Saturday, March 2, 2013

We're Changin' Lodgin'!

Those were, of course, the immortal words of Fagin in Dickens' Oliver Twist. Pictured above is Ron Moody, who did a wonderful job in the movie version of Oliver!, the musical version of the book. It is not a picture of me writing, although it could be.

Anyhow, the Biscuit City operation is moving to Word Press starting Monday. Look for us at If the browser dumps you out at On the Wings of Morning, my novel blog, you can read that too. Thanks for being a faithful reader and follower of Biscuit City. The dashboard shows 439 posts since May of 2011. If you've read them all, bless you, dear reader. If you haven't, bless you, too. Catch you on Word Press.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sign of Spring

Sign of Spring

On the way home from church last Sunday
I saw what I assumed was a father and son
Playing catch in the front yard.
The pro teams have been at it for a week
At spring training in inconsequential games
Unlike this father and son
Whose game is consequential
And makes me smile
A sure sign of spring.

--Dan Verner

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Color My World…or Not

It's a color spectrum wheel! There are too many of eyes!

Among the many things I don’t understand, including cricket and the International Date Line (Official Motto: Here to Confuse You), are colors.  Now, I  know what a color is and can even recognize some of them.  Like most guys, my color recognition skills are limited to about eight, which just happen to be the colors in the eight-crayon box. Anything beyond that is, well, beyond the pale. Or out of the box. I’m told that the human eye can distinguish about a million different colors.  Maybe I can, but I don’t know their names and I certainly can’t coordinate them. For example, what is fuschia? It sound like it should be a shade of pink and it is, but I had to look it up.  Or magenta.  Is that greenish? No, it looks about like fuschia.

I think, also like most guys, I didn’t care about colors to begin with except on cars. Then you have to have a cool color like silver or black.  None of those little pastel colored girly cars—you know which ones they are. So, with such limited experience, it’s no surprise that most guys do what I did until I got married—wear variations of the same color—blue, brown, and if you’re adventurous, green.  My wife tells me that she thought I was Mr. Monochromatic before we got married.  She had since fixed that by buying my clothes to make sure they match and also telling me what goes with what, usually with an askance look and the phrase, “Those two things don’t go together.”  Really, I’m grateful for the help. I am confident there are men who read GQ  and other magazines of mystery to me and know about fashion and color, but they’re not me.  Obviously.

Another major experience where color deficiency shows up comes when a room is to be painted.  Honestly, have you ever looked at the number of colors available?  And some of the names for them?  One of the rooms in our house is painted—and this is the truth—a color called “Cotton Tail.” (It’s sort of off-white.  I think.) It makes me dizzy just to go into the paint department at a store. It used to be that you took something with the color you want to match and the people at the paint store looked at it and said, “Uh huh,” and mixed up the exact color you wanted. Out of millions of possibilities!  How did they do this? I once met a guy who did this for Sherwin Williams for decades.  I asked him how he did it and he said, “I don’t know.  I just look at a color and I know what pigments will go into it. I think it’s a gift.” Now, of course, they have these amazing scanner computers where you can take in a sample the size of a quarter and they can match it from that!  Every time!  It’s a modern miracle of technology that deserves wider recognition.

Generally, painting at our house starts with a room that hasn’t been painted for a period long enough that the basic palette has changed. If you don’t know, there is a palette  of colors which decides colors for everything and it changes every so often. Some guy in Italy picks it out and everyone else just takes off with it.  You can see this phenomenon at work when you watch an old movie and think the film has faded or the dyes have gone funky.  Nope, those are the colors people actually wore back then.  Someone who is very good at this can date a picture to within a year by the color palette.  That’s kind of scary to me.

Anyhow, Becky decides a room needs to be painted and chooses a color, usually based on a pillow or the mat in a picture.  The rest of the color scheme flows from that.  I have consistently offered to paint any room if she picks the color.  This arrangement has led to some rooms that are colors I would not choose, like a pink living room, but I gave up the right to choose because, well, I can’t.

So, the  color is chosen, and I put the paint on.  I still enjoy painting. It’s relaxing and quiet and I can think about things like why there are so many colors in this world.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Wish It Would Snow

I wish it would snow. And since I'm wishing, I wish for about three inches of soft, fluffy snow, enough to close schools and give workers unscheduled leave or the opportunity to telecommute. I don't want a blizzard such as New England endured recently, just some quiet, beautiful snow that we can watch and enjoy, bake cookies and have homemade soup, sit by the warmth of a Duraflame log in the fireplace and read a good book or just doze off.

We've had a number of "clippers" come through this year, leaving a dusting on the grass and a few days of "wintry mix" which just makes a mess or ices things up. I don't want that. I want some real snow.

I think I also want the chance to slow down, to think about where we've been and where we're going, to count our blessings and to make plans. It seems we've experienced vicariously on the news a surfeit of violence and suffering, of evil and cruelty, and while I would affirm that the vast majority of people are kind and good, it becomes easy to focus on the negative. A good snowfall would go a long way toward remedying that.

It's nearly March, and while we have had snow as late as May 1 around here (in 1962, to be exact), the time for snow this year is running out. 

I was minded of the words to an anthem by American composer Joseph Martin, "Canticle of Peace." They are:

Peace, fall like a gentle snow.
Fall fresh on the wounded heart.
Come blanket our ev’ry fear
And let the healing start.
Cover ev’ry anxious thought,
And all our fears erase.
May we know the tender touch of love’s redeeming grace.

(For more information on this anthem and its genesis, please visit For a performance please visit .)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Poem of the Week--The Quilters

The Quilters

I am painting a broad red stripe
On a wall in the church outside the room
Where the ladies quilting guild is meeting.
My work requires no skill, just
A can of paint, a tray and a roller.
It's a big dumb job.
As I roll on red enamel
I hear them murmuring as they work
Cooing like doves,
Most of their words indistinct
Although a few float out to the hall,
"Kidney," "grandchildren," and "visit."
I peek into the room to see them
Bent over quilt squares, embroidery, counted cross stitch
Faces relaxed as they talk and ply their skilled needles.
I do my dumb painting
While they are stitching their lives together.

--Dan Verner

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Kids Are All Right

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

(The crossing of their legs really gets to me. You know?) Does this statement sound about right about Kids These Days? Many of us would agree with the sentiments expressed therein.

But there’s a rub.

These words were written by Plato in the fifth century B.C. or found in an Egyptian tomb from the Second Dynasty or engraved on a potshard from the T’ang Dynasty in China. They’re not about today’s kids: they’re about yesterday’s youth. And they’re about as old school as they come. That’s an idea that should bring people up short.

It does, but it doesn’t bring them up short for long, because the older folk love to complain about the youngsters. They dress funny. They eat strange food. They wear their hair in bizarre ways. And their music… It’s so odd and so strange. You call that music? Not me—why back in my day music sounded like music, not like noise…

And they complain about the young folks’ work habits. They don’t work hard enough. They’re unreliable. They don’t know what they’re doing. You know the list.

My observation is that we have slackers in every generation (in my father’s time they were called “goldbricks.”) I taught with a fellow whose big accomplishment was getting to school at all. And it was said he did nothing at all when he got there.

And, to be sure, there are young people who don’t do squat. I once had a student whose avowed purpose in life was to “slack.’ And slack he did.  He worked after school in a bakery, a job that takes a concerted effort to slack off.. Some of my other students worked with him and said, yes, he was slacker and created work for everyone else with his dedication to slacking.

Which reminds me of The Three Rules of Work posited by the father of one my daughters’ friends. These are simple and would make a difference if we all went by them at work. They are:

1. Come to work.
2. Do work.
3. Don’t create work for others.
Now, it is my belief that the young people in our midst work hard and follow the Three Rules of Work. Most people I know, in fact, work far harder than they need to, often at a resultant cost.

Among the young, since the best “potism” is nepotism, I think of our two daughters as hard and exceptionally competent workers. Amy is a fourth grade school teacher who impresses me with her dedication, skill, knowledge and compassion. She is after thirteen years in the classroom head and shoulders as a teacher above what I was after 32 years. Alyssa is funny, smart, empathic and knowledgeable in her job as a H.R. specialist for a hugmongous corporation. If you want to know from H.R., check with Alyssa. And if you need an advocate, you want her on your side whether you have been abused by a indifferent faceless business or had a flight cancelled, you want her to step up and get these folks to do the right thing.

Then there are our nephews, Jonathan and Joshua. Jonathan is the hardest working fellow I know with an incredible sense of humor, and a kindness not often seen in young men. Josh for some time now had been the coolest person I know and has been all over his job since day one. They all make me so proud of them.

I asked Amy and Alyssa’s friends on Facebook to send me their occupations. Such a list indicates the sharpness of these young people and how hard they have to work: HRIS analyst,
quality assurance coordinator and trainer, realtor, financial representative, sales manager, associate pastor,  military social worker, accountant, career counselor, transportation research scientist, administrator, assistant director of music ministries, vice president of a company, neighborhood HR lady, teacher, veterinarian, lawyer, college professor, singer/cantor, cashier, executive assistant, kindergarten teacher's assistant, pediatric nurse, pediatric pharmacist, mother, single parent, soldier, Marine, and fire fighter.

 Keep it up, guys! You kids are all right!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Throwing Away a Trash Can

This situation reminds me of the old joke about the man who owned a boomerang. He became very upset one day and made an appointment with a psychiatrist. When they met, the man was obviously agitated. "Tell me what is troubling you," the psychiatrist said.
"It's my boomerang," the man answered.
"Your boomerang?"
"Yes, I keep trying to throw it away but it keeps coming back."

I told you it was an old joke. And also not a very good one. But I was thinking of it a couple of weeks ago when I tried to throw an old trash can away.

I put it out beside the main trash can since that was too full to put the discarded trash can into the main can.

The nice trash people didn't take it.

The next week, I did put it into the main trash can. They carefully left it by the curb.

I'm glad they're careful to not throw away something that might be useful. But I didn't want the trash can any more. It was dirty and ripped up. So, I did what I should have done in the first place, and put it into a trash bag. The trash people took it. End of story.

Life continues to have lessons to teach us, if only we look for them. I wish I had a nice aphorism to sum this up, but I don't. Sigh.