It’s that time of year when Lori goes into battle with income taxes made more complicated by the byzantine rules of selling company stock acquired over decades of employment. Multiple stock splits, varying unrecorded cost basis and confusing tax code enhance the pain. The consolation is that this is the last year contending with this. Sort of.
Yesterday Lori sold her 2019 Audi to an Elmira dealer. She had done her homework and got a fair price and the dealer got a very nice car in superb condition (which went on their market within a couple hours of the transaction). Lori liked the car a lot but had to make room in the garage for the next automotive adventure coming in a few weeks. More on that later but for now let’s just say we won’t be acquiring any vehicles with internal combustion engines again. The future is now!
Fireworks, picnics, family get-togethers: it’s that time of the year for the national celebration of Lori’s birthday. If she’s not so keen on another birthday, everyone else seems to be in an extra-festive mood this year, possibly due to a rebound effect from the Covid malaise. Regardless, those of us on Lori’s periphery are reaping benefits from birthday generosity and well-wishing. Happy birthday Lori, keep ’em coming for the next several dozen years.
Lori and I spent a (hot) week in Chicago exploring art and architecture with a Road Scholar tour. Among our impressions of Chicago compared to NYC (which we were much more familiar with):
Central Chicago is cleaner than NYC.
Chicago people are generally friendlier than their world-weary cynical NYC counterparts.
Chicago has noticeably less panhandling and acting out than in NYC.
Chicago has a lot of great art and architecture but, at 1/4 the population of NYC, doesn’t have quite the huge breadth of arts that NYC has. Overall and despite the usual set of big-city challenges, Chicago impressed us as a vibrant city with a long record of resilience and adaptability. We’ll no-doubt return for future visits having only sampled what Chicago has to offer.
Lori and I joined friends & neighbors Marie and Ed for a honey tasting at the unique Honeybee Embassy at Bright Raven Farm and Apiary in Trumansburg. What a revelation! I realized I had never tasted pure raw honey before–almost everything available in grocery stores etc. is typical American hyper-processed industrial imitation often heavily infused with corn oil. Real honey without industrial chemistry and over-processing has a wonderful complex taste. The season of the year, the plants in bloom, the terroir, all contribute to a distinctive taste and texture when it isn’t blended and processed into generic honey-like substance. We tasted 6 different honeys, each with highly distinctive color, texture, and taste depending on what the bees had available for production at the time.
Besides learning what real respectfully-harvested honey tastes like, we learned a lot about honey and bees from the owners who have many years of experience and learning behind their enthusiasm for this remarkable substance and its producers. Apparently humans are still learning new things about the amazing honey bees.
Ali vs. Frazier, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Hatfields vs. McCoys: all are great and enduring contests between strong-willed and unrelenting opponents. So it is with our toothpaste tube contests. Two people locked in matrimony and fevered competition determine who is first to fail squeezing a useful amount of dentifrice from the depleted tube. It is a stark zero-sum struggle with a decisive outcome worthy of Gore Vidal’s alleged assertion that “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”
One combatant is by nature a fiercely competitive woman, equating these contests to no less than a great moral struggle. The other combatant is a man with Scottish blood of a stubborn and frugal characteristic. The shared use of the household’s toothpaste doesn’t always lead to the final days of fierce struggle as paste is depleted, but the circumstance for a struggle is often manifested in unstated but mutually understood escalation. The final days require thorough understanding of tube mechanics and the ability to apply great grip strength to move increasingly scarce molecules from the tube.
So who squeezed out the latest great combat victory, giving the opponent a decisive pasting? Scottish reticence prohibits the victor from unseemly gloating (or enumerating previous victories). Maybe not the new tube of toothpaste, or the next, but it’s inevitable that some tube will eventually provoke another contest, like a great thunderhead preparing to unleash a tremendous fury. Meanwhile we rest. And brush.