Something Will Turn Up

Steven C. Sorensen – Photography and Blog

About Steven C Sorensen

There’s a Fly In My Sap

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A fly trapped in the sap exuded by an Easter Lily’s stigma.  Taken at the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota.

There's a Fly In My Sap

Fly trapped in the sap exuded by an Easter Lily’s stigma.

 

 

The Hour Is Getting Late

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All Long the Watchtower DylanPlaying for Change just posted their version of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.  It’s a spine-tingling rendition of a song with some timely lyrics:

There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late

Opening Early

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Old Baseball Gloves

Old Baseball Gloves

I’m on my sofa watching the season opener for the Minnesota Twins.  They are in Baltimore where it’s 68° and sunny.  It’s also sunny here in Stillwater but only 38°.

This is the earliest opening day ever.  The season usually doesn’t open until a week into April.  I think it’s being done to give the players more days off during the season.

If you can’t watch or attend a game today, you could check out John Fogerty’s* song about baseball, Centerfield.

The sun came out today
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home
It’s a brown-eyed handsome man
Anyone can understand the way I feel

. . .

You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride
Just to hit the ball and touch ’em all
A moment in the sun
(pop) It’s-a gone
And you can tell that one goodbye!


* John Fogerty, once lead singer and guitarist of Creedence Clearwater Revival

 

Enjoying the Moment

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View From My Bedroom Window

View From My Bedroom Window

I’m ill; have been for two months.  Lying in bed with my CPAP mask helping my lungs do their job.
I can feel the congestion, like a sore throat in my lungs; feel the tiredness that is sometimes overwhelming.

But . . .

I’m enjoying this moment.
My bedroom is a pleasant room.
It’s spring even though it snowed overnight.  Now it’s early afternoon and the snow has melted.
Windows are wide open.  I can feel the cool, fresh spring air.
I hear the birds:  a woodpecker hammering, sparrows chattering, a cardinal loudly defending his territory.
Out of my other ear I’m listening to My Top Rated iTunes playlist.
I hear this lyric from Papa Dukie and the Mud People:

Love is a beautiful thing
I can’t wait to see what the new day brings

. . .

Make you wanna dance, and cry, and
Laugh, and sing
Nananana…make you wanna holler
Nananana…down by the river
Nananana…behind the levee

I actually live down by the river and behind the levee.  I haven’t been down there lately ’cause I can’t lick this bronchitis.  So I just keep doin’ what I can.

Enjoy the good moments when they come.

At Play In a Field Of Daisies

At Play In a Field Of Daisies


 

Frustration

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Calvin FrustratedI changed this site’s theme after leaning I was using an unsupported theme.  Imagine my surprise when I found out – just now – that the new theme I selected and customized is also an out-of-date theme.  Frustrating!

The Blues

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This is my least-favorite time of year.  Once the calendar tells me it’s spring, I expect blues skies and warm air.  I usually get winter storms.  I never learn that here in Minnesota we can’t expect winter to leave for good until well into April.

So, to counter any depression-type blues caused by the lingering winter, I’ve posted some photos featuring blue-skies-type blues.

 

 

Under Construction

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Old Barn Door

WordPress tells me that they no longer support the theme I’ve used for years for this blog.  So I have to switch.  While I’m in the midst of re-designing, the blog may sometimes not look or behave well.  I hope to get everything straightened out before too long.

Favorites Of January, 2018

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I’ve compiled my favorite photos from January in a YouTube video.

https://youtu.be/tvyFfnEDsFk

References To MLK – The Good and The Ugly

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The Good

Lyrics from the MLK Song:

Well it really doesn’t matter most of the deeds I’ve done
It really doesn’t matter the prizes I may have won
I’d like for somebody to say I tried to love someone
When I have to meet my day

In the crawl for justice
I helped somebody run
In the walk for the hungry
I fed someone
And in the march for peace
Tell them I played the drum

Mavis Staples gives the lyrics much greater emotional impact.

Buddy Guy takes the lead on “Skin Deep“, a song in similar vein produced by Playing For Change.  He’s joined by more than 50 other musicians spread across the U.S. in this song that tells us that “Underneath We Are All the Same.”  The video starts with a quote from Martin Luther King.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness.

Only light can do that.

The Ugly

This is very, very ugly.  Dodge Ram Trucks using an inspirational, Martin Luther King speech to sell trucks in a Super Bowl commercial.  What’s next, using the Sermon on the Mount to sell mini-vans?

Listen to it here and try to ignore the commercial bits.  The speech is uplifting:  Dodge Ram Superbowl Commercial

 

 

Different Perspectives

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Different perspectives – same flower, a gerbera daisy.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Fine

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Image result for griot bluesA common bit of dialogue in the English-speaking world:

Hey, Joe, how are you?

I’m fine, thanks,  What about you?

I’m fine too.

Now that the two have gotten the preliminaries out of the way, they can proceed to having a good talk.

I’ve lately been trying to find another way to answer the question “How are you?”; some version of which is heard in just about every meeting of two people.  If I took the time to answer the question truthfully it would take twenty minutes and be boring and depressing.  Does anyone actually want to know the truth?  My niece says she does.

My most recent ploy is to use phrases borrowed from song lyrics.  Here are the two phrases I’ve tried thus far.

The first is from Drunk As a Skunk ¹ off the album Griot Blues by Mighty Mo Rogers and Baba Sissoko.  The song starts with a one-sided conversation between Baba and Mo, then poses an eternal question, “I’m in love and what can I do?”  Another good line spoken by Mo just before the end of the song:  “She’s breakin’ my heart, but it’s a good break.”  The line I’ve tried to use when asked how I am is:

If it gets any worse, I’ll be in a hearse.

This hasn’t worked so well.  It just invites more questions, and I quickly have to admit that I’m not serious, and that I just wanted to use the lyric in a conversation.

The second line is from Ghost Woman Blues ² from the album Smart Flesh by The Low Anthem.

I ain’t no lamp, but my wick is burning low.

This also doesn’t work so well.  It just causes worry on the part of the other person and a desire to know more about why I’m so down; not to mention tons of advice on what I should do to fight off my black dogs of depression and insomnia.

I think I need to look for some lyrics that are more upbeat.  Maybe something from The Sound Of Music.  Someone asks me how I am and I reply

The hills are alive with the sound of music.

I can try it but somehow I don’t think it will work.

 


 

¹ Listen to the song here:  Drunk As a Skunk

² Listen to the song here:  Ghost Woman Blues

 

 

 

Airplane By Jackson

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Today I’m featuring a guest artist.  This is indeed very fine art:  wonderful use of color and a fine composition.  Abstract realism.  (The artist is my nephew Jackson.)

Airplane By Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorites of December, 2017

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I’ve compiled my favorite photos from December in a video that is available on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/8HJd5MSKpaY

 

Eighteen Percent

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Frightful Five

Amazon just sent me, “a valued member of Amazon Prime”, an e-mail telling me they are raising the price for Prime from $10.99 to $12.99.  Two dollars a month doesn’t seem like much, but it’s an 18% increase.  How does Amazon justify an 18% increase when inflation has been negligible for years and Amazon has been raking in the profits?  Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is now the richest person in the world.  Money Magazine estimates his net worth at a paltry $90.6 billion.

Amazon is one of the so-called Frightful Five along with Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.  Farhad Manjoo writes about

. . . the core of the Frightful Five’s indomitability. They have each built several enormous technologies that are central to just about everything we do with computers. In tech jargon, they own many of the world’s most valuable “platforms” — the basic building blocks on which every other business, even would-be competitors, depend.

These platforms are inescapable; you may opt out of one or two of them, but together, they form a gilded mesh blanketing the entire economy.

So why is [many expletives deleted] Amazon demanding from me, just an old schmuck on a fixed income, an extra two dollars a month?

Should I cancel or just roll over in a submissive posture and accept the increase?

Any reasonably coherent answers will be appreciated.

Beautiful Music, Beautiful Places

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The first beautiful place is next to a glacier in the Arctic, with beautiful music done by Ludovico Einaudi.  The video was put together by Greenpeace and voicesforthearctic.org.  Notice how Ludovico gasps  in surprise at the beginning of the video when startled by falling ice .  No trick photography in this video – He is there.

Then there is Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.  2CELLOS, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, perform a Mumford & Sons song.

 

Enjoy this beautiful music and then do everything you can to help protect the wonderful places on our beautiful planet, the only one we’ve got.

Countries, societies, people all over the world want to value, treasure, and protect our beautiful, natural places whether in the Arctic, a National Park in Croatia, or Bears Ears National Monument in Utah .  We in the United States have a president and an administration that do not share these values.  They want to remove protections so that our natural heritage can be exploited for financial gain by a few grasping individuals and corporations.  Don’t let them steal what is ours.

Favorites Of November, 2017

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I’ve compiled my favorite photos from November in a video that is available on YouTube.

Best Of November, 2017

 

Frozen

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Portrait Of the Artist As a Frozen Man

Sorry, this isn’t about the Disney movie, it’s about my day out in the cold working on my project to photograph the Chippewa River from source to end.  It was cold: 2° F with a wind chill of -10°.  I was not uncomfortable because I dressed for the weather.  (I recently purchased what I suspect was the last pair of XXL long johns in Stillwater.  I admit my outfit was not very fashionable, but it worked.)  The only problem was my hands.  I had to take off my choppers to take photos.  In areas exposed to the wind, I could only manage two or three shots until my hands became too numb to operate the camera.

When I stood still, all I could hear was the wind hissing through the dry grass and the river ice occasionally booming and popping.   When I walked, I heard the fresh snow squeaking beneath my boots and the old, frozen boards of the bridge deck creaking and snapping under my weight.  I didn’t see another soul all afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Give God the Blues

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Some of the lyrics from the song “Give God the Blues” by Shawn Mullins off the album Mercyland:  Hymns For the Rest Of Us.

God don’t hate the Muslims
God don’t hate the Jews
God don’t hate the Christians
But we all give God the blues

God don’t hate the atheists
The Buddhists or the Hindus
God loves everybody
But we all give God the blues

God ain’t no Republican
He ain’t no Democrat
He ain’t even Independent
God’s above all that

Bigger than religion
He’s got a better plan
The sign says, “God’s gone fishing
For the soul of every man”

God don’t hate the Muslims
God don’t hate the Jews
God don’t hate the Christians
But we all give God the blues

And God don’t hate the atheists
The Buddhists or the Hindus
God loves everybody
But we all give God the blues

 

The entire Mercyland album is well worth checking out.  It’s a compilation with various artists:  Emmy Lou Harris, The Civil Wars, The North Mississippi Allstars, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and others, all providing hymns a bit different from those you hear in church.

 

 

What a Beautiful World This Is

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A Beautiful World

 

I’ve been swamped in pessimism lately; pessimism that threatens to become cynicism.  The problem is that I don’t want to be either a pessimist or a cynic, but I thought that all the evidence I was seeing or hearing about the world today suggested that pessimism was justified.  Is it?  Even if it is justified, would it be possible to somehow escape the clutches of pessimism?

I talked to my good friend Nick, the potter and bartender.  He wisely pointed out that pessimism leads nowhere and produces nothing except despair.  He helped me realize that even though intellectually I was wallowing in pessimism, I’m living as if I were an optimist – doing new things, seeking new challenges, always trying to develop my skills and educate myself.

Then, I stumbled across three things this morning.

First was Andrew Sullivan’s weekly long read in the New York magazine, “Trump’s First Year Has Been a Disaster. Here’s Why I Have Hope.”  Sullivan points out that “so many . . . indicators in the world are remarkably good right now.”

In a similar vein, Kevin Drum, who blogs for Mother Jones, posted this morning:  “I’m Just a Big Ol’ Optimist About the Future of America Under Donald Trump.”  Kevin starts

I’ve been meaning to weigh in on the latest raft of pieces about the decline of American democracy, the decline of Western liberalism, the decline of globalism, and the decline of everything else in the era of Trump. In a nutshell, I’m far more optimistic than most of the people writing about this. Unfortunately, I haven’t really thought the whole thing through rigorously enough to make a little essay out of it.

Actually, you might consider that good news. However, I do want to lay down a few markers. Here they are:

Read both these articles for welcome counterbalance to the doom and gloom in much of today’s news.  (Note that neither article is by a Trump or Republican loyalist.)

My other stumble this morning was on YouTube where I stumbled on The Artist Series, videos produced by The Art of Photography.  They are each about fifteen minutes long and are interviews with outstanding photographers.  I watched the one with Keith Carter.  Carter talks about the death of his wife at the end of an illness.  Her last words after looking out the window of their home from her death-bed were “What a Beautiful World This Is.”

After watching that video, how can one possibly remain a pessimist, much less a cynic?

 

2018: Waiting For a Change

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Happy New Year 2018

First, check out these songs:

A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

Waiting On the World To Change – John Mayer

People Get Ready – The Impressions

The Times They Are a Changin’ – a Dylan song beautifully sung by Tracy Chapman

then consider:

Care more for what you do than what you have

Love not hate

Respect all other human beings, no qualifications

Nurture our planet, its air, water, soil, plants, and all its inhabitants

Observe the Golden Rule; it works

Change is gonna come from each one of us.  As Red Green would say, “We’re all in this together.”  Stay positive and keep the faith.

Happy New Year and best wishes to all during 2018.

Left Hand Turns

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A few years ago I took a photo of two, left-hand-turn signs in a field of fresh snow against a cloudless blue sky.  It’s one of my favorite photos.  In the intervening years, left-hand-turn signs have continued to grab my attention until now I have a small gallery of such photos.

No Left Turn

 

 

A Dark Wood

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The day before yesterday I finished “In a Dark, Dark Wood”, the scary thriller by Ruth Ware*.  Yesterday I unexpectedly found myself in a dark wood.

My hike took longer than expected, and I forgot that daylight savings time ended recently.  It gets dark very early these days.

So I’m trudging through a dark wood.  There is absolutely no wind, and no creatures are stirring, not even a mouse.  They have all gone south or into hibernation for the winter or have bedded down for the evening.  I can hear a jet far up in the sky but nothing else.  It’s actually a beautiful evening.  More than once I stop to enjoy the quiet and the beauty of the color left behind by the setting sun, color that shows brightly in the crisp, clear evening air.

I was in the Dunnville Bottoms in the floodplain of the Chippewa River in Western Wisconsin.  Here are some scenes from the dark, dark woods in the bottoms, mostly oak forests with many old, gnarly, spooky oaks.

 

 


I thought the book was neither scary nor thrilling, just an average, somewhat entertaining who-done-it.

 

 

Gloomy Weather

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A paraphrase:

There´s no sun up in the sky
Gloomy weather
Since my gal and I ain´t together
Keeps raining all of the time
Oh, yeah
Gloom and misery everywhere
Gloomy weather, gloomy weather*
Expert photographers advise when the weather is gloomy, make gloomy photographs.  Here are some from the last few days.  (PS., it’s finally sunny today, cold but sunny.  There are high thin clouds so the sun is not strong, but a weak sun is better than no sun at all.)

 

* Lyrics from Stormy Weather written in 1933 by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler and since covered many, many times.

Favorites Of October, 2017

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I’ve compiled my favorite photos from September in a video that is available on YouTube.

It’s Not Supposed to Snow!

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It was only October 27th, just a few weeks after the fall equinox, but it started snowing as I sat at my kitchen table eating breakfast.  I’m usually in a torpor at that time of the morning, but when, after a half hour, the scene outside my windows looked like the scene in the photo below, I decided I had to get out with my camera.  The results are farther down.  I only got slightly soaked.  It was heavy, wet snow, windy and cold, but I had fun which was my objective.

Outside My Window

 

Aging Disgracefully

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St. Croix Islands Wildlife Preserve

Who wants to age gracefully?  Not me.  Old folks just wanna’ have fun.

I sure do, but my doctor suggests that I have morning depression.*  That means I feel wretched in the morning, but if I’m lucky I’ll perk up later in the day.  By the time bedtime rolls around, just like a toddler I don’t want to go to bed; I want to stay up late.

When I woke up this morning, I “was stiff and sore and grumpy.  It felt as though rigor mortis was getting an early start on me.  Sleeping for eight hours is enough to make anything go numb.  Anything that still had feeling to begin with.  Worse yet, there was not a drop of Diet Coke to be found anywhere.  I needed to pee again.   I’m old and have a bladder the size of a lima bean.  Don’t get old.  If Peter Pan shows up, just go.”**

So what do I do in the morning?  I’m not sure I remember.  I know I eat breakfast and check the latest news on the internet.  (Tip for morning depressives:  Never read the latest news in the morning.  You will end up with absolutely no hope.  I of course always read the news in the morning.)

My doctor prescribed light therapy.  I got a light box a few days ago, but it still sits unopened in the box it came in.  I’m too depressed in the morning to open the box much less set up the light.  I’ll do it some night when I am more energetic and haven’t drunk too much beer.

I’ll finish this wretched post by quoting two of my heroes who I’ve quoted before and will likely quote again.

What?  Me worry.    – Alfred E. Newman

Keep on truckin’        – R. Crumb


* In case you were wondering, morning depression (not to be confused with morning sickness or associated with pregnancy, something I’m not likely to experience, being sixty-nine years old and the wrong gender ) is also known as diurnal depression, diurnal variation of depressive symptoms or diurnal mood variation.  I’ll stick with morning depression.

** All quotes are by Sheldon Horowitz, the eighty-two year old protagonist of the novel Norwegian By Night.  I’ve slightly altered the quote to be in first-person and the appropriate tense.

 

 

Advice In Unexpected Places

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Thank You For Being Late

Thomas Friedman’s recent book, Thank You For Being Late, is in the Globalization/Political Economy genre according the the ISBN code sticker on the back of the book.  One usually doesn’t look in such books for suggestions about creativity, but that is what I found in the first chapter, also titled Thank You For Being Late.

Creativity involves having ideas and then doing something with them whether you turn those ideas into – in Friedman’s case, a column in the New York Times,  or in my case a photograph.  Friedman says

. . . a column idea [or an idea for a photograph] can spring from anywhere:  a newspaper headline that strikes you as odd, a simple gesture by a stranger, the moving speech of a leader, the naive question of a child, the cruelty of a school shooter, the wrenching tale of a refugee.  Everything and anything is raw fodder for creating heat or light.

How can one nurture the ability to recognize ideas when they appear?

. . . you have to be constantly reporting and learning – more so today that ever.  Anyone who falls back on tried-and-true formulae or dogmatisms in a world changing this fast is asking for trouble.  Indeed, as the world becomes more interdependent and complex, it becomes more vital than ever to widen your aperture and to synthesize more perspectives.

Friedman paraphrases and then quotes Lin Wells of the National Defense University.

. . . it is fanciful to suppose that you can opine about or explain this world by clinging to the inside or outside of any one rigid explanatory box or any single disciplinary silo.  Wells describes three ways of thinking about a problem:  “inside the box”, “outside the box,”, and “where there is no box.”  The only sustainable approach to thinking today about problems, he argues, “is thinking without a box”.

Friedman continues:

. . . it means having no limits on your curiosity or the different disciplines you might draw on to appreciate how [the world] works.  [A person needs to be] radically inclusive.

As a photographer, thinking without a box means not being constrained by accepted norms of beauty or of what makes a compelling photograph.  It means not being constrained by the rules that are trotted out by the experts who then tell us to freely ignore them.  It means not being overly influenced by the latest hot stuff on Instagram or what is winning contests on ViewBug.  It means shooting from the heart.  As Friedman says, “What doesn’t come from the heart will never enter someone  else’s heart.

For me it means walking down an alley behind the stores that present their trendy, polished facades to the main street.  In the alley is where you find the unexpected and serendipitous examples of unexpected beauty.  Below are recent examples of beauty I found in alleys.

Side View Of Galloway Grill

Galloway Grill – Side View

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundown On the Chippewa

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Yesterday around sunset I was at what I consider the most beautiful vantage point on the Chippewa River, or at least it was last night.

Panorama From the North Bank Facing South

I was also on the exposed bedrock along the river near Jim Falls, Wisconsin.  The river has carved out numerous potholes.  I went there yesterday to photograph the potholes.

 

 

 

 

 

Favorites of September, 2017

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I’ve compiled my favorite photos from September in a video that is available on YouTube.

Beethoven Envy

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Image result for beethovenYes, I envy Beethoven; not his creative genius or ability to write beautiful, awe-inspiring music.  I envy his ability to sleep.  Beethoven actually complained about sleeping too much:

 Tell me nothing of rest. I know none but sleep, and woe is me that I must give up more to it than usual. *

For those of us to whom a good night of sleep is no more than an elusive hope, it is impossible not to envy Beethoven.  Looking at Beethoven’s lifestyle gives some ideas about achieving such sound sleep:

He sustains this strength of his by means of vigorous ablutions with cold water, a scrupulous regard for personal cleanliness, and daily walks immediately after the midday meal, walks that lasted the entire afternoon and often extended into the night; then a sleep so sound and long that he thanklessly complained against it! His way of living is substantial but simple. Nothing to excess; he is no glutton, no drinker (in the evil sense of the word) as some have wrongfully described him. **

I think I’ll try walking all afternoon and see if that helps my sleep.  Ha!  I’m lucky these days to walk for a couple hours.  I bet Beethoven didn’t have to pursue an endless search for a mattress that didn’t cause nightly agony in one’s back and hips.  I feel more like the princess who encountered the pea than I do Beethoven.  The doctors tell me that exercise will not worsen any of my nagging afflictions and is more likely to improve my life.  I’ll keep Beethoven in mind when I walk today and keep trying to be more active.  Hopefully, as I become more active I’ll sleep better.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to envy the great Beethoven and just keep trying to be myself.

Related image

 

* From Brainpickings 

** Romain Rolland, Beethoven’s biographer, as quoted in Brainpickings

Cow In the River

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There's a cow in the river.
Having a drink I suppose.
It would be pleasant,
standing in the river and having a drink,
instead of being on this old, rusty bridge.

The river is actually Verdigre Creek just before it flows into the Niobrara River in northern Nebraska.  The bridge is the 885 Road bridge.

 

 

 

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