While taking a stroll at lunch today, I found the muse for this week’s photo challenge: From Every Angle

The chosen object was not quite in focus in one of the photos. Intentionally artistic or bad camera work?

Go ahead, you can judge.

I say, “Two out of three (good photos) ain’t bad!”

PS: Meatloaf was not contacted for approval on the content of this post. 

THIS is the view outside the bedroom patio door.

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I stood facing the northeast, with a bit of a zoom setting, in order to take this photo.

Nice, huh?

This used to be a field filled with a farmer’s crop and the daily gathering of geese and sandhill cranes.

Not any more.

It’s the new Costco, in the building stage, almost in my front yard.

This mess started in June with a monumental landscaping, earth-moving project.

From there, they moved on to the concrete slab that I suspect is much longer and wider than a football field.

They worked on these projects all day long. From 6:30 am until 7:00 pm.

The concrete guys took a short break and returned at 1:00 am (yes, I said 1:00 am) to work into the light of day.

Actually, it was pretty light at 1:00 am…with all of the lights. Good thing there are blinds on the windows.

The Costco people gave the bothered apartment dwellers a gift card. I said, “Yay!” at the time.

Today, I am wondering if the gift card is worth all of this.

You see, since June, there has been the constant noise of a construction site. Trucks, machinery.

And the constant drone of that dang beeping.

Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP.

Take a listen.

Tuesday evening there was a new twist. The beeping didn’t stop at 7 pm. It didn’t stop at 9 or 10:00 pm. The beeping kept going until midnight.

That’s what Natasha told me. She stayed up watching TV because she couldn’t sleep.

Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP, Beep, BEEP.

Until midnight.

I had gone to bed at 9:00 pm, but woke up an hour later. Along with the beeping, there was some sort of equipment slamming.

Slam, SLAM, Slam, SLAM, Slam, SLAM, Slam, SLAM, Slam, SLAM, Slam, SLAM, Slam, SLAM, Slam, SLAM.

It doesn’t matter that the windows are closed. I can still hear you!

I needed the ear plugs from my swim bag. And a fan running on low. And a second pillow on top of my head.

That’s what it took to fall back asleep

Costco, you need to add another zero to your gift card.

Or provide a supply of aspirin.

Or silence the beeping.

THIS is the build of the summer.

Beep, SLAM, ugh!, BEEP, slam, UGH!, Beep, SLAM, ugh!, BEEP, slam, UGH!, Beep, SLAM, ugh!, BEEP, slam, UGH!,

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I messed up on Friday’s photo challenge.

I forgot to add an important piece to the gallery: Julia Child’s bright copper kettles, now housed in a display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Do you see the colored circles around the kettles? That is Julia’s handiwork. She drew them around the copper pots so that when visitors (e.g., Jacques Pepin) cooked in her kitchen and subsequently took care of the dishes, they knew where to hang the pot on the pegboard. Such a simple, yet ingenious, idea made me smile.

This was a small part of the big picture. Julia’s entire kitchen is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, as are the muppets, Fonzie’s leather jacket, and several of the First Lady’s dresses worn on inauguration night.

I plan to make a return visit to the kitchen and Smithsonian in early October…if there’s time. I’m headed out to Virginia to visit the brother for seven days, which means that I will not get to check off everything on my list. There is so much to see and do around Washington, that one has to make several trips to the area to take it all in. (East coast readers are currently nodding their heads in agreement.) In my two trips to D.C., I’ve been to the Smithsonian twice; visited all the monuments and walked the National Mall; stood among the markers at Arlington Cemetery; took in the National Zoo and the United States Botanic Garden; engaged in road trips to Monticello in Charlottesville, VA, and a private residence close to Chesapeake Bay. I’ve witnessed the beautiful, pink cherry blossoms in April and bought tickets for theater and the Barns at Wolftrap. (This, of course, does not count the numerous times that we went out for dinner and I walked the girlfriend’s dog.)

This trip, the brother, girlfriend and I will be creating a weekend adventure in Nelson County with the varied wineries and breweries. Girlfriend calls it “the County of Debauchery.” I say, “Oh boy, I can’t wait!”

On the serious side, I have full intentions to visit the Holocaust Museum. Several people have told me to go. I imagine that will be an incredibly somber experience.

As the weather starts to turn toward fall (feels like it today), I’m getting excited for this trip. There’s been little vacation taken during summer, other than long weekends, so this will be a much-needed respite for me. I’m stressing a bit over projects at work that have to be accomplished before then, but determined not to let them get in the way. It will be fall in the nation’s capitol and Virginia, and I want to take in every wonderful sight, sound, smell and glass of copper-colored beer that comes my way.


PS: If you’ve gone to my last post, to the Friday photo challenge, you may be wondering why there’s no photo of warm woolen mittens.

You can continue to wonder.

I’m not there yet.

 

Today is not an especially good day, considering the head cold and subsequent stomach bug that began their visit on Tuesday. I’m feeling better, but not 100%. I’d rather be at work, getting the job done, enjoying a lunchtime walk on a sunny 78 degree day. Instead, while lounging in my pajamas, I have the ability to share what is a special day through a kaleidoscope of photos. I cannot choose one day in particular for this challenge, so I present a gallery of my favorite things, the likes of which always make for a great day.

I co-exist with a bag lady.

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She loves bags. Her favorite is a black-striped DSW bag.

It’s the bag of preference, the one that feels just right.

Guess where I’ll be buying shoes from now on?

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She’s a funny bag lady, preferring to lay on top of the stripes, rather than inside.

Once in a while, she’ll go in.

For grins and giggles.

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There are moments in time when she’ll roll over and “play dead.”

Natasha yells, “Someone shot your cat!”

Nope.

She’s simply a happy camper, snoozing away.

Dreaming of a shiny, new bag.

Gibbs had a revelation Friday night.

Gibbs and yoga mat

The shower stall’s coolness factor increased dramatically with a drying rack and a yoga mat.

He’s so over melting ice.

It cracked louder than a dud at the Fourth of July fireworks.

I jumped.

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Earlier this afternoon, I was 30 miles to the south, visiting mom.

A weather alert came over the radio as I pulled into the gas station. Bad storm. Headed southeast. Sixty-five mile an hour winds. I could see the blackness of the clouds to the north in exactly the direction I was headed. Sh*t.

Needless to say, I was a bit nervous driving home. Weather like this is creepy. One tends to look for funnel clouds when the extreme heat and humidity of the day (it was 90+) fosters the enormous black clouds. I made it to the south edge of the Fox Cities (Neenah) when I saw strikes of lightning and paper objects flying in the dark sky and my vehicle started to swerve back and forth in the wind. The edgy nervousness increased and I immediately decided to exit the highway and travel city streets. I didn’t like the feel of being on the interstate, with cars zooming and changing lanes at 70 m.p.h. All it would take is one swift wind gust…

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Thankfully, I made it home before the thunder cracked and it began to pour. I avoided what would have been the head of the black clouds and the tree branch that had already fallen onto a city street. A fire truck came through at one point, which made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I hope no one was hurt or injured by the storm.

It continues to rain and there’s a strong cell of bad weather headed southeast.

I’m still feeling a bit creepy.

The past five days were filled with family, friends, food, music, laughter, visits to local brew pubs, and a walk through gardens of color. I’m still recovering from the food and brew pub portion, along with two nights sleeping on the sofa. I need a few extra days at the gym and a 10-hour nap.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been surrounded by the color of summer love with visits to West of the Lake Gardens in Manitowoc and the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.  I’ve also witnessed the arrival of a gorgeous purple clematis on the patio. Since I don’t have the energy to plug together a well-written post, I thought I would share a few photos from the garden walks. Feel free to stroll at your own pace; stop and close your eyes to imagine the smell of rose and lily; gawk at the colors, the shapes, the beauty.

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West of the Lake Gardens had a plethora of red and white.

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Any ideas on the name of this flower? It’s not a rose…

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Berries that looked good enough to eat…but I didn’t.

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I waved at the sea of black-eyed daisies and purple coneflower

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Red berries on a tall tree. No, I did not write down the name and I did not eat any.

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“Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.” ~Richard Brinsley Sheridan~

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Black-eyed susan and oriental lily. What happened to the coneflowers?

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Not to worry. The coneflower reappeared in a new form, new color.

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I usually excel at spelling, but I had to look this one up. It’s Gaillardia (not Ghirardelli).

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The patio clematis. It may only be one, but it is beautiful.

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I’m certain I saw a Hobbit hide behind the stone wall.

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The gardens were prettier than a picture.

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Bless the seasons! Love the color of summer!

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Hey Bipeds, it’s me, Mr. Gibbs.

*Psshisst!*

What? What do you want?

*An upside down glare is focused forward from a resting Queen*

Oh, okay, Your Royal Haughtiness. This is Gibbs and I’mallitandabagofchips Ziva.We’ve been asked to sub for the one who feeds us as she is a tad busy this week with work, her mom’s birthday and family coming to town. That doesn’t surprise us as the human always appears to be too busy (or ignoring us) when we want to eat or play. Take this morning, for instance, at 3:30 am…

Anyhow, human Mary J (what a silly name) wants to extend her thanks for all of the lovely comments you have left of late. She truly appreciates the conversations back and forth, and I especially love any mention of my name or handsomeness.

*The Queen rolls her eyes and then quickly returns to napping*

Little Miss Hissy never appreciates me. I try to play and frolic with her and she, in turn, tries to steal food out of my dish. And, lately, the human joins in on the ungratefulness with the many ridiculous posts about biking and family. Did you realize that out of her last 12 posts, she has only mentioned the Queen and I once? Just once! I would think that a handsome gray feline such as myself would deserve better odds than that. Hmmpfff.

*The human yells from the patio that this is not the Discovery Channel’s Narcissism Week and to get on with the post*

Okay, whatever. The human is a little testy. It’s been dry around here and she has to water her many flowers almost every evening. I told her a substantial patch of catnip would have been better, but she prefers to roll her eyes, much like Ziva.

Hey Queenie, do you want to add anything to this post? Any wise words of wisdom? Any stupid human jokes?

*Rolling over on the bed to present her stomach and motor a purr or two, Gibbs simply shakes his head in disgust at the sight of Queenie Ziva*

Well, there you have it. The Queen is easy and has nothing to say. Go figure. She yaks at me and the birds all day long, but when it’s time to speak intelligently, she becomes a purring mattress wench. And mom says I’m the court jester, the one that should have been named DiNozo. I think not.

*The human yells again, this time from the kitchen, that Gibbs is meandering and needs to wrap this up.*

The end.

No, really.

What?

Well, I suppose I could come up with a closing line or two. It’s difficult without the help of the wench. I may be handsome and smart, but sometimes you need a little extra help to finish a post. Perhaps you, dear Bipeds, can assist with the end of this nest-of-mice mess. Is there anything you’d like to add? Questions for the human? Comments about this post? Comments about the meaning of a cat’s life? (I’d personally like to know the answer to the last question.)

Gushing mentions of my handsome profile?

*The Queen rolls her eyes and then quickly returns to napping*

Whatever.

The end.

This week’s photo challenge asks for inspiration.

I need not look further than my mother.

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Her birthday is this Thursday, August 6th. On that day, she will turn 96.

Ninety-six years of inspiration.

Mom inspires me to keep going.

To drink an adult refreshment whenever I’m in the mood.

To be feisty and vocal when someone serves crappy food.

To go dancing.

To stop and notice the colors of the rainbow and the green of the trees.

To always be kind and respectful of the aged.

And to never give up a ratty black sweater, no matter what.

Happy Birthday to my mom and inspiration!

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Cue the score to a certain Hitchcock movie.

In a walk with the neighbors Tuesday night

we came upon an eerie sight

An owl, perched precariously on the end of a light post

Looking a bit like a small feathered ghost

Waiting for the movement of its meal

of which his hunger would steal

Watch out little bunny and squirrel!

His claws around you, they shall curl

Up, up and away he will stealthily climb

To take you to the hiding place where he dines

We approached to his menacing stare

A photo opportunity lay bare

“Come closer,” he beckoned to me

“I may want to dig my claws into thee…”

But before he could act on impetuous ego

A car turned the corner, a motorized foe

It gave itself gas and increased the speed

Toward us and the owl, with focused greed

To make its way hurriedly past

And with that, the end was now cast

Mr. Owl lifted his wings with might

And haughtily flew out of sight

His chance at a meal, at that moment, done

The speeding car had decidedly won

No doubt, though, the creature returned

Later…when foe was gone and quiet was earned

To search again for his unsuspecting prey

Watch out little creatures, he’s headed your way

It’s not what you’re thinking.

I have a difficult time tolerating certain prescription medications and over-the-counter cold medications. Many induce wooziness and nausea. Therefore, there is no wanton desire for illegal substances that would only torment and terrorize an otherwise healthy well-being.

No, that stuff is not for me.

This, girls and boys, is the drug of choice.

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Handsome Boy. I have not named him as I would rather he be a mysterious fellow who continually taunts with the lure of a ride.

It never makes me queasy, gives me a headache, or makes me throw up in the grass outside the apartment (that is for another post about colonoscopies)(or maybe not).

Neighbor Biking Buddy and I were discussing controlled substances for a bit on Saturday as we enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous ride on the Mariner and Rawley Point trails. These trails run next to or close to Lake Michigan on the eastern side of Wisconsin, between the cities of Manitowoc and Two Rivers (T’rivers is the native pronouncement). Our two-wheeled trek took us a total of 27 miles past the cool, blue waters of the great lake; around city buildings and down narrow sidewalks; through a lush forest of pine, various hardwoods and vegetation; and, finally, to a State Park that boasts campgrounds, sandy beaches and an overabundance of weekend warriors.

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An amateur photo bug, capturing an amateur photo bug.

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The beach at T’rivers, on the shores of Lake Michigan. The water is not warm, but the sand will burn your feet.

Why would anyone need drugs, when this is available? Why get high on a green leafy substance when I can get high amid the splendor of conifers that reek of top-shelf gin? Why lay around in a stupor, when I can breathe warm summer air with eyes wide open? Why induce midnight pizza roll munchies when I can induce healthy behavior?

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A piece of the Rawley Point trail.

Riding down this path brought Joyce Kilmer to mind…

“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; 
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray…”

 

The afternoon sun cast its flickering light on leaves of deciduous suburbs that, in turn, shaded the explosion of resting fern and purple clover underneath. We stopped on occasion for water and food, a butt break, a bathroom break, and to pick wild raspberries.

Neighbor Biking Buddy and I need not answer questions of why we ride. The bike is our drug of choice, the instrument that gives us the power to feel strong and invigorated. We move like powerful, menacing tigers after the prey of a new or beloved bike trail. The urge to “kill” the pavement and stone beneath us is stronger than the urge of a bad inhaling habit. The sights, the sounds, and sensual pleasures of nature coax us into a euphoric state of mind.

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Heading north on the Mariner’s Trail, we were about to meet Texan Tom and dog Holly, reverse snowbirds in search of cooler weather.

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Bridge over the River Kwai? Nope, merely a way to get over the creek, through the woods, and to a final destination.

Toward late afternoon, after visiting a nearby public garden (adjacent to the Mariner’s trail) and soaking in the many colors of roses, daisies and impatiens, we had to call it quits. It was approaching dinner time. NBB and I were starved to the core. Bike riding for six and a half hours in the summer heat finally took its toll. The bikes were carefully strapped to the car carrier and we headed into town for any resemblance of sustenance. Texan Tom had suggested Courthouse Pub, where I have dined before. The food is delicious (albeit a bit pricey). Oddly enough, Tom and wife Bev appeared beside us at the bar not too long after our arrival. We chatted for a while until we were called to our waiting table and a plate of food that was almost as deliriously yummy as the day’s bike ride.

This is what it’s all about, people. Two wheels that I pedal with delightful freedom. Of course, having a biking buddy (Natasha fills that role as well) who is willing to join me on such adventures, crafts an extra special day of memories. I have found the mountain bike to be an honorable replacement for the loud motorized version. Since my brother gave me this treasure three years ago, I’ve replaced a few parts and added a few others. I’ve been on short and long rides…alone and with friends. I’ve said “goodbye” to the handsome boy in the fall, only to joyously welcome his appearance in the spring. I dream of the next ride or a bike-until-I-fall-down trip of epic proportions with a friend or two.

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No, there is no room for illegal green foliage in my life.

I have an orange-and-black-is-the-new-drug bike.

So…if you’ll excuse me…

I have to go down to the garage now, sit on a bike seat and sniff the essence of my drug.