Day 21

Midwest morning.

It was another beautiful morning. I woke up early, and after drinking coffee and watching  a movie (more on that in a bit), I went out for the paper and also found this sight. When I was young I used to think that only tree covered hills and mountains or white water rivers or streams were scenic. But then when I was in my thirties, while living in Auburn, I was driving around one early spring afternoon and came across a freshly plowed field under a sky with orange and purple pre-sundown tints. At that point in my life I realized that there could also be beauty in the everyday things that we often overlook. I try to pay more attention now.

 Okay, back to the movie. Around 6 a.m. I popped in a DVD of Annie Get Your Gun. I’ve never been a Betty Hutton fan, but the music in that movie is so great I can overlook her…for the most part. Irving Berlin wrote wonderful songs for the play, and while I prefer the Broadway cast album of the music, the movie does a very good job as well. One of my favorite songs is I’ve Got The Sun In the Mornin’ in which you have this wonderful rhyme:
            Got no checkbooks, got no banks,
            Still, I’d like to express my thanks.
            I’ve got the sun in the mornin’
            And the moon at night.
Also among the songs are There’s No Business Like Show Business, Anything You Can Do, and the beautiful They Say It’s Wonderful. All in all it was a fine way to start the day.
When I came back with the paper I found Cindy awake so we watched CBS Sunday Morning together before she went to church. I enjoyed being able to do that.
Yesterday we went to see Safe House. It is a very violent film. I expected that, but Cindy thought it would be less so. My opinion is that most of the violence was played up for shock value, but then I’m pretty much a fuddy duddy when it comes to entertainment. Does anyone other than me still use that term. Mitt Romney probably still uses it.  

Day 20

In the shadow of Tate & Lyle.

I have to admit I was trying to get a morning shot of the Tate & Lyle South Plant. Getting the County Extension Office’s Master Garden plot in the foreground was a plus. I’m already planning on doing this shot again in the summer. Chances are good I’ll also be taking more pictures of Tate & Lyle from different angles. Oh, I realize this photo at this size looks a bit muddy. I hope you know that if you left click on the photo you can see a lrger, clearer version of it.

Due to the problems with AT&T, I missed two calls the other day, one each from my mother and sister. If you didn’t know, my mother lives with my sister. When I returned my mother’s call I tried to explain that we were having troubles with the telephone system, that work was being done on the towers. I should have known better. First, my mother doesn’t really understand or care about the concept of telephone towers, and second, even with hearing aids she only hears about a third of what you say on the telephone. Still, she ends most conversation points with, “I see.” She doesn’t see (or hear, actually).

Today I was sitting at the computer, cataloguing comic books in my collection, listening to Dave Mason, deciding on what to blog about, when my sister, Sharon, called. I was not in the same room as my phone and I missed the call.

Her voicemail said that mom hadn’t understood what I told her yesterday, and would I please call her. So I immediately called my mom’s number because Sharon usually has her telephone turned off. Mom answered and I said that Sharon had asked me to call. Mom said she knew, but rather than put my sister on the phone, she asked what I had said the other day. Like a fool, I tried explaining it again. Then, from out of nowhere, she said Ron (my brother-in-law) was throwing things because he didn’t want Sharon to try to help mom understand. What? Then she said, “Did the moles cause the problems with your bulbs?” What? I asked mom if I could please speak with Sharon. She said that Sharon had just gone to the basement to try to calm Ron down, but she would have her call me when she came back upstairs.

When Sharon called it was obvious that she understood what our telephone problems were, but she wanted to be sure before trying to explain it to mom. She also reassured me that Ron had not thrown anything, he had merely dropped a jar he was taking from the refrigerator and that mom had jumped to conclusions. Lastly she said that she was glad moles weren’t eating our bulbs. I knew that nothing I had said to mom remotely sounded like moles, but I let that go. Families are special.

Day 19

Tracks to where?

You probably think that I’ve been listening to hobo songs this morning, but I haven’t. Actually, I was listening to Stephen Stills’ Illegal Stills. It is my favorite album he recorded outside of the Crosby, Stills & Nash albums. But you didn’t come here to read my musings on music…or maybe you did.

I finished reading a book on my Kindle a few days ago. It is titled Plague of Coins (The Judas Chronicles, Book 1)written by Alden James. Let me advise you to not bother with this book. When I read the blurb for it I thought it sounded like an interesting concept. In the proposed series of books the protagonist is Judas Iscariot, living under an assumed name, and he is immortal until he can recover the original thirty pieces of silver he was paid for betraying Jesus. Those facts are stated in the book, but the author never went on to explain why Judas had to find them, how they were lost, why he is being given this opportunity, and many other things that might occur to you and me. Also, the author has thrown in things like Judas works part-time for the CIA, he has a wife with Alzheimer’s, he has a son who is a college professor and who passes as Judas’ father. This first book has Judas and his son travelling to the mideast in search of a coin, meanwhile taking on a mission for the CIA, locating the Garden of Eden, interacting with the three wise men and an angel, and fighting villains that James Bond would find familiar. It was a waste of time.

Yesterday evening I went to one of my bookcases and pulled out the dictionary I used in college. It is the college edition of Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, published in 1962. I love keeping it around both for the memories and because it contains words that have been dropped from more recent dictionaries. It probably speaks to my pack rattiness that I don’t want to lose words any more than I want to lose treasured, or not-so-treasured possessions. It’s hard to let go.

Speaking of which, every day when I take a photo, or set of photos, for this blog, I bring the camera to the PC and download the images, leaving the originals on the camera. Then I upload my selection to this blog and sometimes others to Facebook and/or Flickr. So most of the images are stored in at least two places. Why, then, do I have a hard time deleting the images from my camera’s storage card? I should trust that I won’t be losing the images completely, but taking that final step to delete is difficult for me. But today, I shall format the storage card in the camera and remove the images completely…or maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.


Day 18

I love graveyards.

I prefer the term graveyard over cemetery. I think it is more descriptive. The gravestone is a historical link, no matter what lies below it.

Over the years I’ve taken many photos of graveyards, most in Indiana but some from other states. I have also taken a number of photos of wooden barns. Many are in disrepair or falling down, but some are kept up and are still being used. I think I’ll start scanning old photos in and posting them in Facebook and/or Flickr. Any new photos will also go there.

I’ve ben having problems with my smart phone for the past two days, mainly in the evening and at night. I am unable to text, send email, get updates in Twitter and Facebook, look up things on Google, or make telephone calls. In addition, I’ll get an audible notice of an incoming email, but there is nothing there when I check. Today I went to the AT&T store where we bought the smart phone and asked if they were having problems with the network, and I explained the problems I was having. The fellow I spoke with said that there were no problems with the network, but that they were performing maintenance and upgrading towers to handle 4G. He said they were trying to schedule the work during non-peak hours (really!), but in the next breath he told me businesses were complaining about dropped calls and such.  He told me that the company wanted him to tell people who the work should be done by the end of the year, but off the record it should be done by the end of summer , and he really thought it would be done by the end of spring. So he went from 10 1/2 months to 4 months in the space of two sentences. maybe I’m being unreasonable, but I think 4 months is way too long to wait for relief from bad service, and that was his best estimate. 

On the bright side, it feels like spring is in the air. Maybe it is. 

Day 17

My first home in Lafayette.

Bottom  floor, corner apartment. I moved into that apartment with the help of Bob Cornell and my parents. Bob hurt his back thar day if my memory is correct. I also remember having the wind knocked out of me while moving my small sofa into the apartment.

 My mattress and box springs were so old I left them in Auburn. I set up the bed frame and slept on the floor, within the frame, for about a week and a half until I bought a new mattress and spring set. I was strange. I was also young enough that sleeping on the floor didn’t cause aches. Heck, I sometimes get aches sleeping on a mattress now.
I liked that place. It was a two bedroom apartment, and I used the second bedroom as a library/music room. Since it was about halfway below ground level, I could sit in that room, listen to music, and watch all of the young women soaking up the sun in the summertime. I became a dirty old man early in life. I recall that there were two Purdue coeds in the apartment next to mine. They must have taken their studies seriously because I seldom saw or heard them except that they would throw one party each semester. Then they and their friends were quite loud. I could live with that since they never complained about me playing my music too loud.
Jumping back to yesterday’s post, I failed to say a couple other things about Tom Paxton’s music. I had heard his songs long before I bought my first album by him. The Chad Mitchell Trio had been recording his music for a number of years, and they were my favorite group. While he is well-known for his topical songs, I must admit that I like his love songs more. They are very touching. That’s all I wanted to add.

Day 16

You don’t often get a view from the back of the houses.

I saw these houses when I was leaving the library parking lot this morning. The view caught my fancy, so I stopped and took this photo. Just about any view that includes trees and a hill will catch my fancy.

 I’m the loner in my immediate family. Cindy and the kids like the beach, but I’m a mountain kind of guy. I will settle for a raised point of view. For instance, I like the Illinois bluffs that overlook the Mississippi river. Look down or look up; looking straight ahead can be boring.
This is a good morning for listening to folk music. Today it has been Peter, Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, and The Weavers. I was listening to the PP&M album Album, which is an underrated album, I believe. It was one of their first that expanded the sound beyond the acoustic guitars and bass backup they had used in the past. Also, the song selections were excellent.
The Weavers album I listened to was Reunion at Carnegie Hall – 1963, Part 1.If I could only have one Weavers’ album, this is the one I would choose. It begins with a rousing version of When The Saints Go Marching In and ends with ‘Round The World, with more wonderful songs in between, including my favorite version of Leadbelly’s Goodnight Irene. I believe this reunion concert took place the same year as Pete Seeger’s solo concert to help bring awareness to the civil rights movement.
The Tom Paxton album was The Best of Tom Paxton. The songs are his great early songs that range from Ramblin’ Boy, The Last Thing On My Mind, Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation, and Leaving London to name a few. I bought his vinyl album Ramblin’ Boy and became a life long fan. Cindy and I attended a Labor Day concert outside Valparaiso, IN some years ago and Tom Paxton was one of the performers; she became a fan that day. Together we had also attended two Peter, Paul & Mary concerts before Mary passed away.
Great musical memories.

Day 15

Brunch is ready, but nobody is hungry.

There isn’t even a squirrel interested in the seed today. I wonder if it is that black cat that has been frequenting the back yard. Darned cats, anyhow!

The mention of squirrels reminds me of when I lived in Auburn. I rented the upstairs of an old house. My living room window looked out over the porch roof. The view in winter was an insurance company across the street, but in the summer I would get a green filtered sun in the morning. I used to love sitting in the room in the morning before going to work, drinking coffee, listening to music, and watching the squirrels in the trees. They would chase each other through the trees endlessly, or so it seemed. One year around Christmas I had put up a small artificial Christmas tree in front if the window. I happened to look out the window and saw a squirrel staring at the tree as if it wanted to come in. I can only imagine the destruction that would have occurred if the squirrel had gotten into the room.
My friend Mary doesn’t like squirrels, calling them rats with bushy tails. They are closely related (squirrels and rats, not Mary and squirrels), but squirrels can be fun to watch, while I’ve never gotten any particular pleasure watching rats. Mary doesn’t like the Great American Songbook either. However, she does like professional wrestling and “reality” TV. People say we are a lot alike, but I’m not so sure.
 Writing about watching the squirrels in the trees also reminds me of another time in Auburn. It was a rainy autumn day and I was in bed, half awake, when I thought I saw something moving in the tree outside my window. Of course the tree was outside my window, I didn’t live in a tree house. This window faced a different tree on a different street. When I saw movement again I focussed and realized that I was looking at a raccoon in the tree. It surprised me because I lived only a couple blocks from the center of town. Who knows what I might have seen if I spent more time peering from my windows.

Day 14


Getting a photo for today was not easy. I took four others that I wanted to use, but they all turned out too blurry. Like I told a friend, it was not an artistic kind of blur, just a “make it incomprehensible” blur. Anyway, here we have Maely watching cartoons while Grandma Cindy tells me about our granddaughter’s business plan for selling her artwork, on the street, in twenty degree weather, at $1/picture. Business was not brisk; no sales were made. Maely had a story that I honestly couldn’t follow, about a feisty girl, not herself, who came by with a parent. I thought it was funny that she described another girl as feisty, and that she knew what the word meant.

Trina, JR and Mason came by after church to have dinner with us. We celebrated JR’s birthday. A good time was had by all.

Cindy made chopsuey, more or less from my mother’s recipe, because Trina and Macey like it so much. Cindy then reminisced about how she didn’t like it the first time she ate it. My mother made it the first time they met each other. Trina thinks it was because Cindy was nervous about meeting my mother. Perhaps, but Cindy didn’t like the first dish I cooked for us. I made a hamburger casserole (I wasn’t as daring in the kitchen then) and Cindy said it was too bland. Today she loves it, or she lies to make me feel good. But I think she is telling the truth since she occasionally asks me to cook it.

 The house is peaceful again. The Gaskins have gone home. It was fun having them here, but a quiet Sunday afternoon is always welcome. Tomorrow will be soon enough to worry about the broken garage door opener. Oh, and I think I’ll make a hamburger casserole for dinner Tuesday. The recipe is available upon request.

Day 13

Patiently waiting for spring.

Bright, pretty but cold today. Hmmm, that reminds me of a woman I used to date. No names, no names.

When I dated her I believed she was either just a tease or she dated me because she was killing time between boyfriends. Later in life I decided I was half right. She wasn’t a tease, she was just emotionless. Now, even later in life, I’ve decided she was emotionless with me because I wasn’t offering her anything she wanted. So I was still half right, I was just a space filler. I can live with that…now.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a pack rat. yesterday I came across a bag that had many beat up paperbacks. Some of them dated back to when I was in high school. The oldest was a copy of Never Trust A Naked Bus Driver by Jack Douglas. When I bought the book I thought it was hilarious, and so did Jack Paar. For the young, Johnny Carson took over the Tonight show after Jack Paar left it. For the really young, Jay Leno took over the Tonight show after Johnny Carson left it. At any rate, Jack Douglas was a regular on Jack Paar’s show as well as being a writer on the show.
I trusted Jack Paar’s judgement on what was funny. I had also read his book, I Kid You Not, and had enjoyed it. There was also Alexander King, another regular on the show, who had written May This House Be Safe From Tigers which I also liked. Maybe I was a Jack Paar fanatic in my teens, living in the midwest. What he liked, I liked. I was lucky that the branch library I frequented rotated those books through and I could check them out.
Thumbing through the book yesterday I stopped and read a page here and there and realized that my sense of humor had either wilted or matured. I guess I find fewer things funny these days. Then I noted in the back of the book an ad for a paperback version of Justine by Lawrence Durrell. That book is, of course, the first in “The Alexandrian” quartet. All four of those books are great reads. The prices on the books were amazing, fifty cents apiece for the first two, and after you are hooked, seventy-five cents apiece for the final two. What happened to those days? We’ll not see there likes again. I didn’t get around to reading the quartet until I was in the army. I’ve read them again a couple of times so far, and enjoy them as much or more with each reading.

Day 12

They are still wearing their Christmas garb.

I suppose I could talk about the weather. As you can see, it snowed briefly this morning. Right now it is teetering between freezing and thawing. I wish it would do one or the other.

Considering the weather, I am listening to inappropriate music, mariachi. I have enjoyed listening to music from Mexico for a long time. I would probably enjoy it even more if I understood the lyrics. Mostly forgotten high school Spanish doesn’t help much. I should have paid more attention in class, but I was in the middle of my rebellious stage. Looking back, I’m not sure how I graduated and made it into college.
College changed my life. I went from being a small town hick to being a small town pseudo-intellectual. I picked up some social skills and got over some of my shyness around girls. It didn’t happen over night, but after four years I approached being where many of my friends were at the time they graduated from high school. I was a late bloomer. The good thing is that I haven’t stopped learning. I may have slowed down, but I haven’t stopped. When I stop I’ll become bored with life. I enjoy life too much to want that to happen.
Another big change in my life, for the better, was going into the army. It wasn’t as if I wanted to be a soldier during the Viet Nam era, but my friends at the local draft board thought it would be good. Heck, they turned out to be right. They had the wrong reason, but I don’t hold that against them…now. The best thing I learned in the army was to not let little things bother me. I used to get tension headaches in college, but by the time I finished basic training those days were behind me. I don’t believe I’ve had a tension headache since then.
If that were all I had learned, it would have been worth the one year, eleven months, and twenty-five days I was on active duty. But that wasn’t the only thing I learned. I also became more self-reliant. And I gained an appreciation for foreign beers. Over all, it was good for me.