Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh the Trouble I've Smelled

This past weekend I had some challenges. If we were playing twenty questions the first answer would be animal.

Friday was the arrival of two new pets. Not the two new gerbils. This is newer still. I would not mind all the nighttime wheel running or the sawdust overflow if I was able to at least name one of them Josef. In so doing I realize I might alienate all my Jewish friends, but then again they may have seen that as a fitting end to such a rat bastard.

No, these two new pets are society finches. It seems my wife is creating her own ark, piece by piece. Maybe she knows something I don’t! Society finches were specially bred so pet stores could double their sales by convincing unwitting customers how they need company to live. “What happens when one dies?” I asked my dear spouse. “Does the other commit avian suicide by diving head first into the bottom of the cage?” Even though she convinced me the cage would remain spotless, Dr. Cleanlittle did not take into account how these little intrepid fliers would zoom around the cage causing their droppings to do anything but drop as they are propelled through the bars and onto the polished oak floor. If this keeps up one night I will serve the world’s tiniest drumsticks for dinner.

Sunday arrives. It is a quiet morning. A little classical music is playing softly while I’m lying supine on the couch, coffee in hand. My dog Daisy is on my chest and I’m scratching her ear (see I’m not totally heartless). It was all very calming. I know Daisy was especially relaxed. For in a few minutes there was a warm tingling sensation all over my pants. I lifted her up and sure enough the little monster had let her bowels get carried away to Debussey. I jumped up and ran to the back door, threw the offender out, and jumped in the shower with my clothes one while my wife’s laughter was heard throughout the house. I felt so dirty I even brushed my teeth again. Why can’t they put money into animal research and come up with a pet that only goes once a year in the neighbor’s yard? That I would buy!

This may night be the most opportune place to segue but I've just updated my website with a great deal of help from Mel Cassio, my web guy. Thanks Mel. Go to jamiestroud.com and check it out. It's the least you could do after what I've been through.


January 19, 2011 Davidson Mesa Park



Monday, January 17, 2011

Out of all the post-season football games I managed to pick every one wrong. On the plus side, I’m picking all the right contestants on this season of “The Bachelor”. Coincidence? Anyway, in case you are interested, which I doubt, it will probably come down to Ashley S., Emily, or the evil Michelle.


Back in reality…


I started doing some watercolors on site to warm up for some plein air oil painting. I usually don’t do this sort of work and landscapes have never been my specialty, but with so many beautiful areas around here I think I would be remiss not to try. Although, when I finish I may have committed a crime against nature. We’ll see. I also wanted to post some early examples to chart my progress.


In the meantime…Go Bears and Ashley S.!








Monday, January 10, 2011

Staying Alive

Since it was the end of the year I wanted to write something really profound for the holiday season, but to be honest nothing came to me. So this isn’t one of those pieces about looking ahead, or remembering friends, or waxing nostalgia. Instead I am going to be my usual curmudgeony self and complain. Hey, when all else fails, stick to what you’re good at.


We bought our youngest daughter a Wii game this Christmas. Actually it was an Ussue (pronounced ‘youse’). “It’s just as good,” said the man standing outside of Best Buys next to a white van with a bumper-sticker that read ‘my other car is a mafia staff car’ and “only half the price”. He tried to get me to buy the extended warranty but I wasn’t born yesterday.


Apparently, I wasn’t born a whole lot of yesterdays as I was more than just a little bewildered on how the thing works. With the help of my two oldest children it was up and running in hours. It would have been sooner if it wasn’t for all the duct tape wrapped around it. We played mostly racing games and I managed to hold last place the entire week as my family sat around sipping hot cocoa waiting for me to cross a finish line.


One of the games my daughter received was some sort of dance competition. As we went through the catalog of songs I realized many of them were from the 80s, 70s, and even earlier. My time had come. Here was my chance for revenge, I mean victory, I mean avoiding total embarrassment. Those classes I took back in 1973 to learn the hustle, foxtrot, and cha cha would finally be paying big dividends. The contest began.


Soon I was shaking past the coffee table and sliding around the ottoman. It was like watching an octopus on crack. My arms flayed around the way cut electrical wires fling about during an ice storm. I was on fire, or at least that’s what I thought. For below the pounding of “Jungle Boogie” I could hear the laughter of loved ones. I just assumed it was for what passed as graphics on the screen, but in the TV reflection I caught a glimpse of a six-foot-two, fifty-three-year-old man, huffing and puffing, trying to keep a beat. I’d like to chalk it up to old age or just being out of practice, but as I danced about, visions of the past crept into my head.


People always thought my dancing was hysterical. No matter how serious I tried to be, it just made people laugh more. I really believed I was a good dancer. I’d be out there on the floor for hours, thinking ‘I could do this for a living’, and yet I was perplexed when the offers never came in. It happens with my writing as well. Every once in a while I try my hand at a serious piece. As I begin a reading, the snickers grow like Sea Monkeys in a Mason jar. Well, I guess I won’t be the next Fred Astaire and no one will ask me to sing Danny Boy, and the great American novel I’m writing will never be published, at least I can say one thing. It feels good seeing a smile on someone’s face, even if it was put there to the tune of “Staying Alive.”