galwithglasses: (Wallace and Gromit)
As if this year hasn't kicked us in the teeth enough. Peace to you, Carrie. Thanks for a heroine with spunk and grit.
galwithglasses: (Crabapple in snow)
Seems like this year has been one long memorial for one person or other. Today it's Gene Wilder. If you had asked me how old he was, I wouldn't have thought 83. Somehow, he has always been timeless for me. I liked him a great deal and always thought of him as a gentle man. I have no idea what he was like as a private citizen. I only knew him from his acting and a hazy recollection of an interview with him several years after Gildna Radner had passed away. He is Willy Wonka to me with his singing "Pure Imagination" and his top hat. His entrance in the movie is one of my favorite things he's done.

The other bit of his that sticks in my head is the Puttin' on the Ritz song and dance from Young Frankestein.

Thank you, Mr. Wilder, for all the laughter you've given me. I wish you peace.
galwithglasses: (Wallace and Gromit)
Peace rest on you, wherever you've gone.
galwithglasses: (Crabapple in snow)
Because I'm thinking it has nothing on January. Even though we get a minute more of the sun each day, it means nothing if the clouds shroud it in gray half-light. It's dark and cold in the north. (We have actually had a pretty mild winter but the main purpose of weather is to have something to complain and make small talk about hence the previous comments.)

The toughest bit about this month is that it is full of sad news and memories of loss from years gone by. Natalie Cole, David Bowie and now Alan Rickman join my best friend from elementary school and my husband's grandfather who've already gone on to whatever mystery awaits us. For me, it is also full of anniversaries of birth of some other people in my life who died way too early, leaving empty places that seems bigger in January than in the warmth of summer. It seems like people fighting for their lives manage to hang on to be with family for one more holiday in December but January is a time of letting go, a time to mourn. Be at peace.

With such a dark, sad time of year, in a massive effort to combat depression, cabin fever and general shack wackiness, people take an icy plunge into a mostly frozen lake or do some sort of sport involving balancing on sharp metal blades while simultaneously whacking at something with a stick and sliding on ice. Balancing on boards careening down a hill is also popular. Depending on what sort of weather we are complaining about, sometimes we slide down sidewalks and roads while yelling choice anti-lock words. If you are young and not responsible for your own car insurance, the same effect may be manufactured in a largely empty mall parking-lot. Providing the appropriate space for donuts is the true purpose of Walmart. I would prefer to eat the donuts which brings me to another way to fight January. Always keep fighting, right?

Comfort food exists as a direct response to January. Adam and Eve got evicted from the garden into a world containing death, winter in January, and the inevitable taxes. Eve, being practical and rightly pissed off at the fruit at the center of the whole mess, decided to get her revenge and make pie out of it. Adam ate whatever she handed him evidently, and was happy to note that pie came without a smiting, as long as he took the trash out and got his own beer. Eve, glad to have someone else handle the trash (she watches SPN and the X-Files and knows what's out there), found other things to make into pie. Some were more successful than others. Take mincemeat for example...or maybe not. As for me, after several years of grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinners with a spotty memory, I have enough canned pumpkin to provide pies for my family right through the end times. Some of the people on my facebook feed have succumbed to January and are convinced that the end times are here as heralded by the existence of Obamacare and Pope Francis. I hate to break it to them but the end of the world is supposed to come when you least expect it and everybody expects it in January. But I digress. We were discussing canned pumpkin. My goal is to have made pies with all of it by March. I have been making a pie every other week or so since November and still have about six cans left. I'm getting good at pie crust though.

So I fight January with baking and by leaving the outdoor Christmas lights up until at least after the Superbowl. When things seem very bleak, I can always dig out the seed catalogs and plan the summer veggie garden. This year, I have my parents' 50th Anniversary surprise to plan and my brothers to frame for it. As a response to the mess that was 2015, I am back in therapy with shiny new diagnoses with lots of letters that mostly mean I am extremely shy and wig out at slamming doors. I think I can make headway and be better for it when I'm done. Hopefully it is more tune-up than overhaul. Things are improving with our dogs and I've managed to walk both of them every day for over a week now using gentle leaders. There is something almost meditative about standing in the winter backyard with the dogs in the growing dusk. There is still enough ambient light to see and the winter clouds reflect the evening lights of the city adding a glow to the sky. Mix in the white noise of the far off freeway rush hour traffic and let the cold settle in a little. I can gather in the calm and stoic reserves needed to get through another January day and I think of the people and critters that I have been lucky to share the planet with. Then I can go inside and take the pie out of the oven and remember that there are only 34 days before the MLB pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training and the days are getting longer.
galwithglasses: (Breezing Up)
Today is the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, lost with all hands on November 10, 1975.  One of my first LJ entries after years of lurking was about her on her 35th. She went down in Lake Superior in 535 feet of water, taking with her a crew of 29 and 26,116 long tons of taconite pellets made of processed iron ore.  The shipwreck was memorialized in Gordon Lightfoot's song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The video under the cut has the song plus a clip from the national news and Lake Superior storm footage.

Video and a bit about the lake under the cut... )

Growing up, I lived within an hour's drive of the Lake Superior shoreline. I was just a kid in 1975 and can't remember hearing about the Fitz sinking until later but I do remember the gale and the damage it did to buildings in our area at the time. The loss of the Fitz is one of those events that stays with the local people like the Kennedy assassination or the Challenger disaster. It comes complete with competing theories about why the ship went down. No one knows for sure except Captain McSorley and his crew of 28, may they rest in peace.

Fair winds and following seas to all those who work on the water.

...for the sea is so wide and our ship is so small
galwithglasses: (Crabapple in snow)
I can't believe he's gone.  My heart goes out to his family.  I've been a fan since his Mork and Mindy days.  His Genie in Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney characters.  I liked him in Good Will Hunting and Good Morning Vietnam too.  I'll miss his quick mind.  Rest in peace.
galwithglasses: (Yosemite)
I woke up the other morning to the news that Pete Seeger had died.

I learned a lot from Pete and here's a ramble about it. )

(I can't find a photo credit for this picture but I found it in many places on the web including the NPR tumblr.)
galwithglasses: (Yosemite)
At the top of my list of heroes are people who do their jobs in the service of others in the face of great personal danger.  Firefighters are at the top of that list.  I'm grateful for those that look after my town.  I hope I never have a reason to meet them while they are on the job but I'm thankful that they are there. I have an enormous amount of respect for the amount of training they do and physical requirements of the job.  The protective gear alone adds weight that must be carried in situations that are by their nature physically gruelling.  In addition to the inherent dangers in the fire itself, they have to deal safely with mechanical equipment and vehicles.  They are tasked with doing the work in whatever weather gets thrown at them.  Cold and miserably wet or hot and dry.  This is particularly true for firefighters battling a forest fire where the dry conditions and winds can take a fire from dangerous to fatal in seconds.

On Sunday, 19 smokejumpers were killed fighting a wild fire in Arizona.  Smokejumpers parachute into fires in remote areas that are hard to get to.  They have the already dangerous fire to battle and these folks jump out a plane to get there.  I hate getting into a plane and can't imagine jumping out of one into a fire.  My heartfelt thanks goes out to those who lost their lives and the rest of the smokejumpers still out there fighting.  For the family and friends left behind, I'm tremendously sorry for your loss.

The fallen firefighters:

Andrew Ashcraft, 29, Robert Caldwell, 23, Travis Carter, 31, Dustin Deford, 24, Christopher MacKenzie, 30, Eric Marsh, 43, Grant McKee, 21, Sean Misner, 26, Scott Norris, 28, Wade Parker, 22, John Percin, 24, Anthony Rose, 23, Jesse Steed, 36, Joe Thurston, 32, Travis Turbyfill, 27, William Warneke, 25, Clayton Whitted, 28, Kevin Woyjeck, 21, Garret Zuppiger, 27

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it"
Victor Hugo
galwithglasses: (Heart of Oak)



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