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Posts Tagged ‘simple living’

It’s been a full month since we dropped our cable and land-line package to become a primarily streaming household, and I think we can say that the results are in.

As with any paradigm shift, behaviors and attitudes have changed. What surprised me, though, was the speed with which the changes were made and some of the more counter-intuitive outcomes.

Our viewing habits changed immediately, of course, as some shows weren’t available to us anymore and other opportunities opened up. But it was the changes in attitude that I found most unexpected. I found that I really didn’t miss some of those “lost” shows, which says a lot about how we were watching them more out of habit than cognizant decision. Moreover, I discovered a heightened discernment in our viewing deliberations. Before, our selections were based mostly on ads and hype, whereas now, our decisions are based on referrals, reviews, previews, and a trial run of an episode or two. We’re also no longer ruled by the tyranny of the DVR. No more “Gotta watch that show to make room for the next episode!” (more…)

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7 1/2

GodfatherLast week, I stood out in the rain.

On purpose.

Last week was a stay-cation, and I spent many hours out in the elements, reclaiming the gardens after a couple of years’ worth of accumulated neglect. It being February — and one of the wettest on record, to boot — more of those “elements” were liquid than usual, and most of those hours were spent in the rain.

Luckily, I had a new hat.

I was born at the sunset of the Hat Era, a time when everyone — men and women alike — wore hats in public. Hats were already passé when I was born, and by the time I was a lad, the only men who wore hats were fishermen, cowboys, and men in uniform. Alas.

I’ve always liked hats. Real hats, that is. Hats with brims that go all the way around. A hat has a purpose — to keep the sun out of your eyes, to keep your head warm, and to keep rain off your head and neck. Caps generally only do one of those things, and not well, either, not when compared to a real hat.

The hats I preferred were those of my movie icons — Bogie, Stewart, Fonda — hats with character, hats with style. No baseball caps for those guys. No urban-cowboy Stetsons. No no no.

The Fedora ruled with those men. Sometimes they wore a Homburg or a wide-brimmed Tyrolean. Or, if they were in a Western, a slouch.

The slouch hat has always been a favorite of mine. A felt hat with a flat, wide brim that slouches down over nape and brow, preferably with a creased crown for ease of tipping to passersby. Aussies tie up one side of theirs. So did the Rough Riders. The slouch has tons of character and is a top-notch performer in all things a hat is supposed to do.

But, as I’ve never considered myself as a guy who looks good in hats, I was a bit self-conscious, standing out in my suburban garden, rain pelting down, fat droplets pattering off the wide brim of my new slouch hat. I mean, it’s a big hat, by modern stylistic standards. It’s felted mix of wool and buffalo hair, black as night, with a slight curl on the back and sides of the 4 ½” brim, and a silver-buckled strip of leather around the crown. My wife assured me though that, contrary to my instincts, the hat suits me, and since she generally doesn’t like me to look the fool any more than I do myself, I trusted her assessment, and wore it most of the week.

A quality felt hat is almost a living thing. New, it never fits well, despite proper measurement. It must be worn to fit properly, and if possible, worn in the rain. You wear it, let it get wet, and then continue to wear it as it dries. The moisture loosens up the felted fibers and when they dry, they shrink up to fit your skull. If you don’t like the brim or the crown, you can steam it over a kettle and reshape it to your liking, which I did to remove the curl on the front.  After four days spending several hours out in the rain, getting the hat wet and letting it dry, it now is a perfect fit to the bony, pearish ovoid that houses my brain.

I still don’t feel like it’s my “style,” but I like it, so I’m going to fake it until it feels right.

k

Typewriter

PS. I was thoroughly puzzled by the relationship between hat sizes and head measurements. A 22-inch skull is a U.S. hat size 7, which is a difference of 15; but a 23 ½ inch skull (like mine) is a U.S. hat size 7 ½, a difference of 16. What gives?

Turns out, the relationship between your head size and your U.S. hat size is, believe it or not, π.

Yup. Just as circumference/π = diameter, so Your Head Measurement (in inches)/π =  U.S. Hat Size.

I just love that.

k

Bogie and Bacall

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My Mr. FezziwigIn December 1966 — in lieu of their regular station identification — CBS aired a short, animated holiday greeting for its viewers. (I’ve embedded it, below, for your convenience.) Drawn by R.O. Blechman, a well-known animator and illustrator, the piece was done in his standard minimalist style. Though it has no dialogue, it still delivers a lovely message of peace and harmony. At the end appear the words: Season’s Greetings From CBS.

Not Merry Christmas. Not Happy Holidays.

Season’s Greetings. (more…)

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Le crayon rougeThe epiphany hit me when I finished Wednesday’s New York Times crossword puzzle.

Epiphanies are like that, showing up at odd times, all unexpected-like. (more…)

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I walk the wavering limit of sand and sea, the Pacific’s grey serrated edge. The wind, flavored with salt and sun-dried kelp, pushes me, smudging my glasses with briny thumbs. A foam-white gull hunkers down against the wind. It glares at me with a yellow eye, wary but unwilling to move as long as I keep my distance. Plovers weave up and down the sand, dancing with their watery partner, piping and whistling. At my approach, they burst upward in a seething cloud of wings that veers drunkenly along the shore before settling down at a safer distance.

The waves hesitate, gathering their courage, then rush up the sloping shore. The first one covers my feet, the second my ankles, the third, calves. The water shocks with skin-tightening cold, but once the waves caress the sun-kissed sand, they recede with warmth and slip gently out to sea.

It is low tide, the time when the ocean rummages through dark cupboards, searching for trinkets and loose change to toss up on land when the next advance begins. Past offerings make ripples beneath the retreating waves or lie bright in the water-dark sand. Razor clams, splayed wide like nacre butterflies, are brittle and sharp splashes of dark purple or brilliant white. The pale skeletons of sand dollars lie strewn about, all broken, metaphors waiting to be used.

I walk through the dirty, heavy-handed rip current and the calmer, cleaner slack. I feel the tug of the water, sense the shifting sand beneath my feet. I taste both sea and earth on the ceaseless wind.

This is the edge, the limit of the world, the place where both land and ocean end.

Or begin.

k

Typewriter

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Simple LivingMy world has become meaner, of late, and I’m guessing yours has, too.

Mean, in the sense of “harsh, spiteful, and cruel,” but also in the sense of “crude, lowly, or ignoble.”

Work, politics, society, and even some relationships have taken on a more callous, retributive aspect. People don’t want to listen — They don’t even want to care. — and it feels like the whole social contract has begun to unravel.

My world has indeed become more mean.

In response, I find that I have becoming meaner, as well. Patience has vanished. Reactions have intensified. Empathy has hit rock bottom.

And I hate it.

So I’m doing something about it.

I’m changing the only thing I can.

Me. (more…)

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Simple LivingI don’t like turkey.

This will come as a shock to my family, who as I grew up watched me order a turkey sandwich every time we went out to eat. It didn’t matter where we went or when–breakfast at IHOP, dinner at Denny’s, a special meal at Sabella’s–I always ordered a turkey sandwich. (I was also always served last, but that’s an entirely different story.) I would order the turkey sandwich, the club sandwich, or (in a pinch) the hot turkey open-face sandwich; it didn’t really matter as long as it had turkey.

I loved turkey. (more…)

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