More about our graveyard adventure

First non-indigenous county resident to die here
First non-indigenous county resident to die here

The third graveyard that we visited on Friday was the Independence Cemetery, which is located a short distance north of Independence, Indiana. The graveyard is large enough that it has components on both sides of the road. We stayed on the west side.

Mary had a vague idea where the graveyard was located, and I had a small map of the township that helped. We found it without much trouble. I know that someday I want to go back and visit the smaller section on the east side of the road.

As the marker in the picture above states, Zachariah Cicott was the first permanent white settler in Warren County. Wikipedia tells me that he was a French-Canadian trader who set up business there. It also tells me that he was married to a Potawatomi woman. I’m pretty sure that the “Always faithful to the white people” statement is due to the fact that he became a scout for William Henry Harrison and brought him north to fight the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. I wonder how Zachariah’s wife felt about that.

The statement seems racist in these times, and should have when the plaque was put up in 1966. But this is Indiana, where the roots of  a reconstituted Klu Klux Klan run deep. But that isn’t the topic of this post.

There were plenty of other interesting things to see in this graveyard. I’ll be uploading most of my pictures to Flickr. When that is complete I’ll put a link to the album in a post.

Me and Fantasy

Davis-Kochert Cemetery
Davis-Kochert Cemetery

On Friday, Mary and I made our second stop of the day at the Davis-Kochert Cemetery, also known as just the Davis Cemetery. It was much smaller than the Armstrong Cemetery. It is located on a minor county road, and doesn’t seem to be connected to any specific church or chapel.


I mentioned in passing, in my post about my relationship with poetry, that I enjoy fantasy. I’ve been reading fantasy, off and on, for about as long as I can remember. The first real book that I remember owning was a book of fairy tales and poems, Golden Books Treasury of Elves and Fairies,  that was given to me by my grandmother, my dad’s mother. I still own that book, though it is in bad shape after all of these years. It was first published in 1951, but I’m not sure in what year she gave it to me.

My next venture into fantasy, outside of Mother Goose, that I recall, was the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff and how they defeated the troll. There were probably other stories that I heard or read, but that was the most memorable.

Then, when I was older, I found out about Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories. I started reading the Lancer paperback editions of the Conan stories in the 1960’s. I’ll admit that I was drawn to the books by the Frank Frazetta’s covers. It’s a case of the cover art drawing me in, and the stories bringing me back. I was introduced to the Sword & Sorcery genre.

My other great love in Sword & Sorcery was Fritz Leiber’s stories about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. That’s where I learned that S&S need not all be dark and brooding.

I started reading as much S&S as I could. There was C.L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry, Michael Moorcock’s Elric (and other heroes) stories, and Roger Zelazney’s novel Nine Princes In Amber (and yes, the Jeff Jones cover of the paperback is what caught my eye.

In that time I was also tackling The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Here is where I admit that I tried E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros, but could not get into that story. Perhaps it is time that I tried again.

Recently I have been reading some of Glen Cook’s books. Specifically his tales of the Black Company. I bought one of the books on a whim and liked it so much that I believe I have all of the published stories so far. They are good reads. I have also been reading various King Arthur books, but for some reason they are often listed a Historical Fiction. Tell that to Merlin.

One thing I have always found in fantasy is that no matter how dark the story becomes, there is always the glimmer of hope, of light on the horizon…or maybe just over the hill. You don’t give up on the story.


Now you have the thumb sketch about me and fantasy.

Mary & Norm’s splendid adventure

Armstrong Cemetary
Armstrong Cemetery

My good friend Mary (she calls me bro, I call her sis) has been talking to me for quite a while about taking a day and driving around visiting graveyards. If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that along with picture of barns, I love to take pictures of graveyards. Mary loves graveyards as well. So, on Friday we finally took a day and visited five or six graveyards that were established in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Most of them were in Warren County.

We had perfect weather for the visitations. It was sunny, with a light breeze, and the temperature was in the mid-seventies. Since most of our travel was on county roads rather than State highways, we were able to drive slowly and enjoy the scenic countryside.

Our first stop was Armstrong Cemetery. The graveyard was established in 1848. Like all of the places we visited, Civil War veterans are buried in the grounds. Mary and I concentrated on the gravestones of the less recent departees.

The picture above is just one small group of stones that I photographed on Friday. In all, I took around seventy pictures, and two or three short videos. I’ll be using graveyard pictures in my posts for a few days at least. There will be at least one picture from each of the graveyards that we visited.

Most of the pictures that I took were of individual stones that caught my eye. I spent a bit of time trying to decide if I should use any of those individual stone photos in my posts. Part of me felt that I might be invading the privacy of the families of the departed by publishing pictures of the stones. Then, I thought, these stones were erected in a public graveyard, and were meant to memorialize the occupants of the graves. So, I may be using pictures of individual stones in the future.

One last thing. You may wonder why we love graveyards so much. Well, I know that Mary and I agree on the fact that they are places of peace. I also feel that they are places where you can connect, in a small way, with history. The history not only of the people under the stones, but also their families and communities. It can take some imagination, but for me it is worth it. This is the point where I should plug Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Penn State had a PDF version of the book that you can download, and there is also a free Ebook version through Project Gutenberg. It is a great read.

#7 of 501: Sullivan’s Travels

Oooo, Veronica
Oooo, Veronica

I wasn’t sure if I should use the number 7 in the title of this post, because Cindy fell asleep in the middle of the movie. Should I then call it #6 1/2 of 501? I decided that if I did that, I would have trouble keeping track of the number as time went by…besides, I watched the entire movie. I asked Cindy if she planned on watching the end of the movie. She grumpily said maybe, but not now. I take that as a no.

Let me get this off of my chest before I delve into the movie. I never thought of Veronica Lake as being a great beauty before watching this movie. I saw her more as a sultry femme fatale, even though I can’t remember ever seeing one of her movies. But in this movie, in some scenes, when her hair was under a cap or hat, she looked downright cute. In fact, I wonder if her famous hair didn’t detract from her acting. She created an image, but I’m not sure she needed it. There, I’ve stated my feelings. I feel better now.

OK, so now the movie. I like it. Need I say more?

It was released in 1941. Without getting too deep into the plot, it involves a movie director, played by Joel McCrea, who wants to turn from making successful comedies to movies that have serious topics. I love the fact that the movie he wants to make is based on the novel O Brother, Where Art Thou. (Now I want to watch the Coen brother’s film again.) The director has no experience with poverty or a hard life, so he goes in search of it for research. Along the way he meets Veronica Lake’s character, and they go off together.

My only complaint with the movie is that some of the comedy action is so over the top that is detracts from the movie. At least it did for me. On the other hand, there are long sequences with no dialogue where the action and camera work tell the story beautifully.

I enjoyed this movie a lot.

Why are there cats on our roof?


It makes me smile to see new leafy limbs growing from the top of a tree that probably seemed dead a few  ago. It is wonderful.


The simple answer to the title question is, “I don’t know”. I wish I had a photograph of the pesky varmints up there, but I don’t. This is a phenomena that has only manifested itself in the past couple of weeks. At least it is the first time that I have been aware of it. Let me explain what is happening.

Our office/computer room is on the second floor of our house. The room was added on above the garage after the house was built. The room had two windows, one facing east and one facing west. Our PC is against the west wall, so I will, upon occasion, look up from the keyboard or the monitor and look out of the window. The window is high in the wall so my view is normally one of tree branches. I find that soothing.

One day about two weeks ago, I looked up and saw a cat at the window, looking down at me. The looking down probably added to its feeling of superiority over the human race, not to mention our avian friends and small cute furry animals. I reached for my camera, but the feline menace calmly strolled away before I could get a shot of its brown and white smirking face.

Then yesterday, as I was toiling over my post about Amanda Pays’ mouth, I glanced up and saw a gray cat staring at me. Once again I reached for my camera, but this time, rather than a leisurely slinking away, the cat skeedaddled from the window. Different cat, different reaction. I’m guessing that the gray cat has had more things thrown at it with greater accuracy.

Two questions are raised in my mind: 1) Why are there cats on our roof? and 2) How did they get there? I’ll admit to being befuddled.

I wonder if the gray will return to the roof today. It was sitting in our driveway this morning as I took trash to the curb for pickup. The gray didn’t offer to move any more than it took to avoid being stepped on. It simply sidled to the side and yawned, showing off its sharp glittering teeth.

Well, let me end this post by stating, if you couldn’t already surmise, I don’t like cats. I never have, and I’m pretty sure that I never will. They should stay off of our roof.

My embarrassing confession

A different kind of barn
A different kind of barn

I don’t believe I’ve taken a picture of a barn like this one before. I typically look for wooden barns, usually painted red or with all of the paint worn away. I like this barn, also the silo. I’m glad I found it.


The original title of this post was  “My guilty confession.” But then I thought it over and decided that it needed changing. After all, I wouldn’t confess unless I was guilty. And actually, I don’t feel guilty about this confession, but I am embarrassed by it. So, if I’m embarrassed by it, why am I sharing it? Well, it isn’t an embarrassment that makes me blush, but rather one that causes me to grin sheepishly (I guess. I’ve never seen a sheep grin.).

Get to it, you’re thinking, I haven’t got all day. Poor you. I seldom get directly to anything. I sorta meander around a topic, giving useless background, throwing in parenthetical phrases, until I feel that you are ready for the point of the post.

Here goes. I have seen a number of television shows, and a couple of movies with Amanda Pays in the cast. And yet, I couldn’t tell you if she is a good actress. She is winsome. I like her English accent. Can she act? I dunno. She has been in a number of productions, so I must think that she can act. But I couldn’t tell you from first hand observation.

The reason is that I can’t pay attention to her acting. When she is on the screen and speaking, my eyes are invariably drawn to her face, her mouth specifically. I am mesmerized watching her form the words she speaks. I don’t know why that is. It just seems, to me, that she has a unique way forming her words, and I am irresistibly drawn to staring at her mouth.

That’s my embarrassing confession. Do you have a confession that you feel compelled to share? Is it finally time to spill your guts?

If you would like to share a confession with me (I’m probably a total stranger), fill in the form below. If you want to share something with the world at large…well with the people who follow this blog, just make a comment. Oh, and if you want to confess to something illegal, please contact your local police.

Reality TV, for lack of a better title

The crops are in and growing
The crops are in and growing

I am trying to decide if I should return to this field through the summer and autumn for updates on the crop progress. Part of me wants to do that, but another part says, “How boring.” Any comments, one way or the other?


(Let me apologize in advance to the English language purists for all of the sentence fragments, mixed metaphors, and other errors that I so liberally sprinkle through my posts. This post seems particularly egregious to me.)

I don’t like Reality Television. I dislike it so much that I usually put the term in quotation marks on paper and in my head (though I refuse to use air quotes). I watched the very first episode of Survivor, and have never watched another. What was real about that premise? You put a group of self-centered schemers together in a remote area (now that’s a good idea) and see who can out-ego their way to the top of a pathetic heap. Pure gold, evidently.

I will admit to watching the first season of Food Network’s Next Food Network Star, but I only watched it for the food…honest. Oh, and the network seems they have changed the name of the show by dropping the word Next. That may have some deep meaning, but since I no longer watch the show, I have no idea what that meaning would be. Enlightenment, anyone?

So why did I start this post with reflections on Reality TV? It was the last of a string of things I thought about after waking at 4 a.m. My starting point was a reflection on living an emotional life and/or a life based on pragmatic reality. Believe me, not every morning starts this way for me. Most mornings start between 5:30 and six when I half-open my right eye, and with a croaking mumble try to say “Coffee…need coffee.” But not today.

Everyone lives a blended life, but most people tend towards the emotional or towards the pragmatic reality. I’m less emotional. There, I’ve said it. That isn’t always the case. I had days when I was in college, when I would feel so depressed (usually about a girl) that I wanted only to just sit in a chair, sip beer, stare out of a window, and listen to slow ballads. Luckily, I would do that for a few hours and then get so tired of feeling sorry for myself that I would start to cheer up. I stopped having those days shortly before I went into the army. Or perhaps I simply learned to wear a pragmatic mask to hide the emotion from myself, as well as from others. Hmmm.

There are times in life when you are dragged over the line to a place where you are uncomfortable. For me, this has happened when a person I love became ill and left me with nothing I can do but observe. For instance, when my father fell ill for the last time, I was on an emotional roller coaster. He had physical and emotional ailments. I was down. A doctor examined him and said he would be fine in a short amount of time. I was up. Dad fell and went into the hospital. I was down. I visited him and he seemed to be getting better. I was up. Mom got upset with the people who worked at the hospital, and took dad home. I was down; truly down, because I knew the end was near. I hate those emotional swings because you feel so helpless.

Saying that, I can still understand the allure of the emotional life. You have the heady rush of feeling like you are living life on the edge. You aren’t bogged down in the mundane. It can be so alluring, so hormone inducing, that some people become addicted to crisis. They actually feel bad physically if there is nothing stirring their emotional pot. So, at times, some people will (unknowingly?) create a crisis out of nothing, and voilá, their life balance seems to be restored. I know people who are like that. I find them draining. You don’t know anyone who is like that? They are on Dr. Phil five days a week.

And that took me to Reality Television. Did I mention that I dislike it?

Graduation party

Macey's surprise
Macey’s surprise

Last weekend our granddaughter, Macey, graduated from high school. This weekend was her party. I took a number of pictures, not all of which will see the light of day (people kept putting food in their mouths). I am sharing this picture of Macey opening the earrings we gave her. It’s good to see that she isn’t cool and collected about everything. If I had waited another ten seconds I could have gotten a shot of her tears of joy. I may not have shared it if I had gotten that shot. It just seemed to be too personal a moment to me.

We also gave her a sketchbook and a book on color and light in painting. If I haven’t mentioned it before, she is an excellent artist. She has won a number of competitions this year. She mainly works in watercolor, but in the past she has also done some ceramics work. I think she is a great artist, and should pursue it as an occupation, but she (being more practical than me) wants to get a job that pays well and has a solid future. I hope that happy works into that equation as well.

That’s my short post for today.



70 years later

On the edge of a park on the west side of Lafayette
On the edge of a park on the west side of Lafayette

I knew when I took this picture yesterday that I would be grayscaling it. I also like the color version, and may use it at a later time.


Today’s post will be very brief. I have nothing to add to all of the memories being broadcast and printed about the D-Day landings. I wasn’t born when it happened, and my dad was serving in the Pacific theater, so he had no stories. From what I have been watching on television, the broadcasters have been doing a laudable job.

I have never felt that D-Day was more worthy of celebration, if that is the proper word, than any other World War II battle. Until today, that is. Maybe it is because I’m getting older, or maybe it is because there are so few survivors of the landings who are still alive. I realized that in my lifetime I’ve read about the deaths of the last Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I veterans. I may live long enough to read, or be informed, about the death of the last veteran of World War II. Mortality seems to be closing in.

Still, what I’ve been seeing today caused me to pull out Stephen Ambrose’s book D-Day and decide to read it. But, since it isn’t raining today, and it is beautiful outside, I’ll be doing yard work. Perhaps, instead, I’ll read the chapter on Normandy in the book Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes that Changed the World by James Lacey and Williamson Murray. That twenty-some page chapter seems more doable than a five hundred-plus page book. That’s how I’m commemorating D-Day.

#6 of 501: Pal Joey

Rita, Frank & Kim
Rita, Frank & Kim

Cindy and I finally got around to watching the end of this movie last night. You may remember that we were interrupted by a power outage a few nights ago. We both have mixed feelings about the movie, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, we are spending time together watching movies taken from a book titled 501 Must-See Movies. There are a couple of things about the book that you should know. 1) There is no author’s name anywhere in or on the book. 2) It was first published in 2004, though I don’t believe there is a movie listed in it that was made after 2002. Oh, and my personal opinion is that whoever put the list together left out some fine movies and added some real dogs to the mix. But that’s just me.

Pal Joey is another movie that I hadn’t seen in decades, and then it was on (pre-cable) TV, so it had probably been cut to fit a specific time slot. But that’s OK because I only remember one thing from the movie. That was Frank Sinatra singing The Lady Is A Tramp. I am the first to admit that I have always liked the song, but until I saw the movie with the explanation in the dialog, I have never understood the song. And even now I’m not sure I understand all of the lyrics.

Another great song is bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. It is supposedly sung by Rita Hayworth, but spoiler, it isn’t. Still, you get to see Ms Hayworth posing on a bed, reminiscent of one of her more famous pin-ups. I have to say that I like this version…but not as much as the Linda Ronstadt version. Do yourself a favor and look it up on YouTube.

Back to the movie. Cindy and I agree that it is a good movie with great music. In fact, if it wasn’t for the music, it wouldn’t be nearly as good. Cindy was especially disappointed in the ending. She said that part of it didn’t sense, and I have to agree. However, Cindy also wanted a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland type ending. That would have been pleasant, but… Wait. Am I quibbling over degrees of realism in a 1950’s movie musical? Cindy’s right.