Wooden shoes, windmills and the World Cup

13 July, 2014              Wooden shoes, windmills and the World Cup


A friend recently lamented the Netherlands World Cup loss. Netherlands was his favorite because they are known for their wooden shoes and windmills. I’ve had some experience tilting at windmills during my idealistic youth, but I hope that (the tilting, not my idealism or youth) is mostly behind me. As for wooden shoes, we had one on display in our basement when I was growing up in Maryland. This is a true story – our dad brought it back with him from Holland when he was in the Navy. Late 1950’s or early 1960’s I’m guessing. In Maryland in our knotty-pine paneled basement we had a bar. It had glass shelves around the top. There were old Meerschaum pipes although there was never a smoker in our family. They smelled funny. Musty but tangy at the same time, very peculiar. I can still smell that. Peculiarly. There was also a collection of beer steins on the glass shelves with the Meerschaums. And this one wooden shoe. I doubt it’s anywhere around but my mom will read this and so will my siblings (I hope!) and if it’s anywhere still in our family I’ll post a picture next week.


I don’t have a Meerschaum to photograph or a beer stein or a wooden shoe so these are all from the web. If my mom or one of my siblings has one I’ll get them to send me a picture. Meanwhile, this looks a lot like the wooden shoe we had on the glass shelf in our wood-paneled basement. We only had one, as I recall, probably around a size 10, and it escapes me if it was for the right foot or the left. But it looked like half of this pair:

A pair of wooden shoes. We only had one.

A pair of wooden shoes. We only had one.


We had lots of Meerschaum pipes, and each was very different and very distinct. None looked identical to this, but all were similar:

A meerschaum pipe.

A meerschaum pipe.

The steins resembled the pipes in this regard – we had lots of them, each different, each distinct. And none looked identical to this, but all were similar:

A stein.

A stein.

This is similar to the windmill that both Don Quixote and myself have long since given up tilting:

My tilting days are behind me at last.

My tilting days are behind me at last.

I don’t follow team sports but I follow international news. It was hard to miss Brazil’s unfortunate World Cup loss to Germany. I know the final today is between Germany and Argentina (I just looked it up) and I hope if one of those is “your” team, that you are happy with the outcome. Or anyway that it’s a good game. I’m a Redskins fan. In my experience, even if people say “I just hope it’s a good game,” they don’t mean that – they want their team to win. Or at least that’s the way I am.


I didn’t take great pictures this week. I got a couple of potentially great pictures, e.g. they are a sign of things – I hope – to come. Meanwhile, here are a couple of less than stellar shots and a couple of adequate shots. When we were at Pony Pasture Tuesday there were lots of flying things. A Virginia State Police helicopter flew over the field:

Bird overhead

Bird overhead

A person with great binoculars could have looked down and seen this new damselfly that I have not yet identified. Nice looking insect though:

A striking new damselfly

A striking new damselfly

Here are the two pictures I referred to as “potentially” great. As in, this is a new bird in a new spot so I may get a better shot soon. And why I say “potentially” great is it’s two pictures of the same male prothonotary warbler. One is in perfect light – but it’s a terrible picture. One is a well composed and focused shot – but it’s in terrible light. When I realize my photographic potential it will be one handsome bird in flawless light. Until then, there’s this:

Almost looks like he's made of plastic - isn't that incredible? Sorry about the crummy quality.

Almost looks like he’s made of plastic – isn’t that incredible? Sorry about the crummy quality.

Better composition but poor light:

It's the same bird. Won't it be great when I can compose a shot like this in light like the one above? Stay tuned!

It’s the same bird. Won’t it be great when I can compose a shot like this in light like the one above? Stay tuned!

I did manage one decent picture of a dragonfly, except from behind, but it’s a nice picture. This is a female “Common Whitetail Skimmer” or Plathemis lydia:

Female Common Whitetail Skimmer, pausing

Female Common Whitetail Skimmer, pausing

They’re called “common” for a reason – if you were a bird photographer, this is the equivalent of photographing a crow. But I’m learning to photograph dragonflies and this is part of the process.


I’ve mentioned “bugguide.net”; they help me identify insects. It is a super resource. People far, far more talented than I submit photos every day. They keep them up for a while and if they’re so perfect you could swear the bug’s about to get up and fly (or crawl) off the screen, they leave them on the site. But if they’re less than flawless they remain for thirty days in an area of the site called “Frass.” This is what it says about it on bugguide: “Frass is insect debris. Poor quality images, images from outside the U.S. and Canada, and those that otherwise do not add value to the guide are moved here.” The dictionary on my mac doesn’t mince words with its definition of frass: “• the excrement of insect larvae.”


I have had really a lot of pictures end up in the “frass” folder. But that’s how you learn what you need to improve on. It’s a process.


One more cloud picture from 2014’s lovely summer sky:

What a lovely sky we've had this summer.

What a wonderful summer sky we’ve had in 2014.

Until next week, all best,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Endurance, Flowers, Fun, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wooden shoes, windmills and the World Cup

  1. Jean Yerian says:

    Jay, I finally tuned in and have now read all the posts from the first one you sent me and forward. I smiled at many of them. Today’s smile is that my dad smoked many pipes, including a couple of Meerschaums. I can remember how much he loved those pipes, how he treated each time he smoked one as a special occasion.

    Our pastor here in Ontario was born in Germany and is a rabid fan. I’m sure we’ll hear some references at tomorrow’s worship service. By the way, his wife has Dutch roots and is also a great fan.. They have a six-week old baby son, who was attired in clothing for one team and a wristlet from the other team!

    I showed John your brother’s canoe, which he admired. Well, gotta run. We’re going to a German restaurant in a nearby town tonight, then to Westben, a concert venue in a rural barn a few “clicks” (kilometers) from another small town. It should be a treat to hear since I’m told Trinity College, Cambridge choir has been rated 5th best in the world!

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Jean!
      GREAT to hear from you! I’m so happy you’re getting to see my blog! I’m glad you enjoyed the Meerschaums. Another acquaintance mentioned how much Meerschaums were a part of his life a generation or two ago. Funny the cultural markers that come and go. Your pastor in Ontario must have been overjoyed with the outcome of the World Cup! Thank goodness he wasn’t from the host country!

      Even though my blog is over three years old, it is of course a work in progress. If you look at some of the posts from 2011 I think (I HOPE!) there’s been some improvement. There’s a lot of similar stuff (mainly outdoorsy and doggy) and a few other items. I’ve also added “stories” to the end of a few blog posts, I may put up a guide to them.

      I hope you continue to enjoy my blog! Thanks for the note and say hello to John and have a great day,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s