Thursday Bag o’ Slack

bag of slackNot sure whether we’re in the storm or the calm before. I knew January was going to be a busy month: friends and family are scheduled to visit nearly every week and I’m working double shifts at the air museum. There are three Hash House Harrier club events in January, plus a book club meeting. The animals pay their annual visit to the vet. On the planning calendar visits and events appear foreshortened, seemingly hitting us all at once, making our January look like the Hump Day working stiffs and TV camels never shut up about. In real day-to-day life, though, the onset of January activities is gradual, with entire days of slack in between.

I thought today would be slackful, but so far it has been anything but. Our niece Rebecca and her husband Nate were here over the weekend but are back in Seattle now. I worked at the museum all day Monday and again all day Wednesday, but today was to have been a day off, with our next visitor — our old friend Rudy from Las Vegas — not arriving until Friday afternoon. I wanted to do two things today: hit the gym first thing in the morning, then write a blog post. When I left for the gym I noticed one of the rear tires on Donna’s car was almost flat. Leaving the gym an hour or so later I noticed one of the front tires on my car was only half full. So instead of blogging afterward I struggled with the cheap-ass air compressor that never wants to start when it’s cold, rotated vehicles in and out of the garage to pump up tires, and played musical cars with Donna to get her beast down to the corner tire shop. I then loaded her sewing machine in the back of my car so she could drive to a sewing workshop. Now, at last, I’m able to blog. With any luck Donna will get home early enough for us to take the other car to the tire shop.

I know, I know, this sounds like nothing to you. You work a 40-hour week and still manage to deal competently with visitors, friends, pets, and minor mechanical breakdowns. But I’m retired, so threats to slackfulness are a big deal. BTW I hope you all caught the connection between slack and today’s bag inset. If not, please drop by the church to refresh your outlook.


I recently offended two friends.

The first followed a link to my blog and stayed to read several entries. Until she got to the one where I called Sarah Palin a c*nt, that is, at which point she sent me an angry message via Facebook to announce she’d never read another word I write. I haven’t checked, but she may have dumped me as a Facebook friend as well. From her reaction I knew there’d be no point trying to explain that the post in question was meant to shock, that I used the word to underscore Palin’s hypocrisy in demanding free speech for those who say bad things about people she doesn’t like, while demanding the sacking of those who say bad things about her — the mere fact that I used the c-word at all was enough for her.

The second took offense to my re-post of a letter to the editor that ran in the New York Times 100 years ago. The letter, a screed against cats and people who keep them as pets, had been linked all over the place; I saw it several times on Twitter and on a few news sites as well. I thought it was funny enough to share on Facebook. My friend, it turns out, had just buried a beloved pet cat and took the letter as a personal attack. She wanted to know how I’d feel if the letter-writer had proposed drowning pet dachshunds instead of cats. She called me an asshole. In caps.

My wife is always after me to write. Whenever I write anything truly personal, or express thoughts that might make another person uncomfortable, she expects me to edit those lines out, and tells me she wishes I hadn’t written them in the first place. I totally understand where she’s coming from. Believe me, when I write something that might make someone squirm I know it, because part of me squirms too. Were I to comply, though, this blog would be about cooking, the successful accomplishment of household chores, happy stories about children and grandchildren, TV shows we like, and little else. Who would want to read such pap?

Some people, apparently. Much of what I write here is pap, yet this blog has a small following. I like to think what keeps readers coming back, though, is not the pap but the occasional outburst, my willingness to say what I’m really thinking, to touch on some of the unseemly things we all secretly obsess over, to share found items that seem interesting or funny. I’m sorry I’ve alienated two friends, but if I censor myself, what’s the point of writing at all?


I mentioned working extra shifts at the air museum. Half the docents on my team are snowbirds; they’re only here in Arizona during the winter. Every tour guide has to have an annual recertification, so I schedule recerts during the winter when we’re all here. I’ve been going in and walking with other docents while they lead visitors on tours, then debriefing them afterward — giving them checkrides, more or less. My own recertification is next week, with one of the other two senior docents who, with me, make up our three-man team of black-hat examiners. By the end of January nearly every team member will have recertified and we can throttle back until next winter.

Last Sunday I took the new camera to the museum. It’s fabulous. It has such a versatile lens I may not need to buy any special-purpose ones. It does wide angles, zooms, takes a decent close-up. I’m still getting used to the controls and features and so far have used only the auto modes, but those auto modes cover nearly everything a professional photographer would want to do. I ordered an extra battery for backup and a wireless remote to click the shutter for family photos and selfies. I truly think I don’t need another camera-related thing, at least for now.

I’ll share a few of the new camera air museum photos with you, along with a selfie I took by an old church in Vail on the way home from the museum and my first crack at food photography. Click on the thumbnails to see ’em larger on Flickr.

AVRO Shackleton


NASA A-4 Skyhawk

P-51D Mustang


Thai red curry


© 2014, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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