This is hard to write, but I’m thinking my troop of baboon friends can help me out.
I am not a Christian, but I love Christmas. I can massage almost every Christmas tradition into something meaningful for my Yuletide/Solstice beliefs. I love the feeling of hope and redemption that comes with the season. I love having a tree filled with lights and ornaments, I love making gifts for my friends and loved ones. I love baking holiday cookies, I love cookie exchanges. I love getting cards and reading people’s newsletters. I love holiday movies (although I will admit I like older stuff better than current films) and I love holiday music.
For decades I have listened to my holiday CDs at the office during December. For many years I played them using my computer but these days I have a little teeny radio/CD player. I tend to the more traditional music; Mommy Kissing Santa Clause and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer aren’t in my collection.
This past week I began to bring in my CDs and (as always) I said to all the folks who sit around me that if the music bothered them to let me know. In fact, just this morning, two of the folks who sit on either side of me chimed in on what to play next. So it was shocking to me when my boss emailed me in the early afternoon that someone had come to her and complained about the music.
I’m broken hearted. Not because I have to use headphones or ear buds to listen to my music. I’m broken hearted because someone who sits nears me, someone who has worked besides me for YEARS (we haven’t changed seating arrangements in about 4 years) thought it was better to complain to our boss than to stop by my cube and say “Hey, I’m having a bunch of calls today, can you turn your Christmas stuff down?” or “I’m having a really stressful day and your music is distracting – do you have ear buds?” It’s completely disheartening to think that anybody who knows me even remotely would be able to imagine me getting pissed off about something like that.
I feel like a balloon that’s been stuck with a sharp pin – deflated and completely spiritless. I know it’s just one person, but I’m having trouble shaking my doldrums. Nonny is coming next week and I have a serious list but right now I don’t feel like doing anything but sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I’m not even in the mood to go downstairs and make hot chocolate.
How would you cheer up an unwilling Scrooge?
Today’s post is from Steve Grooms.
They say confession is good for the soul. But, then, “they” say a lot of things that aren’t true.
I’m more inclined to think that a little confession can be a little good for the soul. I have stuff in my past that I could admit to, but wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me. I also have tiny things I can confess without getting me thrown in jail or embarrassed.
The StarTribune recently ran a column that invited people to make small confessions. Many did. I can’t find it now, but they were of this sort: “I don’t care how many times the name is changed officially, it will always be Camp Snoopy for me.”
Some readers made their small confessions and then said they felt better about themselves. If making many such confessions could make me feel better, I’ve got enough questionable stuff to confess that I should be able to make myself love myself.
But in the spirit of confessing to small but wrong ideas, I’ll get things started with a confession that will probably provoke outrage with some Baboons. I like the best hydroponic tomatoes better than “real” homegrown tomatoes.
I used to assume homegrown tomatoes were incomparably better than the things we can buy in stores. Then I got a bunch of “real” tomatoes grown by a friend in Port Huron. They did not—to me—test much better than the best hydroponic supermarket things, and they kept far better. My “real” tomatoes went soft and foul on me within days of being picked. Meanwhile the hydroponics in my fridge tested great almost two weeks after I bought them. I’ve had this experience before. So, with some guilt, I admit to preferring those store-bought hydroponics that have such an awful reputation.
I’ve got more, but perhaps that will do. What about you?
Do you have anything to confess?
It seems to me that Thanksgiving has more expectations attached to it than any other day of the year. I like to read advice columns in the morning (makes me feel like I have a good handle on things); for a couple of weeks the columns have been filled with angst about Thanksgiving.
Grandma doesn’t want to host dinner and two of the daughters are throwing a fit because it will spoil the day. Uncle Joey always drinks too much and everyone is worried about whether he will spoil the day. Cousin Mary has a new boyfriend who is a vegetarian and everyone is worried his dietary needs will spoil the day. Grandpa won’t come because he has a new puppy that isn’t welcome and it will spoil the day. For so many people Thanksgiving seems to be encased in amber; it must be exactly as it’s always been and it can’t be spoiled.
As a person who moved away from home at an early age, got divorced and then became a single parent, I have never had a chance to cement a list of requirements to make Thanksgiving Day overly static. There is however, one thing that I have been in charge of for many years – the thankful project. I’ve done a paper Mayflower w/ little scrolls that people wrote on, I’ve done a large cut out turkey whose feathers became lists of what we’ve thankful for, I’ve done a large tree with leaves for the thankful thoughts. This year I’m doing a big poster board covered with square of different papers and have a handful of markers for everybody to write with. I love doing the thankful project as it really brings it home to me where my focus should be, rather than on whether the potatoes are the way I like them.
One of the things that I’ve written down for the last couple of years on the thankful project is “baboons” (which I then have to explain). I am beyond grateful that I’ve found a community of folks who are thoughtful, caring, sincere, well-read, funny… all these things and more. I’m thankful for this past year with you all on the Trail and looking forward to the year coming up.
No question today – just heartfelt thanks for all of you!
We’ve just gone over the 6,000 followers mark. Makes me think about the beginnings of the Trial Balloon, then the Trail Baboon, Dale, Jim Ed and TLGMS.
Do you have a favorite Balloon or Baboon memory?
Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!
We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate. Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.
Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.
and truly are first rate.
and clearly pretty great…
You’ve got a lot
and a wit that’s
hard to find.
You’re cleaver, cool,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and full of good advice.
not to mention
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!
What gift would you give Dale?
Today’s post comes from littlejailbird.
A couple weeks ago my friend from Vermont stayed a few days with me. The first full day she was here, she took the light rail over to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul to do some research for a book she is writing, but the rest of the time (Tuesday mid-morning to Friday evening), we spent most of our time together.
Those of you who know me at all know that I have a strong tendency toward introversion, which means that I get tired out by spending lots of time with other people, even people I like. So you may not be surprised to learn that, after planning our activity for Friday, I went upstairs to bed and moaned to myself, “I really don’t feel like going anywhere tomorrow.”
But, because she is my friend and because one of the things we’ve always liked doing together is take walks, in the morning off we went to Wood Lake Nature Center. We saw some egrets and either two great blue herons or the same one twice, a turtle, a muskrat, and some egg masses that my friend got very excited about (one of the books she has written is about salamanders). So I ended up being glad I went, especially since one of the egrets was close enough that, even with my not-very-long telephoto lens, I was able to get a couple decent shots.
Also, the great blue heron flew in close enough that we got a good view of it in flight. I snapped some shots of it, not expecting to get anything very good, because I’ve never been able to catch birds in flight, but I just couldn’t not try and sometimes it’s fun to try even if you’re pretty sure you won’t succeed.
When have you been glad you went somewhere or did something when you didn’t really feel like it?
A little while ago, I got an email from Jacque. She needed a “decent, professional photo” for a guest post she had submitted to a therapy blog.
Now I don’t think of myself as a “people photographer” but I thought that I could do an okay job. I have no studio lights or flash, much less a studio, and Jacque didn’t want a studio photo anyway, so we arranged to meet in her backyard.
I consulted with Steve, the photography expert in our baboon community, and he gave me some tips and suggestions, several of which confirmed things I had learned through photography classes. I made a list, using Steve’s tips and my own ideas:
- Shoot in burst mode (in order to capture fleeting expressions)
- Background should be contrasting, dark, and uninteresting
- Jacque should be far enough away from background so that it is out of focus
- Subject does not have to smile – she can look thoughtful, serious, intelligent
- Subject should be in the shade, never the sun
- Bring a stepstool since I am short and Jacque is not and a portrait pointing up at the face is not very flattering
- Focus on the EYES
- Meter the brightest part of the face and then set f/stop and shutter manually so there are not blown out highlights
- In each new area where I shoot, make the first shot be of a gray card so I can easily get the white balance perfect
When I woke up the morning of our “date,” I was thrilled to see that it was an overcast day. Bright sunshine is the enemy of good outdoor portraits and a cloudy day would make it easier to get a good shot.
When I shot the portraits, I made a few mistakes.There were some stray rays of sunshine (that I hadn’t noticed while shooting) on her neck in some of them that wrecked an otherwise good picture. I had her too close to the background on some shots, so there were distracting details behind her. But I ended up with enough good shots for her to choose one with which she was happy. And I enjoyed the process, which mostly had to do with how easygoing and nice Jacque is and a little with the realization that I that I could do this.
A week later, Jacque treated me to lunch at Black Sheep Pizza. We ordered the Oyster Mushroom, Smoked Mozzarella, Rosemary & Garlic Pizza and, man, was that good. Even better was a chance to sit and talk. I feel that I had the better part of the deal: I got to shoot pictures of a beautiful person and then enjoy a meal with her.
When have you done a favor for somebody and felt that you benefited more than the person you helped?