Monday, November 15, 2010

stocks, loons and yellow flowers

I think it astonishes Ed how much I do not get the American way of making money. I tell him that I am not exactly economics-challenged -- indeed, I was, for nearly three years, an econometrics major at the University of Warsaw before I moved (as it turned out) permanently to the States. He’ll shake his head and attribute my ignorance to learning economics over there, under that regime. People raised under communism are without entrepreneurial grit and savvy.

Today, I made (yet again) one of those errors in dealing with my accounts that shows how I just haven't yet grasped the details.  [In case you’re curious, I thought that merely having a brokerage account meant that I was riding the stock market -- with its downs, sure, but also primed to make a killing in the months ahead. That is, insofar as a $1000 investment - that's all that is at stake in this story - can make any kind of a killing. I thought it might. I didn't know you had to buy something with it first. Like stocks or funds. Such a complicated system you have going here...]

Ed’s reaction? He looks at me, stunned, then offers the gentle comment – your grasp of capitalism is rather modest.

So now I know. And I quickly purchase stuff -- stocks, I think, but who can really tell what it all means, and, with great excitement, I monitor my modest account for the rest of the day.

It sustains a loss. What a surprise.

In other news – I’m still biking to and from work. I have no interest in taking the bus. How can you not bike when, on the ride back, you witness sights like this -- a loon, doing a water walk?


Otherwise, please know that it is a supremely busy work week for me. I take note of small pleasures. The lake shore bike path, always that...


...and, at home, looking up from my work, I appreciate what's in front of me: flowers, in harmony with the the surroundings.


Small pleasures.


I can’t mess too much with a Sunday line up. Morning spent on cleaning, a few hours given over to work, a few to the great outdoors if the weather obliges. Then it’s a race: pick up the groceries, fix the Great Sunday Meal, tidy up, write the post and finish whatever work remains for the day,

That’s the goal.

If one thing takes a tad longer than expected, the castle crumbles.

Today, I am off to a good start: the house is scrubbed and ready for the week ahead before noon. Even seizing the great outdoors takes a reasonable handful of hours: Ed and I set out for a lovely mid November hike along an old segment of the Ice Age Trail (it’s close – just due south of here, near Belleville)...


...and the weather turns. From brisk but dry, to brisk and wet. The kind of tingly wet that makes you realize that you're just a degree or two away from snow.

I have to say, it takes a while before we admit that it's too wet to continue. Because even in mid November, it can be quite magnificent out there, along the mildly hilly landscape of south central Wisconsin.


The hardwood forests are bare, sure, but the berry canes haven’t quite shaken off this year's growth and the grasses range from pale gold to vibrant copper. With a shake of chili pepper over it all.


We pull up our jacket collars and persevere (just a couple of miles, before one of us, I wont say who, suggests that we turn back).

Looking around, I think how we’re working with a different palate now than, say, in spring or summer. But different does not mean lacking. Even when the naked trees seem disturbingly close in color to the darkening gray skies around us.


And the fragrance! A damp, spent forest in November, wet prairie grasses -- oh, it's hard to make yourself turn around and head home. Indeed, we run into a foursome that has no intention of calling it quits (well, the older duo does seem to be trailing...)


But, when your jacket is starting to feel waterlogged, and wisps of hair are sticking to your face, you know it's time to reconsider.

I note that there are two other cars at the place where the trail crosses the county road. Hunters. They're out for birds today. Not much luck, one tells me. But as his setter shakes off the wetness, I think -- luck is relative.


After the hike, I cook. Daughters come, with friends again, and it’s impossible not to let yourself get carried along with their youthful energy even as you know that when the last dish gets scraped and loaded into the washer, you have absolutely no oomph left.

Sure, an Ocean post gets a tad delayed then. But consider the up side:  house is clean, work is nearly done, lungs are cleared, stomach’s full – really, could anyone have a more satisfying Sunday?