Author Archives: j.c.w. - Page 3

The Big Blue Room

Heron on a log

The weekend was punctuated with a few nice surprises. I got an email from an old friend. We’ve corresponded since he was my student almost 15 years ago. He’s a good man and a good friend. I’ve followed his travels around the world with great interest. It’s wonderful to see someone who is smart, funny, capable, and, most importantly, a good person go out into the world to see and do big things. Getting his email on a Saturday morning was a treat.

The other notable treat was being told to toss my kayak on the Jeep and go out paddling while my wife took the kids on a hike Sunday morning. It’s rare that I do things on my own. Let’s face it, in The After Times we’re always on top of one another. Getting out on the water where it was very quiet and having no responsibilities aside from keeping myself upright was a wonderful gift.

I’m not a nature photographer (or any other kind, really) but I took a few quick pictures of a blue heron that was allowing me to get very close. It was like a segment from “Sunday Morning” with Charles Kuralt. Well, in my mind it was.


A home made pizza.

There are a lot of people discovering cooking during The Strange Days. I say discovering because many were not brought up cooking. That feels foreign to me. I have been cooking since forever. And I’ve never been afraid of the kitchen. After all, it’s food. The worst thing that can happen is an expectation isn’t met. It’s still likely edible. It’s quite sad that people think food either comes out perfect or burnt and inedible. Too many cooking shows and not enough time in front of a stove.

We have made pizza on Friday evenings for years. This week, it was Saturday. We had bits and pieces around the kitchen from our latest delivery from a service that specializes in reducing food waste. I like pantry cooking. “What do I have?” It’s a great way to start a good meal.

The pizza was fantastic.

So was the meal I made up Sunday when my mom came for a visit. Grilled potatoes, corn, and sausage. Mushrooms sautéed with onions in butter. Tomato and cucumber salad. It was all perfect. Mostly due to the high quality of the ingredients and not so much to the expert application of heat.

Cook more.


The head unit of an IC-7100 radio tuned to 14.074 MHz.

Right. Wrong blog again.

When I first got into the ham radio hobby, I was living in PA. My dad talked me into joining PCARS which was the club where he was a member. I regularly attended nets put on by local clubs, but when I went to meetings, I felt really out of place. I would join the PCARS net using EchoLink which is a way for hams to use the internet to reach distant repeaters. The club was always welcoming and very friendly.

When we decided to move, I figured I would get to enjoy some of the events in person. We were never able to make it out to an event when we were out of state, but it should have been easy after the move. But, of course, nothing worked out that way.

Every year, the radio guys get their mobile rigs together and head out to an A&W. They park in an adjacent lot and mill around talking about mobile radio. I have a radio in my Jeep! I want to talk too! Because it was outdoors and the prevailing demographic in the club is older, I asked my dad if he wanted to go. He was definitely on board. We talked my son into going by promising a root beer float.

The three of us drove out to the A&W. We got our floats. Masked, we stood around at a respectful distance from one another and talked about EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) transmissions on 40m (a radio “joke” thing) and the tower work that was starting up for various members as fall enters the collective consciousness. It was my first club event. Just a bunch of people standing around a parking lot talking about radios. Not much. But it felt “Normal”? It was good.

I know that I won’t go to an indoor event – that’s just out of the question. But for something like the cruise in, it was definitely worth getting out of the house. It was something I didn’t know that I needed until I was there. Being mindful and conscious of emotional needs is a difficult thing.

Smoke and Fire

A lit Zippo lighter

In a calendar year, I might consume a maximum of five cigars. My wife considers this a crime and a personal attack on her olfactory nerve, but that is far from my intent. I can’t really say that I have a strong palette. As with most things, I am a dilettante at best. But there is something peaceful in a good cigar. And I only get the good ones. How do I know that they’re good? Because people whom I trust to know these things say that they are. I usually pair it with my go-to bourbon and make an evening of it by the fire.

There is something meditative to the consumption of such a sinful item. It can take two hours properly enjoy a cigar. And those hours are usually silent. I could use that.

The truth is, the weight of the current reality is pushing the buttons of everyone I know. The New Normal isn’t pleasant. Everyone feels trapped. So we reach for things that might have some level of comfort associated with them. I don’t know that anything really helps in the long run, but every year is made of days that we must survive.

For what it’s worth, Perdomo Lot 23 are quite nice. Hat tip to my buddy Joe for that one.


Three Deer.

It’s not a cabin in the woods, but now and again, we get our share of deer to add to the groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels, and birds. It does remind me of how quiet our place is compared to where we were living. Far less urban, though not rural by any means.