All posts by Tom Dills

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 8

Ordinary Household Objects: Tea Pot

I had an interesting email exchange with a friend yesterday.  He commented about how Kathy & I always seemed to find the silver lining in things, even when the outlook seemed bleak.  We do consider ourselves to have a positive outlook, and I’m often surprised when others’ comments seem to reflect the opposite.  Sometimes the silver lining can be hard to see, but there is almost always something to latch on to.

Figure It Out

Dogwood, azalea and spring flowers in bloom in Charlotte near the intersection of Mount Holly-Huntersville Road and Westminster Rd

It’s been interesting to see how people and businesses are responding to the forced changes in their lives.  Many people have found ways to adapt.  Some have not.

The owner of a restaurant that Kathy & I frequent when we travel recently posted on Facebook something along the lines of “well, our food doesn’t translate too well to takeout, so we will remain closed for duration of the coronavirus situation.”  So now he just spends time posting photos of his tattoos and sharing articles about how the government is going to have to step up and make loans to all these businesses that are affected by the shutdown.  Meanwhile, two of his neighboring businesses – also very fine restaurants – are offering takeout meals and posting words of thanks to all of their friends that are responding positively to their efforts to provide takeout.  When I read the stuff that the one guy posts, I think, “dude, you need to figure it out!”

On the flip side, I was inspired by a recent article about a Michelin-star chef in NYC who “created a menu that eschews complex, hard-to-deliver items like tuna tostada in favor of homey offerings like chicken — a food he never thought he would serve.”  The article goes on to say that “he has also had to get used to seeing delivery drivers mishandle his carefully assembled dishes. And he has learned to package certain orders in foil containers so the dishes do not have to be removed from their delivery vessels to be heated in the oven.

“Before, we were a Michelin star restaurant where people would have a bunch of mezcals and hang out for a while and spend money,” Mr. Steele said. “Now we’re sending chips and salsa and soup to people.”

This is a guy who has figured it out.

I know that my criticism might seem a little unfair, because this is hard for everyone.  But we see examples everywhere of people figuring it out.  Locally, our local breakfast/lunch diner has setup a drive-up/pick-up service.  They figured it out.  Many other restaurants, including our favorite fine dining restaurant and favorite Italian restaurant, have set up online ordering so you can do “contactless pickup” of their dinners.  They figured it out.  A bartender at one of those restaurants has started preparing mason jars of pre-mixed cocktail ingredients to sell with their takeout orders.  You just have to follow instructions and add your own booze.  She has figured it out.  Our favorite bartender, who just happens to enjoy concocting many of his own mixes, has come up with a line of bottled Old Fashioned mix that he is delivering – reasonably priced – to anyone who asks for it.  I won’t be surprised to see him expand his offerings.  He has figured it out.

No one is coming through this unscathed, and unfortunately a lot of businesses will not survive.  By the time this is over though, we’re all going to need haircuts!  Many of us will be looking forward to that first sit-down meal, wherever it might be.  And we’re surely looking forward to planning and setting off on that first adventure, whether by land, air or sea!  But in the mean time we all need to figure it out, in whatever way works for us.

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 7

Ordinary Household Objects: Toilet Paper Roll

Considerable time was spent “contemplating” the proper way to photograph this particular subject.  Take comfort in knowing that I was actually seated on the floor for this photo. 🙂

This photo is appropriate for these times, and also for the fact that for practitioners of the faith, it’s April Fools Day. 😉

I walked at least 5,000 steps per day – usually many more – for 30 days in a row in March.  I took the 31st off to break the streak.  To my way of thinking, there is little to be gained with streaks, and the longer they go the more the pressure builds to continue.  So by purposely breaking it, walking becomes just something I do, and not something I have to do.  And I was back at it again this morning! 🙂

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 5

Ordinary Household Objects: Computer Mouse

Kathy & I made one of those “essential errands” today with a jaunt to one of our favorite destinations on the other side of the SC border.  Yes, it was a liquor store. 😉

On the way there we took I-485, which circumnavigates the city of Charlotte and is the most efficient way to our destination.  On our return, we made an intentional “wrong turn” and took the rest of the loop which results in about a 65-mile journey.  But what else is there to do? 🙂

Along the way, we were excited to see the green popping in the trees, white and pink Dogwood in their spring splendour, and relatively empty roads.  A reminder that, for Mother Nature, life goes on with or without all the pandemonium that we mere mortals are dealing with.

To top it off, I used “Fuelpoints” from our local grocery store and filled up the gas tank for $.80 a gallon!

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 4

Ordinary Household Objects: Hair Brush

Kathy & I love to eat out but we had already cut back a lot in order to offset all of the “travel eating” we have done lately.  We aren’t big fans of “takeout” food, generally preferring to “dine in” or just cook at home.  About the only things we’ll do takeout with are Chinese and pizza.  Last night we had planned to get Chinese from our local restaurant, but they didn’t answer their phone so we don’t know if they are open or not.  We talked about alternatives, including driving over there to see, but in the end we just decided to eat in.  In “normal” circumstances we would never have hesitated to just go somewhere else, but these times seem to be far from normal.

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 3

Ordinary Household Objects: Hand Soap Dispenser

Our recent “stay-at-home” order states that we should limit travel  “upon public streets, alleys, or roadways or other property except by those in need of medical assistance, food or other commodity or service necessary to sustain the well-being of themselves or their families or some member thereof.”  But in a publication of FAQs, the hypothetical question of “Am I allowed to go out on the lake?” is answered with “Yes, you can take your boat out on the lake, but practice social distancing if you go out with others.” So I can’t get in my car and drive around, but I can go out in my boat?  Seems a little silly, but if I decide to go out driving and someone stops me, can I just say that I’m going to the lake to ride around in my boat?  If that’s not necessary travel I don’t know what is!  Now I just need a boat…. 😉

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 2

Ordinary Household Objects: Bottle Opener

It’s pure coincidence that the first two objects are related to adult beverage consumption.  That just happens to be the drawer I opened first.  Really! 🙂

One of the things that I hope comes out of all this stay-at-home business is a shift away from the gross consumerism of the past several years.  My daily walk takes me past a Walmart and 2 fast food outlets.  None of them seem to have slowed down much.  And work continues on the self-storage monstrosity that is going up nearby.  I understand that the American economy is very consumer-driven.  But when people have more stuff than they can store at home and need to rent space to keep the overflow, that might be a sign that maybe they should stop buying more crap!

Photo Project: Ordinary Household Objects

Ordinary Household Objects: Corkscrew

Mecklenburg County, NC is under a 3-week “stay-at-home” order starting today through April 15.  I need another project, so I’ve decided to start a “Photo a Day” project based on closeup photos of ordinary household objects.  It may take a few days to get my bearings & directions, but I think it will be fun!  Kathy likes it because it will keep me from bothering her (maybe!). 😉

Clet The Sign Guy

Florence, Italy

I had heard or read about this guy long before we visited Italy two years ago.  When we were in Florence I started seeing some of his art, which consists of “modifying” street signs to make whimsical or sometimes political commentary.  I only saw them in Florence, although I understand that he (or copycats) have made this art all around the world.

Clet Abraham was born in the UK in 1966 and was educated in art at Rennes before moving to Italy in the early 1990s. He is a well known and respected painter, sculptor and restorer.  The “modifications” are easily removable adhesives that Clet and a few friends apply at night, sometimes in plain view of security cameras.

The artist explains:

My street sign work stem from a reflection upon our “common visual space”. The omnipresence of street signs, other than being a sign of the [Italian] culture of “anti-responsibility”, can verge on the absurd. The message is very poor (sometimes I feel like I’m being treated like an idiot by them) and yet they have a highly invasive aesthetic. As a professional in the world of visual space, I feel called to intervene, both to notify the public of the absurdity of the situation, and to propose a constructive and respectful alternative. My adhesives are developed to add a further level of reading [to street signs] constructed on the base of their original signification in order to maintain its utility but give it some intellectual, spiritual, or simply amusing interest. The final objective? That traffic keeps flowing without us feeling spoken down to!”

I had forgotten about these photos until recently, when I was selecting photos for the last post.  I’m glad I was able to dredge them back up!

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy