Photo Challenge: Boundaries. This week, let’s explore the creative potential of limits, borders, and dividers of all types.

Cat inflicts his own boundaries and borders, trapped by three walls and the lure of water droplets.

Gibbs Boundaries 3

The shadow’s boundaries are limited by the animal. Where cat goes, it goes.

Gibbs Boundaries 2

Cat ignores shadow and wonders how he will escape…until next time.

I’ve been extremely busy since my last post and I wanted to tell you why because I feel you should know that I thoroughly enjoyed the birthday weekend because bday cardit was filled with friends and family and fun and music and food and adult refreshment and lots and lots of laughs and silly birthday cards that were totally appropriate because Gibbs is a stinky butt (sometimes) and Ziva is a bag lady, so Saturday was a fun day beyond expectations, not to be eclipsed by the friend who brought flowers to church on Sunday (they are beautiful) and the nice lunch/ride/ice cream stop with mom on the same day that had her asking me if I had been dancing for the umpteenth time, if I stood up at her wedding (yes, I was her sister on Sunday) and telling a story about how “we,” as children, used to go get water that smelled like Ei Fürze and in case you don’t know what that means, it’s German for egg farts, which had me chuckling once again at the stuff mom comes up with due to her dementia,

*small gasp for air*

but no matter as I cherish every moment I spend with her, unlike my desk at work, which has been covered in a tornadic mess since last week and I am stressing over dealing with a difficult personality from another agency and getting the many projects done before vacation, which can’t come soon enough because the honeymoon glow from the birthday weekend has already worn off and I need another adult refreshment and time away from the mess, which reminds me that I need to go shopping and start planning how I am going to cram 10,000 pieces of clothing and an assortment of items into one suitcase and a carry-on because I never really learned the concept of packing light, even when I went on a motorcycle vacation, because I worry about if I have enough clothes or the appropriate clothes or if I’ll look cute in said clothes, as long as cat hair isn’t stuck to them,

*a medium gasp for air*

which also reminds me that I have to make sure the kids have enough kibble before I go because otherwise chubby Ziva will have a kitty stroke from starvation and I would not want that to happen because she’s a good kid, unlike her faux brother, who has awakened me at 3 am the last two mornings with his songs and shenanigans that keep me from getting a good night’s sleep and that was very important last night since I had attended a very hot and sweaty yoga practice and then stayed up past normal bedtime to watch football (go Pack go!), so when the alarm sounded at 5:10 am, I was not a happy camper and I wanted to stay in bed except that the Costco builders started making noise around the same time with their idiotic beeping, so I would not have been able to sleep anyhow…

*large gasp, turning blue*

but that’s okay because there is always coffee, which tends to get me through a good part of the morning, after which I depend on water and food to give me sustenance, perhaps a cookie or two, except that I have to stay away from cookies because I started a 10-week weight loss challenge with Natasha and Blondie, and it’s right before vacation, so I don’t know what I was thinking, but enough about me and this blabbering because I’m pretty sure I’ve given readers a headache by now and all of the grammarians have fainted from this horrible run-on sentence and some of you are considering intervention because you believe I’ve gone mad and I might have to agree with that, so I will end this by saying that I’m sorry for the torture and have a wonderful day, the end.

*breathing into a paper bag*

PS: Run-on comments are mandatory and appreciated.

This started out as a Wordless Wednesday post.

I was going to title it Wordless Waving Wednesday or Wordless Wednesday Waving Goodbye.

Something like that.

It would have included this video…

Did you like that?

Repeat several times if you’re stressed.

If you were drinking a lot of water before you watched the video, my apologies.

Anyhow, as you can see, the post is titled differently from my original intent and I’m typing words.

This is my birthday week. On Saturday, I say goodbye to another year of my life and welcome a new one with open arms (cue Journey song). After not sleeping in because of the continued Costco noise (and now bright lights all night long), I will rise and do whatever the darn tootin’ heck I please! This includes drinking too much coffee, eating lots of food at Oktoberfest, not going to the gym, imbibing in adult refreshment at Oktoberfest, eating more food at my favorite restaurant, and scratching myself in public.

Dad 1961


No, not there.

Allergies. Itchy nose.

Geez, let’s not digress.

As a birthday gift to you, dear friends and followers, I thought I would give you a top 12 list of the last 12 months of my life. Some of the details may be slightly skewed for reader amusement and/or because I can’t remember details and/or because my life isn’t all that exciting.

13) Spent birthday week 2014 with Natasha, riding a bicycle through old, dark train tunnels, yelling, “I can’t see! I can’t see!” Natasha would yell back, “Go toward the light…at the end of the tunnel!” Eventually, we would both find the light and enjoy the beauty of the trail, the gorgeous weather and the fall-colored leaves.

12) Prayed that winter would be short starting in October. Kept praying through March 31st. I wondered why my knees hurt so bad when spring’s warmer weather finally arrived.

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11) Spiked my hair and dressed like a purple bird woman for Halloween. The red birds accepted me into their fold and together we did the ghoulish, ritualistic bird dance of October. Blood was not involved, but I seem to remember a lot of squawking and urges to lay an egg.

10) Had the best Christmas ever. It was filled with trees, cookies, lights, cookies, elves, cookies, wide-eyed children, cookies, ornaments, cookies, presents, cookies, ho-ho-ho’s and the love of family and friends. And cookies.

9) Wore long underwear every day from December 1 to the end of March…because praying for winter to end early in January is futile, much like resisting the Borg or Christmas cookies.

8) Spent several months attempting to find the perfect sweater for mom. While the sea foam green sweater was acceptable, the new black sweater was “for dead people” and not considered a replacement for the old, ratty black sweater with a hole. Eventually, a white sweater was purchased and worn. The ratty black sweater remains in mom’s clutches and, much like her brandy, will have to be pried from her hands with a crowbar on the day she goes to meet her maker.

7) Engaged in a two-week sugar purge and a two-week poetry challenge in February. This is much like completing federal tax returns at 6:00 am without the benefit of caffeine. I don’t know what I was thinking at the time and why I placed myself under that much stress. Some may say I was successful at both, but neither has had much staying power through spring and summer. Even though I had to report to friend Heather of MOSY in April that I wasn’t fond of TimTams’ or Crunchies’ sweetness, I’ve had a difficult time of late saying “no!” to sugar and “yes!” to poetic thought. It doesn’t help that there is a lemon raspberry cake currently in the workplace refrigerator that I bought as a birthday treat…

Oh, poor Mary, I knew her well

Living in no sugar and poetry hell

No more could she take

There were chocolate chip cookies to bake

And this is the end of #7, do tell

6) Mailed paperclips and rubber bands to the less fortunate. Did you know that paperclips and rubber bands naturally reproduce when kept in a dark desk drawer? Yet, there are tens of people that don’t have enough paper clips to make a proper paper clip chain or enough rubber bands to use for safe target practice and hold a motley assortment of items together. It’s so sad. I had thought about setting up a charitable organization to fund the purchase of these items for those in need, but I couldn’t find any sponsors or willing partners to buy into the idea. At least one potential sponsor accused me of being crazy and I had all I could do to sanely explain the desperate PC/RB situation during my 72-hour hold. Thankfully, I was released after providing the doctors and nurses with a case of brightly colored paper clips and a big box of long, fat rubber bands. Still no sponsor, but the employees at the hospital are having tons of fun.


5) Pushed to the boundaries by pseudo dog, Mr. Gibbs. Yes, indeed, he’s quite the handful at times. From singing the songs of his people at 4:00 am, to hanging the computer mouse, to climbing the fake plastic tree on the patio in an attempt to get a better view of the birds, this feline has given me plenty of fodder for WordPress posts this past year. He never quits. Queen Ziva continues to put up with his shenanigans, as do I. Mr. Gibbs’ extreme sociability and incessant inquisitiveness both endears and frustrates. He seems to have become better at avoiding the kitchen counters, but only because Natasha and I have been strict in making him adhere to this rule. He is not left to roam while we are gone because the devil on his left shoulder instigates evil deeds. And, again, Gibbs is incessant. I don’t believe that quality will ever leave him; however, he will never leave my home as long as I live and breathe. Year after year, Gibbs and Ziva tie themselves around my finger and my heart, no matter the trouble or the amount of excess cat hair they produce.

4) The paragraphs seem to be getting longer as the numbers get smaller, so I’ll be concise with this one: Summer love. It’s been one of the most fantastic summers here, weather wise. Lots of sun, blue skies, and warm temps (70’s and 80’s) invaded Wisconsin. There were only a few days with oppressive heat and humidity and so many opportunities to be outside and enjoy walking, hiking, biking, swimming, camping, etc. Even though I did not take a summer vacation this year, I thoroughly enjoyed the days. Fall arrives on September 23rd, but the warm summer-like weather continues. They are predicting above normal temperatures for the next two weeks and a sunny 76 degrees on Saturday. Perfect weather for a birthday and compensation for the polar vortex of 2013-2014.

3) Photographs and video placed a spell on me. The cell phone camera and I have bonded in the last 12 months over beautiful sunsets and sunrises, flowers on the patio, bike trails, Costco building noise, holiday trimmings, white stuff, a mother, a brother, friends, a bicycle, two cats, trees, a box of owl puke and much more. I have to admit that the weekly photo challenges were, at first, a bit daunting. Now I see them as a lesson for the photographer’s eye. While I consider myself an amateur without an expensive camera, I tend to see the world differently since accepting the weekly WordPress challenge. I notice light and shadow that I might have otherwise dismissed and I can’t seem to go for a walk or bike ride without stopping for a photo of anything that catches my attention. I love photography most often when that one special shot occurs, the one that creates a frame-worthy work of art, suitable for birthday gifts.

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2) Friends and family rocked it. This is one of the most special blessings of the past year. I’ve spent most holidays and birthdays with mom, who turned 96 this past August. The brother and girlfriend came to visit over Christmas and mom’s birthday and the brother made a special trip for Mother’s Day. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were made special by girlfriend Red’s extra special hospitality and Natasha’s bubbling elfishness and bird costumes. Our apartment building is filled with the nicest group of people that I could ask for as neighbors (and a special biking partner). I’ve hung out with church friends, old friends, and a few that I’ve recently come to know. Although I don’t socialize much with co-workers at the office, I recognize them all as friends, people that I can count on from 6:45 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday. There have also been online friends, those that have gone beyond blogging buddies into email and chocolate-sending buddies. I may not be the life of the party in social situations, but I love being surrounded by people. They make life the best that it can be. I can’t wait to see who might come into my life next as I will certainly welcome new friends with open arms (cue Journey song).

Wow, #2 was a bit serious. I hope none of you were tearing up over that one. The only reason for tears here is that you’ve run out of chocolate or wine or espresso.

1) The year in review is ending as it started…with a bicycle. The lyrics from a Queen song say it best.  There is nothing to add.

“Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike

I want to ride by bicycle

I want to ride it where I like”

Trails and Flowers 042

Friends, I hope you enjoyed this birthday year in review. Another year has washed ashore and lay rotting sunning itself in history. Thanks for your continued support and conversation here at Mary J Melange. I consider all of you to be a very special gift of blogger fellowship.

This week, let’s take the humble grid out of the shadows, and make it the star.

Does it count if the humble grid is cast in shadows?

Grid 2


“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
~Marcus Aurelius~

On a recent Sunday, my church’s pastor hit a personal nerve with his sermon. It had to do with the three largest words in the title of this post and how comparison and escapism-turned-to-avoidance can be very dangerous for our Christian faith. I would say these actions are dangerous for anyone, regardless of a person’s religious or spiritual inclinations and beliefs.

I bet you can say that you have practiced at least one of these verbs during your lifetime.

Confession: I’ve acted upon all at different points in my life, in very small amounts and in extremely huge pieces.

With comparison, the presence of media and peer or family pressure can inflict a sense of “I’m not good enough!” on all who succumb. Television and social media will inform that we’re not thin enough, our hair doesn’t shine enough, our teeth are not white enough, our homes and vehicles are not big enough, and we don’t earn enough money. Peers in grade and high school may tell us we’re “dumb” or not cool enough for the cool kids club. Family members can evoke much of the same, whether well-intentioned or mean-spirited. We begin to compare our lives, successes and physical appearance to others at an early age and it continues to our last dying breath. I’ve made some heavy comparisons with others. At times, the “others” are people I don’t know or have never met, which is stupidly unreasonable. Yet, that does not deter me from comparing lifestyles, physical abilities and appearance, and financial success.

Our pastor reflected, “Making comparisons with the goal of finding your self-worth is damaging.” I agree with that statement. So, why do I engage in this behavior? Why do I compare in an unhealthy manner?

I had low self-worth as a child, teen and young adult. I was taller than the other kids (Jolly Green Giant was one of my nicknames) (I find that funny now at a mere 5’8” tall). I had an overbite that was not fixed with braces. I was shy and gangly and had acne. Mom found it easier to criticize than praise (I still love that woman). And boys never asked me out. It was difficult to climb out of that hole and, as an adult, I continued to struggle, even after I met and married the husband in my early twenties. Although the now ex-husband gave praise to my appearance and food preparation abilities in the beginning years of the marriage, I compared our lifestyle with the Jones’s and wondered why we didn’t have a house with a two-and-a-half-car garage and white picket fence. I compared financial status and marital happiness status. As I turned forty-something and menopause turned parts of me into jello, I began a futile comparative study – an aging and changing body against that of a twenty or thirty-something year old with tight skin. I wanted to go back in time.


I have been slow to realize that making these types of comparisons only damages self-worth, it does not lift one up. Unhealthy comparisons can exacerbate one of two negatives: 1) They can deeply hurt our self-worth and self-esteem, or 2) they can drive us to do anything to get what we want; we’re willing to step over people and take prisoners at any cost.

On the other hand, comparisons in the vein of self-improvement can create positive goals. For instance, if I compare the neighbor’s diligent exercise habits with my sometimes lazy habits and this motivates me to walk into the gym on a regular basis, that’s a good comparison. If a co-worker compares his hot-dog-and-diet-soda lunch with the boss’s healthy green salad and unsweetened tea, it might compel him to stop eating french fries (he’ll work on the hot dog later). That is a comparative change in the right direction. It’s the type of comparison that helps rather than hurts.

“People love escapism and there should be a place for it.”
~Tom Hiddleston~

I know this one all too well. I practiced escapism during the latter years of marriage, when I didn’t want to face reality and the prospect of divorce. I was afraid to take a step forward, so I sat myself in front of the computer and escaped into the world of an indie artist, his fans and blog sites. I sat for hours, days and weeks escapeon end watching videos, chatting on community forums and scouring the internet for related news. I naively thought that this escapism would bring me out of darkness and into happiness. Of course, it didn’t. It merely caused avoidance of the inevitable. The computer was the hot sand and I had my long neck stuck far into the grains of binary code. It took another five years for me to come up for air, to face the situation and take action. I wonder what I would have done with those five years had I not turned my attention elsewhere.

On a positive note, I made long-lasting personal connections and engaged in several fun road trips with girlfriends while practicing the five years of escapism. I wouldn’t change that, although I wish the connections would have been with a strong marriage in tow.

As with making comparisons, escapism doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Escaping to the garden after an especially stressful day at work, rather than prepping dinner, is a healthy way to detour from reality for an hour. Daydreaming can be a positive aspect of escapism. The imagination of daydreaming begets creativity which begets science fiction and fantasy novels.

Has anyone heard of Harry Potter?

“A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
~Bill Watterson~

Or days, a week, longer.

I have not only been a daughter to my parents, but also their power of attorney. I have filled out forms until I’m blue in the face. Forms to get a special mail box at their apartment, forms to move them into assisted living, forms to apply for dad’s veterans’ pension, forms to apply for Family Care and Medical Assistance, forms for the doctors, forms when dad passed away, forms for supplemental insurance, forms for Cabulance…forms, forms, and more forms!

I am a public servant. Our agency has hundreds of forms, some of which I fill out on a regular basis. I certainly didn’t want to look at more forms when I got home in the afternoon. This is where avoidance came about. I remember being so stressed out over the mom and dad forms, that I would let mail sit on the kitchen table for days, sometimes a week or more. Not that I didn’t perform my POA duties or let a deadline pass as that would have been disastrous. I simply avoided and procrastinated until the last possible minute. There were days when I escaped back into the computer, not wanting to face yet another brown envelope containing you-know-what. Perhaps if I didn’t look at the forms, they would go away.


Or perhaps not. Now that I look back on this, it was pure silliness. Avoidance didn’t resolve the paperwork stress, it only made it worse.

Avoiding the Interstate during rush hour traffic is okay. Avoiding sugar when trying to lose weight is a good idea. Swerving to avoid a fender bender is financially sound (as long as you don’t end up in the ditch). Utilizing your best motivational interviewing skills to avoid personal conflict with the neighbor is a wise decision. Avoiding the co-worker with a snotty nose and infectious cough is health-wise smart.

I have to admit that comparison, escapism and avoidance continue to weave themselves into my psyche. It’s difficult to escape. As I sit here at the computer, escaping into the blogosphere, I am avoiding a mountain of personal and parental filing that is hiding in the closet. I avoided attaching a mirror to my bicycle for a month, only to find out it wouldn’t fit into the handlebars. I spent this past week comparing my thin and wavy hair with the desired thick hair of my roommate.

The actions never seem to end.

“Faith was never meant to make us feel good about ourselves.”
~Shawn Whitworth~

And it’s the same with making comparisons that tell us we don’t measure up. Do those comparisons ever make us feel good? The answer is “no.” I will never again be the 25 year old with a flat stomach or non-dimpled thighs. I need to let that go, along with any other comparisons regarding physical, financial or other situations that may not be under my control. In engaging in this negative behavior, I overlook the wonderful life that I have in reality and the person that God made me to be. I need not escape into the computer to avoid negative comparison or any fill-in forms that come my way.

In having breakfast with a friend this weekend, she commented on how busy I am…that I’m always doing something. In contemplating this statement, I realize that I need not compare any aspect of my life with others. I am always doing something. I may not be jetting off to Monte Carlo and hobnobbing with society’s elite, but I enjoy the company of family and many friends. I may not have a job with a six-figure income, but I have been blessed at my workplace with wonderful bosses and co-workers. I may not have the body of a 25 year old, but I am in good shape and stronger than I have ever been in my life. I may not be in a loving relationship with a man, but that’s okay because I’m so damn busy…

What about you, dear readers? How do you compare yourself to others? What are your forms of escape? Share the one thing that you work to avoid.

I get a certain feeling when I go to Lambeau Field in Green Bay.  ~John Madden~

I was looking for a hugely prolific quote about Lambeau Field, but soon realized there’s not much more one can say about that place. If you’re a tried and true, die-hard Green Bay Packer fan, you get that certain feeling every time you step foot onto the grounds of this historic venue. That feeling came to me this past Thursday evening, when I attended the last pre-season football game of 2015 and walked into the bowl.

Tailgate and Halloween 012

In an instant, a warmth and smile enveloped this fan. I had not been inside Lambeau, to a game, since before Brett Favre left the Packers in 2008. And, yet, it felt that the gap of eight years absent had never happened. Magical.

Before I continue on, for those not familiar with the stadium, here’s a very brief tidbit about Lambeau from Wikipedia.

“Lambeau Field is an outdoor athletic stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the home field of the Green Bay Packers (National Football League). It opened in 1957 as City Stadium, replacing the original City Stadium at East High School as the Packers’ home field. Informally known as New City Stadium for its first eight seasons, it was renamed in August 1965 in memory of Packers founder, player, and long-time head coach, Curly Lambeau, who had died two months earlier. The stadium’s street address has been 1265 Lombardi Avenue since August of 1968, when Highland Avenue was renamed in honor of former head coach Vince Lombardi. Lambeau Field is the oldest continually operating NFL stadiumIn 2007, the Packers completed their 51st season at Lambeau, breaking the all-time NFL record set by the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field. Only the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley have longer active home-field tenures in American professional sports.”

There’s much more to the story, such as the seat expansions and renovations that have occurred to allow for additional fans. The stadium is far different than what it was at its birth in 1957, the same year I came into this world.


My earliest memories of Green Bay Packer football was listening to the game on the radio, in the days of coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr. Those were the days of smash-mouth football, without the protective gear of today, and frozen tundra Ice Bowls.

Early last week, the neighbor texted Natasha and I and asked if we wanted to go to the Packer game. Free tickets. She would bring the grill and food, we would bring ourselves and adult refreshment.  How could we refuse?

The start of our adventure was a bit frustrating. An accident occurred on Hwy 41, in between home and Green Bay. We moved at a snail’s pace for what seemed like hours until we eventually exited the highway and hit the country roads. We arrived an hour later than our good intentions, but still managed to grill out in the old K-Mart parking lot. This is the 34-acre site of a future park-like, public development by the Packers, that will include a Kohler hotel, Hinterland brewery, fitness-related activities, cultural opportunities, a winter ice skating rink, along with game-day festivities. I wondered, as I stood munching on a bratwurst, where all of the cars on the west side of the stadium would park in the future.

From where we parked, we could see one of the new jumbotrons from the 2013 renovation. Even though we didn’t get inside for kickoff, the jumbotron and car radio provided us with first quarter action. We missed the not-so-great part of the game, so nothing lost. Besides, there was chocolate cake to be eaten. (There’s no evidence of said cake because, well, we ate it.) Tailgating in Titletown is a special event that is not to be rushed. Fans line up in their vehicles before they are allowed to park on the stadium grounds three hours before game time. Veteran tailgaters are well-prepared with food, drink and special games like “cornhole.” Fans who don’t tailgate can come early and walk around the parking lot, chatting with others they know and don’t know, being offered food and drink by generous grillmasters. There’s music playing and chants of “Go Pack Go!”

Our ragtag group finally made it into the stadium and I’m pretty sure that we were the good luck charms for the team. The New Orleans Saints got off to a 10-0 start, but they didn’t score a point after our arrival and for the rest of the game. The turn of events could have also been the other 73, 858 cheering fans or the delicious odors from the concession stands or the many rounds of “the wave” or simply that this is a good team that wants to hear Todd Rundren sing to them on a particularly frequent basis.

“I don’t want to work. I want to bang on the drum all day…”

It’s the theme song of a Green Bay Packer touchdown and a que for the famous Lambeau Leap into the arms of end zone fans – a tradition started by Safety Leroy Butler.

“The Leap began the day after Christmas in 1993 on a frigid day at Lambeau (the third-coldest ever at the stadium). The 8-6 Packers were looking to clinch a playoff berth for the first time in a full season since 1972 and were in good shape, holding a 14-0 lead. While on defense against the visiting Los Angeles Raiders, LeRoy Butler forced a fumble that was picked up by the late Hall of Famer, Reggie White. After running for 10 yards with the ball, White lateraled to Butler, who went 25 yards for the touchdown. When he reached the end zone, Butler says he spontaneously jumped into the crowd in celebration. A new tradition was born.”

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The players on both sides of the ball, the coaching staff, the cheerleaders, security staff, and the almost 74,000 fans heard the song five times. We heard the roar of the crowd cheering deeeeeefense!, the quiet of the Packer’s offense, the loud and soft sounds of a green and gold wave, and the jump-up-and-down music coming from a band up in the stands, and the referees explanation of why they threw the yellow flag.

During play, the jumbotron would alternately read “Get Loud” or “Quiet Please, Men at Work.” The latter made me chuckle.

The music, the sounds, the screaming fans add to the aura of Lambeau, a northern hemisphere stadium without a roof. The players here are exposed to early-season heat, rain that changes to snow, and frigid temperatures in December and January. I stand by the belief that this is how football should be played…outside, in all types of weather. I love snow bowls, when the players try to run, pass and tackle while sliding around as if on an ice-staking rink without skates.

Inside Lambeau Field, names of historic players and coaches appear around the bowl – Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Brett Favre, Curly Lambeau, Reggie White, Vince Lombardi (to name a few) – along with the years of the team’s world championships. The seats are metal benches, which always require a blanket or padded stadium chair in the winter to prevent butt frostbite. Yellow goldposts stand at either end of the field, while a big “G” holds court in the center. Fans are colored green-and-gold during warmer months, but blaze orange jumpsuits (hunting gear around here) dot the landscape on colder game days. There are homemade signs everywhere, even inside the towering sky boxes, where the fortunate stay cool or warm while partaking in catered food and drink. While I would love to hang out in a sky box at least once, I have to believe that the special feeling of being outside among other crazy fans, is preferable. While at Lambeau, I prefer to not have a glass window between me and the circling waves of an almost spiritual fan experience.

There’s so much more to say about this place, about the history and the physical building. I haven’t even touched on the long lines at the concession stands and ladies’ bathroom. Or the Atrium, where special events are held and you can get a ticket to tour Lambeau Field. Or the Packer Pro Shop, where you can buy cool and crazy Green Bay Packer’s everything. Or the occasional visit by the Wisconsin Badger Marching Band, complete with a tuba march and 5th quarter. But that would take days and a three-part post.

Instead, I will leave you with a video. It’s difficult to portray the feeling of a forever Packer fan while at Lambeau Field for a game. It’s that certain feeling that cannot be expressed by mere words. No…rather, it has to be experienced.

For those of you wondering, the Packers won their last pre-season game, 38-10. Five touchdowns and a 55-yard field goal. The third-string QB, Brett Hundley, was amazing, as well as many of the 2nd and 3rd string players. I’m anxious for the season, which starts Sunday in Chicago against da Bears. I predict a victory, much like the one I experienced at Lambeau Field on Thursday. It can be no other way.

Are you a diehard football fan? Which college/pro team do you support? What is the atmosphere like in your favorite team’s stadium?

The smells, the color, the coolness of fall is near. I don’t feel it today because it is well into the 80’s and humid. It’s been this way since Monday and not expected to let up until Sunday or Monday. Summer is keeping a tight grip, refusing to let go. I welcome it, although it’s meant that the windows are closed and the A/C runs 24/7.

But that doesn’t keep mother nature’s fall from turning Queen Ann’s Lace into dried-up appendages of brown and green.

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Nor does it keep her from wilting the coneflowers and casting one lone bloom into death.

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The kids are back in school and this is the last week of pre-season football. The summer shoes and sandals are on the sales rack and tank tops are 70% off, if you can find one in your size. The community pools are closed for the season and the community itself prepares for a long Labor Day weekend.

The goldenrod stands bright as a summer sun, yet knowingly flags on September 23, 2015.

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Blackish berries on the tree remind us that a black cocoon borne from milkweed has already unleashed its orange and black Monarch. Frank is undoubtedly on his way south, heading toward his fall and winter home.

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Fall. The season that many people love for the bright reds of an oak and hate because of what comes after. It’s a season of homecoming, bonfires, Halloween costumes, carved pumpkins and pumpkin pie. A season of sweaters and Lands’ End jackets. Of frost on the windshield and the grand opening of a Costco. Seasonal decorations and early holiday shopping. A welcome coolness from the heat and humidity of summer’s scorch.

A time when wildflowers and green grass wave hello to a new season.

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It is near.

We’ve all done it.

Paid a visit to the eye doctor.

Sat in a chair with our faces plastered to a doo-dad contraption, our chins supported in a little plastic holder.

We’ve looked through lenses and recited letters on the wall.

If we can read them.

And then we move on to multiple choice.

“Which is better, clearer?

A or B?

A or B?

A or B?”

I’m always afraid I’ll get it wrong, that a buzzer will go off and the optometrist will yell, “You are the weakest link!”

Well, today folks, you get to play multiple choice without any buzzer.

No right or wrong answers.

You merely select photograph A or B.

The last two mornings have been foggy. Cool, mystery-novel foggy. I took a few photos around 6:30 am, when the fog tried to dance across the road by the light of a rising sun. Then I played with said photos with the features on my smart non-iPhone. I played with the color and cropped off the unnecessary. I created an original and then a somewhat twisted copy. Tell me which one is better, prettier, clearer or somewhat cooler than a cat in repose.

Is it A?

Foggy Morning 002

Original #1

Or B?

Foggy Morning 006

Black and white


Foggy Morning 004

Original #2

Or B?

Foggy Morning 005

A selection called “Bleach”

Keep going, you’re doing great!


Foggy Morning 003

Original #3

Or B?

Foggy Morning 008

“Vintage” sunrise

I ask one more time…A?

Foggy Morning 001

Original #4

Or B?

Foggy Morning 007

Pink vintage fog

That’s it, you’re done!

Did you pick more A’s or B’s?

Which one is your favorite?

What’s my favorite?

Do you need a pair of eyeglasses?

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.

Costco 004

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!,


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.