Saturday, November 18, 2017

Loose Ends

It is a rainy, gray Saturday here and I have spent most of it inside the house doing small chores. I just sent off an email to some of our attorney volunteers at the monthly Legal Clinic. In Ohio, volunteers may earn CLE (continuing legal education) credits for their time, but the Clinic administrators (of which I am one) must keep records of the attorney's time. We have our attorneys sign in and out for each clinic: a simple, serviceable method. As the end of the year nears and our reporting is due in early 2018, I have gone back through the records and found a spot here and there where the attorney marked his or her time, but failed to sign out.

So there's a loose end: get those signatures.

I have a stack of papers on my desk that I am going through. I try to keep my desk surface relatively tidy, but admit I have let the stack get too tall. Much of it can be recycled, some of it needs filed away.

Another loose end: get rid of the papers.

If I don't stay on top of the paper flow, too much paper piles up on my desk and I end up moving some of the stack to the guest bed in my study. As I look sideways at what is on the bed right this moment, I realize (not for the first time) that the whole bed is one big collection point.

A BIG loose end: make the bed reemerge.

I suffer from the common condition of hanging onto papers way too long. Hard copies or electronic documents: they clog my study and my files and my computers. I am not talking about Important Papers or Family Records. I am talking about, to look at a loose handful, a water bill (paid), a program from a colloquium that has a book title scrawled across it (the only reason I kept the program) that I meant to look up in the library but have not, and a notice urging my Aunt Ginger to take advantage of a special offer to renew her subscription to Woman's Day magazine RIGHT NOW.  For the record, Aunt Ginger has a subscription current through March of 2019. Yes, 2019. The woman is 88 years old. Unbeknownst to me when she moved into assisted living earlier this year and I took over all of her affairs, she had been blithely resubscribing to most of her magazines every time they sent a notice, even if she had just resubscribed. They will all expire eventually, but so will Aunt Ginger.

That's a whole bunch of loose ends and writing it out reminds me I should call the funeral home and make some prearrangements. We have had two hospitalization scares lately, and while Aunt Ginger bounced out of both, I know the day will come when there is no return.

Another loose end: make funeral arrangements.

I am laughing at myself as I type these out. These are all first world problems of the highest order. Not to mention problems of someone with some fair amount of privilege in that I have the means to sit here musing about this. I am privileged that I get to spend a rainy Saturday noodling around in my study instead of having to work a shift at Wal-Mart or one of the local groceries or fast food joints around town. Privilege, or the lack thereof, poverty, hunger, income equity: good lord, I could drift off on that line and not get anything done in this study the rest of the day.

So let me turn my thoughts back to the task at hand. The pile on the desk. Back to those loose ends.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Small Moment

Kim, the blogger at Out My Window, commented on my last post that she "could never get enough" of drumline, being a dancer and former drumline coach.

This is a little bit of the drumline performance from Elkhart High School, who ended up placing 2nd in the competition at PASIC 2017:

Kim, I hope this makes you feel better! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Back From Percussion Universe

We just spent three days in Percussion Universe, aka the 2017 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). As a non-percussionist, I am pretty much an anomaly there, but I end up finding sessions and situations to pass the time.

As always, there were some standout sessions. I fell in love with the French group SR9 Trio, a threesome of masterful marimba players who also perform music theatre. I saw a performance by Kultur Grenade, a dance/percussion/poetry/theatre group that left me standing on my feet screaming my approval. As Warren and I drove home last night from Indianapolis, I told him that watching that group perform gave me a whole new perspective through which to view and approach my own poetry writing and readings.

And I wrote a whole batch of new poetry while I was there.

One of things I tried to do this year was capture a little bit of the feel of PASIC. Everyone at PASIC ends up at the Exhibitors Hall, and a walk through that is always a hoot. There is the quiet section, where you will find attendees trying out the latest cool (and quiet) instruments:

Then there is the louder (loudest) side where you will find both exhibitors and attendees trying out lots and lots of drums. Here's a guy demonstrating his wares:

I learned a year or two ago that one of my best ways to spend a morning was watching the drumline battle. It is the marching band geek in me. (In fact, I am such a marching band geek that next year I may shell out money to go watch the Bands of America National Championship, which goes on at the same time in Lucas Oil Stadium, right next to the Indiana Convention Center (which hosts PASIC). The marching bands stay in the immediate area and practice in the Convention Center, so I was always seeing high school musicians and flag twirlers walk through the halls.)

Drumline competition was superb this year. There were high school and college lines and one independent line. The high school drumline from Elkhart, Indiana took a well-deserved second, but it was the independent team, Cutting Edge from Fort Worth, Texas, that blew us all away. Here is about a minute of their 90-120 seconds of performance; my camera was running out of power, so I clipped it off early:

You had to be there.

Before we left for PASIC at 5:00 a.m. Thursday, I was having my doubts as to how much I would get out of it. It had been a rough week, with my Aunt Ginger going back into the hospital on an emergency basis the prior Sunday and not being released until Wednesday. Rather than heading into PASIC with a lot of energy and joy, I headed in with a load of worries and little sleep.

But in the end, it all worked. There was energy, there was poetry, and there were drums and drummers and every other percussion instrument imaginable.

And that was enough.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Small Moment

Lunchtime frugality at its best. This is Sunday's lunch: the two heels and one last (now tough) slice of bread, thus finishing off the loaf, and the remains of a block of Kraft Velveeta Cheese that entered our home back in July when Ramona was here. (Her parents bought it for making macaroni and cheese as Ramona is particular about her mac and cheese.)

No food waste here!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Goodbye To All That

The new courthouse (photo by Delaware County) 
Our county is getting a new county courthouse for the first time since 1874. It opens officially this coming Monday, with a brief flag raising ceremony at 7:45; public open house to follow in December. (Our county Juvenile/Probate Court, which is where I work, is not moving into the new building. We are housed next door in the newish County Building.)

For the last several weeks, but especially this week, office and court staffs have been busy moving from the old to the new. Earlier in the week this was the scene behind the old courthouse:

Moving Day (photo by Delaware County) 

Stair detail in the old courthouse. Trust me, not in the new! 
I toured the new building, or much of it, earlier this week. It is all sleek lines and neutral colors: buff, sand, gray. The courtrooms feel amazingly large compared to the old ones. The view to the east and north from the corner where the glass north wall meets the glass portion of the east wall on the fifth floor is stupendous and one that I will return to, camera in hand, from time to time. But aside from taking an occasional photo, I doubt I will spend much time in the new courthouse. I don't practice anymore and I am no longer involved in Common Pleas projects, such as the felony mental health docket.

I knew that after this Friday just past, the old courthouse would be locked until it was rehabbed and repurposed. Early Friday afternoon I went over to the old courthouse, wanting one last look. The deputy at the security point told me that everything was closed. "I know," I said. I told him I was an attorney and wanted just one last look. He waved me through: "Be my guest."

I have a lot of hours and a lot of memories in that building. Before I became a lawyer, if I was in town for Election Night, I would join hundreds of others on the first floor watching the returns. The Board of Elections staff would count the ballots by hand as each precinct box came in and then post
handwritten tallies on the walls. I met the attorney who would become my mentor at Election Night when he ran for City Council. My son Ben and I stayed long and late one Election Night making sure the school levy to build the new middle school, a building he would not even attend as it would open when he was in high school, passed.

Compared to colleagues of mine who practiced criminal law, I spent relatively few hours in the
THE courtroom (photo by David Hejmanowski)
courtrooms. The courtroom where I did my first (and about only) major civil trial, the old, old Probate and Juvenile courtroom, was rebuilt into a larger courtroom years ago. But the main courtroom on second floor still looks relatively the same as it did when I first came to town. My friend Judy Maxwell commented on this photo: "This is THE Courtroom that I practiced in when we first moved to Delaware in 1988. Back in those days, Henry E. Shaw, Jr. was the General Division Judge, and Thomas E. Louden was the Probate/Juvenile Division Judge."

Yes, they were. Judge Shaw was infamous for his tirades from the bench. I once saw him tell an attorney for Conrail who was lax about responding to our motion for discovery to comply immediately lest the Court shut down the entire track through Delaware County. The attorney, new to our county, made the mistake of opening his mouth to reply to Judge Shaw, which merely inflamed the matter. Used to Judge Shaw's ways by then, I made sure to keep my eyes down and on the papers in front of me. And Tom Louden, who was one of the gentlest of judges (and the worst mumbler ever when he was on the bench) is the only judge who ever had to reprimand me and opposing counsel for arguing with one another before him in a hearing. That all happened in this courthouse.

I went into the main courtroom for a few minutes. The lights were off. The pictures of previous
The view from Main Courtroom to hallway on the last day
judges were still on the walls. I did not disturb the dark nor the memories.

As I came downstairs one last time to leave the building, I ran into a good friend and colleague, David Laughlin, a DR magistrate who earlier that day had held what was probably the last evidentiary hearing ever in the old courthouse. We talked for several minutes, much of it about the courthouse, and then said goodbye with the kind of hug you give someone after a memorial service. David commented later on Facebook: "That's what I will take as memories...the great conversations with terrific attorneys such as you...that place facilitated practicing law the way it should be...with the collegiality and great relationships while helping people...the contacts and talks and stories that make such good memories."


As I walked back out past checkpoint, I thanked the deputy who'd waved me in an hour earlier. "No problem" he called as I walked through to the double doors to the outside, out of the past and into the now.

The old courthouse (photo by Delaware County)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Black and White

My first camera was a simple box camera, plastic, with a silvery cavity for a flash bulb.  I think my mom sent away for it: 50 cents and a box top back in the very late 1960s. My best friend Cindy got the very same camera, if memory serves me. That summer, our moms were 4-H leaders in a pilot photography project, and Cindy and I started down the path of learning the basics of photography.

Everything was black and white back in those days. I don't know if Kodak (because it was all Kodak back then) even made color film for that camera. If Kodak did, black and white film would have been infinitely cheaper both to buy and to process. Besides, as a 4-Her, we were not allowed to use color film in Photography 1. Oh no: only black and white. (Color film was not allowed under Photography 3 or 4 back then.)

So everything was shot in black and white. Paul Simon to the contrary, everything looked good in black and white. Eventually, I started using my dad's 35mm camera (he had brought it home from Japan in 1954) and I remember the thrill of using Tri-X film: still black and white, but faster, for action shots. Tri-X was grainier when you shot landscapes; I loved that aspect of it too. In those long past days, by my last years in 4-H and high school, I learned to develop my own film (black and white). I bought an old used enlarger and took over my grandmother's bathroom every few Saturdays to develop and print my own work.

That was real magic. There was the tang of chemicals in the air, there was the magic of sliding a piece of exposed photographic paper into the developer tray and watching the images form out of nothing under the water. It was like watching dreams develop.

Eventually, of course, color came. Fuji film came, 4-H let us shoot and exhibit in color, and black and white faded away in my albums. It was all color all the time.

Fast forward to the digital era, in which I have been participating for not quite a decade now. Everything is color. Bigger, brighter, my god, look at the detail (and I just have a simple point and shoot).

Until this week. This week is when my brother Mark tagged me on Facebook: seven days of black and white photos, ordinary items, no titles, no explanations. Go.

It took me a half hour of fooling with the camera to find how to do black and white. But I figured it out and I have been posting black and white photos.

My friend Cindy—the very same Cindy—and I have been emailing back and forth about the experience for the last few days:

          April: LOTS of memories. LOTS AND LOTS of memories--remember early 4-H when we only did black and white? I forgot (until I was changing the colors on my camera) how beautiful it can be. How dreamy.  I MISS FILM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

         Cindy: I have been seeing the black & whites!  Love them!!!  I remember you developing black & white pictures in the bathroom on Flax street!!!  Remember that?!!!!

         April: Oh yeah! I couldn't sleep last night and so started thinking about film and I thought all about Flax Street. It was magic to watch those photos form out of the air.  Am really, really intrigued with dropping back into black and white world. 

         Cindy: YES, Black & White World!!! 

So here I am, back in black and white world for a few days. Maybe for longer. It has been so long since I have shot just for the heck of it. Most of my shots these days are "occasions:" the kids home, a Symphony rehearsal. Maybe a few garden shots here and there, but a lot of time the camera stays in its pouch, up in my study.

But black and white? Just ordinary everyday things? I can do that. I may keep doing that.

And it is still dreamy.