststroke fails, he can lend a hand, or two, although I have noticed it does have a definite impact on his attitude.

On one of our recent walks, it didn’t take me long to scope out something new besides snow. So, I decided to investigate.

With the stealth of a Sherpa, I proceeded to the first crest and surveyed the tundra.

Catching a scent, I forged on, scaling new heights.

The scent grew stronger. I knew where I had to go. But, was Bob watching?

I waited for the opportune moment to make my move. Quickly and skillfully, I hurtled down the other side of the snowdrift, boldly, without caution, until reaching my goal. A treasure trove of deer tracks, clearly outlined in the snow. Bob had told me that they frequently crossed the road at this point, but this was my first time to examine the evidence. I was blown away.

Well, Bob has been spending a lot more time volunteering at the shelter. Basically, whenever they have small animals to be neutered or requiring medical treatment beyond their physical capabilities, they transport them to a vet that ironically is about five miles from where we live. Unfortunately, it is about twenty miles from the shelter. So Bob frequently volunteers to take the animals to the vet in the morning and picks them up in the afternoon. But here’s the good part, A lot of the time, he takes me with him for the ride, being that I am such good company and all. This week we transported two rabbits one day, three dogs the next day and two days later, one cat. I like the dogs best because coming home, they are still coming out of anesthesia and will frequently sing to us. I don’t normally join in as I don’t know a lot of the songs. But it is fun to ride up front in my car seat and just enjoy the ride.

I guess that’s about it for this week. I hope this weather breaks soon. Bob says that the next season that everyone else calls Spring, we call Mud Season, but it’s still at least a month away. Can’t wait for that. So, til next time, this is your old pal Kramer reminding you to keep a smile on your face and a treat in your pocket. And to all my still homeless friends, trust me, there is a family that wants you as much as you want them. Hang in there.

Until next time

Chow (no reference to other breeds is intended or implied)

Kramer

Posted in Dogs, Friendship, Home, Humor, Life, Perspective, Pets, Random Thoughts, Reflection, Relationships, Seasons, strays, Weather | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Kramer’s Korner

Well, fearless followers, it is time for celebration. Yup. Party time. Why you ask? Because yesterday, I reached another milestone. That’s right. I turned two years old. I can’t say it has been easy, training Bob and all, but at least he remembered, and I guess there is something to be said for that. Anyway, we had a small party including a cake, made just for dogs, which Sophie and I shared. It had a cookie bone on top which I quickly removed.

They both sang Happy Birthday to me, although it was more like “a joyful noise”. Anyway, It was a great surprise and I am looking forward to another year of fun, adventure, and maybe just a little mischief. Stay tuned.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that Sophie had gotten a box of banana peanut butter cookies for Christmas and, although a little difficult for me to chew, Sophie loved them, and I do not really mind expending the extra effort to enjoy a few myself. They came from Trader Joe’s market in Portland. So, the other day, Bob and I set out to go there and pick up a couple of boxes, plus, Bob is on a Keto diet and they were purported to carry a fair selection of low carb foods. I loved the ride because it took us down near the ocean and the industrial waterfront. And he showed me the home of B&M Baked Beans, an historic brand here in New England. It turns out that Trader Joe’s is quite popular. Bob had to wait in a line to enter. He was gone quite a while but I didn’t mind as the car was warm and I had my car seat to curl up in.

Speaking of Bob’s diet, I have to say I am proud of him. Since the beginning of January, he has lost 14 pounds. The only thing I don’t like is not getting my share of snacks that he no longer can eat. But, if Bob can live with it, I guess I can too. Maybe he will burn out and crank open a jar of peanut butter or a box of donuts. One can only hope.

Bob is still dueling with Sophie about the carpet scratching thing. He has now abandoned the plastic sheet (or what was left of it), and the Goodwill blanket which she would scrunch into a pile before scratching the carpet. His latest endeavor is a small throw rug he got at Walmart. He figured the pile was similar to that of the carpet so she could scratch that, and scratch she did. The first morning, he found it in a heap in a different part of the living room. He is still trying, but it doesn’t look like he is winning this one either. Sophie 3. Bob 0.

Well, I guess that’s all for this time. Hope all is well with all of you, my welcome readers and that this is the year of peace and love. Til next time, this is Kramer reminding you to keep a smile on your face and a treat in your pocket. And to all my still homeless friends, there is a family for you. You just haven’t found each other yet.

Catch ya lata (that’s later in Maine speak)

Kramer

Posted in Celebration, Dogs, Family, Laugh, Life, Pets, Reflection, Relationships, strays | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Doing Unto Others

The other day I read a post by Colin Andray, publisher of A Dogs Life…and mine…and yours.  In it, he explored the concept of doing unto others as you would like them to do unto you.  It sounds so simple, that I guess I never gave it a lot of thought.  When I was growing up, that principle was as cast in stone as was making sure we were home in time for dinner.  A diversion from either had it’s consequences.  But as I read on, and he probed the difference between like and expect, I began to give it more thought.  Specifically, how often are actions taken, words spoken, or gifts given with the express purpose of putting another expectation, called reciprocation, on our shelf, to be recovered at some future date.  I am in mind of a time when a get well card was circulating around the office for a peer that was ill.  One lady declined to sign it because “she never did anything for me”.  So much for charity.

Over the years, in retrospect, I am probably guilty of actions that were not sterling either like buttering up a manager in hopes of gaining favor, or hey, just getting ready for Santa. I know we all have done it.  The question is, is it my normal mode of operation or is my halo just a little crooked.  I’d like to think I am guided by the principle of trying to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, that being both my purpose and my reward.

I’ve seen eighty plus years worth of this world, so I can speak with some authority when I say that where I live today pales by comparison to where I have been.  We have evolved into a me first generation.  Everything seems to be predicated on “what’s in it for me”.  Such a foreign philosophy, at least to me.  Being brought up blue collar, we didn’t have a lot nor did our neighbors.  The times were I think tougher then they are today. Sure, you can point to the Covid threat, and would of course be right.  But consider this.  If you were born in 1900, by the time you were 55, you would have lived through World War I, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Polio Epidemic,  Small Pox, and were experiencing the Vietnam War.  Collectively, they killed over 470 million people.  Yet they survived. And miraculously, so did their sense of purpose, their desire to stand next to their neighbor and friend and give what little they had, not for themselves, but because it was the right thing to do.

You may call me cynical, and perhaps I am.  Perhaps my today is like an ill fitting suit that is no longer stylish, but I wear it because I am comfortable in it. I prefer instead to think of myself as a person that has seen enough to make an educated decision on what I would like my world to be, and have decided that this isn’t it.  But I also am heartened in the thought that giving without reservation is not dead.  As we tackle the current plague you can see the outpouring of acts and actions by millions that harbor the same principles, and live them.

It is often said that what goes around comes around, and I hope it is true.  I hope also that the love that beats deeply within the heart of our nation will once again overwhelm the pettiness and self serving actions that drive it today.  We had it once.  We can have it again.  It is however what I want, not what I expect.

Posted in Commentary, Insight, Life, Opinions, Perspective, Random Thoughts, Reflection | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Daddy’s Girl

Little boy sleeping with teddy bear

I cherish the perfection laid before me
The innocence of my sleeping child
Auburn hair, draped upon her pillow

Lollipops and candy canes
Frolic in technicolor dreams
In her world of make believe

I dare not deny I am her captive
Held in her hand, held in my heart
Her foil to do with as she may

Slowly I move closer, pausing
Fearing that I will wake her
With the muffled beating of my heart

Stirring, a sigh slips from her lips
Tiny legs move with a quiet rhythm
As she dreams of dancing with the fairy’s

Dance on, Daddy’s girl

Posted in Beauty, Children, Free Verse, Life, Love, Poetry, Reflection, Relationships | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Kramer’s Korner

Greetings again to all my faithful fans. This is Kramer, living the dream, up here in our winter wonderland. Boy, it’s been cold. So cold that Bob bought me a heavier coat, and, since one of our daily walks is after dark, it has reflective straps, so oncoming traffic can see me. That means of course that they would probably hit him. He does, however, have a head light that makes us a little more visible. But, not to worry, he finally figured out that he too should be protected and last week he bought a reflective vest. I was a little relieved because if he did get hit, I had no way of getting back in the house.

There hasn’t really been a lot going on.  It’s been kind of boring actually, so I had to improvise.  While wandering around looking for something to do one day, I noted that Bob had left the mudroom closet door open so I decided to have a little looksee.  And what do you suppose was in there.  Yup.  Bob’s Bean boots.  That’s when I decided to create my version of a Boot Camp, and dragged one of them though the kitchen and into the living room.  Since then, I have done this on a rather regular basis.  In fact, there is a pair of them sitting in there right now. Bob scolds me, but I know he doesn’t mind.  He knows I can’t hurt them and, since they weigh about as much as I do, I tire easily and take a nap.

Bob has been having a little problem with Sophie.  Not a problem really.  More a matter of divergent opinions.  You see, Sophie prefers to sleep downstairs in the living room, dining room etc.  And, at her advanced age, she has developed a penchant for scratching up the carpet.  Sophie sees nothing wrong with this as it is a normal dog trait while making their bed.  So far, Sophie has been winning.  Bob started covering the area with a large bath towel.  Well, Sophie thought that was great and proceeded to scratch it into threads.  So Bob moved on to plan B.  He surmised that she would not like walking across or laying on a sheet of heavy plastic, and he was right.  She didn’t like it at all.  The next morning, this is what he found. It’s kind of fun watching him.  He’s quite amusing when frustrated. He finally decided to change tactics.  If that is where she wanted to sleep, he would accommodate that. So he went to Goodwill and bought a big old blanket for $3.00.  So far, although it gets molested during the night, it has held up.  At the moment, it is a standoff.

Well, that’s about it for this time around. I will leave you with one more picture that Bob shot of me as I was preparing to write this blog post. I know he means well, but he can be annoying when you are trying to create. I’ve got to find some kind of toy for him to chase.

So good friends, until next time, this is your old pal Kramer signing off. And remember, keep a smile on your face and a treat in your pocket. And a shout out to my buddies at the shelter. Hang in there. There is a family out there for you too.

Adios

Kramer

Posted in Dogs, Friendship, Home, Humor, Life, Perspective, Pets, Reflection, Relationships, strays | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Written Gifts

Staring, anxious
Desperate to create
In the void
Thoughts tumble, defy definition

Words, tangled
Sort them, bend them 
Place them 
Change, discard

Again, start again
Think, scribe
Yes, yes, that is it
Sculpted lines

Fly, take wing
Sing of me
Scatter on the wind
Without discretion

My gift, humble
Offered, Given
My reward
Acceptance

Posted in Free Verse, Poetry, Reflection, Senses, Writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Have It Your Way

I spent several years working for a corporation in customer service related roles, so I am probably more sensitive to and critical of poor customer skills.  I was reminded of this again earlier today.  I had been analyzing my IRA and had decided that my financial institution wasn’t doing me any favors.  So, reviewing several other organizations on the web, I selected one that offered higher rates.  They were not going to make me rich, but they were definitely better then what I have.  I drove over there and asked to speak with someone about transferring my IRA to their bank.  I was asked to take a seat and someone would be right with me.

I sat down and started observing my surroundings.  Both sides of the lobby were lined with offices, most of which were occupied.  Of course, the corner offices at the front of the building were the biggest and most nicely furnished, but even the smaller ones within my line of sight were pretty nice, with artwork on the walls and certificates of the occupants various accomplishments framed and prominently displayed on the walls. 

Shortly, a lady emerged from the last office in the back.  The one next to the rear exit. “Hi, can I help you”  she called from across the lobby’.  Instead of approaching me she stopped halfway and waved me toward her, and then led me to her office.  I had a sinking feeling this was not going to go well, since I was already feeling like less of a customer. She was young and thin and blonde and ironically, her name was Barbie.  Somehow, it seemed to fit.

  Upon entering her office, I explained the reason for my visit and was anticipating some assistance in discussing alternatives that would result in more money in my pocket and more money in her bank.  However, it seemed all my questions were being asked for the first time, since she had to refer to her computer and pamphlets and once, calling someone else to answer them.  I asked her if we could do some hypothetical forecasts comparing my current rate of return over five years to their rate of return over the same period.  I can’t tell you what she said, but is sounded somewhat like no.  The bottom line is, I ran out of patience before I ran out of questions, so I thanked her for her time and prepared to leave.  I’m not sure which one of us was more relieved that I was leaving.  Her parting shot was “Oh, here’s a brochure that has a lot of the things we were talking about. Why don’t you take it.  It may help you with some of your questions.”

It being about noon, I drove a couple of blocks to a Wendy’s to grab a burger.  As I entered, a young lady smiled and greeted me.  Our conversation went something like this.

“Hello, are you ready to order?”

“Yeah, let me have a double cheeseburger.  Can I have that with lettuce, tomato, and mayo only?”

“You can have it any way you want sir. Smile.  Do you want just the sandwich or the meal?”

Just the sandwich, and a small iced tea please”

Would you like the senior iced tea?”

What’s that?”

“It’s a little smaller, but it’s free.  I thought you might like that” Smile.

“I would, thanks.  It’s not pre-sweetened is it?”

“No sir, it isn’t.  Would you like some lemon?”

“Please”

“Here you go sir and, on the back of your receipt, there is a web site where you can take a short survey that can earn you $2.00 off your next order.  A chance to save some more money. Smile”

“Thank you.  I appreciate that”

“Have a great day sir. Smile”

As I ate my lunch, I thought to myself, I wonder how much the young lady at the bank makes compared to how much this young fast food worker makes.  I had just been subjected to two scenarios.  The first provided a bank with an opportunity to gain a customer with a substantial investment.  The second provided a restaurant with an opportunity to sell a burger with no guarantee that I would eat there again.  And the restaurant won, hands down.

So what” you say.  You can also get lousy service at fast food restaurants.  I just got lucky, and you would be right.  But maybe that is the exact reason that I was so pleased.  I experienced something I didn’t expect to experience, in both cases.  The difference is, I will go back to Wendy’s.

From the archives May 2014

Posted in Commentary, Generations, Insight, Opinions, Perspective, Random Thoughts, Reflection | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Diet Is A Four Letter Word

One morning, shortly after the new year had gained entry into my life, I jumped out of bed, did some deep knee bends, five pushups, and a little running in place. Yup. New year, new me. This year, I was going to look awesome in my speedo. And that is when I woke up.

I lay there staring at the ceiling while the chill of the nightmare subsided. It was unfortunately reoccurring and I knew why. In not too many weeks I was scheduled for my next semi annual checkup and I knew it was not going to be pleasant. You see, my doctor, The Medusa of medicine, had been on me about my carbs. Not that my A1C was over seven. Oh no, it was simply that it was up from the previous visit and that was all it took. She feels, I’m afraid, that if she cannot find a problem or another test to run, she has failed. This is a doctor that, a couple of years ago, after losing several pounds, never mentioned it. So I did. I commented, “well, it appears, according to the Body Mass Index that I am no longer obese”, to which she replied “that’s true. Now you are only overweight”. You get the picture.

So, after much soul searching, I decide to lose some weight and drive my A1C into the basement. I had counted calories before with marginal success, so I really didn’t want to do that again. So I decided to embrace a low carb diet instead. I had heard amazing things about something called the Keto diet, so I started to read about it. All the ads swore that their recipes were delicious and you would never be hungry. The only drawback was you couldn’t eat any grains or rice or pasta. Have you ever considered how many foods contain grain? Beer, for one, comes to mind. Pizza is another. I decided this was not going to be easy, but hopefully worth it.

That’s when I started to read some of the recipes and quickly realized that their definition of delicious and mine were diametrically opposed. I was staring down the barrel of steamed vegetables, leafy greens, and something called riced cauliflower. The up side however was that I could still have my protein. Steaks, chops, shrimp, chicken etc were still permissible, within reason. I couldn’t have a one pound steak for instance. So I embarked upon my venture.

I’ve got to say, the first week was brutal. I was reintroduced to salads, eggs, and fresh fruit while saying adios to most everything I used to eat. But, if that wasn’t enough, I also found that, although I was now eating healthy foods, they still contained carbs and you had to count them. I started looking up the carbs I used to eat and found that I normally consumed on average 400 carbs a day, so I set a goal of 100. This I’m afraid was well above the 35 to 50 recommended by Keto, but I thought I would sneak up on it.

The first morning I sat down to a slice of toast and a cup of black coffee, my normal breakfast. Oops, I forgot I can’t have bread. Well, too late now. Maybe tomorrow I will have a small bowl of cereal. No wait. That’s grain too. Back to the drawing board. And that’s when I found it. While snacking on a grape and surfing the web, I found that I could have bacon and eggs, with the eggs cooked in the bacon grease. I added some cherry tomatoes and oregano to the pan and it was quite tasty. There was no stopping me now.

Since then, I have slowly started to find I can have taste without a lot of carbs and large servings. I am still getting over the shock of looking at a product that has only 6 carbs and then realizing that a serving is half a cup or that the 12 ounce bottle you are about to consume is three servings. I am now living in a world where ounces are important. However, soon, I will be able to have a glass of wine and some nuts. Make that 5 ounces of wine and 15 cashews.

But, I am in this for the long haul. And, to show you how serious I am, I drove up to L.L. Bean the other day and bought some new levi’s, one pair being one size too small, and hung them in the front of my closet for motivation. So far, I have lost eight pounds. My next appointment is going to be awesome. Medusa is going to be so impressed that I am sure she will have to say something positive. Probably something like “when was the last time you had a colonoscopy”?

P.S. I don’t really own a speedo. There is no material that will stretch that much.

Posted in Health, Humor, Insight, Life, Perspective, Random Thoughts, Reflection | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments