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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hurrah for the drinking dumping aphids of spring!

According to the calendar on my phone, it's Thursday already and it simply doesn't seem possible this week.  It was Monday only yesterday, I swear.  And the day before, and the day before that, too. Maybe there lies the issue, now I think about it.  It's been a week of Mondays.  Groundhog Day a week late.  This week I couldn't tell the Great Pretender from Mr. Maleable, Monday's Toady, or The Play Yard Bully.   I think I'll recognize the Popular Dude when he gets here, though.  I might even be chanting his name already.
I see a sea anemone
The enemy
See a sea anemone
And that'll be the end of me.
While the vicious fish was caught unawares in the tenderest of tendrils
Underneath her tender gills
     - Andrew Bird, from Anonanimal
Traffic is light and so is the morning as I toddle down the road.  Really noticeably lighter of sky than usual this morning.  Bright sunny days earlier this week, lighter early morning commute, still light when I get home - these are good signs.

And the surest sign I've seen yet that winter is in retreat and spring approaches from stage left?  On Tuesday I parked nose-first under a tree for an early meeting off-campus and came out to find aphid droppings all over my windshield.  The pitch is flowing, the aphids drinking and dumping, the machinery of growth is starting up again.

By Shipher Wu (photograph) and Gee-way Lin (aphid provision), National Taiwan University - PLoS Biology, February 2010 direct link to the image description, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9590073
By Shipher Wu (photograph) and Gee-way Lin (aphid provision), National Taiwan University
Today's full playlist:

  • Anonanimal - Andrew Bird
  • It's a Heartache - Rod Stewart
  • I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton
  • Anyhow - Leonard Cohen
  • Andalucia - Pink Martini

Monday, February 1, 2016

Key change up, increase strings and background vocals, pick berries

Monday, fairly dry and dark, like a good merlot. Traffic is heavy, as traffic goes for my little back roads commute.

Something I read somewhere this weekend (someone's tweet, maybe?) referenced dialing in a Tony Orlando & Dawn "station" on Pandora, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I looked up Tony Orlando & Dawn on Google Play, selected the "radio" option, and quickly lost myself in a stream of nostalgic music.  Often campy, always melodic, some with notions about boys and girls that wouldn't sit well today, it was an era for background singers and key changes.  One of this morning's songs had at least 4 key changes in it (and I may have missed one).  Each change was into a higher key, to up the energy level of the song.  By the time the song ended it felt like the singers were on tip-toes.

I still had my phone set to that "station" so I let it run for the drive in this morning.  Yes, I was that guy conspicuously singing out loud to himself in the little red Fiat you passed, or followed, or sat beside at the light.  Deal with it.

Most of these are time and place songs for me.  They were popular tunes in my youth, when every individual year was an epoch unto itself.


Afternoon Delight takes me back to a strawberry patch somewhere in rural Whatcom County.  It was a top-40 tune one summer in my youth, one of the summers I picked strawberries as a summer job.  A big old (and I mean old by the standard of the day) ex-school bus would pick us up early morning.  We'd bounce around dozing in our seats while the bus lurched and ground its way through gear changes and the engine whined, the cabin filling with exhaust fumes sucked back in through any of the fogged over windows that were cracked open.  Mornings were chilly and afternoons were hot, so we'd wear layers of clothing.  My sack lunch would contain a soda pop can I'd put in the freezer overnight, all bulging and misshapen from the expanded frozen soda within, so it would still be cold-ish by mid-day when we broke for lunch.

Someone always had a small transistor radio with them, and top-40 tunes played loudly over the rows of berries while we picked.  Hunched uncomfortably (I was a tall and gangly kid) over the low rows of berries, nose full of the sweet smell of warm ripe strawberries and dust,  knees sore from kneeling in the dirt and soaked through from morning dew and also from blood-red juice from where they'd inadvertently landed on over-ripe berries that had fallen to the ground, I would listen to the same selection of tunes over and over and over again all day.  Two tunes in particular stick with me from that summer: Having My Baby, and, Afternoon Delight.  I hated them both by the end of summer.  It took me a long time to reacquire a taste for strawberries, and I still can't say I really like Afternoon Delight.

Honey places me in the back seat of a '66 Ford Country Squire wagon, black with wood paneled siding, my back and legs sticking to vinyl seats covered in that those clear plastic knobbly seat covers that were so popular back then.  I don't know why that song takes me back there, but clearly I must have heard it a time or two from that seat.

Billy, Don't Be a Hero is just getting started as I back into a parking spot on campus.  Just as well, as many more seconds and I would have hit the skip button on my steering wheel.  I never liked the contrived-story songs (and Honey also falls into that genre).  You don't hear many songs of that sort any more, at least none that I can think of.  They've been replaced by the contrived "like" or "share" this story to show you care stories on Facebook, I guess.  Skippable, in either case.

A good tune list in the main, for a Monday.

Today's Full Playlist:

  • I Like Dreamin' - Kenny Nolan
  • Rock Me Gently - Andy Kim
  • Lady Willpower - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
  • Honey - Bobby Goldsboro
  • Afternoon Delight - Starland Vocal Band
  • Daydream - Tony Orlando and Dawn
  • Billy, Don't Be A Hero - Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods