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June 23rd, 2007

mountain bluebird

We got an early start for the four hour fifteen minute drive to my father's home, in Camden, in Arkansas. We saw a buck deer in an open field, and went through little rain squalls on the way through the woods.

We had a nice lunch with my father, his wife, and her grown daughter. Then I went for a walk from my father's home on Washington Street to the downtown area. The little German bakery, Stroope's, that has been there forever dependably provided me with a single, plain gingerbread man--theirs is more like a modest sugar cookie, with a little ginger/molasses thrown in, but it is very nice indeed.

I stopped in the antique store owned by the fellow who used to teach me math and physics, and bought a book or two. Then I walked the short way to the park on the Ouachita River. The river is lined with woods on both sides, and is an appealing green color. The sprinkling rain meant I had the park to myself. There was a myriad of birdsong, and I saw a beautiful mountain bluebird fly by, as blue as its name indicates.

I came back to the house, and took a much-needed nap, after alternating my reading between a comic novel about a woman and her sisters growing up in Windsor, Ontario, and
a set of science fiction short stories in a treasury edited by Silverberg in 1973 but featuring stories in the main from 1953. The 1950s stories help remind me that a lot of
notions that one might imagine as "sixties" notions predated that era.

My father showed me the new Austin car he had purchased, something from the 1930s which someone had improbably turned into a modest fishing truck. His three Austins all look very good, and the little building in which they sit has been rendered clean and appealing.

We dined on whole-wheat spaghetti, and then walked a mile on the half-mile walking path my father mapped out in his yard. I thought to myself how I miss, a bit, large yards after years of living with tiny suburban yards. I remember, though, how much mowing and yard care such larger places involve.

As I sit here, typing, the cicada call is palpable and lovely. Soon I will go outside, and use my little pocket recorder to capture cardinal song and singing insects as the 8 o'clock evening slowly turns to dusk and then night.

live and learn

I just checked my International Correspondence Chess Federation games at their helpful webserver, and found that I've managed to take a probably-drawn game and turn it into a probably-lost game through an error I knew to avoid until yesterday, and then made anyway.

It's very frustrating to lose a game that required no losing. But it's good to savor the feeling of disappointment, because in another game, on another day, I will again be faced with the task of ensuring I was not making an error, and I will remember, with a tangy sweetness, the palpable frustration of having dropped this pawn in this way.
Lately I seem to be accumulating more than my share of credit hours at the chess University of Experience. Let's hope her lessons are as useful as they are hard.

I like that about chess. You see your mistakes come back to haunt you directly, in ways from which you can learn (and yet, often, sadly, make once more another time).