I Got Nothing Today


8B4EC126-35DC-447B-B507-4EEF75C8A2C7When I see the WordPress one-word prompt each morning, I think about if I’m going to respond and, if so, how?

Will I write a bit of flash fiction using the word as inspiration? Will the word remind me of something that happened in my life or in the life of someone I know and motivate me to write a post about such an incidence?

Will the word trigger something related to current events, political goings on, or some other timely topic for me to write about?

Today’s one-word prompt is the word “elegance.” It’s a noun used to describe something that is elegant, something tastefully fine or luxurious in dress, style, or design. Something refined or dignified.

There is nothing about me or anyone I know that can be described as “elegant.” My family, friends, and acquaintances are all firmly ensconced in America’s middle class. My home is not in any way elegant. Nor is my clothing, my car, or my lifestyle.

And today, neither is my imagination, as I haven’t been able to conjure up a fanciful tale built around the word “elegance” to share with my readers.

So I’m sorry to disappoint, but I got nothing. There will be no post from me today in response to the WordPress one-word prompt. Check back with me tomorrow.


Song Lyrics Sunday — Help Me

The theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is “falling.”

This was an easy one for me, a diehard Joni Mitchell fan. The song, “Help Me,” is from her classic 1974 album, Court and Spark. It is a love song written, produced, and performed by Joni Mitchell, and was recorded with jazz band Tom Scott’s L.A. Express as the backup band. “Help Me” was released on the Asylum label as a single and it was Mitchell’s biggest hit, peaking at #7 in June 1974 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also her only single to reach the top 10.

In her song, Mitchell sings about a guy she’s falling in love with while at the same time knowing the relationship is doomed, as he is “a rambler and a gambler” who loves his freedom. She never revealed the identity of this mystery man, but the speculation is that he could have been either Jackson Browne or Glenn Frey, both of whom she dated in the early ’70s. That said, I have no idea who the lady with the hole in her stocking might be.

Here are the lyrics.

Help me
I think I’m falling
In love again
When I get that crazy feeling, I know
I’m in trouble again
I’m in trouble

‘Cause you’re a rambler and a gambler
And a sweet-taIking-ladies man
And you love your lovin’
But not like you love your freedom

Help me
I think I’m falling
In love too fast
It’s got me hoping for the future
And worrying about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot hot blazes
Come down to smoke and ash
We love our lovin’
But not like we love our freedom

Didn’t it feel good
We were sitting there talking
Or lying there not talking
Didn’t it feel good
You dance with the lady
With the hole in her stocking

Didn’t it feel good
Didn’t it feel good
Help me
I think I’m falling
In love with you

Are you going to let me go there by myself
That’s such a lonely thing to do
Both of us flirting around
Flirting and flirting

Hurting too
We love our lovin’
But not like we love our freedom

SoCS — Liquewhat?

9CDAFFA8-6128-493A-9250-B68B2673EC67Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt this week challenges us to find a word that starts with “liqu” or has “liqu” in it and to base our post on that word.

The word I’m using for this prompt is “liquefaction.” You may not be familiar with the word “liquefaction” if you don’t live in an area that is prone to earthquakes. I know that when my wife and I first moved to San Francisco about a decade ago, neither of us had even heard of that word.

The real estate broker that we were working with advised us to avoid looking at houses or condos built in “liquefaction zones.” I misunderstood what he said and asked him a really dumb question. “Why,” I asked, “should we stay away from juice bars?” I thought he had said “liquification zones,” and related it to sticking fruits or veggies into a juicer to liquify them.

I soon learned that liquefaction is “the process by which saturated, unconsolidated soil or sand is converted into a suspension during an earthquake.” The effect on structures and buildings in liquefaction zones can be devastating, and it is a major contributor to urban seismic risk.

I also learned that there are many neighborhoods in San Francisco that are designated as liquefaction zones. If you own a place in such zones, you face the prospect of major damage, tilting, and even collapse in the event of a significant earthquake.

Yikes! I knew about flood zones and fire zones and even landslide zones. I had briefly lived in what is known as “tornado alley,” as well as in areas frequently hit by hurricanes. But liquefaction zones were new to me.

Anyway, my wife and I ended up buying a place in a section of the city that is not considered to be built in a high-risk liquefaction zone. Still, in the event of a significant earthquake in San Francisco, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be bending over and kissing our asses goodbye.

Ithaca is Gorges

The picture above is of the Genesee River Gorge as seen from the Finger Lakes hiking trail. The image below is Taughannock Falls, also seen from that same trail.

Summertime in Ithaca, which is located in upstate New York, is beautiful. The Ithaca area has more than 150 gorges and waterfalls and miles of hiking trails. It’s also home to Cornell University and Ithaca College.

The breathtaking landscape of the Finger Lakes region was sculpted by continually advancing and retreating glaciers over the past several million years, which may be a shock to those who believe that the planet is only about 6,000 or so years old. But it’s true.

The autumn in and around Ithaca is spectacular, a result of nature’s annual show of colors as the leaves turn from green to the reds, oranges, and golds of the fall season, as can be seen from the image of Ithaca Falls below.

One word of advice, though. Winters in Ithaca are only for the hardiest among you.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “gorge.”

Happy Wife, Happy Life

11495244-5A40-403E-B88C-7B8F8EE0E3F8Back in the day, my wife and I bought a 120-year-old Victorian house because, well, we were stupid. It was after buying that house that I first learned what the word “patina” meant.

It was a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian, complete with a large, wraparound front/side porch, a turret, curved glass windows around the turret, and several stunning stained glass windows. Years earlier, this majestic home had been broken up into three apartment units and the guy who last purchased it was in the middle of converting it back to a single-family home when he ran out of money. So he put it on the market.

My wife always loved the classic look of Victorian homes, and when she saw that one was for sale, she had to have it. I knew it was going to be a money pit, but you know — “happy wife, happy life.” We got a great deal on it because of the seller’s financial difficulties.

Unfortunately, in restoring the house back to a single-family home, the owner decided to do it on the cheap. He installed basic Home Depot light fixtures throughout, painted all of the magnificent original woodwork, and essentially remove all of the house’s Victorian character and charm.

Long story short, it took us two years and almost double what we originally paid for the house to restore it to the beautiful Queen Anne Victorian it had been in it’s heyday, both inside and out.

So, back to patina. My wife wanted to replace all of the cheap Home Depot light fixtures the previous owner has installed with “Victorian era” lights. We didn’t have the budget to purchase new, Victorian reproduction lights, so I spent a lot of time on eBay looking for electrified Victorian light fixtures.

I actually found quite a few for sale. Most of the eBay listings described the light fixtures as having “original patina.” I asked my wife if she knew what that meant and, always the teacher, she explained to me that patina is a thin, usually green layer that forms on copper and bronze when exposed to the air for a long time. “All you need to do it polish them a little before you hang them.”

But I learned what the word “patina” actually meant after opening a few of the boxes in which these “original patina” light fixtures were shipped. It means “covered with dirt, grease, and grime and shipped in a box that often contains mouse or rat droppings and dead bugs.”

The good news, though, is that I taught myself how to completely rewire non-working, electrified Victorian era light fixtures.