Day 276

Seems like an appropriate picture

I confess that I did not take this picture today. I took it a week ago. I had the opportunity to take it then, and it is good that I did because I haven’t been able to go out to get a new picture today. I spent most of the day waiting here for a company to come and get all of the oxygen bottles that were in Flo’s apartment. I just found out a short time ago that they aren’t coming until Friday. So, it was fortuitous that I took my Halloween picture early.

***

I was going to spend more time today putting down more memories of my early experiences with stereo equipment, but since it is Halloween, I believe it would be more appropriate to spend time with my memories about that holiday.

When I was growing up in Rolling Prairie it seems to me that we always went Trick-or-Treating on the night before Halloween, October 30th. My memory might be wrong about that, but it is my memory. We never had store-bought costumes, my mom would help me get dressed. I think I usually went out as a cowboy or a hobo. I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up, but never did I want to be a hobo. I usually started out with my older sister and other kids that we played with. Rolling Prairie was/is small enough that you could pretty much cover the whole town in one evening on foot. When I was really young I would avoid some houses because they had a reputation among the kids as being the home of mean people.

Older kids, too mature to beg for candy, would go out and do things like soap windows, or tip over out houses, or bedevil adults that they were not fond of. I, of course, being the golden child, never did things like that, or even considered it. Gosh, I was good!

Day 275

Don’t know the purpose of this for the farmer

I don’t know the purpose of this machine…or for that matter what it is called. Maybe if I were mechanically inclined…but I’m not.

***

I came close to having a panic attack this morning. When I returned from the store this morning I saw that Mr. Politician was no longer hanging on the porch. Where was he? he has been in the family for around fifteen years. I knew right away that the wind gusts last night had been too much for the haphazard way I had secured him. Turns out he wasn’t secured at all. I forced myself to calm down and to put away the groceries I had bought for tonight’s stew. Then I went out to search for Mr. Politician. I checked on the north side of the house because that is where most things that blow into our yard end up, but my little buddy wasn’t there. I was about to head on down the street to the north, but then remembered that when Cindy’s green plastic weed bucket blew away it had gone down the street to the south. First I check the yard south of the porch, and there he was. He was kind of dusty, but intact. He is back, hanging on the porch, but this time I feel he is truly secured.

***

Yesterday I related how much I loved my transistor radio when I was a young teen. Moving on from there I can remember the first major piece of stereo equipment that I owned. When I was a senior in high school my parents bought me an Ampex reel-to-reel tape deck for Christmas. That was the best present I had received up until Cindy bought me the USB turntable I use to convert vinyl records to MP3s a couple of years ago. I was in heaven. Now I could start making long-playing tapes for myself, my own mix tapes. The only problem was that I had nothing to record the music from except using my transistor radio and a microphone that came with the deck. It was not elegant, and it picked up all of the background noise, but it let me start putting together my own programs. It didn’t take too long to realize that if I took wire with an RCA jack on one end, and an alligator clip on the other end, I could attach the alligator clip to the speaker on my radio and get reasonable good sound reproduction. Of course I was only able to record on one channel, but heck, I was used to listening in mono.

That was my first reel-to-reel tape deck and it served me well for a number of years. So well, in fact, that I wore out the recording heads during my college years and had to have them replaced. Over the years I wore out three reel-to-reel tape decks. I would have one now if I could find one at a reasonable price. I never had better sound quality.

Tomorrow I may tell you about my first stereo record player.

Day 274

There is always work to do

I chose this photo over one of a house in Battle Ground. I figured the house will still be there the next time I go through town, but this farmer may not be back in the field for some time. This was the better choice.

***

Yesterday my grandson, Mason, posted a picture on Facebook of a pair of headphones that he had just bought. I understand his feelings. He will probably use his headphones as much for games as for music and that is OK. The picture made me think of the first set of headphones that I bought for myself back in the 60’s. I believe they were made by Koss. I bought them to plug into my tape deck, reel-to-reel, so as not to disturb other people, and to kep other people from disturbing me. And from there I started thinking about my love of music, and how I had listened to it through the years. I’m going to start sharing those memories with you today, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending more than one day on the subject.

I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have at least a radio in the house and my dad would often have it tuned to a station that was playing music. I have a distinct memory of being inside on a rainy Saturday morning, the radio was tuned to the LaPorte station, and they played The Teddy Bear’s Picnic. I don’t know why I remember that, but it’s there in my head. I can even picture myself looking out of the window at the rain while the song was playing.

The first radio I owned was a tubeless transistor radio that my parents gave me. It’s measurements were approximately 5″ X 7″ X 2 1/2 “. It was not one of the smaller ones that would fit in you breast pocket; those came on the market some months after I received my radio. My radio was covered in leather and had a snapping latch on the back so that it could be opened and three C batteries could be inserted. It also had a handle on top so you could easily carry it around. I loved that radio.

At night I would lie in bed at night and listen to the 50,000 watt radio stations. Mainly I listened to WLW in Cincinnati, WGN in Chicago and as often as I could WBZ in Boston. WBZ was a Top Forty station and had a disk jockey who called himself Juicy Brucey. I could hear Boston on most nights because the radio waves bounced off the ionosphere and travelled hundreds of miles. It was fun. I could hear the same music on local stations, but the idea of listening to a radio station on the east coast really pleased me. I’m easily pleased. 

I have barely scratched the surface on these memories of how I’ve listened to music through the years, so I’ll be returning to the subject.

Day 273

There is something about a downed tree

This is the only photo I took today. That is unusual, because I usually take at least three, and then have to choose which one to use. But then, I wasn’t really in a photo taking mood this morning. I hadn’t planned on going out until after noon today, and then only with Cindy; but when I got up this morning I found that Mason had spent the night with us, so I felt compelled to go out for donuts. Then I spent the next few hours trying to be quiet while Mason and Cindy both slept until noon. It’s the unexpected little things that get under my skin.

***

Here are some other things that happened last week that I found irritating, but didn’t share in any of my posts. I think I’ll let it all spill out today, since I’ve started in that vein.

When Cindy and I were sitting in the surgery waiting room, waiting to hear about Flo, a group of people walked in the room, and the first thing one of the women said was, “It’s friggin’ freezing in here.” 1) It wasn’t freezing; when she looked at the thermostat she announced to the room that it was 72º and that she wondered how to boost the temperature setting. 2) Who uses that kind of language in public? Certainly not a lady. OK, so I’m old-fashioned. I don’t like it.

When I was leaving the doctor’s office after my checkup the other day, I was preceded out of the door by a mother with her teenaged son, and for elderly people. The teenager held the door for us though he was dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, gray socks and flop-flops. The temperature was nippy, and he was shivering. Each of us who were older than his mother thanked him for holding the door. As the mother and son were getting into their car I heard her say to him, “Are you friggin’ crazy, standing there in the cold holding that door?” The only problem I saw with the boy was his fashion sense, but since she let him be seen in public dressed that way, why was she complaining? Plus, she used inappropriate language, which I find to be a greater offence.

There are other things that I could add, to clean up my notes from last week, but why burden you with the little things that make me think of finding nettles in my underwear…the hard way?

Day 272

A field without crops can seem lonely

Originally I was going to use a version of this picture in which I had used the zoom function on the camera. I decided against it, even though you could see more details on the old silo, because when you zoom in you lose the feeling of loneliness that comes with the surrounding empty field and barren trees. Gosh, that almost sounds poetic.

***

I spend a lot of time, most Saturdays, watching DVDs of old television shows and movies. Today I watched more than I do on most Saturdays. I woke around 3:30 this morning and I was wide awake. After trying to get back to sleep for half an hour, I decided to pop in a DVD with episodes from The Adventures of Robin Hood, which was an English television series back in the mid 50’s starring Richard Greene. As usual, I watched the credits at the end of the show. I was paying more attention to them than I normally do because I was fairly certain that a different actor was playing Little John than the actor I remembered from when I was a kid, and from other episodes I had watched on DVD. I was right, thought I couldn’t tell you the different names right now. Another name in the credits caught my eye, Ralph Smart, the director. I knew that name. I was pretty sure that he was also the creator of the series Danger Man, which was renamed Secret Agent in the US. That’s the show that starred Patrick McGoohan and was given the US theme song by Johnny Rivers. Just to be sure, I watched an episode from that series next. After that I was able to get back to sleep.

Later in the morning I watched an episode of The West Wing and enjoyed it,as I always do. In this episode John Spencer’s character, Leo McGarrity, talks about how he wished he had been at a cabinet meeting during LBJ’s presidency so he could argue against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. That made me consider taking out my copy of Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History and start rereading it, but decided against it for the time being. I want to finish Chris Matthew’s book, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. Then I’ll see. I’ve already started two other non-fiction books and put them aside, Mark Twain’s autobiography and a biography of FDR. I need to finish those two books as well.

Back to DVD’s. In the early afternoon I watched a Mr. Moto mystery starring Peter Lorre. It had many of the racial stereotypes that didn’t seem so bad back in the thirties. There was one in joke during the film; the playbill at a theater showed that it was the last day for a showing of a Charlie Chan movie. Just another oriental sleuth played by a caucasian man.

Cindy came home and wanted to watch a Midsomer Murder episode, so I grabbed one that had DS Gavin Troy as the sidekick. I don’t remember the name of the episode, but it was different in that there were two murders by two different characters, and each informed on the other. After that I decided it was time for a nap.

This evening I watched Never So Few starring Frank Sinatra, Gina Lolabrigida, and co-starring Steve McQueen. I enjoyed it, though the goatee sported by Sinatra in the first few scenes was not his best look. I had read that McQueen’s performance led to his casting as Vin in The Magnificent Seven. I believe it, because the characters are similar, and McQueen did a better-than-credible job in this movie. It will be some time before I watch it again, but I will watch it again. After that I watched another Midsomer Murder, this time with DS Jones as the sidekick. Now it is time for bed…but I’ll probably put in another DVD to watch until I fall asleep…maybe a superhero movie…hmmm…

Day 271

Mr. Politician

Mr. Politician has been seen hanging around our house again this Halloween season. He shows up every year. Why do we call this wind sock Mr. Politician? That story goes back a number of years, to 1998 I believe. I know that because our granddaughter Macey was about four years old and it was an election year.

To the best of my recollection, this is how the story goes. It was a day or two before Halloween; it may even have been Trick-or-Treat night, and Trina and Macey were visiting us. We were having a good time with Macey, as we always did, when the doorbell rang. I went to the door and there was Sheila Klinker, our local State Representative. She was going door to door, asking people to vote for her. I told her that I planned on doing just that, and she went on her way. Later, when Trina and Macey were leaving, I whispered to Macey, “Be careful, there are politicians out there.” She looked at me and solemnly said she would be careful. Evidently when she stepped out onto the porch she saw the wind sock hanging there and decided that the sock was the politician I was talking about. The next time she came to visit she called it Mr. Politician. And later that day I found her playing in one of the bedrooms. She was peering under the bed. I asked her what she was looking at, and she quietly said, “There are politicians under there.” I love her imagination.

***

While I was sitting in an examination room waiting to see the doctor today, I was looking around the room and spied a wall calendar. It wasn’t like the kind you normally see, the ones with pictures of the great outdoors and advertisements from medical supply businesses or insurance companies. No this was a Star Wars© calendar. At first I thought it was a picture of Jango Fett, but when I really looked at the picture I saw the words Captain Rex. I dug out my smart phone and googled Captain Rex. It turns out that he is a character in the Clone Wars story line. I learned something new at the doctor’s office today.

Day 270

I have raked more leaves than they have

My guess is that they hire people to rake leaves for them, or they are already wintering in Florida and their lawn service hasn’t gotten around to sending a crew out yet. This picture was taken in one of the rich people’s parts of town, as you may have guessed.

***

There is a phrase that keeps coming up in one of our gubernatorial candidate’s television ads. They keep saying his opponent is running “false negative” attack ads. That is such a tortured turn of a phrase that each time I hear it, and I hear it often, I wonder if “false negative” is better or worse than “true negative,” “false positive,” or “true positive.” I’ll really be happy when the elections are over. Since I live in Indiana, I know I’ll be unhappy with most of the results, but at least the election ads will stop running.

***

Cindy and I were out having dinner with our friends Mary and George when Cindy got a phone call saying her mother, Flo, was back in the hospital having a heart attack. We had our food boxed up, left our friends, and drove to the hospital. When we got there we were directed to the surgery waiting area. We were told that Flow was having a heart catheterization, and we would be hearing from the doctor shortly. Just a short time later we were ushered into a private room to talk to the doctor. He came in smiling and said that everything was fine with Flo. He handed us pictures that they had taken during the procedure, and he told us he wished his heart was in as good a shape as Flo’s was. He thought her problem might be a hiatal hernia. They are keeping her overnight and that tomorrow they will be checking the replacement valve she was given in surgery about ten years ago. She will be going back to the nursing home tomorrow or Saturday.

They told us to wait about twenty minutes and then we could see her in the overnight room in which she would be staying. If nobody came to get us in twenty minutes, we were supposed to call a number and ask to be let into that area. We waited fifty minutes, until Trina got there, and were let back to see Flo. Except Flo wasn’t there, the room was empty. We stood there talking until a woman, perhaps a nurse, dressed in black scrubs came and asked why we were there. The guy with her was also wearing black scrubs, so to my mind they were ninja nurses. We told her we were there to see Flo, and she told us that they had changed their mind and had put Flo on the second floor. So we went up to see her.

When we got up there we found her laying in bed, wondering if they were going to feed her. Cindy told her what the doctor had said about her heart, but she acted like she didn’t believe him, after all, she had been in pain. I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time we visit Flo in the hospital.