On an October Break

 

I know – I had a blog break most of the month of August – but sometimes the unexpected comes along in life to change even the best plans. Thankfully, it’s nothing serious. I hope to return late October/early November, and then I’ll explain. Meanwhile, a bit of odds and ends.

I originally wanted to do this post two days ago – but then I wouldn’t have participated in Walktober – and I promised Robin I would do so. Again, I invite everyone to visit Robin’s Walktober AND follow the links in the comments to other Walktober participants.

Thanks for the fabulous Prince concert this past weekend and for expanding my Prince horizon.

The next concert will be sometime in November. The concert promoter has a preliminary agreement with historical around some Canadian legends. No – not The Stampeders – not even Shania Twain … but The Guess Who! Acceptable songs will be from the following artists: The Guess Who, Burton Cummings, Chad Allen, Chad Allen and the Expressions, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. (Note: I love BTO, but I hope participants focus on the others listed because those groups and people are the foundation.)

The handbell choir’s upcoming piece is Beech Spring (arranged by Jason Krug). Listen here.

PS: (Added later) BLINK Cincinnati 2019 is this weekend. I suggestion searching YouTube for videos and/or your favorite photo gallery. Cincinnati.com is also a source.

Cheers to Ellen Degeneres for her response to criticism she received about sitting with former President George W Bush at a football game. Click here to watch her response.

Although Rev. Pat Robertson is known for saying something stupid, his latest that President Trump may be/is “in danger of losing the mandate of heaven” is a confusing to me. Then again, in his resignation letter as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruit stated, “I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence.” As a Christian, I state with confidence that these two (and others like them) do not speak for the majority of Christians.

Agreeing with the decision or not, Speaker Pelosi establishing an Impeachment Inquiry is not against the Constitution and is not against House Rules – so I yield to her shrewdness.

To Republicans. This whole dilemma, the entire situation is NOT about Barack Obama, NOT about Joe Biden, NOT about Hunter Biden, NOT about Hillary Clinton, NOT about the economy, NOT about college football, NOT about other inventive delusional excuses along with declarations witch hunt, fake news, and more.  The situation is about the actions of one single person and those representing him. Then again, I guess defending the indefensible requires blaming others. In other words, you and your fellow minions are a very sad, pathetic lot that is doing the country more harm than good.

To Congressional Democrats: You have the difficult task of being both thorough and expedient, then delivering a convincing civics lesson. Note: I am not confident you’ll meet the challenge.

PS: If the only difference in the current situation was the President’s political party, I have zero confidence that Democrats would be joining Republicans for calls of impeachment.

On a much lighter note, I leave you with something special. Megan Washington is an award-winning Australian singer with a multi-platinum album. She stutters – except when she sings. This performance is after her TEDx talk in Sydney. Enjoy … and don’t forget … Blog breaks are good.

On Three Exhibits

Click for excellent background music for this post from The Piano Guys.

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Typically, I take pictures at a museum exhibit with hopes of creating a post. Well, I never got around to writing these, so while cleaning out my blog closet, I decided to give a synopsis of them in one post. Sort of a Pictures at an Exhibition. Hope you enjoy the walk through the gallery

Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China

Unknown until 1974, this archaeological discovery is about the legion (over 8,000 life-sized figures) guarding the tomb of China’s first emperor. Not only multiple warriors, the exhibit included arms, armor, ornaments, ceramics, jewelry, and excellent information about this early civilization. The Cincinnati Art Museum hosted this fascinating exhibit.

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Chocolate: The Exhibition

Although it’s not true for everyone, but many people enjoy chocolate. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, chocolate milk, chocolate ice cream, brownies, fudge, and many more items. As a kid, I sprinkled cocoa powder onto my Rice Krispies, plus enjoyed Bosco! I still like an occasional gulp of straight Hershey Chocolate Syrup. So, I had to attend the exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

When first entering the exhibit, the smell of chocolate grabbed your attention. Yum! A large section of the exhibit focused on chocolate’s history. The German or Belgians come to mind, but hey – chocolate goes back to the Aztecs in Central America – so it made way to Europe from there! Uses, products, and production completed the exhibit. At the end, a local chocolatier provided samples. Yes – it was a good day.

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Guitars: Instruments that Rocked the World

Guitars have a fascinating history – and one much longer than many people may think. But did you know there is a National Guitar Museum? Yep – but it is a travelling exhibit without a permanent home!

Besides displaying some famous guitars, the exhibit included over 70 guitars of different styles, ages, and historical value (including one from 3000 BCE). Besides guitars, visitors can learn more about sound through numerous interactives. Toss in posters, graphics, banners, and the World’s Largest Playable Guitar, this exhibit is a winner for music lovers. Yes – I enjoyed this exhibit!

Click here to learn more about the National Guitar Museum and it’s exhibition schedule. I wonder if the museum will find a permanent home.

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On Returning from Blog Break Summer 2019

 

Greetings! For whatever reason, this song popped into my mind while preparing this post – so hey – why not use it!

Image from 123vectors.com

Hoping everyone is in good health and spirits as we continue on the trek toward fall. Then again, those in the southern hemisphere are moving toward spring! I missed everyone – then again, I continue to embrace Blog breaks are good as an important mantra. Time to hit the Play button.

I’ll be back in the blog saddle for about 5 weeks because something expected popped into my life that requires a 2-3 week hiatus. Thankfully, not a serious concern.

To celebrate a return, let’s jump into a Weekend Concert featuring songs by the King of Pop. Michael Jackson takes the stage this Saturday (7 September) at 1:00 AM (Eastern US). We’ll go back-to-back weekends with a 14 September concert. (Act TBA).

Contrary to Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, something has been on my mind for most of 2019. As I mentioned several months ago, I’ve been contemplating stepping away from my little corner of the world. Without any fanfare, 28 August marked my 11th anniversary, so I’ve been blogging for some time. Although I still have the energy to host and post, my interest in rebuilding readership and reciprocating is waning – and the latter is very important to me.

During the recent blog break, I drafted my closing “retrospect” series. Because writing the closing felt right, the time may be right – but not right now! I foresee early 2020, but time will tell. Meanwhile, I will carry on by cleaning out the closet by finishing posts that I never finished.

We planned the recent break more than a year ago. Last year we took a fabulous Rick Steves tour to Central Europe that included Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenia. So a perfect sequel would be our first-ever river cruise on the Danube that included Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. A great trip into the part of Europe visit the least – and only Prague and Budapest were duplicates from last year.

 

Travel posts as I’ve done in the past will not happen. Remember – I’m phasing out! Besides, I posted very little about our spring cruise from San Diego to Miami through the Panama Canal. However, I may do a summary post or something about river cruising – but no promises. However, feel free to ask questions.

Meanwhile, back to my regular routine. Golf league will continue well into September. I’m already back to working at the course. Ballroom dance continues. September means be beginning of handbell choir and ushering the new season of plays. Fall means football season, something I enjoy watching, but it doesn’t consume me. I’ve returned to a casual fantasy football league, which should be fun. There’s plenty to keep me busy!

I’ve used this song on multiple occasions after returning from a blog break. For me, it still fits. Have a good week!

On an Alabama Trek

Embed from Getty Images

 

Time is 8:02 AM (my pedometer reads 425 steps)

As I do most of the time, I walk down nine stories in anticipation of the known and unknown of what lies ahead.

In minutes I’m at the beach. The sun is bright. The sky is blue with wispy white streaks. The air is brisk, but the wind is strong – much stronger than I hoped – plus I am walking into the wind.

Within a few minutes, I cross into Florida. There’s the Flora Bama. (1,100 steps)

 

The sand is packed. I’m close to the water, but wearing shoes. I start a 15-minute stretch of familiar landmarks: Pharaoh, the Green-Eyed Lady, and Olives.

Time is 8:18 AM (2,072 steps)

Pharaoh stands guard over the beach. He tells me, “You can have my crown if you make it.”

Suspicious of his offer, I nod as I walk past.

This is something I wanted to do last year, but didn’t – and to think the weather was better then.

 

Conditions haven’t changed, but it’s early.

There she stands – “Green-eyed lady, ocean lady. Soothing every waves that comes. Green-eyed lady, passion’s lady. Dressed in love, she lives for life to me.”

She always wonders where I’m going and when I’ll return.

I smile at her presence as I walk by.

 

There’s that cool sand sculpture I saw the artist doing yesterday!

Several days ago would have been better because it was warmer and less windy – but the fog would limit the view.

The sand is no longer easy walking. I look for hardpan.

There stand the Olives.

Time – 8:34 AM (3,941 steps)

 

The next landmark is the USS Eden aircraft carrier with a flight deck at the end of a stretch of houses.

Head down, I maintain my pace into the wind. I encounter company for a short distance.

 

Time – 8:53 AM (2.5 miles/4 km) at Eden, a typical turnaround point

Eden is not a carrier, but a proud falcon or eagle perched to display its wings – much like the eagle on the back of a US quarter.

 

After Eden is a string of 6-7 houses, followed by a long stretch (2.5 miles/4 km) of no housing units for it is a Florida state park. My next destination is the first tall tower.

 

Fortunately, I know the locations of the bathrooms.

My pace is slower than normal. The strong headwind is a factor.

The sand remains difficult, so I continually search for a packed surface.

I’ve walked this lonely stretch before. I could listen to a podcast, but I want to conserve my battery.

The tide appears higher than normal, so low tide must have been earlier than I thought.

Should I turn around?

…. but then I find a stretch of packed sand that delays the decision.

Time – 9:52 AM (12,525 steps) 5.5 miles/ 8.8 km

At Windemere, the first tall condo outside the state park. I’ve been here before. I stop to empty my shoes, drink water, rest, check my phone, and think.

Walkers assure me that better sand lies ahead.

Before continuing, a man passes where I sit, and he turns left as if he will serve as my guide. I chose to continue to where my feet have not gone before and to reach the point at the end of the national shoreline.

 

The sand is better here, but the wind seems a bit stronger.

Condos are a few stories taller than our location – but not as wide. I marvel at the beauty of the expansive, curved balconies.

 

The man continues to serve as a guidepost as he walks ahead of me.

A collection of pastel houses are sandwiched between condos. For whatever reason, I smiled.

I imagine the first part of my destination lies ahead – and the man still sets a good pace and direction – but I’m gaining on him.

Time – 10:30 AM (12,525 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km

I enter the Gulf Islands National Shoreline. The sand is hard and level.

 

A half mile into the national protected area, I catch the man. We talk.

I asked the location of the point. He says, “Another 5-6 miles.” (98-9.5 km) – I laugh and think about Pharaoh’s words.

Time – 10:50 AM (16,284 steps) 7.1 miles/11.4 km)

One mile into the national shoreline we turned around. This is near the location where I thought the point would be – but little did I know it was still so far away.

We separate as I stop at the pavillion for restrooms, eating a banana, rest, water, texting my wife, and emptying my shoes.

Lunch is about 45 minutes away – a place just before the long stretch of the state park.

Ahhh … the wind is finally at my back.

Lunch was wonderful – a plate of red beans and rice.

Before heading back to the beach, my windshirt comes off to expose my arms.

The wind is at my back, but soon I notice a chill on my neck. My windshirt goes from my waist to my neck. Much better.

The state park stretch is generally lonely. I’m tired. I chat to two fisherman about their day.

I keep my eyes focused ahead for the next landmark.

I finally pass Eden as the eagle stands proud.

Olives appear as a martini toasting my survival.

The Green-Eyed Lady smiles with approval and my safe return.

Pharaoh nods in approval, then sheepishly smiles as a reminder that the crown is still his – but my walk is slower than normal.

I stop again to visit a sand sculpture done by an artist I talked to yesterday. (This is a morning picture)

 

There’s a log – I stop to sit, remove my socks and shoes that I stuff into a bag.

Ahhh … the sea refreshes my feet. My pace get faster. I hear the steady bass drum of my steps.

The Flora Bama tempts me to stop for a celebratory drink, but I press on to Alabama.

A final foot splash in front of the condo. I wave to my wife on the balcony, head inside, find the elevator for the ride to the ninth floor.

I stand at our door checking the final stats.

Time – 2:20 PM (38,185 steps) 16.8 miles/27 km

An interesting day – and I imagine the rest of the day will involve several thousand more steps.

As for the point that I did not see, hopefully next year – but then I will drive to the national shoreline, park the car, then start the trek to the point and back.

On Springtime Blooms Return

Embed from Getty Images

 

For we in the northern hemisphere, spring is the air – so flowers are plants are showing signs of life and flowers have burst forth for the underground bulb from it’s winter sleep. Although I didn’t sleep in the winter, I have been on blog break since late March – so hey – this post has nothing to do with flowers – but just an analogy marking my return to posting.

Image from 123vectors.com

Because I had a Pause Button, it’s time to restart. I usually use this after a break, but I couldn’t resist the opening bloom analogy.

I did take some time during break to continuing editing the future beach walks that is, the ones I wrote this past winter. They are far enough along to restart the series soon.

Spring also means the time to ramp up golf season. I’m behind on my pre-season routine, but that’s OK because I’m not a fanatic. I simple enjoy playing the game.

News from the Mueller Report came forth shortly after starting the blog break. I considered having a special post, but decided it was not worth my time and effort. After all, it seems the report has gone like I anticipated – and the party faithful on both sides of the aisle are demonstrating predictable behavior that favors a party-first mantra over what is best for the country. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani continues to demonstrate that Disney would never hire him because he beyond goofy.

Washington is so messed up, I’m not convinced the Founding Fathers could help. Then again, that would be interesting to hear their take.

Sometimes I take blog breaks because of travel plans – but not always. After all, a blog break within one’s normal routine is also important. Then again, I’ve been gone long enough that both are possible. OK – I’ll spill the beans. We cruised from San Diego to Miami on Oceania Cruise Line’s Regatta.

 

Here are a few thoughts about the ports

  • San Diego – A beautiful city
  • Mexico (Cabo San Lucas & Acapulco) – Overrated
  • Guatemala (Puerto Quetzal) – Antigua is a special place
  • Nicaragua (Corinto) – Second poorest country in the America’s (behind Haiti)
  • Costa Rica (Puntarenas) – Pick you eco-tour
  • Panama Canal (cruising) – An engineering marvel
  • Cartagena (Columbia) – Beautiful Old City, vendors abundant and bothersome
  • Havana (Cuba) – Unquestionably my favorite stop

To help reset the Start button, here’s a song that we heard a lot on the cruise.

On Blog Break Spring 2019

Yes – it’s that time again. A time for a blog break. After all, you know my mantra – blog breaks are good. Because of the respect I have for my readers, I prefer announcing my absence. This time I expect 4-8 weeks. This post is just a collection of random thoughts before Blog Break.

I will be staying away from blogging for most of the time, but I probably will work on future posts. You may see my presence shortly after this and slightly before I return.

Golf league starts in about 5-6 weeks – so, I should get the clubs out of the basement.

Cheers to Dale for her maitre ‘d work at the concerts. However, I know she’s very busy at this time, so the blog break gives her a break. This video is for her.

 

Speaking of the concerts, I’m considering scaling back the concerts to the first and third weekends (instead of every weekend). Your thoughts?

March Madness will be in full swing this week. Personally, no team with a losing record in conference should NOT be in the tournament unless they win the conference tournament. These teams should do bump smaller schools. It’s that simple. UC is in the dance, but I don’t expect much – so the bottom line for me is ABK … Anybody But Kentucky.

Bummer: We had a 10-day tour scheduled for late June into early July going Seattle to Glacier National Park and back. The company cancelled the tour. 😦 …. and we already had non-refundable airfare tickets. Now we have to go somewhere and back by mid-November to use the credited dollars on Southwest Airlines.

I’m a few days into temporary bachelorhood as it’s time for my wife’s girls cruise (that is, the guys aren’t allowed). For me, that means dance when I can! When people ask me what I do for a week, my response is simple: 1) Whatever I want, 2) Whenever I want.

 

My heart sank at the news about the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand. Pauline, my favorite Kiwi, is a regular here – and my support is with her and her nation – yet I also feel helpless.

I’ve got the feeling the Mueller Report will come out during my absence. Oh well, I still believe it will not meet the expectations of Democrats, so it will also be a relief to Republicans who will also sidestep important points.

I stated this line before about President Trump and continue to use it. “He’s a pathetic person and even worse leader; plus he brings most of his problems on himself.” Some say I’m not harsh enough. Yes – it’s tame – but countering it is difficult because it is not threatening.

As I head into Blog Break, here’s a song that I greatly enjoy. From The Greatest Showman, “A Million Dreams”. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Return Home

Greetings from my home in Cincinnati. We recently returned from a 6-week stay as snowbirds on the Alabama coast, the place where I kept my little corner of the world in full swing. Travel time returning home (Friday and Saturday) is the reason for not having a weekend concert and for my absence – but Aretha is still schedule for this coming weekend … and the opening song is set!

That my walking beach to the west (and 2 miles/3.2 km to the rocks)

 

The weather during our stay wasn’t the best – but as I always say, no matter how cold it is in Alabama during our stay, it’s warmer than home! January had cold, but that was when Cincinnati (and many of you) were gripped by bitter cold. Plus, the only snow we saw was on news reports. Of the three years in Alabama, this year was probably the worst – and the first year without a good streak of sunshine – but hey – the overall weather was better than home.

Glad I captured the storm cloud

 

I always say these 6-weeks are for my alter ego – a time with minimal obligations – a time away from normal routines – a time when I can focus on walking the beach as much as possible. How much did I walk during the 43 full days? Here’s the tale of the tape:

  • 911,867 steps covering an estimated 405.3 miles (652.3 km)
  • 21,206 steps averaged per day
  • 17 of 43 days over 10,000 (but less than 20K); 24 of 43 days over 20,000 steps (but less than 30K), and 2 days of 43 over 30,000 steps

 

I was hoping to lose some weight during the 6-weeks south. Then again, I know we will go out 2-3 times per week. Good news is that we were able to limit the snacks that my wife’s father enjoys. Bottom line is 8 pounds lost and my waist feels smaller.

Walking also means composing more beach walks. I don’t have a final count on the number of drafts, but it may be the most ever. I think over 40.

I love sunrises, but given the weather, I didn’t see many achieving the wow factor.

 

On the worst weather days, we like to go to a theater. This year we saw Vice, The Upside, and The Wife.

TIP: When at the beach, if you see something interesting, take a picture and then send it to a marine biology department at a local university.

Outside cylinders of tube worms

 

My wife is a prolific reader – but I read two books this time: both by diplomat Madeleine Albright – The Mighty and the Almighty and Fascism: A Warning. Reviews in the future. I’ll post reviews in the future.

On one of the questionable weather days, we visited the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. It’s very well done – and free. Compared to the US Air Force Museum in Ohio, it’s much smaller.

For the record, we only dance a few dances one evening – so it will take some time to regain ballroom form.

Outside our front door looking to the north at the intercoastal waterway

 

We were pleased with the gas mileage of our Subaru Outback. Over the 2800+ miles (4510+ km) covering 6 weeks, the Outback’s gas mileage was 31.4 miles per gallon.

As after arriving at home Saturday afternoon, Sunday provided a small dose of snow, Monday deliver the first of a two-day punch of frigid, plus I ordered my first hearing aids, AND began prep for Tuesday’s colonoscopy. Such a great way to return home! Hooray – no polyps! Next colonoscopy in seven years!!! – but a busy return has slowed my blogging presence.

We enjoy the Flora-Bama – truly a regional institution with national acclaim. (past post) The bios of some of the musicians are impressive. For instance, the only way we know Neil Dover is that he proceeded our favorite duo – so we typically only heard 15-30 minutes each time. Interestingly, his degree is in opera! He’s written a great song about this quirky musical palace. The lyrics and the video are perfect. Enjoy Neil Dover with FloraBama Time.