Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell 2010

With temperatures in the mid 40's this afternoon, I had the pleasure of ending the year with a scooter ride. It was of usual length and I rolled along familiar roads, but it was a good ride in that I sat atop the saddle with that typical grin I wear when I'm on the BV, God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world.

I had one of my favorite, old cameras with me, having fixed its broken zoom function a couple of weeks ago with a few tiny pieces of electrical tape bridging the gap between the external button and the functional spot on the PC board that needed to be filled. I'd missed using it because I never really came to love the Olympus that had taken its place while it was in dry dock. The Oly tends to shoot dark and, as with all of the brand, has a difficult time focusing in low light. As you can see, the old one still does nice work, subject matter notwithstanding.

Before I took up the pen (i.e., took a sip of soda before starting to type here) I gave my posts here from 2010 a second look, poring over some in their entirety and skimming the others. Most noteworthy right up front was that I wrote just a little more than half of what I wrote last year in terms of the number of posts. I'm not sure why that was though I suspect it's because when I'm most serious I tend to clam up. This year, with only its few hours left, had more than its share of seriousness with which to contend, and the issues that were faced were not the of sort which I chose to share here. I didn't feel disappointed in myself for writing fewer posts. I wrote the ones I felt like writing when I was in the mood to write and in doing so I fulfilled whatever it is in me that gets its due when I crank out something I like. And I knew there wasn't anybody out there pouting over his coffee on the many days when I had nothing to share here. If I felt that anybody was hurting on the days that I didn't or couldn't produce anything, I'd shut this whole pony show right down completely 'cause it would have become work rather than a labor of whimsy.

My life would be much easier if I weren't a hopeless Romantic of sorts. My perception of pathos is painfully remarkable. As I took up the camera this afternoon and caught this scene through the viewfinder, all I could think of was that the scooter looks so sad being at the picnic grounds in the winter to see all the tables bare and alone inside the pavilion. Where are the people and balloons and plastic forks and knives? Where's the laughter, and frivolity, and camaraderie? How easy it was to "blame" the scooter for feeling these things when I knew that I was merely finger pointing, but with my own heart contending with closing another year of my life, it was just better to pretend it was the BV being so darned pathetic.

It was in August, just as school was about to start up again that I wrote, "All too soon Halloween will come and after that things will rush by. Thanksgiving! Christmas!" And here it is! Christmas vacation is almost over and can the telltale signs of Spring be all that far off? By shifting my own position and point of view and moving the scooter just a few feet backward, the view is now one of joyful anticipation.

Once again, the wonder of anthropomorphism paves the way for all sorts of emoting. Now we see the scooter "looking out the window" and thinking ahead to the days of warm sunshine and merriment in abundance.

It looks ahead, into tomorrow, into 2011, with childlike glee. As do I!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

To whomever finds himself here and celebrates Christmas, may you have a most blessed, peaceful, love-filled Christmas with those whom you love.

I was dreaming of a dry Christmas and got my wish, so although I had nowhere to go except to Aunt Betty's to cut her ham I just had to take the scooter out on Christmas Day for no other reason than because I could.  Anybody noticing those few extra seconds of daylight in the past few days?  Me neither, but wait till they start adding up!

Merry Christmas!  God bless us, everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Under a Week Till Christmas

A week from this very minute, Christmas 2010 will be over with a hasty tip of the hat to those folks who believe that it goes on for 12 days. When all the pretty paper is in the garbage and the fun things with which it was wrapped are out in the open, when the turkey is gobbled, when the stars come out and the tree lights are turned off with a heavy heart, it's over. But, for now, take that morose preamble and stuff the turkey with it because Christmas is still nearly a week away and I'm in an unusually festive mood this year. The short days and long nights are nearly at the turning point. I haven't had to miss a day of school because of rotten weather. Most of my shopping is done. Tra-la-la-la~LAAAAAA~la-la-la-la!

It wasn't a good thing when my baby (who'll be 21 in a few weeks) came down this morning and begged off on going to the early Mass in hopes that by the time the later one rolled around her migraine would have passed, but her having done so afforded me the opportunity to think for five minutes about if I wanted to go out in the bitter cold (20 degrees F.) on the scooter, and to ride for the hour or so after pondering it. The air was crisp and clear and the ride itself most invigorating! I knew where I wanted to go for a change, so off I went.

I blame my being Slovak for the somewhat passive/aggressive attitude that at times doesn't allow me to be happy unless I'm to some degree miserable. It seems that we're all that way here on this little piece of the planet where my great grandparents settled after that long ride across the Atlantic. I went to the county park that I often haunt in the summer, knowing full well that the gates would be closed for the winter, simply to pose the bike in front of them like some little dog waiting for the back door to open so it can make a mad dash to the yard. I set the BV on its kickstand and took some pictures. I made a phone call. I sucked in the fresh air. And as I paused there I realized that I wasn't miserable at all about its being winter with its cold, short days and long nights and occasional slop of weather because I was generally wallowing in the omnipresent realization that Christmas is just around the corner!

I'll concede that I don't appear to be smiling in this picture, but I can assure you that on the inside ol' Ebeneezer's heart was beaming to beat the band. Upon further inspection I realize that this is a lousy shot all together. I appear to be storing some nuts in my cheeks and my spider is more than a little off center. So much for composing a shot and posing for it without seeing what the camera's seeing through its viewfinder. On the other hand, if you were trolling the 'net for beauty you wouldn't be here, and if I were seeking to provide you with any more than a brief slice of my life I wouldn't be frolicking in front of my own camera. Frolic? Did I just write that? I don't believe I've ever "frolicked" for a second in any of my 52 years. I don't believe I have the frame for it. But, in any event, did I mention that Christmas is less than a full week away and that I'm taking great delight in knowing it?

Doesn't this just scream CHRISTMAS! somehow? Even without the holly leaves, somehow red berries make me want to break into a chorus of, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," every time. The little flakes of frost make the berries look like tiny ornaments. If I were pretentious enough (and not so tight with a penny) to have any of my photos blown up into big prints and hang them on walls, this is one that I'd definitely consider putting on display.

And almost as if Somebody was reading over my shoulder and sprinkling even more Christmas my way... This, just in! I broke writing between that last paragraph and this one to go to the 10:30 Mass rather than the 8:30 I'd have gone to if my daughter hadn't awakened early this morning with that headache. Father Mike was the celebrant. (He's also a biker and an amazingly cool dude.) After Communion I was looking over the church bulletin, in particular the schedule of Masses for Christmas, and felt my dander rising. With my daughter's work schedule I knew that she would want to go to the 4:00 Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and it's the last Mass I'd have wanted to attend because one has to get there around 3:00 just to get a seat because half of those Catholics who never go to Mass the rest of the year will be there in all their Christmas finery. When Mass this morning was finished Father Mike hit me up on the stairs starting with, "You can say, 'No,' if you want to, but..." I had the, "NO!" already poised on my lips when he continued with, "...would you consider being Santa at the 4:00 Mass on Christmas Eve?" If you could have seen my face you'd have seen the Grinch do that eyebrow thing that tells that he's up to something most devious. My answer to Father was, gesturing to my daughter, "If you guarantee us two seats that we won't have to come early for, you got it!" I'm Santa!

Now then. Where was I? Oh, yeah... After I left the park I headed back to this side of the Susquehanna River with my fingertips nearly so frozen as to make grabbing the brakes and applying sufficient pressure a little iffy. Every other bit of me was warm enough, but even with the thick, leather gloves the tips of my fingers were starting to get more numb by the minute and mile. I needed to stop at the ATM which just happens to be along the river bank itself which afforded me this peaceful scene.

The trestle spanning the river is the very same one that brings the Norfolk Southern freights to the track that runs behind my house and is known as "the gauntlet" to the trainmen who run the trains over it. Imagine being the conductor who has to walk the length of the train should it "go into emergency" and stop. No railings. No footpath between the ties. Think snowstorm. If heights aren't your fancy, as they aren't mine, the mere thought is dizzying, and I, who often digress, have done so again but without apology because I'm pleased to be writing something while full of Christmas glee.

Behind the bank is an access road that leads to the riverside bar of a local watering hole. The bar is jumping in the summer, but now the whole area can do little more than wait for the slow climb of the thermometer. The emptiness of the area afforded me the opportunity to ride the scooter right onto the "dance floor" and get this reflection of your host who's always reflecting here in one way or another.

Finally, this clever shot of the front tire of the bike along with my wish that if you celebrate Christmas but haven't yet been bitten by the spirit of the season, you'll soon feel some big teeth urging your butt to embrace it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Betty's Lights

Today was the day for the annual putting up of Aunt Betty's Christmas lights. The job doesn't amount to much work - stringing a set of lights on each of four small bushes and the attaching of a wreath to the front of the house, but it's a tradition just the same. Every year I moan about doing it because whenever I drive past Aunt Betty's house on the days leading up to Christmas the lights aren't usually turned on, but I know that the year is coming when there will be no more decorating of the bushes so ever year with a heart a bit heavier than it was the year before I put my moaning aside and do the lights.

Aunt Betty lives only a few blocks away so in spite of the freezing temperatures the lights were a good excuse to give the scooter a little exercise. It didn't fire right up, but after a few tries it was purring and chomping at the bit to get rolling. When the lights were done I ran downtown to circle the public square and then headed back to the house. I might have stayed out longer, but without the helmet with the face shield - well, I underestimated the cold yet again. I'll hope for a few more scoots in between the nuisance snows and freezing temperatures - maybe even a ride after the sun sets just to admire Aunt Betty's dark bushes.